Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed figures in the history of animation, directing films like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away that stand as great works of cinema regardless of the format. Unfortunately, while the Studio Ghibli co-founder enjoys a significant international profile, it hasn’t always been easy to find some of his less celebrated works in North America.
That’s about to change thanks to a new Blu-Ray box set coming to Amazon in the fall. The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki includes all eleven of the director’s feature length films, a list that begins with 1979’s Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro and ends with 2013’s The Wind Rises. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo round out the intervening years.
It’s hard to believe it’s already been almost 3 years since Disney acquired Lucasfilm and announced that it was going to start pumping out Star Wars films with Marvelesque regularity. They let it be known very early on that this would mean stand-alone origin stories for some of our favorite characters from the original trilogy. This set the internet a-buzz with theories and requests on which characters are most deserving of this treatment. Well we’re a little older now, maybe not much wiser, but at least we know who we’ll be getting origin stories for in the next few years: Boba Fett and Han Solo. As fan favorites with previous adventures alluded to but never shown, these were obvious choices. So now that we have those out of the way, who’s next?
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Pixar’s brilliant Inside Out is one of the most coherent representations of emotional growth and maturity I’ve ever seen on film. The simple concept makes it remarkably easy to understand the swirl of thoughts and memories that make up our personalities.
What’s strange is that Inside Out seems to be resonating more strongly with adults than kids. It’s normally a mistake to suggest that kids don’t ‘get’ a movie because kids are sharper than we give them credit for, but I think there are aspects of Inside Out that simply don’t make sense until you’re older. The representation of depression, for example – where the most obvious course of action is no longer an option – is the kind of thing that doesn’t fully sink in until you’ve lived it. Kids can almost certainly understand some of that on an intuitive level, but sometimes there really is no substitute for experience.
Disney is still determined to mine its animated vault for every last drop of inspiration, but the company is taking a slightly different approach for its live-action adaptation of Aladdin. Instead of retelling the rags-to-riches story of the street rat from Agrabah or making a movie about a misunderstood Jafar, the studio has announced that it will be producing a live-action prequel about the Genie.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the new film will be called Genies and will be written by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift. It will also keep the action-comedy tone of the original Aladdin. The film will explore the realm of genies (hence the Aliens approach to movie titling), and will explain how the blue Genie ended up imprisoned in the lamp 10,000 years before Aladdin.
Fans attending San Diego Comic Con this year will get to see exclusive trailers to many of the hottest upcoming movies, but according to Entertainment Weekly, Star Wars: The Force Awakens won’t be one of them. Entertainment Weekly’s spies also learned that The Force Awakens panel won’t feature any new clips from the film either. Many Bothans died to bring us this information…
Kingdom Hearts is the one franchise that makes me feel like I’ve been cheated on. Sora & Company have had dalliances with seemingly every piece of hardware while I’ve been sitting here waiting for Square-Enix to complete a trilogy that started on the PS2. The series is now spread across so many platforms and so many sequels that it’s almost impossible to figure out where it’s been.
In other words, I have mixed feelings about Kingdom Hearts 3 and the trickle of gameplay footage emerging from E3. The original Kingdom Hearts stands as one of my favorite games of all time, and I was equally invested in the second. There was mostly logical story progression between the two, and while there was a Game Boy Advance spinoff in the middle, Chain of Memories felt more like supplementary material rather than core reading. You didn’t need the footnotes to figure out the central narrative.
As much as I try to maintain a dispassionate critical distance, sometimes enthusiasm spills over like a cup that’s been filled to the brim with liquid nostalgia and overloads the rational part of my brain. Such is the case with Cuphead, the new indie game from Studio MDHR that took center stage at Microsoft’s E3 press conference. The game is slated for release on Xbox One and Steam in 2016 and it can’t get here soon enough.
Simply put, Cuphead looks amazing. The game is inspired by 1930s animation, drawing heavily on classics like Betty Boop and the early Disney canon. Cuphead reproduces the style with so much fidelity that you’d swear the game was actually made in 1936, largely because it’s being made with techniques that haven’t been in vogue since 1936. Brothers Chad and Jared Moldenhauer have pulled out all the stops with traditional hand-drawn cel animation, watercolor backgrounds, and original jazz and blended them with modern game development technology to make a hybrid that’s genuinely seductive if you’re a fan of classic animation.
In its ongoing effort to mine its entire animated library for inspiration, Disney recently disclosed plans for a live action movie based on the “Night on Bald Mountain” sequence from Fantasia. You know the scene. It’s the one on the mountain with the gigantic demon.
Now, full disclosure. I consider “Night on Bald Mountain” to be one of the greatest animation sequences ever made. It was epic, dark, and overpowering before I knew what any of those words meant, and Modest Mussorgsky’s phenomenal score still shakes me to the core every time I hear it. I was reduced to a puddle of squealing teenage glee when the Chernabog appeared as a boss battle near the end of the original Kingdom Hearts and I’m not even remotely ashamed of having been so.
Yes, the giant demon has a name.
Earlier this week, Disney announced that a new animated show based on the movie Tangled will debut on the Disney Channel sometime in 2017. The news isn’t all that surprising. The studio has been mining its most popular films for televised spinoffs ever since the days of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin.
The difference this time around is the caliber of the names on the marquee. Both Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi have signed on to reprise their roles as Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, making Tangled the first Disney spinoff to feature the vocal talents of the original cast. The show will also feature new original music from songwriting duo Alan Menken and Glenn Slater and will be helmed by a team of producers with plenty of feature film experience.