Frozen Musical Review

I am writing this blog from good old Denver Colorado! My friend Phaedra and I decided to make the drive to see the new Disney Frozen: The Musical. It’s the latest in a long line of Broadway adaptations from Disney that started with Beauty and the Beast and has included The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and more. Frozen will open on Broadway next year so this was just a preview screening but we decided we should check it out!

One cool thing I got to experience was to wear my Elsa cosplay to the play. There were tons of little girls dressed up as Anna and Elsa and they got a real kick out of a grown-up Elsa running around. It really made me feel pretty and special  to have all these girls smiling and waving to me (or Elsa!).

I was also able to go with my friend Phaedra and fellow youtuber Larry from LC Screentalk. We had a great time hanging out and  all 3 of us loved the musical. It was bright and colorful, had great songs and was a faithful recreation of the hit movie. I don’t think it will win over new fans but it was a very good play.

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There were a lot of things that worked in this musical. First of all, the casting was spot on. I loved the women playing Anna and Elsa. They were both tremendous singers. I also thought the man playing Olaf was an uncanny imitation of Josh Gadd from the film. They decided to make Kristoff an African-American character which I thought was cool (and he did a great job). Hans was also a terrific singer and convincing at playing both hero and villain.

The spectacle of Frozen: the Musical was also great. Let it Go is everything you could want it to be with one of the most amazing dress changes I’ve ever seen.  Also Sven and Olaf were a ton of fun using puppets. Both were expressive  and worked seamlessly within the story. I loved the way they showed the ice and Elsa’s magic working it in some cool special effects. The sets and costumes were all outstanding and immersive.

They also gave us some new songs. Elsa sings one called ‘Monster’, and Kristoff has a song called ‘What Do You Know About Love?’ that I liked. The Young Anna and Elsa were excellent and sang 4 songs. There was only one song I did not like called Hygge that went on too long and had elements of comedy I didn’t care for.

Frozen: the Musical is not the kind of broadway musical you go to in order to be provocative or challenged. It takes the film and makes small but meaningful changes that I think most people will really enjoy. It’s a musical you can take the whole family to, both boys and girls will like it, and have a great time at. It’s got spectacle, heart and some great songs.

When Frozen:the Musical comes by you I encourage you to see it. It’s a lot of fun and I think will do very well when it does come to Broadway next year!

Overall Grade- A-

Here is my review for my youtube channel with my friend Larry

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Utah Movie Club 1: Boatniks Review

Hey guys! I’m so excited to share with you a new development in my life. I have movie friends! Not just all of you lovely readers but actual friends who are as into movies as I am! Recently I became friends with 2 movie buffs Phaedra Johnson and Stanford Clark. They are totally awesome and you should check out their blogs.

http://phaedrajohnson.blogspot.com/

https://stanfordclark.wordpress.com/

I have been to many movies with one or both of them and had a great time. They will even see obscure animation with me like My Entire High School Sinking in the Sea! And they both love Your Name as much as I do!!

We have decided to start up a Utah Movie Club where each month we get together and watch a film together and yesterday was the first meeting. Phaedra couldn’t make it but hopefully she will soon and it will continue to grow.

This month we decided to watch the Disney comedy The Boatniks. It was based on my suggestion as I had recently seen it and thought it was charming. It seemed like a good fit to start off summer.

My review of The Boatniks!:

In many ways the Boatniks feels like a comedy from a forgotten era. Now I rarely go to comedies because they are so raunchy and crass that they don’t interest me. Just this summer alone there are 6 hard R comedies. The Boatniks has a few adult moments but is still something I would have no problem watching with my family and having some laughs.

The Boatniks is about a marina in Southern California that is managed by the US Coast Guard. Things get nutty when 3 jewel thieves and try to take their contraband to Mexico and have tons of problems getting a boat. Crazy shenanigans begin! There is also a new recruit named Tom Garland who has one mishap after another- all while trying to charm a local boat renter named Kate.

The highlight of the Boatniks is the jewel thieves played by Phil Silvers, Mickey Shaughnessy and Norman Fell. I especially love Phil Silvers who I think could read the phone book and make me laugh. They go through about every kind of boat, plane and even submarine you could imagine trying to get those jewels to Mexico.

I also thought Stephanie Powers and Robert Morse were charming as Tom and Kate if a little bit forgettable. Don Ameche is also hilarious as Tom’s exasperated commander.

The Boatniks is on a sitcom level of entertainment. It’s not reinventing the wheel like say Monty Python might but it is a charming comedy nonetheless. Watching it made me yearn for the Disney comedies of old where you could watch and enjoy them together as a family and have a great time together. At the very least it is worth seeing for Phil Silvers who owns every scene he is in.

