Posts Tagged ‘Disney’

Movie Review – The Country Bears (2002)

Today we’re taking a look at 2002’s The Country Bears, a Disney live-action film based on the popular Country Bear Jamboree animatronic show in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland.

When the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, one of its original attractions was Country Bear Jamboree, an animatronic stage show featuring a large cast of musical hillbilly bears.  The show was a hit as the audiences adored the music as well as the loveable bears and their humorous antics.  Country Bear Jamboree was later added to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as well as Tokyo Disneyland in Japan, but it was ultimately removed from the California theme park in 2001.

Released in 2002, The Country Bears was the second theatrical Disney film based on an attraction in one of the theme parks (the first theatrical film was 2000’s Mission to Mars).  The Country Bears involves a young bear named Beary Barrington, and his quest to discover his true place in the world.  He finds the old Country Bears band members and convinces them to reunite and play at a fundraiser to save Country Bear Hall, their old concert venue that has fallen behind on its bills.

The Country Bears (2002) - movie poster

The Country Bears (2002) – movie poster

Directed by Peter Hastings, The Country Bears stars Haley Joel Osment as the voice of Beary Barrington, a young bear who lives with an adopted family of humans, and Christopher Walken as Reed Thimple, a banker who’s plotting to destroy Country Bear Hall.  Other actors in this film include Diedrich Bader, Darly Mitchell, Brad Garrett, and a host of celebrity cameos.

The Country Bears (2002) - (c) Buena Vista Pictures

The Country Bears (2002) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures

The Country Bears begins with a brief overview of the The Country Bears, an all-bear country rock band that broke up in 1991.  The footage includes the bears singing “Let It Ride” (a good song, by the way) at what we presume to be one of their final concerts.

Fast forward years later. Read more…

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1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 24, 2015 at 12:55 pm

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Movie Review – Cinderella (2015)

Released this past weekend was Cinderella, a live-action version of the story released by Walt Disney Pictures.

In 1950, Walt Disney released Cinderella as its twelfth full-length animated film.  Cinderella impressed the audiences and quickly became one of many classic animated films.  Cinderella was so popular that it inspired the fairy tale castle located in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

And now in 2015, Cinderella has returned to the theaters.  Just like 2014’s Maleficent, this version of Cinderella is not only live-action, but it’s also different than the animated version that you know and love.

Cinderella (2015) - movie poster

Cinderella (2015) – movie poster

Directed by Kenneth Branagh, Cinderella stars Lily James in the title role of Ella (a.k.a. Cinderella), a young lady tormented by her evil stepmother.  Co-starring in the film are Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine, Richard Madden as Prince “Kit” Charming, Stellan Skarsgard as the Grand Duke, and Helena Bonham Carter as The Fairy Godmother.  The film’s music was created by Patrick Doyle.

Frozen Fever

The theatrical release of Cinderella included an animated short called Frozen Fever, starring everybody’s favorite characters from Frozen.  The cartoon involves a story where Queen Elsa prepares a surprise birthday part for her sister, Anna.  Sven and Olaf guard the birthday cake (an ice cream cake, of course), while Elsa goes and wakes her sister.  When Anna wakes from her sleep, she realizes that it’s her birthday, and she’s elated.  Allegedly this is her first birthday that Anna will celebrate with Elsa since the two of them were young children.

The only problem is that Queen Elsa is coming down with a cold.  Whenever she sneezes, out pop several Snowgies, little snowmen.  That doesn’t stop Elsa, and she insists that she’s not catching a cold.  Instead, Else starts singing “Making Today a Perfect Day” (yet another catchy song —– you’ve been warned!) as she leads Anna around the castle and shows her gifts.  Anna joins the singing, and Sven and Olaf do as well.  The song ends as Elsa tires and nearly falls off a ledge.  She admits that she really *does* have a cold.

In the courtyard, Sven and Olaf struggle to keep the little Snowgies (they number around a hundred near the end) from eating Anna’s birthday cake.

When Anna leads Elsa back to her room to get some rest, they enter the courtyard and Anna is surprised by the birthday party.  She’s thrilled that everybody did so much work to celebrate her special day.  Anna then takes Else to her room and says that the best birthday gift is being able to care for her sick sister.

Frozen Fever also has brief cameos by Hans and Marshmallow (the giant snow monster from the film).

The cartoon itself is short and entertaining.  There’s no doubt that fans of Frozen will love it.

Cinderella

Cinderella begins with the birth of a baby girl, Ella, to her wealthy parents.  Her parents live in a large estate out in the countryside of a peaceful kingdom.

When Ella is a young girl, her mother (Hayley Atwell) teaches her to be kind to all people, even the animals in the yard.  Even though the animals do not speak our language, they can still hear and understand people.  The girl quickly befriends all of the animals, from the geese to the tiny mice.

