Category Archives: Disney Animated Films

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (2017): A Crappy Christmas Special With Good Music


   They played this crap before “Coco.” I think one reason I wasn’t prone to like it going in is Pixar has amazing shorts, and this was around 20 minutes. Seriously, the best thing that is happening in regards to this film is Disney pulling it from theaters. This is a thing that should have existed as an extra on “Frozen’s” Blue Ray. I enjoyed “Frozen,” I think it beats “Tangled” and is up there with the rest of the modern greats of this new 3D Disney renaissance…I did not enjoy this though.

When it comes to Christmas or really any holiday specials I am pretty picky. The only one that I could stay is great are the different retelling of “A Christmas Carol,” and that is largely because they are about more than just trees, myths and gifts…they have a larger purpose and it is a man forced to grow and see the world beyond himself. This film has none of that depth, with the exception of only one scene that could have been 2 minute sequence in “Frozen 2,” when it eventually comes out.

That scene is where we see that Elsa and Anna shared pictures of of Olaf as “Do you want a Build a Snowman?” Was the only connection they had growing up since Elsa was under room arrest after those events. It is touching and if the movie had just been that it would have been great, instead we get Marketing^TM! Got to sell those Olaf dolls. Also the cast is all back so their voices sound lovely, even though the lyrics are awful and on the nose. (Holiday Tradition is repeated in every scene in what felt like at least 3 times).

Olaf isn’t bad but what he is used for is. He goes around the village collecting traditions so he can do jokes with Sven and so there will be more Olaf toys to market. Olaf appeals to everyone and the most important thing is stuff! God, I can understand if people hate the holidays after this short…Olaf is in everyone’s business and in the end has to be found because of his own mess up and in the end he was the tradition all along! This is a story with no consequences that is just there to remind you these characters exist and “Frozen 2” is coming!

After that they have a big feast on the lake and you know what, the fruit cake that was given in his search is dropped on him from the hawk who took it. Oh joy, more stupid humor! Buy that “Frozen” gear! They all have new costumes in this! Get Olaf with a bow tie! Look at Elsa and Anna’s new dress! Christmas is coming, better buy those new toys!

This should have been an extra in a DVD, ideally in “Frozen 2” or the “Frozen” re-release. This film crapped all over the beautiful shots Pixar usually makes and even took time away from developing characters in “Coco,” which is the best Pixar film since “Inside Out.” This film purely exists for marketing and my guess is it will sell a lot of Olaf dolls, because of course it will. If your theatre is showing it, skip it if you can and find out when “Coco” actually starts. If this is the new normal for “Pixar” openings Disney is on the way to ruining one of the best artistic companies they own.

Final Score: 5 / 10. 5 only because the voice actors and animation are good even if the writing and story are garbage.

Advertisements

Moana (2016): Honoring Polynesian Mythology and Culture in Disney’s “Princess Model” to Create a Classic

moana

  I really liked “Moana.” It was no “Kubo and the Two Strings” but besides “Up” and “Inside Out” not many can compare to that…but this is classic Disney as it’s best. This is Disney taking the “Princess Model” (Princess goes against status quo for family, tribe, etc. for greater good) and achieves final great ends while being helped along by animal and magical companions. This is the base of Moana that the director, writer and Lin-Manuel build upon. Suffice to say I have nothing but affection for this film as it captures both my love of history (paying tribute to the Polynesian tribes and their history of exploration) and culture (how they related to one another and others).

    The film was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, written by Jared Bush and produced by Osnat Shurer.

     The film involves Princess Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) dealing with the after affects of Maoi stealing the heart of Te Fiti as her Island slowly dies and her people become more isolated. Prompted by her Grandmother and her own desire for adventure seeks out Maoi (Dwayne Johnson) and the heart to restore peace in the world once more.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The world is awesome! Welcome to a world inspired by Polynesian mythology, with gods, demons  and islands connected by travel. This is a world that I only wanted to spend more time in and you should experience for yourself.

