Category Archives: A-F Movies

The Brave Little Toaster

‘ Just ’cause you move around, you think you’re better than I am. I’m not an invalid. I was designed to stick in the wall! I like being stuck in the stupid wall! I can’t help it if the kid was too short to reach my dials… ‘ – Air Conditioner

You may have noticed that a lot of the reviews on my site seem to revolve around Disney movies which are lesser known/loved.  This review is no different, as I have decided to review The Brave Little Toaster.  It was released in 1987, based on a 1980 book of the same name.  I had only seen this movie once before, so I thought I would give it another try, and review it too.

The film starts off quietly and dark, right before sunrise.  We are quickly introduced to the characters, one by one, and are given a taste of their individual personalities.  Kirby the vacuum cleaner (Thurl Ravenscroft, the Haunted Mansion, Tony the Tiger, Country Bear Jamboree), Blanky the electric blanket (Timothy E. Day), Lampy the lamp (Tim Stack), Radio the radio (Jon Lovitz, Saturday Night Live) and Toaster the, erm, toaster(Deanna Oliver).  At the beginning of the film there is also a moody air conditioner (Phil Hartman) that loses his temper with the other characters and explodes.  It is interesting to note that each character is the opposite in personality to the purpose they serve.  For example, the Lamp is rather dim; the electric (security) blanket is insecure, and the vacuum that usually holds things inside has a nervous breakdown.

 It soon becomes apparent that the appliances have been left there by someone, a little boy who they call ‘master’.  On a couple of occasions they are led to believe that their master is coming home, hearing the door or seeing a car coming toward the house.  Of course this is not the case, and we see how deeply saddened the appliances are when their dreams are shattered, especially Blanky who cries and wails as he misses his master so much.  The inside of the house is rather dark, which adds to the overall sadness we witness in the characters.  No doubt children will be especially familiar with the fear of abandonment, particularly by their parents.

When it is obvious that the master is not coming back, the five appliances set out into the world to try to find him.  Cue enlightening song ‘City of Lights’, which actually does seem to brighten the mood.  Their journey continues, encountering frogs, fish, mice and many other strange things along the way.  There are also a couple of slower scenes where they are settling down for the night, which don’t seem to aid the story too much, apart from reinforcing their love for the master.  Oh, and there is a rather scary scene involving a clown trying to murder the toaster with a hose and then dangling him over a full bath.  This is in the toaster’s dream of course, and even though I am personally not scared of clowns, I can’t see children being too fond of it!  This (understandable) fear of water seems to hinder them throughout the film, and at one point four of the characters have fallen down a waterfall, with the vacuum leaping in afterwards to save them.

Not long after their heroics, the appliances end up with a large man called Elmo St.Peters (Joe Ranft) who owns an appliance parts store, of course with many other appliances for the main characters to interact with.  They meet a peculiar hanging lamp, as well as a character called ‘Mish-Mash’ who says it has been created with a can opener, lamp and an electric shaver, and is quite freaky looking.  All of the characters here have bits missing or wrong bits added to them.  The whole place is rather creepy, complete with a strange song ‘It’s a B Movie’ and the five heroes decide that they need to get out of there before the man uses them for parts.

It is soon revealed that the master, who we saw as a young boy at the start of the film in flashbacks, is now a college student.  Clearly the appliances have been missing him for many years.  They arrive at his apartment finding that he has left, and whilst there they meet some more modern appliances.  These appliances convince them that they have outlived their usefulness.  They throw them into a dumpster and they are taken away to be disposed of.  Meanwhile, Rob (the master) has returned to his childhood home and found that the appliances are missing.  He also fixes the air conditioner while he is there.

The junkyard scene is rather depressing.  Singing cars are dragged down a conveyer belt and crushed to death by a giant crusher.  The song is ‘Worthless’, and the cars are singing about their glory days when they were still able to drive, whilst a giant menacing magnet grabs them and tosses them onto the conveyer belt.  I think that this song is probably the best one on the soundtrack, though it does seem a bit odd in a kid’s film to have ‘living’ characters visibly murdered, cars or otherwise.  The appliances are picked up by the huge magnet, from where they can see their master who is also at the junkyard.  They jump off of the moving belt and start to run towards the master; however the magnet is close behind them, chasing them down; though this is not as scary as the clown scene!  The master finds them, but the magnet snatches them away from him, the sky turning dark pinks and browns as the master almost ends up under the crusher.  In an act of bravery (hence the title of the film) the toaster jumps into the mechanism, causing the crusher to stop, and save the master’s life.

