Archive for the ‘Pinocchio’ Category

DVD Review – "Pinocchio" 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition

March 24, 2009
For the first time in ten years, Walt Disney’s second full-length animated film is released on DVD, and its already wonderful story grouped with its excellent new restoration and bonus material make the magical set well worth the wait.

By Blake

Originally posted March 24, 2009.

When thinking of top-notch, best-of-the-best Disney animated classics, Pinocchio is certainly near the top of the list. Its compelling story, touching lessons, breathtaking animation, superb character development, and impactful music all play key roles in culminating together a wonderful film experience.

The last time the movie was released was on a single-disc edition as part of Disney’s Gold Collection in 1999 and the movie’s only theme park experience is the Pinocchio’s Daring Journey ride at three Disney parks worldwide. So, it’s been a while since Pinocchio has had its time in the spotlight.

Fortunately, with the arrival of the new two-disc 70th (that’s right, 70th) Anniversary Platinum Edition the film has been given, an entire new generation can experience Pinocchio in a stellar set that has plenty to celebrate about.

Featuring many great new bonuses that include an audio commentary, a making-of featurette, and much more, the set is definitely worth its modest value.

Disc One
Total Approx. Running Time: About 289 minutes (about 4 hours and 49 minutes)
Highlight of Disc: Pinocchio feature film
Highlight Runner-Up: Audio Commentary

The movie itself (about 88 minutes) looks stellar. Its digital restoration has dignified outlines and pleasing colors without overdoing its enhancements. The movie tells of an elderly toymaker named Gepetto who lives with his cat, Figaro, and his goldfish, Cleo. When Gepetto wishes upon a star for his newest toy, a wooden puppet named Pinocchio, to become alive, the Blue Fairy grants him his wish. However, for Pinocchio to become a real boy, he must demonstrate bravery and honesty. To aid him through his temptations, Jiminy Cricket is named Pinocchio’s conscience. Although there are plenty of diversions that try to get in the way of Pinocchio’s goal of becoming a real boy, through these distractions he learns life lessons and in the end Disney magic shines through and the power of dreams stands true.


I hadn’t seen the film in a while, and I suppose I had never noticed until now just how dark it is. Yes, it’s a Disney film, but it certainly has its frightening moments. About the first third of film is just one sequence, while the rest of the film progresses at a faster pace with scenes that have to be some of Disney’s scariest. Just when you think Pinocchio would have learned his lesson to not make foolish mistakes any longer, a new temptation is given in to and a new eerie situation with its own set of villainous characters is introduced. The count of villains almost reaches the amount of good guys.

The film is also not very socially appropriate in terms of today, either. Pinocchio and other characters are shown smoking and drinking. A notice is shown before the film warning viewers that they should not take the same actions that the characters do, as both smoking and drinking can cause serious illnesses and side effects.

Those are really the only negative comments I have to contribute about the movie, though. The film is brimming with dazzling animation, superb for its time and featuring amazing special effects, particularly in the infamous Monstro sequence. Additionally, the film’s music earned it two Academy Awards for best score and best song, earned by “When You Wish Upon a Star,” somewhat of a theme song for the Walt Disney Company today.

After the movie itself comes the first of its bonus features.

Under “Music & More” is the music video for “When You Wish Upon a Star” (about 3 minutes) performed by Meaghan Jette Martin from the Disney Channel movie Camp Rock. The music video is a current remixed version of the classic song, and features Martin gazing upon stars with other teens.

Also under “Music & More” is Disney’s Song Selection (about 11 minutes), which allows the viewer to see the movie’s five songs consecutively with the lyrics on screen. In this case, Pinocchio’s songs are enjoyable and the Song Selection feature was a nice inclusion.

Next is “Backstage Disney,” where we’re treated to an audio commentary (about 88 minutes) of the movie with film historian (and host of the Walt Disney Treasures DVD’s) Leonard Maltin, current Walt Disney Studios animator Eric Goldberg, and film historian J.B. Kaufman. Each of the three contributors provides a very entertaining commentary, filling us in on many tidbits of trivia throughout the course of the film. In addition to Maltin, Goldberg, and Kaufman, throughout the commentary we hear clips of audio from some of the late animators that worked on Pinocchio, including Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Ward Kimball, Ken Anderson, and Wolfgang Reitherman.

