1 The Mickey Mindset: April 2014

Monday, April 28, 2014

Disney Animation Reviews #25 - The Black Cauldron

Disney Movie Review: 25/53 - The Black Cauldron

Ryan Dosier - Word of warning, The Black Cauldron (1985) is the only Disney animated feature I completely despise. It is the weakest film of the Disney canon by far and easily the most forgettable. It is no wonder that it is hidden away and one of the few Disney animated features that has little to no representation in the Disney family.

Before I start my harsh rant on the film, I will mention its one redeeming quality: the background layouts. There are some really striking and beautiful layouts in the film, especially in the Horned King’s castle. It’s a pity that the animation in front of the backgrounds is so poor and the story so dull.

The film’s animation is shockingly weak for Disney standards. The beautiful standards of Disney films prior to this are lost in The Black Cauldron. The film was notoriously over-budget, and the animation clearly suffered because of it. The lifelike realism of previous Disney characters is gone on the forgettable, uninteresting Black Cauldron characters.

These characters are so forgettable, in fact, that I cannot remember any of their names. The names are so complicated and most of them sound like mumbles. These characters are so weak, so humorless, and so lame throughout the entire film. Nothing about any of them is appealing or interesting. They have no quirks, no sense of humor, and no bravery... By far the worst of the Disney protagonists is Taran, the main character, who is not heroic, just lucky.

The only somewhat memorable character in the film is Gurgi. The little furry weirdo is slightly entertaining from time to time. He notably sacrifices his life for the other characters at the climax, but this moment is not earned by any means. We have no reason to care for Gurgi since he is just a constant annoyance. He has a few funny moments, but Gurgi is just as weak as the other characters.

The Black Cauldron's story is ridiculously dense, complicated, and confusing. The first act (a term I use very loosely) is jam-packed with a magic pig, a horned king, evil minions, dragons, and Gurgi. Everything is rushed and nothing is given time for exposition. Characters fly in and out of this film for no reason. The whole thing is exceptionally dark—and not in a good way. It is violent, scary, and just depressing. There is no humor, no heart, and no Disney magic in The Black Cauldron.

The film tries to be action-packed and exciting, but it never succeeds. For every striking sword fight, there is an overly long scene of sitting and talking with no humor and forced character development that does not work. The Black Cauldron is riddled with crappy dialogue, a comatose story, and characters that have no purpose, no drive, and no reason to be cared about.

None of the story points are earned in this film because none of the characters are sympathetic. We are given no reason to care for any of them; they just exist (barely). Even the villain, the Horned King, is nothing but a scary design. He is just evil without the enjoyable character traits of the good Disney villains.

I cannot stand The Black Cauldron. Disney tried, I suppose, but they failed miserably with this mess of a film. It is far and away my least favorite Disney animated feature. It lacks everything that makes Disney animation great and it holds no entertainment value. I can’t even come up with a handful of redeeming qualities for the film. I would be happy to just forget The Black Cauldron completely.

.5/5 Oracle Pigs

Frozen vs. Tangled

Mitchell Stein- Amidst the continuing success of Disney’s latest animated flick, Frozen (at the moment I type this, the film is officially the sixth highest grossing film of all time, ticket price unadjusted) there were many discussions comparing the new movie to Disney’s last animated fairy-tale film, Tangled. While many argued that one film is far better than the other, I absolutely love both films, and I decided to lay out a list of differences between the two films and what could make the other film far superior than the other in my opinion. We’ll take a look at both films by looking at them both in various different categories.

(Includes spoilers from both films)

·                The Pacing 
      While Tangled is a great film, it does feel rather slow-paced. Only around the thirty-minute mark is when the unlikely duo of Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, er- Eugene Fitz-Herbert, actually leave Rapunzel’s tower. Things start picking up after the “I Had a Dream” musical number, and that scene at the water-bank was ingenious, not to mention hilarious and has yet to be outdone by any other Disney movie.
Things pick up eventually, but it feels like it takes too long to get there. In Frozen, the entire back-story has been established and the current story has already started to begin fifteen minutes into the film and manages to stick in three different musical numbers, when Tangled only fit one song in (“When Will My Life Begin?”).

         Animal Sidekicks
It has become a Disney tradition to cast wacky and silly animal sidekicks to the princesses throughout the years, and they’ve had their good and bad ones, and up against Olaf in Frozen, Pascal doesn’t stand a chance. He is not necessarily a bad character, but the entire time, I was kept thinking: “What’s the point?” Pascal is obviously not there to provide comic relief, as he doesn't speak.

Pascal may have been written into the story just for Rapunzel to have someone to talk to during her lonely days in the tower, but beyond that, I don’t really see why it was even necessary. In Pocahontas, Meeko and Flit don’t speak a word either, but provide silly slapstick humor (still not the biggest fan of those two, but they play a role in the humor of the movie) Olaf was obviously added for the humor, but Pascal is lacking something entirely.

