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!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Frozen Blu-ray Review

In what has definitely not been a chilling reception, the Academy Award winning Disney animated feature Frozen is doing gangbusters at the box office by still ranking in the top 10. This makes it a little hard to fathom looking at a Blu-ray release for a movie, but since the Frozen Blu-ray is going to be released 1 week from now on March 18th, it’s time to take a look. After all, don’t we all need warm hug from Olaf in our homes.

The menu is really nice, it has some music from a few of the songs playing in the background with snowflakes floating around. Some of the snowflakes move to the front of the screen becoming larger and transforming into viewports of characters from the movie. It is also super easy to read due to its graphical design. If you surf around, you’ll discover that the Blu-ray has English, French, and Spanish languages and subtitles.

Get A Horse! is the short that was shown before Frozen in theaters it is a combination of old and new animation styles, allowing the two forms to interact in unique ways. It also draws from the past by pulling in sound samples from older Disney Animated Shorts. This short had a great reception from old school Disney fans who are really into the older Disney Shorts that this pays homage to. It’s also a neat way to get modern animation fans to maybe consider taking a closer look at the older works. Don’t forget to look for Oswald.

In The Making Of Frozen Josh Gad (Olaf), Jonathan Groff (Kristoff), and Kristen Bell (Anna) take us on a lyrical journey through the making of the film. It has various animators and productions staff at Walt Disney Animation Studios singing and dancing including a brief appearance by John Lasseter. It’s a really cute way to present the question being asked to producers of, “How did we make Frozen?” Just don’t hold your breath for the answer.

D’frosted: Disney’s Journey From Hans Christian Andersen to Frozen talks about how many of Disney’s greatest stories have their roots in fairy tales and how it was more than 70 years since Walt first secured the rights to the Snow Queen before Frozen was made. Alice Davis, costume designer for It’s A Small World, talks about some design pieces by her husband Marc Davis for a show to occur at Disneyland called The Enchanted Snow Palace - a cold ride designed for summer days. Throughout Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee look over the work, talk about them, and discuss how some similar ideas came through to Frozen.

The Deleted Scenes can be watched with Introductions by Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee:
  • Never Underestimate The Power Of Elsa is a scene from production when Elsa was still a villain and she tortures two soldiers sent to find Anna.
  • The Dressing Room was a scene with an older Elsa and Anna back to sharing a room and each others things, and it’s a good basis for the origins of their relationship in the film.
  • Meet Kristoff #1 is from an earlier version of the story where Anna and Kristoff first meet in Arendelle, some of which still makes it through to the movie as Oaken’s Trading Post.
  • Meet Kristoff #2 is another early production introduction of Sven, this time he is seen rock climbing with Sven.

There are Music Videos of the Academy Award winning song “Let It Go” in several different languages:
  • Demi Lovato (English)
  • Martina Stoessel (Spanish)
  • Martina Stoessel (Italian)
  • Marsha Milan (Malaysian)

Also found is the Original Teaser Trailer which for most people was their introduction to the movie. For me, I found this trailer unlikeable, and it wasn’t until the movie itself that I came to like both Sven and Olaf.

This is a solid Blu-ray release, and the effort put into it shows. Some features I would have liked to have seen added are one involving some background into the research put into the movie, another involving the animators and some of the new technologies developed like Matterhorn, and a third involving the voice studio work. There is no doubt that this release is going to be a big seller, the movie is great, and folks just want to own it.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 166 - Miracle

This week the DFPP team dons some blades to catch a little ice time when they accidentally trip the time machine lever and end up getting stuck in the past doing Herbies only to miss the game of the century in the 2004 drama Miracle.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Winnie the Pooh: Springtime With Roo Blu-ray Review

Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo is a tale about Easter that was released direct to video back in 2004. On March 11th it will be released on Blu-ray, in plenty of time for the Easter holiday. It’s got one additional feature on it besides the movie itself, Get Up And Dance!, a dance and music video featuring the song from the movie “The Way It Must Be Done”. I have to be honest, this is one that sort of escaped my radar previously, and since there’s not a lot of content on the Blu-ray I decided to take some time and go over the story briefly.

It’s a new tale, meaning that it doesn’t derive from the original A. A. Milne works. And it has a bit of a divergence from the standard Narrator, David Ogden Stiers, opening that takes you into the story. Roo interrupts, and talks with the Narrator who tells Roo the story is about him. Roo accepts this and hops right into the story.

Things start with the Tigger, Roo, Piglet, Eeyore, and Pooh heading off to go Easter egg hunting. Unfortunately they run into Rabbit who seems to not know it’s Easter and puts them to work Spring Kleening (sic) his home. Meanwhile he goes outside to garden. While cleaning Pooh sneezes the biggest sneeze ever, which leads them to discover all their Easter decorations. They proceed to decorate Rabbit’s house, and when he comes back he is quite upset and throws them all out.

Roo figures out that something is wrong with Rabbit and he talks with Tigger about it. Together they make a plan to bring back Easter and Kanga approves. Tigger and the Narrator confront him about it, and the story suddenly becomes an take on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Of course, with the denizens of the Hundred Acre Wood, rooted in the Easter holiday, with Rabbit as Scrooge, and the Narrator stepping in as the ghosts of Past, Present, and Future. And if you didn’t figure it out, Tigger tells you at the end.

It’s a cute tale, but only with a single moral to be learned as opposed to the several you get in other Winnie the Pooh stories and movies. It’s about 20% singing, and there’s a lot of more depressing / sad moments that you might expect, but it ends with everything resolved and everyone happy and singing. This is a definite family movie and not overly childish. If you’re looking for a good springtime movie to watch with your children, this one is it.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 165 - Dinosaur

This week the DFPP team revs up the time machine and heads deep into the past to watch an asteroid hit the Earth where some leaping lemurs lead them to a bunch of dinosaurs marching to an oasis in the 2000 animated adventure Dinosaur.