After a pretty weak 2017 with Cars 3 – leaving a pretty weak playing field for the animated genre, overall – animation giants Pixar are back with a bite and kicking off the year with the first of their two big 2018 releases: Coco.

Pixar have come to be recognised for their impressive knack for storytelling, having made some of the best-animated films of all-time throughout their run. Whilst their recent films have - for the most part - been good (certainly having dipped in quality from their classic counterparts), they’ve been slowly returning to form – as their 2015 gem Inside Out proved, but even that something felt missing with that. With their latest film, Coco, however, the studio have one of their best films to date – a swirling adventure able to capture that awe-inspired nature and imaginative wonder of the likes of Toy Story, Ratatouille and Wall-E – and a sure-fire contender for one of the best films of the year (already!).
Coco boasts a wild imagination within its story, taking us where no other studio can even think of taking us. Our eyes into this world are that of the young Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), who has a talent and love for music. He longs to play but he keeps it all in secret from his family – their roots are in shoe-making after a history with music went awry leaving it shunned in the family. When events lead Miguel to run away from home, he finds himself stuck in the Land of the Dead on Dia De Los Muertos, the most important day of the year for them, on an adventure to find his way back home to the living. It’s such an inventive idea and one that feels wholly original and unique; yet, despite the seemingly wondrous nature of the world we enter and despite all of the colourful ideas and characters, Coco is really just a simple story about family, passion and finding the balance between them at its heart – channelling its inner La La Land as another musical about “chasing your dreams” too – and its this nature in which the screenplay really revels.

For all of its wondrous world-building, there is radiant heart and warmth to ground it all with rich authenticity and the writing here is sublime in crafting such nuanced and real characters. We are thoroughly enthralled in Miguel’s journey – there’s an infectious naivety and bubbliness to him that makes him so charming and relatable – and it makes this trip through the Land of the Dead one all the more brilliant as a result. It also makes for a really touching story of character, slowly building to such an incredible, heart-aching final act that that is the result of such meticulous character building and writing - it feels earned. It also makes this the most studio's most emotional film to date too - movie aside Up and Inside Out, a new Pixar tear-jerker is here. Of course, saying a Pixar film has gorgeous animation is like saying water is wet… but it’s true, and the attention to detail within this film is genuinely stunning to watch – with the studio crafting a world that feels so magical and lifelike. It’s a visually gorgeous film, expectedly, and full of pulpy colours and energy. It’s also surprisingly very funny too and the musical numbers are all so beautiful in their nature; the songs themselves feel so naturally woven into the story and are all great tracks that you’ll have most definitely have on repeat on the ride home.
Coco is a film that is full of awe-inspired wonderment, fuelled by such rich characters and al set in such a superbly realised world. But, mostly, it’s just nuanced storytelling at its finest. This is a film that takes a fairly overdone theme of family and shakes it up and makes it feel fresh and surprising – the film is very unpredictable and has some bold, yet surprising twists which I found greatly refreshing in a family film of this calibre. Pixar are a studio known for their lavish worlds and stories and they’ve gone and done it again here. The voice cast are all perfect, breathing such life into their characters but it’s young Gonzalez that stands out as one to watch; with Lee Unkrich seamlessly and effortlessly blending genres and worlds and telling this story with such aplomb, it makes for not only one of the most delightful and brilliant films of the year… but the crowning glory of Pixar’s recent resurgence and their best film since 2008’s Wall-E. Coco is a masterpiece; it's a magical, wholly immersive and enamouring adventure quite unlike anything you’ll see this year. The other films of 2018 have their work cut out for them, that’s for sure.

COCO OPENS IN THE U.K ON JANUARY 19TH, 2018.

VERDICT:
With Coco, Pixar have a beautiful, awe-inspired work of tenderness that explodes with originality, charm and wondrous magic. This is storytelling at its finest and the craft of classic Pixar that makes it is one of their best films to date.

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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