In an amusing way, I feel “compelled” to review the new live-action Mulan, if only because my review of the original animated version has been archived for decades at IMDB for the whole world to see.* But this was also one of the only Disney remakes I was actually keen on seeing. When they announced that they would not be doing a near shot-for-shot remake and would instead be shaking things up (not making it a musical, the removal of Mushu, etc) my interest was piqued. As long as they had good writing, I figured, this could be a good thing: a chance to tell the story in a new way, opening up new avenues to explore and to play in. And even though I have very much disliked most of the remakes thus far, as long as they nailed that one, crucial, thing of good writing, it could turn out well! Continue reading
There is a new full-length documentary out on Halyx, the “space rock band” that Disney created for Tomorrowland in 1981, and it is amazing (both the band and the documentary):
If you want more, the user Bangoe has been posting on his channel recordings of the band’s performance that he himself recorded as a guest at Disneyland in 1981.
And for those of you who are not familiar with Defunctland, the Youtube channel who made this, the above is only the tip of the iceberg of the great videos they make not only about old and removed rides and attractions (the ‘defunct’ part of their name), but also deep dives into Disney and general theme park history, old children’s TV shows, an incredible multi-part series on the life and art of Jim Henson, and more. If any of that piques your interest, I highly, highly recommend a subscribe!
Here’s something neat! A flyover video of Disneyland in a helicopter, something rarely allowed but with the current shutdown things are a bit more flexible. Also, due to the same shutdown, it’s a bit eerie with nary a person in the park… but it’s still cool.
Flyover starts about 2/3 of the way through the video below, with a nice slow-motion replay:
More photos from our grand day at Disneyland!
Love those squirrel rain spouts…
The castle is really looking good after a major refurbishment last year. It may not be large in stature, but with it’s bold colour popping and looking great under the strong California sun it captures the eye and is once again a grand centrepiece for the park.
Got to visit with Nick! (Judy was out on patrol…)
ShadowCheetah was wearing this fun and semi-subversive shirt that was filled with traditional Star Wars poster imagery but with title text at the bottom said “Star Trek” in the Trek font. Though he hadn’t approached Nick, as we were leaving Nick runs over and stops him to energetically point at the title on his shirt as if to say “What the heck?!” That ol’ sharp eyed fox! Spotted it from 6′ away! And then, if that wasn’t amazing enough, he proceeds to pantomime pulling out his pad, writing up an infraction/ticket, and handing it to ShadowCheetah. We laughed so hard, what a perfect act by Nick, a great interaction and totally impressive that he spotted it in passing from so far away!
The park as a whole for the day was delightfully quiet. We didn’t even get or need a FastPass once throughout the day, and managed to see/explore/ride an amazing number of things (listed in no particular order):
- Space Mountain
- Star Tours
- Thunder Mountain
- Jungle Cruise
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Smuggler’s Run (3x)
- Rise of the Resistance
- Castle Walkthrough
- Submarine Voyage
- Guardians (3x)
- Nick Meet & Greet
- Lunar New Year Processional
Plus exploring Batuu and many areas of the two parks. My oh my, it was a gloriously full day!
There’s something certainly beautiful of walking through the park long after closing, but also… mildly disconcerting. It’s weird to not have anyone else around, and with the silence that accompanies it. I totally loved it, don’t get me wrong, it’s peaceful beauty and I am now scheming to ensure I get to do that again. But it was very amusing to be in that headspace space of both marvel and unsettled at the same time.
I mean, though, how could you not love seeing the castle and main street so clear and free like this?
Getting to start the day standing before the castle nearly an hour before rope drop (ie park opening) and ending the day again before the castle nearly an hour after closure, with non-stop attractions in between. Truly a spectacular, wonderful, and fun-filled day.
Last week ShadowCheetah and I got a chance to hop into my starfighter and fly ourselves down to visit Batuu… and it was a decidedly good time!
After following the construction progress from afar, walking into Galaxy’s Edge and experiencing it was very cool. It’s a deliciously hyper-detailed land, with an attention to detail I’d not seen in a Disney park outside of the ones in Japan.
Every nook and cranny has been paid attention to with set dressing so that there’s no blank or disused areas. And the design of the land purposefully avoids any clear sight lines so that it unfolds bit by bit as you journey through it. While it has its downsides (or even flaws) from an operation’s standpoint (such as lack of casual seating) the land is glorious eye candy everywhere you look (which would be great to observe from said missing seating).
Our plan was to visit the planet both during the daytime and then return to see it under the glory of night. This worked out even better than we expected — our boarding pass was called for Rise of the Resistance (more on that in a bit!) late in the evening, which had us emerge from the ride just a few minutes before park closing. Which was enough time to hustle it over to Smuggler’s Run for our third ride of the day. We ended up being the last ones on the ride for the day, and when we were done piloting (woohoo!) we exited Hondo’s garage to a very empty Black Spire Outpost. Which allowed us to not only marvel in the great detail and lighting, but also take some nice shots with nary another person in sight.
