Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
"Believing is just the beginning.."
That's the tagline used for the new "Disney Fairies" line for girls that is supposed to take the place of the "Disney Princess" line...
The new trailer the "Tinkerbell" straight to DVD movie has been released and if that's not enough there's a clip introduced by John Lasseter himself over at Cartoon Brew...
Little girls will be asking their parents to buy this in droves. Me?
Meeh. Not so much. I'd be more interested in seeing a Captain Hook movie. But that's because I'm a guy, not a girl...
Give it a looksie.
Another example of my distaste for Jay Rasulo is the marketing campaign featuring the name of the "Toy Story Midway Mania" ride as it is known in WDW's Disney's Hollywood Studios...
Not to mention the billboards all around the Southland that feature misleading wording which makes it appear as if the attraction is in Disneyland. There are some signs actually at the Resort with DCA listed(in very, very small print, btw), but most guest tend to not pay that much attention to banners and displays. Add to this the commercial that is running on television which has the Toy Story characters walking down Main Street and I can tell we're going to have some angry guest this summer that buy a ticket to DL and wind up not being happy they can't ride the new attraction they saw advertised...
Thanks Jay. Thanks a lot.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
More pictures have come out from the new "Clone Wars" film.
Over at "Entertainment News International" they've got a couple new shots from the film up along with all the others that have been released...
Check it out.
Hat Tip to Movie Web.
Yeah, I know...
I've gotten a lot of response to the latest "Blue Sky Buzz" update about Walt Disney World. Both here in the comments section and in my e-mails I've received an earful. Both positive and negative. But I just wanted to clear up some things...
First off, I haven't turned into one of those raving negative nabobs we have mentioned quite a bit. Second, I'm still not a tool for the Walt Disney Company, no matter what you think. And lastly, I wanted to address what I believe is a pivotal time for the Mouse, its Shareholders and its fans.
Everyone that's read my posts knows that I'm no fan of Jay Rasulo. I believe he's the single-most impediment to the theme parks shining and blooming under the watchful eye of some great Imagineers and John Lasseter's guidance. Thankfully Lasseter is there to counter many(but not all) of the boneheaded decisions he has made or at least wanted to make. If it was up to Jay the Finding Nemo Submarine ride wouldn't have been anywhere near as elaborate as the one we got. It would have been more along the lines of an aquatic version of DCA's Monsters Inc. ride. The budget alone would have been close to half what it wound up costing. Now I'm sure that would have save the Disneyland Resort a great deal of money, but it would have also cost it with the amount of guest coming to ride it... and even more so when having them return to ride it again. Those two hour lines people have had to wait in to ride it wouldn't be there, but neither would the desire to stand in an even shorter line for a mediocre attraction. And let's not get me started about what Toy Story Midway Mania would have wound up looking like had Lasseter not dove in to make sure this attraction had all the bells and whistles it needed to be a supremely fun, elaborate "D-Ticket". Lasseter has been the buoy that has kept many projects alive and his direct link to Iger has prevented Jay from screwing up a lot of projects.
While I may be frustrated by the cloning of "The Little Mermaid" attraction, I am happy that MK is getting an extremely nice addition to the park. I just wished it was one of several other rides that have been proposed and brushed off by WDW park management. Heck, I'd be happy if they went ahead with a Mermaid ride, but had it be different than the one DCA is getting. What looks like will happen is a repeat of TSMM with the same ride being built in both parks housed in entirely different buildings. Maybe if there is a bright side, if the attraction gives the park a boost maybe some of those Suits will figure out that more attractions, better attractions will actually help the park. I'm not holding my breath, but that's what I hope happens... then maybe one of two or three really cool attractions they've pitched will also be added to the World and we won't have such a long drought like we had between Splash Mountain and The Little Mermaid.
As for all the questions I got about Cars Land, I can't put it in writing, but it will be very difficult to clone. It is a whole land after all, not just a ride. There are no plans to add lands to WDW's parks so I really don't see it happening. Add to that the emphasis Lasseter and Weis have wanted to give the parks in California. See they believe somewhat in my idea about the parks being unique... but even they are not all powerful. Sometimes Rasulo gets his way. I'm just praying Lasseter keeps amassing power so that in a year or two he's able to walk Jay Rasulo to the door and nudge him or kick him out of it. Much of the management change at WDI has been for the good, but in the Parks and Resorts division of the Mouse there are still too many Suits left over from the past regime. I can't say for sure, but I know that Lasseter does recognize some of the problems with this management. I'm crossing my fingers that "Wall-E" and "Up" and "Bolt" wind up giving him the clout to sweep this crew out of Burbank, Orlando and Anaheim. Maybe they can stop by the unemployment office and chat with Paul Pressler as they search for a new job.
I will say that there are a lot of things that are going to be coming to the parks over the next four or five years that are really cool. Some things are moving through the proposal phase in Glendale that wouldn't have even been possible three years ago. Lasseter and his crew are busy trying to rid the place of the toxic atmosphere that has built up over the last decade and I'm a realist about it. This will take a long time. Perhaps it wont even be done for another decade. Perhaps it won't ever be done. But I can tell you it's moving in the right direction. It takes detours every now and again and sometimes there are stumbles, but I feel that WDI is making progress. It's not as much headway as he's done with the animation division, but that is his primary element. Once he's proven they're on the right track, he'll be able to devote more attention to the makeovers not only in the parks, but in the halls and walls of Glendale as well.
Sometimes magic happens slowly and maybe even I'm a little more impatient than I should be...
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Walt Disney Studios has created a new imprint line called "Kingdom Comics" that will create new projects as well as reinterpretations of classic Disney live-action films in graphic novel form. The venture will be overseen by Ahmet Zappa, Harris Katleman and Christian Beranek. It's believed the line will also be the Mouse's attempt at creating comic book type creations that can then be plowed back into film or television adaptations. Essentially this could be seen as Oren Aviv's attempt to do an in-house version of what Marvel and DC have done with their creations(since Marvel and DC won't or can't be sold at this time). Kingdom Comics is supposed to announce a line up of writers and artists shortly.
It'll be interesting to see what they come up with... hopefully this won't go down in flames like the "Disney Comics" line from the early 90's.
Looks like the Mouse likes expensive weddings...
Walt Disney Studios' Touchstone Pictures has made a preemptive strike and paid deal $850,000 versus $1.6 million, in deal for the script "Wedding Banned".
The script is a comedy written by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler about a long-divorced couple that kidnap their daughter on the day of her wedding to stop her from making the mistakes they made. Over the course of the chase as they evade cops and the groom they find that maybe they still have love for each other.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Animation World Magazine has a great article about Pixar Animation Studios new short "Presto"...
The short, directed by Doug Sweetland debuts in front of "Wall-E" next month. It's a nice read that helps you understand animation and the Pixar way of doing things... it's always nice to see the perspective of those that create these wonderful shorts and to get a glimpse behind the curtain, behind the Lamp.
Have a looksie...
Monday, May 26, 2008
You guys are so lucky...
After all the many e-mails I received asking for a Blue Sky Alert(now know as Blue Sky Buzz, btw), you not only got a full report, but two mini-updates about Anaheim and now...
you get another mini-update about Orlando.
That's right guys, finally something I can report about the Florida part of the Mouse's empire. Kinda good/kinda bad info. At least from my perspective, I'm sure you Disney Fans/Geeks in Florida might have a different perspective. Now, in truth this is sort of an update/commentary so understand that going in...
