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Disney Dates 2016 Animated Pics ‘Zootopia’ & ‘Moana’

Originally posted on Deadline:

With the CG animated superhero tale Big Hero 6heating up the box office for Disney Animation, the Mouse House has dated two more animated films for 2016. Zootopia, about a fast-talking fox who teams up with a straight laced bunny cop to clear his name, will hit wide release and 3D screens on March 4, 2016. Later that year, the Polynesia-set animated musical Moana will open for the holiday crowd on November 23, 2016 from The Princess and the Frog directors Ron Clements and John Musker.

These are two of the release slots Disney staked out in May when the studio announced its long-range plans for animated flicks through 2018. Last week Disney head Bob Iger broke the shocker that a fourth Toy Story is in the works from Disney-owned Pixar and expected to open on June 16, 2017.

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Who is Big Hero 6?

As featured on Walt’s Basement by Arthur E. Vassar

Who is Big Hero 6?


by Arthur E. Vassar

After the massive success of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (still in the top ten after over two months in the theaters) we have another movie about to hit the big screen. This time Disney is bringing its animation unit into play for the adventures of Big Hero 6! But who is this group of superheros that will be coming to us November 7, and why bring them to the screen? It goes back to shortly after Disney’s acquisition of Marvel in 2009. CEO Bob Iger encouraged his film division to look at the many possibilities within the Marvel Universe for possible adaption projects. Don Hall, director at the time for Winnie the Pooh, came across a comic he wasn’t familiar with and decided to pitch the idea to John Lasseter. Lasseter was intrigued by the idea saying it “struck a chord” so by June of 2012, an animated adaption of Big Hero 6 was announced.

Building a Team

In 1998, Marvel decided to do a comic with Manga-style artwork. According to the storyline, the Japanese government wanted to have a team of superheros for the defense of their country. They would be state sanctioned and were brought together by a secret consortium of politicians and business leaders know as the Giri. The first member of the team was the freelance ronin and former bodyguard of the terrorist Viper known as the Silver Samurai. There were of course reservations in setting this former “villian” as the team leader, but his loyalties have always been deeply rooted in his love of country.

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Next to join was an inventor and secret agent Honey Lemon who used a Power Purse of her own invention, using nanotechnology, from which she could access any object (think the high-tech version of Mary Poppins carpet bag). Then they added GoGo Tomago whose tough-talking prisoner status could have precluded their entry. But she agreed to serve on the team in exchange for her release, and her ability to change her body into a fiery force blast by speaking her code-name. They then settled on a bureaucrat whose would be best termed as Machiavellian, Mr. Oshima became the team’s spokesperson to the Giri and activity coordinator. 1113840-bm6.jpg 225px-Sunfirex.PNG

Giri then looked at having another inventive genius join the team. They approached a young teen by the name of Hiro Takachiho to join, but he declined. Hiro did join the team when his mother was kidnapped by the villian Everwraith who is the astral manifestation of all those killed in the World War II era nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. To help him in his quest for his mother (and justice) Hiro creates a synthetic bodyguard named Baymax using the engrams of his deceased father. As Everwraith threatened to kill millions of people in downtown Tokyo, the team came together, along with the premiere Japanese super-hero and former member of the X-Men Sunfire. His power is to super-heat matter into plasma that he can throw or project from his hands. It was this group of six heroes who defeated Everwraith.

New Headquarters and New Challenges

After their first adventure as Japan’s answer to The Avengers, the team decided to relocate from the Giri Office Building (probably a smart move for the corporations insurance policy) to the Cool World Amusement Park. But the move brought them face to face with X the Unknowable, a monster spawned from a child’s drawing that that could manipulate its atomic structure to any shape or form. This foe was ended when it was forced into the fires of Japan’s Mount Fuji. Next came an attack using a freak blizzard in Tokyo caused by the Crimson Cowl and her Masters of Evil.

Sunfire left the group to work with the Charles Xavier X-Corporation in their India offices. He was replace with a similarly powered young woman named Sunpyre. Sunpyre came to the group via Honey Lemon’s Power Purse. In fact, Sunpyre seems to regard Lemon as her own personal god after her arrival in this reality. Silver Samurai also left the team, but this time under less happy occurrences. In a non-Big Hero 6 story, he was supposedly killed by the the world-class assassin Elektra. This void was filled by a new samurai… the Ebon Samurai. It was at this time with the senior (ie – experienced) members of the team gone that Hiro became the new leader of Big Hero 6. During this grouping within Big Hero 6, the team was faced with the menace of Yandroth. This is an interesting passage in the groups career as they are confronted by a team of Living Erasers, which can transport people from their reality. The battle is being used as a method to gain powers (and other teams are mentioned in passing being similarly attacked) but the whole battle takes place off panel!

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Big Hero 6 was next seen in another mini-series that had them mind-controlled by a device that had been planted in Baymax. They traveled to Canada where they went into battle with that country’s super-hero team Alpha Flight. During the battle the device short-circuits and the teams part as friends. But who had planted the device in the first place… Spider-Man next contacted the team to help him in the epic Ends of the Earth storyline to defeat Octopus. Even after defeating the so-called Octobots they find their old nemesis Everwraith is the final line of defense for the facility. They of course are victorious.

