My New Disney Ranking!

You guys know I don’t really like doing rankings. It’s just so tough to order films when I like things for different reasons. However, there is something about the task I find impossible to resist especially when I have just finished a project. Recently over on my youtube channel I finished reviewing the Disney Canon and I’m very proud of how it came out.

To finish the project I felt I needed to do a new ranking that reflected my new thoughts on some of the films. On this rewatch some films I liked more and others less. Here is my new ranking video:

Here is my original ranking video:

Let’s break down the various changes.

First of all there 3 new additions:

Moana came in at 14th

Zootopia at 16

Big Hero 6 at 26

We have a new top and bottom spot:

I decided to go with my heart this time and Little Mermaid at 1. Beauty and the Beast at 2.

Home on the Range really didn’t impress me this watch so it replaced Dinosaur, which is now 54th at the bottom

Biggest Rises:

Make Mine Music went up 10 spots from 39th to 29th. I just like the weird little film

Tarzan went up 9 spots from 26th to 17th

Alice in Wonderland increased from 11th to 6th.

Lilo and Stitch, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, Pinocchio and Meet the Robinsons also improved spots by quite a bit

Biggest Losers-

Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad while visually neat didn’t impress me as much this time going down 17 spots from 16th to 33

Rescuers Down Under also took a hit going from 17th to 30th

Jungle Book was also the big loser going from 9th to 23rd

Saludos Amigos and Black Cauldron both lost 11 spots

Treasure Planet I was more generous to last time going from 35th to 44th which is odd because I felt more positive on rewatch but it’s where I felt it belonged


So what do you think of my new ranking? Let me know in the comments section and don’ t forget to watch the Disney Canon reviews.

Tangled: Before Ever After TV Movie Review

Evidently this is the week for Disney expanding upon my favorite animated classics. On Thursday I will see the new take on Beauty and the Beast (for better of worse) and this weekend I saw the TV movie that goes with the new series based on Tangled called Tangled: Before Ever After.

If you’ve read this blog you know Tangled has a special place in my heart. I wasn’t really into animation except for Pixar for years and then I went and saw Tangled in 3D and it blew me away. I loved the characters, songs, writing and being surrounded with those floating lanterns. Tangled is Disney’s first romantic comedy and still boasts their best movie couple in Eugene/Flynn and Rapunzel. I just love it.

With such strong feelings about the original it is probably no surprise I approached this TV movie and new series hesitantly and honestly my response is mixed. I liked some things about it but other parts felt extremely generic and bland.

The best thing by far about it is the visual style and animation. I really think the 2D flash animation is cool and looks inventive and new. I like all the bright colors and the way it moved and flowed.

I also thought the music was decent. It’s poppy but so was the original so it works. The voice cast including Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi is back and they do a great job.

So good animation and music that’s pretty good start for a new series, right?  Well, unfortunately I have some big problems also.

My biggest problem by far is what they did with Rapunzel as a character. In the original she is positive but also real. She’s open with Flynn, a stranger, very quickly, making deals and sharing her dreams. We also see her struggling with her loyalties to her mother and her joys at being free. This makes her feel very real and human.

Also, she is able to entertain herself and be happy in her environment in a tower for years. Yes, she wants to see the lanterns but over all she is positive and upbeat despite being in the tower. The same is true when she meets the ruffians and thugs. Sure she’s scared at first but she quickly becomes positive and warm with them.

So that brings me to my problem with the series. They try to paint her as this disgruntled teenager dying to break free from the bonds of castle life and I don’t buy it. Again, she kept herself happy in a tower for years. I don’t think she would be complaining about a castle especially when she has so many people to talk to and can leave whenever she wants (she goes out into the town with no real problems or penalties).

To make matters more unbelievable she lies to Eugene and spurns his proposals and advances a little bit, which feels completely out of character. This also turns Eugene into a bit of a dope fawning over Rapunzel and her parents into boring strict parents. Max and Pascal are pretty much non-factors in the TV movie.

Surprisingly I’m okay with their somewhat convoluted explanation of how Rapunzel gets her hair back. I don’t know why they decided to go the hair route but I suppose it’s just about as good an explanation as anyone could come up with.