On day Ella’s mother suddenly contracts a fatal illness.  There’s nothing that the village’s doctor can do.  On her deathbed, her mother makes Ella promise that she will always have courage and to show kindness to others.  Her mother dies and it’s now Ella and her father (Ben Chaplin) along with the estate’s servants. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - March 17, 2015 at 10:33 pm

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Movie Review – Big Hero 6 (2014)

This past weekend saw the release of Big Hero 6, the 54th feature film released by Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Set in an alternate version of San Francisco (called San Fransokyo in the film), Big Hero 6 tells a story of a gifted young robot engineer named Hiro who is persuaded by his older brother to apply for an advanced engineering school.  When Hiro’s brother is suddenly killed in a terrible accident (or so it seems), Hiro befriends Baymax, an inflatable nurse robot that was his brother’s last invention.  Hiro soon learns that it was no accident that killed his brother.  With the help of Baymax and his late brother’s friends at the engineering school, the group of them form a super hero team and they track down the killer.

Big Hero 6 (2014) - movie poster

Big Hero 6 (2014) – movie poster

Directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, Big Hero 6 stars Ryan Potter as the voice of Hiro Hamada and Scott Adsit as the voice of Baymax.  This movie also features the voices of James Cromwell and Alan Tudyk, and a cameo by Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee.  Otherwise, nearly all of the voice actors/actresses are from obscure talents in Hollywood.

Big Hero 6 is set in the near future in San Fransokyo, a blending of San Francisco and Tokyo.  The movie begins with 14-year-old robot engineer Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) participating in a back alley robot fight.  He hustles his way to an easy victory and collects a large amount of money for winning the fight.  This doesn’t go too well with the other contestant, and Hiro has to make a quick getaway.  He’s rescued by his older brother, Tadashi (voiced by Daniel Henney), but they’re both caught by the police along with everybody else at the robot fight.  The robot fighting technically wasn’t illegal, but betting on it was.

The two brothers are soon bailed out of jail by Aunt Cass (voiced by Maya Rudolph), the boys’ aunt and legal guardian.  It’s briefly mentioned that the brothers’ parents died about ten years ago.  Aunt Cass owns a popular bakery and coffee shop, and she and the boys live in an apartment above the cafe.  Tadashi tries to sit down and talk some sense into Hiro, but Hiro is more interested in hustling for money at robot fights instead of going to college and getting an education. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - November 10, 2014 at 6:39 pm

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Movie Review – Planes (2013)

Back in 2006, Walt Disney Pictures scored a major hit with Cars, an animated film that depicted cars and other vehicles as being alive with their own personalities.

The follow-up question was simple:  How could they expand the Cars universe?

That’s where the 2013 animated movie Planes comes into play.  Set within the Cars franchise, Planes is a spin-off film that takes a look at the high-speed world of air racing.  The story involves a crop duster airplane that dreams of doing something bigger with his life.  The crop duster gets involved in an international air race around the world and discovers that it’s going to take more than just horsepower and fancy flying to win this dangerous race.

Planes (2013) - movie poster

Planes (2013) – movie poster

Directed by Klay Hall, Planes stars Dane Cook as the voice of Dusty Crophopper, a crop duster with so much to prove.  Co-starring in the film are the voices of Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Cedric the Entertainer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Gabriel Iglesias and John Cleese.  Even Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards lend their voices as Navy fighter pilots (Top Gun, anyone?).

Planes (2013) - (c) Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Planes (2013) – (c) Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Planes begins high in the skies as Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook), a crop duster, races through the skies against two hotshot Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet fighters.  Just as Dusty makes a pass and takes the lead in the race, all of a sudden Dusty wakes up from his daydream.

It turns out that Dusty is just an ordinary crop dusting airplane.  He and Leadbottom (voiced by Cedric the Entertainer), a biplane, are out spraying the farms around their home airfield of Propwash Junction, a small airport in the middle of nowhere.  Although Dusty dreams of one day racing in the prestigious Wings Around the Globe rally, Leadbottom thinks that Dusty spends too much time with his head in the clouds.  According to Leadbottom, the good life is really right there at Propwash Junction where it’s always sunny and quiet.

At Propwash Junction are Dusty’s friends, Chug (voiced by Brad Garrett), a fuel truck, and Sparky (voiced by Danny Mann), a forklift.  Inside one of the hangars is Dottie (voiced by Teri Hatcher), a forklift and mechanic.  Also at the airport is Skipper Riley (voiced by Stacy Keach), an F4U Corsair from World War 2. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 12, 2014 at 10:34 pm

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Movie Review – Maleficent (2014)

In 1959, Walt Disney Productions released Sleeping Beauty, a full-length animated film that did a wonderful job of telling a classic fairy tale.

In Sleeping Beauty, the character Maleficent was not only one of the most evil and powerful villains in the history of Disney animation, but she was also one of the most mysterious and unknown of them as well.  Very little was told about her in the animated film.  You just know that she must have some sort of fantastic tale on why she is so vicious and hateful towards King Stefan and Princess Aurora.

Maleficent (2014) - movie poster

Maleficent (2014) – movie poster

Those questions and more are answered in the 2014 live-action film Maleficent.  Directed by Robert Stromberg, Maleficent stars Angelina Jolie in the title role of Maleficent.  Supporting her is Sharlto Copley as King Stefan.  That’s probably as far as it goes when it comes to famous people in this film, not that that’s a negative issue.

Maleficent begins with a brief introduction to the fantasy land, a kingdom of humans and a wooded area (called the moors) where fairies and other magical beings live.  Although the two lands border one another, both the humans and the fairies keep their distance.  Apparently the two groups have fought wars in the past.

