some thoughts on Maleficent











Many years ago, I was up for the gig writing the movie adaptation of Scott Westerfeld’s wonderful sci-fi (then) trilogy Uglies, Pretties and Specials. I liked the books a lot and the idea, I thought, was a real fire-cracker: a dystopian future, a sci-fi trilogy, with a female protagonist, where each movie in the trilogy would examine the same society from a different point of view. It had never been done before and it was a huge opportunity. The producer who brought me the books was a respected big-budget sci-fi producer, and the project was set up at a genuine big-deal studio. All I needed to do was get a firm handle on how to tell the story and there was no way the project could not move forward.

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Snow White: The Missing Scene

Finally, a key scene from Walt Disney’s classic is presented, filling in the missing piece of “the fairest movie of them all.”


Live-action Toy Story

This is simply astonishing.

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Some further thoughts on Wreck-it Ralph













Curt Holman writes:

about 30 minutes in, I wondered to myself, “Is this going to be a kid’s film with no ‘real’ bad guy?”

Conceptually, Wreck-it Ralph is a close relative of Toy Story, and a comparison of their respective plots is instructive.  Spoilers obviously follow.

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A note on Wreck-it Ralph












Congratulations to the Disney Animation folks on their brand-new hit. It is charming, witty, funny and entertaining.

Noteworthy to me is Ralph’s in-game backstory.  It’s not really a spoiler, since it’s not really discussed at length in the movie, but I will hide it under the fold nevertheless for the sake of decency.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl part 4







As Act IV of Curse begins, Will Turner is locked up in the brig aboard the Black Pearl.  He talks to Pintel about his father, Bootstrap Bill.  Pintel informs Will, and the audience, that Bootstrap Bill wasn’t an evil pirate like Barbossa, that he “felt bad” about mutinying against Jack.  He goes on to tell Will that Bootstrap Bill sent the cursed gold piece to Will in order to remain deliberately cursed.  If that’s true, well, good going Bootstrap Bill, now your son is set to die at the hands of your cursed pirate friends.  Finally, Pintel tells Will that Barbossa killed Bootstrap Bill for sending the gold piece to Will.  Phew!  I don’t think I’ve ever come across a smaller maguffin more responsible for more plot before, and the movie still has a half-hour to go.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl part 3

At the top of Act III of Curse, Elizabeth has been rescued from the clutches of bad-pirate Barbossa, by declared non-pirate Will Turner (at the top of Act III Will declares, twice in ten seconds, his non-pirate status).  Since Elizabeths’ goal is for Will to be a pirate, she still faces an uphill battle.  As Will tenderly goes to cop a feel off Elizabeth’s breast, she takes out the medallion that started all this craziness, the one she took off Will that day so many years ago.  In the traditional fairy tale, the boy-prince is given a medallion that will one day prove he is royalty — here, the screenwriters have stood the tradition on its head and given the boy a medallion that proves he is a criminal.
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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl part 2

Act I of Curse begins with Elizabeth Swann making a kind of a wish, a wish that a handsome pirate might one day come and steal her away.  A handsome boy wearing a pirate medallion shows up instead, and she transfers her wish onto him, making him a pirate in her mind, if not in his.  Eight years later, a handsome pirate, Jack Sparrow, does indeed blow into town, and indeed makes gestures toward stealing Elizabeth away, but winds up in the pokey instead.  A crew of actual pirates finally shows up at the end of the act, and they do in fact proceed to steal Elizabeth away, but now that Elizabeth sees the reality of piracy, the looting and pillaging and killing (this being Disney, no actual rape is shown, these pirates are manifestly chaste), she recoils, and as the act draws to a close partly regrets her wish.  Curse, in one aspect, traces Elizabeth’s evolution from oppressed daughter to daring adventurer (before returning her safely to her father’s world).  The following two movies draw the character out further, making Elizabeth “her own pirate,” as it were, before she finally outgrows the whole pirate thing and settles down.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl part 1

Who is the protagonist of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl?  Casual viewers would probably say it’s Captain Jack Sparrow, since he’s the most memorable character.  Others might say that, since the movie is, in part, a love story, that there are two protagonists, Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner.  It could be argued that there are three protagonists, or even four, if you count bad-guy Barbossa.

Myself, I’m going to argue that there is only one, Elizabeth Swann.

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Favorite screenplays: Bambi part 4

Without ceremony or warning, Bambi must leave his mother lost in the snow and go off — somewhere — with his father.  Wherever he goes off with his father, whatever he learns there, Disney withholds.  The trauma of Bambi’s break with his mother lasts only a moment before it is spring.

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