Disney and Pixar’s rocky relationship continues into the next Pixar Era known as the Merger Era. This is because during this time Disney and Pixar feuded on who owned the rights to the Pixar movies and who had the right to make sequels. Pixar is not a fan of making sequels unless there is a good story to tell. But Disney at the time felt that they could make Pixar sequels without Pixar’s approval. Which is partly why Toy Story 2 was created. It seemed that Pixar was ready to say goodbye to their partner and strike out on its own. But when Eisner left and Bob Iger became CEO of Disney, things began to change for the better. Disney bought Pixar and gave them complete control of the Pixar products DIsney would just distribute the Pixar films and name. With this the Merger Era was born. This era started with the movie Cars and ended with Toy Story 3. So lets look at these movies and see if the can compete with the Golden Era of Pixar.
Our first movie during this time is a movie that I am convinced was just a way to sell toys. While Cars is a decent movie, it does have its flaws. The story is very predictable. We have a hot-shot race car who is selfish and thinks that the world revolves around him. He soon learns some humility when he crashes into a town that is on the brink of extinction. They force him to repair a road that he destroyed. Along the way Lightning McQueen learns to respect his elders and learns that winning isn’t everything. Cars has become a franchise and is heavily featured in the parks especially in Disneyland California where a whole land was built dedicated to the world of Cars. I like Cars but it could have been better.
Ratatouille is our next movie during this era and it is the Pixar movie that I like the least. I am just not into rats making my food I guess. The animation could be better but it still is not horrible to look at. Ratatouille is featured some in the parks. It has a ride dedicated to it in Disneyland Paris and will soon have one in Epcot as well. There is some heart to this movie I will say that. But like I said it is just not for me. But that doesn’t make it a bad movie. I think it tells its story well and the characters are both funny and interesting. You should watch it if you haven’t. I don’t have much else to say about Ratatouille.
Now we come to Wall-E, a movie about an Earth that has been destroyed by pollution forcing all the humans to evacuate the planet. Wall-E units were left on Earth to clean it up. And our cute little Wall-E is all that is left of these units. Wall-E spends his days hanging out with a cockroach and watching VHS movies and cleaning up trash. Till his world changes when a strange new robot comes to earth. Eve has been sent back to find out if the humans can return to earth. And soon Wall-E meets Eve and they form a bond and we now have an awesome romance between 2 robots and it is very sweet. I love the scene where they dance through space. The villain in this movie is not really evil, he is just programmed to never return to earth. And he takes his job seriously. When Eve discovers a plant on earth, she realizes that the earth is still alive. So the humans can return. This movie is so well-loved that it was thought that it should be nominated for Best Picture, but it was not meant to be. Also despite this movie being very successful Wall-E is practically absent in the Disney Parks. It may be seen on merchandise but that is it. No rides, meet and greets, or being in a parade. Nothing, and it is a shame. Go watch Wall-E, you won’t be disappointed.
And now we come to Up, a movie that is both sad and funny and has a lot of heart. A movie about an old man who loves his wife so much that he can’t let her go even after she dies. They met as kids and became friends that eventually blossomed into romance. They shared a wonderful life together. Some dreams never came true for them. Unfortunately they were not able to have kids, but still hoped that their dream of seeing Paradise Falls would still come true. For Ellie though, she never got to see Paradise Falls. And it remains one of the saddest moments in Pixar history. And I love how they tell this part of the story with just music and animation. You feel the sadness when they discover they can’t have children, the joy when they get married and once again the sadness when Ellie dies. Now we have a saddened Carl who still lives in the house that he and Ellie purchased so long ago. He still has a dream to see Paradise Falls. However due to losing Ellie, and construction workers trying to move his house, Carl has become kind of grumpy and doesn’t take it all very kindly. Soon he meets a kid named Russell who is Wilderness Explorer and needs a merit badge for helping the elderly. Carl fed up with everyone telling him what to do, turns his house into an airship with millions of balloons. Russell is discovered to be still at the house during take off. So now Carl must take this kid along with him. And then we finally get to Paradise Falls and we meet Dug a dog who has just met you and loves you SQUIRREL!….. Dug is after a bird Squirrel!! A bird that will make his master very happy SQUIRREL!! Soon Carl learns to let Ellie go and begins a new life with Russel, Kevin the bird that Dug was looking for and all her babies. And Dug comes to live with him too. Up is a very good Pixar movie. It was nominated for Best Picture being the second animated movie to have this great honor. The first was another Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast. Up is mostly seen in Animal Kingdom. Dug and Russel have a new stage show where they look at the world’s many bird species. And recently Kevin has been seen walking around. Up is a very good Pixar movie. Watch it soon.
Toy Story 3
And our final Pixar movie for this era is probably one of Pixar’s best. Toy Story 3 is an awesome adventure where the toys now have to deal with Andy all grown up and heading for college. Play time is over, most of the toys are no longer together. But Woody and the gang still hope that Andy still loves them. This movie is a nice conclusion to the story that started it all. The story is awesome, full of evil bears who runs a daycare like a concentration camp and force toys to be played with kids who don’t know how to take care of toys. And then we have one of the most intense scenes in all of Disney. It makes me tear up every time. The incinerator scene was done so well. Oh my, I can hardly write about it now. Just the amount of terror in this scene is very intense, but also the bond that these toys share with one another. Even when all hope seems lost, they are together. I hate seeing Bullseye in this situation. He is so scared and he doesn’t talk and Jessie just takes his hoof and each toy joins hands awaiting their terrible fate. And then those awesome toy aliens save the day. Oh my, I know we all started breathing again after seeing that scene for the first time. But the ending is what most people can’t get through. When Andy gives away his childhood toys. These toys that have given him so much joy. He even gives Woody away. It is a very sweet and sad moment. Toy Story 3 is an amazing movie. This movie grossed over 1 billion worldwide and is the 4th highest grossing animated movie. Toy Story 3 won Best Animated Feature and was nominated for Best Picture. Clearly people loved this movie. And of course Toy Story 3 is everywhere in the Disney Parks. Toy Story 3 is not the final story, Toy Story 4 will hit theaters this summer and I can’t wait. I would tell you to see this movie but let’s face it you already have.
So there we have it, those are the Pixar movies that came out during the Merger Era. All of these movies are good in their own right. Some are definitely better than others. The next era is the longest era known and the Experimental era. This era is filled with sequels and some originals. We will discuss this era next time. So until next time To Infinity and beyond!