Following this, the appliances move to college with their master, a happy ending!

The DVD I used to review this has a ‘Making Of’ Feature, and that’s it for the special features!  I did come across a 2010 interview with the Director of the film (Jerry Rees) and the voice of the Toaster (Deanna Oliver), which is quite an interesting watch.

Suicides and murders aside, this is a nice little movie, and though its title and the art on the DVD box seem to convey a very bright happy film, it is a touch on the dark side.  Though not dark in the sense of some of the other Disney films which play with adult themes, but a film which toys with childish themes, which in turn affect a broader audience.

In honesty, I struggled to give this film a rating, as it is one of the stranger Disney films I have seen, and after learning more about it, I think I appreciate it a little bit more!

I give this movie 3 Tinks.

Leave a comment

Filed under A-F Movies

The Black Cauldron

‘I started with a movie that nobody has ever seen called The Black Cauldron.’

– Andreas Deja, Disney animator, when asked about the Disney movies he has worked on during his career.

So, to be totally honest, I hadn’t heard much about the Black Cauldron until about 2007, when I decided to buy it because I wanted to write about it in a university essay.  I had heard it mentioned on a podcast, and one of the presenters was saying how underrated it was, and that it was actually a good movie.  This being said, I thought that it might be a little like Treasure Planet or Atlantis; sort of a diamond in the rough, however it turned out to be something I did not expect.

The film was released in 1985, and was the first Disney animated feature to be given a PG rating, being suspended from a video release for many years until 1998.  It was, therefore, a questionable choice for Walt Disney World to open a restaurant themed around the film, since it was not in circulation at the time the eatery opened in 1986.  I use the term ‘restaurant’ lightly, as it was a counter service fast food place serving the usual unhealthy theme park food that we all love.  ‘Gurgi’s Munchies and Crunchies’ managed to survive to over six years old, which seems like a long life for a place themed around a film which, we can assume, that a lot of guests may not have known anything about.

Anyway, food aside…Any Tim Burton fans would be interested to learn (if they did not know already) that he worked on the pre-production of the film as a conceptual artist.  Along with Mr. Burton, many of the Disney animators who would become instrumental in the second ‘Golden Age’ of Disney features worked on The Black Cauldron.  The film is based (apparently loosely) on the book called The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, which is based on Welsh mythology.

The film seems to be aimed more at a male audience, particularly pre-teens, and its dark aura does not lend itself to younger viewers.  It could be argued that most Disney films are more aimed at females, or more specifically little girls, with stories of princesses living happily ever after.  That said, many little boys seem to enjoy those movies too, whereas the same cannot be said about The Black Cauldron.

Enlarge the image to see a hidden Mickey!

The hero of the story is Taran, an assistant pig keeper who has dreams of being a warrior.  It turns out that one of the pigs under Taran’s charge, Hen Wen, is a magical pig, who knows the location of the mystical black cauldron.  Ok so this is the point where I gave the T.V the look of ‘what the heck?’  A magical pig?  It seems a little childish.  However this nonsense was balanced out by one of the most evil and frightening Disney villains I’ve ever seen, and let’s be honest, there are a fair few to choose from.  He is The Horned King, (think Hades meets Skeletor but minus the comedy) and he is trying to locate the cauldron for himself, and unleash an army of invincible undead warriors called ‘The Cauldron Born’.  On Taran’s quest to keep Hen Wen safe, he meets a small, very annoying dog-like creature called Gurgi.  Speaking of annoying, there is one prominent female character who goes by the name of Princess Eilonwy.  She does not appear to be a typical princess compared to characters such as Cinderella, although you can understand that due to the dark subject matter, the animators would want to prohibit her from skipping around amongst forest animals or singing uplifting sugary songs.  There are the usual escapades, running away, being captured, escaping, looking for a magical pig…Then before you know it, out of this dark and strange land we are introduced to the Fairfolk.  They are small fairies, some of which slightly resemble the seven dwarfs, along with a few females.  They are brightly coloured, glowing, and seem to provide a lot of information to our heroes about what to do next to find the black cauldron.  If you look closely you may even see Tinkerbell!

