Friday, November 28, 2008
With the Thanksgiving weekend upon us, I thought we would take this opportunity to just take a look at several really cool items related to Disney from around the web...
In no particular order:
Over in Japan plans are underway for the Christmas holiday events. Ever wonder what the commercials for the resort look like? Well wonder no more thanks to the brilliance of YouTube.
A NOTE:YouTube has expanded its standard window size for its videos from a 4:3 normal TV square(425x344) to a widescreen ratio(640x360). So all those new Disney videos can be released more like cinema and with greater image quality...
Here's a commercial from Tokyo DisneySEA for this Christmas.
Here's a couple of commercials under the "Have A Dream" marketing campaign for the Tokyo Disney Resort as well, here and here. As well as a normal commercial for the Resort here and one advertised for summertime here.
Oh, and if you've never seen how they advertise for the Tower of Terror over there then take a look at this commercial for it as well. BTW, if you recognize that person playing the part of Harrison Hightower III, it's Disney Imagineer, Joe Rohde who's the czar over DAK.
Oh, and while we're on the subject of the TDR, check out the official websites holiday offerings for TDL's Christmas Fantasy here and here. And some merchandise for the Christmas Fantasy here and here.
Over at Tokyo DisneySEA they're not being left out of the festivities either. Here's the official website for the Harborside Christmas. Check out this official website for decorations at TDS's Christmas celebration also.
And if you liked some of those commercials for the site there are those and several more here.
And talk about being prepared in advance... the TDR already has their Valentines day celebration website up for the upcoming "Valentine Nights". It's purty...
Moving across the ocean over to the Asian mainland we come upon Hong Kong Disneyland. Did you know that China's first Disney Resort has an official YouTube channel filled with videos? Well, now you do. Expect to hear a lot of news about HKDL next year, as well as Asia in general and China in particular...
Crossing the ocean back to sunny California were they're going to be holding the upcoming 3D Entertainment Summit from December 1-2. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group president Mark Zoradi will be one of keynote speakers recently added to the schedule. It's going to be interesting to hear what he has to say about "Twilight"...
Disneynature's trailer for "Earth" has been released on YouTube as well.
If you've ever wanted to know what John Lasseter's five favorite films are then Rotten Tomatoes will satisfy that desire.
The American/English cast for "Ponyo on the Cliff" has been announced by Ghibliworld.
Speaking of Ponyo, the director of that film, Hayao Miyazaki has an interview over at Twitchfilm.
Finally, if you love animation then you'll know who Richard Williams is... for those that don't, he's the man that orchestrated the animation on "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", and he's a brilliant animator. Well, his lifetime dream was a project he worked on for twenty-plus years known as "The Thief and the Cobbler". He was eventually thrown off the project and it was reworked as "Arabian Knight" for Miramax. It came and went without much fanfare, but if you'd like to see what his cut of the film looked like then check out this little gem on Google Video. Ahhh, the wonders of the web.
Till Monday, enjoy the holiday weekend. Blue Sky Disney will return...
Thursday, November 27, 2008
It's been a very interesting year to say the least...
I want to thank each and everyone that visited the site and enjoys the news, rumors and commentary by yours truly. It's something I'm extremely thankful for.
So from Blue Sky Disney to all of you, Happy Thanksgiving.
Have a turkey leg on me and don't forget to say your blessings...
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
This looks kinda cool and interesting from a design standpoint at least...
Except for that blatant ripoff of "Raiders" during one scene in the trailer. I guess you could be flattered and call it a homage...
The visual style looks nice, but I haven't seen this up on the big screen and don't know if the story is good or the characters are likable, we'll see.
Hat Tip to IMP Awards.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Ok, ok here's another poster for a film the Mouse is making...
This one I'll never see because, well, I'm not a girl, I'm not a tween and I have a different definition of what music is. That said, it'll probably make a mint for Big D. And it's in 3D! Oh my aching eyeballs.
Now, where did I put those earplugs...
Hat Tip to IMP Awards.
There's a nice, short video interview with Mark Walton(aka: Rhino the Hamster) over at CNN online...
