Monday, August 29, 2016

Brief thoughts on Kubo and the Two Strings.

"If you must blink, do it now", so says young Kubo before he tells a story through rapid guitar strumming and origami brought literally to life. When these words are spoken, it's clear to the viewer that our child narrator and artist is going to take us on the most epic and arresting journey one can imagine. At the same time, it's as if these words are stop-motion studio Laika bracing the viewer for the majestic journey that is to unfold, one that they know will leave us in breathless awe and wonderment by the time the final page has reached its last sentence. Enchant and astound they do, as Kubo and the Two Strings serves as not only their finest film both in craft and substance, but an enviable benchmark for any remaining animated release in 2016, all while taking its sub-medium of animation to spectacular new heights.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

"The Magic of Disney Animation" Retrospective - #32: The Lion King.

When it comes to Disney Animation, everyone is inevitably going to have a favorite among their lineup. For some it's Beauty and the Beast, for some it's Fantasia, for others - including myself, it's The Lion King. Yet despite that now iconic status that it has earned, it didn't initially start out that way. When the film went into production, it was initially seen as the B-picture alongside what was seen as Disney's more prestigious production, Pocahontas. Given the choice between the two films, many of Disney's most talented crew members and story-men jumped ship to the flashier subject matter, while others decided to take on the seemingly lesser entry as a chance to prove their abilities.

To everyone's surprise, especially the executives of the studio, not only was the film a gargantuan success - essentially becoming the Frozen of its day, it far eclipsed Pocahontas in critical word and audience appreciation, and remains the much more fondly remembered film, as well as one of the greatest success stories in Disney's legacy, as well as one of their most epic and sweeping emotional spectacles.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

"The Magic of Disney Animation" Retrospective - #30-31: Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin.

Starting in 1989 with The Little Mermaid, Disney Animation Studios entered a glorious Renaissance era recalling the success of their golden age, taking the experience of both their hits and their failures to heart, and returning to their fairy tale musical roots. It was arguably the best years that the studio ever had, influencing and inspiring audiences and industry insiders so much that these films have become iconic childhood fixtures, and numerous competitors from Dreamworks to Warner Brothers recreated their formula to gain the same level of success, sometimes quite successfully. The days of being second to Don Bluth were over.

And it's no surprise that I decided to dedicate isolated posts specifically to their output from 1991 to 1994, as I consider the next three films I'm going to cover my absolute favorite animated Disney films (Pixar notwithstanding). Enjoy reading, everybody, because I certainly enjoy these films the more and more they age.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Pete's Dragon movie review.

Following the exciting and visually stunning The Jungle Book, and the thoroughly underwhelming Alice Through the Looking Glass, Disney's train of remaking their animated classics as live-action reimaginings continues to roll on, and serving as a warm-up to Beauty and the Beast in March 2017, comes Pete's Dragon, a remake based on a movie I struggle to define as a classic with a serious face.

The original Pete's Dragon - a blend of live action and traditional animation - is not a very fondly remembered film, impressive for its animation at the time, but nevertheless a dated and overly corny film that not many people remember. At first glance, it makes for an odd film to to adapt to the modern day, but when digging deeper, given the flaws and the potential of the original, this also made it a prime, viable candidate to improve upon and do great things with. It's sources may be obvious, but this newly updated rendition still resonates with a beautiful sense of originality, feeling both different and familiar to traditional Disney roots.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Suicide Squad movie review.

Ever so ready to take on Marvel at their own game, Warner Brothers continue to place big hopes on the shoulders of their DC Extended Universe. Since Man of Steel's 2013 bow, WB have been quick to catch up with their rivals, albeit with far less success. The disastrous performance of Batman v Superman certainly signified one thing, that in an attempt to copy Marvel's moves, they forgot to give any sense of coherence to their game plan, or to pay proper respect to their source material.

For these reasons, much hope was placed in their second 2016 feature, Suicide Squad, to turn things around. With consistently good trailers buzzing around, a reportedly more fun tone, and a change of pace from Zack Snyder, it almost seemed like a surefire third time's the charm.

So being that I was quite excited to see it, it pains me to say that the drought continues, as Suicide Squad is not the charm, but the death knell for the DCEU; a seemingly fun and stylish idea that translates to a gaudy and undisciplined end product.