Showing posts with label cartoons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cartoons. Show all posts

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Disney Watch: Brave (2012)

I didn't intentionally miss Brave (2012) when it came out in theaters, and I certainly haven't been avoiding it.  But Disney/ Pixar doesn't just dump their animated films out there in the usual release windows, instead controlling them pretty carefully and maximizing profits, etc... none of which I hold against them.  They know what they're doing.  This I learned in 3 summers working a cash register at The Disney Store.



I was aware of how far Disney and Pixar have taken animation, and while I wish they'd delve into stylized pictures a bit more (Big Hero 6 is probably the closest to what I'm talking about in recent memory),* it is pretty amazing what they can do with blending the natural and real with the imaginary.  You have to be kind of crazy not to appreciate everything about the character animation in Brave, blending Disney cartoonism with the absolutely believable wild strays of Merida's red curls.

Further, a couple of years ago I was at Disneyland with The Dug, my brother-in-law, and we spotted Merida crossing the park, and he said "let me send you a video tonight" and, as it turned out, the actress had perfected Merida's determined walk, something that was very non-Disney Princess-ish in its galumphing purposefulness.  It's that kind of attention to character, rotoscoped or otherwise, that tells who the character is, that even the other big gun American animation studios could stand to pay more attention to.

Pixar has absolutely lit a fire under Disney Animation proper, and the self-awareness and deconstruction of traditional Princess ideals in Brave (Pixar) and Frozen (Disney proper) should hopefully resonate a bit more than Aurora passing out for a good chunk of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella sitting around thinking positive thoughts and, if not for deus ex machina and a rich guy, she'd be stuck in a life of domestic servitude.  Brave is a really solid first stab at dismissing the Disney Princess demure non-player-in-her-own-story problem Disney has had since Snow White stumbled her way into a house full of short miners, and may be a bit on the nose in making sure we know this is not a cute princess movie.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sheep Watch: Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)

Jamie's a sport and, thanks to that whole "we share a home" bit, she watches a lot of stuff she wouldn't select on her own (ex: The Keep).  But back when we started dating, one thing we could agree on was Aardman Animation's Wallace and Gromit.  We were both pretty big fans of Nick Park's adventures of an absent-minded inventor and his roommate/ canine companion, Gromit.



So, this evening, we made our way out to see Aardman's latest theatrical release, Shaun the Sheep Movie, a feature length of the animated TV series and Wallace & Gromit spin-off character.  The reviews seemed decent, I guessed, as it had a 99% at Rotten Tomatoes.

What I had forgotten, until the movie started, is that the Shaun the Sheep franchise has been aimed at very young kids.  So, you know, a 40 year old dude was not the intended audience.   But the thing about Aardman animation is that they've always focused on a broad audience, so parents need not worry about wanting to spend the run-time checking their cell phones and spacing out while inanity or Thomas the Train-level story-telling unfolds.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Rowdy Roddy Piper Merges With The Infinite

just look at that magnificent bastard

Working a crowd isn't easy, especially doing so as the bad guy.  But, man, somehow Rowdy Roddy Piper became not the villain people loved to hate - people just plain ol' loved him.

I don't follow wrestling now at all, and my window of interest when I was a kid was pretty narrow, so my viewership occurred primarily during that early 1980's window where the WWF was suddenly everywhere, and you had colorful characters like Jimmy "SuperFly" Snuka, George "The Animal" Steele, Mr. Fuji, the Iron Shiek, Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan.

At age 8, I liked it a lot.  The plots were straightforward.  Mean Gene Okerlund had a cool, dry wit we all admired, and it was a lot like watching live-action comics, but only as complicated as the Hostess ads.  There were good guys and bad guys, and sometimes they switched.

Among the wrestlers I liked, I counted Rowdy Roddy Piper.  That guy had moxie.  He was hilarious, he didn't take anyone seriously, and he was just fun to watch.  I just assumed because I liked him he was a good guy who happened to talk trash or something.  He had a kilt, bagpipes, and a mouth that didn't really stop.  But, no, he was a bad guy.

In fact, his gig was more or less that he was the biggest SOB in wrestling, pretty keen with an insult or gag or low-blow.  All with a cocksure attitude backed up with wins, and a fanbase that adored the act.  The clips you watch now are, uh... un-PC, to put it mildly.  But he didn't need to be un-PC, he just needed to be a needling jerk.