In terms of story, as well as establishing the back-story and making the most sense, Tangled easily wins this category. In Frozen, it goes un-explained how Elsa was born with the ice-powers that she possesses, and it was almost beyond me why her parents would lock her up for her whole life due to this fact (I know who’s going to be winning the “worst parents of the year” award).
Not only just that, but Elsa’s powers are beyond confusing. They establish the fact that Elsa can create ice and snow, but she later brings life to two snowmen, changes her dress with her powers, and builds a pair of skates. How she contains her powers from “true-love” is quite confusing as well.

In the world of Tangled, things make more sense when it comes to the logic of the film. The backstory of the magic flower has been explained, and how Rapunzel’s hair now carries the same powers the flower once possessed. Rapunzel was also kept locked up by her so called “Mother”, but I felt that was explained well, as Mother Gother only wanted to use Rapunzel’s powers for herself. Elsa’s parents were trying to keep Anna safe (and maybe possibly their reputation as King and Queen) but they could have explained the situation to Anna when she got older, and Elsa had those gloves that could conceal, so I really don’t get why she couldn’t leave the tower.

But I will have to say I enjoyed the plot twist in Frozen far more than the one in Tangled. Anna sacrifices herself for her sister (which turns out to be the “true love” element in this film), and in Tangled, Flynn sacrifices himself, and Rapunzel sacrifices herself as well, agreeing to go wherever Gothel forced her to go, as long as she could help Flynn (er, Eugene). It’s a nice story, but I enjoy that Frozen went the other way than the traditional Disney fairy-tale movies do. 
        The Music
I really love both soundtracks a lot, although out of the two, Frozen probably wins over Tangled in this category. I’d probably have to say I enjoyed Kristen-Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez’s music to Frozen over Alan Menken’s music from Tangled.
Frozen’s “For the First Time in Forever” feels very much like the equivalent of Tangled’s “When Will My Life Begin?” and both work quite well. Both films were nominated for an Oscar for best original song, for “I See the Light” (didn’t win) and for “Let It Go” (did win).
“I See the Light” works as a fantastic Disney duet love song, something that Frozen doesn’t have, but wasn’t necessary due to the story. Overall, I feel the music to Frozen works much better than the music to Tangled, and I enjoy every song in Frozen where in Tangled, I always find myself annoyed having to sit through “Mother Knows Best”.
But, it should be known that “I Had a Dream” is probably one of my favorite Disney songs, if not my favorite. It’s upbeat, fast and funny, and everything a Disney song should be. But overall, I have to say Frozen wins the music category.

The Humor:
      Now this is a tough one. The humor is so rich in both films, it’s just impossible to pick everything a favorite. I think the real showdown is between Flynn Rider vs. Olaf, who both provide the real comedy of either film. They’re both so funny and make it so enjoyable, I can’t possibly pick a favorite in this category, so I’m going to have to call it a tie. 

Character Design and Cinematography:

So much work went into the design of both films, but in terms of cinematography, I’d have to admit that Frozen soars in this section. Some of the frames looks stunning with the CGI snow and ice, with some moments that had me wondering “is that real?” and “that can’t possibly be in CGI” but yet, the entire movie was computer-generated.
Character design would also have to be a tie.

 The characters are made so lifelike and they develop character in the movie so well. You actually find yourself caring for these fictional characters to reach their goal by the end of the movie. For these reasons I applaud Disney for the great casting of characters, and the way they develop throughout the film.

After looking at all these specific categories, I can’t come to a conclusion which film is better than the other. I enjoy Frozen more in specific categories, and Tangled in others. I love both films so much, so in conclusion I have to call it a tie. It’s incomparable in some sections of discussion, so each films has it’s pros and cons, but they’re both wonderful Disney classics.

That being said, I still don’t understand how Tangled didn’t make the same amount of financial success and awards that Frozen made. It’s possible it was overshadowed by Toy Story 3 of that year, but being snubbed from the Oscars (which becomes more pointless each year) was completely shocking. It should have at least won for Best Song which it was nominated for “I See the Light”. The loss is quite shocking and surprising.

Overall, both films are equally fantastic. I’d have to call it a tie. 

