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REVIEW – Anastasia (1997)

August 8, 2018 Leave a comment
Directed by: Don Bluth, Gary Goldman
Produced by: Don Bluth, Gary Goldman
Screenplay by: Susan Gauthier, Bruce Graham, Bob Tzudiker, Noni White
Edited by: Bob Bender, Fiona Trayler
Score by: David Newman
Songs by: Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty
Starring: Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Christopher Lloyd, Hank Azaria, Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters, Liz Callaway, Jonathan Dokuchitz, Jim Cummings, Kirsten Dunst, Lacey Chabert
Year: 1997

 

So it’s pretty much a done deal that Disney is buying out 21st Century Fox and all its assets, so I suppose now is as good a time as any to review Fox’s 1997 Disney cash-in before its parent company’s nuptials to its future evil stepmother takes place, right? Read more…

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REVIEW – Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas

December 22, 2016 4 comments
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted ChristmasDirected by: Andy Knight
Produced by: Lori Forte, John C. Donkin
Written by: Flip Kobler, Cindy Marcus, Bill Motz, Bob Roth
Edited by: Daniel Lee
Art Direction by: Julie Eberley, Clive Powsey
Music by: Rachel Portman, Michael Starobin
Songs by: Rachel Portman, Don Black
Starring: Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Bernadette Peters, Tim Curry, Paul Reubens, Haley Joel Osment, Frank Welker, Jeff Bennett, Kath Soucie, Andrew Keenan-Bolger
Year: 1997

 

Disney may not have invented the concept of the midquel (a follow-up that takes place between the timeframe of the original work, rather than before or after), but with their direct-to-video series, I swear that they’re probably the one studio to make unusually extensive use of the concept. There’s Tarzan 2, Bambi II, The Lion King 1 ½, The Fox and the Hound II, and, as a follow-up to a film that celebrated its 25th anniversary just this year, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas. (This would itself followed up by Belle’s Enchanted World, which was actually a compilation of episodes meant for a TV spinoff set within the timeline of the original movie that never came to be.) Along with the Aladdin movies and the first Lion King sequel, this was one of the few direct-to-video follow-ups my family actually had sitting around while growing up, and I recall that my sister and I would proudly claim that we were the owners of “the only good Disney sequels,” which… yeah, I don’t know about that, considering there weren’t that many at the time to begin with, and they all were pretty awful to meh in terms of quality. The Enchanted Christmas, in particular, is probably the worst of the four that we owned (it’s been a while since I’ve seen the others, granted), particularly considering the quality of the film that bore it. Read more…

REVIEW – The Iron Giant

November 16, 2016 Leave a comment
The Iron Giant.jpgDirected by: Brad Bird
Produced by: Allison Abbate, Des McAnuff
Screenplay by: Tim McCanlies
Story by: Brad Bird
Edited by: Darren T. Holmes
Cinematography by: Steven Wilzbach
Music by: Michael Kamen
Starring: Eli Marienthal, Harry Connick, Jr., Jennifer Aniston, Christopher McDonald, John Mahoney, Vin Diesel, James Gammon, M. Emmet Walsh, Cloris Leachman
Based on the novel The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
Year: 1999

 

Disney may have reigned at the box office in the 1990s, but by the end of the decade, the quality of their non-Pixar-produced films was undoubtedly beginning to slip, and so it’s no real wonder that other studios – particularly DreamWorks – were taking notice and trying to take a bite out of their share of the box office. Despite having the backing of a major studio behind it, however, Warner Bros. Animation struggled to find its footing with theatrical releases during this era. Space Jam, the studio’s first in-house feature film production, was a considerable success, but it relied upon familiar Looney Tunes characters and Michael Jordan (and an already existing and popular advertising campaign for shoes that already merged the two brands) to basically have the film market itself. Later films wouldn’t be able to use that crutch, however, and anemic advertising strategies for films like Quest for Camelot, Osmosis Jones, and even Looney Tunes: Back in Action – which no longer had the brand popularity and the basketball star to rely upon – did little to drum up ticket sales, and none of the films achieved the critical acclaim to even make them legit cult classics. There was, of course, one film released in between all this, however, that, despite the botched advertising (some of which, for some reason, used Scorpion’s “Rock You Like a Hurricane”) and underperformance, did manage to eventually make a name for itself not just as a cult classic, but as truly one of the most underappreciated animated film classics. Read more…

REVIEW – Beauty and the Beast (1991)

September 24, 2016 3 comments
beauty-and-the-beast-1991Directed by: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Produced by: Don Hahn
Screenplay by: Linda Woolverton
Story by: Roger Allers, Brenda Chapman, Chris Sanders, Burny Mattinson, Kevin Harkey, Brian Pimental, Bruce Woodside, Joe Ranft, Tom Ellery, Kelly Asbury, Robert Lence
Edited by: John Carnochan
Music by: Alan Menken, Howard Ashman
Starring: Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury, Bradley Michael Pierce, Rex Everhart, Jesse Corti, Hal Smith, Jo Anne Worley, Mary Kay Bergman, Kath Soucie, Tony Jay, Frank Welker
Based on the fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
Year: 1991

 

