Monday, February 25, 2013

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 112 - Follow Me, Boys!

This week the DFPP team travels back in time to talk with Fred MacMurray about his own adventures in time travel and learns that sometime a little Hickory goes a long way when the old MacMurray is around in the 1966 drama Follow Me, Boys!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2013 Upcoming Films Review by Briana Alessio

This year is an exciting one for films!  Disney has a lot in store with films being released from March through December.  We have both animation and live action specialties so let’s take a look at what is to come.

Oz the Great and Powerful (March 8, 2013)
Similar to what we have seen in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, we go from Kansas to the brilliant world of Oz.  However, instead of focusing on Dorothy, this film concentrates on the life of Oz played by James Franco.  The three witches are Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams).  This film will be a mystery on who is good and who is evil, as well as figuring out whether Oz is as great a wizard as he leads others to believe.  Sam Raimi directs with a score by Danny Elfman.

I’ve spoken to many people who have mixed opinions on this concept.  Most are lovers of The Wizard of Oz, so they believe that the storyline should be left alone.  They feel a Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland vibe going on during the previews.  However, I feel that Raimi could do a wonderful job with this if he played his cards right.

The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex (March 15, 2013)
Airing on the Disney Channel, this film comes from the Wizards of Waverly Place TV show on the same channel.  Most of the original cast will be in the film including Selena Gomez who plays Alex.  This will focus on a trip to Italy where the family will meet long lost relatives.  We see a battle between a good Alex and a bad Alex created from a spell.

Honestly, I do not watch Wizards of Waverly Place so the excitement level is not high for this one.  I’m sure it will be a fun, campy film though.

Iron Man 3 (May 3, 2013)
All hail the return of Tony Stark!  Marvel will bring us yet another action packed superhero film…no complaints here.  The richly talented actor Ben Kingsley will give us the portrayal of the villain named The Mandarin.  Paul Bettany returns as the voice of Jarvis, as well as Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper.  We will also see Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine.  Shane Black will direct this one. 

Words cannot describe how unbelievably excited I am for this one.  After being rather disappointed with the second one, I’m hoping this one will blow it right out of the water.  The cast is incredible; hoping the film is as well.

Monsters University (June 21, 2013)
A prequel to Monsters, Inc., this will concentrate on the lives of Mike and Sulley attending the University of Fear in order to become full-fledged monsters.  We will see Randall as well as the Abominable Snowman in this.  Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and Steve Buscemi return for their original voice roles.  We will also hear Helen Mirren, David Spade, and Michael McKean among others providing characters’ voices.  Dan Scanlon will direct.

Being a big fan of Monsters, Inc. and knowing how many people adore it, I have a good feeling about this.  After getting past the fact that Boo will most likely not appear in the film, I have accepted that this will be a solid production.  Most definitely looking forward to it, as the original gave us a beautifully animated creation.

The Blue Umbrella (June 21, 2013)
This short will likely appear prior to Monsters University.  It will focus on the beauty of inanimate objects – umbrellas.  Two fall in love and a story will unravel.  We do not have much information on this at the moment but it is almost better to not know and just let it be a surprise.  This looks like it will be quite an outstanding piece and might even give some competition for Paperman.

I always look forward to the shorts preceding a Disney/Pixar film.  They are continually amazing and give us a peek into the animators’ minds each year.

The Lone Ranger (July 3, 2013)
Armie Hammer will star as John Reid/The Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp will star as Tonto in this recreation of the classic 1949-1957 television show.  Helena Bonham Carter will play Red and the fabulous Tom Wilkinson will give us Latham Cole.  Directed by Gore Verbinski, this focuses on the life of Reid and how he became a fictional but historical role model for many.

This looks to be an exciting film and I am definitely looking forward to seeing it.  The excitement level for me probably places this film in third place for me, with Iron Man 3 being in first.  Also, with Johnny Depp, you really cannot go wrong.

Teen Beach Movie (July 2013)
Similar to The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex, this film will be a Disney Channel movie.  This is about a young surfer girl whose parents send her to boarding school.  From here, she somehow finds herself in a 1960s beach musical where people will suddenly break into song. 

For some reason, I’m imagining a mix of Pleasantville and Beach Blanket BingoHopefully I will be wrong but I can see it having the same charm factor as Prom.  That is, if you are like me and actually thought a charm factor existed within Prom. 

Planes (August 9, 2013)
This film will concentrate on a plane named Dusty whose wish is to compete in an aerial race.  His friends will assist in helping him overcome his fear of heights.  This is said to be a spinoff of Cars; however, Pixar will not be involved in this production.  Despite this fact, John Lasseter will oversee the making of the film.

I’m not sure how well this will do in theatres knowing that this is a spinoff of Cars.  Hopefully having planes in place will be endearing as well.  The concept sounds cute.

