unshaved mouse

CHARITY MOVIE DEATHMATCH: ROUND 2!

Face off

Blood on Snow

Kung Fu Panda

Boromir

Lurtz

Quint

Guys, I’m not sure we can keep doing this. I mean, the carnage we’ve seen in the last week…it gives the word “deathmatch” a bad name!

Week 2 is over and Kung Fu Panda, Maleficent and Land Before Time have all been dispatched to the big cinema in the sky. Our remaining and increasingly nervous fighters are:

Balto

An American Tail 2: Fievel Goes West

Fritz the Cat

The Secret of Nimh

The Iron Giant

Watership Down

Only YOU can save your favourite movie and ensure it gets a review by donating any sum, small or large to Love Without Boundaries and email your receipt to unshavedmouse@gmail.com along with your vote. Now let battle resume!

I love this, God help me I do.

 

Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-Film-t_720x1080

The fault in our shades

I have this idea for a non-fiction book that I may write sometime, tentatively called Everything I know about God I learned from Comic Books. It would be a look at how the history of superhero comics so often parallels that of the major world religions, like how issues of canonicity are decided (The First Council of Nicaea/Crisis on Infinite Earths), how older belief systems get incorporated into newer ones (Celtic deities becoming saints in Gaelic Christianity/ Captain Marvel becoming part of DC continuity), the violent schisms that can erupt between adherents of different sects (the Crusades/Cassandra Cain versus Stephanie Browne) and how they deal with the Problem of Evil/Frank Millar. I bring this up because, oddly, one of the best and simplest pieces of moral advice I ever received was from a comic book. It was an issue of X-Men where Bishop, a mutant cop from the future, almost kills the man who murdered his sister before realising that he can’t cross that line and simply arrests him. Bishop is tormented by guilt over what he almost did and Charles Xavier gives him this line (as near as I can remember it, it’s been years): “It is not our thoughts that mark us, but our deeds.”
This, I think, is a very important moral. We cannot control our thoughts, our desires, our prejudices or our emotions. And, take it from the guy with the Catholic upbringing, trying to is a real good way to go nuts. In fact, if you ever find yourself in the trenches and want to be invalided back to Blighty, don’t bother sticking underpants over your head, just try to not think about something for ten minutes and that should do the trick.  Having bad thoughts does not make you a bad person. Acting on them does.
Speaking of bad people, I hardly ever read other people’s blogs, which I feel incredibly guilty about because I always want people to read mine and that makes me a rather massive hypocrite. Honestly, it’s just a question of time. Between work, family, blogging, watching movies to review and trying to keep on top of other writing projects (not to mention a rather serious gaming habit) I normally just don’t have the hours. Recently however, I made an exception and plowed through all of author Jenny Armintrout’s extensive re-cap of Fifty Shades of Grey over on Trout Nation. It’s hilarious, excellently written and I heartily endorse it.
"I am Unshaved Mouse, and I approve this blog. All my readers should check it out!"

“I am Unshaved Mouse, and I approve this blog. All my readers should check it out!”

"Huh. My stats just went up by a barely perceptible ammount. As if theyd been kicked by a tiny, tiny ant."

“Huh. My stats just went up by a barely perceptible amount. As if theyd been kicked by a tiny, tiny ant.”

Now, even though I know damn well that every last one of you knows what Fifty Shades of Grey is, blogging law stipulates that I give some background on what I’m talking about on the off chance that one of you has awoken from a coma so here we go. Fifty Shades of Grey is E.L. James’ re-purposed  Twilight fanfiction where mousey milquetoast Anastasia Steele (Yes. Yes, really.) becomes involved with chiselled blonde billionaire Christian Grey and they have lots of badly punctuated sex. It was famously described by Salman Rushdie as the worst-written novel to ever be released by a major publishing house and so naturally became a huge commercial success.
"Welp, I guess they proved ME wrong."

“Welp, I guess they proved ME wrong.”

It is also porn.
And that’s not a criticism. It’s simply a statement of fact. It’s a piece of fiction written to get the reader off. Simple as. Now, during the course of the book Christian Grey does a lot of incredibly awful things. He emotionally manipulates Ana, plies her with alcohol, coerces her into sexual acts that she really does not want, beats her, threatens her, demeans her, isolates her from her friends and family and literally checks every item on the list for being an abusive partner (not hyperbole, Jenny actually did that very thing).

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trouserstitle

The Wrong Trousers (1993)

All through February 2015 this blog will be running the Unshaved Mouse Charity Movie Deathmatch! Vote for your favourite movie to be reviewed and help raise money for a great cause! Details HERE.

