“Ten thousand years will give you such a crick in the neck!”
Join hosts Serg Beret and Jenni Chante for the first episode of “Back to the Drawing Board,” a podcast devoted solely to animation on the big and small screen
For the first episode, the hosts take a look at the “Aladdin” trilogy by celebrating the first film’s 25th anniversary. We talk up the behind-the-scenes production, the music of Alan Menken and the amazing performance by the late Robin Williams as the Genie.
As many can see, not everything in October got done. Personally, this month was pretty damn hectic. I did not have no time to post everything or make everything come to fruition. I got busy with a new tutoring gig I’m doing, the newspaper work piling up and college eating up my time. I feel like complete crap for not getting it all done and I personally apologize for all of it. To make up for it, late November and December are going to be filled with lots of stuff to make up for this misfortune.
The last episodes of Friendly Film Perspectives have not been uploaded, but will be soon in a quick unedited format on YouTube. This is to get them out of the way and bring Friendly Film Perspectives back again. The FFP podcast will now be every two weeks in order to free up more time for personal life situations and more editing in between. It gives me and Matthew Reveles room to breathe in life. Solo Film Perspectives or Top of the Crop Lists will be done in between episodes.
Late this month, me and my sister Jennifer Berrueta are going to be officially starting Back to the Drawing Board, a new podcast show that will focus on animation in film and television. This series will be different from Friendly Film Perspectives as it will dive deeper into the creation and history of the work with a review toward the end of the show. We’ve been trying to get this off the ground for about two years, but the time is about right to make it a possibility. Unlike FFP, this show will take longer to create in order to put more work into talking about the history to give a new and informative experience for those listening or viewing. The first episode will be about Sleeping Beauty and should be up by the end of the month. Since we are busy people, expect this show either once or twice a month.
Also, our first true video series should be starting around this time with my best friend Gerardo Monroy aka Jerry in which we tackle our favorite topic: food. It’s nothing new really, but it’s a show about food in which we try new foods, eat classic food faves and even some gross stuff. Gross food is not the main focus of the show. This is honestly more about exploring food around or area and eating it. The show will be filmed by Guillermo Morales, a close friend of Jerry’s, who is a new addition to the site. This series working title is Another Unoriginal Internet Food Show.
The one thing that is sure to come quite soon is a series I’ve been wanting to do for some time now and can finally get around to it. One game franchise I enjoyed, along with millions of others, was Guitar Hero. Personally, I wanted to know the history behind the product, its rise to fame and its inevitable downfall. This series will examine the game series from the first installment to the last (with some spin-offs discussed in between) as well as take a look at the history of the franchise. This series will start pretty soon as well and is aptly titled The Rise and Fall of Guitar Hero.
For December, a more elaborate 25 Days of XMAS will be done this year. This time, the site will be exploring 25 Christmas special and films with one per day as a way to celebrate the holidays. Unlike other series, I’m actually working on this one in advance to have stuff ready by December 1st. It’s a new work routine I want to start to ensure the best quality from this blog.
This is what is to come in the coming weeks. I’ll be back in full form again while balancing out my own life outside of the internet.
Thanks for your time and patience,
Sergio J. Berrueta aka Serg Beret
P.S. One more quick announcement before I go, next year, the real part two begins.
In order to make up for the great delay of Film A Week-Week 2: The Running Man, Jesus Figueroa of Thisfunktional.com, Danny Vasquez of ELAC Campus News and I have made a Disney Edition expansion to Cards Against Humanity.
Hey, own Cards Against Humanity? Do you also love Disney? Well, awesome because now you can combine the two by downloading the fanmade Disney Edition expansion pack for your convenience.
There are a total of 200 cards (140 White Cards, 60 Black Cards) all referencing your favorite Disney films, theme parks, actors, shows and music you love. Nothing like making jokes about the innocence of classic Disney romance along with the horrors of Nazis, Michelle Obama’s arms and more.
