I didn't post yesterday because I'm trapped in Disneyland hell. There is a reason why I've only gone to Disney World for the past 20 years, apparently I can't plan a vacation to anywhere else but. I'm trying to work through all the problems, but I guess it's safe to say that my road trip through the west next year is now off the table. But I don't want to bore you with my DL drama (well, except for the wonderful Heather over at Fantasy Cross Stitch, you might actually rue the day you ever offered to help this spaz!).
I started Friday night in a weird direction, with Saving Mr. Banks. I've watched this one before, but it's one of those kind of movies that once is enough. As much as I love the old documentaries about the studios and Walt, I don't particularly care for movies that make me cry. I start sniffling at the moment she arrives at the premier and am usually in full-on bawl mode by the end. I hate that. But it is a very good movie otherwise and the casting choices were just brilliant.
Watching Saving Mr. Banks meant there was only one way to go next, Mary Poppins. When I was a kid, I probably watched this movie just as much as I did Sleeping Beauty. Parts I loved, parts I didn't, but everytime it came on television or the video was popped in, I went into a trance in front of the TV. I laughed, often sang along, and was terrified of the bird woman who I always thought was named Tuppence Sabag (I misinterpreted the song). Because of my over-absorption of it as a kid, I haven't seen it much since I became an adult (although that verdict is still out on that notion that I am an adult). Friday night was probably the first time I'd seen it in many years and I still laughed, still sang along, and was still a bit creeped out by the bird lady, but I also realized that I haven't actually ever sit and watched it from the very beginning to the very end all in one go, so even after a lifetime of viewings, I had never really seen the movie before.
There are some amazing special features on my disc (I've got the 50th Anniversary version) including the original movie premiere and after party and it was just as enjoyable as the movie.
My next choice of movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas, was very deliberate. If there is one saying that I've always hated, it's been "Christmas in July"...Christmas once a year is bad enough, I surely don't want to have to go through it twice, for whatever the reasons behind it. I didn't want to watch any of my Christmas selections in the month of July for that very reason, but after both Saving Mr. Banks and Mary Poppins, it was well into the morning of August the 1st, so I was safe to clear out the Christmas selections. I'm not a Christmas person at all and you won't find many Christmas-themed things in my house unless they are Disney related. An Asper kid and Christmas don't really make a good mix. It was always one of the most stressful times of the year for me having to deal with not only being shuffled around from one parent to the other, but dealing with that inevitable attention that comes when you open presents. I can literally even make myself sick thinking about it now. Luckily, I have finally managed to convince my family that we never have to do Christmas again. Last year was my first non-holiday season and I loved every minute of it, but I'm getting off track.
For all his oversaturation of Johnny Depp, I still worship Tim Burton and I think he's one of the greatest geniuses of our time. The Nightmare Before Christmas is his piece de resistance. It's brilliant, beautiful, creative, and best of all, Depp free! Danny Elfman gets just as much love from me, all the way back to his Oingo Boingo days, and no Tim Burton movie would be complete without the music of Danny, so knowing that he is the singing voice of Jack just adds that little extra bit of spark for me. I've never been that great of a stop-motion animation fan, but Tim does it so beautifully, I will often get lost in watching the facial expressions of the characters. Growing up in a house with a mostly deaf person, you learn to read lips too and it is very easy to read Tim's characters lips as though they were real people speaking. Only the original batch of Disney animators had that talent and Tim did learn from the best! I really can't give it enough praise, but this was the first time I had watched it since I got the Blu-Ray version and what a difference Blu-Ray makes for it! It's the prime example of why, if you haven't started already, you should upgrade your discs (at least some of them) to Blu-Ray. I'm not too jazzed about the upcoming 4K version...your eyes can only see so well, but I am a definite Blu-Ray convert.
Lock, Shock, and Barrel are right up there with my favorite Disney characters of all time and I totally applaud Tim for giving Paul Reubens (aka PeeWee Herman) a job when nobody else would.
