Monday, April 14, 2014

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 171 - Aladdin

This week the DFPP team find themselves on a magic carpet ride when they attempt to track down a missing lamp only to discover it was in the hands of a real snake who has gone deep under the sand in the 1992 animated comedy Aladdin.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Frozen Blu-ray Contest Almost Over

There are just a few more days left in our contest to win a copy of the Frozen Collector's Edition Blu-ray (includes Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Copy), don't forget to enter!!!

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 170 - Muppets Most Wanted

The week the DFPP team find themselves chasing rainbows again as they head off on a world tour and end up invited to an explosive wedding where some frogs have it and other frogs don’t in the 2014 crime comedy Muppets Most Wanted.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Pirate Fairy Blu-ray & Movie Review

Today, April 1, 2014 marks the release of the latest of the Disney Fairies films, The Pirate Fairy. It is the 5th film in the Tinker Bell Series produced by Disney Toon Studios. It is a story about a new fairy named Zarina who is a Pixie Dust Fairy who is very inquisitive about her place in the world. It also introduces the character James played by Tom Hiddleston. It becomes an origin story about both of these characters and introduces many elements that play into the story of Peter Pan.

The movie itself is really good. What I appreciated most is that while this film is intended to be primarily about Zarina and her quest to find her true fairy talent as the first “Pixie Dust Alchemist”, it does a great job of balancing in the roles of Tinker Bell and the other fairies as well as James. The intertwining of providing an origin story for Captain Hook and Tic Toc is also well done. Sure it’s another version of the legend, but it does help to cement his place in Never Land. And it will be great if in future releases they can get Tom Hiddleston to come back to reprise the role.

When starting the Blu-ray you can watch the trailer for Disney’s Legend of the NeverBeast, which right now looks to me to be Rocket Racoon with gamma irradiated eyes. The menu shows the deck of the Jolly Roger with Zarina looking toward Skull Rock while the fairies fly around with a brief appearance by baby Tic Toc. It’s a nice clean, crisp menu where the options are very clearly presented and easy to read.

In the bonus feature Second Star to the Right: The Legacy of Never Land Peggy Holmes, Jeffrey Howard, and Jennifer Magee-Cook talk about the how the movie started from it’s roots about a rogue fairy who could change the properties of Pixie Dust, and how at the suggestion of John Lasseter it incorporated Pirates and became the final product. It’s nice to see that the fairy characters of Pixie Hollow remain in good hands that really care about them.

The Deleted Scenes are introduced by Director Peggy Holmes and Producer Jennifer Magee-cook. In all cases these are very preliminary rough sketch scenes:
  • Tea House Disappointment was intended to demonstrate that Zarina felt like she was an outsider from the other fairies.
  • Vidia’s Birthday Surprise depicts a surprise birthday for Vidia, where Zarina feels that her abilities as a Pixie Dust Fairy do not compare to those of the other fairies as she sees the gifts the others give when compared to her own.
  • Zarinas Experiments is an alternate version of the scene where Zarina learns that she is able to change pixie dust in ways that allow for it to take on new magical properties that mimic the special abilities of the other fairies.
  • Fairies United is a longer version of a scene in the movie where the Frigate is flying for the first time while the fairies are trying to switch back their re-arranged talents.

There are also the following additional bonus features:
  • Croc-u-mentary is a documentary style look at the life cycle of crocodiles as narrated by a fairy with an Australian accent.
  • The making of “The Frigate that Flies” shows actors like Tom Hiddleston as they talk about what it’s like to be voice actors. You also get to watch them record bits and pieces of various scenes in the movie with a bit of a focus on the song “The Frigate that Flies”.
  • Two Animated Shorts, “AAARRGH!” and “Treasure Chest”, where Vidia bears the brunt of the jokes.
  • And Sing-along Songs has two bouncing blue fairy dust versions of the songs “Who I Am” and “The Frigate That Flies”.

This is a solid Blu-ray release, which is not surprising since rather than being a video release of a theater film it is a direct to video release for one of the most popular direct to video series of all time. It’s also a really good story that parents can enjoy with their children. The new music introduced in the film is top notch and very catchy. Peter Pan fans will notice right away that the “Frigate that Flies” is not the Jolly Roger, and they will get a nod to that at the end of the film. Disney Fairy fans will not want to miss this film or the introduction of the newest fairy, Zarina.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 169 - The Muppet Movie

This week the DFPP team have to rescue Ryan from a hopping mad food chain owner and discover that with a bit of felt, ingenuity, and hope they can connect rainbows and become rich and famous in the 1979 comedy The Muppet Movie.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Frozen Collectors Edition Blu-Ray Giveaway

Hey... Guess what?!?!?  I forgot to decline my Disney Movie Club movie of the month, and now we have an extra copy of the Frozen Collectors Edition Blu-ray.  So we thought why not hold a contest to give it away.  And lo and behold a contest was born!

Feel Free to go enter!!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks Blu-ray Review

This past December Walt Disney Pictures released Saving Mr. Banks which is a movie that goes into some of the details about what went on during the making of the movie Mary Poppins as well as the history behind the character and story created by P. L. Travers. While the movie was generally well received by audiences, it carries with it a lot of controversy about the factuality of the elements of the film. To learn more about the film itself and what we thought about it please listen to Episode 156 of our podcast.

