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This is probably going to be a very unpopular opinion although I do not know for sure. I think Soul is a bad movie that did not deserve an Oscar nor any other prize. However, I am not surprised that Soul won considering that the members of the Academy, that think that animation is inferior to the rest of cinematography works, only vote for Disney Pixar because it is Disney Pixar and blatantly and proudly admit that that they do not even watch the nominated, animated feature films before voting. I only watched Soul and Wolfwalkers, so I cannot really give my opinion on what movie should have won. However, I can assure you that Wolfwalkers is superior to Soul and by far. Now, I do not want to compare both movies here, I only want to argue why I think Soul is a bad movie.
My opinion goes against all the hype that the release of Soul generated. People celebrated the philosophical themes depicted, and, because of that, they hurried to call Soul a masterpiece. Granted, some of the philosophical and dark humor jokes were hilarious, but the film did not manage to build up a strong philosophical argument: it merely sewed together a bunch of random references that made it seem worthful, interesting, and “intellectual”. Soul tries to give a twist on Coco’s story but did not concretized anything —not interesting nor polemic.
The juxtaposition of visual styles is shocking, but not in a good way. Sure, there should be a contrast between the cosmos grid and the human world; however, the representation of the secrets of the universe fell short. Trying to reference Kandinsky, the supreme beings came up plain and boring; one thing is to say that humans may not comprehend the complexity of the universal design, but it is a completely different thing to say that humans cannot comprehend any type of complexity —as it was presented by the animators and writers. The souls, even if cute, did not match the mysticism of the human essence and its relationship with the natural and universal laws —which would be ok if the visual design were consistent. The human world was stunning and detailed, not like the rest of the spaces and characters, but it was not enough to save the film, since the final product ended up being an incoherent amalgam of styles: Kandinsky, cartoon, stylized/cartoonish realism…
The worst part of everything is, without a doubt, the ending. It is absurd and corny. I admit that the whole idea of appreciating every moment of like is cute and important, but the entire plot revolves around the laws of the cosmos and how a disequilibrium in the number of souls would cause the destruction of everything. The writers, then, decided to appeal to a terrible deus ex machina to avoid the unavoidable. The possibility of the soul count and the cosmic rules not being important at all was not introduced until a few seconds before the movie ended. Therefore, I truly ask myself if the writers remembered too late that the primary market of Disney Pixar are children and underestimated their critical capabilities or if they simply became too fond of the protagonist.
To provide some dignity to the film, the natural course of the story, that agreed completely with the natural course of death and nature, should have been fulfilled, even if that meant reclassifying the movie to a more mature public, which I would also consider unnecessary. Soul was classified PG (Parental Guide), so the toughest themes could have been brought to the table in a transparent and honest way. Despite the sadness that the death of the protagonist could have caused, a big opportunity to teach children about the unexpectable and inevitability of death was missed, as well as the opportunity to elevate the philosophical content of the work and to respect the intellectual and emotional aptitudes of kids.
To sum up, Soul is, for me, a terrible movie that do not deserve any prize because:
- The argument does not concretize any philosophical theme/perspective: it only uses random references to create a fake atmosphere of deepness and intellectuality.
- The visual aspects are incoherent, and, not including the human world, they are boring and have no detail whatsoever.
- The plot includes a cheap deus ex machina resource that ruins the film and story.
- The work underestimates the intellectual and emotional capabilities of children that could have being guided by their parents to discuss and comprehend the complex theme of death.
- BONUS: if you do not consider those little and scarce moments of black humor and philosophical jokes, the film is BORING.
Have you watched Soul? Did you like it? Please, leave a slice of your opinion on the Comment Section below! The Bakers are always thrilled to taste your ideas! ❤
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Featured image taken from Mondo Sonoro.