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

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Halloween Cartoon Watch: Happy Halloween, Scooby Doo! (2020)




Watched:  10/31/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Maxwell Atoms

Uh.  So, I guess there's a rabid fanbase of adult fans of Scooby Doo, which, you know, I really like Superman, so, no stones shall I throw.  I was just never a big Scooby Doo fan, even as a kid.  I mean, it was what was *on* in the few hours I was allowed to watch TV as a kid, so I watched it, but I didn't take to it.  Nor did I get onboard with the live action movies from a couple of decades ago.  Basically -  I am out of the Scooby loop.

But...  this year Hanna Barbera/ WB Animation released Happy Halloween, Scooby Doo! (2020), an animated movie featuring the voice talent of Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson as herself/ Elvira.  I gathered from something I read that she didn't just wander in, do a joke, and disappear again, so I paid to rent the film.  




As I mentioned, there's a rabid adult fanbase of Scoob-o-philes, and I was kind of curious how they felt about this movie.  The Scooby Doo I remember had the bland Fred and Daphne, Velma trying to keep things together, and Shag and Scoob as two slackers who had no business in the monster-chasing business and made dangerously large sandwiches.  The new take looks like classic Scoob, but Fred is... dumb?  I couldn't figure it out.  Daphne is... insane?  and the other three felt like how I remember them.  And, honestly, Scooby Doo himself was deeply back burnered, which is not how I remember the show working.

Elvira was allowed to be more or less a PG version of herself, and they went weird with some bits I can see Peterson finding pretty funny.  Bill Nye also plays a sort of Q role for the team, air dropping them a new mystery machine.

Well, according to what I saw online, the adult fans hate this take.    Which - sure.  Key characters are out of character, even with the fan-base approved voice cast.  

The movie is kind of weird, structurally - from including a Batman villain, to an extended road chase that just keeps going.  

Anyway, I probably enjoyed it more as an Elvira movie than as a Scooby Doo movie - and actually understand if fans are weirded out by their favorite characters acting out of character.  See: my confusion about recent DC Comics movies.  I'm not sure I've ever really been much of one for the Scooby Doo formula, but it was interesting/ weird to see the characters looking the same but (especially Fred and Daphne) updated to be more like modern animated characters.  Not sure it worked - but it was something to ponder.  






Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Disney Attempt-at-Spooky Watch: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)


 

Watched:  10/04/2020
Format: Disney+
Viewing:  I'm calling it a first for the whole movie
Decade:  1940's
Director:  James Algar, Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kenney

So, we were hunting around for something spooky to watch on Disney+, and I saw they had The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949).  I'd never seen the movie in its entirety.  If I ever saw the Wind in the Willows bit that makes up the first half, I don't recall it at all.   

However, the Ichabod Crane part based on Washington Irving's Sleepy Hollow is for good reasons, a Halloween staple.  And, I've seen it a dozen times or so before.  

Taken as a whole, this movie is very weird and unnecessary.  It's clearly two stories that have nothing to do with each other slapped together with a wildly awkward framing device of a library of real books and voice over by, first, Basil Rathbone and then Bing Crosby, which tells me something about how much the left hand and right were talking to each other as this came together.  

As a kid, my first real exposure to Mr. Toad was via the Disney World attraction, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, which was - I ain't gonna lie - super f'ing fun. My memory was that the ride was chaotic and goofy as hell.  And I understood it was based on a fancy toad who got his hands on a car.  

Well, the movie version is... kind of annoying.  I don't really have another word for it.  Unlike most Disney, there's no character development, and Toad just seems like a problem for everyone around him.  Like, that one friend who is now on drugs and you're all supposed to make sure he doesn't harm themself or anyone else.  The animation is pretty good, and it gave us the weasels that pop up in Roger Rabbit, but...  yeah.  This is the rare Disney animation that I just have no affection for - but weirdly like the ride.

And Ichabod itself is also strangely... boring.  And there's no one to actually like.  But, when you do get to the actual Sleepy Hollow scene, it's amazing work.  But 5 minutes or so is not enough to carry a whole movie.

What I guess is that Walt, post-WWII, was just not all that into the animation studio stuff anymore, and you can feel his hand off the wheel in the storytelling department - something that would plague them til Little Mermaid.  It's not horrible stuff, but it feels like someone let the animators just animate whatever they felt like rather than working toward a cohesive story, for two whole stories.  

But, again, that Headless Horseman.


