‘Big Hero 6′ is a bright and bold collaboration between Disney and Marvel

Originality, inspiration, heart, life lessons, and exciting animation, Big Hero 6 has it all as the first big screen collaboration between Marvel Studios and Disney Animation.

bighero6

Welcome to San Fransokyo, where technology and robotics have become part of the nuts and bolts of our culture. Tadashi Hamada (Daniel Henney) is a student at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. He invented and developed Baymax, a personal healthcare robot who is amazing not only for his thorough service, but he is inflatable. But this story is less about them, and more about Hiro (Ryan Potter), Tadashi’s 14-year old brother, who likes to dwell in the underground, back-alley bot fights, hustling for money. He uses his big brains in ways that will get him by, but never ahead. Tadashi takes Hiro under his wing and takes him to his university, to meet his classmates, to introduce him to technology icons, to channel new ways to use his mind, and help facilitate new ways to approach life.

Taking the knowledge he used to create his fighting robot, Hiro develops an invention that could revolutionize the world and shows at the university’s symposium. If successful, Hiro could achieve admission to the university as a prodigy, but his work also draws the interest of Alistair Krei (Allan Tudyk) of Krei Tech who offers to buy the technology for millions. Instead, Hiro takes the advice of Professor Robert Callaghan (James Crowell) and declines Krei’s offer and accepts enrollment at the Institute. But after a fire breaks out at the event, a big explosion kills many, including Tadashi and Callaghan.

In the wake of the tragedy, Hiro shuts himself in, does not return phone calls from Tadashi’s classmates, until he unintentionally deploys Baymax who tries to step Hiro through his depression. By following his protocol, Baymax winds up getting Hiro out of the house to discover his new purpose. It’s like therapy 101 with a big talking balloon.

If it sounds like a comic book, that’s because it is. Big Hero 6 is a dusted-off Marvel comic book that director Don Hall stumbled upon shortly after the Disney acquisition of Marvel Entertainment. Big Hero 6 was created by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau, two members of the creative studio Man of Action who have gone on to help create several successful creator-owned comics and TV series including Ben 10, Generator Rex, Bakugan, and Ultimate Spider-Man. Some of the characters have been taken out since they’re part of the X-Men universe and would therefore infringe on Fox Studios’ right to use anything from that specific vault of characters. Baymax got a complete and huggable makeover and some new characters were created to complete the 6. The spirit and concept is still there, but there’s no denying it’s been made over into a much more cuddly package. The compromise also made it a more obscure entity and allows fresh eyes to be brought to the theater before the flood of the all-ages sensibilities come rushing towards you in 3D.

Another big plus was seeing a majority of the cast be diverse both on screen and in voice, especially in the main characters. It’s not stately obvious, but in looking back, what a breath of fresh air it was to see Hiro of mixed Asian and Caucasian descent, (Potter is also of mixed descent) and his inspiration be his brother (Henney was born to a Korean adoptee mother and American-Irish father) raised by their caring though sometimes spacey guardian, Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph). It’s an unconventional family but is such a great representation of the modern American face. Hiro and Tadashi are two of the best Asian-American inspired characters on screen since we were introduced to Russell in Up. Hopefully this approach becomes more and more commonplace in live-action film too.

The rest of the Big Hero 6 roster doesn’t fall through the familiar pitfalls of minority characters that we’ve seen so many times. For one, they all have great scientific minds, so that already bucks the stereotypes of their compartmentalized cultures that typically define them, whether it be their native food, slang, or fashion–that alone is worth commending. GoGo (Jamie Chung), another Asian-American, has a tough exterior and is athletic. Wasabi (Damon Wayans), the team’s African-American, is an overly cautious neat-freak with an equally precise weapon, but he serves as the moral compass. Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) plays to the girls who like to accessorize but is also a lovable and undeniable chemistry nerd. And then there’s Fred (T.J. Miller) who just unfolds his multiple layers through to the very last second of the film (yes, that’s a clue that you have to stay after the credits, because this is after all, a Marvel film, and a fine scene it is). You never feel like the team is a formula, but rather a cross-cut of personalities to help Hiro and Baymax shine.

