Author Archives: Adam Roche

iPad Arriving Early For Some Preorder Customers

By Adam Roche

After tracking my iPad delivery all week, I finally saw it arrive at my local depot this evening, with the status ‘OUT FOR DELIVERY’. Naturally excited at the prospect of receiving it two days early, I called TNT UK to confirm the status’ meaning.

TNT have received notification from Apple that 13,700 consignments of iPads will be arriving in the UK this evening (26th), and that they are authorized to deliver tomorrow (27th).

So check your order tracking people, if your iPad is in the country, you may need to book the day off tomorrow. I’ll be updating my Twitter as and when I receive any more news

UPDATE: Not to rub it in or anything, but take a look at this

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International iPad Tracking problems?

By Adam Roche

One of the sweetest pieces of news I’ve ever received plopped into my inbox on Saturday. A brief email telling me that my iPad had been dispatched, and was winging its way to my door “on or before the 28th May”. Now whilst I am happy to await its arrival on that day, part of me is secretly hoping it decides to present itself a few days early. After all, I’ve bought the HD apps, I’ve cleared a space for it to live next to my iMac, and I’m itching to try out the Scrabble Tile Rack app with the iPod Touch.

Included in said email is a Delivery Reference Number, and a link so that I can track my order with Apple. I duly did this, and found that it was being shipped by TNT UK. All well and good. However, when I checked the delivery reference with TNT’s website, it gave me an error message.

Now I’m a patient man, I know that these things take time. I also know that I’m not the only person trying to check the status of their order, so I waited until the next day to check again. Meanwhile, I consoled myself with the fact that I could still check the order status on Apple’s site, where I could see that it was being hurried to my house, and that it was in TNT’s safe hands.

Next day, TNT’s site was still giving me an error message. Needing reassurance, I logged into Apple’s tracker, only to find that information that was there before was now gone. Gone was the expected arrival date of the 28th, and gone was the name of the courier. Shaken, I spent the next few hours, diligently logging in to both sites to see if things had changed. They had not.

It’s Tuesday now, and we here in the UK can expect to get our hands on the iPad in three days time. Now, I am sure that come Friday, a sweaty, somewhat dishevelled, rather harrassed looking bear of a man will arrive and thrust my delivery into my hands with a sneer, before departing in his excrement coloured truck, off to see the next rabid tech-freak, who’ll also fling himself at his feet as he walks down their path. Still, you’d think by now that I’d be able to get some kind of indication that my iPad has at least reached this country. All I can tell you is that UPS will probably be delivering to you if you’ve ordered an iPad alone, and TNT will probably be delivering to you if you’ve ordered accessories too. Still, it also depends on what model you’ve ordered too, so ignore me completely.

For all I know, at this very moment, iPadam might be being forced to perform a strip tease by a bunch of pirates who have hijacked the Apple ship thinking that it was a fruit supplier, and that their scurvy days were over. It might currently be in the hands of Alan Rocke, a short-sighted technophobe in Amsterdam who thinks they’ve sent him the wrong sized television. But no, I am left to wonder, sitting on my hands to stop them logging into TN-twatting-T again. Call me paranoid but… no, just call me paranoid.

For those of you in my position (and after having checked around, I can see that that’s pretty much all of us), take heart. I’m sure that come Friday morning, just after we’ve finished skinning the 437th person who’s told us to calm down, after biting open the box, after fumbling sweat-drenched connectors into USB ports, that screens will light up, hearts will rejoice, and iTunes won’t be able to connect to server.

UPDATE: The reference number I received from Apple seems to be working now. It’s the one you should have received in the confirmation email, beginning with 81. If you’re still not having any luck, click here. Once you’re there, enter the number in the large box and choose the ‘Reference’ radio button, then click ‘Track’. This worked for me, hopefully it’ll work for you too. According to the information, and from the nice TNT lady I spoke to earlier, it seems that a lucky few thousand people will indeed receive their iPads tomorrow, with the rest receiving on Friday.

Please add your messages of condolence/sympathy/glee to the comments.

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Miyazaki/Ghibli Retrospective: Spirited Away

By Sam Giddings

What can I say about Spirited Away that hasn’t already been said?  It won the Oscar for “Best Animated Feature Film” in 2003; that probably sums it up nicely.  It’s an animation of sublime detail, vivid characters, and genuine warmth.  With Spirited Away, Miyazaki crystallised his place as one of the most brilliant animators of all time – arguably even one of the greatest directors of all time.