But I thought I'd fill you in to some of the inner workings of WDI and TeamDisney Burbank. Ahhhh... Suits. Ya gotta love 'em, huh? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
Well, the big word is that the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World is finally getting a new "E-Ticket". Now this is great news since the last one they got was I believe 1992. Has it really been that long? Wow...
And if you remember that was "Splash Mountain" if I remember. Not that other parks haven't gotten more rides and more "E-Tickets", but I believe that that's the last one the MK got(I could be wrong, but I don't think so).
Now that's good right?
Well yes... and no. You see, they are getting a big, expansive, immersive ticket BUT...
It's going to be "The Little Mermaid" ride that DCA is getting. The EXACT ride. So the unique appeal of this ride will be watered down since there will now be one on the West Coast in DCA and one on the East Coast in MK. Just like "Midway Mania" which was supposed to be a DCA exclusive, TLM will now go into the back part of Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. It should fit there rather nicely. It should really bring in the guest, but there was something to be said for having it be a ride only experienced at the Disneyland Resort. Those WDW Suits along with the remaining spawn of Eisner's Era that still survives deep in the bowels of Burbank have decided to clone the attraction. The rational is that for the development cost to be justified it helps to have it spread out over two parks instead of one. Can someone please do me a favor and take Jay Rasulo and give him his walking papers? Please? I've written about the death of the "McPark" but as long as Jay is still around this concept will refuse to die because he keeps bringing it up in various incarnations.
While it will be nice to have a new ride at WDW, it's not like WDI is empty of ideas. The problem is the Suits in Burbank keep shooting them down. They have proposed many, many new interesting and innovative attractions. Their logic... brilliant bean counters that they are is that "People are going to come to WDW world anyway, so why should we spend money on a big, new attraction?"... I know, I know. I'm shaking my head that these kind of short sighted lame brained, dim light bulbs are still there. Sorry if I'm a little ticked. I tend to be positive but I'm human and sometimes I even get frustrated. Here's a bit of good news about these Suits: There aren't nearly as many as there was before. But there are still a few in high positions that have enough sway to get things to feel like they were under the Pressler regime.
Just so you know the logic follows that they don't want to risk a lot of money on something very big and expensive unless it's a proven thing. Like Mermaid... which I love, btw. But some of the concepts(before you ask, no I can't tell you what they are) that HAVE been proposed for WDW and DL and even Hong Kong have been amazingly cool. But the executives up in Burbank will only squeeze out the money if they're sure it'll be a hit from the get go. Now John Lasseter has been working with the teams inside Glendale to try and get some of these concepts out, but he's still not able to do everything. If "Wall-E" and the new Disney animated films do well it's going to help dim the glow from Rasulo's ego, but until that man is out of the picture we'll still be subjected to the "Disney Parks" brand which is Jay's attempt to homogenize the parks and resorts like franchises of burger joints all across America. If you go to one, you'll sure know what to expect and get.
Now wouldn't it be nice to have something unique about DCA? Something that would make you want to fly all the way across from say, Florida or some other state back east? Many Imagineers have pressed for attractions that could go into various parks to give them an appeal that would make each stand out. Imagine that... giving the guest a reason to try and go to as many Disney theme parks to experience the aspects of each that are different. Jay doesn't want that. He and the insulated bean counting Suits in his circle want you to see no difference between Anaheim or Orlando or Paris or Hong Kong.
Notice any park I left out? That's right. Tokyo. Try finding some of the rides they have there in another park. "Pooh's Hunny Hunt" is nowhere else in the world and it's an amazing attraction. "Monster's Inc." in Tokyo Disneyland? Wait until this attraction opens up next year and puts DCA's to shame... while both Pooh and Monsters here cost around 30 million, their counterparts in Tokyo cost over 100 million. And it shows... For some reason the Suits at the Oriental Land Company seem to recognize that you need unique and elaborate attractions to get people to keep coming back. The ones in Burbank seemed to have still not learned the lessons of the late 90's and DCA...
I know that some of you are asking: "What about Cars Land, will it be cloned too?". Now, nothing is written in stone, but it's very unlikely that this one will be cloned. It's not just a ride after all... it's a whole new land. It would be far harder to reproduce this in Florida than Mermaid. Not that it would be impossible, but just harder. I would hope that if the Suits were to somehow decide to spend 300 million on a new land or area in WDW that they would approve some other idea they've been presented with. Perhaps use some of that money and greenlight the proposed "Beastly Kingdom" area of DAK that has languished now for over a decade. Right now... it's anyones guess what happens with this project(although Lasseter's involvement in certain areas is encouraging).
Hopefully this didn't sound like too down a report for you. It's just me doing a little editorial venting. It is good news for WDW fans though. You guys get a big, brand new spanking attraction. You just don't get anything original that could make you stand out...
For that you have to go East. Not the East Coast of America, but the Far East...
As in Tokyo.
Today, Memorial Day, we honor and pay our respects to those that put on the uniform and place themselves in harm's way so as to protect the freedoms we take for granted.
Bless all those that serve and may God's hand keep you safe from harm.
Thank you from Blue Sky Disney,
Saturday, May 24, 2008
There's another featurette for "Wall-E" up on the net today...
The folks at the Lamp have put up a little short called "The Man and the Machine". Go over and give it a looksie...
Hat Tip to The Disney Blog.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Before I begin this review let me set the table. I know if many of you are regular readers of Blue Sky Disney then you know I have a special love of Indiana Jones. It starts with the fact that "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is my favorite film.
But the story behind that is a little deeper as well...
As a child I can remember watching the local PBS affiliate on weekends, sundays actually. There was a show on there called "Super Serial Showcase" and it introduced me to the world of low budget serials from the 30's and 40's... it offered an action-packed world populated by the innocent view of good versus evil. A universe where you could clearly see where each side stood. A place where you always knew who to root for. No matter if it was my favorite "Spy Smasher" or something like "Zorro's Fighting Brigade" or "The Phantom Empire"... I loved these shorts for the innocence they provided and action that they threw at me. I kept asking the question: "Why doesn't someone make a movie like this?".
On a quite night in my local theater I attended an advance screening of a new film called "Raiders of the Lost Ark"... I knew nothing about it from the commercials I had seen. I only knew it was from the guy that did "Star Wars" and the other guy that did "Jaws". And so I set down with a friend in the theater and waited to see what this new film was about. As the movie began and the plot unwound I sat with my mouth agape...
"Oh, my god! It's as if they went into my head and pulled out these ideas and my thoughts from earlier!" I had an out of body experience... the only one I've ever had watching a film. Not even "Star Wars" did that for me. When the film ended I sat in my seat and watched all the credits(The first time I had ever done that). It took the employees asking me to leave for me to realize the lights had came up. I went home that night giddy...
You see, I was in love.
Indiana Jones was my idol. My hero. He was a man's man, yet he was vulnerable unlike a suave character like James Bond. Indy was approachable and he was more important for me, authentic. I've seen every film since and although they are nowhere near as good as the original, I love them. I love Harrison Ford for the portrayal of this character, I love Spielberg for directing this homage to those old serials I had become familiar with and I love George Lucas for the creation of this wondrous adventurer.
While I didn't care much for the "Young Indiana Jones Chronicles", I've always been on the lookout for another film. Hoping over these nineteen years that somehow Lucas, Spielberg and Ford could somehow find a way to reach back and pull Indy into my world again. And now, it's here... after all those years the Man with the Hat is back.
What did I think of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"?