The one inclusion under disc one’s “Games & Activities” is Pinocchio’s Matter Of Facts, a version of the movie where pop-up trivia facts appear on the screen as you watch the film. They mostly feature some background about the movie’s location, animal counterparts, props, and animation. Appearing about once a minute, the orange-font facts are sometimes difficult to see. The facts are overall geared for families, and those wanting a more insightful look at the making of the film should watch the audio commentary.

Concluding disc one are sneak peeks (about 11 minutes). The set includes previews for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Platinum Edition DVD & Blu-ray (the first look at this upcoming title), Up, Disney Blu-ray, Disney Movie Rewards, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure DVD & Blu-ray, My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too DVD, Schoolhouse Rock! Earth DVD, Disney Parks, and Bolt DVD & Blu-ray.

Disc Two

Total Approx. Running Time: About 101 minutes (about 1 hour and 41 minutes)
Highlight of Disc: No Strings Attached: The Making of Pinocchio
Highlight Runner-Up: Deleted Scenes

The only feature under disc two’s “Games & Activities” is Pinocchio’s Puzzle Game (time varies). In the game, the player is trying to complete a series of six puzzles to finish a new music box Gepetto has been working on. Once all six puzzles are completed, the music box is finished. Each puzzle has about ten pieces, and often I was filling in the pieces based on their shape and not the visual on the piece, since they were a bit too small to actually see the picture on them. Jiminy Cricket is the narrator of the game, and encourages the player on throughout the puzzles. The game does get a bit repetitive by the time the player reaches the sixth puzzle, but the game will most likely entertain the elementary-aged set for a while.

Next, a hoopla of bonuses await under disc two’s “Backstage Disney” section. First is “No Strings Attached: The Making of Pinocchio (about 56 minutes), which covers just about every aspect that went into creating the film. Everything including initial concepts for the movie, animation, special effects, voice acting, and music are all featured. Interviews include animation historians Leonard Maltin and Jerry Beck, the late animators Ward Kimball, Frank Thomas, and Ollie Johnston, and even the voice of Pinocchio, Dickie Jones. The making-of is very delightful and is one of the highlights of the DVD set.


Next are three deleted scenes (about 10 minutes). Excellently presented (especially considering their age), each scene is brought to the viewer through storyboard drawings from the Walt Disney Animation Research Library. A narrator provides a background for each scene, tells where it was to have been used in the film, and shares when it was created. The first scene is “The Story of the Grandfather Tree” and involves Gepetto telling Pinocchio a bedtime story about Pinocchio’s grandfather, who was supposedly a kind tree. The next scene is “Starving In the Belly Of the Whale” and has Gepetto, Figaro, and Cleo very hungry inside Monstro and having dreams of food. Gepetto goes a bit crazy for a minute, and I can see why this scene was removed. The last scene is an alternate ending which has Pinocchio changing into a real boy on the beach just after the climactic battle instead of back at Gepetto’s workshop.

The Sweatbox (about 6 minutes) is a fascinating look at how Walt Disney and his animation staff innovated filmmaking by reviewing rough drafts of films in a room called the “sweatbox” (earning its name from lack of air conditioning). The process is still used today when creating movies. The featurette includes interviews with modern Disney animators recalling the process, as well a re-enactment of sorts of Walt and his animators in the sweatbox.

Gepettos Then and Now (about 11 minutes) starts out as a quaint look into modern-day toymakers who, like Gepetto, fascinate children’s imaginations with their toys. About halfway through the featurette, though, the pace changes and turns into a commercial for current toys such as Ultimate Wall-E, I-Sobot, and Emotiv System. One of the modern-day Gepettos that was included in this feature, Cyril Hobbins, was also featured in an article of the premiere issue of Disney twenty-three magazine and was also interviewed on the D23 website.

Live-Action Reference (about 10 minutes) is a narrated peak at some of the live-action footage that the Disney Studio taped to give the animators an idea of how the film should be presented. Actors were hired to perform in temporary “sets,” and the animators would study that footage as they created the work for the film. This featurette does get a bit lengthy, but its content is fascinating and to see that footage so old is still preserved today (when it was just used for the animators’ reference) is remarkable.

