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Movies of 1998 Bracket Game: Deep Impact Vs. Mulan

In the first round of this bracket game, I tended to give some general information about the origins of the movie in question, its overall nature, and the resulting reactions to it both critically and financially. I then included a video of the trailer for the movie, just in case anybody needed a reminder of what the movie was like (or maybe more accurately, how it was marketed). With our list of films whittled down to eight, I’ve decided to take a different tack in this second round. Hopefully, with fewer films to cover, the chances that I’ll find the information and sources I need will be pretty decent.

Here I was, all prepared to say that the competitors in this second round matchup had something in common because they were “both cartoons,” and you guys went and voted in Deep Impact instead of Armageddon. Hey, I like a cheap joke as much as the next guy, but I gotta say you made the right choice anyway. At some point the movies having something in common is going to fall away in these bracket games anyway, so let’s get on with it.

Yesterday’s men with guns pairing continued this bracket’s tendency toward close finishes. How close? Before I went to bed last night, Out of Sight had a small lead. When I woke up this morning I was surprised to see that Saving Private Ryan had inched ahead overnight. I took my dog on his morning walk under the assumption that I’d be writing about Spielberg’s war picture in the final four, but when I returned and sat down at my computer with my breakfast, things had already flip-flopped and now Out of Sight was out front again. Now, either my eyes were playing tricks on me  when I checked the poll right after I woke up or there was some really contentious last-minute voting on this one. I prefer to believe the latter.

There is a small number of current composers of large-scale music for film who are widely known by name. The list goes something like this: John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone, Danny Elfman, Howard Shore, Michael Giacchino, Alan Menken, Randy Newman, and Carter Burwell. That’s pretty much it. That’s in the single digits. Until his passing in 2015, James Horner would have been on that list. His death was sudden and unexpected, occurring due to the crash of the small airplane he was piloting. He was the only passenger and only fatality in the accident. It would be an understatement to point out that Horner was prolific, with more than one hundred film credits to his name. Some critics pointed out that he was in part able to achieve this by recycling elements from previous works (of his own and others) into key moments, but these criticisms didn’t stop Horner from becoming a hugely successful and honored composer for film. One producer of the Star Trek films noted that Horner had been brought on to score Star Trek II: The wrath of Khan because the studio couldn’t afford a more famous option, but that by the time they were ready to make Star Trek VI, they couldn’t afford Horner anymore. He had ten Oscar nominations to his name, eight for full scores and two for co-writing nominated songs, including “Somewhere Out There” from An American Tail and “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic. Horner’s two wins were for Celine Dion’s signature song and the score from the accompanying movie in 1997. But don’t worry, we’re not covering that here. You get to listen to a bit of the score from our competitor Deep Impact.

I received a little push back in the summer of 2015 when I was trying to compile a ranking of top Disney songs and selected “Honor To Us All” to represent Mulan instead of something like “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” or “Reflection,” so here’s the latter, with its lovely and longing melody as sung by Lea Solanga in the version presented in the film.

Yes, there was a pop version that was responsible for launching Christina Aguilera’s career and making the song a favorite audition piece for many young women. This is what you get, because it’s better. By the end of what had been billed by CEO Michael Eisner as “the Disney Decade,” the creative explosion at the company and their resulting success were starting to show some cracks. In the four years since the unprecedented triumph which had been The Lion King, none of the studio’s animated offerings had garnered the combination of critical and financial success that had come to be expected. At the same time, internal conflict created in part by that success was bringing the Disney Renaissance to a sputtering end. Studio chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg had left following The Lion King and started Dreamworks alongside Steven Spielberg and David Geffen with the intention of competing directly with Disney for family animation dollars. Composer Stephen Schwartz got in the middle of this rivalry when he agreed to work on Prince of Egypt for Dreamworks shortly after returning from a research trip to China for Mulan. Sensing some standard talent-pilfering, Eisner and Disney leaned on Schwartz in hopes of him abandoning Katzenberg’s project, but instead he withdrew from Mulan. Schwartz had already composed three songs for Mulan, which were later discarded based on what Disney said were changes in the story. Matthew Wilder (yes, the “Break My Stride” guy) and Andrew Zippel were brought in to pen new songs, with five eventually being included on the soundtrack alongside orchestration created by Jerry Goldsmith.

We’ve got two pretty different movies here with different music featured in them. Which one do you think should move on to out final four?

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Posted on January 26, 2018, in Bracket Game, Movies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Easy vote. Mulan.

    Pushback? Who would have done such a thing? I went back and checked. I may have been overly contentious in some of my comments during that whole series. I must have been hangery.

    I am very glad Out of Sight won the day. As you pointed out yesterday, the winner of that contest should have a pretty clear field to the finals. I can live with an Out of Sight/Big Lebowski finish although I expect to be mildly disappointed with the winner.

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  2. Voting for Mulan to move to the semifinals due to the Lea Salonga factor. 🙂

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  3. Mulan got my vote easily.

    I figured this one would likely be an easy stomping. But it appears that Deep Impact still has fans.

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  4. I only saw “Mulan” once, but I did not like it, outside of Eddie Murphy’s voice over. A lot of plot holes, I think? So it’s “Deep Impact”, the “female” disaster flick of 1998.

    This score is very pretty.

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    • I have seen Mulan a couple of times because my kids like it. Thankfully, they haven’t played it on an infinite loop the way some kids play their favorite movies, but for a little while it was part of their regular rotation. It’s mid-range Disney. Actually better than most of what the studio put out in the 90’s post Renaissance. (Although exactly when that period of creative renewal ended is a matter of debate among Disney fans, I say the decline started with Pocahontas. And it was a steep drop in quality.) If I live to be 150 years old, there will never come a time when I say, “Hey, let’s watch Mulan or Hercules or Hunchback.” I have seen all the movies from that period at least once and that was enough.

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      • I’d place the decline as starting with Pocahontas. (Some people find The Lion King overrated. I do not).. Hunchback, Hercules and Tarzan were all pretty mediocre in my view. Mulan was ahead of those four post Lion King offerings. But it also wasn’t top tier Disney either. In all fairness, I must point out that the four mediocre entries were better than a lot of what Disney put out in the following decade (Brother bear, Home On the Range). The Princess And The Frog, while not quite the “classic” a lot of people seem to think it is, was a definite rebound after a pretty weak decade for the studio.

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        • I am one of those people who thinks The Lion King is vastly overrated, but I will still include it in the Renaissance. Post-LK, Disney dropped from greatness to goodness. Then it fell into a dark period.

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      • Same here. I enjoyed “Hercules” the most of those three, and I personally do like that song that Michael Bolton made a pop song version of. James Woods does a great voice over as Hades.

        But none come remotely close to Mermaid / KIng / Beauty / Aladdin (which I just saw the musical version of tonight in Hollywood.) An amazing run of animation brilliance.

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