MOVIE REVIEWS: Tangled (Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, 2010)

Tangled

As I mentioned before, The Princess and the Frog got people excited about Disney films again. The advertisement for Disney’s next flick also got a lot of people excited. This one is different, seeing as how it’s a CGI film, the ragtime music has been replaced by pop music, and there’s less racial diversity. The films are also similar, however, seeing as how they are princess movies, adaptations of classic fairy tales, and they give us the traditional Broadway musical type of film. Now if you thought I wasn’t looking forward to The Princess and the Frog when it came out, I REALLY wasn’t looking forward to this movie! A Disney movie about a blonde-haired, blue-eyed princess with pretty colors and guitar-playing pop music? Yeah, I’ll pass. My sister saw the movie long before I did, and wouldn’t stop pestering me on how good it was. She and I finally sat down to watch it almost 3 years after its cinematic release, in the summer of 2013. After finally haven seen it, I think the movie is…good. It’s good. I don’t go fan-boy crazy over it like everybody else, but I think it’s good. To be honest, this just isn’t my type of movie. I admit that a lot of things in this movie is good, but it’s just not for me. There are also a lot of things in this movie I just find OK. To be honest, I’m really surprised that this film was a greater financial and commercial success than the last movie! Personal feelings set aside, I think that’s the stronger film! I’ll tackle why I think this film performed better, but let’s be fair and look at this movie by itself first.

ANIMATION: I’ll be honest, computer animation doesn’t excite me like it excites other people. I like it and respect it, but if I wanted to see a Disney CGI film, I’d watch a Pixar film. On one hand, the colors and look of the movie are just too pretty for me. It doesn’t go dark enough for my taste. There are moments we get dark, like when Mother Gothel talks to Rapunzel in the woods, but almost everything else just looks bright and happy. I like brightness and happiness, but it doesn’t balance out as well here – at least not for my taste. One the other hand, though, what I like about the animation is how unique it is. Of course, Disney’s been blending traditional animation with computer graphics since the ’80s; we’ve seen hand-drawn characters interact with computer animated items or in a computer animated environment. Here, we actually get the opposite. The characters are computer animated, and they like in a hand-drawn environment. The backgrounds are hand-drawn. I find that very fascinating! You wouldn’t know this film is part CGI and part hand-drawn, and it all looks well! It looks like one world! It’s great to see that Disney hasn’t lost its touch in unique animation styles!
Tangled - Tower

SONGS/MUSIC: The good news is Alan Menken’s back! After his work on Hercules, his last Disney project was the film that killed hand-drawn animation for a while, Home on the Range (Will Finn and John Sanford, 2004). Instead of being joined by lyricist Stephen Schwartz or David Zippel, here we have a man named Glenn Slater. I am so glad to see Menken working with Disney again! He basically recreated how a song and a score should sound for Disney during their Renaissance…OK, we didn’t hit gold with the Hercules soundtrack, but that’s OK. To be honest, though, I can say almost the same thing for this soundtrack. I can’t remember most of these songs! If you told me the titles to any of these numbers, I might remember them is I think hard enough. To be fair, that might just be due to the fact that I’m not really fond of guitar-playing pop songs. There’s nothing wrong with them if they’re good, but they don’t do much for me. And I don’t see how that type of music fits in the world of this movie. If we want to be…well, for lack of a better phrase, stereotypically White, then yes, this music works. But in a fairy tale that combines action with princess and fantasy, I don’t really get it. With that being said, though, the music alone does not create a bad song. Let’s discuss each of them individually.
1) When Will My Life Begin/(Reprises 1 & 2): I’ll discuss my problem with this song first. It’s boring. I get just as bored as Rapunzel gets from being cooped up in the same environment. I can see how bored she is just fine; I don’t need a song telling me she’s bored. Then I become bored! The only thing more boring than listening to someone singing about how bored they are is that person singing about what they did today. I DON’T CARE! This is the problem I have with a lot of modern pop songs. I don’t care to hear you singing about your daily activities unless there’s substance to it – unless there’s a point. Where is this going? Have you ever asked someone how their day at work was, and they went on and on and on in this never-ending story about information you don’t really care about? That’s this song for me! Now that I’ve gotten that out, I’ll state the positive. As far as what a song is supposed to do in a musical, this song is not bad. We do get some exposition on our environment and our main character. Rapunzel is stuck in her tower all day…All life. She doesn’t really have a life outside her tower. She has a teenage appearance and a child-like innocence. Her world is good, but mundane. She loves life, but at the same time it’s predictable. She’s happy with everything in her tower, but she wants to know what lies outside the tower, in the real world. That’s why I say she’s “stuck” in the tower and not “trapped” in the tower. The term “trapped” would indicate that she’s not happy; this song clearly shows that she is happy. She’s making the best of what she has, but she still wants adventure outside. It’s a decent song.

2) Mother Knows Best: I’ll talk about the good things first. I like seeing Mother Gothel manipulating Rapunzel. I like seeing her trying to convince Rapunzel why the world is a dark and scary place. I was kind of upset before that the song sounded too campy and too happy, but I get it now. Mother Gothel is still trying to come off as the good guys to Rapunzel. She’s still trying to make herself look like the caring, loving, and fun mother Rapunzel’s known all these years. By keeping up the persona, Rapunzel doesn’t have to fear her. That’s rather clever for a villain song…a “villain song,” I should say. I do have some problems with this, though. If it is our villain song, like some people say it is, why does it sound like every other song in this movie? The villain song should be menacing and threatening. This is not. Again, I understand why, but then it is no longer the villain song. Also, is this the first time Mother Gothel has sung this to Rapunzel. I don’t remember the dialogue from the film, but logic would dictate that she would not be singing this to Rapunzel for the first time. Rapunzel just turned 18 – she’s been a teenager for 5 years already! A lot of teenagers (not all of them, but a lot of them) would have just rebelled and left the tower by now! Is this really Rapunzel’s first time getting this song from her evil step-mother? Also, Mother Gothel has a good singing voice, but there are a few times she goes for goofy and silly. And, of course, why didn’t she catch on fire as she was walking down the stairs of candles? For the good that this song does bring, the number is OK.

3) I’ve Got a Dream: I get the joke. Really, this song is one big joke. I get that. It’s a funny joke. However…I don’t think this joke works that well. The joke is, obviously, a bunch of cut-throat and intimidating Vikings have a soft spot for dreams and silly musical numbers. Fair enough. Again, it’s funny; but there’s one important reason this song doesn’t work. Disney songs (and songs in musicals in general) traditionally (should) do 3 things well: continue the story, provide character development, and/or be one huge fun experience. This song doesn’t do any of those things. The story just stops at this moment, so it doesn’t continue. These Vikings’ goals aren’t important at all, so we don’t really get much character development. The song is a fun experience, but it’s not a HUGE fun experience – not an EPIC fun experience. “Be Our Guest,” for example, was a huge number. It didn’t contribute anything to the story or characters, but it was so grand and spectacular that you don’t care. The same can be said of “Under the Sea,” “Friend Like Me,” and some could argue “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” (although I’ll continue to argue that song did give us important character development). They were such grand spectacles through the lyrics, music, vocalists, and animation that they gave their films important identities. If you cut those songs, the stories would have been the same. but the identity of the films would not be what they are today. This song, I feel, could have been removed without losing the essence of what this movie is. It’s not big or grand enough to have that kind of impact on the film. It’s fun, it’s even funny, just not grand.

