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  • Disney Pirates: The Definitive Collector’s Anthology by Michael Singer Book Review

    Disney Pirates: The Definitive Collector’s Anthology by Michael Singer

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Delving into the high seas of piratical entertainment created by Walt Disney and his enduring company, Disney Pirates: The Definitive Collector’s Anthology charts a course through history and the Mouse House’s lengthy relationship with a pirate’s life and all the adventure with it.  Long before Captain Jack and his precious Black Pearl won the hearts of audiences worldwide, Singer’s expertly researched work delves into Walt Disney’s own boyhood captivation with the scurvy rebels through the works of Robert Louis Stevenson before bringing that same enthusiasm to his own productions.  From Disney’s first live-action feature, an adaptation of Stevenson’s own Treasure Island, to 1960’s beloved family adventure film, Swiss Family Robinson and beyond to the animated classic Peter Pan, populated by a siege of memorable pirates including the one and only Captain Hook, Singer provides excellent insight into the respective efforts and their unique makings.  Also voyaging into lesser remembered works such as 1997’s Beverly Hills Family Robinson, the underrated Treasure Planet to the more contemporary Jake and the Never Land Pirates and ABC’s Once Upon a Time, every Disney effort bearing the sight of the hellions of the seven seas receives their proper due.  

    No stranger to the rum-filled ways of the tide having helmed previous efforts on the making of the Pirates films, Singer sets his sail on the early desires and eventual executions in bringing Disney’s original groundbreaking attraction to Disneyland in 1967.  Through gorgeous concept designs and illustrations, mostly from Disney legend Marc Davis, fans receive firsthand insight into one of the final attractions overseen by Walt himself that continues to dazzle park visitors and keep them coming back for more.  Ahead of the much anticipated fifth installment’s release, Singer naturally takes readers through the history of the box-office smashing franchise with considerable insight into its latest sequel, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, with interviews from countless cast and crew members including, but not limited to, Co-Directors Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg.  Fitted with a humble foreword by Captain Jack himself, Johnny Depp and a gorgeous photo gallery of production stills from Producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s personal collection, Singer’s exceptional effort concludes with a lengthy chapter on Shanghai Disneyland’s impressive Pirate Cove, the first-ever pirate themed land found in a Disney park befit with the expected magical quality and showmanship fans have come to expect but have yet to fully experience until now.  A perfect appetizer for Jack Sparrow’s next cinematic adventure and a wealthy resource for everything pertaining to Disney’s historic ship of sword-wielding misfits, Singer’s latest work lives up to its definitive moniker, giving readers a fine first mate to travel into the horizon with.

    Available now from Disney Editions, Disney Pirates: The Definitive Collector’s Anthology can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Tim Burton Encyclopedia by Samuel J. Umland Book Review

    The Tim Burton Encyclopedia by Samuel J. Umland 

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Chronicling his nearly 35 year career and impact on pop culture through his uniquely dark and whimsical tales, The Tim Burton Encyclopedia by Samuel J. Umland provides readers and film enthusiasts of Burton’s colorful career a detailed overview of the artist, his many works and frequent collaborators.  Organized alphabetically, The Tim Burton Encyclopedia spares insight into the relevance of CalArts’ A113 homeroom class, Burton’s earliest and seldom seen projects including, Hansen and Gretel (1982) and Aladdin and His Magical Lamp (1986).  In addition, Umland delves into the backgrounds and impact of Burton influences such as Dr. Seuss, Disney’s The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) and Roald Dahl while, surprisingly lacking a formal section for stop-motion master Ray Harryhausen.  Covering each of Burton’s film projects in great detail, this reference guide also shines light on Burton’s many collaborators dating back to former Disney executive Richard Laurence Berger who green-lit production of Burton’s live-action short Frankenweenie (1984) to more commonly associated artists such as Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands, Dark Shadows) and Composer Danny Elfman (responsible for musical contributions to all of Burton’s films minus 1994’s Ed Wood).  Although sharing more scholarly asides pertaining to the inclusion of monsters in Burton’s works and a foreword from Production Designer Bo Welch (Beetlejuice, Batman Returns), The Tim Burton Encyclopedia treads familiar ground covered in more enthralling efforts from Burton biographer Mark Salisbury.  While not meant to be absorbed cover to cover, The Tim Burton Encyclopedia serves its purpose as a solid reference of the Beetlejuice director’s eccentric career with countless sections of enlightening material for Burton’s most informed appreciators.

    Available now from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, The Tim Burton Encyclopedia can be purchased via Rowman.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.