This was a very busy weekend on the Disney front, so much so, that Day 22 will probably have to be divided into two parts thanks to Fantasia and Fantasia 2000. But Friday and Saturday are first, so let's get started!
After dissing my friend Kate's favorite Disney movie of all time, Beauty & The Beast, I figured I needed to make it up to her somehow. Granted, this is kind of a weak make-up, but it's the effort that should count, right? When she was here visiting, she mentioned that she had seen one of the Sofia The First movies and was pleasantly surprised, so I figured, since I had all of them, it was time to finally open their cases and give them a shot. Now, before I even started, I knew a bit of their history, that they were movies based on the Disney Junior TV show, so I wasn't expecting much animation-wise and had already decided to not even look at the animation quality. Of course, I had trouble sticking to that (and the animation was HORRIBLE to say the least), but I did try.
Some of you may be wondering why I would even buy such a series, considering I am an adult with no children and I can't even use the "animation is art" excuse since it's just a TV show where the animation is FAR from being considered "art". Well, there is a lot of Sofia merchandise in Disney World and each disc has a different "real" Disney princess on it, so I justified it that way. I always like to be knowledgeable about the Disney canon, even if it's preschool stuff. Don't even get me started on my collection of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD's...it might take me an entire week to watch all of those!
I should also mention that these discs are only available in DVD format, not Blu-Ray. Disney typically does this with the lesser direct to video releases and pretty much always does it with their Junior line. I figure it's because the discs don't have any special features of note like behind the scenes (they are mainly relegated to sing-alongs). Besides, why release a crappy-quality animation product on a hi-def medium? DVD suits these discs just fine.
First up was Sofia The First: Once Upon A Princess. Kate was SO right! I was very pleasantly surprised by this movie. The story was really good and, as a product of a blended family as well, I felt a kinship with both Sofia and Amber and their struggles to deal with being in a new environment with a new family. Every single song was really high quality for a TV character as well and they were very catchy, in fact, after only hearing them once, most of them are still in my head. I was able to curb my criticism of the animation because I was stitching while watching, but the story and music was so strong, you really didn't need to actually watch it.
Cinderella was the "real" princess in this movie, summoned by Sofia's magical amulet whenever she needs help (since all princesses are connected through it). I kind of liked the idea of that and I could definitely see where that would be appealing to little girls.
Sofia The First: Ready To Be A Princess (with Jasmine) was next. Expecting another movie, I was a bit shocked to find that this disc only contained five episodes of the series instead of a full-length feature. I thought they were all movies, but I soon discovered that only two of them were. Then I realized that watching these was going to cause another conundrum...do I count them as shorts or as series? If I count them as series, then it means I have numerous other cartoon series that I would now have to watch because they are part of my Disney collection. I wasn't planning on including series or documentaries in my count, but I guess now I've kind of blown that and I have a new category.
But back to this DVD, again, I was pleasantly surprised, even by the series! Each episode was better than the last, the music was as consistently good as the animation was consistently bad, but I wasn't looking at the animation (too closely). There are no trailers for this disc since it's just a collection of TV episodes.
As an aside, where documentaries are concerned, I have several that are full-length, so I guess they are now getting added to the fray, but I've watched almost all of the special features on most of the discs so far and a lot of those are upwards of an hour long. I won't be going back and adding to the total simply because there would be no way I could figure it all up without going back over every single disc I have already watched. I do count the shorts, but not the other stuff. As an animation buff, most of these disc has some amazing stories and histories about the creation of these movies and I adore hearing the stories (and seeing glimpses of Walt). We'll just assume that I'm watching the special features and leave it at that.
Then it was Sofia The First: The Floating Place (with Ariel). There was a full-length feature on this disc as well as four TV series episodes. Again, strong storylines and great music and I was really enjoying these characters, especially Grover, who might be a rabbit, but reminded me a lot of Bam! We actually do have a trailer for this one, since there is a full-length feature on the disc (even if it was a made for TV feature):
The last one I managed for Friday night was Sofia The First: The Enchanted Feast (with Snow White). Again, just a compilation of five TV series episodes, but still strong both story-wise and song-wise. I figured it's luck would have to eventually run out, but not yet.
