MOVIE REVIEWS: Mulan (Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook, 1998)

Mulan Poster
(I couldn’t get the original poster)

This is a movie that a lot of people seem to enjoy for one reason or another. To be honest, I really enjoy this movie, too. I like it a lot. My trouble, however, is I can’t seem to pinpoint why I like this movie exactly. What is it about this movie that I enjoy so much? Before I sat down to write this review, I tried asking myself, “Why do I like this movie as much as I do?” Granted, I don’t think it’s one of Disney’s best movies – it’s not within the top 10 or anything. However, I still like it a lot. I think it’s a good movie. But, again, why do I like it so much? Well, maybe this review can answer that question for me.

ANIMATION: The animation in this movie is nice. It’s not the most impressive animation you’ll see in any Disney movie. I don’t know I think of past Disney films and how they were so great in showing off the location the films were set in. Remember how grand France looked in The Hunchback of Notre Dame? Remember how breath-taking and epic Africa looked in The Lion King…even if we don’t know what country it takes place in? With the exception of some of the backgrounds and designs in one or two of the songs, China isn’t particularly interesting to look at in this film. But that doesn’t mean this animation is bad by any means. I do like the colors in this movie. Anytime red shows up on the screen, especially in the background, it looks really impressive! You might be hard pressed to find a better red in any other film…Yes, that’s a great exaggeration, but you get the point. It looks good. The characters looks good. Everything flows together. Nothing looks odd or awkward or out of place like Tarzan. The animation isn’t the best, but it’s decent.
Mulan - Wall of China

SONGS/MUSIC: Once again, we have lyricist David Zippel joining us. Zippel, if you remember, contributed the lyrics for the songs in Hercules…(Sigh) Yay…Actually, these songs are much better! But instead of Alan Menken returning, we have song composer Matthew Wilder and score composer Jerry Goldsmith. The music as a whole does sound nice. If the animation doesn’t take us to China, the music will. Let’s go through these songs.
1) Honor to Us All: Is this song racist?…Or culturally insensitive? This song does not rub me the right way. We see Mulan and other young women getting dressed up to present themselves to a matchmaker and be deemed as a worthy bride. But in the song, we keep hearing them all say they want to bring honor upon their family…I don’t know anything about Chinese heritage and culture, I have to admit. This is why I ask, that’s not insulting, is it? Is it a stereotype of Chinese people or the Chinese culture? I don’t know…Well, at least the tune is catchy. The music is enjoyable, and it’ll leave you humming. If this number isn’t racist, offensive, or stereotypical, then that’s a good thing. I guess I’m on the fence about it. Yeah, I know everybody wants that sense of self-pride for themselves and their families, but do you hear Americans in American films walking around saying, “I will bring my family honor?” No. You don’t. If it’s not racist, the song is good. If it is racist, then it’s bad. End.

2) Reflections: This is a very nice song, and I don’t mean that simply for the enjoyable melody. I like what this song tells us about Mulan. She’s not just singing about wanting to express her true self or showing herself off to the world. She also wants to see the worth in herself. Think about it, the song is called “Reflections.” When you stand in front of a mirror, who’s reflection do you see? Yours. She wants to see herself. She wants to see somebody great. It’s not a matter of proving to other people who she is; it’s a matter of proving to herself that she is a great person. I think it’s a very nice song, and it fits her character and the theme of the film nicely.

3) I’ll Make a Man Out of You: And now we’ve come to it, the movie’s Number One song! I know they’re out there, but I have yet to meet the people who have seen this movie and don’t like this song. We all go nuts over it! We all look forward to this particular music number in the film!…Actually, I find that kind of interesting. I’m used to hearing and singing this song even when I’m not watching the movie, when I need to get energized for something. That’s what type of song it is – both the lyrics (mainly the vamp and the chorus) and the music get you hype and ready to face something dead on…But this song doesn’t really get me excited for the rest of the movie. I’m excited in the moment, but as soon as it ends I die out of that energetic mood. Also, pay attention to what Li Shang sings in this song. He goes from promising Mulan he’ll make a man out of her to sending her home and asking how can he possibly make a man out of her. For an army man, he’s not that strong. But I digress. I can’t hate this song. I love it just as much as the next guy. I might listen to this song at the gym…whenever I go.

4) A Girl Worth Fighting For: This song is…OK. It’s OK. I like it, but it doesn’t really have to do much with anything. Aside from designs and artwork that actually do look like China, this scene doesn’t really offer much. True, we also see Mulan saying women have brains and thoughts too, but we already know that. We see her fitting in with the other guys in the army, but, again, we saw that already. Why are they singing about this anyway? Couldn’t we have gotten an “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” reprise here instead? They’re finally going to fight – I think an intense and hype song number would have been much more fitting for this moment instead of slow male bonding. Again, though, I do like it. I like looking at it, I like the music, the words are fun…Although, who agreed on letting Yao sing? He sounds like he needs a lotion smoothie!

5) True to Your Heart: I frickin’ love this song! This number is fantastic! It sums up the message of the movie wonderfully. The music is great, mixing contemporary pop with funk! The words are good, and the vocalists are good as well. Actually, let me change that. The group 98 Degrees is good, but this number features STEVIE WONDER!!!!!!! YES! THANK YOU, JESUS! I am a HUGE Stevie Wonder fan! He does not disappoint here! I love the passion he puts into his performance! Him being here makes me love this song 1,000 times more! But the other elements I named earlier make me love this song even if Stevie weren’t singing this piece. I know some people can dismiss this song since it was written for the movie, yet it’s not performed in the same style or culture as the other songs. I understand that, and I’m not going to argue it. However, I still enjoy this song a lot. I think it’s great!

ROMANCE: I actually do like the romance in this movie. In fact, I think it’s one of my favorite Disney romances. Remember how I said the romance between Simba and Nala in The Lion King came the butt out of nowhere, and how the story did not set itself up for a romance. This movie knows that. It doesn’t try to force Mulan and Li Shang together with a random romantic scene that would have disturbed everything. The film focuses on the story it was trying to tell. What we do get is a hint at a romance at the end of the movie. That’s all we need. We can make our own conclusions based on that one small moment. And I know a number of you are thinking “What about Mulan II?” Well, if you’re like me, someone who recognizes and despises how horrible Disney sequels are, you like to imagine they never happened…
Mulan - Her and Li Shang

CHARACTERS: The characters in this film, for the most part, are pretty good and decent. I don’t really dislike any of them or find them annoying…except for Cri-Kee. If he’s aware of everything of everything going on, why was he jumping around and nesting in the tea cup during Mulan’s meeting with the match maker? Didn’t he know what kind of trouble he would cause?…But I digress. Let’s talk about some of these characters.
1) Mulan – I like her. I don’t think she’s the most interesting character, but there are some interesting things about her. I like watching her trying to compete with the men in the army. I like watching her fighting during battle. I like how smart she is. However, she does have some vulnerability to her. She realizes she doesn’t fit in with the other women or the ideas of her culture. Because of that, she wants to prove herself great. Unlike Hercules, however, her motivation isn’t so selfish. She doesn’t want to prove herself to people so that they can applaud and praise her; she doesn’t want to become a goddess. Rather, she wants to prove something to herself. That’s very relatable, and it gives her some depth. I like that. Go Mulan!
Mulan - Mulan
2) Mushu – To be honest, I shouldn’t like Mushu. I know I go on about selfish characters and ambitions, and Mushu certainly tops the cake. He’s willing to put someone else’s life on the line so that he can be allowed back into the temple as a guardian over the Fa family again. Yeah. What a douche. He doesn’t really protects her as much as he pushes her into trouble. So why do I like him anyway? Well, he’s not all bad. He does, at least, try to help her. He supports her during the climax, and he has some pretty funny lines in this film. And, of course, he’s voiced by Eddie Murphy. I’m sorry, but that is cool! I like Eddie Murphy in this role! Of course there are characters he played that I didn’t like, but I do like him a lot, and he does a good job in this role! Go Murphy!
Mulan - Mushu
3) Li Shang – Um…he’s OK. He’s strong, he’s courageous, and he’s a good captain. But, again, he’s kind of bland. If you take away his position of captain, what kind of character do we have here? Do we know anything about him? Do we know what he likes or who he really is? He’s not as dull or boring as Kocoum from Pocahontas, but I do find him as bland as Eric from The Little Mermaid. However, he does get points for having his singing voice performed by Donny Osmond! Go Donny!
Mulan - Li Shang
4) Shan Yu – This guy is such a boss! He is a vicious warrior who performs genocides with absolutely no mercy. He has a threatening design with and threatening voice to match. He even climbs out of his own death like a daisy on a field of flowers! This villain is top dog! So, then, why is he not on my or others’ Top 10 Disney Villains list?…Because this guy is boring as tar! I don’t understand it! How can you create a character this amazingly awesome, and yet have him be so boring? It had been a while since I saw this movie when I was a kid, and when I heard someone talk about Shan Yu a few years ago I thought, “Mulan had a villain?” I can’t explain why he’s forgettable, but he is! He’s not that interesting to watch, and I don’t get why! Somewhere between the creation of this character and his execution, something went wrong. There’s a great idea with him, but it Shan Yu did not live up to what he should have been. Aww, Shan…
(I couldn’t get a picture)
5) The Emperor of China: I know I should have talked about Yao or Ling or Chien Po, Chi-Fu, or one of the bigger characters in this film, but there’s no way I’m leaving this guy out! Why? Because he’s AWESOME AS CRUD!!!I know he doesn’t do much in this film. I know he doesn’t say much in this film. I know on a grand scale, he’s not that memorable. But you watch him whenever he’s on screen, and tell me he isn’t the coolest thing animated in this film! His dialogue is amazing! Listen to the wise words he says in every scene he’s in. “No matter how hard the wind howls, the mountain will not bow to it.” “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all…You don’t meet a girl like that every dynasty!” All this guy needs is a mic drop! Give him a microphone, and he will own this entire movie! Plus, he was voiced by frickin’ Pat Morita! Rest In Peace, Mr. Morita.
Mulan - The Emperor of China

STORY AND THEMES & MESSAGES: The story is good. Everything from Mulan’s focus is pretty clear and straight forward. It’s been done quite a number of times before – in fact, it actually reminds me of Pocahontas – but the sequence of events are entertaining and good enough to make this movie stand out. If you look at the story from another character’s focus, however, it may not hold up very well. I’m thinking primarily of Shan Yu, and this may be why the character himself does not work. What is his plan? Why is he doing all of this? In fact, what is he even doing? A character is supposed to execute a number of actions (what are they doing) that lead to their objectives (what do they want); and a character’s objectives leads them to their super objective (what do they want most of all). Mulan, for example, takes her father’s armor and horse (that’s what she does) in order to protect her father (that’s what she wants). She tries to succeed in the army and win a battle (that’s what she wants) in order to prove to gain self-pride (what she really wants). One thing leads to the other, and we see what she’s doing and what she wants. I have know idea what Shan Yu wants. He ultimately wants the Emperor to bow to him, but why? What is that going to do? He later strikes Li Shang and accuses him of taking away his victory. What victory? How was getting the Emperor to bow to him going to bring him glory? What was he doing? I don’t understand it. Maybe I missed something, but I don’t understand what Shan Yu’s objectives were or how his actions led to his super objective.
I know a lot of people like the “Girl Power” aspect of the film. Seeing Mulan fight in battle and hold a sword was awesome for a lot of people. To be honest, it wasn’t that exciting to me. That’s not to say that it’s not done well in this movie, or that I’m against women doing things that are often looked at as “men’s work.” (Even though there are things men can do that women can’t and vise virsa due to our biological structures.) But I didn’t really think there was anything wrong with fighting. Even as a kid, I don’t know if I ever thought of fighting as a man’s job and baking as a woman’s job. Maybe I did when I was a little kid, but as I got older I realized that there’s no difference between what men can do and what women can do (aside from those biological structures). But, then again, there will always be people out there who have sexist opinions and thoughts, and often times those opinions and thoughts are passed down to children. So, maybe it’s good to have that message in this film.
With that being said though, is this film saying China is or was a sexist country? People in this movie constantly say that a woman’s place is in the house, tending to her work, speaking only when spoken to. While, of course, Mulan does something conventional and proves how insane that idea is, China is still presented as being incredibly sexist. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, but it still comes off that way. This is the reason I get nervous when Disney tries to represent other cultures: they’ve been known to do it so poorly. It’s not done poorly here, but there are still problems. Whether every other character uses the word “honor,” an entire country and nation is displayed as sexist, or only some of the voice performers are Chinese while the rest are Japanese and Korean, Disney doesn’t always represent other ethnicities with the most dignity or sensitivity. Now, of course, there will always be someone to say, “Hey! That’s racist!” I’m totally aware of that. And, in all honesty, Disney didn’t represent Chinese people that bad in this movie. I always say that so long as they focus on the humanity of a character and culture and not the stereotypes or differences, that’s what count. In the past, Disney projected racist images of Asian-Americans, like the Siamese cats in Lady and the Tramp, or the obviously racist Asian cat in The Aristocats. Here, they focus on the story and the characters, and making them relatable to everyone. I love that.
Mulan - Story

