Friday, July 31, 2015

Disney Movies - Days 67 & 68

You know you're getting tired of doing a challenge when you forget to post, and that's just what I did yesterday...completely forgot, so I've got some catching up to do!

First up, Wednesday night. I went the way of the jungle and finally did the Tarzan series. I have seen the first one, but not the other two, so I didn't know how the night would go. The first movie, Tarzan, is pretty good. The background animation is really good considering the generation it comes from and the characters are OK. Tarzan's hair has always bothered me for some strange reason and Jane's facial features border on the creepy, but otherwise, the story is good and so is the music (although it gets really loud sometimes...must be a Phil Collins thing because I noticed it on Brother Bear too).

There are practically no special features on the disc, which is kind of a shame because I would have liked to see the Backstage Disney stuff on this movie. Oh well, maybe with the next edition we'll get some.

I didn't know which sequel to watch next, so I went with Tarzan & Jane. The animation on this one was shocking! Not only were there the usual overly heavy black outlines, but there was this weird shadow play on the characters from the surrounding plants that just make the people look translucent instead of "shaded" upon. I almost wanted to rewatch the first one to see if they did the same weird shadow play on it too, but I resisted. This sequel is another one of those the main characters sitting around telling "remember when" stories. This one actually wasn't that bad. All three little stories were actually good story wise. I stopped looking at the screen because the animation was driving me nuts.

A very young Mandy Moore sings a couple of songs on the soundtrack (one gets played over and over and over again) and, what little special features there are, she's talking about how it's cool for her to be a part of Disney history by doing the soundtrack and how she's always wanted to do something for Disney. Considering that she's now Rapunzel and Sheriff Callie, I'd say she's pretty locked in Disney history!

I did Tarzan II next, although I was dreading it like the plague because of the cover art showing Tarzan young. Those kind of sequels are worse than the stories within a story kind, so my expectations were low. It was a good thing, because this one was long, boring, and don't get me started on the animation quality. Granted, they softened up on the shadow play, but not nearly enough. About the only thing positive I can say about it is that they did soften the outlines a bit so they weren't so heavy. I couldn't find a trailer, so we're relegated to the usual DisneyOnDemand clip.

Another bad thing about these sequels is that they rarely get the same actors and that's distracting to me to hear another voice. Do they think kids are stupid and can't tell the difference? If they can't get the same actors and can't do the same caliber animation, they shouldn't do a sequel at all. At least Pixar gets that right.

Which brings up another rant...I do love Mandy Moore, but I don't think Disney should reuse actors for different characters because, again, it's distracting. I'm hearing a voice that doesn't match the body. Surely kids notice that kind of stuff too, right? I've been to Disney World enough to have seen even the smallest of kids go "mom, that's not the same Snow White we saw yesterday". Kids aren't stupid. Granted, I can usually always tell what actor is doing a character by just their voice and I usually attach that actor to the character from that moment on in my minds eye, so it makes it difficult to separate them. I guess it's really no different than live action movies, but seriously, who doesn't see Daniel Radcliffe in a movie and not see him as Harry Potter still? Some characters are more memorable than others and animation characters tend to stick in my mind more than real people do. But I am weird, so please take that into consideration.

To finish off the night, I watched my Quack Pack, Vol 1 disc which contained three episodes of Quack Pack. I don't ever remember the show and there has only ever been one of these discs, so I'm not sure much about it's history. They weren't great shows, but they had Donald Duck in them, so I still liked them anyway. I have three VHS tapes of Quack Pack episodes too, but I still haven't decided if I'm going to dig out the old VCR or not yet. I was able to find episodes on YouTube, but no trailer for this set, so I'll pass on the clip.

Thursday night had no pattern whatsoever. I started with Gnomeo & Juliet. There are things about this movie that I like, like the storyline (a happy ending to one of the greatest love stories/tragedies ever) and the cast which is composed of some great British actors, but there are also things I don't like (cough, animation, cough). I get that it was produced by Elton John and David Furnish, but the amount of Elton saturation is just over and above the norm. I like Elton, but I don't love him, so it's probably great for one of his fans, but not so much for a non-fan.

About the only "how cool!" moment I had was when James McAvoy (Gnomeo) and Patrick Stewart (William Shakespeare) come together in animation form (for those that don't know, James plays the young Charles Xavier while Patrick plays the older one in the current X-Men series). I fan-girled a bit during that scene, but otherwise, it was just another movie.

I'm still not sure what led me to my next choice, probably because it was on the top of the stack of live actions that I've got left. I have never even watched Underdog, although I bought it the second it came out. I am old enough to remember the cartoon and I figured the live action would probably suck, so I've held off. It wasn't as bad as I was expecting, but again, there is the voice issue. Jason Lee does the voice of Underdog and, as some of you know, he's also the voice of Syndrome in The Incredibles. It's one thing to voice the same type of character in different movies (although I still don't like it), but when a very distinguishable voice does a villain in one movie and a hero in another, it's just insane! Amy Adams as Polly Purebred isn't as bad because at least she's staying with the female heroine lead-type, but it still wasn't good. I was literally squirming in my chair by the time the movie finished and I probably won't ever watch it again. I think I've decided that actor reuse is worse than crappy animation and that's saying something!

At least there was an original Underdog cartoon episode in the special features...that finally made the disc worthwhile.

At that point, I didn't want to watch a movie that blew the previous two out of the water, but rather needed one worse to get it over with, so I went with Prince of Persia. I had only ever watched this movie once, but I didn't like it, so I never watched it again. I don't know if it was the mood of the night or what, but by the time I got done with this viewing, I had decided that maybe I've been giving it a bad rap all these years because it's really not that bad (or maybe it was because I wasn't sure if I could get any worse for the night). Sure, I still can't stand Jake Gyllenhaal and I don't get what his appeal is, but when you're stitching and not watching, even he's not that bad (and, to the best of my knowledge, he hasn't ever voiced a Disney character, and let's hope it stays that way). I will say, that the whole sand surfing scene was a bit too much, but otherwise, I actually think I might watch this one again someday (although John Carter will forever be stuck in the "never again" pile).

Considering this one technically had a subtitle attached (the name of the movie is actually Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time), I'm sure they meant to make a franchise out it before it flopped. To be honest, I'd rather see Persia as a new additional land in Animal Kingdom versus the upcoming Pandora from Avatar and Avatar is getting it's sequels.

I don't know that much about Middle Eastern culture, but Morocco is my favorite land in Epcot (yes, I know that's an African country, but it has a more Middle Eastern vibe) and I really kind of like Middle Eastern music although I don't know much about it and don't really have access to it much in the heart of bum-fudge Arkansas. The closing song on this disc was a bit surprising, it had that kind of flair to it, but was sung by Alanis Morissette. I actually rewound the credits twice to listen to it again and again. This is probably a fan-made video, but I've been playing it the entire time I wrote this post for the sake of hearing the song:


One more rant for the day...when a movie is finished and the powers that be view them for the final time, can they not see how bad the movie is? Do they watch movies like John Carter or Underdog and go, "yep, we're in for an Oscar boys" or do they just concede that there is nothing they can do, so they might as well release it as is? Some of these bad ones could be fixed by creative editing or moving the scenes around or even cutting some scenes out and yet they choose to leave them alone. Obviously the script starts out decent, or the movie wouldn't get green-lit in the first place, right? I know that everyone has different tastes and some movies are going to appeal more than others, but appeal is way different than general suckiness. I think that's one thing Walt always did right...if he didn't like it, it either got reworked or trashed, no matter the cost. After all these movies, I've come to realize that maybe my hatred of the second gen animation movies was misfounded, but I still think that Walt wouldn't have approved of the direction the studios went in and I still think he would be livid at these sequels and flops bearing his name. Animation has finally gotten things right again, but live action has a long way to go to live up to the Disney name.

