Saving Mr. Banks Nominated for Best Original Score

In Episode 29 of Beyond the Berm, we discussed recent movies, including Saving Mr. Banks. And although we didn’t mention it in the podcast this time around, I had the feeling all along that Disney had positioned this release to receive maximum notice for Academy Awards nominations. And in fact the whole publicity campaign definitely had the feel of an awards-worthy movie.

When the Golden Globe nominations were announced, Emma Thompson received a best actress nomination for her portrayal of P.L. Travers, but noticeably absent was a nomination for Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. As we mentioned in the podcast, it really was difficult at times to see Hanks as Disney, given our familiarity with both figures, although it was much easier to see Thompson as Travers.

Still, I would imagine that some at Disney were somewhat disappointed that neither was nominated for an Academy Award when the nominations were announced yesterday. I really was not all that surprised. It was a good movie, but to me it wasn’t the big Oscar winning kind of movie. Which is fine for me, because I don’t usually “get” those movies that win all the awards. They just aren’t my thing, I guess.

However, Saving Mr. Banks did get one nomination, and that was for best original score for Thomas Newman’s music. I definitely did think this nomination was well deserved. I have been a fan of Newman’s work ever since his score for Finding Nemo, and I enjoyed his Wall-E score as well. And I have CDs of some of his other scores as well, including Road to Perdition, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Horse Whisperer.

I remember that Andrew Stanton, the director of Finding Nemo, described Newman’s music as “bittersweet,” saying that it had just the right quality that he was looking for in his movie. And when I saw that Thomas Newman was going to score Saving Mr. Banks, I knew exactly what sort of movie it would be. And the music greatly helped to set that tone that they were wanting.

Of course, Thomas Newman does branch out from time to time. I was looking at buying the digital download of the Saving Mr. Banks score, but instead I decided to get the score to the most recent James Bond movie, Skyfall, also scored by Newman. Pretty cool stuff, and while it matches well with the spy-movie genre, it still has that distinctive Thomas Newman sound to it. I like it. But I will still go back and get the Saving Mr. Banks score sooner or later, too.

So congratulations to Thomas Newman for his nomination. While he has won other awards, he has been nominated for several Academy Awards but has never won. Maybe this time will be his chance.

Did Disney Trade Jerry for Indy?

Last Friday, there were a couple of interesting news stories that showed up. The first one really wasn’t a surprise: Film producer Bruckheimer in 3-year deal with Paramount. According to that story, Jerry Bruckheimer has signed a new deal, and his first planned projects are sequels to two of his classic films, “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Top Gun,” which he had made for Paramount before his deal with Disney. Disney had recently decided not to renew its deal with Jerry Bruckheimer, as we had discussed earlier in a post by Matt, More ‘Lone Ranger’ Fallout.

A few hours later, another interesting news: Disney secures rights for future ‘Indiana Jones’ films. As you probably know, when Disney bought LucasFilm, they got Indiana Jones in addition to Star Wars. However, Paramount still had some ownership in any future Indiana Jones movies before this new deal was made. So now, although they haven’t announced any plans for a specific movie, Disney can release a new one if they choose to do so. And one would think they wouldn’t have gone to the trouble to make that deal if they weren’t planning something.

But I got to wondering, were these two events related? Did Disney still have some say over Jerry Bruckheimer’s contract, even if they were deciding not to renew it? Did Disney make a trade with Paramount, trading Jerry Bruckheimer for Indiana Jones?

It wouldn’t be the first time Disney has done something like that. As you may remember, back in 2006 when Monday Night Football was moving from ABC to ESPN, sportscaster Al Michaels was wanting to move from ABC to NBC to host their Sunday Night Football games. So in exchange for letting Michaels out of his ABC contract, Bob Iger made a bargain with NBC Universal to get the rights back to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the cartoon character that Walt Disney created (and lost the rights to) before Mickey Mouse. So if this is true, it wouldn’t be the first time a real person was traded for a fictional character.

