THE LION KING vs. FROZEN

The Lion King Poster  VS.  Frozen Poster

A short while ago, I started seeing a bunch of versus movie videos on YouTube, and a lot of them were Disney movies: old Cinderella (Clyde Geronimi, 1950) versus new Cinderella (Kenneth Branagh, 2015), Beauty and the Beast (Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, 1991) versus Aladdin (Ron Clements and John Musker, 1992), and so on. Yeah, they were pretty odd, but the strangest one, in my opinion, was Tangled (Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, 2010) versus Frozen (Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, 2013). People were comparing these movies? Fans were trying to determine the better one between the two? This was odd to me for a couple of reasons. First, Frozen is better. Second, these aren’t the movies I’d put together. To me, the real competitor of Tangled is The Princess and the Frog (Ron Clements and John Musker, 2009). If you read my review of these movies, you already know which movie I think is the better. Maybe I’ll make a versus post between them later, though probably not. But I digress. The real competitor of Frozen, however, is…drumroll please…The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994)! Right now, the Walt Disney Animation Studios is enjoying the Disney Revival, which is very reminiscent of the Disney Renaissance from the ’90s. The Princess and the Frog became The Little Mermaid (Ron Clements and John Musker, 1989) for today’s youth. Winnie the Pooh (Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall, 2011) is like today’s The Rescuer’s Down Under (Hendel Butoy and Mike Gabriel, 1990). And Frozen is today’s The Lion King. Both movies are incredibly popular, they brought in TONS of money, they’re still memorable, and we’re still singing the songs. But which movie is the best? Which is truly the better complete film? Well, I must admit that The Lion King is my favorite Disney movie ever, as well as one of my favorite films period. But putting personal feelings aside, I’m looking at this from a fair, analytical perspective. I’ll be judging this based on the same categories I review these films: animation, songs and music, romance, characters, and story. That being said, let’s dive in and see which is the better movie. This is The Lion King vs. Frozen!

 

ANIMATION: The animation in both movies is spectacular! I love how animation can transport us into worlds that don’t look like our own, but feel like our own. The way Frozen makes winter look is incredible! This is the kind of winter we dream about – the kind of winter we want to see! I also love how the ice and the snow look. The texture, the weight, and the shape of them is just outstanding! I love it!

To be honest, however, those are the only pieces of animation that really impress me in this film. In The Lion King, everything impresses me! From the first frame, I’m instantly spellbound! Look at how the animators captured Kenya! Look at the sunrise! The sky! The trees! The mountains! The complete landscape! The waterfall! They not only brought the size, scope, and spirituality of Kenya to the film, but they made it a bit more epic by adding mythological elements to the layout. But what really does it for me is the animals! The Lion King has an all animal cast. This means the animators had to really capture the movements and behaviors of all these lions, hyenas, wildebeasts, giraffes, elephants, birds, ants, and everyone else! They don’t just become animators trying to draw animals – the animals are just there! Simba is a lion in this movie, not a cartoon or animated character! The characters are alright in Frozen, but they’re humans – they’re ordinary. Also, they have a sort of plastic texture to their skin; the people look more like toys and dolls than actual humans.. Point goes to The Lion King!

The Lion King - Stampede

 

SONGS/MUSIC: These movies have some of the best and biggest Disney soundtracks of all time! We can’t help but hear these songs in our heads whenever we think of these films. And The Lion King doesn’t just have great and fun songs to accompany the film; it also has an amazing score composed by the great Hans Zimmer to go with it! And again, Lebo M. helped bring the sound of the music to the continent of Africa! We’ve got some fantastic talent behind the music here!

Again, I personally love the songs from The Lion King more. One thing I realized about this film in contrast to other Disney movies is The Lion King doesn’t have one Number One song. Most people would agree the Number One song from The Little Mermaid is “Under the Sea.” The Number One song from Beauty and the Beast is “Be Our Guest,” and the Number One Song from Aladdin is “A Whole New World.” We can name other songs from those movies, but those are the songs most people remember the most. While, of course, Frozen has “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” and “For the First Time in Forever,” we all know “Let It Go” is the film’s Number One song. However, if you were to ask a large group of people to name the Number One song from The Lion King, some would say “Circle of Life,” some would say “Hakuna Matata,” and some would say “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” TAKE THAT, FROZEN!

Also, as my girlfriend pointed out, the you can tell all the songs in The Lion King have a consistent style or genre. They all sound the same. Part of that comes from the fact that the filmmakers and music leaders wanted to capture the spirit and culture of the land this film is set. The style of the songs in Frozen isn’t as consistent. Some of them sound like musical theatre, some of them sound like modern pop music, the ice cutting song sounds like Irish-type music, and the music over the studio logos reminds you of The Lion King anyway. Having said all that, the point should go to The Lion King, right? Well…

While I love and prefer the songs from The Lion King…I have to admit…the songs from Frozen are better. Why? Because they actually do a better job of tying the songs into the story and what’s going on. No, not all of them do that, but, again, they do it better than The Lion King. Songs like “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” “For the First Time in Forever,” “Love is an Open Door,” and “Let it Go” continue the story and tell us how the characters feel. The only songs to really do that in The Lion King are “Circle of Life” and “Be Prepared.” I can make arguments for “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” and “Hakuna Matata,” but it’s pretty obvious which movie utilize the songs more. What can I say? Point goes to Frozen.

