Talking Disney Episodes 1-4

Hey guys! I just wanted to let you know real quick that I have started a new podcast with  my friend Stanford. Each month we are selecting a Disney Canon film to talk about and give our analysis of its strengths and weaknesses. We just published our 4th entry in this podcast, and I’m proud of every last one of them. We are doing them in a random order to avoid the dead periods of a chronological rewatch. I would love your feedback as we are continually trying to improve. They are also available on Itunes and youtube at Rachel’s Reviews.

  1. Talking Cinderella

2. Talking The Great Mouse Detective- we had some technical difficulties in the last 20 minutes that impacted the sound quality but hopefully it is listenable

3. Talking Lady and the Tramp

4. Talking The Jungle Book

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Disney Princess Tag

I was testing out some new lighting and so did this Disney Princess Tag.  I think it turned out fun but would be curious for your feedback.  Still got to work on this whole lighting thing but it’s going to make my videos much better in the end.

What would be your answers to the Disney Princess tag?

  1.  Who is your favorite Disney Princess?  (top 5)
  2. What is your favorite Disney Princess movie?
  3. Which Disney Princess not included in the princess line up should be included?
  4. What is your favorite Disney Princess song?
  5. Which Princess are you most like and why?
  6. What Disney Princess dress is your favorite?
  7. If you could have any of the Princesses sidekicks which would you pick?
  8. What ethnicity or country would you like to see a Disney Princess from?
  9. What is your favorite Disney princess sequel?
  10. Which princess do you think had the best home life?
  11. Who has the most attractive prince?

Anyone who wants to do the tag consider yourself TAGGED!

Frozen Fever Review

Spoiler if you don’t want to know anything about Frozen Fever than don’t read on.

frozen feverI was asked by frequent commenter Richard (check out his blog at https://velociraptor256.wordpress.com/)  what I thought of the Frozen short before Cinderella, Frozen Fever, so I figured I might as well tell all of you.

I don’t think it will convince anyone that is on the ‘Frozen Sucks Train’ to get off but for fans they will really enjoy it.  I enjoyed it. It’s not a Pixar short or something like that or as lovely as Feast but there was a lot to like.

frozen fever2Basically it’s Anna’s birthday and Elsa is trying to make it a perfect day for her sister who never got a birthday party with Elsa and the castle being closed off. I thought it was lovely that Elsa wants to do something nice for her sister.

I also loved the design of Elsa’s new dress!

frozen fever3Kristoff and Olaf are back and they are a lot of fun helping to get set up for the party.

frozen fever7The problem is that Elsa has a cold which makes her sneeze snowbabies but she pushes on with the party (could be describing the last 2 weeks of my life!).

frozen fever5The problem is she’s collecting snowbabies at the rate I’m collecting tissues. It kind of felt like Gremlins on ice!

frozen fever 8Eventually Anna has to put a stop to it and let her sister know she can rest.

I’m sure someone will find something snarky to say about it but I thought it was a sweet little moment for the sisters, enjoyed seeing Olaf and Kristoff and the song ‘Making Today a Perfect Day’ by the Lopez’s was great.

Frozen Fever combined with the recent season of Once Upon a Time make me excited for Frozen 2.  I think with 2 lead female characters there is a lot you can do with the world and I’m excited to see what they come up with.

That said, it’s nothing new or groundbreaking as we’ve gotten used to seeing in a lot of animated shorts these days.  I’d give it a B.

What do you think of Frozen Fever? Keep comments clean and respectful.

Cinderella

cinderella 2015Miracles happen!  I actually liked a live action Disney fairytale offering.  It’s shocking after such dismal failures as Maleficent and Alice in Wonderland but I’ve always said if I was going to like one it would probably be Cinderella.  As I explained in my previous post I am a huge Cinderella fan and have become a bit of a collector of versions over the years.  To me it’s remarkable how the same story can be taken and molded in different ways with equally satisfying results.  Each version makes choices on what it is trying to teach its viewers and how the basic tale plays out.

So what about this latest version?  Well, I’m delighted to say I loved it!

It starts off differently than any other version I can recall by spending a lot of time with Cinderella and her Mother and Father.  They teach her to be ‘kind and courageous’ in all things.

cinderella 2014-6After Cinderella’s mother dies they spend time with just her and her father and then when he marries Cate Blanchett’s Lady Tremaine we see her try to elevate the house with parties and gambling.  I don’t think I’ve seen a version with as much time spent with Cinderella, her father and Stepmother.

cinderella 2

Lady Tremaine is very jealous of the relationship between her husband and his daughter and we learn later that it is because she once had such a love but he was taken from her. She feels she never got her happy ending which I thought was a clever spin on the character.

Blanchett is so good as Lady Tremaine.  It feels like she is enacting her revenge on life on Cinderella and it makes her a deliciously complex and fun villain.