Pinocchio Art Galleries have a hoopla of art pieces categorized into several groups. The organization of the art is helpful to choose what kind of piece you’d like to view, but (like most DVD art galleries), viewing all of the art in any given category at one time requires some going back-and-forth between menus. Nevertheless, the art galleries offer a wonderful look into the development of the film, particularly in the “Character Design” and “Background & Layout” areas of the gallery.

Publicity (about 5 minutes) includes three theatrical trailers for Pinocchio – one for its original 1940 release and others for its 1984 and 1992 re-releases.

Lastly, there’s a deleted song called “Honest John” (about 3 minutes). Sung by a group of males (I’m not sure which characters would have sang it in the movie, though), the song mostly describes the mischievous personality of Honest John, also known as Foul Fellow.

Although most of the bonus features were excellent, I was surprised that none of them talked about the inclusion of Figaro in the Pluto cartoons of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Indeed the same Figaro from Pinocchio, I’ve always been puzzled about how Figaro went from being Gepetto’s cat to Minnie Mouse’s cat in some of the later Disney cartoon shorts, an issue that I don’t think has been cleared up by Disney. Figaro even had three of his own shorts after playing a supporting role in Pluto cartoons.

Gepetto’s cat, Figaro, was featured as Minnie Mouse’s cat after Pinocchio, and that mystery is not covered on the new Pinocchio DVD set.
Additionally, Jiminy Cricket being featured as somewhat of a Disney symbol is also not covered. Aside from a mention in the audio commentary of Jiminy narrating the 1947 Disney film Fun and Fancy Free, nothing is gone into detail about the character’s further involvement in Disney works. Some of these include his roles in Wishes and SpectroMagic at Walt Disney World, appearing on The Mickey Mouse Club, hosting the I’m No Fool educational short series, playing the Ghost of Christmas Past in Mickey’s Christmas Carol, and hosting several volumes of Disney’s Sing-Along Songs video tapes.

Jiminy Cricket is another Pinocchio character that went on to be featured in other Disney productions.

Menus

Disc one’s menus are themed to Gepetto’s workshop, which is presented in CGI animation on the main menu. Disc two is themed to the village where Gepetto and Pinocchio live, featuring the village streets and the theater. The viewer’s selection on the screen (on both discs) is indicated by two light blue squiggle brackets, which are sometimes difficult to see if the background is light, but most of the time are easy to identify.

Wrapping It Up

Although it’s definitely not the most smile-filled Disney movie, since its debut 70 years ago, Pinocchio has enchanted audiences with its likable characters, amazing animation, wonderful music, and meaningful lessons. As a follow-up to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (being the first Disney film to be made after it), Pinocchio had plenty of pressure on its shoulders when it was first released. That being said, it proved to the world that the hardworking staff and animators at the Walt Disney Studios were there to stay, able to produce multiple lasting and enduring films.


The new 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition of Pinocchio is up to par with past Platinum releases, featuring plenty of bonuses to please Disney fans. The audio commentary, making-of featurette, deleted scenes, and re-enactment of Walt Disney’s “sweatbox” routine are all the high points of the set and each offer a unique view into the creation of the film. After a ten year absence from stores, the excellent new Pinocchio set is a welcome addition for those who have anticipated its arrival.

How do I rank Pinocchio 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition DVD? (Bolded is my choice.)

Very good movie + Brilliant bonus features =
· Aaaah!
· Blech
· Not good
· Good
· Very good
· Brilliant

Pinocchio 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition DVD will most likely please: Disney Fans – Kids (ages 5-7) – Older Kids (ages 8-10)

By Blake; posted March 24, 2009. All images (C) Disney.
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Disney Talk – "Are You 23?"

March 15, 2009

Disney’s most mysterious marketing campaign in history has finally been revealed as D23 – the official community for Disney fans.

By Blake

Originally posted March 15, 2009.

“Are you 23?”

That’s the question Disney had been asking web-goers since January 2009, on various teaser posters and on a preview website for a then-unannounced Disney event. All the website contained was the written-out question “Are you 23?” followed by “Find out March 10.” and an appearance of Tinker Bell, flying in to sparkle up a countdown clock to March 10. No other hints or indications were given of what in the world this was – or even what platform of the company it would pertain to (movies, theme parks, etc.).