But enough ranting for the day, I'm hoping to clear out a chunk of movies this weekend so that I can finish in the next week or two. I'm also hoping to finish a big chunk of Alice and the B's this weekend, so here's hoping that the best laid plans of mice and men don't go awry!

MOVIE TOTALS:
Live Action: 78
Full-Length Animation: 93
Mixed-Medium: 8
Animated Shorts: 282
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 3
Animated Series: 81
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Documentaries: 8
Concerts: 1

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Disney Movies - Day 66

I'm sure most of you saw in the news about that idiot dentist that killed the beloved lion in Africa. I'm not a fan of cats, big or small, but I would never kill one and that kind of killing for fun is just stupid! I hope they throw him under a third-world jail. All I kept thinking all day long is "wouldn't it be just if the dentist was turned into one of the lion cubs that will now probably be killed by the other lions since their dad is no longer around to protect them?" or better yet, if the punishment fit the crime?

That act of stupidity decided my movie direction for last night...Brother Bear If you haven't seen Brother Bear, I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but basically, a boy who kills a bear that he thinks is responsible for the death of his brother, gets turned into a bear and unknowingly befriends the cub of the dead bear. It is a surprisingly really good movie considering what generation it came out of and I've always really liked it, but it hit home a bit harder last night. Granted, it has a bit of the "preachy" element to it and the music can be too overpowering at times (whoever decided that Tina Turner would be a good choice to sing the opening song to a Disney movie ought to rethink their career...her voice is WAY too powerful for the context of a Disney film). The backgrounds were amazing though and the animation was soft enough not to be domineered by the CG aspects of it. In the end though, it's all about the story and it's one of the few original Disney story lines. As much as I love the fairy tales, the originals tend to have more heart and lack limitations of a defined predetermined course.

The only thing that really has always bothered me about this movie is that it starts off in full screen and transforms to widescreen once Kenai becomes the bear. I always forget and end up changing the settings on my TV because I think something is wrong. I often say I'm all for artistic creativity, but even I have my limits. Changing the size of the screen to represent the "opening" of Kenai's eyes to the world is a bit like Johnny Depp's interpretation of Willy Wonka...useless and just plain annoying.

I guess I had never seen Brother Bear 2, although I've owned it for years and just recently replaced it with the combo disc pack with the first one. I was almost mad at myself when I finished because it is better than the first one! Unlike every single other Disney sequel out there, this one had no decrease in the quality of the animation and what a pleasant surprise that was! Granted, we had a main voice change from Joaquin Phoenix to Patrick Dempsey (which was a bit shocking...couldn't they have at least tried to get a similar voice?) and a different lead musician from Phil Collins to Melissa Etheridge (who I'm not a fan of, but her voice suited the songs, so it was OK). I was a bit shocked to hear Mandy Moore voice Nita, the female lead, as well. I didn't realize she had done another Disney voice other than Rapunzel. Since I was stitching while watching, it tended to throw me upon occasion because I kept looking up expecting to see Rapunzel. But like the first, the story was so incredibly strong and the animation was so good, any little nitpicking I could do would be just that.


And since I had finally let loose of the lion drama and was in a bear mood, The Country Bears was next. Yes, this is a horrible movie in all respects, but I do so love it because I worship The Country Bears! The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean might be my favorite rides at Disney World, but I go all fan-girl over the bears every single time. I know every word to every song by heart, every personality of every bear and every facial expression and, when the show comes on MouseWorld Radio, I get that Duran Duran giddiness in the pit of my stomach! I must have been a bear in a past life or something!

This movie doesn't feature any songs from the show (well, other than in the special features section), but it has a Muppet-type feel because it has a plethora of stars throughout the entire movie. Every single time they mention one of the bears, I'd find myself singing one of the show's songs that included that bear's name (I bet I went "Zeke and Zeb and Ted and Fred and a bear named Tennessee" a hundred or so times!) and every time I saw Big Al, I'd go "blood on the saddle". The movie is so bad it's good I guess!

And seriously, just how many voices has Haley Joel Osment did for Disney? Well, I IMDB'ed it and, not counting the Kingdom Hearts video game series (he's the voice of Sora), he's only done five animated movie voices (although technically The Country Bears isn't animated, but still). It sure feels like a heck of a lot more. And when you've got the likes of Bonnie Raitt and Don Henley as the singing voices of the bears, it just goes to show I'm not the only bear fan in the world.

I'm really going to miss not having The Country Bears at Disneyland, but at least there will be a lot of Koda and Kenai around the Grand Californian and, a lot of bears in that movie have a Country Bear feel to them (again, I'm obviously not the only bear fan in the world). I'm going to have to try really hard to remember to turn around in the beginning of the Winnie the Pooh ride to see the original Max, Buff, and Melvin!

MOVIE TOTALS:
Live Action: 76
Full-Length Animation: 89
Mixed-Medium: 8
Animated Shorts: 282
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 3
Animated Series: 77
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Documentaries: 8
Concerts: 1

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Disney Movies - Days 64 & 65

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?).

MOVIE TOTALS:
Live Action: 75
Full-Length Animation: 87
Mixed-Medium: 8
Animated Shorts: 282
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 3
Animated Series: 77
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Documentaries: 8
Concerts: 1

Monday, July 27, 2015

Disney Movies - Days 62 & 63

Gonna have to split the weekend up because I did have a full weekend at home for the first time in weeks, so I got a lot accomplished Saturday and Sunday. Friday, I only managed to make it through one movie because I was at my Sister's house most of the night going through her closet clean out rejects. Ever since I lost a ton of weight and got rid of all my fat clothes, my closet has been pretty skimpy. She did give me clothes when I was at my lowest weight, but that stage didn't last long so I've pretty much been living with two pairs of jeans and about 10 T-shirts. But now I have a completely full closet again (although they are all too nice and I'm scared to wear any of them!).

I grabbed the first movie at the top of the stack sitting in front of my TV for Friday night and it was Hannah Montana: The Movie. There was a time, pre-pastie Miley, when I actually really liked to watch Hannah Montana. It was cute and funny and she seemed so wholesome and innocent. Oh well, the Disney Channel kid curse strikes again! This is still a pretty cute movie though and reminds me of a happier Disney Channel time.


Saturday brought on the final DCOM series, High School Musical. I've been putting this off for a reason...my Asper-ness means that I have a tendency to go gaga-freaky obsessive over stupid stuff sometimes. I can't sleep, eat, or focus on anything when I get in that state and I all want to do do is watch over and over again. Once I can eventually break myself from them though, it's always best for me to stay away because the least little thing can send me careening off that cliff again. High School Musical was one of those times and I literally have not watched any of it in years. I did stitch the entire time, and I think it helped, but I did find myself wanting to watch them again Sunday (but thankfully, I held off).

Starting with the first one (of course), High School Musical. There are things about this one that bother me more than the others, the major one being the fact that Zac Efron didn't do his own singing, Drew Seeley did. Those that are familiar with DCOM-land know who Drew Seeley is...he's an amazing singer, dancer and, I think, much better looking than Zac, so I'm not sure why he wasn't cast in the movie in the first place. The chemistry with Vanessa Hudgens argument doesn't work because he did the High School Musical: The Concert tour with them (I watched that too, but more on it later) and the sparks were flying, although not in that creepy, drawn to each other way like Zac and Vanessa...he literally gets closer and closer to her in every single scene they do together and I can see why they burned out on the personal front (although I sometimes wonder if his personal problems didn't have something to do with it). But anyway, what an amazing person Drew must be to have sung for someone else and let them have all the glory for it.

I'm not going to pick out a favorite song from any of these...it would be like picking a favorite child (although my mother has never had any trouble in that area), so at least you won't be exposed to endless HSM music videos!