They stick pretty closely to the animated version (thank goodness) once the story gets going and I enjoyed seeing little easter eggs to the original throughout.  For instance, she is getting eggs and is humming ‘Sweet Nightingale’ which is a number I love with the bubbles in the original.

cinderella 2015-2

Cinderella works very hard as always and she has friends with the mice who thankfully don’t talk but are just cute squeakers.  Lily James is much better than I expected her to be as Cinderella.  She is is fine in Downton Abbey but shines much more here.  There is a warmth to her that reminded me of a young Kate Winslet.

One day she is out riding and meets the Prince who she convinces to not kill a magnificent steer in his hunting party.  The Prince played by Richard Madden gets a fair amount of time here and I thought he did a good job.  He wants to marry for love and maybe even a nice country girl which I thought was cute.

cinderella 2015 10Cinderella’s kindness towards the steer is what impresses him the most and he can’t get her out of his mind.  When his father the King insists he get married he proposes a ball where all the eligible maidens in the land can attend.  This is, of course, a ploy to get to see and hopefully woe Cinderella again.

The announcement is made and Lady Tremaine and her daughters get right to work.  The stepsisters are played with a lot of nasty humor by Downton Abbey’s Sophie McShera and Hayley Atwell and the costumes are magnificent by 3 time Oscar winner Sandy Powell (I think there are like 3 women who have won all the costume Oscars…).

cinderella 2015-3I was kind of hoping the sisters would have the big bustles like in the original.  That would have been hilarious but their costumes were so bright and colorful I enjoyed it.

Then we get to the devastating moment of Cinderella trying to go to the ball.  In this the mice don’t make the dress and nothing is stolen.  She refits her Mother’s dress in pink which makes Lady Tremaine all the more angry at Cinderella for both presuming to go to the ball, compete with her daughters for the Prince and for bringing up her Mother.  She quite viciously tears the sleeve off the dress and Cinderella is devastated.

Cinderella-Disney_2015_Lily-James-pink_trailer-cap

And this is what most people get wrong about this moment- Cinderella is not devastated about the ball and her chance to meet the Prince.  She is devastated because the story her Mother taught her about ‘kindness and courage’ seems to have been a lie.  It does not win in the end and that’s the hope which has been shattered.

Haven’t we all had such a dark moment where we are in need of rescue? Well, I believe like Cinderella if we are good people the rescue comes and so it does here with the Fairy Godmother played by Helena Bonham Carter.

cinderella 2015 fairy godmotherWhen she’s not in a Tim Burton movie I really like Carter (such as in The King’s Speech).  Here she is magical, silly and a little absent minded.  I also really liked the way they did the transformation of the lizards, mice and geese.  It was a slow change and you could still see characteristics of the animals in the final creations.

cinderella horsesWhen I had seen trailers I didn’t care for Cinderella’s dress.  The animated dress is like liquid diamonds, so beautiful but the way they explain is actually touching and the look grew on me.

cinderella 2015-5The scene at the ball is gorgeous and there is genuine chemistry between the Prince and Cinderella.  Mostly just a sense of freedom for our heroine and that she is getting a break from all the hardness in her life (don’t we all need a break from the hardness!).

As I said, Lily James is so likable in the role and you root for her without her feeling cheesy or preachy.  It really does feel like she believes in kindness and courage and is trying hard to lead a good life.

I won’t spoil any more of it for you but I thought the way it played out with Cinderella and Lady Tremaine was brilliant and I loved how they handled the glass slipper sequence.

Cate-Blanchett-Cinderella-TrailerThe supporting cast is all great and I liked there was a little bit of diversity for this kind of story.  Stellan Skarsgard is good as the Duke, Derek Jacobi as the King and my particular favorite was Nonso Anozie as the Prince’s Captain who was funny in every scene he’s in.

cinderella-prince-captain-clip

There will be some who will claim Cinderella isn’t modern enough.  That it doesn’t show an empowered independent woman and that may be true (although not in every version of the story).  They will often claim it tells young girls marriage to a Prince is the answer to all of life’s problems.  In my view that is the an extremely superficial reading of Cinderella and a story which has persisted in popularity since the Middle Ages deserves a little more pondering.

The reason Cinderella is powerful is because it teaches young girls that no matter what happens to them they should never give up hope.  In that sense it is very empowering. In this version it also teaches us that kindness and courage always win over cruelty and deceit.  Cinderella is not valued merely on her looks but her goodness and that is why she is rescued from her unhappy state.  May we all have that hope in our dark times.

After all a dream is a wish your heart makes…

Overall Grade- A+   Content Grade- A+ (nothing offensive in this at all)

My youtube review

Cinderella Through the Years

cinderella through the years

Before I post my review of the latest Disney Cinderella I thought I would share with all of you my reviews of 4 other Cinderella movies over the years. I love the story of Cinderella because at its core is the human need to be rescued from time to time.  Some may see this as feminine frailty being celebrated but I believe all of us need rescue from the dark times of our lives.  In fact, Cinderella is not rescued by the Prince. She is rescued from this terrible situation from another woman.  And why is she rescued?  Because she is hard working, faithful and kind.