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

The story of the most beloved characters in the history of British animation begins with the invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982 by the Military Junta of Argentina. Corporal Nick “Rottweiler” Park of Her Majesty’s Northumberland Fusiliers returned home from the war as a hero with over nine hundred certified enemy kills and was lauded in the press and both houses of parliament as the man who had almost single-handedly won the conflict for Great Britain. However, Park found it almost impossible to adjust to civilian life and, after an argument with a local grocer over the price of a packet of Cheese and Onion crisps, ended up taking the entire rural village of Dutchington-on-Fenth hostage. Incarcerated in Dartmoor prison, Park’s life was changed forever when a relative gave him the gift of a camera and some plasticine. Park later said that he was able to channel his uncontrollable urges to kill into plasticine figures, which he would use to stage horrendously violent scenes with the camera, teaching himself the basics of stop-motion animation in the process. “Once I got all that out of my system” Park would later say “I started experimenting with films where the characters didn’t kill everyone who ever crossed me, and Wallace and Gromit kind of came from that stepping outside of my comfort zone.” Upon being released from prison…

"Um...excuse me? Mr Mouse?"

“Um…excuse me? Mr Mouse?”

Oh, hello Nick Park. To what do I owe the pleasure?

"Um...excuse me? Mr Mouse?"

“Well…all that stuff you said about me.”

Yes? What of it?

"Well, I think you may have gotten some bad information. I never served in the Falklands. I've certainly never been in prison. And that business with the Cheese and Onion crisps has just been blown out of all proportion."

“Well, I think you may have gotten some bad information. I never served in the Falklands. I’ve certainly never been in prison. And that business with the Cheese and Onion crisps has just been blown out of all proportion.”

Ah. See, I don’t know how to tell you this Nick but…you’re too nice. The animators I cover on this blog tend to be half mad geniuses tormented by demons the likes of which normal men can scarcely conceive of.  I mean, have you even met Walt Disney?

"Um...I believe Mr Disney has been dead for many years.""

“Um…I believe Mr Disney has been dead for many years.”

Oh. Oh, you sweet summer child. But anyway, you’ll understand if I had to jazz up your life story a little for the intro. Sorry. Anyway, Wallace and Gromit.

It feels almost gauche to refer to Wallace and Gromit as a “franchise”. And yet, these characters are a pretty massive enterprise. Four short films, one feature, numerous spin-offs, comics, computer games, all manner of merchandise and huge global brand recognition. And yet, Wallace and Gromit have never felt “big”. The series has always had a kind of cosy, intimate charm that is thoroughly English while somehow appealing to a worldwide audience. The premise of the series is simplicity itself: Wallace (Peter Sallis) is a cheese-loving inventor with more technical skill than common sense. Gromit, his dog, is his loyal, long-suffering straight man. The first movie, A Grand Day Out, was begun by Park in 1982 when he was still in film school and finally finished eight years later with help from Aardman Animation who had hired Park to work for them. Today’s movie, The Wrong Trousers, is the second Wallace and Gromit short and is pretty unanimously considered to be the best of the series.

Why is it so good? Let’s take a look.

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Space_jam

Space Jam (1996)

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

So I have a confession to make.
For the longest time, I thought it was “Looney Toons” and not “Looney Tunes”.
New spittake
Alright fine, but in my defence it makes sense, right? I mean, they’re cartoons. Why would they be called “Tunes”?
Well, why indeed.
The reason the early series of cartoon shorts have names like “Looney Tunes”, “Merrie Melodies” and “Silly Symphonies” is because that’s what they were selling. Film studios like Warner Brothers did a tidy side business off their movie soundtracks by selling phonograph records and sheet music for playin’ on the ol’ pianey.
The idea was, you go to a movie and see, say, I Love to Singa’, and say to yourself “smartass owl thinks he’s so big, I could do that.” and before you know it you’ve gone down to the local music shop and blown the money you were saving in case you got tuberculosis (spoiler, you got tuberculosis). The unpleasant truth that I’m tip-toeing around here is that the Looney Tunes were, at least in their early days, basically advertisements.
Ergo, if you hate Space Jam because you don’t like to see your favourite characters schilling, I got bad news for you friends; They were schilling when your grandparents were throwing toys out of the pram.

