Archive | November, 2013

FROZEN Heats Up Box Office: The Review

28 Nov

Words fail me when I attempt to express how much I loved Frozen.

But let’s give this review a shot (unless I combust into happy/overwhelmed tears while writing this)…

Frozen is one of the best Disney films within the last decade. Recent years have seen an upswing in animation quality and production in Disney films, and I have no problem with saying Frozen is the finest product of this “return to the golden era” thus far.

Yup, that’s right. I said it. Frozen is better than Tangled. Sorry, not sorry.

One knowledgeable of the Disney studios might be a little hesitant about the film; it lacks some of Disney’s super-star players in the production. No Glen Keane. No Alan Menken or Randy Newman. Drop your fears at the theater door. Jennifer Lee (Wreck-It Ralph) and Chris Buck (Tarzan) did an amazing job. And with John Lasseter executive producing the film, this movie is in excellent hands.

The screen time between the sisters was balanced and the story was written in a way to make both female leads completely relatable. Kristen Bell’s comedic timing and vocal performance during the songs pleasantly surprised me. I knew she was talented, but her role as Anna blew me away. Idina Menzel’s Elsa was flawless and perfect (go figure), and Elsa is easily one of the most powerful characters Menzel has ever been.

Jonathan Groff’s Kristoff won over my heart. In an era of pretty-boy leads (I’m lookin’ at you, Flynn Rider), it was refreshing to see a character so “average” by Disney animation standards become a bit of a hero.

And can we just talk about the real winner among the vocal cast? JOSH GAD, YOU ADORABLE THING YOU. I feared Olaf might be overbearing or annoying (in a Jar-Jar Binks sort of way) but he was the right balance of comedy and concern.

Ultimately, the true selling point of the whole film was the story itself. Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck managed to convert a “princess movie” fairytale into something so much more than an adventurous romance. Scenes with Anna and Elsa caused me to reflect on my own relationship with my little sister. Flipping the traditional meaning of “true love” for something much more real was one of the most refreshing things I’ve seen from the Disney studios in a very long time.

Visually, the movie was stunning. For the haters of CGI: GET OVER YOURSELVES. The “Let it Go” scene just replaced the floating lanterns in Tangled as my second Most Beautiful Disney Moment (sorry, Frozen. You just can’t top the ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast). I breathlessly watched the intricate snow and ice the entire movie. So gorgeous.

My only concern with the entire film was that it felt too short in some places. There were plenty of places throughout the film that I would’ve loved further explanation. Give me more time with Anna and Elsa as kids. More time seeing Elsa struggle with her powers. How did Kristoff get to the trolls as a kid? (Also, can Jonathan Groff have more of a song? And by “song,” I mean something longer than 50 seconds…)

MORAL OF THIS REVIEW: Well, I somehow managed to write this while listening to the soundtrack and not cry! Yay! I do, however, want to see this movie at least three more times while clutching the Sven stuffed plush sold at World of Disney… Do yourselves a favor and GO SEE FROZEN.

 

What are you still doing reading this?! GO. JUST GO.  “FROZEN” hit theaters today, Nov. 27. It is the 53rd animated feature from Walt Disney Studios.

Review of the “Frozen” Soundtrack

25 Nov

At the time I write this post, the Frozen soundtrack has been available for purchase some 11 hours and 45 minutes. In that time, I’ve purchased the deluxe edition, complete with demo recordings of songs, karaoke versions of “Let it Go,” and the orchestrations, and I HAVE LISTENED TO EVERYTHING.

So I don’t spoil the soundtrack for everyone, I’ll just briefly mention some of the highlights and themes:

– The opening number and orchestrations have a distinctly Nordic feel. “Frozen Heart” as an opening song reminds me of “Fathoms Below” from The Little Mermaid. It both sets the movie and preps the subsequent score.

– THERE IS NO LOVE BALLAD. Initially, I didn’t know how I felt about this. There isn’t a single love ballad on the soundtrack. “BUT LOVE BALLADS ARE DISTINCTLY DISNEY!!!” you cry. To some extent, yes, traditional princess movies have always had that love ballad because they’ve centered on a romantic relationship. Just imagine the volumes that speaks to the film that they didn’t include a love ballad. Sure, there are two cutesy, up-beat songs between Anna and Hans and another with the ensemble cast regarding Kristoff, but that’s it. It’s refreshing to finally see a princess movie come out of the Walt Disney Animation Studios NOT about romance. Frozen will truly be something completely new.

– Jonathan Groff gets one 50 second song on the entire album. I’m quite depressed about that.

– JOSH GAD. You’re adorable and amazing and your performance of Olaf’s “In Summer” will be hilarious to see.

– “Fixer Upper” might make one of the most profound statements of any Disney “love song” in recent years… Or ever. When you have that one person who understands you better than anyone, who loves you for you, you shouldn’t care about their appearances or trying to fix their quirks. Such a change of pace for Disney. Me gusta.

