The best part is that both of these characters probably seem incredibly familiar right? I hope they do. One of them is General Grievous (of Star Wars Prequel Fame) as a Japanese school girl. The other is a more obscure but not less lovable character, the human form of the female squirrel from Disney’s The Sword in the Stone animated movie. The randomness of these two characters… I just adore the idea.
Psuedofolio might be most well-known for the online comic Question Duck.
I had to share this. Amy Mebberson did it as a request and it blew my mind. I loved Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers as a kid and Gadget was my favorite character. Seeing this seriously brightened my day.
The next major animated Disney movie and I admit it looks awesome.
Phineas and Ferb is one of the best television shows on TV right now. Sadly I don’t have regular access to cabal television so I can’t always watch the newer episodes which air on Disney but I have learned, thanks to wired, that a made for TV movie will be airing later this summer. Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension will premiere on the Disney Channel on Friday, August 5 at 8:00pm ET/PT, with a sneak On Demand preview beginning on August 1.
The trailer for the movie can be found embedded in the wired article above but I will link to a clip from the film below.
Excellently put together mashup trailer of up coming movie Sucker Punch and various Disney movies. If you are interested in comparing you can find the other videos here.
Okay now that looks fun! CG and standard graphics looking rather nice together. Great atmosphere. Little iffy on the tag line at the end about looking for the next Tron but I suppose they want to try and keep it all contained away from the movies?
The beginning with the light cycles moving at edges and then the new style light cycle combat was a very nice touch. I am looking forward to this one.
So to be clear, I’m not that much of a Disney fan. There have been Disney movies I loved (Lion King, Lilo & Stitch, Beauty & The Beast, Meet the Robinsons, and Disney movies I’ve shrugged my shoulders at. In reality I actually had a small little itty bit of hatred towards Disney when they declared traditional 2d animation dead and would be going solo 3d. If I remember correctly that was former CEO and all around creative black hole Michael Eisner, but feel free to correct me.
So as far as Disney goes, I haven’t had a satisfying Disney film since Meet the Robinsons in 2007. And, although I shouldn’t split hairs like this because I personally feel it is demeaning to the art as a whole, I haven’t had a non-“traditional”/non-“3d” Disney movie that was satisfying since Lilo & Stich… which was seven years ago. I know there was a movie called Brother Bear that came out awhile back but I really heard nothing about it and its trailers looked rather uninteresting. So I never saw it and I never heard about it again.
So all is quiet on the Disney animated front as Disney started giving us Pirates of the Carribean, and helping Pixar give us fantastic films, and generally producing some decent, if not masterful, films such as Bolt and Meet the Robinsons.
Then along comes the trailer about a Nawlins Woman and a Frog. For those of you who don’t know, Nawlins is correctly spelled New Orleans in English. But I digress. We see it is a story about a girl, and a frog, and the word ‘princess’ is being thrown about like it was green paper. Because to Disney, as we all know, Disney Princesses are almost nothing but green paper. But much to our eyes’ surprise, we see something we’ve never seen before. The main character has dark colored skin!
Gasp! Is this it? Is this the return of Michael Eisner and the money grubbers once again? Are we finally just doing a movie just so we can add a black princess to the cash cow that is made up of four white women of various hair shades, a middle-eastern woman of undetermined complexion, an Asian woman who isn’t even a princess, and an aquatic woman who is only allowed to stand if she can wear a dress that will hide her fish tail. Come on. You thought it too.
Well I am hear to say that the answer is firmly: Maybe. But it doesn’t matter because Disney has produced a film worthy of its name and easily makes my top 10, if not top 5, favorite Disney animated films.
The other question you asked yourself, after you got over your comfortable insight into how color blind you aren’t, is… how is Disney going butcher the story of The Frog Prince? And the answer to that is: Not at all. In fact the The Princess and The Frog isn’t even a retelling of The Frog Prince. The movie makes numerous references to the standard fairy tale but it is indeed its own story!
And the final question a lot of people asked themselves about this film, once they saw the extended trailer: Nawlins? (New Orleans?) They’re really going to make a new Disney Princess from the early 1900s New Orleans using Jazz? Answer to that one is: Yup. And they do it with some style, let me tell you.
