The Pebble and the Penguin (1995)

The Pebble and the Penguin Movie Review……………………………………………………………………….

The Pebble and the Penguin Review

The Pebble and the Penguin is a 1995 animated musical comedy film directed by Don Bluth. It is one of his weaker, but not the weakest entry.

It follows the mating rituals of Adelie penguins in Antarctica. The plot itself is a strange mix of musical and buddy comedy and it doesn’t particularly succeed in any of those genres. It is a so-so film that is far from bad, but also far from particularly good and is just in the middle. That is why it is still far from Don Bluth’s worst works as both ‘A Troll in Central Park’ and ‘Rock-a-Doodle‘ are definitely worse movies than The Pebble and the Penguin.
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You’re either the greatest romantic hero of all time…
or you’re the stupidest penguin who’s ever lived!
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The Pebble and the Penguin Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………………..
Hubie is such an annoying creation. Wow, he really got on my nerves. And having in mind that he is the main character, that certainly was troublesome. Rocko is much better and some of his humor was solid, but unfortunately their relationship and most of their interactions felt derivative and not at all inspired. Marina is boring and all female penguins here are stupid and are just reduced to a love interest status. And Drake has his moments, but is mostly a forgettable villain. Jim Belushi and Tim Curry are the highlights of the cast as they were quite memorable in their roles.
 
The Pebble and the Penguin continues the tradition of well animated Don Bluth works. Yes, it is weaker than usual, but still the colors are nice and some of the sequences are even beautiful with the underwater ones naturally being the standouts. The character design of some of the characters, especially female and villain penguins, felt odd to me. But the movie is mostly good looking and pleasant.
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 The Pebble and the Penguin Movie Review………………………………………………………………………. 
The film as a musical is so-so as most of its songs are forgettable. Forgettable, but not dull as they were much better than some of his previous efforts. The Good Ship Misery is okay I guess as a villain song, but it is seriously lacking in terms of lasting appeal. And the others are not even worth mentioning about. But of course the highlight has to be Now and Forever which is easily the finest song here and the only one that is truly good. It’s such a good, even underrated song that greatly benefited from Barry Manilow’s involvement, catchy lyrics and such a phenomenal opening sequence accompanying it. That opening is easily the finest scene in the movie.
 
The Pebble and the Penguin admittedly succeeds as a children’s movie and it has that nostalgic quality to it which even I who hasn’t grown up with it definitely felt. It is even a guilty pleasure in certain moments. But mostly, it is a subpar, forgettable and too childish flick that is admittedly never boring, but it is also never memorable at all and it rarely has something really good in it.
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 The Pebble and the Penguin Movie Review……………………………………………………………………….
The humor is also forced and annoying. This buddy comedy is never original and never adds anything new to the genre. But the entire plot is the biggest failure here as it is so anarchic and dated, especially in its treatment of female characters and love. The dialogue is also very mediocre. This is the movie that best exemplifies the worst tendencies of the director – copying Disney, but never doing it right and just making a far inferior film than most that Disney has to offer.

The Pebble and the Penguin is a so-so movie that is far from the worst Don Bluth movie owing to some solid animation, a good opening scene and such a good song in Now and Forever, but most of the other songs are subpar, the characters are very annoying, the film is dated in its portrayal of female characters as just love interests and the movie is too childish to be enjoyed more.

My Rating – 2.5

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It’s the Natural Thing to Do (1939)

It's the Natural Thing to Do ReviewIt’s the Natural Thing to Do Review

It’s the Natural Thing to Do is a 1939 animated short from Popeye the Sailor series. It is a very subpar entry that doesn’t utilize its premise well.

Yes, the premise itself is absolutely fantastic and so perfect for this series’ treatment. Bluto and Popeye want to become refined instead of rough and that’s great. But how that plot is presented is very unfortunate. There isn’t anything hilarious here whatsoever and the action is very subpar.
 
I loved the animation and the clothes they wore. Olive was particularly well animated and so funny in high heels and a dress. And she also got some good laughs near the end where she laughed at Popeye’s misfortune. But those two are forgettable in this one and the fight at the end seemed mediocre. It’s such a lost potential.