I Didn't love it... I didn't hate it as well. But after nineteen years I was expecting that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg would have come up with something a little more. Now, there are those that had unrealistic expectations of this film. I don't think I was one of them. All I was hoping was that it would be as good as "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", which was the weakest in the series to me. If it had been that good I would have been content, I would have been happy. But as I sat there watching the film I had an eerie feeling...
I wasn't watching an Indiana Jones film. I was watching a film that had been inspired by an Indiana Jones film. It kind of felt like "The Mummy". Although I liked that film better than this one. It seemed like one of many films I've seen people try to make over the last two decades that had been influenced by "Raiders of the Lost Ark".
Harrison Ford is back and there are shades of Indy in his performance, but it just didn't feel right. I know they were trying to portray him as being older, it was the 50's after all. It was supposed to be like he was becoming his own father where he was a little more hesitant at doing things, a little more timid... but it didn't work. For me at least.
I know Spielberg said that Cate Blanchett's portrayal of Irina Spalko was his favorite of all the villains in the series, but every time she was on the screen I just kept seeing a live-action version of Natasha from "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle".
The Script by David Koepp seemed like something I'd see in a more feeble attempt at mimicking this series story, not the Indy of old. I tend to look at this film as separate and apart from the series. Kind of like what would happen if we looked into the future and imagined what Indy would be... I don't think of this as a part of that series. I don't really look at this as part four in the line of films.
There was plenty of action, but unlike the rest of the Indy films("Raiders" in particular), I never felt for a moment that Indiana Jones was in any real peril. I felt like it was a pedestrian story that went from A to B to C... and so on. I know that Indy would survive in the others, but there was a palpable sense that he might not make it.
I'm not going to tell anyone to not go see this film. Everyone will go see this no matter what anyone tells you. It's essentially critic-proof. At least for a week or so... But don't go in expecting to see the Indiana Jones that you remember from the 80's... this film feels like they could have just changed Indiana Jones to some other name and changed Marion's character to some other heroine and given the film a new title. It would have been another attempt by a film maker to capture the spirit of Indiana Jones. It may have succeeded in doing that, but it failed to also capture his soul. That's a big problem I have with it...
There are a lot of action scenes that have the Spielberg touch, but most of it feels like another action director could have done this. And that shouldn't be happening in a Steven Spielberg film. He's been on his "A-Game" for over a decade now. The last real misfire he had was "Hook".
Now I don't hate it as I said. My best friend HATES it. He feels that Lucas and Spielberg(especially him) have destroyed a character he loved in just over two hours. THX-1388, remember him and his "Star Wars Must Die" guest column on Blue Sky Disney? Well he hated it. I expected him to hate it, but not anyone else. Almost all my friends feel this way.
When the lights came up I walked out the theater and realized that Indiana Jones was over for me. That maybe, they had tried to make this film a decade too late with the wrong writer and wrong perspective and maybe I've seen the last film to feature the Man in the Hat. There won't be anymore Indy films because there just shouldn't be anymore... anymore. I closed the door on a piece of my childhood after that screening. I didn't want to, but I did.
Perhaps it was inevitable. Perhaps it was to be expected...
I didn't want to feel this way. Most of you have known I was waiting for this more than any other film. I still don't feel my expectations were that high. But I did expect to see an "Indiana Jones film"...
I wound up watching a pale reflection of that movie, a nod to a series of films. But the character I saw wasn't what I was expecting or wanting. It may be appropriate that the film takes place in the late 50's which also happens to be the time when serials started to disappear because the new medium of television was taking it's place and competing with films at the theaters. To end a series that was influenced by those serials around the same time they ended may provide a little melancholy to the situation...
It wasn't the experience I wanted, but it was the feeling I got. Maybe, unbeknownst to myself... it was the feeling I needed.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Most of the time here on Blue Sky Disney we talk about the Mouse. It comes from a perspective of my childhood and how that childhood has been affected by Disney specifically and entertainment in general...
I've mentioned about going to Comicon... a sort of pop culture gathering in San Diego that is the Mecca of Geekdom. Nerdvana as I often call it. My friends and I have been going for a decade now. It's truly a fun day where we get to become kids again... the only thing that reminds us we're getting older is the fatigue we face come the end of the day. Each year before we go we always joke about how we're going there to buy back our childhood. It's an inside joke amongst my group of friends, but it's also the truth...
As I get older, I seem to find myself collecting animation, toys and games of my youth as well as many other things that remind me of that time when I felt safe. When I felt guarded by parents and a world that showed me it would all be fine. A world that encouraged me to dream and wonder... Hmmm. Where have I heard those words? Disney is a direct reflection of this. A shining example of what we wish for in an idealized world. Was this the world we lived in or was it just an idealized version that we only remembered through our childish eyes?
I'd have to say it was a little of both.
When we go to Comicon we tend to search for items that bring back that feeling and remind us of cherished moments with friends and families. Wether I'll come across a comic I read as a kid or find a foreign poster of one of my favorite films that isn't widely available in America, I find each time I go on one of these trips I feel like I'm on a safari. Wading through the crowds like an adventurer pushing through the brush of a thick jungle I scour the desert for an oasis. Many are found, but it takes time and patience. Each booth tends to have a little something to offer. Each person you come across has that look in their eyes that tells you they're coming for the same reasons. They've got their credit cards out and are ready to empty those fat wallets for this opportunity.
From what I say, it sounds like I've got a shrine filled with memories of my childhood. Such is actually not the case. THX-1388 happens to be the one with the shrine or temple, if you like(Not many people I know have a life-size Han Solo frozen in Carbonite!). I'm usually very picky and always aware of my limited space for such things. I don't collect action figures, I don't collect Star Wars to be honest... I really don't even collect much Indy merchandise. I do collect movies. I collect posters. I even find old magazines that I used to have. Maybe a comic book or two... As I've stated many times, I love serials, I love the 20s, 30's and 40's so I enjoy many things that have to do with this period and I adore artwork, so I have a good deal of that in storage or lining the walls around me. But I am a timid collector next to all my friends in California and elsewhere.
No one gets to literally go back into their childhood... but it sure is nice to buy back the memories of it. Sometimes that's how I feel when I walk down Main Street toward New Orleans Square to get in line for Pirates of the Caribbean. Sometimes I feel like that when I'm sitting in a darkened theater sipping a soda while watching a great film. And other times I feel like that while I'm cozying up on the sofa reading a really good book. That's one of the reasons I write about Disney... it makes me remember my childhood. It makes me feel young again. And it helps me buy back my childhood...
Remember the "Summer of Mysteries" we mentioned earlier this month and in one of our last BSA's...
After you see the film this weekend, don't forget to go check out the little touches that the Mouse has put together for your "Indy Love".
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
On this day...
Ten years ago, the "New" Tomorrowland was premiered at Disneyland. A mishmash of some of the "Steampuk" designs on display in Disneyland Paris smacked together with a series of structures and rides that gave a guest a surprisingly mediocre impression of what Imagineers could do.
Michael Eisner and the Suits cut back drastically on what was supposed to go into this land. The original intention of creating the "Tomorrowland 2055" was swept away for something less bold, less imaginative and less entertaining... Of course, it was more affordable.
But did it achieve its goal of bringing in more guest? Or did it just encourage Eisner that McParks were the answer?
The planned renovation of Tomorrowland can hopefully remedy this...
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
There's a compelling interview over at the Season Pass Podcast website with a former Imagineer...
