Category Archives: Animation

Animation Review: Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh was released only a few days ago, but I’ve already seen it twice. Once on opening day, and again today (yesterday, by the time you read this), with my grandmother. Although perhaps not my favorite Pooh film it is still a wonderful movie.

The animated short The Ballad of Nessie accompanies this film. On my first trip I was a few minutes late, and ended up missing all but the last few seconds of this. I made extra sure I got to the theater in time to catch it the second time. Though very good, this short is exactly that. Short. I watch a lot of animated shorts, but this one seemed even shorter than it should have been. The story is about Nessie, aka the Loch Ness Monster. She lives in a small pond with her rubber duck friend MacQuack, until a businessman buys the land and builds a golf course right where poor Nessie’s pond had been. She and MacQuack travel around Scotland to find a new home, being told to keep their chins up and not cry, until finally she can’t handle it anymore. She cries and cries and eventually her tears create Loch Ness. It is an adorable story, emphasized by the adorable animation. The backgrounds in particular stood out to me. The hills of Scotland are drawn as a green plaid. Yes, it may be a bit much (we got that it’s in Scotland, no need to stick plaid everywhere) but it is a neat effect that I haven’t seen before.

After Nessie was over it was time for the main feature to begin. This too is very short, only about an hour long, which was a huge disappointment. It opens with some live-action shots of Christopher Robin’s bedroom, complete with the toys themselves, before transitioning into the animated opening. Though the song is now sung by Zooey Deschanel what we see is very similar to the opening of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, in that it is the characters move around a map of the Hundred Acre Wood inside the book. And it was nice to hear Tigger’s name added to the song. Pooh wakes up to find he is out of honey, and while searching for something to eat, he discovers Eeyore’s tail is missing. The whole gang gathers to find a new tail, but nothing seems to work. Later, Pooh is looking for Christopher Robin, but his friend is missing, having left a note saying he was busy, but will be back soon. Owl misreads this, and everyone thinks Christopher has been kidnapped by a monster known as a Backson. This launches one of the coolest scenes in the entire movie. They sing a song about the Backson and what terrible things it does, but they are drawn as chalk drawings on a blackboard. It was very neat.

Overall the animation was superb. In today’s world of computer generated animation, it is nice to see something traditionally animated, and done so well. I’m a fan of all things meta, so the characters interacting with the narrator and the words in the book as much as they did was wonderful. The tone of the film is very calm, and while I personally prefer Pooh movies that have a bit more edge to them, such as the Tigger Movie or Pooh’s Grand Adventure (which this reminded me of a lot), I cannot fault something for sticking so closely to the source material. If you’re  a fan of the original Pooh movie, or the books themselves, you will adore this.

One scene I had trouble with comes a little over halfway through the movie. While preparing to hunt down the Backson there is a bit that seems more like they are preparing for a war. It seemed oddly out of place for such an otherwise lighthearted film, and both times I have seen it I couldn’t get over just how jarring it is to the rest of the movie.
My verdict? This is an excellent movie. Between the lighthearted nature and the frequency of more, shall we say, trippy scenes, it would not be out of place among classic Disney films. Don’t go into this expecting something along the emotional level of Princess and the Frog or Toy Story 3, it is definitely a more childlike film, but even if you don’t have kids to see it with it can still be an enjoyable experience.

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More Brave News – Trailer and Still

The other day I reported that the first posters for Pixar’s next film Brave had been spotted. Since then there have been some more odds and ends released for Brave!

The first is a still from the movie, of Princess Merida herself.

That hair. Just look at it. Beautiful.

Additionally, as some of you may know, the first teaser trailer was attached to Cars 2. I think it must only have been with the 3D version, because I did not get to see it yesterday when I saw Cars 2 in 2D. No worries though, it has been leaked to youtube, so if you’ve not yet had an opportunity to see it now is your chance.

The video is not the greatest quality, due largely to the fact that it is someone filming a 3D trailer with a regular camera, but it isn’t unbearable. There’s no telling how long it’ll stay up on youtube, so get it while it’s hot!

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My thoughts of Cars 2

Hello everyone! Not much time to talk today, but I just got back from seeing Cars 2 with my family, and it was great! Those who know me know that Cars is probably my least favorite Pixar film, and as such I was not very excited about seeing this. I’ve been looking forward to Winnie the Pooh next month much more than I’ve been looking forward to this, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Though still not my favorite of Pixar’s films (ain’t nothin’ gonna beat out Finding Nemo, no sirree. Well except maybe Up. They’re possibly tied.) I enjoyed it more than I did the original. Without spoiling anything plot-wise in the film, I can say it probably came down to three things. 1 – There were spies. British spies. Everything is made better with the addition of either spies or British accents, and this had both. 2 – Lightning McQueen was not the main character. Owen Wilson, for whatever reason, is one of those actors I just cannot stand, so his character stepping back a bit and not having as many lines was a good thing in my opinion. However, your mileage may vary (ooh, bad pun? Sorry, couldn’t help myself). And finally, 3 – Mater. As much as I dislike Owen Wilson, I also dislike Larry the Cable Guy. In the first movie, Mater seemed to me to be Larry the Cable Guy as a tow truck. He seemed to gain a bit of his own personality in this one though, turning him from Larry the Cable Guy as a tow truck into a tow truck who just happens to be voiced by Larry the Cable Guy.

