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Sunday, August 16, 2015

All That Disney and Star Wars Stuff

So,  your Facebook feed has probably been lighting up with the news that Toy Story 4 is happening or that a massive Star Wars Land will be coming to Disneyland.  All this news is breaking because D23 -- the official DisneyCon -- happened this weekend, and as such, Disney made all kinds of announcements about what they've got coming up.  Rather than share each and every story on my Facebook page, or tweet my thoughts on it, I thought I'd just sit down and ramble on the ol' blog.

The news started breaking on Friday night, when Disney made all their announcements about the upcoming animated films from Disney and Pixar.  On the Disney side, they've got Zootopia coming out next year.  In a world populated by animals, a bunny cop has to team up with a fox con artist to solve a major crime.  Looks cute.  Coming in 2018 they've got Gigantic, which is a reinterpretation of Jack and the Beanstalk.  Set in medieval Spain and drawing a lot from Spanish culture, the twist is that the the giant is now an 11-year old girl, who views Jack as her new pet.  The big announcement from that one was that Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the duo who gave us the songs for Frozen, will be doing the songs.

Moana Logo

But the one that I'm excited about is Moana.  Set in the rich, seafaring cultures of the South Pacific, this follows the adventures of the Princess Moana.  When these various island cultures stopped their seafaring ways, it's up to Moana to set sail and once again exploring the islands.  The only announced voice so far is Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who'll be voicing the demigod Maui, who joins Moana on her quest.

I'm excited for this one because of who's directing:  John Musker and Ron Clements.  Back in the period of animation now known as the Disney Renaissance, these two were at the leading edge.  Under their directorial talents, they gave us The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Hercules.  This'll be their first foray into computer animation, so I'm really hoping that they'll be able to inject the film with some of that old Disney Renaissance magic.  Moana should be coming out in November of 2016.

Over on the Pixar side, Finding Dory is coming out next year, the long-awaited sequel to Finding Nemo.  When Dory begins having flashes of memories of her family, she goes off on a quest to find them, leading her to a wildlife rehabilitation facility.  Andrew Stanton, director of Finding Nemo and Wall-E, returns to direct this one. 

In 2017, we'll be getting Toy Story 4, and I'm now officially excited for it.  One of my favourite smaller moments in Toy Story 3 is when the missing Bo Peep is briefly mentioned.  At the mention of her name, Woody gets this brief wave of regret and heartbreak passing over his face, before he pushes it aside and once again resumes his leadership role.  That brief moment instantly made me want to know what happened to Bo Peep.  So I'm thrilled that they announced that Toy Story 4 will be an epic romance as Woody sets out to find Bo Peep.  John Lasseter, the director of the first two Toy Stories and now the big boss of Disney and Pixar animation, returns to the director's chair for this one.  Rashida Jones and Will McCormick, writers of the romance Celeste & Jesse Forever, wrote the screenplay, based on a story by Lasseter and Stanton.

Also coming in 2017 is Coco, and I'm glad that one is still happening.  It was originally announced a few years ago with the title Untitled Pixar Film About Dia de Los Muertos.  I hadn't heard mush about in the interim, and I was afraid it may have been canceled as another film about Dia de Los Muertos, The Book of Life, came out last year.  Pixar may have feared that Coco was too similar.  But it's still happening, and coming in November of 2017.  Lee Unkrich, the director of Toy Story 3, is directing this one.  Still not much is known, just that it draws heavily from the history of Mexico's Dia de Los Muertos festival...the Day of the Dead.

And yes, a friend tweeted me the poster for The Incredibles 2 sighted on the convention floor.  No news reported on that, just that it's coming soon.

Saturday was when all the announcements about the live-action films were made.  They showed footage from their remakes of The Jungle Book and Pete's Dragon, both coming out next year.  Johnny Depp showed up in character as Captain Jack Sparrow to remind us that Pirates of the Caribbean 5 is still happening, and due out in 2017.  The big announcement there was that Orlando Bloom with be returning as Will Turner.

For Marvel, the gave a presentation on Doctor Strange, coming out next November.  They showed the first trailer for Captain America: Civil War, which sounds AWESOME.

But of course, this year, in this time, and this place, everyone was wondering about the Star Wars news.  The first announcement was that Colin Trevorrow, director of Jurassic World, has signed on to direct Episode IX, coming in 2019.  People were 99% certain this announcement was going to come at the San Diego Comic Con last month.

They unveiled the first cast photo for the first Star Wars spinoff film, Rogue One.  For those who don't know, Disney is also planning on producing other Star Wars films, set outside the main story of Episodes I - IX.  The first one, Rogue One, comes out in December of 2016.  Set before the time of A New Hope (aka the first Star Wars film), this details the daring rebel mission to steal the Death Star plans.  Gareth Edwards (last year's Godzilla reboot) directs, with the story originally conceived by famous ILM special effects artist John Knoll.

At the announcement of Knoll having come up with the story, and that Doug Chiang, the main conceptual artist on Episodes I & II coming back to work on this, I had a friend comment, "Wow.  Sounds like this is the prequel that Lucasfilm wanted to make, but Lucas wouldn't let them."

The Cast of Rogue One

Our band of rebels is Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Diego Luna (Milk), Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline), Donnie Yen (Hong Kong action legend), Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland), Mads Mikkelson (Hannibal on Hannibal), and Alan Tudyk (he is a leaf on the wind...watch how he soars.)

But of course, the biggest Star Wars news was that a "Star Wars Land" will be coming to Disneyland and Walt Disney World.  At 14 acres, this will be the biggest expansion ever to the Disney Parks.  The overall theme of the Star Wars Land will be a new Star Wars planet.  There'll be a signature Millennium Falcon ride, too.  No timeline was given as to when this will open.

Concept art for Star Wars Land

But we won't have to wait that long, as new Star Wars attractions will be coming to the Disney parks.  First up is Star Wars Launch Bay, where people will be able to check out props from the films and meet with the Star Wars walkaround characters.  There's also a new seasonal attraction called Season of the Force, which will have a ton of Star Wars events at the park.  The signature event will be the legendary Space Mountain becomes Hyperspace Mountain, where it'll be given a temporary X-Wing fighter/space battle theme.  And the classic ride Star Tours will be given an overhaul to tie it with the new film, The Force Awakens.

Needless to say, now more than ever, I want to go to Disneyland. 

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