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The_Lord_of_the_Rings_(1978)

The Lord of the Rings (1978)

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

My father was the one who introduced me to JRR Tolkien, giving me a dog-eared, well-thumbed chunk called The Lord of the Rings one summer when we were on holiday (I was maybe…eight, I guess? Pre-transformation anyway). I remember there was this weird picture on the cover of the Black Riders that looked sort of animated but also sort of not and I asked my father what it was from.
“That’s from the movie.” He said.
“There’s a movie?”
“Oh yeah. You have to see it.”
“Is it any good?”
“No. No, it’s awful.”
This was really the problem you had if you were a fantasy fan any time before the turn of the millennium:
We had no good movies.
Our brothers and sisters in the science fiction fandom had it pretty bad too of course, the vast majority of their movies were cheap schlock but at least they could point to a few straight up classics that even the hoity-toity critics had to admit were the real deal; Alien, 2001, Bladerunner.
Fantasy fans though? What did we have?
Truly, our cup ranneth over.

Truly, our cup ranneth over.

So if you were a fantasy fan in the seventies, eighties or nineties and you heard there was a Lord of the Rings movie, you had to see it even if it was terrible. Because it’s not exactly like you had a whole lot of options. The Lord of the Rings, the undisputed big swingin’ dick of the high fantasy genre, used to spend most of its time on lists of “unfilmable” books and with good reason. I can think of two periods in Hollywood history where a faithful film adaptation might have been possible. The first would be in the late fifties, when studios were creating gargantuan epics like Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments. The second would be now, the current era of movie history which (not coincidentally) was largely kick-started by Peter Jackson’s own Lord of the Rings trilogy. The current movie scene owes almost as much to The Lord of the Rings as the fantasy genre does. Planned trilogies, huge runtimes, massive battle scenes, copious amounts of CGI…so much of how movies are made, look and sound in the modern era can be laid at the feet of Peter Jackson (though we won’t hold that against him).
On the flipside, if I had to choose the worst possible time to try and make a Lord of the Rings movie (aside from, I dunno, the silent era) it would be the nineteen seventies. The seventies is often lauded as the greatest movie decade and it’s won that reputation for a slew of grungy, lo-fi, morally ambiguous classics. It was that kind of era (contrast that to 2001 when Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring came out when everything seemed a good deal more black and white). So you have a decade where no one is really spending big money on movies anymore, epics are largely a thing of the past and the cultural zeitgeist is really not grokking a simple morality tale of noble heroes trying to defeat an evil lord of darkness who lives in a black spiky castle. Who (Who, I ask you?) would be a mad enough bastard to try and make a Lord of the Rings movie in the nineteen seventies?

When not animating, he keeps his drawing arm strong by wrasslin’ grizzlies.

Ralph Bakshi is one of the most famous (or at least notorious) American animators out there. Having made his bones in the Terrytoons studio (Heckle and Jeckle, Mighty Mouse and the like) he went on to create the animated adaptation of R. Crumb’s comic strip Fritz the Cat.
Oh sure. I'll review it. If you can tell me what I say to my wife when she walks in on me watching the scene where all the animals have a bathtub orgy.

Oh sure. I’ll review it. If you can tell me what I say to my wife when she walks in on me watching the scene where all the animals have a bathtub orgy.

By 1969 the movie rights to The Lord of the Rings had found their way to United Artist’s, where Stanley Kubrick and John Boorman both had a crack at adapting it, with Boorman turning in a 700 page script that no one at the studio could even understand. Bakshi, who’d been obsessed with the idea of doing an animated version of the story since the fifties begged UA for the chance to direct. Impressed by Bakshi’s passion, UA junked Boorman’s script and told Ralph to go do his own version.
Bakshi was a true Tolkien die-hard and, in stark contrast to Boorman who had altered characters and plot points willy-nilly, wanted to do a movie version of the book that was as faithful as possible. Bakshi firmly believed that Tolkien was a genius who could do no wrong.
My rebuttal.

My rebuttal.