In fact, he's been voted the best "heel" in wrestling multiple times.

That, my friends, is the sort of life goal I aspire to.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sadly, this is not a new Calvin and Hobbes strip

Calvin and Hobbes Comic Strip on GoComics.com


Can someone please confirm that this is all new?

edit:  In a month when we got back Bloom County and with Watterson ghosting some Pearls Before Swine last year, literally anything seemed possible. It is now apparent this is not new Calvin and Hobbes.  As you were.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Justice League TV Show - Secret Origins

I don't know what the hell is going on with my cable at home, but it isn't good.  Likely a mixture of the fact that we haven't updated our boxes or our modem in years and the technology has obviously continued to change.  So, we're basically cable-less until we get a technician out sometime next week.

In this spirit, Jamie got into the DVDs, and popped out with Disc 1 of the first season of Justice League, the 2001ish launch of the DC Heroes team-up show featuring "The Magnificent Seven":  Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and The Flash (traditional magnificent seven swapping Aquaman for Hawgirl, but I get the motivations behind the swap and, frankly, it worked beautifully).



We watched the first three episodes, also known as the Justice League movie, "Secret Origins", wherein some pretty well designed aliens invade Earth and the seven disparate heroes team up as a unit for the first time, at least in the world of the Timm-verse that started with Batman: The Animated Series and continued with Superman: The Animated Series, both series legends in superhero animation in their own time and something I can't believe people don't talk about more instead of praising the just seriously gawdawful 90's X-Men and other cartoons.*

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Disney Watch: Big Hero 6

Well, wasn't this a very nice superhero story?



We missed this for whatever reason when it hit theaters.  Kind of wish I hadn't because it looks like they were really thinking in terms of 3D projection that my very 2D television did not replicate.

Well, c'est la vie.

Big Hero 6 is maybe the flipped opposite of what DC has been doing with their heroes, and while I am aware the movie did okay ($222 million domestic is impressive, and a total of $652 million internationally is great) I don't think it slipped into the zeitgeist in quite the way it might have.  But I also don't hang around little kids all that much.  So, parents, correct me.

But this is superheroing for the all-ages set in a very good way.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cartoon Watch: Three Caballeros (1944)

Lysergic acid diethylamide was first discovered in 1943 and introduced to the public in 1947,but not popularized until the mid-1960's.   So we're going to assume that whatever inspired the 1944 Disney feature length film, Three Caballeros, was more likely a byproduct of a lovely tour of Latin America and either the psilocybin mushroom or the peyote cactus.



For three summers in the mid-1990's, I worked at the Disney Store.  The soundtrack to the store was always a laser disc, or - more specifically - one side of a laser disc that played over and over in about a 45 minute loop.  For at least one of those summers, part of that loop was the titular song to Three Caballeros, performed by Jose Carioca, Panchito and Donald Duck.  I loved that frikkin' song.*  But I'd never seen the movie, and it hasn't ever really been readily available.

This weekend TCM played a bunch of stuff from the Disney vault, and luckily NathanC turned me on to the fact Three Caballeros was playing, so I finally DVR'd it and watched.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Weekend Movie Rollcall: The Naked Gun, I Know That Voice, The Secret of Nimh, Part of Krull

This weekend was Valentine's weekend, but it was also the tail end of a long workweek.

Our Friday night "I don't want to think too hard" selection was The Naked Gun, one of the finest movies you could possibly show a 12 year old.  And, indeed, my memory of seeing the movie the first time is that I literally laughed myself almost out of my seat just during the credit sequence.



Really, it's tough to top Lt. Frank Drebin when it comes to movie heroes.  He's a fighter, a lover, a man of action.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Smallville Man

Gerry and Randy were kind enough to each send me this video today.  It's a short, animated fan-film that does a great job of communicating what makes Superman tick.  Rather than weigh you down with a pre-amble, I suggest you go ahead and check it out.



As simple as such a film may be, it's shocking how difficult this sort of portrayal of Superman has become over the past two decades, be it in comics or movies or ten seasons of TV.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Supermarathon: Some 60's Cartoons and "Panic in the Sky"

Back in the 1960's, Filmation had just been formed, and they had a contract to develop some cartoons based upon DC Comics characters.