Young fairy Maleficent (Isobelle Molloy) is a magical being that loves life and nature.  She is flying around the woods one day when she learns of there being a human being nearby.  He was caught stealing from the land, and the human is hiding in a small cave.  Maleficent goes to the cave and convinces the human to emerge.  He does so and we see that it’s a young man named Stefan (Michael Higgins).  No harm comes to Stefan and the item that he stole is returned to a pool of water.

Maleficent and Stefan begin to talk and realize that they share quite a bit in common, from their young age to both of them being orphans.  When they part, Stefan extends his hand and Maleficent touches it, but she suddenly pulls it back.  She was burned by the iron ring on Stefan’s hand.  She tells him that steel is harmful when it touches her skin.  Knowing that, Stefan removes his ring and throws it away so that they may touch hands again in the future.

As the years pass, both Maleficent and Stefan continue to see and grow closer to each other.  But all of that ends when Maleficent (Ella Purnell) reaches her sixteenth birthday.  Suddenly Stefan is no longer part of her life in the woods.

King Henry (Kenneth Cranham) has learned of Maleficent and her powers, and he’s determined to crush every evil creature in the woods.  He leads an attack against Maleficent and her forest creatures, but the attack is repealed and King Henry is seriously injured.  Back at his castle, King Henry gathers his closest advisers and tells them that whomever can defeat the evil will become the next king, as King Henry does not have any children to inherit his kingdom. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - May 29, 2014 at 11:48 pm

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Movie Review – Sleeping Beauty (1959)

In 1959, Walt Disney Productions released Sleeping Beauty, the company’s sixteenth animated film.

Based on a French fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty tells the story of a young princess who is cursed by an evil sorceress.  If the princess pricks her finger on a spinning wheel before her sixteenth birthday, then she’ll die.  Fortunately for the princess, a good fairly is able to alter the evil spell and change it so that instead of death, the princess will simply fall asleep.  All she needs to do to wake is to receive a kiss by her true love.

Sleeping Beauty (1959) - movie poster

Sleeping Beauty (1959) – movie poster

Sleeping Beauty would mark the end of a series of Disney animated films based on fairy tales.  Throughout the 1960s, 70s, and most of the 80s, the Disney animated films focused on other sources for stories.  Disney would not return to making animated films out of fairy tales until the release of The Little Mermaid in 1989.

Sleeping Beauty (1959) - (c) Buena Vista Distribution

Sleeping Beauty (1959) – (c) Buena Vista Distribution

Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty begins with the opening of the fairy tale book, Sleeping Beauty.  The narrator (voiced by Marvin Miller) begins reading from the story and we learn about King Stefan (voiced by Taylor Holmes) and Queen Leah (voiced by Verna Felton), and how they finally received the gift of the birth of a child.  They name their little princess Aurora (Latin for “dawn”).  In honor of the birth of their daughter, the king and queen declare a holiday so that everybody in the kingdom can pay respect to the princess.

The illustrations in the book transition into the animated film.

One of the honored guests is King Hubert (voiced by Bill Thompson) and his young son, Prince Phillip (voiced by Bill Shirley).  It’s announced that day that Prince Phillip will be betrothed to Princess Aurora, and the kingdoms of Stefan and Hubert will finally be united. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - May 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm

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Movie Review – Dumbo (1941)

In October of 1941, Walt Disney Productions released Dumbo, the fourth full-length Disney animated film.

Dumbo is a simple story that tells the story of Dumbo, a circus elephant who was born with very large ears.  The young elephant faced teasing and ridicule from the circus’s visitors and his fellow elephants.  Dumbo finds an unlikely companion in that of a mouse named Timothy, and the two of them show the world that Dumbo is indeed a very special elephant.

Dumbo (1941) - movie poster

Dumbo (1941) – movie poster

As you’ll see in the film, Dumbo revolves around simplicity in telling its story.  Dumbo himself has no lines of dialogue, and his mother, Mrs. Jumbo, only speaks one line.  The animation itself lacks the levels of detail in previous films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio.  And with a running time of only 64 minutes, Dumbo is one of Disney’s shortest animated films.

Dumbo (1941) - (c) RKO Radio Pictures

Dumbo (1941) – (c) RKO Radio Pictures

Dumbo begins on a stormy night as a flock of storks are delivering babies to circus animals at their winter quarters in south Florida.  The song “Look Out For Mr. Stork” is heard as all sorts of circus animals receive their babies and start their family.  All of the animals except for an elephant named Mrs. Jumbo.  She is saddened as no baby arrives for her. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - May 8, 2014 at 4:06 pm

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Movie Review – The Haunted Mansion (2003)

Nearly everybody who has visited the Disney theme parks has enjoyed the classic ghost house ride, the Haunted Mansion.

Magic Kingdom - Liberty Square - Haunted Mansion - 01 Magic Kingdom - Liberty Square - Haunted Mansion - 02

The Haunted Mansion has been an instant hit with the park guests since the ride first opened in Disneyland back in 1969.  The later versions at Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland have all been crowd favorites as well.

It’s the Disneyland version of the ride that was the first one built and opened, and that’s also where the 2003 film The Haunted Mansion gets its reference material.

Set inside of an old and spooky mansion in the Louisiana bayou, The Haunted Mansion tells a story of a hotshot real estate agent who receives a call to visit the mansion and help sell it.  After arriving at the mansion, the Realtor and his family quickly realize that not everything is as it seems, and ghosts are very much real.