Spirited Away is a simple tale told with beautiful complexity, an absorbing mix of the familiar and the alien.  After exploring an abandoned theme park with her parents, ten-year-old Chihiro finds an enormous buffet.  As her parents tuck in to this decadent feast, Chihiro continues her exploration of the eerie site.  Night falls, and Chihiro returns to find her parents have now turned to pigs, in a deliciously spiteful nod to the closing stages of Pinocchio.  As a nearby derelict bath-house springs to life, Chihiro finds herself trapped in a fantastical world of bizarre creatures and spirits set around this aquatic hub, trying to restore her parents to human form.  Her parents’ gluttony always remains the underlying motivation for all that befalls Chihiro, but the film transcends this simple beginning to touch on aspects of self and identity, of home and of responsibility, and of wonder.

Perhaps it is this wonder that is the single most astounding facet of Miyazaki’s most critically and commercially successful film.  Chihiro soon loses her name, starting to forget who she is and why she is staying in this world of talking frogs, spirits called No-Face, and spider-limbed boiler attendants.  Chihiro is given the new name “Sen” by her peers, and manages to secure herself a job in the bath house so that she can stay, avoiding detection by the evil with Yubaba who holds dominion over it.  Sen tackles her new responsibilities with the straightforward acceptance only children possess, and it is through her eyes that we, the audience, truly appreciate the magical brilliance of the bath-house and its world.  It is almost a curious inversion, her stoic approach conflicting with our own continuing surprise as the unfamiliar spirit world is revealed to us.  Sen acts as a raw, unpolished prism, her unassuming innocence gently luring us into the perfect oddness of Spirited Away.

Written down, this sounds like a ridiculous sequence of events, but rest assured – woven together in Miyazaki’s deft hands, every action and consequence obeys a curious logic.  Never does Sen’s new world feel over-elaborate, or explanations far-fetched – Sen’s adventures consistently delight with their rich layers of imagination and persistent subtlety.

In many ways, Spirited Away is a culmination of all that Miyazaki has created before.  The heart of My Neighbour Totoro mingles with the epic scope of Princess Mononoke to create a perfect, singular episode of cinema.  It is more focused than Princess Mononoke, more ambitious than Totoro, and daring in ways that most conventional films are not.  The appeal of Spirited Away is truly familial, with plenty of beautiful moments for both parents and children alike.  I cannot recommend it enough if you haven’t seen it, and if you have, well – perhaps this retrospective is reason enough to dig it out again.

Next week John O’Connell takes a look back at ‘Grave Of The Fireflies’


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Review: Shutter Island (15)

By Adam Roche

Of course, Martin Scorsese has done genre thrillers before, most notably ‘Cape Fear’ back in the 90’s, but I must admit to being rather perplexed by his decision to direct ‘Shutter Island’. After all, he’s now an Oscar winning director (at long last), and his output in recent years has leaned more towards a director interested in drama and biopics, than someone willing to indulge their inner fanboy on a throwback to their formative influences.

This, of course, is the beauty of Scorsese’s legacy thus far. Defying convention since the beginning, he has arguably produced the most diverse and consistent body of work of any living director. So although his decision to direct ‘Shutter Island’ is a surprising one, it isn’t altogether unbelievable.

‘Shutter Island’ is the story of Ashecliffe, a hospital for the criminally insane containing 66 patients, located on the eponymous island. When one of it’s patients, a multiple murderer called Rachel Solando goes missing, US Marshalls Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are assigned the case. They arrive to find a seemingly impossible mystery, and worse, an apparent conspiracy involving illegal experimentation and communism. Soon, Teddy begins to experience horrific hallucinations which include his wife, who was murdered several years before by an arsonist who may or may not be on the island amongst the patients. When it becomes apparent that the doctors are hiding evidence of a 67th patient, Teddy begins to suspect that the patients are not the only prisoners of Shutter Island…

The story is complete hogwash, but it’s rollicking good fun, gothic and intense, with every ingredient present; the malevolent hurricane sweeping the island, the lone lighthouse on a rock, the dank corridors of the asylum itself, and of course, the wacko collection of gawping loons that inhabit its cells. You want sinister, you got it. Ben Kingsley (in a welcome return to form) almost steals the show as the eerily serene Dr Cawley, along with Max Von Sydow as Dr Naehring, the grinning surgeon whose past may be in conflict with Teddy’s own.

