Enchanted

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Post by G1rl » December 19th, 2007, 5:53 pm

Daniel wrote:Hello and welcome, G1rl! :)
Thanks Daniel

I want a sequel too, but with more animation, the backgrounds are very good and the color scheme.

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Post by Ben » December 20th, 2007, 6:09 am

BEN'S TAKE:

As with my thoughts on Bee Movie, these points will probably end up in an eventual DVD review, but here's what I made notes on from my viewing last night:

First off, I'm sorry to say that it wasn't the solid gold, critic proof wonder that it might have been. It came close, but ultimately, it just fell short in too many areas.

There was good buzz in the theater, with a very varied audience...young to old and even middle-aged couples on their own, for which I wondered if Enchanted was some kind of "nostalgic date movie".

As the movie opened, I loved the zoom into the castle window, I loved the feel of the book opening (very much like a pop up storybook idea I pitched to Disney ten years ago!), but then I was surprised to find the animation was lacking. Many have pointed out that it didn't look like Disney animation, and I found that to be the case on the big screen. It frankly wasn't as good as what the DisneyToon people were turning out on their better efforts, despite the contributions of James Baxter, Andreas Deja and Mark Henn among others. It felt "budget", wanting and needing to look like major studio animation but without the money behind it.

Nevertheless this opening got a big smile from me, and it cleverly set up the conventions of "I want" and "Happy Ever After" start and ending within its time frame. The animals were old school, but it would have been more fun to use some stock characters - not Bambi or Thumper himself per se, but many of the additional faces we see in those era's films. The closest we got was the Owl, but they were all a bit too generic to make any impact.

I also didn't see the point of the ratio change. Yes, we're possibly "used" to animation in 1.66, but there's also been an awful lot put out in 2.40 and not filling the frame early on felt weak. It's not like it aided the switch to live-action anyway, since that transformation was the most bungled sequence in the film...I've still yet to see anyone convincingly change from animation to live-action in any movie. They did a neat thing with her hand in the beam of light...perhaps the lit area could have been animated and she could have realised something had changed her?

Some of the animation effects here looked on the cheap side too: the waterfall and (much later) the villain's switch to dragon (distinctly non-fire breathing to its detriment) looked really flat during a camera tilt up the transformation flames.

Once in the real world, there were several good lines, ideas and pastiches, but they never quite reached their full potential. "She's going to a place where there are no happily ever afters" was delivered flat and much more appropriate would have been "no more happy endings". One New Yorker asks Giselle "Are you for real", which might have been a wonderful point to stop and have her "check herself out" and remark, more pointedly, "why, yes, I guess I am!" rather than just the "I think so" she replied with. There was never any realisation that she was no longer a cartoon.

Did the Happy Work Song work? I'm getting picky here, but it's a thought that ran through my mind: if Giselle is in the real world and a lack of fairytale goodness, why would the wild, non-tamed animals of Central Park flock to her call, and how would they know how to clean up? It's not like they've lived in an enchanted forest tending to the needs of a fairytale princess all their lives, and perhaps funnier might have been an utter refusal to pitch in, leaving Giselle lost for words. As it is, of course I understand what the intent and need of the scene was, but I wasn't sure the Happy Working Song was actually "silly" enough.

Amy Adams gave a great, innocent performance and truly threw herself into Giselle. I couldn't imagine anyone else in this role. But Don Burgess' cinematography just wasn't on her level. She's supposed, even in real life, to be this untouched fairytale princess and yet the lighting on the movie was really drab. Amy's whole take on Giselle could have been upped almost twice as much by a subtle bit of helpful lighting to make her glow and give her an extra aura to the others in a scene.

Her co-star, the chipmunk, steals the show flat out and really worked as a translation into 3D of a 2D character. There were also some other nice 2D/3D effects: the villainess pulling the "real" apples in the stew pot back into the cartoon world and having them turn from real to animation and back - exquisitely done. And there's no doubt the 2:40 animated scenes in the rest of the movie looked better than the opening.

