SBox Soapbox: D23 2017 News Round-Up

Over the weekend, Disney fans everywhere were treated to an onslaught of news, trailers, and info as the company held the fifth ever D23 expo. A biennial convention dedicated exclusively for all things Disney, the convention has become a coveted tradition for Disnerds, Pixar-tards, Marvel maniacs, and Star Wars geeks to get the down-low on upcoming Disney movies. And those who attend the convention in Anahiem get to experience much more with exclusive products, panels, events, and even… exclusive footage… Huh, so that’s what jealousy feels like.

Normally I don’t pay much attention to D23, but upon learning about it 2 years ago I decided to actually keep my ear to the ground this time. I’m very glad I did, too, because I left the convention period with so much joy and anticipation that I simply have to share it with you guys! So here are some of the big news updates that stuck out to me and what I thought of them.

For clarity, I’m only covering news and trailers in regards to movies (both animated and live-action) and video games. If I talked about everything shown at the convention, we’d be here all day. Also, keep in mind that a lot of this news involves footage not released to the general public. So, apologies if I’m not being specific in some areas, as those not at D23 can only go off imagination and secondhand accounts.

Animation

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Similar to the expo itself, we’ll separate our film news between animated and live-action movies. So all Pixar, Disney Animation Studio and DisneyToon news will be right here.

Let’s start with one of my most anticipated Disney movies ever, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It-Ralph 2. Both a brief teaser and exclusive footage were unveiled at the event, showing Ralph and Venelope traveling through (assumably) an Ethernet cord and into the World Wide Web, where the two meet an “internet tastemaker” named Yesss (played by Taraji P. Hensen) who acts as their guide of sorts.

Various Internet references are made to things like clickbait and meme culture, but nothing compares to what happens when Ralph and Venelope visit the “Oh My Disney” website. As you’d expect, things got very meta very quickly, as profile icons of Iron Man and Stan Lee were seen. At one point Venelope enters a room with the other Disney princesses such as Ariel, Tiana, Rapunzel, Pocahontas, Jasmine, Moana, and Anna among others, all played by their original voice actresses. (Sounds a lot like the first film’s villain support group scene). Among Disney quips and jokes includes a comment of Brave’s Merida being “from the other studio” and the princesses’ butler, C-3PO coming in the room, mentioning his own experience with princesses.

This is a great concept for a Wreck-It-Ralph sequel, and I love how appropriately meta the footage was for the event. It seems that on top of it being a very clever take on general Internet culture, it’ll also be a love letter to Disney fans of all kinds. I can’t wait to see that “Oh My Disney” scene for myself, and I’m glad to hear that the filmmakers are using Disney’s umbrella to their advantage. November 21, 2018 can’t come soon enough.

While no footage was shown for Frozen 2, we did learn that the final name of the film will not be “Frozen 2”. A humorous exchange at the show joked about the title being things like “Fro-Yo”, “Thawed”, “Frozen To”, and “Frozen Toe”, but for now the title is a mere placeholder. Fair enough. In place of any Frozen 2 footage was a sneak peak of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, a 21-minute short which will play before Coco this Fall.  The sneak peak was made complete by Josh Gad singing along with the footage with an orchestra, which sounds like a lot of fun honestly. I enjoyed the previous Frozen short that came before Cinderella, so I’ll probably enjoy this one, too.

Speaking of Coco, attendees got a behind-the-scenes look at the not-so-distant Pixar film. They explored the general plot of the movie much further, explaining the character motivation a bit more, showcasing test-animation, and further demonstrating its Dia de Los Muertos artstyle. They then showed the first 5 minutes of the movie.

Coco is a film I’m holding off much judgement for until I see it. I have faith in this movie being a pleasant watch, but I wouldn’t exactly say I’m hyped for it like the other films. That’s totally fine, though, because this will make the inevitability of me being blown away much more impactful. My big takeaway is that I predict myself really liking the main character, Diego, even if his dream of being a musician in this setting and style makes the film even more reminiscent of The Book of Life. However, I’m sure I’ll find a distinction between this film and that one in time.

Continuing with Pixar news, The Incredibles 2 now has a solid release date of June 15, 2018. The film will sport the same cast as the 2004 original with the sole exception of Dash, who will now be played by Huck Milner. The film will take place a couple minutes after the first film. Our lead for the movie is Elastigirl instead of Mr. Incredible as he is spending this adventure at home with baby Jack Jack. New footage gives a glimpse of this setup where Jack Jack goes outside while Mr. Incredible is asleep and quarrels with a raccoon. Super-powered-hilarity ensues, and I’ve been sold!

This will be fantastic, no doubt. While a lot of time has passed since the 2004, the first film is probably one of the better Pixar films in hindsight, and I can’t wait for that world to be further explored. We still don’t know exactly what this next film will be about side from general themes, which I wish we did, but the film’s less than a year away now. I can wait a bit longer.