One never goes hunting for life lessons in children’s movies, but as a parent, I can tell you that it never hurts to see them done so well like they have recently in movies. Kids are invariably going to watch these films on multiple occasions whether it’s in the theaters or once they are home releases. So it does make you feel better when you see ways to spark the interest in the science fields, trusting others for help and teamwork, pushing through life’s failures, or how to channel and cope with the anger and emotions of experiencing personal loss–it’s quite a change from waiting for Prince Charming to come along. How to Train Your Dragon 2 dealt with some similar themes, very powerfully I might add. It’s a sign that we’re in a great period of all-ages films.

Now, I’m not quite as sold on how great Frozen is being perceived to be, but I do understand why it’s popular. Wreck-It Ralph was another modern-day Disney classic that blended all of the things you want to see in an all-ages movie, while pulling in adults with nostalgia. Even though Disney’s Planes was a mess, Planes Fire and Rescue was a pleasant surprise and recovery. We’ve never been shy to show our love for Tron: Uprising at Buzzfocus, even though it never found its audience. Still, it was a risk taken, and Star Wars: Rebels looks like another winner. Now with Big Hero 6, we can see Disney slowly evolving from what they used to be, while still finding their place in the present landscape and still understanding how best to utilize all of the assets acquired throughout the years in fun and imaginative ways. These are exciting times at Disney Animation.

The result of the Marvel-Disney collaboration on Big Hero 6 translates into magic, with plenty of big super hero moments that older audiences have always been drawn to recently, and enough Disney elements to capture the minds of a five or six-year-old without the need to bring in the scarier elements that they’ll surely graduate to in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There’s no rush though, that world will be around for decades.

San Fransokyo is an awesome and opulent visual delight. It might be hard to pull yourself out of the story and appreciate the level of detail and complexity of this animated world but this is a big and beautiful world the animators have created. There are a few moments that make you stop and gape, like you’re watching a new Hayao Miyazaki world unfold before you, but it’s still very much a Disney film. It certainly strengthens the faith in the Marvel-Disney collaboration and reinforces the team concept of the film, that they can be stronger in this instance, working as a team.

BH6 has the beats of an all-ages superhero film & wonder of a world’s fair wrapped into a fat burrito ready for consumption by today’s hero-hungry world. Baymax is a character who will be–and should be–plastered all over the world. It is funny, inspiring and full of grin-inducing moments that places it immediately amongst Disney’s modern-day successes. Big Hero 6 is a franchise with some seriously long legs.

The Sims 4 and Disney partnership ideas

EA and their partnership with Disney has already blossomed some very cool character implementation in The Sims – Star Wars costumes! Darth Vader, Leia and Yoda can all be cosplayed as and, although no additional content has been confirmed, opens the door for more possibilities. Below, I have come up with a trio of cool ideas I would love to see put into The Sims 4 that would make clever and interesting use to the many Disney owned characters. Keep in mind that these are all ideas that would keep The Sims 4 fundamentally the same game.

More costumes and clothes

This is sort of a no-brainer and will most likely come, but there should be more lovable characters represented in clothing and costumes. I’m sure an Incredibles T-shirt or a Princess Elsa dress would go over well with fans and players can truly express their fandom through their Sims. Star Wars was a nice start, but there are fans of other series and franchises playing the game, too.

Toy Story characters come alive

There should be a way to put some toys in a room that include the likes of Woody, Buzz and the rest of the Toy Story gang. Then, when your Sims leave a room, they should be seen walking and talking about. They don’t have to be doing anything major, but just enough so we know they’ve come alive. Finally, when a Sim enters a room again, the toys could drop dead as if nothing happened.

