Curse of the Chupacabra

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The D23 Live Action Report

Today was a cluster of many obsessions combined into one day: my love of Disney (having never lived more than 20 miles away from the great and powerful Mouse House), my love of movies, and more specifically, my love of Star Wars.  Unfortunately, while my attendance of the “Let the Adventures Begin: Live Action at The Walt Disney Studios” at D23 seriously lacked the excitement of receiving news-worthy Star Wars tidbits, it truly was an adventure that begs to be shared with those who were not present.  But before I begin, let me just add that Disney does know how to put on a show.  I’ve been to many panels at Comic-Con, Wonder-Con, E3, etc., but none have compared to the showmanship, density of entertainment, and mounting surprises to appease even the most demanding fan (again, excluding Star Wars).

The 10:30am presentation began with a “sizzle reel” of film clips that were on the slate for the next 2-hours, including some quick clips of what would not be included (ie. Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur and Frozen).  Animation projects assigned, if one were paying close attention, one would begin to become extremely excited, as did I.  Then Walt Disney Studios Chairman, Alan Horn, came on stage and moderated the rest of the event—who was surprisingly very funny.  He spoke a little about the influence “Bambi” had when he proposed to his wife, and then about Disney acquiring the company’s Pixar in 2006, Marvel in 2009, and Lucasfilm in 2012 (now owning half the world).  Then, Alan dropped the one and only bombshell of the panel by teasing about Star Wars then stating that there would be no information about the upcoming “Star Wars” films and subsequent “Star Wars” projects, further stating “dark forces are watching”.  This was, of course, met with boo’s and jeers, but the audience soon forgot about their discontent once he introduced Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios President and Producer, who introduced “phase 2” of Marvel’s slate:

 Thor: The Dark World (November 8, 2013)

-          - Extended look which began with a battle sequence in the forest when a beam of light suddenly strikes the ground followed by Thor’s hammer flying out and doing damage.  The hammer flies back into the light and is captured by Thor.
-          - Then they show a different cut of the theatrical trailer which shows Loki getting the better of Thor at the end (I won’t reveal what he does because it’s a spoiler)
-          - Then a second extended look at Jane Foster’s (Natalie Portman) first day in Asgard (Thor’s world) as she’s being medically examined.
-          - Kevin introduced Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, and Anthony Hopkins to the stage for a quick interview.

Personally, I was not a fan of the first Thor movie, and while I believe people who did like the first will love what’s in store, I remain skeptical.

Then came:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4, 2014)

-          - Extended first look with Captain America fighting about 15 military men in an enclosed elevator.
-          - Followed by what will most likely be the official trailer once released
-          - Then Kevin introduced Sebastian Stan (Winter Soldier), Anthony Mackie (Falcon), and Chris Evans (Captain America)
-          - Then a second (very rough) extended clip where Captain America skulks around a cargo ship.

Now, the first Captain America movie I did really like (see my post here) and I am extremely excited for the next installment, which by the way, has a completely different feel than the first since they have moved out of the 1940’s and to modern day.

Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1, 2014)

-          - First look 2 minute trailer

Being that they are only 4-weeks into principal photography, there was not much to show, but for what they did present to the audience, you could tell the special effects department worked HARD to impress, and their hard work paid off.  We are introduced to all five Guardians - a pathetic bunch

The Avengers:  Age of Ultron (May 1, 2015)

-          - Teaser trailer

And it teased perfectly; showing nothing from the film (I don’t think they’ve started filming yet), just an extremely close-up of Iron Man’s helmet while you hear each of the Avengers speak a line.
Then, Alan Horn came back to the stage to introduce:

Disneynature’s Bears (Earth Day 2014)

          - First look trailer

Being a huge lover of animal’s, I thought the trailer looked incredible.  Alan also announced that Disney has partnered with the National Park Foundation to give a percentage of proceeds from the first week of ticket sales to the NPF.

Alan then introduced Sean Bailey, Disney Live Action Production President who, in turn, introduced one of the biggest shocks of the event from:

Muppets Most Wanted (March 21, 2014)

The reason I say “biggest shocks” is because they showed an entire musical number, and then also:
       - Full trailer
-          - Ty Burrell driving out in his Interpol car for a quick interview then driving off stage in the pea-sized electric auto (hysterical!)
-          - Miss Piggy video promoting “P23” with Kermit and Tina Fey
-          - The aforementioned musical number sung by evil Kermit look-alike and Ricky Gervais (yes, he can sing!) that would probably be called either “Number 1, Number 2” or “Dance, Monkey, Dance”) – this was even more hysterical!