The History – The history is rich and tells a story that needs to be told. The early explorers and traders in the Americas were Polynesians but that is often ignored to history as horrible folks like Columbus get credit instead. This world recognizes what was long before Europeans came and congresses the thriving cultures that colonialism and in many ways destroyed, even though many histories and cultures still live on, as shown by this film.

The Animation – This it the best of Disney Animation and shows us a variety of animation types…from 3-D over 2-D and some fantastic visuals. The islands feel alive and real and honestly, besides “Wreck-It Ralph” this is the best animation so far.

The Soundtrack – It’s Lin-Manuel Miranda overseeing it and it shows! You’ve got musical, rap and power as just as he gave power to “Hamilton” and “In the Heights” each culture and history he touches is given his own take and with it passion and life.

The Characters – The characters drive the film and are really what make it stand out and put it above “Kung Fu Panda 3” and most Dreamworks films.

Grandma Tala – Grandma is the heart of the film. She motivates Moana’s desire to travel beyond the island her death incites Moana finally doing it. She is there for Moana through the best and worst times and her loss is felt once it happens.

Chief Tui – Chief Tui is traditional Disney Dad afraid of Daughter being free. This time it is given reason though as he lost a friend when he went beyond the reef. Sadly we don’t get more exploration though, everything he does is a reaction to Moana and it hurts his character development.

Maui – Dwayne Johnson is awesome! Maui hurts the Goddess by sealing her heart (Disney is clearly okay going there post “Maleficent”) and his arc is restoring the heart and apologizing for his wrong which was for his ego and for humanity, the people who abandoned him leaving the ocean and Gods to give him his power and turn him into a Demi-God. He is funny but can do drama too…seriously, “The Rock” is underrated as an actor.

Moana – Is the princess who drives the story as she and her animal sidekick try to save the world and find Maui in order to restore peace. She is awesome and I wish she’d found her power sooner as we see her being a fantastic Chief before her voyage beyond the reef. I felt for her, she lost and she gained and she discovered her own power.

A Story Not Told in the West – Polynesian culture has usually always been exoctized in the west and this was finally breaking free of that. Rather than being treated as a vacation spot where the people are a reward rather than a people. This film changes that which is a needed reaction to Disney’s past exocization of Hawaii and Polynesia. This can’t be stated enough and I hope those involved are aware of Disney’s own dark history.

Okay: The Disney Princess Model – Princess teams up with magical being (The Genie, Stich, Mushu, etc.) and an animal companion (s) (The Mice, The Horse in “Mulan” and “Tangled,” etc.) to defeat her family’s prejudice’s (“Frozen,” “Mulan,” etc.) and restore balance and peace. Disney has done this so many times and that is why I say it is okay. “Moana” doesn’t subvert anything like “Zootopia” or “Frozen” did.

The Cons: Tamatoa and Codedness – A villian coded as gay who is vain wants to eat the heroes! This isn’t new! (Prince John, Radcliff, Jafar, etc.) DIsney you are better than this. Though to be fair, even “Wreck-It Ralph” Sadly had this problem too. Feminine men need to stop being coded as bad.

The Mother as Plot Device – The mother helps Moana and tells the story of why her husband fears the sea…she is basically a plot device to motivate Moana to stay or leave, which is a shame as her helping Moana leave hinted at so much more.

Why Afraid to Take a Chance? – This movie took the safe route, Moana with her magic friend and animal side kick saves the world. Nothing is subverted when so much more could of. I like that he demon was the goddess  who needed balance again, which was Miyazi-esque but so much more could have been done. Why did she assume Maui could only save the day? She was the Chief to be, she was empowered, there was no reason to hand him the direction for the first half of the film.