One of the (few) pros about this movie is that it does not take long to get the story started.  The downside of this is that the rest of the film seems to amble along rather slowly, and unlike most Disney films that had gone before, it did not possess any musical numbers to lighten the mood.  Speaking of lightening the mood, I have to say that I did not laugh once during this film, it is rather serious, and any attempted humour seems to fall by the wayside.

Something which seemed to stand out like a sore thumb when I first started watching the film was that there was something strange going on with the lip-sync.  Possibly not even that, but it didn’t sound like the voices were coming from the characters on the screen, it is hard to explain, and needs to be seen to be understood.  Another thing that was very noticeable was the quality of the film, with lots of particles of God-knows-what and fading in and out of colours, the film dated itself about 20 years!  The character animation is good, but there are times when the characters look faded, or lit differently from the rest of the scene.  There is also some CGI used, in particular in one scene for a pink sky where Taran and Gurgi are talking to each other.  Unfortunately, the 2D animation against a 3D background mix about as well as laxatives and sleeping pills, at least in the realms of 1985.

While the production values on this film are by no means awful, they do leave a lot to be desired, as mentioned earlier.  On the up-side, the backgrounds are very nicely drawn, with lots of detail and more moody tones than a 15-year-old.  I realise that the film is old now, but other Disney films from the 1980s and earlier stand up a whole lot better than this one does, quality wise, as well as regarding the subject matter.

There are a few scenes missing from this film, ones which had been completely animated, in fact.  A scene where one of the Cauldron Born mauls a man was famously removed from the final cut, as well as scenes of graphic violence, including a man being graphically dissolved by mist, and the quaint Princess Eilonwy almost showing all she’s got.  We have Jeffery Katzenberg to thank for these changes; however I can honestly say that I doubt that keeping those scenes in would have made the film any more interesting.  When the 25th anniversary edition DVD was released, many people were half expecting these deleted gems to be included in the special features, however, this special edition turned out to be a single disc which did not boast many more features than the first DVD release.

           Being dissolved by mist, not seen in film.

Who will enjoy this film?  In my opinion, not many people.  At the time not too many people did either, or just didn’t bother going to watch it, because it was a box office bomb.  The folks who grew up watching it as youngsters probably will, as well as children who are young enough to overlook the fading colours and questionable lip-synching.  I have yet to see the 25th anniversary edition of the DVD, which I gather has been cleaned up a bit compared to the original DVD release.  The only reason I can see for buying another edition of this film, is if they restored the deleted scenes, which I think is never going to happen!  So regarding the special features on the DVD I am reviewing from, which is the 2002 release, well, don’t get too excited…We have a ‘Quest for the Black Cauldron’ game, a still frame gallery, and a ‘Trick or Treat’ Donald Duck short.  The gallery on Disney DVDs is always worth a browse through, and the Donald Duck short provides that Disney hydration you need after being parched from watching the main feature.  On the anniversary edition you will find the same features, plus another game *sigh*and a deleted scene called ‘The Fairfolk’.  The deleted scene that I imagine most Black Cauldron fans were least excited about seeing.

I realise I am probably enraging many Black Cauldron fans out there, but this is just my opinion, and comments are welcome!

I give this movie 1 Tink, simply because I refuse to cut Tink in half.

6 Comments

Filed under A-F Movies

Chicken Little

Why did the chicken cross the road?

There may be many reasons for this, but I think we can rule out that he might have been going to the movies to see Chicken Little.

Don’t you just hate it when parents try to be ‘down with the kids’?  In the case of Chicken Little, Disney was the parent.  After seeing TV spots and trailers for Chicken Little, I have to say that the desire to run to the cinema to see it did not overcome me.  Type ‘Chicken Little Dance’ into YouTube if you’re curious.

The film is based on the tale of Henny Penny, and in the classroom scene at the start of the film, the register is read out, using names from the book for the children such as Goosey Loosey and Henny Penny.  The original tale had been used by Disney for an animated short during WWII for the U.S government, telling that fear-mongering costs lives, and using the character of Foxy Loxy for the role of Adolf Hitler.

Now, back to 2005’s Chicken Little.  Unfortunately, it seemed to me to be another film which could be grouped into the tidal wave of flops which crashed out of the Disney studios throughout the 2000s.  Granted, there were films such as Lilo and Stitch and Brother Bear which were of a higher standard, but the film we see here is very questionable.

