December 6, 2013

Frozen : Do I wanna build a snowman?

Firstly, Spoiler Alert. Do not read anything here unless you've seen the film!!

Before I say anything else, I need to sing along to "Let It Go" and get it out of my system so I can organize my thoughts. Disney released this today on Youtube and I have it on repeat!


OK woo! Now that's out of the way I'll get down to brass tacks.

I have not read even one review of Frozen online or anywhere else, and I won't. I like to form my own opinions, and while I enjoyed reading how excited people were on Twitter about the film, I don't like to prematurely jump on a bandwagon and assume that just because it's a new Disney film it's going to be the bees knees.  I also like using random phrases from the 1920's just because.


Character Design


I saw Frozen last weekend. The animation is gorgeous, the ice and glittering snow were stunning, and while I had my doubts about the uniqueness character design for the main human characters, and I still feel that they are all derivatives of Tangled's Rapunzel and Eugene, they are appealing to look at.

Let's be honest, it looks like they pulled the Rapunzel and Eugene 3D CGI models out of archive and mostly changed their hairstyles and eye colors. But it's ok, because it still works. If they do it in the next movie though...we might have an issue.

Exhibit A: Tangled vs Frozen character design

They did the same for the horse's design, too! Considering Maximus was such a main character in Tangled, with so much screen time and such a human-like strong personality, and Hans' horse is more or less background window dressing, they could have made more of an effort to differentiate between the two with the design.

Exhibit B: character recycling in Frozen

I love Olaf and Sven, they're perfectly appealing, goofy, cute, fluffy, and make you want to squeeze and hug them. They were the first characters from the movie we 'met' a few months back when the first teaser was released.  Wonderful sidekicks and comic relief (and make for great toys, of course). 






The Music


I LOVE the music. It reminds me so much of Wicked (Idina Menzel's unique amazing voice and character parallels contributes to that too), with a touch of Jonathan Larsen (Rent) thrown in for good measure.  I can't wait until a live stage version of Frozen whenever it comes to Broadway.

I enjoyed hearing Kristin Bell sing! She went to NYU Tisch School for the Arts studying Musical Theater. Who knew, right? Would really like to see her perform in more musicals!

Back to the Wicked/Idina Menzel thing for a minute. I find the parallels between Wicked and Frozen casting to be more than a little bit interesting. Idina Menzel plays both Elphaba in Wicked, the socially outcast female protagonist turn-semi bad girl, and Elsa, the socially outcast female protagonist of Frozen. Smart casting to draw such a strong parallel, or easy choice?

Time to sing along to "Defying Gravity"! I like the similarity of each character's turning point with the major showstoppers "Let It Go" and "Defying Gravity".  Elsa recognizes her full powers and "Can't hold it back anymore" and Elphaba declares "It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes, and leap!"




Also strange coincidence that 2 Kristins: Kristin Bell and Kristin Chenoweth (who plays Glinda in Wicked), both with beautiful soprano voices, are the young, stunning, bubbly, 'normal' counterpoint to Elsa / Elphaba (brought to you by the letter 'E'), both long-suffering outcasts with physical anomalies (white hair / green skin) and hidden powers.


The Story & Characters


I really enjoyed the film, but all throughout, I simply wanted more. I wanted to cry (or at least get choked up) when their parents die, and more importantly, I wanted to really feel the emotional roller coaster at the climax. I just didn't. I'm not a heartless movie-watcher, actually when a movie really hits me I cry like a baby. But this didn't do it for me, for a lot of reasons I'll address below.

I'm tempted to say I'd like it to be 5 minutes longer so we could spend more time with all of the characters, so we could really feel the emotional hit when the time was right, but on the other hand I've seen plenty of short films that have made me want to cry (Paperman or the Blue Umbrella, anyone?). Therefore, potential emotional impact doesn't have anything to do with length.


On a totally unrelated side note, one line stuck and bugs me - when Anna refers to how Elsa set off an "eternal winter". 'Eternal'... really? Because it seems to me like it's only been a couple days, if that. A bit melodramatic to call it "eternal" anything, but whatever.


I don't want to analyze every single character, but I do have some major questions about a couple...


Elsa


I really craved even more from her. She let loose in the big song "Let it Go" which totally hits a home run aesthetically and musically, but I wanted more emotional connection.

I would have loved to have seen more of Elsa growing up scared and alone, in her room. Again, another few glimpses of her lonely life would have strengthened my empathy for her.

Did she really never ever come out, growing up as a complete invalid? How did she eat? Did her parents never interact with her either, or was she only not allowed to be around Anna?

Doesn't Elsa look a bit like Vanellope Von Schweetz from this angle?


Beast's self-imposed solitude comes to mind as a comparison. We see his decrepit living arrangements in the West Wing, how he interacted (or refused to do so) with society, and how his relatively short (compared to Elsa's) period of isolation affected his ability to relate to other humans.  How did Elsa keep from going crazy?