You can tell he really is passionate about his work. Mark caught Lasseter's eye(and ear) and he and the directors couldn't find anyone, no matter how many actors they auditioned for the role that was as good as his portrayal. In "Bolt," Walton's Rhino steals ever scene he's in.
Give it a read/look...
When it's a film released by the Disney's Miramax division, that's when...
The arthouse room of the Mouse House has released this poster for "Adventureland". Very retro 70's. Could be interesting, I'll go put on my pair of bell-bottom jeans and give it a try...
Hat Tip to IMP Awards.
Those of you that read a few months ago, "The Competitors" post I did might want to click over to the Disney and More Blog and have a look at Alain's two part post(Part One, Part Two) on the Atlantis Resort grand opening on the Palm in Dubai. It shows you that the Mouse doesn't have a monopoly on creativity and just how hard WDI has to go to not just keep up, but show everyone that they're the top of the heap.
The bee's knees, so to speak...
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Sorry about the lateness of the review, I've been running around and living in the real world.
When it comes to "Bolt", many of you know it's taken a long winding road to the screen. There have been fans that have had their aspirations and hearts broken along the way. When I saw the film last week I had high hopes for it. I will admit that Chris Sanders designs were more appealing, but everything I've heard about this project told me that that was the only thing appealing about his version. As I said, I've trusted John Lasseter because up till now he's not let me down. And he really seems to know how to keep the audience interested.
He still does.
Bolt is a road picture, but it starts off in another world to establish this. I won't go into the details of the story because if you've seen the trailer then you know the premise. But you haven't seen the heart. This story has the warmth and attention that has been missing from Disney animation for a decade now. It's kind of ironic that the last Disney animated film to have this much heart was also the product of Sanders. Yes, "Lilo and Stitch" was the last animated film I thought was totally worthy of the Disney moniker. Not there haven't been attempts made, but all of them have faltered in one way or another. This is the first one in a long time to remind me why I like Disney and why their animation stirs my emotions.
I'm not a big fan of John Travolta, I don't have any hate for him like some of you, but other than "Pulp Fiction" and "Saturday Night Fever," I've just never took much of an interest in his work. I know he sounds familiar in the role, but very quickly I forgot it was him. The character seemed real to me, but the secondary characters were even more so. This is trademark at Pixar that Lasseter has wisely brought over to WDAS. The character of Rhino and surprisingly Mittens truly shine in this film. Unlike films I wanted to love like "Atlantis," these characters actually engage me and don't seem to be thrown in because someone said: "We need a cute little girl that's tough." Of all the voices, the one that kept bringing me out of the film a bit, was Miley Cyrus. She does a good job, but her recognizable voice would bring images of the Disney Channel from time to time. Don't worry, she's not in it that much. This is a road picture, remember?
I felt that the back stories and the depth of emotional involvement in the film were a great welcome from what I've had to endure(Chicken Little, Home on the Range, ect.) for most of the last decade. This is a story that kids and adults can enjoy just as much as a couple out for a date movie. It's not a film that talks down to you. It doesn't try to be hip like certain films from a former Disney Animation Head. It just tells you a compelling story that is worth watching, worth spending money on and most of all, worthy of being called Disney.
Chris Williams and Byron Howard have a great future at the Hat Building. They're clearly very talented storytellers and knowing that half of that team is working on getting "Rapunzel" fixed and ready for 2010 is a comforting feeling. I've not heard what Williams is doing next but excitedly look forward to whatever he's working on.
Look, some of you are dead set against going to see this simply because of your feelings about Chris Sanders. Others may not feel that it's very interesting from the trailers. But all I can do is offer my opinion on the matter. If you choose not to go see it, you're missing out on something special. You're missing out on the rebirth of Disney animation being relevant again. You're missing out on the first animated film from the Mouse that hasn't made you feel like you were being taken for a patsy for just going to see something because it had the name Disney on it. Lastly, you're missing out on a great time at the movies. When I see movies, it's rare that the audience claps and cheers at the end. That usually happens only at Pixar films. Both times I've seen it they cheered. Both times the audience sat in their seats to watch the credits. The show last night had many children there with their parents watching a bunch of boring credits scroll by. Giggling and smiling. I watched one mother walk her child out as he asked if he could see it again...