The other problem in Tangled: Before Ever After is not only do they hurt the original characters but the new additions are very forgettable. She has an attendant/best friend named Cassandra who she somehow listens more to than Eugene. I know exactly where her character is going. Bland…

And then there is Lady Cain who isn’t a a listed recurring character so she may not be the villain for long but she was very generic and boring. She’s certainly no Mother Gothel- who is coming back after falling off that tower. Don’t ask me how…

I guess it might sound like I completely hated this Tangled: Before Ever After, but I didn’t. It just annoys me when characters I love are changed like they do with Rapunzel here. It is visually inventive and I see some potential with the songs and voice cast. I hope it will be like Elena of Avalor and build as a series becoming entertaining. However, just on this TV movie I can’t give it a very high grade. I hope for better in the future but there were definitely big problems that I am not happy with.

Overall Grade- C

Blind Spot 15: 8 1/2

I am going to start off this blind spot review with a bit of a controversial statement:

You can be a film fan and dislike classic films

Just because something is on the Criterion collection and heralded as a masterpiece doesn’t mean you have to like it.  Some film snobs may disrespect such a view but honestly to heck with them. No film should be so sacred it is immune from criticism.

Such an introduction may give you a hint of what I thought about Federico Fellini’s masterpiece 8 1/2. I respect it but I didn’t really care for it. Shocking, I know but let me try and explain.

Let’s start out with the positives. It cannot be denied how great this movie looks. The cinematography is inventive and beautiful and I enjoyed watching it on that level. Often the shots feel like they were taken by a little person with the camera looking up at the character.

There are also many dream sequences that are effectively surreal and feel like dreams.

The critic Alan Stone said about 8 1/2 ” I celebrate it. A filmmaker who prefers ideas to images will never advance above the second rank because he is fighting the nature of his art. The printed word is ideal for ideas; film is made for images, and images are best when they are free to evoke many associations and are not linked to narrowly defined purposes”  It’s an interesting philosophy about film, which I often use to defend Terrence Malick and his image-over-plot films.

So with all that said why did 8 1/2 not really work for me? I think the main problem is Fellini isn’t making an image over story film. I think he not only wants to tell a story, he wants you to sympathize with the narcissistic womanizer he has created as his anti-hero.

8 1/2  is about a man named Guido (Marcello Mastroianni) who is a famous Italian director. He is being pressured by the studio to make a sci-fi film but he is artistically stymied and frustrated. As he suffers from “filmmaking block” we get an endless parade of women in his life. There’s his wife Luisa, mistress Carla, an ideal woman, a prostitute from his childhood, nuns, friends, an actress named Claudia, the list goes on.

The film just assumes a man like Guido could get so many women in his life but it never gives any reason why. Is he just good in the sack? Is he a charmer? He certainly doesn’t seem to be. He treats them horribly and even in his fantasies wants to do nothing but whip them. What on earth?

I have a feeling Alejandro Inarritu loves this movie because Birdman has so much of 8 1/2 in it. I didn’t like Birdman, and I didn’t really like this. I found both pretty misogynistic and self-indulgent and not in ways that interested me despite how pretty they looked.

The overall message of the film is I guess about the creative thinker and how sometimes inspiration just doesn’t come. Such a narrative can be quite compelling like when Karen Eiffel deals with writers block in Stranger than Fiction. But at least there I felt something for her but in 8 1/2 I really didn’t care for Guido.

Plus, the creative output he gives in the dream sequences, while beautifully shot, were never really that inspirational or stunning that on their own merits I wanted him to create the art. So I wasn’t really rooting for the man or his art.

Terrence Malick in Knight of Cups has a frustrated artist depressed by the depravity of Los Angeles and Hollywood but I felt for him because the art he imagined in the surrealist sequences was gorgeous. Plus, the female characters who come into that film felt like real, genuine women, not stereotypes.

Frankly, I finished 8 1/2 and said to myself “did I miss something?”. Despite looking nice it didn’t seem that special or interesting or compelling, and yet I’ve heard all these praises. Maybe it is a film that will grown on me over time? I’m not sure but it didn’t do much for me on this watch.

