Back when Pixar were at the top of their game, the studio was untouchable. There was no animation studio in the western world who could capture the hearts of audience all ages like John Lasseter and co. could. Considering this however, Pixar now has its rival’s. One look at Pixar’s latest track record and you can tell that the studio has maintained its quality, but they’ve been doing in on an uneven road. Meanwhile, the battle for the kings of 3D animation has gotten more heated as studios like Laika and Sony Animations seems as though they have taken the crown away from Pixar. However, with the release of Coco, I think the new kids have just been outdone by the veterans.
Coco is a magnificent reminder of the incredible skills of Pixar to tell exciting stories with characters as charming as the film itself. It is a film that is centred around the importance of family which is a message that Pixar is familiar with, but the film really lets its message sink in. Coco will also gain respect from audiences for having a twisting narrative, one moment you are led to believe something about a character, then it completely turns your head and reveals something that causes a complete shift in perspective and how we see the characters.
The film follows Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) a young boy longing to be a musician, but it held back by the firm grasp of his family who have an ancestral ban on music. I adore this character for many reasons, one of them being that his curious yet rebellious personality reaches into the realms of a fantastic coming of age story for him. Finding out the secrets of his family is just one of those subjects that become much deeper as the film progresses, Pixar have a great track record for giving semi-mature themes a light-hearted look. Miguel is also a character who is determined, creative and just an all-round likeable protagonist.
Accompanying Miguel on his quest is Héctor (Gael García Bernal) a character who when we are introduced to is charming but crafty resident of the Land of the Dead, but we later find out that there is more to him than just bones and eventually becomes someone full of heart and soul resulting in audiences warming up to him. It’s incredible how Héctor goes from this seemingly one-off side character to a character essential to the story, I’ve seen Pixar do this with other characters like Dory and Russell, but this is the first time I’ve thought that with Héctor that this narrative manoeuvre is done flawlessly.
Because of the Mexican backdrop, colour plays a vital role in Coco, especially in the Land of the Dead. This new world is very vibrant and exciting. The scale of the first look at this world makes it inviting and open to discovery, we are just as curious as Miguel. Pixar have gotten the Mexican culture and lifestyle down to the fine detailing. The mannerisms of the character and the plain but interesting suburbs provide for a pleasant setting.
Pixar prides itself on being original. However, the one problem I have with Coco is that it might not be as original as it appears to be. From the moment Miguel enters the Land of the Dead, I immediately saw similarities with the story from Spirited Away or The Book of Life. Whether they used these films as inspiration or not, this story has been told a thousand times already, so I can see why for some it would be difficult to get invested in it because of those similarities.
But does that mean that Coco brings nothing new to the table? Of course not. Pixar’s legendary animation style has been given a complete upgrade. The detailing that goes into individual objects and the way people move is great to see. For a long time, Pixar just couldn’t nail human character to perfection, even in the classic Toy Story, the human character are too plastic looking which is why we had stories like A Bugs Life and Finding Nemo where human characters weren’t an essential focus point.
Coco isn’t just a return to form with Pixar, it’s a game-changer. I certain with every big success Pixar had, the other animation studios had some catching up to do, however Coco is different. With its clever narrative and a presentation that will leave you wide-eyed, it has changed how I perceive animated films visually. This is Pixar’s most beautiful looking animated feature in a long time, if I had to sum the film up there’s no other word for it but clever. Let’s just hope that this cleverness continues in Pixar’s future projects.
Final Result: 9/10 – Excellent
Have you seen Coco? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
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