So clearly we enjoyed Smuggler’s Run, but we were especially fortunate that our trip to Batuu came after the opening of Rise of the Resistance. Because it is truly something else. Several something elses, really, as it is more like 5 rides in one. Spoilers hereon out if you want to avoid, as I kind of did, studiously avoiding watching any on-ride videos so that I would go in semi-fresh. So while I knew of a few of the big set pieces from following the construction photos, the overall of it I didn’t know. I’ve heard it described as the first “F-ticket” attraction, and I would agree. There are a lot of very nifty moments, a tonne of incredibly creative set pieces and effects, and it has a more cohesive plot and perhaps even story than did the The Rise of Skywalker movie. It’s a tour de force (pun semi-intended), and I’m keen on seeing it again!
Some of my fav moments:
- From those construction photos, I knew that there would be a Star Destroyer hangar. But having us go out of the shuttle through same door we came in was unexpected… and best of all, there was this group of about 8 who clearly didn’t know about this and when the door opened and we were greeted by the tableau of three rows of stormtroopers and the giant doorway to space and the First Order officers this group, in unison, literally jumped back, leaned back, and screamed in a mix of surprise, amazement, wonder, and terror. So much so that the officer had to stop his spiel and wait for them to finish before ordering us off the ship. So while I unfortunately wasn’t surprised it was absolutely great to get to live vicariously through that group.
- The cast members playing the First Order. They must love it, getting to be all stern and order-y and generally being very non-Disney like.
- The cutting out of the jail cell! The effects of the plasma torch were neat (even if one fellow prisoner was standing in front of it, totally clueless to what was going on behind) them, and then the rough cut look of the wall when the panel pulls away.
- As we’re in the droid vehicles, headed towards a lift… and a mechanical form slowly slides down from above into view. Me: “Gahhhh! It’s a probe droid!” Voice on the Ride: “Look out, it’s a probe droid!” Me: “That’s what I just said!”
- I want to see the blaster effects a second time… some seemed to work great (along with blasting holes in the wall), some less so…
- The decompression effect was amazing. I’m guessing a chamber of pressurized air to get that instantaneous blast effect, it was very effective. (The debris that ‘falls’ to hide Kylo Ren, not so much.)
- And then that last drop right into the motion simulator. They must drop the entire motion simulator rig, and that’s just downright impressive — that thing plus the ride vehicle plus the guests can’t be all that lightweight! And to do it over and over and over again! It’s also very effective from an experience standpoint, you do get the sense of being ejected out of the ship and then escaping down to the planet’s surface (that said, they need to upgrade their graphics on both that and the original shuttle ride to take time-of-day into account — it was night outside but the graphics were all day).
All in all, a great ride experience, and super impressive from a technical standpoint. Hats off and lightsabres up in salute to Imagineering for such great work!
One big addition to (and to fix a glaring omission from) my review of TRoS from last Sunday, and that is to commend the actors. They did what they could with the material given to them to do, and often went above and beyond the call. Adam Driver especially – he didn’t even get to speak for the last third of the movie and managed to pull off a lot of communication with only body language and expression. And a glass raised in condolences to John Boyega, for whom I think 50% of his dialogue opportunities was, started, or ended with, shouting “Rey!” in various ways. Their embodiment of the characters throughout the trilogy (whether they were in all three or just some of them) is one of the series’ strong points, and for some of the installments was the reason why the movie worked at all in any capacity.
It’s also gotta be rough as an actor, signing up for something you’re excited in and then being presented a script… and a reshoot, and another reshoot… and then seeing on screen what was finally edited together. And then everyone’s reactions to it. (Doubly so since, especially for some of them, they were hit with insane and disgusting vitriol hurled towards them personally as actors. That’s really shitty.) Like many I both dream of and would jump at a chance to be in a Star Wars movie (or any other movie, really, but Star Wars has extra resonance). I would sign on the dotted line and be ready to dive in. I can also imagine then being handed the script like for TFA or TRoS and feeling my heart sink and continue sinking throughout the process.
Now, I don’t know if any of the actors felt this way, and maybe they didn’t, but I still commend them heartily for giving it their all and bringing what there was to life and for making us like and invest into the characters, even as we may have wanted to see them (with these feelings even heightened because the actors were doing a good job) in better stories or better told stories.
From the moment I first heard/saw it on the Laserdisk release, I’ve always loved this early version of Can You Feel the Love Tonight. It’s just Simba and Nala singing to each other, though not actually singing to each other. It’s quiet and intimate and there’s something raw-er and more emotional present here than in the “heavenly choir” version used in the film. And also something more… profound? That might not be quite the right word for it, but there’s a greater sense of two lions becoming aware of their attraction while also dealing with what they’re carrying from their past. It feels much more authentic and real than the polished and grand production number used in film. The simpler orchestration here also really works for me.
All in all, an absolutely lovely version and definitively my favourite version of the song!
And so my friends we have come now to the end. Episode IX, the final chapter in the “main” Star Wars saga! Thus far in the trilogy, The Force Awakens largely disappointed, and The Last Jedi was strong in concept and rich in both direction and character arcs if, unfortunately, weak in storytelling. For this third installment, JJ is back to direct. Will the third time the charm? Will The Rise of Skywalker rise to the occasion and satisfyingly wrap up this 42 year journey?
Spoilers ahead…. Continue reading
Ohhhh, this is nice. There’s a big push of investment about to be poured into EPCOT at Walt Disney World, and one of the new buildings teased looks like this:
Colour me intrigued! I love its futuristic/biophilic flair, and I get a very world-expo vibe from it. Especially with the promotional poster like this:
Very nice! Fingers crossed it survives intact from these schematic/conceptual drawings into reality…