High School Musical 2 was the next one. If you think that Zac and Vanessa's attraction to each other was bad in the first one, that's nothing compared to the second one! Granted, he is WAY worse than her, but speaking of obsessions, it's so obvious that is probably what happened between those two personally. At least he was allowed to sing on his own during this one (and his voice isn't that bad, so I'm not sure what all the fuss was about in movie one..it's not like the rest of the cast have amazing voices, well, except for Lucas Grabeel). There is also that "pull your pants up because they are riding below your butt cheeks and your underwear is showing" theme throughout this one. That drives me INSANE! No one ever wants to see someone's underwear and it's called "underwear" for a reason (geez, I sounded old then, right?).


High School Musical 3: Senior Year comes next and this is probably my favorite of them all (even if they do that weird in story one minute and in musical the next). I bawl like a baby at the ending of this every single time, especially at the very end when the leads all come out and give "those looks" to the camera, one by one, as if saying goodbye to the world. It's the high school experience I never had and can't even imagine having, but a huge part of me wanted it desperately.


Of course, it technically doesn't end there...Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure was another sequel and, although it doesn't follow the HSM format, it's still actually surprisingly very good. It is kind of weird that Austin Butler, Vanessa Hudgens now boyfriend plays Ashley's love interest, but they had as much chemistry as a brother and sister, so that eases the weirdness (although it does nothing for the romance aspect of things). The fact that Lucas Grabeel was left out of this one kind of irks me too (especially since his character went to school at Julliard and is right there where Sharpay ends up).


I ended the Disney part of the night with High School Musical: The Concert. Sure, they are all obviously partly lip-syncing and partly getting as auto-tuned as a person can get, but it's still a good show, even without Zac (and, like I said, I prefer Drew anyway). A lot of the cast that had albums out did one of their own songs, well except for Drew and...honest moment here...I do actually own those albums too and like most of it. I do prefer Ashley's singing to Vanessa's (Ashley is kind of the queen of F-U songs, and I LOVE those, so that's what gives her the advantage). Again, I still prefer Drew's solo stuff.


It's not a Disney movie, but because I was craving Drew, I did watch Another Cinderella Story (with Selena Gomez). He is just SOOO adorbs! That, as usual, led to watching I Kissed A Vampire, which is this horribly cheesy, but totally cute musical with Lucas and Drew. I started out as a web series on iTunes (which you can still download for free I think), but they ended up making an entire movie out of it.

MOVIE TOTALS:
Live Action: 67
Full-Length Animation: 87
Mixed-Medium: 8
Animated Shorts: 280
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 3
Animated Series: 77
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Documentaries: 8
Concerts: 1

Weekly Stitching

Well, it took me most of the week to get my stitching mojo back, so there is not a lot to show for this week. I barely touched Cinderella Castle. It went from this:
cc01
To this for a total of 2.47 hrs (which is kind of deplorable for what little I got done):
cc02

I finally decided that the lack of mojo was because of Cinderella Castle and I needed to work on a project that motivates me (which means a HAED), so back to Alice and the B's it was HAED's just flow better than other projects for some reason. I left off here:
alice063
and finished here tonight:
alice066
I didn't quite get done with her face, but I did get close. If I have a good stitching week this upcoming week, then I should get done with Rapunzel and start back on Aurora. That's what is so great about this project, there is a princess in practically every page of this chart...no boring background stitching like Maleficent. I love seeing their faces appear with every stitch.

I really want to finish some of my WIPs before I start a new project, but I've got a couple of HAEDs that are really calling to me right now. I try to think logically about it because, the more WIPs I have, the longer it takes to finish a project, but there are so many great ones in my stash, I just can't help but want to stitch them all. When I first started reading stitch blogs, I was shocked by how many stitchers have a hoard of WIPS...at the time I was only doing one at a time, but now, I totally get it! If I'm having a bad day, stitching on a boring project is more painful than not stitching at all. Last week pretty much reiterated that and, once I switched projects, the week got better. That may mean that some of my WIPs might not ever get finished, but I'm starting to be OK with that. I've learned so much from other bloggers and I'm starting to feel like I could actually become a good stitcher one day, all thanks to you guys!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Disney Movies - Days 60 & 61

What is up with all the drama lately? Now it's Disneyland drama...the Halloween Party tickets finally came out (at least to passholders and Disney Visa Holders) and they go upwards of $84 a ticket!!! That's almost $20 more than Disney World's Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party ticket price and you get so much more at MNSSHP than you do for MHP. All I can say, is it BETTER be worth it! I did manage to get ours for $77 a piece thanks to my Disney Visa discount, but still.

Because I had to get our tickets, that meant that I couldn't pay off my half of the trip as planned and I'm not happy about that. Plus, with all the flight changes that Delta keeps doing, I'm about to snap. Luckily, I spoke with two very nice agents at Disneyland Travel yesterday and asked tons of questions and kept both of them on the phone forever, and they were ten times nicer than any agent I ever got at Disney World, so hopefully that's a sign of things to come!

But on with the reviews for Wednesday and Thursday. I finished up the Halloweentown series on Wednesday, starting Halloweentown High over again since I fell asleep during it Tuesday night. I've seen this movie dozens of times, so there was nothing new I noticed (and I did finally start stitching again, at least on Wednesday night). Ever since High School Musical, I've had the biggest crush on Lucas Grabeel, and he has a very small part in this movie compared to the next one. I couldn't find a trailer for this one, so we're relegated to a clip from Disney Movies On Demand.


Lastly for this series is Return To Halloweentown. This was actually the first one of these that I ever saw, so I didn't know that Sara Paxton was a replacement actress for Marnie. This is not a practice that I usually like...if the main actress isn't available, then it's time to pack it in. But since I saw the replacement first, it makes the other three in the series a bit awkward. Sara Paxton is another one of those actresses I don't like for no obvious reason, so it balances out in the end, I guess. I do like that Lucas has more of a role in this one and he became Marnie's love interest. I always wanted a followup to this movie to see their relationship progress, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.


I managed to squeeze in a final movie for that night, Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior. I used to really like this movie years ago, but this was the first time I had watched it in several years and I don't think I ever noticed how loud the background music is during the fight scenes and how it doesn't match the vibe of the movie or even the scene it's put with. By about midway though, it was really getting annoying and, by the end, I was about ready to pull my hair out.


I started watching Avengers (again) afterwards, but had to give it up before it finished because it was pushing 2 am.

Thursday was another non-stitching night, and because of the Disneyland drama, I spent the night on my computer instead. I finished Avengers and watched it twice more before I forced myself to do at least one new Disney movie. I decided to go with The Wizard's Return: Alex vs Alex, the only Wizards of Waverly Place movie I own. I never really loved the show, but I did end up watching it a lot because it was either on before or after a show I did watch (plus, they played the show every five minutes on Disney Channel anyway, so it's not like you could have gotten away with never seeing it if you watch D-Channel). This movie always felt like a step above the rest of it though, which is why I purchased it. It's the first time I had seen it since Jake T Austin has gone through all his troubles (what is up with these Disney kids?), and it was kind of sad seeing him all cute and innocent on screen.


I do actually see an end in sight for my Disney movies now. I have a bit more than a dozen or so animated and the same with live action. There are a few documentaries and I still haven't decided whether or not I'm going to watch the Duck Tales series, but those are there if I decide to watch them. I might actually get done with watching these movies before I turn 50!

MOVIE TOTALS:
Live Action: 62
Full-Length Animation: 87
Mixed-Medium: 8
Animated Shorts: 280
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 3
Animated Series: 77
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Documentaries: 8

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Disney Movies - Days 58 & 59

Sorry I missed yesterday...my hot water heater busted at home and there was major drama at work (again). I did watch my Disney movies though and it shouldn't take me too long to get caught back up.