   This is a film that I really liked and I consider a favorite. Now it probably won’t make my Top 5 of 2016 but that doesn’t change the fact that Polynesian culture and mythology have not been explored in the west beyond being exotcized. This changed that and gained so much power because of it. Yes it followed the “Princess Model” which is Disney’s take on the “Hero’s Journey” but it did it in such a powerful. This was Miyazaki levels of storytelling and “Hamilton” inspired music (Thanks Lin-Manuel Miranda). I can only recommend this film.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion (2014) – The Spirit of the “Original Trilogy of Star Wars” Captured Once More

StarWarsRebelsSparkofRebellionDVDCover

     It has been a long time since there has been a good story that came out of the Universe of “Star Wars” in the medium of film or television. I might be wrong about “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” that was also CGI animated but I do want to give the show a chance, largely because of folks from the “Avatar Universe” being involved as one of them (Dave Filoni) was with “Star Wars: Rebels.” For me the last great story that was in the medium of film or television for “Star Wars” was “Star Wars: Clone Wars” that was done entirely with instrumentals. Sadly “Episode 3” ruined some of the cool aspects of that episode, but I’ll get into that when I eventually review the prequels. For now this is going to be the introduction to “Star Wars: Rebels” and the fantastic potential this show has after this kickoff film…and as a fan of “Star Wars” this makes me glad. “Star Wars” has needed good stories again.

       The television film was directed by Steward Lee and Steven G. Lee and Simon Kinberg. It was created by Lucasfilm and Lucas Animation and aired on the Disney Channel.

       The story follows that of the orphan thief Ezra Bridger who is pulled into the beginning of the rebellion when the crew of Ghost is stealing blaster rifles on his homeworld Lothal which also had the intention of stealing. As the Empire deals with them they are forced to work together when they receive information about Wookie slaves that need rescuing and Ezra must choose what kind of person he wants to be and to deal with his force potential.

The Pros: The Animation – The animation for “Star Wars Rebels” is fantastic! The animation flows, is distinct but also has a very organic feel to it, it reminds me of the old toys from the “Original Star Wars Trilogy.”

The Soundtrack – The music is wonderful. It plays tribute to music we’ve heard before in “The Original Trilogy” but does interesting things with it and gives it a different feel that at times feels sadder than the “Original Trilogy.” This makes sense as things have to be bad enough for a people to rebel, and this is telling that story. Kevin Kiner was a good choice for this show.

Lothal – The world of Lothal has a great design. It is a mixture of Tatooine but has more development and also the outskirts where the refugees from the Empire attempt to live. It’s a diverse world and it makes sense that the Rebellion would start here and that our heroes would be connected to this world.

The Action – The action in this film was fantastic! The Empire feels big without being overwhelming since we’re in the Outer Rim but we still get some great speeder and ship chases and the moment Kanan uses his lightsaber and reveals himself as a Jedi is one of the soaring moments of the fight.

The Crew of Ghost – The crew has a great dynamic and each bring an interesting dynamic to the series. Each of them is an outcast with Kanan and Hera being the closest thing to parents for all of them. Also the ship has a great design.

Garazeb – Is a Lasat with an Australian accent who is the tough guy with a good heart. His design looks like the early Wookie designs and he is a great character. He’s rough around the edges but will always put himself out there for others and go against his rather strong survival instincts. He is against saving Ezra but does come back after Kanan’s vote. He’s aware of the other species like him that the Empire nearly wiped out so he has a lot of reasons to want them defeated.

Sabine – Sabine is a Mandalorian who specializes in explosives and takes a liking to Ezra. They’re both orphans and she is easily his equal. She like Garazeb has a stronger survival instinct and after the trap votes against going back for Ezra. She is also the first to embrace Ezra though.

Hera – Hera is the mother of them all in a manner of speaking. She is a Twi’lek and in a relationship with Kanan (or at least feels like she is). She has the coolest head and helps Ezra to grow up. Ghost belongs to her.

Kanan – Kanan is the leader and one of the few surviving Jedi. He is dealing with the danger of Ezra being selfish and a danger to them but also his force potential. He offers to train him if the lightsaber Ezra stole from him is brought back. He’s shown to be very honorable and reveals himself as a Jedi in order to save everyone and forgiving since he gives Ezra a lot of chances.

The Message – The message is that there are things worth fighting for and how important it is to remember those who have nothing (the refugees) and to do something and stand against injustice. It is presented really well as we see Ezra go from the most selfish character to someone trying to be a good person.

