Hey guys it’s Sam. You probably agree with me when I say that Disney is practically the gas giant of children’s merchandising. The children’s media Hitler, if you will. You know, without the Nazis. Ever since Walt Disney established his business back in the 1920s or so, he became one of the most influential people of the 20th century. If it wasn’t for him, cinema and media these days would be dramatically altered. Also, Disney World wouldn’t exist. Those guys have designed swimwear, plushes, nursery and bedding collections, flatware, everything but the kitchen sink. And they’re all decorated with the faces of Mickey Mouse, Perry the Platypus, Winnie the Pooh, and so on. When Walt Disney got into movie making, he was rolling out pieces of Disney history–Snow White, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Fantasia, the list goes on. But for a while everything just stopped. Those good movies strangely disappeared, and Walt’s passing in 1966 was a major blow. Then, in 1989, everything changed.
“The Little Mermaid ushered in a new golden era for Disney animation with warm and charming hand-drawn characters and catchy musical sequences.”
– Rotten Tomatoes
PLOT: Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Little Mermaid focuses on the most juvenile daughter of King Triton, a sixteen-year old mermaid named Ariel. She is unhappy with undersea life and destines to live among the human race above the surface, but frequently quarrels with her father over the “barbaric fish eaters”. She strikes a deal with Ursula the Sea Witch to make her dream come true, but little does she know Ursula has plans to make it a nightmare.
ORIGINS: Disney began working on Little Mermaid as early as the post-Snow White 1930s, but was put on hold due to numerous reasons. Ron Clements, co-director of The Great Mouse Detective, found a collection of Andersen fairy tales at a bookstore and came up with a two-page draft of a Little Mermaid-based movie. The idea was put on hold, as it would have been too similar to another mermaid movie called Splash (starring Tom Hanks). However, the movie got the green light alongside Oliver & Company, and its 2-page idea turned into a 20-page draft. After being postponed once more while Oliver & Company got its time in the limelight alongside Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the music structure was tweaked a bit and the movie finally released in fall 1989.
REACTION: Little Mermaid received critical acclaim upon release, scoring a 90% on the Rotten Tomatoes T-Meter. It was lauded for its creativity, character, and music. “Under the Sea”, one of the movie’s songs, won the 1989 Oscar for Best Original Song and is remembered as an iconic Disney song. The entire album won both an Oscar and a Golden Globe, and is respected as one of the best Disney soundtracks ever made. Little Mermaid is deemed responsible for bringing “Broadway into cartoons” and breathing life into Disney after a throng of 1970s commercial disappointments, and started what is now known as the Disney Renaissance.
The movie was picked as a Walt Disney Classic among a line of films that were released on VHS and Laserdisc, which sparked a controversy concerning a structure in the castle of the Walt Disney logo that looked strangely like a penis. It was also on The Masterpiece Collection of more VHS, and was released in a “bare bones limited edition” in 1999. Ariel was also honored with the title of the fourth Disney Princess.
BOX OFFICE: The movie did greatly well at the box office and grossed over $200 million on a $40 million budget.
“Though its story is second-rate, The Rescuers Down Under redeems itself with some remarkable production values — particularly its flight scenes.”
– Rotten Tomatoes
PLOT: A sequel to The Rescuers (1977), this movie stars Cody of the Australian outback, who receives a distress call from a trapped giant golden eagle named Marahute. He gains a close friendship with the bird after he frees her, but a villainous poacher named Percival McLeach abducts Cody. It turns out Marahute’s species is endangered–and very profitable. A mouse Cody rescued from one of Percy’s traps sends an SOS to the NYC Rescue Aid Society, who recruits a white mouse named Ms. Bianca and a grey mouse named Bernard to get on the case. When accompanied by a quirky albatross and a kangaroo rat, Cody and his animal allies race against time to save Marahute and apprehend Percy.
ORIGINS: RDU is famous for being the first traditionally animated Disney movie to use CAPS (Computer Animation Production System), a computerized system used for digital ink-and-paint and compositing, which deemed hand-painted cel animation officially out of date. This was one of Disney’s first team-ups with Pixar, who would eventually make cinema history with Disney. This is also the second Disney movie that isn’t a musical, the first being The Black Cauldron, and required over 400 artists and technicians. 5 of them even went to the real Australian outback to get a good illustration!
REACTION: The film received mostly positive reviews, slipping by with a 68% on the T-Meter. Its flight scenes and action sequences were praised, but critics noted questionable plotting, the fact that the movie could’ve been anywhere (without the accents, kangaroos, and koalas), and its notable absence of any real rescuing until well into the movie.