If there was a trade this time around, apparently both companies got what they wanted. As we have discussed, Disney does not see much value in future Bruckheimer films aside from the already-planned Pirates and National Treasure sequels in the works, while Paramount feels that Bruckheimer still has some good movies left in him. And I would agree with that. Not necessarily sequels based on 30-year-old movies with the original, aging stars. But I think he will come up with some other good stuff, as he has in the past.

And Paramount probably also didn’t see all that much value in another Indiana Jones movie. “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” was not the huge hit that the first three movies were, and Harrison Ford isn’t getting any younger. But for Disney, the advantage is having everything under one roof and not having to negotiate with Paramount over any future Indiana Jones movies. It really makes sense, because they already own the character. Could they be planning at least one more movie with Harrison Ford as Indy? Or could they be planning something new with a younger actor taking over the role? While you could make the strong argument that Ford created the character and is irreplaceable, remember that others have already played Indy in the television series “Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.” While it might take some getting used to, another actor could very well take on the part, and even do it successfully.

So was there actually a trade? Or was it just a big coincidence in timing? Unless someone who has some inside knowledge tells what all really happened, we might not know for certain.

But I usually don’t believe too much in coincidences.

Thor: The Dark World – A Review

In Episode 27, I mentioned that my family was planning to go see Thor: The Dark World on its opening day, which we did. So I thought that instead of waiting until our next episode, I would go ahead and present my review here. Just in case you were thinking about going to see the movie this weekend.

But first, a little backstory. As you can probably tell from listening to our podcast, I have enjoyed all of the Marvel movies (and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show) of the last few years, but Thor and Captain America have been my favorites. Before those two were released, I was really looking forward to Captain America, but I hadn’t given Thor much thought. We didn’t even see it in the theater. But later on while looking for something to watch from Netflix, I thought about giving Thor a try, and Laura and I both really enjoyed it. Now onto the new movie.

thor dark world

Thor: The Dark World takes place after the events of Thor and The Avengers. When a mysterious foe long thought to be defeated turns up again on Thor’s home world of Asgard, Thor and his comrades must fight to save not just Asgard, but all of the Nine Realms, including Earth, where Jane Foster has been trying to put her past with Thor behind her. And the one person who can help Thor in his quest is his imprisoned brother, Loki. But can Loki actually be trusted?

That’s about all I will say about the actual plot, because I never like to give away spoilers. If you just have to know more about the movie before you go see it (which I do not recommend), you can find out all you want to know at other sites.

In short, I thought Thor: The Dark World was great! Action, adventure, humor, a bit of suspense – everything you need for a good super hero movie. Jaylin (who is 11) readily agrees with that. But Laura said she likes the first Thor movie better. She said, “I really don’t do sci-fi,” because much of this movie takes place on the fantasy-influenced world of Asgard, as opposed to the first movie which was mostly set on Earth. She also said there wasn’t quite as much romance as the first movie, and I guess there wasn’t. So overall a slightly mixed review from the Burns family.

Do you need to have seen both Thor and The Avengers before you see this movie? Not necessarily, although it would probably help to clear some things up. Thor’s brother Loki once again appears in this movie, and the other two movies help to explain the complex relationship between these two brothers and their parents. If you haven’t seen the others yet, you will still be able to figure out most of what is going on, although it will probably make you want to go back and see the others as well. Also, there are lots of references to the events of The Avengers in the movie, and one great Avengers-related scene that was a nice surprise. But once again, I won’t say any more about that.

All of the cast of the original movie is back once again: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo, and more. The one exception is Josh Dallas, who played Fandral and is currently busy filming some show about Once Upon a Time or something. In Thor: The Dark World, Fandral is played by Zachary Levi. So if you find yourself thinking that Fandral sounds like Flynn Ryder from Tangled, now you will know why.

And this probably goes without saying if you have seen any of the other Marvel movies, but you really do need to stay all the way to the end, as you should with all Marvel movies. Because if you leave early, you just might miss something good, whether it relates to this story or to another Marvel movie.

So to sum it all up, I really enjoyed Thor: The Dark World just as much as I have enjoyed all of the other Marvel movies. It is a worthy successor to the original Thor, and a great couple of hours of entertainment.