Below are the PDF links to download to add for your collection:
In the early 1990s, Saturday morning programming was enjoying success spanning into afternoon cartoons with The Disney Afternoon showing Ducktales and Goof Troop. Cable networks called Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network provided hours of entertainment with Doug and Ren and Stimpy and repeats of The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo capturing the hearts of a new generation. The main leader of all this was and will always be Fox Kids. Fox Kids gave us critically acclaimed hits every week with the gritty presence of Batman: The Animated Series, the semi-serious and poignant X-Men, and the variety show-esque stylings of Animaniacs and Tiny Toon Adventures. It was an great time to grow up after being born in 1992, but no show was more popular than the cult classic Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.
Power Rangers combined all the action of Masters of the Universe, the dialogue of cheesy goodness of a regular episode of Saved By the Bell, and ridiculous plots of a classic episode of M.A.S.K. Five (later six after converting the Green Ranger to their side) teenagers given powers by Zordon to protect the the city of Angel Grove, as well as the universe, from the clutches of Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd. The rangers battle against the Putties, got involved in gigantic Zord battles straight out of a classic Kaiju film, and the occasional mishaps of those always kooky Bulk and Skull. The show relied on footage from the Super Sentai series from Japan in order to adapt it for an American audience complete with horrendous dubbing and accidental racism in casting a black actor as the black ranger and an Asian actress as the yellow ranger. The show was so popular with everyone at the time that 20th Century Fox teamed with Saban Entertainment to deliver the cinematic opus known as Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie and well…it was indeed a movie.
This 1995 ‘classic’ of nostalgia gave the audience what they wanted: Power Rangers on the big screen, for better or worse. Upping the ante and giving the film version a bigger budget, this film falls flat in every way possible with poor dialogue, a godawful plot and CGI that is laughable by 1995 standards. Even the show, while stupid, had more dignity than this pile of dung.
The film starts with an opening crawl explaining what most of us already know about the ranger and somehow manages to make that sound boring. After that dramatic opening, Billy, Kimberly, Tommy, Rocky, Aisha and Adam are skydiving in honor of Ryan’s Comet passing the Earth because Hayley’s Comet is apparently copyrighted. Also, those hoping for Jason, Zack and Trini, they were out of the show by this time, so we are stuck with half of the original Rangers and now the accidental racism is non existent. They land and encourage a young boy named Fred Kelman, who is just as bland as his name, that he is to keep looking up to them. Bulk and Skull also get out of the plane after it is over the downtown area of Angel Grove and humorously land in an construction site. Bulk and Skull witness the uncovering of a large egg at the site causing Zordon to flip his wig.
The egg is known to contain the shape-shifter named Ivan Ooze who was captured 6,000 by Zordon tricking him into the egg before his ooze can take over the world. Zordon calls upon the Rangers to investigate the egg as soon as Rita Repulsa, Lord Zedd, Goldar and even Mordant of all villains to release Ivan Ooze, played another than Indiana Jones’ asshole rival Belloq, I mean, Paul Freeman. Funny how Paul Freeman is in one of my personal favorite films and one of my most hated. Anywho, the Ranger comes face to face with Ooze as Freeman grabs the scenery chews it, spits it out and chews it again with hilariously awful puns and jokes. Ivan unleashes his ‘oozelings’ to distract the Rangers with over the top backflips galore action as he heads to the command center to destroy it and Zordon, resulting in, I kid you not, the best scene in this movie. With Zordon destroy, the Rangers are left dejected with depression and sadness destroying their radical gen X attitudes. Thank god because saying “Awesome!” and “Cool” was gonna drive me to drink.
The Rangers are told to receive a great power on Phaedos by Zordon passes away. Ivan Ooze goes about his personal plan betraying the orders of Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd trapping them in a snow globe of Angel Grove to take on the role of a con-man wizard giving out ooze to kids for free. Meanwhile, the Rangers are on the jungle planet and come across Dulcea, a guardian of the planet who can lead them to the great power.