Saturday morning started with the last disc I had, Sofia The First: Holiday In Enchancia. Not a full-feature but rather five episodes of the series, one of which featured Aurora, this was probably my favorite of the series (and not just because of Aurora). Which reminds me, I probably should mention that each disc features a specific princess, but they only appear in one episode on the disc and usually only for a couple of minutes instead of throughout the entire thing, just in case you are expecting Disney princess immersion.
After watching the final disc, I did go to Disney Movie Club to make sure I had them all, but I didn't, so I ordered the newest disc, Sofia The First: The Curse Of Princess Ivy, and I should have it in a couple of weeks.
I tried to watch my Disney Treasures: Disney Rarities disc next, but about two minutes into it I realized that it wouldn't work because most all of them are silent and you really can't stitch and watch at the same time, I needed more of a background movie (because I was on a stitching frenzy this weekend). Oh, and FYI, these Disney Treasure disc links are only so expensive because they are out of print...I didn't pay anywhere near this for these discs. Most ranged between $35 and $50 and now they range from $100 to $1000. It's just a real shame that the company doesn't still make these.
Since my other bloggy friend Tiffany sent me a very interesting article on the making of Alice In Wonderland, that movie has been on my mind as well, so I decided to watch it next. I have a love/hate relationship with this movie. As far as animation goes, I absolutely love it...it's classic Disney animation so, of course I would. But it's also a movie I've never understood and I often joke you have to be stoned to get it. Since I'm never stoned, I don't get it.
But the disc also had a Mickey Mouse short and Walt's first TV show, One Hour In Wonderland, so it's not an entire waste. I found this little clip of Bobby Driscoll from Song Of The South fame (and Disney's original kid star gone bad - he died young due to a history of drug abuse) and Kathryn Beaumont (the voice of Alice and Wendy). I think, since this was the beginning of Walt's TV series career, this one should also be a new category, Mixed-Medium Series (since there was animation included), but that means that I'll need to change the numbers up because A Day In The Life of Donald Duck was also part of the Disneyland series, so that would go in this category as well. Here is the clip:
And, since I'm feeling clip happy, this is the clip they played (and a lot of Disney park visitors might recognize a lot of the scenes in this clip, it's all over Splash Mountain):
Next, I opted not to watch the live-action Alice In Wonderland, but instead decided to watch Pinocchio, Disney's second full-length animated film. I'm not that big of a fan of this story, but oh my the animation! You can tell they definitely learned from their mistakes on Snow White and this is one amazingly beautiful film! Don't even get me started on the myriad of special features on this disc.
Since I was apparently in a classics mood, Dumbo came next. This another one of those love/hate relationship movies. The animation is more simple on this film, but that actually works. Where this movie looses me is the pink elephants...they scared me silly as a child and still kind of do! As a matter of fact, I had a nightmare about them Saturday night. Somebody was definitely doing some drug when they worked up that scene, it's one of the most terrifying in all of Disney movie history! I wanted to find a good clip of it to show you, but after about three different tries, I couldn't find one that was shareable, so here's the trailer instead (I'll probably have nightmares just from looking for a pink elephant clip!):
Next, I went in a bit different direction, but still classic, with Robin Hood. Despite the complete left turn in animation style, I do still love this movie. When I was younger, the animation actually bugged me a lot more than it does now. The lack of cleaning up the lines used to make it feel unfinished and sloppy, but now it adds character. Of all the Robin Hood movies out there, this one is by far my favorite, second only to the old Errol Flynn one.
There was one short on this disc as well that I wasn't even aware of, so added bonus! This is one of those discs that I wish was full of special features, but it's quite lacking in that department.
And the final one is The Sword In The Stone. This is another one of those flops that I absolutely love. The fighting between Merlin and Madam Mim is, in a word, genius. Again, I was disappointed at the lack of bonus features, but what can you do?
Starting Sunday, I begin with Fantasia and ended with Fantasia 2000. These are two movies that deserve a post of their own, so more tomorrow!
Full-Length Animation: 41
Animated Shorts: 211
Live-Action Shorts: 5
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Animated Series: 13
Geez, the category list is getting enormous!