Cinderella is also a message about hope and that if you are a good person, a good friend who works hard eventually good things will happen to you.  It is for these reasons the story has lasted for centuries and permeated every medium of storytelling including literature, theater and of course the movies.

When I first started my youtube channel I did a defense of Cinderella and reviewed 4 different versions, which I believe show the versatility of the story.  Many think only of the 1950 Disney animated version which I love (#3 in my Disney Canon ranking).  But the other 3 versions I reviewed are unique in other ways and all a lot of fun to watch.  I would encourage you to hunt them down and watch them as you watch the latest version and let me know what you think.

Like I said, these videos were just when I was starting so the audio isn’t perfect but the content is I believe pretty solid. I will summarize a little bit before each video in case you prefer it written than in a video form.

cinderella2

Disney 1950 Cinderella-

The first is the 1950 Disney Cinderella.  This version has the best music and is the most artistically beautiful of any version to date.  The backgrounds are especially lovely.  Scenes like the bubbles in Sing Sweet Nightangale are gorgeous and the way Lady Tremaine is drawn with the green eyes makes her one of Disney’s best villains ever.  She is completely unsympathetic and gets her self esteem in life out of ruining the life of another human being.  Yet Cinderella stays positive and hopeful until the dress, made by her loving friends, is destroyed and it is completely devastating.  Despite all that has happened to her this is the first time she is hopeless and it is then when the rescue comes.  Verna Felton is so great as the Fairy Godmother and I love this interchange:

There’s nothing left to believe in. Nothing.

Fairy Godmother: Nothing, my dear? Oh, now you don’t really mean that.

Cinderella: Oh, but I do…

Fairy Godmother: Nonsense, child. If you’d lost all your faith, I couldn’t be here. And here I am.

In a lot of ways it is similar to the message of Pinocchio.  ‘When you wish upon a star makes no difference who you are…anything your heart desires will come to you”.  Does that mean you just sit and wait?  No and that’s not what Cinderella does.  She works really hard and in the end good things happen in a way that is unexpected.  It has nothing to do with her marrying a Prince but escaping a rather Hellish existence and being free.

Glass Slipper

glass slipperThe Glass Slipper is a very different version of Cinderella because unlike the Disney version Cinderella is kind of a jerk.  She’s stubborn and willful and picks fights with everyone around her.  Played by Leslie Caron she insists she is going to end up in the palace and everybody thinks she’s a nut.  Then she meets the Prince in the mountains and thinks he is the Baker’s son.  She thinks he is making fun of her and throws him into the lake. They meet on several occasions and he’s bewitched by her ‘sad eyes’.

The main strength of this version is the amazing dancing.  Leslie Caron is of courses famous for her being an incredible dancer and in this film they have 2 full ballets done by Roland Petit and the Ballet de Paris.  For those that want a more headstrong determined Cinderella this might be a favorite of yours! I love dance so I love it.

The Slipper and the Rose

slipper and rose

Slipper and the Rose is a unique musical version of the Cinderella story with songs by the Sherman Brothers.  The songs are more like nuttiness of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang than the Sherman Brothers more mainstream musicals like Mary Poppins or The Jungle Book.  The lyrics are very funny and all of the performances are campy and silly but entertaining.  There are also a lot of unique touches to the story like the Prince and Cinderella actually get engaged for a period but Cinderella is convinced it would not be good for the kingdom for Prince to marry a commoner.  She is exiled but lives quite peacefully without the Prince quite happy to be free from her burdens.

Eventually the Prince agrees to marry out of duty despairing of finding Cinderella and she must decide whether to go back and stop the wedding.  Kind of a different take on the story and I like it! But the main appeal on this one is the music and all the humor.

Ever After

ever afterEver After is a very modern take on Cinderella story.  For starters there is no magic of any kind.  It is also the only version with a male Fairy Godmother figure in Leonardo Divinci.  Drew Barrymoore plays a girl named Danielle who ends up a servant to the terrific Anjelica Huston who is very sympathetic as the stepmother who married a strange out of necessity and then was expected to care for his daughter.  The Prince and Danielle meet early on and it is a very academic courtship.  They go to a romantic library covered in vines and spar over Utopian philosophy and the value of human freedom.

Drew Barrymoore and Dougray Scott have great chemistry together and it is the only version where he is the one who is devastated by her pretending to be someone she is isn’t.  That isn’t even addressed in other versions. It takes him a while to agree to forgive her and by that time she is sold and whipped but in the end she doesn’t need rescue, but rescues herself which I think is a cool spin on the story.  It’s an extremely satisfying version and may be my favorite live action.  They all have parts I love.

 

Have you guys seen any of these versions?  I would love to know your thoughts.  If not, go check them out.  They are great movies and it is fascinating to see the same story taken in such different ways.  Is there a version I have missed that you enjoy.  Last year we had Anna Kendrick as Cinderella in Into the Woods which I enjoyed

 

And my review of 2015 Cinderella is coming up next… 🙂

Most Romantic Disney Movies

Happy Valentines Day friends!

valentinesTonight I am going to see Song of the Sea at the theater but I thought I might give you some romantic inspiration Disney-style.  There have been many great couples in Disney but which one’s are the best for Valentines Day?