FILM A WEEK FUN FACT Mariska Hargitay had to take over for awhile while actress Gabrielle Fitzpatrick was in the hospital. She shot her scenes, but none were ever used due to Fitzpatrick returning for her scenes. Luckily, we have photographic evidence of the gorgeous Hargitay as Dulcea
Dulcea gives them the spirits of animals (Ape, Frog, Wolf, Crane, Falcon, and Bear) as they become ninja rangers. The team goes to find the zords to connect to their power and battle a skeleton triceratops which is actually not that bad of a fight scene. Back on Earth, Ivan Ooze has hypnotized the parents of Angel Grove in order to work for him to create ‘ectomorphicons’ that will do his bidding to destroy Angel Grove once and for all. Fred gets wind off this and sees that Ivan Ooze is leading the parents to their death off a cliff like lemmings. Fortanatley, our Rangers show up to defeat Ooze’s ectomorphicons, save the parents from mind control and somehow use the Falcon zord to help guide a monorail to the other side without destroying the darn thing. Ooze sees the destruction of his ectomorphicons and merges with one to become giant Ivan Ooze with the Rangers forming their new Ninja Megazords in a horrendous CGI battle. Jurassic Park was just two years before this film and the CGI here looks like Phillips CD-I material in comparison to that film. They fight in space and manage to beat Ivan Ooze by kneeing him in the go go power gonads. Thus, the day, rather night, is saved by the Power Rangers. Cue the Van Halen and fade to black.
Power Rangers: The Movie is a mess of the highest regard. The acting is abysmal save for Paul Freeman’s scene stealing Ivan Ooze, the action is shot horribly and the film fails to capture the fun of the show. The show had moments of pure action and serious moments of storytelling, which is more apparent during the In Space years. The film tries to appeal to its core audience yet alienates anyone willing to give the Power Rangers a chance by making it as narrow minded as possible to a particular group. The nostalgia goggles are off for this as I feel this is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Judging by my strong critique of this film, you may think I hate the Power Rangers. On the contrary as I love the heck out of the Power Rangers series despite no longer watching it after I believe was Lightspeed Rescue. As for those who say the original was the best, I beg to differ as each season and iteration has there plus and negatives. Personally, I loved In Space and Zeo and I do not regret any influence this series has on me. The movie is more of a disappointment and a poor effort in adapting a show to the big screen. I do not recommend this film at all, but you can watch it for Paul Freeman chewing up the scenery.
Next week, Film A Week will be covering animated films all of April with some guest writers to boot. First up on the animation block is the underrated masterpiece from Dreamworks that features death, betrayal, the cost of greed and religious faith. April 6th, me and my sister Jennifer Berrueta go Back to the Drawing Board for The Prince of Egypt.
Film A Week Week 13: Back to the Drawing Board Month- The Prince of Egypt (1998)
J.M. Barrie’s play turned novel, Peter Pan, is synonymous with childhood imagination combining the elements of swashbuckling pirate tales, battles with Indians, and a mythical place were youth forever reigns and no one ever grows up. Their have been countless iterations of the classic in the form of musical theatre (made famous by the gorgeous Mary Martin) to the small screen in the form of Fox Kid’s Peter Pan and the Pirates and the miniseries Neverland. The silver screen has had its fair share of adaptations as well with the first adaptation under Paramount Picture in 1924 as a silent feature, the cult classic sequel directed by Steven Spielberg, Hook, with Robin Williams as an older Peter Pan revisiting Neverland to save his children from the nefarious Captain Hook and the live action adaptation in 2003 by Universal Pictures (which I will get to later in this review). The most famous version of the character’s daring adventures is from the studio that is also synonymous with childhood, Walt Disney Animation Studios. Sixty years have passed since its initial release in 1953 and still remains the definitive film version of the boy who never grew up, Peter Pan.
Peter Pan, if you do not know by now, tells the tale of three children from the Darling family, Wendy (the beautiful Disney starlet Kathryn Beaumont), John (Paul Collins), and Michael (Tommy Luske) who are whisked away by Peter Pan (Bobby Driscoll) to the world of Neverland to engage in helping save the Princess Tiger Lilly (Corinne Orr), fending off Captain Hook (Hans Conreid) and his bumbling sidekick Mr. Smee (Disney mainstay Bill Thompson), and of course saving the day with the Lost Boys, sadly not the ones you are thinking about. Since the plot and story is so well known, I decided to forgo actually detailing the plot to give my personal take on it. Peter Pan is a film that doesn’t really have a true plot or story line. The film is essentially an adventure built on the foundation of imagination and can be whatever the viewer interprets. To myself personally, it is a beautiful coming of age story about being a kid at heart hidden in disguise that is hinted at greatly. Bare with me, this might go into some odd territory.