BOX OFFICE: Rescuers Down Under had a mediocre run at the box office, grossing only $47 million–which was $10 million higher than its budget.
“Enchanting, sweepingly romantic, and featuring plenty of wonderful musical numbers, Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney’s most elegant animated offerings.”
– Rotten Tomatoes
PLOT: Before I even begin to explain the story, I have to say this is where Disney really regained lots of its fire that Rescuers Down Under failed to bring. Anyway, the movie starts focused on a selfish French prince who rejects an offer to give a beggar woman shelter for the night in exchange for a rose. The beggar turns out to be an enchantress, and he turns the prince into an ugly beast, and she says he must love and be loved before the rose’s petals fall unless he wants to be like this forever. Years later, we meet an inventor named Maurice. When Maurice gets lost in the woods and stumbles upon the Beast’s castle, he is imprisoned for trespassing. Maurice’s daughter Belle is like a more human Ariel–she is unhappy with her life and dreams out life outside her village. She offers to spare his father’s place, and although the two don’t like each other in the beginning, they taste the bitter sweetness of their relationship.
ORIGINS: The movie was based off of La Belle et la Bête, a fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, an 18th century French novelist. After Snow White became a success, Walt Disney considered Beauty and the Beast to adapt next. Attempts to create the movie were done in the 30s and 50s, but Disney became supposedly discouraged when French director Jean Cocteau beat him to it in 1946. Decades later, the idea was resurrected after Roger Rabbit‘s success, the script was ordered to be rewritten and hired first-time feature directors as well as songwriters. These songwriters were Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, who had previously composed the Little Mermaid score. When it was discovered that Ashman was dying from AIDS-related complications, production was moved from London to New York, where he lived. Like Rescuers Down Under, Beauty & the Beast used CAPS for animation which smoothed out the movie’s CGI.
REACTION: The film was released to nothing less than universal acclaim, getting a 92% on the T-Meter. Its memorable characters, music, and other factors turned into a Disney breakthrough that was lauded by critics. But it didn’t stop there–the movie inspired five games: one for the NES, one for the Super Nintendo, two for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, and one for the Game Boy Color. But it didn’t stop there–it won two Oscars in 1991, coincidentally the exact same Little Mermaid won: Best Original Score, and Best Original Song for the title track. It was nominated for four more, including Best Picture–becoming the first ever animated movie to do so. But it didn’t stop there–the movie also won three Golden Globes, two of them in the same category as the won Oscars. The new award was for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), making it the first animated movie to do so. Oh, and the soundtrack won four Grammys too. And it was nominated for Album of the Year. Let me repeat that–it was nominated for Album of the Year! Oh, and Belle became the fifth Disney Princess.
Three years after its release, Beauty and the Beast received a Broadway musical and became–you guessed it–the first ever animated Disney movie to do so. The movie inspired two direct-to-DVD “midquels”: The Enchanted Christmas and Belle’s Magical World, as well as a TV show (1995-1999). An IMAX special edition hit theaters in 2002, and became the second of Disney’s 3D re-releases in January 2012.
BOX OFFICE: The movie did great at the box office, grossing a record-breaking $425 million on a $25 million budget.
“A highly entertaining entry in Disney’s “second golden age,” Aladdin is beautifully drawn, with near-classic songs and a cast of scene-stealing characters.”
– Rotten Tomatoes
PLOT: Based on a classic Middle Eastern folktale from Arabian Nights, this film stars a street urchin named Aladdin who lives in a bustling urban town with his loyal monkey Abu. When Princess Jasmine tires of living in her palace, she sneaks out to the marketplace and accidentally meets Aladdin. (Man, what is it with these girls unhappy with their lives?!) Under the commands of Jafar, the sultan’s advisor, Aladdin is arrested and gets involved in Jafar’s schemes to rule the land using a mystifying lamp. Apparently as with all old lamps, Aladdin rubs it and a genie comes out. The genie grants him three wishes that can be granted unless they deal with murder, romance, revival of the dead, or wish multiplication. His first wish is used on turning into prince to get Jasmine’s affection, but unfortunately Jafar steals the lamp and gets three wishes of his own. Aladdin must outwit Jafar to save the kingdom and the people he loves.