Superman to the rescue

Ok, not Superman, because that’s DC and not Disney-owned Marvel, but some heroic figure can come swooping in when a Sim is in danger. During a recent preview of the upcoming inclusion of pools into The Sims 4, you can barricade Sims into a pool and drown them. So with this Disney feature, the game will recognize a player is intentionally trying to kill off a Sim and have Spider-Man or Iron Man come and save the day. It doesn’t have to happen all the time, but something along the lines of 1 out of 20 times as an Easter egg would be cool to see.

If you have any cool ideas of your own, leave a comment.

The Muppets are Muffed in ‘Most Wanted’

Who knows if Jason Segel was pushed out or maybe he freely stepped away from the franchise. Either way his presence is missed in Muppets Most Wanted, not so much because he is needed in front of the camera, but his writing did breathe some charisma, energy, and an admiration for the legacy in The Muppets. The Flight of the Conchords creators, James Bobin (director) and Nicholas Stoller (writer) did return for the latest Muppet tour, but they don’t exhibit the labor of love that Segel had–and it shows.

kermit gulag

The concept is decent at the start. Picking up from the last film, the Muppet gang breaks into the first of several musical numbers, “We’re Doing a Sequel,” that may have spoken a bit more truth than it should be so conscious of:

“We’re doing a sequel, we’re back by popular demand… that’s what we do in Hollywood, everybody knows that the sequel is never quite as good… I thought it was the end, but no my friends, this is when, we get to do it all again… We’re doing a sequel, there’s no reason to disguise, the studios considers us a viable franchise… We’re doing a sequel, how hard can it be? We couldn’t do worse than the Godfather III… We’re doing a sequel, it’s more of the same…” Oof. Funny? Yes. Catchy? Extremely. But the jokes aren’t nearly as funny when it actually plays out as the lyrics in the song.

A Russian frog named Constantine (Matt Vogel) is a dead ringer for Kermit (voiced by Steve Whitmire) except that he bears a mole on his face. Constantine escapes the Gulag prison and devises a plan with Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) to switch frogs with the help of some green coverup and a careful glue job before a big European tour of the Muppet Show gets underway. The puppeteers (as usual) brilliantly convey different mannerisms and postures for the two frogs to keep them straight (just in case you’re deaf or hard of hearing). Badguy re-arranges all of the gigs, upgrading Kermit’s itinerary from pub crawls to concert halls adjacent to art museums. Kermit meanwhile is mistakingly locked up in the Siberian clink, run by Nadya, a prison guard played by Tina Fey who in her own cute way sounds like she got sidetracked studying for her role by watching too many reruns of Hogan’s Heroes instead of Rocky and Bullwinkle.

Constantine and Badguy let the rest of the Muppets perform whatever they want – the hint of something fishy – and as the rest of the Muppets abuse the sudden freedom (Gonzo runs a live running of the bulls, Animal does a marathon drum solo, Piggy is allowed to sing… well anything), the two crooks break into the art museums in what seems like a diet version of a Dan Brown treasure hunt to the Crown Jewels. Meanwhile, cold on their trails are an Interpol Agent (Ty Burrell) and Sam Eagle (Eric Jacobson).

With two major set pieces, the enormous ensemble leaves little space for any real development or screen time for many characters. Two messy subplots stretch the story even further, but are shortchanged like everything else. Constantine finds himself in competition with the Lemur, another master crook, and Nadya’s middle school crush on Kermit. They even manage to cram a wedding in too. As for the Muppets’ fearless leader, Kermit is practically forgotten by the rest of his crew and makes the best of his life behind bars. Stoller may have forgotten about him too, as so much of the story is focused on Constantine and Badguy’s sinister plans, Kermit’s stay in Gulag becomes a bigger draw if only to take a much needed break of the mess of the main story, which begins to slow down past the halfway point. When Kermit manages to muster some hope, you don’t necessarily feel like it’s in his best interest, considering the difference he’s making in Gulag.

Guest-stars are typically not a major factor in the Muppet films but Muppets Most Wanted boasts a fine reserve, and I wanted them to do more than what is basically the work of extras. Some are lucky to get one line, while others are squandered and are completely missed if you blink (or yawn) at the wrong time. For example Christoph Waltz appears as himself to, well, simply waltz for less than three seconds of screen time. Tom Hiddleston? The same. A waste, right? But don’t you worry, you’re indulgence for Celine Dion will be satisfied.