Thor: The Dark World (November 8, 2013)
Marvel is preparing to give us another superhero film, this one focusing on the mythical god Thor.  Thankfully, the majority of the cast is returning except for Once Upon a Time’s Josh Dallas as Fandral.  Zachary Levi will step in to take his place.  Alan Taylor will direct; this appears to be his first involvement with Disney and Marvel.  Christopher Eccleston will play the villain Malekith as a battle wages between Thor and the Dark Elves. 

This film rates in second place for me.  I’m a Marvel loving gal so I have high hopes for their 2013 films. 

Frozen (November 27, 2013)
Kristen Bell and Josh Gad will voice Anna and Olaf in this animated film about a mountain climber on the quest to find the Snow Queen.  Hans Christian Andersen wrote the original tale appropriately titled The Snow Queen.  This looks to be a mythical story, one which looks to contain unsurprisingly beautiful animation. 

I have not heard a great deal about this film but it appears to be interesting.  To me, the pictures I have seen resemble a mix of Mulan and The Secret World of Arrietty

Saving Mr. Banks (December 20, 2013)
Tom Hanks will portray Walt Disney in this film about PL Travers (played by Emma Thompson), the author of Mary Poppins.  This takes place before the film was actually released to the public.  We are told that part of this was filmed in Disneyland, which should be neat to see.  We will see a tremendous cast including the likes of Paul Giamatti, Rachel Griffiths, Bradley Whitford, Colin Farrell, and Jason Schwartman among others.

This looks like it will be an interesting one to see.  I am looking forward to seeing Hanks portray our Uncle Walt, as well as seeing Thompson portray Travers.  Some of us may be briefly familiar with their real life business relationship which was definitely not an easy one.

I am extremely excited about the upcoming year of films.  Each one looks solid in its own way.  Despite looking forward to the Marvel centered films most of all, each look like masterpieces which are sure to make 2013 quite a special year.

It’s like no place I’ve ever seen.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 111 - 2013 Upcoming Movies

This week the DFPP team breaks out their time travel machine to take a peek at the Disney movie releases of 2013. From superheroes to the wild west to the beach and beyond, even a glimpse at Walt himself. Join us for this look ahead.

Show notes:

Enjoy the show!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 110 - National Treasure: Book of Secrets

This week the DFPP team visits scenic Mount Rushmore and discovers along the way that sometimes no matter resolute a thing appears to be it can unlock the best kept secrets in the 2007 action adventure National Treasure: Book of Secrets.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Three Musketeers Review by Briana Alessio

This brief, animated re-telling of the three famous heroes stars Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy.  Believe it or not, this is from 2004 which is frightening since this feels like it just came out two years ago.
Unlike the typical tale (or tail, in this instance) of the film, their version is a tad different.  I will summarize their adventure.  Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are janitors who are looking to be heroes…Musketeers, to be specific.  It is refreshing to see a classic villain by the name of Pete as their enemy.  He stars as Peg-Leg Pete who believes none of them will ever make it to the big leagues.  He is so passionate against their success that he has terms for each of them – he deems Mickey as “just too small”, Donald as a “coward”, and Goofy as a “doofus.”  As a matter of fact, there is a funny scene where to demonstrate his point, Pete puts his ear up to Goofy’s head to see if it’s working, and a busy signal sounds with the familiar “number you are trying to reach” message.  That will bring a laugh for adults. 

Pete has a mission to kidnap Princess Minnie although his true goal is to do the exact opposite.  His league of dummies called The Beagle Boys have misunderstood Pete’s order to keep her safe and instead attempt to drop a safe on the unsuspecting Minnie.  Thankfully, their plan does not work out.  So Pete plans to take his revenge during The Pirates of Penzance when he will display his mighty strength.  Princess Minnie informs Pete that she would like bodyguards, so he hires Mickey, Donald, and Goofy for her protection. 

A bit of chaos takes place once the gang is attacked by the Beagle Boys.  Minnie and Goofy are kidnapped, so the wannabe Musketeers know they must rescue them.  After a fun tower scene, the Beagle Boys get knocked off and the ladies are saved.  Mickey and Minnie obviously fall in love.  Pete soon acknowledges the fact that these three friends are stronger than they appear and that “small”, “coward”, and “doofus” do not apply at all.  After more chaos including a fabulous appearance from Clarabelle, the film ends with a bang on a stage during The Pirates of Penzance.  Of course, the film ends on a positive note.

Mickey and Minnie are voiced by the incredible Wayne Allwine and Russi Taylor.  Allwine voiced Mickey from 1973 to 2009.  Taylor has voiced Minnie since 1987; she has also given us Strawberry Shortcake and currently provides voice work on the Disney show Jake and the Never Land Pirates.  Allwine and Taylor were married, which makes the whole concept absolutely magical.  Tony Anselmo gives us Donald Duck and has been since 1986, while Bill Farmer has voiced Goofy since 1987.  Jim Cummings voices Pete, and has provided us with a countless number of character voices through the years.  Tress MacNeille plays Daisy and April Winchell voices Clarabelle.