Infamously(not totally fair, btw) associated with DCA, Barry Braverman was in charge of the creation of Califoria's Second Gate. It's fascinating to hear his perspective on things. Of particular interest is Braverman talking about people not "getting" DCA. The former Imagineer seems like a smart fellow. He appears to be a very creative man, but his comments on Superstar Limo are one of the main reasons I'm very happy he's very far from Glendale at this time. I don't blame him for the majority of the mistakes, that falls to Paul Pressler. Braverman has done some great work at EPCOT under much better conditions... when Eisner and the Suits started their penny pinching there was only so much he could do.
Give it a looksie...
No, you have not stumbled on to another "Tween" site, this is not some teen magazine and no that's not a picture of a guy named Biff.
Well, that rumor we reported back in April has turned out to be true...
Jake Gyllenhaal will star in "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," the Mouse and Jerry Bruckheimer Films' adaptation of the video game which Mike Newell("Donnie Brasco", "Mona Lisa Smile", "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire") is directing.
Gyllenhaal will play Dastan, a young prince in sixth century Persia who must join forces with Tamina(played by new hottie Gemma Arterton), a feisty and exotic princess, to prevent a villainous adviser to the Prince's father(think, Jafar... live-action style) from possessing the Sands of Time, a gift from the gods that can reverse time. Filming begins in July.
Gyllenhaal is a very good actor(no comment on the beefcake, you ladies will have to provide those...), but doesn't really look the part I pictured. But, the miracle of make-up can do wonders. Maybe even magic... errr, Disney magic.
Well, the Genie is out of the bottle and the reviews are pouring in...
They're mostly positive(except for The Hollywood Reporter) and should give most Indy fans a sigh of relief that this, at the very least won't turn into another "Phantom Menace"...
Here's the roll call...
First, the trades:
The Hollywood Reporter
And let's not forget the newspapers, starting with Tinsel Town's own famous newspaper:
The Los Angeles Times
Or how about the Chicago Sun Times very own "Uber-Critic", Roger Ebert:
Then there is the Gray Lady herself:
The New York Times
Then there is the website reviews:
Our friends over at "Ain't It Cool News" have given their thoughts:
Garth Franklin over at "Dark Horizons also post his thoughts:
And then there's the Disneysytric "Jim Hill Media"' and its take on the film:
Blue Sky Disney's review of the film will/should be up later this week, btw.
Monday, May 19, 2008
It seems that ever so often I get a lot of comments and e-mails from people that like the site, but have a lot of critical issues with it. And usually, every three or four months I have to post a little something to clarify my position and feelings about the blog...
My "Mission Statement" if you will.
So let me proceed. At times people will post comments or send me e-mails asking my why I run certain stories or post about things that they disagree with... and it's times like this I respond.
When I talk about the "Summer Film List" or mention "Indiana Jones" or the BSD Geek/Fan favorite "Star Wars" then I get a e-mails and comments(you've seen them, right?) asking me why I'm talking about this or that because "it's not Disney" and that I'm losing focus on what this blog should be about. Well, as I've stated a number of times, everything I write here relates to my opinions and perspective of the Mouse. That involves what Disney owns as well as what might have even the slightest correlating influence. Sure, George Lucas may own Darth Vader and Indy but I'm blessed that he licensed them to the Walt Disney Company and so I get the opportunity to talk about a larger sphere of my likes and dislikes than just the parks or movies. And well, if that doesn't work then look at it this way... While I am greatly appreciative of all you guys that enjoy my articles and come here on a daily basis, I never started out to please anyone. I just started Blue Sky Disney as a way to vent and talk about things I love in my continually shrinking spare time. I was stunned to find the number of people that actually like/read my rants. It was nothing more than a simple series of actions that became a cathartic pleasure for me. So in truth, I write this for one person, one critic, one opinion... my own.
Everyone that hates my writing style or the perspective I come from have other and better choices on the internet to suit their desires. Blue Sky Disney is not the only blog or site that focuses on Disney. I don't plan on changing my writing style even though some people have called in to question its authenticity. I can assure you that my writing voice is "authentic" and in no way manufactured to get people to keep coming back to the blog. I tend to type in a "stream of consciousness" style of writing because that's just how I write when it's late and I happen to have the time to post something. My blog is the one place I don't have an editor or anyone else telling me when or what to write and I intend on keeping it that way. I don't exactly make any money at this(not yet, at least)... and I have the freedom of using this as a forum for a small and very cherished part of my life. My eternal childhood. Blue Sky has afforded me the opportunity to indulge in that, something I don't get to do the rest of the day and that's why I enjoy it so. In closing, I also must say that I'm really happy most of you enjoy my posts. Thanks for coming...
I'm hoping that clarifies the topography of the Blue Sky Disney landscape.
Normal posting should resume tomorrow...
Sunday, May 18, 2008
The Times of London is out with one of the first reviews of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and it's a good one. They liked it. Hopefully all the Fanboy negativity will be proved wrong...
On this day...
Five years ago "Wall-E" director Andrew Stanton's "Finding Nemo" premieres. It will go on to make massive amounts of cash for Disney and give the Lamp much greater leverage in contract negotiations. The success of this film adds fuel to the fire for Eisner's ouster...
Saturday, May 17, 2008
"I haven’t even told Steven or Harrison this," he said. "But I have an idea to make Shia [LeBeouf] the lead character next time and have Harrison come back like Sean Connery did in the last movie. I can see it working out." - George Lucas
Now that scares me.
Not that I have anything against Shia LeBeouf, but he ain't Indy. When I go see a James Bond film, I don't want to watch James Bond Jr. take over the family spying business. I go to see 007 himself. When it comes to Indiana Jones, I don't want to watch him hand the baton over to his offspring. If Lucas decides that this is the route he wants to go then I'd just as soon stop at four Indiana Jones films. If he wants a new trilogy, I expect the focus to be on Henry Jones Jr. NOT Henry Jones Jr. Junior. To do something like this to a character that is so beloved would be criminal...
You need to take a step back before you create another Jar Jar. You need to think long and hard...
Friday, May 16, 2008
Paramount Pictures and Lucasfilm, Ltd. have a little film that they're advertising for at the Cannes Film Festival...
It's going to open up at Midnight next Wednesday and I'll be there...
Hat Tip to Bad Taste.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wanna see what Wall-E's going to look like in Tomorrowland later this summer?
Look at this.
Pure, unfiltered Disney/Pixar magic...
Hat Tip to The Disney Blog.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
You know, I've thought a great deal about this...
Believe it or not, I have. I've debated putting up a review of my Endless Summer Movie List ever since I saw "Iron Man" last week. I procrastinated about it for a while and then decided against it. After seeing "Speed Racer" over the weekend I decided I would do a review of it; especially after seeing all the negative reviews and venom spewed at the film makers and those that liked it... and then I stopped again.
Why? Was I afraid of the reaction I'd get from readers of the blog? Not hardly(to quote John Wayne), I just thought that maybe it would be better to address the movie in a broader context... one that analyzes what people expect versus what they get. I have had as much trouble with the marketing of this film as I'm sure the marketing department of Warner Bros. had. Right from the start it was a different kind of sell that had to be done to the audience. It was made by the Wachowski Brothers who are famous for their "R" rated fare. But the trailer and the very style made it look like some bizarre kids movie. And I'm sure the people at Warner wanted to get across that it was a family movie. After this weekend, I think it's clear that they failed to do that. So this post will examine the movie and what I thought about it in terms of the difference between a "kids" movie and a "family" movie. This correlates to Disney as well since its brand is that of family films.
