It’s been 20 years since the arguably underrated Disney classic, “Hercules” made its way to the big screen. Ever since, audiences all over the world have embraced the film for its soulful, gospel take on Greek mythology. Disney commemorated the film’s 20th Anniversary with its very own panel at D23 Expo moderated by the film’s two legendary directors, John Musker and Ron Clements (“The Little Mermaid”, “Aladdin”, “Treasure Planet”).
Musker and Clements recanted their joys and process of working on the film, showing various never-before-seen clips and animatics of early sequences. Musker also displayed several photos of himself, Clements, and the animation team on various location scouts throughout Greece so that the animators could get a feel for what they would be drawing. The Directors also explained that they had shot several live-action scenes intercut with the early animatics so that the visual artists could see the human portrayal. One rather comical scene shown was a snippet of the famous Hydra battle sequence, in which an actor in a very cheaply made Hercules costume tussles with a cardboard Hydra head while Clements stood in for the role of Phil. Next, a video of the entire “Zero to Hero” number was played, with live actresses portraying the Muses intercut with the completed animated sequence.
Next, animators Eric Goldberg (Supervising Animator for “Phil”) and Ken Duncan (“Supervising Animator for “Meg”) took the stage to share stories of what it was like behind the desk. Goldberg showed some clips of early test footage of the Phil character while Duncan did the same for Meg. Duncan also displahyed a rather adorable drawing of Meg in a cast, which he had drawn for Susan Egan (Voice of “Meg”) after she broke her foot during a performance of “Beauty and the Beast” on Broadway. The icing on the cake was a speech bubble reading “That’s the last time I let Herc rub my feet!”
Egan herself was welcomed to the stage next along with Hercules himself, Tate Donovan. Donovan shared his story of getting the role and later adopting it as a “Disney calling card” of sorts after reprising the role for the prequel animated series. Donovan revealed that he originally didn’t think he was going to be cast as widely known actors such as Kiefer Sutherland and Charlie Sheen had been in the audition room with him. He was also distraught when Musker and Clements had looked away from him during his audition, not realizing that since it was a voice audition they intentionally looked away, so as not to be swayed by his physical performance. Egan also shared her audition story of how she was originally told not to audition by Alan Menken, the composer of the film. At the time, Egan had been starring as Belle in Disney’s Broadway adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast”, which Menken had also composed. Menken felt that Egan’s sweet persona wouldn’t fit the sassy character of Meg. After having difficulty casting the character, Menken finally allowed Egan to audition and she completely won over the casting team. As a proper send off to the audience, Egan closed out the panel with a live rendition of Meg’s famous number in the film, “I Won’t Say I’m In Love”.
No Question Mark Box Here; Super Mario Delivers a 1-Up in Theaters
If you were born in the ’80s, ’90s, or literally ANY decade after those, you know about Super Mario. A cultural phenomenon was brought to life on the big screen this last weekend. One that has not only stood the test of time but reinvented itself time and time again. This wasn’t even the first time it’s been made into a movie but, well, let’s be honest.. some of us choose not to acknowledge the LIVE action adaptation of the beloved game from 30 years ago.
It was pretty bad… But this was animation. ILLUMINATION animation at that. The Universal company that brought us Gru and his Minions, showed us the Secret Life of Pets, and gave us a reason to SING! Still, I had my reservations and even some concerns, especially when the casting was announced.
Eyebrows were raised. As big of stars as they were on paper, could they really deliver on voicing characters from a staple of our childhood? They did.
Chris Pratt and Charlie Day may not be Italian, and Jack Black may not be a King or Turtle creature from the Mushroom Kingdom, but they make the characters their own all while paying homage to the lore of a video game.
From the jump, the story reintroduces us to the brothers that just want to save Brooklyn one clogged sink at a time. We feel an instant connection and relate to these “underdogs of the plumbing world”. The movie is riddled with easter eggs, each of which tugs on the heartstrings of every generation of Mario fandom. And the soundtrack was beautifully put together to not only make us feel like we’re taking a walkthrough of the game but like an experience all its own with some familiar favorites thrown in.
Every word in the movie is pure eye candy for both those that are casual fans, and those analyzing every frame to see what they’ll catch next. Bowser’s ship, the Mushroom Kingdom, Kong’s arena, and the Rainbow Road.. They’re all meant to give us just enough of a “new” look at these amazing worlds, but stay true to how we remember them.
The movie itself moves along at the perfect pace. Although, if you don’t really know ANYTHING about the Super Mario Bros, you may have gotten a little lost and felt left behind in the green tunnel. But that’s ok! It’s an adventure of the imagination and a classic story of a boy that meets a girl and tries to save the world from a monster that wants to destroy it.
What’s funny is that you could easily say this is a story about two characters who couldn’t be more opposite if they tried, battling to win the heart of a princess. Who would’ve thought that the King of the Koopas was just trying to impress his crush?
And that song? Ohhh THAT song! It’s my new ringtone and deserves the Oscar for Best Original Song.
Back to the movie.
Universal and Illumination clearly understood the assignment. Is it missing some things or could things have been done differently or even better? Absolutely! We’re the worst critics of the things we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts. But if you’re up for going on a 90-minute adventure through amazing worlds, with awesome music, and characters that’ll make you smile and laugh, then this is the perfect movie to spring you into that warm summer feeling.
Plus there’s the whole part with karts and shells, and banana peels and oh my goodness how amazing was that?? It’s enough to make you want to stand up and cheer, then go home and destroy your friends and family on your favorite track haha.
The bottom line, it pays homage in all the right ways to the little guy with the mustache, while giving us something new and exciting. Take the kids and go see Super Mario Bros. You’ll be glad you did!
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023
Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Opening Act Saturday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. on North 200A. Talent confirmed so far to participate in the post-screening panel is Natalie Alyn Lind (Big Sky, The Goldbergs, Gotham) as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and longtime RWBY cast member Lindsay Jones (Camp Camp) as Ruby, Kara Eberle ( RWBY: Ice Queendom) as Weiss, Arryn Zech (Detective Now Dead) as Blake and Barbara Dunkelman (Blood Fest) as Yang – along with Jeannie Tirado (Soul, Saints Row) as Green Lantern and Tru Valentino (The Rookie, The Cuphead Show!) as a cyborg. Also attending the panel will be producer/director Kerry Shawcross (series RWBY) and writer Meghan Fitzmartin (Supernatural, Justice Society: World War II).
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023 with the big screen debut from DC Animated Films: highlights this year include the world premieres of the highly anticipated Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham and Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Part One the weekend of March 24-26 in Anaheim, California. Both screenings will be followed by panel discussions with actors and creators. Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham premieres at The Arena on Friday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Tati Gabrielle (Kaleidoscope, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Uncharted) as Kai Li Cain, Christopher Gorham (The Lincoln Lawyer, Insatiable) as Oliver Queen, David Dastmalchian (Dune, Suicide Squad, Ant-Man) as Grendon, producer/co-director Sam Liu (The Death and the Return of Superman), co-director Christopher Berkeley (Young Justice) and screenwriter Jase Ricci (Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem Across the Multiverse).
Both films will have encore screenings in the Arena on Sunday, March 26. Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One will screen at 12:15pm, followed by Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham at 2:00pm