Monday, December 31, 2012

The Rescuers Down Under (1990) - The Disney Movie With Heart - and Mice

The Rescuers Down Under: Can Bob Newhart Do it Again?

McLeach close-up The Rescuers Down Under 1990
"The Rescuers Down Under" cover.
"The Rescuers" was a surprise hit, a throwback to the days of "Lady and the Tramp" and "One Hundred and One Dalmations," when the Disney juggernaut could take an unknown story and make it into an "all Disney" movie, complete with Disney villain, Disney heroes, and a warm, fuzzy conclusion. The two leads from "The Rescuers," Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor, return in "The Rescuers Down Under" (1990), directed by Hendel Butoy and Mike Gabriel, as Bernard and Miss Bianca, respectively.

McLeach close-up The Rescuers Down Under 1990

While it did not perform spectacularly at the box office, it has found its audience over the years and has become something of a cult classic. The Disney animators also went to work improving the technology, using the computerized CAPS animation process developed by then-unknown graphics company Pixar for the first time, along with CGI elements in many scenes. Whatever you make think of the overuse of CGI in the years since it does have its place when used properly, so this was a true break-through film.

Bianca Bernard dinner Disney movie The Rescuers Down Under 1990
Enjoying a leisurely dinner when...
Spectacular scenes such as Wilbur the albatross flying over Sydney Harbor still look good today, and, in a practice that would later become common but was still new at the time, the Disney animators visited the Australian Outback to refine their visuals. This is one of only three Disney movie sequels (the others being "Fantasia 2000" and "Winnie the Pooh") that are included within the Disney movie canon of animated features and the very first animated sequel to any Disney movie. It also helped solidify the Disney Renaissance which had begun the year before with "The Little Mermaid" and, some would argue, continues to this day.

Cody on Marahute Disney movie The Rescuers Down Under 1990

Cody (Adam Ryen) is a young boy living "Down Under" in the Australian Outback who has a golden eagle named Marahute (Frank Welker) as a friend. Marahute trusts him enough to show him her nest and eggs, but a poacher named Percival C. McLeach (George C. Scott) wants the valuable rare bird and its offspring. McLeach sees a feather from the bird on Cody's backpack and imprisons him until he will reveal the location of the golden eagle's nest. A mouse sees this and runs off to inform the United Nations Rescue Aid Society in New York via the global animal communications network.

Bianca, Bernard, Jack Disney movie The Rescuers Down Under 1990
Jack is a great take-off on Crocodile Dundee.
Bernard and Miss Bianca, the title rescuers from "The Rescuers," are given the mission just as Bernard is preparing to propose marriage to Miss Bianca. They enlist Wilbur the albatross (John Candy), the brother of Orville from "The Rescuers," to fly them Down Under to Australia so that they can help out Cody. There, they meet friendly kangaroo mouse Jake (Tristan Rogers), who serves as their tour guide and also, much to Bernard's annoyance, hits on Miss Bianca. Wilbur has some problems with his back which are "straightened out" at the local mouse hospital.

Cody Faloo Disney movie The Rescuers Down Under 1990
Cody talking to Faloo the red kangaroo (Carla Meyer)
McLeach, meanwhile, tricks Cody into thinking that someone has shot Marahute, causing the boy to visit the nest with McLeach surreptitiously following. Bernard and Miss Bianca follow in McLeach's giant half-track, where they try to warn Cody, but McLeach arrives and captures the bird, Cody, Jake, and Miss Bianca. Joanna, McLeach's pet goanna (a monitor lizard voiced by Frank Welker), tries to eat the bird's eggs, but Bernard foils that plan by replacing them with similarly-shaped rocks. The rescuers do a lot of rescuing in this Disney movie.

Bernard Jack Disney movie The Rescuers Down Under 1990
"I think we take one from column A and one from Column B..."
Wilbur, recovered, arrives and, at Bernard's request, sits on the eagle eggs to keep them warm so that they will be all right while Bernard searches for McLeach and the captives. They all wind up at Crocodile Falls, and McLeach intends to dangle Cody over the Falls in order to feed him to them. Bernard, riding a razorback, gets there in time to foil the plan by disabling McLeach's vehicle. Bernard then tricks Joanna into running into McLeach, sending them both down into the crocodile-infested waters.

