Disney’s new live-action rendition of Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is a tale as old as time, a collection of songs as old as 1991, plus new ones created in 1993 for the Broadway musical. Unlike Jon Favreau’s excellent computer-animation-that-seems-like-live-action remake THE JUNGLE BOOK, which melded beloved elements of the 1967 animated classic with more serious drama from Rudyard Kipling’s book, this is a very faithful, at times scene-for-scene re-enactment of the 1991 best picture nominated hit. But that’s the idea: it’s the movie version of the stage version of the animated version of the traditional fairy tale. Director Bill Condon (CANDYMAN 2: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH) and adapters Stephen Chbosky (RENT) and Evan Spiliotopoulos (HERCULES with The Rock) seem to look at it much more as a restaging than a reinterpretation. (read the rest of this shit…)
Posts Tagged ‘Disney’
Disney’s 1967 animated version of THE JUNGLE BOOK was pretty much a hangout movie. A bunch of animal dudes kickin it in the jungle, occasionally singing songs. Like HOUSE PARTY but with snakes and shit. The tiger Shere Khan plays the part of Full Force.
Now modern Disney and director Jon Favreau (executive producer, GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS) have brought in more of the world and narrative of Rudyard Kipling’s stories for an excellent live action(ish) version that captures plenty of the spirit of the old one while also being totally different. It uses versions of the original songs and even evokes Disney animation with a painted version of the castle logo, but never feels redundant. It’s like putting on glasses and seeing that version in more detail, from the visuals to the story.
I have to admit, after COWBOYS & ALIENS I kinda thought maybe we got too excited about Favreau as a director because of IRON MAN. Clearly I was wrong. This is a movie I can’t imagine many directors pulling off. Like with IRON MAN he finds a perfect balance between nerdy love for the source material and clear vision of how to tell the story in a dramatic way we haven’t quite seen on screen before.
And it can’t be easy competing with the memory of Stephen Sommers’ 1994 version.
(That might be unfair. I haven’t seen it.)
Disney’s POCAHONTAS is the big animated feature of the summer of 1995, a part of the “Disney Renaissance” and feature animation resurgence that started in the late ’80s and early ’90s. But if the popularity of Disney animation was a motherfucker trying to ice skate uphill, this would be the point when he had just reached the top and now was beginning to slide back down in reverse. It came out a year almost to the day after THE LION KING, the tale of fathers and sons and a bunch of unrelated songs about a farting warthog and a smartass weasel guy or whatever, which smashed all box office records for animated features and remained the highest grossing of all time until TOY STORY 3 beat it 16 years later. More importantly, POCAHONTAS came about 5 months before the first TOY STORY arrived like a European with an infected blanket, triggering the end of the popularity of line drawings on the big screen.
Though not very highly regarded, and controversial for its fictionalization of history, I think POCAHONTAS is a respectable swan song for the age of Disney hand drawn animation. It goes whole hog with the house formula of glamorous heroines in a Broadway-inspired musical format, but takes some risks and, most notably, gloriously showcases the artistry of the studio’s best animators, designers and colorists. (read the rest of this shit…)
Walt Disney himself is never seen or mentioned in TOMORROWLAND, but it’s a fantasy adventure based on his belief in the future as a place of infinite promise and wonder and shit. It’s a story about kids finding a secret hidden city founded by great visionaries of the past (Edison, Verne [not me, the other one], Tesla, the guy that invented the Etch-a-sketch I think) as a hope for a better world. It’s all glorious curvy buildings, flying monorails, friendly robots and floating swimming pools.
One kid named Frank (Thomas Robinson as the kid version of George Clooney) goes there to try out his home-made jetpack. Another named Casey (Britt Robertson, SCREAM 4) is intrigued by their space program. The crew she sees going on a spaceship are young enough to be dropped off by their parents. At least half of them are women and I think only one white kid. The movie’s dedication to diversity and internationalism seems very of-the-moment, but it also relates to one of Tomorrowland’s secret entrances: inside the original 1964 World’s Fair version of It’s a Small World. Wait a minute, It’s a Small World is in Fantasyland, not Tomorrowland. Get your fuckin geography straight, Hollywood. (read the rest of this shit…)
(lots of spoilers throughout this one, if you care)
I don’t want to bust your fuckin bubble man but some of the shit in the Disney movies is kinda dramatized and what not. For example the movie POCAHONTAS and probly also POCAHONTAS II in my opinion is more a cartoon fantasy musical based on the legend of John Smith being rescued by Pocahontas than a legitimate historical document. Well, now the Walt Disney Studios live action division has courageously blown the lid off the old animation studio, accusing them of fudging some of the facts in their classic SLEEPING BEAUTY. Touché. Hats off to Disney for exposing all this before WikiLeaks or somebody did.
If you are not familiar with SLEEPING BEAUTY it is an ironic title in my opinion because it’s the best looking Disney cartoon but also… let’s say, not the least boring one. It’s about a princess cursed by a wicked sorceress so that when she turns 16 she’ll die except a fairy godmother changes it so she’ll only fall asleep. That’s better than dying, but the catch is she can’t ever wake up, except there’s this loophole that a kiss of true love can do it. But how the fuck would that happen oh wait there’s a handsome prince willing to kiss a sleeping gal, so it works out.