She nodded her head and said; "Tomorrow." I smiled realizing that Disney had hit the bulls eye if this is the kind of response they'd be getting from both adults and kids. A movie good enough for a parent to take here kid to see again in these difficult time. It shows that good stories are worthy of seeing again. And again. I only hope that you give the film a chance and see it once.
It's been a long time since a Disney animated film made me remember why I love the Mouse. Go see what I saw this past week. Twice, actually and more to come... Go see why you loved Walt Disney in the first place...
Friday, November 21, 2008
Well, I only have one word to say...
But apparently others are saying quite a lot more:
"Familiar territory, but the Disney team still knows how to bring a story to life." Rafer Guzman, NewsdayFull review here.
"I know that the knee-jerk reaction to any non-Pixar animated work from Disney is resistance and ridicule, but please allow me to be among the first to tell you that BOLT goes down easy and is a whole lot of fun." Capone, Ain't It Cool NewsFull review here.
Full review here.
"It's charming, nicely paced, often quite funny and features well-chosen voice talent. Most important, it provides a satisfying entertainment ''meal.'' It's not a ''gourmet'' banquet on the order of ''Ratatouille'' or the first ''Shrek,'' but this peppy picture is certainly more than a cinematic ''snack,'' and for its 96-minute running time will not bore kids, the parents or other adults joining them." Bill Zwecker, SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
"What is most certainly a return to form for the Disney, their animation department has not only caught up to Pixar but with their own past of telling classic tales. Bolt is easily the best film Disney has made since their silver age resurgence in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It is a hilarious, adorably sweet film that will please the whole family, and I absolutely loved almost every last moment of it." Massawyrm, Aint It Cool NewsFull review here.
Full review here.
"Disney animation takes a tentative step out of the shadows of Pixar with Bolt, a winning 3D-animated action-comedy that marries the best Disney traditions with Pixar polish. Though this road comedy of a lost TV star dog doesn't rival the classics from Disney's computer-animation pioneer partners, it's the first in-house Disney animation -- after the middling Chicken Little, The Wild and Meet the Robinsons -- to bear comparison to the Pixar gold standard." Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel
"Four Stars, one of the best movies of the year." Michael Medved, Film Critic and Talk Show HostFull review here.
"But "Bolt" impresses on more levels than just the basic -Full review here.
It's a great day in America when the complicated looks so easy, and when we expect smart storytelling as a rule, not the exception." Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
"I laughed, I cried, the hamster was hilarious… The gags are hilarious, the characters endearing and believable, and the settings and action are rendered with high craft. Director Byron Howard and Chris Williams and screenwriter Dan Fogelman have all worked in the trenches of some of Disney's better animated flicks and have put together an entertaining, fun gem of a movie." Vincent Janoski, Wired MagazineFull review here.
"Fully Awesome!" Rhino, Hampster about town.Full review here.
There are more, but I think you get the point. This is a fine restart to the Disney animation tradition... Why are you still reading?
Today is another milestones in the long, long history of the Disney Brothers/Walt Disney Productions/Walt Disney Pictures via the Walt Disney Company...
Today we have the first tangible results of Bob Iger's decision to buy Pixar Animation Studios. Rather than let the Lamp slip away and have the films it makes go on to provide profits for another studio and characters for another theme park he chose the boldest path. He bought the company George Lucas started to help out his film making with this potentially "new" computer technology, which George had to sell to pay off a nasty divorce. The one that was bought by Steve Jobs because he saw a future in the computer technology that the company was developing. He had this vision of selling the software that Pixar, as he newly renamed it, would be creating. Oh, and along the way some of the people there were working on these little shorts to develop the programs they were creating. He let them do this so long as they also did commercials to help foot the cost. Along the way they talked about experimenting with a film done entirely in computer images. So they started having discussions with the Mouse...
