If you’re interested in participating in the Geek Out Challenge, read this post here! Each day I will be posting a question for that day for the next 30 days. Follow along each day with your own post or feel free to wait until the entire challenge has been released and take it on when you like! Be sure to link back to the master post at the end or link back to each post for each day.
Day Twenty Six: Favourite Disney Movie?
When I was young, a Disney movie traditionally was an animated experience, the greats such as Mary Poppins or The Jungle Book some of the greatest western animated and live action movies in living memory. I could name my favourite animated Disney movie very easily, The Lion King and this would be a very short topic for discussion. However, in recent years through a capitalist push to become one of the largest media corporations in modern history, to answer this question is a lot more complex to tackle. As much as I love The Lion King, a traditional associatory Disney experience, one of my most viewed and cherished movies is also Aliens now under the remit of the house the mouse built. And that is both the blessing and downside of the modern corporate model of a single company using its capital and leverage to expand to the point of market dominance, bringing in a great many proprietary rights under a single umbrella, without, you would hope, stifling competition and creative and artistic, endeavour and direction.
tn creates a dualistic approach to media dominance, build up a platform offering a variety of genres and series or buy existing media content. We have witnessed in the last decade the explosion of success of Netflix was a pivot towards making available a vast wealth of content but unfortunately, for the most part not their own in their formation and as such we have also seen more studios removing content from the pioneer of this service. The launch of Disney Plus in the US you would imagine and the gradual removal of all content from other services to its own platform will have an impact on subscription numbers in time. That said, we are looking today at my favourite Disney movie from era before its expansion, for me that involved principally looking at the work of the Disney Corporation before its push for media domination with the acquisition of Fox amongst others. That movie is, Flight of the Navigator.
There’s a lot of heart and soul in this film, one of my childhood favourites, that exudes a certain level of pathos in the central premise of a child ripped from his time and returned at a future date, with the world and those he loves around him transformed and changed by age. It’s a simple premise but always touching when he finds himself back ‘home’ but also realising how much has changed, the exchange between his younger brother who is now an older sibling is such a beautiful bittersweet moment. It’s difficult to be objectively critical of this film as it is very much a childhood favourite and as such many of its faults are ones I can easily justify or give a free pass. If I had to be hyper critical, tonally perhaps it is somewhat disjointed. The first half is very much a bittersweet realisation of change and finding your place in a different land, where life has changed beyond recognition. Conversely, as he finds the ship and attempts to get back home it becomes almost a typical Disney fare of jokes and humour. I enjoyed the bleaker as a narrative structure it just always strikes me as tonally converse to what follows.
The film looks of ‘its age’ and very much has an 80s aesthetic in its presentation and realisation. I still feel the ship looks impressive and would have loved the opportunity to visit the Disney Hollywood Studios tour where the model was on display although purportedly, as far as I believe it was closed down. The soundtrack is very synthetic and is a difficult sell as a quality piece of music however, it does contain one of my all time favourite 80s tracks, the appropriately titled Robot Romp if you’ve ever needed a motivational track to inspire a gym session or long run, you could do far worse than stick this ode to the 1980s on your playlist. It took a lot of searching and ‘creative solutions’ to add this to my playlist, with thanks to a good friend who provided a ‘creative solution’ to finding it in the first place as a challenge. Also I do adore the animatronics and animal work in the movie, I don’t care if I come across as the old man shouting at the clouds, I do prefer practical effects and real modelling over digital effects.
It was a little sad to hear about the child actors descent into felony in recent months, whilst it struck a little close to him given his intended target, it is an unfortunate consequence of being a child star that few seem to escape from with much success given the perpetual mental state they remain in our conscious realities. He will forever be a 10 year old boy as we enjoy watching this movie however clearly his path in life has taken a somewhat downward trajectory as of late and you just hope he finds some solace and peace. Tellingly, nearly all my favourite childhood movie actors have been unable to maintain that same level of acclaim and success into adulthood, Barret Oliver after Neverending Story and DARYL no longer in the acting profession. Perhaps only Christian Bale after his turn in Empire of the Sun managed to escape the purgatory of children’s acting prison.
Objectively, if I were to watch this and review the film today, I could probably be a little tougher, a little meaner and more critical of it’s faults. But I’ll readily admit I come to this with somewhat rose tinted glasses and a large degree of nostalgia and so it is easily one of my favourite ‘classical’ Disney films, sure the original Lion King was a more critical and commercial success, and other films have more acclaim and prestige than this troubled science fiction children’s film. But it did something a little differently to other Disney films, it sucked you in, centred around the central character, into this dark and lonely world of isolation and despair before its rousing climax, a typical heroes journey structure but one done effectively. And if you don’t shake your booty to Robot Romp, I’m sorry but we can’t be friends.
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