First, let me describe my impressions of "Speed Racer" and forgive me if I blather on a bit...
Honestly, I was amazed at the world the Wachowski's have put up on the screen. Now, before you start to whine that I'm just some geek that grew up on it and I saw it through tainted eyes... no. I actually didn't grow up on it. I mean, I am a pop-culture geek and I knew about Speed Racer. Not that much, though. I knew the song vaguely and had seen clips from time to time on the TV. Never really paid much attention about it until I heard talk of Johnny Depp playing the character years ago. Then it fell off the radar again. When I heard the Wachowski Brothers had decided to direct this as their first follow-up to the Matrix Trilogy I again didn't think much about it because I was so profoundly disappointed with the two sequels to the original(particularly the last one with its "Rodney King: can't we all get along?" ending). All this changed in December when I got my first look at the trailer.
Whoa! What the heck was that? I was unsure what to think of it at first. But I kept replaying it. I hadn't been expecting that. I was interested. My curiosity was piqued. I didn't have the reaction some had. The ones that were visceral against it from the first images. I could tell what the Wachowskis were trying to do. But I was unsure if they could do it. So I just waited. Then another trailer was released and another and yet... another. I felt I had to see this film just out of sheer curiosity. I had no idea if it would be good or bad. I know some people want to lay into the Wachowski's for their writing on the Matrix, but I've read several of their other works and find them to be very, very skilled screenwriters. I read their script for "Assassins" well before it got made into that mediocre piece of crap that Sylvester Stallone stared in years ago(trust me, it's not their fault it sucked, the movie was largely different from the script they wrote). That was when they were these fresh faced hot writers. They then sold a script called "The Matrix" that a friend got hold of and I was given a copy. I got distracted and didn't get around to reading it till later. A while later another friend got an early cut of their new movie "Bound". We stayed awake late into the night watching it... and loved it. It was a very dark, film noir and we set around talking about it. I was given a copy of the script and read it. Just like their other script it was really well written and fresh and almost exactly what you saw on the screen. I then read their gorefest "Carnivore" which was sick, sick, sick. Very twisted and totally demented. But it was also well written... not my style, but good none-the-less. Just as I was about to read the script to "The Matrix" I saw the trailer. That was one amazing trailer and I really wanted to know what it was about so I started to read the script. I got two pages in and realized I wanted to see what they had come up with before I read anymore. So I waited until I saw the film. I was able to go to a screening on the Warner Bros. Lot a few weeks before it opened with my best friend. After it was over we left the theater literally high off of the experience. To us, it was amazing. I rarely have experiences like that. That week I went and read the script... as before it was really well written and I loved it, but was amazed that it got made knowing Hollywood as I do. I then got a treat from a friend when he sent me a script called "Plastic Man". I was confused. Why would he send me a script based on a third rate superhero? One that I considered a joke of a comic book. I looked down and saw who had written it: The Wachowski Brothers. I immediately opened it and started reading... it was again, great. Very, very clever and thoroughly enjoyable. Too bad it didn't get made.
So... long way about saying it; I've been familiar with the Wachowski Brother's work for a long time. I was an admire of them until the sequels and their bizarre personal lives made me loose interest in them. And then the trailer(s). A friend of mine loaned me his copies of the old Japanese cartoon when I told him I was suddenly interested in seeing what this was going to be. So I watched them. All of them. And I liked them... I didn't love them, but found them fun and interesting; particularly for the over the top violence. If you're a fan of animation like me, you'll note that cartoons in the late 60's were nothing like this and I could see how it would interest some kids. Boys in particular. So now that I had immersed myself in this world I looked forward to seeing what they had done. The trailers had grown on me. I only hoped that the movie would as well. Unlike some, I don't hope for a film to fail. Having seen how hard it is to make one, I know the work that goes into these things and don't wish anyone in this business the pain of having worked on something for years only to have people tear it apart in a matter of minutes.
So I went to see it last weekend with a large group of friends. Friends that like myself, were not fans of the show. When the lights went down and that kaleidoscope studio icon began to swirl in front of us, I smiled. It was trippy and funny and then the movie began. So what did I think?
Just like the trailer... I've never seen a movie like it. But I did like it. In fact, I loved it. And just so you know, every single person I went with loved it. And they ran the gambit from early 20's to late 30's. We all had a blast and a few have already seen it again. I'm seeing it with a friend and his son tomorrow as well... in IMAX which should be something. I've heard a lot of people trashing this film and I can tell you that it's not a dog. It's not a bad film... simply one that was hard to market and one that pushed the envelope of what audiences would expect. Did I like it better than "Iron Man"? No, I didn't. As far as personal taste go, that one is more up my alley... but speed racer was a great big bizarre experience. It's a 21st Century family film and I believe in the long run it will become a cult classic. It's a shame that it will have to find its audience on DVD and Blu-Ray though... it was made to be seen on a giant silver screen. It truly is a trip. In every positive sense of the word. And it isn't shallow. It has a story. A deeply sweet story about family and loyalty and doing what's right when everything and everyone says to do something else. Is is Shakespeare? Of course not! It's Speed Racer, after all. The script may be light, but it is perfectly designed to move the story along to each race which is what a movie called "Speed Racer" should do. If you don't want to go see this movie then don't... it's clearly not for everyone. But if you have a kid at home or a kid in your heart you should give this film a chance to win you over. Truthfully, it's worth the experience of seeing it at least once just for the groundbreaking visuals alone.
So now that I got that out of the way... I wanted to talk about family films versus kid films. Took a little longer to get here than I thought, hmmm? A lot of people were comparing this movie to another film. One description I heard was that it was "Spy Kids on crack". Well, for me that's not a plus... I didn't like "Spy Kids". Not that it's bad or whatever, but it truly was a kids movie. Some interesting visuals, but overall not my cup of tea. It's juvenile and tells you so right up front. There is some of that in SR too, but not near as much. There is more of a story there than Spy Kids. Much more for me. The depth of the relationship between the brothers and Pops(played so well by John Goodman, btw) was well above what I got out of Robert Rodriguez's movie. Not bashing it... just saying it didn't appeal to me. But after viewing "Speed Racer", perhaps they should have marketed it more as a kids movie... because I think the problem is most families didn't drag their kids to see it, because they either didn't know that it was a film kids could watch(this is the Wachowski's remember?), or the kids didn't know that it was for them. Warner's marketing gurus didn't know how to present this to kids as pure fun. But that is what it is. Fun. Much fun...
Alas, it's a missed opportunity.
Now Disney has had some experience making family films. I think they've been doing them for what, seventy years or so... I would think by now that they've perfected it. Or at least gotten it down to a pretty good science. So what in and of itself defines a kids film or a family film?
Well, a kids film tends to aim pretty low. It usually has a story that is very limited. Very. It usually has zero character development and it tends to follow a simplistic outline with predictable endings. Family movies tend to have some of these traits, but they tend to have a much more emotionally developed plot that can engage and captivate an adult audience. Of late, Pixar is one of the best practitioners of this. With films like "Monster's Inc." and "The Incredibles", the Lamp has found a way to connect to the little kids that love to watch these films and get the parents to enjoy them enough to bring the kiddies back for a second or even third helping. And Pixar also tends to do good at bringing in the college crowd, which tends to be hard to get into what would be just a "kids" film. That's the whole reason Pixar was bough by the Mouse... somewhere along the way they had lost their barrings and weren't creating family films. At least not consistently... that was the point of having to by the Lamp. John Lasseter's taste in animation and family films is on the level of someone like Stephen Spielberg... and that is a valuable commodity in Tinsel Town.