Toy Story 4 had no footage to show, understandably. In fact, there wasn’t much news for this except for John Lasseter now being a producer for the film instead of co-director, leaving John Cooley as sole director of the movie. The film is still set to come out on June 21, 2019. I honestly don’t have much of an opinion on this matter. I don’t want to say I’m skeptical about Toy Story 4, but I will say that I’m tentatively excited for it. From what I know, Josh Cooley has been with the studio for a long time and has even directed a Toy Story short just 2 years ago. So, I’m completely okay with this shakeup.

Pixar concluded with an untitled original film assumably coming in 2020. The joke placeholder title tells you everything you need to know: The Untitled Pixar Film That Takes You To A Suburban Fantasy World. Just rolls off the tongue! Imagine a simple suburban neighborhood, but with elves, gnomes and unicorns in it. The story is tragically inspired by writer-director Dan Scalon’s loss of his father at an early age, with our two protagonist elves on a journey to spend just one more day with their dad.

I love the fact that this movie is coming, especially from Pixar. From the sound of things it’s going to be a heartbreaking and visually interesting story packed with all the trademark emotional and tragic undertones you’d expect from Pixar. Doesn’t that story just hit you where you live? It makes me wanna give someone a heartfelt hug and tell them everything’s going to be alright. Very excited to hear more about it next D23.

Finally, another untitled film was shown off jokingly titled Space (as in leaving a space for the title). This comes to us from DisneyToon Studios, and shows us two anthropomorphic jets racing each other as a speed test. Eventually, a fighter jet swoops in and tries to shoot the two down. The film appears and sounds to be a continuation of the Cars and Planes franchise, but that connection isn’t confirmed. The film will release April 12, 2019.

I’m pretty sure this is going to be either Planes 3 or yet another spin-off of Cars. I’d be heavily surprised if it isn’t. Even if it is, though, I am kinda interested in what this project has to offer. It sounds like a potentially dark film, and from what I’ve been told the animation looks incredibly realistic. I definitely need more info before I can get excited, but good start from this project so far.

Live Action

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Before we start, I want to mention that I’m omitting the live action remakes — The Lion King, Aladdin, Mulan, and Dumbo — from this post. I am saving those films for my upcoming post on all of Disney’s live action remakes which will hopefully be out tomorrow, so stay tuned for that. For now, here’s everything else Disney mentioned.

What’s this? A trailer that isn’t D23-exclusive? I must be dreaming… or smoking… woah, this trailer’s kinda trippy. This movie is called A Wrinkle in Time, based on the eponymous novel, and I believe it’s about a girl who’s father traps himself in a darkness that is slowly taking over the world. In order to save him and the world, she, her brother and her friend must go through several trials around the universe. That’s a wild guess, but if I’m right I like it. The trailer gives us a glimpse at it’s visual style, which beyond simple CG work actually appears to play with perception, which is really cool. The cast list is incredible, including Ava DuVernay, Chris Pine, and even Oprah Winfrey. Yes, Oprah’s in this movie. So, come March 9, 2018, be sure to look under your theater chair for keys to a new car. I know I will!

In all seriousness, this was a really good trailer. I’ll definitely make a note of it when the time comes.

We also got more information and a very brief, public, mute teaser for Mary Poppins Returns. The sequel to the 1964 classic, which I admittedly never watched all the way through (I should fix that), the film will star Emily Blunt as Poppins alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Wishaw, Emily Mortimer, Colin Firth, Dick Van Dyke, and Meryl Streep. Really solid cast, but where’s Michael Rooker? Seriously, if Michael Rooker isn’t in this movie… Anyway, during the D23-exclusive footage, you see Jack the Lamplighter (Miranda) teaching Michael’s son how to fly a kite as Poppins is seen flying in the distance. It then cuts to Van Dyke’s bank chairman character dancing atop a desk. Finally, we see a grown Michael and Jane reminiscing about the events of the first film and how they “never happened” only for Poppins to appear over the banister.

Everything sounds to be in order here for this continuation of a classic. I’m definitely interested in seeing the film next Christmas, especially with this description and this cast. It’ll be cool to see if this film will retain the same magic of the original 44 years later.

And now we get to the really good stuff. A behind-the-scenes look was made public on Saturday of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. There aren’t a ton of new plot details shown in this, but that’s mainly because this is a sizzle real and not a full trailer. (Hopefully Comic Con will give us a trailer). This is mainly a way to hold fans over until the next trailer, giving small glimpses into what the film will be like.

What personally stood out to me was how good the alien creatures look for this film. Especially for practical effects this looks amazing. I’m also stunned out how bright the color pallet appears to be here. I noticed a lot of white and a lot of red with maybe a bit of yellow. This tells me that this movie will definitely pop visually when on the big screen. We also got brief snippets of action scenes and lightsaber scenes, which will be great to see in action. Then, of course, Carrie Fisher… She sticks out a ton here, and I can’t tell if that’s intentional or the fact that I’m sad she’s gone. My hope is that her presence in the film is major and impactful like it appears to be here so we can all send her off right. I look forward to finding that out for sure, but until then Christmas can’t come soon enough.

