Archive for the ‘Peter Pan’ Category

Disney Talk – Read On

January 30, 2009

Starcatchers, Disney teens, and crime stoppers are all back in a new collection of Ridley Pearson novels, set to be released soon.

By Blake

Originally posted January 29, 2009.

Regular readers of BlakeOnline probably notice that when I occasionally write book reviews, they’re usually concerning a new Ridley Pearson novel written for Disney Editions. Compelling and intriguing for readers of any age and great for Disney fans, I really enjoy them.

I was certainly surprised today when I checked out Ridley Pearson’s official website and looked on his schedule of upcoming events to see that three new sequels to different series will be released on bookshelves soon.

The first is a title that I had no idea about until now: Kingdom Keepers 3. I am thrilled that another installment is being written about the group of middle schoolers who get trapped inside the Disney theme parks. The first two volumes were excellent and mainly focused on the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, so I am certainly excited to see what’s going to happen in round three. It will be released in August 2009.

Returning for fourths is the superb Peter and the Starcatchers series (pictured above). Written by both Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, these novels tell the story of what happened before the original Peter Pan tale by J.M. Barrie. Matching my likability of the Harry Potter series, the Starcatchers stories really are full of Disney magic with plenty of fun and humor. I am a bit curious to see how the fourth book, currently titled Peter and the Sword of Mercy, will be done, however, because the third book seemed to cap off the series nicely and didn’t appear to leave any room for continuation other than the original Peter Pan itself. Though I’m sure we have nothing to fear where that’s concerned, as the first three were just so great that I’m more than happy that we’ll get to read another installment. It will be released in October 2009.

Concluding the round of new Ridley Pearson novels is Steel Trapp 2, to be released in January 2010. The first book (which was released last spring) told the story of a boy named Steel Trapp who has a photographic memory and can recall anything he’s set his eyes on. This eventually led him in an epic pursuit involving criminals. The first book was full of suspense, and it will be wonderful to read the sequel.

I hope you’re as excited for Kingdom Keepers 3, Peter and the Sword of Mercy, and Steel Trapp 2 as I am! They are all sure to be very entertaining reads. If you haven’t already done so, you may want to pick up the previous volumes in each of those three different series, as well as the new book Science Fair, which is written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. I highly recommend them, especially for Disney fans. Also, if you’re in the area and are interested, Peter and the Starcatchers the musical debuts at La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, California on February 13, 2009.

Happy reading (or play watching)!

By Blake; originally posted January 29, 2009. All images (C) Disney.


BlakeOnline Special – Reader’s Character Picks

March 10, 2007

Readers share their favorite Disney characters.

by Blake

Originally posted March 9, 2007.

Earlier, I asked who readers’ favorite Disney characters were. So, here now, are the BlakeOnline Reader’s Character Picks!

Thomas O’Malley from The Aristocats

Coming from an era of lesser-remembered Disney animated films, The Aristocats in none-the-less a charming tale of fancy Paris kittens and their mother that get lost in the wilds of France. Along the way, the kittens and their mother Duchess meet up with Thomas O’Malley, who teaches them how to live on the wild side.

Cool, calm, and laid back, O’Malley loves to just relax and take things pretty easy. Although this is entirely different than the way Duchess is used to living, Thomas O’Malley soon shows her how to see things his way, without worries.

What I found particularly odd about The Aristocats was that the most (for me, at least) humorous and entertaining parts of the movie did not feature cats, but dogs. The hounds Napoleon and Lafayette always earn several laughs from me throughout the film.

Baloo from The Jungle Book

Baloo is the living spirit of “chill.” Not having a care in the world, he proudly protects the “man cub” Mowgli and explores and plays with him around the jungle. Luckily, he had Bagheera the black panther to watch over him and keep him out of trouble! Figuratively, Baloo may be more of a child than Mowgli!

Reader Kenny wrote a poem about why he likes Thomas O’Malley from The Aristocats and Baloo from The Jungle Book:

“I know that you will find this odd
Which characters will get the nod

There were so many,
I didn’t know who
I couldn’t pick one
So I picked two!

The first pick of mine lives in an alley
Not many will not him
He’s C. Thomas O’Malley!

The second one smells and needs some shampoo
But he’s still one of the best
You guessed it – Baloo!

Now here’s where it’s weird
Like plaster of Paris
They’re both played by the same voice – Phil Harris!”