Which film do you feel is superior than the other and why? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

The Mickey Mindset: mickeymindset@gmail.com

Friday, April 25, 2014

NEWS UPDATE: April 25th 2014

Starting off the news this past week is the (official) fiftieth anniversary of Disney's It's A Small World attraction which first appeared at the 1964-65 World's Fair on April 22nd. To celebrate, Disney held a celebration across the globe, and this video appeared on Good Morning America. This was posted a week ago, but we forgot to share it earlier. Celebrate fifty years of the happiest cruise that ever sailed with this wonderful video:

Got a good baseball arm? Today might be your lucky day. Disney is offering $1 million dollars to any amateur baseball players who can throw a ball at 100 mph in promotion for their next film, Million Dollar Arm, which hits theaters May 16th 2014. More info is available at http://movies.disney.com/million-dollar-arm/special-event

As of this week, Disney World is adding the option of including one extra FastPass for their new FastPass+ system, now moving the limit from three FastPasses per day up to four, but only if you already used all three FastPasses that you reserved on that day. This is great news for fans of the old system of FastPass, and hopefully Disney World will continue to raise the limit on FastPasses throughout the park. 

"The 7D" is set to premiere on Disney XD on July 7th, Stitch Kingdom Reports. Joining the cast is Whoopi Goldberg ad Jay Leno. "The 7D" is a modern re-design of the classic Seven Dwarfs from the famous Snow White story (character design for the series can be seen below)This quite possibly is a tie-in to the opening of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Disney World is just a few weeks, but we can confirm that the Dwarfs in the attraction look the same as they did in Snow White in 1937. It is unclear why Disney XD chose not to go with the original designs for the series, but the show airs July 7th 2014 on Disney XD. 

Seven Dwarfs Re-designed for 7D series

Speaking of the Seven Dwarfs, the construction walls have come down surrounding the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, speculated to open sometime in the next month. The entrance area in front of the attraction has been revealed, and the good folks over at Inside the Magic got the full scoop. Read the article right here. 

"Feast" an all new short from Disney is set to premiere before Disney's next animated film, Big Hero 6. The short shows one man's love life through the eyes of his dog, and revealed bite-by-bite of the meals they share. The short and the film release in North American theaters November 7th 2014. 

Disney's Hollywood Studios is celebrating 25 years since park opening back in the year of 1989, where it opened under the name of Disney's- MGM Studios. Many other attractions came to open in that time and built up to what it is today. Of course, in true Disney fashion, this calls for a major celebration! On May 1st, here's the things you can see and do if you're in the park: 

  • At 10 a.m., Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will take the stage with Disney’s Hollywood Studios Vice President Dan Cockerell honoring members of the 25-year cast members at a re-dedication ceremony. 

  • “Stars of the Studios”, a brand new special motorcade, will make its way down Hollywood Blvd. beginning at 7 p.m. and feature Mickey and Minnie, Captain Jack Sparrow, Darth Vader, Doc McStuffins, Wreck-It Ralph, Venellope, Sofia the First and stars featured throughout the park. 

  •  Special merchandise (although it has not been announced what specific merchandise will be for sale.  

  • After the motorcade, the front of the park’s Sorcerer Hat Stage will host a special dance party and a fireworks show finishes the day at 9:30 p.m. The pyrotechnics show, which will be high in the sky above the Sorcerer Mickey Hat, will pay tribute to 25 years of show business stories that have been told throughout the park.

 There you have it! Happy Birthday MGM- er, Hollywood Studios! 

Frozen is unstoppable. Every week, Frozen gets higher on the highest grossing film list, and at the moment of this report, it is currently at the sixth highest grossing film mark of all time, tickets prices un-adjusted, recently surpassing films such as Lord of The Rings: Return of the King and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Congratulations to the entire team who worked on Frozen! 

And for the final bit of news this week: Idina Menzel is hosting a live chat on Frozen's Facebook page later today, Friday April 25th 2014. Visit https://www.facebook.com/DisneyFrozen to submit your questions for Idina Menzel to answer. The chat will start at 6 PM EST/ 3 PM PST. 

That's all for now. Have a magical week! 

The Mickey Mindset: mickeymindset@gmail.com

Thursday, April 24, 2014

GIVEAWAY: The Pixar Character Encyclopedia

Just a couple of day ago, we reviewed Disney and DK Publishing's latest wonderful book, The Pixar Character Encyclopedia, which you can read right here. The book is apart of DK's Movie Maniacs boutique, featuring character encyclopedias and guides to over a dozen films, including the Muppets, Marvel, Frozen, Star Wars and many other Disney franchises. Make sure to check out their entire movie section right here.

Today we're super excited to announce that we'll be giving away one special copy to one lucky winner, courtesy of the good folks over at DK Publishing. All you have to do to enter is by following one of the steps in the Rafflecopter link below. You can enter by liking our Facebook page, following us on Twitter, and other easy tasks that will give you more entries to win this wonderful new book.

We'll also be posting games and trivia on our Facebook page and Twitter this week, so make sure you follow to learn how you can earn more chances to win!