And the rest we all know. Animation changed. Computer graphics changed. Story changed... or did it just come back? Because at the heart of all that cold, computer programing was a small band of storytellers led by a fired animator from Disney named John Lasseter. Barely a decade after creating the first computer animated film and changing the course of most theatrical animation in the process, Pixar became a part of the Walt Disney Company. John Lasseter, whom was fired twenty years earlier, was now brought back in to do what he was fired for. Asking questions. Shaking things up. Bring life back to what used to be the crown jewel of animation... the Disney feature animation division. Oh, and he'd be given extremely broad powers. Only answerable to Iger. And carrots would be dangled. We are only beginning to reap the benefits of that right now. More to follow over the next few years. He truly inherited a division that was in a chaotic mess. Sure, there were many great people that worked there, but the creative heads of the company weren't very creative. The Suits were getting their tentacles way too much into the process of storytelling and the spark that had been lit in the late Eighties was being extinguished. Many projects were scraped or discarded all together. Several projects were sent back to the drawing board and a few were left unscathed. After sitting down to look at the story reels for what was upcoming in the near future Lasseter talked to the directors in charge about what he thought was going right and wrong with their projects. He got several directors who were actually leaving Disney to stay and also was in the process of bringing back animators that had long given up on Walt's Little Creation...
It wouldn't all be painless. In fact, much of it would be painful. Nothing in life or business is a fairytale. Projects that were long labors of love would have to go or be radically changed. And change is the enemy of the status quo. Some would reject this change and realize the consequences. The first project to be released by Lasseter under his leadership was one of these such labors of love. Bolt. This long gestating project would be his first test. It wouldn't necessarily be the longest one developing at the Mouse right now(that would be Rapunzel), but it would be the one he saw being the closest to being released. Or at least having the earliest possible opening(in a frantic 18 months, which is light years in animation).
This isn't a film that was conceived of wholly by Lasseter and his Pixar crew. Anyone that's a Disney fan tends to know the story how this one began. A few Disney animators and quite a lot of fans still have bruised egos and harsh reactions to the sacking of Chris Sanders from his pet project: "American Dog."
Many people have been highly critical of this project, but hopefully as the weekend ends the result will be a realization that this is the first of many positive projects being developed by the new Disney animation division. Clearly, "Bolt" is more low hanging fruit than a radical departure from the structural norm of the animation market and Walt Disney Studios' typical films.
But the story that Chris Sanders had put together wasn't really much of a story. And despite all the Sanders Fans out there, this wasn't the "Lilo & Stitch" follow-up project that they were imagining. Even today, many fans long for the project that they "think" American Dog was, but wasn't really. It was a collection of pretty, some would say pretty weird and eclectic images... but at its heart, it didn't have one. There was no connection to the character for the audience. At least not a close one, an appealing one according to Lasseter and the people around him that watched the reels. They gave suggestions to Sanders, but after working on the project so long and so close, he rejected almost all of them outright. That was a mistake. There have been several directors let go over at Pixar on projects that they were working. Most people don't know this because the process up in Emeryville is more secretive. But it's a process that has worked well since Toy Story and who was going to argue with success?
The one thing that has always mattered to John Lasseter was story. Was it good? And more importantly, was it working? If it wasn't then change was needed. If the director didn't want to change he was no longer the director. As long as the story was engaging and moving forward a director had no fear of anything from the big guy with the smile wearing the Hawaiian shirts. If you couldn't get the story going then the smile would fade and those fun shirts he wore wouldn't make your experience any more pleasant. Once it became clear that Sanders wasn't going to play ball he was removed from the project. This was heartbreaking for Chris and difficult for Lasseter, but it was not uncommon for the Pixar executive to have to do unpopular things. Such is the case in business. And despite what anyone will tell you, animation is a business. If it doesn't make money, it won't be making much animation for very long. That's a true and sometimes sad reality to the film business, to animation and to life. This isn't high school and you're not out to be liked by all the people around you. If you think you are, then you're going to be extremely disappointed in your travels.
