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Indiana Jones and the Mind-numbing Sequel

28 May

Right before we left for the movie theater Sunday, my son The Wachamacallit hit me with an astounding piece of analysis. “Oh no!” he exclaimed. “I just realized this movie is going to be really bad. Remember what happened the last time George Lucas had to wait 20 years to make a sequel?”

Sarah Warn of AfterEllen.com asks the question, ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:’ Bad sequel, or worst sequel ever? ” And, well, I found it more tolerable than The Phantom Menace, so I guess I’d say it doesn’t rise (fall?) to the level of worst ever. (I could nitpick myself here and remember that Phantom Menace was a prequel, but where’s the fun in that?) Here’s a snippet from her review:

. . . when I set off to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull this weekend, I had high hopes. Malinda and Sarah P liked it, and so did Lori (who is in Seattle this week). Sure, my mom told me she and my sister walked out of the theater half-way through because they were so bored, but I figured, how bad could it be?

Apparently, really bad. So bad it makes Snakes on a Plane look good. Come to think of it, maybe this movie should have been called Snakes on Indiana Jones, since it’s basically a parody of the Indiana Jones movies, except that someone forgot to tell the actors. And the audience.

Ouch. But well-deserved.

The Wachamacallit, by the way, actually tried a Whatchamacallit candy bar for the first time ever recently. He is not one to keep his opinions to himself, so he’s reviewed it in his blog.

Hey Dan! Tron 3D Movie in 2011?

5 Mar

Found this rumor about a Tron 3D movie in 2011, in John Frost’s shared RSS items, from Film School Rejects by way of the TAG Blog:

… thanks to a spy over at AICN, it appears that we have a little more information as to when this TRON film will be hitting theaters. According to the report, not only is Disney looking at a 2011 release, but it is also looking to continue its foray into 3D with the title …

International Wall-E Trailer

9 Feb

This trailer’s a little more spoilerish than the others, so be warned!

Love Pixar, love robots. Hellloooo???

Hat tip: Blue Sky Disney.

New Wall-E Teaser on MySpace TV

18 Dec

Gotta watch it.

Hat tip: Blue Sky Disney, bien sur.

Is your calendar marked for 6/27/08? I know mine is.

[plus, Upcoming Pixar found a link to this in Hi-Res!]

NYT on Enchanted: The Line Between Homage and Parody

24 Nov

Interesting article in this weekend’s Sunday New York Times, about Bob Iger’s willingness to let Disney poke fun of itself in “Enchanted:”

DreamWorks Animation, run by Jeffrey Katzenberg, has built an entire business around taking potshots at Disney movies, but Disney’s brand turns on consumers viewing these classic characters as pristine. Poking fun, however gently, could dilute the franchises, experts say.

On the other hand, Princess Aurora and her pals risk irrelevance if they stay frozen in amber. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “Pinocchio” were landmark films, but next to the computer-generated behemoths of today, they start to look a little geriatric. (Relax. I said a little.)

Projects like “Enchanted” indicate that Mr. Iger’s team is trying to take a route down the middle: resisting adding modern touches but referencing them in fresh settings and winking at their old-fashioned charismas.

“It’s a very smart approach,” said Robert K. Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, a customer-loyalty and brand consultant in New York. “Losing a bit of the preciousness keeps these franchises relevant and alive.”

WALL-E Teaser Poster and Sneak Peek Trailer

27 Sep

WALL-E Teaser Poster

From Upcoming Pixar, another blog that should absolutely be in your reader. (Not that I’m opinionated or anything, you know I’m not like that.)

They’ve also got info about the new WALL-E sneak peek trailer, due October 2.

Congratulations to Lou Mongello and The WDW Radio Show!

16 Aug

The 2007 People’s Choice podcast awards were announced today, and The WDW Radio Show has taken top honors in the Travel category. (Hat tip to 2719 Hyperion.)

If you love Disney trivia and history, and have a few spare hours each week (sorry Lou, I couldn’t resist!), you really owe it to yourself to check out The WDW Radio Show. This week’s show is a great example of the high-quality, in-depth content.

I am also going to introduce the first in a recurring series entitled, Legends of Disney Imagineering. My first guest certainly qualifies to bear that title and introduction. He is George McGinnis, who played a large part in the creation of the Mark VI monorail, Space Mountain, Horizons, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and countless other attractions and vehicles in Walt Disney World. In this exclusive, one-on-one interview, Mr. McGinnis shares stories of being personally hired by Walt Disney, the triumphs and challenges in creating such attractions as the WEDWay PeopleMover, Space Mountain, Communicore and countless others. He reminisces about working with not only Walt Disney, but a who’s who of Disney legends, including Dick Nunis, Marty Sklar, John Hench, Bob Gurr, Roger Broggie, Claude Coates, and so many others. It is truly something special that I think you’re going to enjoy and was a personal privilege for me to do. And listen very carefully, as he also shares a secret about a change that is likely coming soon to one of his Walt Disney World attractions.