ORIGINS: An idea for an Aladdin movie sprouted as early as 1988, but real action didn’t get into full swing until 1991. It was chosen among three offered projects to become a movie by directors John Musker and Ron Clements, but Robin Williams (the voice of the Genie) had a notorious conflict with Disney, refusing to allow them to feature his name or image in any marketing and that the Genie must take up only 25% of advertising artwork. The Aladdin tie-in behind-the-scenes story published by Disney Hyperion (publishers of Percy Jackson and Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan) was forced to refer to Williams as “the actor signed to play the Genie”. Well, that was awkward. Anyway, composer Alan Menken and songwriters Tim Rice and Howard Ashman (remember him?) were on soundtrack duty, but Rice took over after Ashman died.
REACTION: The film received universal acclaim, getting 92% on the T-Meter, with William’s performance as the Genie receiving considerable praise. The movie was also lauded for having the magical adventure that would be great for both children and parents, and that it had grand characters and “technical virtuosity” according to Variety‘s Brian Lowry. However, some parts of the movie were heavily panned–for example, Ed Gonzalez of Slant Magazine gave Aladdin a mercilessly negative review, calling it a racist and ridiculous “narcissistic circus act”. Roger Ebert took a less harsh approach, praising the movie in general although he did call Aladdin and Jasmine “pale and routine”. As my classmates would say, ROASTED! Oh, but it doesn’t stop there–much like Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid, it won two Oscars for its soundtrack and one of its songs (“A Whole New World”). It also won two Golden Globes, with Robin Williams receiving a Special Achievement Award. Aladdin also got an Annie Award, a MTV Movie Award (again, for Williams), three Saturn Awards, and the honor of Best Animated Feature from the LA Film Critics Assocation. Not only that, but it also won four Grammys too! Add that up and Aladdin won fifteen awards!
Also, the movie spawned two direct-to-DVD sequels: Aladdin and the King of Thieves and The Return of Jafar. It also spawned a show that only ran for a year before being cancelled. A musical based on the movie is hitting Broadway next year, and Jasmine became the sixth Disney Princess.
BOX OFFICE: The movie did so well at the BO it broke Beauty & the Beast‘s record by over $100 million. It grossed half a billion bucks on a $28 million budget!
“Emotionally stirring, richly drawn, and beautifully animated, The Lion King stands tall within Disney’s pantheon of classic family films.”
– Rotten Tomatoes
PLOT: I pity you if you don’t know it already, but here’s the story. When a lion cub named Simba is born in Africa, heir to the throne of Mufasa the lion king, the Pride Land animals pay tribute and Simba is told by his dad that he will become the king of the Pride Lands when Mufasa dies. Simba’s Uncle Scar would’ve been the new lion king instead of Simba if Mufasa hadn’t had a child, which fuels him with murderous rage against Mufasa. After Scar kills Mufasa in one of the most heartbreaking deaths in Disney history, Scar convinces Simba into thinking it was his fault and that the Pride Land animals will blame him. When Simba flees from home (never to return), he is found by Timon the meerkat and Pumbaa the warthog, who become Simba’s companions. When he stumbles upon his old friend Nala, he discovers that Scar has taken the throne and ruined everything, and his people in the Pride Lands will starve if he does not return.
ORIGINS: Much like Aladdin, the idea for the movie began in 1988 when Africa came up in a conversation between chairman Jeff Katzenberg, Walt Disney’s nephew Roy, and president Peter Schneider. The film started as a treatment called King of the Kalahari, which became a draft called King of the Beasts and then King of the Jungle. This was actually among the three projects that Aladdin was chosen from. The movie was very different from its final version: Rafiki was a cheetah, Timon and Pumbaa being Simba’s lifelong friends, and vice versa. After a visit to Kenya, the movie was scrapped due to arguments over whether or not the movie would be a musical or a more nature documentary-like movie. This was also Disney’s first movie of completely original material, as they had been feeding off of fairy tales and old stories for five years. The film’s story was apparently inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet as well as Joseph and Moses from the Bible.
REACTION: Do I even have to explain this one? The film got 90% on the T-Meter, and its Shakespearean tones, epic scopes, catchy music, and rollicking thrills were several factors heavily lauded from critics. It did have its fair share of bad reviews stating that it had a lack of heart and didn’t rise up to the level of past Disney movies like Beauty and the Beast. Lion King went on to win two Golden Globes and two Oscars. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” won Best Original Song against “Hakuna Matata” and “Circle of Life”, and it also won a Grammy and a BMI Film Music Award. The movie also won three Annies and a 1995 KCA, resulting in it winning ten awards! It also received a 3D re-release in fall 2011, beginning Disney’s series of 3D re-releases. Two sequels were released–The Lion King 2 and The Lion King 1 1/2. Timon and Pumbaa also got their own show between 1995 and 1999 on CBS. It also inspired a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical that hit the stage in summer 1997 and became the highest-grossing Broadway musical ever.