No purchase necessary. Contest is open to all residents of the United States and Canada. Must be 12 years or older to enter. Winner will be announced on Facebook and Twitter on May 5th 2014. Winner will have one week to respond for shipping info. If no response is received in that time, another winner will be chosen.

Now that you got the rules, make sure to enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Mickey Mindset: mickeymindset@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Call For Article Submissions!

Here at The Mickey Mindset, we work daily to bring you discussions and reviews of both classic and current Disney films and as it will continue to do for hopefully many years to come. Unfortuantley, with other personal things currently taking up our time, we find it hard to post every day to bring you the best of the Disney universe, daily. That’s where you come in.

Much like our companion site, The Muppet Mindset, we gladly accept all submissions from YOU, the reader. Have something Disney-related in your brain that you think would make a good article? Chances are that other readers will find it interesting as well! 

There’s many opportunities for you to voice your opinion about various different Disney films, television shows, theme parks, and much more. Everyone is welcome to contribute, so if you have something you’d like to add to the site, entries are always welcome through our email at mickeymindset@gmail.com.

Have we already reviewed the film you were planning to? We welcome all opinions to the site, so don’t feel discouraged if your favorite film has already been covered.

There are various different ways to contribute to the Mickey Mindset. Have you been to one of the Disney Parks lately? Tell us about your trip! What are your favorite locations/attractions in the Disney theme parks? Have you watched a new or classic Disney film lately? Feel free to send your review and your opinions to feature in our “Retro Reviews” segment. What’s your favorite Disney TV show? You can tell us your answer, and why you love the show when we showcase TV shows in our “TV Show Spotlight” posts! Plus, feel free to send your Disney artwork to be featured on our Disney Fan Art Showcases

The Mickey Mindset reserve the right to edit or refuse any articles that are submitted, but we’re usually very accepting of all articles, so chances are, your article will be well accepted, and many fans would be happy to read it too. Feel free to send us an article!

Got any more questions or comments? Send us an email and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Thanks, Disney fans! We can’t wait to hear from you and read some of your wonderful articles! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Reviews: Pixar Character Encyclopedia, Monsters University Guide

Book Review: Pixar Character Encyclopedia
Ranging from thousands of Pixar characters throughout the years, The Pixar Character Encyclopedia takes a look and spotlights many of these memorable characters from many different Pixar films since Toy Story to Brave (the book’s first publishing was before Monsters University was released).

Much like the other previous Disney-DK Publishing books, this takes a look at a lot of various Pixar characters in a fun, easy to read, and enjoyable way. A few weeks ago we reviewed DK’s latest, The Muppet Character Encyclopedia which follows in much of the same style of the DK character books.
The book features dozens of characters in chronological order of the Pixar films release dates, with sequels like Toy Story 2 & 3 and Cars 2 included with the original and takes a very ‘in-universe’ look at the films, such as instead of saying “Remy is voiced by Patton Oswalt” but rather treating the characters like actual living people, giving us a glance at their lives and sometimes a bit of a back-story, which is good and keeps to the story beyond the films. 

In some character pages, the references go beyond the movies, with a tongue-in-cheek reference to some of Pixar’s other work, such as Needleman playing Randall Boggs in Put That Thing Back Where It Came From or So Help Me, and BURN-E getting trapped outside of the ship in WALL-E, just before a hyperspace jump (which is a reference to the Pixar short, “BURN-E”, which appeared on the DVD release). Plus, we learn the names of some backaround characters, who some I've never heard of, and I’m a pretty big Pixar fan.

If you’re a big Pixar fan like myself (and who isn’t?) make sure to check out this book soon!

Monsters University: The Essential Guide
Out of the Pixar franchises, my all-time favorite would have to be the Monsters franchise. Monsters Inc. was a great film, with great story, characters, and humor and it’s prequel Monsters University delivered well to the fans of the original film, and introduced a whole cast of new characters.

The Monsters University Essential Guide handles itself as a University guide, and showing you, the new student, all of the basics to the University and what you have to know. Okay, so maybe University guides wouldn’t showcase specific students (Mike Wazowski, James “Sulley” Sullivan) but it would be inappropriate to have a Monsters book and not include the memorable characters in it. 

The book is written by Glenn Dakin, who has a history with Disney-DK, writing books such as Disney Villains: The Essential Guide and DisneyAnimals: The Essential Guide. This book delivers well to a life-long Monsters Inc. fan, not quite up to the standards of the Character Encyclopedia levels, but works as a good companion to the other Essential Guide and to the film. It’s also a very good read for kids, as it’s easy to read as well.