In the beginning, Wendy’s father, George Darling (also voiced by Hans Conreid, due to the actor playing the dad also playing Captain Hook), says that she needs to grow up and stop with her wild stories as it is her last night in the nursery. Wendy is of course broken up by this, until Peter Pan arrives and decides to take her away with him to the place where she can never grew up. Peter Pan acts as a guardian angel to her always looking down on her and she strongly believes in. She was taken to Neverland to be the appreciate the wonders of imagination and what surrounds her. Peter reveals later on he brought Wendy to be a mother of the Lost Boys, but that is a bit of a grown up thing to due. Wendy manages to balance this with ease and realizes that you can still be grown up while still appreciating the things that are considered younger. By the end of the film, Wendy and the boys come back and the father notices a pirate ship and remembers the magic he felt as a boy and truly understands that even at his age, he can relive those memories as an adult. George essentially gets taught the same lesson Wendy has learned in her travels. Peter Pan may be the titular character, but Wendy is the main focus in my opinion. Then again, I might be over analyzing a story intended for children.
With that perspective film out of the way, what do I actually think of the film? While I do think it is a fun and light-hearted adventure from the Disney animated canon, it certainly is not one of my all time favorites. Peter Pan seems to suffer the same fate as Alice in Wonderland before it. Alice in Wonderland is a series of small vignettes and stories that are just collided together to form one true plot that is ultimately never truly explained or goes anywhere. Alice was a coming of age story as well and featured Kathryn Beaumont as the title role, but Peter Pan does it a tad bit better by actually giving Wendy some depth and emotion which Alice had very little of. The reason works more is that it manages to use its ‘slice of life’ style to its advantage and not confusing half the people watching it, which if you asked anyone exactly what Alice was about, they would possibly spend the next two minutes trying to figure it out.
The other place Peter Pan succeeds in is the characters personalities and the fantastic songs that do not seem forced and move the story along. Wendy is a young girl trying to be stern but cannot help being stuck between childhood and adolescence with Kathryn Beautmont’s performance really on the forefront. John is the smart sensible brother trying to figure out how to carry about himself and tries to see if he can be brave, which he achieves Michael is still young and curious about the world as sees everything as a true wonder as an expy for the younger audiences enjoying this. Captain Hook is a brilliant selfish man child that seems to have just come across pirate clothes and going along for the ride a performed with hilarity by Hans Conried. The titular character of Peter Pan is just a mischievous youth at heart and the spirit of adventure rolled into one and Bobby Driscoll’s voice suits the character with boyish charm and jerkassery (I do not think that is a word, but I am going to use it). The other performances are pretty good themselves with Bill Thompson’s Smee coming out on top being naive and carefree compared to Hook’s selfishness.
The animation in the film is flawless with with rich vibrant colors and imaginative designs of Neverland and the residents from the unique costumes of the Lost Boys, the gorgeous design of Tinkerbell, and delivering the memorable flight in the night sky as Peter and the Darlings soar high above London with the classic ‘You Can Fly’ playing setting the mood for what is yet to come. The music by Sammy Cahn and Olivier Wallace is hit and miss. For every marvelous song like ‘The Second Star to the Right’, you get the annoying ‘Follow the Leader’ and for every joyful ‘You Can Fly!’, you get the highly racist and stereotypical ‘What Makes the Red Man Red’. Re-watching that sequence was cringe worthy with the Indians chanting around the fire and contemplating what makes them red like no one else, revealing it is the lust of women. Supervising animator Marc Davis who worked on this feature has been quoted as saying about the scene “I’m not sure we would have done the Indians if we were making this movie now and if we had, we wouldn’t do them the way we did back then.” I agree with Davis wholeheartedly.
Peter Pan legacy has continued on for sixty years to provide a rich series of adventure and fantasy, even if it can be a bit shallow at times. Peter Pan is an escapist film at best and a delightful part of the Disney history. Even better, another Peter Pan is celebrating an anniversary as well.
