This Smack takes us far from the terror-tory of evil Godzilla, doing his best to annihilate Tokyo, or the mayhem wrought by the homicidal dinosaurs of the various Jurassic Parks. While monsters have been intimidating heavies in many of movieland’s most horrific films, that’s not the case with the lead characters in this pair of contestants, which feature bizarre, animated creatures as heroes and saviors in the twin Pixar offerings Monsters, Inc. and its new prequel, Monsters University. […]
When we Baby Boomers were kids, our toys had lives of their own to us. Now that our children are young, it’s their video game characters that seem real to them. So, having once cherished my Davy Crockett coonskin cap and toy rifle, it was easy for me to see poetry in Toy Story’s Woody, a child’s inanimate cowboy doll by day, and a fretting, insecure, full-blooded character, when no one was looking at night.
My 10-year-old son Jack never had a doll like Woody to play with, but he did grow up with video games and movie characters, including Mario and Luigi. So naturally, Disney, which teamed with Pixar to bring us Toy Story, has jumped into the breach with a similarly themed movie for the Millennials. The new film, Wreck-It Ralph is also about the secret lives of children’s play-things once humans are out of the way. And the same John Lasseter who skyrocketed to prominence as Toy Story’s writer-director is overseeing Ralph as executive producer. […]
The idea seemed outrageous. Around the turn of the century, Disney & Co. decided to translate one of its most iconic theme park rides into a film. About pirates. Seriously.
It’s not like pirates were all the rage at the time. A good pirate movie hadn’t been made since, well… Ever? Look, I never was one to get lost in the swashbuckling days of yesteryear with Errol Flynn. In my lifetime, I couldn’t remember a single good pirate movie.
Sure, pirates popped up in other films (The Princess Bride, Hook, etc.) but pirate movies weren’t popular. Think of the awful The Pirate Movie (1982), loosely based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera The Pirates of Penzance. Or how about the horrible Geena Davis vehicle Cutthroat Island (1995) that bankrupted Carolco Pictures?
The point I’m making here is that Disney’s decision to create a movie based on its Pirates of the Caribbean ride was one of those decisions that could either be called mad genius or visionary. When Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl debuted in 2003, no one expected it would launch a box office powerhouse and a franchise that would be pumping out sequels for the next decade. […]