The story is, in a way, disheartening.  Chicken Little is a young child looked after by his widowed father, who likes to keep his son out of trouble as to not attract unwanted attention.  Whenever he tries to talk to his father he is ignored, and not supported at all.  After our main character (played by Zach Braff) frightens the life out of the town and causes chaos at the very start of the film by exclaiming that the sky is falling, everyone thinks that he’s crazy after realising that it was only an acorn which fell on him.  The story is set, got it out of the way in one scene, nicely done, nothing too complex.  We are then introduced to the school environment, where it becomes more apparent that it is not only chickens or dogs living in the town, it is all types of animals.  It’s a little odd.  We then have a gym class segment, cue more pop culture to the tune of ‘Everybody Dance Now’, with one of the students break dancing.  To be exact, it is a break dancing fish wearing a diving helmet, which I guess could be construed as slightly amusing…

Along with the fish, Abby Mallard (Joan Cusack) is one of our hero’s best friends, who is very goofy looking, and does have the same aura about her as Dory from Finding Nemo, a bit dippy.  Another friend, Runt, is an extremely large pig, and seems to have quite a strange character design as he is beyond huge compared to the other characters, but I guess it’s just politically correct!

After winning a baseball game and managing to do something right for once, we get (sarcasm voice) treated…to Chicken Little singing some Queen, another one of the countless pop references in this film.  Less than five minutes later, Chicken Little’s best friends are seen to be dancing around to the Spice Girls, and the helmet wearing fish has even been provided with a glowstick.  I remember when Beauty danced with the Beast to music composed for the film, not ten year old pop band music recycled and used as ‘karaoke’ to fill in some screen time.

Before we know it, the sky really is falling, complete with, and wait for it…aliens.  You heard me right.  They may have three eyes, but they are not a patch on the Toy Story phenomenon.  They storm around the town in their flying saucers and War of the Worlds style fighting machines on three legs, wreaking havoc.  Another helping of pop history is served to us through a brief rendition of ‘I Will Survive’ from Runt whilst doing his good deed to help save the town.  It soon becomes apparent that the aliens have left their child in the town, and simply want to get him back, in a Wizard of Oz style scene with only the faces of the aliens showing.

Happy endings all round of course, and I don’t feel bad about ‘spoiling’ what is a predictable storyline with uninteresting and strange looking characters.  Oh, and if by the end you’ve had enough of those pesky pop culture references, you might want to turn off the credits.

All kudos to Zach Braff, because I do love scrubs, and he evidently tried his best to voice this character which should probably have been voiced by a 10 year old, but he just sounds way too old.  It doesn’t look right at all having his voice come out of a tiny chicken; it’s just not cutesy enough.

On the up side, (because every cloud has a silver lining, even though it may only be a small one) the design of the town is quite nice, and not a million miles away from a ‘Toontown’ environment with a hint of 1950 about it.  I actually picked up the Art of Chicken Little book in a £1 store, which I thought was very telling of the film’s success.

If you are lucky enough to have this little gem on DVD like I do, you will also be in possession of some special features.  The only thing of interest to an older audience is probably the ‘Making of’ featurette and possibly the deleted scenes.  Other features are the usual games and a ‘Music and More’ section which includes ‘Shake Your Tail Feather’ by The Cheetah Girls and three versions of ‘One Little Slip’.  Looks like someone was trying to fill the DVD up!

I give this movie 1 Tink.

1 Comment

Filed under A-F Movies

Atlantis: The Lost Empire

‘…in a single day and night of misfortune, the island of Atlantis disappeared into the depths of the sea.’ –Plato, 360 B.C

Sadly, in a similar fashion of what could be perceived to be ‘misfortune’, Atlantis: the Lost Empire also seemed to disappear without a trace in the year 2001 AD.

The themed Walt Disney Pictures logo at the start of the feature sets the tone for the film: dark and mysterious.  I’m not sure that after watching Atlantis, that I had the same excitement about the film as I did at the start.  I did not see this film at the cinema, I think I was going through my ‘off period’ as far as Disney goes, as I was age 12/13 (I think it’s expected).  Strangely, Disney also seemed to be going through the same phase with their films, at least in my opinion.  Long gone was the second golden age of Disney animation with films such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, with their unforgettable songs and interesting characters.  Now we seemed to be faced with animated features that had been watered down, lacking a bit of soul.  Needless to say, Atlantis: the Lost Empire was one of them.