Fifty years after the Disney adaptation came the live-action by Universal Pictures also tiled Peter Pan. This film would probably not have even came to be if not for the Disney take on it. It is bright and vibrant just as the 1953 version, but delivers dark moments as well. This adaptation of the story is not so bad either and provides the same joy I got out of the other feature. The performances in here are quite wonderful with Jason Issacs being top notch as Captain Hook and Jeremy Supter’s Peter Pan being just as much as the charismatic brat like before. It is also escapist cinema, but routed more towards J.M. Barrie’s original without having to deal with songs and catering to a smaller audiences. 2003’sPeter Pan seemed like quite the risk to take and the fact Universal managed to do it without killing themselves over it is wonderful. The tagline of this film was ‘The timeless story as you never seen it before’ and as a kid watching in the theater, it blew me away. I have seen Hook, which I love deeply, but Peter Pan manage to capture the essence of the story with a tight script and stellar direction by P.J. Hogan. As for Hook, it is one of the best sequels to Peter Panand is an overlooked gem even being superior to the forgettable yet not-as-bad-as-you-think Return to Neverland. Anywho, I think I am over staying my welcome with Peter Pan and now to leave it to continue on delighting the world for another sixty years.
Next time, we stray away from films I have seen and enjoyed into the uncharted waters of my IMDB watchlist to experience classics I have never seen, films the readers probably have never even heard of, and films that are considered some of the worst. So what film id I decided to start with? Let’s step into the director’s chair with the Academy Award winner for The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow, and look at one of her renowned classics in her catalogue of films: Point Break
Film A Week- Week 4: Point Break (1991)
Friday, February 1st/Saturday, February 2nd
Welcome to Back to the Drawing Board, a celebration of animation at a glance thanks in part to my sister, Jenni Chante, and I’s love for this particular art form of filmmaking. We have decided to take some time to give our views on popular and obscure films of animation, either retrospectively or with fresh eyes, giving a personal view. Animation isn’t a genre. It is a variety of genres ranging from adventure to horror to fantasy. It also certainly is not ‘kids stuff’. Animation can tell the simplest childhood story to the darkest and high complex adult stories. Animation isn’t the lowest common denominator of filmmaking. It takes hard work and talent, be it with the hundreds or dozens of hands of animators, thousands of codes on a keyboard, or even cutting piles construction paper to bring it to life.
Animation knows no bounds.
Time to start with the first landmarks of animation being the first stopmotion film (The Adventures of Prince Achmed), the first feature length animated feature (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), and the first CGI animated feature (Toy Story).
The Adventures of Prince Achmed(1926)
Serg Beret: I had seen this film before many years ago on Turner Classic Movies as they were running a retrospective on animation. I never knew that there was an animated film before Snow White, let alone a stopmotion feature. Prince Achmed is another adaptation (possibly even first) of the 1001 Arabian Nights story telling the tale of Prince Achmed reclaiming control of his lamp to take down the African Sorceror with the aid of Aladdin. A typical fairy tale, but told in pure silence and silhouette. Don’t let that steer the viewers wrong because it is a wonderful film with fantastic use of bright colors and thrilling music to get its point across. Originally a lost film, the restoration of Prince Achmed is a true stellar wonder and a classic.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs(1937)
Serg Beret: Snow White and the Sven Dwarfs is the hardest to talk about because everything that I could say about it has already been said.The animation is stunning, the story, though simplistic, is lovely, and the songs still hang on today. It remains one of my favorite animated features combining beauty and emotion to grab you from the beginning and never let you go. The climax and finale of the highlights of the film. Snow White eating the apple and the dwarfs chasing after the treacherous queen to avenge Snow White is thrilling. The funeral for Snow White is heartbreaking, but the finale is what wraps it all together. Prince Charming comes to save Snow White with the kiss of true love letting the violins swell, the chorus sings, and they live happily ever after. I recently watched it again by myself with the volume way up and brought to tears finally appreciating what a wonder it is. Snow White is the fairest of all for all these reasons, paving the way for what animation is today.
