(Both Wall-E and Up shared the same initial "huh" reaction from me for their initial teasers, but both of those movies easily redeemed themselves with later promotional material and of course turned out to be excellent movies as well.)
If you go and check the Rotten Tomatoes score now you find that Cars has a 74% rating. That's technically a "good" movie by their scale, but it's a pretty damn poor for a Pixar movie. In every other case they've gotten above 90%. And on an even more prosaic note, it is also currently the lowest grossing movie of theirs since A Bug's Life.
For some reason though Pixar itself loves the franchise. Not only did they make _nine_ different shorts for it after the movie, but it's the only Pixar movie to get any sequels aside from Toy Story (which Pixar practically had to be arm-wrestled into by Disney if i remember correctly.) I have no idea why they're obsessed with what seems to be considered their "worst" movie by a large number of people.
So as someone who wasn't interested in the first movie, was kind of turned off even more by the numerous shorts i did see, and didn't understand why they wanted to do a sequel in the first place, the schadenfreude part of me was very happy to see this week that Cars 2 scored 33% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Let me restate that.
As in two thirds of the critics who saw it thought it was a bad movie. You know what other movie is coming out this week that is (so far) scoring higher than 33%? Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which is currently at 39%.
So by one metric of critical appreciation, Pixar managed to make a movie that was worse than a Bayformers movie.
On the downside, despite being very poorly rated it's still pulling in a ton of money (also like a Bayformers movie =P) and has apparently has currently made about $100 million in less than a week.
It's a very empty pleasure on my part though, cause i'm not sure what lesson Pixar ought to learn from this, much less what lesson they _will_ learn.
"Only make sequels to movies i like" would be great, but admittedly a bit egotistical :) "Make sequels to your most popular movies rather than your least popular movies" would be a bit more democratic. I feel a little bad saying they should let popular consensus or profits override their artistic sense, but i really can't see where the artistic sense occurred in the process of deciding on Cars 2 either.
Of course it's at least remotely possible that they may learn the lesson "Hey, we don't actually have to make _good_ movies in order to make lots of money! Oh yeah! Door's open, boys!"
Hopefully this will be just a minor hiccup in Pixar's history. I wondered a little if they were jumping the shark when i first saw the trailers for Cars, but they came back strong after that with Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up and Toy Story 3.
So what's coming up next this time? "Brave," their first movie featuring a female protagonist, which was first conceived of by Brenda Chapman, who was also going to be Pixar's first female director... until they recently fired her from the project and replaced her with a guy. WTH? That certainly makes me feel rather conflicted about it. _Maybe_ there was good reason for that, maybe she was making some stupid decisions or they had a fundamental disagreement on how the movie should be progressing, but they liked her idea well enough in the first place didn't they? It's unfortunate that even if Pixar was justified there are probably legal reasons why they can't tell us what really happened.
And now after having said the above i discover that the next movie after "Brave" is going to be "Monsters University" a sequel to Monsters Inc. Well i guess they're following part of my advice then, at least if they're making another sequel they're at least doing it with one of the more popular movies?
So since we're on the subject, apparently a new teaser/trailer for "Brave" just came out, so if you want to see it and start speculating, here it is:
Not much to go on there. It certainly looks pretty, but that's not really saying a lot given what we've come to expect from Pixar. Guess we'll have to wait and see.