We’re Number 6!

I think I can speak for Matt as well as myself by saying that we really do this Beyond the Berm podcast for ourselves as much as anyone else. We enjoy talking about stuff, and I think we both look forward to our chats. Sort of like a fireside chat, except that neither of us is sitting by a fire, much less anywhere near each other, as we are separated by a few thousand miles when we are talking. But if anyone else enjoys listening in to our conversations, that’s even better.

So I was quite surprised yesterday to see a mention of Beyond the Berm on Twitter. It was from Stitcher Radio, one of the outlets we submit our podcast to, and it was letting us know that the most recent Beyond the Berm episode made the list of the top Disney podcast episodes on Stitcher! Here is the actual tweet:

How cool is that? We aren’t really sure what qualifies us for that list. Was it the number of listens, or the percentage of time that people listened, or just the fact that we turned up when they searched for “Disney?” Whatever it was, we are (at this writing) number 6 on their list. Pretty cool!

So whoever is out there listening to us ramble on, whether you are listening through Stitcher, iTunes, or just a direct link from our website, we are glad you are there, and we hope you enjoy what you are hearing.

And thanks for making us number 6!

A Late Planes Review

Better late than never, I suppose. This past weekend, we went to see Disney’s Planes in the movie theater. And in short, we enjoyed it.

Jaylin had been wanting to see Planes since he first heard about it, but as you may remember from our Beyond the Berm discussions about it, particularly in Episode 23 where Matt told about seeing it with his family, I was a bit skeptical. But that may be true about every movie now, as I evidently am starting my transformation into a grumpy old man, as we discussed in Episode 25. Not that I am claiming to be “old” just yet. But I’m not getting any younger.

I was actually a little surprised that Planes was still in the theater, but it was still showing at one local megaplex, so off we went. And actually, there was a bigger crowd than I was expecting. I guess it helped that most of the area schools were out for fall break on that particular day, and there weren’t all that many family-friendly movies out there to choose from.

But anyway, on to the actual movie. I hadn’t held high hopes for it, and I was pleasantly surprised. Just as Matt had said in his review in Episode 23, it was entertaining. Not necessarily the best movie I have ever seen, but far, far from the worst. It had plenty of comedy, some interesting, if familiar-seeming, characters, and a good story. The story is a familiar one, as Matt had said, but it wasn’t exactly the same as Cars, so it worked well here.

Of course, the movie was aimed at most anyone who had enjoyed Cars, but especially the younger ones. Jaylin (age 11, by the way) thought it was great, which was good because he was most likely in the main target age range. He laughed at all the silly stuff, and he enjoyed the action of the race that Dusty, the main character, was involved in. And after it was over, he said he wanted to go to Target and buy some of the toys from the movie. So the merchandising part of the movie evidently worked well on its target age range, too. Except that we didn’t go buy any toys. But Christmas is coming.

It is always fun to find a movie that turns out to be better than you thought. And Planes fell into that category for all in our group, which was Jaylin, Laura, my mother, and me. We had most of the ages covered there. A good movie that we could all enjoy together.

Planes probably won’t win any awards. It probably won’t be at the top of the box office or the DVD/Blu-Ray sales chart. It won’t even be at the top of my list of my favorite movies of the year. But every movie doesn’t have to be super-spectacular-outstandingly-amazingly-awesome to be enjoyable. Sometimes the smaller movies are enjoyable in their own ways, too.

And that’s how I would classify Planes: enjoyable.

More ‘Lone Ranger’ Fallout

We’ve been discussing on a few of the past podcasts whether there would be any fallout or collateral damage resulting from the poor box office performance of “The Lone Ranger” this past Fourth of July weekend and into the summer.  Disney is expected to take a $190 million loss on the film.

In Episode 24, we mention that the date of the next installment of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise has been postponed from its July 2015 slot to perhaps a Memorial Day 2016 release.

Now, the next shoe has dropped.  Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer have announced that they are not renewing a first-look deal that saw the studio release a wide slate of films over the past two decades.  According to this article, the partnership has resulted in 27 films accounting for more than $3.7 billion in box office receipts worldwide.