Here we go!

12. Nightmare Before Christmas-

Got to pick something different but the love story between Jack and Sally is actually quite sweet. Gives us hope that even the strangest of us have a match.

jack and sally2

11. Bambi

I don’t give enough Bambi love on the blog.  It really is beautiful.  The instant love trope would be brought out so many times by Disney but this was the first and it introduced us to being twitterpated long before twitter!

10. Rescuers Down Under

I think the only Disney Canon with a proposal in it? Help me out if I’m wrong.  Bernard tries over and over again to propose to always be thwarted. I love how Bianca has such faith in Bernard even with the rugged Jake around.

Proposal-in-The-Rescuers-Down-Under

9. Snow White and the 7 Dwarves

Hoping your prince will come?  Why not watch Snow White sing about it?  Have a little hope on Valentines if you are currently single. When the Prince sings One Song it is one of the more underrated Disney musical moments.

8. Tarzan

Tarzan and Jane have lovely chemistry together as they try and understand each other’s world view. Hey and maybe it will help you ladies think twice about those ape-men in your life 😉

tarzan and jane

7. Aladdin

The whole movie is basically a guy trying to impress a girl who has sworn off men.  Perfect for Valentines Day!  We also get a magic carpet ride, A Whole New World and one of the best Disney kisses.

aladdin and jasmine

6. Cinderella

I feel like you almost have to put Cinderella on a list like this.  I mean it’s Cinderella finding her Prince Charming…but I actually think it’s more about a woman getting rescued from an unhappy life.  But it is a beautiful princess falling instantly in love with her Prince and getting married at the end.  Can’t go wrong with that.

Another underrated Disney song-

Pretty much these next 5 are equally loved by me so they are ties for first place!

5. Tangled

Disney’s stab at a romantic comedy and it is great. The banter between Flynn and Rapunzel is so well written . They have great chemistry and we see them grow together the entire movie.  When they get to the lanterns it is such a lovely moment.

tangled flynn and rapunzel

4. Lady and the Tramp

Probably includes the most iconic Disney romantic moment and the scene that made spaghetti synonymous with a hot date.  It is such a sweet and gentle movie that will make even the most grumpy person smile.  I dare you not to smile!

3. WALL-E

Another one I think you might have to be made of stone to not appreciate.  Wall-e simply loves Eva. It’s as simple as that.  He will do anything for her and it is sweet and innocent and completely lovely.  As Hello Dolly tells us in the movie ” it only took a moment
To be loved a whole life long”

walle and eva

2. Beauty and the Beast

Tale as old as time, tune as old as song.  Bitter sweet and strange finding you can change. Learning you were wrong. Certain as the sun rising in the east…Beauty and the Beast.   Yep. It’s the time when one heart understood another despite him having a ‘hideous’ appearance. We all hope someone will see our heart and love us flaws and all.  No movie exemplifies that hope better than Beauty and the Beast.

1. Up

Usually if people ask I tell them Up is my favorite movie.  It’s certainly in the top 3.  It’s a movie I could watch once a week for the rest of my life and never get sick of.  What it does in the first 10 minutes is my favorite moment of film ever. To show a whole life of a couple is something that always makes me tear up and I’ve seen the movie a lot.  But what moves me even more is how Ellie remains a palatable force in the movie.  Carl talks to her and you feel her presence.  When I first saw Up it was like a hug from my Grandpa who I miss dearly.  It reminded me that he is close by and rooting for me.

up cake
This is how much I love Up. I had this cake made for my housewarming/birthday party when I moved into my house.

If you want to go live action either of the Parent Trap movies are excellent choices with great chemistry from the leads.  Why not have a party and watch both!

Downloads1

What are your favorite Disney romances? What did I miss?

Family Movies I Like that Others Do Not

A popular post on these type of movie blogs is ‘movies everyone likes but I don’t’ or vice versa. You can check out my blogging friend Animation Commendation for his highly controversial picks (Wall-e and Up overrated! Outrage!).  He is focusing just on animation and I have decided to just post about the films I like others don’t.  As I said in my post Jerks, Trolls and Critics my goal in my writing is to be an advocate for film . It is not to tear down what other people love.

So I want to use this post as  a chance to advocate for films that I believe are underrated by critics and fans in general.  These movies are far from perfect and I can understand why people don’t like them but for whatever reason I found something to enjoy while watching them.  Call it nostalgia, call it low expectations but I like the following films that a lot of others don’t like.

In no particular order.

Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything-

Veggietales are kind of like the Christian fundamentalist cousin of the animation world but you know they are done pretty well.  The music is always fun, voicework good and the colors bright and colorful.

Pirates was the first time they tried to do a non-biblical tale (previously they had done Jonah as a feature film as well as their many direct to video films about Daniel, Moses and other stories).