The next entry is part of Pirates Countdown 2007
Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean

Captain Jack seems to be Disney’s #1 most popular character right now, and with good reason. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (released in July 2006) was the #1 highest-grossing Disney film of all time and is only one of the THREE films in history to gross over one billion dollars. You’ll probably find Jack Sparrow in any mall of Wal-Mart you walk into lately – Disney tries to make the most of any character or movie when it’s successful, often overdoing themselves.

Jack Sparrow – sorry, Captain Jack Sparrow – is truly the ultimate villain: cunning, egocentric, clever, haughty, rude, greedy . . . yet we don’t view him as the bad guy. Instead, we view Davy Jones as the main villain. And we should – he’s definitely more powerful and more evil than Jack. But he’s on a different level of a villain. If you really want to get technical, the powdered-wigged generals at Port Royal are the good guys! If the good guys always won in the Pirates movies, the old guys at Port Royal would have Will and Elizabeth put to justice and Jack (permanently) dead.

In the Pirates films, the difference of good and bad is night and day compared to other films (especially Disney films). Jack Sparrow is really a villain, yet everyone is rooting for him (including me). But even now, as we are about to enter the third film in the series this May, the villain level turns on us again in a surprising plot twist.

What did readers say about Captain Jack? Readers Denise, Hunter, and Colton think that “Jack Sparrow is the very best Disney character ever designed.”

That’s quite a statement: and one that I’d gladly agree with.

Minnie Mouse from classic Disney cartoon shorts

Minnie is purely the ideal girlfriend. All for Mickey, she makes picnics, goes on outings, watches Mickey’s pet, bakes, plants, sews, shops, and so much more. Of course, the two wouldn’t want to be to sudden about their relationship – they would be rushing things if they got married after nearly 80 years of dating!

Minnie is loyal to her pals, particularly Daisy Duck. However, Daisy often gets Minnie into so many precarious situations (particularly in the television shows Mickey’s Mouse Works and House of Mouse) that Minnie wonders why she always puts up with Daisy! Daisy proclaims Minnie is her “only friend in the world.” Though, through compassion, mercy, and patience, Minnie always pulls through for Daisy when the duck needs it most.

Reader Lacey wrote an essay about why Minnie is her favorite character:

“‘Why?’ You ask. What’s not to like, she has cute clothes, long eyelashes, wonderful shoes, and a dashingly handsome boyfriend!!!

I would love to have that really cute red dress with the white dots on it. Everyone loves polka dots! And, you know those yellow shoes just set it off. Also, the bow . . . now that is an accessory! Every girl looks good with a bow in her hair.

She also has such a sweet voice, and she is kind to everyone. Now, the world could take a lesson from her. A soft voice and a kind spirit . . . think how much better the world would be if we all tried to be a little more like Minnie Mouse!”

Reader Melissa wrote a creative poem about Minnie:

“She’s got a smile on her face
And a twinkle in her eye
She loves to go shopping
And she dates a real cool guy.

Her name is Minnie Mouse
You can find her at Disney World.
Strutting around Ton Town
She’s quite a swingin‘ girl.

Her kitchen’s got cool gadgets
Her yard has pretty flowers.
She has a lot of friends
She’s the queen of Girl Power.

She’s been in lots of movies
Some would say she’s a star
Maybe you’ve gotten her autograph
Or seen her riding in a car.

I met Minnie one day
And she was very, very nice.
I even saw her ice skate
In a show: Disney on Ice!

Over the years Minnie has changed
But she’s still a real sweet gal
Lovin, laughin, making friends
And Mickey’s still her #1 pal!”

Pluto from the classic Disney cartoon shorts

Pluto may be the most complicated Disney character of them all. Because he doesn’t speak, his movements of face expressions have to clearly define his mood or thoughts. In the 40’s, when Pluto’s collection of shorts were in their “golden age,” animators would put mirrors at their desks to make faces in so they could successfully capture the expressions they wanted Pluto to use!

I’ll compare this subject to the walk-around characters at the Disney parks. Because most of the characters that are there to meet don’t have to capability to speak, it’s necessary to make head and arm movements to capture the characters’ feelings.

It’s the same situation with Pluto. Because he doesn’t speak, he has to move, walk, or look a certain way for the audience to understand how Pluto is feeling or what he’s thinking. He’s purely a dog. Loyal, dependant, protective, and yappy! As for Goofy . . .

Reader John wrote a poem concerning the Pluto/Goofy matter:

Poor Pluto

“Goofy, the dog, acts so crazy
And he’s surely not a scholar.
Things seem just a little hazy,
But he has clothes – you, a collar.