CONCLUSION: As I said before, I really like this movie. As of now, it’s one of my favorite Disney movies. I think I like this movie so much because of the heart of it. There’s a lot of heart in the message, in the story, and in Mulan herself. I also like the comedy in the movie. I like how entertaining it is. I think this film is kind of like Aladdin, only this film is not as entertaining as that film, and the bright, popping colors have been replaced with some red and some white backgrounds. (Actually, if you think about it, there are a lot of similarities between Mulan and Aladdin.) I like it, I enjoy it, and I look forward to watching it again!
Mulan - Conclusion

MOVIE REVIEWS: Hercules (Ron Clements and John Musker, 1997)

Hercules

Alright, let’s get this over with. I do not like this movie. At all. I’ll try to be sensitive since I know a lot of people like this flick, but in all honesty I think it’s a really bad film. This is easily one of my least favorite Disney films. Nothing about it makes any sense. I don’t remember hardly anything from it. This isn’t the type of film that makes me scratch my head and wonder how or why people could like it; but I couldn’t find too many things to like about this movie…Let’s get started.

ANIMATION: This is the first Disney movie that I don’t have an appreciation for the animation. Sometimes it looks nice, like Mount Olympus, but the designs of some of the monsters and characters just look awkward and strange- too awkward and strange for Disney. Also, I know animation companies were blending traditional animation with computer graphics during this time, but some of the backgrounds and characters are so distinctly CGI. It’s distracting, and it doesn’t really allow me to enjoy the visuals. Why, movie? Why?
Hercules - Animation

SONGS/MUSIC: Movie…what did you do to Alan Menken? These songs are awful! These are some of the most bland and forgettable songs I have ever made in a Disney movie; and remembering that Menken is apart of it makes me cry! I should mention that the lyrics that time around are brought to us by David Zippel. In any case, let’s look at these songs.
1) Gospel Truth I, II, & III: This may be the worst of them all. The first time I watched this movie, I paused about 25 minutes in and started it over to watch with my brother. When I played it again, I realized I completely and totally forgot about this song…ALL THREE TIMES IT OCCURRED!!! Do you know how forgettable a song has to be for you to not only forget you heard it half an hour ago, but to also forget it after listening to it 3 times?!?!?!? That is forgettable as crud!!! Not only that, but what’s the point in having Gospel music with a story about Greek mythology? That makes absolutely no sense at all!

2) Go the Distance/(Reprise): I don’t think any other “I Want” song annoys me as much as this one does. First of all, it’s lame and forgettable. Secondly, it’s bland. It sounds like Menken got tired of writing these types of songs, or he didn’t have anything in him to write this. Third, he clearly says he wants people to praise, cheer, and applaud him. This is our hero?

3) One Last Hope: Who raised their hand and said, “I need Danny DeVito to sing?” Also, I don’t care about Phil’s back story. I know we need to understand why this guy is going out of his way to help Hercules, but I don’t care about his motivation.

4) Zero to Hero: I think this is the movie’s Number One song, but I can’t say for certain. It’s hard to get a fix on this song. In all fairness, it is kind of fun and even a bit catchy. I don’t know, I didn’t grow up with this movie. The first time I saw this film was 2 years ago. When I was a kid, my exposure to the movie was the trailer that played before the feature presentation on other Disney videocassette tapes. That’s the main reason I know this song. If it weren’t for that, would I still be familiar with this number? Maybe, maybe not. I guess the only way to be sure is to let a lot of time pass before I watch this film again and see if I remember this number when it comes on. Again, it’s just weird that this song, written in the Traditional Gospel genre, is in a movie about one of the Greek myths. Why is that such a great pair?

5) I Won’t Say (I’m in Love): I know a lot of people like this song…I don’t. I don’t remember it that much, I don’t care about Meg’s problems, and I don’t care about her romance with Hercules.

6) A Star is Born: What song is this?…Oh, that song at the end? MAN! That is so unbelievably forgettable!

ROMANCE: When am I supposed to be invested in this? Part of this comes from the fact that I don’t like either of these characters. They’re way too bland and uninteresting. OK, Meg has attitude and whatnot, but I’m still not interested in her. Of course, as always, Hercules sees Meg once and is immediately attracted to her; a cliché I’m sick of. When the romance between them does start to take off, it happens in less than a day. Give The Little Mermaid some credit, Ariel and Eric had more than triple that time! Half the time I feel like they do things that’s forced to make us believe they’re in love, like when Meg saves Hercules. The other half, I just find their actions really stupid. Hercules went to risk his life after he lost his strength because he was so sad…Idiot! I just care nothing for their relationship.
Hercules - Romance

CHARACTERS: Ugh…Let’s just get it over with.
1) Hades – I wanted to talk about him because I have to say something good about this film. James Woods as Hades is the best thing and, in my opinion, the only good thing about this film. He has the best (and only really great) design in this film. I love his power. I love his comedy. I love his voice. I love that there’s actually a character to him. I see a personality. I see motivation. I see different sides to him. He’s about to express more than one emotion, he’s not just one tone throughout the film. Sure he has some flaws, but I think that’s because the plot dictates certain things, sometimes without explanation. Hades has a limited quality of something that’ll make Hercules mortal? He didn’t know he wasn’t dead even though he rules over the dead? And since he’s a god himself, he didn’t die at the end of the movie, did he? Again, I blame the plot for these flaws, not Hades. And praise God for James Woods, the voice actor, who improvised a lot during the recording! He brought us the only good moments in the film! Because of him, Hades is my 10th favorite Disney villain…At least until I see other Disney flicks I haven’t seen yet…
Hercules - Hades
2) Hercules – I am so annoyed by this guy. I’m annoyed by him wanting praise and fame. I’m annoyed by his wide-eyed naïve behavior. But most of all, I am annoyed by his blandness! My goodness! Everything about him is boring! His design is boring. His power is boring. His voice is boring. His actions are boring. I’ve either seen this stuff before, or it’s just not done well here. Those two things combined create our Hercules. I just do not like him at all.
Hercules - Hercules
3) Megara – I don’t like her either. When she’s on the screen, I role my eyes. She’s not as boring as Hercules, but if you were to take away her attitude and snarky remarks what would she have left? Her back story about her ex-boyfriend doesn’t really make me care about her more. Part of that is because this is supposed to be the reason why she doesn’t care about people; yet she often shows care for Hercules. She truly hopes he doesn’t get hurt by Hades’ schemes. That’s not complex, that’s just inconsistency.
Hercules - Megara
4) Philoctetes – Phil also annoys the crud out of me. He shouts way too much. I can’t really explain what it is about him, I just don’t like his character. I don’t like the whole “trainer-from-the-Rocky-movies-meets-Danny-DeVito” character. Something about it just does not work for me at all…Why did the last moment of the movie consist of Hercules’ image appearing in the stars, someone looking at it and saying, “That’s Phil’s boy!” Why was that the last line? Is that what we were really supposed to be caring about this whole time? Is this what we should have been rooting for all along? BOO!
Hercules - Phil
5) Pain and Panic – Oh. My. Goodness. These are the most annoying Disney characters, the most obnoxious and stupid comic relief sidekicks in Disney EVER!!!!! I HATE these two with a passion! Everything about them is just awful! Their characters, their jokes, their actions, their designs, their VOICES?!?!?!?!?!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!!! Am I honestly supposed to find them enjoyable? This is bad! Very, very bad! GOSH!
Hercules - Annoying Characters

STORY/THEMES & MESSAGES: This story is so stupid. Why am I supposed to care about it? It has so many inconsistencies and stupid things to keep this plot going forward. Hades has a bottle that makes a god mortal? Hercules has to drink every single drop in order to be 100% mortal? He never knew Hercules wasn’t really dead, even though he’s lord of the underworld? Hercules has to prove himself a true hero in order to have his godhood restored? Why couldn’t Zeus make himself known to Hercules before? Nothing in this story says that wasn’t possible. In fact, why didn’t the Fates tell Hades any of this was going to happen? They really didn’t help that much – they’re practically a waste of animation, voice work, and writing.
The movie is basically Rocky meets Superman. If you want to make your own sort of superhero movie, which is what the filmmakers were going for, that’s fine. But why did you have to include Greek myths into it? Nothing is being done differently here. There’s nothing new here. Therefore, this is a bore to sit through.
Finally, let’s talk about the message. Hercules isn’t allowed back onto Mount Olympus until he learns what it truly is to be a hero. He does all these feats on Earth, but his father tells him defeating villains doesn’t constitute as a heroic act. I have two problems with this: First, why the crud doesn’t he just tell Hercules what it means to be a hero? Our dim-witted protagonist clearly doesn’t understand what it means to be a hero. Just tell him! He’ll still have to make a genuine, honest act of heroism, so it’s not like telling him will spoil anything. Second, what does Hercules do to become a hero? He makes a pact with the devil! Yeah, that’s what kids need to hear! As if it wasn’t bad enough when Ariel signed away her voice and soul for a man she barely knew, not we have Hercules giving his life for all eternity to the devil! But that’s not the only problem with this. Hercules doesn’t even keep his promise! He promises to remain with Hades forever if he gets Meg out. Well, he got Meg out, but then he punched Hades into the Abyss! Our hero, people! If you don’t like the deal you willingly signed up for, just leave! There’s nothing unethical about it…or making a pact with the devil!
Hercules - Story

CONCLUSION: Clearly I don’t like this movie. Again, I know other people like it. For me, though, it’s just all kinds of bad. The songs are forgettable, the characters are bland, the story is stupid, the romance is uninteresting, the animation is awkward, and the film as a whole just doesn’t make any sense. If you like it, great. But for me, this is a film I just do not like at all. But James Woods as Hades is awesome!
Hercules - Conclusion

MOVIE REVIEWS: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, 1996)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Disney’s Pocahontas wasn’t a failure by any means, but it did cause a bit of a shift in the Disney Renaissance. Although it and the other films after it were still hits, they were never as successful as the other films we saw earlier. People could argue that each of those films got better and better. Maybe the studio was trying to make a film better than Pocahontas. But how do you make a family friendly film that’s bound to be a commercial success?…By adding an old hypocritical man who lusts after a woman more than half his age, enslaves a deformed man, burns down people in their houses, and breaks other Commandments as well, of course! Here’s Disney! OK, as we all know, this is one of Disney’s darkest movies…if not the darkest movie from Disney. Personally, I love this film! I think it’s a great picture! Sure, it has it’s flaws, but I think it’s a strong and great movie!