 

ROMANCE: Is there really a competition here? I love The Lion King, but I know that the romance in that movie is unnecessary. The story is about coming to age, accepting responsibility, and the care and balance of life…Where the crud does a romance fit in to this? OK, romance is a part of life, but how does it fit into the story the filmmakers were trying to make? It doesn’t!

In Frozen, the romance is much better intertwined with the story. Anna’s romance with Hans is sort of the initial incident that sets the rest of the movie into motion. When Elsa and Anna fought over the sudden engagement, Elsa’s nerves got the best of her, prompting her to run away. After that, Anna’s discovery of true love begins. Not only does she learn the dangers of giving her heart to any random person, but she also develops a romance with Kristoff. I also like that their romance doesn’t end with a marriage or “true love,” but rather an attraction. They’re attracted to each other, they’re dating. All in all, the romance  in Frozen works its way in the story much better than The Lion King. Point goes to Frozen!

 

STORY: OK, I know that I usually follow the romance with characters, but that section actually gave me a hard time. I’ll talk about that in a minute, but let’s skip over it and go to story for now. Both of these films have really great stories! Whereas Frozen is very loosely based on The Snow Queen and The Lion King is…inspired by Hamlet, both films still stand out as unique. But which story is told better? Neither story is told perfectly, there are some holes in both of them; but they’re still good stories, and they’re told rather well. To be honest, this category almost gave me as much difficulty as the characters. I stumbled for a minute, but here’s what it came down to…

One of the main problems people have with Frozen’s story is the reveal that Hans is the villain. It could have been a clever, welcomed surprise twist like the reveal in Wreck-It Ralph (Rich Moore, 2012). In that film, hints were given throughout the film that supported why and how King Candy’s being Turbo could work. It made sense. It was a good surprise. It was smart. In Frozen, however, the surprise twist was random and seemed to come out of nowhere. The reason it doesn’t work that well is because there isn’t anything in the film to support the reveal of Hans as the villain. True, he talks about having 12 older brothers, but what else justifies him being the villain. There wasn’t a villainous thing he did in the film prior to the twist.It offers more questions than it does answers. Was Hans making up his plan all along? Why did he keep Elsa alive for so long when there were several opportunities he could have killed her? When he finally does kill her, why do it in front of everyone? I’m not saying this is a bad twist, but it wasn’t set up that well. It’s like the romance in The Lion King; if the filmmakers wanted this twist to be in the movie and have it work, they needed to work it in the story better.

Ironically enough, we sort of have the same problem in The Lion King. Scar had a perfect opportunity to kill Simba himself right after the stampede. Why the crud didn’t he? None of the reasons I hear ever really hold water, so it does become a plot hole. So, then, if both stories have the same story, is there a worse one? Well, in my opinion, I’d have to give the point to The Lion King. Why? Because in that movie, what you see is what you get.  The film as a whole cares about telling a good story. There’s symbolism in there and everything, but the filmmakers aren’t trying to throw any clever twists at you. In Frozen, they are. One twist works, but the other one, as I discussed, doesn’t. Again, if they wanted the twist, they should have worked it in better. It’s not clever otherwise. Therefore, point goes to The Lion King!

The Lion King - Paw Print

 

CHARACTERS: OK, so the score is all tied up. This category will be the deciding factor; let’s get back to the characters. This section gave me the hardest time because both films have a great cast of characters! I’ll admit it, I enjoy Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Hans, the Duke of Weselton, and Olaf. But I’ll always love Simba, Mufasa, Sarabi, Zazu, Scar, Timon, Pumbaa, Nala, Rafiki, and the hyenas! It is hard! They’re all fun, they support the story, they’re very relatable, and they’re timeless…Then again, are they?

This is actually where I was able to make the distinction. While I believe both casts are going to be timeless and beloved forever, I think the cast of The Lion King is more timeless. The cast of Frozen still feels modern. The language they use and their behaviors reminds me this film was made in the 2010s. Nowhere is this truer than in Anna. Her quirkiness and awkwardness really make her a product of this modern age we’re in now. “This is awkward. I mean, not this – not you. I’m awkward! You’re gorgeous. Wait, what?” You hear so people talk like that today. I’m not saying Anna or any of the other characters will be forgotten 20 years from her, but I do think this makes her at least a tad bit dated. When I watch the characters from The Lion King, I don’t get 1990s. I just see Simba. All I see is Timon. He’s just Pumbaa. They’re just Mufasa and Rafiki. They don’t  seem dated or a product of the ’90s. If it weren’t for that, this section would be a tie, causing this contest to be a tie. However, since the timeless factor rests more with The Lion King cast, I must give it to that film. Point goes to The Lion King!

The Lion King - Characters

 

CONCLUSION: Well, with a score of 3 to 2, The Lion King wins, becoming the better movie! Does that mean I hate or dislike Frozen? Not at all! I really like that film! And if you think Frozen is better than The Lion King, there’s nothing wrong with that either. For me, however, I can objectively and subjectively declare The Lion King as the better movie between the two! COME AT ME!

