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New interview, Robinsons promising for Disney, more Treasures, Popeye is coming

I hope we didn’t worry you guys & gals too much with our absence. We’re still plugging away at stuff behind the scenes, and have a few things of note for you today.

I apologize to Josh for not mentioning this earlier, but he actually posted another interview last week under our State Of The Art section, featuring Kellyann Lamb and Scott Gagner of Visual Resource, a creative marketing agency that recently did some work for Adobe promoting Acrobat 8 Professional. Many thanks to Josh and our interview participants for helping to demonstrate how animation is being used in the commercial sector these days.

Of course, we still love theatricals around here too, and James has checked in with his take on Disney’s latest, Meet The Robinsons. I agree with James completely on his perception of modern animated films, and I can’t wait to see this new film from the Mouse House. It sounds like good fun, even given James’ few critical remarks, and one hopes things will only get better under John Lasseter’s watch at Disney Feature Animation. Its 25 million dollar opening isn’t spectacular, but it is decent, and hopefully the generally good reviews and positive word of mouth will bolster it in the coming weeks. I had hoped to see it this past weekend but ran out of time; I have promised my daughter we’ll go during the upcoming long weekend.

Incidentally, we did manage to watch Happy Feet last night instead, on HD DVD. Certainly, the picture looked razor-sharp, and the audio was great, so kudos to Warner Home Video for a very nice hi-def presentation. As for the film itself, I know that many animation fans hated it, and resented its Oscar nomination (never mind its win), for various reasons— the motion capture vs. “true” animation, the environmental message, and the arguable crassness of the song selection. But y’know, I ended up liking it on its own terms. I decided to just “go” with it, not unlike when I watched Moulin Rouge, so though I didn’t care for the song choices (the penguins should really have had new songs written for them, given the importance of them each having their own song that comes from inside), I eventually accepted what they were doing and did enjoy the show. I still think that another film should have won the Oscar (I’d have voted for Cars myself, but would have been satisfied with a win for Monster House), I found Happy Feet to be a fun ride overall. I didn’t even mind Robin Williams.

This week’s DVD releases include BCI’s Defenders Of The Earth Volume 2. I previously reviewed the first set, and will be looking at this one in the near future as well. BCI usually impresses, so it’ll be fun adding this to my shelf.

I can’t sign off yet without mentioning some of the new DVD announcements. The past few weeks have been more exciting than I have seen in a long time. In addition to the recent announcements for classic Filmation and Hanna-Barbera superhero shows (swoon!), last week Animated News broke the story that the next wave of Disney Treasures would arrive in December! The Chronological Donald volume was really a must, while Oswald The Lucky Rabbit is a pleasant surprise. Oswald was originally announced to be coming as part of a different line, but his appearance in the Treasures is just as welcome. Given how he actually predates Mickey Mouse, this may be one of the most important Treasures releases yet, at least in terms of animation history. And the Disneyland set? Well, I can’t say that I’m too excited about it, but it’ll be nice for Disneyphiles that can’t get enough about the history of the empire as a whole.

And then, the REALLY big announcement…The first volume of Popeye The Sailor Man was officially announced this week by Warner Home Video. TV Shows On DVD has the best summary of the info. The price may make one pause, but it’s a similar price point to the first Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera sets, and this Popeye set will have 60 remastered cartoons on it, as well as tons of bonus material a la the Looney Tunes sets. I, like many of you, have long waited for this announcement. I have loved Popeye since my early childhood, whether it be in comic strip or animated form, and it will be bliss to see so many Fleischer cartoons for the first time, including his first animated appearance in a Betty Boop cartoon bearing his name. This is just wonderful news. With a rumored upcoming announcement expected about a certain feathered cartoon star, this looks to be a great year for classic cartoon buffs once again.

I’m working on more DVD reviews while awaiting some screener arrivals, so be on the lookout for those. With my wife on near-bedrest lately heading into her final month of pregnancy, it’s been pretty hectic for me lately. I hope to get a few more reviews up before May, though, and Ben should also be back soon with some more stuff. As always, stay tooned!

-Rand.

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