BOX OFFICE: Lion King grossed more than Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast combined, making $954 million on a $45 million budget, becoming (by a landslide) the biggest box office success of the Renaissance.
“Pocahontas means well, and has moments of startling beauty, but it’s largely a bland, uninspired effort, with uneven plotting and an unfortunate lack of fun.”
– Rotten Tomatoes
PLOT: For the first time, Disney bases a movie off of a real historical figure–Pocahontas, a Native American environmentalist who uses music and not words to fuel her nature activism campaign. In other words, she believes the pen is mightier than the sword. Meanwhile, Captain John Smith is the leader of a band of English sailors and soldiers who are voyaging to the New World to plunder riches. In this New World, Pocahontas’ dad Chief Powhatan wants his daughter to be married to the greatest village warrior. However, Pocahontas has different ideas when she has a great epiphany that change is coming. The change does indeed arrive in the form of an English ship, and Pocahontas and Smith begin to grow a relationship. They must save their love and prevent war between Governor Ratcliffe who thinks their gold is being hidden by savages, and Powhatan who believes the English will destroy their land.
ORIGINS: The film crew went to Jamestown to study the landscapes and trees. Howard Ashman, poor Howard Ashman, was hired as songwriter as soon as he finished Aladdin, but when he didn’t make it to the end of production, Pocahontas became the first Disney movie without any Ashman music whatsoever. Originally the animals were anthropomorphic and Pocahontas was supposed to have a third sidekick, a turkey named Redfeather voiced by John Candy. However, when Candy died in 1994, Redfeather was scrapped and so was the concept of animal anthropomorphism. Richard White, the voice of BATB‘s Gaston, was originally chosen to play Ratcliffe, but he was replaced with David Ogden Stiers since he might have sounded too Gaston-y. (Stiers also plays Major Winchester III from MASH.) Other rejected offers were Rupert Everett, Stephen Fry, and Pat Stewart. Y’know, Picard from Star Trek: Next Generation?
REACTION: The critical feedback for Pocahontas was awfully mediocre; it ranked at only 56% on the T-Meter and was negatively received for being historically inaccurate and having an uneven and unfortunate lack of trademark Disney energy. Also, Pocahontas herself got some pointed fingers for having nothing more important in life than her male relationships. That’s cold, but also true. However, the movie’s awards say otherwise: the film won two Oscars for its score alongside “Colors of the Wind”, and it also won three Annie Awards. It also won an Artios Award, two ASCAP Awards, a BMI Film Music Award, an Environmental Media Award, a Golden Globe, a Golden Reel Award, and a Grammy. Altogether Pocahontas won thirteen awards! But it doesn’t stop there–it spawned a direct-to-DVD sequel called Pocahontas 2: Journey to a New World, and was re-released on the Walt Disney VHS Masterpiece Collection as well as the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection. It also received a video game for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, Game Boy, and PlayStation. A Super Nintendo version was originally in the making, but was cancelled due to development being too far to coincide with the Genesis version. Pocahontas was given the honor of the seventh Disney Princess.
BOX OFFICE: The film did well at the box office, grossing $346 million on an estimated $55 million budget.
“Disney’s take on the Victor Hugo classic is dramatically uneven, but its strong visuals, dark themes, and message of tolerance make for a more-sophisticated-than-average children’s film.”
– Rotten Tomatoes
PLOT: Based off of Victor Hugo’s classic novel, Hunchback of Notre Dame takes place in the 15th century when Clopin the puppeteer tells the story of Quasimodo, Notre Dame’s deformed bellringer who suffers from kyphosis–sorry, “hunchback disease”. As a baby Quasi was nearly murdered by Claude Frollo, minister of justice, who was forced by the Notre Dame Archdeacon to raise Quasi as a child. Young Quasi was hidden from the world by Frollo in the cathedral belltower, but decides to take part in the Festival of Fools when encouraged by his gargoyle friends. (It’s funny, cuz two of them are named Victor and Hugo.) There he meets a female gypsy named Esmeralda, as well as a handsome soldier named Phoebus. The trio find themselves up against Frollo’s evil cruelty and his attempts to destroy the Court of Miracles, home of the gypsies. Quasi must discover his inner hero to save Esmeralda and Notre Dame.