The Rescuers Down Under 1990

Cody falls into the water, and Bernard tries to save him but can't. It is up to Marahute, freed by Jake and Miss Bianca, to swoop down and save both Bernard and Cody from going over a waterfall as McLeach has just done. Happy at last, Bernard then returns to his original intention, proposing marriage to Miss Bianca.

Jack Disney movie The Rescuers Down Under 1990
"Take that, Jeffrey Katzenberg, for ruining my film's release!"
Most would agree that, despite the fact that "The Rescuers" did strikingly well at the Box Office, while "The Rescuers Down Under" did not, that this is the more enjoyable of the two animated Disney movies. "The Rescuers" and "The Rescuers Down Under" both feature Miss Bianca, Bernard and the charlmouse (Bernard Fox) who chairs the Rescue Aid Society. "The Rescuers Down Under" has some similarities to the  "Crocodile Dundee" movies.

The Rescuers Down Under 1990

The rescuers once again form a nice, tightly bonded team, though they don't appear until the lengthy set-up in Australia has concluded. The Disney villain, McLeach, is fully realized, with a delightfully morbid sense of humor. He even is somewhat believable, unlike many other Disney villains, and you will understand McLeach and the killer that he is as you cheer as he goes over the Falls.

Marahute the golden eagle  Disney movie The Rescuers Down Under 1990
"Did they really put me on a coin? A gold coin? Cool!"
The Disney movie animation is superb. "The Rescuers Down Under" flight sequences both in New York and Down Under still are amazing, and the action scenes are visually exciting. You get a view of Cody clinging to the back of a soaring eagle and dazzling overhead views of the Sydney Opera House, the harbor, and the United Nations building in New York. The visuals are so good that you might want to have some Dramamine handy. "The Rescuers Down Under" animated characters are well-developed, especially if you take the time to watch both Disney movies "The Rescuers" and "The Rescuers Down Under." The albatross once again provides the Disney movie comic relief, and nobody could do that better than John Candy. Animators never get enough credit, so, for once, let's thank those who worked on "The Rescuers Down Under:" Mark Henn for drawing Bernard and Miss Bianca; Nik Ranieri for doing Wilbur; Russ Edmonds for Cody; Duncan Majoribanks for McLeach; and Glen Keane for animating Marahute.

Wilbur Disney movie The Rescuers Down Under 1990
An interesting animation artifact of Wilbur.
If "The Rescuers Down Under" has any problems, it may be a little too short, and some of the action scenes are a tad too intense for the youngest viewers, especially a few "The Rescuers Down Under" scenes set in the mouse hospital. "The Rescuers" and "The Rescuers Down Under" have vastly different animation styles, with "The Rescuers Down Under" brighter and less forbidding. Most would probably say that the animation of "The Rescuers Down Under" is superior and breathtaking to that of "The Rescuers," though that of "The Rescuers" has its admirers, too. "The Rescuers Down Under" also doesn't have any musical numbers (though there are eccentric and humorous renditions of "Home on the Range" and "Black Slacks"), which makes "The Rescuers Down Under" a true rarity among Disney animated features - some might consider that an advantage. With the dramatic action/adventure plot of this Disney movie, it's difficult to see how they could have stopped the action and have "The Rescuers Down Under" characters burst into song.

 Disney movie The Rescuers Down Under 1990
Polly the Platypus, after being captured by McLeach.
The most damaging thing you can say about this Disney movie aside from debatable matters such as whether the writing by  (based on the characters) properly uses the characters, is that it did not make a lot of money upon the first release (though, like all Disney animated Features, it undoubtedly has earned the Disney team money over time with re-releases and home video sales). The story is that the film did not perform as expected over its initial weekend of release (facing stiff competition indeed from "Home Alone"), causing Disney movie boss Jeffrey Katzenberg to panic and pull all of "The Rescuers Down Under" advertising. The trend of Australian-based films had bypassed "The Rescuers Down Under" by a couple of years, so what may have seemed like a good idea at the time, wasn't at the time of release. Those things, though, don't make it a bad Disney movie, just a Disney movie that had bad timing. Fortunately, Disney markets its animated films in terms of decades, not weekends, so "The Rescuers Down Under" has gone on to have a wonderful post-release life anyway.

