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Disney

Disney Characters

May 20, 2016

Since Orlando is right next door to Disney World, the answer to every question in this final round is the name of an animated Disney or Pixar character. "One in time saves nine?" That's "Stitch," as in Lilo and Stitch.

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With its gothic-inspired Gotham sets and brooding hero, Tim Burton’s “Batman” (1989) may have been the first modern superhero film, but really the current tidal wave we’ve been riding didn’t get started until after the advent of CGI special effects. By the time the 2000 film “X-Men” came out, filmmakers had the visual tools needed to create mass destruction onscreen, and with few exceptions they’ve been going to town ever since.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

There comes a moment in life when you realize that you're just a little bit older than you used to be. And for some born in the early 1990s, that moment came this past week when Disney announced its 100th Disney Channel Original Movie.

Watching Disney's remake of The Jungle Book, based on Rudyard Kipling's stories, took me straight back to my childhood in India, and to Sunday mornings spent watching an animated series of The Jungle Book in Hindi, on India's national television channel. (It was originally a Japanese series, dubbed in Hindi for an Indian audience.)

There are all the other storybook villains who have prowled their way into the Disney canon, and then there's Shere Khan the tiger. In Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, the savage cat will stop at nothing to hunt down Mowgli, the young "man-cub" who was orphaned in the wilderness of India's impossibly lush Madhya Pradesh region and raised by wolves.

Zootopia is both an animated charmer and a theme-park ready world that's precisely what it sounds like: an anthropomorphic utopia where animals have overcome the predator/prey divide to live in near-perfect harmony, in ecologically distinct districts. Disney animators have conjured up in gratifyingly intricate detail a Tundra Town, Sahara Square, even a hamster-sized village for mice and moles.

Screenwriter Meg LeFauve is having a very good year. She's nominated for an Oscar as one of the writers of Pixar's deeply original, animated movie Inside Out; she wrote the screenplay for The Good Dinosaur; and now she's co-writing the female superhero movie Captain Marvel. According to actress Jodie Foster, LeFauve's mentor and one-time collaborator, her gifts as a writer mirror her gifts as a person: sensitivity combined with a "keen, precise mind."

Disney

For better or worse, the current state of cinema's animated output can be traced back to 1992's blockbuster film Aladdin. Not only was it a groundbreaking film with its breakneck pace, marvelous songs, and increased use of computer-aided animation, but it also established the "star turn" in animated films, with its zany genie voiced by the late Robin Williams. There was so much talk of an Academy Award nomination for Williams that year that I continually have to remind myself that he didn't actually get the nod.

It's a heart-stopping scene: The protagonist of The Good Dinosaur, an 11-year-old Apatosaurus named Arlo is chasing a little thief who's been stealing his family's food. Arlo's not looking where he's going, and he slips and falls into a river. Panic-stricken, he gasps for air as his body goes hurtling down the raging rapids. The splashes, the currents, the rocks, the sound, the details are so vivid — you feel real fear for this animated dinosaur.

The journey a film score takes, from the composer's brain to what comes out of the speakers at your local theater, is a long and complicated process. In the case of the new Pixar film The Good Dinosaur, the work began seven months ago. Audiences will hear it for the first time on Thanksgiving Day.

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