Okay: Agent Kallus – Kallus is like a lite Admiral Zhao at the moment. Threatening but just not powerful enough. That may change once we see him get some victories beyond his brief capture of Ezra.

Chopper – Is a Astromech that is pretty rough and tough. I can’t really define it’s personality fully yet. I like the design though.

The Cons: The Wookies – The Wookie animations looked pretty derpy and were hard to really enjoy for that reason. The fur didn’t look like fur, it just looked like it was pasted on. Also the baby Wookie did not look cute it just looked creepy.

  I’m going to review this series. Not yet, but this television film sold me on it. “The Spark of Rebellion” was able to express motivations, lay down stakes (The Jedi Hunting Inquistor appears at the end) and we see that the Rebellion is just that, a rebel cause that is outmatched and outgunned by a far numerous and superior force. This makes it compelling and gives us a chance to see the complexity of the Rebels and the Empire.

Final Score: 9 / 10. Solidly great.

Big Hero 6 (2014): To Heal From Trauma and When Minor Characters Are the Most Interesting

Big_Hero_6_film_poster

       Walt Disney Animated Studios is back being great again. “Wreck-It-Ralph,” “Frozen” and “Big Hero 6.” Let’s see if they can continue this going forward. Suffice to say this film was awesome! It had consequences, a good message and had some of the best minor characters I’ve seen come out of this studio. I’ll explain more of what I mean in the assessment, but there is very little wrong I can say about this film.

      “Big Hero 6” is loosely based off of the Marvel Comics of the same name (which was inspired by Japanese anime and manga) which were created by Man of Action and was directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, written by Robert L. Baird, Dan Gerson and Jordan Roberts and produced by Roy Conli and John Lasseter. Essentially a lot of people made this possible and it’s surprising that it all came together so well given when there are this many people on board if often leads to “Too many cooks in the kitchen,” and becomes a mess.

Spoilers ahead…

     The premise is Hiro (Ryan Potter) is the main character living in the future city of Sanfransokyo where he takes part in Bot Fighting until his brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) inspires him to go to college. After tragedy occurs during the event that Hiro makes it in it is up to his brother’s healing robot Baymax (Scott Adsit) to help him heal which leads them to discover the fire wasn’t an accident as  mysterious villain named Yokai is using the the nanobots that Hero created as a weapon and for a mysterious purpose. From here the story unfolds as Hero deals with the loss of Tadashi and facing this new threat. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the film:

The Pros: The World – The world of Sanfransoyko is awesome! It reminds me of a city out of “Akira” or “Ghost in the Shell” and is the perfect mixture of our modern world with future tech. For example the Bot Fights that are underground but also the fact that everyone drives cars and Hiro’s Aunt’s cafe is a major area where characters go too besides the high tech. University. I wanted to visit this future world since it captured my love of robots and tech. so well…you can tell at least someone in this project has a passion for this stuff too.

The Soundtrack – Henry Jackman is amazing! This score incorporates techno-electronic with soaring orchestra pieces to capture our characters highest and lowest moments. My favorite ones were a few of the running sequences where the electronic was blended in so seamlessly it made the future world real as well as capturing the threat of Yokai.

Tadashi – Daniel Henney does a great job as Hiro’s older brother who sets him on the path to greatness. We see his awkward charm as he’s building Baymax and also his care for his Aunt and brother as he rescues Hiro from a dangerous situation after the Bot Fight and goes into to rescue his mentor Professor Callahan which leads to his death. Only issue is I would have liked to see more flaws in his character…but his death, I haven’t felt something like that in a Disney film that wasn’t made by Pixar since the death of Mufasa. They nailed the loss of him to his friends at the University and Hiro…

Hiro – Hiro is a positive but I’ll be going into some of the cons of the film later which are entirely Hiro-centric for the most part. But, he is one of the first animated heroes of Japanese origin in the United States and he has a good arc as he goes from an arrogant guy who can’t see beyond himself to someone willing to risk and be a part of a team. He really cares about the group in the end as well as Baymax and becomes the character willing to risk it all even if it means risking his own life…given he does this when we learn about why the villain is doing what he is doing.