This film could entertain kids of any faith as it focuses on finding heroes and makes a person a hero.

Tomatometer- 39%.  I’d give it a C+ it’s certainly not top tier animation but I still find it entertaining.

The Other Side of Heaven-

I admit this one is easier for me to like because it is about a member of my faith, John Groeberg who went as a missionary to Tonga and had some amazing experiences.

This was also the only film we were allowed to watch on my mission for the Mormon church and having served a mission like Groeberg I relate too it.

So maybe it isn’t for everyone but it’s pretty well made and acted.  I would think the story would be inspirational for those of other faiths but hard for me to know.

But this is my list and I like it so it makes the list!

Tomatometer 29%.  I would give it a B

Lord of the Rings-

Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings has developed a bit of a cult following over the years and I think it is deserved.  It is not perfect and Peter Jackson’s version is definitely better but this is pretty good.  The animation is strong in parts  and weak in others but scenes like the ringwraiths in Bakshi are really well done with a style I haven’t seen in other movies (kind of looks like a hologram)

They pack a lot into the film especially if you like the extended version of the Peter Jackson films and it can feel rushed but I still like the animation and the story is so solid at it’s core that it just works.

Our friend the Nostalgia Critic did a fun compare/contrast between the Jackson and Bakshi’s versions.

Strong language warning

Tomatometer 50%, I would give it a B-

Cinderella 3-

John Lasseter, over at Pixar, says they never do sequels unless they have an idea.  That was the problem with most of the made for video sequels of the 90s and early 2000s.  Most of them are a repeat of the original but with a new character (usually a child of our leads such as Bambi 2, Fox and the Hound 2, Lady and the Tramp 2 etc).  Then there are one’s that continue the story but in incredibly trite and stupid ways. (Pocahontas 2, Brother Bear 2, Cinderella 2, and Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 are the worst examples).  Finally there are sequels that are clobbered together from animated series that came after the movie and these are usually passable, on the Saturday morning cartoon level (Atltantis 2, Lilo and Stitch 2, Lion King sequels, Aladdin sequels etc).

But out of all of them The Little Mermaid sequels are passable but my favorite is Cinderella 3. Cinderella 2 is just her wedding and it sucks but 3 they actually have an idea.

Through a variety of circumstances Lady Tremaine finds the Fairy Godmother’s wand, which she then uses to turn back time and make it so Anastasia’s foot fits the slipper instead of Cinderella.  The Prince now has to marry Anastasia and things seem pretty dire for our heroine.

The animation is on the Saturday morning level but it is passable and the songs are okay.  It’s not great but I enjoyed seeing Lady Tremaine back up to no good and just found it very clever.

Tomatometer is actually high with only 7 reviews at 71% but I still say this counts because the sequels are so generally disregarded and looked down on.

Tomatometer 71%, I would give it a C

North Avenue Irregulars-

I suppose this is probably more forgotten than disliked but I’ve been wanting to make a shout-out to it so here goes.

It is the kind of movie almost never made today.  A live action comedy starring A list talent for families. The story is silly and your enjoyment will probably depend on your taste of slapstick but it makes me laugh.

It was a dream team of comedic women with Barbara Harris, Susan Clark, Karen Valentine, Cloris Leachman, and a long list of faces you will recognize when you see them.

Edward Herrman is a nice foil for the ladies as the Reverend Hill who decides to take down local gambling syndicate using the ladies as the spies and detectives.

It has a pretty high tomatometer of 75% on 11 reviews but I still think it’s one that is easy to criticize but I like it. Great opening credits sequence too.

Tomatometer 75%, I would give it a B-

Disney’s Christmas Carol

Readers of my other blog smilingldsgirl.com kn0w The Christmas Carol is one of, if not my favorite stories ever written.  I make sure to see it at the local theater every Christmas and watch as many versions as I can.  There’s everything from Alastair Sims, George C Scott, to Bill Murray, Muppets,  and Mickey Mouse.

I think what I like about the story is it is about lost causes and how anyone can change their lives if they embrace Christmas (and for me Christ) and decide to be a better person.  It’s a story about redemption and I just love it.

When I heard that Jim Carey was being cast as Scrooge you can imagine my concern with a ham like him taking on my favorite character in literature.  However, he plays it surprisingly straight and there are only a few antics when soaring through space.  The spirits are done very well and there is a ton of the actual script taken from the novel, which is cool.

Some don’t like the stop motion animation but it doesn’t bother me.  It’s a style just like any other and I can go with it. I wouldn’t say this is my favorite version but I still like it.

Tomatometer- 54%, I would give it a B

Cars 2

I wonder sometimes if people really hate this movie or if they just are mad at it because it’s not Up, Wall-e, and Ratatouille.  Don’t get me wrong.  It has major problems but is it really one of the worst movies ever made? While I’m not rushing out to buy the blu-ray I thought it was fun, decent level kids movie and an homage to the spy flicks their parents and older siblings get to watch.