Unofficial Disney discussion boards were abundant with fans chiming in their thoughts on what all the hoopla was really about, some being just about correct, but others – including myself – thinking the complete opposite. Some thought it would relate to Pixar, which was founded 23 years ago. Others thought a collection of 23 Disney classics would be released in an ultimate Blu-ray boxed set. (Personally, I think if Disney ever decided to do that, it would be a very bad idea. Not only would the set be outrageously expensive – which would cause people to not buy it – but each movie in the supposed set wouldn’t get as much publicity as it would if the titles were released separately, each gaining their own release buzz.) I thought the marketing campaign might have something to do with Adventures by Disney, which, with its new itineraries, has 23 vacation locations.

The real mystery of “Are you 23?” actually turns out to be something far greater and full of much more Disney magic than any of the aforementioned speculations. Please watch the video below – which is copyrighted by Disney, uploaded to YouTube by user thedisneyblog, and which I take no credit for – that truly encompasses the heart of what the Walt Disney Company is all about, and also contains the very special “Are you 23?” reveal from the President and C.E.O. of Disney, Robert Iger.

If that video doesn’t get you feeling nostalgic, then I don’t know what will!

So, the “Are you 23?” mystery has been leading up to D23, the official community for Disney fans. In reality, you’d think there would already be an official club for Disney fans before now. Yes, the Mickey Mouse Club was an official community, but hit its height in the 1930’s and was certainly aimed at a children’s audience. And yes, the Disney Vacation Club is an official Disney organization, but that’s not so much a club as it is ongoing vacation packages.

What does a membership to D23 include?

D23 – signifying 1923, the year that the Walt Disney Company was founded – will involve all areas of the company for an unprecedented gathering of news, special events, merchandise, and even a new Disney publication. Here’s a rundown of what a year’s membership to D23 includes:
First is a subscription to Disney twenty-three, a new quarterly magazine that features just about everything that a Disney fan would dream to be in a Disney publication. I picked up the premiere issue of the magazine the other day at Barnes & Noble, and it is indeed quite a treat. The quality of the magazine is amazing, and the stories it covers are phenomenal. What’s really great is that the magazine doesn’t center all its attention on a particular area of the company, but instead includes articles dealing with many different Disney components, including animation, theme parks, history, shows, news, and much more. It also is very current – one page even includes coverage of an event that happened just two weeks before the magazine was published. Many Disney fans were devastated when Disney Magazine stopped publication in 2005, and if Disney twenty-three had to have a 4-year pause for its gears to get flowing, then I gratefully forgive the lack of an official Disney magazine for those 4 years. It’s that good.

The cover of the premiere issue of Disney twenty-three magazine, an all-new quarterly Disney publication.
A year’s membership to D23 also includes a certificate of membership with the member’s name on it, as well as a border of Disney animated characters surrounding the name. Additionally, a “surprise gift” will be delivered to the member. Members are also e-mailed a newsletter twice a week, updating them on current Disney news. Although there are other amenities involved with a D23 membership, those involve an extra cost that is in addition to the initial joining fee. Included in the start-up fee is Disney twenty-three magazine, the membership certificate, the surprise gift, and the e-newsletter. Everything else after that requires an additional cost.
The certificate that D23 members receive.
So, how much money does a D23 membership cost? I was actually very surprised when I read that members must pay $75 to join. And that’s paid up front. Which is, obviously, a major setback. Reading the exciting details of D23 had me all set to join, but when I took a look at the rather large price, I quickly decided that I needed to seriously think through whether I wanted to join or not. Paying that much amount of money at one time without knowing the full details of what a D23 membership would result in is something I had to definitely consider.
So, for now, I think I’m going to hold off on becoming a D23 member. I’ll get the scoop from reports of members as to what the members-only specifics include and how they’re implemented before I make my decision. The Disney twenty-three magazine was the big draw for me, anyway, and I when I realized that I could pick that up anyway at Barnes & Noble for $16, it eased my decision even more. Additionally, anyone – including non-D23 members – can view the excellent new website Disney has launched for the club, www.disney.com/23. The website is given daily updates, which include current Disney news, interviews, photos, articles, a “This Day in Disney History” feature, and even a daily Disney comic strip. I’m satisfied with the superb magazine and fantastic D23 website. The total cost for a year’s worth (4 issues) of Disney twenty-three magazine will end up being about $65 – which is $10 less than a D23 membership – and I won’t be paying the cost all at once, but quarterly instead. If you’re a Disney fan and are not sure what to make of D23 right now, I suggest you do the same.

