Making a film is a frustrating process. Right now i am in a three way rut of production. I haven't been able to lock down character designs. My script is still to long but i don't know what to cut and I'm still not sure how the hell i'm going to animate it. The only positive step my film seems to have taken over the break is that i got my voice actor secured and have a day which he has agreed to record the narration. I'm not going to say who it is until i got his voice on my computer but he's pretty big. I didn't even imagine i would get him to do it. You can make guesses if you want (my family can't though because they already know). So hopefully this will all go through without a problem (knock on wood). In other news my break is going great so far, I got some pretty cool stuff for christmas and tomorrow i'm going skiing.
I went to Disney today to see a free Calarts animation, exclusive showing of Princes and the Frog and I have to say the film is not that bad. In fact it's pretty good! Now before i go into the details of what i thought about the movie i want to say GO SEE THIS FILM! It is really good and deserves your money. Ok critique time. Just a warning: I would not continue to read if you haven't seen the film yet as it might ruin the viewing experience for you.
Princess and the Frog was a huge undertaking for Disney. They had the first African American princess, the return of 2d animation, and the return of the Disney musical all riding on this film. First of all i have to say that they did a great job at addressing the issues of race and class in the film. The world did not loose it's believability, as it is set in the southern United States in the 1920's, but subtle enough that it did not divert the focus of the story. The whole thing was handled very well.
The cast of characters (as with most Ron and John films) are amazing and all contribute something to the story. The villain, Dr. Facilier, is amazing and the actor who did his voice, Keith David, did some of the best voice acting in the whole film! i just wish i could see more of him. He has about as much screen-time as Ursula did in the Little Mermaid so that might give you an idea. Louis, the alligator, was great t0o and contributed to most of the major laughs in the film. My only problem is that i wish we actually got to see the scene were his dream of playing in the band is fulfilled.
The songs are amazing and i definitely will pick up the soundtrack. My only problem is with the lyrics. The songs that were in the other Disney musicals work because they move the plot forward and lyrics sound like they could be lines of dialog - so the transition to the music seems seamless. The songs have a narrative to them. But with these songs the lyrics don't contribute much beyond the song itself. The best and worst examples of this are the two voodoo songs. Dr. Facilier's song is great because what goes on in the song carries the scene. The interactions between the characters is played out in the song. With Mama Odie', the voodoo priestess's, song, the whole point of the song is in the chorus while the rest of it just feels like she is reiterating the same point.
One thing that bothered me about the animation was that there were inconsistencies with the squash and stretch rules of the world, and i don't think it worked. The best example i can think of is the scene with the three frog hunters. The biggest one is not squishy at all and has no give when he gets hit on the head but then immediately after you see the main guy get hit on the head and he has a lot of squash and stretch. Because it is right after you see the other guy, you think that the main frog hunter just had his scull smashed in.
The animation was great and it was a breath of fresh air to see them experiment with different styles, like in the restaurant sequence. I am hoping that they will continue this experimentation in future projects and hopefully release a film that is not in the "disney style".
GO SEE IT!!!
The Q and A was great! Ron and John talked a little bit about what it was like getting into directing at such a young age and what it is like working together. They also discussed how they made the film feel authentic and other interesting stuff. And disney gave us all free posters!