The musical performances are one redeeming quality of Most Wanted. They might even save the film for some. Oscar-Winning music writer, Bret McKenzie was retained from The Muppets, thankfully, and comes up with a strong effort, making nods to the golden age of the stage and cinema. In addition to the opening number, “I’ll Get You What You Want” is a sexy black velvet painting come to life, Fey conjures up Smokey Joe’s Cafe in “The Big House” while “I’m Number One” gets Gervais to ham it up. These are fun sequences and I longed for the opportunity to see those clips on a loop, but unfortunately, I wanted to be saved from Muppet covers of “Moves Like Jagger” and Piggy wailing the “Macarena”.

Since this is a family film, there are jokes for kids under the ages of eight, but not many as one might hope. In a packed screening I found that a majority of the boisterous laughter came from those who have had the Muppets in their life for at least three decades, including the television show and the Saturday morning cartoon. Be warned that the film may spur bad restlessness in youngsters’ seats with a marathon running time of nearly two hours, padded with many dead spaces. Younger kids might need the convoluted plot explained too, but hey, at least they don’t have to wrestle with ill-fitting 3D glasses for a change. There is however, a delightful Monsters Inc. short before the film, so don’t be late.

As for those who are young at heart, Most Wanted is likely to get a mixed reaction. I was mildly amused in the front half, but the backend dragged like a dentist visit that never ends. Most of the musical pieces were extraordinary, but away from that, the punchlines aren’t as good as the setups and the story could be described as Hollywood goulash. Disney milked this resurgence in the franchise rather than build off of what was done so well in the last film. Segel understood how to translate that love of the franchise into something heart-felt. Muppets Most Wanted feels colder, more mass-produced, like a lazy step back, which might be enough to satisfy those simply looking for a fleeting escape, but it’s nothing special.

Review: ‘Planes’ is another Nose Dive for ‘Cars’ franchise

planes

Ever since the Planes-Tow Mater short film on Cars 2 and the first trailer for a Planes feature film, there was some small hope that this would be a fun expanded world of Cars taken to the skies. Once it was pegged as a direct-to-video release though, some worry started to settle into the air. Then it was noticeable that Pixar removed itself from the production, giving all the credit to Disney, but still marketing it “from Above the World of Cars.” That meant that Disney must have crunched the numbers of the potential licensing deals they could make and get kids (and their parents) to buy into. Unfortunately, Disney’s Planes should have stayed a DVD release.

Disney Animation has been hit or miss as both Bolt and Wreck-It Ralph were enjoyable and original. Like Ralph, John Lasseter was producing Planes, so there was some hope. Meanwhile, Pixar hasn’t had a real hit since, ironically a sequel, Toy Story 3. Brave was a huge disappointment and Monsters University, while fun, wasn’t a Pixar classic. Cars 2, despite its flaws continues to make money, so it made sense that Planes should keep that momentum, but considering all of the directions the story could have went, the most disappointing thing is that the writing is as generic and unspectacular as it can be. It was written and directed by Jeffrey M. Howard and Klay Hall, guys responsible for the recent Tinkerbell home releases, but Lasseter is at fault here too because he is credited with working on the story too.

Dusty (Dane Cook) is a dust cropper plane who has never flown much higher than 1000 feet nor has he left the confines of his farm spraying Vita-minamulch, back and forth, over and over again. Of course he dreamed of living in a bigger life as a world-championship racer and to fly in the Wings Around The Globe Rally. He has two friends, his overly cautious forklift tug Dottie (Teri Hatcher) and his supportive fuel truck Tug (Brad Garrett). Dusty needs help to race with the international big boys of the Rally, like El Chupacabra (Carlos Alazraqui), the streamlined Indian racer Ishani (Priyanka Chopra) and Bulldog (John Cleese). So Dusty seeks out the help of Skipper Riley (Stacy Keach), a World War II vet with a sour disposition. With Skipper’s help, he must overcome his fear of heights and the bullying of premier carbon-fiber racer Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith) to become something more than what he was created to do.