When we are first introduced to Milo Thatch as he talks about the history of Atlantis, Disney geeks may notice that the character’s design is reminiscent of Hercules,  and a prototype for what would follow a couple of years later; Home on the Range.  He is brought to life through the voice of Michael J. Fox, a good choice for the main character who appears to be clumsy yet very clever, with a slight whiff of charm about him.   His ‘goal’ shall we say, is to prove to the board at the Smithsonian Institute the existence of the city of Atlantis.  A friend of Milo’s grandfather, named Preston B. Whitmore, contacts Milo and informs him that he has organised a team to go out and find Atlantis, offering him a place on their mission.  Of course, he accepts and the journey begins…

For some reason, there seems to be an overwhelming amount of ‘main’ characters compared to the average Disney movie.  Moliere, Helga, Commander Rourke, Dr. Sweet, Vinny, and Audrey all accompany Milo on his quest to find Atlantis with the guidance of his grandfather’s book; The Shephard’s Journal.  They board a submarine along with a sarcastic radio operator called Wilhelmina, and ‘Cookie’, the ‘chef’…

“I got your four basic food groups: Beans, bacon, whisky and lard.”

Unfortunately, the film takes a very long time to get its momentum going.  Instead, we are delivered what seems to be a hurried and clinical way of introducing the audience to the characters, which, since there are so many of them, becomes quite tedious.  On the up side, there are many funny one-liners which seem to be the glue holding the rest of the dialogue together.  Thankfully, after a while, we are introduced to Kida and her father, along with the rest of the Atlantean race.  Princess Kida is apparently 8800 years old, and looks rather good on it!  She discovers that Milo can translate Atlantean, which in turn can help her save Atlantis.

Many parts of the film show off the wonderful artistic style of production designer and monster artist Mike Mignola, with the harsh contrasts between light and dark, creating a dramatic and adventurous environment for the characters to inhabit.  This said, the backgrounds do not stand out as some of Disney’s best, but this just adds to the ‘living graphic novel’ feel, which is a nice departure in some ways from the classical and intricate environmental art of previous films.  There is also some very nice CGI integrated seamlessly into the film in the many machines such as the Leviathan.

One of the things which, as a Disney film, seems to be seriously lacking, is a few songs.  Ever since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt Disney Pictures have been writing wonderful and memorable songs for their films.  To be truthful, Atlantis doesn’t seem to be the type of film where one of the characters might break into song, but even a recurring background tune would be nice to break up the action.  Most of the film is set in the dark, and even with the odd funny moment, the overall tone of the movie is that of seriousness.  I also would not recommend this film for little girls who love princesses, pink and ponies.  Even though we are introduced to a ‘princess’, she is not the traditional Aurora or Belle in a long flowing dress with a sweet singing voice, and nor like Pocahontas, if only slightly in styling.  Kida, although in merchandising was a central character, in the film seems to take a back seat to Milo and even some of the sidekick characters such as Audrey.  Maybe more screen time with Kida would have dragged in more little girls to the cinema, as the guns and talk of mercenaries seems very boy orientated rather than unisex.

Atlantis does have to be praised for its dramatic ending, however, even though it is somewhat predictable in story, it more than makes up for its shortcomings with its special effects.

This review was from the 2 Disc Collector’s edition of the film, and the extras are rather nice, including the usual deleted scenes and publicity sections, plus a making of featurette, character creation and a section called ‘How to Speak Atlantean’ (which may come in handy, you never know).  I would recommend this to any die hard Disney fans or anyone who likes machines and submarines (like my Dad).  If you’re looking for a film to sit the kids in front of, I suggest you give this one a miss unless you’ve been blessed with a house full of little boys.

I give this movie 3 Tinks.

Leave a comment

Filed under A-F Movies

Bambi

‘Man is in the forest…’

After a few, well, negative reviews of Disney movies, I decided to go all the way back to the time of those Disney classics which possessed amazing animation, solid story and beautiful backgrounds.

Walt Disney started work on Bambi in 1936, the year before the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  It wasn’t until 1942 that Bambi got its release, meaning that Pinocchio, Dumbo and Fantasia were all completed before Walt came back to Bambi.  The film was based on a book by Felix Salten, who was actually an insurance clerk who began to write purely out of boredom.  Despite the popularity of the film in the modern day, it performed badly at the box office, prompting the Disney studio to re-release Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1944.