Once that was done, Lasseter got together with his story crews and came up with likely candidates for replacements. One of the main people that he was looking at was a young animator that had proposed a short for the new shorts program he was developing named Chris Williams. Soon after discussing several alternatives for the story of Bolt, Williams was named the new director. He and his crew developed a new story with only a skeletal remains of what Sanders had worked on. Gone would be the quirky and strange style of characters in exchange for something more familiar. The new crew had just a year and a half to get this production together(half what an animated film normally takes). Sanders had left Disney and was quickly picked up by Dreamworks Animation to direct one(now two) of their animated films. But as the crew plotted on, Lasseter felt that the weight of all this might plus the crunched time schedule would be too much for even the talented Williams and he decided to bring in another director. Byron Howard joined Williams to handle the daunting task of producing this film so that it met its release date. This isn't an uncommon thing in animation and if you get the right team together you can spread the workload out so it's easier to get things done. And that's very important right now. Getting things done.
Now while all this is going on, Lasseter has many other projects to deal with. He truly has the weight of the "Disney" world upon his hands. In addition to the newly renamed Bolt, he's got to work out several other projects, both theatrical and DVD that he's become involved in(the only animated division he doesn't rule over at the Mouse is Walt Disney Television Animation). And we won't even go into the theme parks which he's advising right now.
He's working on the next Disney film to come out around Christmas next year, "The Princess and the Frog," which will finally give the world another Disney Princess. This film will be the introduction of the Mouse's first African-American princess and the project has gone through several revisions. Lasseter and company don't want to make a film that offends anyone, but they're trying to make sure that the film is respectful while compelling in the story department. From everything I've heard it's going to be a very wonderful, very beautiful film. The great thing is that we have John Musker and Ron Clements working on a film without interference from Suits. Now I know Lasseter is a Creative/Suit, but he's the kind you want. And since he demands story these two guys are the perfect ones to deliver it. I can't think of anyone I'd rather have guiding these two talented directors more than John.
Now on the other side, we have "Rapunzel," a film that I've been waiting to see with Disney Geekyness... this film has more potential than even Princess, but the story hasn't jelled completely yet. When Glen Keane came up with the new concept jettisoning the modern pop-culture elements, Lasseter was impressed with the first act but had major problems with the second and third. Cut to three years later and things haven't changed much. The first is still great, the second has improved a bit, but the last act still isn't working. So now Glen and his co-director are no longer directing it. It was difficult getting rid of Sanders, but it was much harder getting rid of Keane who was a friend and fellow animator he worked with back in the early 80's. But Lasseter did what he had to do. It wasn't working, so he brought in someone he felt could brake the logjam. And I have no doubt that by Christmas 2010(if the release date doesn't change) it will work. How could I not? Lasseter has an incredible track record. Not a perfect one, but an amazingly consistent one. The films after that are far more embryonic. It's probably too early to talk about "The King of the Elves" as it's in the story phase and has a long way to go. By 2012 when that one comes out we'll have a better gauge of what buying Pixar has done for Disney. Hopefully it'll have the same affect that Apple had buying NeXT computer... but time will tell.
I can say that after seeing Bolt I know that the patient is on the road to recovery. I believe they're heading in the right direction. I know that the films we'll get will be miles ahead of what has been put out in the last decade. Bolt is a textbook example of this. If this is the beginning of the a Third Golden Age of Disney Animation, the bottom floor so to speak, then it's great foundation. I can't wait for the next floor to go up during Christmas 2009. It's the house that Walt built, but over the years we've had some bad tenants. Thankfully, there's a new contractor working on the house and he's got an excellent resume.
I can't wait to see the beauty that it becomes...
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Some interesting bits about tomorrows opening of Walt Disney Animation Studios "Bolt" from around the world and web...
A new interview with John Lasseter is up over at Coming Soon.
They also have a video chat/interview with John Travolta and Miley Cyrus and Mr. Walton the soon to be famous Rhino.
The Los Angeles Times has put its review of Bolt online.
The Gray Lady has her thoughts on the film as well.
Salon has a review up about Bolt.
Cinema Blend has a review of the film as well.
Yahoo! Movies has a nice positive one also.
And tomorrow it begins...