A film that is designed to appeal to a large audience tends to have to have something for everyone. A base plot with wild characters and interesting visuals to interest kids, complex characters to interest adults and a little bit of innuendo for the college crowd thrown in for those late nights when there's nothing to do at the dorm. In a nutshell that's it. A film like "Iron Man" is a mass audience film, but it's not a family film. There's a couple scenes that establish Tony Stark's playboy persona that would put this outside the realm of family entertainment. Ironically, a Suit, a Disney Suit last year coined a phrase that helps apply to these films. I guess even a Suit can contribute something every so often. He said that "Our films will have a love story in them, but it's a vertical love story, not a horizontal one". I'll let you read between the lines on that one. A film like "Indiana Jones" is a mass audience film too, but not necessarily a family film. The same thing would apply to "The Dark Knight"... films like "Narnia: Prince Caspian" and "Wall-E" on the other hand tend to fall squarely in the family film slot. And they're made by... Disney. What a shock. The Mouse has been pretty good at coming up with entertainment for the whole family lately... partly due to the people in charge and partly due to luck(never underestimate the power of luck, friends).
All in all, a family film is a film that tends to have a longer shelf life as well. You see, those kids grow up. A film that is enjoyed by them as kids can be enjoyed by them as an adult. This gives Disney and other companies a nice benefit of selling a copy to a child and then selling it to them again in a different format when they grow up. This way, our American capitalist system moves forward and our childhood classics get preserved. See? Greed can be used for good... Everybody's happy. Then there are movies like "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" which can become such a classic when it's been in the culture over decades, or another example is how a film like "Blade Runner" can go from a bomb to a classic in a generation...
Such will be the case of "Speed Racer" in my opinion. It's going to be one of those films that's a cult classic. One that they have midnight showings of where college students will rush out to see it and love it for the insane loopiness that it is. And then there are those that will discover this at home on a Blockbuster night. Perhaps one of those Blockbuster nights will be yours, perhaps one of those people could be you...
Sixty-four years ago today in the small town of Modesto, California...
George Walton Lucas Jr. was born. A near-death car crash right before his high school graduation forced him to consider another career path(he wanted to be a race car driver) and made him focus on something different at the local community college. He developed an interest in making films... Modern cinema would never be the same.
Happy Birthday to the original Jedi Master.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Life on Mars
(Time-Travel Cop Drama, Thursdays 10pm)
"Life on Mars" is based on the BBC series created by Matthew Graham, Tony Jordan and Ashley Pharoah. The series revolves around Sam Tyler, a modern-day police detective who, after a car crash, mysteriously finds himself transported back to 1973 and still working as a detective. The cast includes Jason O' Mara as Sam Tyler, Rachelle LeFevre as Annie Cartwright, Colm Meaney as Gene Hunt, Stephanie Jacobsen as Maya, Lenny Clarke as George Randall, Patrick Wenk-Wolff as Colin Raimes and Richard Benjamin as Milton Kornboll.
The Goode Family
A new animated series from Mike Judge, creator of "King of the Hill." "The Goode Family" is obsessed with doing the "right" thing, whether it's environmentally, politically or socially. Unfortunately their efforts often have unintended comic consequences. "The Goode Family" is voiced by Mike Judge as Gerald, Nancy Carell as Helen, Dave Herman as Ubuntu and Abby Elliot as Bliss. Executive producers for "The Goode Family" are Mike Judge, David Krinsky, John Altschuler, Michael Rotenberg and Tom Lassally.
"According to Jim," "America's Funniest Home Videos," "The Bachelor," "Boston Legal," "Brothers & Sisters," "Dancing with the Stars," "Desperate Housewives," "Dirty Sexy Money," "Eli Stone," "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," "Grey's Anatomy," "Lost," "Private Practice," "Pushing Daisies," "Samantha Who?," "Supernanny," "Ugly Betty," "Wife Swap" and "20/20."
"Big Shots," "Carpoolers," "Cashmere Mafia," "Cavemen," "Just for Laughs," "Miss/Guided," "Notes from the Underbelly," "October Road," "Oprah's Big Give," "Women's Murder Club"
ABC Nightime Fall Schedule*:
8pm: "Dancing with the Stars"
9:30pm: "Samantha Who"
10pm: "Boston Legal"
8pm: "Opportunity Knocks"
9pm: "Dancing with the Stars the Results Show"
10pm: "Eli Stone"
8pm: "Pushing Daisies"
9pm: "Private Practice"
10pm: "Dirty Sexy Money"
8pm: "Ugly Betty"
9pm: "Grey's Anatomy"
10pm: "Life on Mars"
8pm: "Wife Swap"
8pm: "Saturday Night College Football"
7pm: "America's Funniest Home Videos"
8pm: "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"
9pm: "Desperate Housewives"
10pm: "Brothers and Sisters"
* "The Goode Family" and "Scrubs" will debut this fall, but have not been scheduled yet...
As well as the new Indiana Jones movie opening up on May 22, Disneyland will have a little bit of fun with the Man in the Hat as well...
If you happen to catch a matinee of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull",(which is a great way to see a film based on serials, btw) stop by Disneyland and check out the entertainment the Mouse has for you in Adventureland. We mentioned "The Summer of Hidden Mysteries" in a previous BSA, but I guess a friendly reminder of what's coming is Ok. Ok?
Here are the details released:
"Indiana Jones™ and the Secret of the Stone Tiger"
Young Guests become archeologists as they solve clues, complete tasks and decipher codes, Indy style which leads to a hidden treasure. A friendly and helpful female archeologist, who may not be as innocent as she seems, will host the experience. However, if her intentions are found to be villainous, Indy will surely be on the scene to aid the youngsters.
Indiana Jones™ Adventure Map
Guests will be able to pick up a special map near the entrance to Aladdin's Oasis, leading them to a series of clues that, when deciphered, reveal a secret message. This message can be used online to obtain an exclusive download of desktop wallpaper, screen saver or other collateral. The map also has a section that highlights activities in the queue of Indiana Jones™ Adventure and the Jungle Cruise.
Adventure Photo Location
Guests can step into an action-packed sequence inspired by Raiders of the Lost Ark. They can also pick up their Indiana Jones™ Adventure Maps at this location.
Indiana Jones™ Adventure Queue
Using their Indiana Jones™ Adventure Maps as a guide, Guests will discover an exciting array of secrets hidden away in the queue of the attraction.
The Jungle Cruise Skipper spiel has been enhanced to reflect the idea that Indy has been traveling through the jungle on his latest expedition – and we will signs of his exploits. Moreover, Guests with a keen eye can look for hidden icons from the first three films, which are described in their Adventure Maps.
Indiana Jones™ in Adventureland!
Indiana Jones™ and a male enemy agent run into each other in the street and pursue one another through Adventureland – pushing through the crowd, popping up here, there and everywhere! Seems one of them has a map to the Temple of the Forbidden Eye that the other wants. This results in a series of fun-filled, dramatic staged "moments" that include fights on balconies, pursuits and daring escapes!
Mark it on your calendar...
"The perfect is the enemy of the good."