4) Mother Knows Best (Reprise): YEAAAAAAAAAAAAH MAN!!!!! THIS song has me smiling! THIS is the song I remember the most! THIS is the song I love the most from this film! THIS is the true villain song in the film! It’s intimidating! It’s threatening! It’s daring! It’s bold! I love that even though she’s become darker and harsher in her approach, Mother Gothel still maintains her character. She’s still sly, sarcastic, and witty; but now she’s more commanding and more antagonistic. I love how cruel she is toward Rapunzel. She really talks down to her, regarding why Flynn is with her. “Dear, this whole romance that you’ve invented…” “Why would he like you? Come on, now, really? Look at you! You think that he’s impressed?” Who would say that to their daughter? I also love that this song continues the story! We see an important sequence regarding the story unfolding here. This is what the Disney songs do great, and that is one of the purposes of a song in a musical. This number has a point, there is a reason it is here. We see the story continuing, and we see another side of Mother Gothel. I love this number! I love everything about it! It’s fantastic!

5) I See the Light: …On one hand, I don’t think I get this song. I don’t know if I’m missing something or if I’m thinking about it too hard, but I don’t get it. When I hear it, it makes sense, but I get confused when I watch it. What our couple is basically saying is that they’re looking at the world around them – the same world that’s been there the whole time – with a brand new perspective. Everything seems different, it looks better and more beautiful than it did before. That’s nice, it’s basically our new Disney love song. But I don’t know if I get some of the artistic choices here. Mainly, why didn’t Rapunzel and Flynn start off by singing together (open their mouths and let words come out)? It’s clearly the same voices singing. I know they’re probably thinking to themselves, but they could have been singing to themselves as well – would it have changed anything? Second, how did Rapunzel go from singing about the lanterns in the sky to singing about her attraction to Flynn? I don’t know if that flowed seamlessly in the lyrics. All in all, it’s not a bad song. It’s not as good as the other Disney romance songs, but it’s a decent number as both a stand alone song and a song for the film. Speaking of romance…

ROMANCE: The romance is good. To be honest, I’d probably put it in the same category as Tiana’s and Naveen’s romance; both romances are basically the same. I like seeing the two leads together. There is a charm and a chemistry between them. Part of that comes, of course, from the characters themselves. I don’t want to talk about them in too much detail now, but Rapunzel is basically the Disney female. She’s the princess we expect to get in every Disney princess movie. Flynn, on the other hand, is the person who’s been dragged to a Disney movie. He’s the one who roles his eyes at all the enchanted magic, or the one who questions and challenges everything. That makes the chemistry both unique and funny. I like them ending up together, but the relationship isn’t as interesting to me then. I like Flynn being sarcastic and kind of rude. That’s where a lot of the comedy came for me. The romance is good, though. It doesn’t grab me as much as it grabbed other people, but it’s good.
Tangled - Romance

CHARACTERS: The first time I watched this film, I had the same feelings toward the characters that I had about everything in this review thus far: they’re good, but they don’t grab me in the least. After watching the film again, however, these guys surprisingly grabbed me a lot more than they did before. I sympathized with them, I was entertained by them, and I wasn’t bored by them. They actually were a lot better than I remember them being! Let’s go ahead and talk about them.
1) Rapunzel – OK, so here is our main star. Rapunzel (who has green eyes and not blue eyes) is the pretty, young, blonde-haired, quirky female who wields her frying pan and has a dream…If that’s not the greatest Disney mainstream pandering I’ve ever heard, I don’t know what is…That’s what I thought before I gave this movie a chance. After watching it and thinking more about Rapunzel, she’s actually not that bad of a character. She’s not the most engaging character, but she’s nowhere near bad, either. I know I said in my last review that Disney leads have an annoying habit of rebelling. While I would still like to see Disney move away from that, I can see why Rapunzel would rebel here; it makes sense. She has never set foot outside the tower before. She’s almost 18, and she doesn’t know anything except her mother, her chameleon, and her tower. Not only that, but she believes the lanterns she keeps seeing every year have something to do with her. She has to go see them. Yes, I can see the cause for rebellion. What I like is that, like a good young person – good, not perfect – is that she actually stops and thinks about the results of her actions. It’s shown in a comical matter, but there is a scene that shows her contemplating how her mother would react. She wrestles with whether or not she should return home. I like that. She’s a good person. She’s much better than Ariel, who wouldn’t have given a rat’s butt what kind of consequences her actions would cause…Why do my reviews often slip into an angry Ariel rant?…Aside from all of that, Rapunzel’s OK. She brings action, she’s clumsy, she’s naïve, she’s a romantic (in love with freedom AND attracted to Flynn), she’s passionate, she’s determined – she’s a Disney princess. She’s not bad, but the qualities I mentioned before are what make her interesting to me. I like her.
Tangled - Rapunzel
2) Flynn Rider – I know that’s not his real name, but it’s his title throughout most of the film. There’s some depth to Flynn. He tries to maintain a persona, a reputation. The reason for that is because of what he’s chasing. There’s a lifestyle he wants to have: he wants riches and wealth, he wants to be edgy, and he wants to be a lady charmer as well. His name “Flynn Rider” exemplifies that greatly. Rather than being who he really is, he keeps pursuing the persona of a legend. That’s cool and all, but what makes me drawn to him is how entertaining he is. Like I said earlier, he is like the guy who’s been dragged to a Disney film. He doesn’t want to go on an adventure! He doesn’t want to be stuck with some girl he just met! He doesn’t want to sing! Why in the world is he fighting with a horse? How in the crud does this magical hair work?!? It’s all too bizarre! It’s too cheesy and ridiculous for him to fathom…and that’s what makes it so great! I heard someone once say that Flynn knows he’s in a Disney movie, and that’s really the best way to describe his attitude throughout the first half of the movie. The quicker he can leave this movie, the better for him. I like him stating the obvious. I like his humor. I like his sarcasm. He’s not my favorite Disney leading man, nor do I think he’s the most entertaining, but his entertainment does draw me. I love it! I like him.