Of course, he has cast Leonardo “The Frown” DiCaprio again. It’s all well and good to have a muse, but it’s becoming a little overdone now. Seeing that this is DiCaprio’s fourth outing for Scorsese in 8 years, it’s becoming a little difficult to accept him in these roles. True, he’s a wonderfully gifted actor, but with little diversity in the roles he’s taking, it’s becoming almost a foregone conclusion that he will be putting on the moody, unhappy, intense performance that is fast becoming his stock in trade. Perhaps with Scorsese’s upcoming projects (biopics of Frank Sinatra and Theodore Roosevelt) Scorsese should bite the bullet and cast around for someone else, or at least someone inbetween. Even when DeNiro was Scorsese’s golden boy there were breaks. Plus, the roles were far more diverse. Put Rupert Pupkin against Jake LaMotta and the contrast is blinding. That said, this is by far DiCaprio’s most accomplished performance for Scorsese yet. Within the space of the film’s two hour running time, he goes convincingly from freshly confident to rabid confusion. By the film’s close it’s hard to believe that this was once Jack from Titanic.

Where the film does fall down is in its middle section, which does seem to sag and groan under the weight of its intentions. After a brisk, mysterious opening, we are suddenly stranded with a few confusing flashbacks and hallucinations. Whilst they definitely add to the feeling of dread (one in particular being almost reminiscent of ‘The Shining’) they are not given any context till later in the film, and so initially come across as a little indulgent. That said, the film does reward the patient viewer with revelation upon revelation in the film’s final hour, building up to a frenetic climax that will hijack the complacent viewer like crazy.

There is no doubt that this was an odd choice for Scorsese, but after having watched it, it’s not hard to see why he chose it. Sometimes we all need to stop being serious and do something mad. To quote Henry Hill: “Those goody-good people who worked shitty jobs for bum paychecks and took the subway to work every day, and worried about their bills, were dead. I mean they were suckers”. If Martin Scorsese wants to direct a schlock-thriller every ten years, then at least we can be thankful that it’s something as much fun as ‘Shutter Island’. It seems that blowing off steam is a good thing.

After all if you don’t, you might just end up losing your mind.

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Review: It’s Only A Movie – Mark Kermode

By Adam Roche

Reviewing a reviewer is certainly an odd position to find yourself in. I’ve been a Mark Kermode fan since his Radio One days, before listeners to that station were saddled with the inane ramblings of James “This new Matthew McConaughey comedy is the funniest movie of all time” King. Still, if I want to hear a Kermodian rant, there’s always the safe haven of Five Live, which plays host to Kermode and Simon Mayo’s film reviews on a Friday afternoon, and also provides the most entertaining movie podcast available.

Despite having followed Kermode’s rants and advice for the past decade or so, I knew relatively little about the man himself. Outside of his reviews, Kermode has done wonders to shed light on various crimes against film that would otherwise now be part of history. He championed a new cut of ‘The Exorcist’ (his favourite movie), which went some way towards the public getting The Version You’ve Never Seen, as well as creating the definitive documentary on the movie itself, ‘The Fear Of God’, available as part of the DVD release.

Closer to my heart, he has campaigned tirelessly for the re-release of Ken Russell’s inflammatory masterpiece ‘The Devils’, the only stumbling block being Warner Brothers’ ignorant refusal to release it on DVD. Kermode even went as far as to restore the most controversial pieces of the film, once thought lost, and to produce a fantastic film about the process of doing so: ‘Hell On Earth’. That Warner Brothers still refuse to let the public see this astonishing classic, despite its having been cleared by British censors years ago remains a source of constant irritation for myself, let alone Kermode. Luckily, the film is available from, shall we say, dubious sources?

And so to Kermode’s newest project, ‘It’s Only A Movie’. To be clear, this is not an autobiography, rather a memoir, a recollection of some of the most bizarre episodes in his life, tied of course to the films that surrounded them. We are given scant insight into his family life, other than that he has an extraordinarily long-suffering wife with whom he is very much in love. He talks briefly of his musical projects, even though his band The Dodge Brothers seem to occupy large amounts of his time nowadays. In short, if you’re looking for the definitive document about the man, from the man, this isn’t it. What it is, is a warm, genuinely funny account of the crazy life of a film critic.