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs may have been Disney’s (and the world’s, for that matter) first animated feature film, but, for many people (including myself), its recognition as still being their best has long since been overthrown by Beauty and the Beast, a film that was so well regarded that it also became the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and the first film, period, to have three songs simultaneously nominated for Best Original Song. When you know the production history, it’s also apparent how much of a miracle it was that the film turned out so well, too. Originally planned as a non-musical, the original concept was thrown out after the success of The Little Mermaid (the film that reignited Disney’s animated feature division and pretty much audience’s interest in animated films and musicals worldwide). This change saw both the original director depart the project and the hiring of first time directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise to take his place, and then the writing and recording of songs to fit the new format – songs written by Howard Ashman, who had also just found out that he was dying from complications caused by AIDS. Sadly, Ashman died eight months before the film’s release, but, at the very least, it was knowing the film he had worked so hard on was being well-received at early screenings, even in its incomplete state. The film would go on to become a massive success and would even become the first animated feature Disney would adapt into a Broadway production – one that was itself nominated for multiple Tonys (albeit, in spite of critical reviews at the time being somewhat apprehensive towards the unprecedented production) – and an upcoming live-action remake, which, if it’s closer to Cinderella than it is Maleficent, should be quite a decent film in its own right. Read more…

REVIEW – April and the Extraordinary World [Avril et le Monde truqué]

September 10, 2016 Leave a comment
April and the Extraordinary WorldDirected by: Christian Desmares, Franck Ekinci
Produced by: Michel Dutheil, Franck Elkinci, Marc Jousset
Screenplay by: Franck Ekinci, Benjamin Legrand
Edited by: Nazim Meslem
Music by: Valentin Hadjadj
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Philippe Katerine, Jean Rochefort, Olivier Gourmet, Marc-André Grondin, Bouli Lanners, Anne Coesens, Benoît Brière, Macha Grenon | English: Angela Galuppo, Tony Hale, Tony Robinow, Mark Camacho, Tod Fennell, Paul Giamatti, Susan Sarandon, J.K. Simmons
Inspired by the work of Jacques Tardi
Year: 2015 (France/Belgium), 2016 (U.S.)

 

Just when it seemed like steampunk had died, along comes April and the Extraordinary World to potentially reignite interest in the once unavoidable not-quite-underground subgenre. A French/Belgian/Canadian coproduction featuring a world guided and inspired by renowned French comic artist Jacques Tardi, Avril et le Monde truqué (as it is known in its native language) is a film that’s a throwback to a great number of things: the sci-fi of Jules Verne, the grand adventure of Tintin (as well as sporting a similar ligne claire art style), that period of time in the 2000s and early 2010s when steampunk was seemingly the new black, and also the bygone days when science was universally understood in terms of all the positive changes it could provide the world, rather than obsessing about how it could potentially destroy us all, regardless of benign or malicious intent. That last point, in particular – the responsibility of science as a force for good in this world and for humanity – is primary focus. Read more…

REVIEW: Looney Tunes: Back in Action

August 27, 2016 Leave a comment
Looney Tunes: Back in ActionDirected by: Joe Dante
Produced by: Paula Weinstein, Bernie Goldman
Screenplay by: Larry Doyle
Story by: Larry Doyle, John Requa, Glenn Ficarra
Edited by: Rick Finney, Marshall Harvey
Cinematography by: Dean Cundey
Music by: Jerry Goldsmith, John Debney (additional music)
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, Joe Alaskey, Jeff Bennet, Steve Martin, Timothy Dalton, Bob Bergen, June Foray, Heather Locklear, Joan Cusack Eric Goldberg, Billy West, Bill Goldberg
Year: 2003

 

I few months ago, I trialed the PlayStation Vue service. It was pretty nifty, but it wasn’t really worth paying for, since it was still essentially cable and, thus, provided very little content that I actually wanted to watch outside of the services I already subscribed to. However, in checking out the goings on at Cartoon Network, I encountered a little show I had no idea existed: Wabbit, a modern day reimagining of the Looney Tunes brand more in line with modern kids’ comedic sensibilities. It was… fine. I didn’t care much for it, but I understood what it was trying to do. But it just… it wasn’t the same. Randomness and deadpan statements of the wacky events happening seemingly replaced wit and expert timing. A quick search on YouTube right now will turn up videos like one in which Bugs helps save a dimwitted Big Foot who calls him “lady” all the time, or Yosemite Sam running Bugs over in a car from texting and driving, and then Bugs getting the best of him because he wants the latest greatest new phone with all the ridiculous gadgets. Not itself an inherently bad premise, but the jokes really only seem to be the tired “What’s the deal with cellphones?” type jokes before Sam’s new phone just randomly vibrates him out a window. Eh. Read more…

REVIEW: DuckTales: The Movie – Treasure of the Lost Lamp

March 7, 2015 Leave a comment
DuckTales the Movie - Treasure of the Lost LampDirected by: Bob Hathcock
Produced by: Bob Hathcock, Jean-Pierre Quenet
Screenplay by: Alan Burnett
Edited by: Charles King
Music by: David Newman
Starring: Alan Young, Rip Taylor, Christopher Lloyd, Russi Taylor, Richard Libertini, Terrence McGovern, Joan Gerber, Chuck McCann, June Foray
Based on the TV series DuckTales and Uncle Scrooge comics created by Carl Barks
Year: 1990

 

Yeah, if you grew up watching this series, there’s a pretty good chance that the theme song is playing in your head right now – it’s certainly playing in mine as I write this. It’s practically obligatory at this point to mention it anytime the show is brought up – and I’m certain we’ll see it brought up again more and more thanks to the recent announcement from Disney that they would be reviving the show for Disney XD, likely due to the success of the remastered DuckTales video game and the ensuing renewed interest in the property. It’s certainly why I chose to review this movie, which just so happened to have been in my collection, thanks to the Disney Movie Rewards program, which was, up until recently, the only way to get it. Read more…

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