The main menu has in the background the old fashioned reel-to-reel tape recorder playing original recordings of P. L. Travers that can be seen during the closing credits of the movie. I do wish they’d have included more of the recordings than they did as it’s only a very short piece that keeps repeating. The movie can be viewed in English, French, Spanish for both audio and subtitles. It includes a piece filmed during the closing of the set, Richard Sherman played “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” for the cast and crew, all of whom sang with him - absent are Tom Hanks and a few others. It’s a small tribute to Sherman himself as it’s interspersed with cuts to some more emotional moments during filming.

The Walt Disney Studios: From Poppins to the Present is narrated by John Lee Hancock and his journey making Saving Mr. Banks and in learning the history of the making of Mary Poppins. Talking with Michael Corenblith about their investigations into the Disney Archives. They talk about the construction of the studio, and the Animation building. Sons and daughters of various Disney Animators and staff discuss their childhoods growing up on the studio lot. And how so many of the tricks and tools of the trade that Walt and the Studio learned and invented before making Mary Poppins were used to make the movie. Richard Sherman discusses what it was like working on Mary Poppins with his brother, Walt, and Travers. It’s really more a piece about Walt and the Studio than it is about Mary Poppins and Saving Mr. Banks.

There are a few Deleted Scenes from the movie. As is typical of these you can sort of tell why they were cut as they’re all good scenes but they don’t bring anything new to the table that the other scenes do not:
  • Stargaze - Ginty and her father are sitting on their porch at night while he plays a flute. Her mother comes out and sends Ginty off to bed, then they look at the stars and talk about their future in their new home.
  • Nanny Song - As the Sherman Brothers play “The Perfect Nanny” for P. L. Travers, she declares how much she hates every line and then at the end tells them it was the worst song she ever heard.
  • Pam Leaves - Before Travers heads back to England, Walt comes out to talk with her, and she tells him that broken promises made to children are like poison that eat away at them inside. He tries to determine why the entire process has been so hard for her. She tells him that the books were not written for children, but rather for the “promise breakers”. When pressed she lets slip that “he’s” not something she can let go of, leaving Walt perplexed.

Considering all the research and exploration that went into the making of the film, I found the Blu-ray to be quite sparse. Both the movie itself and this Blu-ray still leave me wanting to better understand the choices made for the movie. What’s missing more than anything else is more of the archival audio of the sessions with P. L. Travers - having access to some or all of these on the Blu-ray would have made for a fantastic addition. This Blu-ray is really about being able to own the movie itself for your home collection.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 168 - The Great Muppet Caper

This week the DFPP team heads to London to do a story on a remarkable set of twins who have to save their friend from being framed and wind up pitching around the fabulous baseball diamond in the 1981 comedy The Great Muppet Caper.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Jungle Book 2 Blu-ray Review

Now available on Blu-ray is the Jungle Book 2. Created by Disney Toon Studios it is a sequel to the classic Disney animated film The Jungle Book, which recently had it’s Diamond Edition release back in February. This story is about Mowgli’s return to the jungle after having spent some time living with man in the village we see him wander into at the end of The Jungle Book. For those who are not familiar with and do not own the original The Jungle Book, the Jungle Book 2 Blu-ray contains a feature called Synopsis Of The Original Movie - The Jungle Book is a condensed version of the story told in less than 5 minutes using clips from the original movie.

The overall look of the menu as a stylized shadow puppet show patterned after the movie’s opening is really inventive, but unfortunately the lack of a distinctive contrast between the current menu choice and other menu items makes it very difficult to use. It’s a shame that menus are still being released like this. In addition to the standard subtitles that available on the Blu-ray, there is a Sing Along With The Movie is a feature which turns on subtitles only for the songs in the movie. And you can watch two songs from the movie, “W-I-L-D” and “Jungle Rhythm”, in their music video format from The Disney Channel.

The Legacy Of The Jungle Book is a background piece about the making of The Jungle Book 2. Roy E. Disney opens talking about the lasting memory that The Jungle Book carries as the last film Walt worked on. The production crew of The Jungle Book 2 discuss how they put the movie together using elements of The Jungle Book itself, and then building off of them. They worked to increase the depth of field of the animated scenery, and added 3D elements to some scenes. As the movies were made 30 years apart the crew took care to cast voice actors that sounded as close as possible to the original. They lucked out in the case of Jim Cummings as the voice of Kaa - originally done by Sterling Holloway. Cummings had already replaced Holloway as the voice of Winnie the Pooh. Similarly while a few songs come from the original movie there are new songs that work to build off the originals, but with a modern flair.

The last feature of the Blu-ray are two Deleted Scenes that are introduced by Sharon Morrill & Matt Walker who were the President & Senior Vice President of Disney Toon Studios. “I Got You Beat”, presented via storyboards, is a song sung by Mowgli and Shanti that was intended to foster a rivalry that existed between the two characters during early production that was eventually written out of the plot. “Braver”, also shown via storyboard, is a song sung by Shanti that explores her fears of being alone in the jungle.

While I’m normally not a fan of the “Number 2” sequels to Disney animated films, but this movie itself is actually okay, which is most likely why it was released into theaters originally instead of direct-to-video. As you can see there aren’t a lot of features on the Blu-ray, but these are probably the only extras that already existed for this film. This release is not a must have, but it is a good companion to the new Diamond Edition of The Jungle Book.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 167 - Muppet Treasure Island

This week the DFPP team sets sail on a high seas adventure and find themselves on a ship filled with a menagerie of party animals in search of buried treasure only to find it hoarded by a pig in the 1996 adventure Muppet Treasure Island.