I can respect fidelity to the source material (and if anyone ever decides to do a movie of The Hangman’s Daughter I’ll probably start respecting it a whole lot more) but ultimately I think this was the movie’s undoing. Being faithful to the text is all well and good if you have hundreds of millions of dollars and a New Zealand but if you’re trying to do the story in two moderately budgeted animated features (as was the plan) then you really need to start looking at the story with a gaze of grim determination and a pair of scissors clenched in one hand. Bakshi tried to fit as much of the book as possible into the movie and we’ll see further on the problems that this caused.
Bakshi made the decision to use rotoscoping, a technique he’d first used in his earlier animated feature Wizards as a way of saving money. Rotoscoping is about as old as animation itself and basically involves drawing and painting over live action footage to create an animated effect. This has the upside of giving you more realistic movement and it tends to be cheaper and less labor intensive than traditional cel animation. Despite this, rotoscoping has traditionally been used more as a tool than a style. There’s plenty of instances of rotoscoping in animated movies (Cruella De Ville’s Car, Edgar’s motorbike in The Aristocats, The Giant Mouse of Minsk in An American Tail) but it’s rare for it to be used for extended sequences and Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings represents probably the most extensive use of the technique in a feature film until Richard Linklater’s Waking Life in 2001 (and that was digital, rather than hand-drawn rotoscoping). Why is that? Well, part of the appeal of animation is that animated characters don’t move like real people and can be stretched or distorted or flattened however the animator pleases. Another reason (and a big part of why all the examples I listed above are inanimate objects or vehicles) is that living characters that are rotoscoped tend to have their home address in the Uncanny Valley. No one had ever tried to make a movie that was almost entirely rotoscoped.
So. Untested animation techniques. Impossible to adapt source material. Certainty of death. Small chance of success.
"What are we waiting for?"

“What are we waiting for?”

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Are you feeling love?

The Thief and the Cobbler (1993)

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

Oh boy.

Where do I start I don’t even?

Movies, as a general rule, do not happen overnight. Making a film is a long, laborious, expensive process and can take years. Even so, some movies just take this to ridiculous extremes. The longest production time on record for a live action film is the twenty years it took Leni Riefenstahl to finish Tiefland. That record is surpassed by only one other film, our subject for today, Richard Williams’ legendary, famous, infamous, infamfamous unfinished crapasterpiece The Thief and the Cobbler. Thirty one years. In the same length of time it took this movie to see theatres, I went from a sperm to a person writing these words. Thirty one years. And, keep in mind, at least Riefenstahl had the excuse of the SECOND WORLD WAR happening in mid-production.

"I honestly could not give two fucks yada yada etc and so forth."”

“I honestly could not give two fucks yada yada etc and so forth.”

So what’s Williams’ excuse?

Alright, so time for backstory.

While he doesn’t have anything like the name recognition of animators like Don Bluth or Ralph Bakshi, Richard Williams is serious business in the world of animation. He emigrated from his native Canada to Britain in the fifties and helped himself to a Bafta for his animated short The Little Island. He was twenty five. That launched a long and often highly acclaimed career in animation with Williams’ picking up an Emmy and a couple of Oscars.

The Bafta was lonely.

The Bafta was lonely.

In 1964, Williams began work on Nasruddin! the movie that would eventually become The Thief and the Cobbler. Williams was not humble in his goals. This film was going to be his masterpiece, and raise the bar for animation as an artform. Instead it turned into a logistical nightmare that dragged on for decades, with story and characters being dropped and re-written and backers pulling out. Williams had a vision for the film; animation for adults with very little dialogue. But the various investors he found over the decades also had a vision; they wanted to make money. Williams refused to commercialize the work and for long periods of the production had to fund it himself with the proceeds from various animation gigs. A breakthrough finally came when Williams showed some footage to his friend and mentor, Disney animator Milt Kahl. Kahl, realising that his apprentice had indeed become strong in the ways of the force, showed the footage to Stephen Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis and before long they were sidling up to Williams and asking questions like “Sooooooo…how do you feel about rabbits?”

Williams’ agreed to do the animation chores for Roger Rabbit in exchange for help distributing Thief. After Roger made enough money to buy one of the nicer continents and got so much critical adoration that everyone just started feeling a little embarrassed, Warner Bros agreed to bankroll the project and Williams got to work. He recruited some of the hottest young talent from the animation schools of Europe to replace the original animators, most of whom were now gone. And I don’t mean gone as in “moved on to other projects” I mean “they were taken by the icy hand of death which comes for us all in the end.” Which is what happens when your movie takes longer to complete than, I dunno, a pyramid. But at last Williams was ready to finally finish the film. He had the money. He had the talent. What could possibly go wrong?

"He went craaaaaaazy..."

“He went craaaaaaazy…”

Yeah, so as well as being a phenomenal animator Williams was kind of an insane crazy person. He was a fanatical perfectionist and any animator who wasn’t able to meet his insanely high standards was kicked to the curb. According to one source, literally hundreds of animators were pink-slipped. Making matters worse, Williams…

I’m sorry, this is hard for me to even say.

Williams…Williams didn’t believe in using storyboards. Because he felt they were “too limiting”.