Flynn When the kingdom's most wanted?and most charming?bandit Flynn Rider (voice of Zachary Levi) is taken hostage by Rapunzel (voice of Mandy Moore), a feisty teen with 70 feet of golden hair who's looking for her ticket out of the tower where she's been locked away for years, the unlikely duo sets off on a hilarious, hair-raising escapade filled with adventure, heart, humor and hair?lots of hair.  In U.S. theaters Nov. 24, 2010.   ©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Flynn
When the kingdom’s most wanted?and most charming?bandit Flynn Rider (voice of Zachary Levi) is taken hostage by Rapunzel (voice of Mandy Moore), a feisty teen with 70 feet of golden hair who’s looking for her ticket out of the tower where she’s been locked away for years, the unlikely duo sets off on a hilarious, hair-raising escapade filled with adventure, heart, humor and hair?lots of hair. In U.S. theaters Nov. 24, 2010.
©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


3) Mother Gothel – YEEEEEEESSS!!!!! I LOVE Mother Gothel! When I made my Top 10 Favorite Disney Villains list, I was actually debating between her and Hades as Number 10. Even after the first time I saw this movie, I still loved Mother Gothel most!…I’m learning more and more that villains are often my favorite characters in Disney movies…Anyway, I love pretty much everything about this lady. I love her actions, objectives, and super objective here. There’s a reason for keeping Rapunzel in the tower. There’s a reason for growing the hair longer. There’s a reason for manipulating Rapunzel into thinking the world is a bad place. On top of that, her character is delightfully entertaining! Of course we’ll see her dark and evil side, but that’s not a character and that’s not all we see. She’s witty. She’s charming. She’s dramatic. She’s delightful. She tries to be nice and pleasant, but if she’s pushed past her boundaries then her short fuse will go out. I love her! I love watching her, and I love being with her! She easily has the best singing voice in this film, voiced by Broadway star Donna Murphy! I love Murphy, and I love Mother Gothel!
Tangled - Mother Gothel
4) Maximus – This will be quick. Maximus is OK. He doesn’t excite me or consistently make me laugh, but he’s amusing. He goes to such great lengths to catch Flynn. Whether he falls from great heights and somehow survives, moves like he’s part bloodhound, or hovers over Flynn with blood thirsty eyes (I gotta try that someday), he will do anything to get the job done. He’s cool.
Tangled - Maximus
5) Pascal He’s decent. He’s not bad, but he is kind of annoying. Clearly he’s just here to be the sidekick/comic relief. I do find it interesting that he doesn’t talk. It makes sense and I like it, but I wonder why the filmmakers chose not to have him talk in this flick. In any case, he supports our main character, so he’s a good guy…But he did kill Mother Gothel, didn’t he? Wow, that’s dark!
Tangled - Pascal

STORY AND THEMES & MESSAGES: The story is the best element about this movie! The set up is brilliant, and the rest of the story flows very nicely as well. I do admire how the filmmakers updated the Rapunzel fairy tale in this way. Again, there’s a reason the girl is kept in the tower all her life. There’s a reason her hair is so long. There’s a reason – a couple of good reasons – she wants to leave the tower. If it were mere curiosity, that’d be one thing. But she has a spiritual connection with the lanterns since they are lifted every year on her birthday. That’s great! It makes sense! Rapunzel’s plan to see the lanterns once Flynn comes in the tower is clear and logical, and the way Mother Gothel returns to an empty tower is also logical. The story, for the most part, is outstanding!
There are a few things regarding the story, though, that I question. I know a lot of people question how Gothel figured out the song that causes the flower’s healing power, but, honestly, we can give it a bit of a pass seeing as how it’s a fairy tale. But here are my questions: 1) How did Mother Gothel get into the palace to kidnap Rapunzel? 2) If the King and Queen were in the same room, why didn’t they try to save their daughter? They sat up in bed and watched an old and creepy Mother Gothel leave. GO AFTER HER! Make sure the guards catch up to her! 3) Is it more than convenient that the guards in the palace had their backs to the crown Flynn took? I know it makes sense, but if they put that many guards in there then the very least they could do was have at least ONE of them facing the doggone thing! 4) In the end, Rapunzel’s tear saves Flynn. Is this the first time she’s learned that? Has she never cried before? Did the magic healing power go into her tears after her hair was cut off? How the crud does this work?! Those are just my questions.
I’m trying to think of what I can say about Flynn’s rebellion speech in the middle of the film. It’s something I’ve been thinking Disney has been saying for years. Is Disney indicating rebellion is a good thing? I don’t know if it is. Granted I’m not a parent yet and I’m not trying to tell anybody how to raise children, but…is this something I want to teach my kids? I understand rebellion. We rebel when we’re young in order to get an understanding of the world around us as well as our own identities. In Rapunzel’s case, she knows nothing about the world, so she’s trying to understand what all is out there and how she feels about it. But is rebellion always a good thing? Let’s look at another character who rebelled: Simba. When Simba was a boy, he deliberately disobeyed Mufasa by going to the elephant’s graveyard. Not only did he disobey, but he also got him and Nala killed. That’s nothing to take lightly or pass off as an innocent mistake; he just put two people’s lives on the line – THREE is you want to count Zazu! Is that really what we want to teach our kids? I don’t know. In the end, I know kids are going to rebel, but I don’t like that mainstream exploits it and says, “No, kids, it’s a good thing! Rebel!” Maybe if it weren’t so exploited, I wouldn’t have a problem. Maybe if the message was, “Your parents have a reason for what they teach you,” and “Talk to your children and share your reasonings as you see fit,” then it would be OK. Am I saying this movie is saying it’s OK to rebel…I don’t know. Disney does exploit rebellion, but, at the same time, Flynn said this to Rapunzel as a way to manipulate her into getting out of this adventure. I’m just talking about why Disney and rebellion bothers me. Yes, characters often rebel for good reasons (like Pocahontas, Quasimodo, Mulan, and Rapunzel), but I still don’t like what kind of message that gives to our society. That’s just me, though.
Often times, as I said earlier, I don’t always get the choice of not letting a character talk or sing. Sometimes it does work. If the King and Queen had talked, or if Pascal or Maximus talked, it’d be a different movie. But in moments like the song sequences, why don’t our main characters move their lips? If Rapunzel sang along in the opening number, what would that have changed? Nothing. Then why didn’t she do it? I don’t know, but I questioned it throughout the film…
OK, so now we have to get into it. Why was this film more successful than The Princess and the Frog? In many aspects, they’re very similar and very different simultaneously. The only real issue with The Princess and the Frog was the story; it was good, but it was too detailed. The best thing about Tangled is the story; and while everything else is good, they’re not very engaging or special. From an analytical point, The Princess and the Frog is a much better movie. So, then, why did this film thrive in popularity? Well, I’ve got several theories. 1) A lot of people were somewhere between in the air and angry that The Princess and the Frog had a predominately Black cast. Yes, race does play into this a bit. It’s not the main factor, but let’s not pretend that EVERYBODY in the world was in favor of it. Many people avoided this film because it featured Black people – because it featured a Black princess. And, let’s be honest, what do you think of when you hear “Black” over any type of entertainment media? “Black TV show,” “Black movie,” “Black music” “Black cast,” “Black people” – are you attracted to those titles? If you are, great! But, again, a lot of people have reservations about them. 2) The music is a huge element in Disney films. When one movie advertises it features New Orleans ragtime and jazz and the next movie says it has pop, which do you think a large mainstream artist will be more attracted to? That’s why it’s called “pop” music…It’s pop…ular. 3) CGI. Computer animated films are grossing huge amounts of money nowadays – even horrible CGI films like The Lorax (Kyle Balda and Chris Renaud, 2012)…I hate Dr. Suess movies so much…But the reality is, sadly, computer animated films are what audiences crave for now. Hand-drawn animation is not as popular as it was. I do hope that changes, though. Wasn’t the animation in The Princess and the Frog just frickin’ amazing?!!! Finally, 4) “Princess.” Both of these are princess films, yes, but The Princess and the Frog has the word “princess” in the title. This makes boys think it’s not going to be for them. There’s nothing a boy can like in a princess movie! It’s too girly and feminine for them. By keeping “princess” and even the main character’s name out of the title of Tangled, Disney was able to market this film to both girls and boys. Apparently it worked. It also worked for Frozen (Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, 2013).
Tangled - Story

