I'm on sensory overload right now. Lot's of information to digest and edit from Bob Iger's keynote--plus Disney Online was good enough to give me an upclose look at the new Disney.com website (launching January 29th) and the new Pirates of the Caribbean Online game (due some time in the Spring).
I'll have a more in-depth report later (and some video clips probably tomorrow), but here's a few early observations:
The keynote was entertaining with Iger introducing Evangeline Lilly and Matthew Fox from Lost, as well as ESPN's Mike Tirico and POTC producer Jerry Bruckheimer. A glorified Disney infomercial to be sure, but Bob was pleasant and very at ease with the scripted material.
Yes, there were movie clips from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Ratatouille, but oddly, not Meet the Robinsons.
Pirates looks like a winner. Jack's back and very much alive (was this ever in doubt?). Here's a few things I observed at first glance:
--Yes, some of it takes place in Singapore.
--Yes, Elizabeth still wants Will (this from Jerry Bruckheimer himself).
--Jack appears to be more like the conniving rogue we loved in Curse of the Black Pearl, less prone to the cartoonish antics we saw in Dead Man's Chest.
--Jack and crew will try to save a ship from capsizing by running from one side of the deck to the other (ok, that's a cartoonish antic, but it looked kinda fun).
--In the climactic battle scene, Jack and Davy Jones will swordfight from atop a yardarm. The early CGI (even the brief glimpse I caught) is impressive.
There's more, I'm sure, but I need to give the clip a second look.
Ratatouille's animation is phenomenal, but so far the story doesn't wow me.
It's a "follow your dream" tale of a rat who longs to be a French chef. In the preview scene, Remy the rat is observing the goings-on in a restaurant kitchen while his "mentor," an imaginary chef (think Chef Boy-R-Dee as a Hitchhiking Ghost) coaches him on the finer points of running a kitchen. Remy watches a boy mopping the floor and dismisses him for not being a real member of the kitchen staff, but his imaginary buddy admonishes him because "anyone can cook." Remy then becomes frantic as the boy does just that, tossing ingredients into a boiling stewpot when no one is looking. There is sincerity and warmth to the scene, but Remy comes across as kind of bland.
I'm sure this point will be debated a lot, but the upcoming changes to Disney.com are NOT a move towards "Disney MySpace." Yes, there's a social-networking aspect to it with customizable screens, chat, games, friends lists and drop-in audio and video, but it's in such a controlled environment, comparisons to MySpace are misguided. If anything, it's more like Nick.com.
Those of you struggling with dial-up, be warned. The new Disney.com is engineered with the broadband user in mind.
Pirates of the Caribbean Online: I'm not a gamer, but I want to play this. It's intuitive enough for a casual gamer to jump right in and play and deep enough to keep a hardcore gamer entertained. And who doesn't want to form his own crew and go pirating?
My head is spinning . . . stay tuned . . .