The Rescuers Down Under 1990
A good version to get includes "The Rescuers" and  "The Rescuers Down Under."
Disney movies usually are terrific, but, in general, Disney movie sequels are so-so. "The Rescuers Down Under" is one of the best sequels among all Disney movies, with top animation and classic voice actors who had personality and style and had spent decades becoming familiar with audiences. This is a terrific Disney movie, especially if you take the time to see both "The Rescuers" and "The Rescuers Down Under" in sequence and become friends with the characters. One might even call them - combined - a "lost Disney classic" and perhaps the most underrated Disney movies ever made.

McLeach close-up The Rescuers Down Under 1990
McLeach has a certain charm for a Disney villain.
The 35th Anniversary Blu ray Edition has some fun special features. Two songs, "Peoplitis" and sing-along "Someone's Waiting for You" make the cut this time. For Disney devotees who are into mice, there is the Silly Symphony short "The Three Blind Mouseketeers." An obligatory "The Making of The Rescuers Down Under" and "The Water Birds Disney True Life Adventure" allow you to spend some more time with Eva and her "dahlings." The 35th Anniversary Edition of The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under on Blu-ray has three discs full of material, with two unfortunately forgotten films and more than enough bonus material in one package to satisfy most fans.

Cody falling The Rescuers Down Under 1990
The climax has lots of nice thrills.
It is well worth your time to re-visit your friends from "The Rescuers" and "The Rescuers Down Under." The Blu-ray "2-Movie Collection" of "The Rescuers" and "The Rescuers Down Under" came out in August 2012 and is a real visual treat, but you never know how long Disney will keep this on the shelves - it has a nasty habit of suddenly pulling titles and putting them back in the vault for a decade or two when demand starts to wane..Someday, who knows, "The Rescuers" and "The Rescuers Down Under" may get the 3D theatrical and 3D Blu-ray release that they deserve, but for now, this is a pretty spectacular presentation.

The Rescuers Down Under 1990


The Rescuers (1977) - One of the Best Original Disney Movies

The Rescuers (1977) - A Forgotten Disney Movie Treasure with Bob Newhart

DVD cover The Rescuers 1977
"The Rescuers" (1977).
Walt Disney himself did some brainstorming about the idea that ultimately turned into "The Rescuers" (1977), and some of his veteran animators were still around to finish the job. Thus,"The Rescuers" legitimately can be included in the list of original Disney movies that came from Walt himself. Based on a series of novels by , "The Rescuers" introduced many original concepts and performed very well at the box office.

The Rescuers 1977

It led to a rare Disney movie sequel that itself was released as a feature film, "The Rescuers Down Under," and earned an Academy Award nomination (for the song "Someone's Waiting for You"). It was, in fact, the last Oscar nomination for Walt Disney Productions until "The Little Mermaid" came along a dozen years later and began the '90s Disney Renaissance that included the sequel to "The Rescuers." Voiced by popular comedians Bob Newhart, Joe Flynn and Disney movie regulars Pat Buttram and Eva Gabor, and directed by veteran Wolfgang Reitherman along with John Lounsbery and Art Stevens, "The Rescuers" is a fine addition to your Disney movie collection.

The Rescue Aid Society The Rescuers 1977
The Rescue Aid Society.
A mouse organization within the United Nations in New York, the Rescue Aid Society, receives a note from an orphan, Penny (Michelle Stacy), pleading for her rescue. Hungarian mouse Miss Bianca (Eva Gabor) accepts the case and appoints janitor Bernard (Bob Newhart) to help her. They do some investigating and locate an old cat nearby named Rufus (John McIntire) who knew Penny. Rufus tells them about pawn shop owner Madame Medusa (Geraldine Page), who previously threatened to abduct Penny.

