Saturday, October 12, 2013

Avatar Land Artwork Revealed ! Plus: Nighttime Entertainment Coming at Disney's Animal Kingdom !

Oh-ho, there is some biiiig news for this Saturday morning as Disney released the renderings of the upcoming and awaited Avatar land!!!

It seems that WDI has decided to play a max the Avatar "vegetation" card - extraterrestrial vegetation in this case - and considering that we are at Animal Kingdom it's probably the best to do indeed. Not a lot of details on the rides but as rumored there is a boat ride which should be particularly magical at night and a "flying" ride  where guests will "fly" with the Banshees!

Below, Tom Staggs announcement and after each rendering, in ital, my own feeling about them. Also, click on each artwork to see them in high-res!

"From the moment AVATAR was released, people were captivated by the mythical world of Pandora. When we announced that we’d be working with James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment to bring this world to life in our parks, we felt certain that this partnership and combination of talent and imagination would produce an experience unlike any other ever created.

Our combined team has taken huge steps forward in “imagineering” Pandora as a real place for our guests to see, hear and touch. At the first-ever D23 Expo in Japan, we shared an early glimpse of the plans for AVATAR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park and I wanted to share some of these breathtaking images and a short preview of what’s to come with all of you."

As i said above WDI is playing the extraterrestrial vegetation "card" and it will be interesting to see how they will do to create vegetation from another planet, it might be less simple than you can think. You'll note that the spectacular "floating mountains" will also be there, of course here probably not totally "floating" for gravity reasons, except if they do some go them like themed balloons.

"As these concept renderings show in epic scale, in the world of AVATAR guests will encounter awe-inspiring floating mountains and wander through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants that are alive with light and sound. Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee".

Above is the expected boat ride which should be particularly spectacular indeed at night with all the bioluminescent plants. Considering that Animal Kingdom is the most "contemplative" of all DIsney Parks - almost as much a "vegetation kingdom" than an "animal" one - i think it's pretty smart from WDI Imagineers to play this vegetation card. Chances are that there will be some thrill moments during the ride, not revealed yet. Also, you'll notice that there is no rooftop on the boat which may look surprising as it is raining quite often in Florida. No rooftop could mean that the ride might be stopped when it will rain. Of course there might be one at the end, but not shown here on the artwork for artistic reasons. 

And here is the expected flying simulator ride. Most probably a "Soarin' " kind of ride but all the question is to know how will look the simulator itself. Sure, they can do easily one which will look like the one of Soarin' - and it'll be probably the best for ride capacity - but i have the feeling that James Cameron would prefer a more designed one. Of course the best would be if guests would be seating upon recreated Banshees which could even have some Audio-Animatronics parts for the neck, head and wings, but considering their size it might be difficult  to put enough guests on them to have an adequate attraction capacity. 

Above, James Cameron with Tom Staggs and WDI Imagineer Joe Rhode in front of an Avatar model.

And there is a "one more thing" as Tom Staggs also announced new nighttime entertainment for Animal Kingdom! :

"And the new AVATAR-inspired land won’t be the only change coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. As part of the largest expansion in the history of the park, we’ll be adding all-new entertainment experiences, including a new nighttime spectacular where live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery all combine to bring a show to Discovery River that will delight our guests and truly cap off their day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The park will introduce more nighttime entertainment as well, including live performers on Discovery Island (pictured above) and a new nighttime version of the Kilimanjaro Safaris".

You'll note on the above rendering the glowing effect on the  Tree of Life which might be a way to introduce the Avatar bioluminescent vegetation effects which for sure will amaze AK guests when the Avatar land will finally open in 2017.

Artworks and picture: copyright Disney

Friday, October 11, 2013

" Escape From Tomorrow " Now Released in U.S Theaters and on iTunes Store - Full Movie Review

Today is the "D" day for Randy Moore's "Escape from Tomorrow" indie movie as it is released in limited theaters in the U.S as well as on the Apple iTunes Store where it is possible to rent or buy the movie - on the U.S iTunes Store only. As you know the movie - who was filmed "guerrilla style" at WDW without Disney's authorization - had a screening early this year at the Sundance Film Festival and since then the big question was to know if Disney would try to stop its release or not. Finally, Disney apparently decided to don't do anything and there is a good reason why as you will understand why below.

I remind you the synopsis of Escape from Tomorrow: "A family goes to vacation at WDW and on the last day the father learn by a phone call that he's fired from his job. As he takes his children to various attractions the father is haunted by disturbing imagery and is also in the meantime tailing two young flirtatious french girls around the park". For sure, when you learn right in the middle of the happiest place on Earth that you're fired from your job it's understandable to feel depressed, so there was a good starting point and i, personally, was curious to see what the director had done with that. Then came the trailer which looked interesting and the black and white photography looked really nice too. As well as the movie soundtrack which was released on iTunes and i thought the score was excellent with its romantic symphonic 1950's style. I remember even thinking that if the movie was as good as the music it was promising. 

Then some days ago, learning that journalists could have a private screening through a secret link provided by the movie press agent i contacted the PR and i have to say that she's been so incompetent that she succeeded to make me furious as nothing makes me more angry than people unable to be "more intelligent than corporate". That said, i knew the movie was going to be released on iTunes two days later and as i had already planned to watch it through iTunes i didn't care that she refused to send me the secret link. It was just stupid but as we know there is more and more stupidity in this world. Anyway, i promised to myself to still be objective when i will watch the movie and that's what i finally did today.