The paint-by-numbers script doesn’t do much to tickle the imagination and stretch the realm of possibilities for both child and adult alike. There’s some interesting, edgy stuff with a secret in Skipper’s past but outside of a single flashback, the most interesting stuff is vastly underdeveloped. Dusty travels around the world but there is very little to gather from these larger than life experiences. One would think that all of these experiences would help build Dusty’s character and expose him to new cultures, but there is minimal attempt to get out of the race narrative or international stereotypes. The voice cast despite some energetic performances by Alazraqui, Garrett, Sinbad, and Keach, also feels uninspired. Cook is as exciting as plain yogurt, and Craig Smith is forgettable. There are two clever castings though, as Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards played Bravo and Echo respectively, two military F/A-18E Super Hornets but again everything that happens on aircraft carrier is short-changed.

What might be most telling about the lack of effort is that the animation itself feels hollow. Almost all cars have been sucked out of this world, which has been suddenly populated by forklifts galore, except for a few token carry overs like Brent Mustangburger and well, honestly, that’s it. The color palette is muted in many instances and outside of the opening sequence and the final race, the animation doesn’t strive to impress or immerse you into the story. The title says it all, there is nothing Pixar about this. And it’s a real shame because they managed to capture the sensations of air travel and that high speed action seen in films like Top Gun.

After seeing Turbo, a film that felt like a better sequel to Cars, only a few weeks ago, it’s not hard to compare the two’s basic structures, but at least Turbo tried to expand out of the dreaming big, overcoming doubt, in a race-around-the-world plot. Kids will be able to follow along and will connect the film to the Cars films visually, but Planes lacks heart, originality and something new for their young, open minds to grab onto and inspire them besides being more than another Disney cash grab. In fact, a sequel is already in the works for 2014, as seen at the end of the credits, titled Planes: Fire & Rescue. They should have sent the rescue plane much earlier though, and maybe they could have saved this unremarkable film.

Planes (2013)

Starring: Dane Cook, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Carlos Alazraqui and Stacy Keach
Directed by: Klay Hall
Written by: Jeffrey Howard and John Lasseter
Studio: Disney
Release Date: August 9, 2013

Rating:

4.0 / 10

Disney’s Planes is Another Nail in the Pixar Coffin

The latest trailer for Disney’s Planes debuted today and I can’t help but shake my head at what’s become of the former Pixar dynasty.

Not only was Cars 2 one of the worst Pixar movies of all time, but now Disney is spinning off the Cars world and re-branding it solely under the Disney name. Perhaps Disney is taking a lesson in merchandising from George Lucas, one of the top shareholders at the Mickey Mouse company after selling off the house that Star Wars built.

You won’t find a kid around who doesn’t love those cool Cars toys, which have been licensed in lineups ranging from Lego to McDonald’s happy meals.

It’s sad to see Pixar get watered down. Earlier this month, it was announced that Merida, the heroine of Pixar’s Brave, would become a Disney princess. Unfortunately, in order to make the grade, Merida had to be transformed from a fiery, curly-haired hero into a freshly permed Barbie doll.

Is it the Brave end of Pixar as predicted in our prior podcast, or just a step in a different direction?
[podcast]http://www.buzzfocus.com/nerdysecrets/Blast-off-15.mp3[/podcast]

You can watch Cars 3 with airplanes, err the new trailer for Planes below. The Happy Meal trailer comes next. Hey, at least it has Val Kilmer in it. Can’t go wrong with Top Gun‘s Iceman!

Disney’s Planes debuts in US theaters on Aug 9 and UK theaters on Aug 16.

Wreck-it Ralph – Flynn’s Arcade Comes Alive

wreck-it ralphSonic and Tapper and Q*bert, oh my!
What?! Q*bert?!

That’s right, Q*freakin*bert!