ANIMATION: The animation in this film is unbelievable! It’s amazing! It’s regal! It’s so great to look at! I love how Paris looks in this film! While Beauty and the Beast looks like it could take place anywhere, this movie looks like Paris, France; not the fantasized Paris, but the real part of the city. I love how big and epic it looks. It has almost a religious look and quality to it, which fits the tone of the film anyhow. I just love looking at this film, it’s like a beautiful piece of moving art in front of you. It’s incredible!
The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Animation

SONGS/MUSIC: Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz have returned to bring us the music and songs of the movie. Unlike the songs from Pocahontas, these songs are not weak, not even a little bit! I can’t think of one bad song in this movie! Let’s go through and discuss them!
1) The Bells of Notre Dame/(Reprise): I may love “Circle of Life,” but I must say that this is one of my favorite openings to a movie…EVER! It gives the exposition perfectly. It tells us who the gypsies and Frollo are excellently. We get Quasimodo’s back story wonderfully. We get an amazing set up to the movie, and the song helps tell the story in an amazing way! I love it!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8e8aKFY1VI (This is the best version I could find.)
2) Out There: This is a good number for Quasimodo. It gives him a voice, and we learn what he wants. That’s really all I have to say about it, but that doesn’t mean the song is bad, bland, or forgettable. It does sound much different than your typical Disney “I Want” song. In my opinion, this song is a lot more sympathetic than the other “I Want” songs. This is a very good song.

3) Topsy Turvy: This becomes our fun and exciting song for the film. What I like about this song is that it fits within the style of the movie and the spirit of the gypsies. It’s not out of place or distracting. And, again, we see the story continuing and moving in a smart and entertaining way. I love that! This song is cool.

4) God Help the Outcasts: I think this is a wonderful song! Given the subject and heavy situations of this film, it would have been so easy for the movie to say Christians and Christianity are bad. Any other studio would have given that message. However, this song is one of the elements that lets audiences know that it’s not the faith in God that’s corrupt, but rather just one man. But that doesn’t keep our leading lady from finding God for herself. I love how pure, honest, and heartfelt this song is. You understand the heart of it, and it is just wonderful! I adore this song!

5) Heaven’s Light: This song is nice, but it’s not at all memorable…That’s pretty much all I have to say about it.
(The video is attached with the following song in the list below.)
6) Hellfire: This song KICKS BUTT!!! This is definitely one of the best villain songs – songs period Disney has ever produced! We can to literally see and hear the turmoil and battles Frollo is going through! It’s creepy, it’s scary, it’s disturbing, it’s uncomfortable…and that’s why we love this number so much! The songwriters and filmmakers went all out to tell this man’s story! They didn’t shy away from it, they didn’t pander it, and they weren’t afraid of it! This song – this struggle – is honest! It’s an incredible number! It’s one of Disney’s best villain songs sung by one of Disney’s best villains! It’s easily one of Disney’s best moments!

7) A Guy Like You: As a stand alone song, I think this is a good number. It’s entertaining. It’s got a nice melody. The lyrics can be fun. My problem with it, however, is that it completely breaks the tone of the film. It’s not in the same style as the other songs in the film. It’s way too lighthearted. It’s too cartoony and silly and goofy. If it were in another movie or in a cartoon, it’d have a better chance of working. In a dark film based on Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame book, this does not work…at all.

8) The Court of Miracles: This isn’t the most memorable songs in the film, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Actually, it’s really good. Maybe I’m just a sucker for dark elements. In this song, the gypsies are getting ready to hang Quasimodo and Phoebus for trespassing in their hideout. It’s a very dark moment, but the music is halfway lighthearted and whimsical. That’s fitting, seeing how the song is mainly sung by Clopin, the fun-loving leader of the gypsies. I love the music, I love the lyrics, I love the syncopation, I love how dark it is. There’s something about the spirit of the character and the moment combined that makes this song great.

ROMANCE: There’s not much to say about the romance here. Looking at it from the protagonist’s perspective, it’s actually nice to see the film doesn’t force the lead to get the woman. Actually, given how Disney is telling this story, it actually works in the film’s favor that Quasimodo doesn’t end up with Esmeralda. Rather than his self-esteem coming from how other people see him, or how Esmeralda see him, now his self-value comes from his feelings of himself. Does he think he’s great? Does he think he’s special? Does he think he’s beautiful? He doesn’t have Esmeralda to make him feel that he’s any of these things; he has to answer these questions for himself. Focusing on Esmeralda’s relationship with Phoebus, it’s pretty…dull. It’s just not anything special or interesting to look at. I’m glad it’s in the movie because, again, Quasimodo has to validate himself. But if Esmeralda and Phoebus’ relationship was the focus of the film, this movie would be very, very boring.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Romance

CHARACTERS: There are so many characters in this film, I’m not going to be able to get to them all. I’ll only focus on 5 of them. Since I already talked about Frollo in my Top 10 Favorite Disney Villains list, I won’t mention him here. Let’s get some other characters into the mix.
1) Quasimodo – This is not the most interesting character. Quasimodo isn’t that fun or exciting to watch. However, he is probably one of Disney’s most sympathetic characters ever! Oh my goodness, I feel so sorry for him! He is so kind, so loving, so endearing and thoughtful; and yet look at his back story! His mother was killed when was a baby, and he was almost drowned as well. He’s been confounded to a bell tower for his entire life. Everyone in the city believes he’s a monster simply because of how he looks. He finds himself attracted to a young woman, but he gets his heart broken when he learns she loves someone else. My gosh, how does he not have serious depression?!? I can’t help but love this guy! He has such a tragic life, and yet he still has a lot of joy, able to smile anyhow. That is fantastic! He is fantastic!
The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Quasimodo
2) Esmeralda – She’s not that interesting either. She’s not a bad character – I really do like her. There’s just nothing that really makes her stand out that much. Like every other Disney female lead, she has a nice and attractive design. I’m trying to think if there’s anything about her I especially love…Not really. Again, she’s a likeable character; she’s good, kind, and helpful. She’s just not that interesting.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Esmeralda
3) Captain Phoebus – Apply what I said about Esmeralda to this guy. The only difference between these two is that Esmeralda isn’t bland. Phoebus is. He’s kind of like John Smith from Pocahontas, but more charming and less of a stereotypical pretty White guy. When I say he’s charming, I mean the script tries to give him some charm, but not enough to make him an interesting character. He’s OK. I like him. He’s just not interesting.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Phoebus
4) The Gargoyles – Annoying. As. Crud. That’s what they are, they’re annoying as crud. This movie has a lot of dark elements, which means it needs some comedy to balance out the serious and harsh moments. I get that, and I’m behind it. But these characters, who supply the comic relief, break the tone of the film. I think you can supply humor without breaking the tone, but that is not achieved here at all! They make references to pop culture, they make weird and stupid jokes, and they feel out of place. If this were a cartoon show, they would fit a lot better. But in this grand, regal, and epic animated film, they fail and hard. They get one or two chuckles, but as a whole I’m booing them off the stage.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Gargoyles
5) Archdeacon – I have to talk about this character because I love him so much! I know he’s only a supporting character, he’s not that memorable, and his role is not very big. But I love his support! I love how he is so quick to help people and protect their rights. He also helps lead people to God in their distress without shoving Him down their throats. I love it! Like I said earlier, it would have been so easy for this film to say Christians or Christianity is bad. However, the Archdeacon gives a nice balance to show that Christians aren’t evil and hypocritical. One man is corrupt, but that doesn’t mean every Christian is! We see that through this character! I love that!
The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Archdeacon

STORY: I’m not going to draw connections between this and the original Victor Hugo novel since I haven’t read it before. The story as a whole, I think, is good. As I said earlier, it stops being good when it switches to something that breaks its dark tone. I’m not against lightheartedness or comedy, but it has to fit within the spirit of the film. When I see old men falling into traps, a goat that can understand its owner and her feelings, and annoying gargoyles, it takes me out of the movie. I get it, the filmmakers tried to make this film suitable for children; I understand. I just think there’s a better and smarter way of doing it. I might be biased, seeing as how I like dark material and content. Maybe this just isn’t the right story to share with children. I don’t know, I do think this is a good story and Disney tells the story in a very good way. I just think it could have been better if we didn’t have all those childish moments.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Story

CONCLUSION: I really love this movie! It’s got flaws and problems, but it is so well done! I love the songs and the animation! I love the theme and the message. The characters are good, the story is good, and all of these elements combined create a wonderful, impressive movie! It is regal! It’s dark! It’s epic! It’s just a great and wonderful movie! I don’t think it’ll scar kids for life, but this movie, like other Disney movies, is designed to be viewed with the entire family anyhow. It’s a really good film!
The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Conclusion

MOVIE REVIEWS: Pocahontas (Mike Gabriel and Eric Goldberg, 1995)

Pocahontas

Here’s some trivia for you: there was a moment in the early ’90s when the Disney Animation Studios was in the process of producing 2 movies. One of them was supposed to be the one that everyone would care about. It would be the film everyone in the world would love and go crazy over. The other was the “B Movie,” the film that no one would care about. Even some of the animators and designers on this “B Movie” found moments where they wanted to work on the other picture. Who knew that the B-Movie would be the film everyone raved about? What was that movie? Why, it was The Lion King of course! And we all know what a success that film was, and still is! It was the highest grossing animated film and movie for Disney at the time, and it is still the highest grossing traditionally animated movie of all time, making over $987 million all over the world! So, then, if that was the B-Movie, what was the film that everyone was supposed to care about? THIS film, of course! Yeah, how about that! Disney thought Pocahontas was going to beat out The Lion King! While it certainly wasn’t a financial or critical failure upon its release, this film definitely wasn’t the commercial success Disney was hoping for, and it wasn’t as successful as the earlier films in the Disney Renaissance either. Why? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.

ANIMATION: This is one of the best elements of the movie. The look of the film and the design of landscapes is beautiful! Virginia looks amazing! It’s something straight out of a painting! It’s just gorgeous to look at! The design of the people is also very unique for Disney. They look a lot more realistic. The eyes aren’t as big, and we don’t even see their outlines. Sometimes they look awkward, but most of the time they look rather nice.
Pocahontas - Virginia

SONGS/MUSIC: Fortunately, we get Alan Menken back in this flick! His score, melodies, and orchestrations do not disappoint; they hardly ever did around this time. Instead of getting lyricist Tim Rice again, we have Stephen Schwartz. His lyrics…aren’t the best. They’re very obvious. They clearly express the obvious messages and show us the obvious villains. In all honesty, though, I don’t think that’s Schwartz’s fault. You’ll have to keep reading this review to find out why I say that, but let’s just focus on the songs themselves for now.
1) The Virginia Company/(Reprise): Oh yeah, that was a thing. Man, is that forgettable!

2) Steady as the Beating Drum/Reprise): This song was in the movie, too? Wow, that’s forgettable!

3) Just Around the Riverbend: Here we go! This is a memorable song. I say that mainly because of the melody. The song does gives us some character development. We learn what kind of person Pocahontas is. I do have to ask, though, didn’t we already get an understanding of that from frame one. From the moment we saw Pocahontas, didn’t we know what kind of person she’d be? Did this song add anything to how we perceived her character? Either way, it’s a nice song. It’s not the best, but it’s nice.