So lets start with a slightly condensed description of the plot and characters.
So The Princess and the Frog is about young woman named Tiana who grows up in New Orleans at the beginning of the last century. Her father, a dock worker, had dreams of saving up enough money to open up a restaurant. A dream he passed onto his daughter when he died during “the war” (presumed to be the American Civil War). So Tiana works two different jobs, day and night, to save up enough money to buy the building her father wanted, so she could open up their restaurant.
Enter the Prince Naveen of some foreign country whose name never gets pronounced fully due to slamming books. He is a bit of a hedonist spoiled prince who has come to New Orleans in hopes of living it up and perhaps finding a nice rich wife to help fill his pockets with money since his rich parents have cut him off due to his irredeemable irresponsible ways.
If you think you can figure out where this is going then you’re probably right. I’ll start off by saying that this movie is not likely for everyone. It is a Disney movie at its core, which means it has one or two morals to teach you. It has a few good (actually excellent) songs to help you learn them, and the basic story plot doesn’t stray far from your typical children’s story. If you’re fine with that, then I highly suggest this movie. If you’re rolling your eyes at the above stereotypes, well hold up, this movie might still be for you. Theres still plenty in it, let me tell you.
First off the secondary characters of this film were excellent. From villains to sidekicks and even blind old women, all were interesting and had their own personality. There was no centralized comic relief but instead a shared job of walking the story along while providing us both comedy gold and a nicely flowing story. Actually a very apt phrase comes to mind regarding the characters and how they interacted:
It was just like Jazz.
We had a Jazz loving alligator. A Cajun lightening bug. A charismatic con-man. A blind crazy wise woman. A big hearted but completely oblivious best friend. An angered but ultimately cowardly servant. Three Cajun frog hunters. Shadow hunters, each distinctive in their appearance and manners. And loads more, each with a breath of life that I have a hard time criticizing.
This is likely because of the voice acting which was completely up to the standards of any of the “golden age” Disney films. While our two main characters are voiced by actors of some small renown (Anika Rose of no real fame and Bruno Campos of marginal “Nip/Tuck” and “Royal Pains” fame), our main villian, Shadowman/Dr. Facilier is voiced by none other than the famous Keith David himself. You may remember as the voice of Goliath from Disney’s Gargoyles, or as Roger from the movie Reality Bites, or Louise from the movie Men at Work, or The Cat from the movie Coraline, or perhaps more recently, the voice of David Anderson from the video game Mass Effect. He is joined by his friend Jim Cummings who voices our little Cajun Lighting Bug, Ray, most excellently. You may remember Jim as the voice of Dingo from The Gargoyls as well as nearly as many “additional voices” as most of the Simpson’s voice actor’s according to his IMDB list. And of course, one of our favorite fatherly voices, John Goodman, as the voice of “Big Daddy” La Bouff, the kindly man who couldn’t help but spoil his daughter yet still give her a heart of gold. You’ll likely remember him from his iconic role as the father on the sitcom Rosanne, or possible as the father “Pops” racer in the recent remake of the anime classic Speed Racer. You might remember his voice from the movie “Cars” or Sulley from Monster’s Inc. Containing a mixture of both new voices and old hats really seemed to prove they were working on finding the right voice for the right character, rather than just filling the role.
And the music. The music was excellent. If I were to rate it, I’d still rate it lower than that of Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King, but it certainly tries. I certainly am a budding fan of Jazz thanks to this movie. My only real problem is that I can’t really remember any of the songs, just I remember loving them, and tapping my feet to them. Which really just makes me want to go back and re-watch the film so I can listen to them again. Or perhaps just go buy the sound track. Like a good musical, the music was used primarily as a tool for expressing the character’s thoughts and motivations and it does so excellently. Most every song is done in a slightly different style of Jazz which is an audibly delight, honestly.