Bruckheimer will still work with Disney to release future projects that have been established at the studio, including any future “Pirates” or “National Treasure” films.  The agreement will allow the producer to work on more adult-oriented/action films outside of the confines of the more family-friendly fare Disney is known for.  Disney, for its part, will focus more of its film making on franchises such as Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, etc.

What do you think?  Surprised that Bruckheimer was set free based on the performance of “The Lone Ranger”?  A smart move by Disney to refocus efforts on in-house franchises?  A change in how big, tent pole movies are financed and distributed?  Let’s hear your thoughts.

~ Matt

Even More Park Music

Just in time for the upcoming holidays, two new theme park-related music albums were released to online music stores — Haunted Mansion Holiday and it’s a small world holiday.

HMHThis album was sold as a complementary soundtrack to The Nightmare Before Christmas overlay of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion some years back.  It features a collection of “scarols” that were part of the sing-a-long aspect of waiting in the long line of the attraction queue as well as a ride-through of the attraction itself.  It has been out of print for some time.

Haunted Mansion Holiday: iTunes | Amazon

SWHThis EP features the fanfare and clock parade in addition to the annual overlay that takes place on Disneyland’s it’s a small world attraction.

it’s a small world holiday: iTunes | Amazon

As of this posting, each album is $7.99 at each of the two online retailers linked above.  Individual songs are available for purchase but the only way to get either of the ride-through soundtracks is to purchase the entire album.  The Haunted Mansion is not a bad price — far cheaper than the CD was selling for at the park years ago.  I bought it at $19.98 and did a review on about it.  I’m not sure how much the small world one sold for at the park but I probably balked at buying it basically for one song.  I feel much the same way about it in digital format, though I’ll probably pony up the $7.99 to get it.

I’m liking the availability of these park albums and songs, both from the convenience of downloading at home as well as the fact that out-of-print material is becoming available once again.  What are your feelings about the parks’ song availability?  Have you bought any to add to your collection?

~ Matt

More Theme Park Music

In a previous post, I listed some of the various theme park music that is available for sale on online stores such as iTunes and Amazon.  Well, two more albums chock full of Disney theme park music have arrived.

WDWOfficialAlbumWalt Disney World – Official Album: iTunes | Amazon

DLOfficialAlbumDisneyland – Official Album: iTunes | Amazon

As of this posting, the versions from Amazon are each $1 cheaper than iTunes ($18.99 vs. $19.99).  Many of the songs posted from these two “disc” collections are also available for individual purchase ($1.29 both stores).

While I have much of the music offered on the albums from previous purchases, some of the longer and newer titles that I don’t have are only available with the purchase of the full album.  Looks like I’ll probably wind up with the 49th duplicate version of Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me) in order to get The Little Mermaid Melody, for example.  But since I do enjoy theme park music in general and attraction ride throughs in particular, it looks like I’ll be adding these two new albums to my expansive collection of Disney music.

~ Matt

Mickey and the Magical Map

In Episode 20, we talked a bit about the new live stage show that premiered at Disneyland in the Fantasyland Theatre.  Below is the show’s description from a park press release, as well as some images from the production taken by me …

“Mickey and the Magical Map” presents Mickey in his timeless role as the sorcerer’s apprentice. Wise sorcerer Yen Sid directs his Mapmakers, a singing-dancing ensemble cast that paints a wondrous map – capable of taking dreamers to any place imaginable and so large it spans the entire stage of the outdoor Fantasyland Theatre.

Apprentice Mickey lets his curiosity get the better of him and he stumbles upon the map’s magical powers, which take him, along with the audience, on a fantastic journey of imagination in the company of the Mapmakers. The journey, presented through theatrical stage wizardry, unveils wonderful worlds of music, color, adventure and beloved characters with each new direction – all set to an original song, “Journey of the Imagination,” and music from classic Disney films.

The show comes alive with appearances and songs by King Louie from “The Jungle Book” (“I Wan’na Be Like You”), Pocahontas (“Just Around the Riverbend”), Mulan (“Reflection”), Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from “Tangled,” (“I See The Light”) , Sebastian from “The Little Mermaid” (“Under the Sea”) and Princess Tiana from “The Princess and the Frog” (“Dig a Little Deeper”).

