Monsters Inc.

Hope isn't lost, though, and once we get through next summer's surefire "Monsters University," about as creatively bankrupt a concept as we can think of (it's the characters from "Monsters Inc."… in college, with a teaser trailer that suggests "Animal House" with tentacles), it looks like the "Second Renaissance" of Pixar Animation could be upon us. (This would mirror Disney Animation's Second Renaissance, which started at the end of the eighties and included "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty & the Beast" and "The Lion King.") There are three really intriguing projects already announced by Pixar – 2014's "The Good Dinosaur," directed by "Up" co-director Bob Peterson and Peter Sohn (who did that amazing "Partly Cloudy" short a couple years back); 2015's untitled movie that takes you inside a little girl's mind (directed by "Up" helmer Pete Docter and written by Arndt) has been described to us as "wildly ambitious"; and "Toy Story 3" director Lee Unkrich's movie that takes place in the world of the Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos (which could be out as early as 2015, when Pixar plans on ramping up to two movies a year, utilizing some of the talent at their Vancouver satellite studio).

What would be really sad is if there would be little fits of Pixar genius here and there, little bursts that remind us of the old quality that we had come to expect, instead of a sustained performance. Maybe this is the nature of the beast, and for Pixar to be able to set movies in Mexican holidays or young girl's minds, they will have to do another "Monsters Inc." or two (or three or four). We've heard that the Disney corporate energy is seeping into the culture, with more and more demands being made from the higher-ups, which wasn't the case as much when Pixar was an autonomous entity that simply worked with the studio.

Earlier this year we wondered if Pixar was in trouble, now we fear that it truly is time to worry. Unnecessary sequels are a part of loving movies, but we can't help but feel like it's a huge step back for Pixar to waste its considerable time and resources chasing the easy money when they've proven themselves to be willing to go out on a limb, creatively. At one point Pixar seemed unstoppable – a studio whose winning streak could not be broken. Now that it has been broken, by a series of high-profile mediocrities (and, as today's announcement showed, more on the way), we are left wondering if they can get back on track.