Movies: Mockingjay 2, Sanjay’s Super Team, & The Good Dinosaur

Durga from Sanjay’s Super Team

A bit of a binge on media this weekend, but what can you do with a four-day weekend, a Pixar film, and Mockingjay, Part 2?

Mockingjay, Part 2

I felt a bit disappointed. The book, for all of its struggle to balance the conflict between Katniss the Hero vs. a stark dystopian vision of colonialism, spectacle, and war had some things to say. Parts of the novel reminded me of All Quiet on the Western Front. Screenwriters felt the need to spell out everything about the conclusion, and some of the wartime horrors in the film feel rushed to get to the epilogue. There’s no obvious problems with the movie, but it doesn’t quite live up to the original Hunger Games.

Sanjay’s Super Team

This short is a departure for Pixar in multiple ways. To my knowledge, it’s the first semi-autobiographical short and the first short to deal explicitly with religion (Hinduism). I suspect it’s a bit of a ballsy move on Disney’s part to make it a Thanksgiving release. Unfortunately, I was tapped on the shoulder by someone who didn’t get that Disney runs animated shorts before the main feature. I’ll also admit a bit of bias having seen and loved director Sanjay Patel’s still art.

Stylistically, it’s beautiful, colorful, and luminous, a welcome departure from what’s become the Pixar/Disney/Dreamworks character style. Vishnu, Durga, and Hanuman are drawn in vivid color. The outer story of father/son conflict of religion vs. popular culture is perfectly structured and expressed. The inner story of Sanjay and the gods vs. a shapeshifting antagonist is a bit more difficult to parse. Still, it’s a superlative short for Pixar.

A clip with the director with spoilers:

The Good Dinosaur

The main feature, in contrast, left me a bit disappointed. I don’t think Pixar has ever produced a bad movie, and if the audience reaction is any indication Good Dinosaur was a hit with the kids. To me, the script and character animation didn’t quite live up to the meticulously designed scenery. Overall it’s not bad but I don’t think it’s going to be one of my favorites.