Hey guys! I hope you are all doing great! Most of you know that I have a little podcast called Rachel’s Reviews that I am extremely proud of. If you aren’t subscribed you should be because I produce pretty engaging content, much of it focusing on Disney and animation. Well, last week I had the tables turned and I got to be interviewed on a podcast for once!
Josh over at the Modern Mouse podcast asked me to join him and talk all about Disney Princesses both official and not quite canon. In particular, we asked the question ‘which of the ladies carry the most social change and the best life lessons.”
I personally think all of them can teach you something and be a good example for kids but it was great having the discussion with Josh.
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:
Every 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.
There 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. To 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.
As 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.
There 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.
Other 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!
The 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.
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?
Who is your favorite Disney Princess? (top 5)
What is your favorite Disney Princess movie?
Which Disney Princess not included in the princess line up should be included?
What is your favorite Disney Princess song?
Which Princess are you most like and why?
What Disney Princess dress is your favorite?
If you could have any of the Princesses sidekicks which would you pick?
What ethnicity or country would you like to see a Disney Princess from?
What is your favorite Disney princess sequel?
Which princess do you think had the best home life?
Who has the most attractive prince?
Anyone who wants to do the tag consider yourself TAGGED!
This is a quick follow up to my Official Disney Princess Rankings. Here are all the Disney women ranked by simply how much I like them and a few words that come to my mind to describe them.
I added Anita and Giselle from Enchanted who is partly animated but is not on the photo below.
1. Belle- smart, thoughtful, compassionate and brave
2. Ariel- free spirit, not afraid to take risks, social butterfly, lots of friends, embraces new things, impetuous (changed that one guys!). I got to pick Ariel for #2 because I was basically her till I was 17 so I just relate to the girl. I was headstrong and impetuous, stubborn, didn’t like to be told what to do, but I also was quick to make friends and got done what I set my mind to do. Love that.
3. Nani- Yep, I know this is very high. But I love Nani. She is doing something so hard, raising her sister, and she keeps getting knocked down but doesn’t give up. I feel for her and love her spirit and devotion to ohana. She also surfs, dances and flirts- has a fun side. But she has a temper too and gets frustrated. She’s as close to a perfectly well-rounded, developed female character as Disney has created. She along with Giselle are the only Disney female characters who mother children (maybe Wendy?).
4. Cinderella- hard working, loyal, good friend, strong, kind, optimistic
5. Megura- Yep, bring on the comments. I love her sass. I love that she’s a little tough to figure out. She’s working with the enemy but a clear love interest, she’s funny, sarcastic but still a good perosn.
6. Tiana- hard working, goal setter, dedicated, loyal, soft spoken but bold, fun once she let’s her guard down
7. Rapunzel- optimistic, naive but smart in her own way, inquisitive, fun-loving, see’s good in people, hopeful and quick with a frying pan
8. Mulan- Brave, fearless, strong, still vulnerable, a fighter, loyal
9. Giselle- The only princesses who actually does some mothering of a little girl and does it well (Nani is the only other female I can think of). Optimistic, positive, happy, loving, kind, funny, industrious, clever in her own way.
10. Elsa- Brainwashed as a little girl to fear herself she realizes she is alright just as she is and is empowered. Love that. Becomes strong and is always loving and trying to do the right thing.
11. Jane- Timid around animals at first but gets over it, Nonjudgmental, kind, good teacher, humble, loving
12. Anita- you don’t get to know her that well but very pretty, affectionate to Perdy and the puppies, encouraging to Roger and his music, still nice to Cruella when she probably shouldn’t be. Just seems like a cool lady.
13. Merida- bold, impetuous, good with a bow and arrow, climbs mountains, free spirit, brave, confident, love her curly hair
14. Jasmine- free spirit, independent, loving, not afraid to stick a tiger on an annoying suitor!, dreamer, spunky
15. Esmeralda- Faithful, hopeful, sexy, confident, kind, one of only a few Disney adults who prays (in song form of God Help the Outcast), loving to Quasimodo.