I know this one came out for "Coraline" a couple weeks ago, but they've now released a new trailer over at Trailer Addict. Looks really nice. Coming from the director of "A Nightmare Before Christmas" and Neil Gaiman is a very good thing. Keep a watch out for this one.
A couple of poster are out for the Mouse's upcoming competition...
And this one.
Via IMP Awards.
Hat Tip to Animated News.
A friend sent me a note about the release of a box set of music from the Tokyo Disney Resort...
The Oriental Land Company/Tokyo Disney Resort & Walt Disney Records/Avex Japan are releasing a 12 CD Box Set of 25 Years of music from Tokyo Disneyland Park & Tokyo Disney Sea called "Dream". It'll set you back about $300 bucks American, but if you love Disney music and know the quality of the Tokyo Disney Resort, it's a must have.
If you must...
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The groundbreaking of Disney's first Hawaiian Resort(sans park) happens today at the Ko Olina Resort & Marina development on the island of O'ahu. It's scheduled to open in 2011.
That year again...
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Jerry Beck over at his fabulous website Cartoon Brew has a very, very original theory about the current road that Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios are taking under the leadership of John Lasseter...
He appears to believe that the Mouse and the Lamp are following the shorts model that Walt used back in the 30's and 40's. While Mickey Mouse cartoons followed a proven formula, the Silly Symphonies were more experimental and divergent from what the audience expected or wanted. There's more to it than that, but that's the gist of it. Give it a read.
On this day, eighty years ago the very first Disney Cruise began...
Walt Disney and an associate sat in the back of a darkened theater watching people's reaction to their new cartoon, "Steamboat Willie". Although this is the third Mickey Mouse cartoon, it's the first to actually have sound. Walt made a gamble on new technology(something he will do the rest of his life) to get people interested in his new creation. The first two shorts, don't provoke much audience interest...
Not tonight. This time, they laugh. They cheer.
This one proves to be a huge hit. And although his third cartoon, this is actually considered Mickey's birthday. Walt and Carl Stalling, Disney Studios Music Director breath a sigh of relief as they leave the theater very happy men. The whole world now awaits Walt and his creation.
And it all started with a mouse...
Monday, November 17, 2008
Walt Disney Studios has bought the spec script "The World's Most Annoying Man" from Kevin Kopelow and Heath Seifert with the intent of Andy Fickman producing.
The story is about a man who is forced to travel cross-country with his extremely annoying brother to reach his own wedding in time.
Fickman(whose company Oops Doughnuts production company is shingled on the Mouse's Lot) is the director of the upcoming March release "Race to Witch Mountain" from Disney.
The Mouse has released a trailer for "Race to Witch Mountain" over at Yahoo Movies...
It looks like a lot of fun. The effects in this are way better than the ones in that original. Remember that Winnebago that Eddie Albert was driving? Hopefully the script will be as good as the look of the film...
We'll find out when Walt Disney Pictures releases the remake/sequel March next year.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Well, the trades have started reviewing "Bolt" finally...
Not that you need any other reviews other than that awesome synopsis by Blue Sky Disney of course... I'll have the official review from BSD up ASAP. Moving on, The Hollywood Reporter has given up their thoughts on the film:
"Although it will never be mistaken for Pixar pedigree, this genial production is a notable step up for Walt Disney Animation Studios and the first to fall under the creative guidance of Pixar's John Lasseter."
Entire review here.
The other daily rag, Variety also happened to review the film and seemed to like it, but not as much as the Reporter. The cynical critic had this to say:
"The first inhouse feature from Disney Animation since Pixar guru John Lasseter took over the studio's creative reins, this tale of a canine forced to overcome his superdog complex and learn to become a regular pooch bears some telltale signs of Pixar's trademark smarts, but still looks like a mutt compared to the younger company's customary purebreds."
Entire review here.
Oh and if you've been able to stomach the new format of "At The Movies" with hosts Ben and Ben you'll notice their review of Bolt. They loved it, just in case you were wanting to know...