CONCLUSION: I’d be lying if I said this is my favorite Disney movie, or these are my favorite Disney characters. However, I do have to acknowledge that what’s good is good. The animation is good. The romance is good. The characters are good. The story is great! The songs are…OK. It’s a good flick. There’s something here that a lot of people can enjoy: the romance, the action, the writing, the comedy, etc. Like it, love it, watch it, listen to it, sing along with it – do whatever you want to do. It’s not a film I’m going to be watching over and over again, and, yes, there are a lot of Disney films I prefer over this one. However, I’m not as bitter toward this film as I once was. It’s good, and I did enjoy watching it.
Tangled - Conclusion

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MOVIE REVIEWS: The Princess and the Frog (Ron Clements and John Musker, 2009)

The Princess and the Frog

Let me give you some of my background regarding this film. I was a senior in high school when this was released. When I saw the advertisement for it, I rolled my eyes. I wasn’t annoyed because it was a princess movie or because I felt like I was too old for it. I was annoyed because it was Disney. As someone who didn’t go to movie theaters much, the most Disney I got was the Disney Channel. Back then, they had a lot of really bad shows like Zack and Cody, Hannah Montana, Cory in the House, and Wizards of Waverly Places. I also wasn’t impressed by the advertisement for their live-action movies. In other words, I was not on good terms with Disney! When I saw Disney was releasing a new film, I got annoyed quick. I didn’t care that it was the first hand-drawn film in a long time! I didn’t care if it was reviving Disney animation! I didn’t care if it featured Disney’s first Black princess! I thought this movie was going to suck! Well, I saw the film about a year and a half after its theatrical release, in May 2012; and…I fell in love! I love this film! This is my second favorite Disney film after The Lion King! I love this picture so much! Why do I love it? That’s what this review is going to answer!

ANIMATION: My goodness, Disney’s animation has never looked better! The animation in this film is stellar! It’s gorgeous! I can see why Disney really talked up the animation in its marketing! Look at this film and tell me you don’t want more hand-drawn animation! You can’t do it; it looks too wonderful in this film! The colors really stand out and blend! The lighting is also amazing! Look at the way the water is animated here! Look at how smooth the lines are! I also appreciate the different style they use in the “Almost There” number! They use the artwork of famous artist Aaron Douglas, and it looks amazing! Finally, look at the backgrounds! I know I said in my Tarzan review that the hand-drawn and CGI animation was distracting, but it’s not that distracting here! I honestly cannot tell what is hand-drawn and painted and what’s CG. But it all blends together so well! I believe These characters and the objects and places can live in the same world together. There are some things that distract me, like Daddy La Bouff’s car, but as a whole, everything works wonderfully!
The Princess and the Frog - Animation

SONGS/MUSIC: I really do wish the songs in this film were appreciated more. It’s interesting when I think of how much the songs in Tangled (Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, 2010) where loved (even though they didn’t match with the tone of the film), and these songs are considered bland and forgettable (even though they match perfectly with the film). The songs and the score are brought to us by Randy Newman, whose music and songs can also be heard in several Pixar films, like Toy Story (John Lassester, 1995). I love these songs, I remember almost all of them, and I have such a great time listening to them and singing along with them! Let’s talk about each other them.
1) Down in New Orleans/(Prologue): OK, this song isn’t that memorable. The melody isn’t very fun, and you don’t really remember what Dr. John says during the number. However, it does do one of the things a song should do in musicals. It gives us exposition for our story. This takes place in New Orleans. We hear that in both the lyrics and the music. It’s not a great song, but it’s a nice one.

2) Almost There: This is a great song! It has a great memorable melody, and I have a lot of fun listening to it! This song also does something songs in musicals are supposed to do. We learn more about Tiana and her objectives and motivation. We learn more about, not just who she is, but also why she works so hard. We learn what she’s working hard for. This song shows us Tiana’s character wonderfully, and I enjoy it a lot!

3) Friends on the Other Side: I LOVE THIS SONG!!! This is my favorite song in the movie, and probably my favorite villain song ever! My goodness, this song just OOZES goodness! Keith David sounds great here! The song sounds cool, to match the personality of the villain, but it can also sound menacing. The background vocalists are voodoo dolls – how much more creepy does it get?! We get some exposition on Naveen and Lawrence as well. But one of the main reasons this song is great is because it continues the story. We still see the important events that take place in this plot.

4) When We’re Human: I enjoy this song, but it doesn’t add anything to the movie. Think about it: we already know what Tiana and Naveen are going to do when they become human again – they already told us. Louis never becomes human, so it doesn’t really matter in the grand scale of things what he’s going to do if he becomes human. Then why do I enjoy this song? Well, aside from looking at the beautiful animation during this number, the song is a lot of fun. I like singing the words with the characters. I like the melody. I like listening to this piece. I know this song could have been removed and it would not have changed anything about the film, but I still like it. It sounds nice, and I have a lot of fun with it. I enjoy it a lot! Actually, does it kind of remind anyone else of the “When We’re Human Again” number from Beauty and the Beast?…Just me?

5) Gonna Take You There: I hate this song. This is the only song in the film I cannot stand at all. Like I said earlier, I fell in love with this film about 3 years ago, in May 2012. I must have watched it about 75 times that summer. The first 50 times I watched it, I ALWAYS forgot this song was here. Every time I saw it I thought, “Oh yeah, that is a thing…” After I finally remembered it was here, I got annoyed with it. The characters were already going down the bayou, so now they’re going to sing a song about it?!? The music doesn’t excite me at all, but that’s a personal thing. The song does nothing for the film except make it longer…with an irritating song.

6) Ma Belle Evangeline: I am in love with this song! Oh my goodness, it sounds so amazing! It is so romantic! It is a beautiful, lovely song that can cause anyone to fall in love. I love the words. As you’ll see later, I’m not crazy about Ray as a character (which is part of the reason I hate “Gonna Take You There”), but he does put the heart and passion into this song that makes it so angelic. Again, Newman’s melody and lyrics do a magnificent job of engaging you as well! I love it! It’s awesome! Also, we get to see our main characters fall in love with each other, which is critical for the film; so one could argue that it does do something songs in musicals are supposed to do.

7) Dig a Little Deeper: I like this song. I don’t think it’s the best or the strongest song for the movie or Disney, but it’s still enjoyable. The melody is good, the lyrics are cool, and I remember the number. It also gives us the moral, which, I would argue, does something a song should do in a musical. If done well and strong, a song will help the moral stand out strong. This is good way for audiences to remember the lesson in this film.