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

PODCAST: "Fantasia" (1940) and "Fantasia 2000" (1999) - a Disney History PodCast w/ NathanC and Ryan

 


Watched:  Fantasia 09/08 and Fantasia 2000 09/10/20
Format:  Disney +
Viewing:  Unknown/ Fourth
Decade:  1940's and 1990's
Director:  multiple on each


More places to listen 

When does animation become become more than popular entertainment? What are the boundaries of art that separate Beethoven and cartoon alligators? What is high-brow entertainment and funny business for the whole family? Walt Disney had a vision to elevate the form of animation and create an entirely new experience. Today, we know the result as "Fantasia", which returned in 1999 with a sequel of sorts in "Fantasia 2000". NathanC and Ryan return to talk all about a pair of Disney classics! 

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor - J.S. Bach
Ave Maria - Franz Schubert

Nathan's Fantasia buddies:


Ryan's Fantasia (and assorted Disney) pals:




Disney History Playlist:



Monday, September 7, 2020

Super Watch: Superman - Man of Tomorrow (2020)




Watched:  09/07/2020
Format:  Blu-Ray
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Chris Palmer

The best thing about a movie shouldn't be the trailer for an upcoming Batman Kung-Fu movie that happens to be on the disc you're watching.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Doc Watch: Howard (2018)



Watched:  08/10/2020
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Don Hahn

Let me start by saying: in a lot of ways Disney+ is much better than I ever expected.  I've enjoyed the Disney "from the vaults" content, catching new material, behind the scenes at parks, movies, etc... with One Day at Disney and two series - one on the making of The Mandalorian and an exceptional doc series on the making of Frozen 2

And, of course, then the release of Hamilton.  I haven't watched Black is King yet, but that's a pretty big line in the sand for the Disney brand to put out on their flagship, no-doubt-this-is-Disney streaming service when Disney has usually just avoided anything that invites cultural critique.*

But Disney+ putting a doc about Howard Ashman, a gay man who died of complications from AIDs at the height of the epidemic, and being honest and open about his sexuality and struggle with the disease, is... kind of mind-blowing.  There's something about the platform of their own streaming service and that you've already paid your money to have it that seems to have freed up the Disney Corp to tell some stories well worth telling I don't know we'd see if they didn't have this avenue.

The doc, itself, is the life story of Howard Ashman who - paired with Alan Menken - wrote the musical numbers for Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.  He also wrote and originally produced Little Shop of Horrors - which was his big breakout hit off-Broadway. 

It's really a pretty great story, well told, and has the heart-breaking knowledge of what happened to Ashman in the back of your head.  And, sadly, the fact he was the musical partner of Menken and that he died of AIDS was all I'd known about him until watching the doc. 

I don't want to get into details too much, but as loving as it is, it isn't shy about who Howard Ashman was and doesn't make him into a saint - while illustrating pretty clearly what sort of mind he had that helped push the Disney cartoon back into prestige territory (and why Disney was flailing at the time he showed up).

For fans of animation, musical theater, or Disney-history - well worth the viewing. 




*Disney tends to get lambasted no matter what they do, and I've stood there and listened to lines of people parrot back the criticisms of Aladdin, Lion King and Little Mermaid during 3 summers at The Disney Store.  I would invariably listen and then say "well, I make $4.50 an hour working here and while I'll tell my manager...  really, your best bet is writing the studio in California."



Monday, July 27, 2020

Happy 80th Birthday, Bugs Bunny!

in which I argue this is a hero of the people


Because parents are now largely concerned their children will experience any joy that doesn't have bumpers on it,* I don't think kids really know about Bugs Bunny.  Which is a shame.

Being a 1980's latchkey kid who had a Zenith for a babysitter, like most of my generation, I had WB cartoons blasted at me day and night for my entire youth.  From my earliest memories straight through college, Looney Tunes were not just a staple, but a constant.  In a way, the cheap programming of a thousand UHF channels and basic cable options may be the truest common denominator for 2-3 decades of Americans.  All of us know "Rabbit Season/ Duck Season".  We all know the weird, hilarious poetic tragedy of Michigan J. Frog and those who find him.  We all know the best thing to do when pursued is to dress as a coquettish young blonde and flirt with our pursuer.

It's printed on our DNA.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Lockdown Watch: Frozen 2 (2019)


Watched:  03/16/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  third
Decade:  2010's

One of my favorites from last year, I went ahead and picked this up on BluRay.

And, you know what, I think I continue to like this movie more every time I watch it.