When it comes down to it I didn’t enjoy the experience of following Guido on his fantasies and narcissistic delusions and I found no compelling reason why any of these women were attracted to him or involved with him. It just didn’t quite work for me. Oh well.

Still, it does look great so I will give it that.

Overall Grade- C+

Kong: Skull Island Review

*Mild Spoiler Warning but nothing not in trailers

I feel I should say before writing this review that I am not a movie snob. I can enjoy a stupid monster movie just as much as the next girl. In fact, I recently defended The Great Wall as just that kind of film. However, the thing about The Great Wall is it was visually inventive and consistent, which kept me entertained throughout. I went into Kong Skull Island expecting a similar experience and left feeling disappointed. Kong Skull Island has positives but in the end I don’t think it is successful.

This version of Kong is set in the 1970s which was pretty creative, but like everything these days it is meant to fit into a cinematic universe with Godzilla and other famous monsters.

The conceit is the Vietnam War is ending and John Goodman’s character named Bill gathers a group of soldiers, trackers, scientists and a photographer to explore Skull Island. Once they arrive they face the giant ape King Kong and a variety of other creatures as well as meet a man marooned there in 1944 played by John C Reily.

The special effects with Kong are first-rate and very entertaining. The problem is these special effects are not consistent throughout the movie. The 1933 film, hokey as it may now seem, had a consistent look to all the creature designs. In this film there are these lizard creatures that Kong fights which I thought looked really bad. They seemed like something out of a movie from the early 2000s not 2017. This was a real problem because there are multiple scenes with just the lizards including one with some of the most ridiculous slow motion I’ve seen in a long time.

The writing was also pretty inconsistent. Again, I don’t expect great writing in a film like this but it needs to be consistent. Many of the characters felt like they were in different movies, seeing different realities. Tom Hiddleston is bland as the tracker who one moment leaves a boat and yet needs his super duper tracking skills to find the river? Brie Larson is there as a photographer but her relationship with Kong feels so tagged on and underdeveloped. In the 1933 version Ann Darrow and Kong have a relationship that develops over time leading to Kong being encaged and put on display. It makes sense he would feel for her. Not here. The real victim to underwritten characters is Samuel L Jackson’s Lieutenant Packard. He basically acts like an insane man from another movie. His actions make no sense for an army man (or sane human for that matter) and all of the sudden the movie becomes a revenge piece that doesn’t work at all. They even repeat his iconic line from Jurassic Park, which I thought was a very odd choice. A character I did like was John C. Reily’s marooned 1944’s soldier. He was consistently written throughout the film. His choices made sense and he was entertaining in the way you want a B movie performance to be. Along with Kong, he was my favorite thing in the movie.

Even Kong is underwritten in this film. In the 1933 film you see him grow as a character. He has emotion and heart as he is hunted and then chained to show off to the crowd. Here they try to get some of that emotion but it doesn’t work and his choices towards the end don’t make any sense. It became a bunch of lizard battles when what I wanted was a Kong movie.

The soundtrack was really good! Full of 70s hits, so there’s that but I was disappointed by Kong Skull Island. There are moments of fun but it just wasn’t consistent enough for me to endorse.

Overall Grade- C-

2017 Animated Oscars: Did the Right Film Win?

Today I continued on my annual web series looking at the animated Oscars and asking- Did the right film win?

In 2017 it is a tricky question because they are all good films. 4 of the films I love and made my top 16 of the year and 1 My Life as a Zucchini I admire greatly. This makes determining what is the correct winner difficult because they all have different strengths.

Kubo and the 2 Strings- This was a stunning film from Liaka about a boy who goes on a journey to find relic from his father’s mysterious past. The stop motion is incredible and I loved Kubo as a character. When he would smile it would make me smile. They should have ended it just a hair sooner and it would have been even better but I still really loved it.

My Life as a Zucchini- An import from Switzerland, this stop motion film I have mixed feelings on. It is impeccably made but I found the cruelty to children hard to stomach. It’s a bold film and I respect that but it was tough to watch and with such cute character designs I found that tough to absorb.