The Haunted Mansion (2003) - movie poster

The Haunted Mansion (2003) – movie poster

Directed by Rob Minkoff, The Haunted Mansion stars Eddie Murphy in the starring role of real estate agent Jim Evers.  Supporting him are Marsha Thomason as Sara Evers, Terence Stamp as Ramsley, Nathaniel Parker as Master Gracey, and Jennifer Tilly as Madame Leota.

The Haunted Mansion (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures

The Haunted Mansion begins with workaholic New Orleans real estate agent Jim Evers (Eddie Murphy) closing the deal on another house.  He’s been on a role and has a hot streak selling homes this month.  Unfortunately, his strong work mentality has taken its strain on his family, and he misses a wedding anniversary between him and his wife, Sara (Marsha Thomason). Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - May 2, 2014 at 10:11 pm

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Movie Review – The Princess and the Frog (2009)

In December of 2009, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures released its 49th animated film, The Princess and the Frog.

Loosely based on the fairy tale The Frog Princess by E.D. Baker, and the classic Grimm fairy tale The Frog Prince, The Princess and the Frog uses traditional, hand-drawn animation to tell the tale of a spoiled prince who is turned into a frog from a magic spell, and his quest to become human again.  The Disney version adds the lead female character also being turned into a frog, and the two of them have to battle an evil voodoo magician before its too late.

The Princess and the Frog also sets a milestone for Disney princesses as Tiana is the first black princess in the Disney animated films, not that it really matters.  What’s important here is that The Princess and the Frog tells a good story while being set in a fantastic environment.  On top of that, the animation and art work in this film is simply outstanding!

The Princess and the Frog (2009) - movie poster

The Princess and the Frog (2009) – movie poster

Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, The Princess and the Frog stars Anika Noni Rose as the voice of Tiana, the heroine of the film.  Supporting her are Bruno Campos as the voice role of Prince Naveen, Keith David as Doctor Facilier, and John Goodman as Eli “Big Daddy” La Bouff.  Other voice actors in the film include Jim Cummings, Jennifer Cody, Oprah Winfrey and Terrence Howard.

The Princess and the Frog takes place in and around New Orleans, Louisiana.

The film begins in 1912 in the city of New Orleans.  We know that it’s 1912 as a newspaper has an article about Woodrow Wilson being elected as President of the United States.

The Princess and the Frog (2009) – (c) Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Young Tiana and her friend Charlotte La Bouff are listening to Tiana’s mother, Eudora (voiced by Oprah Winfrey), tell the story of The Frog Prince while Eudora finishes making Charlotte’s dress.  When Eudora reaches the end of the story, Tiana finds the idea of kissing a frog to be disgusting and revolting.  While Tiana thinks of it as disgusting, Charlotte states that she would gladly kiss a frog to turn him into a prince.

Charlotte’s father Eli “Big Daddy” La Bouff (voiced by John Goodman) picks up his daughter and takes her home.  Tiana and her mother then head home.  As we can see, while Charlotte and her father live in a wealthy part of town, Tiana and her parents live in a poor area. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - April 24, 2014 at 10:06 pm

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Movie Review – Johnny Tremain (1957)

The 1770s was a turbulent period of history that would transition the American colonies into an independent country from England.

The colonial days are often looked back upon as one of the greatest periods of American history.  It’s a time of patriots who risked death to pursue the causes of liberty and freedom.  It’s also a time where a band of citizen soldiers and farmers managed to defeat the English army, one of the mightiest forces in the world.

The 1957 Walt Disney film Johnny Tremain is one such story that takes place in Boston, Massachusetts between 1773 and 1775.  The story follows a young silversmith apprentice named Johnny Tremain and how he handles the events that take place around him.  He befriends members of the Sons of Liberty and joins their cause at the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s ride, and eventually the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first engagements of the American Revolutionary War.

Johnny Tremain (1957) - movie poster

Johnny Tremain (1957) – movie poster

Directed by Disney veteran Robert Stevenson, Johnny Tremain stars Hal Stalmaster in the title role of Johnny Tremain.  Also in the film are Luana Patten as Priscilla Lapham, Jeff York as James Otis, Sebastian Cabot as Jonathan Lyte, and Walter Sande as Paul Revere.  The Walt Disney film is based on Johnny Tremain, a 1944 novel written by Esther Forbes.

Johnny Tremain begins in Boston, Massachusetts in July of 1773.

Johnny Tremain (1957) - (c) Buena Vista Distribution

Johnny Tremain (1957) – (c) Buena Vista Distribution

Young Johnny Tremain (Hal Stalmaster) is a silversmith apprentice for Ephraim Lapham (Will Wright), an elder but distinguished silversmith.  One day they’re visited by Jonathan Lyte (Sebastian Cabot), a wealthy merchant originally from England.  Lyte wants Lapham to repair a tea pot in very short time.  Lapham is reluctant to take on the work but Johnny encourages him to do so.  Johnny has been gaining experience and he feels that he can help Lapham make the repair in time.

The pressure mounts when Mr. Lapham is unable to repair the tea pot himself.  His age has apparently bested him. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - April 17, 2014 at 10:58 pm

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Movie Review – Song of the South (1946)

In our youth, many of us have heard of author Joel Chandler Harris‘s animal tales told by fictional character Uncle Remus.

