Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 23: The Rescuers

Series Intro: Series Intro: Here is Part 23 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors. They will mostly be in release date order, save for those that are not available on DVD at Netflix. (Numbers skipped will note missing movies that will be out of order).

Some background information: (compiled from Wikipedia and imdb and my own knowledge of the movie).

Official Title: The Rescuers
Release: June 22, 1977 (Two theatrical releases this year)
Running Time: 77 minutes
Estimated Cost: $1.2 million
Estimated Revenue: $71.2 million
Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
The Rescue Aid Society (RAS), an international mouse group, has convened to help save a girl, Penny, who has sent a note for help, by bottle to whomever. Orphan Penny has been kidnapped by Madam Medusa to dig through a mine to find the Devil’s Eye diamond.

At the RAS, we meet Miss Bianca (Hungarian representative). The board of the RAS doesn’t want to sent Miss Bianca (a female mouse) alone, and all the male mice volunteer to go with her, but she chooses Bernard (the janitor).

Together, Miss Bianca and Bernard, visit Penny’s orphanage to find out where she could be. They gain information from cat Rufus which leads them to Madam Medusa’s where they find out about her plan and after a failed attempt to follow her on the airplane, they choose to fly with a haphazard albatross named Orville.

In the bayou, Miss Bianca and Bernard use the local transport to help find Penny (a cute dragon fly named Evinrude.. After Evinfude evades bats he rallies the other local critters, who will later help Miss Bianca and Bernard.

After the ride with Envinrude, Miss Bianca and Bernard find Penny but can’t saver her, so help her find the Devil’s Diamond. Madame Medusa, her lacky Mr. Snoops and her two alligators: Brutus and Nero keep Penny down in the mine until she finds the diamond. In a race against the high tide that floods the cave; Penny, Miss Bianca and Bernard finally free the diamond.

Madame Medusa breaks her promises to split the diamond with Mr. Snoop and to free Penny. The country critter help Miss Bianca and Bernard distract Madame Medusa so Penny can escape (in a hilarious chase scene involving Brutus and Nero used as water skis.)

Penny and the mice return to New York when Penny gets adopted and Miss Bianca and Bernard remain partners at the RAS and take Orville on another mission, accompanied by Evinrude.

* The Journey (a.k.a. Who Will Rescue Me?)
* Rescue Aid Society
* Faith is a Bluebird
* Tomorrow is Another Day
* Someone’s Waiting For You
* For Penny's a Jolly Good Fellow

Not sure there were any stand out songs, but it was a great soundtrack!

Plot Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This was a great turn around from the comedy films that have been in the production recently. I got very involved in the story, felt a desire to see the good guys win, and had all new characters! None of them were recycled and redressed from other movies.

Animation Rating: 2.5 out of 5

There were three different animation styles in this movie.

First, the title sequence, was on canvas! There were moving parts, filmed over a canvas, and the painting was exquisite. It reminded me of the elegance of Sleeping Beauty.

The second animation style was for the good guys. This animation was clean, gone are all the stray lines. Xeroxing technology has gained a cleaner look. The soft lines and fragile colors surrounding the good guys created a comfortable environment.

The third style was too reminiscent of the sloppy drawings with stray lines. This was done mostly with the villains and the bayou. It’s this sloppy animation that prevents the animation rating from being much higher! (And the overall rating form hitting a 5).

Also, the biggest overall problem with the animation was how dark it looked. I’m wondering however, how much remastering this release had received (it’s rumored that the Platinum edition will be available within a few years. I hope to revisit this movie in a more redone format.

The Test of Time:

Although I don’t think the movie has had much staying power and isn’t well represented in the parks, I believe that considering it is the only WDAS movie to have a theatrical sequel, it really stood time. I wonder why there was never more with this series. How influential was this movie in the creation of Chip ‘N’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers as there is the similar premise of small creatures working together to solve crimes that the human police aren’t working on.

Through the Modern Lens

This was such a great movie. It was nice to have the international flare with RAS. As all the international mice were approaching RAS they seemed a bit too stereotypical, but I think most UN meeting have people wearing their native dress.

I do not like the idea that the police weren’t working on Penny’s abduction, but then the movie wouldn’t have worked well.

Next Up:
The Fox and The Hound 


janice said...

An international mouse group, has convened to help save a girl.

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Davenz said...

Orphan Penny has been kidnapped by Madam Medusa to dig through a mine to find the Devil’s Eye diamond.

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