Miss Bianca The Rescuers 1977
Miss Bianca is a cute little mouse.
Madame Medusa and her partner, Mr. Snoops (Joe Flynn), are nowhere to be found because they left to try and find Devil's Eye, the world's largest diamond. Apparently, the two mice learn, Mr. Snoops indeed kidnapped Penny and took her to Devil's Bayou in order to try to find the diamond. Miss Bianca and Bernard enlist the aid of Orville the Albatross (Jim Jordan) and Evinrude the dragonfly (James MacDonald) to get them to Devil's Bayou.

Bianca, Bernard, Orville The Rescuers 1977
"Welcome to Air Orville."
Medusa and Mr. Snoops kidnapped Penny to force her to go down a pirate's hole in order to retrieve the diamond. After evading Medusa's pet alligators Brutus and Nero, Miss Bianca and Bernard find Penny, and they devise a plan to set her free. Before they can set the plan in motion, though, Medusa and Snoops send Penny down into the cave to get the diamond, with Miss Bianca and Bernard hiding in her pockets.

Medusa The Rescuers 1977
Medusa is quite an original character.
They find the Devil's Eye, but when they try to take it, the cave suddenly floods. They grab the diamond and barely make it out, and Medusa then takes the diamond for herself, cutting Snoops out completely. A terrific fight over the diamond then ensues, and after some trickery, Miss Bianca and Bernard manage to imprison Medusa and Snoops.

Medusa and Penny The Rescuers 1977
Medusa scaring Penny.
The two mice and Penny then try to leave on a swamp boat, but Medusa breaks free and pursues them. A race ensues to see whether the two mice and Penny can make it out of the swamp before Medusa manages to catch them and recover the diamond.

Brutus and Nero The Rescuers 1977
"Now we've gotten ourselves into a fine kettle of fish!"
Anyone who follows comedy knows that Bob Newhart was - and remains to the day of this writing - the master of the verbal tic and the frightening demeanor and slow-burn frustration with the crassest ineptitude by others in the simplest things. Here, he has plenty of material with which to work and chews the scenery with gusto. His Bernard is afraid of flying, afraid of the number 13, and overall just a major pain to all those around him.

The Rescuers 1977

Newhart himself was flying high at the time of this film, in the midst of his classic '70s television series. Bob Newhart makes this film hum. He gets ample support from master comedian Joe Flynn (who unfortunately passed away during production)  as the clumsy but non-malevolent Snoops. Other stalwarts of Disney animation voice roles such as Pat Buttram, John Fiedler, and George Lindsey round out the cast.

Rufus The Rescuers 1977
Rufus, Penny's old friend.
The animation team included many of Walt Disney's old hand for the last time, and also newcomer Don Bluth (who left after this film to create masterpieces such as "The Land Before Time" and "The Secret of NIMH." A real changing of the guard was in the offing, but the veterans from the 1930s were able to crank out one last hit before they handed off their duties to the new generation. They were fussy old men by then, refusing to let anyone interfere with their drawings, but their rabid self-protectiveness paid off in the end.

Medusa The Rescuers 1977
Medusa is just lovely, isn't she?
Computer graphics were still far in the future, but advancements in the xerographic animation process drastically reduced the black outlines that had plagued Disney animation since "One Hundred and One Dalmations." There might have been another connection with that film, as an early idea was to resurrect Cruella de Vil as the villainess, but that idea was given up. Instead, veteran animator Milt Kahl based the drawing of Medusa on his ex-wife.

Bernard Miss Bianca The Rescuers 1977
Miss Bianca and Bernard.
The film was a huge financial success, the first without Walt Disney's direct guidance, and earned the honor of serving as the inspiration for the first sequel of any Disney animated feature, "The Rescuers Down Under." There is a lot of humor, and not just from Newhart, as Orville is a center of comic relief. There are some scenes that might frighten small children, such as alligators snapping at Medusa, but nothing as dark as, say, what we all know happened in "Bambi."