The tales, initially passed down through oral folklore by the African-American slaves, often focused on trickster hero Br’er Rabbit (Brother Rabbit), and his encounters with other friendly and evil animals such as Br’er Fox, Br’er Bear, Br’er Terrapin, and Br’er Wolf down in rural parts of Georgia.  The first of Harris’s Uncle Remus books was published back in 1880.

The tales of Uncle Remus were brought to life by Walt Disney in the 1946 feature film, Song of the South.  Using a combination of live action and animated segments, Song of the South tells a story of a young boy living in Georgia during the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War.  When he runs into trouble in life, he listens to the tales told by Uncle Remus and learns the wisdom behind them.

Song of the South (1946) - movie poster

Directed by Harve Foster and Wilfred Jackson, Song of the South stars James Baskett in the role of Uncle Remus as well as providing the voice of Br’er Fox.  Supporting him are Bobby Driscoll as Johnny, and Luana Patten as Ginny Favers.  Hattie McDaniel has the role of Aunt Tempy, the family’s chef and caretaker.

Song of the South takes place in rural Georgia during the Reconstruction Era after the War Between the States (a.k.a. American Civil War).  It’s a time period where the slaves have been freed though many of them continue to work on plantations as sharecroppers.

Song of the South (1946) - Riding to grandmother's plantation in Georgia.

Song of the South (1946) – (c) RKO Radio Pictures / Disney

The film begins as seven-year-old Johnny (Bobby Driscoll) arrives at his grandmother’s plantation along with his mother, Sally (Ruth Warrick), and his father, John, Sr. (Erik Rolf).  Accompanying them on the journey from Atlanta is Aunt Tempy (Hattie McDaniel), the family’s cook and caretaker.  She watches out for Johnny as if he was her own son. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - March 22, 2014 at 8:58 pm

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Movie Review – Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Back in 1964, the musical fantasy Mary Poppins told the story of an English nanny and her unique style of organizing the home and bringing together a family.

The movie became one of Walt Disney’s biggest and most beloved films of all time.  From the fantastic characters to the unforgettable music, Mary Poppins continues to charm old audiences and earn new ones.

What most people don’t know is that bringing Mary Poppins to the big screen was a bit of an adventure itself.

Saving Mr. Banks (2013) - movie poster

2013’s Saving Mr. Banks tells part of the story about how Walt Disney and his movie producers worked with P. L. Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins book series, and finally managed to have her sign over the rights to make the film that we know today.  The film takes place in 1961 as well as 1907, and we learn that there’s much more to the story of Mary Poppins than we ever knew.

Directed by John Lee Hancock, Saving Mr. Banks stars Emma Thompson as Pamela “P. L.” Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney.  Supporting them are Colin Farrell as Travers Robert Goff, Pamela’s father; Paul Giamatti as Ralph, Pamela’s chauffeur; Bradley Whitford as Don DaGradi, co-writer of the film; Jason Schwartzman as Richard M. Sherman, composer/lyricist of the film and brother to Robert; and B. J. Novak as Robert B. Sherman, composer/lyricist of the film and brother to Richard.

Saving Mr. Banks beings in London, England in 1961.

Saving Mr. Banks (2013) - Pamela Travers is convinced to finally sell her 'Mary Poppins' story to Walt Disney.

Saving Mr. Banks (2013) – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Pamela “P. L.” Travers (Emma Thompson) is at her home when her agent, Diarmuid Russell (Ronan Vibert), strongly encourages her to sell the rights to her Mary Poppins books to Walt Disney.  While Pamela’s funds are running low and the income from her Mary Poppins books has severely dwindled, she’s still hesitant on selling her prized books to Disney.  Especially if he intends on making it an animated film, something she severely despises.

Walt Disney has been trying to get Pamela to sign over the rights for the past twenty years.  She finally agrees to fly to Los Angeles, California and meet with Disney in person.

While Pamela is on the eleven-hour flight to Los Angeles, she has a flashback to her childhood days back in Australia. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - December 20, 2013 at 8:52 pm

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Movie Review – The Lone Ranger (2013)

“Hi-Yo, Silver!  Away!”

Since first appearing in a radio show in 1933, the Lone Ranger has stood as a figure of justice against evil doers and villains.  Team with Tonto, an American Indian, the Lone Ranger has been a classic American icon and a symbol of the Old West.  After first appearing in a radio series, the Lone Ranger skyrocketed in popularity when Clayton Moore portrayed the character during a television series from 1949 to 1957.

The Lone Ranger (2013) - movie poster

The Lone Ranger returned to the big screen in 2013’s big budget film, The Lone Ranger.  The film was directed by Gore Verbinski, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and scored by Hans Zimmer.  This version of The Lone Ranger is an origin story starring Armie Hammer as John Reid / the Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp as Tonto.  Supporting them are a cast of actors and actresses including William Fichtner, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Wilkinson and Barry Pepper.

The Lone Ranger begins in San Francisco in 1933.

The Lone Ranger (2013) - Will visits an Old West exhibit at a carnival.