As I said in my Planes: Fire and Rescue review, the world of the Cars and Planes movies is nutty and does not stand up to much examination.  I guess there are car sex or car eggs hatching baby cars in this world?  But then they run out of parts which is strange.  Evidently some models are worthy of saving and others are not?

See how fast you can go down the rabbit hole with this world?  So I suggest just going with it and not diving too deep.  Just enjoy it as an homage to spy movies an leave it at that.

The other beef with this movie I hear is people don’t like Mater. I’m not sure why because I find him funny, as funny as a car can be at least…

It’s beautifully animated and the voicework is all good.  The plot is actually pretty convoluted and complicated involving natural fuel. (Wouldn’t a world of just cars actually like the world to be poluted, that is their life sustaining liquid like we have water, they have oil…Again over-thinking it!

Overall I think the bad buzz is overrated and this movie is an ok, fun time at the movies.

Tomatometer- 39%, I would give it a C

Atlantis: The Lost Empire

We’ve talked a lot about this movie on the blog. I am aware I am in the minority on it.  I thought it was a fun adventure movie with a wildly creative made up world that engaged me the way other good B Summer Adventure movies have like Indiana Jones, the Goonies, National Treasure etc.  I liked the language and culture they created and the troop of explorers was fun and diverse.

The animation is gorgeous especially once they get to the Lost City and we have the blue crystals and their power.  It has a bit of a steampunk feel and all in all I liked it.  I thought it was a fun action adventure, treasure hunting story with a good, exciting ending. It all just worked for me in the spirit of those B adventure movies.  So there you go!

Tomatometer- 49%, My Grade A-

Where the Wild Things Are

This is a movie you either go with and love or hate.  I love it.  It takes Maurice Sendak’s children’s story of a boy sent to bed without any supper finding a land of wild things and turns it into a brilliant movie.

It is the only film I’ve ever seen that captures the brooding quiet nature of childhood.  Some say that makes it depressing but I remember being that kid.  I remember hearing things in school like global warming or war and puzzling at how this could be.  To me it was amazingly refreshing to have a kid who isn’t perky but a real person with all moods.  His behavior when he meets the Wild Things is so authentic to what a kid, especially a boy, would do and I love it!

It’s a brilliant film in how it gives our character an opportunity to confront himself and his mother and realize they are both imperfect but trying. What a beautiful moment that is?

The puppets were the perfect choice as opposed to CGI.  It makes it feel real and palatable and the voicework is PERFECT!

I broke down the movie in more detail on my Where the Wild Things Are Defended post.

Tomatometer is high because of people like me- 72%, My Grade A+

Space Jam-

To be honest I am really surprised the Space Jam tomatometer score so low. This is one of the few spots we can see our Looney Tunes friends on the big screens and I think it is charming.  All the characters like Bugs, Daffy, Yosemite Sam and more are there in this live action/animation combo.  Bill Murray is pretty funny and Michael Jordan is one of the better athletes turned actors (need I mention Shaque in  Kazaam?)

I guess the plot follows a similar underdog theme but is anyone watching this for the intricate plot?  No.  They are watching it to see Bugs, Daffy and others tell good jokes and have a fun time and I think that’s what they get out of it.

Give it a watch through I bet you will agree it’s an entertaining flick.

Tomatometer- 35%, I would give it a B-

Follow that Bird-

Again this is probably more underrated than disliked.  It has a very high tamotometer score in fact but I wanted to give it a shoutout anyway.  Follow that Bird is the first Sesame Street movie and it is a real gem.  Some people might discount it as a only a movie for little children because it is from Sesame Street but if you do that’s a shame because it is very clever and heartfelt.

Big Bird finds out he should be raised with a family and is adopted by the Dodo family making his new name Big Dodo.  Despite having everything with the Dodo’s he isn’t happy, so he runs away.  The rest of the film is part roadtrip and part our yellow bird finding out who his real family is.

It’s a lovely message for kids, there are lots of laughs and real heart too.  I love all of the Muppets movies but this one will be close to the top for sure . I need to do a list of my favorite Muppet’s movies soon.  What are your favorites?

Tomatometer- 91%, I would give it an A

Soul Surfer-

Another Christian film critics were incredibly tough on.  It tells the true story of Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm to a shark while surfing and how she made it back to compete in the pros with one arm.  I will agree that the special effects are not great and it does look pretty obvious where they cut off Anna Sophie Robb’s arm in post-production.

However, if you can get over the technical flaws there is a lot to like . Bethany is an amazing person.  In fact, at the moment she is on The Amazing Race and tearing it up there.  I thought at first she was stunt casting to get sympathy but she has been up for every challenge.  She does with one arm what others struggle with 2.  Everything from rock climbing to balancing tasks she’s been up for and she’s done it all in such a pleasant and happy way.  I like her even more than I did after this movie.

The supporting cast is strong with Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt as her parents and Carrie Underwood as a youth minister. Aside from the arm special effects the rest of the surfing shots are well done and the story didn’t play out exactly as I thought it would and it is an exciting moment when she gets back on the surfboard.

