Zombie McGruder’s Kick-Ass Sneak Peek at Disney’s CHICKEN LITTLE, THE WILD, and Pixar’s THE INCREDIBLES!!
Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
Great, great stuff. I’m green with envy.
Hey there Harry! (and Mori)
Today, I managed to sneak into a special Walt Disney Feature Animation presentation, organized by Buena Vista International - Benelux and held in the humongous PathÃ© De Kuip theatre in Rotterdam (that's in The Netherlands for all you topographically challenged readers). Walking around inconspicuously among the many businessmen and -women in attendance was no small feat for a rotting corpse such as myself, but then again, I do kick arse for the Lord, and today He obviously wanted me to behold the glory that is Brad Bird's The Incredibles - along with some other new Disney Feature Animation stuff coming out the next couple of months (or should I say, years).
After the obligatory Comcast-remarks, the presentation kicked off with the theatrical trailer for THE INCREDIBLES... you know, the one that undead fanboys such as myself have seen a thousand times over. No surprise there, then. Next up was an early look at John Lasseter's pet project CARS, due for release late 2005. Man, what a cool logo that movie has. I could look at that for hours. And so I did... Mainly because there wasn't any rough (let alone finished) animation ready for viewing yet. And that's understandable, considering the fact that this movie won't hit theaters until december 2005.
In the absence of character sketches and rough animation, the hostess of the presentation, a talkative American Disney representative who will hereafter be referred to simply as Disney-lady, started rambling about the greatness of John Lasseter(as if anybody doubted that) and the fact that CARS takes place in a world ruled by - you guessed it - cars! She actually said a little more than that, like there will be a little Fiat running a tire-shop, a mechanic acting as a doctor etcetera. Nothing earth-shattering though.
The next movie in the spotlight was CHICKEN LITTLE, a feature length computer-animated Disney-film NOT produced by Pixar. Directed by Mark Dindal, who also helmed Disney's less-than-great THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE, CHICKEN LITTLE tells the story of... well, a little chicken (voiced by Scrubs' Zach Braff), who - one fine day - sees an acorn falling from the sky and 'cries wolf' all over town, warning the peaceful inhabitants of Yoki Yokes (or something like that), that the sky is falling. Of course, nobody believes the little fellow and soon enough he's more or less branded as the town fool.
When Chicken Little senses *real* danger is on its way, he has to do everything he can to convince the townsfolk he's not crazy - he's just a little chicken trying to save lives. Helping him on this mission are his misfit friends; an ugly duckling (actually called Ugly Duckling), voiced by Joan Cusack, an enormous 'little' pig called Runt of the Litter, voiced by Steve Zahn and a little fish, called Fish Out of Water, voiced by the water cooler (no, I'm not making this up - this fish actually doesn't talk, but communicates like Kenny does in South Park, only this guy 'bubbles').
Disney-lady talked for quite a bit about the movie, before showing us a teaser-promo of the film (on a 35mm print even!), that didn't really suck, nor did it totally rule. It was just, well... kinda cool, not to mention kinda short. The promo showed the titular character running from a horde of journalists, harrassing the poor little fellow with questions ranging from "Is it true you claimed the sky is falling" to "Are you really a chicken?" (trust me, it's funnier when you actually see it). Chicken Little then tries to escape through a letterbox (which doesn't work), before stating to the press that he just wants to do good. After that, we see the movie title and... well, that's it.
After some more promo-talk by Disney-lady, we got to see other Chicken Little-characters in motion, like Chicken Little's father (a big rooster voiced by Garry Marshall), all the misfit-friends I mentioned earlier (trust me, the Fish Out Of Water rules) and the mayor Turkey Lurkey (I'm not kidding), voiced by Don Knotts. All in all, Chicken Little looks like it could be another winner for Disney, but it's way too early to say anything meaningful about it. For the time being, it all looks kinda pretty and any animated character voiced by Joan Cusack rules in my book.
Next up was something special. And by 'special' I mean I really haven't read or heard anything about this project. It's a computer-animated feature called THE WILD and it's due for release in the early summer of 2005. For this film, the mouse-factory has teamed up with San Francisco-based Complete Pandemonium and some Canadian company called Core Technologies. Disney-lady wasn't shy to mention that, while the Walt Disney company laments Pixar's departure, the Eisner-conglomerate is looking for new - and, yes, even better - producing partners. Complete Pandemonium appears to be one of them.
THE WILD is being directed by Steve 'Spaz' Williams, who some of you might know from those damn funny Blockbuster-hamster commercials. You don't? Well, then you better surf over to this site and watch them. Like, now! Williams also worked on that SPAWN-movie, but I guess everybody makes mistakes.
Now, while Disney-lady raved about Williams and talked about THE WILD's storyline, I asked myself: why the hell do Walt Disney and DreamWorks Animation feel the need to constantly xerox each other's ideas? I don't really care who comes up with an idea first, but PLEASE PEOPLE, a little originality won't friggin' kill you! First, there was AntZ followed by A Bug's Life (or was it the other way around?), then there was Finding Nemo, which will be followed shortly by DreamWorks' Shark Tale. Now, hold on to your butts, because while DreamWorks is working on the animated comedy MADAGASCAR, Michael Eisner and his team of creative geniuses have once again jumped into their botomless well of originality to bring us THE WILD - which is MADAGASCAR, only different.