I'm still living in DCOM-land and started Monday night with Geek Charming. This is one of my favorite non-musical DCOMs because, not only does it have a good message, but it really is a compelling storyline and, despite her near anorexic frame, I think that Sarah Hyland has the potential to be a really good actress. This movie is a few years old and I don't know if she's still that skinny (I don't watch Modern Family), but I did often find myself shaking my head at her tiny arms and legs more than I paid attention to the movie. Normally, I don't watch it that closely because I'm usually stitching, but my stitching mojo disappeared at some point during the weekend and I'm having trouble getting it back, so this time it got my full attention. I still love it though, so on with the trailer.

There were 10 episodes of Shake It Up on this disc, but I didn't watch them because I never liked that show, so I guess that's special features that won't get added to my count.

Then it was time for Princess Protection Program. This is another really good DCOM with Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez, but one thing that always bothered me about this movie was that I always felt like they were cast in the wrong roles...Selena should have been the Princess. I've tried to analyze why I feel that way and the only thing I can come up with is that Demi has always seemed more down to earth to me, whereas Selena strikes me more as the Princess type. This was also one that could have done with a sequel, but it was never meant to be.


I did manage to squeeze in one more movie Monday night, but I kind of got a shock when I realized that Prom isn't a Disney Channel Original Movie afterall, but a real, full-fledged Disney movie. I had only ever seen it once before, when I initially got the DVD, but apparently I must have been stitching and not paying too much attention to it. This movie seems long and drawn-out, parts of it go on forever and are quite boring, so I had trouble staying focused. But by the time the ending rolled around, something weird had happened...all that extra drag between the characters had served one very important purpose, to get me to care about them. In the final minutes of the movie, I was crying, laughing, and had completely forgotten that I had spend probably a good hour and a half thinking how boring the movie was! That doesn't happen to me very often. If you can manage to actually make to the prom with this movie, then the ending is definitely worth it (but I wouldn't begrudge you if you couldn't!).


Tuesday I continued on the same path, but with a different theme. I also only managed to make it through two, again with no stitching, so I was completely focused on a series that I guess I hadn't paid that close attention to in the past. I will say, because I no longer have the Disney Channel, I'm really gonna miss these movies this year because they do still play them every single Mons-tober (what they call October) so, of course I'm talking about the Halloweentown series, starting first with Halloweentown. I'm not really sure I have ever seen this movie all the way through before. All the others I've seen numerous times (especially the last one), but parts of this one didn't ring any bells. It's really nothing special, just one of those really cute kids movies that I would think any parent would be OK with. I couldn't find a decent trailer for the first movie, so please forgive the quality of this:


Then I watched the second one, Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge. It's not bad for a sequel and, like the first one, I had never actually seen the entire movie, only parts of it (usually the ending), so it was nice to watch in its entirety:


I tried to watch the next in line, Halloweentown High, but I fell asleep (it's been a ROUGH week), so I'll start with it tonight. Here's hoping for a drama-free day and a full-on stitching night!

MOVIE TOTALS:
Live Action: 58
Full-Length Animation: 87
Mixed-Medium: 8
Animated Shorts: 280
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 3
Animated Series: 77
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Documentaries: 8

Monday, July 20, 2015

Disney Movies - Days 55-57

As I mentioned in my stitching post, it wasn't a good weekend for getting things done, especially for stitching, but also in the Disney movie viewing department. I managed one Friday night, one Saturday, and I was able to clear out a few Sunday.

Friday I started with another 2 movie combo pack, Davy Crockett. The first movie, Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier was one I had seen many times as a child, but not in a very long time. I have an aunt who always loved westerns so, whenever I was at her house, that's what we always watched. I hated them back then, but I've learned to appreciate them as I've gotten older and really did enjoy watching Davy Crockett in action. Of course though, it doesn't have a very happy ending and I did cry quite a bit, but it wasn't like I didn't know it was coming (since Davy Crockett was at the Alamo and we all know what happened to those poor guys).


There was also a short on the disc, The Lone Chipmunks, and I managed to find it on YouTube:


I tried to watch the second movie, but I was so tired and it was so late, I gave up for the night. Even though I got home really late Saturday, I still had to watch something, so I went ahead and watched the second movie, Davy Crockett and the River Pirates. This is technically two episodes of the TV series put together to make a movie, but I didn't mind and I'm going to count it as a whole movie. I liked this one better, not only because it had a much happier ending, but because there were a few Disney World references in it. Anyone who has been to Disney World in the last 20 or so years will remember the Mike Fink Keel Boats and the mini boats that stayed on long after the big ones were gone and Mike Fink was a major character in this movie. And anyone who has ridden the Liberty Belle will know:
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And Wilson's Cave Inn is where the River Pirates live. A good thing about these movies is there is at least a root basis in real folks...Davy Crockett, Mike Fink and even the River Pirates themselves were all real people.


Sunday was a much better day movie-wise (if not stitching-wise). I decided it was time to finally dive into the Disney Channel Original Movies. I have watched DCOMs as long as they've been coming out. I like the innocence of the stories. They don't ever remind me of my childhood because my high school years were never happy times (quite the opposite, in fact), but it reminds me of how I wish high school could have been for me. I saw a lot of the same themes of these movies in my fellow classmates, just never me (well, without the busting out into random songs). Plus, considering that the force of my inner child is very strong, I regress quite a bit during these types of movies and end up not feeling as old and cynical as I usually do, even if it's just for a few hours.

I confess, I'm an adult who watches D-Channel shows too (although not right now since I don't have regular TV anymore). I wasn't much of a Wizards of Waverly Place fan, but shows like Sonny With A Chance, Jonas (and especially Jonas LA), Austin & Ally, etc, were always in my record queue. As a kid I kind of preferred horror and questionable material, but the older I get, the more I prefer the clean, innocent shows, probably because a lot of the horror and questionable stuff today is just too dang stupid or gory for the sake of gore.

Since I have just gotten my Teen Beach 2 and haven't seen it yet, I started with Teen Beach Movie first. I absolutely adore Ross Lynch, he's just the cutest little thing and, since I was already an Austin & Ally fan, then I knew already I was going to like this movie when it originally came out. I've watched it numerous times since and I think it gets better every time! It's not a very original storyline...two kids end up getting trapped in a 1960's movie and inadvertently change the plot points and have to right everything to get back home and find themselves in the process, but it's pretty original how they handle it overall.

Of course, as per usual with these type of musicals, I do have my favorite number and this would definitely be it:


Then it was time to watch Teen Beach 2 for the first time. As with most sequels, the first one is definitely better, but it was still pretty cute. I still love to watch old beach movies anyway and, although they are very cheesy, again, it reminds me of happier times that could have been.

I can't say there was a single song that stuck out too much other than the big dance number that was kind of like a mix of High School Musical and the old beach movies:


I didn't have a real plan for the day other than to stick to the D-Channel movies, so I just grabbed the next one on the pile, StarStruck. This is one of those that didn't do too well, but one I still love and it's been watched at least a half a dozen times. The story goes, there was supposed to be a sequel to this one as well, but the girl in the film decided that she didn't like acting. Funny that because I've seen her in numerous things since, but I digress.