Doesn’t reinvent the wheel but what it does it does well and I enjoy watching it.

Tomatometer- 46%, I would give it a B-

American Tail Fievel Goes West

Most people like the first American Tail but are tough on this sequel.  I would agree it is not as good but I still enjoy it.

This one is not directed by Don Bluth like the original but Steven Spielberg is a producer.

In part 2 we get the Mousekewitz family deciding to leave New York for the promises of the West (streets weren’t paved with gold I see!).  Fievel idolizes Wylie Burp the sheriff of the west who is brilliantly played by the great Jimmy Stewart in what I believe is his last role on screen.

On the way they meet a conniving cat who is trying to get them out there as cheap labor.  Our friend Tiger voiced by Dom DeLuise again shows up and we also get Amy Irving, John Cleese and Jon Lovitz.

In the end, it’s a pretty entertaining story with twists and turns. I enjoy the homage to the western and hearing Jimmy Stewart as Wylie.

The music by James Horner is also wonderful and I particularly love Dreams to Dream.

Tomatometer- 40%, I would give it an A

So that’s my list!  What do you think? Seen any of these?  Do you hate them or think they are pretty good? I’d love your thoughts. Thanks for reading my ramblings.

Ranking Official Disney Princesses

Disney-Princess-disney-princess-33854150-1778-1779

So we have 2 weeks till Big Hero 6 premiere and I will post my Frozen review this weekend (I intend to watch it 5 or 6 times to do a very good job)

In the next 2 weeks I will also be posting lots of top 10 lists culminating in my complete rankings once I see Big Hero 6.  This should be a lot of fun and I would love it if you would share your lists in the comments each time.

Of course, it goes without saying it is just my opinion and most of these are nitpicking.  Out of 53 movies I will give 20 movies an A category grade, 30 with a B or higher  (which is pretty remarkable when you think about it) so I like them all but minute differences lead to my rankings.

I thought I would start with ranking the official Disney Princesses because I love the princess movies. These are not all the women, or even princesses in Disney Canon, that will be another list.   However, I am including Anna and Elsa in Frozen because they are considered princesses in waiting (they have a coronation ceremony and everything).

Some people gripe about Mulan being included but that doesn’t bother me because there are no princesses in China.  If there were she would have been made one in the movie for sure.  She certainly shows all the qualities of a princess so it’s fine with me.

This list also includes Merida from Brave, which I have not reviewed, because she is an official Disney Princess. Also, this is a ranking of the princesses themselves not the movies they are in.

RANKING DISNEY PRINCESSES

1. Belle- smart, thoughtful, compassionate and brave

Princess-Belle

2. Ariel- free spirit, not afraid to take risks, loyal, impetuous

ariel

3. Cinderella- hard worker, good friend, kind, optimistic

cinderella24. Tiana- hard worker, dedicated, loyal, goal setter, soft spoken but bold

tiana5. Rapunzel- optimistic, naive but smart in own way, inquisitive, fun-loving and hopeful

Rapunzel_and_pascal

6. Mulan- Loyal, brave, strong, determined, a fighter

mulan

7. Elsa- Free, empowered, conflicted, learns self acceptance and control, beautiful, strong

elsa8. Merida- bold, impetuous, free spirit, brave, confident,  curly hair

Merida_web_small9. Jasmine- independent, loving., spunky, compassionate

jasmine10. Anna- innocent, sweet, kind, believes in others, impetuous, willing to take risks

anna11.. Snow White- optimistic, kind, positive, happy

snow white12. Aurora- asleep most movie but beautiful, a singer, a dreamer, optimistic, loving and  like her better in blue!

Auroraonmodel13. Pocahontas- loves nature, kind and brave.  Last because she doesn’t change or grow much and her choices actually cause death

Pocahontas-disney-princess-31322105-1280-800

Disney Halftime Report Card

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We are just about to start the Disney Renaissance, have passed the 50 years of Disney mark in the reviews and am at half way through the Disney classics.  So it seemed appropriate to do a little report card of the films I’ve reviewed so far.

At the end of every review I give a grade.  There were only 2 reviews which got 2 grades.  The first was Make Mine Music which I liked on a ‘so bad it’s good level’.  It’s one of the most bizarre cinematic experiences of my life but I can’t say I wasn’t entertained by it.  I’d rather watch a strange failure than a lazy bland movie like Fun and Fancy Free, but that’s just me.  The other double review was The Rescuers because if you can tolerate Medusa it is fine movie.

So with that said, let’s go over my grades:

4 movies received A+

Fantasia

Cinderella

101 Dalmatians

Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

If you had asked me to pick 4 before the project started I don’t think I would have said those 4

6 movies received A

Snow White and 7 Dwarfs

Dumbo

Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad

Alice in Wonderland

Sleeping Beauty

Jungle Book

Only 1 film got an A-

Great Mouse Detective

4 movies received a B+

Pinocchio

Melody Time

Lady and the Tramp

Robin Hood

1 movie received a B-

Bambi

2 movies received a C+

Peter Pan

Fox and the Hound

The Rescuers (for most people)

I look at a C grade as average.  And of course all of these grades are relative to Disney.  I know in the realm of all animation these C’s are not average.  They would be higher when compared with a lot of other pictures.

