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Posts Tagged ‘Pixar’

Pixar’s Brave

Pixar’s latest release is set to be Brave, a 3D animated spectacular set in the Scottish highlands. The synposis from Disney reads as follows:

Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. In Brave, a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida (Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasts. Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.

The first thing that strikes me about this film is that it’s a completely new direction for Disney. Firstly, Merida is visually distinctive from other females Disney have presented us with. She has firey red hair, no hour glass figure, I wouldn’t expect her to break into song or her movements to be light and graceful and she certainly doesn’t seem as if she needs rescusing by a Prince.

Secondly, the aesthetics just of the trailer and the poster alone set a very dark tone for the film. Comparing just the colour palette and the pace of the trailer with that of previous Pixar releases, Up or Toy Story 3 even, we can gather than we’re not in for a comedy caper or a light hearted adventure.

To me this seems like a breath of fresh air in terms of female representation. My dissertation was written about the representation of females by Disney so I like to think I know a fair but about the subject. From the looks of Merida so far I can anticipate a female who’s able to stand on her own feet, far removed from the passive females we taught children about in the 1930s and 1950s where Snow White waited for her Prince to rescue her and Cinderella’s only worth came through marriage.

Children do learn about the world they live in and the role they’re expected to take in adult life from the films they watch as children, so it comes as a great relief that we’re finally starting to see Disney re writing some of the outdated ideas they taught us years ago.

If you’re interested in reading my dissertation you can download it here. All I ask is that you please don’t re write my ideas and claim them as your own (duh!) and if you do use it at all reference me. Enjoy. 🙂

In terms of Brave, I can’t wait to see the full length feature and see where it fits in with the rest of the Disney view point.

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Toy Story 3

Lotso Huggin' Bear shows Buzz around

One of the movie releases of the year I’ve been most anticipating is Toy Story 3. Anyone around the age of 20 will have grown up watching, and most likely, loving the Toy Story franchise.

We first met Woody and the gang in 1995, then again in 1999. But by 2010 those initial fans are likely to be a lot older and college or University students like me. This was something Pixar certainly did not ignore. In the US free screenings of 60 minutes of the film where shown to college students which they signed up for via the dedicated Facebook page. They were left with a cliff hanger ending in the hope that they’d return and pay for a ticket to see the remainder.

In addition, this age of viewer is also likely to blog or talk about their viewing on social networking sites, which would then create an online buzz about the film and get people talking, creating yet more anticipation for the release.

Alongside this, they also released three teaser trailers as well as gradually releasing character profiles of the latest additions online. My favourite trailer was an IM chat between Woody and Buzz but all are pretty funny and clever, and again likely to get people talking and excited about the film.

Having pre-booked my tickets for the first day of release (yeah a bit sad I know), 3D glasses in hand I sat down to watch the third instalment, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

This time around Andy is leaving for college and the toys are facing their inevitable expiration, much like the franchise itself. They end up in Sunnyside play school where they encounter a host of new toys, Barbie meets her Ken, and a strawberry scented fuzzy bear called Lotso Huggin’ sets a cruel agenda for them to live by.

Unusually for an animated sequel, or even a third instalment, this one actually bucks the trend and is really good! The new characters as well as the old are as good as ever (I particularly like a new dinosaur called Trixie) but there is a sense of sadness and finality which runs throughout.

A lot of high hopes were placed on Toy Story 3 but ultimately I think it not only lived up to them, up also surpassed them. Entertaining from start to finish, without a dull “nothing’s happened for a while, I’m bored” moment in sight and just enough twists and turns to keep you interested without losing you, Toy Story 3 is definitely one of the best films I’ve seen so far this year- although admittedly I never got round to seeing either Avatar or Slumdog Millionaire)

A stand out sequence has to be the gang’s ultimate escape from Sunnyside, as well as the inspired character of Mr. Pricklepants (a thespian hedgehog) and the adorably cute Bonnie.

The ultimate message is that although you may be attached to something, sometimes you have to accept that it’s come to the end and it’s time to move on. However, as we learn in the open ending of the film as one door closes, another opens. It’s a tear jerker but ultimately delivers all we expected and more.

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Not too come across as too big headed, but I consider myself a bit of a Disney buff. I’m 20 years old, so that would make such classics as Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid and Pohcahontas the narratives I grew up on and, rather inevitably, fell in love with as a child.

Not only that, but last year I wrote my dissertation on the topic of morality in films to come out of the Disney studios, focusing mainly on what was at the time the most recent Disney Princess movie- Enchanted.

Princess and the Frog

In the process of writing my dissertation however the first entirely hand drawn Princess movie since Beauty and the Beast in 1991 was released- The Princess and the Frog and it’s about time I gave my thoughts on it.

Initially Princess and the Frog attracted a fair bit of attention because our protagonist Tiana is the first African-American Princess and therefore is the first Princess to go against the Disney mould of being fair skinned. (Ariel, Aurora, Snow White, Cinderella) That’s not to say she’s a complete first for Disney; Jasmine was from the middle-East, Mulan was of Chinese decent, Pohcahontas was Native American and Esmarelda I believe was Spanish. None the less, none of them for some reason or another were let into the Disney Princess “club” and she was, and that got people talking given the claims of racism which have fallen at Disney’s feet over the years.

Disney Morals

The general conclusion of my dissertation was that Enchanted provides a far from a perfect moral blueprint for your child to grow up with, assuming they internalise all of the ideas. However, Gisele knew what she wanted and went out to get it herself and this was a definite step in the right direction when compared to the weak and submissive females to come out of the 30s and 50s. (Snow White, pull your finger out love!)

And for the most part I think Princess and the Frog similarly updates the Disney morality to make it far more appropriate for children growing up in 2010.

Tiana displays the desirable traits of hard work and determination in the face of adversity as she works to fulfil her dream of owning her own restaurant and this represents a significant change from the Disney who seem to have always put success and dreams coming true down to “wishing on a star”, fate and destiny, as opposed to sheer hard work and graft.

The Bottom Line

Overall I must admit I liked it but it’s hard to say whether that’s for genuine brilliance or for aesthetic reasons. I am already a Disney fan, anything practically anything wrapped up in Disney magic is going to appeal to me, the cute alligator, the catchy songs and the style of animation are all things I find hard, if not impossible not to like.

But looking strictly at the narrative, and then comparing it to the latest films to come from Pixar, like Up, Toy Story 3 and Wall-E I’ve got to admit that I found all of these films far more watchable and enjoyable than I did Princess and the Frog. Maybe it’s because I’m not 8 anymore but I maintain that the best children’s films are those that can be enjoyed by adults and children alike, and so far Pixar’s attempts seem to be far more qualified at doing that than Disney’s hand drawn nostalgia films are.

Tangled

Later this year we will also see the release of Tangled (based on Rapunzel), said to be a hybrid of hand drawn animation and CGI so that images appear more like paintings on the screen so it’ll be interesting to see once again whether what Disney has made its name for, adapting classic narratives with its Disney stamp, is really working anymore when up against the excellence of Pixar.

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