Wreck-it Ralph was Disney’s attempt to recreate the magic of Toy Story. The writers asked the question that every gamer has pondered since Pong – or Tron. What would life be like inside the video game world? If you traveled inside the digital realm of Flynn’s arcade, would you find The Grid or a subculture living it up like the Fraggles in Fraggle Rock?

The story follows the adventures of Ralph (John C. Reilly), a video game bad guy who just wants to be good. So what does he do? He tries to win a medal so that the people in his game finally respect him the way they respect their game’s hero Fix-it Felix (Jack McBrayer). Unfortunately, when Ralph decides to leave his game to go on a hero’s quest, his video game is marked Out of Order in the arcade. Now, the characters face the threat of deactivation. Felix tries to hunt Ralph down to restore balance to the video game “force.”

Along the way, Felix meets Calhoun (Jane Lynch), a potential love interest, and Ralph befriends a plucky, game-glitch outcast named Vanellope (Sarah Silverman). Silverman does a great job adding playfulness to the story with her humor. However, there are times when the story starts to force rudimentary jokes. It feels a little rudimentary at times, especially since the game has such an existential opening. Instead of pushing all the way with a complex story, the writers get into a gag-of-the-week comfort zone, filled with booger and doo-doo jokes.

Perhaps the biggest gripe with the movie is its “know your place” message, which feels almost communistic. Ralph you’re a bad guy and that’s all you’ll ever be so live with it. Go to therapy for it. Just don’t try to change it. For a Disney movie, it’s a pretty disheartening message. Despite the downer message, Wreck-it Ralph is still one fun movie. And as an avid gamer, I loved seeing all of the game references that dated back to the 80s. Plus, Q*bert is there. How cool is that?!

The animated adventure harkened back to ReBoot, the first completely CG TV series that aired in 1994. However, instead of exploring a computer Mainframe through CG, Wreck-it Ralph was all about the video game. The film featured endless gaming references, some of which would only be noticed on the second or third time you watched the film. Thankfully, the playful story is worth a second watch, despite a few disjointed plot moments. The Blu-ray will give you the opportunity to check out all of those wonderfully geeky Easter eggs you missed on the first viewing. Chris Hardwick also shows up, during the patented Disney-Blu intermission, to help unravel some of the more abstract references.

Unlike ReBoot, which aired in an era where CG animation was especially expensive for a TV production, Wreck-it Ralph hit theaters in the golden age of CG. The resplendent visuals do absolute justice to every game. Whereas in ReBoot, the CG never felt like it could keep up with the technology it was trying to depict. Even Felix’s comment about Calhoun’s HD beauty in Wreck-it Ralph serves as a gentle nod to the advancement of CG animation.

Oddly enough Brave beat out Wreck-it Ralph and ParaNorman for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. While Pixar’s Brave did amazing things with the hair animation, it didn’t quite rival the story of Wreck-it Ralph or ParaNorman nor did it push the envelope on art design the way ParaNorman did. Alas, Pixar beat won because Wreck-it Ralph was too “gamery” and ParaNorman was too dark.

The Blu-ray release features alternate endings, the Paperman short, lots of behind-the-scenes featurettes and an intermission hosted by Chris Hardwick.

The Paperman short is phenomenal to watch. It’s such a smart, introspective piece. Paperman reminds me of those great Disney animated films from “way back,” which could capture your attention without uttering a word.

I’m grateful for the Hardwick tell-all. However, he mispronounces Ryu’s name from Street Fighter. Hardwick uses the Americanized misnomer instead of the actual Japanese pronunciation. It’s a little annoying to know that nobody was around to correct him on the actual pronunciation, which most gamers know.

Wreck-It Ralph [Blu-ray]

Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch
Director: Rich Moore
Studio: Disney (Buena Vista)
Release Date: March 5, 2013

Rating:
8.5 / 10

Peter Pan is an irresistible Diamond release

peter pan diamondNo movie captures the essence of childhood dreams and wonder more than Peter Pan. Picture a world where flying was as easy as believing and at the end of each day, you don’t have to grow up. It’s like living in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory without the cavities or the oompa loompas. The 1953 Disney movie is filled with smart themes of betrayal, revenge and love, yet the subtly brilliant nuances of the plot never bog down the wonder of this fantastical story.