Alice Facepalm

Alright, so imagine you have two architects, okay? One sits down, draws a blueprint for a building, decides it’s crap and then throws it away. The other just starts building. And by the time he’s built twenty stories he realises that the building is crap and has to be torn down. Both architects failed to create a building. But one of them has a rolled up ball of paper, and the other has several million quids worth of wasted time and building material. Williams is the second guy.

Because he didn’t use storyboards and basically allowed his animators to improvise scenes on the fly, the only way to figure out that a particular scene wasn’t working was when it was already at least partially animated. Fail to plan, plan to fail etc.

So by 1991 the movie’s still not finished and is massively overbudget (please, no shrieks of astonishment) and Disney are prepping Aladdin for release, a movie that some might say is rather suspiciously like Thief and the Cobbler. Some might say that. I wouldn’t. I say, yeah, you take thirty one years to make a movie someone somewhere will make a movie like it. Law of averages, baby. Warner Brothers finally threw up their hands and said “Screw this, we got superheroes to ruin” and pulled out. And then The Completion Bond Company stepped in which is never a good day.

"We are the ones people call when things go wrong."

“We are the ones people call when things go wrong.”

Animation producer Fred Calvert was appointed by the bond company to hack the movie into something marketable. Calvert renamed the movie The Princess and the Cobbler and tried to make it as close to Aladdin as possible. Miramax bought the rights on behalf of Disney and then did their own hatchet job on it, casting celebrity voices and releasing it under the title Arabian Knight before finally letting it limp to video under its original title of The Thief and the Cobbler. Part of the problem with reviewing this movie is that there are so many different versions of it, the first Calvert cut, the Miramax edit and the (at time of writing) four Recobbled cuts, which are filmmaker Garret Gilchrist’s attempts to restore the film to William’s original vision or as close as possible. For clarity, I’ll be reviewing the Miramax version because that’s the one I have on DVD and it features Matthew Broderick who I haven’t made fun of recently. Come my friends, let us gaze upon the beauty and the carnage.

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"Get this guy outta my face Mouse."

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

I hate to open a review with such a cranky, old man line as “They don’t make ‘em like this anymore”.
So I won’t.
Good to be back everyone! Missed you all and your sweet, ego-affirming pageviews.
Now then.
My hairy BOLLOCKS but they don’t make them like this any more, do they?
Fittingly,given its dual nature, Who Framed Roger Rabbit occupies a special place in both the history of mainstream Hollywood blockbusters and American animation. It’s a central text in what was something of a golden age of the big summer tentpole picture (Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future). But it’s as an animated movies that Roger Rabbit has its real significance. Chances are, if not for this movie a whole load of the films I’ve reviewed here would never have happened. Firstly, let’s take a look at the state of American animation in the late eighties. Theatrical shorts have gone the way of the horse-drawn carriage and the wireless-polisher. Disney feature animation is in a creative rut, and only Ralph Bakshi and a few others, working furtively from a secret rebel base, keep the full length animated film alive as an artform. The vast bulk of animation is now on television, rushed, cheaply produced, schilling for the toy industry and stifled by increasingly conservative broadcast standards for whom anything harder than the Smurfs is pushing the envelope. Large packs of feral dogs roam the landscape, and cannabalism is rife.
Bad times, is what I'm sayin'.

Bad times, is what I’m sayin’.

Disney snapped up the rights to Gary K. Wolf’s novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit? in 1981 as soon as it hit the bookshelves. Apart from sharing a few character names and some very broad plot points, the book and film aren’t even on speaking terms. The book is set in the present (well, the eighties) and Roger and his fellow toons are newspaper cartoons (with Hagar the Horrible, Dick Tracy and other characters making cameos). I haven’t actually read the book but I’m going to go out on a limb and say the movie vastly improves on the source material. For one, having cartoon characters working in the old Hollywood studio system just feels much more organic and setting it in the forties makes it feel more like a film noir. I’m not the only one who thought so either, Wolf’s later novels in the series went out of their way to tie themselves more closely to the movie, even retconning the whole first novel as a dream of Jessica’s.
And if that scene did not involve her stepping out of the shower a lá Bobby Ewing then there is no God.

And if that scene did not involve her stepping out of the shower a lá Bobby Ewing then there is no God.