ORIGINS: The idea for Hunchback first sparked after development executive David Stain was inspired after reading a Classics Illustrated version of Hugo’s novel. Stain took the idea to Disney, and was enlightened to find that two people immediately jumped onto the project–Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, the directors of Beauty and the Beast. The two were eager to work on it but had to make some dramatic changes to make it a more family-friendly G-rated movie, such as keeping Quasi and Esmeralda alive at the end. For a few weeks the movie’s animators actually visited the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, making and taking a copious amount of sketches and pictures to capture every last bit of architecture and detail.
Despite the movie getting by with a G rating, it showed messages centric to lust, sin, infanticide (baby killing), swearing, religious hypocrisy, prejudice, social injustice, even the concept of hell. The movie’s music contained rather mature lyrics as well, mentioning hell several times and introducing sexual indulgence using fancy words like “strumpet” and “licentious”. (Google it.) I’m surprised the movie’s soundtrack didn’t get a parental advisory sticker.
REACTION: The movie received generally positive reviews, albeit not as acclaiming as Lion King or as critical as Pocahontas. It received a 73% on the T-Meter, and was praised for being a rollicking, uplifting story that rivaled Beauty and the Beast. People praised it as a “cartoon masterpiece”, “one of the great movie musicals”, and “a pervading atmosphere of racial tension, religious bigotry and mob hysteria”. Some people were unhappy with the major changes Disney made to Hugo’s story, and many people consider it Disney’s darkest movie since The Black Cauldron–and to think that qualified for a PG rating! Hunchback did win some awards–a BMI Film Music Award, a Satellite Award, an Annie Award, and an Artios Award, resulting with just four awards. It is the first Disney movie of the Renaissance to lose a nomination to an Oscar and a Golden Globe, and it was also nominated for the dreaded Razzie. But, this blow to the movie’s self esteem wasn’t that lasting; it managed to qualify for the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection, it inspired a direct-to-DVD sequel called Hunchback of Notre Dame II, and a 1996 tie-in game hit the Game Boy and PC. In more recent years, a world based on the movie called “the City of Bells” was included in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. Everyone but Clopin and the Archdeacon was featured in the game.
BOX OFFICE: The movie was a moderate box office success, grossing $325.3 million on a $100 million budget, which was actually one of the two biggest box office “disappointments” of the Renaissance.
“Fast-paced and packed with dozens of pop culture references, Hercules might not measure up with the true classics of the Disney pantheon, but it’s still plenty of fun.”
– Rotten Tomatoes
PLOT: Hercules, son of the Greek sky god Zeus, is turned into a half-god half-mortal by the Greek underworld god Hades, who plans to overthrow Zeus. Hercules is raised on Earth and regains his godly strength, but when he finds out about his immortal heritage his dad tells him that he must be a real hero to return to Mount Olympus. With the help of his friend Pegasus and his personal trainer Phil (who’s also a satyr), Hercules becomes a great hero that battles monsters, Hades, and the Titans. However, he discovers that the self sacrifice he makes to rescue his love Meg that makes him a real hero.
ORIGINS: Hercules was in development from 1994-1997, with character design based on Greek statues and Gerald Scarfe’s work as an artist on Pink Floyd: The Wall, the 1982 movie based on the album of the same name. Each important character from the movie had its own supervising animator, and Hercules’ animator Andreas Deja said that the crew he worked with to animate his character was “the largest [he] ever worked with”. He had done work with past Disney villains such as Gaston, Jafar, and Scar. With those he had teams of four on his crew, but with Hercules he had 12 or 13. Deja was actually offered to animate Hades to keep his villain-animating streak going, but decided on the hero since “[he] knew if would be more difficult and more challenging, but [he] just needed that experience to have that in [his] repertoire.”
REACTION: The film received moderate critical praise, hitting an 83% on the T-Meter and even earning the respect of Roger Ebert. He praised the film’s story and animation, as well as James Woods’ performance for Hades, comparing his work to Robin Williams’ performance as Aladdin‘s genie. One of the film’s songs, “Go the Distance”, was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe, but both awards went to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” (Titanic). It also was nominated for a Saturn Award, two Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, and a Young Artist Award, and lost every single one of them. But it did win four Annie Awards, so I guess it’s not a complete failure for Hercules. The movie received a video game for the PC and PlayStation, and even made it to the PSN later on. A direct-to-DVD prequel called Hercules: Zero to Hero was made in 1998, which in turn took place during the events of the animated Hercules TV show, which chronicled Zeus’ son at the Prometheus Academy.