Mr. Snoops "The Rescuers" 1977
Mr. Snoops.
The music of "The Rescuers" is a high point of this Disney movie, supporting the narrative and earning an Academy Award nomination for "Someone's Waiting for You" by Sammy Fain, Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins (sung by Shelby Flint). The music in "The Rescuers," heavy on the synthesizers, does have a certain '70s vibe to it which either will be off-putting or have you subconsciously dreaming of bell-bottoms and clogs.

Medusa ginning with diamond The Rescuers 1977
Medusa with the diamond.
The idea of having talking mice as the heroes of "The Rescuers" must seem almost passé today, but it had never been done before in a Disney movie. The use of mice for sympathetic characters later, of course, became almost a standard in animation films, for example in the two Cinderella sequels, "Cinderella II: Dreams Come True" and Cinderella III: A Twist in Time," and in "The Great Mouse Detective." It is easy to forget that somebody had to think up the idea and do it first, and nice to give proper credit when you can. Well, here is the origination of the idea in "The Rescuers."

Medusa blowing at Mr. Snoops The Rescuers 1977
Can you tell that Medusa was modeled on an animator's ex-wife?
It is unfair that "The Rescuers" has been largely forgotten by a vast segment of the public. "The Rescuers" and "The Rescuers Down Under" characters are fantastic, the Rescuers songs are top-notch, and the rescuers villain, Madame Medusa, is a classic. This should be revered as highly as all other original Disney movies. It belongs in every Disney movie collection. Walt would have been proud, and this Rescuers movie, released along with "The Rescuers Down Under" in a Blu-ray release in August 2012, is a high point of Disney movies and animation in general.

The Rescuers 1977


Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Cat Returns (2002) - Terrific Anime Dubbed in English

The Cat Returns (2002) - Terrific Anime Dubbed in English

The Cat Returns 2002
"The Cat Returns" (2002).
You can get into endless fights on the Internet over whether anime dubbed in English is as good as the original Japanese It all depends on the actors and execution as to whether or not your typical anime dubbed in English works as well as intended. Phil Harman, for example, did a funny but notorious voice-over for the cat in Kiki's Delivery Service that, as anime dubbed in English, changed the character from a sweet, shy little thing into a wise-cracking know-it-all more palatable to Western audiences.

The Cat Returns 2002

Whether such anime dubbed in English changes are an improvement or detract from the viewing experience is difficult to say. Anime dubbed in English requires artistic choices to suit the English-speaking markets. In "The Cat Returns" (2002), directed by Hiroyuki Morita, Studio Ghibli was able to assemble an outstanding American voice cast to have the anime dubbed in English.

Haru saving a cat The Cat Returns 2002
Haru saves a cat.
Haru (Anne Hathaway: all actors listed are from the anime dubbed in the English version) is a shy and quiet high school student is known for being able to talk with cats. She saves the life of a cat with odd eyes one day and he turns out to be Luna, Prince of the Cats (Andrew Bevis). She is confused when his father, the King of Cat (Tim Curry)s, comes that night to offer his son in marriage as a reward. The King interprets her reaction to have accepted the offer.

Haru with a friend The Cat Returns 2002
Haru is just a normal girl.
Haru has second thoughts and, guided by a sweet female voice, visits the Cat Bureau to straighten things out. There, Haru meets Muta (Peter Boyle), a large white cat, who takes her to see the Baron (Cary Elwes), the Cat Bureau's founder, and Toto (Eliott Gould) a raven. Both the Baron and Toto are statues that can come to life. Haru and Muta are taken to the Cat Kingdom while Toto and the Baron follow behind to the entrance to the Cat Kingdom, which is a sequence of lakes forming the image of a cat's paw.

Haru in garden with cat The Cat Returns 2002
But Haru is special: she talks to cats.
Haru turns partly into a cat with tan paws, ears, and whiskers so that she will make a suitable bride for Prince Luna. Baron tells her at dinner that she can continue becoming a cat if that is her destiny, it all depends on what she wants. The palace guards attack Baron, and he, Haru and Muta have to flee from the castle in a tunnel shown to them by a sympathetic female white cat servant Yuki (Judy Greer).