We accompany Kermode as he traverses the wilds of Russia and the Ukraine in order to produce a set report from a low budget multinational horror movie, that results in injury and an encounter with Mr Nyet, the most unfriendly man in the history of history; sit stunned alongside Kermode as he attempts to interview a recently shot Werner Herzog; recoil as he recounts his being handbagged by Helen Mirren in the middle of the BAFTAs. Do we learn anything? Yes. Perhaps that the life of a movie critic isn’t just canapes at Cannes. It can be attempting to sleep on a piss covered mattress, on a train somewhere on the Ukraine border. It can be that the lower the budget of a movie, the nicer the director. It could be that the cup of tea you make for your boss at the magazine, if good enough, might enter his ‘Tea Chart’ at number four if you’re lucky. It could be that just because you’re a famous critic, doesn’t mean you won’t stay in a hotel room where the couple next door like to knock on your wall all night. With their headboard. It could be that ‘Piranha Women In The Avocado Jungle Of Death’ might just be an overlooked masterpiece. And then of course, it might be that Ken Russell is the worst person in the world to interview in front of a live audience. Glamorous it aint.

Told in a frank, conversational style, ‘It’s Only A Movie’ is a joyous recollection of horrors, suffused with Kermode’s dry wit and self-deprecating humour. Here is a man who still can’t quite believe his luck. Quite frankly, after listening to this, Kermode deserves his place as the nation’s most beloved movie critic. He tells of his university days as a Trot, his break into magazine writing, and his early days of radio, as well as the longstanding Odd Couple relationship with Simon Mayo, who, and I have to agree with Kermode on this, is the finest broadcaster this country has.

If there is one fault, it’s that Kermode does tend to believe in the maxim that one plus one equals half. His dialogue regularly reads like a Grisham novel:

‘Are we travelling on that train?’

‘Yes’

‘That train?’

‘Yes’

‘That train there?’

‘That train there’

‘Do you mean to tell me that we are travelling on that train in front of us?’

…and so on. After a while it does grate, but doesn’t really detract from the pace of the book, even though it does feel at times as though he was trying to bump up his word count slightly. The point is almost redundant anyway. At the book’s beginning, Kermode himself apologises for making everyone in the book sound as though they’re talking like him.

An essential read for Kermode fans, and a wonderfully warm read for anyone with an interest in movies, ‘It’s Only A Movie’ is light fare, but hugely enjoyable. Here’s hoping the BBC do the smart thing and give him the Film 2010 job.

Oh, and hello to Jason Isaacs.

It’s Only A Movie is out now, and is published by Random House

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Review: Ponyo (U)

By Adam Roche

In a Miyazaki film, nothing is formulaic and anything goes. For some, his films can be a relatively disorientating experience, but only because the power and breadth of his imagination fuel stories and characters that dare to go to places usually unseen by Western audiences. Surrender to it, and a whole new world awaits with every film. With Miyazaki’s latest film, ‘Ponyo’, perhaps he has crafted his most charming, and crucially, his most accessible tale yet.

‘Ponyo’ is the tale of Brunhilda, a fish-girl who lives in a craft at the bottom of the sea, belonging to her father, a former human who has renounced his mortality. Longing for adventure, Brunhilda escapes to the surface, where she becomes stranded. Sosuke, a local boy, rescues her, believing her to be a goldfish, and renames her Ponyo. They quickly bond, and Sosuke is shocked to find that she can not only speak, but declares her devotion to him too.

Ponyo’s father, Fujimoto, rises from the ocean and reclaims her, but unable to control her desire to return to Sosuke, resolves to fetch Ponyo’s mother, the benevolent spirit of the sea. Ponyo escapes again, and using her father’s magic elixirs, turns herself into a human child and returns to the surface to seek out Sosuke. This magic, however, causes an imbalance in the oceans, which begin to rise and swallow up the land.

To give any more away would be spoiling things. As you would expect, subsequent events occur that would be hard to imagine for yourself.

Along with ‘The Princess And The Frog’, this is turning into a stellar year for animated features. ‘Ponyo’ features not only an enchanting array of characters, but some of the most ravishing animation that Miyazaki has yet produced. For such a waterlogged film, the surroundings never lose their beauty or their intricacies. One of the most remarkable things about it, is that this feels like water with weight. It’s evident in the way the tides slop and slurp at the houses and bay walls, how the gentle movement of the ocean’s surface gently nudges and pushes at Sosuke’s house in the latter half of the film.

When Ponyo returns to Sosuke having become human, we are treated to a bravaura sequence where she runs across the crests of the coming waves as they rush to envelope the land. It’s a truly breathtaking scene; heavy, rushing waves juxtaposed with Ponyo’s flittering, almost hummingbird-like sprint, as an astonished Sosuke watches, goggle-eyed from a car that is itself fighting and gasping its way along a rapidly drowning road.