It’s the Natural Thing to Do had great potential, but that great premise is weakly utilized and we are left with a weaker than usual Popeye entry.

My Rating – 3.8

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WEEKEND INSPIRATION #6

Bol……………………………………………………

WEEKEND INSPIRATION #6

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I sought revenge from my father for giving birth to me. My father didn’t produce eight children.

He killed eight children. I want to leave a question behind me. And I want all of you to ask this question to this society.

The question is why is it only a crime to kill and not to give birth? Think about it.

Why isn’t it a crime to give birth? Ask, why is it only a crime to give birth to an illegitimate child?

Why isn’t it a crime to produce legitimate children and ruin their lives?

Make people understand they should not produce more beggars.

There are already a lot of crying faces and aging lives.

Why do you give birth to them when you can’t feed them?

 

Zainub – Bol

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Sabotage (1936)

Sabotage Movie Review…………………………………………………………………..

Sabotage Movie Review

Sabotage is a 1936 thriller spy film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Sylvia Sidney and Oskar Homolka. It is one of the weakest entries in the director’s filmography.

 

It follows an agent who hides a time bomb in a delivery package to blow up London. Not only is the execution of this plot mediocre, but the story itself is never memorable or intriguing at all. I just was never invested in it. It isn’t a boring movie per say, but it also isn’t particularly involving and it is never riveting.

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Wilful destruction of buildings or machinery
with the object of alarming a group of persons or inspiring public uneasiness
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Sabotage Movie Review…………………………………………………………………..

The spy elements here were quite boring and standard and the thriller elements were lacking to the point of this basically being a spy flick, way more so than a thriller. I was so disappointed by the choice to not have any signature intense scenes that we have come to expect from the master of suspense.

 

All of the characters here are quite forgettable. Neither of them stands out and I only liked Mrs. Verloc as she was the most interesting and most relatable character. And Sylvia Sidney also is the best actor and easily gave the finest performance. The choice to kill Stevie was incredibly unnecessary and that sequence was ultimately so subpar when it should have easily been the highlight of the movie.

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Sabotage Movie Review…………………………………………………………………..

Sabotage is definitely well filmed and it has some very interesting scenes. The cinema setting in particular was great for me and I just loved the inclusion of the Silly SymphonyWho Killed Cock Robin?‘ as that not only warmed my heart, but was also clever as it fitted thematically to the story.

 

Sabotage is solidly scored, but never original at all in its story or characters. And the tone is also odd as it feels comedic at times while mostly being serious and it never strikes the balance. The film is well paced and it has just the right amount of running time and doesn’t feel short. But it never has any momentum to it and not even the ending felt big. That was weird for the director as even his worst movies (‘Murder!) have that suspenseful and memorable ending, but here that was unfortunately lacking. But it isn’t a bad movie, it is perfectly okay. It’s just that comparing it to other 1930s Hitchcock films, it is easily one of the weakest.

Sabotage is well made and it has some quite interesting scenes in it, but it is mostly lacking in terms of suspense, the plot is neither memorable nor authentic, the characters are forgettable and it is so uneventful and never particularly riveting. It is very weak and oddly not suspenseful for the master of suspense.

My Rating – 3

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Mouse for Sale (1955)

Mouse for Sale ReviewMouse for Sale Review

Mouse for Sale is a 1955 animated short that is the 92nd Tom and Jerry cartoon. It is solid, yet disappointing in its ending.

 The plot here has promise, even though it is somewhat similar to some other earlier shorts in the series. But it is still pretty original and it was always fun to watch. But the problem lies in its ending. Yes, it is one of the few shorts in which Tom wins in the end, but that doesn’t change the fact that this particular ending is lackluster. He dances and steps on the mouse’s tail and it was unfortunate that the punishment wasn’t bigger.
 
But it is still good and I liked the use of Joan. Her hitting Tom with the broom repeatedly was funny and Jerry’s taunting of Tom by dancing was very funny and easily the highlight of the entire short. But we’ve seen paint influenced plots before and this one doesn’t add anything new to the table leading to a lackluster entry.