Hard to believe that if she was a child kept in 100% solitary confinement every day of her life, up until Coronation Day, that she would have any capacity for love or social skills at all.

If she had been kept locked in her room for years on end (Hello? Social services?), how could she not have developed a bitterness or hatred for her sister, who (in a way) was the reason she was locked up in the first place?

Just another example of how I wanted to see more. More depth and complexity to the emotion in the characters.  Make me feel for the characters throughout the story, and I'll feel with them at the final emotional climax.


Kristoff


I walked away with a bunch of questions about Kristoff that I felt could have easily been addressed in the film. First off, it was not clear to me that he was an orphan. I thought at the beginning that he was out mining ice with his Dad and brothers as an apprentice or something, then all of a sudden he's being adopted (kidnapped?) by a Troll? What the heck?

He's got nice pointy shoes and a fab furry sidekick, but what's his story?


We learn in the "Reindeers are Better than People" song that Kristoff doesn't like people. ("People will beat you, and curse you, and cheat you" are lyrics to that song) OK... What happened to him that was so bad? We never really find out, and that's not fair. I don't want to feel robbed of the opportunity to feel empathy for a main character.

We don't even get to see one glimpse into his troubled backstory like we do with Eugene in Tangled. That scene where he tells Rapnzel about his time in the orphanage made a world of difference to his character. It made us understand him, and therefore love him. We don't get that with Kristoff, so just like a lot of the Disney princes of yore with no strong characteristics or personalities (sorry to say it, but...) we just don't care about him that much.

I do like his relationship with Sven though. It's clear that he is his only friend, and Sven acts as his conscience. I'm also glad Sven doesn't talk, but they gave him a doglike personality, similar to Maximus in Tangled.  I guess if there's a nonverbal animal in a Disney film we relate to them only if they act like dogs.  Maximus was a super smart German Shepherd police dog and Sven is like an eager-to-please Labrador Retriever.


The Trolls


They're very cute and I love their song, but yet again, wanted more out of them. I compare them to the Will O' the Wisps in Brave.  We (and Merida) are introduced to the Wisps early on, and Elinor teaches us (and Merida) of their significance and powers. And those exact powers provide backbone for the theme of the film and are vitally important to the story.

Oh Trolls, how we hardly knew thee.


Regarding the Trolls however, I have questions (of course!)

How or why does the King know about them and their abilities?  Did they have to heal him in some way when he was little perhaps? He certainly knows exactly how and where to find them in the woods, but we don't know why.  What is the Trolls' history of interacting with humans? Why are their powers limited in what they can and cannot heal?  Why do they appear to Kristoff and adopt him into their family?


The King


I feel like the King has potential to be a big piece of the puzzle here. When they are running to the Trolls to save Young Anna there is a magical trail behind them. Does he have special powers too? Is that how he knows to go to the Trolls to save Anna, and to have Elsa wear gloves?  He says Elsa was born with the powers, so does it run in the family? There's no indication to tell me for sure.


Are You Still With Me?


All righty, I really need to wrap this up, as it's getting pretty long. If you're still reading, thanks! You're cool.

I should reiterate that I really enjoyed Frozen. I bought the soundtrack and have been listening to it nonstop for days. I can't wait to go see it again, this time in 3D or Imax or both if I can. That being said, I don't really feel that it's the "best Disney film since the Lion King". It's great, for sure. But I simply wanted more of an emotional "punch".

Gorgeous!


I'd love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree, let me know in the comments!

February 3, 2013

"A Model Day"at Disney World - Tilt Shift Video

I haven't posted anything for a while and this video made me smile. Wanted to share!



Or if you prefer Epcot :)

November 10, 2012

New VICKI'S WISH video - 5 days left!

Vicki's Wish: 
A little girl who dreams of being an astronaut goes on an amazing adventure. 
An iPad book illustrated in high quality CGI.




We have 5 days left in our Kickstarter campaign! We've raised over $2600 but still need more help to make it to our goal of $5000. Even a $1 pledge gets a reward - if we meet our goal!

October 21, 2012

My Kickstarter project "Vicki's Wish"

Vicki is a young girl that loves everything about space, but is very afraid of the dark. She wears her favorite purple moon and stars pajamas every night, and before going to sleep she gazes up at the rising moon in wonder. One sparkling summer evening, a shooting star flies across the sky and she makes a wish.


A few hours later, a bump in the night wakes her up and she is afraid. It is the Star Pixie. The Star Pixie shows her that she does not need to be scared of the dark, and they become friends. With a touch of her hand, they float up out of her window, and the Pixie shows her how beautiful the night can be. 
The trip around the world teaches Vicki she does not need to be afraid of the dark, but as the dawn begins to break, she realizes that her deepest wish, the wish she made upon that shooting star, is not going to come true. Not tonight.