The Three Musketeers is directed by Donovan Cook.  Cook has directed a few other titles including two episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  Evan Spiliotopoulos and David M. Evans wrote for the film.  And of course, some credit must go to the man himself, Alexandre Dumas.

1.)  Pete uses his peg leg for the first time since the 1930s.
2.)  The original idea for the film came about in the 1940s but Disney realized there needed to be four heroes, not three.  They realized in 2004 that they could make a film which could parallel the story to tell an interesting tale in homage of the original.  Successfully done.
3.)  This is the first feature length film with Mickey, Donald, and Goofy together.
4.)  Goofy is the only main character to not appear in his traditional outfit.
5.)  Hidden Mickey: a flashing emergency light.

I do not have a favorite scene during this film but the entire ending scene on stage during The Pirates of Penzance is quite comical.  There is also a nod to The Mickey Mouse Club where Pete announces at one point, “Hey there, hi there, ho there, you’re as welcome as can be.”  There is also an “I just can’t wait to be king” thrown in there.  Also, I noticed how much of this film brings back memories from House of Mouse (from 2001 and 2002), the fantastic Disney Channel television series. 

The Three Musketeers is a fun film.  It’s a great one to check out at some point with the family when you have spare time.  It is no Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin, but it is worth watching.  Definitely not a top notch Disney flick, but certainly a fun one.

My Rating:  3.5/5

By the power invested in my fist, I clobber you.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 109 - Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers

This week the DFPP team steps into animated France to see their Musketeer friends and finds them embroiled in an operatic plot to overthrow the Princess to make a cat King in the 2004 animated adventure Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Peter Pan Diamond Edition Blu-ray Release

This Tuesday, February 5th, Disney celebrates the 60th Anniversary of Peter Pan by releasing the Diamond Edition Blu-ray release.  The movie has been digitally enhanced to bring out both better color and sound.  As this is one of my favorite Disney movies of all time, I can’t tell you how excited this release has made me, and being allowed to review the Blu-ray early has been a treat.  For more information about the movie itself please check out Episode 63 of our podcast.

When you get to the main menu of the Blu-ray be prepared for a visual treat.  The main menu background is a shifting of scenes throughout Neverland.  The scenes shift by moving through a 3D representation of Never Land led by none other than Tinker Bell herself.  If you head to the sneak peeks you’ll a preview for the recently cancelled theatrical release of Little Mermaid in 3D on the Sneak Peeks.  And for Tinker Bell fans who haven’t already seen it on YouTube, there is a preview of the The Mythical Island - a movie where the talents of the Tinker Bell and her friends get jumbled between them.

Audiophiles will be happy to find that they can use the Original Theatrical Mix audio when watching the movie - this might require special audio equipment to get the full effect.  You can also use DisneyView to displays artwork by Cristy Maltese in the left and right borders of the movie on modern displays that are otherwise black.  And if you don’t want to watch the movie with full subtitles to be able to get them just for the song lyrics throughout the movie you can take advantage of Sing Along With The Movie (With Lyrics).  You can also find all the old DVD release “classic” bonus features on the Blu-ray.

Prior to the movie you have the option to watch an introduction by Diane Disney Miller where she talks about Walt’s love of the story and how he had wanted Peter Pan to be the 2nd animated feature, but he had to wait until animation techniques caught up with his vision.  You will also find the short Growing Up With Nine Old Men which is a brief background and history of Walt’s Nine Old Men.  It is narrated by the son of Frank Thomas, Ted Thomas director and writer of Walt & El Grupo.  In it he goes around to some of the children of the Nine Old Men and discusses with them how it was growing up with their fathers. And if you want to you can listen to Audio Commentary by Roy Disney while you watch the film.

When I first experienced the concept of an interactive Disney Intermission on The Muppets Blu-ray I was floored by the concept.  This Blu-ray has a similar feature, but it is very slow paced and not as much fun.  Geared toward children, it takes you through some puzzle-like interactions with voiceovers by both Hook and Smee.  There are also two deleted scenes which are enacted using the storyboard technique that Disney has used on prior Blu-ray releases.  As I really enjoy this method of putting together a missing scene this feature is a treat for me.  There are also two missing songs “Never Smile at a Crocodile” (music is in the movie, but not the lyrics) and “The Boatswain Song” which is all about Smee.  

This Blu-ray release is fantastic.  If for no other reason the digital enhancements to the movie itself make it perhaps the best version of the movie ever released.  As it’s a popular fan favorite, I think this release will have excellent sales.  While there’s very little additional new content on the Blu-ray itself, considering the age of the movie and the amount that already exists about it, this is no great surprise.  The inclusion of the DVD bonus features is smart, there should be no Blu-ray release by Disney that shouldn’t do this for any prior release content.  I’m glad to have received a review copy of this release.