The Lone Ranger (2013) – (c) Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

A young boy, Will (Mason Cook), is dressed as the Lone Ranger while walking through a carnival.  He’s intrigued when he spots an Old West exhibit, so he pays the small fee and enters the museum.  One of the displays shows “the noble savage,” an American Indian standing and holding a tomahawk.  To the boy’s shock the Indian suddenly comes to life.

At first the Indian seems to recognize the boy’s disguise, then he realizes that it’s just a child and not his companion from years ago.  The elderly Indian is Tonto (Johnny Depp).  After Will asks Tonto who he thought that he was, Tonto tells him the story of the Lone Ranger in a series of flashbacks.

The film goes back to March 18, 1869. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - December 18, 2013 at 10:30 pm

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Movie Review – Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

Today, Oz the Great and Powerful, a prequel to the 1939 classic film, The Wizard of Oz, was released to the theaters as part of the opening weekend.

This film takes viewers back into the fantastic world of Oz and tells the tale of how the wizard became such a powerful and respected character.  Considering that it’s been over seventy years since the release of The Wizard of Oz, and taking into account the technology to create outstanding fantasy worlds, one would really expect Oz the Great and Powerful to be a really fantastic film.

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) - movie poster

Unfortunately, the opposite occurred.

Directed by Sam Raimi and with a soundtrack composed by Danny Elfman, Oz the Great and Powerful stars James Franco in the title role of Oscar Diggs (a.k.a. the Wizard of Oz).  Co-starring are Mila Kunis as Theodora (a.k.a. The Wicked Witch of the West) and Rachel Weisz as Evanora (a.k.a. The Wicked Witch of the East).  Michelle Williams plays the role of Glinda (a.k.a. The Good Witch).  Yes, Bruce Campbell has a cameo role in this Sam Raimi film.

Oz the Great and Powerful begins in 1905 as a travelling fair is performing in Kansas.  Just like in The Wizard of Oz, this opening segment of the film is shown in black & white and with a 4:3 aspect ratio.

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) - Oscar Diggs is a traveling illusionist.

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) – (c) Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Oscar Diggs (James Franco) is an illusionist who performs in front of crowds at the fair.  He’s a greedy person who has no affection for his assistant (Zach Braff).  Oscar is also a womanizer who picks up a new woman (who plays the role of the “volunteer” in his show) in each town.

A new show begins and Oscar entertains the crowd with his illusions.  He uses his “volunteer” from the audience and proceeds to levitate the woman.  Somebody in the audience spots wires supporting her body, and the crowd turns on Oscar, thinking he’s a fraud.  The wires are actually part of the act, and the crowd is shocked when Oscar cuts them and the woman still levitates.  He yanks back the cloth covering her body and she has vanished!  The crowd is thrilled and thinks that Oscar is a real magician. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - December 9, 2013 at 10:37 pm

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Movie Review – TRON (1982)

In 1982, Disney released a live-action movie that was ahead of its time.

This wasn’t the first time Disney has released such a film.  A similar event happened back in 1940 when Disney released the film Fantasia, a collection of animated sequences set to pieces of classical music.  Although Fantasia received top awards and praise from critics for what it achieved, the movie failed to connect with the audience of that time period.

TRON (1982) - movie poster

1982′s TRON goes inside the world of (what was then) modern computer programming and arcade gaming.  These were still the early days of arcade games where simple polygons and basic controls provided not only escapism and inspiration but also hours of entertainment.  And of course bragging rights when you beat the previously high score.

Using a blend of live-action combined with cutting-edge computer animation, TRON takes an alternate look at the world of computers and computer programming.  The success of TRON‘s digital world helped pave the way for the future of computer animation.

TRON (1982) - Kevin Flynn - a disgruntled computer programmer.

TRON (1982) – (c) Buena Vista Distribution

TRON beings with Kevin Flynn (played by Jeff Bridges), a former software programmer for ENCOM, as he’s attempting to access ENCOM’s mainframe and seek information.  We see a visual representation of Flynn’s program as it enters the mainframe.  His program is spotted and attacked by the Master Control Program (MCP), an artificial intelligence that controls ENCOM’s mainframe.  Flynn’s program knows tricks and tries to fight back and escape, but it’s ultimately captured by the MCP.  The MCP later interrogates and destroys Flynn’s program. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - November 30, 2013 at 11:12 am

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Movie Review – Frozen (2013)

Released a few days ago was Frozen, the latest full-length computer animated film created by Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Frozen is an animated film based loosely on Hans Christian Anderson‘s classic fairy tale, The Snow QueenFrozen tells a Scandinavian tale of a fearless princess who seeks the help of others to stop her sister from trapping their kingdom in an eternal winter, a weather condition that will destroy their home.

Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, Frozen stars Kristen Bell with the voice acting of Anna, the heroine of the story.  Supporting her are Idina Menzel as Elsa / the Snow Queen and Anna’s older sister; Jonathan Groff as Kristoff, a mountain man who has a pet reindeer named Sven; Santino Fontana as Hans, a prince seeking Anna’s hand in marriage; and Josh Gad as Olaf, a small snowman who aides Anna and Kristoff in their quest.

Frozen (2013) - movie poster

Before watching Frozen, theater patrons are first treated to “Get a Horse,” a restored Mickey Mouse cartoon from 1928.  What makes “Get a Horse” special is that allegedly this was a previously lost Mickey Mouse film that was recently discovered out in California.  As with the other Mickey Mouse cartoons from that era, it’s Walt Disney‘s voice that we hear for Mickey Mouse.

