Disney

Disney Cinderella 2015

Bursting with triumphant music and what appears to be most of the iconic fairytale, the trailer for Cinderella brings us all the way to the lost glass slipper. Kenneth Branagh looks to have delivered a fairly standardized version featuring Lily James as the title cleaning wench, Helena Bonham-Carter as her fairy godmother and Richard Madden as the prince who can’t remember people’s faces. Seriously, why would he need a shoe to fit unless he can’t recognize a person he spent all night dancing with? Oh, and Cate Blanchett looks syrupy sick as the stepmother from hell. At any rate, it looks sweeping and lyrical, and probably no one will cut off their toes or heels. Unfortunately. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Big Hero 6 Baymax and Microbots

While Big Hero 6 is based on a Marvel comic and was made possible by Disney’s acquisition of the company back in 2009, Marvel Studios had nothing to do with the film’s production, and it’s not part of their “cinematic universe.” And that’s felt when watching the movie, which feels much more in line with the rest of the oeuvre of the House of Mouse than it does with that of the House of Ideas. The focus of the story is on adolescent self-actualization, which occurs through the standard family movie plot structure fine-tuned by Pixar and recently adopted in earnest by Disney. The result is not terribly different from a lot of other recent animated fare, though there are agreeable standout elements. Chief among these is the robot Baymax. While its unflappably calm demeanor (usually used for comedic effect, of course) isn’t a new take on ‘bot behavior, the fact that it focuses always on the well-being of its compatriots (it is, after all, a healthcare assistant) makes it feel fresh, along with its innovative vinyl balloon design. Baymax looks and moves like no other robot we’ve seen before in film, and its matronly behavior, along with Scott Adsit’s soothing voice work, make it utterly lovable. Baymax is left to teen genius Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) after the untimely death of his engineer brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney). Hiro is the PG version of a “troubled” kid — an orphan being raised by a busy aunt (Maya Rudolph), he’d rather use his smarts to participate […]

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Moana

We’ve long known that Disney’s animation arm has been cooking up a brand new Princess for fans of the House of Mouse — and, presumably, the legions of Frozen fans who have either fallen in love with the Princess brand for the first time or had their adoration reignited — to look forward to meeting. Her name is Moana (and, hey, that’s the name of her film, too, which is currently simply titled Moana) and she’s poised to be only the fifth Disney Princess of color (in a line up that is currently thirteen-ladies strong). Although Moana has been teased for quite some time, with a planned 2018 release date, she’s now hitting our cinematic shores much earlier, late in 2016. This is certainly a good thing for the animation world and the Disney brand, which is still riding high on the success of Frozen. This year has quite notably gone without a Pixar release, so fans of animated features have been given far less to consume than they’re used to. In short, they’re hungry (we are, too) and the news that we’re getting a brand-new Princess a full two years early is just excellent. So who is Moana?

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Nightcrawler Movie

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Aladdin

One of Robin Williams’ most iconic roles was as the Genie in the 1992 Disney film Aladdin. For being a supporting role, he certainly commanding more than his fair share of attention (which got the Mouse House into some trouble when the character’s overt presence in advertising violated his original agreement to do the film for scale). Since the release of Aladdin, Williams became a Disney legend and lent his voice to the character later for the direct-to-video sequel Aladdin and the King of Thieves. Of course, Aladdin represents more than an iconic role for Williams. It was riding the wave of Disney’s second golden age of animation, followed by the record-breaking film The Lion King. For the DVD release in 2004, co-directors John Musker and Ron Clements sat down with co-producer Amy Pell to record a commentary of the film. So much has changed in the last ten years since this was recorded, though it is still a worthwhile listen for fans of Disney animation.

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Feast

Last week, Disney opened its doors and allowed itself to be overrun by journalists, drawn in by the scent of new films and also free lunch. The main event was Disney’s latest feature, Big Hero 6, but like anything with the word Disney in front of it, the day started with a short. That short was Feast, directed by Patrick Osborne, which will eventually run in front of Big Hero 6 when it opens in theaters this November. For convenience’s sake, consider Feast as a Disneyfied version of Noah Takes a Picture of Himself Everyday for 6 Years — that long-ago Youtube sensation that first pioneered the idea of watching a guy’s under-eye bags expand in depressing superspeed. Except Disney smartly swapped out the depressed twenty-something for a spunky Boston terrier with a love of table scraps. Feast is a continual sequence of Winston (the terrier in question) being fed whatever his owner doesn’t feel like finishing. Up until the end (where Osborne throws a few kinks into the formula), it’s largely the same shot, every single time: a static, dog’s eye-level view of a dog dish, stacked to the brim with cold, uninviting kibble. From above descends a burly hand, which holds an extra-large plate, which is slowly tipped until its half-eaten contents slide free, landing with a splat on top of that stale pile of Alpo.

