“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was the very first feature-length animated film, and is deservedly hailed today as a classic of animation. A beloved fairy tale… the ultimate example of a “Classic Disney” movie.
At the time of its production, however, it was an incredibly bold risk. The very notion that audiences would respond to a full, movie length cartoon was considered laughable. Atop of which, the considerable expense of producing such a feature spiraled far beyond initial estimates. “Snow White” turned into a daring business venture that gambled the very future of Walt Disney Studios.
But what was derided in the press at the time as “Disney’s Folly” would turn out to be a cornerstone not only for Walt Disney Studios, but also for animated films, as well.
Psst! Avast there! It be too late to alter course, mateys. And there be plundering pirates lurkin’ in ev’ry cove, waitin’ to board. Sit closer together and keep your ruddy hands in board. That be the best way to repel boarders. And mark well me words, mateys: Dead men tell no tales! Ye come seekin’ adventure with salty old pirates, eh? Sure you’ve come to the proper place. But keep a weather eye open, mates, and hold on tight. With both hands, if you please. Thar be squalls ahead, and Davy Jones waiting for them what don’t obey.
– Talking Skull and Crossbones, Pirates of the Caribbean theme park ride, Disneyland
“Brave” is the latest offering from Walt Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios, a company that has created an incredibly strong lineage of animated films including the “Toy Story” films, “Finding Nemo”, “Wall-E”, “Up”, and many others. Which such a proud heritage, the question that everyone wonders first is not so much how good “Brave” is itself, but rather whether it it’s a worthy addition to the Pixar legacy.
The answer? Yes, absolutely. While I don’t feel it’s going to be considered one of Pixar’s best by that many people, I certainly do think they’ve put together another animated effort of extraordinarily high quality, with an abundance of soul.
Making its debut this weekend on Starz was last year’s “Winnie the Pooh” from Walt Disney studios.
It’s traditionally animated and features all the classic A.A. Milne characters that inhabit the Hundred Acre Wood. Disney has brought them to the screen many times over the years, but in this particular installment, Disney released the picture with surprisingly little fanfare. I barely even realized it had come and gone. Possibly because they released it on the same weekend as “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”.
Frankly, it made me wonder if Disney was “dumping it”.
If they were, there was certainly no reason to, as “Winnie the Pooh” is wonderfully crafted animated movie, worthy of a place in the Disney heritage.
In 2008 Pixar Animation Studios released “WALL•E”, an animated movie that defied genre expectations. The film opens with a long chapter where the lead character is by himself, and throughout the movie, he and his romantic partner have limited verbal communication. It was a bold play, but done so well that audiences and critics responded overwhelmingly. “WALL•E” was an enormous success financially, scored 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, and won the Oscar for best animated film. It is now one of the highest rated animated films in IMDb’s top 250.
But the main thing was that it was so unique, it was a such an original effort… more than Pixar’s prior exceptional offerings, even.
So when “Up” was released the next year, the question on everybody’s mnd was, “Could Pixar do it again?”
Disney’s “John Carter” is a maddeningly inconsistent movie.
At times it’s adventurous, imaginative, and spectacular to watch. At others, it’s ponderous, clumsy, and even occasionally silly. For every moment of awe that is created by its lavish special effects, there’s an offset by a line of terrible dialogue. For every moment where the Martian culture and creatures make you think “Oh, that’s kind of cool”, there’s and offsetting moment that makes you go “Tsch… Come on…”
It’s certainly not a bad ticket purchase, but it’s a long way from living up to its potential.