Week 44: Brother Bear

A Boy, a Bear, Some Happy Trees…

bears and landscapes 04

Originally Released: 2003

Once there was a boy named Kenai. Kenai had two older brothers who annoyed him so much because he was a lame little brother. But Kenai thought he was only lame because his older brother Denahi was a meanie jerkwad.

One day, Kenai and his brothers were catching fishies when a big hungry grizzly bear stoled their fishies. It made Kenai mad, mad mad! But his brothers were even mad, mad madder, because it was Kenai’s fault big hungry grizzly could reach the fishies. He wanted to get that mean old grizzly bear, but instead his older brother Sitka fell into the river. It made the sky sad…

northern lights

But it made Kenai even madder, so he got that meanie grizzly bear. And that made the sky got angry at Kenai, and then the sky decided to turn him into a bear.

transform 01

transform 02

 

 

 

 

 

Once Kenai became a bear, his world grew and got real big and became a lot prettier with more colors. The trees were happier, and the sky and mountains were happier and brighter too.  And also, he even could talk to other aminals!

But Kenai didn’t notice. He could only think how mad he was that he was a dumb old bear and he wanted to go back to being a human person. He was still a lame little brother even when he was a bear.

But then he found a littler bear and he had to help the littler bear find his way to the rest of the bears. So together they went to the prettiest land places ever, like…

bears and landscapes 02

This place where the hills are alive…

beautiful landscape 04

…and this place with a happy tree and happy clouds…

bears and landscapes 03

…and they rode furry elephants in this place…

moose and landscapes

…and then they met funny mooses by the ice…

bears and landscapes 01

…and they even got to play games with the ice rocks.

But Kenai didn’t care. He just rolled his eyes a lot because he was still a lame meanie brother. He didn’t care about the happy trees, and all the neat land places. Kenai wanted to be a human person again. And he wanted to run away from his brother who was hunting him.

revenge

But in the end, his brother didn’t hunt him and he became friends with the littler bear in the end. They all lived happily ever after in the end. The End.

angst

Whyyyyyy?!?!?!? Why did I waste my time reading that blog post?!?!? WHYYY?

beautiful landscape 03

Ok, I’m not sure what that was all about.

beautiful landscape 02

Good movie, bad movie. It is irrelevant. Just give me a ticket to Alaska this summer. Is there a hopping bear in this picture? I didn’t really notice.

 

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Week 43: Treasure Planet

Pirates? In Space? Shiver my Timbers!

The treasure

Originally Released: 2002

I suppose it was inevitable that Treasure Island would receive the Disney animation treatment at some point. After all, this book has gone through many iterations throughout the years on film, including Disney’s very first live-action film released in 1950 and another Disney version involving the MuppetsCaptain Long John Silver has been played multiple times by many great actors, including Wallace Beery, Charlton Heston, Tim Curry, and Robert Newton. In fact, as I understand it, Newton is the man we can thank for the pirate stereotype in all pirate movies post 1950 (at least until Jack Sparrow, anyway).

So big kudos to Disney for attempting to take this well-told tale in a different direction. I boggles my mind how this film didn’t make more money, because the idea of merging classic swashbuckling adventure and science fiction is amazing. I bet the team that worked on the film wondered the same thing, because this is a solid adaptation of the story. It features a talented cast of voice actors, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emma Thompson, and Niles Crane. The soundtrack by James Newton Howard supplements the film well and includes music from the Goo-Goo Dolls lead singer at the height of his career. And, in my opinion, Treasure Planet is even today a visual tour-de-force, using the best merging of 2D art and 3D animation that I can remember.

map

Is it the best film adaptation of the source material? I’m not sure, but probably not (I only remember seeing the Muppet version and this movie). There have been so many different versions, I’m sure each person will have a different opinion as far as which is his or her favorite.

silver and crew

Does it have the best John Silver? I applaud supervising animator Glen Keane’s work on the character and his decision to not completely copy past versions. The swiss army arm is a great touch as well. But no doubt people will still remember previous Long John Silvers of movie past before they think of this animated version.

Storybook

Treasure Island. Good book.