Baymax – Baymax is a great robot! He doesn’t really have a soul the way Wall-E does (he follows his programming and doesn’t make any choices…he does what he’s told and was programmed to do by Tadashi. This makes me think he may have an arc where he gets an emotion chip later akin to Data as at one point his care program is replaced by destruction program when Hiro wants him to kill Yokai…it take all Hiro’s friends to stop him and he protects his care program more deeply after that. He is very much out Aaisimovesque in he follows the Laws of Robotics in that he programmed not to harm people and clearly regrets his program being overrun after. Great robot and curious to see where the most likely sequels will take him.

Fred – Fred is the joke character who provides the headquarters for the team. He is the mascot at the college and obsessed with comic books. It is at his home when they are hiding from Yokai that Hiro gets the idea of turning them into Super Heroes. It is done really well and is all showing and not telling for the most part. I liked his character and I am curious to see where he goes from here as he is given purpose in becoming a super hero. T.J. Miller nailed this character.

Honey Lemon – This is a character I would have liked to see more of even though she isn’t one of my favorite characters in the film. She is bubbly, smart and loves pink. She breaks your stereotypes. She uses chemicals to break down metals and is the one who takes immediately to Hiro and is the most supportive of the group towards him. She doesn’t really have an arc which is a shame, but she’s a great character. Genesis Rodriguez is wonderful in the role.

GoGo – GoGo like Honey Lemon doesn’t really have a character arc but she is one of my favorite characters. She is an extreme sports enthusiast who designs her own vehicles  and is the on who puts up with the least crap from Hiro and Tadashi…which I wish she’d called out Hiro more. We see much more of her warmer side in this movie and she rocks in the last battle and saves them all on multiple occasions. Also I really like her for this line alone, “Women up.” to Tadashi in regards to be tough and fight on. Jamie Chung is fantastic as this character.

Wasabi – Wasabi is the one support character on the team who actually has a character arc! The guy is a neat freak and obsessed with order but Hiro throws all that into wack and he’s forced to face his fear of heights and not being clean throughout the story. This gives him a lot of depth. He’s smart and when it comes to the challenges he faces his fears and rises each time. He is the voice of reason and shines through and besides GoGo he is my favorite character. Damon Wayans Jr. did amazingly.

Teen Titans Similarities – This team reminded me of “Teen Titans” and I’m putting that as a plus. Fred was like Beast Boy, Hiro and Tadashi were akin to Robin, GoGo was Raven, Honey Lemon was Starfire and it rose beyond that analogue with Wasabi and Baymax being their own characters that aren’t really similar to Cyborg.

The Message – The message is forgiveness and growing beyond trauma and it is done really well. At one point Hiro uses Baymax as a weapon and we see his hate of Yokai has consumed him to the point of revenge above all else and as a way to not face his loss of Tadashi. Baymax shows him the video of Tadashi building him and Hiro is finally able to heal and accept the love from his friends. This takes time and it is a believable process and one of the things I appreciated most about the film.

Okay: Aunt Cass – She is supportive but a one note character…we don’t really get her motivation beyond caring for Tadashi and Hiro since their parents are dead. She isn’t a bad character, just flat.

Alister Krei – This guy is set up to be the big baddie as he offers to buy Hiro’s Nanobots which Hiro refuses…and the fire happens soon after. He isn’t guilty which is a nice touch but we don’t get the motivation behind his business…he is just corrupt and rather one note. Alan Tudyk does a good job with what he’s given at least.

Professor Callaghan / Yokai – James Cromwell does a good job playing the threat of Yokai when he appears as Yokai (the villain the the kabuki mask using Nanobots like tentacles) but as Callaghan he’s not fully fleshed out. We learn he wants revenge on Krei  for an experiment that lead to as far as he knows…the death of his daughter, so he starts the fire to steal Hiro’s Nanobots to use as a weapon. He never takes accountability for anything and at one point is near the University he was teaching at before he faked his own death in the fire. We see regret after Hiro saves his daughter for the life he’ll never have, but he still wasn’t great.  I would’ve liked to see more of his motivation.