The Lion King

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MOVIE REVIEWS: Frozen (Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, 2013)

Frozen Poster

After being impressed with Wreck-It Ralph, I was interested to see the next Disney film. Even before the film was released or any reviews came out, I knew it would be a good movie. If you pay attention to the pattern of Walt Disney animated films, you’ll notice that every 5-10 films are really good while the next 5-10 films range somewhere between OK to bad. Right now, we’re in the really good phase. Thus, I was already expecting a really good film. However, I didn’t see this movie in theaters, and I didn’t rush to get it on DVD or Blu-ray after its cinematic run. I knew it’s be good, but I didn’t think I’d die if I didn’t see it right away. However, the world quickly let me know how badly I needed to see this movie. EVERYBODY sang all the songs from the film! EVERYBODY recited all the lines! EVERYBODY made every pun imaginable related to this film! My goodness, planet earth! Calm the crud down! Is this what it was like after The Lion King was first released? Oh, and speaking of which, how about the fact that this film was a greater financial success than The Lion King?!? Yeah, that really ticked me off! I got annoyed fast! I still wanted to see the film, I still knew it’d be good, but I needed Earth to shut up about it! But it didn’t! People went on and on about this film! To this day, I cannot walk into Wal-Mart without seeing some kind of merchandise for this picture! My cousin/goddaughter, who is almost 2-years-old, has seen this film and HASN’T seen The Lion King yet! I don’t care how great this picture is – The Lion King is STILL top boss! Well, I finally sat down and watched it with my mother December 26, 2014, more than a year after its release in theaters, and…(sigh) it’s amazing. I can see why the world keeps raving about this film. It is a great film. Everything about it is well done. So much thought, intelligence, and creativity was put into this picture. It shows! We’re passionate about the film because the filmmakers were passionate about it. But what makes this movie so great? Let’s find out.

ANIMATION: The animation looks beautiful. As an Ohio resident, I often hear people complain about the winter. I don’t know how many people could look at winter in this film and say, “I don’t want to live there.” It’s beautiful! I love the colors and the angles we get here. I love the way the ice looks. It’s so majestic and Heavenly. Plus, we get the return of the blend between traditional and CGI animation. That always excites me. There’s not too much else to talk about, I just love how beautiful the film looks.
Frozen - Animation

SONGS/MUSIC: Oh boy, here we go. I don’t know of any other Disney movie where almost all the songs where Number One songs except The Lion King. Before we get into that, let’s mention Christophe Beck. Beck is the composer of the score. He’s scored tons of other movies like The Muppets (James Bobin, 2011), Pitch Perfect (Jason Moore, 2012), Date Night (Shawn Levy, 2010), Crazy, Stupid, Love (Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, 2010), and SOOOOOO many others! Beck’s scores are often very enjoyably whimsical, in the same way Hans Zimmer’s scores are epic and grand. He does a great job with this score. However, let’s talk about our songwriters, Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Remember in my Winnie the Pooh review when I said to keep these two in mind? This is why! My goodness, they are some incredible songwriters! I don’t know how Disney figured they should write the songs for this film, but I’m sure they’re not regretting their decision! These aren’t my favorite Disney songs, but I’d be lying if I said they weren’t good. They’re incredible! Let’s get into it.
1) Frozen Heart: OK, this isn’t the most memorable song in the movie, but…ice!…That’s really all I have to say about it.

2) Do You Want to Build a Snowman: Alright, I love this song! It’s true, I do! This is my favorite song in the film! Maybe I’m a sucker for that sweet melody. Maybe I’m a sap for young Katie Lopez’s voice. I don’t know what it is, but this number is such a gem to me! It’s an important song because we see Elsa and Anna growing farther apart from each other. That’s quite interesting, actually; for such a sweet-sounding song, it does show one of the saddest moments in the film…Not the saddest moment, but do you want to see 2 sisters who love each other be torn apart? I didn’t think so.

3) For the First Time in Forever/(Reprise): I don’t often remember this song, but I know a lot of other people love it. As I’ve said before, though, just because I can’t remember a song doesn’t mean it’s bad. This is a very good song. Aside from the great lyrics and melody, this song shows us how our main characters feel and who they are. Anna is a complete extravert. She just wants to be noticed, to have someone close in her life. She wants to meet people. She wants to be with people. Elsa, on the other hand, is a total introvert. She wants to keep people out of her life. She’s afraid that by letting them in will only hurt them. This song displays that perfectly.

4) Love is an Open Door: This is another good song (get used to that in this review). This goes perfectly with what I said before about Anna being an extrovert. Because she’s so open with people, it makes sense that she’s willing to fall in love with the first person she meets and talks to. “Love is an open door” is pretty much code for “I am an open door,” or “My heart is an open door.” The first time we saw this, however, we didn’t know Hans was the villain. If I can judge this song based on that, it’s a cute song. It’s nice. I hope a lot of people didn’t mentally dismiss this song when they first saw it; this isn’t the first Disney movie to reject the “love at first sight” cliché. We’ve had Aladdin, Mulan, Tarzan, The Princess and the Frog and Beauty and the Beast. It’s a good song.