And, of course, the soundtrack is really good too and I have a favorite song from this one as well. I almost hate to post it because it pretty much gives away the ending, but then again, these things always have a happy ending, so it's not like it would be a big surprise:


My next set was the Camp Rock movies. Most people would probably say that the High School Musical movies are the best of all the D-Channel movies and I would disagree with that. Sure, I did my time obsessing over them, but I think the Camp Rock series is way better. Of all those Disney kids, Demi Lovato is really the only one with a fabulous voice (some have good ones, others are passing, and most have enough auto-tune to make even a dog sound like a great singer, but she has real talent) and despite her troubles, I still think she's a good role model for girls...unlike say another Disney star who likes to wear nipple pasties all the darn time! The first Camp Rock is really good and I can relate to her character a lot more than most other D-Channel characters (well, except for the singing part). When the Jonas Brothers came out, I did like Joe better at first and he's featured prominently throughout the entire movie:

Song-wise, the number at the end when they sing together is my favorite:


Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam is one of those rare sequels that is actually better than the first. By the time this one came out, I had seen the Jonas Brothers in concert (along with Miley pastie, as I like to call her now) and I was really crushing on Nick (and still kind of am). And, considering my age, I guess I should define "crushing"...not in a Simon LeBon way, but more in a "if I was 20 years younger" kind of way. I have a type, always have, and the boys in these movies all pretty much fit it, just like Simon did back in the day. Only now I don't get the heart palpitations, the dreams, or the incessant need to stare at their faces 24/7 like when I was younger. It's more of a "aww, isn't he just adorable!" kind of thing. Just thought I'd better clear that up!

Anyway, I don't know if it was because Demi and Joe were dating when this movie was made or not, but the chemistry between them is palpable and that really makes a love story for me. They did alter things a bit, making the Jo-Bros actual brothers in this sequel instead of just a band, but I am OK with that because it is so obvious that they are brothers.

I don't know if I mentioned it, but I also have all of the soundtracks for these movies as well as almost every other D-Channel movie and a lot of the TV series. For this sequel, I actually have two favorites, of course the big love ballad between Demi and Joe:

and Nick's solo song which is so cute! It is very easy to see why he's become the big star of the group:


Next in the stack was Lemonade Mouth. I am not a Brigit Mendler fan, I'm not sure what it is about her, but I will say that I could also really relate to her character in this movie (again, except for the singing part). Overall, this is just an OK movie, but it has some really great songs which is why I do keep watching it.

The best song, or I guess I should say my favorite song is Determinate:


I did have time for one more before the night was finished, but this one is kind of a cheat. Avalon High was a great DCOM but, because it bombed, they never released it on DVD. I did record it from TV when it broadcast though and I've been watching it ever since that way, on my own recorded disc, but I'm going to count it anyway. I check, every now and again, hoping that they will eventually release it on disc, but alas, I think that ship may have sailed. If Gregg Sulkin does get popular enough though, maybe they will bring it out of the vault! I think that the reason it bombed was because most of its audience had read the book first, whereas I saw the movie before I read the book so I approached it with fresh eyes. Once I did read the book, I still thought the movie was better, but that's been known to happen upon occasion with me (aka A Walk To Remember...that book sucked and it's one of my favorite movies, so judge my judgement accordingly).

This was also the only movie of the day that wasn't a musical, so I've got no song videos to post here.

I have a TON more DCOM movies, but not all of them, so hopefully it won't take me too long to get through the ones I do have. I may save the High School Musicals for last simply because I do have obsessive issues where that movie is concerned and I'm not sure I want to stir all that up again. I haven't watched them since Zac Efron had all his troubles and that does tend to sway my judgement of actors a lot. Plus, unlike Demi and Joe, who are no longer together but are still friends (now), Zac and Vanessa are not and it's just kind of sad to see them all lovey-dovey on-screen, which at the time was also partly real, and now it's not. I know that sounds weird, but I am pretty weird, so there you go!

MOVIE TOTALS:
Live Action: 53
Full-Length Animation: 87
Mixed-Medium: 8
Animated Shorts: 280
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 3
Animated Series: 77
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Documentaries: 8

Sunday, July 19, 2015

IHSW & TUSAL

For July's ORT jar pic, I went with a Muppet theme since that's the series I watched last that has been on mind the most. I don't have a lot of Muppet collectibles, but I do have a couple:
DSC05784

Stitching-wise, this weekend was a complete bust. Friday night was screwed because of work. Saturday I spent the day with my T-Boo and worked on his computer, so a really great day, but again, not a good stitching day. I did take Tartan B with me to his house, but it didn't make it out of my backpack. Sunday, I didn't have the mojo at all, but I did try. I started the day with Sleeping Beauty Castle and actually managed to finish it for a total of 56.37 hrs.
SBC18
Forgive the pattern underneath, that's my ironing board cover. I'm still not happy with either the colors or the backstitching, but I'm hoping that when it's framed and hanging beside Cinderella Castle, I'll be able to see it in a better light.

I tried to work on Rainy Wedding, but I really didn't want to, so I only lasted about an hour. I left off here back in March:
rw009
And barely made a dent today:
rw010
I really hate vertically scrolled patterns. Even with a floor stand, they are uncomfortable. I'm thinking that, as soon as I empty the right size scroll rod set, I'm going to redo it in a horizontal format.

Then I tried to work on Alice and the B's, but again, my heart just wasn't in it. I left off here last time:
alice062
Although I did manage to get some done, it's still very hard to tell:
alice063
It's now at 246.67 hrs.

I took a break for a few hours, but the stack of WIPs was eating away at me. In a last ditch effort, I started Cinderella Castle at bit after 9 pm and got to here:
cc01

This has quite possibly been the absolute worst IHSW I've ever had. I did manage to clear off one WIP though, so it wasn't a total loss, but it now means I have four unframed finishes, three of which aren't even mounted. Ugh. And tomorrow means back to work...double ugh. I need a vacation.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Disney Movies - Day 54

As predicted, I only got through one disc last night...Fun and Fancy Free. Since I finally broke down and upgraded by Ichabod and Mr. Toad DVD to Blu-Ray, this movie made up the other half of the combo pack (although I already had it on a stand-alone DVD). Of course, all the offerings on it I have seen before (some numerous times), but it has been a while and I actually didn't stitch just so I could watch them. It is basically composed of two shorts, Bongo and Mickey and the Beanstalk and a rather long, but fun opening sequence to the entire thing with Jiminy Cricket (who shows up again during Mickey and the Beanstalk).

Bongo, as a cartoon, really isn't that special, but there is just something about that music from the 40's and 50's that has always appealed to me. It might be because a couple of my grandparents played their old records a lot when I was little, but that kind of music has always been like comfort food. It's probably why my favorite Disney cartoons have great crooners behind them...like Bing Crosby for Ichabod or Roy Rogers for Pecos Bill. Bongo was narrated by and the music was all by Dinah Shore and, unfortunately, I am old enough to remember Dinah Shore (although, in my defense, she was much older when I was a kid!).

I remember Mickey and the Beanstalk from childhood and I've got it on several different discs throughout my collection, but I didn't remember this version because the story was told by Edgar Bergen to, of course, his "friends" Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd (yep, definitely showing my age here because I used to have a Charlie McCarthy doll). Jiminy is here too as well as Luana Patten (little Ginny from Song of the South and she was also in the Pecos Bill prequel section with Roy Rogers). This is one of those rare occasions when I don't mind that the action of the film drops back to the second story line happening in the background, because I was always a Charlie and Mortimer fan as a child (I watched a LOT of PBS in my young life). If you do some online searches, you can easily find a lot of the old Charlie McCarthy Shows online (and Edgar is also the father of Candace Bergen, for those of you slightly younger than me, but still remembers Murphy Brown).

Anyhoo, I actually really liked this version of Mickey and the Beanstalk better because they cut the story so short in all the other versions. It's still not feature-length and I did miss Ludwig Von Drake's narration a bit, but I would find myself rolling at cynical old Charlie during the intermissions! I would definitely recommend this version any day of the week! Plus, this is the last time Walt would ever voice Mickey himself, so it's a classic for that alone.

I picked this trailer because I also tend to love the old trailers a lot better than the newer ones.