Another job well done by the Disney and DK Publishing team! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Retro Reviews: So Dear to My Heart DVD and Film Review

Jason Schlierman- With such an extensive film and television library today, it would be easy to forget that the early days of the studio were always a bit more unstable.  Each new film was a gamble that would either build the fledgling Disney Studios up, or completely bankrupt Walt and his brother Roy, thus putting them out of commission for good.  The Disney brothers realized however, that, as the primary them of their late 1940’s film stated, “It’s what you do with what you got.”  A valuable lesson that easily could be applied to just about any life situation was defiantly the anthem for the early days of the Walt Disney Studios and helped carry them through, into the bread and butter days of the 1950’s and 60’s later.

By the time we get to the late 1940’s, the Disney name was starting to mean something to movie goers, with most audiences tying it to Mickey Mouse cartoons and quality animation.  Walt, ultimately being more a story teller then animator, had ambitions to get into live-action films and not just do animated features.  His earliest live-action films still had a lot of animation in them.  After the success of Song of the South (which still had a lot of animation in the film), Walt turned his attention to a book entitled, Midnight and Jeremiah by Sterling North.  Set in early 1900’s in Indiana, Walt quickly found an interest in the story (a lot due to the fact that it featured a setting that was basically identical to the one he grew up in) and turning it into a film.

Originally being Disney’s first fully live-action film, RKO Radio, the original distributor, pushed Walt to add animation into the picture.  Disney had wanted to do live action films without animation including early development on Song of the South, So Dear to Our Heart (the original name of the film) and the Untitled Alice in Wonderland/Lewis Carroll Movie that was on the drawing board at the time. RKO Radio however did not have confidence that audiences would see a Disney Picture that wasn’t animated.

So Disney had some animation added in to appease his distributor, who despite advertising a live-action film with limited animation, wanted the public to think it was another animated film from Disney.  This was very evident in the marketing of So Dear to My Heart by the film posters advertising the film being filled with animated characters next to the live-action cast.  Disney had realized that it was more cost effective for his cash strapped studio if he could make live action films, because they were cheaper to produce that animated films, and could easily fill the studios coffers again.

Walt cast Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten, who had just started in Song of the South, to once again be the stars of his newest film, which he titled, So Dear to My Heart.  Burl Ives (Summer Magic, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer) and Beulah Bondi (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It’s a Wonderful Life) were cast to play Uncle Hiram and Granny Kincaid, with screen legend Harry Carey (A Knight of the Range, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) in his final role as the head Judge of the County Fair.  The film debuted in Chicago in late 1948 and then was released nationally in early 1949.

The Film:
(4 stars out of 5)

So Dear to My Heart starts out by introducing us to Jeremiah Kincaid, a young boy living in Fulton Corners, Indiana, in the early part of the 20th Century.  Jeremiah has a chance encounter with the famous race horse Dan Patch, and then dreams of owning his own his own prize stallion.  However his dreams soon shift slightly after finding himself little black lamb that Jeremiah names Danny.  Soon, Jeremiah plains on taking Danny to the Pike County Fair in the hope of winning the blue ribbon and the cash award.

The challenge however for young Jeremiah is that his well-meaning, but strict grandmother is against the notion of him going off to the fair. Having to raise him, she is more concerned with Jeremiah’s relationship with God and his learning to work hard for what he has.  She sees blue ribbons and cash awards as vain, silly wastes of time, and feels they have no place for young Jeremiah.  After a serious of events unfold, both end up learning important lessons about life, not giving up on your dreams, and thinking about others ahead of self.

The film has a lot of really sweet messages, and is filled with life lessons that transcend into lessons people can utilize even in this day and age.  The animated sequences each are filled with song and the kind of breathe taking animation Disney was known for.  The performances given by the cast, stand up on par with the quality of the animation, for a high performance picture. While, it certainly is a film of its time, the acting seems a bit timeless, and since the animation is few and far in-between, that’s a good thing. At the center of this is Disney Legend, Bobby Driscoll, who here provides his second appearance in a Disney film.  Next to Driscoll is the legendary Burl Ives, who performs what will go on to be one of his signature songs, “Lavender Blue.”

The DVD:
(3 out of 5 stars)

So Dear to My Heart has an interesting history on DVD.  In the US, it was originally slated for release in early 2002 as part of the now discontinued Gold Classics Collection, but for unknown reasons, never made it as a retail release.  It resurfaced late in 2008 as a Disney Movie Club exclusive and as of 2012 is still sold only via that web site.

The DVD comes in a white case with the typical yellow Disney Movie Club cover and “Wonderful World of Disney” logo on the very top.  The disc itself has a very nice picture of Bobby Driscoll’s Jeremiah behind a clear blue sky, and may be one of the best looking DMC discs to-date.  The DVD also comes with an insert for Disney Movie Rewards points.