8) Friends on the Other Side (Reprise): Anytime I get to hear this song is a great moment for me!

9) Down in New Orleans (Reprise): I really like the reprise of this number a lot better than the main song with Dr. John. Maybe it’s because the instrumental is more upbeat. Perhaps it’s because Tiana is singing it. Maybe it’s because the music sounds happier and brighter than it did before. I don’t know why, but I love this song a lot! It ends the movie rather nicely.

10) Never Knew I Needed: This song was written and performed by R&B singer Ne-Yo. I think this is the movie’s Number One song, which I find very interesting. I don’t know how many people think of this song first when they think of this film. That doesn’t make this a bad song; on the contrary, the song is great! I love it! I don’t listen to a lot of Ne-Yo’s music, but this song really makes me want to change that. His voice is fantastic! The song itself is a wonderful sum up of the romance between Tiana and Naveen. Speaking of which…

ROMANCE: The romance is pretty good between Tiana and Naveen. I really like watching them together. Much like Tarzan and Jane, there’s a wonderful chemistry between these two people. They’re so charming together. As I was thinking of their romance, I thought of Ne-Yo’s song. He says “You’re the best thing I never knew I needed…So now it’s so clear, I need you here always.” That actually does define Tiana’s and Naveen’s relationship, doesn’t it? Tiana’s a workaholic and Naveen’s a party animal. It doesn’t make any sense to me that they would need each other, and I’m sure it made less sense to them. However, after they got together, they couldn’t live without one another. They were willing to do whatever they needed – give up anything in order to be with each other. Now I will say, in all fairness, that the way they realize this isn’t explained that well. I guess it’s explained OK regarding Naveen, but how and when did Tiana realize she wanted to be with the prince? I don’t know when it happened, it just kind of…happened. I didn’t really see the progression for her. That’s just me, though. Maybe I’m missing something. Their romance is still enjoyable, though. I still love watching these two together. There’s still a great chemistry between them, and they are very, very charming. I can tell they’re in love! It’s precious. It’s adorable. It’s not the best Disney romance, but it is faaaaaaaaar from the worst.
The Princess and the Frog - Romance 01The Princess and the Frog - Romance 02

CHARACTERS: Unfortunately, I’m not going to add Dr. Facilier, A.K.A. the Shadow Man, to this list. I already talked about him a lot in my Top 10 Favorite Disney Villains list, and I don’t know what else I could say about him. He’s still the best, he’s still boss, and he’s my favorite character in the movie! Having that been said, let’s talk about some of the other characters.
1) Tiana – I love Tiana so much! Yes, Shadow Man is my favorite character, but that’s not because Tiana is underwhelming at all. Tiana is one of Disney’s best female characters ever! I love her! She’s smart. She’s determined. She’s kind, but she has her limits. Something I noticed is that she does not rebel at all! Think about it, how many Disney leads can you name that have rebelled against someone or something? Whether it was for good or bad reasons, Disney leads have a tradition of rebelling somehow. I don’t like that. But Tiana doesn’t rebel. She knows what she wants, and she goes after it; and it doesn’t require her to rebel against authority or against the rules. Her goals and ambition come from the principles and ethics she got from her parents. WHAT?!? A Disney lead – and a FEMALE at that – who APPLIES the principles and ethics from her PARENTS?!? Mind! Blown! She’s also very hard-working, which is another quality that you don’t see in a lot of Disney leading ladies. In my opinion Tiana is the best Disney princess ever! Why? Because a couple of other qualities about her is she’s smart and she’s quick. She knows how to get herself out of a negative situation, and she knows how to act fast. This is something she’d need to do in a royal position. If the King and Queen are out of commission and she has to step in, I believe she’ll know what to do…I’m not saying she’s the greatest Disney female lead, I’m saying she’s the best Disney princess…But Tiana is boss! And she was voiced by Anika Noni Rose! Yay!
The Princess and the Frog - TianaThe Princess and the Frog - Tiana Again
2) Prince Naveen – Almost half of the Disney leading men in my past reviews have been bland and boring, and more than half of the remaining were just OK. Naveen blows them all out of the water! He’s not boring, not even a little bit! I love watching this guy! He’s so much fun! He’s all about having fun! He wants to play, he wants to sing, and he wants to have a good time. What I like about him is that despite the fact he’s all about fun, he’s not stupid. He’s rather smart. I like the scene where he tricked Louis into giving him and Tiana a ride. He knows how to get what he wants, but what he wants most of the time is to have fun. He wants to have fun, and he’s fun too!…But what’s up with his catchphrase? “A she danza?” What does that mean?
The Princess and the Frog - Naveen 01The Princess and the Frog - Naveen 02
3) Ray…and his family – Ray and the family are the only characters I can’t stand in the movie. They are annoying as crud! I love Jim Cummings, but I can’t stand Ray! Remember how I said the gargoyles from The Hunchback of Notre Dame would be better in a cartoon? I feel the same way about Ray and his family. This movie isn’t a cartoon, it’s an animated piece. An animated piece is classy. It has style and artistic integrity to it. A cartoon is silly, goofy, stupid, and over the top. Ray and his family are cartoons in an animated film. I don’t like Ray’s design, his character, his accent, his sense of humor, his dialogue, his voice – I DON’T LIKE HIM! The only people to be more annoying are his family, like his grandmother. Why the crud does she have old lady hair? Do we really need to give a firefly old lady hair? And why the crud does she have a walker? Did walkers even exist in the 1920s? Even if they did, she’s a firefly! She can fly! Why does she need a walker? I will say that Ray does have some engaging emotional scenes. Like I said earlier, I do like the “Ma Belle Evangeline” song. I actually do feel sorry for him when Tiana tells him he’s only in love with a star…In fact, why the crud is he in love with the Disney star? Let’s be real, people, Evangeline is the Disney star, the “When You Wish Upon a” star…Is that legal? Can he love the Disney star? I don’t know. He’s a good guy, he supports our main characters, he helps move the story along, and I even connect with him a couple of times. But Ray is annoying! As crud!
The Princess and the Frog - Ray
4) Mama Odie – Mama Odie is another fun and interesting character. This is a very different kind of “fairy godmother,” but it’s done very well here. What keeps her both fun and interesting isn’t that she’s a voodoo queen, though that certainly helps. However, if you were to strip that title away from her, you’d still want to watch her. She keeps you guessing what she’s going to do next. You wonder whether or not she knows what’s going on. As a matter of fact, is she even blind? I don’t believe it! But that’s the kind of person she is, she keeps you guessing. I like Mama Odie!…Plus, she’s voiced by Jennifer Lewis! WHAT!!
The Princess and the Frog - Mama Odie
5) Charlotte La Bouff – I love Lottie so much! This character is hi-larious! I love watching her! Almost every time she’s on screen, she makes me laugh! Remember when Lawrence, in the form of Prince Naveen, proposed to Lottie? Do you remember her reaction? She wasn’t excited about being in love, it was about her getting married! That is funny! All she wants to do is marry a prince. That’s all she wants to do. That would be horrible if she didn’t have any other good qualities or if she were the main character (like Ariel…). But her motivation is obviously played up for laughs. She still supports her friend. She helps Tiana anyway she can. She loves her. She just has quirks to her as well. She is incredibly energetic. She loves life to the fullest. She is just a ball of fun and excitement, and I can’t help but love her!
The Princess and the Frog - Charlotte