The only bonus feature on the disc was The Reluctant Dragon, but oh what a bonus feature it is! For those that have never seen The Reluctant Dragon, definitely run out and get it because it's not just a cartoon. I've watched it since my teens, but only because they didn't release it until the mid 80's since its initial release in the 40's because it flopped big time. I also seem to remember it being released in the middle of the artist's strike, so times weren't very good at the company in those days. I don't know the exact dates, but the first part of the film is in black and white and the second half in color. I probably should be researching this stuff before I start quoting dates (because, most of the time I'm just guessing by the style), but I figure if you guys were interested, you could look it up on Wikipedia just as easily as I could and I can't imagine too many of you even care.

It basically follows the noted actor Robert Benchley on his quest to get his wife's favorite book, The Reluctant Dragon, turned into an animated picture. Robert wanders through the halls of the Disney Studios, meeting and talking with real-life Disney legends like Clarence "Ducky" Nash, Ward Kimball, and Wooly Reitherman as well as many others, seeing how animated movies were made when animation was actually an art form (HA! you knew I'd get that in there at some point). He also runs across Donald and Goofy and several other characters. By the time Robert does finally make it to Walt to pitch him the idea, he finds him in the screening room with all the other Disney legends to watch their newest feature, The Reluctant Dragon...they beat him to it!

Someone has actually posted the entire thing on YouTube but, for some weird reason, the voices are all sped up and it's just too weird.

Bongo and Mickey and the Beanstalk are definitely shorts, one being animation and the other mixed-medium. The Reluctant Dragon, while not your typical full-length feature length, has that full feature feel to it (and it's almost long enough to be), so I'm going to count it that way and it is most definitely mixed medium.

This weekend is the International Hermit and Stitch weekend, which is always great for knocking out a lot of these movies, but I also have to fix a computer tomorrow, so not so much this particular weekend. Oh, and I've done my TUSAL pic, I just haven't posted it yet. I'll do that Sunday with the Weekly Stitching Post.

Oh, and FYI, I was right! The Dawn space craft was just giving Pluto it's moment...it was cleared today to go back into action after it's glitch and is now ready to drop to the third science orbit which is within 1500km of the dwarf planet. Now, maybe we'll finally be able to see what the heck those bright spots are (I still vote for ice...any takers).

MOVIE TOTALS:
Live Action: 44
Full-Length Animation: 87
Mixed-Medium: 8
Animated Shorts: 279
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 3
Animated Series: 77
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Documentaries: 8

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Disney Movies - Day 53

Last night was Disney expensive flop night. I started with The Lone Ranger. For all that is bad about this movie, it has it's good points too. Johnny Depp, once again, took a normal character and turned him into something weird. As gorgeous as Armie Hammer is, there is just something about him that I absolutely cannot stand...it might have something to do with the size of his ego or the things he says in interviews. I really want to like him, I just can't. So both leads in the movie already had my haunches up (I was actually one of the few who saw this in the theater, so I already knew what to expect). There are parts of the movie that drag on and on for no apparent reason. The most annoying thing, however, is the so elderly he looks dead version of Johnny Depp hiding in a carnival display about Indians telling his story to a little boy in a Lone Ranger mask. It cuts into the story line at various times, in the weirdest spots and really serves no purpose.

But, having said all that, almost every single stunt and action sequence is exactly what you would expect from a Lone Ranger movie and there are several places where I just have to rewind and watch it again, specifically when John and Silver are riding "on top" of the town. Even though it's mostly CG, it's still pretty darn cool.

If the movie in total was half as exciting as the trailer, I don't think it would have flopped at all.

But view # 2, John Carter, was just pretty much sad all the way through. I do so love Taylor Kitsch (don't get me started on him not being re-cast as Gambit...serious sore spot of mine), but the man doesn't have a good track record when it comes to films, this probably being the worst of the worst. I did find myself looking up from my stitching every once in a while to admire Taylor, but about midway through, when he had already been on Mars long enough to get some kind of tan and he was still white as a sheet, I pretty much gave up.

I watched it when I first got the DVD, but it has been sitting on the shelf ever since. It's long and boring and the CG effects aren't really that good. On top of all that, even the evilest of monsters have cute features making them more like "real life" Monsters, Inc employees versus creatures on Mars. I never read the books or the comics, so I don't know how close they came to the original source material, but from this movie, I have absolutely no desire to read them ever.


There is still the major flop Prince of Persia to go, but I think I'm going to wait a while on that one because I really hate that movie full-stop.

I have to cover someone else's shift (as well as my own) for the rest of the week, so I'll probably only have time for one a night until the weekend. I've got too many to go to slow down now, but it can't be helped.

MOVIE TOTALS:
Live Action: 44
Full-Length Animation: 87
Mixed-Medium: 7
Animated Shorts: 278
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 2
Animated Series: 77
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Documentaries: 8

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Disney Movies - Day 52

I've been on the NASA site so much today, I almost forgot to write up Day 52! And speaking of that, OMG! What an utterly AH-MA-ZING day! Active geology, mountains, water ice...seriously, who knew Pluto would end up being the coolest planet in the solar system and with an equally cool moon? What was even better was during the press conference last night, all the mission team leaders came out holding up nine fingers as in 9th planet! I was laughing and crying at the same time! But I'll try not to ramble on about it too much. The next press conference isn't until Friday, so maybe I'll have at least one night's decent sleep this week.

Oh, and I also want to thank everyone who, for some reason, is still reading this endless succession of my reviews of Disney movies. I really shouldn't call them reviews at all since they are only my opinions. I'm really lazy when it comes to responding to comments and I typically only do it to the ones that get forwarded to my email. All of them are supposed to, but some of them don't and there is no pattern to suggest whose are coming through and whose are not. I really only noticed this a couple of days ago, so I'm not even sure how long it's been going on. But again, thanks a lot guys!

I only watched one movie again last night because I was...wait for it...on the NASA site, but it ended up not being what I thought it would be. It was one of those discs that I don't even remember buying and was in the bottom shelf crap pile for goodness knows how long. It was called Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams. It is followup stories to Sleeping Beauty and Aladdin (or rather Jasmine), and you guys know how I feel about princess sequels which is why it probably landed in the crap pile in the first place. But I gotta say, I was pleasantly surprised because both stories were actually quite good! I thought it was one movie, but apparently it is really only two shorts, one for each princess and both of them were equally enjoyable (although I did prefer the Aurora one better). What was also quite surprising, although they did have skimpy animation, they did at least try to be true to the original styles and it was a detail I noticed, especially on Aurora's.

I don't know how long this clip will stay up, but I did find the entire thing on YouTube:

There was supposed to be a volume 2 and there is a music video of a new song by Belle for the second one on my disc, but apparently they never released it because I have yet to find it. Shame really, if the rest of them are as good as this one, then they might be on to something with sequels (finally). There are a series of Princess Stories, but I don't have any of those and I don't know if they go along the same lines, or if they are different. If anyone has seen any of those, let me know if they were any good and I'll hit up Disney Movie Club!

Needless to say, I'm only labeling these as shorts, so really no dent in the totals.

MOVIE TOTALS:
Live Action: 42
Full-Length Animation: 87
Mixed-Medium: 7
Animated Shorts: 278
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 2
Animated Series: 77
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Documentaries: 8

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Disney Movie Reviews - Day 51 & Other Things

This may be a long post, but not for movie reasons, but I'll get to that in a minute.

I only watched one movie last night, Treasure Planet. This movie represents everything that was wrong with the movie department of Disney at the time and it's almost sad for me to watch it in a way. The technology used in the animation, the use of a rock band for the complete soundtrack (The Goo Goo Dolls), the attempt at trying to dip into the "cool pool" by featuring the Steampunk style, etc, were all designed as nothing more than a money-making cash cow and it, unfortunately, backfired horribly.

