Aladdin

I know, I know, it’s been 7 months since my last entry.  I promise to do more of them I really do. But let’s get right into it.

“Jafar, you vile betrayer.”

That’s Sultan Vile Betrayer to you.”

Right after the great success of Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, the mouse house released this almost instant classic. There was a lot of fan fare and anticipation for this film. It was an integral part of the period known as the Disney Renaissance.  Where I was fortunate enough to experience throughout my childhood. It was a time when Disney movies were a huge deal.   Aladdin had the same directing team with John Musker and Ron Clements as The Little Mermaid, and also co writing the film with Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio (Who only had Little Monsters in their filmography at the time). Plus, you had Alan Menken coming back from Little Mermaid, and also bringing back musical theater maestro Tim Rice.  Expectations were high from fans, families, and critics.

The story : (From IMDB)

Aladdin is a street-urchin who lives in a large and busy town long ago with his faithful monkey friend Abu. When Princess Jasmine gets tired of being forced to remain in the palace that overlooks the city, she sneaks out to the marketplace, where she accidentally meets Aladdin. Under the orders of the evil Jafar (the sultan’s advisor), Aladdin is thrown in jail and becomes caught up in Jafar’s plot to rule the land with the aid of a mysterious lamp. Legend has it that only a person who is a “diamond in the rough” can retrieve the lamp from the Cave of Wonders. Aladdin might fit that description, but that’s not enough to marry the princess, who must (by law) marry a prince.

“Wonderful, Magnificent, Glorious… Punctual.”

My Thoughts Then:

Back in those days, I was never really able to see movies as quickly as I’d like. My dad hated seeing kid films. He’d rather sneak me into seeing Point Break and not telling my mom. So it was towards the tail end of it’s theater run that I finally saw it.  I remember it very well.  It was one of the few times that I went to the theater with my two older brothers. Where it was just the three of us, and I’m an incredibly sentimental dude. So as an 8 year old, I felt like it was a special moment for me. Not having mom or dad around and being able to talk my brothers into talking me to this.  (Of coarse the very first time I went to see a movie with just the three of us was earlier that year and it was Alien 3, that’s probably why I still enjoy that film)  But I’m getting side tracked.  I freakin’ loved it.  The songs, the animation, everything was pretty close to perfect.  I had so much fun during the movie.  I took the bait hook line and sinker.  I wanted to be a vagrant, it’s probably why I still have a thing for Persian girls.

 “Oh, Al. I’m gettin’ kinda fond of you, kid. Not that I wanna pick out curtains or anything.”

My Thoughts Now:

It holds up just as well as it did then.  Probably a better film now actually.  The animation is fluid and full of life.  More so than the modern CGI films. It really is a special movie.  It’s one of the few movies I owned on VHS, DVD, and Blu Ray. If you’re anything like me it’s hard to pick your favorite Disney film. There are a lot of great films to choose from.  But Aladdin is probably at the top of my list.  The only real problem that comes from the film are the two direct to home video sequels. They were terrible when I was a kid.  I can only imagine them now.

“You’re speechless, I see. A fine quality in a wife.”

Quick Thoughts:

This is the first time I remember stunt casting in an animation film really worked.  Robin Williams absolutely kills it.

There was some controversy with the opening song Arabian Nights  Apparently it was offensive to some ethnic groups.  I don’t really see it.  Of coarse I’m dead on the inside when it comes to being politically correct.

Back to Mr. Williams, he did the film for Union Scale. Which is a bargain for an actor of his stature.  He just asked that his voice not be used for merchandise and not to take up over 25% of the percent.  Disney went back on his wishes and a blood feud began.  Which ended when Katzenberg was fired.  So yeah, screw that guy.

True story, to get the right look for Aladdin’s baggy pants, animators used M.C. Hammer music videos as a reference.

Apparently, early on Aladdin looked like Michael J. Fox.  But Katzenberg thought that Aladdin had to rile up females and wanted him to look more like Tom Cruise.  I find that all to be really silly, since it’s a fucking cartoon character in a Disney movie.

Also, does anyone else think that Aladdin and  Flynn Ryder (Tangled) are related?

I know a lot of people consider Jafar and Maleficent to be very similar and share traits.  But can you imagine their evil babies?  I wanna see THAT movie!

There is a theory that this film takes place in the far future.  With everything being centralized in a genric Arabic city. Plus Genie makes references to a bunch of old timey characters like Groucho Marx and Ed Sullivan. I like that idea, and makes this film seem so much more layered and interesting.  I’ll post the link if I ever find it.

People complain that the film takes to many liberties from the original text. You know what I say to them? Nothing, I don’t like people that don’t like fun.

I really like the songs in this film and another Disney film which I’ll get to in time.  So this film may or may not have a big influence on why I really dig musical theater now.  I love Sondheim and Webber… but for the record I FUCKING hate Rent.
The Sultan plays with toys.  Him and Lord Dark Helmet would be best friends!