And yet, the weight and texture of the film can also be found in the film’s quieter scenes, such as the echoed clomp as the lid is placed on a noodle pot, or the sight of a stray octopus finding its way into the living room through an open door. There is so much to see and enjoy in the film that simply listing its attributes would take a writer with far more time on his hands than I can lay claim to.

‘Ponyo’ no doubt lacks the dark edges of ‘Spirited Away’ or ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’, but make no mistake, this is a full-fledged Miyazaki fairytale, equally as worthy as any of his past works. Just because the smile never leaves your face when you watch it, doesn’t mean it hasn’t got everything. Darkness comes in greys here rather than blacks; Sosuke’s father who never seems to be home, the cold fright of wondering if your mother made it across the water, and the tight gnawing hope that Ponyo doesn’t end up as sea-foam should Sosuke make the wrong choice…

Ravishing and adorable, ‘Ponyo’ is another wonderful addition to Miyazaki’s legacy. Magical and fascinating enough to be the entry-level film for all newcomers, and yet full of the rich beauty established fans have come to expect. (And psst, it’s my new favourite…)

To celebrate the release of ‘Ponyo’, Electro Candy are proud to bring you a retrospective of Miyazaki and Ghibli’s work beginning next week, featuring guest writers taking a look back at their favourite Miyazaki/Ghibli films and moments. Next week, Steven Wright takes a look back at ‘My Neighbour Totoro’.

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Review: The Princess And The Frog (U)

By Adam Roche

For all their good intentions, the Disney of today is not the Disney of my childhood. Maybe this is a result of my now being mid-thirties, my childlike naivety slightly more jaded than it was, but the excitement and magic that a Disney film could produce in a young me seems to have disappeared at around age thirteen (year not disclosed…). This was when you could only see a Disney movie if it was on at the cinema, or on the TV, usually around Christmas.

They were all main events, from the still stunning songs of ‘The Jungle Book’ to the spectre of Maleficent’s horned dragon demon in ‘Sleeping Beauty’, from the pure, joyful fairytale brought to life that is ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (a spelling smudge that still makes me shudder) to the pitch black nightmare of Lampwick’s transformation from screaming child to donkey in ‘Pinocchio’. Disney has certainly produced some indelible moments of cinema, animated but nonetheless magical.

Of course, after Walt’s death in 1966, the studio lost its way slightly, and wasn’t rejuvenated until the 90’s, which saw critical and box-office triumphs such as ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘Beauty And The Beast’, ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Lion King’ going some way to erasing the memory of ‘The Black Cauldron’, ‘The Fox And The Hound’ and ‘Oliver and Company’. However, complacency once again set in, and soon we were asked to love ‘Brother Bear’, ‘Hercules’, ‘Home On The Range’ and an endless slew of movies devoted to each of the characters from Winnie The Pooh.

Once Pixar hit it big, Disney decided that hand drawn animation was going the way of ‘Top Of The Pops’, and canned it altogether to concentrate on the newfound money-spinner that was computer generated animation. They jumped in feet first with ‘Chicken Little’. One hopes they landed on something sharp.

However, what Disney didn’t understand was that people didn’t really care how a film was animated, they just wanted a good story. People want to be charmed by Disney, and when they weren’t, they went to the next best thing: Pixar. What sets Pixar apart from other animation houses is that they don’t reach into their bag of technical tricks and fit a story around whatever’s in their fist. They spend months and years crafting stories and characters people want to see, then work their technical magic around creating a cinematic experience from that story. Other animation houses take note.

With Michael Eisner rightly ousted as head, Disney suddenly did a very smart thing. They brought in Pixar honcho and Toy Story director John Lasseter as Chief Creative Officer. He immediately decreed a return to hand drawn animated features. Lasseter is a personal friend of animation godfather Hayao Miyazaki and recognised that reopening this division of Disney would not only herald a new beginning for the ailing studio, but would be an excellent way of spotting and nurturing future talents. The first project announced under Lasseter’s guidance was ‘The Princess And The Frog’.

Although the above prologue is a rather lengthy piece of history, it’s also a necessary one. It has to be understood how important this film is in Disney’s history. This isn’t just The New Disney Movie. This is a company embracing its heritage and taking one on the chin, admitting it’s errors and trying to put things right. This film is an apology for all the guff it’s produced in the name of innovation, holding up its hands and saying ‘You know what? You were right. Why change a winning formula?’. For that reason alone, ‘The Princess And The Frog’ deserves your attention. But that’s not the only reason.