Haru and cat The Cat Returns 2002
Haru sees a cat while walking.
The Cat King wants Haru to stay in the Cat Kingdom and become his daughter-in-law, so he tries to stop the three from escaping. They find a way out in a tower that has a portal to the normal world. Prince Luna, though, doesn't really want Haru, he wants to marry Yuki.

The Cat Returns 2002

Yuki turns out to have been the female voice that instructed Haru to go to the Cat Bureau in the first place as repayment for a childhood act of kindness by Haru toward Yuki. She is the title character of "The Cat Returns." Muta, meanwhile, is a wanted criminal in the Cat Kingdom for eating too many fish.

With Maru looking at Cat Kingdom The Cat Returns 2002
The Cat Kingdom!
Prince Luna and Toto help the three fugitives escape. Haru discovers that she actually likes the Baron, and he hints that there may be more adventures waiting for her at the Cat Bureau.

Cat King arriving The Cat Returns 2002
The Cat Procession.
The Baron is a character from a manga from concerning a girl who writes fantasy sequences, one of which created the Baron. The manga was turned into "Whispers of the Heart," and the character of the Baron was so popular that Studio Ghibli decided to do another film featuring him. It began as a short created on commission for a theme park, and then was worked up into a full-fledged screenplay by . Morita, one of the studio's animators, developed it into a feature film. This was the studio's follow-up to the hugely popular "Spirited Away," and "The Cat Returns" was a big hit as well.

The Baron looking out a window The Cat Returns 2002
The Baron looking contemplative
"The Cat Returns" is an animated film dubbed in English that takes a while to pick up speed. Once it does, though, this anime dubbed in English moves at a very fast pace. Cat lovers will enjoy all the varied personalities in this anime dubbed in English of the cats acting just like cranky, innocent and suave humans. The cats are very determined in this anime dubbed in English and will not take "no" for an answer from the shy young girl Haru. There is a lot of humor, such as when the cats try to make Haru laugh at dinner in the Cat Kingdom. The Baron is very suave (like Puss in Boots, another smooth-talking animated cat) and makes it believable that someone might actually fall in love with a cat.

Haru with the Baron The Cat Returns 2002
Haru has become part-cat.
Anne Hathaway is a delight as Haru in this anime dubbed in English. She is cute, like her character, and keeps the voice light and simple. She may be a bit whiny at times. Peter Boyle is comically grumpy, while Elliott Gould provides a distinctive sound to the voice of Toto. Tim Curry uses an unusual voice for his part that does not really add much to the character of the Cat King.

DVD cover The Cat Returns 2002
The Cat looks like quite the Dapper Dan.
A better choice (if available) for the Cat King in this anime dubbed in English would have been someone like James Earl Jones, whose deep voice would have added depth to the character. Cary Elwes is the true star of this anime dubbed in English, though, giving The Baron a seductive and almost aristocratic personality that carries the entire film.

The Baron guards Haru The Cat Returns 2002
The Baron protecting Haru - "Away, you ruffians!"
At heart, "The Cat's Return" is a quick, breezy fantasy for children, somewhat similar to other Ghibli Studios productions such as "Spirited Away" and "My Neighbor Totoro." If you liked "Kiki's Delivery Service," you probably will enjoy this film, too. It has delightful moments that will enchant children, though the story is kept very simple, and the anime is fairly weak for a Ghibli feature film. The score is by veteran Yuji Nomi, and he relies heavily on a full orchestral sound.

Haru, Muta, the Baron The Cat Returns 2002
The Baron, Haru, and Muta.
The animation, especially in the background, is very good, but the character designs purposefully are kept simple, which may be disconcerting to modern audiences used to 3D and other highly enhanced animation features. The biggest complaint is that the characters look a bit cartoony, but only true anime dubbed in English experts will likely notice anything like that. The good news is that other Ghibli features have better animation, so if you like "The Cat's Return," you will like those anime dubbed in English features even more.

Haru thinking The Cat Returns 2002
Decisions, decisions...
"The Cat Returns" is a very good choice for children, the anime dubbed in the English version is great. This anime dubbed in English should give them a lot of pleasure.

