Thursday, January 21, 2010

Review: Princess and the Frog

I Finally Saw "The Princess and The Frog" with my family on MLK Day. If you had read what I wrote earlier, I was not expecting much from the movie beyond the typical Disney Princess Formula. However, I want to see the movie because It just looked so good from an artistic point of View; which It was. The art of this film is Surpassed, in my opinion, that of the lion King. The backgrounds were beautiful and each one made you want to stay there for a little bit longer. It really made the swampy seem just as "Enchanted" as any other story book world.
I thing I loved best about this is the solid Moral or underlying theme of the story. I wont ruin it for anyone who has not seen it yet, so I wont go into details. I believe that This solid underlying theme is due to the steady hand of "John Lasseter" of the famed "Pixar". A true visionary. Often times the older Disney movies lack a strong theme or moral, something beyond the obvious. For instance, The Lion kings theme was the idea that you can't run from your past and that its selfish to only think of only yourself and not others when they depend on you to do whats right. All good themes to be sure, but nothing hard hitting or something that we all have not seen over and over again.
The only Problem I had with the movie came done to what Disney movies are known for: Musical numbers. It felt, to me, like the story was only there to string together all the musical scenes. Like they were just small stepping stones to get to the flash and the bang, as it were. Now, this is nothing against the music, because I have to say that it was not your typical Disney musical numbers that you see in all the other Disney Princess movie- which has no Soul. And thats one thing you can say about Jazz- it has Soul. The music was an excellent choice beyond that it reflected the time and the setting. It had Life- It had energy that made you want to dance... In fact, my daughter did dance- in her theater seat. But Like i said, Too Much music. I would have removed the first musical number (which in my mind was not needed because we got the point by this point (not to spoil anything) to the main character was trying her hardest to open a restaurant), we didn't need the Musical number to beat it into our heads as well. I would probably have removed 1 or 2 other Musical numbers- But as to which ones I could not say. The movie is an hour and a half long: 20 minutes of story and the rest of it music (I was not actually timing it so that may be off a bit). Thats the worse I can say for the whole film.
There was one character I was worried about when I first saw the Previews of the Movie. This was the Blonde rich girl, Charlotte. typically you would expect to see the rich girl become furious with the poor girl (never mind that she is black and in the south of the the 1930's)stealing her prince in the end of the movie. Charlotte is a breath air from this near dead stereotype. She is an actual friend to the main character and just so darn optimistic. In every scene you feel like you should hate her because she is so soiled, but she is so full of energy, hopes, dreams, and kindness that it makes it all so impossible to do so. Every times she speaks it makes you out of breath while she just keeps on talking. She was just amazing and delightful. i bet it was so much fun Animating her.
The last thing I will say is that If you love Anything about this movie, It would have to be the energy. The Whole movie is ripe with it and it fills you up to you core. I am glad to say that If Disney (with them holding back on how much music they put into the film)continues to make films like this or better they will surely return to the golden age. And for this I think we have John Lasseter to thank. Not because he help on this film, but because Pixar changed the way animated movies were viewed, written, animated, etc. Pixars the top of the heap and everyone wants to work there, but only the best get the chance. and I like to think that the reason for this is because they put so much heart and care into everything they make - just like Disney of the old days (and maybe today as well).

Some Recent Animations

Animators as of late have become lazy in the TV field. Recently I watched the first Four episodes of “Secret Saturdays” from Cartoon Network. I enjoyed the freshness of the storyline and felt even if the villain was defeated the show could continue on. However, I noticed that the character design style lacked something. In fact, it lacked feet. All the main characters on this show, that were human, all had lazy big booty feet. Why? Did they just figure that the character was only important above the waist? And then there was the fact that if a character did have normal looking feet they were a background "Extra"- usually a female. In fact this has bothered me so much that I couldn't continue watching the show.

Recently, I also watched a few episodes of the “Ironman: Adventures” show and had to wonder about why the characters wore the same clothing every day. I mean, this is a serious styled show, nothing like the Flintstones for example where you would expect the character to wear the same thing day in and day out.The designers seemed to have put a lot of though into the show - which makes me want to see the concept art for it. I bet its all quite lovely. I'm thinking that This is more of a combination of lazy modelers and the producers who don't want to spend the extra money on several sets of clothing for each character. At least they all have normal sized feet and ankles.

By the By, I really like the storyboards off to the left.