Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Princes & The Frog

Move over Scar, I believe I have a new favourite Disney Villain.

So earlier today, I saw The Princess & The Frog for the second time so I figured that it was time to give my take on it.  This is a movie I was really looking forward to and was not completely disappointed.  As everyone I know is aware, I'm very supportive of this movie.  My class had been told by two different professors; one of whom worked for Disney some time ago; that if this movie didn't do well, Disney would be shutting down their 2D animation.  I'm not sure if that's entirely correct since Disney themselves had already said in the past that Home on the Range would be their last 2D film; a claim they have clearly since negated.  Regardless, this was the source of my supportive nature for the movie.  I had hoped the movie would be a bit better but there's not too much to nitpick at.  It's not quite a masterpiece, but it's very very good.
The animation is masterful which isn't too surprising coming from Disney; the effects in the song 'Friends on the Other Side' were so cool.  The songs, while ultimately forgettable, were enjoyable while listening to them.  The best part, as far as I'm concerned, had to be the villain.  Dr. Facilier (A.K.A The Shadowman) was a great character.  While not entirely a new concept (I'm sure I've seen it in other places), Facilier's shadow is often animated as its own individual character that interacts with him and others in really clever ways.  Unfortunately, the overall story left the character to be treated in an awkward pattern.
For the first give-or-take two thirds of the movie, you really don't get a good idea of what Shadowman's trying to accomplish.  He seems to simply be a voodoo man who just likes to toy with people's lives, but suddenly a much larger motive behind his behaviour is introduced rather late into the film.
While I'm touching on the topic of the story, there's an unusual sequence involving three hillbilly frog hunters right around the halfway point of the movie.  It's a very funny and enjoyable scene, but it takes up a fair amount of time to accomplish little more than to bring the two lead characters to warming up to each other.  The hillbillies never show up again and were only slightly alluded to prior.  I guess what I'm saying is that the sequence had substance, but didn't need to be as long as it was to provide that substance.
Moving on to some secondary characters.  Louis (an alligator with a huge love of jazz music) and Ray (a very friendly, Cajun firefly) are very fun characters.  Both are likable and have some of the most humourous lines in the film.  However, the roles they fill are small, quite similar to each other and probably could have been better filled by a single character.
For the moment I can't think of much more to touch on, so I'll just get right to my closing comments.
One thing to note is that while Dr. Facilier is my new favourite Disney villain (replacing Scar), The Princess & The Frog is not my new favourite Disney film.  My favourite Disney film is Atlantis, followed very closely by The Lion King.  Nonetheless, I wholeheartedly support The Princess & The Frog and recommend seeing it and/or buying it when it's released to home video.

Side-note:  I have nothing against computer animation (Wall-E and Up are among my all-time favourite movies) but I'd like to make clear that, as you've probably guessed, I highly prefer hand-drawn animation.  The Princess & The Frog has done extremely well which is, hopefully, an indication that we'll see more traditional animation in theatres in the future.

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