Best of all is probably James Marsden, an actor I've become more and more impressed with in each successive film, and who, with his big goofy white smile, embodied the characteristics of his bland price personality with aplomb. I wasn't sure though, once it was clear that Giselle wasn't even interested in the prince, why his step-mother continued to want revenge? Surely just seal up the path back to Andralasia and leave 'em all stranded? The King Kong climax, with a rather uninspired dragon and another bungled sequence, felt all too much by the numbers.

Alan Menken's score (with Stephen Schwartz' songs) were only so-so. Very catchy; the girls in the theater were singing How Does She Know all the way out the door and I was humming a little medley on my walk home, but they're not classic Disney songs. The interruptions during the Central Park set How Does She Know seemed intrusive and that particular number never really got big enough. The final shot needed twice as many people to make that work...it just seemed they were all up front, with a few bystanders in the background.

Which is possibly down to Kevin Lima's direction, which I have to say I found very, and surprisingly, very flat. The man certainly has a way with animation, as witnessed in his past work, but where was the fluid camerawork of Tarzan in this film? He was aided by Robert Zemeckis' old hand Burgess, but between them Enchanted looked very drab.

I'm sure I'll enjoy it again on a second visit - when you're watching a movie and enjoying it you don't tend to note the good bits but only the "what?" and "why didn't they do?s", so these were all the "negatives" that distracted my mind during the film. I did actually like the film, and wanted to love it much, much more, but ultimately, I'm not sure if Enchanted is anything more than as 2D as its heroine.

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okay, against my better judgement, I'll bite. . .

Post by surfnspy » December 20th, 2007, 5:52 pm

"I'm sorry to say that it wasn't the solid gold, critic proof wonder that it might have bee"

Actually, it is the best reviewed live-action Walt Disney pictures film in the modern history of the studio. Take a peek here:
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/enchanted/

do you know how difficult it is to score in the 90's?!

Regarding Animation Quality. I think it looks great. It may not be Pinocchio or even Beauty, but we DID operate under very strict budget and time (sort of one in the same) constraints. Here's the dilemma, you say you want more, the price goes up and suddenly some smart guy says, well, we can just do it with CG for a third the price. . . SO you do what you can.

"since that transformation was the most bungled sequence in the film"

I beg to differ. I think it is really cool and think that it happens in the dark netherworld that becomes a nyc city sewer is cool and surprising.

"use some stock character"
This is Andalasia, not the forest where Bambi lived. It would have been a cheap gimmick to populate the film with Disney characters. How corny!

Ratio change. that is Kevin doing everything he could to create the most contrast between cozy, warm, organic Andalasia with big, oppressive, cold NYC. I think it works for some people.

"There was never any realisation that she was no longer a cartoon."

We didn't want to belabor the point. The movie is not about her external change as much as it is about her INTERNAL transformation. We didn't want to think about, "oh, does she have to go to the bathroom for the first time." Doesn't move the story forward, opens a strange can of worms and doesn't comment on her emotional journey.

Happy Working Song not silly enough. Are you kidding me? I thought we got a TON of bang for the buck. It was a tremendously challenging sequence--you probably don't have any idea just how tough it was to pull off as the live action and cg are pretty seamless. That is all very expensive--they don't let you do EVERYTHING you want. Somehow that's not how it works.

"King Kong climax, with a rather uninspired dragon and another bungled sequence"

Much debate was had about this sequence. The story purpose is supposed to be to show that Giselle has transformed from a princess who needed to be caught to be saved to a real girl who could not only save herself, but also save her man. This story point isn't as clear as it should be--I won't get into why.

"not classic Disney songs"

Well, Alan and Stephen had a tremendously difficult chore. They had to send up the "Disney" tradition AND create something original at the same time. SO, for How Will You Know, they had to send up all the "Be Our Guest", "Under the Sea" set pieces, do it in live action, make it true to the spirit of Giselle (without irony) but also make it funny.

"(How Will You Know). . .that particular number never really got big enough" Look again. Do you know how many days it took to shoot that sequence? A lesser company would have doubled locations for the real Central Park. We did it all there. What was missing? Hot air balloons landing?

"Enchanted looked very drab. . ."

The intention was to contrast the hyper-lively colorful organic world of Andalasia with modern day glass and concrete NYC. Light in NYC is often reflected off of building walls or is artificial. It can be beautiful, but often it is drab. Central Park is the exception, really.