STORY AND THEMES & MESSAGES: The story is good, but there are some problems with it. Many people have pointed out that this movie creates a lot of loopholes for itself, and…it does. “Tiana turned into a frog because she’s not a real princess.” …What? Royalty can refute a voodoo spell? How does that work? “Lawrence has to marry Charlotte in order for the Shadow Man to get rid of Mr. La Bouff and take over New Orleans.” …Why? Why can’t Shadow Man come up with a plan to do away with La Bouff now? Does he have to wait until the daughter’s married? “Tiana married Naveen, which makes her a princess; thus the two become human again.” …OH! THAT just solves everything, doesn’t it? It makes sense, but it feels like a cop out.
For as many details they give the film (and there are a lot of details, there’s a lot going on here), there are some things I don’t know if the film answers. (1) Why does Shadow Man have to get rid of Daddy La Bouff in order to take over New Orleans? He can’t take over the town now? In fact what is Daddy La Bouff? The movie never answers that question. Is he the mayor? Even then, it’s not like he’s the King. Shadow Man should either take over the town now, or go after something bigger than the city! (2) Right before Ray dies, he destroys some of the shadows by hitting them with the bright light from his…butt (ew). How does that work? How can he do that? What is he even doing? (3) If Naveen is kissed by Charlotte on this certain day before midnight, he and Tiana will turn human because Charlotte is technically a princess. However, when she kisses him, it’s midnight. It’s the next day. Charlotte isn’t a “princess” anymore. Why doesn’t she become a frog herself? Isn’t the whole reason Tiana’s a frog because she wasn’t a real princess when she kissed the prince? Charlotte isn’t a “real princess” anymore either. Why doesn’t she turn into a frog?
I think the reason the story has so many loopholes and plot holes is because, like I said earlier, there are way too many things going on in this flick. I can follow it fine, but there’s almost always something happening on screen regarding the story. The story never gets to breathe. Think back to films like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. They had simple stories that knew how much focus to give to the details. This film has a lot of details to focus on. It’s not bad, it’s just a lot.
Am I the only one who finds it odd that the actual Frog Prince story is used in this film? Yeah, the film opens up with Eudora, Tiana’s mother (voiced by Oprah Winfrey), reading the fairy tale. When Naveen first meets Tiana, he tells her that he believes a kiss from a princess will make him human again because of that story. I find that really odd. Disney has always been known for recreating the fairy tale. When they advertise that this is the REAL version, and yet the film refers to the actual story, that becomes confusing. It’d be like Ursula knowing how to trap Ariel by reading the original Little Mermaid book.
I like that this film actually promotes hard work. Tiana is a great role model because she always believes in working hard for what she wants. Great job, movie!
I don’t think the movie ever says to throw away your dreams for a man or for a woman. I think the film is just emphasizing the power of true love. Tiana isn’t necessarily throwing her dream away when she agrees to be with Naveen. She realizes that she can’t live the rest of her life without Naveen. She’d rather be with him as a frog than have her restaurant instead of him. She realized being with him would make her happiest of all. It’s not that she doesn’t want her restaurant anymore, but she learned that won’t make her as happy as being with Naveen.
I know I said I don’t like Ray (he’s not the most awful character, he’s just really annoying), and I really don’t like his death scene! It comes out of nowhere, and it has nothing to do with anything! It’s unnecessary! However…I do respect it. When you really think about it, this is the first Disney death that allows us to rejoice that a character is in a better place. Think about that. How many Disney films really let us do that? We either cry over a character’s death because they were a great person (Musfasa, Bambi’s mom, etc.), we shrug because we didn’t know the person (Cinderella’s father), or we’re relived because the person deserved to die (villains). But this is the first time Disney tells us that it’s OK. Ray’s in a much better place now, a place where he doesn’t experience pain and grief anymore. I love that message…I hate the scene, but I love the message.
This is Disney’s first film centered around a predominately Black cast, and I think it’s done well. Obviously, that was one of the major aspects the studio was pushing in the advertisement. The film does not insult or degrade the African-American race at all. I know there were controversies before when Tiana the waitress was going to be Maddy the maid, and that was rioted (as it should have been). Some people take issue with the fact that Disney’s Black princess was a frog for most of the movie, or that the film didn’t have Disney’s first Black prince. I guess I can see why people would get upset over that, but I hope no one’s screaming “racism” over it. This goes back to what I said in my Mulan review. People will always be upset about something, even if there’s no need in being upset about it. If Tiana were another White princess, I’m sure no one be upset. Ariel was human for most of her movie, and no one said it was fish-ist (I know that’s not a thing). I’m not saying I don’t see why people are upset about this, but it’s nothing to get upset over. Is this the worst portrayal of African-Americans from Disney? Crud no! Let’s remember Disney gave us racist crows AND laborers from Dumbo (Samuel Armstrong, 1941), primates from The Jungle Book (Wolfgang Reitherman, 1967), and the black fish from The Little Mermaid (Ron Clements and John Musker, 1989). This film is fine! It’s great, in fact – especially given Disney’s track record of representing African-Americans! Part of what makes that great is that the characters here are not Black first. They’re people first! They are relatable to everybody! This movie rocks! Let the children have their fairy tale!
The Princess and the Frog - Stars

CONCLUSION: I adore this movie! I love it so much! I love the characters, I love the songs, I love the animation, and I love the romance! Even though the story has some issues, I love the story as well! I am upset, again, that this film isn’t as popular as it should be, or that it wasn’t as much of a financial success as the studio was hoping for! Why the crud not? This picture’s great! In fact, why was Tangled the more successful film? That’s a good movie, but this picture is definitely better! I have my own theories, but you’ll have to look into my review of that film to read them. In any case, this movie is fantastic! This is definitely the Little Mermaid of this generation! This is the film the made people get excited about Disney again. The colors, the return to the classic Disney style, the beautiful hand-drawn animation, the return to the fairy tale adaptations – it just speaks Disney! People got excited to see the next Disney film after they saw this! They felt as though the Disney we got during the Renaissance had finally returned, and it did not disappoint! This is a wonderful and beautiful film!
The Princess and the Frog - End

MOVIE REVIEWS: Tarzan (Chris Buck and Kevin Lima, 1999)

Tarzan

Here is another Disney animated feature which includes the main character’s name as the film’s title. It’s also the second Disney film to take place in the continent of Africa…without any knowledge of what country we’re in. Aside from that, what all does this film have to offer? To be honest, this Disney flick may have the most amount of edge since The Hunchback of Notre Dame. How many people die horrible, gruesome deaths in this film? It gets pretty dark, and pretty quick! If you like dark elements, like I do, then there’s a good chance you’ll like this film. But are there other things to like in this picture? Let’s find out.