– Thematically, “Let it Go” will be underlying current for the movie. It’s serving in the same capacity “Part of Your World” did in The Little Mermaid or “Circle of Life” in The Lion King. No complaints here. It’s artfully woven throughout the score.

– As if Idina Menzel couldn’t get any more perfect… And I was pleasantly surprised by Kristen Bell’s voice.

– All of the songs are really friggin high. Elsa might have the widest range of any Disney princess in history. As an alto, trying to sing along with the karaoke versions of the songs is a joke… Sigh. I’ll just stick to belting out “Part of Your World” in the shower…

– There isn’t a villains song. No “Be Prepared,” “Mother Knows Best,” or anything like that. Who will come out of left field as the villain? Should the villain have a song? Do they need it? Would it detract from the central conflict between the two sisters to have a third party enter the game? I guess we’ll find out on Wednesday…

Frozen hits theaters on Wednesday, Nov. 27. Rotten Tomatoes currently lists the film at 91 percent out of 100 after the first wave of critics reviews. Will you be going to see the film this holiday week?

Diane Disney Miller, Walt’s Eldest Daughter, Dies at 79

20 Nov

Diane Disney Miller, Walt Disney’s eldest daughter, passed away last night at her California home. She was 79 years old.

Courtesy of DisneyParks blog

Miller was the last surviving member of the Walt Disney family. Walt frequently mentioned in interviews that his two daughters were the inspirations for Disneyland, a place where he could take his daughters when it was “daddy’s day with the girls.”

“As the beloved daughter of Walt Disney and one of his inspirations for creating Disneyland, she holds a special place in the history of The Walt Disney Co. and in the hearts of fans everywhere,” Bob Iger, the Company’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “She will be remembered for her grace and generosity and tireless work to preserve her father’s legacy.”

Miller was the eldest of Walt and Lillian Disney’s two daughters. Her younger sister, Sharon, died in 1993 of cancer.

Miller founded the Walt Disney Family Museum, which opened in 2009, to honor the personal memories of her father rather than a corporate figurehead.

Ten More Ways You Know You’re a Disney Cast Member

13 Nov

It seems I left out these gems from the first edition of “Ten Ways You Know You’re a Disney Cast Member.”

1) The Disney point is EVERYWHERE.

The two-finger point or the open-faced palm. Pick your poison. But pointing with one finger anymore is just impossible…

2) You notice what merchandise varies from store to store.

You can also tell what merch is Disney Store exclusive.

3) If you didn’t already speak another language, you’ve picked up phrases in another language to make your life a little bit easier. (And let’s be honest: if you work at WDW, those languages will probably be Spanish and Portuguese.)

“Es un show con effectos especiales.” “Los fuegos artificiales.” “Mira, el castillo!”

4) When you first start working for the company, people suddenly want to be some of your best friends.

Hmmm… That’s odd, especially since you haven’t seen each other since a mutual friend’s tenth birthday party.

5) You keep tabs on the other parks and get jealous when another park gains new attractions or refurbishments.

(Cough cough) Hong Kong and Tokyo (cough cough)

6) Land-specific handshakes or vocal cues are used outside of work in attempts to signal others.

I hiss at my family now. They’ll catch on eventually, right?

7) When asked by a Guest what time your workplace closes or opens, you use the phrase “We open/close at…”

“We.” As in Hollywood Studios and myself. Yes, we’re exclusive.

8) Pin-trading.

You’re either obsessed with trading, you’re forced to trade due to your role, or you don’t understand it at all.

9) It is okay to sing along with your park’s parade/fireworks show or store’s background music.

“Wiiiissshhheeeessss. Dream a dream. Wiiiisssshhhheeessss. Set ‘em freeeeee!” *jazz hands*

10) You actually read through this entire list, and if you haven’t read through the first list, you’re headed to read that post now.

I’m sure I’m still missing quirks, so leave comments! I loved reading everyone’s thoughts on the last post. Feel free to comment away!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…

8 Nov
Main Street USA looks mighty festive with garland galore.

Main Street USA looks mighty festive with garland galore.

It’s hard to believe that less than a week after Halloween, Walt Disney World has transformed itself into a winter wonderland. Imagine my surprise when I walked into work early one day and ran into Main Street USA looking like this. I could have cried, I was so happy. Every year for as long as I can remember, my eyes were glued to the Disney Christmas Day Parade and I had an insatiable urge to hop on a plane to Orlando just to see the Christmas lights. For me, this Christmas will be one I’ve always dreamed about for years.

 

The castle looked stunning during Wishes with the Christmas lights on.

The castle looked stunning during Wishes with the Christmas lights on.

This was probably my favorite color to see with the lights.

This was probably my favorite color to see with the lights.

Breathtaking, isn't it?

Breathtaking, isn’t it?