Menu and Extras:
(3 out of 5 stars)

Most DMC titles are as barebones as a DVD can possibly be without being non-existent.  That however is very surprisingly and happily not the case with this title.  Again, most likely due to it originally being meant for retail release, So Dear to My Heart boasts a number of extras.  Probably the two highly here are the relatively short yet enjoyable Walt Disney introduction to the film when it made its television debut on November 24, 1954 as the fifth episode of the Disney Anthology show, Disneyland, and then the art gallery filled with production photos and concept art. 

Rounding out the extras are two animated shorts, Out of Scale (1951) and Brave Engineer (1950) as well as Fun Film Facts about the movie.  The DVD also has an option for closed caption English subtitles for the hearing impaired and finally chapter selections.  And of course, rounding all of this out is a very nice menu screen with easy option in getting to all of the above mentioned features.

Additionally, the DVD released in Brazil, which was under “The Golden Classics” banner, included about 30 minutes worth of deleted scenes not included on the US release.

Final Conclusion:
(4 out of 5 stars total)

As one of the signature Disney films of the 1940’s, So Dear to my Heart really does live up to that title.  It’s a fun family film with many great messages, quality acting and gorgeous animation.   It is also easily the best DMC titles released and an easy DVD to suggest to Disney fans, families or film collectors.  If for whatever reason you only are able to pick up one of these Disney Movie Club exclusive titles, make sure it is this one.

You can purchase it HERE.

The Mickey Mindset: mickeymindset@gmail.com

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Disneynature's Bears Film Review

Mitchell Stein- Well, they’ve done it again. DisneyNature’s latest film, Bears is a wonderful ture-story adventure, following very much in the wonderful footsteps that DisneyNature has built itself on throughout the past ten years.

The film begins by introducing us to our main stars of the film, a mother bear named Skye and her newborn cubs, Amber and Scout, who just woke up from their long winter hibernation. In order to be able to survive the next winter, Skye and her cubs must journey to find food to stock up on to last them through their next hibernation. On the way, they encounter lots of dangerous obstacles and predators that will question their survival. The movie is narrated by John C. Reily, known well in the Disney circles as the voice of Ralph in Wreck-It-Ralph. Reily adds much comedy to the story, making this a really fun and enjoyable experience, besides being somewhat educational. 

It’s a really beautiful film, filled with emotion and beautiful cinematography. Some shots are so beautiful and breathtaking, and I applaud the entire camera crew on this wonderful achievement, as they follow these bears and other animals they encounter along the way. The film is directed by Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey both known for their work in previous Disneynature films.

Even though Disneynature was only launched in 2008, it stays far ahead of all its competitor documentary film industries. Although the movie could have been chopped down by 10-15 minutes, at no time did it become boring or unenjoyable. Very often it felt very much like a real movie, rather than a documentary style film. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this film very much. It’s beautiful story and highly entertaining. I also wasn’t expecting there to be such a large amount of comedy, which was a major bonus. Disneynature has not yet disappointed with a film yet, and this one lives up to its predecessors. Keep up the good work Disneynature! Here’s to waiting an entire year until their next film, Monkey Kingdom hits theaters. 

Make sure to stay through the credits to see a behind-the-scenes look at how they filmed some of the scenes in the movie! 

Disneynature’s Bears hits theaters on Earth Day in North America. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Disney TV Show Spotlight: Tron Uprising

Mitchell Stein- Another important show in Disney Television history is Tron: Uprising. Coming off the success of 2010’s Tron Legacy, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (known for their work on Lost and Once Upon a Time) returned to the Tron franchise to produce the series as well as writing the first four episodes. Charlie Bean directed every episode for the series, with the exception of “Welcome Home”. 

In the days of the awful shows that Disney airs on both Disney Channel and the fairly new Disney XD channel, Tron: Uprising was one of the greatest things to enter the current days of Disney television shows. I really loved Tron Legacy, the 2010 sequel to the original 1987 film, which brilliantly reimagined the entire video game world of TRON. The cinematography in Tron Legacy really beats out the designs and special effects it used in the original and created a truly brilliant fictional world, built with streaks of various different colors to make up this entire world. The designs seen in Tron worked as a major inspiration for the new designs for the revamped Test Track in Epcot, or as I refer to it, Tron Track.

Since the possibilities in the world of Tron are just fantastic and endless, it only made sense for Tron to
be greenlighted for a TV show. Tron: Uprising premiered on May 18th 2012. The series is meant to take place between the time of Tron and Tron Legacy, much like Star Wars: The Clone Wars had been, where the story was to take place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. The story of Tron Uprising centers a young program named Beck, who becomes determined to take down General Tesler (an officer under the control of the diabolical Kevin Flynn look-alike, Clu) and Tesler’s army after one of the army’s members “derezz” his friend Bodhi. He realizes that the city of Argon is now being taken over by Clu’s armies and no one is able to help them, especially since the hero, Tron, is dead. Beck decides to rise above that and disguise himself as Tron to try to prevent further drezzments and to save his friends from being sent to “The Games”, and will continue to fight Tesler and his army until justice is brought to the city of Argon. 

