May 28th brings another Disney Pixar movie, which means I’m excited. Up has garnered a lot of positive pre-release reviews, which I’m sure everybody is shocked to hear. They have gone 9 for 9 on great movies, and when it comes to original imagination, Pixar can’t be beat. Their whole film-making philosophy is awesome. There are no bad ideas to them; they make everything work. And they make it work well.
But what about the other half of that partnership? That is, the Disney half. Outside of their live action films (both good and god-awful), what’s up with Disney animation? Bolt was respected by the critics, the first CGI movie made only by Disney to really do that. In fact, it’s the first animated movie in a while that has given Disney any sort of success without attaching the Pixar name (I might be mistaken, but I can’t think of any. The only recent movie I can think of is Chicken Little, which… Well, you know). So what is the company doing now?
Awesome things, that’s what. Remember the Disney Renaissance? Of course you do. Especially if you’re my age, because we grew up in it. It started with The Little Mermaid and took off from there, releasing great movie after great movie, as its affiliate Pixar does now. Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Tarzan, Mulan, Hercules, even the least respected of the bunch Pocahontas had some good ideas and moving moments. Then we seemed to hit a wall. We got The Emperor’s New Groove which was entertaining, I suppose, but not memorable. Treasure Planet, Brother Bear, and Atlantis fell flat. Lilo and Stitch was the only movie released to achieve high critical acclaim as well as any sort of financial success. What’s the company to do? What they do best. They’re going back to the basics.
This holiday season they’re releasing The Princess and the Frog, the classic fairytale set in a Cajun themed Louisiana. Despite some unneeded controversy (it stars Disney’s first Black princess), the film is on its, ahem, hind legs and is looking strong. The first official preview was released recently, and is embedded here:
It’s a return to the classic, hand-drawn, musical Disney movie. It has been rumored that the 2-D animation style was dead, but I think this film will prove that false. We’ve just been waiting for a really good, well-made 2-D film. Those aforementioned didn’t quite do the trick. I think this one will.
Next year they’re releasing Rapunzel. I was always surprised they hadn’t made this movie already, but it’s nice to know there are still some classic fairy-tales left for them to put the Disney spin on. Rapunzel has an interesting animation style that blends the 2D with the computer imaging. It looks like the perfect balance of the old and the new, and while little has been released about this movie, it looks like it could aid in bringing Disney animation back into the limelight.