Last night on the Disney lot the studio held its annual holiday showcase, previewing material from major films set to hit theaters this fall. Outside the theater there was a massive illuminated “Secretariat” display across from a live horse prancing around in circles, which itself was just steps away from a “TRON Legacy” light cycle. If you’re gonna roll out the hype, spare no expense.
First up there was a rather arbitrary teaser for the only completed film featured, “Secretariat” (which I’ve seen but can’t write about until Monday). Done and done.
Then came the “TRON Legacy” showcase, introduced by director Joseph Kosinski. We were treated to 23 minutes of the film (including much of the segment shown at Comic-Con in July). Most of the effects were in place though the sound had not yet been punched up by Skywalker.
It’s inarguable that the film will be a visual dazzler and this footage further proved as much, but what I saw of Garret Hedlund was enough to think maybe the bad word of mouth on his performance might be warranted. And I frankly cringed at some of the lofty dialogue, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself by judging something like that out of context. I look forward to seeing the film.
The real treat of the evening, however, was a full screening of the animated “Tangled,” which isn’t complete. A similar screening was held on the lot a few weeks ago. While there were storyboards and pre-res elements scattered here and there, the studio and directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard were smart enough to put together an audio/visual explanation of these various elements prior to the screening. It made the experience all the more illuminating, actually, kind of a making-of as you watch.
And while it is an incomplete film, I have no problem offering up my thoughts on it: It’s a real winner. The film has a lovely sense of humor and is animated toward those ends in very unique ways. It has a classic sheen that makes it fit in nicely with the rest of the studio’s fairytale efforts but nevertheless feels progressive. I kind of wish traditional animation had been employed, but the CGI is gorgeous.
The vocal talent, from Mandy Moore to Zachary Levi to Ron Perlman (who was in attendance) is stellar across the board, while theater queen Donna Murphy is exceptional in the Mother Gothel villain role (most notably in the musical numbers, which she nails).
Speaking of which, it probably goes without saying we can reserve one, maybe even two Best Original Song spots for Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater. I counted seven songs (though one was a reprise of another with additional lyrics) and I’m told there is one more set to go over the closing credits. If I had to guess, I’d say “I See the Light” is the one to watch for, but “Mother Knows Best” is Murphy’s moment and it would be delightful to see her belt it out on the Oscarcast…as long as this year’s producers aren’t as disrespectful of the nominees as Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic were last year.
All in all, I’d say “Megamind” has some stiff competition for that final animated feature slot (assuming, of course, the other four are already spoken for, which they may not be — I’m stillw ondering what anyone saw in “Despicable Me.”).
[Photo: Walt Disney Pictures]