Sunday, June 26, 2011

Disn-A-Thon: Oliver & Company (1988)

Inspired by Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist". A homeless kitten named Oliver, roams the streets of New York, where he is taken in by a gang of homeless mutts who survive by stealing from others. During one of these criminal acts, Oliver meets a wealthy young girl named Jenny Foxworth. This meeting will forever change his life. [imdb]
Ahh the 80's.  If you pick one film to represent a 1980's Disney movie, Oliver & Company would be the one to pick.  With a soundtrack by Huey Lewis and Billy Joel (who also voices a major character), this movie keeps with the normal trend of transforming a classic story to a fun, whimsical little animated film.

The movie follows a little orphaned kitten (Oliver) in a modern-day (for the 80's) New York City, where he teams up with a gang of ruffians (dogs) and their master, a scroungey thief named Fagin who owes the film's antagonist a ton of money.  Honestly, I think Fagin was the best and most enjoyable character in the movie, which is saying a lot considering they were all great.  Anyways, in a heist gone wrong, Oliver ends up separated from his new friends and in the arms of a wealthy little girl.  The gang of dogs decide to "rescue" their new friend, leading to kidnapping and danger.

Despite my general issue with many of the films of the late 1980's (and their inherent 80's-ness), I really love this movie more and more with every viewing.  For the time, I don't think they could have done this one any better.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Disn-A-Thon: The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

In Victorian London, England, a little mouse girl's toymaker father is abducted by a peglegged bat. She enlists the aid of Basil of Baker Street, the rodent world's answer to Sherlock Holmes. The case expands as Basil uncovers the crime's link to a plot against the Crown itself. [imdb]
Well we're just past the half-way mark with The Great Mouse Detective. Number twenty-six (out of the current 50) and just after the drastic failure of The Black Cauldron, this movie gave the Disney executives hope that there still might be a market to keep the animation department up and running... This was a good thing, considering coming up soon is The Little Mermaid, a movie which (not to get ahead of myself) considerably revived interest in Disney animated movies.

This film is quite charming and sweet... entertaining and fun... Basically, I really can't find much wrong with it.  It's easy to invest yourself into the characters, specifically the little mouse, Olivia. It may help that pretty much everyone in the English-speaking world is familiar with the character of Sherlock Holmes, who the titular character is based on.

I really can't help but imagine that the Disney company caught wind of the up-and-coming Amblin film An American Tail, and decided to make another mouse-based film ASAP... getting it to theaters mere months earlier. There are a few striking similarities between the two, mainly the premise of a little mouse child trying to find his/her father... Maybe it's just me reading into things, but the fact that ex-Disney (slightly disgruntled ex-Disney, I might add) director Don Bluth helmed the Amblin film might have really caused a bit of competition.

Anyways, back to the Disney film... Vincent Price.  That's all I really need to say. Well, maybe this is better: Vincent Price sings.  Yeah, that's pretty awesome.  Really, there's only like three(3) songs in this movie, and one is sung wonderfully by Price who plays the villain.

One bit of interest in the "making of" special feature: certain backgrounds were drawn out in wireframe on computers (remember, this is 1985-6...) which then sketched out onto sheets, where they were then inked and coloured as normal... Early CGI animation.  I really wish they did this NOW, because then even the computer generated aspects would still have a very hand-done feel to them.  I was really shocked to find out that computers were involved at all, considering how natural it looked.

So yeah, I enjoy this movie and I think it's one of the cutest of the whole set.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Disn-A-Thon: The Black Cauldron (1985)

Centuries ago, in the land of Prydain, a young man named, Taran is given the task of protecting Hen Wen, a magical oracular pig, who knows the location of the mystical black cauldron. This is not an easy task fot The Evil Horned King will stop at nothing to get the cauldron. [imdb]