June 7th, 2009


Christmas in June

On Friday night I heard that there would be a special train parked in ABQ over the weekend to promote Disney's Christmastime release of "A Christmas Carol." Now I could care less about the promotion, but I really wanted to see the train. So Kitty and I made our way down to the station yesterday morning to check things out. I must say that Disney is sparing no expense in schleping this movie! First we saw an old Victorian style building which was an inflatable theater where they were showing bits of the movie in 3D. There were lots of promotional booths for local vendors as well as HP who sponsored the computer aspect of the film and Amtrak who was running the train tour. The train itself was pretty interesting. There were a couple of cars that featured Victorian costumes as well as actual Dickens historical documents, e.g. 1st edition prints, borrowed from the Dickens Museum in England. There were HD flat screens everywhere showing interviews with the actors and technical people. The cars were all done up in Victorian fashion. You were then brought into the 21st century as you walked into a car which focused on the technical aspects of the film. It will be a CG movie but all of the actors (Jim Carey, Gary Oldman, etc) actually played the roles while their body and facial movements were captured on computers for 3D imaging. There were a couple of other cars which featured more of the technical aspects of the film. In one car you could actually morph your face with 1 of 3 characters. Kitty looked cute as Tiny Tim. I made a pretty scary Marley's Ghost (pics to be emailed to us). They even had actors in Victorian garb singing Christmas carols outside with bubble machines making fake "snow." We eventually worked our way back to the inflatable theater to catch the preview.

The question I had the entire time was "Why?!?" "A Christmas Carol" has been done to death in movies and television. There was even a Mickey Mouse version already, so why would Disney be investing so much time and money into a movie we already know and love. Is it to show off new technology? Perhaps, but why not do it with something like "Tron" or how about a re-make of "The Black Hole?" *shudders* I guess I'm missing something. Perhaps every generation has to have their own version of this classic story. To me it just seems as a cop out. "Duh! We need to make a new movie!" "Dur! How about 'A Christmas Carol'?" "BRILLIANT!" Like I said, I was amazed at how much money Disney is spending on this thing. This is just the beginning of the tour. A map of the tour can be found HERE

Here are a few pics from the event:

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Shitty Shitty Bang Bang

Last night Kitty and I went to see the stage musical adaptation of one of my favorite childhood films, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." The movie itself was essentially a musical, but it was developed for the screen not the stage. In fact it's kind of interesting in that it was written by Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond series, and produced by Albert Broccoli who also produced most of the Bond movies.

The stage production, which was the traveling Broadway troupe, left a lot to be desired, IMHO. They had to change the plot around a little bit, but the cast of characters was the same as were all of the original musical numbers. The staging/scenery was beautiful. The acting was so-so with strong lead performances but a weak chorus. I had a very difficult time understanding the lyrics for the big musical numbers. The car was supposed to be one of the cast, but after it's big scene where it actually "flies" on stage, it's never seen again, not even during the ending nor curtain call. The mechanics were also a bit buggy so that sometimes when the car was supposed to be moving, the wheels weren't. Also, when the car was supposed to be stopped, the wheels kept moving.

I guess it was just too difficult to bring a movie with vast sets and sweeping vistas onto a small stage. The bits they had to cut out to make things fit made things feel too disjointed. It seemed more like "slapped-together musical numbers" as opposed to a coherent plot. Then again, when has Broadway NOT just slapped together some songs during a musical? Anyway, I felt it was a bit of a letdown. Dick Van Dyke will always be Caractacus Potts in my book.