Mouse for Sale is solid and fun, but disappointing in its end scene and not really original.

 My Rating – 3.9

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The Day of the Triffids (1962)

The Day of the Triffids Movie Review…………………………………………………………..

The Day of the Triffids Movie Review

The Day of the Triffids is a 1962 British science fiction horror film directed by Steve Sekeley and starring Howard Keel and Nicole Maurey. It is a solid, if very flawed sci-fi flick.

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Most plants thrive on animal waste,
but I’m afraid this mutation possesses an appetite for the animal itself
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It is basically a disaster story where a meteor shower brings blindness to people as well as an aggressive species of plants that start to terrorize everyone. The story is typical for these types of movies, but is legitimately well executed and rarely too campy, just in a couple of scenes. I really enjoyed this premise. Even though it is typical in many ways, it is still very original for having plants as aliens and as a threat. That was interesting and different than usual.

 

But it still contains way too many unfortunate plot points including the ending which was obviously an influence on Shyamalan’s ‘Signs’. It turns out that sea water can kill these plants and it is a very mediocre choice. It isn’t as bad as the aforementioned movie, but it is still a contrived plot device.

 

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The Day of the Triffids Movie Review…………………………………………………………..

I liked the beginning and I liked that it follows two groups of people and even though they aren’t the most memorable characters, they are still solidly developed for such a short screen time that they’ve got. Bill Masen is typical, but quite memorable and I liked Susan quite a bit. and Tom and Karen are quite a solid couple, but it still annoyed me that the female characters here were so weak and they screamed way too much.

 

The Day of the Triffids is mostly well filmed with some rather solid special effects for the time. The Triffids look quite good owing to some solid make-up. The horror elements are quite good as well, but unfortunately never particularly scary. And it went into campy territory at times, but fortunately it was rare and not as much as it easily could have been.

 

The action is well executed and the film is genuinely entertaining and fun. It is very well paced, solidly directed and acted and the structure of the movie is good with just the right amount of action, disaster as well as horror elements. As science fiction, it is solid, but lacking as there wasn’t enough science here for me.

 

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The Day of the Triffids Movie Review…………………………………………………………..

Let’s talk about that ending. As is typical for the science fiction movies of that time, The Day of the Triffids ended on a very preachy, religious note. And it wasn’t bad, but I still didn’t like it as much as I liked the ending of ‘The Incredible Shrinking Man’ because that ending felt more natural whereas this one was somewhat forced and contrived as is the entire third act. It just felt too aggressive and frankly out of place in this movie. But overall, I liked this movie for what it was and although it is far from the best that 1960s science fiction has to offer, it is still a solid piece of entertainment with its fair share of memorable parts.

The Day of the Triffids is a solid, but very flawed sci-fi flick that benefits from an authentic premise to it, good practical effects, a solid structure and some memorable scenes, but the ending is so forced and contrived not only in its religious overtones but also in the unfortunate sea water plot device plus the horror elements weren’t particularly effective.

My Rating – 3.5

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Easy Street (1917)

Easy Street ReviewEasy Street Review

 Easy Street is a 1917 action comedy short film directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin. It is such an unexpectedly strong, funny entry.
 
The problem with this entry is that it takes its time to get there owing to a very slow, uneventful first half that lacks strong comedy elements. And you can only do so much with a policeman in terms of humor. But the second half fixed all of that with such a superb humor and many great action moments.
 
Yes, Easy Street is interesting for being an action film as well and it surprisingly succeeds as most of the action here is either funny or legitimately well executed. The fights were so good, but the humor is also excellent and I smiled a lot and I genuinely felt good watching the film as it is so endearing. And the Tramp here is especially likable, even more so than usual. His role as a policeman is a memorable one and the ending where he becomes a really great cop is so funny and such a satisfying conclusion.
Easy Street is such a funny, endearing Chaplin short which also contains surprisingly good action sequences.
My Rating – 4.3
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Bol (2011)

Bol Movie Review………………………………………………………………………….

