Monday, September 29, 2003

The Journey of Natty Gann [DVD]

I am really pissed at Disney for the lackluster job they did with the DVD of The Journey of Natty Gann. One of the few older Disney films that really showed the harsh realities of life during whatever time it was in the world's history, but also just had a good ol' adventure without too much sap to it. I don't know how to describe it. I know they later did things like "White Fang" and all, but the realtiy of that era didnt feel quite as gritty as it should of. Maybe that's just me.

The point is, it is a great film. It does a great job of depicting the Great Depression from a kids point of view in a family film sort of way.

I remember when I was a kid and seeing all the trailers for The Journey of Natty Gann. They were EVERYWHERE. I don't really remember how it went now, but it had the sappy reunion scene as its major focus - which, while it is the goal of the movie, isn't the overall feel of the film. I just remember how much I HATED that trailer - it was on every Disney rental we got, it was in all the theatres - it was EVERYWHERE. But it seems that after it went through its theatrical run, it dropped off the face of the planet, and off the shelves of Disney as well.

I can't count all the crap they have released - and then to see how much they have ignored this single decent film and what little effort they've done to promote it. It has ended up as one of those rare movies you stumble across one day on daytime TV or on that one wall at the locally owned video rental place and there is just nothing else to watch. So you watch it, and you go, "Wow, that's really something" and are suprised you'd never heard of it before. It's not Oscar quality by any means, but it's a solid film. I can't even remember the last time a Disney film got a "wow" out of me.

The lack of attention paid to this film by Disney is simply ridiculous. My sister and I had been looking EVERYWHERE for a copy of it on video. She finally found one on e-Bay which I got for either Christmas or my birthday. It's very old and I would of hated for it to get eaten by a VCR so I never watched it. Then my sister found out Disney was re-releasing a lot of their older live-action films on DVD. We crossed our fingers that The Journey of Natty Gann would be one of them. Sure enough, I was going through the Multnomah County Library's catalogue of DVDs and I saw The Journey of Natty Gann listed. It was out on DVD.

Long story not as long - we found it at Suncoast and so we bought it.
Now, I will say I am glad to have this film in nearly any state I can get it in, don't get me wrong. But I have to say, after everything this film has gone through, being neglected...

Disney USED to be about quality, way back when. Anything, no matter how big or small, got treated all the same - it's all DISNEY stamped, it should ALL be good, it should ALL be crafted and released with the same QUALITY. So much for quality control.

First, the front of the package was terrible - the image is visibly pixellated, for one. And they don't use the old film title logo, which I think says a lot. But that is personal opinion there.

Then you open the box and you want to cry looking at the DVD itself. It has the same picture as the cover, but whoever did the pre-production for it must of been drunk or vindictive because they didn't set the screen angles right for printing, so you end up with a rosette pattern in the dots which is Graphic Design 101. And VERY VERY ugly. ugh.

Then there is the DVD itself. The ONLY extra it has is captioning in English. No cast/crew info, no trailer -- NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. The last Disney film I checked out had TONS of extras... geez.

Then the film itself. As far as I know they ONLY released it in Full Screen - which is not good, because it was filmed in a very wide format, and so the framing they did when they edited it "to fit your screen" is terrible. Because, like I said, Disney doesn't do Quality anymore. And I am not sure what process they do when they convert older films to DVD, but this had all the little burned out bubbles, and the picture shakes as if the film strip were rattling around when they scanned it for DVD. I've seen this film on TV many times and it never shook like that.

I must say, though, I am still glad to have this film because I love it so much, but I am very angry with Disney and the way they ignore their own work. It pisses me off.

Just a few other notes of trivia... I never noticed before, but they curse a lot in this film - way more than any other older, PG Disney film I've ever seen. Mind you, I dont know what the language requirements are for PG, but they say "shit" three times, one near-"fuck" a "sunuvabitch" and quite a few "Damn"s.

And last note of trivia - for those of you who have seen this film or watch Stargate. After Natty is on the train that blows up, and her wallet is found in the wreckage, her dad, Sol, leaves work and goes down to see if he can't find any other trace of her at the accident. Well, you know those little railroad access cars that officials or workers use to get around on the rails to check on things? While Sol is looking around, up in the background, out of focus, is a man on one of these cars. He yells something down to Sol -- as soon as I heard his voice, I recognized him. I watched in the credits, and sure enough, it was Don Davis -- as in Don S. Davis who plays General Hammond on Stargate SG-1. howz about THEM apples? :P

Thursday, September 4, 2003

Heroes of Might & Magic 4

My roomate got Heroes of Might and Magic IV (HoMM4) finally. I had been looking forward to it - I've been playing the HoMM series since the first one, and a bunch of friends from college who played the game loved 4 and were just really impressed. I'm not sure what to think. Some things, like the magic and heroes structures, are just so different, you can't compare. Things like graphics and music are a billion times better, of course. But it is SO flippin' hard! There is NO gold - actually, an obvious lack of gold in the game, so it is really hard to buy up creatures and things, and even on the easiest settings, the computer has massive armies that you can't beat. Admittedly, I like to win - though I don't want it to be too easy, this game is way too difficult.

Your hero is a character that can be built up through actual combat on the battlefield, too. While your hero could increase in skills in previous HoMM games, other than casting spells the hero wasn't really a part of battle, keeping battles soley about your army. I think that in this incarnation of HoMM the hero character is really distracting on the battlefield and takes away from the army.

And I don't like the colors for the heroes - there's only red, blue and green that are halfway decent. *shrugs* There are a lot of improvements, like the interface and buying all the creatures at once in your town, but it seems like a different game all together - whereas HoMM 1, 2, & 3 are almost the same game, just bigger and better each generation.

Overall, HoMM4 is a totally different creature than its predecessors and in ways I don't care for.