Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"The Magic of Disney Animation" Retrospective - #22-24: Adventures/Pooh, Rescuers, Fox/Hound.

Part 2 of my June reviews.

Special Review: Jurassic Park - The Game.

In preparation for Steven Spielberg's The BFG this Friday, I decided to revisit my beloved Jurassic Park in the interactive format.

For whatever reason that I can't think of, until now, I had never heard of Jurassic Park - The Game. Sure, I've played several retro Nintendo and Genesis games, but for some reason, this one, which essentially serves as a direct sequel to the original Jurassic Park but with a different cast, completely slipped my mind. Seeing that it was produced by the developers of Telltale Games, best known for their Walking Dead series, and given that Jurassic Park is my favorite movie of all time, I thought it sounded promising enough to give it my attention. I really am just a sucker for novelty like that, but even novelty and fond nostalgia can only go so far in masking a product's flaws. Thank goodness that I still have Jurassic World to look fondly at, because Jurassic Park - The Game is just as weak and ridiculous as either of Jurassic Park's two immediate sequels.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Finding Dory movie review.

Thirteen years ago, Pixar introduced us to one of their most beloved and iconic characters, Dory. Since her debut in their fifth feature length film, Finding Nemo, her extremely forgetful and precocious, but lovable and unshakably loyal character has captured the hearts of all animation fans. But one must often wonder, what *was* she doing before she ran into Marlin?

Flash forward to now, and director Andrew Stanton intends to take us back and answer that very question in the character's own adventure, Finding Dory. One may be forgiven for assuming the film to be a rotten idea, what with Pixar growing more franchise heavy in recent years, and the last sequel where they pulled a protagonist switch - Cars 2 - backfiring tremendously. So I'm thankful to report that the effort and potential was not wasted, as it not only lives up to its predecessor and justifies its existence, but arguably stands alongside Toy Story 3 as their best sequel.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Ranking the Pixar films - Part 2.

Welcome back, everyone. If you're reading this, chances are you've already read part 1 of my Pixar movie rankings, so without further ado, let's get into the top 8, starting with...

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

"The Magic of Disney Animation" Retrospective - #19-21: Jungle Book, Aristocats, Robin Hood.

Who knows exactly how far Walt's reach across the globe would have extended were he to live any longer? With cinematic successes from both his animated and live-action branches, his theme parks that quickly grew in attendance, and an ambitious plan to create a futuristic time share community out in Florida, he could have possibly gone further. He could have taken over the whole world, for all we know. His pioneering feats were just so good, and his ideas so massive in scale, that the potential was limitless. Sadly, none of those potential ideas would ever be realized.

On December 15th, 1966, just days after his 65th birthday, Walt passed away after a battle with lung cancer, a condition caused by Walt's chainsmoking habits all his adult life. The news devastated the entire world, major news outlets mourned the passing of one of history's most defining and essential figures, and with the damaging effect cigarettes had on Walt's health, the studio later instituted a strict non-smoking policy in their films, even playing PSA's on Blu-Ray and DVD before movies where their characters casually smoked.

This later began a transitional period where the employees of the studios were clearly less confident in their abilities, and didn't manage to get their groove back for over a decade. These were the dark ages...

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Ranking the Pixar Films - Part 1.

Only five days remain until we'll be able to revisit our favorite animated talking fish in Finding Dory, so what better way to celebrate the occasion than to look back at the preceding history of its creators at Pixar Animation Studios...
Since its initial inception in 1986, the Emeryville based production company has continually pushed the boundaries for what can be achieved both in groundbreaking animation, and in deeper storytelling equally appealing to both children and adults. Initially specializing in short films, much like Walt himself, co-founder and former Disney animator John Lasseter's ambitions stretched far beyond five minute shorts based on animate unicycles and dime-store knick-knacks, and instead looked towards pushing their young technology to its limits by creating the world's first fully computer-animated feature film. Some called them mad, some predicted that it would bankrupt the studio and end careers (sound familiar?), but no matter how many executives warned them against it, they pressed forward to the march of their own beat.

The result of their hard work was Toy Story, and I think the rest from that point is history. With a total now of seventeen films, some of the most beloved animated movies ever produced, and both children and adults having been captivated by the magic of their original and endearing worlds, Pixar has stood right alongside Disney and Ghibli as the greatest name in all of animation, even overtaking their older sibling for years with their output. While eventually hitting their first true dud in 2011, and falling into a slump before gaining back their mojo with Inside Out, that still wasn't enough to taint the fond memories and powerful feelings that their films had stirred up in viewers before. The crews spare no expense in animation and art-direction, their stories are enchanting and heartbreaking, and as new creative forces begin making their mark within the studio, their variety of output promises to be no less engaging as ever. So in hope that their latest will be just as terrific, today I'll start ranking all of Pixar's films from worst to best. It's especially tough to form given that their portfolio includes countless great movies that I could switch around on any given day, and as always, I hope you enjoy reading and will feel free to leave your own rankings.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Alice Through the Looking Glass movie review.

Within the last three years, we've seen Disney consecutively tackle their animated classics such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book, reinventing those classic films as live-action reimaginings. It's a trend that looks geared to indefinitely run, with August's Pete's Dragon, and Beauty and the Beast in March being the first of possibly many more. While it may end up fatiguing audiences soon, their great box office success and enthusiastic word of mouth signal that Disney is clearly hitting its marks in all the right areas.

But all that wouldn't be were it not for one film with both great successes and great mistakes to inform their future output: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. While a mixed bag for critics that was as much criticized for being dull as it was praised for its visuals, it was a film that benefited from a perfect release date, winning over a sizable audience while also making impressive figures thanks in large part to the post-Avatar 3D boom. That being said, I doubt that even fans of the first film were starving for it to receive a sequel, but leave it to Disney to milk their Johnny Depp cash cow for all it was worth, at a time when the actor is not the once bankable draw he used to be.

So it shouldn't be surprising that with the 3D novelty dying down, opening alongside X-Men, and sour aftertaste of the original lingering that Alice Through the Looking Glass has failed to find the same success, both fixing original flaws while adding onto them with brand new ones.