On Sunday night, I decided it was time to switch back to the full-on animation and I decided to start with Chicken Little. During Disney's "crap" years, this was by far the best to come out of the camp (even if it did pretty poorly at the box office). The story is really very good, the CG animation doesn't bother me at all (a feat unto itself), and the amount of one-liners in the movie make my dead-pan heart quite happy. I am NOT a Zach Braff fan at all (well, except for the fact that he inspired one of the best F-U songs ever written, Mandy Moore's Nothing That You Are), but he alters his voice enough that I don't feel his "vibe" at all. As a character goes, Chicken Little is one of my top five Disney characters of all time...he's just another one of those that I can relate to.
As with all the movies of this generation, there are way too many special features on the disc, including the all too familiar "Walt would totally embrace this type of animation" comments. Yeah, keep telling yourself that boys.
And just because I wanted to hear the song again, here's Mandy's tribute to Zach (although I think this is a live recording because it does have a bit more oomph on the album):
I stayed along the same lines and went with Home On The Range next. Granted, this movie has an amazing cast, but that's about all it has going for it. I will give nods to the background artists because they really captured the spirit of older Disney cartoons, but the story was long and drawn out, the one-liners usually just went flat, and the characterization wasn't even worth looking up from my stitching. They did try to embody the spirit of older Disney characters with the sharp facial lines, but it just doesn't work in a computer animated environment.
I will say, despite the fact that I usually HATE country music, there are some really good songs on this soundtrack, from KD Lang (yes, I admit it, I am a straight and I like KD Lang...take that 10 Things I Hate About You) to Bonnie Raitt to Tim McGraw, but it's not enough of a good soundtrack to make me buy the album like I tend to do with a lot of other Disney movies.
There was also a short on this disc (the first one in a long time), called A Dairy Tale: The Three Little Pigs. It was pretty short, but it has a very Brittney Lee feel (she's a Disney animator who prefers to work in paper medium...check out her blog HERE).
I went with Valiant next, and again, FABULOUS cast, but geez, what a waste of time that movie is. I really want to love it and not just because of the cast, but because it represents the period of animation that I love the most, the 1940's and 50's. It is so obvious they rushed this movie (all three of these came out within a short space of time from each other). The animation has a lot of issues (incongruous turns of heads, sizing issues from one scene to the next, etc), the story is so long and flip-flops and, as much as I love Ewan McGregor, what is up with yelling his lines throughout the entire movie? I still watch this movie from time to time (just because I love the actors involved), but it's a good movie to stitch to because you don't really have to look up at all.
And just an aside, both Valiant and Home On The Range have a large quantity (and a large dislike) for yodeling...I'm not really sure why. I don't have any strong feelings one way or the other about yodeling, but apparently the head of Disney animation at the time did and felt the need to express his opinions in two separate movies.
I decided that I needed to go in a different direction for a while, so I pulled out my Hunchback two disc set and started with the first one, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I have a love/hate relationship with this movie. When I was in art school, I did several papers on Notre Dame, including one specifically on the gargoyles, so parts of the animation do appeal to me, but only in the background sense. The music is amazing and most of the actors were well chosen, but nothing will show talent or lack thereof in an actor quicker than animation and Demi Moore is so bad it's almost sad. Granted, I don't like her in any movie I've ever seen her in, but part of me wants to, if only for the fact that she did star in some great 80's movies and I'm loyal to that generation. Listening to Esmeralda speak is almost painful...it's flat, devoid of emotion, and just plain cold. There are times I may not like an actor chosen to do a voiceover roll (i.e. Zach Braff) but, if they do a good job, then I'm usually able to control my personal feelings about the actor (or actress, as the case may be). It may be that she's not really that bad or that she's acting with such a high caliber of fellow cast mates that she just doesn't have a chance...whatever the case, she pretty much ruins the movie for me.
I have seen The Hunchback of Notre Dame II before as well, but in addition to the Demi problem, add Jennifer Love Hewitt to the mix and they actually lower the caliber of the other actors instead of the other actors lowering their caliber. It is seriously painful to listen to and don't get me started on the animation on this one. The enormous black outlines around the characters, the mutilation of the all the beautiful backgrounds of the first one, etc. I often wonder, after watching II, if when the actors saw it, they didn't cringe themselves at it compared to the first one.
There is a short on the disc, an animated poem called It's Not Easy Being A Gargoyle, but I was unable to find it on YouTube. It is actually better than the movie even though it only lasts about five minutes.
I needed to go in yet another different direction, so I ended the night with Aladdin. This is the first time I've watched this movie since Robin Williams died. I have issues with watching movies with dead actors in them...it just feels wrong for some reason (well, other than old black and white movies where most of the actors were dead before I was born). I've always LOVED Robin and it kills me that he's gone from us. It would be hard for me to watch a live action movie with him in it, but watching Aladdin wasn't as bad as I was expecting. It's such a great movie anyway, I don't think even his passing could deter me from watching it again and again. And, despite how his mouth often gets him in trouble and it's not PC to like Gilbert Gottfried anymore, I do absolutely adore him and it would really take a lot more than him expressing his opinion, however wrong or insensitive, to change my view of him. But I'm getting off topic again. Jasmine is probably my third favorite Disney princess, but I have to admit, watching Aladdin after Hunchback, I never really noticed how flat Linda Larkin (the speaking voice of Jasmine) actually is before, but now I do and I kind of found it annoying for the first time ever....thanks Demi for ruining my third favorite princess!
The Diamond Edition of this comes out this October, and I'm really hoping that 2 and 3 come out on a combo disc afterwards. I like combo discs because they take up less room in my shelf and you don't have to change the discs so much when doing a marathon.
Monday night, I needed to finish up the series, so I started with Aladdin: The Return Of Jafar. Story wise, this is pretty good for a sequel, but it bothers me that Robin Williams isn't the Genie in this one. There was a time when he had a falling out with the Disney company for some reason...there were harsh words thrown back and forth, lawsuits, etc and I still don't know what the fuss was all about, but it was nasty for a while. When you're spending more time stitching than watching a movie, voices are very important and although Dan tried to keep Genie in the spirit of Robin, it was just off enough to make things weird. I still like this movie, heavy black character outlines and all.
Aladdin and the King Of Thieves brought back Robin and all was right in the sequel world again (there was a short reprieve in the Disney/Robin war, but it started up again and lasted quite a while, luckily it ended before his death). Again, despite the heavy black outlines of the characters (does direct-to-video movies not have a cleanup crew?) and Jasmine's flat speaking voice (how could I have not noticed that before?), I still really like this movie too. As far as sequels go, these are probably only second to those of the Lion King when it comes to being my favorites.
I still had time to start another series Monday night, but I was having HSM urges, so I opted to watch Avengers twice instead. I liken it to eating a protein bar when you really want a candy bar...but protein bars would still be better than celery sticks because you are still gonna want candy, no matter how much celery you eat (can you tell I've started my Disney diet yet?).
Live Action: 75
Full-Length Animation: 87
Animated Shorts: 282
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 3
Animated Series: 77
Mixed-Medium Series: 2