The countdown to Friday continues... Tick, tick, tick.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Brooks Barnes over at the New York Times has a great article up about visual development artist, Mark Walton, aka: Rhino the Hamster. You can tell by the way Mark talks and the developments that are happening that the world in the Hat Building is another universe away from what it was just a few years ago. People make the difference. Leadership under the right people can accomplish wondrous things. It's a shame Michael Eisner forgot that...
Give it a read.
It's been a busy week and I've been stuck down here in Blue Sky's secret headquarters not able to go out and do much. Staring at the ocean from my window has been my only solace...
Nice pun, huh? Actually it's been a bit torturous to look outside and see the trees blowing as the waves crash along the beach and know that I've got deadlines to meet and can't go out. Well, Friday night I took a break and went out to see the new Bond flick: "Quantum of Solace" with a couple friends at the Bella Terra. I was very excited to see Daniel Craig's next outing at the British Secret Agent with a license to kill. Especially since "Casino Royale" was probably one of my top two films of 2006. I was expecting a good film, but not as good as the last one which was the best I figured I could hope for. My worst fear was that the film would fall on its face and come nowhere near the level of the first outing by Craig...
When the lights went down I was excited not only to see the new film, but the new "Star Trek" trailer that was going to be placed exclusively in front of it. Imagine to my surprise when no such trailer appeared. I was rather upset when the credits for QOS started rolling as I'd been waiting to see that Paramount logo and Abrams reinvention of Shat's portrayal of a pop-culture icon(the trailer will officially be online Monday, btw). After a few moments the frustration left me as Bond's new adventure filled the screen.
And then it began...
Not the sequel to Casino Royale, but actually the second half. It really does feel like the conclusion to the story we watched unfold two years ago, not really a new film in the Bond series. They could have actually labeled this "Casino Royale Part 2" because it is such an extension of that film. A reviewing of that film before going to see this latest outing is the best way to see this film come to think of it. Having said that, were you to ask me to choose between this one and Casino, I'd pick that one. This film is good, but not as good as that first one with Bond. Is it an inferior film then? No, but there is a visceral newness to Casino that was missing here. We now know Craig as Bond and that element of surprise is missing. The development of James Bond as the debonair, sophisticated and charming word spy continues to evolve and it's one of the most interesting parts of this new series of films. Craig is still not the character we envision when we conjure up images of a spy in a tuxedo, but we can see he's well on his way. It's an interesting journey to follow him as he becomes one of the landmarks of popular film and literature from the last half of the Twentieth Century.
Picking up literally minutes after the close of the last film, QOS is essentially a chase film powered by Bond's desire for revenge at the loss of his fleeting love, Vesper. It's an intense, brutal collection of car chases, motorcycle chases, on foot chases toward the ultimate goal of Bond redeeming his soul and extinguishing the black pit that lies in his heart. Vesper seems to be the only one of his conquest that somehow touched him to that level and being deprived of her has created the need to punish everyone and anyone that caused this. The thing about this film that is also a part of Casino is the deeply personal nature of the story and Bond's motivation. It seems in the Twenty-First Century, "For Queen and Country" are not enough for a secret mission. Saving the world isn't paramount. Saving ones own soul is...
There have been those that have said this film is too close to the Bourne series and is missing the trademark character traits that made this film series what it is. I say that they're right... and wrong.
He's not the man yet who drinks those shaken martinis. He not the man with the cool, calm exterior than takes care of a problem with a glib sentence while keeping his gun holstered. By the conclusion of this film we begin to see the 00 Agent we've come to know and love. I believe it's taken him two movies to get there, but if you watch as the credits roll he's there, emerging from beneath those piercing blue eyes and cruel good looks. When the third film comes out in 2011, I expect to see a character that is closer to what we've seen in the past. It's been fascinating watching him come all this way. Sean Connery is still my favorite Bond, but Daniel Craig is a close, close second. He's far better, in my opinion, that all the rest. Having read the original novels, I can tell you he's closer to the description than the rest. My only complaint, and it's really not a complaint but more of an expectation for the next film, is the villain. The bad guy in this is Mr. Green, a very smarmy character that's sort of an eco-terrorist certainly worthy of the list of Bond Baddies... but I long for the kind of evil incarnate that I saw in the Heath Ledger's Joker earlier this year. Daniel Craig's Bond needs his own Blofeld to battle. He's got his new "SPECTRE" with the "QUANTUM" organization. Hopefully in the third film with Craig(he's signed for a few more) we will get a villain as deliciously bad as his portrayal is good.