Pluto, on all fours you must walk
Goofy, meanwhile, can walk upright.
You can only bark, but he can talk.
Disney, it just does not seem right!

And, as if these things weren’t enough;
You’ve got no teeth, Goofy has TWO!
It seems to me you have it rough,
But, if it helps, we love you! Goofy, too!”

Peter Pan from Peter Pan

Peter Pan is truly a child in every sense. He loves to play, and takes every chance he gets to have some fun. He barely has any worries, which can sometimes get him into troublesome situations, especially involving pirates.

Reader Denise says, “He truly defines fantasy with a bit of most people’s reality. A little escape to a kid-like, fun filled, action packed, story land is always a dream for me, and many other adults I am sure!”

Well, that wraps up the Reader’s Character Picks! 🙂

By Blake; originally posted March 9, 2007. All images (C) Disney.

DVD Review – ‘Peter Pan’ Platinum Edition

March 9, 2007

by Blake

Originally posted March 9, 2007.

Highlight of Disc: “Walt Disney Reveals ‘Why I Made Peter Pan'”
Highlight Runner-Up: “The Peter Pan That Almost Was”

“There it is . . . second star to the right and straight on until morning.”

Those words describe a place where kids literally never grow up, where pirates pillage, where pixies play, and where enchanting adventure awaits all its visitors – Never Land.

As if you didn’t need reminding, Peter Pan tells the story of a boy, Peter, who has magical abilities to fly and never grow up. With the help of his fairy friend Tinker Bell (whose “dialogue” took six entire days to record from the “silver bell symphony”), Peter helps the Darling children – Wendy, Michael, and John – visit the magical Never Land. Once there, the children encounter the Lost Boys, mermaids, and, of course, a nefarious band of pirates led by the sly Captain Hook and his first mate Mr. Smee.

The digital restoration of the film is amazing and includes crystal-clear picture & sound. I’ve never really noticed the difference between different versions of films once they’re restored as opposed to before they were, but the change is definitely clear here. The color is brighter, the shapes of the characters and sets are sharper, and the overall appearance is simply whimsical.

I was positively thrilled to read the “official” announcement from Disney back in October that Peter Pan was being re-released. This time Pan is getting star treatment, as it enters Disney’s Platinum DVD Collection, promising its share of stellar bonus material.

Pan is the ninth installment in the the Platinum series, which includes some of Disney’s most magical animated masterpieces on 2-disc deluxe DVD’s with a fine supply of supplemental features and in-depth, behind-the-scenes footage. Started in October 2001, the series debuts a new title to its collection the first Tuesday of October every year. Began in March 2005, however, the series would add new titles to the library not only the first Tuesday of October, but also either the first Tuesday in March or the last Tuesday in February (they seem to variate). Other titles in the Platinum Collection include Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aladdin, Bambi, Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, and The Little Mermaid.

Peter Pan Platinum Edition’s bonus features include:

Sneak Peek of ‘Tinker Bell’ is an exclusive look (in addition to the regular trailer, which is also included) for the upcoming direct-to-DVD movie Tinker Bell. It offers a commentated look at the movie’s plot, as well as some of its characters (including different fairies aside from Tink). The film will be released sometime in Fall 2008.

The Audio Commentary includes what seems to be several different commentaries all rolled into one, making for a very choppy and not very cohesive experience. Very informative with little to entertain, there are a few little tidbits of facts to learn here and there, but mostly it’s nothing to squeal about.

Lost Song: “Never Land” is an informative three-minute featurette showing the re-creation of this deleted song, originally written in 1940 but just now discovered from the Disney Archives. Here it is presented with new music by Richard Sherman (of Mary Poppins and Epcot fame).

The “Never Land” Music Video is performed by Paige O’Hara, the voice of Belle in Beauty and the Beast. The video features O’Hara in a mock version of the Darling bedroom from the movie, with clips from the film as well as orchestra footage showing in the background. If you close you eyes, you can hear Belle right on the dot!

“The Second Star to the Right” Music Video, performed by the teen group T-Squad, is actually hurtful to the ears. Here, a classic, magical song is totally modernized negatively. The setting for the music video, a hip teen club of sorts, didn’t seem to fit the theme of the song at all and I literally had to fast-forward the music video halfway into it.