Bol Movie Review

Bol is a 2011 Pakistani drama film directed by Shoaib Mansoor and starring Manzar Sehbai and Humaima Malik. It is such a good, important social drama.

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Why is it only a crime to kill and not to give birth?
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Bol Movie Review………………………………………………………………………….

It follows a religious Muslim family facing financial difficulties caused by too many children. The father wants to have a son, but only got daughters and one of them is transgender. This is basically a feminist propaganda movie with a strong message and is basically a plea for tolerance. While it may seem too political in its tone, I still loved its propaganda approach as it is needed to educate the people of this country and to raise awareness of these issues.

 

Bol is a very dark movie. It was at times quite difficult to watch, but mostly that tone was welcome and much needed for the story that the film told. I absolutely loved how it even deals with a very sensitive issue of transgender people and their rights and it deals with that subject matter very well. But it is above all a call for action to the women in Pakistan. The movie showcased how horribly most of them are treated and it didn’t pull any punches in realistically presenting that. And the ending is so powerful with that very strong message at the end and such a captivating, yet heartbreaking speech given by Zainub and so powerfully acted by Malik. That sequence is tragic and urgent in just the right way.

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 Bol Movie Review………………………………………………………………………….

The characters are also phenomenally depicted and so realistic. Hakim is an interesting example of a very unsympathetic, cruel male character who is still given some sympathy in a couple of scenes and I liked that he wasn’t fully vilified here. He is an absolutely horrible human being, but his struggle with getting with the times is so well presented to the audience, especially in the scenes with the prostitute who is also a very interesting and memorable character. Saqa is a ridiculous character, but those people exist and he is well depicted.

And of the female family members, Saifi is such a tragic figure and of course Zainub is such a great protagonist. I loved the framing device of her telling the story through flashbacks and although I knew what would happen in the end as the movie is quite predictable, I still liked that it started and ended with her in the present. She is such a strong woman, especially for her country and had the perfect characterization for this movie. Mustafa is the weakest link because I wasn’t really invested in his character who also didn’t get a lot to do, but still got too many sequences.

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 Bol Movie Review ………………………………………………………………………….

The acting is powerful. Manzar Sehbai did such a good job, but it is Humaima Malik who was the standout cast member in my opinion. Her speech at the end was electrifying, but her overall performance was grounded in reality and subtle and she was so great which is even more commendable given the fact that she is more a model than an actress.

 

Bol has the running time of two and a half hours and it is never, ever boring, not in the slightest. That is such a huge achievement and a rarity for me as I usually find these very long movies at least somewhat boring at times, but because the pacing is so good and the film is so well constructed, it was consistently involving and it had that feel of emergency and importance to it in that you have to watch it and you shouldn’t miss it. And I really feel like that about this film. It should be seen by everyone as it has such a progressive, important message for human rights and it presents its difficult issues in an unapologetic, grounded in reality manner.

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Bol Movie Review………………………………………………………………………….

The dialogue is so good and all the lines here were so realistically delivered. The emotion is felt and it truly is devastating, but important to witness. The directing from Shoaib Mansoor is so good and even the use of music is solid here. It is such an important and probably groundbreaking film from Pakistan and their great contribution to the world of film. It is one of the most underrated and shamefully not enough seen foreign films and one of the better films of its year. 

Bol is too difficult to watch at times and also too predictable, but it is such a realistic, important and even urgent film that is such a great plea for tolerance and human rights. It is not only superbly acted, but also so well constructed and paced with its very long running time never being felt as it is such a consistently engaging and hard-hitting film. Its importance is evident, its emotion is overwhelming and its power is apparent leading to one of the most underrated foreign films in recent memory.

My Rating – 4.5

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Hello-How Am I (1939)

 More 2 of 1,033 Print all In new window Hello-How Am I ReviewHello-How Am I Review

Hello-How Am I is a 1939 animated short from Popeye the Sailor series. It is an interesting, but very disappointing flick.

 Wimpy masks himself as Popeye in order to get his precious hamburgers from Olive. Yes, that actually happened here and it was weird and hilarious, but also quite original as we’ve never seen a plot like this in a Popeye film before. I really liked Wimpy as I always do and Popeye is so funny in the sequences in which he questions this newest odd development.
 