This film is a great ending for the beginning that is the new Bond. I look forward to the next chapter and those joyous words on the screen before the lights in the theater went up, "James Bond will return..."
Friday, November 14, 2008
If you're an avid collector of soundtracks like me, then you're gonna love this...
Of course, if you love Indiana Jones like me, then you'll be in heaven when you get it. Even if the Box Set includes the very generic soundtrack from the very bland "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull".
Hat Tip to Ain't It Cool News.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
We know that the Mouse is working with Verizon on a version of this, but what about the most obvious device to enhance your trip to a Disney Park?
The Apple iPhone 3G?
I've heard rumblings that Iger wants to involve Apple more in the experience. A few birdies have even talked about a small development team inside the little techie corp's sprawling headquarters in Cupertino, but no confirmation yet. Jobs is known to stress his opinion very strongly inside those Mouse Boardroom Meetings VERY STRONGLY...
Were this something he's not been privy to knowing ahead of time, I'd love to be a fly-on-the-wall during that next meeting. I'd wager that's not the case. I don't think Iger wants Shareholders to be totally beholden to one technology company(read: Apple), but it also wants to move within that successful environment(read: the iPhone ecosphere).
Some critics have wondered aloud if this new technology was simply a gimmick/way to increase revenue with ads placed strategically throughout the software, but the WDI Imagineers responsible for the project said that wouldn't be the case and that the whole process is being designed to enhance the guest's experience.
Next year is going to interesting for the Fruit and the Mouse...
I guess many of you heard a few months ago about the Lamp working on another short for the DVD/Blu-Ray of "Wall-E". To Go with the "Presto" short that accompanied the film theatrically? Well, Disney released shots for "Burn-E," the short that will be included with your purchase from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
But what most don't realize is that this little pattern is about to be repeated at the Mouse. Remember how Lasseter began putting animated shorts in front of Pixar films as a way of experimenting with their technology and training animators/future directors? To the public this just became an added bonus. Later it was also common for an additional short to be made exclusively for the DVD release of Pixar films, such as "Jack-Jack Attack" on "The Incredibles" DVD.
When John Lasseter became head of Walt Disney Animated Studios, he instituted a new shorts program there as well. We've gotten the taste of the first one last summer with "National Treasure 2" and the release of the great new Goofy short: "How To Hook Up Your Home Theater System." The second short, "Glago's Guest" was going to be in front of "Bolt" next week, but was pulled from that schedule to be placed with another movie. There are several more in the pipeline for future Disney films, but you know what?
The tradition of adding an additional short to the DVD release of Pixar films is also carrying over to Disney Films. Right now, work is being done on an animated short that will be included on the "Bolt" DVD when it's released next year. This is a process that Lasseter plans on carrying through each and every new animated feature. It's great that as time goes by, we're going to be getting a whole new collection of Disney Shorts, both in theaters and at home.
Oh, and if you want to see the sample frames that Disney released then see Planet Pixar's links here.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
No, this isn't a plug for the book.
Disney Animation has produced some great films. Compelling stories, stunning visuals, iconic characters, but really...
We love the Disney Villains, don't we?
Walt Disney and the company he founded have created some of the greatest villains you've ever seen on the silver screen. It's with that statement that I give you "The Blue Sky Disney List of the Ten Greatest Disney Villains".
I'm sure you'll all agree. Ahem...
Number Ten: Chernabog
Number Nine: Professor Ratigan
Number Eight: Scar
Number Seven: Jafar
Number Six: Ursula
Number Five: Captain Hook
Number Four: The Queen
Number Three: Cruella de Vil
Number Two: Shere Khan
Number One: Maleficent
I'm sure there's no disagreement here in the Blue Sky Bloggosphere, is there? Hehe...