It’s hard to imagine a world without Mary Poppins. The film has become such an ingrained part of popular culture that kids know who the flying nanny is even without having seen the film, and they know that just a spoonful of sugar will help the medicine go down. Many people, however, probably don’t know that Mary was dreamt up by Helen Goff, or as she was more famously known, P.L. Travers. The magical nanny appeared in 8 books, telling her tales looking after the Banks family and their subsequent adventures.
Saving Mr. Banks is a film that focuses on the strange relationship between Travers and Mr. Walt Disney who desperately wanted to make a film out of her books. From a script that was included on the 2011 Black List (a list of the best unproduced scripts) the film sets out to examine how the famous film came to be, and more importantly how it almost didn’t happen at all. When his daughters were young, Walt Disney discovered their favorite book was about a British nanny named Mary Poppins, and he declared that he would bring her to life. He then spent 20 years trying to convince Travers to give him the rights. She of course had no desire to sell, and only gave in to his requests to meet when her royalties from the books ran out. The film picks up here, following Travers from England to Los Angeles, as well as dipping into her past as it flashes back to her childhood in Australia.
As I sat in a theater and watched the new take on Evil Dead, I found myself flashing back to last year’s Cabin in the Woods. I was very fond of that film, and it’s amazing how directly it nailed the formula for this kind of movie. There are moments in Evil Dead where I almost laughed because of how the move was following each note to a tee. It even has the “I probably shouldn’t read this evil text” moment. That isn’t to say there isn’t stuff to like in this movie, because it has lots of cool things going for it.
Fede Alvarez takes the reigns from Sam Raimi and crafts a brutal bloody film with a budget the original film could only dream of. The plot remains the same, with some tweaks. A group of friends join Mia (Jane Levy) and her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) as Mia tries to detox from heroin. They chose to do this at a family cabin in the woods. Years have turned the cabin to rot, and while exploring, they find dead animals in the cellar along with a book bound in flesh. Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) reads from the book and unleashes a demonic presence that heads straight for Mia.
From there, hell is unleashed upon each of the character in various ways, each pertaining to a passage in the evil book. The survivors realize they only way to stop it may be to destroy Mia and the demon attached to her.
In July of 2003, the unthinkable happened. Disney Pictures released a film based on a theme park ride that was not only a smash hit, it was also pretty darn good. Telling a fanciful tale of cursed Aztec gold, wicked undead pirate scallywags, a reluctant hero straight out of Joseph Campbell, the love of his life, and Johnny Depp wearing eyeliner, this was a movie that captured the imaginations of audiences around the world. Being a young impressionable high school student at the time of its release, I found myself returning to the theaters to see it numerous times. I was living in a beach town for the summer, working a shit job, and the old moviehouse that showed one movie a night kept bringing it back due to its popularity. It was the first movie I can recall going to over and over because of how much fun it was. It had set out to turn a theme park ride into a movie, but in reality they had just made a movie that was like a theme park ride in how it moved. It had ups and downs, twists and turns, and at the end left you wanting to do it all over again.
Disney is no dummy when it comes to making money, so when the film was clearly a huge success; it was clear what had to be done. Sequels, and plenty of them. Disney green lit two sequels almost immediately, and after some discussion, it was decided that these two entries in what would be a trilogy would be shot back to back. This would be one of the few Hollywood franchises to do this (along with Back to the Future and The Matrix)
To most, I am a film nerd. I go to film school, I work at an art house theater, I am often seen taking in the latest big movie at the local megaplex, and I write for a few movie sites, including this fine establishment now. This however isn’t the full picture of me. If you were to ask anyone who really knows me, they might tell you that I am also a Theme Park nut. It’s true. I prefer the term “enthusiast” but I digress. Since my first trip to Walt Disney World at the age of six, I was hooked on the concept of a place you could go and escape into highly themed lands of entertainment and adventure. My main passion is for Disney World, because you never forget your first, but since then I’ve come to enjoy places like Universal Studios and others as well.
Of course, these days, movies and theme parks go together like cookies and cream, especially at movie themed parks like Universal, Disney’s Hollywood Studio, WB Movie World, and parts of Six Flags, so it’s no wonder my two hobbies come together in such wonderful style. This has inspired me to take a look at movies that are inspired by theme parks. I am going to start with probably the most popular and famous of all, the Pirates of the Caribbean series.
Categories: Cinema Articles, Good, Movie Reviews Tags: Alan Silvestri, Disney World, Disneyland, Geoffrey Rush, Gore Verbinski, Hans Zimmer, its a small world, Jay Wolpert, Jerry Bruckheimer, Johnny Depp, Klaus Baldet, New Orleans Square, Orlando Bloom, Pirates of the Caribbean, Stuart Beattie, Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio, Walt Disney