“All (of) this has happened before, and it will all happen again.”

Peter Pan is solid entertainment from start to finish. John and Michael Darling are playing make believe as Peter Pan and Captain Hook, while their big sister Wendy officiates for accuracy. Unfortunately, Wendy’s father wants her to grow up and move out of the nursery. Say it ain’t so, pop! When the parents leave, the real Peter Pan shows up. It just so happens that Pan’s shadow got left behind at the Darling residence the other night, when Pan was listening in on tales about himself. He’s a little vain, but boys will be boys – especially this one.

Wendy sews Peter’s shadow back to his feet and the two are reunited. Peter decides to take Wendy back to Neverland so that she can be mother to the Lost Boys. Unfortunately, Pan’s friend Tinker Bell isn’t too happy with Peter’s newfound friend, especially since Wendy tried to kiss Peter the moment she saw him. When you have a last name like Darling, what can you expect?

The opening scene in London is filled with movement and dialogue humor. The Darling pet dog serves as their Nanny, pouring their nightly medicine and fixing their beds. Michael, the youngest Darling, may easily the cutest cartoon kid you’ll ever meet. He scribbles a treasure map on his father’s tuxedo, totally oblivious to his wrongdoing.

The humor doesn’t stop in London and it actually gets quite dark when the group hits Neverland. You may think of Disney movies as sanitized, family friendly flicks, but Peter Pan doesn’t pull any punches. The first time we meet Captain Hook, we learn that Peter sliced off his hand and fed it to the crocodile. Now the crocodile follows Hook around waiting to finish the meal. It’s a little disturbing. What’s even more disturbing is that Hook actually shoots one of his pirates in his opening scene. I had completely forgotten the depths of Hook’s villainy. He’s like the Han Solo of the tale, shooting first (Original Star Wars before the Lucas edits). I was expecting to see the pirate pop back up, but that wasn’t the case. Hook made him good and dead with a single gunshot. You just won’t get that in Disney movies today. It’s dark humor that’s so good and surprisingly with G rating! I guess the censors let that one slip by.

There are moments when the movie tests the boundaries of political correctness, especially when the Lost Boys go to capture a few Indians. We find out that the two groups actually are good friends and they play these games all the time. Unfortunately, Hook captured the chief’s daughter. Thankfully, Pan is ready to play hero. Unfortunately, he doesn’t realize that his friend Tinker Bell is more than jealous of Wendy. And she’s not the only one. A few mermaids also upset that Pan brought back a rival girl to Neverland. You have to give it to Peter Pan; his green tights have ensnared the affections of every girl in Neverland.

The Blu-ray remasters the visuals with pristine color clarity. While the movie remains in its original 1.33:1 ratio, the color saturation has been improved in HD without becoming too overbearing. The audio is presented in 7.1 DTS-HD so you can enjoy all of those great Hook screams.

The Blu-ray comes with playful intermissions when the movie is paused as well as a Storybook app that your children will enjoy. There is also an alternate ending scene, presented through its original storyboard art.

Peter Pan is irresistible on Blu-ray and one of the finest releases of the Disney Diamond collection.

Peter Pan Diamond Edition [Blu-ray]

Starring: Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Paul Collins, Tommy Luske, Bill Thompson
Directed by: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: February 5, 2013

Rating:
10 / 10

Mickey Mouse loves to catch free rides on Oswald’s helicopter ears in Epic Mickey 2 (Video)


Who doesn’t love a free ride?

In Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, Mickey Mouse will be hopping aboard the Oswald, Lucky Rabbit copter. It’s not an actual helicopter. Oswald can spin his ears like a helicopter and fly over treacherous terrain, much to the delight of Mickey. Everyone’s favorite Disney mouse can’t get enough of hanging onto The Lucky Rabbit’s feet.