Frozen 2 is a funny thing to like as a near 45 year old dude.  I'm used to picking up an action figure or whatnot when I like an Avengers movie.  Heck, I have an Ant-Man and The Wasp t-shirt.  But, you know, as much as I don't care what cashiers think when I'm buying my usual dumb stuff, there's not much Frozen 2 stuff I thought would make sense for *me*.  So, I bought the BluRay.  And the extras are really excellent.  So, heads-up if you have a chance to watch them.  It's fascinating to see how story is developed at Disney these days.

But do feel free to point me at Frozen II plastic stuff I can own that is not, like, an Elsa wig or 12" doll.

Anyway, refer to my last write-up on this.

And, frankly, I find this scene amazing.





Friday, January 3, 2020

Disney Watch: Frozen II (2019)



Watched:  12/30/2019
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2010's

Not to be overly dramatic, but after seeing Frozen II (2019) the first time, I knew I'd need to watch it again before I'd do my usual posting.

The reviews were kind of lukewarm, so going in, I had my expectations set for "it'll be okay", and so... when the movie ended and I was having all the reactions I deeply *want* to have after seeing a movie, I'll admit that I kinda-sorta didn't trust my own reaction and figured it would fade after a day of thinking about (or forgetting about) the movie. 

Monday, December 30, 2019

Disney Watch: Tangled (2010)



Watched:  12/29/2019
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2010

I don't know that I need to write up Tangled (2010).  But here's what I think:

This movie is a letter of permission for some young women to realize that maybe their relationship with their parents is kinda toxic.

By that I do not mean that all young women have a toxic relationship with their moms, but dang... there is a reason that this movie ends with a young woman cutting off her girlish long locks as she severs her relationship with the woman who has been gaslighting her and filling her head with bad ideas for her entire life.  And I think we've all sorta known that young woman who went to college, realized maybe the world was not the place she'd been taught, and wound up shaving their head by second semester. 

There is some phenomenal character animation in this movie in the classic Disney tradition - I mean, Maximus is a frikkin' delight - and I really enjoy the number by all the tough-guys singing about their dreams.  The new stuff was in the effects - sure - but the movement and camera work in the movie is kinda breathtaking when you watch Rapunzel zipping around like Spider-Man on her own hair.  They really make the space inside the tower work, as well as in the construction-site sequence.

But, yeah, this movie is going to hold up for a very, very long time as it works with timeless themes, for both Rapunzel and Flynn, and the animation may look marginally dated by Frozen II standards, but I'll argue the Disney styling will keep it fresh for decades. 


Sunday, November 24, 2019

Disney Watch: Frozen 2 (2019)


Watched:  11/23/2019
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

I liked it a great deal.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Disney Watch: Frozen (2013)



Watched:  11/20/2019
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  2010's

I was on hiatus with The Signal Watch when I saw Frozen (2013) the first time, so there's no record here of what I thought at the time.  I do regret not having any of my reaction caught, because it was the most I'd loved a new Disney movie since Lion King, and, now, Frozen and Moana are probably my two favorite Disney animated features produced post Walt's passing.

Frozen became a smash in a way even Disney hadn't anticipated, becoming the soundtrack of choice for kids for a two year stint there, with merchandise everywhere, and with BluRays on repeat.  I know it became one of those things that a lot of people turned on, simply burnt out on a thing they'd initially liked.  It got so crazy, I recall Mommy Blogs ranting about how Disney was ruining their lives by way of under-producing Anna and Elsa dolls (btw, not Disney's fault there, moms...  That's a toy company's issue, or a sudden case of supply and demand not meeting.).

Thursday, November 7, 2019

WTF was that? Watch: The Little Mermaid - Live!



Watched:  11/06/2019
Format:  TV broadcast on ABC
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

This "show" was some rough going, and I hope it's not how anyone would introduce their child to The Little Mermaid, stage musicals or entertainment in general.

In honor of the 30th Anniversary of the animated The Little Mermaid, Disney, for reasons that remain totally unclear, decided to show the original The Little Mermaid, but when the movie reached the musical numbers, cut over to actors performing the numbers on a stage in front of their big movie screen.

Look, I've seen The Little Mermaid maybe twice and neither of those times occurred in the past 20 years.  As with about 1 in 2 Disney movies, I just don't really click to the movie about a young, dumb mermaid in love with a guy she only met when he was wet and unconscious.  I skipped TLM at the theater because I thought it was for very young children, and missed the memo that this movie the thing to tell people Disney was no longer making kinda bad movies.  I finally saw it summer 1992, thought it was better than I expected, but was more into what Disney was doing when I did hit the theater for Beauty and the Beast in '91.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Lego Watch: Lego Movie 2 - The Second Part (2019)


Watched:  08/15/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

I just checked Box Office Mojo and if you want to weep for humanity, this movie made $190 million and Minions made over a billion dollars.  I think I'm beginning to understand how we reached our current state as a people.