4) Listen With Your Heart I & II: Eh…it’s OK. It has a nice and memorable melody, but that’s not enough to make a good song – especially in a musical! And, honestly, I don’t know what it adds. Is the movie any better for having this song? Would you lose anything if you removed this number from the film? Probably not.

5) Mine, Mine, Mine: What makes this film sort of unique is that is has 2 villain songs. This is one of them. Of course we knew that Ratcliffe wanted gold, but he also seeks other riches and glory. He wants fame and attention. He wants to be noticed by everyone in his country. The other men are both looking for gold and they’re just doing their job. They don’t have much motivation whereas Governor Ratcliffe does. The song works.

6) Colors of the Wind: This is the film’s Number One song. It’s probably the best song in the film as well. Not only do we all remember the lyrics and the music, but the song also conveys one of the themes of the film, that we all need to have love and respect for everything and everyone that has life. I think it’s hard to make a song like this subtle, but it could have been less obvious than it was in its message. However, it does fit the tone of the script. Often times, the dialogue and the script is so obvious in its message, so I don’t know if I should blame Schwartz for the obvious and unsubtle message. But, that’s OK. The song is still really good, and it’s not the least subtle song in the movie…P.S., you all know you can’t paint with the colors of the wind, right? Wind has no colors. Leaves have color, though…Just saying.

7) If I Never Knew You: I’m not too familiar with this song, and I don’t know how many people are. It was a number that was in the original draft of the film, but it was cut when they saw children didn’t respond to it well…And I can see why. What in the crud does it add? I feel like this song is here for the same reason we had “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” in The Lion King…because Disney movies have love songs! As someone who’s more familiar with the original cut of the film, I can say that this movie loses absolutely nothing by not having this song!

8) Savages, Parts 1 & 2: This is the other villain song in the film. I sort of have mixed feelings about this song. On one hand, the lyrics could not be anymore obvious. Remember how I said “Colors of the Wind” could have been more subtle? Well this song couldn’t be any less subtle! Listen to these words: “What did you expect?…This is what happens when races are diverse.” “Their skin’s a Hellish red…” “Beneath their milky hide, there’s emptiness inside. I wonder if they even bleed.” Yeah…Actually, what surprises me is that people claim that this song promotes racism. Really? You can listen to these lyrics and tell what the message is! It’s so obviously showing that this is where hatred brought these two groups of people. Now, despite the obvious message and lyrics, I do enjoy this song. I like seeing where hate brought them; to some degree, hate is the real villain here, not Ratcliffe. I like how these two groups who think they are so different from each other are actually the same – you see it in this song. Even though they’re singing about hate, they’re singing the same things, almost word for word. And, of course, I love hearing them chant “savages!” It’s so much fun! My sister and I chant this word to each other all the time! We even chant other words that sound like “savages” in the same rhythm! Next time you eat breakfast, demand for “Sausages! Sausages!” It’s so much fun! The song does get you excited for the battle and adventure the two groups are going to have. It’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s rhythmic, it’s savages…Savages! Savages!

ROMANCE: OK, we all know the romance between Pocahontas and John Smith was fabricated for the movie, it didn’t really happen in real life. Let’s excuse that for now and look at what the movie gave us. I know that may be difficult for some people, but trust me, we’ll get to that aspect of the film later. The romance as a whole, I think, is OK. It’s not the best, but it does actually come from something. I would argue that their romance comes from something. Rather than seeing John Smith and immediately falling in love with him, Pocahontas was stunned by his difference. She had never seen anyone who looked like him before. Knowing how curious she is, one could conclude that she probably wanted to learn more about this person. Why does he look so different? Are there others who look like him? Why haven’t I seen people like this before? Where is he from? That’s where her interest in him came from. After spending time with him, then a romance developed. Part of what made this romance stupid is that it developed in, what, a day? But, to be honest, they do talk about their problems and they do try to help one another. One can see how a romance could spark from this. It’s not the best Disney romance, but it’s far from the worst.
Pocahontas - Romance

CHARACTERS: Eh…let’s just get into it.
1) Nakoma and Kocoum – Let’s start with Nakoma, Pocahontas’ best friend. She’s probably the most developed character in the movie, at least as far as personality is concerned. She’s not bland, she’s not boring, and she’s amusing and fun. She supports our main character. She doesn’t get in the way of the action, and she’s not annoying. I like Nakoma.
Pocahontas - Nakoma
Kocoum, however, is another story. This is the man Pocahontas is supposed to marry. He’s not annoying or anything, but he is boring as tare! He’s not even bland! Bland is just a boring stereotype. He’s not a stereotype (which, don’t get me wrong, is bad); he has absolutely no personality. If you read my Lion King review, you’ll remember I said we cried for Mufasa when he died because we really got to know him. He was incredibly relatable, and loveable. We got a sense of who he was. Kocoum could not be any more different. Who is this guy? What does he like? What does he like to do? What motivates him? We’re not able to answer those questions, thus we don’t cry when he dies. We may be shocked, and maybe we feel bad, but we’re certainly not sad because we don’t know anything about him…So, then…why do I still like him? Because he fights with the spirit of…A BEAR!
Pocahontas - Kocoum
2) Meeko – I can’t stand this creature! He is annoying as crud! I hate how he keeps bothering Percy. I hate how he take’s John Smith’s things. I hate how he gets in the way of what’s happening. I cannot stand him. The other animals are annoying, but they’re more annoying when Meeko’s around. I cannot stand this raccoon.
Pocahontas - Meeko
3) Governor Ratcliffe – I already talked about Ratcliffe earlier, and there’s not too much else to say. To be honest, though, I do feel sorry for him. This villain isn’t just evil for the sake of being evil. Yes, he wants money and fame, but at the same time his motivation stemmed from a misunderstanding. I think he was so blinded by fame that he tricked himself into believing the Native Americans were evil savages. I honestly do feel bad for him toward the end of the movie when he was gagged and tied up. If it weren’t for his misunderstanding, none of that would have happened. Does that mean he’s a great, complex villain or character? No, he’s pretty bland. But, again, he’s not the worst villain or the worst character. He does have some heart to him. He does have some development; it’s just not a lot, nor is it that interesting.
Pocahontas - Governor Ratcliffe
4) John Smith – I kind of laugh at how amazing this character is supposed to be. You know how a film can really push or talk up a character’s awesomeness? That’s John Smith in this film. Think about it: he flawlessly jumps off a boat, saves a man’s life, and returns to the boat in less than a minute without a scratch on him. When he was climbing a mountain and he tripped, he spontaneously found a rope to save him. This guy is unbelievable. He is a little sympathetic, and he does have his own sort of story arc. However, John Smith is so bland, there’s not a lot to say about him. I don’t like him, I don’t dislike him. If he actually had a character and not just awesome actions, I’d like him more. Although, I will say he does kind of mirror the modern stereotypical pretty White guy, doesn’t he? He comes in, he saves the day, he’s awesome, but he may say something offensive that he didn’t know was offensive. The only thing that was missing from this stereotype was John Smith saying, “I’m not a racist, but…”
Pocahontas - John Smith
5) Pocahontas – I wanted to save Pocahontas for last. Not because I don’t like her or anything – on the contrary, I do really like her. Yeah she’s bland and has no character or personality, but I like her for her actions. I know that’s weird, seeing as how I just bashed John Smith, but I do like Pocahontas’ actions. It’s hard for me to explain this without talking about Ariel from The Little Mermaid. If you read my review of that film, you know I dislike Ariel with a passion. This is weird seeing how Pocahontas has no personality and Ariel does; but I don’t like Ariel’s personality. Ariel whines and complains about what she doesn’t have. Her actions are stemmed from selfish ambitions – she wants to be human. She wants a man. When she does something to get what she wants, she often hurts other people in the process. She doesn’t care that she’s causing pain for the people around her, either. She never apologized to them or did anything to make up for the pain she caused them. So long as she got what she wanted, who cares how she got there? Pocahontas’ actions, on the other hand, stemmed from a selfless, mature, and courageous ambition. She wants to bring two different cultures together and tare down the wall of hate that stands between them. Yes, one person died as a result of her actions, but how many more people would have died if she didn’t take a stand? Again, I’m not saying Pocahontas is a good character in terms of development and interest; she’s not. But in terms of morals, ethics, and strength, I do like her. Yeah, there are moments with her when the movie is trying to make her look incredible and strong (Why did her introduction consist of her standing on a mountain waiting for wind and leaves? Why was she there to begin with?), but I can’t get over how ethical she is. She’s not the strongest, but I do love her!…P.S. What’s up with her design?!? Seriously! She’s 12-years-old, and she has a look that’ll excite a grown man! What in the world?!?
Pocahontas - Her

STORY: The only thing that could be weaker than the characters is the story. It is stale. It is boring. You know where it’s going to go. But let’s pretend for a minute you’re able to get past that, like I am. Is still a stupid story? Yes. Yes it is. Why? Because this film, which is based on a true story, has a number of moments that could not happen in real life. I didn’t say these moments didn’t happen in real life, I said they couldn’t happen in real life. We know that Pocahontas was 14-years-old and not 12 when these events took place. We know Pocahontas and John Smith did not share a romance. We know the historical inaccuracies of the film. However, logic dictates that these things could have happened. By logic, she could have been 12-years-old when the English settled in Virginia. By logic, she very well could have fallen in love with John Smith. These things could have happened. What CAN’T happen is your grandmother’s spirit living in a willow tree, and two people who speak two different languages can suddenly understand each other because the plot dictates! No. That can’t happen. I understand we have to expect a certain something from Disney, but we’re trying to honor someone who really existed here! We’re trying to depict something that really happened! When you throw in a talking, magical tree and magical, colorful leaves that conflict with the wind. (No, really, pay attention to how the leaves blow in this movie – that can’t be the wind moving them!)
Also, remember how I said the lyrics of the song could be very, very obvious, but I didn’t blame Schwartz for that. I blame the script. Schwartz was probably writing to match the tone of the script. Listen to the dialogue in the script, and tell me it’s not obvious! Tell me you don’t immediately know what the filmmakers are doing! Tell me you don’t already know what the moral is supposed to be! When Ratcliffe tells John Smith, “This is MY land! I make the laws here,” don’t you kind of groan? When Pocahontas and John Smith are talking about the concept of “savages,” don’t you realize what the rest of the movie is going to be…if you didn’t realize it already? Didn’t you pray this film would do something different when Pocahontas’ father told her she was going to marry someone she didn’t really love and he said, “This is the path for you?” C’mon, film. You are not subtle at all! Fix yourself!
I know a lot of people take issue with the historical inaccuracies in this film. I can understand why. It is sort of insulting to the actual people involved and the events that took place. It does not educate children at all about what really happened in the early days of this country. I can understand and sympathize with why people take such issues with the inaccuracies of this film. So, then, why doesn’t that bother me so much? Well, there are 2 reasons: First of all, no movie based on something – especially a true story – is going to 100% accurate of everything that happened. The filmmakers weren’t present to be able to totally represent what happened. Even the film that has come the closest to representing a real life event didn’t get everything right. Maybe they added a character, removed a character, changed the events, or had someone say something they did not say. Second of all, are we really going to look to Disney and Hollywood to educate our children? I know they should have taken this as an opportunity to honestly tell a story and teach history to children. However, education is not up to entertainers and movie executives. If we’re not the ones influencing and educating our children, that’s the real tragedy. If children think they know the story of the Indian princess because of this movie, that is our fault. Let’s take care of our children.
Pocahontas - Story

CONCLUSION: I do think this is a stupid movie. Hopefully children, and even adults, can watch this movie and know that a great deal of it is fantasized. However, I still find myself liking this film. The animation is wonderful. The songs are memorable. Pocahontas is a good role model. This flick could have been much better, of course, but it is not Disney’s worst; and, in my opinion, it’s not the worst film the Disney Renaissance of the ’80s and ’90s had to offer. I still enjoy the film, it’s visuals, and it’s morals. In fact, this film may be apologizing for the racist Indians from Peter Pan (Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske, 1953). I can’t declare it a good movie, but it’s good enough to kill time.
Pocahontas - Conclusion

MOVIE REVIEWS: The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994)

The Lion King Poster

YEAH MAN!!! This is my favorite Disney movie EVER! Like so many other people all over the world, I am madly in love with this film! It’s just incredible! It is an unbelievable film! It’s smart, it’s artistic, it’s entertaining, it’s emotional – it’s just a great movie! But what exactly makes it so great? Well, let’s find out.

