So, I promised you lots of posts all at once ... ahem. Here's the second! It's a little film review, my first ever, so I hope you enjoy it and that I don't get too carried away with purple prose. Feel free to stop reading at any point, I'll never know! :p
On Sunday I was lucky enough to attend a special preview screening of the new Disney 2D animation The Princess and the Frog. I very much enjoyed it - absolutely worth the early morning Sunday start.
The story starts off in typical Disney fashion with a fairy-tale, but then suddenly twists off in a new direction, which keeps things fresh - you're not entirely sure where the story will end up. It's set in New Orleans in the 1920s and there are some stunning backdrops that set the scene beautifully, with some catchy jazz music to further enhance the setting.
There are numerous references to past Disney films which are fun to spot, and a few modern updates to Disney's worldview. There's a strong female lead who is getting on with life, pursuing her goals, and not waiting for her prince to arrive. When a prince does roll into town, she ignores him. There's also a more modern take on wishes - the message being you can still wish upon a star kids, but don't expect your dreams to come true unless you work for them too. Nothing comes easy - it's not enough to be a good person and find a star to wish on like in Pinocchio's day - nowadays you've got to back it up with hard graft. The moral messages were sometimes laid on a little thick, (I prefer to be shown these things rather than hear them spouting from the characters' mouths), but I can forgive a little overcooked sentimentality, as there were also plenty of laughs and entertainment along the way, with some brilliant comic characters.
The animation was great. There is a huge variety in characters - from people (at both ends of the animation spectrum - realistic and charicatures), to animals (hulking alligators to tiny fireflies), to malevolent skulking shadows. All of them move in a natural and appealing way. There was some fantastic exaggeration, (I'm already looking forward to the DVD so I can frame through some of this stuff!) the frogs jumping demonstrated some beautiful arcs ... in fact I could pretty much sit here and list the 12 principles of animation and tick them all off for you. However, I'll refrain and let you discover them for yourself. I also really enjoyed the more stylized graphical 2D animation (not sure if that's the correct term) that was used in some of the dream sequences. It broke things up a bit and added some more texture.
OK, so the film wasn't perfect - there were a few incongruous moments, and the odd bit of slightly less than perfect draughtsmanship. However, all in all, The Princess and the Frog feels like a great way for Disney to re-enter the world of 2D animation. The group of animators I went with all enjoyed it, and judging by the well-behaved audience at the screening I went to, where children outnumbered adults by roughly 3 to 1, it's a film to entertain the whole family.
Disney is back, doing what it does best - solid story, gorgeous visuals, great animation and keeping hordes of kids (young and ... grown-up) spellbound.
It's out in the UK in February - go and see it!