Is Pixar in creative trouble? It seems silly to ask, and three years ago such a question would have been unthinkable. Yet here we are, the studio having just delivered Monsters University, its fourth franchise continuation (after Cars 2 and the two Toy Story sequels), and its third film in a row that’s failed to elicit shrieks of elation from the critical masses (currently it stands at a 78% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes). It seems absurd to raise concern over a movie doesn’t score unanimous accolades – 78% is a respectable figure by RT standards – but when you’re talking about a studio with a history as cherished as Pixar’s, it feels like it’s worth at least considering whether it doesn’t point to a larger issue.
So Man of Steel made $125 million this past weekend. Not a shock by any standard, but the film has nonetheless inspired a passionate online debate among the geek community and several critics – some catering to the geeks, some to a more traditional film audience – over its overall quality worthiness as well as specific plot elements. Points of discussion include: whether or not Superman would or would not take certain moral steps, whether he’d make an effort to avoid the amount of devastation caused by his battles with the film’s villain, Zod (Michael Shannon), whether the film itself is too dour for a comic book movie, and so forth.