 

Oh, and did I mention the fact that there were British spies? Because that’s important.

I do have to say though, the Toy Story short that was shown before the film stole the show, for me anyway. Even if you don’t think British spy cars sounds like something you’ll enjoy, the short was well worth it. Was Cars 2 flawless? Absolutely not. My sister who doesn’t pay much attention to actual animation even noticed how blurry it was at times, and I found myself raising an eyebrow to the message it — possibly unintentionally — was sending. But was it about as good as a story about a world inhabited entirely by automobiles is going to get? Quite possibly.

 

Now, if you need me, I’ll be going back to my 1930s animated shorts for a while. Talking vehicles are ridiculous, I need the sort of grounding in reality that can only be brought on by talking rodents and farm animals. … Er, wait, maybe I’m a bit confused.

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Pixar’s Brave has a New Poster

Not much is currently known about Pixar’s Brave other than it being about a Scottish princess named Merida, and that it comes out a year from today. Well, it seems the first poster for this film has finally shown up.

Beautiful, isn’t it? I am looking forward to this one a lot.

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Top 5 Disney Dads

Happy Father’s Day, everyone! In honor of today, I’ve put together a little list of, in my opinion, the top five Disney (animated) Dads.

5. James (Princess and the Frog)

Though not present for most of the film, Tiana’s father James was loving parent. He would work “double, sometimes triple shifts” to make ends meet, but never complained or even let on how difficult it was for him. Even though he passed away, he was still a strong influence in Tiana’s life, compelling her to try her hardest to achieve her goals.

4. Goofy

I grew up watching Goof Troop and the Goofy Movies, so it’s a no-brainer that Goofy popped into my head while compiling this list. He’s a big klutz and a constant source of embarrassment for his son Max, but he means well and is always trying his hardest to be the best father he can be.

3. Mufasa (The Lion King)

The quintessential Disney father, Mufasa is caring  and wise, playful yet strict when he needs to be. He was a great ruler and an even greater dad, putting himself completely at risk when Simba was in danger. The lessons he taught Simba stayed with him to adulthood, eventually leading to Simba becoming a strong leader as well.

2. Marlin (Finding Nemo)

You don’t get much cooler of a dad than one who swims across the ocean to rescue his son, but that’s just what Marlin did. His son Nemo always thought Marlin was a scaredy-cat, afraid of anything happening to him, when in actuality Marlin was just scared something bad might happen to Nemo. He traveled through danger after danger to find Nemo, proving to the little fish that his daddy was anything by a scaredy-cat.

1. Donald Duck

I’m sure some of you are now going, “But Dee, Donald isn’t a father, he’s an uncle!” Well, I suppose technically you’d be correct. However, he has raised his nephews since 1938! He took them in when they needed it and has been a wonderful father figure to them ever since. Yes, he does play pranks on them occasionally, and loses his temper frequently, but it doesn’t change that he tries his darndest for three children who aren’t even actually his. He might not be their father, but for all intents and purposes he is their dad. Donald shows that you don’t have to be a biological parent to be a great dad, and for that he earns the number one spot on my greatest Disney dads list.

 

So do you agree with my list, or have I left out a Disney father you would consider one of the best? Why not leave a comment and tell me what you think?

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Rapunzel – the 10th Disney Princess

It looks like Rapunzel is going to be officially honored as the 10th Disney Princess in October. According to Disney Parks Blog, there will be a ceremony for her on October 2 at Kensington Palace in London. It looks like it’ll be a big to-do, all of the other official Princesses will be there, along with “VIPs” and celebrities.

I’m just thinking though… it sure did take them a long time to get around to doing this. She’s already been in a lot of merchandising with the other princesses, I sort of thought she already was an official princess. Looks like I was wrong. Still, it is sorta neat. And it’s even cooler that they’re doing the ceremony in the UK. Of course this means I won’t get to go, but I imagine it means a whole group of little girls and boys who don’t normally have an opportunity to see Disney characters in person will get to do so.

 

Now, maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow to news that Eilonwy and Kida are going to be an offic… aaahahaha, can’t even finish that sentence without laughing.

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The Return of Disneyfest

Last winter I started what I referred to as Disneyfest. This impressive-sounding title was really nothing more than me vowing to watch all 50 of the Walt Disney Animation Studios titles in release order, one a day, until I got to Tangled. It was loads of fun, and despite occasionally missing a day, I did watch every theatrical release in the proper order. It really is an interesting way to go through these things. It gives a bit of perspective and context that I missed, being born so late.

The only bad thing was that fifty movies were over far too soon! I wanted to start another Disneyfest, but of what? The straight-to-video releases didn’t exactly appeal. I could watch the shorts, I thought, but there are so very many of them! It would take forever! I would have to be crazy to want to watch those, right?

Well, apparently I’m crazy. Yesterday I managed to find a list online of every single Disney short in the order they were released. So, this is me putting my foot down. It is going to take a long time, yes, but I’ll do it.

I’m going to watch every Disney animated short, in order, as best I can.

Who’s taking bets on how long before I go crazy? (Or maybe that should be before I go… plane crazy. 😉 )

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