The New Adventures of Superman rolled out as one of these cartoons, short cartoons long enough to get packaged with other DC characters, so you got a full cartoon between each commercial.  The animation is of the "limited" animation variety.  Lots of Superman's mouth moving and nothing else.  A static Superman in flying position as the background scrolls by behind him.  Lots of stuff re-used.  All to contain cost to deliver just a whole ton of these things at a reasonable cost.

By modern TV cartoon standards, the animations doesn't look so hot, the voice acting is stiff and awkwardly paced (Filmation would go on to do He-Man in the 1980's, a show which - even then - I thought had some very strange voices), and the stories are nigh non-existent.  Still, it's pretty clear these cartoons were aimed at little kids, and as straightforward Superman adventures, they do the trick.  And, as its more likely kids will come to Superman via cartoons than comics, it's not a bad first exposure.  If the kids can make heads or tails of 1960's technology and fashion.*

And, I like the theme song. It's jazzy!

Here's the pilot cartoon in its entirety.



I also watched a few episodes of Season 2 of The Adventures of Superman (live action, black & white, Noel Neill as Lois), including the famous episode Panic in the Sky.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Supermarathon: Superman - The Animated Series! ("Last Son of Krypton" and "Blasts from the Past")

I started developing an interest for Superman in high school, and just after I'd picked up a couple of issues, DC launched the whole "Death of Superman" business, which I knew was a gimmick, of course, and so I didn't bother with it.   And this sounds perhaps a bit trite, but when Superman "returned" with a mullet and entered into what I consider to be one of the weakest eras of Superman writing and development, there wasn't much to grasp onto.*

In 1996, Warner Bros. responded to Fox Kids Network's complaints that Batman was too "dark" by trying their hand at a Superman series.  Superman was a lot spunkier, in theory.  Of course, it's a story that depends on killing an entire planet of people just to get started, but let's not split hairs.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Supermarathon Update: The Fleischer Cartoons

On Wednesday night I watched some of the Fleischer Studios Superman cartoons from 1941 and 1942.

TitleRelease dateNote
Superman (a.k.a. The Mad Scientist)September 26, 1941The short film Superman is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
The Mechanical MonstersNovember 28, 1941The short film The Mechanical Monsters is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
Billion Dollar LimitedJanuary 9, 1942The short film Billion Dollar Limited is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
The Arctic GiantFebruary 27, 1942The short film The Arctic Giant is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
The BulleteersMarch 27, 1942The short film The Bulleteers is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
-lifted straight from Wikipedia


There's a lot more to go, and I'll watch a few more before I'm done with the Fleischer/ Famous Studios Superman cartoons.

If you're a Superman fan in any capacity, these early Superman cartoons are must viewing.  You have to remember these played in movie houses that might have seen Superman in a comic book, but had never really seen stuff quite like this animated - and it's so amazingly well crafted, it's hard to imagine something like this being made again even today.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Wreck-It-Ralph, Birthday, Quiet Man, Pam Grier is well liked

I should probably have something smarter to say, as I haven't really posted much on the usual topics the past several days.

On Saturday evening I wasn't feeling up to snuff, so we watched the Disney film Wreck-It-Ralph, which turned out to be a pretty good flick.  While the themes and story are going to hold up, I am concerned that the trappings of the nostalgia and with the concept of a modern game (or kids paying to play games at an arcade at all) it'll fall into Oliver and Co. territory for Disney, a sort of dated product of its time.  Still, at this time, it was a really fun movie that, even if the kids don't quite get all the gags, they can stick with what's offered up on a story and emotional level.  The "over their heads" bits seemed mostly winky stuff towards 80's video games, much as the Toy Story movies might reference a toy from a Gen X'er's youth.  Heck, one of the credit songs is performed by Pac-Man Fever maestros Buckner and Garcia.

Today was my brother's 40th, and we spent most of the day out at my folks' place with a wide variety of characters.  I saw people I hadn't seen in years, including the children I had never met of several of Jason's pals.  Some of those kids are kind of not so little anymore.  Time flies, man.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

All New Mickey & Friends Cartoons!

Made for web consumption and with semi-limited animation, they still get Mickey (and company) right.

It's all in French, but you'll never notice. Outrage over a delayed pastry works in every language.





Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Saw Louis CK and other Bits into the Weekend

Somehow we wound up with 6th row tickets to see Louis CK at the Moody Theater this evening.  Right on the center aisle.  Kind of crazy.  I insisted to our friends who had seats a bit further away that you could feel the comedy spraying across us from that close.