This was truly a highlight for me and reminded of “The Great Muppet Caper” which, at least for now, is my all-time favorite Muppet movie.  And I love the Muppets as you can be reminded here.

Into the Woods (Christmas Day 2014)

They only presented the logo which, as you can tell, looks fairly similar to the design used for Broadway.  The only other thing they did was name the cast who were already previously announced (ie Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, etc.)  I was kind of disappointed they didn’t show more as “Into the Woods” is in my top 3 favorite musicals of all-time.  C’est la vie!

Cinderella (March 13, 2015)

-          - Introduction by director Kenneth Branaugh who narrated concept art and cast members.  Clips also included a portion of Lily James’ screen test and the announcement of Cate Blanchett portraying the Stepmother and Helena Bohnam Carter playing The Fairy Godmother

This was very smart, and though I would have seen the more regardless, now I am exceptionally excited to see this film.  The concept art was amazing, and well, I’m a sucker for Cate Blanchett.
Next was what I had hoped for most (well, except for Star Wars – Yes! I’m still beating that dead horse)

Maleficent (July 2, 2014)

-          - Sean introduced Angelina Jolie to the stage who spoke about Maleficent being one of her favorite characters since childhood, how her brother heard about the project and urged her to put her name in for it, then how Disney contacted her before she could contact them.
 -         - A full clip from the film – Maleficent casting the spell on infant Aurora
-          - Then what looked to be the official first trailer once released

All I can say is… I have a new obsession.  Angelina Jolie was flawless—beyond exceptional in the clip they showed.  She was uncanny in both mannerisms and voice.  I cannot boast enough about this film. WOW!!!  Sean did describe that this film will be about how Maleficent came to be and how she had been deceived.

Tomorrowland (December 12, 2014)

-          - Director Brad Bird and Producer Damon Lindleoff were introduced by Sean
-          - They showed a brief documentary about the archives at Walt Disney Studios (nicknamed the “morgue”) where they discovered a box labeled “1952”.  Brad and Damon brought the box with them on stage and explained what they found

The main item they presented was a large disc (like a vinyl record or laserdisc) that was wildly scratched.  Brad and Damon stated that they were able to recover some of what was on the disc, which was a short animated film approved by Walt Disney.  They showed the film.  It was especially grim for Disney, showing progression which led to the atomic bomb dropping and a mushroom cloud.  It also didn’t help that the narrator sounded like Vincent Price.  However, what the film was leading to was world after the dropping of the bomb… and the “tomorrowland” that would come after.  This was the inspiration behind the creation of the film that will be released next December.  Both men further explained that the film would be a mystery/adventure.

And lastly:

Saving Mr. Banks (December 20, 2013)

-          - First Extended clip of P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), writer of Mary Poppins, first meeting with Walt Disney
-          - Second Extended clip of P.L. Travers being escorted by Disney (Tom Hanks) through Disneyland
-          - Then Jason Schwartzman and BJ Novak were introduced to the stage (portraying the Sherman brothers)
-          - Third Extended clip of P.L. Travers at the writing table with the rest of the creative staff as they conduct a reading of the script and hear a song

Then, in true Disney fashion, Jason and BJ leave then roll out with a piano and begin singing “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” WITH RICHARD SHERMAN!  (Unfortunately, the only living Sherman brother).  They were accompanied by Disney dancers with prop kites, as well as kites flying high in the arena.  And once the song ended, confetti cannons blasted their shreds of paper into the air.

The whole of my day at D23 was magical, but the highlight was definitely the first event of the day for me.  Sure, I’m bitterly disappointed about not receiving new news about “Star Wars Episode VII”, but how can one stay disappointed after the Muppet clip, Maleficent overload, and live musical number from one of the legends of music that is a part of one’s childhood?  D23 did have its problems, but ultimately, I have never walked out of a convention panel feeling so fulfilled.

I can’t wait until the next D23 in 2015!

8/13/13 UPDATE!!! - You can follow this link to additional details about the event, as well as pictures -!+Mail


  1. "(now owning half the world)"... You're killing me, Larry!

    "Cate Blanchett portraying the Stepmother and Helena Bohnam Carter playing The Fairy Godmother"... Wow, the reverse of what I would have expected.

    1. I agree, Steve. I would have expected the reverse as well, which is why the film excites me even more now. Both are great actresses and it will be very interesting to see their portrayals.



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