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BIG HERO 6

He’s fluffy, slow, and he’s about to get an upgrade [cue the Beyonce song]. He’s Baymax, and he is the perfect best friend as long as he doesn’t run out of batteries. The Big Hero 6 trailer makes the movie feel like a family friendly Iron Man blended with The Iron Giant and whatever else has “iron” in the title. It’s also a nice reminder that there’s another Marvel movie coming out that seeks to fill the Pixarian void. Check out the trailer, and see if you can guess who’s voicing Baymax, the fluffy robot who earns afterburners.

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Frozen Disney Movie

There are few movies that stay so firmly in the public discourse this long after their release. Even with the boost of awards season, we’re focused on what Summer 2014 will bring instead of pouring new thoughts about Gravity or 12 Years a Slave into old wineskins. Yet here we are with yet another editorial on the Frozen pro-gay agenda, this one from Akash Nikolas taking the ho-hum angle by attempting to link classic Disney films like Dumbo — and really an entire history of the studio — to LGBT supporting subtext. Frozen‘s pro-gay? What isn’t? By giving a queer reading of multiple movies from multiple eras Nikolas has achieved something clever, using hyperbole to point out how any movie featuring a character who learns to be comfortable with himself or herself can be read as a metaphor for homosexuality. Because of course it can. But coming out of the closet (or the genie bottle, of the ice castle) isn’t the sole visual metaphor in these movies. Emergence from a timid existence to embrace/learn your unique talent/destiny is a hallmark of the hero’s journey, and in every case (even Frozen) is so broad that it could mean absolutely anything. Feel isolated because jocks tease you for being in the school play? Let it go. Alienated because you’re a hardcore Republican living in Austin? Let it go. Lonely because you love playing jazz but none of your friends think it’s cool? Let it go with syncopation. It’s fascinating that have latched onto the concept of Frozen being pro-gay because of a very general, well-worn theme […]

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Random Media

One of the most surprising films to be released in 2013 was not a massive blockbuster. Instead, it was Escape from Tomorrow, an independent film effort, much of which was shot in the Walt Disney parks without permission from the company. Even though it was meant as a parody of the “Happiest Place on Earth,” lots of people thought that Escape from Tomorrow would never get released. However, after being championed by clearance counsel Michael Donaldson, the film was released. Ignored by the Disney company so as to not give additional attention to the movie with the Streisand Effect, Escape from Tomorrow was eventually released to a certain degree of success in theaters and video on demand. Writer/director Randy Moore sat down with his cinematographer Lucas Lee Graham in January of 2014 to record the commentary of the film they had shot in the fall of 2010 (with pick-ups in the spring of 2011), which is included on the DVD release of the film.

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The Incredibles

Get ready to lose your mind and run around your living room a hundred times in a minute. According to Variety, Disney used its annual shareholders meeting to confirm that they were planning The Incredibles 2. They’re also planning a third Cars movie, the announcement of which coming alongside the return of the Parr family is a lesson in polar opposites. On the one side, there’s another license to print money whose fandom remains squarely under the height requirement to participate in the cooler rides at the amusement park. On the other side, there’s the most popular answer to every Reddit post asking, “What awesome movie deserves a sequel but hasn’t gotten one yet?” All anyone knows right now is that they want to make The Incredibles 2 and that Brad Bird is writing the script. An excellent start. Will Bird be back as director? Maybe. Will Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson or the rest of the cast return? Unclear. Obviously, all of those people showing up to the drawing board would be encouraging for fans. Bird is currently filming Tomorrowland, and he’s also got 1906 in the mix, but there’s definitely room on the table to take a new spandex adventure across the finish line, too.

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Dumbo

Typical of early Disney animation, Dumbo isn’t a finely crafted story but rather a film that examines greater ideas in a touching emotional context. It also features a scene in which a mouse and an elephant get blind drunk, hallucinate, and end up waking up in the cartoon ghetto with a hangover. What’s not to love about that? However, all racist crows and animal alcoholism aside, Dumbo is an inspiring film about a biological misfit who uses his disadvantage to become a hero. Born (or rather delivered by the lazy stork) with comically large ears, Jumbo Jr. is shunned by most of the elephants in the circus. However, after getting some confidence care of a magical feather, he discovers he can use those massive ears to fly. As much as I love this movie and recognize the image of a flying elephant as an indelible icon of Disney animation, this got me thinking: Could Dumbo really fly with ears like that?