BOX OFFICE: Despite the film being a box office success, it was the biggest box office “disappointment” of the Renaissance, grossing a meager $252.7 million on an $85 million budget.
“Exploring themes of family duty and honor, Mulan breaks new ground as a Disney film, while still bringing vibrant animation and sprightly characters to the screen.”
– Rotten Tomatoes
PLOT: This folktale retelling circles around Mulan, a young Chinese maiden who learns that her feeble and crippled dad is called up to join the army to fight the Huns during their invasion. Knowing that he’d never make it out of the war alive in his conditions, Mulan masquerades herself and join the army in his place. However, her ancestors know of this and to stop it they send a tiny dragon named Mushu to force her to abandon her plan; he ends up becoming Mulan’s companion when he sees she cannot be discouraged. Weeks later, Mulan and her fellow troopers have survived the training camp and are on the way to war, but when she is caught and chased by her enemies, she creates a plan that forces her to risk it all for her country.
ORIGINS: Mulan began as a short direct-to-DVD movie called China Doll, directed around a miserable Chinese girl who is taken away by Prince Charming to a happy life out west. However, Robert San Souci (Disney consultant) suggested a film adapatation of the poem The Song of Fa Mulan and the two projects were smashed into one. Mulan began production in 1994 after the team sent a group of artistic supervisors to China for three weeks of photo-taking and drawing to soak up Chinese culture. The movie’s animation was more traditional to China, using watercolor and a more simplistic design as opposed to Lion King or Hunchback. The film also used a boatload of software. To create thousands of Huns during the attack sequence, the team created a crowd sim software called Attila that allowed thousands of characters to move independently. A different version of Attila called Dynasty was used in the final battle to create thousands of people in the Forbidden City, as well as Pixar’s RISpec API. Another software, Faux Plane, was used to add depth to flat 2D painting. Although the said software was introduced late into development, the software was used to add zest to five shots in the movie. During the part where the Chinese bow to Mulan, that was actually a panoramic of real bowing people edited into the scene’s foreground.
REACTION: The movie’s feedback was mostly positive, getting an 86% on the T-Meter. Praise was given to its visuals and animation as well as its story, although Slant Mag‘s Ed Gonzalez criticized it for being “soulless” in its portrayal of the Asian society. The movie’s songs also were panned for being unmemorable and bringing down the pace of the movie. Feminist critics also commented on the movie’s female heroism and repressive Chinese gender roles, claiming that the movie was a bravado for the girl power movement. The movie unfortunately lost its Oscar nomination, but it did win an ASCAP Award, a staggering ten Annie Awards, a BMI Film Award, a Bogey Award, and a Golden Screen Award, resulting in 14 won awards! The movie also inspired a direct-to-DVD sequel called Mulan II as well as a PlayStation game called Disney’s Story Studio: Mulan that came out around Christmas 1999. Apparently a live-action Mulan movie underwent filming in China back in fall 2010, but other news about it are under wraps. The movie qualified for the Masterpiece Collection and the Gold Classic Collection, and Mulan herself (as well as Mushu) has appeared in the Kingdom Hearts series. In the first two games of the series, Mushu is a summonable character. By the time Kingdom Hearts II premiered, the movie turned into a playable world called “the Land of Dragons” where Mulan was able to join the player’s party as a sword-figher. Speaking of Mulan, she herself became the eighth Disney Princess.
BOX OFFICE: The movie was a box office success, grossing $304.3 million on a $90 million budget.
“Disney’s Tarzan takes the well-known story to a new level with spirited animation, a brisk pace, and some thrilling action set-pieces.”
– Rotten Tomatoes
PLOT: Based on Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan of the Apes, Tarzan is a small orphan who was raised by an ape by the name of Kala since his youth, believing that this was his family. However, when he rescues a lass by the name of Jane Porter, he then finds out that he is a human and must decide which family to live the rest of his life with…
ORIGINS: To create Tarzan‘s 3D backgrounds, the film’s production team made a 3D painting/rendering technique called Deep Canvas that allowed artists to make CGI paintings that resembled traditional paintings, and the technology was so advanced that the AMPAS gave the creators of it a 2003 Technical Achievement Award. The technique was reused for Atlantis: The Lost Empire (Disney’s first sci-fi movie) for its big panoramic island shots and a couple of action sequences. Deep Canvas was intended to create approximately three quarters of the environments in Treasure Planet, Disney’s next animated action movie, although the results weren’t as stunning and loose. The movie also got a couple of action figures and plushes and whatever.
