Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Disney Animation - recent films

We all know what Pixar is capable of. They just seem to top themselves with almost every release lately. I didn't see any way that a story about a man who floats away on an adventure in his house supported by thousands of balloons was going to be good, but it was not only good, it bordered on greatness.

But the more interesting discussion is what Walt Disney Animation is capable of. I was reading a post titled "In Betweeners" at the Disney news blog, Blue Sky Disney, and Honor Hunter gives a pretty interesting accounting of what the folks at Walt Disney Animation Studios are up to right now, and what they've been up to in the last few years. Specifically he mentions Bolt and The Princess And The Frog and the problems they've had with release dates (going up against stiff box office competition) and with marketing.

What might be more interesting is the comments section of that same post, where his readers aren't shy about giving their own opinions about WDAS. Specifically, they are not shy about voicing their disdain for these films. On the flip side, there are others who really enjoyed them and say so.

I'm in this latter camp. I really liked the little dog and I also really liked TPATF. In the latter film, I thought that the music was a strong point (and I'm a musician, though not much of a music critic). I thought the story was solid enough. Yes, it's a bit of a rehash of other Disney features. But many of them have been pretty much a rehash of each other, going back to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. They're all about the main female character finding true love in a strong male character. Prince Naveen was a bit of a departure from the usual prince in that he's a frivolous guy who has to develop himself, while Tiana is the industrious hard worker, not at all a dreamer, unless you count owning her own restaurant in the same class of dreams.

Bolt told a bit of a different story, no romantic entanglements in this one. Likewise with the underrated (in my opinion) Meet The Robinsons, which also told a story without the traditional romance angle in it. Stories about coming of age, of maturing, of being true to yourself, of having confidence in yourself and your friends. They both worked for me on a pretty high level. Did either of these have the "classic" or "artistic" punch of something like The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast? No, I wouldn't argue that, but they are better than "mediocre" as one commenter characterized all three. Even The Wild was a cut above (not a really big cut in its case) some of the animated fare out there from studios not named Dreamworks or Pixar. (Though I think I'd agree with anyone characterizing The Wild as a mediocre film.)

I suppose there is room for improvement, but Disney's Animation Studios still are coming out with quality films, in my opinion.


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