Camp Never Land games are an assortment of three different games streamed together into the idea that the player is training to become one of the Lost Boys, Peter Pan’s little group of friends that he plays with. The three games are “Smee’s Sudoku Challenge,” “Tarrrget Practice,” and “Tink’s Fantasy Flight.”

I admire Disney’s idea to add a more interactive and animated game to a DVD (unlike some of their previous efforts), but these particular games had long (make that VERY long) instructions for each individual activity that kids might not be able to sit through, much less understand. I would think after playing the games that older kids would dub the games too childish for them and younger kids who actually enjoy DVD games would find these ones too difficult. So, with that said, what’s the real purpose for these set of activities?

Peter Pan’s Virtual Flight is a trip through the skies of London and Never Land, all in computer animation. There are two options presented to viewers: “Play” and “Loop.” The only differences are that “Play” features quirky (and somewhat annoying) commentary from Peter Pan while “Loop” just features music with no commentary, and plays continuously until you want it to stop. Although this is a unique feature to the DVD, I’d much rather prefer something along the lines of Timon & Pumbaa’s Virtual Safari.

The Making Of ‘Peter Pan’ is a 15-minute left-over feature from the 1998, 45th Anniversary VHS version of Peter Pan. It basically shows the storyboarding process for the movie, as well as a role call for the characters, their voices, and their animators. All of the movie clips shown during this feature are not from the restored version of the film, making for a very scratchy picture.

Walt Disney reveals “Why I Made ‘Peter Pan'” is an informative and exciting feature for any Disney fan – it’s a 7-minute featurette in which Walt Disney tells viewers his reasons about why he chose Peter Pan to be adapted to the screen. The entire feature is a reenactment of a 1953 article written by Walt Disney himself for a since-discontinued magazine. It has an actor portraying Walt Disney’s voice narrating the feature, and shows how Walt was actually cast as Peter in his school play version of the story, and eventually how Disney’s crew adapted it to the screen. This was definitely one of the highlights of the DVD for me!

The ‘Peter Pan’ That Almost Was is another definite highlight in the DVD set and is hosted by Ron Clements and John Musker (the directors of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin). It serves as an insightful view into the Disney Archives to show scenes, songs, and sequences that weren’t used in the final screen version of Peter Pan, including the dog Nana coming to Never Land with the children, John being left behind due to his high intelligence level, and Mrs. Darling capturing Peter’s shadow (instead of Wendy capturing it).

Wrapping It Up

Overall, if you do not already own Walt Disney’s classic retelling of Peter Pan, do yourself a favor and pick it up! The movie itself is simply timeless and, although in this case more bonus features doesn’t necessarily mean better quality in those bonuses, there are certainly a few peaks of interest among them, most especially in the look at why Walt Disney made Peter Pan and the footage of the deleted ideas for the film. These and the dazzling restoration of the movie make it a rather wonderful set.

How do I rank Peter Pan Platinum Edition? (Bolded is my choice.)
Brilliant movie + good bonus features =
Utterly repulsive
Not good
Very good

Peter Pan Platinum Edition will most likely please: Disney Fans – Preschoolers (ages 3-4) – Kids (ages 5-8) – Older Folks

By Blake; originally posted March 9, 2007. All images (C) Disney.

BlakeOnline Battle – Captain Barbossa vs Captain Hook

October 13, 2006

by Blake

Originally posted October 13, 2006.

Captain Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean vs. Captain Hook from Peter Pan

Round 1: Evil Lair
Captain Barbossa: A cursed ship in the middle of the ocean, with occasional trips to Tortuga.
Captain Hook: A ship with a magical island for its backyard.
Round 1 Winner: Captain Hook. It sure would be cool to sail aboard the Black Pearl, but after awhile it would get stressful and just plain scary. Never Land is never scary and always delightful.

Round 2: Nemesis
Barbossa: Captain Jack Sparrow
Hook: Peter Pan
Round 2 Winner: Barbossa. A swashbuckling pirate like Jack beats a kid who sings with “pajama-fied” children.

Round 3: Sidekick
Barbossa: Jack the Monkey, who mysteriously turns skeletal when showcased in the moonlight.
Hook: Dim-witted Mr. Smee.
Round 3 Winner: Mr. Smee is a joy to watch on screen and as I read the Peter and the Starcatchers novels, Mr. Smee’s also a pleasure to read! He definitely beats a filthy monkey.

With a score of 2-1, the cowardly Captain Hook wins over the competitive Captain Barbossa!

By Blake; originally posted October 13, 2006. All images (C) Disney.