Monday, May 11, 2009

The Magic Returns: Princess/Frog Trailer

If you're not aware already, let me start with this (Disney haters may leave now)-- Disney is returning to its 2D roots, and the first release in this style is a new take on the classic story of The Princess and the Frog which is due for release in December of this year. Now, up until earlier this week the only visuals of this film to have been released were a few stills and a teaser which featured a song from the film (the music is being done by Randy Newman)- a wonderful glimpse of things to come, and the song* had me replaying the video over and over just hear the last few words; "Dreams do come true in New Orleans." 

The first real trailer for the film came out a few days ago, and I'm in absolute awe. You can watch it here. Please go do that, as what is to follow will just be a jumble of words about a series of images that won't make any sense until you do. 

Ok. I hope you watched the trailer because I'm going to ruin the magic of it if you haven't by talking about it now. I cannot even begin to express how excited I am to see this movie. I think I can legitimately say that the only movie I've been this excited for in recent years was The Dark Knight. I'm a huge fan of classic Disney, pretty much everything Tarzan and earlier, and so to see that they're really going back to these 2D roots not only in concept but completely is thrilling. 

Let's get the bones of it: My jaw pretty much dropped to the ground when the new princess, Tiana, turned into a frog. It's a simple enough twist really, instead of the prince becoming human, the girl becomes a frog-- sure, but It came so far out of left field for me. I knew they would have to do something in order to make a movie out of this story, but I didn't expect that at all. With the hints of the animated characters and villain, I figured they'd have more than enough to carry the film to the end with the prince alone as a frog-- but, well, there's nothing quite like a surprise. 

I think Dr. Facilier, the villainous voodoo man and antagonist of the film, looks fantastic. Looking back, I don't think I had any expectations as to what he might look like other than the fact that he would be old. I certainly didn't expect a character straight out of Live and Let Die. Disney villains always seem to have a certain signature look to them that makes them distinctly a Disney villain, a certain iconic element and I think that Dr. Facilier will fit in exceptionally well. His height and the awesome skull mask really make him visually appealing, and the part in the trailer where swirling magic clouds come up around him, and he does his villainous laugh was my favorite part of the whole trailer. Also worth noting, Dr. Facilier is going to be the first Disney villain since Judge Frollo from Hunchback of Notre Dame to have a song. The villain's song was one of the hallmarks of the Disney renaissance and I'm so excited that they're back. Songs like "Poor Unfortunate Souls", and "Hellfire" are wonderful, and have a seductive, dark appeal to them that end up, at least for me, being one of the high points of the movie. 

I thought that the prince came off as a funny character in the trailer. I love his mannerisms when he's relating the story to Tiana. Curiously, I thought there was a rather strange inflection in his voice when he talked of his webbed feet saying "I'm tripping over these." It came out far too dark/mean to me for the character to be totally genuine. I almost suspect that he isn't entirely what he says he is. Perhaps it's just that his character is that upset about it, but it seemed like too much for it to be just a passing statement. That avenue has certainly been taken before, maybe it will be something of a cross of Beast's backstory and the Hercules-Meg relationship. Maybe not. Thoughts? 

I'm very excited for the music in this film as well. Being that it's set in New Orleans (I'm also very excited about that), it as a lot of song potential. When I think of Disney and bluesy/jazz numbers I automatically think of The Aristocats, which is far from their most notable film, but I think that genre of music could certainly lend itself well to a Disney musical if they manage to find a happy marriage between the styles. It also helps that Randy Newman is doing the music-- a thankfully very talented musician/songwriter.

Musical numbers, a beautiful setting, talking animals (that I already love), iconic villain, and an at least interesting take on an old story? Count me in. Count me in a thousand times, yes. I think every kid who grew up during the Disney Renaissance has been waiting for this (unless they hate Disney, but they're not reading right now) for years-- there is an ageless appeal to Disney's animated musicals and thank God they're coming back to them! 

What did you all think of the trailer? Are you as excited as I am? 

*I'm getting sick of corrections. 


CC44 said...

I'm looking forward to the movie, and will see it whether it is good or not as a way of showing support for Disney's return to hand-animation. But I am not thrilled by it. I am excited by the concept, and I am excited by the knowledge that Randy Newman is doing the music. (That is not him singing that song in the trailer, Joe) But the trailer doesn't make me want to rush right out and see it. Given the release record of Disney within recent times, one can't help but be a bit cautious in general. I am whole-heartedly accepting the return to traditional animation, yes I am, but I'm not thrilled for it yet. We shall see.

CC44 said...

Or, rather, that is not him singing in the teaser, Joe.

Joe said...

*Rolleyes* Details.

Kiriska said...

I've been excited for this since it was just a rumor. It's FANTASTIC seeing it finally shaping up and coming together so nicely. I was less shocked by the princess turning into a frog, mostly because that was partially Shrek's thing, but that similarity doesn't bother me really. I know Disney is going to take it in a completely different direction and everything else about the movie thus far feels so CLASSIC, it's hard to be disappointed by anything.

Joe said...

Yidi, I agree it does feel classic. What I think is so interesting about this is that it doesn't really look like the Disney Renaissance to me. It's unmistakably Disney but if I were to compare it to a time period I'd say it looks like the films from the late-sixties, early seventies (Aristocats, Robin Hood, Jungle book).

Maybe that's just because the location reminds me of the music in Aristocats and the characters are sort of Jungle Book-like, but that's what I think of.

Anonymous said...

I love the older disney movies, I didn't know that they were going back to that style! Hurray!