If you have any time left after listening to WDW Radio, there’s a wealth of other great podcasts on the list, in categories ranging from Business to Gaming to Education. Or if you simply can’t get enough Mongello, he’s a frequent co-host on WDW Today. (And no, I’m not just sending you there because they plugged my blog this week . . . I’m also sending you there because yesterday’s episode was wonderfully weird. Hey Matt Hochberg, you might want to drag yourself out of your sickbed soon, those guys are going off the deep end without you!)

Ratatouille Easter Eggs

6 Jul

Need an excuse to go see Ratatouille again? The Disney Blog has a list of 15 reasons, many of them Easter Eggs.

Mash-up Trailer: Disney and the Order of the Phoenix

4 Jul

Perfect timing for this, given how thoroughly the interweb is abuzz with speculation about how Walt Disney World will counter Universal’s upcoming Harry Potter “themed environment.

Ratatouille’s Success: A Crossroads for Disney Animation?

2 Jul

Now, those of you who read my blog regularly know that Mr Broke Hoedown’s not a big fan of Disney. But Pixar? Well, that’s a whole other story.

In his blog today, Collateral Damage, Mr Broke Hoedown raves about Ratatouille (warning, spoilers below):

It never takes the obvious route. It is never hack (which is what comedians’ name for the easy and cliche). It isn’t “HEARTWARMING.” Every choice made by the people involved is true to the story and the characters and not just what the audience expects. As a result it gives the audience so much more than mere easy laughs. The big challenge that our hero (voiced by the wonderful Patton Oswalt) overcomes is not will he become a chef, it’s how to make peace between being a rat AND being a chef. When his family comes to his aid it’s not a big sweeping emotional moment, it’s a much more realistic “yeah we’re family and this is what family does even when they’re angry at each other” moment. In other words: It’s a true moment, not a Hollywood one.

One of Ratatouille’s greatest strengths is that it never forgets that rats and people eating food are not something that go together. Even when the rats ride to the rescue and run the kitchen, the movie is smart enough to include a stomach-jarring shot of rodents swarming. If this had been made just by Disney Ratatouille would have had an ending where the restaurant is saved, the rat and the human both get the girl and snoooooore. That sort of happens, but not in the predictable way that ruined so many of Disney’s later animated movies.

Also it’s hard to imagine the later Disney movies including the wonderful scene where our hero and his father walk by the exterminator’s shop in the Marais whose window is decorated with dead rats in traps. (I’ve been by that store a number of times, it is quite wonderful.) Pre-Pixar animation at Disney long ago gave up being willing to actually upset the audience. For all that Lion King was willing to show the father’s death, it did it without the terror and darkness that makes Pinocchio one of the greatest and scariest movies I’ve ever seen.

John Frost of The Disney Blog also found Ratatouille a significant departure from the usual Disney fare, and in a good way:

. . . I had convinced myself that Pixar had strayed too far away from the traditional animated children’s film with Ratatouille. But what is a traditional animated children’s film? That is decided anew with every genre busting film that’s released. All you can do is to find what you love and keep doing it to the best of your ability. That’s the lesson of Ratatouille and the philosophy behind Pixar. That Walt’s Way and it’s a recipe for success for us all.

Earlier in his article, Frost relates this back to earlier days of Disney:

With Ratatouille, animated film, at least the way Brad Bird and Pixar produce it, stands at a cross-roads similar to where Walt Disney stood after Pinocchio and Fantasia. They can go on along the path they’re following and convert the medium into something new that appeals to adults while not being tethered to the ‘family film’ rules. This is the fiscally risky route (see the initial box office results for Fantasia). But the greater the risk, the greater the reward (a theme common to Pixar films, not coincidentally I imagine).

Alternatively, they can return to something more appealing to the kid in all of us (and more entertaining for those who actually are kids). Think Dumbo, Bambi, Cinderella, Peter Pan, and Sleeping Beauty. When those films were released they were anything but conventional. Indeed Sleeping Beauty stands as a singular masterpiece of art. The irony is that while they’re all commercially less risky, that’s not to say they were all box office successes. Nor is it to say there is a simple formula to follow. It’s harder to swing for the fences when you’re deliberately using a shorter bat as Walt Disney found out during and after WWII. In modern day animation this method isn’t resulting in any box office gold right now either (see recent Dreamworks and WDAS releases).

Let’s hope that the success of Ratatouille emboldens Disney Animation to take more chances, and bust a few more genres themselves.

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