The Cat Returns 2002


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (2007): A Disney Movie with a Neat New Cinderella Fairytale

Cinderella III: A Twist in Time: Lady Tremaine Strikes Back

DVD art for Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007
"Cinderella III: A Twist in Time" (2007).
After the creative mess (but financial bonanza) that was the fairy tale Cinderella Disney movie "Cinderella II: Dreams Come True," it was time for a different style of Cinderella Disney movie that focused on the movie Cinderella again rather than her mice pals or her (no longer so) evil step-sisters.

Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007

DisneyToon Studios' "Cinderella III: A Twist in Time" (2007), directed by Frank Nissen, thus became the second Disney movie sequel to the classic fairy tale "Cinderella," and fans generally like it much better than the first Cinderella sequel and similar Disney movies.  Many purists still think it reflects poorly on the 1950 Disney movie classic "Cinderella," but you can't please everyone.

Anastasia Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007
Cinderella and her Prince.
It is ten years since Prince Charming (Christopher Daniel Barnes) married Cinderella (Jennifer Hale, returning to the role from "Cinderella II: Dreams Come True"), and the happy couple celebrates with a picnic in the woods hosted by Cinderella's Fairy Godmother (Russi Taylor) and attended by Cinderella's mice friends Jaq (Tress MacNeille) and Gus (Corey Burton).

Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007

Anastasia (Lesli Margherita), Cinderella's evil step-sister, stumbles upon the Fairy Godmother's wand, and after a struggle, Lady Tremaine (Susanne Blakeslee) has the wand and the Fairy Godmother has been turned to stone.

Cinderella III Anastasia
Anastasia is a fully fleshed-out character in "Cinderella III."
Lady Tremaine uses the wand to turn time back to the day before the Grand Duke (Rob Paulsen) slipped the glass slipper onto Cinderella's foot. Cinderella is locked in the attic with Gus and Jaq, and Lucifer (Frank Welker) is guarding the key.

Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007

Using the wand again, Lady Tremaine makes Cinderella's glass slipper fit Anastasia's foot, so she is assumed to be the one who danced with Prince Charming at the ball. Stay away from the palace, Lady Tremaine warns as she breaks Cinderella's other glass slipper, but Cinderella sneaks over there with Gus and Jaq anyway.

Anastasia and the glass slipper Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007
Disney animators are never subtle when it comes to things like this...
Prince Charming can tell that Anastasia is not the true Cinderella with whom he danced, but Lady Tremaine once again uses the wand to make him believe that she is the right girl for him. Cinderella figures out that Lady Tremaine has the wand, and Cinderella disguises herself as a maid in order to steal back the wand. Lady Tremaine catches her, but the mice get away with the magic wand.

Prince Charming and Anastasia Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007
Prince Charming dancing with Anastasia.
Prince Charming is on the verge of recognizing Cinderella, but Lady Tremaine orders her shipped out of the kingdom at once. The mice then intervene and tell Prince Charming what has happened, and he stops the ship from leaving, finds Cinderella, and asks her to marry him.

Evil Step-mother Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007
I love how they make the evil step-mother look like the Bride of Frankenstein.
The King (Andre Stojka) tries to arrest Lady Tremaine, but she escapes using the wand. She transforms Anastasia into a carbon copy of Cinderella, then transports Cinderella and the mice into a twisted pumpkin carriage driven by Lucifer in human form. The mice and Cinderella manage to escape, leaving Lucifer in the woods.

Lucifer showing his teeth Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007
Lucifer has a great grin.
Cinderella is too late to stop the wedding, but Anastasia has second thoughts and she turns Prince Charming down. Once again the King tries to arrest Lady Tremaine and Anastasia, but Lady Tremaine waves the guards off with her magic wand. Sending a beam toward Cinderella that will destroy her, Lady Tremaine and evil step-sister Drizella (also voiced by Russi Taylor) are instead turned into toads and transported to the castle cellar when Prince Charming's sword deflects the beam.