Overall Grade- B

DISNEYNATURE 9: BORN IN CHINA

This review is very exciting because it is has been 2 years since my last Disneynature review! Back in 2015 I reviewed the Disneynature canon finishing off with Bears. It was a lot of fun so I anxiously awaited their next release this year’s Born in China. Fortunately, the wait was worth while as this is a charming entry in this series of nature documentaries.

The last Disneynature release was 2015’s Monkey Kingdom which is one of the weaker entries as much felt staged but it still was entertaining. However, I was glad to see Born in China get back to more authentic feeling animal footage. In this case we are following 3 animals in China- a giant panda, golden snub-nosed monkey and snow leopard.

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The word to describe Born in China is adorable. Nearly everything about this movie is adorable. The animals are so cute and the story they create is very charming.

Some people might think it is a bit cloying with the narration by John Krasinski but I like how they create stories and characters (as long as it isn’t too staged like Monkey Kingdom).It keeps the nature documentary from getting boring because we have a story to draw us in. Yes, sometimes they go a little bit too far with the narration but I still enjoy it.

We follow these animals for an entire year and see the cycle of their lives. This does include some sobering realities but never too long. It shouldn’t be traumatic for kids. African Cats is the most traumatic of these Disneynature films.

The cinematography and footage they are able to get is remarkable. Especially in the leopard footage I couldn’t help but wonder how they kept themselves safe with these fierce animals that are very hungry! It’s amazing how close up to the animals they get. I realize that is from lenses but still it is very impressive.

Disneynature gives a portion of this week’s ticket sales to conservation efforts so if you can see it go to the theater. It will be a good experience for the entire family and would make a great family home evening. The kids in my theater were eating it up responding with big gasps and awes throughout the film.

I wouldn’t say Born in China is my favorite Disneynature film. That is still Crimson Wing and Chimpanzee but it is still very enjoyable and worth seeing.

Overall Grade- B+

smile worthy

Here is my youtube review. I would love if you took a look and gave it thumbs up.

Talking Disney Princesses

Just thought I would share this podcast my friend Christine and I did called Talking Disney Princesses. It ended up being a long one but it was a lot of fun:

In the podcast we go over each of the Disney princesses and give them scores on story, example, beauty and music. When I rated the princesses that way my ranking turned out a little different than I expected. Here is the table:

Princess Story Example Beauty Music Total
Cinderella 5 5 5 5 20
Mulan 4 5 5 5 19
Moana 4 5 5 5 19
Belle 4 4 5 5 18
Ariel 5 3 4 5 17
Rapunzel 5 4 4 4 17
Elsa 4 4 4 5 17
Anna 4 3 4 5 16
Tiana 2 5 4 4 15
Aurora 3 3 4 5 15
Snow White 4 4 5 2 15
Jasmine 3 4 4 3 14
Merida 2 3 5 3 13
Pocahontas 2 2 4 5 13

Let me know what you think!

BATB Nitpicking and Over/Underrated Disney Podcasts

I just thought I would share with you guys 2 podcasts I did today.

The first is a live stream I did going over in fine detail the new live action Beauty and the Beast. I know some people just like to go to their movies and have a great time and find this in-depth analysis obnoxious. If this is your case than this is not the podcast for you. However, if you find that kind of thing fun than you will probably enjoy it. For the record, I mildly recommend the film for the large musical sequences and the performance of Gaston by Luke Evans.

So if this is your thing than give it a watch. I’d love your feedback on what I found and what I may have missed (I only took 6 pages of notes!)

Then the second podcast I did was with my friend Conrado where we talked about our most over and underrated Disney Canon films. I have followed Conrado’s blog for years so it was so much fun to actually talk with him vocally on the podcast. We had a great time talking Disney so I think you will really enjoy it. Follow his blog at https://cocohitsny.wordpress.com/

You can also listen to both podcasts on my channel on the SoundCloud app

Please let me know what you think of both as I am continually trying to improve. Thanks!

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.

Disney Canon Youtube Reviews Finished!

Hey guys! I just wanted to quickly share something with you. Last week I finished my 56 week project of reviewing the Disney Canon on my youtube channel. I’m really proud of each of these videos and it was interesting to see how some opinions changed on rewatch:

Give the videos a watch and I would love to have your feedback.  Thanks!