StageThe stage is three levels with video playing on a three large screens across the stage.  This allows the live performers to interact with characters on the screen — and the map itself — to present a unique performance.

IntroThe conclusion to the opening number “Journey of the Imagination,” which finds Mickey as just the apprentice and not yet a Mapmaker.

MickeyMickey and King Louie are the latest “rubber head” characters with articulated eyes and mouths that synchronize with a prerecorded vocal performance.

KingLouieKing Louie



RapunzelFlynn Rider and Rapunzel

Stage2At the conclusion of the three “princesses” singing, each takes to a different level of the stage and sing each of their individual songs concurrently.  The “map” background changes throughout the performance to reveal images that represent each character — colors of the wind for Pocahontas, lotus blossoms for Mulan and floating lanterns for Rapunzel.

SebastianSebastian does the now-Disney standard of “Under the Sea” as a puppet character with a live puppeteer performing his actions and singing his songs — a theatrical bit popularized with the Broadway version of “The Lion King.”

TianaTiana comes out on a showboat made from animator’s brushes as part of the grand finale of “Mickey and the Magical Map.”

All in all, a pretty good show and nice to see the theater used to its full potential again.  There’s really no heavy story element to the show and the individual performances are tied together very loosely but it is nice to have that ensemble-type show onstage again at Disneyland proper.

We waited a bit before the show’s opening to try to get seats but there was still room in the theater up to the time of the show’s performance so there’s seemingly no need to rush to get there too early.  Certainly a worthwhile stop if you like the catch live entertainment while visiting the Happiest Place on Earth.

~ Matt

Theme Park Music

In Episode 19, I mentioned that Disney theme park music was starting to show up for download on the various online music stores.  Today, the two latest were released – SpectroMagic and Disney’s Electrical Parade.

Below, I’ve compiled some of the titles that are currently available for download with links to iTunes or Amazon, where available:

SpectroMagicSpectroMagic – EP: iTunes | Amazon

ElectricalParadeDisney’s Electrical Parade: iTunes | Amazon

CircleSessionsThe Circle Sessions (The Music of Carthay Circle): iTunes | Amazon

CircleSessionsPianoThe Circle Sessions (Piano Performances from “Carthay Circle”): iTunes | Amazon

DisneysCaliforniaAdventureDisney’s California Adventure: iTunes | Amazon

AladdinMusicalDisney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular: iTunes | Amazon

WaltDisneyTakesYoutoDisneylandWalt Disney Takes You to Disneyland: iTunes

EchoesofDisneylandEchoes of Disneyland: iTunes

DateNiteAtDisneylandDate Night at Disneyland With The Elliott Brothers Band: iTunes

FirehouseFiveFirehouse Five Plus Two At Disneyland: iTunes | Amazon

SlueFootSueSlue-Foot Sue’s Golden Horseshoe Review: iTunes | Amazon

PiratesoftheCaribbeanPirates of the Caribbean: iTunes | Amazon

HauntedMansionThe Haunted Mansion: iTunes | Amazon

CountryBearJamboreeCountry Bear Jamboree (Original Soundtrack): iTunes

WaltDisneyWorldBandWalt Disney World Band: iTunes

FindingNemoFinding Nemo: The Musical: iTunes | Amazon

WishesWalt Disney World Wishes – A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams: iTunes | Amazon

CandlelightCandlelight Processional: iTunes | Amazon

WinterWonderlandWinter Wonderland (From “Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights”): iTunes | Amazon

And Steve mentioned listening to music from these two albums while aboard the Disney Cruise Line –

Heigh-HoMozartHeigh-Ho Mozart: iTunes | Amazon

BibbidiBobbidiBachBibbidi Bobbidi Bach: iTunes | Amazon

There are also albums, soundtracks and songs available to purchase on CD or as individual tracks on other records. Look around and see what you can find.  You never know when — or where — your favorite park music may appear.

– Matt