Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A "Frozen" Reception or How To Mess Up Your Advertising Campaign

Yesterday, Disney premiered what was thought of to be the trailer for new princess flick Frozen. Loosely (the loosest I might say) based on the Hans Christian Anderson story The Ice Queen, many were anticipating the largely publicized first look at the newest entry in Disney's lineage of fairy tale films. The excitement builded, tensions were high, promotional pictures were flying everywhere, and the internet was buzzing..... but what was shown to the public on (clever) was nothing that anyone expected. (Click to see the "trailer" here)

Now that you have watched that "thing", here is my overall reaction:

When I was a kid back in the 90's, the film industry was dominated by "teaser" trailers (ex: Jurassic Park, Star Wars Episode 1 or any huge blockbuster of that time) and even if the movie itself sucked, the teaser trailer more than helped make the budget and interest in the film prior to release very high! Now we are consumed with awfully cut trailers, with only a few decent ones coming out of studios here and there (ex: Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (US), The Social Network).

Disney has been in recent year on the good side of this debacle, putting out a lot of very creatively cut together pieces to advertise their family friendly flicks. High praise was rewarded to Oz The Great and Powerful's teaser, who was able to make some fun reference's to the original Oz film of the 30's (aspect/color change when landing in Oz). I myself also loved the Wreck It Ralph teaser, which tickled my vintage video game heart with glee. So with so many good cuts behind it, Disney was sure to give us at least a good decent 1 minute teaser for Frozen, one that could easily showcase the plot without giving too much away? I came to discover that such a simple request was too much to ask for.

Instead what we were given was a "first look" clip, which Disney is no stranger to doing, to give their audience a taste of the newest animated piece. But while in the past these clips have been phenomenal or at least interesting, this footage left many eager Disney fanatics in the dust (or snow, I should say.)

Not in the trailer

In this clip we meet an snowman with a carrot for a nose. He sneezes, loses his vegetable produced schnoz and grabs the attention of a reindeer. The snowman and reindeer then chase after said carrot nose and that's it.... That's the first look at this brand new Disney Princess Musical, doesn't it make you excited for the magic, the princess stuff, the singing or the beautiful visuals? Oh I'm sorry, you didn't know those aspects were in this movie? I bet you would have had no idea if I (or Tumblr) didn't tell you.

Instead what we were given was a piss poor attempt at delivering a humorous clip for children, the kind that would make even the Looney Tunes question their intelligence. This is in a similar vein to the way the Despicable Me trailers are cut, where they are just a silly clip from the film and get the little kids excited to see what stupid thing the Minions do next. But here in lies the issue: Frozen is not the same kind of film Despicable is! In fact, they are completely two different sides of the art form's spectrum. Sure they can share similar moments of giggles for the kids, but that doesn't mean they should be advertised the same way.

If I was at all the person responsible for these decisions, I would have cut a trailer like this:

What they should have used for the trailer.....

The camera fades into a shot of the the ice castle. Anna (our lead princess) walks towards it, shot fades into title card, with only the sounds of a blizzard/wind being heard, the title card fades back into a shot of her walking up the stairs of this now ice covered palace, she calls out for her sisters name, and as the shots fade in and out as she walks up, she reaches the top of where her sister, Elsa (ice queen) stands but as the camera follows up to her face - BAM, title card reads: Frozen and then insert tag line.

Something like this, that features our leaders, would have been fantastic. It doesn't tell much of the plot, it doesn't even have to have the music from it, but this teases what the film is actually about. 

Frozen: A buddy comedy about a snowman and a reindeer. Starring.... my lack of enthusiasm. 

Listen, Disney, I get that you are still upset over how the results of Princess and the Frog were less than stellar in your billion dollar eyes - but, now you've seen that Tangled was a success, and the Cars franchise along with Avengers is making you money in the boy demographic, you need to stop getting so scared of what a movie geared towards girls would do to you. Kids will still go see it because there is nothing else for them to see, parents will still pay money for a film made by your company. Also it's in 3D and it will make its budget back in droves. Start taking risks and being adventurous again!

Frozen is probably going to be enjoyable, but with the advertisements like this being the first real taste of the movie, it makes my excitement very low, and this is coming from someone that will even watch the worst of the worst that comes from the Mouse House just because. So please, Disney, learn your lessons right now and put out some better footage ASAP. Because if the reception from this movie is cold now, just wait till it gets worse than frozen.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"Panna a Netvor" A Retrospective Review

Discovering foreign films can be a weird situation. Much of the time I stumble upon foreign works, mostly out of sheer luck of the draw from watching something on TV or hearing about it in a fancy blog article. But once in awhile you find a true gem that sticks with you, even if it isn’t exactly the most glittery of the bunch.