5) Let It Go: Alright, now we’re here! The most popular pop song to have come out within the past 2 years! As a song for a musical, this song is more than strong. Elsa is finally able to be who she wants to be and do what she wants to do. This is her liberation song. But this song did more for the movie than give us a hit song or serve the plot. This song changed the plot. One of the early concepts for the film included Elsa being the villain. When Lopez and Anderson-Lopez wrote this song, they gave Elsa a voice. They gave her more of a character who could be emphasized with. Because of that, the filmmakers decided to change the story. The song was a game changer in a number of ways. Let’s face it, people, this is a fantastic.

6) Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People: Huh. This is an odd song. I don’t know who asked for a friendship love song between a reindeer and a man, but…thanks? If you are able to get past the strangeness of this number, you’ll find that we do get some character development here. Kristoff doesn’t like people…Yeah…Next song.

7) In Summer: This song could have easily been scrapped from the movie, and nothing would have changed. However, it is a fun song. It’s funny. It’s a toe-taper. It’s enjoyable. It’s surreal. It gets a pass for that.

8) Fixer Upper: I don’t like this song. It’s cartoony. It’s pointless. It doesn’t add anything. Why is it here? For a film this good, I was hoping we could do without a pointless song. Well, we’ve got this one. It is a little catchy and funny, but this did not need to be here at all.

ROMANCE: The romance of this movie is pretty unique. There are two romances to talk about here! I already talked about Anna’s romance with Hans earlier. If it weren’t for that plot twist toward the end of the film and Anna’s extrovert personality, this would be a huge step backwards for Disney. However, Disney’s a lot smarter than we give them credit for. Not only did they dodge the “love at first sight” cliché, but they also mocked this cliché they became so famous for. They say upfront how ridiculous the notion is to begin with. What this shows is the importance of being too open. The “romance” between Anna and Hans shows the danger is blindly trusting somebody. That’s a good message for people, especially this day in age, due to technology, social media, and the modern principles we live by. Alright, that’s Anna’s romance with Hans, but what about her romance with Kristoff? I admire this romance as well! Is it the greatest Disney romance ever? No, but it’s still a good one. I’m sure a lot of people will say these two fell in love by the end of the movie, but I would argue differently. Look at how they set up the lesson. Look at how they keep talking about Anna’s romance with Hans and the result of that. If the film is coming out and saying there’s no such things as love at first sight, I don’t think it’s saying romance can be developed in such a short amount of time either. Yes, an attraction between the two of them is more than possible, and that’s exactly what I think this is. They’re attracted to each other. They’re young, they went on a grand adventure together, they learned a lot about each other, and they saved each other’s life. That’s totally fine! I can see how an attraction could come from that. Maybe they will fall in love (they probably will), but this is fine for now. In fact, this is fantastic! No I don’t believe they’re in love, but I do like their attraction to one another.
Frozen - Romance 2Frozen - Romance 1

CHARACTERS: This is one of those movies that I find myself liking all these characters, at least the ones the movie wants me to like. Let’s go through them.
1) Anna – There are a lot of good things about Anna. I like that she’s funny and quirky. She’s not just clumsy, but she can say some funny things as well. I love her journey and her arc. I love watching her learn what it truly means to love someone. I love her extrovert personality and spirit. It makes Anna so entertaining and fun to watch. We still emphasize with her, though. I want to see her bond with her sister. I want them to be friends again. That really saddens me! Anna is just a wonderful character! She’s engaging, she’s fun, and we can all sympathize with her! Anna is great!
Frozen - Anna
2) Elsa – The first time I saw this movie, I sympathized with Elsa the most. Really, I thought she was the protagonist, the one who the movie was really about. And even though Anna’s the one who has the growth and change in the story, I still sympathize will Elsa the most. I feel sorry for Anna, but GOOD GRIEF, said Charlie Brown! Elsa’s the real victim here! She wants to be close to her sister. She wants things to go back to the way they used to be. She won’t let that happen, though, because she doesn’t want to hurt her sister again. Her sister means so much to her that she would rather avoid making contact with her than hurt her again. But Elsa has another trait that is very relatable to audiences. Elsa has a fear greater than hurting people, and that is the fear of her gift. She doesn’t know how great her powers are. Because of that, she’s afraid of them. I think that’s relatable to a lot of people. How many don’t want to use their talents because they don’t know how great they are? That’s a great characteristic for a character like Elsa. She’s not spewing out jokes or falling on her face like her sister, but her journey to discover who she really is and where she truly belong really captivates me. I love Elsa!
Frozen - Elsa
3) Hans – I have mixed feelings about Hans. On one hand, he is a smart villain. He knew how to work this entire conspiracy against the kingdom of Arendelle so that he could rule. He had a plan, but was also flexible and spontaneous enough to go along with the convenient events that took place. This was a clever guy. On the other hand, though, there are some problems with him. Did he have to wait until Elsa and Anna came back to Arendelle to do away with them? If he had gone after Elsa alone, he could have killed her, come back, and he would have been that much closer to ruling the kingdom. He could have done something else. But putting these things aside, he is a creep, isn’t he? Didn’t he trick you with how nice, thoughtful, and charming he was in the first two-thirds of the film. His meanness might have come out of nowhere, but he showed how cruel he really is – how dark he is. But even then, his character isn’t that interesting. He’s interesting to watch because of the twist in he plot. As a character, though, I don’t know if I want to watch him. I don’t find myself invested in him by that point anymore. I do find issue with him, but it’s mainly in regards to the plot. As a character, I like him; I must say, though, I like him much more as a caring and naïve prince than I do an evil villain.
Frozen - Hans
4) Kristoff – This is an enjoyable character. I do like that he’s a stick-in-the-mud. I like that he’s a loner. One question that was never answered, though, is why? Why doesn’t he like people? Why has he always lived with his reindeer? What did humans ever do to him? If those questions had been answered, I’d be able to relate to him more. As he is, he’s fine. I like Kristoff.
Frozen - Kristoff
5) Olaf – As soon as this snowman comes on screen, you know what he’s going to be. He’s the comic relief. He’s the one who’s going to make us laugh by causing accidents, making puns, and doing and saying over the top things. Olaf definitely lives up to that title. The question, however, would be is he a good comic relief? The answer is a thankful yes! He’s not the funniest character in the world. Some of the things he says and does have no purpose than just to make the audience laugh. However, he does a good job at making the audience laugh. He’s not loud and over the top, and he’s not too distracting from the action and story. I’m not exceptionally excited whenever he’s on screen, but I’m not hoping he’ll leave either. He is a legitimate funny character. He does make us laugh. He’s also adorable. I think half of that comes from his service to the plot and main character, and the other half comes from how naïve he is. He is a fun guy. Olaf is cool.
Frozen - Olaf