Plot wise, the movie is nothing to snicker at. While a children’s film a heart, which means most movie going fans will be able to easily predict the ending. The actual journey to the end is both interesting and somewhat innovative. Having the “princess” turn into the frog is really only the first twist in an interesting series events. The comedy the plot provided was well worth my ticket for admission. I am a self-admitted laugher. You can give me almost any joke and I’ll laugh at it. I’ll even laugh if you just start laughing. But this film gave me one or two spots where I had a nice deep belly laugh, not unlike some of the bits from Iron Man. That was very satisfying.
The animation, of course, is the par we’ve come to expect from Disney. Beautiful cinematography and excellent choreography combined with vibrant use of colors and locals. There was no point in the movie that I felt that my eyes were being paid a disservice for watching either the characters or the background.
So all this great stuff. What was wrong with the movie? After all, I’m supposed to be critical right? Well I gotta say, it isn’t a Lion King, Aladdin, or a Beauty and the Beast. There isn’t a resonance. Directory by Ron Clements and John Musker, our two pioneers who gave us The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, it just didn’t feel like the same classic either of those movies were. That might be because I am older, wiser, more cynical, than I was when those movies came out. You’ll find me using the word “satisfying” a lot in the preceding words and that is really what this movie is. It gives us something new without being innovative or touchy. It fits within expectation and relies upon the details to stretch or break the stereotype.
From my personal perspective, I found the “Shadow Man” disappointing. I’ve been looking for another good Disney Villain since Jafar or Scar and Dr. Facilier really didn’t fill the role no matter how awesomely Keith voiced him. He was a charismatic lackey for greater powers and while I felt he was given his far share of the movie I didn’t feel any investment in him like I was hoping to find.
If I really wanted to take a critical strike at Disney. I’d ask why they didn’t take a critical strike at race relations? This movie takes place both before and after the American civil war and its primary portion takes place at the height of the Jim Crow laws and Plessy v. Ferguson incident. But honestly this is an unfair expectation to level against a child’s film. When I was younger I laid such claims against Pocahontas and then later The Little Mermaid for how Disney skewed the stories. But by now we can expect Disney to change things in the name of painting a better future. Why instill our children with the color-shaded views of the world that we have? I don’t think it is doing the people of the past who worked so hard to provide us free rights and the ability to know to have tolerance by not including their plights in a children’s film. Save that for the high-school or collage texts where it can be discussed rationally. But I digress.
I might fault the plot a little for breaking from stereotype in one place that was slightly dissatisfying. The climatic “fight” with our antagonist seemed to take place during the end of act two, rather than the end of act three. Again this is probably because I have a love of villains and wanted to offer him more show time but removing him so early gave me a false sense of ending that my rational brain was convinced of but my emotional one was uncomfortable with. The movie broke a little for me there. This might not be the case with everyone however.
Perhaps my biggest gripe is the portrayal of Voodoo/Hoodoo. Although Shadow Man did actually make a point of saying both terms, which means they did their homework, the details concerning Hoodoo were scarce at best. This, is of course, a high expectation to have, similar to combating racism, I can’t expect a children’s film to combat the Hollywood created mythos surrounding Voodoo. And in retrospect the film’s portrayal of Hoodoo was very good when compared to prior works and free of most of the usual “tropes”. Being free of these tropes, however, meant that the forces the antagonist used were lacking in informational detail, even if they were visually distinctive and appealing. This was brought to my attention by my companion whom I saw the movie with, who for their lack of education on the subject and particular religious affiliations, just assumed that “friends from the other side” meant the devil. Fair enough I suppose. Disney certainly didn’t want to tackle educating people about Voodoo/Hoodoo practices but if you’re interested in educating yourself about the religion of Voodoo or the practices of Hoodoo, I suggest you start with Wikipedia. I find Voodoo to be one of the more interesting religions of the world and Hoodoo perhaps one of the more potent “magical” practices of the modern world.
So the final break down, do you want to see this movie? If you’re a fan of animation, children’s films, or Disney. You’ll want to see this movie multiple times. If you’re a casual fan of Disney movies, have children, or like a good laugh, you’ll likely want to see it at least once. If nothing it is a better use of your money than going to see the current butchering of A Christmas Carol. For those of you who intensely dislike one of the following: musical, animation, Disney, romance, comedy, or any combination of there of, you’ll probably want to avoid this movie.
Now! Onto spoilers!!!