"I'm not sure if Enchanted is anything more than as 2D as its heroine."

It may not be for you. But I think there are a lot of people who disagree. It is funny. You never know what it going to be classic--it is such a surprise when a movie becomes a benchmark in film history. It was such a surprise when Princess Diaries (a film I worked on) became a modern classic. Before PD, there was almost no effort to make movies for teen girls and their families. But then after making 100 plus in domestic boxoffice and selling well over twelve million video/dvds there was a shift. Suddenly every studio wanted to make their "princess diaries". I don't think anyone was able to do it.

No one person can say what is classic. (Except maybe Oprah! lol.) It is a decision made by millions of people over time. Will Enchanted be that type of movie? I think it is possible, but only time will tell. I hope so!

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Post by Meg » December 20th, 2007, 6:08 pm

A lesser company would have doubled locations for the real Central Park. We did it all there.
A friend of my mother's was actually at the park while they were shooting a bit of the movie there - she was quite enthralled by the experience. :)

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Post by Ben » December 20th, 2007, 6:21 pm

Thanks for responding! I made my comments public in the interests of presenting my thoughts on the film for further discussion, and though it's understandable, I was sometimes taken aback at some of your remarks, which suggested I perhaps "don't know what I'm talking about". Actually, as an editor and first time director two years ago I can appreciate more than most online critics what goes into a film and the limitations imposed even on big studio productions. I've also even been involved in an animation project at Disney's and seen how things work. With respect, I also think you might have missed some of what I was saying.

I'll stand by my comments, but accept the many points you made - obviously there are always differences between the intent, what's able to be shot and what changes in post, and all I can do is reflect on the final result and how it's being marketed. Your comment about the animation being completed under those circumstances <I>is</I> evident in the final look...though as you say the majority wouldn't pick up on it and far worse DTVs have been praised. My problem with the animals was that they looked like generic animals, not <I>Disney</I> forest animals.

But I'm repeating myself. I <I>do</I> think Enchanted will go down as a modern classic. A benchmark movie? No, I don't think so, but a perfect continuation of Disney tradition...a big yes. Whether a film is well reviewed or makes a lot of money doesn't mean anything to anyone if the magic doesn't work on them. Enchanted weaved a spell, and as I said I welcome the chance to see it again. If it's any consolation, I found it to be more entertaining than The Princess Diaries, which Warners did ape pretty well with a couple of features.

At least I am glad I sparked some serious discussion on your film, thanks! :)

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Post by surfnspy » December 20th, 2007, 10:50 pm

I am glad you made the comments. Any discussion is good. I am thrilled that with the onslaught of movies this xmas, Enchanted still figures into the conversation.

No intention to offend at all. Sorry if it seemed that way.

There was just much to respond to since the post was long. Sorry about that.

Okay, now everybody else weigh in!

And if others have questions about the development of the film, I am happy to at least try and explain how things came to be.

-doug

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Post by Ben » December 21st, 2007, 6:40 am

I'll agree with you there that amongst all the Christmas movies, Enchanted is certainly the family pick of the bunch and that's why it's doing so well. And people are genuinely pleased to see Disney-style animation back on the big screen. I only wanted to point out where it "failed" for myself personally...and even "failed" is too strong a word. I just felt it could have been plussed in those areas.

My hope now is that if a sequel does move forward it's because there's something valid to continue and not <I>just</I> because it made over $100m. Unless there's a strong reason to make another one, it could end up wiping out Enchanted's magic and tinging the original film. I'd love to see another one: quite frankly with a little more budget, sequels are often the film the originals should have been. There are plenty of ideas to draw upon (but, let's face it...let Sarandon lie and don't bring back a brother/sister/empty revenge plot) but it needs to be the <I>right</I> one.

:)

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Post by PatrickvD » December 21st, 2007, 8:27 am

you know. I've been thinking. Everybody's saying, when going over the cast, how well James Marsden portrays this dumb bland Disney prince so well. And I have to say he is indeed excellent.

but..... wich Disney prince was so brainless? who is he based on? Snow White's Prince is absent. As is Cinderella's. Prince Phillip is heroic and far from dumb.