STORY AND THEMES & MESSAGES: The story is incredibly strong. There are a couple of problems with it, but it’s fantastic as a whole! I love the set up. I want to see where it’s going to go. I want to see what the outcome of this story is going to be. You probably already know the main issue with the story. Prince Hans’ surprise twist in the third act comes out of nowhere. It works in regard to the theme the film is trying to get across. On paper, it is indeed clever. I even like the subtle set up we get for this twist in the first act of the film. He tells Anna he has 12 older brothers, remember? That’s the reason he plotted this stunt against the Arendelle monarchs. Again, it looks fine on paper. When we see it on screen, however, it doesn’t feel that genius. Rather than being able to totally be invested in this surprise twist, this feels like something that was figured out and crafted at the last minute. It felt as though Hans became the villain because Disney films have villains. I’m not saying this is what happened when the filmmakers were making this film, but that’s what it feels like. There’s nothing wrong with this twist, but it feels like it was thrown together sloppily. Maybe if we saw some other subtle hints that he was a villain, that’d be fine. However, it’s clear that the only real reason for this plot twist was so we could work our way to the message of the film.
I must say, I LOVE the message of this film! This is incredible! It’s exuberant! It’s colossal! I don’t mind the plot twist with Hans if it means I get this amazing message! It’s so rare! When was the last time you saw love displayed like this in a film – especially a children’s film?!! When it was revealed Anna’s life could only be saved by the act of true love and everyone believed she needed to be kissed, I rolled my eyes. “Really? We’re doing this again? Are we really going back to The Little Mermaid stages of true love?” I was really disappointed! But, sure enough, the movie is smarter and more clever then I gave it credit for! To see Anna’s life saved because of her sacrificial display for her sister was beautiful! Really, the message is the best thing about this film. The story is really good, the characters are great, the songs are wonderful, but the message is displayed in such a great way that it makes the film worth the watch!
As I mentioned before, and you may have heard, an early idea was that Elsa would be the villain. She was going to freeze Anna’s heart intentionally, kidnap her, and send an evil army of snowmen to attack Arendelle. I’m glad the filmmakers changed the story. If they had kept this idea, the story would not have meant anything to the audience. The theme was consistent throughout; Anna was always going to save Elsa’s life in the end. If the filmmakers had kept the idea of Elsa being the villain, a wide audience would not have understood why Anna would go to such great lengths to save someone who was so mean to her. I’m not saying that would have been terrible to show, but keep in mind how big Disney’s audience is. Do you think everyone around the world would have been or board with Anna saving someone who wanted to kill her? On top of that, we wouldn’t have been able to sympathize with Elsa. Because of that, the story needed to change. We needed to see Anna and Elsa bond as sisters and love each other. That’s where the heart of the movie is, the bond between the two sisters.
Obviously, the theme is love. However, it occurs in more places than just the end. Elsa distances herself from Anna because she loves her and she doesn’t want to hurt her again. It’s sad and can be avoided, but we see why she did this. Anna, being the extrovert she is, can only love the way she knows how and wants to spend as much time with Elsa as possible. Olaf nearly melts because he cares for Anna and loves her so much. We learn that love is not giving your life to someone blindly. That’s especially important nowadays. Think about how people give other folks all their information online. Think about how some people pretend to be someone else on social media. This film subtly says to be careful of that. It’s not wise or smart to fall for someone you don’t really know, and looks can be deceiving. I really like that.
The message and the ideas are what really make this film great. They truly are the best things about the movie. What makes the film spectacular is that the message and themes are supported by a good story, great characters, music, animation, and an interesting romance. All of these elements combined make this film as great and powerful as it is.
Frozen - Story