Jenni Chante: Before I get to talking about the film, I will admit that Snow White is not my favorite princess that Disney has brought to the screen. The movie itself is very well done and the animations and look of the film is breathtaking. The character are fun and memorable with the Dwarfs stealing the show. I love how every dwarf has a different personality and style to them. Snow White, as I mentioned before, is not my favorite princess but she is far from being the worst. The voice of her is fantastic and I do decent impression of it. This film I will always remember as being the first film and the first Disney feature overall bringing Disney to the world.
Toy Story (1995)
Serg Beret: Pixar’s first full length animated feature, Toy Story, is the complete opposite of Snow White, not because it is a bad first step, but it is a completely original concept. From the ground up, the team at Pixar made an animated comedy that breaks away from the mold that Disney set with the renaissance containing the Broadway musical spectacle elements and becomes something they can make their own. The characters are still memorable and the story is still a delight as Buzz and Woody must try to escape the hands of the evil Sid Philips, while Buzz slowly realizes he is, in fact, a toy. It’s emotional, it’s laugh out loud funny, but at it’s core, it is a classic buddy comedy and a near-perfect one at that. Hell, I still chuckle at the amount of Buzz related puns and I hate puns. Like Snow White before it, it paved the way for a new step in the animation genre and lead to a string of sequels, which is a legacy in its own right. Toy Story is a classic and I love every minute of it.
Jenni Chante: This was the first CGI animated film and, as we know, CGI animation and films have started to become better over the years. There is no denying though: Toy Story is still pretty damn good. The characters are so interesting and delightful, despite my hatred fro Mr. Potato Head. This film was amazing and because of it, I would leave toys out and hide just toy see if they would move. The movie brings a lot of memories when I look back on it and I will never forget it.
Next time, we take a look at the works of Hayao Miyzaki and Studio Ghibli with the 1989’s Kiki’s Delivery Service, 1997’s Princess Mononoke, and the magnum opus that is 2001’s Spirited Away.
Back to the Drawing Boardwill be a celebration of the wonders of animation and what is has brought to life. Unfortunately, it is a series only for December, but may become a bi-weekly series if successful or deemed by me as worth keeping. This first time around, we are covering a handful of films with obvious choices and others that might be a bit obscure and out of nowhere.
Me and my sister, Jenni Beret, are covering animated features all the month of December with Back to the Drawing Board. Two to three films will be covered every day or other day. Ranging from the wonders of Disney to the dark and grittiness of Ralph Bashki to the future and a look at the past, Back to the Drawing is a celebration of the art form. Like 007 in 23: 23 Days of Bond, a majority of these films will be seen with fresh eyes and others with a retrospective view. a Christmas Special covering Christmas animated films and specials.
These films are (In Alphabetical Order):
A Goofy Movie
A Scanner Darkly
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
Aladdin and the King of Thieves
Alice in Wonderland
An American Tail
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Beauty and the Beast
The Black Cauldron
Cats Don’t Dance
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatball
Family Guy: The Untold Story of Stewie Griffin
Fire and Ice
Futurama: Bender’s Big Score
Here Comes the Littles
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Justice League: The New Frontier
The Land Before Time
The Last Unicorn
The Lion King
The Little Mermaid
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Oliver and Company
The Prince of Egypt
The Princess and the Frog
Recess: School’s Out
The Rescuers Down Under
Rock & Rule
Sailor Moon Trilogy
The Secret of NIMH
The Secret of the Kells
Secret of the Wings (aka Tinker Bell and the Secret of the Wings)
As I get my personal life together, search through the trenches for a steady job and sort things out for future endeavors to come, I have decided to tackle another blog series in between to keep myself sane.
This December, I, along with my sister Jennifer, will be taking a look at the wonderful world of animated motion pictures and giving quick reviews of each one.
Originally known as The Animation Station, it is now called Back to the Drawing Board to pay tribute to the artist who bring the animation.
We will explore the old and new to the G-rated to the NC-17 rated to the works of both Western Animation and Anime. From Disney to Bashki, hallmarks will be covered every day or so in December.
It is a collaborative effort between me and her and we hope to get those who see animation as kid’s stuff to see that it is not.