In a year of superheroes, lightsabres, dinosaurs and sex dungeons, it’s very easy for a film like Tomorrowland to be lost in the mix. Despite shipping under the prestigious Disney banner, its arrival has gone relatively fanfare-free. It’s a shame really; if anyone remembers the article I threw together last year about the 2015 releases I was looking forward to most, this movie was on the list despite virtually zero information being available.
In light of this, I thought I’d give you a rundown of his past directorial efforts, all of which are fantastic. There’s not a black mark on his record, and few directors can say that.
Bird is of course very well known for his work on The Simpsons from way back when (you know, back when it was actually funny) but it wasn’t until nearly ten years later that he made his feature debut with The Iron Giant.
You know, as avid film buffs I’m sure you’re aware that it’s very easy for movie writers to gush and fanboy about a certain movie, but I’m about to say something that I mean wholeheartedly. The Iron Giant is my favourite film of all time. It’s an astounding cinematic achievement and one that went cruelly unseen upon its theatrical release towards the end of the last century.
Since then it’s become a cult classic with Mondo shipping out another print just about every week. Its status as an iconic non-Disney animation is well-earned; it’s a wonderfully nostalgic, hilarious and emotional ride that reminds us all what it was like to be an adventure-driven child yearning for discovery. It’ll have you howling one minute and tearing up the next. And yes, it really is Vin Diesel behind the metallic voice.
The world was made to wait five years for Bird’s next feature and this time he had the full might of Disney and Pixar behind him. I actually remember vividly going to see The Incredibles on a sunny Saturday morning (you know, one of those ‘early bird’ ticket things). I was young and foolish back then and didn’t appreciate the comedic genius until many repeats later. In many ways it’s the best superhero movie of all time; packing a punch with action and humour in a way that Bird seems to master.
Next up is Ratatouille – another critically-acclaimed project from Bird and Pixar. I’ve got to tread fairly carefully with this one; I’ve only seen this film once and it was a long time ago, but I remember it being excellent. I’m a big fan of cooking so the food theme made me enjoy it even more. As with all Pixar productions the animation is flawless, the humour is excellent and everything comes packaged with a message and a dollop of heart. If every movie I saw from now on was like that I’d die a happy man.
Perhaps this is a testament to Pixar more than Bird, but it’s his wizardry in directing characters that only exist within a computer that creates the connection between us and a dirty rodent. Who’d have thought we could feel so much for a pest?
Last on the list is Bird’s first foray into live action cinema. Trust him to absolutely yank it out of the sack and deliver the best movie in the Mission: Impossible franchise. From the beginning, Tom Cruise said each film in the series should be directed by someone new to keep things fresh and inventive. Bird followed through on that idea and upped the ante, set pieces and character dynamic to heights that I hope are built upon with Rogue Nation later this year.
Ghost Protocol is an exceptional action movie thanks in no small part to the stunt work dedication of the lead actor (yeah, he really did that scene outside the Burj Khalifa) and the vision of Bird who knows exactly how to develop characters and has an astounding eye for action. The series will miss him; it’s certainly the funniest and most heartfelt entry in the franchise and packs as many punches as the second film which says a lot considering John Woo was the man behind that one.
Will Tomorrowland be a success? Or follow the live action flops? Who knows, but one thing is for sure is that Brad Bird will continue his excellence with The Incredibles 2 and more!
Tomorrowland is out today!