ANIMATION: The animation is great! I love the way the designers capture the look of the Savannah in Africa! It looks so amazing and breath-taking! But the look of the movie is also influenced based on epic and mythological backgrounds, like something that would come out of a Greek mythological tale. That adds so much weight to the epicness this movie contains. That’s really the best way to describe the look of the movie: epic. It is so large and grand. The stampede scene has got to be the biggest and most epic scene ever put to traditional animation! I also love how real the animals are! Not only do they look real, but they move in a realistic way. When you see the lions walk, you see the bone in their bodies move as well! I love that detail! It’s just awesome!
The Lion King - Stampede

SONGS/MUSIC: I LOVE the music and songs in this film! Before I get to the songs, there are two things to address first. First of all, Lebo M., a South African musician, does not get enough credit for his contribution to the music of this film. It was because of him that the songs and the score sounded like it came from Africa (…although we don’t know the exact country this movie takes place in – that’s confusing). The music would sound completely out of place if it were not for Lebo M., and he needs to be acknowledged more. Secondly, Hans Zimmer’s score is AWESOME! My word, it is so epic! I am in love with the score! If this score were a woman, I’d marry her! I love the “Lea Halalela” theme that plays throughout the film! It is beautiful! It is grand! It is epic! I love humming along to this score! But, of course, when people think of the music of this movie they think of the songs. These numbers, written by Tim Rice and Elton John, have definitely left a huge impact on so many people all over the world! ALL of these songs are wonderful, and they all stand out! Unlike the Disney films that came before and after this film, this movie doesn’t have a single Number One song – ALL the songs are Number Ones! You instantly remember each of them at the mention of their titles! If I were to ask a large group of people to name me a song from The Little Mermaid or Aladdin, most of them would say “Under the Sea” and “A Whole New World.” If I asked that same group to name me a song from The Lion King, some of them would say “Circle of Life.” Others would say “Hakuna Matata,” and others would say “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” So, let’s go through them!
1) Circle of Life/(Reprise): My WORD, what a great opening! Again, it’s just so big and grand! It was such a smart move of the filmmakers to remove the dialogue from the opening and just use this song to speak for itself! Also, this song embodies one of the themes of the movie. It talks about the delicate balance of life and appreciating the circle of life. It is a great message, a great song, and a great opening!

2) Morning Report: The only reason I’m including this song is because a lot of people are familiar with it thanks to the Special Edition DVD released in 2003. I don’t like this number that much. It doesn’t add anything to the film, but it does take more of my time away from me. If you’re listening to this song in the Broadway play, the song works OK. That’s just the medium where this can work. In the movie? It makes no sense.

3) I Just Can’t Wait to be King: This is a very fun song. I always felt that this song gave us character development of a young Simba. Unlike Jasmine, Simba is proud of his royal position. In his young mind, he can’t wait to become king so that he can do whatever he wants. Many people have translated this as Simba being selfish and full of himself, but let me remind you that Simba is a kid when he sings this! He’s, what, 10-years-old? He’ll sing and fantasize over his future as he sees it now. What’s wrong with that? Let the kid have his fun and his fantasy. He’ll learn soon enough that things won’t go according to this plan. Simba is harmless! Leave him alone!

4) Be Prepared: So many people are in love with this song! They consider it one of the best Disney villain songs ever. I must say, I can see where they’re coming from. The song does show Scar plotting against Mufasa in the cruelest of ways. He even has a Nazi team of hyenas following him! How awesome is that? And, of course, following in the tradition of villain songs, this song sounds a lot different from the other songs in the film. This song is menacing and threatening. You know something is going down! This is a great song!

5) Hakuna Matata: This song is just a ton of fun. It does slow the movie down for a little while, but I can’t be angry at this song! It has a fun melody and an enjoyable catchphrase that an entire generation still recites today! I love this song! Anytime I hear it, I often walk swaying my head from side to side like Pumbaa and Simba did when they were walking on the log. I challenge you to do the same, it’s a lot of fun!

6) Can You Feel the Love Tonight: I do have mixed feelings about this song. As a stand alone song, it’s great! I can see someone falling in love to this number. It sounds wonderful. I love the message, I love the lyrics, I love the music, and I love the singers. This is a beautiful song! In context of the movie, however, this song has no point in being in the movie. How did a romance work its way into the story the movie set up for us? This was a coming of age story, and then we get a love fest out of nowhere. Not only that, but I don’t believe Simba and Nala are really in love. Look at how Disney conveys romantic love in other films. It’s not conveyed the same as it is in this film. I don’t think they’re in love, but I do think they’re in lust. Did you see that face Nala gave Simba as she’s laying on her back during the song?…Yeah, that says it all. But again, that’s in context of the movie. If you listen to the song on its own, it’s still a really good song.

ROMANCE: …I just talked about this, didn’t I?…Yeah, aside from seeing Simba’s child at the end of the movie, which fits within the Circle of Life theme, the romance contributed nothing to the film…But that face, though.
The Lion King - Nala

CHARACTERS: These are some of my favorite characters in a Disney movie ever! Since there are so many of them, I’ll just mention 5 characters.
1) Simba – I’ve said before that this is the character I relate to the most. Yes, he starts out naïve and rebellious, but he matures. He learns about responsibility. He matures and becomes strong. He applies the ethics and morals and lessons his father taught him. He may be one of the most ethical Disney leads! I like that he has flaws, yet he learns from his mistakes. If Ariel is too flawed and Belle is too perfect, Simba may be the perfect balance between the two. He’s very relatable, and I admire that. I love watching his story arc to see how he comes to accept his position and responsibility. It’s something that so many of us go through everyday. Again, I see so much of myself in Simba. He’s a great character!
The Lion King - Simba
2) Mufasa – This guy is easily my favorite character in the movie! Why? Because he’s so powerful! He is strong! Even without him opening his mouth, you can look at him and feel the weight of his power and might. And then, once you hear his voice, the weight hits you even more! Mufasa is one of the strongest characters I’ve ever seen! He says my favorite line in the movie when his image appears in the sky. He said, “Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become.” OH MY GOSH – that line WREAKS with power! It just BLEEDS power! But not only that, Mufasa also displays himself as a kind and loving father. He disciplines his son, plays with his son, educates his son, and he protects his son. This makes him relatable to the audience because we see our parents in Mufasa, knowing that they would give us the same love and care Mufasa gave to Simba. This is also why his death scene is so emotional for us. If we didn’t get to know and relate to Mufasa, we would not have cried when he died. But he immediately became a true person, the person you didn’t want to go away. When he did, we balled our eyes out.
The Lion King - Mufasa
3) Scar – I won’t say too much here since I already talked about Scar in my Top 10 Favorite Disney Villains list. I will say briefly that what makes Scar stand out from most Disney villains is he didn’t have any super powers or magic spells to cast on anybody. All he had was his mind. He’s very smart. You heard him say it early in the movie when he said to Mufasa, “As far as brains go, I’ve got the lions’ share…” He knew what to do to get what he wanted. He knew a young and naïve Simba would be curious and rebellious enough to go to the elephant graveyard. He knew Mufasa would save Simba from the stampede. What I don’t understand, though, is why he sent the same hyenas who couldn’t kill Simba and Nala is the elephant graveyard to kill Simba after the stampede. Didn’t he suspect that they’d mess up again? Aside from that, he really proves himself an intelligent villain, and I love hating him.
The Lion King - Scar
4) Rafiki – This is my second favorite character in the movie! Why? Because he’s both wise and funny! He’s a perfect blend of both! I love watching him talk to Simba about learning from his mistakes. He displays so much mystical and spiritual guidance, but not in a goofy and cartoony fashion. His wise personality is very believable – you believe someone like Rafiki really exists. He delivers, in my opinion, some of the funniest lines and moments in the movie, like when he tells Simba, “…You are a baboon, and I am not,” or when he hits Simba and
replies, “It doesn’t matter. It’s in the past!” That is absolutely funny, yet wise! I love it! I love Rafiki!
The Lion King - Rafiki
5) Timon and Pumbaa – Since these two have so much to contribute to both the story and the identity of this movie and franchise, it’d be wrong to leave them out. And, as you may imagine, I enjoy them. They’re not the funniest Disney characters ever, but they do keep me laughing and they do entertain me. I like their humor. I like how their humor doesn’t necessarily come from referencing modern pop culture. That was a huge thing for kids/family movies after Aladdin, and it got annoying. It was fine for that movie, but I don’t need to see it everywhere. These two are funny because of their personalities, characteristics, and the events that take place around them; not because they were watching Friends or Full House on television. I also like how they support our main character. When he’s on the verge of dying, they saved his life. When he needed a home, they took him in. When he needed to return to his home, they were right behind him. They never asked “what’s in it for me?” They never got in the way of anything or caused something bad to happen. They kept me smiling and singing. I like them.
The Lion King - Timon and Pumbaa

STORY AND THEMES & MESSAGES: I know a lot of people say this movie is based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but that’s not entirely true. The filmmakers were developing an original story, and in the middle of the process they saw connections between this film and Hamlet. After they decided Scar should be a member of the royal family, they realized this story paralleled Hamlet. The filmmakers were influenced by Shakespearean tales, however. They were also influenced by Biblical stories like Moses and Joseph. They were drawn to Greek myths as well.
As a whole, I really like this story. I like the pacing, and I like the sequence of events. There’s only one thing in the story I don’t understand. After the stampede, Scar finds Simba and tells him to “run away and never return,” and then, as I said earlier, he sends his hyenas to go kill him. Question: why didn’t Scar kill Simba himself? No one else was around, and he would have gotten away with it. None of the answers to this question I hear holds any water. “He didn’t want the blood of Simba on his hands.” Really? Because not only does he have the blood of Mufasa on his hands, not only does he get into an epic fight with Simba at the end, but I don’t think he’s above killing children to get what he wants. “He has lackies. It’s their job to kill him.” Yeah, because they did such a great job before in the elephant graveyard! “Well, it’s a fact that lions can pick up the scent of someone or something off their paws.” How many people know that? Do you really think a large number of people who love this movie knows that? In fact, did the filmmakers know that? I doubt it! The only answer I can come up with is that if Scar had killed him, then there’d be no movie. Well, I’m sorry, but that’s really lame! Anytime that becomes the answer to any plothole in a movie, that means that the movie did not have to happen. That means that this movie, for as epic and wonderful as it is, for as much as I love it, didn’t have to happen. Crap.
As for the themes and messages, there’s the obvious one about accepting responsibility, which I think is conveyed very well. I get a strong sense that this movie is saying something about fathers. Mufasa, as I said before is an awesome father! He’s the best Disney father EVER! I love how he really disciplines his son for doing the wrong thing. He scolded him for disobeying him and putting his and someone else’s life in danger. That is a real father! In any other Disney movie, the protagonist would have said, “I’m 16, Dad! I can make my own decisions!” Not here! But Mufasa still loves his son! He will protect him from harm and he will hug him and play with him. This is what we need to see more of! This is the type of parent we need to keep seeing from Disney! It’s such a wonderful message! Fathers – parents as a whole are strong and loving!
I love the theme of the circle of life – caring for everything and the life they live, and celebrate the lives we live as well. This film also celebrates life. Life will make you happy, life will make you sad. Life offers good and bad things alike. Under the right team, this movie could have been less story-driven and more character-driven, just showing the life of this lion. But one of my favorite themes in the movie is maturing and growing into the people we’re supposed to become. Simba is naïve and rebellious as a kid, and is not ready to be King yet, though he thinks he is. He still has so much to learn and do. This is conveyed when Simba finds his small paw print in his father’s large and massive paw print in the ground. I love that image!
There’s debate whether or not this movie promotes segregation. Everyone is in the pride except the hyenas. I always just assumed it’s because in the animal kingdom, hyenas are dangerous and they prey after the animals that live in the pride. I don’t know, maybe there is something there I’m not seeing, but that’s how I see it. Maybe I’d have to think about it more.
The Lion King - Paw Print