Following in the steps of Tron Legacy, the animation in this series is so fantastic and jaw-dropping. The artwork is in this genius new style which I’ve never seen previously in a television series, and blends it with the already existing fantastic world of Tron. In fact, there’s this scene in the fourth episode during the Argon tunnel races that should have won an Annie for outstanding animation in a single episode, or series for that matter. The story-line in the show is so exciting and gripping, and the cast of characters are fantastic, and include voice actors from the original films. 

Overall, I really enjoy this series a lot, so therefore it upsets me to hear that it was cancelled after only nineteen episodes. Sadly, the ratings didn’t do too well and was pulled before Disney gave it a second season, but the ratings obviously shouldn’t reflect on the franchise. Tron Legacy made over $400 million in it’s domestic run in 2010 and it’s rumored that a Tron 3 will be coming to theaters sometime soon, so the ratings were really beyond my understanding. But this show is truly one of the greatest shows to ever hit Walt Disney Television, and if you haven’t already watched the series, I strongly suggest you give this one a look. It’s short, and it’s the best nineteen episodes you’ll ever watch.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Disney Animation Reviews #24 - The Fox and the Hound

Disney Movie Review: 24/53 - The Fox and the Hound

Ryan Dosier - The first Disney animated feature of the 1980s, The Fox and the Hound (1981) is also one of the strongest Disney features of the period. It has the elements of great story, great animation, and striking realism. It truly stands out among the other animated features of the 80s.

The film has an incredible and interesting sense of realism throughout. None of the more “adult” story points are spared. We see the Amos the hunter with a truck full of dead animal pelts, we see Todd and Copper turn into bitter enemies, and many other images and ideas that might be restrained in animation today. There are only a few comic relief characters, which also helps maintain the realism, but at times makes the film less fun than some of its predecessors.

The story of The Fox and the Hound is very distinct when compared to other Disney movies. It is surprising and unexpected at times, never falling into cliché. Todd and Copper’s friendship divulges into them becoming enemies quickly, and they are enemies for much longer in the film than they are friends. If anything, this very short showing of their friendship doesn’t give the audience enough time to feel for the characters when they become enemies... but for the most part, it works.

The other issue that hurts The Fox and the Hound is that none of the characters truly stand out or transcend the piece. Much like The Rescuers, the characters are not broadly drawn (pun intended) and fail to be anything more than adorable or animalistic. Thankfully the story is strong enough to make up for the weak characterization.

One final fault in the film is the music. There is one fantastic song (“The Best of Friends”) but the few other songs in The Fox and the Hound just don’t work. Perhaps that’s why there aren’t many other songs to go around, but it seems like there should have been. When you’ve got the fantastic Pearl Bailey doing a voice for you, you should ask her to sing more.

Perhaps The Fox and the Hound's strongest element is the once-again stellar Disney animation. This was the last feature film worked on by any of Walt Disney's “Nine Old Men,” including the incredible Ollie Johnston, who animated young Tod and Copper in the strongest part of the film. There is also a scene with a vicious bear animated by Disney newcomer Glen Keane that stands out brilliantly. Keane would go on to animate the Beast in Beauty and the Beast and you can tell this bear was just a warm-up for that. Animation in a Disney feature would not be this excellent again until The Little Mermaid eight years later.

While The Fox and the Hound is not one of the timeless, franchised Disney classics, it is still a warm, charming, wonderful film. Its many strengths outweigh its weaknesses and elevate it to a realistic, heartwarming work. It may not have the resonance of Bambi, but The Fox and the Hound is another great animated representation of nature from Disney.

3.5/5 Fuzzy Worms

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Pirate Fairy Blu-Ray Review

Mitchell Stein- I have to say out of all the young children’s Disney franchises, the Disney Fairies franchise is the one I’ll never understand. I’m obviously not the target audience for these films and television episodes, but it’s not one that I find the most enjoyable.

In The Pirate Fairy, we are introduced to a fairy named Zarina (Christina Hendricks) a fairy who is amazed by the powers of the Blue Pixie Dust and takes her ‘experimenting’ a little too far and causes much trouble on the entire fairy community, she decides to leave Pixie Hollow and joins up with some ruthless pirates led by James (Tom Hiddleston) and promises the pirates some things that come to backfire in the end. 

The film isn’t bad by any means, but it’s by far not one of my favorite of the Disney children franchises. The film sort-of acts as a prequel to Peter Pan, as some characters will develop into the characters well-known from their performance in Peter Pan. It's actually quite surprising with the amount of productions that surround the world of Peter Pan, including Disney Junior's Jake and the Neverland Pirates. 