Frank Welker, is a gnarly dude.  He did the voice for Abu, Cave of Wonders, and Raja in this film but he also did; Soundwave, Megatron, Dr. Claw, Ray Stanz, and the voice for Anaconda in the ice cube classic ANACONDA. Plus almost everything else you loved as a kid.

You are late.”
“A  thousand apologies, O Patient One.”

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Face/Off

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“If I were to send you flowers where would I… no, let me rephrase that. If I were to let you suck my tongue, would you be grateful?”

Wanna know how I know your movie isn’t based on a true story? That line actually worked.

An alignment of dual gun wielding action was forming. Director John Woo was fresh off of his first American studio film, Broken Arrow, starring John Travolta and Christian Slater. Academy Award winner Nicholas Cage wanted to continue his new action star status. So for Woo’s next film he teamed with Travolta again and placed him against Cage. In what turned out to be one of my most anticipated films that summer.

The story : (From IMDB)

“Sean Archer, a very tough, rugged FBI Agent. Who is still grieving for his dead son Michael. Archer believes that his son’s killer is his sworn enemy, a very powerful criminal, Castor Troy. One day, Archer has finally cornered Castor, however, their fight has knocked out Troy cold. As Archer finally breathes easy over the capture of his enemy, he finds out that Troy has planted a bomb that will destroy the entire city of Los Angeles and all of its inhabitants. Unfortunately the only other person who knows its location is Castor’s brother Pollux, and he refuses to talk. The solution, a special operation doctor that can cut off people’s faces, and can place a person’s face onto another person. Archer undergoes one of those surgeries to talk to Pollux. However, Castor Troy somehow regains consciousness and now wants revenge on Archer for taking his face. Not only is Troy ruining Archer’s mission… Written by John Wiggins”

“Seeing that face on you makes me afraid my tiramisu might come back up.”
“Well, think about me. This nose. This hair. This ridiculous chin.”

My Thoughts Then:

Sitting in the theater with my father and the Paramount logo starting, I was giddy. I had loved Broken Arrow when it came out, and I caught up with The Killer. So I was expecting a lot of fun for the next two hours. I was not disappointed; it was awesome for a fat 13 year old Mexican! I was so into the idea of the duality of man and how someone could steal an identity. I remembering saying to my father, “This movie is so ahead of it’s time. Travolta and Cage need an Oscar nomination.” I really thought it was a masterpiece…

“You’re not the only one in the family with the brains.”
“No, although now I am the only one with the looks.”
“Touché”

My Thoughts Now:

Yeah no, I mean… I still think its fun. But the acting is sooooo hammy and some dialogue is so unbearably ridiculous. I feel as if the film only works because of how committed the stars were to the silliness of it. I learned that at one time Harrison Ford and Michael Douglas were tapped for the roles, which would have been too dramatic. Then that it could have gone to Stallone and Arnold, which would have been so over the top, but Travolta and Cage I think brought it to a nice medium.

I still like the movie but for other reasons; the action set pieces are great, the casting is pretty good, some lines are really funny. And whoever thought of giving Castor a smarmy mustache when he kills Archer’s kid in the beginning needs a medal.

Quick Thoughts:

Joan Allen had an ugly haircut in the film. I’m glad she changed it up, she looked ooooolllllddddd.

Thomas Jane is a convict in Erehwon, his curly locks and glasses can’t fool me.

Speaking of convicts, Chris Bauer’s in the film as Dubov. So an automatic plus for having someone BEFORE their stint in The Wire.

Tommy Flanagan (Chibs from Sons of Anarchy) is one of Troy’s henchmen. Castor has good taste.

Margaret Cho is in the film as an FBI agent… but she looks like a High School English teacher.

Every time I saw Alessandro Nivola (Pollux), all I kept thinking was, “Laugh now asshole, and in 4 years you’re gonna get your ass kicked by a Pterodactyl.” (FYI I spelled Pterodactyl right on the first try!)

Cage uses a harpoon gun on Travolta? Does that mean that Travolta is a whale?

With Castor and Pollux as their first names… they had cool parents who must have got really stoned while reading Greek Mythology.

Dominique Swain… why you no hot no more?

“Listen, sir… we just want you to know…”
“We’re all really sorry about Tito.”

“Yeah, well, shit happens.”

From Beta to VHS

Growing up as a stubborn homebody I grew an affinity for movies. I would watch up to 2 movies a day or 20 movies a week. I watched many of them multiple times.

But as I got older, and my responsibilities started mounting, I have not been able to watch as many movies as I would like. So I end up looking back on those old days with love and nostalgia.

I have recently gained access to a number of VHS tapes of movies I loved and a working VCR.

This is a telling of watching these movies again, but with my adult eyes. I’m hopeful that I have the same taste as I once did.

I’m not counting on it.

– Alan