Prince Eris is a heroic type too. Aladdin was heroic and anything but dumb. And the Beast was just a tormented character.

Prince Edward reminded me more of Kronk than any Prince is Disney's animated history.

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Post by CharlieBarkin » December 21st, 2007, 10:23 am

I thought he played it more like a nice Gaston.
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Post by Kinoo » December 22nd, 2007, 3:30 pm

For me, Edwards act reminded me of Gaston and Joey from Friends.
[url=http://www.pixar-room.com][img]http://pixarroom.free.fr/PIXAR%20PICS/mai2007/R.jpg[/img][/url]
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Post by surfnspy » December 22nd, 2007, 5:15 pm

Prince Edward is a send up of the fact that most of the Disney princes are all hero and very little character. Here we got to have fun with digging into who these guys are. Yes, he is funny like Gaston and perhaps there is a little of that in him, but PE is all good guy. He may be a bit too handsome for his own good, but he is not conceited and arrogant in the way that Gaston was. For a long time in the development we tried to inlcude BatB in the body of work when we were dealing with which characters to spoof. But Belle is not a typical "princess" and so we chose to send up the "classic Disney" characters only. Really the SW, Cind, SB iconography. A little Mermaid, but mostly the older classics.

Re the BatB drafts--it is so funny now to think, but we had Giselle at some point reading newspapers from the real world, looking at the stars and dreaming about far away worlds. A lot of writers wanted her to be "strong" and modern like Belle. Naturally those drafts never really worked.

Edward was always very similar. Always the all beauty and I wouldn't call him brainless, he just sees things in a very simple, uncomplicated way. We were so lucky to get Marsden--I can't imagine anyone else in the role--he is not only perfect physically, but he is a great comedian and singer.

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Disney's Enchanted

Post by Dusterian » December 22nd, 2007, 11:41 pm

Hey, long-time reader, first time poster.

I actually registered just to try and explain why I think Ben's criticisms are too much, or in some cases even unwarranted.

I've seen Cinderella III, not Bambi II, which actually looks better than Cinderella III from what I have seen, but animals are always easier to animate than humans, and I'd say Enchanted's animation was better than DisneyToon's last efforts. Perhaps it's because they only animated a few minutes and DisneyToons animated whole features, and DisneyToons has good scenes and not so good scenes, so maybe Enchanted just looked like DisneyToon's best scenes. I'm not as learned in animation as you so I'm not noticing everything, but when I saw Giselle come out of a Cinderella-inspired coach in her Cinderella-inspired dress and made Cinderella-inspired movements (I'm a huge Cinderella fan, trust me on this, and others noticed it too), I wished Cinderella III had reached that level for their actual Cinderella! But I admit, it did look very direct-to-video, and wasn't that much better than the best DisneyToons animation, I just don't think it was less good. And, of course, I'm willing to watch the films back to back and see if I agree with you later.
Ben wrote:The animals were old school, but it would have been more fun to use some stock characters - not Bambi or Thumper himself per se, but many of the additional faces we see in those era's films.
Um, it sounds to me like you actually did want Disney characters in there, or at least animal characters based on the smaller background animal characters from Disney films. I don't think the animals really need to be more than generic since there's so little time for the animated segments and the concentration is on the humans, but I thought most of the characters had such personality and great looks, except for the yucky looking turtle.

I didn't even notice the ratio change, so I'd say that says something about how it wasn't terrible. As for Giselle realizing she wasn't "a cartoon", OH BOY do I have a problem with that criticism. Okay, first of all, she has a rather long scene realizing she's changed as she examines herself in the dark, looking at her hands and a strand of hair. But more importantly, I feel it would be bad if these characters did dwell on the fact that they weren't cartoons. Why? Well, for starters, to suggest that cartoons are 2-D in personality just because they're 2-D in physicality is horrible. I don't agree with criticisms that Disney's princesses have no depth, but I might let that slide if the film wasn't trying to say cartoons in general are also shallower than live-action. I think, and surfnspy can correct me (and I'd like to hear his input), that the only reason the scenes in Andalasia were animated were because of style and technique, and as a homage to past Disney films, not because Andalasia really is a cartoon. I'd say switching to the real world is the same as switching the style in, say, Sweeney Todd. Most of Sweeney Todd is washed out, grainy gray color, but Mrs. Lovett's fantasy of happiness with Mr. Todd is shown in bright saturated technicolor. And yes, I'm saying that's how the switch from the animated segments to the real segments should be thought of. When Giselle realizes she's different, it might not be because she's not flat or made of lines anymore, but because she feels different. She could be looking at her body merely because it was previously covered head-to-toe in strange light, and she knows something has changed but she can't figure out what. Only the audience knows, as a sort of joke, perhaps. Whatever the case, I think it's obvious Giselle can't put her finger on the physical transformation because she probably would comment on it and not ask where the castle since she's in such a drastically different looking place, but then again that could be written off as her naivety.