Prince looking into her eyes Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007
Cinderella's eyes, no computer could draw those like that.
Cinderella recovers the magic wand and restores the Fairy Godmother. Anastasia is remorseful, but the relieved King understands that she has a good heart, so he does not punish her. Rather than return to their own time, Prince Charming and Cinderella decide to stay in this version of reality and live out their lives in peace.

Prince Charming talks with Cinderella Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007
Don't these two just look like they belong together?
A great deal more care was taken with this Disney movie sequel than with "Cinderella II." The live-action sequences were filmed for aid in creating the animation, and the Disney movie animators put in a lot of time and effort, so much so that this almost has the quality of classic Disney movies like the original "Cinderella."

About to be banished Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007
Isn't that such a sweetly sad, but real, expression by Cinderella?
"Cinderella III" has the unique distinction of being the last Disney movie to be hand-animated until Disney made a return to that style, as the DisneyToons Studio was shut down after this production (and that studio pointedly is thanked in the credits). Senior animator Ian Harrowell managed to get his people to make a fairy tale Cinderella who is quite expressive, which helps give this Disney movie life that some other Disney movies have lacked.

Cinderella Prince Charming mice Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007
The happy couple and the mice.
There is a noticeable step up in the overall quality of this Disney movie from the previous Disney sequel, and the songs by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner are worthy of a Disney movie princess production. Hayden Panettiere performed "I Still Believe" for the end credits, which was a bit unusual for a Disney movie centering around a classic character, but it works well. Jennifer Hale again does a fine job as the princess, and if you think her voice sounds familiar, it is because she also is the Queen of video game voice-overs. In fact, she's earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records due to all her voice roles in video games. Jennifer still provides minor voices in Disney productions and is one of the most employed voice actresses in Hollywood.

Lady Tremaine Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007
If Lady Tremaine is happy, that's not good!
This Disney movie storyline has a lot in common with the subsequent DreamWorks hit "Shrek Forever After," and also with a musical that runs on the Disney Cruise Line. That just goes to show how creativity can be lacking in Hollywood, even in Disney and DreamWorks movies, when film-makers don't have centuries-old fairy tale storylines to use. Much easier to play it safe with a proven product. However, there still is a lot to like about this film, especially if you haven't seen those other productions.

Main characters together Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007
A beautiful ceremony.
While the motivations of some of these Disney movie characters might be is questionable, there is no question that evil step-mother gets her moments in this film and a well-deserved fate. There is nothing like a good Disney movie villainess who gets her comeuppance, and the outlandish lengths to which Lady Tremaine goes in order to secure the throne for her daughter makes for an amusing tale of misplaced perseverance.

Anastasia real-life model Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007
Anastasia is a fun character at the theme parks.
The Disney movie characters become much more human in this sequel. Prince Charming gets a chance to fight for his true lady love, and the king has an opportunity to reflect on his own lost love. Fairy tale Cinderella can no longer rely on magic to achieve her ends but must fight against it, proving her mettle. If you like mice as heroes, try "The Rescuers" as well.

the Pumpkin carriage Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007
Lucifer driving down that highway to Hell...
If you aren't a big fan of Disney movies Cinderella or sequels to classics in general, you probably aren't going to be interested in this Disney movie, either. However, this particular Disney movie about the classic heroine Cinderella does give more depth to the classic Disney movie characters in ways that change and enhances them from the original Disney movie without disturbing their essences. This is a worthy sequel to "Cinderella," and some would say that, in some ways, it is superior. Now, that is heretical to say, but this Disney movie is a lot of fun and opens things up for people who don't just want the classic Disney movie story about fairy tale Cinderella but instead want something a little extra.

Prince Fairy Godmother Cinderella Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007

"Cinderella III: A Twist in Time" does not degrade or lessen the Disney movie characters in any way, but treats them with proper reverence while giving them new life and dimensions. It delivers many heartwarming lessons in an entertaining fashion that get your rooting for and against the classic Disney movie characters, with a delicious "just desserts" for Lady Tremaine and Drizella. If you enjoy the characters from the original fairy tale "Cinderella," this Disney movie may well become your guilty pleasure.

Cinderella III: A Twist in Time 2007