We all want to find something that fits just right. Everyone loves when you find that special person that makes you feel like everything is right in the universe. Or it could be a movie... one that you go in with geek dreams of fun and wind up leaving the theater shaking your head at the experience you just had. Then there is the theme park, Disneyland in particular, but it could be another one if you like... the idea of walking through the gate, past the berm and with each passing step down Main Street U.S.A. you actual feel like you're in a time machine. Everytime your foot hits the pavement you're a bit younger. Slowly going back to that way you felt as a child. That feeling that it's as it always was... perfect.
Such is the case with what every human strives for but never quite finds. We all tend to settle for things or have to come to terms and accept what they are. Let's face it, we're all human and therefore all imperfect. Usually the nostalgia that we associate with our childhood is usually the filter that makes whatever we remember as a kid seem so right. When we tend to look at it years later we tend to notice faults that we may have overlooked or not even have been aware of before.
When it comes to Disney(the man himself), Disneyland or yes, even Star Wars we have to accept this. Nothing we desire really ever winds up being as good as we want or great as we remember. As much as I love Walt Disney, the man had his faults. And although many of us enjoy Disneyland, if you were go back to there fifty years ago there would be a large amount of entertainmen/attractions/theming that would seem downright bland or dare I say... boring. Not everything is everyone's cup of tea. I know friends that have ridden the new "Nemo Subs" ride and liked it, but not loved it. During the ride as the Sub goes around toward the waterfall they were looking over going "is this all there is to it?". They didn't ride it before it closed down or they would have really been disappointed. Even the classic "It's A Small World" doesn't play well with everyone. It's not my favorite ride, but that's Ok. My best friends sister thinks the world of it... and that's fine. It is what it is. There are many things we look back upon with colored memories. Memories are precious, but they shouldn't color our perspective and make us not accept what we have for the unattainable goal of what we desire.
This goes for Star Wars as much as it does anything with Disney or just about everything else in life we hold value. As much as Star Wars is part of my childhood, even the original films are far from perfection. We all have to realize that the things we love in life are far from perfect. Nothing in life is as wonderful as our minds make us believe.
The point is that we still believe.
Monday, May 12, 2008
One of the few and smartest written shows I know is "Scrubs"... I don't watch much television but I've always enjoyed this one and tomorrow ABC will announce its new fall schedule. The show will be moving to ABC for its final season. Someone better tell Dr. Kelso...
The show is produced by ABC, but has been on NBC the entirety of its run until the Peacock network decided not to pick it up for one more(and final) season. So it's going home to the family that made it for one last time. I'll be setting my player for that one.
Now, if they'll just hurry up and serve me up some "24" and "Heroes" I'll have something else to watch...
Sunday, May 11, 2008
A NOTE: In the future, I've decided that all BSA's will be labeled as "Blue Sky Buzz" instead of "Blue Sky Alert" just so you know what to keep an outlook for guys...
- Honor Hunter
I thought I'd give you guys a little update. Not a long and detailed report as some of our past posts have been, but for all you clamoring for more updates on the "Extreme Makeover" of DCA this might help. Again, I don't want you to think of this as a regular column... wouldn't want to disappoint you when the weeks go by without any 411 simply because news is slow or Bothans are in hiding, k?
Well, now where do we go from here? Progress...
Things are still developing for DCA, particularly the Paradise Pier area. Remember I mentioned the retheming of the Orange Stinger in my last mini-update? Want to know what it's going to be called?
"The Silly Symphonies Swings"
I figured a few of you would roll your eyes at that... but it actually looks quite nice, even though it's not really going to have SS cartoons on it. It's going to feature stylized designs from one cartoon. And that cartoon isn't actually a Silly Symphony. It's a very famous Disney cartoon... the one that introduced a color Mickey Mouse to the world. That's right, "The Band Concert" will be the theming on the new Orange Stinger/Silly Symphonies Swing. It's got a lot of nice details and is much more of a Disney ride. Not just in terms of having Disney characters, but in detail and downright whimsicalness... the ride will still have the theming we discussed back in that last BSA, but the mast will be painted like a tornado just like in the one in that short and as it twirls there will be smoke effects to add atmosphere. Atop the ride, seen from all sides of the Pier will be "Conductor Mickey" from the short, spinning around directing the ride. My thoughts on this are that we should equate this ride with the Dumbo ride over in DL, only for an older audience.
The stores are due to get a Makeover after summer as they've fallen behind schedule in the construction plan. The goal is still a spring/summer kickoff for the new Victorian themed pier and "Disney's World of Color" nighttime show, though.
The details keep adding up for the new land of DCA. While it hasn't been decided if the name "Cars Land" will be the final choice, it has been determined to make this area the showplace of the park. Anyone whose been to Paradise Pier lately to see the detail of the new building for TSMM, the Midway Mercantile store, the shaded queue areas or the new Don Tomas food venue have gotten a taste of the details that are to come for this side of the Esplanade. It's a very nice change from what was there before. And it's nothing compared to what the Radiator Springs of Cars Land will look like. And I'm not exaggerating... it's going to be that detailed. The detail as you walk around this recreation of the small town from the film will amaze and delight the crowds in summer 2012. Expect this area to be packed and crowded with the young and the young at heart when it opens. There's going to be a smoothie stand themed to Fillmore(George Carlin's character in the film) and a diner based on Flo(Jenifer Lewis' character in the film). The drive-in restaurant is on the back-burner but not totally out of the picture yet. It will most definitely be part of any expansion in the Second Phase. WDI would like to do it now, but that depends on the money being budgeted for it. John Lasseter will have a lot of sway with this as the construction comes closer. If the crowds are sufficient for the new Toy Story ride and the work on the Pier does what was intended then they may go ahead and budget it for this phase. The reason it and a couple other projects have been cut back is because of how much this new land is costing. It's going to be almost half what the entire park cost to build. Paul Pressler would have fainted upon seeing the construction costs for this section alone.
The Hollywood backlot area will be getting a bit more detail than was originally planned for the First Phase. There are still major plans to extend and massively detail this part of the park in the second Phase, but some of this land will get a good deal of TLC during the next four years.
Remember that "Mickey's PhilharMagic" attraction that was supposed to appear where the Muppets are now? The size of the building and the retrofitting cost of it killed that, but what winds up there might please many a Disney fan... and many a C.S. Lewis fan. Yep. That's right. The attraction taking the place of Kermit and Miss Piggy is going to be based on the world of Narnia and it'll be in 3D. The Imagineers are focusing on creating a narrative that wraps the guest in the world of Aslan... it should be pretty nice, I'm just not a fan of wearing glasses for every ride. The detail around the areas that head toward the Hyperion will get a modest redo to brush away some of the modern pop-culture references.
Oh, and one more thing...
With that tonal theming of the area brought back to a more 30's look and feel there is a name change for the area. This part of the park will no longer be "Hollywood Backlot"... instead the new area will reflect the Hollywood of old known as "Hollywoodland". Now some of you may groan at this, but being a Hollywood history fan, I can tell you that this is spot-on. Most of you may not know that that is what Hollywood was called back in the early part of the 20th century. The sign was originally put up to advertise a housing development and the sign read: "Hollywoodland". It was only around the 40's that the land was removed and naming this part of the park that name is a great theming element.
Well, that's all I've got for this mini-update today. I hope you've felt caught up. Since the last big BSA was posted we've given you two mini-updates to tide you over the next month or so...
Until my Bothans send me another secret message, remember what I always say...
Saturday, May 10, 2008
The new trailer for "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" is up and on the net...