Another reason I think I'm right is because they considered doing the animated segments in CGI, which, as you know, is 3-dimensional. The change to 2-D was not just an attempt to bring 2-D back, it was a homage to the classic Disney fairy tale films. But it doesn't really matter what medium Giselle was once in, just that some change has occurred. After all, live-action is just another medium to do a film in, and we're supposed to accept the characters and worlds of entirely animated films as "real", or as the only real there is while we watch it. Which is actually why I had a whole problem with this film to begin with, it could imply that cartoons aren't as good as real life, or at least not as in-depth or sophisticated or grown-up or whatever reason people don't want to watch animated flicks.

The dragon transformation did look poor, I agree on that one. When Maleficent transformed, she was a shadow, a silhouette, behind green mist, but here Narissa just turns into some 3-dimensional purple thing and...well, I'll have to see it up close and personal on the DVD.
Ben wrote:She's going to a place where there are no happily ever afters" was delivered flat and much more appropriate would have been "no more happy endings".
"No more happy endings?" But Giselle hasn't experienced her happy ending yet. She was almost there, but the happy ending doesn't come until the wedding in every fairy tale. In fact, her wish at the well was to live happily ever after, so she clearly wasn't there yet.
Ben wrote:One New Yorker asks Giselle "Are you for real", which might have been a wonderful point to stop and have her "check herself out" and remark, more pointedly, "why, yes, I guess I am!" rather than just the "I think so" she replied with. There was never any realization that she was no longer a cartoon.
See above about the whole animated vs. real world look, but it wouldn't make sense for her to know that what she was now was "real" if she's never experienced it before. She would have thought her home world was what was real before. The "I think so" is more joke for the audience to get, once again. But now she's questioning what real is, when she previously thought Andalasia was as real as it got.
Ben wrote:Did the Happy Work Song work? I'm getting picky here, but it's a thought that ran through my mind: if Giselle is in the real world and a lack of fairytale goodness, why would the wild, non-tamed animals of Central Park flock to her call, and how would they know how to clean up? It's not like they've lived in an enchanted forest tending to the needs of a fairytale princess all their lives
Yea, you are being picky. :wink: While your idea of them refusing to clean is actually very funny and very good, I don't think there's anything wrong with what the film did because, well, let me take another quote from you:
Ben wrote:She's supposed, even in real life, to be this untouched fairytale princess and yet the lighting on the movie was really drab. Amy's whole take on Giselle could have been upped almost twice as much by a subtle bit of helpful lighting to make her glow and give her an extra aura to the others in a scene.
So you're okay with Giselle affecting the lighting, but she can't affect the animals? If the lighting can conform to her, so can the animals. I know, maybe that's stretching it, but it's still the same idea. Even in Andalasia, the animals won't do things for everyone. In all the Disney fairy tales, the princesses are so good and kind (and even in a way, animalistic in their innocence, purity, docility, etc.) that the animals love them and help them. I know the villains sometimes have pets but we never see how they obtain them. The princesses just sing (as animals do, too), and the animals respond because they know the princesses will be kind to them and the princesses have some kind of power over them. So Giselle, even in the real world, still has that princess purity all animals identify with and that princess power all animals yield to. She has to sing her song with whatever enchanted qualities it has, and the animals are compelled to listen and obey.