Anyhoo...

If you haven't seen Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019), it's now streaming, so now's a second chance. 

With the device revealed at the finale of the first Lego Movie, and a reasonable assumption being that we understand that the adventures of the movie are in part a kid playing with Lego and in part a kid working things out - the movie is able to play a bit more with the premise. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Animation Watch: Justice League vs The Fatal Five (2019)



Watched:  04/25/2019
Format:  DCUniverse
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Aside from Justice League Action and Young Justice, I have a hard time getting excited for the DC animation films or shows.  While a country mile better than Marvel's cartoons and their paceless plotting (but kudos as their animation has finally caught up), with the end of Brave and the Bold and the hard pivot with Flashpoint, DC decided the only thing to do was aim squarely at 22 year olds and everyone else could go @#$% themselves.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

DC Watch: Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (2018)



Watched:  04/12/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Honestly, if you'd told me 20 years ago that in 2018 there would be so much superhero stuff on TV and at the movies I wouldn't blink to miss a Teen Titans tv show, let alone a movie (and, indeed, that Teen Titans would be a household word), I think you would have blown my 1998 mind. 

So, I don't watch Teen Titans Go! 95% because I only have so many hours in a day.  When the film of Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (2018) came out, I was busy and just didn't see it, but everyone was telling me it was great, so I picked it up "on-sale" via Amazon Streaming (thanks for the tip, Stuart). 

Yeah!  It's weird, super fun stuff.  Kid safe, but wonderfully absurd for the adults - it's just amazing how the movie works on two different levels in virtually every scene and with every line.  When the kids who saw it now return to it in a few years, I think they'll be genuinely surprised at what WB and DC signed off on here - it all feels like one long in-joke for comics fans, paired with the absurdities of comics AND the superhero movie boom, playing as a moral lesson the movie explicitly does not care about (giving us the best/ most honest ending I've seen in a kiddie cartoon in a while).

Anyway - I totally dug it.  And cannot believe this gem exists. 

Kudos to the Teen Titans Go! voice cast - that is some A+work.  And to the celebrity voices who dropped in, like Nic Cage as Superman.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Third Time Around Watch: Spider-Man - Into the Spider-Verse (2018)


Watched:  03/03/2019
Format:  Alamo Slaughter
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  2010's

This was the third time.  I'm still seeing all-new things in this movie, still totally swept up in the story and characters, still getting weepy multiple times...  I love this movie so much.

In case you didn't hear - it did win

Academy Award - Best Animated Feature
Golden Globe - Best Animated Feature
Critic's Choice - Best Animated Feature
New York Film Critics Circle - Best Animated Feature
BAFTA - Best Animated Feature
PGA - Producer of the Year Award in Animated Feature

I don't care too much about awards, but there are a lot of people out there who like this movie who kinda know movies.  And I would genuinely try not to steer you wrong.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Disney Watch: Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)


Watched:  03/01/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

No write up.  I'm a bit under the weather, but I really enjoyed it.  And I can't believe Disney went off-script with their own IP to that degree.  A lot of good stuff.  And, of course, Vanellope's song - just brilliant.

Late Edit:  Our own NathanC wrote a great review over at the TPR site, so go check that out.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Pixar Watch: Incredibles 2 (2018)


Watched:  01/30/2018
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

It's been forever since The Incredibles came out, and I really wanted to see this one in the theater and just never found the time.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Super Watch: Reign of the Supermen (2019)


Watched:  01/29/2019
Format:  DC Universe Streaming
Viewing: First
Decade:  2010's

This week is becoming Steel-tastic as we return to a version of the Steel origin source material.

In 1992, DC Comics famously killed and resurrected Superman in a triptych of narrative arcs, , first downing him with Doomsday, then keeping Superman dead for a few months before bringing him back to save the day/ Earth.

It's a very 90's-tastic comic series, and your mileage will vary as you read it now.

Reign of the Supermen (2019) kinda sorta retells the story of the second two arcs post-Death of Superman as four new beings arrive on the global scene, all claiming some bit of Superman's legacy.  From back in Ye Olden Comicks Days, this is where we got Steel, Superboy (Conner Kent), Cyborg Superman and The Eradicator.  Surprisingly, over the years, these characters have endured unlike near any others spinning out of a major event, which is a testament to the solid core concepts each character embodied and how they fit into the DCU like puzzle pieces.