If that whole story seemed kinda suspicious to you then you’re gonna see MALEFICENT and you’re gonna be like “I knew it. I fuckin knew it!” This is the story of how that sorceress Maleficent was not really the wicked old bitch who goes around cackling and talking about how evil she is, she’s just a strong woman who got a bum rap from a patriarchal society. After seeing this, SLEEPING BEAUTY will seem like racist anti-fairy propaganda. (read the rest of this shit…)
SAVING MR. BANKS is the story of P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) flying out to Burbank to develop the movie of her book Mary Poppins with Walt Disney (Tom Hanks). I’m surprised it’s not called TRAVERS, following the last-name-of-character-to-indicate-this-is-a-biopic-and-this-small-story-is-representative-of-the-larger-story-of-their-life trend (CAPOTE, HITCHCOCK, LINCOLN, BLADE, E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, etc.). Maybe they were worried people would think it was about Peter Travers.
As a one-time film critic herself, P.L. would never be confused with Positive Pete. It’s not mentioned in the movie, but I’ve read that in ’37 this Travers reviewed Disney’s pioneering achievement SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS and trashed it. I wish I could read the whole thing, but all I can find is this quote that’s been floating around: “There is a profound cynicism at the root of his, as of all, sentimentality.” Lucky thing Rotten Tomatoes was only on index cards back then, so nobody cared that she was the Armond White of the ’30s, fuckin up its 100% fresh rating. (read the rest of this shit…)
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL could also be called WALT DISNEY’S SAM RAIMI 3D. That’s what I was hoping to see, and that’s what I got. If it had been a WIZARD OF OZ prequel movie made by somebody not as exciting as Raimi I don’t know that I would’ve even bothered, and it’s not my first choice of what he should be doing now that he’s stopped being a captive of SPIDER-MAN. But it turns out to be a better-than-expected use of Raimi’s time and mine.
Before we get into that I’m gonna say what we’re all thinking: let’s call it quits on these revisionist fantasy and fairy tale type movies now. “What if Alice in Alice in Wonderland was really the chosen one and she puts on armor and leads an army against the jabberwocky” made literally a billion dollars, but it was a moronic idea that was not rescued by Tim Burton’s imaginative visuals. I’ll give the Hansel and Gretel one and the Jack and the Beanstalk one a shot on video, but after that maybe it’s enough now, eh fellas? But they’re into this idea now of the recognizable name that’s not copyrighted. (read the rest of this shit…)
For some reason I am reviewing THE ARISTOCATS. You gotta fuck around and try out different shit sometimes, as my dear grandmother used to say.
THE ARISTOCATS is not one of the better Walt Disney pictures in my opinion. It was the first one they made after Disney’s death, although he’d approved it before he died. It seems to rehash parts of LADY AND THE TRAMP and 101 DALMATIONS without being as good as either. At the beginning a nice old rich lady in Paris is drawing up her will and since she has no living relatives she wants to leave it all to her cat Duchess (Eva Gabor, the same voice as Miss Bianca in THE RESCUERS) and her three kittens. This is upsetting to her human butler, who responds by giving the cats date rape drugs and abandoning them out in the country.
For a second I was thinking I’d already seen this, it was so familiar, but then I realized I was thinking of GARFIELD: A TALE OF TWO KITTIES, which had almost the same plot. But great minds think alike, you know. (read the rest of this shit…)
JOHN CARTER is your typical Civil-War-veteran-transported-via-magic-cave-to-Mars-to-fall-in-love-with-a-princess-and-fight-a-war tale. I mean, how many movies can we have on this topic?
Oh wait, I was thinking of can-you-fuck-your-friend-all-the-time-and-not-fall-in-love romantic comedies. That’s the more common one. The civil war veteran on Mars deal is not that big of a genre this year, and this new (partly) live action take from Disney might be the last one. It’s not shaping up to be the smash hit required to make back its big budget, and the box office trainspotters are already giggling and high-fiving each other as they dig it a shallow grave in an unused lot behind Space Mountain. That’s too bad, ’cause it’s a hell of alot of fun.
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Not too long ago, as you know, I reviewed the animated cartoon movie BEBE’S KIDS. Today I want to acknowledge that there could never be a BEBE’S KIDS – or God forbid even a ROVER DANGERFIELD – if it wasn’t for Walt Disney and friends breaking ground nearly 75 years ago with the first feature length animation cartoon, SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS.
I want to start occasionally Expanding My Horizons by reviewing respected or historically important movies that aren’t normally the type of thing I watch or write about. I think this way we can all learn together and I can be less repetitive and also be one of those worldly renaissance type dudes. But the real reason I rented this is that I got a new set-up. The high defintion type TV prices went down this Christmas so I finally scraped together enough cash to get one of those, and a cheap off-brand blu-ray player on the side. SNOW WHITE was recommended to me as one of the more impressive blu-ray transfers, and my sources weren’t lying. The thing looks so vivid you feel like you’re standing face to face with the original watercolor paintings. And some of them are still wet.
(By the way if you didn’t know a cartoon is a series of drawings and paintings shown in quick succession to create the illusion of dwarfs and animals dancing around, etc.)
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