16. Anna- innocent, sweet, kind, believes in people, impetuous, brave, optimistic and loving. Needs to think before she acts sometimes.
17. Snow White- optimistic, kind, positive, happy, whistles why she works
18. Aurora- asleep a lot (is sleeping beauty after all) and a little too perfect because of her blessings, but great singer, beautiful, dancer, dreamer, loving
19. Alice- love the movie but Alice is really just a conduit for all the craziness surrounding her. I like her (I like all the girls to some degree or another) but don’t feel I really know her.
20. Pocahontas- loves nature, stands up to others, throws herself on John. But I don’t feel like she listens well and being older than Ariel she should take the counsel of those around her more seriously over strangers, resistant to change, and her choices do cause a death.
21. Kida- I liked Atlantis but Kida is kind of a mystical character without much personality. She’s a clue to her culture and interesting on that level but that’s about it. Plus, she dresses very immodestly. The other women in Atlantis are a lot more interesting IMO. And there is no chemistry between her and Milo
22. Eilonwy- is a princess for no reason for the story, totally blank and boring, Can’t think of one thing she gives to the story aside from telling Taran how to escape the castle. She may be very nice and have commendable qualities but the movie gives us none of that. (And I didn’t hate The Black Cauldron). Plus, not a fan of her voice actor. You could take her character out and the movie would be exactly the same.
Feel free to share your lists or to comment on mine. I really don’t detest any of them and can see value in them all. Great characters by a great studio, Disney! Did I miss anyone? I figured Wendy, Penny, Jenny were more girls than women or adolescents. If I included Elastigirl (which maybe I should?) she would be around #10).
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
2. Ariel- free spirit, not afraid to take risks, loyal, impetuous
3. Cinderella- hard worker, good friend, kind, optimistic
4. Tiana- hard worker, dedicated, loyal, goal setter, soft spoken but bold
5. Rapunzel- optimistic, naive but smart in own way, inquisitive, fun-loving and hopeful
6. Mulan- Loyal, brave, strong, determined, a fighter
Just a quick little interruption now that I finished The Lion King.
With Pocahontas we get into my high school years where I was hit and miss with Disney and then in 98 I started college and liked Mulan, Tarzan and Emperor’s New Groove but that’s all I remember. I went on a mission in 2003 so no movies till 2005. Then after that I was really more into Pixar than Disney. It wasn’t until 2010 that I got excited about Disney again with the release of Tangled.
It had been probably since Emperor’s New Groove that a Disney movie had come out I had liked as much as Tangled, so 10 years.
“Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast are the only movies I remember seeing as a child…I was mesmerized by them- by the characters, the romance, the animation and of course the music! I am excited that with Tangled a whole new generation will have a Disney princess experience. I hope Disney keeps up the good work and doesn’t rely only on the brilliance of Pixar”
So the next 17 movies should be interesting because for the most part I either haven’t seen them at all or it’s been a long time. Here’s how it breaks down:
Pocahontas- saw recently on netflix
Hunchback- haven’t seen since release
Fantasia 2000- haven’t seen
Dinosaur- haven’t seen
Emperor’s New Groove- own
Atlantis- haven’t seen since release
Lilo and Stitch- haven’t seen in long time
Treasure Planet- haven’t seen since release
Brother Bear- haven’t seen
Home on the Range- haven’t seen
Chicken Little- haven’t seen
Meet the Robinsons- haven’t seen
Bolt- saw a few years ago on netflix
Princess and the Frog- haven’t seen since release
So there are 6 I haven’t seen, 6 I haven’t seen since release or a while, 5 I either own or have seen recently.
Always fun to try something new or reexamine something from the past. After all, I am very different in some ways than I was in high school and college (and in other ways I’m exactly the same).
So there you go. Just wanted you guys to be aware of the perspective I am coming from in this section of the project!
Thanks for reading!!!!
Any of these particular favorites of yours? Any I haven’t seen which you like?