Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Disney Semester

Guess what? I'm obsessed with Disney.

Did the blog give it away? Or the closet full of t-shirts? Well, the monkey's out of the bottle now.

In my obsession with Disney, I've tried to make it the centerpiece of my life. I worked at Walt Disney World for seven months, I created this blog, and I'm trying to get them to let me make magic full time. If it doesn't happen now, it will.

Going along with that theme, this semester, just about every big project I've had has been about Disney. This has been a running theme of my college career, having started this very blog in my online media class.

My course load has consisted of a media production class, a graphic design class, a class on the future of journalism, a class on business journalism, a photojournalism class, a one-credit class on the FOX company (so not Disney! Oh, but wait) and an advanced online media class.

For almost every one of those classes, I've managed to apply my Disney love for a grade. I have not yet incorporated it into my business journalism class, but there's still an essay to make it happen. I'm a little annoyed with myself that I didn't buy Disney stock for the faux-stock market assignment we had (I already own it in real life, so it didn't seem fitting.)

My Cars Land Magazine Layout
I've managed to make the first two big assignments for my graphic design class Disney centric. The first, a magazine layout, was done on the opening of Cars Land. The second, an info graphic, was done on the prices and popularity of Disney. I don't know what my grade is on the ladder, but I only got four points off out of 200 for the former. Ka-Chow!
My Disney info graphic.

With my online media class, I'm creating an entire website devoted to explaining just what is
it that attracts Disney to what many see as the child's entertainment company that is Disney.

For my media production class, I did a fake podcast on the Disney parks. That didn't go so well. But I got my Disney in! For my photojournalism class, I turned in a picture I took on my recent trip to Disneyland of the new Carthay Circle Theatre.

The Carthay Circle Theatre

With my future of journalism class, I'm turning in this blog, and a composite video I made for the two components of the final. Most of my grade for the class will be decided on things having to do with Mickey Mouse.

Then there's my class on FOX. How'd I do it? Well, I haven't yet. But I am going to write a (fantastic) paper comparing Walt Disney to Rupert Murdoch. My conclusion, I can tell you, is that they're two very different people.

Oh, and this is my senior year, and every credit counts towards graduation. So, you could say with my college career, "It all ended with a mouse."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Wrecking Windows, Fixing Films

The best animated movie to have anything to do with Disney this year? "Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings." I was going to say "Mars Needs Moms," but that came out in 2011.

THAT FIRST PARAGRAPH WAS A JOKE. Don't stop reading because of it. Also, because I'm a 21-year-old male, I didn't see "Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings," and because I'm a human being with taste, I didn't see "Mars Needs Moms," so I can't actually tell you if those are good or bad. And with that, I will start saying things I actually mean.

I know it might be Brave of me to say this, but 2012 will be known as the year Walt Disney Animation Studios put out a better movie than Pixar did. That's better than 2011, known as the year that I filmed a better movie on my iPhone of me eating a cheeseburger than the movie Pixar studios released.

That's right, "Wreck It Ralph" was by far a better film than Pixar's "Brave," and honestly, it had more of a Pixar feel to it, too. "Brave" was a fairytale with a princess, "Wreck It Ralph" was "Toy Story" set within the world of video games. I think that's all I need to say to back up that argument.

I've always loved "secret world of" films, like "Toy Story" and now "Wreck It Ralph," where part of the premise is exploring what things do when we humans aren't paying attention to them. "Ralph" is by no means as groundbreaking, funny, or as entertaining as "Toy Story," but I dare say it's the best animated Disney film since "Toy Story 3."

These kind of films create a world within a world, using their own sort of slang, taking the familiar and connecting it all together with a little creativity, and a little ingenuity. Instead of feeling things in her "bones," the character Vanellope Vvon Schweetz feels it in her "code" that she's meant to be a racer in the Mario Kart-esque game "Sugar Rush." I love this kind of thing, and "Wreck It Ralph" is full of it.

Brace yourself, it's time for some plot summary: The film focuses on Ralph, voiced by John C. Reilly, the villain who wrecks things, so Fix It Felix Jr. can then fix things in the 8-bit arcade game named after Felix. Ralph gets tired of sleeping in a literal dump, and ventures off into two other video games, first a Call of Duty-esque first-person-shooter modern 3D game "Hero's Duty," then to Vanellope's "Sugar Rush." Here, in the land of Sugar Rush, Vanellope, a "glitch" in the game, steals Ralph's medal, and the two become enemies that quickly turn into friends. From there, all that character development and plot stuff happens like in most all movies, except for the Indie ones made by artists who are too hip to use a story arch. If you're reading this blog, you'll probably see the movie anyways, and probably already know all of that stuff you just read, anyways. Moving on...

What made this film so great was a mix of character development, gags, humor, and a nice twist at the end that brings everything together. The characters all have their flaws and their strengths, and we get to see them exhibit all parts of their personality, while enjoying some good jokes, and a dedication the the details of the world of video games that does not waiver in thoroughness throughout. The movie modifies a world we're already familiar with, and exploring it with Ralph, Felix, Venellope and Calhoun, the female commander from "Hero's Duty" voiced by Jane Lynch, is a hilarious, fun and at times emotional journey that amounts to one darn good film.

It's no "Up" or "Finding Nemo," but for a film whose only connection to Pixar is John Lasseter, the chief creative officer at both Pixar and the Walt Disney Animation Studios, it will fool those unaware of the separation between the two companies.