The Cons: Hiro and Accountability – None of Hiro’s friends hold him accountable, even after he puts them at risk when he makes Baymax go all Terminator and overrides his programs to try and kill Yokai. This bothered me since he’s a teen and that doesn’t mean he should get away with crap, his friend are all in college and should know better. Especially GoGo who like Tadashi held him accountable for calling the school the Nerd School and motivating him to get into it. After Act 1 the only accountability is Baymax helping him heal. Which is good in a way, but Hiro still missed a major lesson.

Not Enough Time with the Team – Honey Lemon, GoGo, and even Wasabi to a degree never get the character exploration they deserve. They are all more fascinating than Hiro but we don’t get their backstory and motivations…I look forward to sequels to see this happen though as this seemed to be Hiro’s origin story primarily.

    This is a movie I’d highly recommend. It is one of the best animated films I’ve seen that has come out recently and really is a Gold Standard. If you like a great music, interesting world, coherent plot and characters who actually change and grow…you will probably like this film. So, check it out if you are looking for something that has loss and a message that is always worth remembering.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10 Would be higher if the minor characters had been explored more and Hiro had been more accountable.

Wreck-It Ralph (2012): The Story of Outcasts, Healing and Purpose

wreck-it-ralph-2

Talk about nostalgia, as a gamer the references to specific games and types of games alone was enough to find joy in this film, and to top it all off it had a great story. Before I go into more detail though, the film is “Wreck-It Ralph.” As a kid who used to love arcades and a person who still loves arcades this film captured part of what makes arcades and gaming as a whole so wonderful.

“Wreck-It Ralph” was directed by Rich Moore, who was also one of the story writers. It was produced by Clark Spencer and the screenplay was by Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnston, with the story by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston and Jim Reardon. As can be seen, there is a lot of overlap on folks who helped make this movie happen which is why I think the world and story were so solid going in. It looks like a collaboration.

The story of “Wreck-It Ralph” is that Wreck-It Ralph is tired of being the bad guy and outcast in his game and when he’s told by the townsfolk he’ll be accepted if he gets a medal he jumps games in the arcade and goes Turbo, from here the story unfolds as he shakes things up in the worlds between the arcades and Fix-It Felix is sent to bring him back.

Here is the assessment of the film:

The Pros: The animation – The animation is amazing. It flows, it captures retro games when it needs too and the characters in 3-D look great (Sonic, Bowser, Pac-Man Ghost, etc.) it is a beautiful film to look at, especially the dark world and shooter of Hero’s Duty and the whimsical color of Sugar Rush.

the Music – The music has electronic feel to it and is memorable and fun. I loved the soundtrack, Henry Jackman was good at integrating video game music throughout which further enriched the world that had been created.

The World – All video games are connected and the characters interact when the arcade is shut down. It is kind of “Toy Story”like that way. There is interaction between characters and you understand people’s fear of getting shut down as they are left homeless or destroyed as what happened when Turbo tried to hijack a new racing game and what he does later.

Sergeant Tamora – A character designed with a traumatic backstory who over the course of the film deals with the loss of her husband on their wedding day. She actually reminds me a lot The Bride from the “Kill Bill” films. Jane Lynch is fantastic and she has to be one of my favorite characters in the film. She is the one who teaches us about the threat of the Cy-Bugs (bugs that adapt by becoming whatever they eat and who are programmed to expand like a virus). She is a wonderful character, though her romance with Fix-It Felix was kind of unnecessary.

Vanellope – Is a glitch in sugar rush who is persecuted because she is different. The Candy King sees her as the biggest threat and she is the rebel who helps Ralph find his heart. She reminds him of something more to fight for and is the one who is willing to risk for others in the end too. She is the most selfish initially outside of Ralph, but both of hteir arcs involve finding each other and caring for everyone else when they find they are or were alone. Sarah Silverman was not annoying and did the kid sister role really well.

