Monday, January 18, 2010

Watch: The Princess and the Frog

Nostalgic and progressive at the same time

After a long hiatus, Disney is back in the hand-drawn 2D medium and it doesn't disappoint. The Princess and The Frog is another take on the genre of fairy tales in a typical Disney style.

The movie, which is based on the variation of The Frog Princess tale, adds twists to the original story, making changes in the location, the characters, as well as the incidents that take place. These variations added some originality to the story and allowed the smooth insertion of some typical Disney elements.

Early in the movie, a comparison is drawn between Tiana, an African-American, who works hard to fulfill her late father's dream of having a restaurant, and her friend Charlotte, who lives with her rich father a relaxing life. When Prince Naveen, Prince of Maldonia, comes to town after being disinherited by his parents due to his lifestyle, Charlotte expresses her wishes to marry him. Prince Naveen, who lost all his fortune and isn't ready for hard work, is lured by Dr. Facillier, an evil Dr. of voodoo. Dr. Facillier, who is looking to take Charlotte's father wealth, replaces Naveen by his valet and transforms the prince into a frog; a frog which needs a princess' kiss so as to be a man again.

As far as the story goes, I find the Disney take on the classic tale very entertaining. As with most other Disney movies of the same genre, Tiana has her share of goofy friends, funny moments, and lovely adventures. Even the villain, Dr. Facillier, seems destined to take his place deservingly among Disney's most interesting villains -- I think he should have taken a greater role, though.

It would be unfair, however, to compare this movie to Disney classics like The Little Mermaid and The Lion King. It surely follows the same movie making philosophy, but is not as powerful as these classics. But I think this is due to the excellence of these classics, rather than any downside in this movie. This is also evident in the soundtrack, which is very good, but not to be compared with Disney's previous soundtracks -- especially in the two mentioned classics.

The Princess and the Frog brings a nostalgic feeling for all those who were anticipating Disney's departure from the cheap sequels business. It follows a legacy of more than 60 years of film making and it certainly shows that the decision to stop developing 2D movies was a bad one.

A revisit to the concepts of good vs. evil, hard work vs. laziness, love, and friendships, this movie will sure appeal to kids and adults alike, Even if the movie doesn't fair impressively in the box-office, it will hopefully bring back to life a medium that many people thought was all but dead.

Score: 4/5

Official The Princess and the Frog

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Play: Winterbells

As an already popular game, Winterbells deserves the popularity it received by the casual gamers in cyberspace. While the game's concept is not new -- it is similar to other popular casual games like Icy Tower -- it is entertaining in its own merit. You control a rabbit whose aim is to jump on bells falling in a vertical scrolling screen, while your aim is to reach the highest score.

What's unique about this game is the design: the game just feels very smooth that even when you lose and begin a new game, you will not feel any discontinuity in the game. The smoothness is also evident in the motion of the rabbit following the cursor of the mouse just the way you will mean it to do. I didn't find the game very easy with the average try taking about a minute, but there are many videos all over the internet of people reaching incredible scores. The highscore is stored locally in the cache of the web browser. What's important is that it is a quick game to play, so you can pick a try or two in between your normal daily activities. The music is just exceptional, and together with the ease of gameplay are important factors of this game's popularity.

It is a simple, well-designed and stands as a proof that game-development is another form of art. While this type of games is usually called time-wasters, I didn't feel that wasted anytime at all playing it, because it was fun.

Score: 5/5