Can the success of Cars translate to Planes for Disney without Pixar??

Hi there!

That’s right! News out of DisneyToon Studios has it that Planes will draw inspiration from the hugely popular Cars series of movies, games, and merchandise. Instead of cars acting like people, we’ll have a new and original group of daredevils from around the world!

We don’t have any details beyond what’s in the latest press release from DisneyToon Studios. Planes will arrive on DVD & Blu-ray in Spring 2013.

DisneyToon Studios logo.
Image via Wikipedia

Here’s what we know:

“We had such a great time exploring the world of Cars over the course of two films, so it seemed only natural for us to see where our imaginations would take us in a film where planes were the main characters. By expanding the Cars world, Planes gave us a whole new set of fun-filled situations and a great opportunity to introduce some fantastic new characters,” commented John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.

“The team at DisneyToon Studios has done such an amazing job creating a heartfelt story filled with great comedy, adventure, and emotion. I know audiences are going to love taking off into the wild blue yonder with these daredevil characters, as they experience a whole new kind of animated adventure.”

PLANES takes off with an international cast of the fastest air racers around, in a comedy packed with action and adventure starring Dusty, a small town dreamer who longs to enter the most epic around-the-world air race … despite his fear of heights. With the help and support of a fleet of new and hilarious characters, Dusty wings his way into the biggest challenge of his life.

Fasten your seatbelt as more information on PLANES will be arriving shortly!

It’s interesting that this is happening without Pixar in the loop… But I’m sure we’ll be hearing much more on Planes over the next year or so as images and maybe even a teaser gets released.

Question: What do you think? Can Planes do for Disney what Cars did?


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Movie Review: TRON: Legacy

Hi all!

When I was a kid, many moons ago, and the personal computer era was just kicking off for me, the movie TRON came out in 1982. This was a different feature for Disney. It features concepts and characters ahead of their time. And I don’t think I saw it in the theater – but I saw it on video a few times in the next decade.

TRON would ultimately for me fade into the background noise, but be remembered as a “cool” moment I didn’t quite know how to process. It wasn’t like Star Wars or Close Encounters of the Third Kind where I still refer to scenes or characters in my everyday life.

So when I saw the teaser for TRON: Legacy a couple of years ago I was surprised when it really captured my interest. These days, computer-generated graphics and 3D are hot tickets, so I figured it might do well at the box office. I wasn’t able to see it on opening weekend, but finally got to see it yesterday.

And I think it has a similar less-than-lasting effect that the initial movie did. There’s a huge “oh wow” factor and plenty of homage to the original throughout. But though it’s amazingly cool, I doubt that it’s going to stick again.

I really wanted to love it – but I liked it a lot. Jeff Bridges was back as an older Kevin Flynn and Clu. Bruce Boxleitner was back as Alan Bradley and Tron. And then they added Flynn’s son, Sam, played by Garett Hedlund, and the beautiful but somewhat enigmatic Quorra played by Olivia Wilde. With this quartet, we get a story that latches on to the original with little effort and leads us back to the Grid.

Though it builds beautifully and has a few emotionally-charged moments, I almost feel like it’s the run-up to a third movie. I don’t know how to explain it other than saying that it sort of has a Two Towers feel like the big inhale before the final act.

Bridges lends some of his “dudeness” to the film while Boxleitner grounds it. Hedlund’s character’s lack of commitment is in stark contrast to Wilde’s total devotion to whatever she holds dear.

The CGI is out of this world. I wasn’t wowed by the 3D aspect, but it added a bit of depth without going overboard or making me get motion sick. This is what TRON couldn’t be nearly 30 years ago. And in that this movie succeeds beyond all expectations.

And I really liked the soundtrack from Daft Punk. It worked really well on the Grid to set the mood with electronic music. I’ll have to pick it up as something to work out to with an infectious beat!

The one thing that bugged me however was how they used CGI to make Bridges seem young again in the opening and with his alter-ego Clu on the Grid. It seemed very forced to me and was jarring enough to keep me from enjoying all that was going on around those characters in those scenes. But that was really it. There were a few places where the movie dragged – like on the train in the last third – but those moments were used to build the emotional bonds I think, so it wasn’t too bad. (Unlike the tent scenes in the latest Harry Potter which bored me to tears.)

If you’re a fan of the original film or enjoy flashy science fiction movies, I’d definitely recommend seeing TRON: Legacy if you get a chance. It’s not for everybody and the plot is a bit thin in spots. I went with my two daughters (ages 5 and 9) and my wife and we all liked it however. There’s plenty of eye candy to keep you busy for a while.