However, the movie is still so disappointing as it unfortunately never fulfills its potential which is obviously so great in premise. But Olive is so forgettable once again and I really wish that they get her old, memorable character back as she has been quite disappointing lately. But the biggest offender here is that ending which is just infuriating. Popeye just punches him and Wimpy immediately flees and Olive doesn’t even get back. So disappointing.

Hello-How Am I is weird, original and quite funny, but still disappointing, especially in its lackluster ending.

My Rating – 3.9

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Aladdin (1992)

Aladdin Movie Review………………………………………………………….

Aladdin Movie Review

Aladdin is a 1992 animated musical fantasy film that is the 31st Disney film and their second Renaissance film that is one of the best ones of the period.

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Oi! Ten thousand years will give you such a crick in the neck

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Aladdin Movie Review………………………………………………………….

I love the plot here, I really do. What separates Aladdin from previous Disney entries is its Middle Eastern setting which is so intriguing and refreshing to see. It is also very well utilized and certainly well handled. I loved the fictional Agrabah and everything about it as the world building is phenomenal here. The opening is excellent and the framing device with the peddler telling the story is quite well executed.

Then we are introduced to our protagonist in a quick, but successful manner and those street sequences were terrific. The meeting of the two is also superb. The scenes in the cave are fantastic and they benefit from some of the best action that this movie has to offer, so exciting and entertaining. The romantic sequence is the highlight for me as it is just perfect.

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Aladdin Movie Review………………………………………………………….

Some of the next scenes are good, but definitely a bit rushed and the movie would have benefited greatly from a longer running time, at least as far as I’m concerned. The fight is also flawed, but I will talk about it later. But the ending is so charming, so endearing and just such a perfect way to end this flick.

Let’s talk about the characters. Yes, Aladdin and Jasmine (and especially their relationship) aren’t as well developed as Belle and Beast are in ‘Beauty and the Beast‘, but they are still mostly great. The reason why I personally rarely connected with these two is because of their cocky, extremely arrogant nature and they both shared that personality trait which is why they’re so perfect for each other. And although sometimes too cocky, that made them all the more realistic. They have their flaws, but are also inherently kind. And that was well established from the get-go. Their problems aren’t dealt with as much as the film is overstuffed with too much story, but what we got is still pretty good and their relationship is mostly very strong.

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Aladdin Movie Review………………………………………………………….

Yes, Jasmine is one of the more independent and fearsome Disney Princesses and I liked that about her. But I still liked that she wasn’t the focus of the film, but Aladdin and that was great as these types of Disney movies are rarely male-centric and this one separates itself from the rest of the pack because of that.

Now let’s talk about The Genie. Well, he’s an interesting character for sure and some of the choices they made with him were done for better and for worse. He is funny, there is no denying that and some of his lines were absolutely hysterical. However, I know that this is going to be controversial, but I think that the use of Robin Williams as his voice hurt the character in the long run mainly because it brought a very dated, too much of a 90s feel to the movie that should have been timeless. And that is one of my major problems with this movie – it just isn’t as timeless as other Disney classics of the period are.

But even though some of his humor was forced and he was too loud and too emphasized, I still liked him for the majority of the running time, especially because he brought a great deal of development for Aladdin himself. And truly the relationship (read bromance) between the two is just fantastic, so layered and realistic, but also sweet and emotional. They share the best relationship in the movie, much better in my opinion than the romantic one between Aladdin and Jasmine and I don’t know what that says about this movie, but take it as it is.

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Aladdin Movie Review………………………………………………………….

Jafar is mostly great. Mostly, because his undoing near the end is so stupid and so typical and cartoony that it really hurt his villainous status in the Disney history. That is why that fight at the end was so flawed to me. But besides that, he was truly fantastic before and not only was dangerous, but also delightfully menacing and I liked how he was quieter form the usual Disney villain.