ANIMATION: I have mixed feelings about the animation. The 3-D backgrounds and objects do distract me. Again, I know animation studios were blending hand-drawn animation with computer animation, but I can’t stay totally invested when I look at the people, who are obviously hand-drawn, and the trees, which are distinctly CGI. I remember watching a featurette on the DVD for The Emperor’s New Groove, and they showed some of the things that were animated in CG. I wouldn’t have known those objects were CG if I hadn’t watched the featurette. In this film, though, I can clearly tell what is CG. I find that really distracting in a traditionally animated movie. If it wants to be a hand-drawn movie, the film should look more traditional. If the film wants to be a computer animated flick, it should look more CGI. If you are able to look past that, though, the film does give us some nice things to look at. I particularly like how the leopardess is designed and how she moves. That creature moves so fast, you’ll wonder how in the world the animator went about bringing her performance to life. I also like how the jungle looks. You really feel like you’re in the jungle throughout this film. Also, the action is really impressive! It’s just fast! I like how quick the characters move and the camera moves in order to pick up everything. During those action-packed scenes, we get some of the shakey-camera action. When would you ever see that in an animated film? As a whole, the animation is good. I just prefer one type of animation style to be shown consistently throughout the movie.
Tarzan - Sabor

SONGS/MUSIC: The score is composed by Mark Mancina, who produced some of the music for The Lion King. The songs are also written, composed, and performed by Phil Collins. A lot of people really like these songs, and they even won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and the soundtrack won a Grammy…But I don’t care about these songs at all. They don’t move me in the slightest. I don’t remember them, I don’t know the words, and I don’t even listen to them when they’re playing in the film. Actually, I remember watching this film with my younger brother a few years ago. We did listen to the songs, and found ourselves making fun of them. They really narrate the movie instead of moving the story along or telling us how the characters feel. There was a moment when Collins sang “Take my hand,” and Tarzan actually took someone’s hand…Narration. We’ll go through each song, but this should be pretty quick.
1) Two Worlds/(Reprise): The music can sound intense to match the story, but what does this song really offer aside from that? If you pay attention to the story and the song, you can see how Collins narrates the story. “Two worlds, one family.” Get it? These two families are totally different from each other, but they’ll be joined together by Tarzan…Eh…

2) You’ll Be in My Heart: It sounds nice…but it leaves me nothing…At least we get to hear someone other than Collins sing…

3) Son of Man: Eh…I really don’t remember this number.

4) Trashin’ in the Camp: OK, I’m going to sound really strange here. I love this song. This is my favorite song in the film. It really has nothing to do with anything, and it does nothing for the film at all…But, doggone it, it’s so entertaining! It’s catchy! It’s memorable! Is it the best song ever? No. But it’s a lot of fun, and I have a good time singing it.

5) Strangers Like Me: I don’t remember this song very much either. I know what it’s about, but I don’t remember the lyrics or the melody. I just don’t need these songs narrating the movie. Give me some character development! Add to the story! Don’t sing around what’s happening, I can see what’s happening! Go deeper than that!

ROMANCE: I really like the romance in this movie! Tarzan and Jane have a very nice chemistry together! It’s so charming watching these two on screen. It makes sense that Tarzan would be attracted to Jane since she’s the first human female he’s ever seen. I can also understand how Jane can be attracted to Tarzan. Not only does he know a lot about nature and the animal kingdom, which is what she’s come to study, but he’s also a nice man with some edge to him. But, again, it’s their connection that makes this romance so enjoyable to watch. It’s one of the most lighthearted moments in the movie. Anytime they share the screen, the story, however dark it is, somehow gets lighter. I like that, and I love these two together.
Tarzan - Romance

CHARACTERS: Let’s briefly go over some of the main characters in this film.
1) Tarzan – This guy, as you can imagine, has a very interesting back story. His family was killed in the jungle of an African country by a vicious leopard, and thus he has to be raised by gorillas. He grows up and behaves as a gorilla himself, not knowing who he really is until he sees humans for the first time in his adulthood. But I don’t always find him that interesting. Half the time, he’s pretty much a generic, nice, bland man, much like the past Disney male leads. When he’s a kid, he’s pretty much the typical trouble-making, misunderstood kid. The other half of the time, however, you do want to follow him. You do want to watch him. Part of that is due to the action, which goes back to the animation; and Tarzan is a great athlete. Another part of it is due to the internal struggle he deals with based on his external appearance. He is a human living among humans. While he is learning to live like them, he is still different from them. He knows it, and everyone knows it. The issue is addressed. We see it when Tarzan covers himself in mud. We see it when he touches Jane’s hand for the first time. He’s also really smart. He can learn things very quickly. And, of course, the last part of it is due to the romance between him and Jane. Speaking of which…
Tarzan - Him
2) Jane – She is just a lot of fun. She keeps audiences entertained, engaged, and interested in both the film and in her from the moment she arrives on screen. Part of the reason the romance is so interesting is because she is so interesting. Yes, she’s often the damsel, but she’s not just someone who needs to be saved. She teaches Tarzan about the human world. She also helps him save the day in the climax. But it makes sense that she’s a damsel – she’s out of her environment. She wants to get closer to the gorillas to study them, but she doesn’t know how to survive in the jungle. Jane is just wonderful! She’s a gem, and she’s a ton of fun!
Tarzan - Jane
3) Terk – She doesn’t really annoy me that much. In the beginning, she did. She was such a jerk to her cousin. As the film progressed, though, she was fine. If there was anything annoying about her, I blame the script, not Rosie O’Donnell. I will say, though, that this character confused me for the longest time! I never knew whether she was a male or a female. I remember I would go back and forth; I would learn she’s a female, then I’d hear she’s a male. But later I’d hear she’s a female, then I learned she’s a male – I had no idea what she was! Now I know, and I don’t care what I hear later.
Tarzan - Terk
4) Tantor – This elephant annoys the crud out of me. From his very first line, he got on my bad side. He’s waaaaaay too much of a worry wart. I like him in the climax when he’s helping Tarzan and he has little dialogue, but when he really has something to say that’s supposed to be comical, it’s really annoying and irritating.
Tarzan - Tantor
5) Clayton – The villain here is like a cross between Gaston and Governor Ratcliffe. He has Gaston’s build and cockiness, but he has Governor Ratcliffe’s motivation and mindset. How many times did he refer to Tarzan as a “savage?”…SAVAGES! SAVAGES!…Sorry. But, really, Clayton is not that interesting. I don’t really remember that much from him. His objective is as boring as they can be with Disney villains: he’s just after gold. It’s obvious from the beginning that he is our villain. There’s only one real moment that makes him worth watching…His death scene! OH MY GOSH! This is one of the best Disney deaths ever animated!!! It’s dark! It’s creepy! It’s scary! Did you see his body hanging in the shadow? MY WORD!!! Dealing with his character is totally worth it when that scene occurs! I love it so much! Yes my heart aches when Mufasa dies. Of course I get emotional when Bambi’s mom is killed. BUT THIS DEATH SCENE is my favorite Disney death EVER!!!…Man, I might be sick.
Tarzan - Clayton 01Tarzan - Clayton 02