REACTION: The film received positive reviews, holding an 88% on the T-Meter, with Entertainment Weekly comparing the movie’s VFX advancement to that of The Matrix and the film goes past previous live-action attempts on sometimes emotional levels. The movie inspired not one but two sequels–Tarzan and Jane and Tarzan II, released in 2002 and 2005 on DVD respectively. The standard VHS/DVD release came in winter 2000, and a 2-disc collector’s edition of the film was released in spring 2000. Both of these editions were soon put in the Disney Vault–er, not made available in stores for a while. One of its songs, “You’ll Be In My Heart”, won an Oscar and a Golden Globe, while the entire score won a Grammy. It also won 1 out of its 11 Annie Award nominations.
It inspired a Broadway musical that debuted in May 2006 but was closed down in July 2007 after poor sales. A spinoff TV show called Legend of Tarzan ran from 2001-2003 on UPN, and a video game for the movie called Disney’s Tarzan (1999) was made for the PlayStation, SNES, N64, and Game Boy Color. Disney’s Tarzan Untamed came out in 2001 for the PS2 and GameCube. Tarzan’s home became a playable world in Kingdom Hearts called “the Deep Jungle”. Tarzan and other characters appear as their younger forms in Disney’s Extreme Skate Adventure which hit the PS2, GameCube, Xbox, and GBA in 2003.
BOX OFFICE: With a gross of $448.1 million on a $130 million, Tarzan became the final box office success of the Disney Renaissance when Fantasia 2000 only made $90 million.
People say said movie and Dinosaur (Disney’s first computer animated movie) are the final two films in the Disney Renaissance, but when you combine their grosses they only have $439 million. Altogether the movies of the Renaissance made $3.9 billion. Yeah, top that.
Well, that was a doozy! I apologize if you have a headache from reading all this–or an eyeache, for that matter. I bet next Friday will be much kinder, so stay tuned for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!
Stay classy America,
Channel of the Week: Ah, this is a better alternative than Video of the Week–I’m not saying I got rid of it, I just wanted to have some good alternative. Anyway, this week’s honor of best channel goes to Paint–doesn’t sound like much, does it? Well, it’s owned by this Texas Longhorn named Jon Cozart who makes great videos that often feature him singing, most rarely playing the ukelele. One time he made this video of him tearing paper three years back and the sync levels were out of this–uh, I’m getting off track. Check out some of his best videos:
Hey guys it’s Sam, and welcome to the second episode of our game reviewing segment, Get Ur Game Face On. Anyway, there are a lot of unknown companies that one day have their names known by 5% of people, and the next day having their names known as the people that gave us the amazing game [please insert amazing game title]. And that’s what happened with lots of companies we now know. Take Bethesda, for example. With the dwindling of games like Brink and RAGE, it was almost certified that Bethesda would begin crippling from the game world, and taking all of their series with them. That is, until they introduced the worldwide phenomenon known as Skyrim. See what I mean? THQ (short for Toy Headquarters. Now you know.) already got a start, giving us pretty much the entire anthology of SpongeBob games. But maybe our porous pal needed a break. So they gave us the first De Blob in ’08. And this is its ’11 sequel.
In 2008, the original De Blob met favorably received success, or (as THQ president & CEO Brian Farrell calls it) “broad, critical acclaim.” But the demands rose too high, and they were too big to maintain. So THQ could most likely do nothing but bring out the only weapon in a wave of fiscal demands: a sequel. Instantly the wave died down and THQ could breath a bit easier. That sequel, as I said and will say again, was De Blob 2, also known previously as De Blob: The Underground. Instead of being a Wii exclusive, it (like the forthcoming Epic Mickey sequel) was also available for the Xbox and PS3 as well, alongside the Nintendo DS and 3DS. It was developed by the now inactive Blue Tongue Entertainment, or by Halfbrick Studios (the same buddies that gave us the Fruit Ninja saga) for the DS version, and published by THQ and Syfy Kids (yes, I hasten to add this, but that actually does exist!).