3 movies received a C

Saludos Amigos

The Black Cauldron

Oliver and Company

2 movies received a C-

Make Mine Music

The Sword in the Stone.

1 movie received a D

The Three Caballeros

3 movies received a D-

Fun and Fancy Free

Aristocats

The Rescuers (for me)

People are always curious to know my favorites and it is such a hard question because I like them all for different reasons.  Even the D’s I’m not sad I watched them.  They aren’t the kind of terrible movies where I want to rip my hair out and hope for death.  Usually I just felt like the tone was off and it wasn’t original or creative enough for me to like.

I will try though. I’ll give a gold, silver and bronze on a few categories.

Best Villain-

Gold- Maleficent

Silver- Lady Tremaine

Bronze- Cruella De Vil

Honorable Mention- Ratigan

Best Artistry-

Gold- Fantasia

Silver- Alice in Wonderland

Bronze- Sleeping Beauty

Favorite Lead Character/Hero-

Gold- Cinderella

Silver- Winnie the Pooh

Bronze- Lady, Lady and the Tramp

Favorite Side Character-

Gold- Baloo the Bear

Silver- Tinker Bell

Bronze- Trusty and Jock from Lady and the Tramp

Even More Minor Characters-

Gold- Timothy Q Mouse, Dumbo

Silver- Jaq and Gus, Cinderella

Bronze- Olivia, Great Mouse Detective

Worst Vocal Performance-

Gold- Gurghi, Black Cauldron

Silver- Snow White

Bronze- Aristocats

Best Vocal Performance-

Gold- Verna Felton- Dumbo, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty etc

Silver- Sterling Holloway- Dumbo, Bambi, Three Cabelleros, Peter and the Wolf, Alice in Wonderland, Jungle Book, Aristocats and of course Winnie the Pooh

Bronze- Phil Harris- Jungle Book, Robin Hood, Aristocats

Strangest Scene- love all these scenes

Gold- Pink Elephants on Parade, Dumbo

Silver- Heffalumps and Woozles, Winnie the Pooh

Bronze- All of Alice in Wonderland

Best Original Score-

Gold- Black Cauldron by Elmer Bernstein

Silver- Bambi by Frank Churchill

Bronze- Jungle Book- Sherman Brothers

Best Song- (this is tough)

Gold- When You Wish Upon a Star by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington

Silver- Bear Necessities by Sherman Brothers

Bronze- Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes by Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston

Saddest Moment-

Gold- Snow White’s death and Grumpy crying

Silver- Dumbo Baby of Mine scene

Bronze- Christopher Robin goes to school (I know but it just struck a nerve with me)

Best Comedy-

Gold- Robin Hood

Silver- Peter Pan (the slapstick is very funny)

Bronze- Great Mouse Detective (not a comedy but some good laughs)

Scariest Moment-

Gold- Pleasure Island,  Pinocchio

Silver- Grizzly Bear Scene, Fox and the Hound

Bronze- Headless Horseman, Ichabod and Mr Toad

Cringe-worthy Moment

Gold- Red Man, Peter Pan

Silver- Siamese cats, Lady and the Tramp and Aristocats

Bronze- Bongo, Fun and Fancy Free

Honorable Mention- Every instant love scene but specially Vixey and end of Jungle Book…

Not that Bad (Big problems but not as bad as I expected)

Gold-  Black Cauldron

Silver- Melody Time

Bronze- Saludos Amigos

Film Everyone Else Loves but I Just Liked OK

Gold- Fun and Fancy Free particularly Mickey and the Beanstalk which I thought was lazy.

Silver- Sword in the Stone

Most Sentimental/Corniest Moment

Gold- Fox and the Hound (whole movie but especially the Widow’s poem. I know I’m made of stone)

Most Romantic Moment-

Gold- Spaghetti, Lady and the Tramp

Silver- Phillip and Aurora dancing, Sleeping Beauty

Bronze- Pongo and Perdi, 101 Dalmatians

Grand Champions-

Worst- The Rescuers (just for me and my taste would never want to watch again)

Best- Cinderella

I guess out of the 4 A+ movies I will go with Cinderella.  I have every version of Cinderella I can get on film.  I love the story and Disney pulls it off pretty flawlessly.

Thanks for Reading!

So there you go!  It’s funny we are down to 89 and have 1/2 left.  That old releasing a film every year makes the 90s and 2000’s very productive times for Disney.  Should be a blast.  Please keep up with the blog and let me know if any of these rankings surprised you.

How would you rate your favorites?  I always enjoy a good back and forth with my commentors, especially when we are talking Disney so put your thoughts below!