On the recommendation of a friend (the inimitable Aaron Stack of Stacked Deck Entertainment) I fired up Disney's The Princess and the Frog on Netflix streaming tonight. Mr. Stack's recommendation did not go awry - the movie was quite entertaining. It was also one of the two darkest Disney movies I've seen (the other being The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which I also really love) which kind of surprised me. Disney set the tale in New Orleans, which added all sorts of fun elements (Cajuns, voodoo, etc.) into it and made the story very enjoyable. The animal sidekicks were very enjoyable, and the Bokor villain was dealing with actual demons (with no punches pulled on the consequences for either him or the people who dealt with him), though the word wasn't used. The characters were also refreshingly three-dimensional and flawed, too, particularly Charlotte, who grew up into a character that didn't HAVE to do the right thing at the end and, once she knew what was going on truly had no reason to, but tried anyway. I'd heartily recommend this one, and I promise the next thing I do will be less kid-oriented!
RPG notes: As usual, this is the spoiler section, and should be reserved for consumption by readers who have either consumed the media or don't mind spoilers.
The Shadow Man, while a fairly straightforward Bokor villain, was a very slick and well-executed one. In particular, his shadow was a nice touch. It was a separate entity from him and able to affect the physical world by interacting with the shadows of other things was both effective and creepy. I'm almost certainly going to poach that for a fantasy villain. The film also had a very solid multi-threaded story AND a solid internal mythology, both of which are useful for any RPG campaign or setting - the mythology in particular took very solid advantage of a the setting and demonstrated how sometimes where a story takes place can deeply impact the story in important ways. That particular story wouldn't have worked anywhere else but New Orleans. The one last element that this movie provided me with wasn't actually in the movie itself, at least not entirely. In the process of "selling" me on the film, Aaron Stack mentioned that they "straight up murder a good guy" in the film. This took my viewing experience from "standard Disney movie" to "standard Disney move + Anyone Can Die." That "impending doom" feeling I had actually made the movie all the cooler and got me thinking that a good prophecy of doom from a reliable source can be a great story wrinkle in a game. All through the movie, I was trying to guess - was it going to be Ray? Louis? Mama Odie? Big Daddy? Naveen? That, coupled with how truly pull-no-punches supernatural evil The Shadow Man was, really made the film for me.