Brad Bird’s latest movie, Tomorrowland, his fifth as a director, has released in cinema halls across North America and internationally too today. Apart from George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, the bright visuals, the brand of Disney, Tomorrowland should be worth watching for Brad Bird himself. Bird, who is essentially an animator at heart, and who made a name for himself at Pixar, looks to be boldly stepping into the live-action genre. It’s not a path easily taken. But Bird has already had one big success outside the world of animation, and that would have given him a good deal of confidence. So as Tomorrowland hits the theatres, waiting to be judged by the likes of you and me, let’s have a look at the four undisputed wonderful movies that Brad Bird has already created.
The Iron Giant (1999)
Brad Bird had been working as an animator in various capacities across different studios until he decided to take on the role of director himself. Warner Bros. Animation gave him the script of the 1968 novel The Iron Man to develop into a movie. And that became the founding stone for Brad Bird’s directorial debut. The Iron Giant was the story of a lonely boy who becomes friends with an innocent alien giant robot that a paranoid government agent wants to destroy. It did not work at the box-office, earning a partly $31 million against its production budget of $70 million. But the movie’s quality is undeniable. It received universal acclaim with a 97% score on Rottentomatoes, and also has a 8.0 rating on Imdb currently. Brad Bird scored on many aspects; the unlikely friendship between an alien and a boy was beautifully handled, its complexity very well portrayed, and the references to E.T. beautifully illustrated. It was a debut worth remembering!
The Incredibles (2004)
During this period, Pixar as a force in the animation industry had already taken shape, and this was a good time for Brad Bird to pitch the idea of ‘retired superheroes getting back into costume’ to his old friend, John Lasseter, the creative genius of Pixar. This was how The Incredibles came to be. The story of a family of superheroes who have to leave behind their mundane lives in order to save the world became the highlight of 2004. Each of the characters had such distinct and enjoyable personalities, that you fall in love with them instantly. A brilliant storyline along with some fantastic animation work made The Incredibles a gigantic hit for Pixar with $631 million worldwide earnings. It also won the Oscars for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Sound Editing. A sequel is said to be in the works, with Brad Bird working on the script and likely to direct it. What a challenge it would be, even for him, to surpass his own amazing work!
Ratatouille was never supposed to be Brad Bird’s film. The idea behind the movie had been created by another Pixar employee, Jan Pinkava. Brad Bird on the other hand was already attempting his hand at a live-action movie. But Pixar’s top management decided to handover the project of Ratatouille to Brad Bird, as they lacked confidence in Pinkava taking the movie forward. So Brad Bird reworked a bit on the story, and went on to direct another amazing animated movie that would lift Pixar to higher heights in the movie industry. Imagine a rat being responsible for cooking your food! Some of us may be disgusted at the idea, but the genius of Bird lay in creating a rat that one would love, one would admire, and one could somehow relate to. The amazingly complex relationship of a chef and a rat who loved to cook, touched hearts, and won the movie many plaudits. It won the Oscar for Best Animated Film, and earned $624 million at the box-office. A masterpiece!
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
Producers Tom Cruise and J.J. Abrams got Brad Bird on-board Mission: Impossible series to direct the fourth instalment, which turned out to be Brad Bird’s first live-action movie as a director. We know beforehand what a Mission: Impossible movie would be about – spy stuff, loads of action, covert government operations, self destructing messages etc. Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was no different, but for sure it was great fun to watch. The movie had a wonderful adventure feel about it, and the stunts were at their superlative best for the series; the Burj Khalifa sequence was definitely quite memorable! Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was the biggest earner of the series with $695 million collected worldwide as against its production budget of $150 million. And for an action spy film, its 93% Rottentomatoes score is equally impressive!
Brad Bird has scored critically and commercially with his movies in the past. His movies have been bright, adventurous, bold, and always full of interesting characters that have remained memorable. Tomorrowland is another attempt by Brad Bird to continue in that direction. He skipped sitting in the director’s chair for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens so that he could work on Tomorrowland, so I hope it was worth it. With The Incredibles 2 lined up next, Brad Bird will enter the familiar territory of animation and the world of Pixar once again. Can’t see much going wrong with that!
And finally, YouTube user Joel Walden has pieced together a wonderful tribute video to Brad Bird’s works by picking up scenes from his movies. It’s worth a watch!