This is the twenty-first century, and we’re not treated to just the original black-and-white Mickey Mouse cartoon.  This is something quite different and pretty slick.

“Get a Horse” begins with Mickey and the gang driving a large cart down a path.  They soon cross the path of Pete, and of course he has to cause trouble.  At one point Mickey gets “knocked” out of the black-and-white cartoon and appears as a 3D character in our world.  Both Mickey and Pete realized that the movie screen is a barrier between worlds, and the two of them battle each other.  Mickey and his friends gain the upper hand and find a way to defeat Pete and save Minnie Mouse, resulting in a happy ending.

This short cartoon is pretty slick with the blending of classic, 2D black-and-white animation and today’s world of 3D computer animation.  The cartoon itself is harmless fun, and I love the tribute with showing a Disney cartoon before the feature film.  I certainly hope that Disney continues this classic compliment with future films.

Frozen (2013) - Pulling blocks of ice out of the river.

Frozen (2013) – (c) Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Frozen takes place in the nineteenth century in the Norwegian kingdom of Arendelle.  During the opening credits we see ice harvesters collect large blocks of ice from a frozen lake.  Among the men is a young boy with an equally young reindeer, both of them also collecting ice from the river. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - November 27, 2013 at 10:34 pm

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Movie Review – Old Yeller (1957)

There’s nothing more classic than a story about a boy and his dog.

As we know, dogs aren’t merely pets.  They are best friends and members of the family.  A dog will always be faithful and will always be there to protect you, no matter the odds in succeeding.

Based on the book by the same name, Old Yeller tells a story about a frontier family that comes in contact with a stray yellow dog.  They befriend the dog and the eldest boy eventually respects and becomes best friends with the dog.  The dog risks his own life numerous times, even sacrificing himself to prevent a rabid wolf from attacking the family.

Old Yeller (1957) - movie poster

Old Yeller was directed by Robert Stevenson.  The film stars Dorothy McGuire as Katie Coates, the mother of the family.  Fess Parker plays the role of Jim, the father of the frontier family.  Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran play the roles of Katie and Jim’s sons Travis and Arliss.

Supporting them are Jeff York as Bus Searcy, Chuck Connors as Burn Sanderson, and Beverly Washburn as Bus Searcy’s daughter Lisbeth.  Most of the actors here have been in other Disney films at one point or another.  Dorothy McGuire, Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran were all reunited for 1960′s Swiss Family Robinson, Fess Parker is better known as playing Davy Crockett amongst other characters in several Disney films, and Jeff York has played the role of Mike Fink in a couple of Davy Crockett episodes.

Old Yeller (1957) - He's just a good dog.

Old Yeller (1957) – (c) Buena Vista Distribution

Old Yeller begins with the classic song “Old Yeller.”  We see scenes of the dog Old Yeller running through fields and chasing a jackrabbit.

The main part of the film begins in the late 1860s out in Texas.  The Coates are a poor frontier family, and we see Travis (Tommy Kirk) and his little brother Arliss (Kevin Corcoran) talking about money and the items they can purchase it.  Travis admits that the only money he has seen was an old Confederate dollar bill from a while ago.

Inside their home, Jim Coates (Fess Parker) is preparing to leave for a cattle drive.  His wife Katie (Dorothy McGuire) is reluctant to see him leave, but she knows how much they need the money around the home.  Besides, she knows how to run their frontier home, and their eldest son will also help tend to their farm and look after the animals, including little Arliss. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - August 26, 2013 at 7:40 pm

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Movie Review – Fantasia (1940)

It’s been called a film ahead of its time.

It’s a masterful collection of classical music and fantastic animation sequences.

It’s Fantasia, a full-length feature film released by Walt Disney back in 1940.  Using eight animated sequences, Fantasia visually takes viewers into the world of classical music.  You hear some of your favorite classical pieces of music and see them presented in imaginative methods, telling a story while entertaining and relaxing you.

Fantasia (1940) - movie poster

Hosted and narrated by Deems Taylor, Fantasia includes musical pieces from Johann Sebastian Bach, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Paul Dukas, Igor Stravinsky, Ludwig van Beethoven, Amilcare Ponchielle, Modest Mussorgsky, and Franz Schubert.  You may only be familiar with a couple of those composers now, but by the end of Fantasia you might be fans of them all.  All of the pieces of music recorded for Fantasia were composed by the famed English conductor Leopold Stokowski, and seven of the eight segments were performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Sit back and relax when viewing Fantasia.  Turn down the lights, lie back in your favorite chair, and sip a nice glass of wine.  As you’ll see, Fantasia is a completely different style of the other animated films produced by Walt Disney.

Fantasia (1940) - Deems Taylor guides us through the magical world of Fantasia.

Fantasia (1940) – (c) Walt Disney Productions

Fantasia begins as if you’re attending an orchestra concert.  The curtains open, the musicians arrive and begin tuning their instruments, and our gust host, Deems Taylor, walks on stage and greets us.

Toccata And Fugue In D Minor” by Johann Sebastian Bach

Fantasia (1940) - Johann Sebastian Bach's 'Toccata And Fugue In D Minor.'