A glimpse of the outstanding D23 website, which offers an extravagaza of Disney news and information.
So, what are the extra benefits in addition to aforementioned magazine, certificate, surprise gift, and e-newsletter that D23 members can participate in (but each cost an extra price)? Well, the big event is the D23 Expo, an event taking place nearby Disneyland in September 2009. Reading the details of the Expo over at the D23 website had me wanting to go, as it seems like it will be a very exciting event that will include sneak previews at upcoming Disney events, guest speaker sessions (which include Robert Iger, John Lasseter, and more), pin trading opportunities, special exhibits from the Disney Archives, and much more. However, even if I was a D23 member, I most likely wouldn’t be able to make it to the event anyway. Keep that in mind as you make your decision to become a member or not.
Another extra-cost benefit to D23 members are advanced screenings for Disney movies. The only one of these that is currently planned right now is the Pixar film Up, which is being released on May 29. The details of the advanced screening event for Up have not been announced yet, but my main concern involving these advanced screenings are how many people the D23 members can bring with them, and what locations these screenings are taking place at. The D23 website currently not yet offering theses specifics was another reason I decided to not join D23 quite yet.
Additionally, “Boutique 23” offers D23 members special club-related merchandise, which include tee shirts, polo shirts, jewelry, and more.
Ultimately, when it comes down to deciding whether to join D23 or not, it all depends on what amount of money your budget allows you to spend and how often you think you’ll be able to attend the member-exclusive events, whether they be advanced screenings, meets in the Disney parks, or the Expo in September. I highly recommend the Disney twenty-three magazine to any Disney fans regardless of whether you’re joining D23. One year (4 issues) of the magazine does come with a D23 yearly membership, though individual issues are sold in Barnes & Noble as they’re released.
A Disney-fied Week
D23 was among the many significant Disney-related events that happened this week. D23 was officially announced on Tuesday at the Walt Disney Company Shareholders Meeting by Robert Iger. Other major announcements of the meeting included the move of the release date for the upcoming hand-drawn Disney animated film The Princess and the Frog (which features the first-ever African-American Disney Princess) from Christmas Day to December 11 (to avoid competition with Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel), which I think is a very clever move. Also announced at the meeting were the names of the two upcoming Disney Cruise Line ships. The two new ships will be called the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy.
Robert Iger also appeared on The View on Wednesday to further talk about D23. The View was broadcast all week long from the Disney Legends Plaza at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. Disney characters escorted the hosts out each day, and special segments were featured on each episode that highlighted the history of a different character. On Wednesday, Whoopi Goldberg took a peek into the Walt Disney Archives, which served as a very entertaining segment and also a fascinating look into Disney history. Also on Wednesday’s The View, John Lasseter appeared with a large handful of balloons to talk about Up and also share a clip from the film.

Pixar’s John Lasseter appeared on The View – which was broadcast from the Walt Disney Studios last week – on Wednesday, March 11, to promote the upcoming Pixar film Up, in theaters May 29.

Another component that played into this week being a big one for Disney was the introduction of Remy from Ratatouille at Epcot, where the tiny rat interacts with guests at Le Chefs de France restaurant in an entirely new way as part of Disney’s Living Characters Initiative program. Tuesday saw the release of Pinocchio on a 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition DVD and Blu-ray, which includes many exciting bonus features. Lastly, on Friday, Race to Witch Mountain (which is a re-make of the 1975 Disney movie Escape to Witch Mountain) was released in theaters.

Pinocchio was released on Blu-ray & 2-disc DVD on Tuesday, March 10, 2009.

All of these events made me very proud to be a Disney fan this week. I saw Disney in the public spotlight probably more than I ever had before, and that was definitely a great feeling. To see D23 in the news and the general public already getting excited for Up – which is nearly two-and-a-half months away – is fantastic. I knew I wasn’t the only one that loved Disney, but I guess I didn’t see how many people actually appreciate the Disney magic on a daily basis. And D23 – whether I’m joining or not – is definitely a true example of phenomenal modern Disney magic at its best.
By Blake; posted March 15, 2009. All images and video (C) Disney.