In Contention


Disney previews holiday titles: ‘Secretariat,’ ‘Tangled,’ ‘TRON’

Posted by Kristopher Tapley · 9:19 am · September 30th, 2010

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]




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27 responses so far

  • 1 9-30-2010 at 9:46 am

    Nicolas Mancuso said...

    I’m really excited about “Tangled”. I saw Donna Murphy on Broadway in “Wonderful Town”, and she blew my socks off. Truly one of the best performances I’ve ever seen on stage.

    I’m happy Disney is making animated musicals again.

  • 2 9-30-2010 at 9:56 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Did they stop?

  • 3 9-30-2010 at 10:15 am

    Dylan said...

    Unless I’m mistaken, The Princess and the Frog was the first animated musical from Disney since Mulan in 1998, so yes, they did stop.

  • 4 9-30-2010 at 10:15 am

    red_wine said...

    Even from the trailers Tron seem like awesome visuals, lame script.

    Though I must say I saw the trailer in IMAX 3D and it is possibly the best live action 3D I have ever seen, way better than Avatar’s live action scenes’ 3D. Its gonna be a stunner all right.

    I also have a feeling that Tangled wouldn’t be all that well-written, but I’m absolutely spellbound by the animation. Its gorgeous beyond words. I’m really looking forward to it. But I hope Disney can get a bit braver with their endings. I thought Princess and the Frog was gonna end with a deeply graceful bitter-sweet ending but they had to go with the saccharine everybody-has-their cake ending. A little bit of rue and regret makes your ending that much more memorable. Ask Pixar.

    I really don’t think Megamind can ward of Tangled. Megamind is essentially a spoof and will find it hard to beat a more classically composed Disney effort to a nomination.

  • 5 9-30-2010 at 10:21 am

    Nicolas Mancuso said...

    “Tarzan” and “Home on the Range” had original song scores, but “Mulan” was the last true musical until “The Princess and the Frog” (or “Enchanted”, if we stretch a little).

  • 6 9-30-2010 at 10:29 am

    N8 said...

    ““Mother Knows Best” is Murphy’s moment and it would be delightful to see her belt it out on the Oscarcast”

    A beautiful dream, I’m sure, but they never nominate villain songs, no matter how great they are (“Friends on the Other Side” didn’t even make the long-list last year!)

  • 7 9-30-2010 at 10:32 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I guess I kind of zoned out on Disney movies for a while then.

  • 8 9-30-2010 at 11:05 am

    Jacob S. said...

    I’m really looking forward to “Tangled.” I’ve been following it’s production for awhile and it seems really good. Surely Disney showing it off so early is a positive sign of confidence. Plus, my best friend has an uncanny resemblance to the main character.

    I think Despicable Me, despite being aimed so tightly toward young children, has been well-received because it’s from a new studio and was made with a relatively low budget for animated movies ($60mil vs TS3′s $200mil) and yet still managed to be very funny and have great animation. I think that’s worth applauding. I do agree that it’s not nearly on the same level as TS3 or HTTYD, though.

  • 9 9-30-2010 at 11:18 am

    JJ1 said...

    Kris, I forget your opinion of The Princess & the Frog (think you really liked it – but again, can’t remember) … how does Tangled stack-up against that?

  • 10 9-30-2010 at 11:34 am

    MovieMan said...

    There was also “The Jungle Book 2,” which, to be fair, no one remembers. I didn’t even see it. Go figure.

    “The Princess and the Frog” was a disappointment, but I still wanted “Tangled” to be in traditional animation. I’m definitely looking forward to it.

  • 11 9-30-2010 at 11:49 am

    R.M. said...

    I think it’s a real tragedy that Disney didn’t believed in the title “Rapunzel”. It’s one of the most famous fairytales that they had never touched, and when they finally do, they change the title??

    So what if “The Princess and the Frog” didn’t perform as strongly as they had hoped. Could it have been that the story wasn’t that good? (‘Cause it really wasn’t.)

    If “Cinderella”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “Snowwhite” and “Mulan” worked as titles, why couldn’t “Rapunzel”? “The Little Mermaid”, anyone???
    “Tangled” sounds like an ordinary, leftover comedy. At least I can tell by the international posters that some countries actually WILL call it “Rapunzel”. But still… Sad that it’s all about getting the boys to see it in stead of believing in a title that has been around the centuries…

    Had they done this thing before, we might have ended up having “The Chinese Warrior” (Mulan), “John Smith and the New World” (Pocahontas), “The Seven Dwarfs and the Princess” (Snowwhite), “The Prince and the Dragon” (Sleeping Beauty), “The Prince and the Mystery Girl” (Cinderella), “Wonders in Wonderland” (Alice in Wonderland), “Stitch Does Hawaii” (Lilo and Stitch) and “The Prince and the Mystery Girl 2: Under the Seas” (The Little Mermaid).