Last but certainly not least on the live action front, the trailer for Avengers 3: Infinity War was shown… This trailer was D23-exclusive, and… I’m so salty right now. Holy shit! This trailer sounds like the greatest thing ever made and I can’t see it… The pain!

I could describe the footage to you, but I actually really like the way this video explained it, so I’ll let you hear it for yourself. Did you see the video? Good! Now let’s talk about it!

When I imagine the footage shown for this trailer, I think about an apocalyptic war story. I think of this as Earth and the Galaxy’s last stand against an unstoppable force that seeks to mercilessly slaughter everything. This is the end times, and we’re all witness to it. There’s very little humor or hope to be found; just confusion, devastation, urgency, and chaos. Some surprising things of note include the apparently bright color pallet displayed in the film, which I believe serves to contrast from the dark themes and tones. I’m also fascinated to hear about the coming together of our many heroes. The footage shows some semblance of unity, but everyone is still very much scattered.

To finally know how the Guardians of the Galaxy enter the fold with the Avengers is fantastic. Thor being the connective tissue to those two factions of the MCU is completely fitting, and the way he enters the Guardians’ lives reveals that Infinity War may take place mere minutes after Thor: Ragnarok. In fact, I really hope that isn’t a spoiler for Ragnarok. I’m sure it probably isn’t, but still. Other character combinations include Starlord, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man fighting Thanos head-on. Another shows Thor, Spidey and Iron Man in very bad shape. As for other characters, some show up different. Captain America is bearded. Thor has short hair. Black Widow is now a blonde. Groot is a teenager. From the sound of things, the only characters not shown at all include Ant-Man, Hulk, Falcon, Vision, Nick Fury, and War Machine. Everyone else made the trailer as far as I know. Even Loki appears in the trailer handing the Teserak to someone off camera.

This is by far the greatest thing I ever not witnessed. From what everyone is saying, this isn’t a mere trailer. This is gold! Pure, unadulterated gold for a movie set to be pure, unadulterated gold. I’m so hyped for this movie to comes out, even though we’re still two MCU movies away from this one. With Comic Con this weekend my hope is that this trailer will be available to us ASAP. If not now and not at Comic Con, then hopefully sometime before Thor: Ragnarok so that my life can be complete. I need this in my life now!

Video Games

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Our final stop on our D23 journey was their brief video game presentation, which showed off info and extended insight into 3 Disney themed games. Among them was a behind the scenes look at Insomniac’s Spider-Man for PS4 where we learned… nothing! We literally didn’t learn or see anything new since E3, so next.

Star Wars: Battlefront II received a similar behind-the-scenes look as Spider-Man, only this time we saw more about the game’s story. Accordingly, the game takes place right after the Death Star explodes in Return of the Jedi. An empirical captain witnesses this from a nearby planet and must now discover who she is and what she stands for after the Empire seemingly fell. The sizzle reel introduces us to the characters you’ll see within the story and even shows some pre-alpha footage of story mode gameplay.

I mentioned before that Star Wars: Battlefront II was one of my most anticipated games from E3, and I stand by that. This game appears to be everything Battlefront I was supposed to be, and this story mode seems to drive home the fact that this will certainly be the perfect Star Wars game I was hoping for 2 years ago.

Lastly, as promised a month prior we got a new trailer for the long anticipated Kingdom Hearts III. Now this was the major reason I decided to keep up with D23 in the first place, so you know I was excited for whatever they had to show me. All I was wanting from this was a new location (since we only have 3 so far) and a release date for God sake. Luckily, I got both.

After a bevy of action-RPG awesomeness at the hands of Sora plays over a title scroll, we got our new location alright. First we got Corona from Tangled, then San Fransokyo from Big Hero 6, then the return of Olympus from Hercules, and now… get ready… Andy’s Room from Toy Story! Yes! Absolutely yes! It’s so beautiful, and hold on. Is that Sora, Donald, and Goofy as toys? That’s totally brilliant. And there they are talking to Buzz and Woody, who are concerned about some of their missing friends. Okay, I’m down so far… What? You gotta be kidding me. Both Woody and Buzz are assists in this game at the same time, and with Donald and Goofy still active. You mean I don’t have to pick between characters anymore? Square Enix, I think I love you!

This trailer was great! It showed tons of gameplay, gave us something new, and even introduced new gameplay mechanics such that turn your keyblade into more than just a magical battering stick. Depending on your predicament, it can be a hammer, a whip, or any number of other things. In the Toy Story world, you’ll also be able to control toy robots that can shoot Heartless scum. This is all wonderful, and to top everything off the trailer ends with 2 beautiful words: “Coming 2018”. It’s about damn time!


D23 was amazing this year, and I can’t wait till it comes again in 2019. Now, there was a ton more news to come out of D23 for other mediums. The one I specifically wanted to mention were the Disney theme park news. If you’re interested, click here for a full list of Disney park news. As for everything else, let me know what you thought of these, and everything else at this year’s D23 in the comments below!

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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