Movie 56: Moana

moana14Every once in a while a film will be released that I have a personal connection with. It will remind me of a time in my life or a person and those are the most prized films of all. I kind of knew going into Moana that it would be that kind of film, but I had no idea how much I would truly connect with it. I have a deep and abiding love for Polynesia and the islands so just the setting alone seemed made for me but everything else about it struck the perfect note making it a very special experience. However, I don’t think my life experiences are essential in appreciating the film. It’s just a great Disney movie that I think everyone, young and old should experience in the theater while you have the chance.

moana2There are so many great things about Moana I almost don’t know where to begin, but let’s start with the title character. Moana is the daughter of a chief who receives a calling from the sea as a baby. The water in this film is an actual character that watches over Moana and even gives the occasional high five (as a huge ocean fan I LOVED that)!

Despite her connection, Moana is told by her father that she must stay on the island. I liked that she was the next to rule and her sex wasn’t a factor at all. She’s treated like any other character. They are all not allowed to leave the reef. But when the coconuts and island start decaying Moana must go on a mission to return the heart of Te Fiti, the island goddess, to its rightful place. I liked that Moana was a fairly normal looking girl and she behaved like a normal girl. For example, her first attempt to attack the reef and leave the island goes badly. This showed her infallibility and that she would have to work to get everything she got. Yes she has a connection with the ocean but things do not come easy for her at all. moana15To restore the heart, she must find Maui, a disgruntled demigod, who has lost his magic hook that allows him to shape-shift. They are a classic odd couple on a mission but it is executed so well. Maui also has tattoos that interact with him and tell him what to do. This was very clever and funny. Dwayne, the Rock, Johnson was perfect casting for the role of Maui. He oozes charisma out of every pore and aside from not having the greatest singing voice was so much fun even when he was resisting Moana’s arguments. There’s just something so innately likable about the guy even in his voice. Plus, he is from Samoan ancestry and I think you can feel that kind of personal connection in the performance.

moanaAs the two journey, they face all kinds of obstacles like Mad-Max inspired coconut pirates, a lava monster and a giant hoarding crab. These were all very creative and fun foes. I particularly loved the crab Tamotoa voiced by Jemaine Clement, who is absolutely hilarious.

moana12There is a lovely heart to Moana’s journey as she is trying to do something unselfish and kind for her people while also exploring her own identity. If you are someone who didn’t like Elsa running away from her problems (not me!), Moana should be your princess. She faces them head on but she also shows moments of weakness and fear. She was just a tremendous character. Newcomer Auli’i Cravalho was amazing as Moana. What a find they got in her. I loved her vocal performance and her singing. She made me care about the character and her journey throughout the film.

moana-auliiOther standouts of the film are the comedy, which they nailed. The chicken Heihei I thought was a riot and the jokes from Maui and other characters were great. It also never gets too dark or scary, so it is a true family film. Everyone can go and be inspired and dazzled whether you are 3 or 103!

moana-trailer111The music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i and Mark Mancina (score) was perfect. I loved every song and my only critique is they could have had a few more. The standout song is called How Far I’ll Go. It is stunning.

The animation is beautiful, which is perhaps no surprise from directors Ron Clements and John Musker. I loved the look of the water and island locals. It was so real I wanted to reach out and touch it! They also did creative things I wasn’t expecting. There are some 2D elements and some character designs that reminded me of the Disney renaissance. Moana is as great visually as anything the pair has done and that is coming from someone who LOVES Little Mermaid. It takes advantage of CG animation in a way Disney has never done before. It uses the medium to give a lush and immersive experience that you couldn’t have with 2D.

I really don’t have that much negative to say about Moana. Sure the story embraces certain tropes but I have no problem with a formula story if it is executed well and this is. Plus, it has enough creativity, like with the coconut pirates or Moana’s tattoos, to keep things fresh and exciting.

I suppose a few minor nitpicks for me is The Rock’s voice isn’t that good but it works for the song. They could have used Pua the pig more especially given the marketing. There were also 2 jokes with a modern flair to them that I think took me out of the movie for a second. Those worked in Zootopia but I don’t think in this type of story.

I waited to write this review because I wanted to let it sink in and make sure I wasn’t giving unearned hyperbole. Now after 6 days I can say that for me Moana is not only my favorite movie of the year but it is one of my all time favorite Disney movies. I liked Moana even more than Frozen or Tangled, which are top 10 Disney films in my eyes. I loved just about everything about it. It spoke to me and my life experience in a personal way and made me so happy. I loved the music, characters, animation, setting, everything.

In my opinion, Moana is why we go to the movies- to get swept away in a world and story and to occasionally see a bit of yourself staring back at you on the screen. Moana did that for me. You should all see it and then see it again. Take your kids, especially your girls, and let them be swept away in this latest wonderful Disney Princess story.

Overall Grade- A+

There is also a short called Inner Workings that I loved but will review on its own later.