I'm ambivalent about it, but also curious to see what George Lucas does with what he has available to him. I'm not one of those that loved the Prequels, but I don't feel as passionately against them as THX-1138 does. I find ample opportunity to find new stories and new voices in the SW universe.
Let's hope that Lucas does us right by this movie and the following series...
Friday, May 9, 2008
A friend sent me these Stills from the upcoming films of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios...
These are some of the tease images that John Lasseter and crew let the press see at their announcement of future animated pictures from both the Mouse and the Lamp.
Here is a character shot from "Bolt"...
And this is a scene featuring Tiana and friend from "The Princess and the Frog" talking to Louis, an Aligator with a thing for Jazz...
Next we have a nice shot of the house of the old man in "UP" floating away...
Lastly, we have a character sheet of some of the clan in "The Bear and the Bow"...
These are some of the tease images that John Lasseter and crew let the press see at their announcement of future animated pictures from both the Mouse and the Lamp.
Here is a character shot from "Bolt"...
And this is a scene featuring Tiana and friend from "The Princess and the Frog" talking to Louis, an Aligator with a thing for Jazz...
Next we have a nice shot of the house of the old man in "UP" floating away...
Lastly, we have a character sheet of some of the clan in "The Bear and the Bow"...
We're going to do something different in this post today...
My article on the future of Star Wars generated a lot of comments and some interesting e-mail. Many of them were filled with kind remarks while a few were laced with venom. I've had several discussions about the Star Wars universe with my friends in our get-togethers and over pizza and beer all these things get tossed around, argued and laughed about...
Well, one of my friends would like to respond to my article and more importantly, some of the SW fans out there. So as I said, we're going to do something a bit different. I've not had any guest columnist before... not yet at least. Not because I particularly was afraid of letting others have a voice, but because I just didn't really believe that there would be anything different or unique to add to the subjects discussed here... until now.
I know many of you think I'm a huge Star Wars fan, but I'm not. I mean, I love it and all... but some of my friends could far better be described as SW fans more than I. One of those fans is "THX-1138". Nice name, eh? You can imagine the ribbing he got from kids on the playground as a young boy... no? But seriously, that's not his name, but it's what he'll go by on Blue Sky Disney. Anyway, he's a much bigger and much more passionate fan of Star Wars than I could ever be. He has a few thoughts on George Lucas' universe and I thought you might like to hear his opinion...
- Honor Hunter
I’m sick to death of $tar War$.
Ironically though, if you were to come over to my house that would probably be the last thing you would ever expect to hear me to say.
It’s been over 30 years now and I’ve devoted over half my life to collecting and faithfully following, through good times and bad, the mighty Star Wars franchise as a passion and hobby. I remember vividly the Great Drought in Star Wars collecting… that dreadful period between 1985 and 1995 where there wasn’t much of anything to be had with the Star Wars merchandising brand stamped onto it. I was about to enter high school and my mother had decided that it was time for me
to “grow up” and donated most of my old toys that would soon become collector gold. Fortunately I still had a Darth Vader collector case full of old figures in the basement that she had somehow overlooked but after a few years I wanted it all back and thus began my arduous quest to buy my childhood back. It was during that time that I would scour garage sales, flea markets and antique shops looking to buy anything that I could find from the vintage collecting years of my
youth. I would even have dreams about driving to small mid-west towns and finding an old local store that had a hidden cache of vintage mint-on-card figures that had been sitting on the shelves, undiscovered, for many years.
Then in 1995, that drought suddenly came to an end. Kenner released new Star Wars action figures. Sure, Luke looked like he had He-Man’s body and the face of actor Brian Thompson and Princess Leia looked like Zira from Planet of the Apes, but so what? They were Star Wars figures. The sculpts did improve tremendously over the years though. The Prequels may have been disappointing but there were some great toys that had vastly improved upon the original designs. It was a good time to be a collector again.
It’s now been over 3 years since the final Star Wars film was released and George Lucas just can’t seem to let it go. He’s overseeing production on the new Clone Wars animated TV show that will premiere theatrically this fall as well as a live-action Star Wars television series and the Lucasfilm merchandising bandwagon is once again in full, um… Force. What happened to Lucas getting back to making those obscure artistic and experimental films that “nobody wants to see” kind of like the films he made in his youth before he became a successful toymaker? He’s been too busy making a fourth and arguably unnecessary Indiana Jones film as well as overseeing that his money-making Star Wars dynasty lives on. Don’t worry, George. It will.
At what point, might I ask, is enough for Mr. Lucas? Star Wars is already a multi-billion dollar per year licensing franchise. Lucas has reached the age of retirement and doesn’t need to be concerned about getting his social security checks. His family will be well endowed for many generations but Lucas and Hasbro just can’t seem to have enough. Star Wars as a brand has run its course, the toy line has exhausted itself with endless repaints and repacks of the SAME toys we have already bought over and over. With strategies now shifting towards capturing newer generations under the addictive influence of their marketing control, The Clone Wars and live-action TV shows look to be little more than hyped-up commercial vehicles as an excuse to promote and sell more and more toys targeted for younger children rather than us older, faithful adult collectors with more juvenile servings of Galactic Heroes, Mighty Mugs, and Legos. With little room to keep buying these costly material possessions, and with my interest rapidly diminishing, gas prices and inflation skyrocketing out of control and collecting becoming more of a chore than genuine fun, I have at last reached my saturation point with Star Wars and it’s time for me to bow out. I’ve had my fill. My ravenous hunger has been satisfied. It’s time to put Star Wars to bed. I would suggest that Lucas does the same. Like Henry Jones said to Indiana in The Last Crusade… "Let it go.”
Star Trek invariably suffered a similar fate. The once mighty franchise had become oversaturated with numerous spinoffs,
disappointing sequels and a glut of merchandising that drove even the most insatiable Trekkies away. After only a brief four year hiatus, J.J. Abrams will boldly (or arrogantly) attempt to re-invent the wheel by remaking Star Trek in his vision. It would seem almost inevitable that at some point in the future, Lucasfilm , under the auspices of one of Lucas’ heirs-apparent or under the licensing control of another corporate entity (*cough* Disney), will attempt to do the same. I just hope when that day happens it will be long after I’m gone because it has now become very apparent that there is no end in sight for the
onslaught of Star Wars consumer merchandising and that it will continue indefinitely for generations to come. You can’t have it all and you can’t take it with you but if you're one of the Freaks who must continue to buy everything with the Star Wars brand stamped on it…
May the Benjamins be with you.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Well, it looks like Terry Rossio & Ted Elliott may be returning to the Disney fold to make the new "The Lone Ranger" movie for Walt Disney Pictures, but their colaborative director on the Pirates trilogy isn't. We've heard that Jerry Bruckheimer was wanting Gore Verbinski to team up with the writers and he for a new adventure in the Wild West.
Sadly, it was not to be...
The Trades are reporting that Gore Verbinski has signed on to direct Universal Pictures' big screen adaption of the video game "Bioshock". While I regret not having Gore come back for this film(several top notch directors will obviously now have a chance to fill the slot), I'm excited to see what he and screenwriter John Logan("Gladiator","The Aviator", "The Last Samurai" and "Sweeney Todd") have planned for this adaptation.
Having played the game, I can tell you it's a cool trip. Very smart, very visual and totally stylish beyond most games in its genre. It and a couple other titles have tempted me into almost getting a X-Box 360... almost. But the possibility of watching a talented director and equally talented writer teaming up for this could prove interesting.