I can easily say that I am obsessed with any version of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, and as such I have seen almost every adaptation that I can get my hands on. I read webcomics, young adult novels, even watch awful anime adaptations that were made for Direct to Video releases in the 90’s. I’m just addicted to the story of a young girl being forced into a gothic castle and to understand the complicated layers of a monster humanoid creature. Even if some adaptations are terrible, I’ll watch every second of them, just so I can investigate the differences.

Upon such research, I had discovered a foreign version that I had never seen before, but by it’s title translation I became incredibly perplexed. Panna a Netvor (translated: The Virgin and the Monster) is a Czech retelling of the classic fairy tale, and could possibly be the creepiest and most gothic version ever made (move over, Jean Cocteau!). But by it’s translation, many might think of it to be a porno or a horror film, but it’s drastically neither of those things.

Panna a Netvor tells the story of Julie (Beauty/Belle of this story), and follows the usual beats that are associated with the fairy tale. There is a poor family, the father picks a rose, a monster threatens him, and the youngest daughter takes her father’s place. But what sets Panna apart from it’s other more famous counterparts is it’s second and third act. Where traditionally the only two characters would be The Beast type and the Beauty type, the film offers a villain in the strangest of ways.

Our Beast for the film, a griffon/eagle man with claws for hands, is not the scariest monster in the film by far. That title would instead be given to a group of small demonic like creatures (think dirty homeless Oompa Loompas with gargoyle wings) that actually control and manipulate Netvor (Beast) into being evil. In many sections of the film, the creatures will speak to him through whispers and disgusting bubble sound effects, giving the audience a feeling of hell “boiling over” in the realm of Netvor’s mind.

But eventually, as in every version, our two leads begin to grow and trust each other. But unlike the Disney version, Panna takes this into a more complicated turn. One that heightens the sextual tension to degrees that no other has done before, and gives new layers of discovery and questions to both characters.

Instead of immediately showing his true form, Netvor requests that Julie never look at him and instead only hear his voice. What starts off as an innocent game eventually turns into the proclamation of their love for eachother, until Julie discovers what Netvor really is. 

Julie now becomes angered and feels betrayed by the one person she could call her true friend and eventual lover. The emotions that follow in the sequences past this initial discovery make me tear up every time, especially when you look at it from the perspective of Netvor, who is trying so hard to make Julie see who he is without being afraid. These key changes make this version truly memorable.

But even a version with such outstanding perfection can have it’s missteps here and there. Panna tends to constantly reuse the same two music themes throughout, almost to the point of it being a parody. Whenever Netvor is going to come out, the scary music plays. Whenever Julie is shown, the piano plays, and back and forth it goes. If this was the only film that aliens from outerspace saw of our culture, I’m sure they would be convinced that these are the only two pieces of music we listen to.

Panna is also in need of some trimming in the beginning, giving the most confusing and long introduction scene that by comparison makes Christopher Nolan’s films seem as fast as Speedy Gonzales. Villagers being chased around by other villagers just seems a waste of time, until we get Netvor’s introduction (which is gruesome and twisted, just how I like it!)

At it’s core
Panna a Netvor is truly one of the stand alone adaptations of the famous fairy tale. Instead of relying on what has been done before with the story, it adds new and exciting psychological and horror elements, making it the first adaptation since Cocteau’s that knows what it wants to do visually and stands proud to be it’s own unique take.

With all these new film versions of Beauty and the Beast coming out, it’s hard to see which will do it right or will get it completely wrong. But if any of them are a shred as amazing as this Czech made flick, than I can breath easily at night and dream of the perfection.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Anime Next 2013

Hello there readers! I just got back from a little convention in New Jersey called Anime Next. I have been going usually Saturdays only for the past couple of years, but this year I decided to go all weekend. To be honest, though I had a lot of fun, I don't think I will be going for an entire weekend again anytime soon. The selection of food and local travel is pretty terrible and needs improvement for a $60 weekend pass convention, and until they make those adjustments I don't see the point in wasting the money.

But until then, let me show you a couple of things that I experienced from this years adventure. First off, I wrote a cute little article about meeting/enjoying events with Baby The Stars Shine Bright staff/designers over the weekend, which you can check out here on Feminerdity.

Me and Angela <3

Aside from all the big frilly events, I also got to check out some cool panels. My favorite of the entire weekend was by Mike Toole (a writer from Anime News Network) called "Cult Classics". Though you might think this panel would deal with cult favorite anime series of the past, instead it was all about anime that promoted cult religions in Japan/Asia/Abroad. Hearing about weird series like the one promoting Happy Science religion was incredibly bizarre and interesting.

Thanks to my friend Martha for taking this outfit shot! <3

But my overall favorite thing was getting time with friends. I loved seeing everyone dressed to the nines, eating yummy snacks and laughing at hilarious stories. And even if the con itself sucks, those are the moments that matter the most.

Here are some more photos to check out, enjoy!

Thanks for looking, and look forward to future posts about my adventures at Conneticon and Otakon!



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