STORY AND THEMES & MESSAGES: The story is…good. It’s a good story. If the story had focused more on Tarzan’s struggle with being a human raised by animals, it would have been much better and more interesting. When we have to watch Clayton and his troupe being evil for money, it’s…not bad, but not as engaging. The more engaging aspect takes place when Tarzan tries to prove who he is, when he struggles with who he is, and when interacts with the human culture for the first time.
Something that pretty interesting as an adult to see is just how dark this movie gets. It’s not Hunchback of Notre Dame dark, but it’s still pretty heavy. As soon as the film begins, we see a whole ship of people drowning or burning; and we still have to put up with six more deaths on top of that! There’s Kala’s begotten son (1), Tarzan’s human parents (2 and 3), Sabor (4), Clayton (5), and Kerchak (6). Actually, this brings me to something I thought of the last time I watched this film. Why didn’t Tarzan cry or get sad when Clayton dies?…Aside from him dying an INCREDIBLY AWESOME DEATH!!! But, seriously, Clayton is one of the first humans he ever saw, and he kind of caused his death. It’s like when Superman killed Zod in Man of Steel, one of the last of his kind. Now, of course, Clayton is far from the end of the human race, but Tarzan did kind of do him in. There wasn’t any remorse at all. Even if he didn’t think he helped killed Clayton, a fellow human being died, one of the first humans he ever saw! What’s up with Disney never letting us grieve over the death of a villain? Have you ever noticed that? We never get to cry when the villain dies. They’re evil, so they’re supposed to die! What’s up with that, Disney? They’re people, too! We’re not allowed to feel any kind of grief for them? They had lives, they breathed air, they had feelings. Maybe that’s just me…
How was Tarzan able to talk to Jane. How did he know how to say his name in English? Shouldn’t that have sounded more like “Ooh, ooh, eee?” Huh. I guess the filmmakers took something away from Pocahontas
You see me mention something a lot, both here and in past reviews. One of the issues I take with this film and even The Lion King is that we don’t know where we are. Yes, we’re in Africa, but can we be more specific? Can we at least know what country we’re in? If I’m not mistaken, the continent of Africa has the most number of countries out of all the other continents. Yet, we’re comfortable with just saying, “We’re in Africa.” What the crud does that mean?! Where the crud are we? Are we in Kenya? Egypt? Mali? Madagascar? Zimbabwe? Tanzania? South Africa? WHERE THE CRUD ARE WE? In other Disney movies, we know where the crud we are! If it takes place somewhere in the USA, we know what state we’re in. If it takes place somewhere in Europe…as half the films surprisingly do…we know what country we’re in. Why can’t we know where exactly we are when a movie is set in Africa? There are 2 reasons this bugs me so much. First, I don’t like what this says about the American perspective of Africa. We often view Africa as a country with breath-taking landscapes and beautiful animals, and that’s it. We don’t see the continent for what it really is. We don’t even see it as a continent. We see it as one big country! Secondly, we don’t acknowledge any of the people or cultures from the continent. Yeah, there are different cultures in the large continent of Africa! We as Americans, though, don’t treat it like that – we don’t treat the people like that. When we hear a person is from Africa, we think we know everything there is to know about their culture. “They wear African clothes.” Like what? “They eat African food.” Like what? “They speak African.” HUH?!? There are a number of languages spoken throughout Africa – people don’t speak African!!! Pick a single African culture, and show it to me in a truthful way!
This leads to another problem I have with Disney films set in Africa: where the crud are the Africans?! The reason we can’t get a sense of the culture is because there are no people to show us the culture! Animals can’t display human culture, or the culture of a nation or a country. They are apart of the culture, but they can’t show everything. I love The Lion King, but Simba and Mufasa can’t teach me the Swahili word for “shirt.” I like Tarzan, but Kerchak and Kala can’t tell me about the color barriers taking place in South Africa! You can only get a sense of that stuff from the people! I know neither movie had a story that worked in African people, but Disney had 2 films set in this continent. The studio missed out on an opportunity to show people who live in that place; they missed that opportunity not once, but twice! These films were shown in Africa; what are the residents there supposed to think?!! How do they feel knowing that they’re not being represented by Disney? And I know in my Mulan review I said I always feel nervous whenever Disney tries to represent other cultures, but is this any better? Is dancing around the culture better than poorly representing it? I don’t know, but it’s still bad! This isn’t me being upset with The Lion King or Tarzan/ This is me being upset with what the studio didn’t do with either movie, and what that says about American culture.
Tarzan - Story

CONCLUSION: I think Tarzan is a good movie. It certainly brings a lot of action and heart. No, I don’t like the lack of culture we get in this film. I’m not too wild about the 2-D animation mixing with the 3-D animation. I’m not fond of the songs. I don’t care too much about Clayton or his actions and objective…BUT HIS DEATH SCENE WAS BANANAS! (I’m sorry. I’ll try to stop.) However, I love Tarzan’s story. I love watching him try to fit in. I love seeing him interact with humans. I love Jane! I love their romance! All of the good stuff in the movie is really good, and I enjoy the mess out of it. Looking back on it, though, it’s kind of surprising how dark the film could be. I hope no child was ever too disturbed by anything here. Maybe the filmmakers could have eased up just a tad on those elements…BUT THAT DEATH SCENE THOUGH!!!
Tarzan Logo

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 - Conclusionwidth=”300″ height=”169″ class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-930″ />

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 Walt Disney Animation Studios was in the process of producing 2 movies. One of them was supposed to be the picture 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 period 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 the landscapes are 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 it 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. But, that’s OK. The song is still really good, and it’s not the most unsubtle 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 well to it…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 unsubtle! 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 phrase 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 planning on having. 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. Rather than seeing John Smith and immediately falling in love with him, Pocahontas was stunned by how different he was from her. 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 or two? But, to be fair, 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 not the worst either.
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 or boring; 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!…If you watch Nostalgia Critic (Doug Walker, 2007-Present), you know why that’s funny.
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 takes 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 wanted 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, he’s good looking, 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 really do 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 wanted to bring two different cultures together and tare down the wall of hate that stood 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 forcing her to 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 14-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 12-years-old and not 14 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 14-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 lives 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!), it throws the story off.
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 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 especially 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 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 bones 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 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, his arrangements, and his choir 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 one 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 the appreciation for 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 gone on record saying that this is the Disney 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. Not to mention…he’s voiced by JAMES EARL FRICKIN’ JONES!!! YEAH!
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 ever 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. In fact, the filmmakers were originally going to dedicate this film to fathers! I wish they had followed through with that, it would have been wonderful! Anyhoo, 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. 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 became the first animated film nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. The question was could Disney continue to make more phenomenal animated pictures? Enter Aladdin. 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 love 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 as 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 backgrounds 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.”

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

ROMANCE: After seeing this movie, I realized that the romance here 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 have wondered why Jafar isn’t on the 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…Also, 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, and sinister, 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 too 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 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! 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 and filmmakers 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 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!

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 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, again, it’s good to 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!

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. This is 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!

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!

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, and 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!

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 that 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!”

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 they 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. So, then, how long does it take again? 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 songs are 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