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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 – 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: Space Jam

April 2, 2014 1 comment
Space JamDirected by: Joe Pytka
Produced by: Ivan Reitman, Joe Medjuck, Daniel Goldberg
Written by: Leo Benvenuti, Steve Rudnick, Timothy Harris, Herschel Weingrod
Edited by: Sheldon Kahn
Cinematography by: Michael Chapman
Music by: James Newton Howard; Soundtrack produced by R. Kelly
Starring: Michael Jordan, Billy West, Dee Bradley Baker, Danny Devito, Wayne Knight, Bill Murray, Kath Soucie, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Shawn Bradley, Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogues, Theresa Randle, Bob Bergen, Bill Farmer, June Foray, Maurice LaMarche, Colleen Wainwright, Frank Welker
Year: 1996

 

Space Jam, that wonderful marketing ploy that fooled audiences into handing over $230 million to a studio for an overlong concoction of advertisements and which made us all love R. Kelly in an innocent time where that was still an acceptable thing to do. Seriously, the film is a commercial for itself – the marketing synergy between the two entities who merged two completely unrelated but massively successful franchises together to resemble something like a movie, and yet that is honestly also the film’s main draw. It asked us a question nobody outside of a corporate think tank would have ever asked in their right mind – “Who doesn’t want to see Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan play basketball together?” – and convinced us that this was, come to think of it, actually something that would be pretty entertaining to watch! Read more…

Review: “The Animatrix”

August 23, 2013 1 comment

The AnimatrixThe Matrix has remained one of the most influential action films ever created. Naturally, its financial success and popularity with critics and audiences meant that Warner Bros. would most certainly capitalize on their new property. The lead up to the sequels saw a big marketing push, leading to plenty of tie-in products, such as Nokia’s cellphones that resembled the ones in the films and PowerAde’s infamous product placement. This also meant that the Wachowskis gained a lot of clout with studio execs, who seem to still think that the sequels’ poor critical reception should be ignored in the name of hoping that, one day, the duo would once again deliver a Matrix­-level franchise for them.

Not all of the marketing for the films consisted solely of cynical product placements, however. Though it was a complete disaster, the video game Enter the Matrix was still one of the first efforts on behalf of filmmakers to synergize the film and video game mediums and tell an even bigger story than you would get from having just seen the films, a tradition that would continue with The Matrix Online, which functioned as a direct, totally canonical follow up to the final film, The Matrix Revolutions.

Similarly, the Wachowskis, who were influenced heavily by anime, also commissioned various animation studios to produce a series of shorts that would tie into their universe – some of them directly into the movies, others giving us an even greater perspective outside the narrative of how Neo would fulfill the prophesy of The One. The resulting collection of nine shorts (eight, if you wish to see the single two-parter as a whole work) was The Animatrix, a collection that was deemed so essential to the overall Matrix narrative that it’s included in every iteration of the films’ box sets, including the cheap-o barebones 4-film collections you see on Walmart shelves every now and then.

Below you will find eight mini-reviews of the shorts, each of them being rated and reviewed on their own merits, followed, in the end, by an overall rating of the complete Animatrix anthology.

Please note that clicking on the titles before each reviews will lead you to a free and legal (but admittedly low quality) streaming version of the shorts straight from TheWB.com (the embedding doesn’t work on WordPress), so feel free to watch the shorts on your own and see if you agree with my assessments, too! Read more…

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