Robert Zemeckis was attached to direct as early as 1981 but was given the boot by Disney when two of his films tanked at the box office. The project then kicked around the studio for a few years until Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzanbur…Katzenbar…(dammit just once I am going to spell his name right) KATZENBERG stepped in and applied the paddles. Eisner and Herr Skull were united in their belief that Roger Rabbit was going to be the movie to relaunch Disney as the pre-eminent force in American animation. Initially, the idea was that the film’s animated sequences would be done by Disney’s own in-house animation team. Then Eisner took Katzenberg down to the basement where the debased remains of that once great cadre of animators was kept.
“What…what are they?” Katzenberg asked in a strangled whisper.
Eisner simply stared ahead and said: “They were once men.”
Clearly, some fresh talent was going to have to be brought in to pull off what was going to prove to be one of the most technically challenging feats in the history of animation. Canadian-British animator Richard Williams was brought in along with a crack-team of international animators (many who would later be brought in to work on the Disney movies of the renaissance). Williams didn’t want to go to Los Angeles, like any sane person, and insisted on working in London resulting in the entire production being moved to England to accommodate him, hence why most of the live action cast are British.
Zemeckis was also brought back on to direct since in the intervening years he’d gone from “failed director” to “man who can just stand in a room and cause money to rain down at will”.  The international shoot and pioneering special effects combined into the most expensive production for an animated movie that there had ever been, with costs so high that Katzenberg had to talk Eisner out of pulling the plug. When the movie finally rolled into theatres $40 Million dollars over budget there was a whole lot riding on it.

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So now what happens?

So. We’re finally here. The end of the canon Disney reviews. And a lot of people have been asking what will happen when we get here, so let me just answer the most common questions right off the bat.
Is this the end of Unshaved Mouse?
NO. I still love doing it, hopefully you still enjoy reading it so I see no reason to stop now.
Phew!
But…
“But”? “But”, what “but”?
Alright, so there’s something you all should know. Earlier this year I got pretty much the best news of my entire writing career and was commissioned by the Abbey Theatre to write a play for them.
Big deal
I’ve been working on the first draft for the last few months and it’s due to be handed in early 2015. Now, ideally, I want to keep updating Unshaved Mouse as regularly as I have before but I may occasionally have to take a break here and there to keep on top of this. Sorry. It’s a choice between doing something I love and doing something I love and actually getting paid for it, so…yeah.
What happened to you Mouse? You used to be cool.
I was never cool, shut your lying mouth.
Alright, so what’s next for Unshaved Mouse?
A lot, including some stuff I’m extremely excited about so listen up.
  1. A break. I’ve been doing the blog  almost nonstop for the last two years so I think this is a natural point to take a rest. I’m taking off October and November and there should be a new review up 03 December. Depending on how the play is going and Christmas, I’ll try to get a second review in some time in December and then by the new year I hope to be back at full speed.
  2. Finishing off the Joanna reviews. So many people donated to Joanna, that, amazingly, I still have enough reviews scheduled to last us into the middle of 2015. There’s a great mix of movies still to come, stop motion, animé, nostalgic fair and even a few episodes of cartoon shows. Once I’ve paid off all debts however, that’s when the next chapter of Unshaved Mouse really begins.
Just tell us what series of movies you’re doing next already!
Alright, here we go…
marvelstudiosbest__span
Yes, from around July 2015 onward I will be reviewing all the movies based on Marvel comics characters (hey, they’re owned by Disney, it’s a logical step). I’ll be reviewing the good, the bad, the awesome and the aborted pilots of seventies TV shows and may God have mercy on my soul. This will be the new “regular” series, like the canon Disney movies were before.
Okay, well, tootles!
What? Wait, where you going?!
I’m an animation fan Mouse, why would I stick around for a bunch of live action movies?
Well, for the quality of my writing and analysis…
Have a good life.
Stop! I will still be reviewing animated movies!
Does that mean you’re still going to be doing reader’s requests?
Glad you asked, mysterious person who only speaks in boldface. The answer to that is…kind of.
Don’t play coy with me, rodent.
Alright look, there’s no reason to drag taxonomic orders into this. The success of the funding drive for Joanna really got me thinking about how I could use that to…
Oh my God, you’re going to start making money off this, aren’t you?!
NO. I use a lot of copywritten material in this blog which is Fair Use as long as this is just a hobby I’m doing for my own entertainment and yours. Once I start using it to line my own pockets, it becomes a lot more ethically dubious. What am I’m talking about is using the blog to raise money for charity, so we can all do some good and hopefully have a lot of fun too.
Go on.
I am hereby announcing the Unshaved Mouse Charity Movie Deathmatch! I hope to raise money for a very worthwhile cause, Love Without Boundaries.
How does it work?
Step One Caption
If there’s a movie you’ve always wanted me to review, sound off in the comments below. As many as you like. As long as it’s either animated or based on a comic book it’s a contender. I’ll also accept live action Disney movies like Maleficent or Saving Mr Banks.
sTEP 2 CAPTION
I will select around twelve of those movies and over the course of a month, you the readers will vote on the movies you want me to review, with the top three getting the treatment. How do you vote?
Step 3 Caption
Democracy is overrated. Plutocracy is what all the cool kids are into these days! To vote, simply make a donation to Love Without Boundaries, email the receipt to unshavedmouse@gmail.com and tell me what movie gets your vote. You can donate as many times as you like (please do), and vote as many times as you like (please do).
Step 4 caption
We sit back and watch the carnage unfold as factions are formed, blood is spilt, the tension, the drama, who’s ahead, who’s behind and best of all it’s all for a great cause.
Step 5 caption
The winners get reviewed and you all get to complain that Secret of NIMH was robbed or whatever.
So who’s getting my money?
 