The Making of the Movie Team

In the upcoming movie we will see a change in the line-up of the team. We still have Hiro Hamada, Baymax, Honey Lemon and GoGo Tamago. As in the later comic stories they are joined by a couple of new members. First up is Wasabi-No-Ginger, a trained chef who uses various swords as his weapons as well as throwing knives formed from his Qi-Energy and they cause paralysis. The final new member is simply known as Fred, who can transform himself into a Godzilla-like creature.


This is the Big Hero 6 that we will see in their home town of San Fransokyo… a mashup of the cities San Francisco and Tokyo. Big Hero 6… coming to a theater near you November 7!

Who are the Guardians of the Galaxy?

This article can be found at Walt’s Basement, for the Love of All Things Disney.  Head on over and join them!

Who are the Guardians of the Galaxy?

written by Walt’s Basement Board Member Arthur E. Vassar

Marvel has been hitting the ball out of the park with recent movies featuring Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, et al. So who are the Guardians of the Galaxy, and why did Marvel decide to bring them to big screen? The fact that other major properties (ie – Spider-Man, X-Men, and Fantastic Four) are in contract to other production companies, is a part of it. But maybe they decided that going with the underdogs was what Marvel does best.

Early Days

In the late sixties, Marvel had introduced many of the A-list characters and teams that have become synonymous with the Marvel name. But they were still recovering from the anti-comic book hysteria of the 1950’s. Many of their titles were partial reprint comics, featuring a new character or team story followed by reprint stories from their library of westerns, science-fiction, romance, etc. that had sustained them for so many years. Marvel Super-Heroes was one of those titles, but in issue #18 (cover dated January 1969), the lead story featured a group known as The Guardians of the Galaxy.


The time is the 31st century, and this is an alternative time-line to the main-stream Marvel Universe. The Guardians are made up of the team of Major Vance Astro, a 20th century astronaut who spent 1000 years in suspended animation on a trip to Alpha Centauri and finds humanity had arrived before him with technology discovered after his trip began. Martinex is a crystalline being from Pluto; Charlie-27, a humanoid from Jupiter that was genetically engineered for density on the gas giant; and Yondu, a native from Centauri-IV (fourth planet of Alpha Centauri-B. Each of them is the last of their respective races and they unite as a team to fight against the Badoons, an alien race that has mostly taken over Earth’s solar system.

Their next appearance didn’t happen until 1974, along with two new members (Starhawk, the-one-who-knows and Nikki, last survivor of the Venus humanoids) when issues 4 and 5 of Marvel Two-In-One featured the team along with Captain America and the Thing (Fantastic Four). In 1975 they showed up again, this time teaming with the non-group known as The Defenders in issues 26 through 29 and Giant Size Defenders #5. Both of these adventures had The Guardians traveling back through time to join up with the other heroes in their ongoing fight against the Badoon.


The Guardians next appeared for 10 issues of the series Marvel Presents, followed by a run of eighteen issues of various titles that brought back the villain Korvac from the Giant-Size Defenders story. Korvac had been intended as a one-shot villain, but he emerged as a major player in the Marvel Universe… the stories were known thereafter as The Korvac Saga.


Again the Guardians disappeared from the comic racks until the early 1990’s when then got a self-titled series that ran for 62 issues. It featured the original team in their future along with some new members, incuding a Skrull (alien shape-shifter), and Inhuman (Earth based superhuman) as well as Yellowjacket 2 (Rita DeMara) and a future version of the super-hero Wonder Man who is now the sole remaining Avenger. The team decides to continue the expansion and Martinex goes in search of more members in a mini-series Galactic Guardians.

Modern Team

So how do we get to the team that will eventually show up in the movie? In 2007 a epic storyline entitled Annihilation: Conquest ran in the Marvel Universe that brought together a group of varied galaxy spanning characters that ranged from serious to a lesser known space-farer (Rocket Raccoon) and a former Marvel monster of the 1960’s repackaged as a cosmic level entity (Groot). It was in the aftermath of this story that Star-Lord brought together the team to as he put it “on the heels of two back-to-back wars, they’re out to prevent any new Annihilation-size disasters from erupting.” The new team is based out of a space station named Knowhere. Along with some members that will not be a part of the film, they faced the Universal Church of Truth, King Blastaar (Fantastic Four villain), and two crossover stories (War of Kings and Realm of Kings) in its short 25 issue run. They then went on to tie up some loose storyline ends in The Thanos Imperative and Avengers Assemble from 2010 to 2012. Most recently the team has gotten a new series as a part of the new Marvel NOW! branding started in 2013. It has all the members we will see in the movie as well as Iron Man who is trying to expand his outlook after the events of the A vs. X storyline.


