Friday, September 30, 2016

"The Magic of Disney Animation" Retrospective - #41-43: Atlantis, Lilo/Stitch, Treasure Planet.

In the early 2000's, it became very apparent that the hand-drawn animation format was slowly starting to wain in popularity. It was a pivotal moment in cinema that many often debate as to when their actual downfall started, and I think I can point to the exact day.

June 16th, 2000. The day that Titan AE premiered...

Of course, just talking about the film is one thing, seeing legendary animator Don Bluth, best known for The Secret of NIMH and The Land Before Time, following up his surprise hit Anastasia with an outdated and paper thin slog. I could go on all day ranting about its gaping plot holes, stiff and lifeless characters, terribly outdated blend of 2D and 3D, tensionless action and shoddy writing, and filling itself with truly juvenile humor even for Bluth at his worst, but here's the thing... The film's performance speaks it for me. Not only was it a disappointment among critics and audiences, but despite being produced at a now tame budget of $70 million dollars, the film bombed so harshly that it ultimately led to Fox's animation studio closing its doors for good, and to this day remains Don Bluth's final directed film.

If anything, I think Titan AE signifies a great deal everything that was wrong with hand-drawn animation at the time. With the release of films such as Shrek, Ice Age, as well as several big films from Disney's own cousins at Pixar, computer animation quickly rose to prominence, and analysts and executives were starting to subscribe to the line of thinking that the new medium was now a foolproof formula for box office popularity, with even Disney themselves experiencing more success from Dinosaur than films like Atlantis. Of course, leave it to those same executives to not realize that this alone was not the issue, or to acknowledge that their stories probably weren't all that great to begin with, but the new quickly overtook the old-fashioned, with Disney's competitors at Dreamworks closing their hand-drawn department after 2003's Sinbad. With times like this, the early 2000's saw Disney experiencing some of the most inconsistent years they'd experienced since the 70's to the 80's, with some of the widest range in quality their legacy had ever seen. Welcome to the Transitional Era...

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Magnificent Seven movie review.

Once upon a time, the Hollywood western was one of the most popular and celebrated genres of all time, but following its heyday in the 50's and 60's, it later began to fade in popularity. Despite a solid resurgence in the early 90's with films such as Unforgiven and Tombstone, it later would mainly find life either in independent fare, or in a revisionist form such as the recent Tarantino filmography.

One of the most notable examples of them was the John Sturges directed The Magnificent Seven, itself a remake of the Akira Kurosawa directed Seven Samurai. Fondly remembered for its eclectic assembly of talent, rousing Elmer Bernstein score, and its epic gunslinging action, it has since inspired several sequels and numerous pop culture allusions, culminating in the 2016 remake by Training Day director Antoine Fuqua. So the question is, can it rejuvenate the Hollywood western in this era of blockbusters?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Brief thoughts on Sully.

The world watched in stunned silence when Captain Chesley Sullenberger successfully landed a plane on the Hudson River, having suffered loss of altitude from bird strikes, and performed emergency procedures that saved the lives of 155 crew and passengers. People around the world were quick to label "Sully" a hero, a title that he was quick to shrug away, that he was simply doing his job. Obviously the story felt prime for a true life story based film, brought to us now by Clint Eastwood, that details the harrowing effects of his landing, and the thorough cross-examinations that followed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"The Magic of Disney Animation" Retrospective - #38-40: Fantasia 2000, Dinosaur, Groove.

Welcome back, and now that we enter the 21st Century, we'll finally be taking a look through Disney's Transitional era, starting with the company's very busy 2000...