CONCLUSION: What can I say, folks? This movie is just fantastic! Yes I’m annoyed that it surpassed the success of The Lion King, and that film will forever be my favorite Disney movie; but this film IS good! In fact, this is basically the Lion King for the younger generation. It’s a big film. It’s enormously popular. The songs are strong. The characters are all loveable. The story is great. The animation is great. It’s just amazing! I do really enjoy this film! I can’t really say it’s one of my personal favorites, but I don’t know how anyone can watch this film and not be impressed by its greatness! Even if people are becoming annoyed by the fact that it’s everywhere, that doesn’t mean that the original content is any less good. I know Disney’s working on a sequel right now, and I’d be interested in seeing it. I do surprisingly see potential in what the sequel could be.
This is my last Disney movie review for now. Some of you might have been hoping I’d tackle Big Hero 6 (Don Hall and Chris Williams, 2014) first, but I haven’t seen it yet; I’ll try to review that later. I’ll be sure to review other Disney films later, but I want to start posting other movie reviews and start going back to posting poems and creative writing pieces. Until then, thank you for keeping up with these reviews, folks! Share your thoughts about them, and keep the magic alive! God bless you all, and I love you!
Frozen - Conclusion

MOVIE REVIEWS: Wreck-It Ralph (Rich Moore, 2012)

Wreck-It Ralph

Much like The Princess and the Frog and Tangled, I was not expecting to like this film simply because it’s a Disney flick. Anytime I heard about the film or saw the positive reviews, I rolled my eyes. “Another Disney movie? Really? I must have forgotten to be interested.” Of course, I accidently saw the film in the spring of 2013 with some acquaintances, and…I think it’s a great film! What can I say? This film is a great film! I was surprised by how good it was! This will be a pretty short review, as there are only so many time I can say something is good. Let’s just shut up and get into the review.

ANIMATION: Remember in my Tangled review when I said I wasn’t really a fan of CG animation from the Walt Disney Animation Studios? This film makes me a fan of it! It does everything I’d want to see in a hand-drawn Disney animated movie! The colors are bright and bold! The backgrounds cause you to get lost in the movie! There’s an excellent balance of brightness and darkness! My favorite aspect of the animation is being able to look at the contrast of colors. You have a character like Sgt. Calhoun, whose design is already dark. Her color tone is dark because she comes from a video game that centers around killing people. It is so cool to see this dark character in the “Sugar Rush” video game, a game that is so bright and colorful! That type of creativity is amazing! It looks so good! It’s fantastic! I love it!
Wreck-It Ralph - Animation

SONGS/MUSIC: Um…Henry Jackman composed the score again…Yay…

ROMANCE: It is a lot of fun watching Fix-It Felix, Jr. and Sgt. Calhoun together! They’re funny, they’re adorable, and they’re so sweet together. Part of what makes the romance work, and funny, is that Felix and Calhoun are two totally different people. Calhoun is dark (not just in color and design, but her personality and back story too), cynical, and tough. Felix is happy, joyous, and excited. Much like Belle and Beast, you wouldn’t expect these people to fall in love with each other, yet they’re the perfect couple! This may be one of my favorite Disney romances…
Wreck-It Ralph - Romance

CHARACTERS: For the most part, these are some pretty good characters. I enjoy watching them, and they do a great job of entertaining me and causing me to emphasize with them. Let’s dive in.
1) Wreck-It Ralph – On one hand, Ralph is like most other Disney leads. He’s the typical nice guy who has some sort of misunderstanding. He’s the one who’s on a quest to prove his worth to the other people around him. He also has to learn how to get along with someone and be less self-absorbed. However, he’s somewhat unique as well. Most of the Disney leads, at least in most of the past films I’ve reviewed, have had to rise and become something greater than everyone else, whether that be royalty, a god, a hero, a leader, or whatever. Here, Ralph has a simple quest: he just wants to be appreciated. He just wants to be treated like everybody else. He wants people to respect him. I think that’s what makes me relate to him the most. I sympathize with his objective. I also like how he still has a heart for other people. Even when his objective was to get a trophy, he still ran the other mean kids away from Vanellope. He’s not a mean person; he’s kind and compassionate toward others. He just wants to be respected, too. I like Ralph.
Wreck-It Ralph - Wreck-It Ralph
2) Vanellope van Schweetz – This character, on the other hand, irritates the crud out of me! I now a lot of people like her, but I don’t. When she first came in the film, she was being such a jerk to Ralph. She took his medal, messed around with him, and left. I’m sorry, it’s hard for me to get past that. An introduction means a lot to me. If you want me to like a character, introduce him or her in a likeable way. This doesn’t work for me. I was really annoyed when the other kids began to destroy her car; I thought, “No! Don’t make me care for her!” I know she becomes nicer over time, but I can’t get over the fact that she was a Class-A jerk at the beginning of the film! Boo!
Wreck-It Ralph - Vanellope
3) King Candy – I won’t talk about this guy too much since I mentioned him in my Top 10 Favorite Disney Villains list. I mainly like this because of his incredible back story! With such a genius set up like that, this character is smart as crud, too! I like that I don’t suspect that he’s the bad guy when he first arrives on the screen. Normally, we can tell who the villain is right away, but there’s a bit of a mystery to it here. We’re left in the dark along with the other characters. It’s a great set-up, and a great character.
Wreck-It Ralph - King Candy
4) Fix-It Felix, Jr. – I don’t know what all to say about Felix. I think if he was the main character, I’d be annoyed with him quickly. His overly happy personality would have gotten old quick. However, because he’s a supporting character, he’s a lot of fun! I like the comedy that comes from him. I like his positivity. I like his voice. I like his personality. Maybe he could have been a good protagonist, in fact; who knows? As it is, he’s a really good character, and I enjoy him a lot!
Wreck-It Ralph - Fix-It Felix, Jr.
5) Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun – This lady is awesome! First of all, she’s a sergeant who comes to kick some major tail! She’s smart, she’s quick, she’s action-packed, and she’s intimidating! I love her! Second of all, she brings a lot of great comedy as well! The back story of her previous romance is tragically hysterical! Anytime she comes on screen, I get excited! I love her! This is one of Disney’s finest female leads!
Wreck-It Ralph - Sgt. Calhoun