So looking at the movie cast who will we see? Star-Lord (Peter Quill, played by Chris Pratt) is a thief, rogue and a bit of a jerk. Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana) was an orphan trained by Thanos to be his assassin and is now seeking personal redemption. Drax the Destroyer (played by Dave Bautista) is a warrior is search of vengeance against one of the films protagonists Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) is a tree-like humanoid that is both deadly and sweet, the only innocent in a group of ne’er do wells. Lastly we have Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) who is a genetically altered raccoon bounty hunter, mercenary, master of weapons, and battle tactics. Together they are the Guardians of the Galaxy… coming to a theater near you in August!


Visit the Marvel boards at the Walt’s Basement Forum and join the fun!

My Review of Disney’s Maleficent

I also have this posted on Walt’s Basement at ( Join the Disney magic there every day!

Maleficent fan made poster Peter GilbertHaving waited what seems like an eternity for this film (as I have been a Maleficent fan long before it became cool), I approached my experience with as much of an open mind as I could muster. I am not a fan of Angelina Jolie (never have been), so I was not very enthusiastic when I heard they had cast her in the main role of my favorite villain of all time. In fact, I was quite upset. As the months went on and Disney released preview after preview, I began to come to terms with the casting and began to look forward to seeing the film more and more.

I went on opening day and saw the film in digital format (not in 3D) because I knew that if I saw it in the other formats there would be things that my eyes would likely miss due to the frame rate increase, and I wanted to see it ALL. I will go back and see it in other formats at a future date.

The Cast

In my opinion, Angelina nailed this role, although her acting does have limitations in one particular scene (you all will know which one I mean so I will not spoil it for you). That scene just felt underdone and a bit awkward, but in all seriousness she really did a good job with the rest of it. Her companion, Diaval (played by Sam Riley) was also done well. Sharlto Copley portrays Stefan with obsessive conviction and the efforts he displays in his scenes is almost palpable. Elle Fanning, our Aurora, does not quite measure up to the acting that Jolie displays when they share a scene together, but in other scenes (such as with the three fairies), she holds her own just fine. Other members of the cast simply do not compare to the lead characters, but it really does not matter thanks to the excellent storyline.

The Story

The twist on the classic Sleeping Beauty tale is something I would have written. After all, I have said for YEARS now that Maleficent is a hero and a villain and has been misunderstood. It is a great tale, indeed, and long overdue. This film is geared towards all ages, so adults may leave with the thought as I did that it would have been amazing if it had been even darker, but this way it will not frighten young viewers much if at all. I really would have made it darker so there would have been more contrast in the characters by the end of the film. It is sweet in parts, humorous in others, and very well crafted however.

The film is rated PG, however I would have no issue whatsoever taking my children, even young children (ages 6+) to the movie. There are only a couple of minimally frightening parts in the film and one bit of violence that you would need to discuss. It is comparable to PG with Marvel films or something on evening television, and good parenting opportunity always results from discussion, not sheltering. My children and all of the younger ones in the theater LOVED it!

The Sets, Cinematography, and Effects

The scenery and sets are fabulous. Seriously. The CG effects are amazing and all of the creatures are completely believeable. The exception to this, in my opinion, was the three fairies. They looked a bit too CG for my taste in more than one scene. I would not be surprised to see this film nominated for an Academy Award for some of it next year. I wanted to live in either kingdom by the end of the film.

The Music

The score by James Newton Howard is well done, but it is not so influential as to stand out on it’s own or able to overshadow the story, as in some films. It is comforting and relaxing in places and tense and strong in others. It fits, but it is not the high calibur of some past Disney films. I liked it because it did not take away from the focus of each scene. Great balance there.
The Costumes and Makeup

The costumes and the makeup are sensational throughout the film. Pay close attention to adult Stephan in particular! The transformations that were done are nothing short of amazing for all of the cast. Rick Baker will get most of the credit for makeup, but in reality there was a team of nearly fifty people working to get appearances right. Costumes were designed by Anna B. Sheppard and they are remarkable for Maleficent and other key characters.

I was glad that Disney treated my favorite villain with the respect and dignity that she deserves, and all women (men, you too) will be able to see the symbolism behind the story that translates to some of us in reality. There’s a reason she is my favorite, and this story is told to illustrate it.

My rating is 4.5 out of 5 stars. EVERY DISNEY FAN SHOULD GO SEE IT!


Yak and Yeti Culinary Treasures at Disney’s Animal Kingdom





(and be sure to sample a Yak Attack!)

Brand New Disney Dream Portrait Series-Featuring BRAVE’S Merida-by Annie Leibovitz


Making their own fate, the first Disney/Pixar film character has been recreated in a Leibovitz portrait. It is Brave‘s princess that takes charge of her own future- Merida.

This is a part of the Disney Dream Portrait series, created by Annie Leibovitz.  Entitled, “Where Your Destiny Awaits,” it features Jessica Chastain as Merida.

You can find this new portrait in the upcoming February issue of O – The Oprah Magazine. For some of the past images that have been magically created, check here.


BraveBrave (2012 film), a computer-animated 3-D film produced by Pixar

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