Frank Welker – who voiced Megatron in Transformers G1 – gives Oswald a voice for the first time in Disney history in this upcoming game. Check out the gameplay trailer above.

Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two will be available on November 18, 2012. It will be available on Xbox 360, PS3, and Nintendo Wii.

‘The Lone Ranger’ Trailer Debuts

“There come a time Ke-mo Sah-bee, when good men… must wear mask.”

The first trailer for Disney’s The Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp, has premiered.

The Lone Ranger is directed by Gore Verbinski and stars Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale, Ruth Wilson, and Helena Bonham Carter.

Watch the Trailer below:

In The Lone Ranger:
Native American spirit warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice–taking the audience on a runaway train of epic surprises and humorous friction as the two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption.

Blu-ray: ‘Cinderella’ Diamond Edition – as Mesmerizing as Ever

Over sixty years have passed since Disney’s Cinderella first screened to mass audiences. Yet, the film is as poignant today as it was over a half century ago.

cinderellaThe storybook tale of a young girl and her mice friends is filled with a heartfelt abundance of laughs and toe-tapping music. Whether you’re listening to a group of mice singing “The Work Song” or Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother casting magical enchantments to the tune of “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo”, it’s hard not to instantly fall in love with Cinderella’s soundtrack. The humor holds up surprisingly well. Watching Gus and Jaques (both voiced by James MacDonald) face off against Lady Tremaine’s cat Lucifer never gets old.

The new Diamond Blu-ray release features a crisp 1080p HD picture, presented in a 1:33:1 aspect ratio. The sound has been remastered to optimize all the music tracks. Listening to Ilene Woods, who voiced Cinderella, sing “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” “Sing, Sweet Nightingale” and “So This Is Love” is utterly mesmerizing.

The 2-Disc Blu-ray release comes with four new featurettes as well as the Disney animated short, Tangled Ever After.

Tangled Ever After focuses on Rapunzel and Flynn’s wedding day. During the ceremony, Pascal, Rapunzel’s pet chameleon, and Maximus, the head of the palace guard’s horse, are the ring bearers. However, a sneeze causes the two animals to lose the rings, resulting in a few humorous slapstick laughs as Pascal and Maximus try to save the wedding from ruin.

The first featurette is a documentary on Mary Alice O’Connor, the wife of Australian artist Ken O’Connor. Ken was the layout artist on Cinderella. He used his wife as inspiration to come up with the final character design for The Fairy Godmather. The drawing was based on how he imagined his wife would look several years into his future. The documentary focuses on Mary’s real world community endeavors and how she was a living Fairy Godmother in California.

The second featurette is hosted by Once Upon a Time star Ginnifer Goodwin. She takes viewers on a mid-construction tour of the Fantasyland expansion. Goodwin interviews the Disney Imagineering team while taking viewers on a walk through of Beast’s castle from Beauty and the Beast and Prince Eric’s palace from The Little Mermaid – both of which were in mid-construction at the time of the segment.

Next, there is a short featuring Christian Louboutin, called “The Magic of the Glass Slipper.” To Celebrate Cinderella, Disney and Louboutin designed 20 glass slippers to be distributed around the world. The short adds in a touch of Cinderella magic as Louboutin searches for a design with a few animated friends.

Finally, there is an alternative opening scene to Cinderalla. It has been pieced together from artwork and old storyboards. Cinderella discusses the extent of her chores in this opening. The mice suggest that she run away, but she lets them know that she can’t because she’d have to finish all of her chores first.

For second screen viewers, there is also an interactive storybook included that you can use with your tablet.

Cinderella is one of the most memorable Disney movies of all time. This is definitely a collector’s piece worth having on your shelf.

Cinderella Diamond Edition [Blu-ray]

Starring: Ilene Woods, Eleanor Audley, Lucille Bliss, Rhoda Williams, Verna Felton
Directed by: Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton S. Luske, Wilfred Jackson
Writers: Ken Anderson, Homer Brightman, Winston Hibler
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
Release Date: October 2, 2012

Rating:
10 / 10