Speaking of the lighting, as well as the direction and drabness, surfnspy came close to explaining what I thought, which was that it's another choice of style and technique, like the decision to do animation and a different ratio. To direct the film without swoops or other frills makes it less like a fantasyland where anything is possible. The real world is also more drab, or at least New York is, and I think if Giselle can be changed enough to be made up of shadows instead of outlines then the lighting should also follow suit. I actually think the real world wasn't real enough, was too Disneyfied, and maybe should have actually gone for some kind of ultra real, no sanitation, independent film-like direction for the scenes in New York, but they can't exactly do that with a film for all audiences (I would like to think that Pip pooping himself in fear and the dog peeing were humorous doses of realism for the kids, since you'd never see that in Andalasia. Know if I'm right about this, surfnspy?). A shaky camera or some other techniques could be used, but I think the lack of fancy camera work is enough to show how unfanciful the real world is. Doesn't the fact that Kevin Lima did such sweeping work before suggest that this was a deliberate choice not to do it? Or maybe he's just good with animated films.

I thought James Marsden was not good enough, and this is where surfnspy and I disagree. Since Giselle was supposed to represent the past princesses, and did so very well, Edward should have represented the past princes equally well, but he didn't. One criticism that could be said of Beauty and the Beast is that Gaston has such an undesirable personality there's no worry over whether Belle will pick him or the Beast once we discover he's nice. James Marsden is like a nice Gaston, but he seems so conceited (a word Belle used to describe Gaston) and, yes, dumb (unlike Giselle, he doesn't seem to want to understand anything or see past his limited views), one wonders how Giselle could possibly be happy with him once they spend a lot of time together. If that's trying to say all the Disney princes would really be like that if looked at in-depth, that's really insulting, and I highly doubt the princesses would live happily ever after if their spouses turned out that way. None of the princes basked in their own masculinity to act so macho or ever once looked in a mirror. I don't blame Marsden, just the type of character he was told to play.
Ben wrote:I wasn't sure though, once it was clear that Giselle wasn't even interested in the prince, why his step-mother continued to want revenge? Surely just seal up the path back to Andalasia and leave 'em all stranded? The King Kong climax, with a rather uninspired dragon and another bungled sequence, felt all too much by the numbers.
I do agree with that, never even thought of that! However, I don't think Narissa knew that Giselle was falling for Robert until she saw her at the ball, and everyone involved, Robert, Edward, Nancy, and even Giselle thought that regardless of Giselle's feelings she couldn't be with Robert or shouldn't be with Robert. And as for sealing up the way for them to get back to Andalasia, I'd say she thought it would be hard to explain the Prince's absence, and it wasn't until later she tried to think of a story to tell the whole kingdom that they died. I also thought the climax was bungled.

As for the songs, well, I just love them, and I think that one's all up to opinion.

WHEW! Well, sorry that was so long, but if you read all of that, thank you very much and I'm excited for the responses!

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Post by Daniel » December 23rd, 2007, 2:46 am

Hey, Dusterian!! Ahh, never thought you would join, welcome! :)

There's way to much to respond too, but I do agree with some of your points, espicially about Edward. Would go more in-depth, but you pretty much said my feelings on the matter.

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Post by Ben » December 23rd, 2007, 7:53 am

One day I'll go right into this reply, but as for now it actually appears we agree on a lot of the same stuff.

Giselle <I>is</I> a 2D character at the start of Enchanted. It's her experiences in New York that give her a third dimension of depth and allow her to grow. I don't think my comments were that hard at all...just an explanation of what I thought could have been <I>bettered</I> in the movie...not that it was actually "bad" or "wrong".

With the "no more happy endings" suggestion, I might have been getting the lines wrong...I've only seen Enchanted once and that was a lot to remember to make points about!

Again, we're in agreement on the animation (actually, reading your post, you seem to want to counter my comments but end up agreeing on most points!) and that, even if it's better than DisneyToon, it's still not WDFA quality, which I thought was a shame.

I've a load of remarks I want to reply to surfnspy and your own points, but they'll have to wait until I get a free afternoon!

Welcome to our boards! :)

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Post by Daniel » December 24th, 2007, 2:56 am

Enchanted brought in another $4.15 this weekend, bringing its total domestic gross to $98.4 million!

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