Thursday, March 31, 2011
Winnie the Pooh will be released July 15th in the U.S but in France the movie will be in theatres...April 13th! It's the first time that i see a Disney animated movie released in France three months before the U.S and i'm certainly not going to complain about that! A press screening happened on March 23 but there was an embargo on all reviews until today April 1st. It's now April 1st in Paris, so i can post my review and it's not an April Fools!
So, did i liked Winnie the Pooh? Well, yes and no. First, i have to say that the animation is extremely good. It's great to see the different characters alive again, drawn the same way as they were in 1968. Whether it is Winnie, Piglet, Owl, Eeyore, Tigger, Christopher or all the others there is no difference with the original animation. Disney animators did a great job and also used the principle of a children book with characters walking through the pages, just like in the original movie. And i don't want to spoil anything but you'll see how the "letters" of the book are playing an important part in the story.
But - as there is a "but" - the story itself, in my opinion, is not as good as it was in the first animated film. In the original movie there was three different chapters, each one with a different story. It's not the case here. Warning: Spoilers from now! The beginning is a bit weak and looks too much as it was in the first movie - with Winnie desperately looking for a Honey pot - but after a few minutes the real story begins. Christopher has disappeared and a message deciphered by Owl seems to indicate that he is the prisonner of a kind of monster. Winnie and his friends are decided to capture the monster and to set free Christopher...but everything is not gonna work as they've imagined.
Basically the whole movie is the story of a misunderstanding. Disney animators are playing with the (voluntary) absurdity of the situation and sometime it works and it's fun, sometime you think that it would have been better with more "madness", if they had pushed the "absurdity" of the situation to the end. But we must not forget that Winnie the Pooh is a movie for very young children which probably mean some limits in the storyline for a perfect understanding by 3-4 years old kids.
Talking about the story, the other problem is the length - not of the movie which is quite short as it last 62 minutes only but of the story itself. As i've said, in the original movie you had three different stories of approximately 20 - 25 minutes each, and in my opinion it worked better. Here, it's not that the story is bad, it's just that the story is not strong enough to last one hour or 55 minutes if we except the beginning of the movie.
So, is Winnie the Pooh as good as the first and beloved original film? In terms of animation, definitely yes. In terms of storyline, the original movie was i think better. And from what i've heard from the others journalists who were at the press screening i'm not the only one to have this opinion. However, if you're a Winnie the Pooh fan don't miss this new animated as you'll find back a big part of the charm of the original film. Also, when you will watch it in theatres, definitely stay until the end of the credits as there is a not-to-be missed scene at the very end! In the meantime, have a look below to a clip that Disney just released!
And here is a different clip, with Eeyore, this time from the french version.
We also had the good surprise to see the short animated "Ballad of Nessie" which will play in theatres in front of Winnie the Pooh.
The Ballad of Nessie is a great short in the grand Disney tradition of short animated films - it looks like a Disney short who could have been done 40 or 50 years ago. Here, not only the animation is perfect - excellent animators like Andreas Deja worked on it - but the story is very good. There is a genius idea in the storyline and don't worry, i'm not going to spoil it. The Ballad of Nessie has a lot of charm and although it's not totally fair to compare it with Winnie the Pooh as they don't have the same length, "Nessie" is probably more "perfect". Personally i enjoyed more "Nessie" than "Winnie" but it's only my opinion and you will tell me what you think of both when they will be released in theatres.
Finally, a little gift for you and specially for those of you who have children with this children "activity kit" which should be given in theatres to young kids. But if you wish, you can download it right now here:
Pictures and videos: copyright Disney