The story begins with moving multi-plane shots of the forest, which were designed largely by Chinese artist Tyrus Wong.  His environmental paintings were more softly drawn, providing a background, but a one which is not tightly finished like those in many other Disney movies.  This allows more focus to be on the animals.  The story centres on life in the forest, new life, as Bambi has just entered the world at the start of the film.  He soon discovers two friends which we are led to believe to be around the same age as him: Thumper and Flower.  Thumper acts as a mentor and muse to Bambi, helping him learn about the forest and teaching him how to have fun.  Flowers is a much more muted personality compared to Thumper, and has a slightly more wicked personality, often giggling at Bambi’s lack of knowledge on simple things.

According to TIME magazine, a Disney cast member was seen lying on the ground, not wanting to be moved, because he wanted to see how raindrops looked as they came towards your eyes.  There is debate as to whether this happened or not, but if it did, it had to be someone working on the wonderful ‘April Shower’ scene.  The raindrops look very realistic, and it is almost like a scene from Fantasia, with the visuals working in time with the song, to give the sense of the rhythm in nature.  The music in Bambi was almost like another character, more so than in many other Disney films, because in Bambi, there is a lot less dialogue.  It is also more noticeable when there is a long and dramatic silence, which emphasizes danger.

Bambi is by no means the most uplifting film to come out of the Disney studios; however, there are moments of comedy to break up the slower periods in the film.  For example, one of the most iconic scenes in the film is that of Bambi and Thumper out on the ice, with Bambi’s legs getting tangled up like spaghetti due to his hard hooves skidding along the ice.  It is extremely similar to a Pluto cartoon where Pluto is wearing ice skates and struggling to stand up on the ice.  The scene is welcome relief from the heavier scene which follows; possibly the first thing that many people think of when you mention Bambi: the death of Bambi’s mother.

Though never seen, we are introduced to the ‘villain’ in the film, the common enemy: man.  Bambi and his mother find a patch of green grass in the snow, a rare find in the cold of winter, so they begin to eat it.  Suddenly, Bambi’s mother hears something, and urges Bambi to run away.  The urgency of the situation is accentuated by the dramatic music used, and as they try to escape, you see Bambi get out of the way just in time, but his mother does not follow.  Although the mother is not too much of a central character like Thumper, Bambi and Flower are, the audience still has the slight expectation that she might get up and still be alive.  Unfortunately for Bambi, she does not.  Cut to a scene of Bambi in the forest alone, blinded by falling snow, searching for his mother.  Walt and his team had the idea of showing the shadow of man with a gun; however the idea was quickly scrapped, as it was thought that it was better to portray man as the unknown, almost alien-like, to make it more terrifying.  The design of Bambi being very baby like, and also the fact that he is still dependent on his mother, makes the death all the more horrifying and heart-breaking.  There had also been an idea to show Bambi’s mother lying in a pool of blood, an idea which was brought to life (albeit without blood) in The Lion King.

After these very heavy and depressing scenes, the mood is uplifted again by the return of spring.  It appears to be several years later, since Bambi has grown into an almost fully grown deer.  All his friends have also grown, and life goes on without his mother, with him finding love and going on to have his own children.  This is the original circle of life tale, decades before The Lion King would come to fruition.  At the end of Bambi, there is a fire started by man.  It had been considered to show man burning within the fire, but once again, that was much too graphic, and detracted from man being unfamiliar and terrifying to the forest animals.

Walt made sure that the anatomy of the animals was as realistic as possible, having his artists go to anatomy classes and draw deer from life.  The finished product: anatomically correct animals which are caricatures of human beings.

I have reviewed the film from the Blu-Ray release, and Bambi looks fantastic in HD!  There are extra features here compared to the DVD release, but the original features are also included.  The new features are wonderful for any Disney enthusiasts, featuring a very long look at Walt Disney’s story meetings, giving an inside view on the thought processes of the artists, story men  and Walt himself.  You can also access the usual deleted scenes, galleries, games, as well as a deleted song ‘Twitterpated’.  The wealth of special features really does feel never-ending, perfect for Disney fans.