It's a shame really because it is honestly a really good movie overall. It was classic Disney imaginative storytelling by melding the world of Robert Louis Stevenson and space with a Jules Verne kick, the acting was really strong and I love it when you can feel emotions through voices in animation, and most importantly, the animation itself, even though CG, was actually really good quality (considering). Even watching it last night, I still found my mind wandering back to all the troubles that plagued this movie in production, marketing, and its utter flop status. Things changed at the Studio after this movie and thankfully for the better, but I still wish this movie could get it's second wind at some point in the future.


MOVIE TOTALS:
Live Action: 42
Full-Length Animation: 87
Mixed-Medium: 7
Animated Shorts: 276
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 2
Animated Series: 77
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Documentaries: 8

I didn't watch any special features on the disc because I had to go to bed early for the events of this morning. For those that don't know, the New Horizons space craft finally arrived at Pluto. I was up at 6 am when the media briefings began and watched them all the way up to almost 8 when the NASA app crashed. It is a very rare moment that I miss having regular TV, where I could have just switched the channel and watched it elsewhere, but this morning I was in desperation to get to work (a possible first).

It reminded me of an event that happened 30 years ago, which, coincidentally, had its anniversary yesterday…Live Aid. In those days, my Duran Duran obsession was at its strongest. I was spending the summer at my father's house, but that wasn't a bad thing (then) because I probably wouldn't have been allowed to get up before sunrise, sit glued to the TV all day, and stay up most of the night if I had been at home. Throughout the day, it became a family affair (another thing that wouldn't have happened had I been at home). It was beautiful and epic and one of the most exciting days of my young life...at least part of it before it took a sharp right turn and went all went black.

Back in those days, there was no internet and I lived in bum-fudge Arkansas where there was no way I could get a schedule of events, so I didn't know what time Duran were playing. I had no choice but to sit through hours and hours of the couple of artists I liked, as well as multitude of artists I despised, waiting for my band to have their moment, but I was witnessing history in the making and that fact never escaped me, so I continued to watch almost non-stop.

Then, about midday, nature interrupted. We got a thunderstorm and it knocked out TV reception for several hours (back in those days, it happened that way, we were lucky it came back on at all that night). I cried, I bawled, I screamed, I begged my dad to call the cable company, I basically went off the deep end (I was a 14 year-old girl with mental issues, what do you expect?).

Of course, by the time the broadcast came back on later that night, Duran Duran had been on and long gone. But I had no way of knowing that, so I still watched the remaining hours with bated breath, hoping upon all hope that I hadn't missed them. It’s not like I could have gone on YouTube or the web and watched the clip again, that privilege was years away (well, other than the media clips of Simon’s voice cracking because it kept playing on MTV news constantly). My mood went even darker and stayed that way for quite a while. I was literally inconsolable and ended up cutting my summer with my father short and went home (a few more days, and they probably would have asked me to leave anyway).

I know that my issues tend to exacerbate even the smallest of things and I was in my turbulent teens, but that family were unprepared for the emotional shut-down I went through at simply missing a band play on television and were more than a little freaked out. I had controlled myself pretty well around them up that point. In hindsight though, it was a good thing I shut down, because the after-effects of showing out in front of that family probably would have affected me more. It later became one of those "hey, remember when?" moments every time I had communication with them. I haven't now for about 10 or so years, but if that ever changes, guaranteed the subject will come back up again.

I have done a lot of work on myself since, I got my Asper diagnosis, and I now understand why I am the way I am and can make real attempts at controlling myself (although I'm not always successful). That family is unaware of it because I’ve had no contact with them since, but I am sure they would probably go, “yeah, makes complete sense”, I get that a lot now).

So fast-forward back to this morning when the NASA app crashed. I had Live Aid flashbacks, my blood pressure skyrocketed and the tears started flowing. Once I did manage to get a hold of myself enough to get ready for work, I calmed down somewhat, but I was still at a critical-mass level all the way to work. Thankfully, no one spoke to me when I came in, or else I probably would have broke down again (I have them trained well).

I didn't miss much. The joy of the internet meant that I could watch this morning's press conference over and over again online. I managed to read every article I could find online about it and soaked up as much information as I could. Like playing Duran Duran’s Serious over and over again, my meltdown was quickly cured and I was able to go about my day. I can't guarantee I won't break down again if the same thing happens tonight when the signal from New Horizons is returned and we get more images and more data, but hopefully I can try.

I often think of myself as belonging to another time period because I feel like more of an old soul, but the technological advances that have been made in my lifetime really do make me feel so incredibly lucky to be part of today. We have sent a spacecraft to Pluto! Does it really get any cooler than that? Well, I guess since the next generation gets to go to Mars, then it does...but let me have my moment for this generation!

I'm excited to see if the mission gets extended and what Kuiper Belt object the New Horizons team decides to visit next (here's hoping it's your turn Eris!). The possibilities are endless and I am jumping in my chair in excitement at the prospect of new planetary discoveries past Pluto (even if they are classified as dwarf planets). We will also have the ability to possibly even see other plutoid-sized objects deeper into, and maybe even past the belt itself. Hate to be an 80's girl here, but AWESOME!

For anyone interested, you can see all the mission details HERE. You should also check out the Dawn mission that is currently orbiting Ceres (another dwarf planet that is located in the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter). It's had a little trouble lately, but I think Dawn is just stepping back and giving Pluto its moment. And what a moment Pluto has had today! Congratulations to the Mission team and I can’t wait to see what information New Horizons has collected for us all!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Disney Movie Reviews - Days 48-50

I'm going to try hard to fit the entire weekend into one post, but I guess only time will tell if I manage it or not. I can probably safely assume that this one might be a long one, so brace yourself!

Friday is going to be easy because I only watched one movie, The Three Musketeers, aka, the Donald, Mickey, and Goofy version. I really like this version as well, but since there aren't too many Musketeer movies I don't like, it was a given that I was going to enjoy it and, considering it's the very first full-length feature the three of them have done together, they had me at the opening credits. I about died laughing when Mickey says, "Donald, we can't understand a word you say!", during a rather long speech. I understood every single word he said and that made it even funnier. Wish I could have found a clip, but here's the trailer instead.


Saturday was a definite path, or the best one I could do in honor of Pluto (the planet, not the dog), but it took me a little bit to get there. I started with Wreck-It Ralph. This is so not my style of movie, but I absolutely love it! The one-liners and quips all throughout the entire movie alone make it worth watching! And the whole nostalgia bit with the old pixelation in the video games (including the Steamboat Willie opening sequence) was really cool for an old girl like me! I never get sick of watching this movie either, probably because I discover a one-liner I never noticed before...this time it was "children of the candy corn"...brilliant and I can't wait to use it!

I'm still in shock that I went all fangirl at seeing Vanellope in the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Parade at Disney World last year, I didn't realize that I liked that character that much. Guess I kind of relate to her since I'm the "glitch" in my family!

Of course, the famous short Paperman was on this disc, but I still prefer Feast.

And there were also "commercials" on the disc for Wreck-It Ralph, but commercials in the sense of marketing for the arcade featured in the movie, so I basically counted these all together as one short as well.

I watched G-Force next and there are aspects about this movie that I really like and I've seen it several times before although I can see why it bombed. They didn't really market it at all and there are parts of the story that can drag on a bit. I'm really surprised they even put it out on disc, but the absolute lack of one single bonus feature tells me that we're lucky we got the movie in DVD at all.


Meet The Robinsons was next and, I've seen this movie a couple of times before, but I really have to force myself to watch it. I think the underlying themes that prevail throughout this movie are way too strong and come off preachy sometimes and it's a deterrent from the overall story line. I've given up whining about the animation even though this movie is a prime example of when CG animation just doesn't work.

There were two countable shorts on the disc to add to the total too, so not a complete loss.