Love without Boundaries is an organisation that works to help children in Chinese orphanages, raising money for medical procedures, providing better food and education and helping to connect children with prospective foster families. It’s strictly volunteer (none of their workers collect a salary) and is rated four out of a possible four stars by Charity Navigator.
 
Seems like a great cause Mouse, but I’m broke.
You can still help out. For starters, let me know what movies you want to be in contention. If a movie gets plenty of nominations then I’ll know there’s a lot of interest for it. Second, please share this on the Face Book and the Twitters.
When do we begin?
Movie Deathmatch is going to run for all of February 2015. At the end of each week the I’ll announce the state of play and eliminate the two lowest scoring movies with the three winners being announced at the end.
Screw the wait, I want to help people NOW!
Here’s the link to Love Without Boundaries and be sure to hold onto your email receipt when February rolls around. And thank you.
 
You gonna review Big Hero Six?
 
Sigh. Yes. Once it comes out on DVD.
Mouse out.
NEXT UPDATE: 03 December 2014
NEXT TIME: Hmmm…how can I be sure you’ll all come back after such a long hiatus?
Do I have your attention?

Do I have your attention?

Frozen_(2013_film)_poster

Disney Review with the Unshaved Mouse #53: Frozen

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

"Come again?"

“Come again?”

""Well…I was wondering if you wanted to come over and destroy me? You know? Like old times?"

“Well…I was wondering if you wanted to come over and destroy me? You know? Like old times?”

"You…want me to destroy you?"

“You…want me to destroy you?”

"Yeah, you know. You trap me in some alternate universe and then I escape and…you know?"

“Yeah, you know. You trap me in some alternate universe and then I escape and…you know?”

"Mouse. What’s this all about?"

“Mouse. What’s this all about?”

"Oh. Well, see I’m supposed to be reviewing Frozen…"

“Oh. Well, see I’m supposed to be reviewing Frozen…”

"OH MY GOD SHUT UP YOU’RE AT FROZEN ALREADY?!"

“OH MY GOD SHUT UP YOU’RE AT FROZEN ALREADY?!”

"Yeah!"

“Yeah!”

"NO WAY!"

“NO WAY!”

“I know!”

“I know!”

"It seems like just yesterday that…"

“It seems like just yesterday that…”

"I know, right?"

“I know, right?”

"Well congratulations!"

“Well congratulations!”

"Thank you."

“Thank you.”

"No, seriously. I mean, you know. You stuck with it through to the end."

“No, seriously. I mean, you know. You stuck with it through to the end.”

“Well, you know, it was all for the fans…"

“Well, you know, it was all for the fans…”

"That’s just…go you."

“That’s just…go you.”

"See, the thing is, I think people are expecting some kind of big epic climax with all the plotlines of the last two years just being tied up neatly and I just thought that since you’re my arch-nemesis…"

“See, the thing is, I think people are expecting some kind of big epic climax with all the plotlines of the last two years just being tied up neatly and I just thought that since you’re my arch-nemesis…”

"I’m your arch-nemesis? Really?"

“I’m your arch-nemesis? Really?”

"Well yeah, I mean…amn’t I your arch-nemesis?"

“Well yeah, I mean…amn’t I your arch-nemesis?”

"Oh…of course you are. (Yikes)."

“Oh…of course you are. (Yikes).”

"So…you want to come over?"

“So…you want to come over?”

"You know Mouse, I’d love to but I don’t really have a lot of time what with this new job…hang on, call on the other line."

“You know Mouse, I’d love to but I don’t really have a lot of time what with this new job…hang on, call on the other line.”