Bambi is definitely one of the classic Disney films, containing comedy, innocence, tragedy and the life lesson of survival.  It is a very honest film.  I could go on writing and writing about Bambi, but instead, I would urge you to go and watch your own copy, and take in the beauty of the visuals, the songs, and realise the power of animation when used in its most mature form.

I give this movie 5 Tinks.

Leave a comment

Filed under A-F Movies

Beauty and the Beast: Belle’s Magical World

I have decided to write about a slightly more obscure Disney film, Beauty and the Beast: Belle’s Magical World.  This is so obscure in fact that I didn’t know of its existence until I bought it myself.  I found it in Auchan in Paris, and although the front cover didn’t immediately shout ‘top quality’ at me, I was curious about it and bought it anyway.  Before I continue, I will be comparing parts of this film to its predecessor, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, and also to the original Beauty and the Beast film (although it honestly isn’t a fair comparison).

This film is a direct to video ‘midquel’, meaning that the story takes part within the timeframe of the original 1991 film, and was released in 1998, a year after The Enchanted Christmas, which is also a midquel.  After watching the second film less than a month before this one, I expected them to be quite similar, although I have to say I enjoyed The Enchanted Christmas a lot more.  The main problem with this film is the quality of it, which was probably not helped by watching it on an HDTV.

The film is presented in the form of four different stories; The Perfect Word, Fifi’s Folly, Mrs. Potts’ Party and The Broken Wing.  Due to the quality of the film, which is reminiscent of the old Saturday morning Disney cartoons, it makes you wonder why they didn’t just make a few more of these and broadcast them on Toon Disney.  Of course, this isn’t the only sequel or midquel which shouldn’t really have ever graced animation paper.  Anyone wishing to see other examples of these travesties should look up The Return of Jafar or The Hunchback of Notre Dame II.

Any die hard Beauty and the Beast fans will notice that Belle has tanned considerably since the first two films, and she had also perfected the art of causing her eyeballs to point in two opposite directions!  It’s not all bad though, as there are glimpses of what I would call the ‘genuine’ Belle, who we are all familiar with.  Beast’s animation is quite in-keeping with the original film, although he does seem to take a back seat in this set of stories, so it is harder to appreciate it.  The supporting cast, Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts etc, do seem to suffer from a bad case of shape shifting, just like Belle.  There is also a generous helping of character colour changing from time to time, with Lumiere appearing at one point as almost white.  On the up side, however, there are scenes including these characters where you could swear that you are watching the original movie.  Granted, these scenes are less frequent, but it does show an element of quality which should have been present throughout the whole film.

Another thing which, although it didn’t bother me, confused me, was the change of the name of the feather duster.  Even I noticed that in the original film the duster was called Babette, and now someone has decided to give her the name of what sounds like a French can-can dancer, ‘Fifi’.  Her story is that of jealousy over her love for Lumiere, and we definitely see a dark side to her, which seemed quite unusual since she always conveyed the persona of a very bubbly character in the original film.  There are also a considerable amount of new characters, including a deaf chandelier, a pair of oven gloves, and a book.  None of these are quite as interesting or predominant as the original characters (surprise surprise, right?).

As far as songs go, these are nothing near what you would expect from a Disney feature film, and they most definitely didn’t have me racing over to Amazon to try and find a copy.  If you’ve seen Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, you will know that the song writers seemed to be struggling then, when we were presented with a couple of very disjointed, screechy songs sung by Belle.  Paige O’Hara is great as Belle as well as providing her singing voice, however even the greatest singer could not have redeemed these songs.  They sound very much as if Belle has eaten a box of fortune cookies, either that or the song writers did.  Not quite up to Howard Ashman standards, but what can we expect from a direct to video feature?

One thing to be thankful for when watching this film (that’s right, one thing) is that the majority of the original cast returned to revive their roles, but sadly even that is not enough to redeem this catastrophe which, in my honest opinion, should be locked in the Disney fault for a very long time.

The DVD is labelled as a Special Edition; however it seems to be a few sandwiches short of a picnic in that area.  The only special features offered are a game, a sing along selection and an ‘enchanted environment’.  Your only reason for buying this DVD would be if you are a big fan of Beauty and the Beast, or, like me, you are curious to see it for yourself, but don’t expect a masterpiece.

I give this movie 2 Tinks.

Leave a comment

Filed under A-F Movies