Then it was time for Mars Needs Moms. This was the first time I had ever seen this movie and I all I can say is I wished I still hadn't seen it. The creepy animation was just downright scary and just plain wrong. I've seen capture animation movies before, but it really only works when they are going for that realistic approach. I'm surprised I didn't have nightmares over this movie. And don't get me started on the Martian extreme thigh gap...WRONG!


After two bombs, I had to go to the mother of all Disney space movies, Wall-E. This movie is preachy too, but they do it right and I never feel like it's being shoved down my throat. I love Wall-E and Eve and think they are great characters. This is one of those movies that has very little dialogue (not a good stitching movie, but I was ready for a break anyway, so it was fine) but really doesn't need it because the story is so strong. And the animation is beyond comparison to any Pixar movie before or since. To make it even better, there is no FastPlay on this disc (although it does come in a really crappy and hard to open cardboard case...I get the point of these, but I so hate to see one because they are always a pain to deal with).

There were two shorts on this disc as well and it made me realize that it was a good time to get my next two choices out of the way.

I have the two Pixar Short Films Collections, but having most of my Pixar movies on Blu-Ray meant that there were six on the first collection I hadn't seen (most of which were early, pre-feature-length Pixar shorts) or ones not on the DVD version of a particular movie. Some of my favorites I watched again, but others I didn't. There are also four Sesame Street-themed shorts featuring Luxo on the disc, so I counted them as one short.

There were only three on the second collection I had never seen. I'm only adding to the count the ones that weren't on any of the other movie bonus features, so it's a pretty short list of shorts. I was always surprised there wasn't a volume 3, but I guess since Disney is releasing one this year and it has Pixar shorts on it, then that's good enough, I would just prefer my Disney shorts and my Pixar shorts separate (even though I know they are under one umbrella now).

This was also the first time I watched these two collections back-to-back, and since I have the first collection DVD format and the second in Blu-Ray, it was very interesting to see how much of an actual difference there is between the two formats and it makes me feel much better about upgrading my complete collection from DVD to Blu-Ray.

Now on to Sunday (I might make these all in one post after all!). There was only one set of Pixar movies I had left and that was the Monsters series, starting first with Monsters, Inc. While I'm a big fan of the characters from these movies, I'm not that great of a fan of the actual movies themselves (as is the case with a lot of Disney/Pixar movies for me). I really want to like the actual movie, I just find myself getting bored very quickly. Not only that, but I realize that I have a pretty disturbing view of monsters since I have been watching horror movies since a very young age (blame me, not my parents, I would sneak up to watch them), but I don't think I know a single kid that would find a big teal-blue, purple spotted, fuzzy bear-looking creature scary. Maybe that's just me.

Since I watched both Shorts Collections, then I can't count the shorts on this disc, but there is a bonus disc in my set that had all kinds of cool stuff including an On The Jobs with Mike and Sulley expose, Monsters, Inc job orientation videos and another one of several TV commercials for the Monsters, Inc, so I'm adding three shorts to my count for these, one for each series of shorts.

Then on to the second movie, Monsters University, which I like even less. The story isn't half bad, it's the lack of continuity in the storytelling between the two movies that eats away at me. In the first one, they say that Mike and Sulley have been best friends since the 4th grade and the special features in that set are loaded with references to their childhood friendship. But this movie makes it seem like they didn't meet until college and were enemies at first. That sort of thing grates on my very last nerves. I realize that different filmmakers made the two, but would it hurt the second group to watch the first movie again? Or, since they all still work for Pixar, walk across the building and ask the first guys continuity questions? Ugh!

There was one short on this disc, The Blue Umbrella, which was really cute and well done, so well done, that parts of it were very hard to even tell they were CG animation. I couldn't find a full clip, but I did find a little clip:


I figured, since I was dragging the bottom of the Pixar bucket, it was time to drag the bottom of the Princess bucket as well, which means The Little Mermaid. I'm not going to go on and on about how I blamed this movie for so many years for being the final nail in hand-drawn animation's coffin, or how crappy the animation actually is, but I'm going to try to be a bit more positive because, like Beauty & The Beast, I know it has legions of fans. I do love the characters from the movie, the music is amazing too (just not as good as Beauty & The Beast) and I absolutely ADORE the ride at Disney World, but the actual movie itself? Not so much.

I do find it ironic that, throughout the myriad of special features on my disc, all the animators involved felt the need to profess their belief that Walt would have approved the direction that animation was going in by going completely digital. I don't think it's just because I'm already judgmental about it, but they honestly sounded more like they were trying to convince themselves more than the audience. I think Walt would approve the direction it is going now, but I think he would have been appalled at those early days and not just because of the growing pains to get the software apps just right, but the way that the company treated their animators in those days. So many greats left the company back then because they were either subjugated by their digital successors or just plain out and out fired because the company felt they weren't worth their salt anymore. It was a dark time for the Disney Company and a dark time in animation and I'll let it go at that.

It got better, the greats have now been practically canonized (the ones who are still alive) and the some of the ones who left have found their way back again or went on to bigger and better things. If Tim Burton had stayed just a Disney animator, look at all the things we would have missed out on, although, as I'm typing this, I realize what a double-edged sword I'm creating since I just complained about his constant use of Johnny Depp in all his movies...but still! I have yet to review Tim's best work ever, The Nightmare Before Christmas (and not just because it's Depp-less). I'm saving that for a special occasion.

There is also a short on this disc, The Little Match Girl, and you talk about creepy! No wonder I had never even heard of this before! UGH! I wasn't paying that close attention the first time I watched it, so I watched it again to make sure I saw what I saw, and sure enough, yep! What the hell were they thinking leaving the ending like that? Disney has never had a problem changing fairy tale endings before when they end badly. I'm posting it, but be forewarned, it is not a happy one:

Since there isn't any dialogue in the short (because honestly, is there anything left to say?), I figured it would be OK to post a foreign one.

Of course, as with most every Princess movie from Cinderella on, there are sequels, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea and The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning. I don't know which came first, I watched them in the order listed because that's the way they were on the combo disc set I have. I kept falling asleep through both of them. I initially kept rewinding the disc when I realized what was happening, but after a while, I just said to hell with it and went on. I have seen both of them before, so if I missed part, it was OK. I didn't miss much.

If I'm really honest, Return to the Sea was almost a better movie than the first, except for the really crappy animation quality (you knew I wouldn't let that go), or the guy who took over voicing Eric sounds a bit more like a serial killer than a prince (and Eric is my second favorite Disney Prince behind Phillip, I went all fangirl over his statue at Disney's Art of Animation Resort at Disney World, so I take his voice seriously). I said I wasn't going to post a trailer for either of these (especially since I wrote them as one review), but why break tradition now?


Oh, and there was a short on the Return To The Sea disc, Merbabies, but again, you talk about creepy and it's one of my favorite kind of shorts, the Silly Symphony ones. And, for some weird reason, you can't turn the CC off on the short and it was annoying seeing queues for certain sounds (since there is usually no speech in a Silly Symphony). I grew up watching TV with CC because my step-dad is mostly deaf due to a war injury and I typically don't mind them much, but not on a musical short. Good thing it wasn't full length or I would have had to chuck it in for the night then). I didn't watch the special features on the second movie because I accidentally hit that stupid Netflix button on my remote and, by the time I got out of it, I was done for the night...at least with new movies. I did watch The Avenger's twice before I went to bed, but I needed some adult movie time for a while.

50 days in and still no end in sight! I have quite a few more animated movies to go, a lot more live action including scores of Disney Channel Original Movies, and then there are the documentaries (I'm not going to watch them all, but the ones I feel are important to the catalog).

MOVIE TOTALS:
Live Action: 42
Full-Length Animation: 86
Mixed-Medium: 7
Animated Shorts: 276
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 2
Animated Series: 77
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Documentaries: 8