Louis's brand of comedy isn't for everyone, and certainly his show on FX isn't something I'd likely watch with my folks.  I do find his work challenging (the last bit this evening on 'Of Course' vs. 'But Maybe' isn't necessarily going to be for every audience and runs the risk of being misunderstood by some audiences).

If you know Louie (the oddly misspelled showname of Louis CK's FX program), you might like this. NSFW.  Sorry.




Sports!

I didn't get to watch, but UT's Women's Volleyball team is once again headed for the National Championship!  We've got as good a chance at winning as not, and no matter what happens, it's been a great year for the squad.

But it'd still be amazing to see a National Championship.

Unfortunately, I never get to watch the games.  They broadcast on the controversial Longhorn Network that I don't have, and I travel so much, I never buy tickets, even though they play across the street.  I mostly keep up via articles online or asking one of our Sys Admins who goes all the time.

The Weekend

We're in San Antonio as of tomorrow as this is the weekend of the wedding I'm officiating.  No Hobbit for me this weekend, I guess.

Looking forward to the wedding.  Of course seeing Julia and Bill get hitched from the best seat in the house is a treat, but Matt & Nicole will be there, as well as other pals like Jonathan and Billie.  This is going to be all right.

After the wedding, I plan to come home, finish Christmas shopping, then lay very, very still before Dug and K arrive for the holidays.  I have a feeling that when my feet hit the ground at the start of January, work is going to be nuts.  I need to plan summer vacation now or its not going to happen.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Toy Story 2 (1999)

By 1999, "Buzz" and "Woody" had become household names.  It would be another three years before I'd be skipping out on a day of a conference at Disneyland and stop short, realizing that the two characters were as cemented in the minds of most people as Mickey and Donald when 6'5" versions of Buzz and Woody wandered past me at the Happiest Place on Earth.

In 1999, the sequel to Toy Story arrived and was met with a sort of exclamation point of surprise that somehow - against all expectations - a beloved kid's movie had turned in a sequel that was its own story/ film and which pushed the characters forward with genuine narrative purpose.

There's a certain existential undertone to the Toy Story movies that this film acknowledges, and which the 3rd film fully realizes: toys are a disposable part of a human lifecycle and toys are at the mercy of the giants above them.  Childhood doesn't last forever, and children one day put away toys.  The theme is tied in with the idea presented in the second installment in unwanted fourth wheel toy "The Prospector" who never had an opportunity to be loved by a child, sitting on a shelf somewhere, unsold.

But the toy that's been loved and abandoned?  It tells us that sooner or later, all toys meet a tragic fate of some sort or other.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Toy Story (1995)

I straight up love the Toy Story franchise, and its taken no small amount of willpower not to start collecting the many, many Toy Story items one can buy at Target.

Yes, the animation from the first installment doesn't always hold up as well as I'd like, but everything about the script, direction and voice acting still works as well today as it did the first time I saw the movie.

Speaking of - so I was in film school in 1995, and my roommate had a bad Thanksgiving break.  I don't remember specifics, but she'd gotten into some tiff with the family.  We went up to the film lab to work on our project and then decided we'd go see this Toy Story thing as it was 9:00 Sunday night and the kids would be skipping that screening as school started in the morning.

The place was still packed.  Curious college kids and others were there, and it was a surprisingly great movie.  But in the mid-90's, there were a lot of surprises when it came to kids' movies.  This was right around when I was telling people "Y'all got to go see this movie, Babe".*  And I knew who Pixar was.  I'd seen some of their shorts.  I just had expected it to have that same hacky vibe one got from all of the installments in the The Santa Clause series.  Harmless, perhaps, but not exactly anything you'd actually recommend to anyone.

But Pixar got it right.  The movie had real character in its made-up world of talking toys, and real things at stake for the characters and even for the unsuspecting Andy.  And the great thing was - they didn't make sequels until they had something to say.  Toy Story 2 built on the world from the first movie and showed us the worst fears of a toy come to life - but kept Jessie's story startlingly human.  And the third film started with the scariest threat of all, only to find the highest highs in any of the three films.

Anyway, I'm a fan.  It's popular entertainment at its best.  We can save the technical discussion for another day.




*If you have anything bad to say about either Babe movie, I will fight you with a pitchfork