"Okay."

“Okay.”

"Thank you for calling EA customer support, your call is important to us. Please hold. Sorry, where were we?"

“Thank you for calling EA customer support, your call is important to us. Please hold. Sorry, where were we?”

"The Frozen review."

“The Frozen review.”

"Right. Right. Listen, Mouse you’re overthinking this. Is this going to be the last review you do?"

“Right. Right. Listen, Mouse you’re overthinking this. Is this going to be the last review you do?”

"Well, no."

“Well, no.”

"Right. Then it’s not an ending. You don’t need a big climax. And besides, if you just try to cram in as many cameos and running jokes as you can it’s just going to turn into a massive circle jerk. Your readers just want to see you review a movie they love. Trust your instincts, do the best job you can and that’ll be enough."

“Right. Then it’s not an ending. You don’t need a big climax. And besides, if you just try to cram in as many cameos and running jokes as you can it’s just going to turn into a massive circle jerk. Your readers just want to see you review a movie they love. Trust your instincts, do the best job you can and that’ll be enough.”

"Wow. You're right. Thanks HK."

“Wow. You’re right. Thanks HK.”

"Think nothing of it. Soon I shall destroy you."

“Think nothing of it. Soon I shall destroy you.”

***
So.
Yeah.
What crushing burden of expectation?
Okay.
Alright.
Okay.
Wow.
Okay.
Wreckitralphposter

Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #52: Wreck-It Ralph

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

 

Before we get into Wreck-It Ralph there’s something I want to say.
 
See this? This is Loki.
 
LokiAvengers_1314991333
 
He’s a lying, traitorous, sociopath who brought untold death and destruction on Earth and plotted on several occasions to murder his own foster brother and father.
 
The ladies of the internet love Loki. And you know what? I get that. He’s charming, he gets all the best lines, he’s got a tragic backstory and he loves his muddah. And he’s played by Tom Hiddleston, who’s a right bit of yum. Ladies of the internet? I get it.
 
See this? This is Turbo.
 
Turbotastic
Y’all are fuckin’ nuts.
 
***
 
I’ve mentioned before how Disney movies often take their sweet-ass time from conception to release (for example, the movie that eventually became Frozen was first conceived in 1937) and Wreck It Ralph is no exception. Disney first toyed with the idea of making a movie set in the world of video games (then titled High Score) all the way back in the 1980s, back when you could be forgiven for thinking that these new-fangled “video games” were just a passing fad that would soon be swept aside by the next big thing.
pogs

In hindsight, Disney dodged a bullet by not green-lighting POGS: The Movie.

 
“What?” I hear you cry (Mouse hears all) “Disney almost made a movie about video games thirty years ago.” Of course they did. This was eighties Disney. Desperate, starving, try-anything-to-seem-relevant Disney.
 
Make-a-pact-with-the-forces-of-pure-evil-for-a-chance-of-making-some-bank Disney Oh-God-what-were-they-thinking? Disney.

Make-a-pact-with-the-forces-of-pure-evil-for-a-chance-of-making-some-bank Disney
Oh-God-what-were-they-thinking? Disney. 

And frankly, I don’t think we missed out on anything. I’ve mentioned already how I feel that some movies in the canon were made in the wrong era. For example, I will eternally lament the fact that the Peter Pan we ended up with was the pastel-coloured, safe, stultifyingly conservative Restoration era movie we got and not the gorgeous, dark, wild, Tar and Sugar movie that might have been. Wreck-It Ralph is not one of those movies. Wreck-It Ralph is like a wizard. It was neither late, nor early. It arrived precisely when it needed to. Firstly there’s the animation. I’ve made my peace with the notion of CGI canon movies. They’re here to stay, they can be done very well and I just have to live with it. But while I would have loved to see a traditionally animated Frozen or Tangled I can’t say the same about Wreck-It Ralph. This movie needed to be in CGI because, duh, these are computer generated characters. A cel-animated Wreck-It Ralph would just feel wrong. But aside from that, the world of computer games is just such a deeper subject for exploration now than it was in the eighties. There is a culture and lore and mythos to be mined that just wasn’t there thirty years ago. The whole medium is a thousand times broader and more diverse, and in fact some of the very best stuff in this movie is seeing character from vastly different generations and genres of game reacting to each other.
But was the movie worth waiting thirty years for?
Yes. Yes it was. Let there be absolutely no mystery of suspense on that point.
But just for hoots and chuckles, let’s take a look at the film.
 

(more…)