Set in 1920’s New Orleans, the film follows a prince named Naveen from the land of Maldonia, who is transformed into a frog by an evil voodoo magician, Dr. Facilier . The frog prince mistakes a waitress called Tiana for a princess and has her kiss him to break the spell. However, instead of breaking the spell, the kiss turns Tiana into a frog as well. Together, the two of them must travel through the dangers of the Bayou to reach a voodoo queen named Mama Odie, who may be able to break the spell. Along the way they befriend a trumpet playing alligator called Louis and a Cajun firefly named Raymond.

At first glance it may seem like standard Disney fare: plucky heroine – check; prince – check; amusing sidekicks – check. What you won’t be reckoning on, however, is just how stuffed to the brim with charm and beauty this film actually is. Without any hesitation, I can honestly say that ‘The Princess And The Frog’ is a modern masterpiece. Watching it, I suddenly realised that that child in me that thrilled to those Disney moments never went away. To quote Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, ‘It’s the pictures that got small’. Watching this movie is a truly magical, awe-inspiring experience.

Firstly, there’s the villain. Dr Facilier is evil beyond words. He wants blood, and when the frogs escape, he doesn’t resort to wisecracking. He calls upon his voodoo overlords and conjures a collection of hideous shadow creatures to pursue them malevolently across the Bayou. Voiced by Keith David, he’s as solid a villain as Disney has ever created, right up there with the Queen from ‘Snow White’ and Maleficent from ‘Sleeping Beauty’. What Disney lost sight of in recent years is that scary is good. Kids like being scared. It means they’re invested.

Then there are the songs. I don’t know about you, but I’m not one for Disney musicals, especially when the songs are crowbarred in there just because they’ve managed to get Phil Collins to write them. Of course the soundtracks to classics like ‘Snow White’ and Pinocchio’ stand alone because they’re standards, but seriously, can you remember the songs from ‘Brother Bear’? ‘The Princess And The Frog’ has a soundtrack written by Randy Newman (who thankfully doesn’t sing them). Set in the height of the Roaring Twenties, each is a jazz spiced classic, upbeat , joyful and raw. Each is a memorable, toe-tapping piece of starlight that, crucially, moves with the story itself.

And then there are the chances that Disney has taken on the plot. Suffice to say I won’t be giving anything away here, but let me tell you that fans of storytelling are well served here. It’s packed with delightful side characters: Big Daddy the millionaire, who for once isn’t the conniving, greedy stereotype often associated with wealth in kid’s films; Raymond, the lovelorn firefly with the Cajun drawl, who not only provides one of the film’s genuine shock moments, but also a wonderfully realised story arc involving his love for an unattainable night light; Louis, the alligator who longs more than anything to be human so he can play jazz in public; Lottie, Tiana’s spoiled, slightly deranged best friend who yearns for the fairytale life, even though she can’t see that she’s living it already, and who provides one of the film’s most heartwarming laughs at the close of the film.

And how does it look? It’s Miyazaki-Goes-West gorgeous. His influence is clearly felt, especially on the wider, more detailed shots of New Orleans itself and the subtle movement of the characters. For proof, see the detail and dazzling beauty of Mama Odie’s treehouse as the sun spills through in the climax of her brilliant song ‘Dig A Little Deeper’, trickling across and through thousands of tiny, coloured glass bottles, or the way the ornate river steamer slides down the orange evening river towards New Orleans.

Of course there’s more. I could tell you about the wonderful drifts into art-deco style animation as Tiana imagines her dream coming true to the strains of ‘Almost There’, the sight of a gazillion fireflies lighting up the way through the Bayou towards Mama Odie, of how two frogs get three grown men to beat the hell out of each other, of the terrible fate of Dr. Facilier and of the everlasting impression it makes in stone… You must forgive me. For a moment, I was a child again.

If you loved ‘Pinocchio’, ‘Snow White’ and ‘Sleeping Beauty’; if you hated ‘A Goofy Movie’, ‘The Rescuers Down Under’ and ‘Atlantis: The Lost Empire’, you’re going to be happy. What Disney have pulled off here isn’t just a nice new cash cow. It’s a studio in resurrection, completely back on form with a film that easily holds its own alongside the seven little guys and the wooden boy. Charming, beautiful, scary and magnificent, ‘The Princess And The Frog’ is the reason Disney once more rules the roost. Boys, you done good.

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