CONCLUSION: I love this movie so much! This isn’t just my favorite Disney movie, but it’s one of my favorite movies period! It’s so great! The story, the characters, the songs, the animation, the design, the writing – it’s all so good! Yes I take issue with the romance and Scar’s choice to have the hyenas kill Simba, and I don’t know where in Africa this film takes place, but this film is too great, too fantastic, too epic for me to turn my head away from it! I love it so much! I can’t wait to have kids of my own so I can introduce this movie to them! The Lion King rules!
The Lion King - Characters

MOVIE REVIEWS: Aladdin (Ron Clements and John Musker, 1992)

Aladdin

It appeared as if the Walt Disney Animation Studio was on a role as the twentieth century entered its last decade. It made a smash hit with its 1989 release of The Little Mermaid, it drew great critical praise with The Rescuers Down Under, and Beauty and the Beast received a lot of awards and nominations. It even became the first animated film nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. The question was could Disney continue making more phenomenal animated pictures? Enter Aladdin (Ron Clements and John Musker, 1992). So many people all over the world are in love with this movie. They love the characters, they love the songs, they love the comedy, they love the action – it definitely proved to be a great and fantastic hit. After finally having seen it, I can say that it’s good. I like the movie, but I don’t know if I like it as much as everyone else does. Why? Well, let’s get into the review.

ANIMATION: The animation is one of the best things about the film! Before I saw this film, I heard the designs of the city described Arabia meets Vegas. To be honest, it really does work! The colors all pop. They are vibrant. They pretty much have a life of their own. I think if you were to take the characters away, the colors and the background could tell the story by themselves! They are so great and impressive to look at, and they’re just amazing!
Aladdin - Arabia

SONGS/MUSIC: Sadly, this is the last film to feature the wonderful lyrics of Howard Ashman. Ashman served as both lyricist and executive producer of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. He passed away before the latter film was released, but he already began working on this film. After he passed away, Tim Rice was brought in to help Menken with the rest of the songs. Let’s go through each of the songs individually:
1) Arabian Nights: I’m not going to lie, I don’t like this song. If you like the song, fine; and admittedly I do find the music catchy. But in all honesty, I cannot get past those racist, offensive lyrics. Whether you go with “where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face” or “where it’s flat and immense and the heat is intense,” they still end with “it’s barbaric, but, hey, it’s home!” I’m going to side with the New York Times when they wrote, “It’s Racist, But, Hey, It’s Disney.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqElJnsUvtE
2) One Jump Ahead/(Reprise): The first time I saw this movie, I thought to myself, “I’m not going to remember this song later.” Ironically, I did find myself humming the melody. I think Menken has a very strong sense of composing fantastic melodies – sometimes they’re more impactful than the lyrics. The song itself is nice. We get some exposition on our main character. We learn who he is, what he is, and what he does. It’s not the best song in the film, but it’s not a bad one, either. The lyrics are funny, and, again, the melody will have you humming for days. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcTC7RkmHac
3) Friend Like Me: THIS is my favorite song in the movie! It’s fun to watch! The words are impressive! The music is great! It’s fun to listen to! You can dance to it! But what really makes this song is the performer! Robin Williams brings so much energy to this song! I love that he gets just as animated as the animation does! I often joke that he sung the entire song in one take and the producers said, “Nope! We don’t need to do that again!” This song kicks butt! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99Op1TaXmCw
4) Prince Ali: This is my second favorite song in the film. Again, Williams as the Genie just makes this song so much fun and entertaining. Outside of that, the melody and the lyrics will have you singing this song for about a week before you get it out of your head. It’s not as big as “Friend Like Me,” but it still brings the right amount of entertainment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEryAoLfnAA
5) A Whole New World: Now we’ve gotten to it, the film’s Number One song. This is the song everyone remembers the movie for. I must admit, it is a beautiful song. It’s fun to see Aladdin and Jasmine together and enjoying each other this time. I like seeing their romance grow even more. I love how pleasant and whimsical this song sounds. It’s no “Beauty and the Beast,” but it’s still very nice to listen to. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kl4hJ4j48s
6) Prince Ali (Reprise): I often joke that this is the greatest Disney villain song ever…I put emphasis on “joke.” It’s not the strongest moment for Jafar, but it’s entertaining enough. For me personally, it’s fun seeing how Jafar exposes Aladdin for who he really is. What’s really interesting about this song is that Tim Rice wrote the lyrics to the reprise while Ashman wrote the lyrics to the original. That means that Rice had to capture, not only the same syncopation and rhyme scheme, but also the same tone and spirit that Ashman created. He still had to bring something new, though, because this song was sung by Jafar, not the Genie. That’s great talent, and I think Rice succeeded. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBXU8-P5EY4

ROMANCE: After seeing this movie, I realized that the romance in this movie is the same as the romance between Ariel and Eric in The Little Mermaid. The main character sees his/her romantic interest and falls in love. They save their lives and they want to be with their lover. However, something keeps the two of them apart from each other. The main character has to alter their physical appearance in order to be with the other person. They eventually have to fight for the one they love, save them again, and then, after the day is saved, the male picks up the lady and spins her to signify that they are together. What I think works better in this movie, though, is that Aladdin and Jasmine spend a lot more time together. They talk to each other about their problems and even tries to help one another. Also, I like that Aladdin doesn’t keep his prince appearance in the end. Unlike Ariel, who remains human, Aladdin actually accepts who he is, and he and Jasmine are still able to stay together. That is a very good message for children to walk away with. It’s very well done.
Aladdin and Jasmine

CHARACTERS: This shouldn’t take too long. Let’s quickly go over the main characters in the film:
1) Aladdin – He’s OK. In my opinion, he’s not that interesting. He’s definitely not boring or dull, but nothing stands out about him as a character either. He’s not that exciting. But I enjoy watching him and seeing him interact with the others.
Aladdin - Aladdin
2) Jasmine – I think of her in the exact same regards as I think of Aladdin – she’s OK. She’s alright, she’s interesting enough, but she becomes a lot less interesting once she returns to the palace and stays there. I’m not too high on Disney characters always rebelling, but she rebelled once and immediately returned home and stayed there. Why didn’t she try running away again if she was so sick of living under the palace rules? I don’t know, but, in any case, Jasmine is OK.
Aladdin - Jasmine
3) Genie – This is easily the best character in the movie! Again, I didn’t grow up with the movie. I saw it for the first time almost a year and a half ago. As I was watching it I thought, “This is OK, but why was it such a huge hit during the Disney Renaissance?” Then the Genie came on screen, and all my questions were answered. Robin Williams puts so much into his performance as the Genie! He’s so much fun and very entertaining. But I love that he’s not just a pop cultural referencing funny person; he also has some heart to him. He still expresses those human emotions of wanting something. He still gets sad, he gets hurt, he gets angry, he becomes scared, he can be joyful, he feels happiness. He is still a three-dimensional character. Way to go Genie, and much respect to the late and the great Robin Williams!
Aladdin - Genie and Robin Williams
4) Abu – OK, Abu annoys the crud out of me. I don’t like how selfish and greedy he is. He gets in the way! If it weren’t for him, Aladdin would not have been trapped. The homeless children could have had more to eat if he weren’t so stingy. I don’t feel any sort of sympathy for him. Every time I watch this movie and I see the Cave of Wonders begin to collapse, I find myself shouting to Aladdin through the screen, “Aladdin! You don’t have to go back for Abu! Really! He can burn in there!”
Aladdin - Abu
5) Magic Carpet and Iago – I put these two together because I have the same feeling for the both of them: they’re OK. I like them OK. Sure they can be a little annoying sometimes, but they’re not always annoying. To be honest, I don’t think Iago is annoying because of his voice. No, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Gilbert Gottfried. My annoyance with Iago comes from what he has to say, which goes back to the writing. Either way, I still like these characters fine.
Aladdin - Magic CarpetAladdin - Iago
6) Jafar – If you read my Top 10 Favorite Disney Villains list, you might wonder Jafar isn’t on my list. So many people declare him as one of the best Disney villains of all time…Well, I’m glad you saw that, but I didn’t. You see, after I saw Jafar in the first few scenes he was in, I thought, “Wow, this is a cool villain! He’s shady and mysterious. He keeps you wondering what he’s doing. This guys is cool!” Then he dressed up as an old man…A silly, goofy, cartoonish old man…Huh? I know he had a motivation for doing so…But did he really need the over the top voice, the jagged teeth, hunchback, and ridiculously skinny legs? This isn’t the Jafar I thought I as going to get! And let’s not forget some of his witty dialogue with Iago. I’m not saying Jafar can’t be funny, but this was not the villain I thought I was going to get. Speaking of his role as a villain, I think his power is incredibly weak. First of all, why was the Sultan able to just break out of the trance Jafar was putting him in? Yeah, he just decided not to be hypnotized! Huh? How the crud does that work? Secondly, he is not subtle with his power at all! He always leans in with his staff…in broad daylight! It’s quite interesting thinking how he’s able to get away with so much! No one in the palace ever saw him hypnotize anyone? Aladdin noticed it right away when he saw the Sultan under a trance, but no one else in the entire palace ever realized what was going on? I don’t get it. But that’s OK. If you like Jafar, that’s fine. Me on the other hand, I just can’t figure this guy out…But in all honesty, I do like the sound he makes when Jasmine throws wine at his face. That’s funny as crud.
Aladdin - Jafar

STORY & MESSAGE: I decided to put the message along in this category because talking about the story and the themes and messages of a movie are 2 different things, but the message needs to be addressed. The story is fine. It’s good. Like other Disney movies around this time, the story in this film is well paced. There are some flaws with the details in Jafar’s power, but as a whole it’s good…Though I still don’t understand how Genie still has his powers if he’s not a genie anymore…Eh, whatever.
As for the messages and themes, I find myself liking them. Of course there’s the message of being yourself, which is conveyed rather nicely. When Aladdin decides to be himself, everything works out fine. When he tries to be something else, the role of Aladdin is taken over by a tall, dark, sinister, and ugly man.
There’s also the theme of freedom. Aladdin and Jasmine feel trapped in their surroundings. I can understand Jasmine’s yearn for freedom a lot more, but they both want freedom. Of course, Genie expresses how he wants to be free from eternal solitude. If you look closely, though, you’ll see that Jafar also wants freedom. He can’t stand working under someone he’s smarter than. His surroundings often look like bars on a jail cell. I like that subtly.
What I can’t wrap my head around, though, is what Disney was trying to say with the relationship between Jasmine and Jafar. Why the crud was Jafar lusting after Jasmine, who is only 15? Jafar looks like he’s in his 50s! OK, maybe he’s in his 30s, but does that make it any better? Jasmine would still be more than half his age! What, is pedophilia OK? I wouldn’t even talk about this theme if it weren’t for that kiss. What was the purpose of it? True, Jasmine did it as a way to distract Jafar from Aladdin, but if he was going to notice Aladdin anyway, what in the world was the point of that kiss?!? What was the movie trying to tell us? Was it bashing Arabian girls and women? Was it bashing Arabian men? Was it supporting pedophilia?…Actually, seeing as how Disney princesses are always so young, I wouldn’t be surprised if this were it. Maybe I’m looking to deeply into it, maybe I’m not looking deep enough. All I know is the image of Jasmine kissing someone more than twice or three times her age will never leave me. Creepy as crud.
Aladdin - Jasmine and Jafar