The fact that the movie was filmed without Disney's authorization is of course a problem for Disney but personally i think that all what we should care about is if Escape from Tomorrow is a good movie, or not. As you probably already understood i was hoping it will be good and i'm sorry to say that it's not. It's bad, it's a huge disappointment and to say the truth there is so many flaws in the movie that it was even painful to watch it. Seriously. And, trust me, i was really expecting something good as, again, i thought that there was the material to do something interesting. Unfortunately Randy Moore is not Roman Polanski - who would have done a masterpiece with a subject like this - but he don't pretend to be him and it's also his first movie so i suppose it won't be reasonable to ask too much.

That said, what is not good in Escape from Tomorrow? Well, if you read others reviews you'll see that critics blamed bad acting or editing and it's true that the editing simply doesn't work. The movie is 1h30min long and you could have cut at least a third of it easily. And there are things which are unforgivable, like the poor quality of the dialogues, specially some scenes between the father and the mother which are really bad. Which is strange knowing that Randy Moore started as a story editor. Then you have the first -at least - 20 minutes of the film where the family goes from a ride to another one and where almost nothing happen except this moment where the father notice again the two young girls he previously saw briefly in the monorail when he came from the Contemporary Resort where their room is. In fact the first 20 minutes almost look like fans videos on Youtube, a bit better filmed and in black and white and i wouldn't mind if something interesting was happening during these scenes but, no, nothing interesting is really happening except the father first sequence of hallucination inside It's a Small World and you can't stop thinking that somewhere there is an editor who didn't did his job correctly.  

About the actors: i still don't know if the casting was a mistake or not. I'm sure, for instance, that Roy Abramsohn - who plays the father - has done his best and is a good actor, so my feeling is that there is more a directing problem than an actor problem. I think personally that the actors directing was terrible, just like if it has been done by a director who don't "feel" anything. And i'm sure that the acting is not done at the "second agree" either, that it's not voluntary if they play like this. But the young son and the girls are good. The problem is that the whole movie don't only have serious flaws but also lack of subtlety and elegance as it sometime even vulgar. In fact you have the feeling that the movie is a mix of this kind of teenagers provocative videos that you can find on Youtube but with also a will of doing something better in a more mature "Polanski" style. But i'm sorry, you can't mix both styles, it doesn't work. Transitions from a scene to another often doesn't work too, just like if there was something which was missing or a transition not well done... 

And by the way even if the film had a guerrilla style filming don't think that it's a movie done with a small crew. As we can see in the end credits there was at least 45 actors playing in it and more than 120 technicians working on Escape from Tomorrow. Sure, the movie didn't had million dollars budget - and you can feel it during some sequences - but it's not too a $10000 movie. So, no, i think there is mainly a directing and a editing problem not too mention what i've mentioned before with the dialogues and even the script itself as sometime you have the feeling that "there is no script"... Of course there is one but may be there was not the material for a 1h30min movie. 

So, you probably understood that i don't really recommend Escape to Tomorrow to you but if you still want to watch it you can go on the iTunes Store HERE. As for Disney either they succeeded to have a copy or somebody tell them that Escape from Tomorrow was simply bad enough to don't present any danger for the company and i have to say that i don't expect Escape from Tomorrow to break records at the box-office. So, yes, Disney don't have any reason to be afraid of, they don't even need to do bad publicity for Escape from Tomorrow as the movie, very unfortunately, do it by itself. I would have been pleased to say the contrary and to tell you that it's a great film, but sorry, it's not. But the soundtrack, the music, is excellent, and you can find it on iTunes HERE.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Disneyland Paris Update Part 2 : DLP Halloween Season Report

Here we go for a new Disneyland Paris update, this time with a Halloween season pictorial report thanks to Max Fan, D&M contributor and Dlrp Welcome webmaster.

In this first part of his report Max is back with great pictures of the Halloween decor which is slightly different than the one last year, with two new photo locations with Halloween ghosts and most of the ghosts had an update with different colors. The orange and black flags are also cool and give an american touch.

Here are the two new Halloween photo locations on Town Square.

Halloween bands now play on Town Square as well as behind the castle, as we will see later.

Let's have a look at all the different ghosts all along Main Street and up to Central Plaza.

On Central Plaza, just like last year guests can see huge sculpted pumpkins of Mickey and friends, the two new ones this year being Daisy and Pluto.

Also new this year is this Minnie photo location with her sewing shop.

Here comes Minnie!

Let's move to Frontierland where the pumpkin men costumes have this year a slightly - and pretty cool - different design.

Mr Jack photo location has a new fountain and there is another meet and greet with Minnie near the Silver Spur Steakhouse.

Here comes Minnie again!

Another Halloween orchestra playing creepy times can be found near the riverboats landing.

At Fantasyland DLP guests can meet Disney Villains in the castle courtyard.

And there is also another Halloween orchestra playing there too!

Max also filmed a video showing the different orchestras playing!

Don't miss the part two of this Halloween update as we'll talk about the great new Halloween Cavalcade! In the meantime if you don't own yet the great Disneyland Paris book i remind you that you can now pre-order the ENGLISH "normal" edition at its best price ever for 55€  ( + 15€ shipping ), and this until October 31. Click on the picture below to learn more about it and how to order your copy and have a look too at the video showing the whole book!

NEW! : You can now pay for the book directly with your credit card through Paypal EVEN if you don't have a Paypal account! All you need to do is to send me an email with your order ( at: ) and i will ask Paypal to send you a payment request. You will receive an email from Paypal and by clicking on the link you'll be able to pay with your credit card on the Paypal website with no need to open a Paypal account if you don't have one! 

Disneyland Paris From Sketch to Reality - Include shipping

Halloween Pictures and Video: copyright Max Fan - Dlrp Welcome