There’s a great cast of voice actors, including Tom Hiddleston, fresh off his performances in Disney films Thor: The Dark World and Muppets Most Wanted. There’s a brand new song by Natasha Bedingfield which is named “What I Am” which is a pretty enjoyable song and sets the mood for the film well. Overall, if you’re a fan of Peter Pan you may want to give this one a look, and if you or your younger ones are fans of Tinker Bell and the rest of the fairies, this new film will not disappoint. In all honesty, it's got a much more enjoyable story-plot than the never ending franchises of arrogant talking vehicles with eyes on their windshields. At this point in the franchise, it holds up the best than any other previous long-standing Disney franchises and stays true to it's predecessors.

The bonus features stack up well too. There’s a “Crock-U-Mentary” which is a short documentary of real-life crocodiles and alligators, and possibly even more entertaining than the actual film. There’s a few deleted scenes and animated shorts starring Tinker Bell and fairies, A Legacy of Never Land special, taking you on an adventure through Never-Land with stories and other wacky elements and a few sing-alongs on top of that. There’s lots of fun to be had in this for the fans of the Disney Fairies.

One thing that had me really puzzled, (and a head’s up to parents!) is the fact that Disney chose to put in a trailer for the upcoming film, Maleficent on the Blu-Ray and DVD. The film is rated PG-13 for violence and frightening scenes, so why they chose to include it on a film that’s geared towards very young children is beyond my understanding and was an awful decision if you ask me. I never find myself commenting on the choice of trailers on a DVD, but this one really had me scratching my head. Other than that, everything was G-rated on the release.

The Pirate Fairy is now available wherever Blu-Rays are sold

Friday, April 11, 2014

News Update: April 11th 2014

Starting off the news this week, the first teaser trailer for Disney Channel's Upcoming show, Girl Meets World has surfaced the internet. The show is a spin-off of the Disney Channel show which ran from 1993 to 2000. Characters Cory and Topanga return to the spin-off show, this time playing the parents of the main child characters. Watch the first teaser here:

Season two of the new Mickey Mouse shorts premiere on Disney Channel today, April 11th! Make sure you keep you DVRs running at 9:00 EST to catch the new wonderful shorts! 

This week, the Disney Parks celebrated fifty years of the famous "It's a Small World' attraction with a major worldwide celebration. The folks over at Inside the Magic have the full scoop, which you can read right here. Coverage of the entire event can also be found over at The Disney Blog as well right here

Toughpigs.com published this great article setting the record straight: The Muppets are still puppets, and no CGI was used in Muppets Most Wanted, contrary to internet rumors of the Muppets being replaced by CGI in some scenes. You can read that great article right here.

Speaking of Muppets, our friends over at This Happy Place Blog raised an excellent idea. What if the abandoned "Wonders of Life" exhibit became "Muppet Labs?" Make sure to check out their creative and exciting new ideas of what could quite possibly be of use for the abandoned building in a new, fun and creative way. You can read the article here

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is the show on TV that just keeps getting better and better. This week, ABC aired an episode leading directly off of last week's new film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The episode includes spoilers of the film, and this seems to be the new direction that the show will be taking from now on. Marvel released this all-new video where the cast and crew of the TV series talk about the new direction the show will be taking. Spoilers ahead. 

An all-new Mickey Mouse Clubhouse adventure will be hitting DVD shelves May 20th 2014! Around the Clubhouse World takes the Fab Five on a journey through France, China, Italy and more, and learn about different countries and cultures, with lots of song-filled fun, and will feature a slew of bonus episodes from the series. 

The date draws closer for the opening of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in New Fantasyland in Walt Disney World, and today, Disney Parks released a thirty-second video taking a look at some of the impressive new Audio-Animatronics that will be featured in the attraction. 

UPDATE: Disney Parks ALSO released this 16-second CGI ride through of the attraction. Now we'r really, really excited. 

Disneynature's Bears opens next Friday, and in anticipation for the release, Disney released two more clips from the film, two of some of my favorite clips from the movie. In fact, the whole film is wonderful. We'll be reviewing the movie in it's entirety later this week. 

Speaking of Disneynature, the trailer for their next big film has been released yesterday online. The film, Monkey Kingdom will swing into theaters Earth Day 2015.

For the final bit of news this week, Disneyland Paris announced that Marvel's Spider-Man will start making meet-and-greet appearances starting April 19th in the Walt Disney Studios park! Disney also released this artwork to anticipate the upcoming appearances.

That's it for this week's short weekly news roundup! Be on the lookout for some special brand-new reviews this week, including our review for Disneynature's new film: Bears. 

The Mickey Mindset: mickeymindset@gmail.com