Fix-It Felix – He doesn’t really have an arc beyond getting awareness outside of himself (a theme of this film) but he still doe a good job. He eventually gets beyond his privilege and peer pressure from the townsfolk’s tower he always fixes when Ralph wrecks it in the game. I think Tamora helps him realize this when he sees just how lucky he’s had it when her back-story is referenced. He has funny expressions in his speech that make him adorable and he is a kind guy.

Wreck-It Ralph – Ralph reminds me a lot of the character of Shrek, except without all the cynicism, he genuinely wants acceptance and will go to any lengths to get it. It makes him interesting as he isn’t the guy who doesn’t care, he cares but goes about it the wrong way as well as having his code against him in regards to his awkward size that destroys things. When he finds his heart at the end it is fantastic as he puts himself at risk for Van and she does the same for him. He finds community in the end and it is done in a believable way. John Reilly was perfect for this role, though at times i thought it was very John Goodman like too.

The Themes – The themes of the outcasts finding acceptance and love is beautiful and done really well. There weren’t any characters I didn’t like and it was good at showing how wanting to be accepted and fit in can lead to selfish and selfless actions.

The Final Fight – Cy-Bugs, Van glitching to save Ralph has he activates the Mentos volcano.

Okay: Candy King/Turbo – He was an okay bad guy, I don’t get why he wanted to go Turbo and conquer all the games given he had things pretty good in the Candy Kingdom. His issue with Van I didn’t understand either. Did he expect to always win? He wasn’t a horrible villain but I wouldn’t call him great either. There hasn’t been a good one of those that wasn’t Pixar and from Disney though since…since Disney did 2D animation. None of their 3D villains really stand out if they aren’t made by Pixar. Cool design after he absorbs the bugs (how did he absorb the Cy-Bugs?) for the final is cool though and he does feel like a real threat in the film for what it’s worth. I wish Alan Tudyk had been given more to work with.

Cons: Some of the puns – Some of the food puns got a little out of hand…again this is from a guy who makes tons of puns and generally likes puns. At times this movie made too many.

I got to say, I loved this film. The characters were fantastic, even if the villain wasn’t great…the world and music were amazing…if you’ve ever played video games you’ll find a lot to love about this film. It’s not as great as “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World” but still a favorite nostalgic film after today. I highly recommend it.

Final Score 9 / 10. Solidly great.

Sleeping Beauty (1959): A Fairy Tale Elevated by the Villain

Sleeping-Beauty-classic-disney-24456736-1024-768

My reason for choosing to review “Sleeping Beauty,” is for preparation in regards to reviewing “Maleficent,” later and I wanted to see Disney’s take once more on the Fairy Tale since “Maleficent” was also created by them (and I haven’t watched it for years). The film was originally created in 1959 and is most famous for the fact that each scene is painted and that it was Disney’s first Fairy Tale adapted to animation until “The Little Mermaid,” years later.

The premise of “Sleeping Beauty,” is King Stefan hosts a party for the birth of his daughter….the whole kingdom shows up except for Maleficent (the evil fairy who wasn’t invited) and out of spite arrives and curses the child that on her sixteenth birthday she will get pricked by the spindle of spinning wheel and die (a bit of an overcomplicated curse). The Blue Fairy Merryweather who comes up with an equally overly complicated counter-curse that she won’t die…she’ll just be asleep until she’s kissed by her true love. From there the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment:

Pros: The animation – Is beautiful. Each scene is hand painted and it shows…I kind of miss movies being done like this…later ones where beautiful too, but this type of art form is nearly lost. I would love to find more stories done this way.

Merryweather the Blue Fairy – She has sas and is the only smart one of the three faeries. Flora and Fauna are not very smart at all. They don’t know simple thing like tsp means teaspoon or how to use their magic in an undercover competent fashion. She was the only of the three I cared about…the other two felt like unaware comedic relief verses Merryweather who could sass against Maleficent even (and was the only active one – voice and beauty (Flora and Fauna’s gift are passive traits except voice), Merryweather’s gift actually makes the story possible…even if it isn’t a very good plan (true love, really?) She also isn’t good looking but is a major minor character who actively fights against Maleficent.

The Rescue – Seeing the Three Good Faeries be active is awesome when they infiltrate Maleficent’s Forbidden Mountain.