  • 12 9-30-2010 at 11:55 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    JJ: I liked Princess and the Frog maybe a little better, if only because the animation was so vibrant and I liked where they took the narrative. Tangled is simpler, not in a bad way.

  • 13 9-30-2010 at 12:22 pm

    JJ1 said...

    Got it. Again. Haha, thanks.

  • 14 9-30-2010 at 1:17 pm

    Eli said...

    I have to say, Despicable Me completely underwhelmed me. I just got nothing from it, and it didn’t seem to have that layer of adult connection that elevates the best animated movies. So I’d certainly prefer to see a nomination for Tangled, just based on your recommendation.

  • 15 9-30-2010 at 2:08 pm

    Jacob S. said...

    The title “Tangled” was selected for two primary reasons:
    1) To appeal to a wider audience.
    2) Because the story focuses on both the male and female characters, not mainly the female one.

    And the reason “Tangled” wasn’t done in traditional animation is the same reason it wasn’t made 50 years ago: The hair. It’s considered too painstaking to draw all of those strands and to fluidly animate them in hand-drawn animation, so they were made with CGI. In fact, the studio wrote an entirely new program just to animate Rapunzel’s hair.

  • 16 9-30-2010 at 2:56 pm

    James said...

    Still really psyched to see Tron Legacy. The first trailer gave me chills. The visuals, combined with Daft Punk’s score I think might be able to get me over the humps of a so-so script. As long as the script isn’t on the level of Transformers 2.

  • 17 9-30-2010 at 6:39 pm

    Pete said...

    Question: how do songs in Tangled compare to songs in Enchanted? About the same in terms of quality (I realize there’s more of them here – I am asking about the standouts) or something better?

  • 18 9-30-2010 at 9:57 pm

    matsunaga said...

    It’s nice to hear a good review about “Tangled”…

    At first I didn’t expect that much from it, but now that Kris liked it, I guess it might be something worth including in the Animated feature list?

    So we have, Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon, The Illusionist, and Tangled….

    I haven’t seen Despicable Me… But if it’s a battle between ‘Despicable Me’ and ‘Megamind’ based of what I’ve seen in the trailers, I’m inclined the former than the latter…

    Just want to ask the chances of “Legend of the Guardians” and “Gnomeo and Juliet”?

  • 19 10-01-2010 at 4:54 am

    Estefan said...

    Gnomeo and Juliet comes out next year.

    After its mixed reviews and poor box-office, I don’t see Guardians getting in.

    And I have been saying for months that Tangled is a lock for animated feature. Hopefully, its very likely 90%+ Rotten Tomatoes will make the sceptical want to see it.

  • 20 10-01-2010 at 6:44 am

    Sawyer said...

    The Princess and the Frog was a failure? It was the funniest Disney film since Aladdin, with some great voice performances from the cast, especially Prince Naveen and Dr. Facilier. I’ll admit Randy Newman wasn’t even trying on his songs, but the score was beautiful. “Friends on the Other Side” was by far the best song of the lot.

    Princess and the Frog is classic Disney escapism, with sharp wit, just enough suspense and beauty throughout. It was one of my favorites of 2009.

  • 21 10-01-2010 at 6:48 am

    JJ1 said...

    Ditto on the Princess and the Frog love. I couldn’t believe that A.O. Scott thought it looked and felt like a straight-to-dvd Disney cast-off. ugh.

  • 22 10-01-2010 at 7:55 am

    Pete said...

    Sawyer, I think Newman did a masteful job on the songs.

    He brought in the just the right amount of Southern (authentic, not cliche) flavor and wit to the film. His nominations were well deserved.

    I am an even bigger fan of Menken, but, as I said before, the songs in Enchanted left me cold (hence, my question above).

    I haven’t seen “Guardians” but I want too. The movie looks absolutely beautiful and I hope that at least this aspect of it gets acknowledged properly. As the best animated film nod seems very unlikely, I think it would be great if it found a place in the newly expanded “Best Visual Effects” category.

    Gnomeo, on the other hand, looks like a collosal misfire. I caught the trailer in theaters a few days ago and was really talen aback by how bad it was. All of the jokes (of which there were many) fell flat. It was so bad it made me long for Travelocity commercials.

    All this talk about “Megamind” has got me wondering: is it even possible for a studio to get two nominations in that category? (And am I the only one who thinks Shrek Forever After is actually more well liked then is commonly assumed around these parts?).

  • 23 10-01-2010 at 1:17 pm

    Estefan said...

    Well, Disney got two nominations back in 2002 for Lilo & Stitch and Treasure Planet, so it’s not too out-of-the-question.

    That said, I think DreamWorks will just settle for the one this year.

  • 24 10-02-2010 at 9:55 am

    Pete said...

    Thank’s for the reminder Estefan. And as for DWA, no shame with having one nod.