STORY: The story is so good, so smart, and so creative, it might be one of the best stories in a Disney movie of all time! The story is the best aspect about the movie, in my opinion! We’ve had movies centered around video games and video game characters in the past, of course, but there is so much creativity brought to this one! The characters in each arcade game can “game hop” to other games. They can meet up in a central area. I was also impressed by the twists in this film. When I saw the reveal of King Candy’s true identity, I nearly lost it! It makes so much sense! It was set up perfectly, and one can see how this could happen! I love the story!
I like the moral of the film. It’s kind of the typical Disney lesson: “Be true to yourself.” However, it’s presented in a different way here. Ralph, who is was the villain in his game, has to accept who he is. Being bad is OK, he realizes. Part of me wonders about this. I’m not going to lie, I can see a lot of kids watching this movie and pursuing their bad actions. On the other hand, I know that’s not the film’s intention. Also, I know that a lot of kids are way smarter than that. I don’t think we have too much to worry about.
I’m not a gamer at all. I don’t play a lot of video games now, I didn’t play video games a lot when I was a kid. I know the really popular characters, but I could not tell you a thing about the plots, motivations, or even the names of video games. That being said, I know a lot of people were upset when they saw their favorite video game characters appear in the film for all of 2 or 3 minutes. They thought these characters were going to be seen throughout the entire movie. Part of the audience felt ripped off. I can see why, but I don’t think there’s anything over to rave and be really angry over. What the film lacks in classic video game characters, it more than makes up for in good characters and a great story.
Wreck-It Ralph - Story

CONCLUSION: I am so glad I was wrong about this movie! In fact, I think this film taught me that Disney films are not all pretentious, cheesy, goofy, and annoying. Many of them are smart, engaging, sympathetic, and fun. I don’t play video games often, and I enjoyed the crud out of this film! If you like video games a lot, you should love this film, even if there aren’t a lot of classic video game characters throughout the film. What else can I say about it? It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it’s smart! It’s everything I’d want in a Disney movie! Ya done good, film. Ya done good.
Wreck-It Ralph - Conclusion

MOVIE REVIEWS: Winnie the Pooh (Stephen A. Johnson and Don Hall, 2011)

Winnie the Pooh

Here we have it, the last American hand-drawn animated film made to date…to my knowledge. I certainly hope this isn’t the last traditionally animated film that’s ever made; if it is, though, it certainly is a nice and sort of nostalgic film to end on! I think Winnie the Pooh is one of those characters that brings people back to a certain age: an innocent, pleasant, and comforting state in their lives. I sure do wish I could relate to that. That’s not to say I don’t know how it feels to be taken back to that period of my life, but Winnie the Pooh doesn’t take me there. I didn’t grow up with this character or his friends. I never read the books, I never saw the shows, and I’ve never seen the movies. I, of course, knew who the character was and would occasionally see a video of his, but I didn’t grow up with him. Therefore, I won’t be drawing too many distinctions between other Winnie the Pooh stories and this film. That being said, let’s go ahead and review this wonderful movie.

ANIMATION: The animation is really good in this movie. The look of this film matches the spirit of Pooh and the world he lives in perfectly: it’s very innocent. You see that in the inside cover of the book at the beginning of the film. I like that the backgrounds are kind of sketchy; that’s a very nice return to the original Pooh film and some of the Disney films around that time as well. Everything, for the most part, looks like it’s hand-drawn, too. Everything in the background (I may even say most things) looks traditional and not CG. That’s very nice, and very rare these days. Everything looks so innocent and childlike, I can’t help but smile as I watch this movie! I also like how the animation style changes during “The Backson Song.” I’ll say it again: if there aren’t anymore American cinematic films in the style of traditional animation, I’ll be very glad to know that this wonderful looking movie was the last one. Well done, movie. Well done.
Winnie the Pooh - Animation

SONGS/MUSIC: The songs in this film are a heck of a lot of fun! They’re just so happy, cheery, fun, and, again, innocent! They certainly do keep me smiling throughout the movie. The songwriters and composer have a difficult task here. In addition to writing music and songs that help accompany the characters and the story (which is hard enough), they also have to embody the spirit of a world and character that are already well known. That’s not easy, but these people do a marvelous job! The film’s composer is Henry Jackman, and the songwriters are Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. A lot of people already know these two would go on to write the songs for another hit movie. I’m not going to spoil it here for those who don’t know already. Let’s just say the review to that film is coming soon. But enough talk – let’s talk about these songs!
1) Winnie the Pooh: There is no way you heard this song in the theater or wherever, and didn’t experience some kind of joy or happiness! Even people who haven’t seen The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (John Lounsbery and Wolfgang Reitherman, 1977), like me, know this song! This number was written by Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, and it embodies everything you want in a Winnie the Pooh story or movie. It’s whimsical. It’s fun. It’s charming. It’s cute. It’s innocent. What else can you say – it’s Winnie the Pooh! Even this pop version is great, and I don’t normally like pop versions of classic songs! This one is still nice, innocent, and respectful of the original! Way to go, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward! Thank you for keeping it classy!