In this game, you basically pick up where the original adventure left off: giving color and happiness with a vengeance (as the antagonistic INKT Corp. has outlawed all the fun and color) to the monochromatic Manhattan parody Chroma City, as a Blob. But not just any Blob. The Caesar of color, the superhero of the spectrum, the rivet of the rainbow, the—oh, you know what I mean. But not alone, with his trusty robo-sidekick Pinky. You can turn into different colors by jumping into different pools of colored paint, or by slamming into different-colored Paintbots, allowing you to make the world literally your canvas & easel. But there are some obstacles in your way, such as surfaces that automatically strip you of your wet, colorful goodness, as well as ink that acts as deadly poison to our hippie of a hero.
Definitely one of the most feel-good games of the year, De Blob 2‘s infectious vibe is only cramped up by one thing: frustration, and frustration under more than one circumstance. You sometimes have no clue what to do, and how to do it, leaving you helplessly struggling for a solution. Repetitive level design occurs repeatedly for a great level of annoyance, and you honestly don’t want to fail root & branch. That’s usually something you always hear in games, but this is a special emphasis; failure results in having to replay long sections or entire levels, putting a chockful of work into the toilet. The targeting system of the game can be a pro various times in the game, but other times when you’re brawling against diverse enemy armies, it’s definitely a con trying to decipher. You should never trust De Blob 2‘s saving system, and even I have examples. Sometimes when I exit a session of De Blob-ing, and come back to that session, I have to redo entire—oh, wait, I already told you about this. But on the bright side, painting the city is more fun that it looks like, and great visuals and tunes make a joyous atmosphere to roam in. Cutscenes are smart and amusingly entertaining, and there is simple fun in the game’s combat. And, of course, there are plenty of cheesily great win quotes in the game like, “Blobberific!” Y’know what, let’s roll the chart.
2 3/4 out of 5 – Educational value – There are puzzle aspects to many of the levels, requiring a great amount of logic and thinking, but the intention of the game is definitely entertainment over education.
3 1/2 out of 5 – Positive messages – Blob is a compassionate hero, determined to bring color (and freedom, and peace, and justice, and—) back to a world ruled by a monochromatic black-and-white tyrant and its corporation. Certain story moments, though, pose moral questions to players, asking them to choose between going after an escaping villain or rescuing innocents.
3 out of 5 – Positive role models – Blob and Pinky are self-sacrificing heroes who value the freedom of their people. Players could choose to make Blob a bit more callous in his pursuit of the baddies if they opt to follow the villains rather than save the innocents at certain points of the game.
4 out of 5 – Ease of play – Controls work very smoothly. If the camera seems problematic at first, know that you can adjust the inversion of the camera functionality; it’s very likely you can find a setting that will be comfortable for your personal style of play, where you prefer going down to go up, or prefer going down to go down. The game offers only two levels of difficulty that sound equally simple: easy and normal.
2 1/2 out of 5 – Violence – Blob fights enemy robots at times with a jump-and-smash ability (or Pinky can zap them with paint). Defeated enemies disappear in a burst of ink. Obviously enough, ink is very poisonous to Blob, and you can surely die if you stay in too long or do not meet a body of water soon enough. Blob can use his jump-and-smash combo to smash into things with violent slams. Overall, the violence is cartoonishly executed, made more for quirks.
Play-Again Ratio: B- (3 points)
Smarts: B+ (3.5 points)
Fun: B (3 points)
Style: A (4 points)
Humor: A (4 points)
Entertainment: A (4 points)
FINAL SCORE: 21.5 out of 30 (well, that was unexpected), 3 stars out of 5, 69% out of 100%
CONSENSUS: De Blob 2 is a funky-fresh sequel with the same infectious vibe as its predecessor, but monotony and other frustrations get the upper hand of the game and ruin its jam to the point where the game is only fun to play for about ten minutes, if not longer.
PRICE: Have it your way, but here’s the pricing for the game. On the Xbox 360, the game costs $16, but new copies are $9, and used ones are $6. Own a Nintendo DS? You can buy the game for only $9, with new copies being $5, and used ones being $3. Fan of the PS3? It costs yet again $16, but new copies are $9, and used ones are $7. Wii junkie? The game costs $13, with $7 for a new copy, and $2 for a used. At GameStop, the game costs $20 new, and $18 pre-owned on the Xbox. On the Wii, the game costs $20, but pre-owned versions are only $15. The same thing applies for the PS3 and DS versions as well.
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– Sam 😀
p.s. Would You Rather o’ the Week: Would you rather…wear only Gap clothing for the rest of your life, or wear only New Balance shoes for the rest of your life?
p.p.s. Random Video o’ the Week: I’m too exhausted to say more, so check out this hot jam. It’s Basement Jaxx and Robyn. C’mon, you know you want to. It’s got really good reception.