Iago is pretty good as his henchman. In fact, he is undoubtedly the most underrated character from Aladdin, the one that surprisingly provided a lot of the humor to the table and who was a great fit for Jafar. The Sultan is endearing and sympathetic as Jasmine’s father and Abu is so good and memorable as an established mute sidekick for Disney. He is notorious for being a thief and all the more memorable for it. Rajah is adorable as Jasmine’s pet, but underutilized. And Magic Carpet is so charming and it is admirable how the animators managed to bring human emotion to a carpet.

Aladdin’s animation never reaches the heights of Disney’s previous two movies, but it is still very strong and at times exceptional. The romantic scene is of course the highlight as it was so well animated and just beautiful to behold, but the character design is also exceptional and it is so admirable how the animation never stayed behind Genie’s vast variety of changes and appearances. That was certainly hard to film, but they managed to pull it off. Agrabah looks great, the scenery is really good and although it somewhat lacks in detail, the animation here is always polished and consistently satisfying.

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Aladdin Movie Review………………………………………………………….

The soundtrack is top-notch. Without a doubt, Aladdin’s soundtrack is one of the finest in the Disney canon as almost all of these five songs are great. Arabian Nights and Friend Like Me are my least favorite songs as the former is functional as a solid opener and is fitting in style to the time period and setting but is never memorable and the latter is certainly fun, energetic and the most inventive scene in the movie, but it relies too heavily on its amazing ending and the rest of it is never as great or as catchy.

One Jump Ahead has an emotional reprise where you get to know the heart of our hero and the original one is one of the most underrated songs of the period because the lyrics are so good and at times wonderfully snarky and funny and the tune is just so catchy. Prince Ali also has a good reprise that is sung by a villain which is so interesting and refreshing, but the original one is the highlight as it has some great lyrics (every song here has phenomenal lyrics, courtesy to one and great Howard Ashman), is accompanied by a fun and colorful scene and is entertaining and catchy to boot.

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Aladdin Movie Review………………………………………………………….

But the standout is naturally A Whole New World which is just breathtaking. It is one of the very best Disney ballads of all time, a song imbued with an everlasting appeal and a timeless quality to it. The animation in this scene is gorgeous, the romance reaches its finest point, the lyrics are wonderful and romantic and the tune is so catchy, but also wonderfully sung and just so beautiful to listen to. Truly a scene and song that both leave a lasting impression.

Aladdin is a technically polished movie with great direction, mostly good pacing, if at times rushed and such a phenomenal acting. Yes, I gave some hard time to Robin Williams, but he is still undeniably fantastic in this role, unforgettable and easily gave one of the finest ever voice acting performances. The same goes for the rest of the cast with Jonathan Freeman as Jafar being the highlight.

The movie does feel to modern at times, but in other scenes, it’s pretty timeless. It is a mix of both done for better and for worse. It is very romantic and so sweet. I loved the humor here. Iago is phenomenal as is Abu and both are great sidekicks. As for Genie, the highlights were some of his lines at the end with the one where he refuses to grant a wish to Ali being just hysterical and such a perfect delivery.

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Aladdin Movie Review………………………………………………………….

The dialogue isn’t the strongest, but it is mostly good. The tone is great and the film succeeds both as a fantasy and as a romance. And as a musical as well in spite of having just five songs. The scenery is great and The Cave of Wonders is so memorable and Agrabah is gorgeous. The fantasy elements are great with the lamp and the magic being so well incorporated. The movie is also very emotional at times with that final scene with Genie being absolutely beautiful. Some of the other highlights in terms of the scenes are the cave scene, the carpet ride of course, the opening and the moment where the two lovers first meet. Overall, Aladdin has its obvious flaws, but is mostly a great flick and one of the better, if not the best Disney entries.

Aladdin is at times rushed, too modern and sometimes quite problematic, but as a whole, the film is a big success with such a great world building, superb animation, memorable characters, inherent emotion, many unforgettable sequences and an amazing, top-notch soundtrack with the highlight being A Whole New World which is a classic Disney song. The film succeeds as a fantasy, musical and a romance, but also as a comedy because it is pretty funny at times. But it is above all a fun and adventurous experience that is one of the best Renaissance flicks.

My Rating – 4.5

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