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My Short Films

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Swifty Reviews 'Enchanted'

Enchanted poster


Back in Sunday, I had a choice between ENCHANTED and HITMAN, and I chose the former instead. A normal angstful hot-blooded male would've gone for the latter, since ENCHANTED seems more like a Disney chick flick for little girls. But hey, while I don't usually let film critics sway my film choices, I still feel that watching the 93% ENCHANTED would be a much better bet than the 11% HITMAN, which seemed to have a long history of problems during its production.

I grew up watching Disney cartoons. I've always loved them. With the exception of the Disneyland in Hong Kong, I've visited every single Disneyland in the world, and made a point to always take a photo with Donald Duck wherever I was. I guess my attachment to Disney cartoons may have something to do with my slight disdain towards the Shrek films. While the Shrek films are obvious parodies of Disney films, I was only entertained by the first Shrek movie, the sequels made me cringe and groan, I almost felt annoyed that a megablockbuster franchise is making their millions just by making fun of Disney cartoons.

One trick ponies.

Disney hadn't had a traditional 2D animated film since they closed their department in 2004. The last traditional animated films were POOH'S HEFFALUMP MOVIE and HOME ON THE RANGE, both I never saw. The disappointing box-office results of the last few 2D films caused the closing of the department. I was shocked then, wondering how the hell could then-CEO Michael Eisner destroy Walt Disney's legacy like that! And slightly disappointed that people would rather go for cheap 3D animated films filled with stupid pop cultural references than these painstakingly done 2D films.

So when Pixar's John Lasseter brought the department back after the Pixar/Disney merger/buyout last year, I was definitely relieved. 2D animation is timeless, I'll never believe that they can be obsolete.

ENCHANTED is the first Disney film in 3 years to feature traditional 2D animation. It mixes cartoon with live-action, but WHO FRAME ROGER RABBIT this is not, since the 2D animation is reserved only for the prologue, and the closing of the film. It's not really a parody of Disney films of the past, but more like loving homage.

Do you remember the Disney Princess musicals of yesteryears like SNOW WHITE, CINDERELLA, SLEEPING BEAUTY, THE LITTLE MERMAID and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST? They all have a similar formula. A headstrong heroine (usually with animal sidekicks) yearning for romance, sings about her loneliness all the time, then she meets her prince, there's a true love's kiss, and they live happily ever after. Well, if you've loved and appreciated those, you'll love ENCHANTED since it's really a live-action film, but playing by the rules of the aforementioned DISNEY PRINCESS musicals.

Yes, the lavish musical numbers are so awesome that my eyes teared up. No, I'm serious. It could be the nostalgia factor, or the technical brilliance of choreographing these scenes (and I'm saying this as a filmmaker, not just a fanboy).

Summary from IMDB:

In an animated fairy tale world, a young girl, Giselle (Amy Adams) meets and falls in love with the handsome prince of her dreams, Edward (James Marsden). News of this romance upsets the prince's mother, the evil queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), who uses her black magic to send the girl hurtling out of the animated world into the one place in the universe where there is no true love: modern day Manhattan. The now-real girl has to survive in New York City and find her way home again to her true love. She meets a charmingly flawed divorced divorce lawyer (Patrick Dempsey), complications occur.


By now, everyone's already lauding Amy Adams' acting in this film, there are even whispers of Oscar nominations. Yes, this is a star-making role, and I agree with everyone that what ENCHANTED did to Amy Adams will be similar to what MARY POPPINS did to Julie Andrews. She had already gotten herself a BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS nomination for 2005's JUNEBUG, a film I liked (... more than Miranda July's YOU, ME AND EVERYONE WE KNOW, actually, though yes, it's weird to compare these two films) So I won't be surprised that she'll get a BEST ACTRESS nomination for this. Her performance as a live-action cartoon princess is a memorable one. Funny and lovable, her acting elevates the film instead of becoming too over-the-top or campy.

Actually, the performance by the cast members are mostly pretty good, I liked James Marsden as Prince Edward, this film, along with this year's HAIRSPRAY, made me realize that Marsden can be more than just... the boring Cyclops in X-men films, or that 'other guy' in Superman Returns, or the 'other guy' in The Notebook... okay, so he plays 'the other guy' in this film too, but at least he's more colourful.

Yes, the story's predictable, and yes, it's fluff, but who cares that a film's fluff when it's executed so well. Like i said, not every hack filmmakers can stage musical numbers as nice as the one I saw in ENCHANTED. (... of course, you need the massive budget too... sorry, I've always had this secret dream of wanting to make a musical of my own)

If you don't spoilers, go watch the full clip of 'THAT'S HOW YOU KNOW' below.


THAT'S HOW YOU KNOW


Anyway, for me, ENCHANTED is one of the most entertaining films of the year. It might even end up on my end-year TOP 10 list, whoa!

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