CONCLUSION: I do like this movie. It doesn’t impress me like it impresses other people, Jafar confuses me, and I will always question the choice to have Jasmine kiss Jafar. But I love how entertaining this film is. I love Robin Williams’ portrayal of Genie! I love the songs! I love the animation! I really enjoy this movie. I see why it was such a hit during the Disney Renaissance. To me, the film’s entertainment factor is more than worth the price of admission. If you haven’t seen it yet, give it a watch…And rest in peace, Robin Williams!
Aladdin 01Aladdin - Robin Williams

MOVIE REVIEWS: Beauty and the Beast (Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, 1991)

Beauty and the Beast

After the great success The Little Mermaid (Ron Clements and John Musker, 1989) had, the Walt Disney Animation Studio was set to make some of the greatest animated hits the world has ever known. Of course their next film was The Rescuers Down Under (Hendel Butoy and Mike Gabriel, 1990), but I haven’t seen that one yet and thus I can’t review it…A lot of people haven’t seen that film. Shame. But the next picture the studio released went on to be one of the best film adapted fairy tales the world has ever known…EVER! I am, of course, talking about the beloved Beauty and the Beast (Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, 1991)! Not only did it receive great commercial and critical praise, but it was also the first animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards! Is the film really that good? Does it hold up that well?…Yes. This is a great movie! Why? Let’s find out.

ANIMATION: The animation in this movie is stellar! It is just beautiful! I love the colors in this movie. Pay special attention to the colors in each location and notice how they create the mood of each scene! Look at how rich they are, how wonderfully they blend together! I also love the design of the characters! The designs only enforce the theme of the movie! I love that Beast looks like an ideal villain and Gaston looks like an ideal hero. The animators wanted to be sure Gaston did not look like the typical Disney villain, and it worked well in their favor! There are two moments in the film I love admiring the animation. The first is the ceiling in Beast’s ballroom. It looks so lovely! It’s something straight out of a painting! The second is Beast’s facial reactions as he’s holding Gaston over the cliff. I love how the animators knew how much attention to give to the look in his eyes, the texture of his face, all of it! It is amazing!
Beauty and the Beast - Animation

SONGS/MUSIC: All of these songs are fantastic! Not one of them is out of place, annoying, distracting, or anything like that! They are great, they are wonderful, and they are brilliant! They add to the tone of the film perfectly! Let’s go through each of them:
1) Belle/(Reprise): This song is wonderful because it gives us some really important exposition. We learn who Belle is and what she’s like. We get an understanding of the culture of the town, or the “little town,” she lives in. We learn how all the women in the town throw themselves at Gaston and how Gaston himself is full of himself. The reprise also gives us a bit more insight into Belle’s character. She longs for something that is greater than she can comprehend. The song sounds nice and pleasant. It’s whimsical, it’s elegant, and it’s beautiful. It’s a very good song! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mx1MmY1Bb50
2) Gaston/(Reprise): I often hear people refer to this song as the villain song of the movie. I don’t know if I’d agree with that. The villain part doesn’t show up until the reprise when Gaston actually begins plotting. The main part of the song mainly consists of the town singing his praises. Does that count as a villain song? I don’t think so. Either way, this is still a great song! I love the melody! It is so much fun! And it’s good to, again, see how much the town holds Gaston in the highest regards. They cannot stop admiring him or talking about how great he is. Plus, Richard White, the actor who voices Gaston, has a marvelous voice! The more we can hear this guy sing, the better! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuJTqmpBnI0 & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5f3hFq2crOo
3) Be Our Guest: Of course, this is the song that everyone goes nuts over! This is the movie’s Number One song! But, in all fairness, this doesn’t really add that much to the movie. We don’t move the story forward, we don’t get character development, we don’t get exposition, a moral, or anything. So why do people love it? Because it is a fantastic song! Really, you don’t always need a song that has everything that’s listed above if the song can still be a knock-out. The song is big! The song is fun! The song is memorable! The song is just as welcoming to the audience as it is to Belle! It’s a moment you don’t want to end – you want it to go on and on! It’s just a ton of fun! This moment doesn’t rely on the story, characters, or animation to be incredible. Instead, the best element about this scene is the song alone, and it does not disappoint at all! That is the sign of a great and remarkable song! Howard Ashman and Alan Menken did a stellar job here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afzmwAKUppU
4) Something There: In all honesty, this is my least favorite song in the movie. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad song or that I hate it – neither of those statements are true! I just don’t like this song as much as the other songs in the film. But that’s alright. It’s still a really good song. This is where we begin to see the romance between Belle and the Beast truly blossom. It’s just beautiful to watch. It’s charming, and it’s very nice! I love how the music sounds like it came out of a ballroom. It’s very nice! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwZEcdBMLLU
5) Human Again: If you’re only familiar with the original theatrical release of this film, you may not know this song. It’s available on recent DVD and Blu-ray releases. I love this song! This sounds like a light-hearted waltz, and it makes you want to dance. This song reminds us that the supporting cast does have motivation to get these two to fall in love. But, really, the music alone captivates me. I just love listening to it! It is very beautiful! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_prbnabl3A
6) Beauty and the Beast: If “Be Our Guest” is the movie’s Number One song, this number comes immediately after. This is one of the most romantic, beautiful, enchanted, elegant, the loveliest songs Disney has ever released. It is the romance song done the absolute best. This song could not have a more perfect singer, more perfect lyrics, or more perfect music to go with it. It is so beautiful, you’re kind of jealous of it. I mean, I wish Mrs. Potts was singing specifically about me, or that I could write a song this beautiful – this perfect! It totally engulfs the entire theme and feeling of the movie! I love it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ0ODCMC6xs
7) The Mob Song: OK, I’m sorry to end on such a harsh song, but this is the last song in the film, so what do you do? THIS is the number I consider to be the film’s villain song. Do you see how Gaston is convincing the town the Beast is evil? He has the town like putty in his hand. And listen to what the town is singing about: they’re going to KILL someone! They are invading someone else’s home and environment to kill him! My word! This may be worst than the “Ding! Dong! The Witch is Dead” song…No, no, it’s not…But it’s up there! The song sounds as threatening as the situation is. It doesn’t sound like any other song in the film, not even the “Gaston” numbers. It’s fun! It will definitely have you chanting “KILL THE BEAST” after it’s over…C’mon, I know I’m not the only who shouts “KILL THE BEAST!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCENkwPiuU0

ROMANCE: I really don’t think I have to go into much detail about the romance in this movie – it speaks for itself. This is the best Disney romance the company has ever done; not just in their animated films, but in any production period! I cannot think of another Disney romance that even comes close to rivaling this one! There’s a reason and a need for them to fall in love – the whole story revolves around it – but they don’t fall in love at first sight. Despite Beast’s outward appearance, Belle eventually does find herself becoming attracted to him. She sees his spirit and his humanity. Beast also admires her strong will and her kind nature. I also love that she doesn’t fall for Gaston despite his outward appearance. Again, all the women in the town throw themselves at him because of how handsome and strong he is, but looks do not impress her. She focuses on the heart and the personality, which is why she falls for the Beast. I LOVE that! That’s a fantastic message, all coming from the romance! It’s incredible!
Beauty and the Beast - Beast's Castle 04

Characters: I will be as brief as I can be here. Just know that I love all of these characters! There’s not a one of them I dislike! Let’s go through them:
1) Belle – This is one of the best leads in a Disney movie ever! I love Belle! I love that she is so determined! She’s adventurous, she’s smart, and, again, she’s strong willed! She’s also kind and caring to everyone around her. She is one of the most beautiful young women Disney has ever designed, but she doesn’t flaunt it. She’s very humble. But even after you take all these compliments into account, she’s not a perfect character. Sometimes her curiosity can get the best of her. That doesn’t make her bad, though, it just makes her more human, which we need if we’re going to relate to her at all. All of these things considered, Belle is easily one of the best Disney characters ever!
Beauty and the Beast - Belle 01
2) Beast – Beast is probably my favorite character in this movie! I love his design, I love his voice, and I love his story arc! I also love some of the funny moments that come out of him. I think my favorite line in this movie is when he shouts “Then go ahead and STARVE!!!” That is funny as I don’t know what! But I think the reason I like Beast so much is because he is a kind person, but he has a difficult time showing it. On the surface, his character is the same as his outward appearance: very beastly. Below the surface, he is patient and compassionate. He just has a hard time showing it because of his appearance. He battles between being a beast and being a kind person. His true self does exist underneath the surface, and it’s with the help of Belle that he reveals who he really is. That makes him complex – I love it!
Beauty and the Beast - Beast
3) Gaston – The only character in the film to be more complex is Gaston! Gaston, in contrast to Beast, appears to be the hero. He looks like he’s the one who will save the day and win Belle’s heart, and he acts like it too. However, his pride is wounded and he becomes a villain. I like how full of himself he can be. I like the humor that comes out of him. He is easily one of the most enjoyable Disney villains ever! For more information, check out my Top 10 Favorite Disney Villains list.
Beauty and the Beast - Gaston
4) Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts I put these three together because they all pretty much serve the same purpose. They are great supporting characters. They help move the story along wonderfully, and they help our main characters as well. It goes without saying that they are all a lot of fun. Even beyond these three, the other supporting characters are enjoyable and a lot of fun as well: Chip, Lefou, Maurice, the Wardrobe, Babette, and the others – they’re all just a ton of fun to watch! There’s not a character in this film I dislike at all. They’re all very well developed, they’re fun, they serve their purpose, and there isn’t any unethical moral any of them enforce! Way to go guys! You all rock!
Beauty and the Beast - Supporting Characters

STORY: This is one of the best stories you’ll ever find in any Disney animated movie! It knows the perfect amount of details it needs, it has the perfect amount of pacing, and it moves along so fluidly! There are a couple of issues I do take with the story, however. They’re not that big, but I do think I do need to be addressed. First, how much time goes past in this story? I’ve heard some people argue over how much time the story takes – days, weeks, months, whatever. This isn’t a problem, seeing as how this is each audience member’s own interpretation. The problem comes when you incorporate the “When We’re Human Again” number. It looks like it’s spring or summer, but the events before and after that scene look as though the story is in the winter. Does it really take that long? The second problem I have with the story is how Belle gets to Beast’s palace. Belle finds the Beast’s castle, where the Beast is imprisoning her father Maurice, because the horse, Philippe led her there. But how did Philippe know where Maurice was? Philippe ran away before Maurice got to the castle, so he couldn’t have known where he was. These are the only problems I have with the movie, but they’re not huge problems at all. Actually, they’re very minor. The rest of the movie is so unbelievably good, you didn’t even notice these flaws. Not only did you not notice, but you also don’t care.
Beauty and the Beast - Beast's Castle 03

CONCLUSION: This is easily and unarguably one of Disney’s best movies ever! Everything about the film is wonderful! It’s perfect! Even with those very minor flaws, this is still a perfect movie! The animation is perfect! The characters are perfect! The song is perfect! The romance is perfect! The story is perfect! This beautiful, enchanted movie is just unbelievable! It is as perfect as a movie can get! Beauty and the Beast is a fantastic film!
Beauty and the Beast - Stained Glass

MOVIE REVIEWS: The Little Mermaid (Ron Clements and John Musker, 1989)

The Little Mermaid
There’s no question that Walt Disney Animated Studios has given us some memorable and impactful films for nearly 80 years. There are iconic films that have definitely stood against the passage of time. One of those films is the picture that sparked the Disney Renaissance of the late ’80s/1990s, The Little Mermaid (Ron Clements and John Musker, 1989). It gross over $212 million in the box office upon its release, and people are still talking about it 15 years after its cinematic premier. But how good is it? What’s good and bad about the film? That’s what this review is going to answer!