I’ll give TRON: Legacy a solid 3 out of 4 stars ([rating: 3/4]). It was fun and I hope I can pick it up on Blu-ray with the original in a few months to see what I missed on the first viewing.

Let me know in the comments what YOU think… Did you like it?


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Movie Review: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Hey there…

Yes, I know that there are people who on principle skip anything Jerry Bruckheimer produces. And yes, I know that there are those people who try to miss anything Nicolas Cage appears in because they simply don’t like him. And there are probably a third group who believe that Fantasia is sacrosanct and must not ever be touched again by human hands… But I’m evidently not one of those.

I’ll admit that I was skeptical that it could be done. Who could possibly write a script for a two hour film that’s based on the short animated feature as part of 1940’s Fantasia from Walt Disney? How could you take Mickey Mouse and the dancing mops, brooms, and buckets and modernize it for today’s audiences?

Well, I think they actually managed to pull it off. We went as a family and all of us really enjoyed The Sorcerer’s Apprentice with Cage, Jay Baruchel, and Alfred Molina playing the lead roles. Hopefully it will make more money than it has so far so that we can continue to see the adventures of “Dave the Sorcerer”.

What is it about? It starts in medieval times with the saga of Merlin (James A. Stephens) and his three apprentices – Veronica (Monica Bellucci), Balthazar (Cage), and Horvath (Molina). When Horvath turns on his friends and master to join the evil wizardess Morgana (Alice Krige) in an attempt to take over the world and killing Merlin – Veronica sacrifices herself and binds Morgana’s soul within herself, and Balthazar captures them both in a Russian Doll magic item. That starts a war between the Merlinians, with Balthazar at the lead, and the Morganians seeking to free Morgana to take over the world.

Balthazar spends the next thousand years trying to find what Merlin called “the Prime Merlinian” – an individual with the potential to take Merlin’s place in the world. Along the way, he captures other evil wizards in the doll as they continue to try to release their queen.

When young Dave stumbles into Balthazar’s magic shop while on a field trip, it’s revealed that he is the Prime Merlinian Balthazar’s been looking for all this time… But through a series of mishaps, Dave unwittingly releases Horvath and a battle ensues that eventually finds the two ancient enemies locked away for 10 years. That gives Dave some time to get some therapy for what nobody believes he saw.

And that brings us to the present day, with Dave having become a physics geek working with electricity and plasma. I won’t spoil the rest, but suffice it to say that it’s a wild ride where Balthazar and Dave must work together to try and save the world from Horvath and Morgana.

Before I saw the film, I read a few reviews chastising the exposition at the beginning that sets the stage for the transition to the modern day. As such, I was a bit concerned. Turned out that I need not have been. Though director Jon Turteltaub might have chosen to “show, not tell” that section of the story, I think it would have added another 30+ minutes to the already two hour long film. As such, to keep it short enough to play frequently at most movie theaters I think it was a good choice to avoid the lengthier storytelling option.

It was obvious that Cage and Baruchel had a good time working together. The relationship between Balthazar and Dave seems genuine and the Master/Apprentice ties that bind them together lead to some touching moments. Molina simply ate up the screen as Horvath and cut a dashing figure in what looked like a late 18th century/early 19th century suit, hat, and cane. Even Teresa Palmer as Dave’s eventual girlfriend Becky played the “fish out of water” character well, even going so far as to play a pivotal role in the climax.

The only character I didn’t like was Toby Kebbel’s magician Drake Stone, the evil wizard who helps Horvath set Morgana free. Stone played a Criss Angel-type stage magician who was in it more for stroking his ego than for any perfection of his art. But I think we were supposed to dislike the slimy character – so if that was the case then bravo to Kebbel’s acting chops.

The special effects were spectacular. From the dragon in Chinatown to the car chases on the flip side of a mirror, the effects seamlessly transported me into a world where magic exists. I found myself watching, wide-eyed and enjoying every minute in that world – wishing there was a bit more magic day to day in our own.

For me, Bruckheimer has struck again as he did with films like Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and National Treasure. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice offers escapism and a big budget popcorn movie where you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.

If you don’t like Bruckheimer, Nick Cage, or the idea that a Mickey Mouse cartoon could be made into a big budget live action adventure movie, I’d recommend that you stay home. But I’m certainly glad I went to see it.

This article first appeared at here.


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