Moana- A quest movie if I’ve ever seen one. Moana will go down as one of the great Disney princesses. She is bold but still cares for her people, which is what inspires her to sail. I love her. I love the songs. I love the story

Zootopia- Amazing world building, great characters, and a hilarious script make this movie work so well. I loved Judy and Nick as characters and love that we have a new modern-day fable for kids

Red Turtle- Stunning animated film with no dialogue about a man on a deserted island. The story is less important than the amazing visuals and music but it still works well.  The visual and musical experience blew me away.

So did the right film win? Well, if you are judging just based on my personal preference I would say no. Moana is my favorite of the 5. Red Turtle is objectively the best but Zootopia is still a very worthy winner, so I am glad for it.  What a great year for animation 2016 turned out to be!

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Beauty and the Beast 2014 Review

So love it or hate it the new Beauty and the Beast is coming out whether we like it or not. To get ready for the release I thought it would be fun to take a look at the 2014 French version of our classic story entitled La Belle et la Bete.

This film is directed by Christophe Gans and stars Lea Seydoux as Belle and Vincent Cassel as The Beast. In all honestly, it is not a strong film but as a piece of soap opera in fairytale form it is entertaining.

The best thing about this version of Beauty and the Beast is the sumptuous costumes and sets. I’ll be honest Seydoux’s dresses show up anything I’ve seen them put on Emma Watson in the publicity for the new film. The attention to detail from hair all the way down to feet is just beautiful.

There are definite moments where the backgrounds look green screened in and the production looks cheap but there are also sets that look as lush and regal as anything you will see in the new version.

As far as the rest of the movie it is extremely silly. It’s the kind of heaving bodice period piece that you see lampooned on shows like Saturday Night Live where everyone has sexy looks about them and the melodrama is strong.

This silliness includes a running set of dream sequences of a prized deer who is shot through the heart with a golden arrow. LOL. These scenes must be seen to be believed and they may have some of the worst CGI I’ve seen in a live action film. It is hilarious.

That’s not to say this movie is ‘so bad it’s good’ because it doesn’t quite get to that level of unintentional laughs. It’s more like a telenovella that’s so over-the-top and dishy that it is kind of fun. I honestly think the people involved in this project know it is silly and they play along.

So your enjoyment of Beauty and the Beast 2014 depends entirely on your tolerance for campy theatrics. If that sounds like your thing than give it a watch. If not than stay away. You will hate it!

Overall Grade- C-

Table 19 Review

table-19You know that wedding you attend when you don’t know anyone but the couple and so you sit there in awkward boredom with nobody to talk too? Well, that is basically the experience of the new comedy Table 19. It tries to be a mash-up of Breakfast Club and My Best Friends Wedding but without the good writing or likable performances of those films. Certain story elements are super cliched and most of the jokes are ‘look how quirky we are’ and not funny. Mostly I was just super bored.

table-19-2The movie is about a woman named Eloise played by Anna Kendrick who is attending a wedding of a friend who’s brother she recently broke up with. As the recently broken up, she ends up at the table with 5 other outcasts that were invited more out of politeness than actually expecting them to come.

table-19-4We then get 87 minutes of their quirky adventures that aren’t funny or insightful and that feel much longer. The only characters I liked were a couple played by Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson. I wish the movie had been about them. Everyone else felt completely cliched and lame like right out of a bad sitcom.

table-19-3The script is also very lazy. Like Thomas Cocurquel is introduced as a love interest named Huck but then he kind of disappears. We also learn something about June Squibb’s character that is kind of forgotten about quickly after. Like I said, only Robinson and Kudrow have interesting characters or fleshed out stories.

This makes the resolution for all the characters feel trite and bland despite the best efforts of the actors.

There was honestly only one joke that made me laugh. It involves Lisa Kudrow’s jacket. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for a comedy when the jacket joke is the only laugh.

This is a definite skip.

Overall Grade- D+ not worse just for Kudrow and Robinson.

As far as content there is a brief shot of a butt twice and some profanity and drug use but it’s pretty tame