Does it hold up to the original novel by Robert Louis Stephenson? No, it doesn’t come even close, because I believe Treasure Island is one of the greatest pieces of classic literature ever written, and I doubt any film will fully capture the essence of that book (it was definitely the highlight of my 3000-page summer literature marathon a few years back – but that’s another story altogether). In fact, this latest viewing of Treasure Planet made me really want to find the book and read it again.

Despite not being able to call itself the “best” version of Treasure Island out there, I feel like the movie differentiates itself enough from the standard pirate fare and makes enough smart decisions to stand on its own and qualify for membership among other upper-tier Disney entertainment. I am not sure what Treasure Planet‘s status is among the masses, but if it has become a forgotten entry, shiver my soul, you’s best be recommended ta find it and make it unforgotten, because perhaps there be hidden treasure ta find in it.

Oh, and yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum. Just because.

surfing

This scene is just cool.

escape

home to family

ship stuff

 

 

Week 42: Lilo & Stitch

A Welcome addition to the Disney Ohana

space toy

Originally Released: 2002

It is easy to get lost in the surface-level entertainment that is offered by Lilo & Stitch. The 42nd offering from Walt Disney Animation Studios has a unique, colorful, and welcoming art style that is fun to look at. The Hawaii location really adds to the inviting atmosphere. Musically, the movie features some of the best hits from the King of Rock n’ Roll, Elvis Presley, it contains several fun songs performed by a talented Hawaiian children’s choir, and Stich plays the ukulele to great effect. Stitch himself is very funny and steals most of the scenes in which he is involved. Yes, on the surface, Lilo & Stitch provides great entertainment to kids and adults.

Crazy, lovable, entertaining Stitch

Crazy, lovable, entertaining Stitch

However, like all really good films, there are deeper themes found in Lilo & Stitch, and these themes are what to me makes this film the cream of the Disney canon crop in the 2000’s decade, and worthy to be mentioned alongside the other Disney greats. Directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois were able to create in the characters Lilo, Stitch, and Lilo’s sister Nani something that we all should be able to relate to, regardless of our age or gender or social situation (incidentally, this directing duo is also behind my favorite Dreamworks animated features How to Train Your Dragon and How to Train Your Dragon 2 – two more wonderful films that really “get it” from a human message standpoint).

At the forefront of these deeper themes is the concept of ohana. Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten,” says Lilo. It seems pretty straightforward, but how easily this can be forgotten in the daily turmoil and stress that we encounter with our families, friends, and others. The film makes it clear that “family” isn’t necessarily confined to strictly blood relatives, but that it can reach wider than your immediate family members.

I once had a friend criticize this film and its message by saying he was upset that the film attempted to rewrite the definition of “family” to also include things like your pet dog, and that the film was really an underhanded attack on the traditional family. I suppose I can see his point if I REALLY stretch, but I think he missed the concept and the real message the directors were trying to get across. To me, in order to really understand the concept, all it takes is to swap the word “family” with “neighbor.” I can then ask a familiar question: “And who is my neighbor?” Whether it be Stitch, Lilo, or a random stranger who was beaten and left for dead (please watch the link, it is worth your time), no one deserves to be alone, left behind, or forgotten. It doesn’t matter if you want to call them “family” or “neighbor” or “stranger” – what matters is that they still deserve our love and attention, even when it is hard or inconvenient to do so.

surfing

Beyond that most obvious message of ohana are the smaller touches surrounding the main characters. Who among us has never felt like Stitch at one point or another: alone and friendless, misunderstood, or seeking our true purpose? Or maybe we can relate more to Nani, trying to cope with life’s challenges while at the same time having no clue how to help a naughty or rambunctious child/family member whose “badness level” is almost filled to the brim. Or do we maybe feel more like Lilo, when we try to help with things, but our efforts either go unnoticed or seem to make things worse? To me, amount of relatable situations in Lilo & Stitch – from both an adult and child’s perspective – only adds to its value as a great film.

model citizen

To summarize, Lilo & Stitch works for me on all levels and always leaves me in a better mood after I watch it. I can credit that to the surface-level factors as well as it deeper thematic message. Lilo & Stitch earns its place on my list of highly recommended Disney animation.

destroy city

bad guys

spit

hula class