According to Disney-lady, THE WILD follows the adventures of Ryan (at least, I think his name was Ryan) - a teenage Lion living in the New York Zoo. The ideas Pandemonium has for this zoo are actually pretty cool. When all the visitors and staff have left, the zoo kinda becomes a Michael Sowa-esque fantasy world, where Giraffes and Elephants play turtle-curling (yes, it's pretty funny) and young creatures run amok. After chasing some harmless animals, Ryan accidentally gets trapped inside a crate and is shipped to Madag- I mean, just plain Africa. A group of zoo-heroes team up to save young Ryan. The team consists of an older lion (I believe his name was Samson), a female giraffe named Bridgette, an Anaconda with a brain the size of a pea, a little squirrel who has a huge crush on Bridgette (hilarity ensues) and a Koala who hates being called 'cute'.
Disney-lady didn't have any rough animation to show us, but she did present us with some character-sketches and early movie-stills. It all looked pretty cool, but this whole idea sounds so much like MADAGASCAR, it just doesn't feel right. Personally, I would LOVE to see a feature computer-animated comedy about those Blockbuster-hamsters. But no, they had to make a movie like MADAGASCAR. I'm sorry, but I just don't get it.
After showing us some new Winnie the Pooh-shit that would make A.A. Milne spin in his grave, Disney-lady finally showed us something I was dying to see (and considering the fact I'm allready dead, that's saying something). Yes, I'm talking about Brad Bird's computer-animated feature THE INCREDIBLES, a film that will kick our collective asses come november. Now I know there will be a lot of clever reviewers who are going to say this, but just because it feels so right, I'll say it now: this movie is going to do its title justice. From what I saw today I can tell you, this film is just incredible.
Unfortunately, Disney-lady didn't surprise us with the entire film (that probably would be impossible anyway), but she did show us a lot of exhilarating clips. Some spoilers ahead, so beware... The movie opens with a sequence that will OWN all us fanboys; the superhero marriage of Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter). Every superhero in the world has come down to join the party and all seems to be going well, except for the fact that the reign of superheroes is about to come to an end. How? Well, with lawsuits of course. Hundreds of them. Superheroes all over the world are forced into hiding... changing their identity and trying to lead a normal life. So are Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl - now known as Bob and Helen Parr, living a quiet life in suburbia with their kids Violet, Dash and baby Jack Jack.
Needless to say, Bob isn't content with his new life. His job at an insurance company bores him to death, his lovehandles are growing by the day and his kids often times drive him insane. The 'family-scenes' I saw were hilarious - trademark Simpsons-humor from the guy who was responsible for some of the finest Simpsons-episodes ever. Just imagine young Dash (who has superhuman speed) irritating his sister by running circles around the dinner-table, sister herself (capable of becoming invisible and creating forcefields) using her powers to stop her brother and mother Helen stretching her arms around the living room, trying to keep her children from fighting.
Everything changes when Bob finds a secret message hidden in his suitcase. It seems superheroes are still needed and after accepting a 'job' and successfully completing it, Bob rediscovers the joys of his old, world-saving life. Only this time, he has to keep it a secret from Helen and the kids.
Strangely enough, saving the earth once again has made Bob a much better father. He feels happy again, spending more time with his kids, giving Helen the attention she so deserves and even getting rid of those love handles.
Bob even goes so far as to acquire a new superhero-outfit (his old one has holes in it). In a hilarious scene, which Disney-lady was kind enough to show us, Bob pays a visit to 'superhero couturier' Edna (E), voiced by Brad Bird himself! Bob discusses his new outfit with E, who - after reminding Bob that many superheroes have died in cape-related accidents - tells Mr. Incredible that the new suit should have "NO CAPE!"
The final sequence Disney-lady showed us was a rescue mission on a mysterious island, where Mr. Incredible was last seen. It goes without saying that his family discovers Bob's superhero-activities and decides to help him. One scene in particular, where Elastigirl takes out several guards in different rooms, is truly amazing.
After seeing what I saw today, there is not an iota of doubt in my mind that THE INCREDIBLES will rule the friggin' earth when it comes out in november. The humor will have you laughing your ass off, the action will have you hyperventilating and the quality of animation will have you going nuts. The sequences I saw had a sixties atmosphere that was just... well, it was nothing short of breathtaking.
So far for this report. I'm going over to MENSA to eat some brains, because frankly, most of the people attending the presentation today obviously didn't have any (saying things like "Disney will do great without Pixar" and "I don't like Toy Story and A Bug's Life, I like round characters" (?)). Till next time.
Disney’s fooling themselves if they think ripping off MADAGASCAR and poor-mouthing Pixar before they’re even out the door is the way they’re going to salvage some dignity out of the ruins of the last few months.