2) The Tummy Song: What can you say? It’s Pooh singing about one of the most important things in the world to him. It’s a very nice song…Yeah!

3) A Very Important Thing to Do: I love that I can bop my head to this song. I love that it’s short and sweet. I love the bouncy music. This does sound like something the Sherman brothers would have written. It’s great!

4) The Winner Song: It’s nice. The lyrics are funny.

5) The Backson Song: I love this song! The lyrics are wonderful, the music is a ton of fun, and it’s just fun to hear what these characters think a backson is and does. Also, it moves the story along…Blah, blah, blah, I don’t care. So long as I get an innocent and fun song in a Winnie the Pooh movie that’s done right, that’s all I care about! Wonderful job, songwriters!

6) It’s Gonna Be Great: Musically speaking, this song is fun. I like listening to Jim Cummings spit out such wordy lyrics along with a quick musical accompaniment. I like the style of music. I like the instrumentation. However, it’s not as fun or memorable as the other songs. It’s a good song…just not as great as the lyrics make it out to be…

7) Everything is Honey: This is as close to a perfect Winnie the Pooh song as a song can get, besides the “Winnie the Pooh” number. I love that it opens with a heavenly and angelic intro, and then moves into a campy, upbeat tune. It is one of the happiest songs I’ve heard in a while. I wish I could write a song so delightful for something I love so much! This song is sweet!

8) So Long: I do like this song OK, but…I don’t get why it’s in this movie. What does it have to do with Winnie the Pooh? What’s the purpose of having it here? Did we just need a fun pop song at the end – any fun pop song? Is it because Pooh has great friends? Is it a song that speaks for Christopher Robin since these characters are his imaginary friends? What’s the purpose of it being here in the film? It’s the song that captures the spirit of Winnie the Pooh the least…at least out of all the songs in this film. I just don’t get the music style, the lyrics, or the tone. It’s a fine song on it’s own, but I don’t think it represents Winnie the Pooh that well.

ROMANCE: Oh…We could’ve skipped right over this section, huh? Well…Pooh is in love with honey. Does that count?
Winnie the Pooh - Romance

CHARACTERS: I’m going to cheat here a little and not talk about each of the characters individually. What would be the point of that? We all know these characters, and we all love them! Pooh himself is one of the most loveable and huggable characters in the world; I don’t know a single person who would be so cruel to say they hate Pooh! Yes he’s kind and caring, but he’s also naïve and very innocent. He has a childlike personality to him – a young child, a preschool kid. Tigger is bouncy (literally and figuratively), Rabbit is hard tempered, Piglet is cute and adorable (done right), Christopher Robin is kind and smart, Kanga and Roo make an awesome pair, Owl is a smart airhead, and Eeyore needs a hug! GOODNESS GRACIOUS! Why is he so sad? What is it going to take for this donkey to smile and be happy? What made him so sad to begin with? Eeyore, I’m so sorry! I’m here for you, man!
I’ll also say this: the voice actors are amazing! Again, they have the responsibility of embodying the spirit of characters we already know and love – characters that date back to before many of us were born! They all did a wonderful job!
Winnie the Pooh - Characters

STORY AND THEMES & MESSAGES: The story is pretty basic and straight forward. Pooh wants honey. Eeyore loses his tale. The characters try to save Christopher Robin from the backson. These are the stories that take place in this film. I like that they are connected, but they’re too spaced out from each other. Of course Pooh’s chasing honey the entire film, but the story with Eeyore stops in the middle of the film to focus on the story with the backson. After that story ends, near the end of the film, the movie finishes with the conclusion of Eeyore’s story. Why did we need to stop the first story? We’re reminded of it a couple of times during the other story, but for the most part it just stops. Other than that, the story is fine.
This film is also very funny. I was surprised by how many funny jokes were in this film. The stories aren’t hard to follow, and they fit the spirit of our characters.
The message is pretty straight forward. Pooh has to learn to put others’ needs before his own wants. It’s a good lesson, and it’s conveyed in a nice way.
Winnie the Pooh - Story 01

CONCLUSION: I know this review wasn’t as analytical as much as it was redundant, but how many times can you say something is good? The movie is just such a good movie! It’s wonderful! Even though I didn’t grow up with Winnie the Pooh and his friends and adventures, but this movie does take me back to being a little kid again! The characters are so innocent. Their adventures are so innocent. The songs are so innocent. The jokes are so innocent. The animation is so innocent. I love that for as innocent as this film is, it’s not pandering! It’s not patronizing adults or children! It’s just the world of these characters. The movie is as good as it is innocent – the goodness of the film lies in how innocent it is. I’m so glad I finally saw this film! It took me back to my youthful place of innocence, and I always love going to that place! I love this wonderful movie!
Winnie the Pooh - Conclusion

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

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