On Saturday, my mood was a bit somber at first, so I decided it was finally time to get Bambi out of the way. From an animation standpoint, it is a breathtakingly beautiful film, but gee wiz, what were they thinking story-wise? It also started a long Disney tradition of killing off a character to add "depth" to the film. I personally think they kind of enjoyed killing things in that Game of Thrones (which I don't watch) kind of way. I always imagined the story meetings go something like this..."OK boys, here are all the characters in the movie, who should die?".
Speaking of story meetings though, there is an over an hour audio recording of the actual story meetings for the film in the bonus features and I think I enjoyed those more than the actual movie!
Then, of course, there was the sequel (or cheap-quel as someone aptly put it), Bambi II, which takes place in the days following his mother's death. As far as animation goes, this one isn't half bad...they made a conscious effort to make the characters and the backgrounds true to the originals, but the story is so long and drawn out and just plain boring, I couldn't wait for it to end.
I just grabbed the next disc in the stack, a combo disc of The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under, starting first with The Rescuers. This was another one of those that I haven't seen since childhood, but for a very different reason. When I was in primary school (ours ran from Kindergarten to 5th grade), on the last day of school we would always watch a movie and that movie was pretty much always The Rescuers. It's the last day of school, you're all excited, and your forced to watch the same movie you watched the year before...not my idea of a good time. Plus, I always felt that Medusa was the love child of Cruella Deville and Madam Mim, so I wasn't too impressed with her animation (these were things I noticed even as a young whipper-snapper).
I will say though, the opening sequences of the pastel drawings on black paper are quite extraordinary and I actually watched it twice because I was so mesmerized by them.
The Rescuers Down Under I have never seen, but it wasn't as bad as I was expecting (although it wasn't great either). That "new fangled" animation ruined a lot of it for me and the lack of the Rescuers themselves was a bit annoying (it seemed to center more around the boy and the poacher). But I have to give them props for getting the original cast back for the voices almost 15 years after the original. The more I watch these sequels, the more the change in voices seems to annoy me more than the animation style changes. And if I wanted to get ticky about it, The Rescuers Down Under was the first Disney sequel and it was responsible for the awful tradition that followed, so it already had red in its ledger for that reason alone.
For the first time in a while, there were shorts on this disc, one a Silly Symphony cartoon called The Three Blind Musketeers and the other was a full episode of Disney's True Life Adventure series called Water Birds. Those were the documentaries I watched as a kid, the ones with Silly Symphony type sync of music to animals and I actually stopped stitching for a while to watch the whole thing.
The next two-disc series I watched was the Atlantis one, starting with Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Parts of me really wants to love this movie. Despite the CG animation, the special effects on this are nothing short of brilliant and, although I'm not typically a comic book fan, I kind of like the comic book-type lines of the characters, it kind of added that sense of adventure to the story. This movie is how I wish the second gens would have started out animation-wise. Story-wise? Not so much. I felt too much like I was being bombarded from every direction by familiar scenes...20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Journey To The Center Of The Earth, Indiana Jones, etc. It's one thing to be influenced by movies, it's another to model yours exactly like your influences.
Atlantis: Milo's Return, on the other hand, is everything that is wrong with the sequels...major character voice changes, bad animation (the thickness of the character outlines changed from scene to scene, what was up with that?), the whole 3 story sequel issue, etc.
There was a ton of special features on this disc...probably more than any other disc I have and I'm still not sure why. It was literally hours and hours of the animators justifying their decisions about this film. I tend to think that when you have to over-sell something, you secretly know it's crap and you're trying to convince yourself more than the audience. Needless to say, I got bored after the first two hours and put it up.
I still had time for one more though, so I went with The Great Mouse Detective, the first Disney movie to use computers and the beginning of a long animation dry spell for me (but again, I was a 16 year old at the time, so it was probably going to dry up around that time anyway). This is actually a very good movie and I've seen it numerous times throughout the years. It's one I do actually need to get on Blu-Ray.
But this movie brings up a lot of passions for me as far as the animators go, but we'll get to that on Monday's viewings.
Live Action: 79
Full-Length Animation: 101
Animated Shorts: 283
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 3
Animated Series: 81
Mixed-Medium Series: 2