Fantasia (1940) – (c) Walt Disney Productions

Our first animated musical segment is German composer Johann Sebastian Bach‘s “Toccata And Fugue In D Minor.”  This segment begins with live-action shots of Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra.  The orchestra begins playing and we see various colors in the background.  The animation slowly takes over the screen and soon we’re seeing abstract colors and animations in synchronization with the classical music.  As the music grows louder and more intense, so do the fantastic animations moving around on the screen. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 4, 2013 at 11:20 pm

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Movie Review – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

The 2003 film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was a smash hit.

The characters were fantastic, the cast was great, the action scenes were outstanding, and the story itself was very good.  When you combine all of that and make a fortune selling toys and accessories from the film, you know that there’s going to be a sequel.  It’s just a matter of time before the pirates would return to the big screen.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest was released three years later in 2006.  The sequel brought back almost the entire cast from the previous film.  This time we’re introduced to the unforgiving Lock Beckett, the mysterious Tia Dalma, and the terrifying Davy Jones.  Throw in more action, more of the supernatural, a massive and incredibly powerful sea creature, and perhaps even a confusing storyline until you understand all of the details, and that sums up the new additions to the sequel.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) - movie poster

Like Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Dead Man’s Chest was also directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.  This time around the film’s score was conducted by Hans ZimmerJohnny Depp returns to his iconic role of Captain Jack Sparrow, Orlando Bloom is Will Turner, and Keira Knightley returns to her role as Elizabeth Swann.  Like in the previous film, supporting them are Jack Davenport as James Norrington, Kevin McNally as Joshamee Gibbs, Jonathan Pryce as Governor Weatherby Swann, and Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbossa.

The new additions to Dead Man’s Chest include Stellan Skarsgard as Bootstrap Bill Turner, Bill Nighy as Davy Jones, Tom Hollander as Lord Cutler Beckett, and Naomie Harris as Tia Dalma.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) - Lord Beckett arrests Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner during their wedding.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest begins a year after the events in The Curse of the Black PearlElizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) are trying to get married when their wedding ceremony is interrupted by Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), leader of the East India Trading Company, and his soldiers.  Both Elizabeth and Will are placed under arrest and charged with assisting Captain Jack Sparrow, a crime that will send both of them to the gallows.  There’s a third arrest warrant for former Commodore James Norrington, but he resigned from the Royal Navy months ago and is nowhere to be found. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 18, 2013 at 11:26 pm

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Movie Review – Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Ten years ago we were reintroduced to the world of pirates as they fought and sailed in the exotic islands in the Caribbean Sea.

Inspired by the classic Disney boat ride Pirates of the Caribbean, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl takes viewers back to the 1600s when piracy reigned supreme throughout the Caribbean.  Here you’ll find fierce and menacing pirates who attack ships and nearly sack a city.  You’ll also find a secret horde of hidden treasure.  And in this epic film you’ll also find a little bit of the supernatural involving a cursed treasure and pirates who cannot be killed.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - movie poster

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was directed by Gore Verbinski, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and given an awesome soundtrack by composer Klaus Badelt.  The film stars Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, Geoffrey Rush as the menacing Captain Hector Barbossa, Orlando Bloom as Will Turner, and Keira Knightley as the governor’s daughter Elizabeth Swann.  Supporting them are Jack Davenport as Commodore James Norrington, Kevin McNally as Joshamee Gibbs, Jonathan Pryce as Governor Weatherby Swann, and Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook as Pintel and Ragetti, two of the pirates on the Black Pearl.

Take the stereotypes that you know and love about pirates, and combine all of that and more into an action-packed, adventurous thrill ride.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) - Elizabeth takes the mysterious coin that Will wore on a necklace.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl begins with Weatherby Swann (Jonathan Pryce) the newly appointed governor of Port Royal, sailing there with his twelve-year-old daughter Elizabeth Swann.  Their ship is under the command of Lieutenant James Norrington (Jack Davenport) of the Royal Navy.  Young Elizabeth is standing near the bow and singing a song about pirates (“Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me . . .”) when one of the crew members, Mr. Gibbs (Kevin McNally), stops her from singing, claiming that it’s a curse to do so.  He also claims that having a woman on board a ship is also a curse.

Their ship is sailing through a fog bank when Elizabeth spots a young boy unconscious in the water and floating on a wooden piece of debris.  Norrington has him taken on board the ship as the rest of the crew members search for other survivors.  As they’re wondering how the boy was left in the water, they spot the remains of his ship.  That ship is a burning, floating wreck.  The question is why would a merchant ship be destroyed in an explosion that killed all but one occupants?

Mr. Gibbs claims that it was a pirate attack, but Norrington and Governor Swann reject the idea.  Some of the ship’s crew use row boats to search for more survivors while Elizabeth tends to the unconscious boy.  He suddenly awakens and says that his name is Will Turner.  Will passes out again, and when he’s asleep Elizabeth notices an unusual coin hanging from Will’s necklace.  She secretly takes the mysterious coin and keeps it.  While examining the coin, Elizabeth spies a mysterious ship with black sails suddenly appearing in the fog.  As the black ship is sailing away and disappearing once again, the girl is shocked when she sees it flying a pirate flag.

Fast forward eight years. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 10, 2013 at 10:47 pm

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