Since this is my first Disney review, let me tell you the 5 categories I will judge these movies on: the animation, the songs and music, the romance, the characters, and the story. With that being said, let’s start the review!

ANIMATION: The animation of this film is one of the best things about the movie. It looks absolutely beautiful! Whether you like the movie or dislike it, you can look at the animation and tell why this sparked the Disney Renaissance. The lighting, the colors, the fluent movement of the characters, the lining – it is just amazing. In some cases, it does look a bit dated, though. I think that might depend on what you’re watching the film on. If you’re watching a video release, of course it’ll look old. If you have a newly remastered DVD or Blu-Ray version, the movie might not look like it was made in the ’80s. I don’t know, there’s something about the way it was drawn and some of the shots that reads “1989” to me. Even then, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It still looks fantastic! If you can’t admire anything else in this movie, you should definitely admire the animation! The Little Mermaid Animation

SONGS/MUSIC: As with most Disney movies, the songs are some of the most memorable things about this movie. This is the first Disney film that has Broadway/showtune-type songs, and, apparently, it worked really well. It’s important to note that the songs were brought to us by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. These two had great success on Broadway and in Hollywood with some great hits, including the ever so popular musical, Little Shop of Horrors! Needless to say, I think they know what makes a good musical, and they definitely bring it all to this movie! Let’s talk about the songs one at a time:
1) Daughters of Triton: Oh yeah, that was a thing…Man, that song is forgettable. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhAPACQRr_w
2) Part of Your World/(Reprise): Ah, yes, one of the famous Disney “I Want” songs. Well, I must say, this is not a bad song. It does one of the things a song in a musical should do; it tells us how a character is feeling and what he/she wants. We clearly learn what Ariel is feeling and she obviously tells us what she wants…Though am I the only one who is tired of hearing characters use the phrase “I want more?” Could you clarify a bit what you mean by that? But I digress. She actually does tell us what she wants. The music is memorable. The tune is enjoyably catchy, and the orchestrations are great as well. I don’t enjoy the lyrics as much, but that’s not Howard Ashman’s fault. We’ll talk about that later. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BZp2dxpwF8
3) Under the Sea: I wonder what the reasoning of putting this song in the movie was. It doesn’t do anything for the story or characters. We don’t learn about anyone, it doesn’t reveal anything, and we already know we’re in the sea; thus the song isn’t really needed. However, it is a lot of fun. The lyrics, the music, the tune, the singers – it’s all way too enjoyable. This is the movie’s Number One song for a reason. Everyone knows this song, most people love this song. While it’s not my favorite song, I have to admit I like this song as well…And it won the movie an Oscar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GC_mV1IpjWA
4) Poor Unfortunate Souls: YEAH MAN! This song kicks butt! It’s just an incredible, awesome villain song – an incredible, awesome song period! THIS is my favorite song in the movie! It’s sung by a great character (who we’ll get to later), the lyrics are creative, and the music is wonderful! Not only that, but it does what songs in musicals are supposed to do: it progresses the story. We see Ursula convincing Ariel to go along with this obviously evil plan. Because of the lyrics and the pacing, we see Ursula’s menacing spirit, so one could argue it gives us character development as well. I love this song! It’s awesome! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyFVG4VfPmg
5) Les Poissons: Like “Under the Sea,” I have to ask why was this song put in the movie? This song REALLY has nothing to do with anything. The character who sings this song is only shown twice in the movie, during this scene and again at the end. Not only that, but I really don’t remember it or enjoy it that much. It’s not bad, it’s just unnecessary. However, many people do enjoy this song, so maybe there is something there. As a stand alone song, I guess it’s alright. As a song in a musical, though, it’s definitely filler and could have been taken out.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iq-UaXQ1c1M
6) Kiss the Girl: There’s not a whole lot I can say about this song. Unlike the last song, this is kind of necessary. It’s also beautiful to watch and listen to. It sounds nice, we see a romance happening, and it was even nominated for an Oscar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXmLRHnoSAs

ROMANCE: I don’t really know how to judge the romance in this movie. On one hand, Ariel fell in love with Eric at first sight. This, as we know, is a cliché that has been forsaken long ago, but that’s how Ariel falls in love. And, yes, I know Ariel spends time with Eric later; but did her feelings change at all? Did she love Eric more when she spent time with him? Not really. The same feelings she had for Eric at the beginning of the movie are the exact same feelings she holds onto for him throughout the entire film. So…yeah, it seems pretty stupid in that regards. On the other hand, however, they do have a nice connection when they are together. It is rather nice just watching these two spend time together. As a matter of fact, it’s peculiar how Eric falls for Ariel since she can’t talk. It’s so strange, yet somehow charming. I give the romance a 6 out of 10.

CHARACTERS: I do have mixed feelings about the characters as a whole in this film, so let’s talk about them from first to worst:
1) Ursula – I LOVE Ursula! Gosh, if she were real, I’d marry her! If you read my Top 10 Favorite Disney Villains essay, you know this character is my second favorite Disney villain! She has attitude, she’s sassy, she’s direct, she’s an over-the-top drama queen! Not only that, but she’s menacing and conniving and downright evil! I love it! I love her! For more details, go read my Top 10 Favorite Disney Villains essay.

The Little Mermaid Ursula
2) Sebastian and Scuttle – I put these two together because I have the same thing to say about the both of them: they’re fine. They’re supportive of our main character and the story, and they can have some funny moments. There are times I find them annoying, but they never become too annoying or unbearable. They’re not the best, but they’re not the worst either. They’re fine.

The Little Mermaid SebastianThe Little Mermaid Scuttle
3) Eric – I always say that Eric is like the earlier Disney princes, except he can talk. I don’t feel like I get a character from him. He’s nice and all, but what is he outside of that? What does he do? What does he enjoy? The later Disney princes (like Naveen and Flynn) definitely have a lot more character and personality to them. Eric? No, I’m still trying to figure out who he is.

The Little Mermaid Eric
4) Flounder – I don’t like Flounder. Why? First of all, he’s too cute. His design, his voice, his gestures and actions, his face – UGH! It’s too much! Secondly, I don’t like how he never says, “Hey, Ariel, maybe we shouldn’t do this! Didn’t your father say not to go to the land?” There’s not one moment in the film he thinks of the rule King Triton made. He just goes along with Ariel’s foolishness, and it’s annoying. Speaking of the king…

The Little Mermaid Flounder
5) King Triton – I didn’t see this film until the summer of last year, 2013. Prior to my seeing it, I heard a lot of people say how great King Triton is. I was expecting a sort of pre-Mufasa character: a great and loveable king and father. And…I sort of got that. My only problem with Triton is that the movie never gives us a reason why he doesn’t want Ariel to go to the surface. We as the audience have to relate to why he feels so strongly about this, and we’re never told what his motivation is for keeping Ariel under water. That makes him look really weak, and that’s not what I wanted from him. I like him, but there’s no reason for his actions, at least none the movie offers. And, I’m sorry, that’s really lame.

The Little Mermaid King Triton
6) Ariel – Alright, let’s get into it. I dislike Ariel with a passion. She’s selfish! If she had an option to take anything back, I don’t think she would! Why? Because not only did she know what she was doing (deliberately going behind her father’s back and disobeying him), but she got everything she wanted! Yes, despite her rebellion and causing so much trouble for everyone around her, she still got her precious Happily Ever After! What the crud? Her song “Part of Your World,” though it sounds nice, is basically her just whining about her not being content with anything she has; and she won’t be satisfied until she has more! It wouldn’t bother me as much if it weren’t for the fact that Ariel is the main character – the character we’re supposed to learn from and identify with! What does she teach us? “Hey kids! If you do the opposite of what your parents say, you’ll live happily ever after! They’re just parents! Just because they’re older than you doesn’t mean they’re smarter and wiser and more experienced than you!” I’m not asking for her to be perfect, but I don’t think she learned a lesson in this film. When she apologizes to her father towards the end, I think she was saying that because Ursula caught her. If she didn’t mean any of the trouble she caused, she wouldn’t have caused it.

The Little Mermaid Ariel

STORY: I must admit, I’ve never read or heard the original Hans Christansen version of this story, so I can’t really compare this movie to its original source material. On paper, the story is fine. It’s good, in fact. It’s interesting, and I want to follow it. I do have one problem with it, however, although this is more so a problem with the movie and not necessarily the story (if that makes any sense). What is the message of the film? I won’t harp on it again, but I don’t like what the movie is saying about teenagers making their own decisions or parenting or love. Between the message and Ariel, I find great and fantastic fault with this movie.

CONCLUSION: Based on my annoyances with Ariel and the message, you’d think I’d hate this movie, right? Well, in all honesty, I don’t…I cannot for the life for me bring myself to say I like this movie, but I don’t dislike it either. I think the reason for that is the good things I mentioned before are too good. The animation is great. The songs as a whole are good. The romance is enjoyable. Ursula is incredible, and worth the price of admission! In fact, I’d like the movie a lot more if Ursula won! I think this movie is a guilty pleasure for me. I do find myself coming back to it often. However, the problems I have with it are some pretty big problems. If you like this film, there’s nothing wrong with that. I just have my own reservations about it. If the same things that bother me also bother you, this is not the movie for you.

The Little Mermaid 2

Reviews!

Hee-lo!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to analyze entertainment. There are a lot of current and nostalgic movies and television shows. I love analyzing to find out why they are good or why they are bad. Because of that, I will be publishing some reviews! With that being said, let me say right now that I am by no means a critic! I have some understanding of cinema as an art, but I don’t study it like I study other art forms, like theatre. However, I do have my own opinions about these pictures that I’d love to share. If you disagree with any of my reviews/opinions, that’s fine! That doesn’t mean either of us are stupid, it just mean we don’t share the same opinion. That’s what makes us different and unique. With that being said, be on the lookout for some reviews!
—Bro. B.I.B.
—BOOYIKA!

A Dead Life

***This was written on October 7, 2014***

The air in my lungs is gone
My heart no longer beats
The feeling in my body is absent
I am cold as ice
I have no soul
No control over the darkness that surrounds me
This deadly plague that bounds me
I am condemned to a prison with no air
No warmth, no care
No windows or light that I may see at night
I am bound, yet there are no walls
I am caged, but there aren’t any bars
I lower my head and accept the truth:
I am dead
That is what I am without You
What is life if You are not here?
What is its worth if You’re not near?
Every morning I open my door to be greeted by depression
Recession
Agression
And I must make the confession that I want to die
Why?
Because living without You is like waking up to a morning where the sun forgot to rise,
Walking through the forest, and the birds deny you their chirping and singing
Not being able to hear the most pleasant chimes ringing
Playing a song with no music, but its lyrics so abusive
Going through an entire year in which the seasons never change,
It’s always the same
And it drains the life from me to live without You

(c) October 2014, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.