The Battle – The fight with Maleficent between the 3 Good Faeries and Phillip is fantastic. That dragon scene! The fact that Maleficent is so awesome is that her power is active and powerful, the last battle shows this too from her green bolts of fire and turning into a dragon.

Maleficent’s Crow – The crow is awesome! It is the only one of her minions to actually find Aurora and besides being her eyes and ears and alarm system actively takes part in the final battle and causes Merryweather to use dark magic (turning it to stone). Seriously, this minion rocks.

Maleficent – She’s evil and she knows it. Every scene she is in is gold. She doesn’t sing and everything she does actually has a higher purpose. By killing Aurora she leaves the Kingdom in ruin making her the top dog. By releasing Phillip as an old man unable to have heirs he pretty much ends the relationship in regards to the Kingdom’s line. Also, she can change into a dragon, cast powerful spells and has a fortress called “The Forbidden Mountain.” She is brilliant, powerful and haunting. I can see why Disney uses her as one of the biggest bads for most of their games and stories where all their villains meet. Can’t wait to see what the new movie does with her, considering she is the best thing about this film.

Okay: The music – When there isn’t any singing it is quite beautiful. The soundtrack is epic but the singing brings it down, most of the songs are so incredibly simple and shallow that I’m not all surprised this film failed at the box office.

Prince Phillip – He isn’t fleshed all that much even though he is active. He falls in love with the princess who he thinks is a peasant girl and is ready to risk his kingdom for her. He is active but only in the most superficial version of love ways. Besides Aurora’s voice and looks he has no reason to care about her…and likewise. His voice and looks…oh the cons of early Disney Fairy Tales…

The story – There is the recipe here for a great story. Aurora fighting against destiny as Phillip is and them united in rebellion against fate and maybe even choosing something different. There is the seed of a good story here, so I won’t make it a con, but the story is in no way good. Not enough active characters…the heroes are either stupid or passive if they aren’t evil (with the exception of Merryweather).

Cons: Aurora – She is completely passive and has no control over her destiny. She isn’t trusted with her destiny (would she have pricked her finger if she knew?), she is there to fall in love with Phillip…weak. She isn’t allowed to fight the villain who harmed her when she was a child and she never goes against the 3 Good Faeries, she just accepts their idiocy. Phillip wasn’t the smartest of heroes but he at least acted.

Flora an Fauna – The Pink and Green fairy are only good in that they are funny and not aware of it. They set up so many of the problems and propose some pretty horrible solutions (so Aurora doesn’t have the curse happen…turn her into a flower). Not to mention the fight that Flora starts with Merryweather that causes Maleficent to find Aurora in the first place. Seriously…who trusted these people? Merryweather should have left them and worked more closely with the kingdom to actually fight Maleficent like the fairies end up doing when Phillip finally fights Maleficent.

The Romance – “Do I know you?” -Aurora

“Of course, we’ve met before?” -Phillip

“Where?” -Aurora

“Once upon a dream.” -Phillip

Haha, No. Seriously Phillip, you come off as a creeper. Don’t, just don’t do that crap. The Romance is fairy tale romance in the worst way possible. Love at first sight is a difficult trope to pull off and it is not pulled off in this film. They are teenagers and it comes off as more of hormones than anything else. So glad Disney gets romance right later in films further into the future.

This film has a lot of problems and would be an average Disney film (with Disney’s common misogyny and passivity problems they had early on in regards to their heroes who were women), thankfully they had a good baddie in this or else I’d be giving it a 4 or 5. Maleficent makes this film. Everyone anything does is a direct reaction to the things she sets in motion. She is larger than life and far more interesting than any of the heroes (even Merryweather). She has an agenda that she never says but can seen…she shows you, she doesn’t tell you it. She is destruction, the Mistress of all Evil…she is awesome and besides the animation and Merryweather and her crow…the only reason to see this film.

I’m giving this film a 6.5 / 10. An addition of 1.5 entirely because of Maleficent, without her this film is forgettable.

 

Malificent Sleeping Beauty