Soul : Best Pixar film in decades.

Best Pixar film in decades.

I haven't enjoyed a new Pixar movie this much since the early 2000s. And this might be tied with Monsters Inc as my all-time favourite Pixar film. It's no coincidence that both films share the same writer and director (see also: Up, Inside Out, Toy Story).

I could spend plenty of time talking about how good the animation looks, and it does look great, but even then, that's the least impressive element at play here. What shines most is the film's writing.

Something that Disney and Pixar seem to have been suffering with for some time now is managing to come up with a story that feels new and original (with some exceptions, mostly by the same director), and while there are plenty of borrowed ideas to be found in Soul, they all come together to form something that's really a breath of fresh air.

As someone who pursues music as a hobby, but is also plagued by not knowing what I'm doing with my life half of the time, I could relate to both of the lead characters in the film. What one character struggles with and learns from another, and vice-versa, felt like many ongoing internal back-and-forths I've had with myself. Plenty of scenes hit hard. But you don't need to be a musician or have any enjoyment of jazz music to relate to this film. It has a message that a much wider audience can, and for many, probably should receive. There are a variety of different ways in which we may not be valuing our own lives. Sometimes we get too trapped in our own head's and are stubbornly ignorant to our need for a change of perspective. This movie doesn't offer answers on "purpose" or the "meaning of life", but it does provide perspective. Which is probably better.

And to top it all off, the original score (aside from the jazz music) was done by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. I didn't know it was them until I saw it in the end credits. But some of the more somber moments featuring piano, and the more electronic tracks that create a fairly digital soundscape for certain scenes somewhat feel like a mix of Sigur Ros and the more ambient NIN instrumentals. The film has plenty of emotional impact, and the soundtrack plays an important part in that.

There were things that annoyed me, at first. Mainly in the comic-relief aspects of 22's character. Some visual gags and Family Guy-esque flashback jokes based around this character were irritating, but both of these end up paying off when they come up again later, in a much more mature and poignant manner. In fact, as the runtime goes by, the less jokey it seems to get in tone. A character I started off hating ended up being a favourite, and this rarely happens for me. Some of the best character development and chemistry between a small cast of characters in any Pixar movie. Both children and adults definitely have something to gain from watching this, but I'd almost argue that this one will have more of a lasting impression on adults. Highly recommended.