She gazes up at the moon, and the Pixie takes her hand again, pointing skyward. Vicki nods. They float higher and higher. Vicki believes he is taking her home. 

As they go higher, the ground gets smaller and smaller. They float above the clouds. The glow from sunrise and the haze of the atmosphere illuminate the gentle curvature of the earth.  Up, up, up. They pass a satellite and star dust, and gently land on the surface of the moon. 

She can't believe it. Her wish came true! All this would have never happened if she hadn't saved the Pixie, and been brave enough to go on the adventure with him around the world. She needed to learn how strong and independent she really could be.  The moon is her reward for being brave. 

A thick layer of powdery dust covered the hard moon rock. It reminded her of the time she burst a bag of flour all over the tile kitchen floor, and how the layer of flour would burst into a small cloud with every step, the same as this moon powder.

She bounced in the low gravity. She could jump so high! She tracked footsteps around the dust. She bent to lift a small pile of dust in her hands, letting the fine glittery powder slip through her fingers to the ground.  She looked to Earth. It looked so small. Just like the NASA poster on her wall in her bedroom. It was just as she imagined it.

A glimmer of something caught her eye in the distance. With the Pixie, she bounded over in 10 foot strides, leaving footprints and clouds of glittery dust behind her. It was an American flag, stuck in the ground, fabric stiff, and she realized this was Neil Armstrong's landing site.   The first man on the moon. Her idol and hero. She had watched old footage of Neil Armstrong many times, and realized that was what he saw, and how he must have felt. Proud, peaceful, quiet, and still. It was beautiful.

She looked down at the Pixie, who was making a snow angel in the moon dust at her feet. Next to the Pixie was a huge boot print in the dust. Neil Armstrong's footprint!  She looks down at her own small feet and toes, half buried in the powder.  Gently, so as to not raise a cloud of dust or disturb the outline in any way, she placed her bare foot inside the giant moon boot imprint.

Someday, she would be back. She would come back and find this spot again, and her feet would fill a real moon boot.  She would have moon boots of her own. The gentle outline of Pixie's moon dust angel lay next to the giant boot, which encircled her own small foot print inside.

Pixie yawned and gestured toward earth. Vicki knew it was time to go home. Vicki scooped a small, glittering moon rock with one hand as the Pixie took her other. They began to float away from the moon, and when the flag was finally out of sight, Vicki watched as the earth grew bigger and bigger.  The atmosphere and clouds felt moist and cool as they passed through them, and the houses, trees, and roads grew bigger and bigger.

The sky glowed bright pinks and purples with the dawn, and the birds chirped. Her house on the hill got bigger and bigger as they approached, until they floated right in her open window.  Vicki brushed the moon dust off her moon and stars pajamas, and climbed into bed. The Star Pixie landed on her pillow next to her head, stretched, and curled up like a cat to fall asleep. Vicki fell asleep, with a smile on her face, as soon as her head hit the soft pillow.

A few hours later, the sun was high in the sky as Vicki wakes up to find the Star Pixie gone.  She begins to wonder if the night's events were all a dream, but then discovers the glittering moon rock is still in her pocket.   She gazes up to her poster of the view of the earth from space, moon rock in hand, the same view she had in reality, just a few hours before.

-----
Richly and uniquely illustrated, each panel is a full screen HD frame fully realized using the same CGI techniques and tools as in major feature films. Alex Scollay, the illustrator, has worked for 15 years in film, television, and commercials, including FarscapeSuperman Returns2012, and Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland.


These pictures will fully display in high-res HD on your ipad or Android screen. If we are successful with this launch, we plan to eventually Kickstart an interactive edition with animated panels, sound effects and narrator-mode.


ALL OR NOTHING
Kickstarter utilizes an all-or-nothing approach to project funding. Our goal of $5,000 must be met within 30 days in order for us to receive any money. You can pledge any amount (even just $1) at any time during those 30 days. Only when our goal is reached will your credit card be charged and incentive rewards will be fulfilled. 

September 15, 2012

Saxophone Quintet - Disney/MGM - 1993

This awesome sax quintet performed during our first trip to WDW in 1993. Too bad they had to compete with a parade nearby, they were really really good. Anybody remember what this group was called?



September 10, 2012

Epcot Canada Pavilion comedy show 1993

Need help identifying my old Walt Disney World home movies. Does anybody remember what this show was called or anything about it?  It's from Canada Pavilion, Epcot. July 1993.



September 9, 2012

Future World Brass. 1993

Who remembers Future World Brass? They played in Epcot from 1982 to 2000. Here's old home videos I finally got digitized from VHS to DVD from our very first family trip to WDW in 1993.

They were so awesome!