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Ursula in The Little Mermaid

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Children of Men Baby Scene

Fresh off his Oscar win on Sunday, Gravity visual effects supervisor Tim Webber joins us to talk about his work with Alfonso Cuaron and explain how we can build our own CGI babies at home. Plus, we discuss how soon is too soon when it comes to real-life tragedy adaptations, and Josh Spiegel from Mousterpiece Cinema helps us debate the state of children’s movies (while envisioning a high octane version of Winnie The Pooh). You should follow Josh (@mousterpiece), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. And, as always, if you like the show (or hate it with seething fervor), please help us out with a review. Download Episode #51 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Frozen Princess Elsa

Disneyphiles rejoice. In conjunction with the digital release of the massively successful Frozen, and the arrival of Thor: The Dark World on DVD/Blu-ray, Disney has launched its own movie streaming service, where fans will be treated to a full catalogue of Disney, Pixar, and Marvel releases, to the tune of more than four hundred titles up for purchase. Called Disney Movies Anywhere, as the name suggests, the multi-platform streaming service is tailored for mobility, currently available for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and web, and even your television via Apple TV through AirPlay or iCloud. The new cloud-based app service, powered by iTunes, is currently offering a limited time free digital download of Pixar’s massive 2004 hit, The Incredibles, when users sign up and connect their iTunes account. In addition, digital codes provided in Disney DVD/Blu-ray releases since 2008 will be redeemable upon joining of the service. Using the service will come with a variety of perks, including exclusive featurettes on a large number of titles, bonus features, and a Disney Movie Rewards points system earned via purchase of digital content.

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Ron Howard

With director Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams, Babel) dropping out of the project due to scheduling issues related to post-production duties on his latest film, Birdman, Warner Bros. has approached Ron Howard to take the helm on their live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book. The script, written by screenwriter Callie Kloves, is an adaptation from novelist and poet Rudyard Kipling’s short stories featuring feral jungle child, Mowgli, and his animal pals Bagheera and Baloo, and the ever awful Bengal tiger, Shere Khan.

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Maleficent

The promise of Maleficent is that it redirects our view on the nasty villain who forced Princess Aurora into an egregiously long nap. Drawing on the legacy of other baddie-contextualizing work like “Grendel” and “Wicked,” it theoretically turns a wicked witch into the central character of the story to provide a meaningful, understandable reason as to why she’s a horrible, terrible beast woman. But the trailer doesn’t bode well for that promise. Or at least the CGI doesn’t.

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Mary Poppins author DL Travers with Walt Disney and Julie Andrews

There’s a scene late in John Lee Hancock’s Saving Mr. Banks in which author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) barges into Walt Disney’s (Tom Hanks) office, livid about the fact that the company’s proposed adaptation of her intellectual property “Mary Poppins” may contain a moment of animation integrated into live action, which Disney promised her would not occur. Travers catches Disney putting a cigarette out into an ashtray, blindsided that she caught him in this uncouth moment. Disney says something out loud about not wanting to be seen with a cigarette in his hand, and the scene moves on. We never see the cigarette touch Disney’s lips. There is no still image that exists of Hanks-as-Disney smoking. Yet the Disney-produced film acknowledges that Disney himself smoked and hid that fact from the public eye during the 1960s. Saving Mr. Banks admits openly that there is a distance between the man and the myth, the everyday Walt Disney and his heavily regulated public image. The film makes a gesture of transparency in this direction, yet not enough to actually show the contradiction between the myth and the man. We never see that cigarette hit his mouth. This moment isn’t really all that important on its own, but it is in terms of what it represents: that Saving Mr. Banks is a film which acknowledges the negotiations and compromises that go into making and reinforcing the image of “Disney,” while also exercising careful maintenance of the identity of the Disney brand.

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nightmare-commentary1

When it was released twenty years ago, The Nightmare Before Christmas was not an immediate success. However, over the following two decades, it has become one of the most beloved holiday movies, and composer Danny Elfman admits that autograph seekers inevitably have The Nightmare Before Christmas merchandise for him to sign above all other films he has worked on. When the 15th Anniversary 2-Disc Collector’s Edition DVD was released in 2008, Elfman joined in with producer Tim Burton and director Henry Selick to record a commentary track. This track, along with many of the other bonus features, is also included on the 3D Blu-ray, which was released in 2011 (and likely all other annual releases as Disney moves forward). Seeing as we’re at the half-way point between Halloween and Christmas, and since it is the 20th anniversary of the film’s release, it seemed appropriate to revisit the film and hear what the filmmakers had to say about the production.

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banks

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Hollywood

All this week, Film School Rejects presents a daily dose of our favorite articles from the archive. Originally published in September 2011, Ashe Cantrell pulls back the curtain on the Hollywood conspiracy machine… You may already be a film industry cynic. Maybe you think Hollywood is a barren wasteland, devoid of creativity and originality. Maybe you’re sick of seeing talented people get ignored and vapid hacks get splashed all over the trades. Maybe you’re tired of 3D everything and having to re-buy your movies every five to ten years. I’m not here to dissuade you of any of that. Hell no, I’m here to make it worse. Get ready, because this is some of the rottenest shit of which the film industry is capable. These are the things so terrible that Hollywood has to cover them up, lest God see their sin and smite them accordingly (and keep various government entities and lawyers off their backs, of course). If you still had any kind thoughts toward Hollywood, I suggest you prepare yourself for crushing disappointment. But first, I’d like to give a very huge shout out and thank you to writers C. Coville and Maxwell Yezpitelok for their help on this article. You guys are great! And now back to the shit storm, already in progress:

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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