Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Kiki’s Delivery Service Movie Review

Kiki’s Delivery Service is a 1989 fantasy anime film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is Studio Ghibli’s forth film which is solid, but pretty overrated.

………………………………………………….

Flying used to be fun

until I started doing it for a living

………………………………………………….

Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

………………………………………………….

It follows a young witch in training. She hits her teenage years and moves to a new town where she starts earning money by delivering packages with her broom. She meets a lot of different people and experiences adulthood. It is a coming-of-age flick which should prove awesome for children and most especially little girls, but it is in my opinion too childlike and girly and it doesn’t have the adult appeal that childlike movies such as ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ have.

That is mostly why I didn’t love it. I liked it more upon my second viewing, but I still think it isn’t better than solid. The plot is somewhat non-existent except that it is a coming-of-age story and although it is too slow at times, I mostly liked its casual approach which is the director’s signature direction. He directed the film really well, that’s for sure.

………………………………………………….

Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Of course Kiki not being able to talk to her cat eventually and losing her flying ability was a metaphor for becoming an adult and losing your innocence and I loved that, a very elegant and heartwarming way to state that transition. The movie is slow, but certainly quite sophisticated and although seemingly too sweet, it does portray many different types of people and some not all that good so it does become more mature at some points, but too rarely.

I’ve had a big problem with its ending. Kiki’s Delivery Service is a film that is leisurely in style and pace and thus its climactic ending felt way out of place and honestly quite ridiculous. It is a typical action-oriented finale that should be reserved for all those stupid family flicks made in USA and seeing Miyazaki resort to that was unfortunate.

Kiki is a good character, though a bit too good natured and somewhat forgettable when put against other strong Ghibli heroines. Jiji’s sarcasm proved to be a lot of fun and again I really liked that only she could talk to him. Their relationship pleasantly reminded me of Lyra and Pan’s relationship in ‘Northern Lights’.

………………………………………………….

Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Osono is charming and Ursula shared a really great scene with Kiki and I loved her artistic background. As for Tombo, he is your typical Ghibli male love interest, but their relationship was admittedly quite sweet and touching. The voice acting is expectedly very good here.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is as superbly animated as you would come to expect from the caliber of this studio and its famous director. The character designs themselves are good, but it is the backgrounds that prove to be a real treat here. I absolutely loved how gorgeous some of the imagery was here. I always loved seaside towns and this town being European in style was refreshing to see in an anime film. I loved how the town looked and it felt so cozy, but the house interiors, the food, of course the nature and every little detail was beautiful to witness and Ghibli’s early films from eighties and nineties really do give hand-drawn animation a great reputation.

The score is also very good and grandiose and different in its style which I loved. Its opening and closing number was also quite sweet. The film is definitely wonderfully made technically and both the script and the dialogue offer some gems in terms of the scenes. My favorite scenes are Kiki’s discussion about art and flying with Ursula, her first scenes in a new town were all phenomenal and her scenes with Tombo and Jiji were all big winners.

………………………………………………….

Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

………………………………………………….

So the film is pleasant and charming, but admittedly too slow at times and I honestly thought that the film was way too simplistic and it definitely ended in a very mediocre, frustratingly annoying manner. It is a movie that is perfect for kids and little girls, but it never has that universality to it that other Ghibli classics have. It is the weakest Ghibli outing from the eighties by far and definitely one of its most overrated films. It is solid, don’t get me wrong, but I’d come to expect much greater things from this magnificent studio and this one is certainly way too overrated for my taste.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is expectedly gorgeously and meticulously animated, very well scored, pleasantly leisurely in pace and style with a good metaphor and it is a charming coming-of-age film that is great for children and especially girls, but it isn’t all that appealing to adults, I found its ending annoyingly too climactic and out of place and although the film is definitely sweet and solid, it is far from great and is actually one of Studio Ghibli’s most overrated works.

My Rating – 3.5

Share

Home on the Range (2004)

Home on the Range Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Home on the Range Movie Review

Home on the Range is a 2004 animated musical western comedy film which is the 45th Disney animated feature film and one of their weakest.

………………………………………………….

Call me crazy, but I think these cows got it in for me!

………………………………………………….

Home on the Range Movie Review

………………………………………………….

This is one of those films that are perfect for kids and I could see myself loving it as a child. I do think that kids should see it regardless what adults think and yes, adults are harsh to it. A bit too harsh if you ask me. Yes, it is one of the worst films to come from Disney Animation Studios, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad as even the weakest Disney flicks are passable and okay as is the case with this one too.

The film is a comedy for sure and it is a musical owing to an abundance of songs, but more importantly it is a western film and that is rare for animation which is why I loved those elements here. ‘Spirit’ from DreamWorks is certainly an infinitely better western film, but this one manages to recreate the 1890s period really well thanks to solid imagery and good southern accents.

………………………………………………….

Home on the Range Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The plot itself certainly takes the backseat to all of the action which is a big problem but it has its moments such as a memorable villain, somewhat well executed last chase and a wonderful ending that is emotionally resonant and sweet. But yes, the film is way too short in its running time to be having this much action in it.

Home on the Range features solid characters in my opinion. Not the greatest, but not bad either. I really liked the dynamic between the three cows and they serve as solid protagonists. Grace is somewhat typical, but Mrs. Caloway is charming and Maggie is quite good, though over-the-top at times. The relationship between the two is the strongest in the film and the casting of Judi Dench and Roseanne Barr certainly helped the movie a lot as they’re great.

Buck is annoying, I have to say. He is one of those sidekicks that only kids could like and to the rest of us, he is actually a waste of time here. Lucky Jack also wasn’t all that memorable and those two henchmen had some good moments, but were ultimately 101 Disney henchmen a bit too much. But I have to say that I really like Alameda Slim. He is a good mix of competent and goofy villain and I loved his singing and that it was used as a weapon. That needed to happen at some point in all these Disney musicals.

………………………………………………….

Home on the Range Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Home on the Range has one of the worst animations ever for Disney. I really did not care for it and it brought the whole movie down significantly. It does have some good details and, as I said, the period is recreated rather well, but the only standout scene is the villain song and the rest are forgettable and actually kind of cheap. Not only does the whole movie look too garish in its colors, but also quite unappealing in its characters as their angular designs are rather off-putting. That is something that ‘Hercules’ did well, but this one fails in my opinion.

Easily the standout aspect of the entire film is its soundtrack and the only truly good thing about it. I really liked it and these songs are very underrated in my opinion as they are not only a lot of fun, but refreshingly different in their country genre and fitting to the tone and setting of the film.

………………………………………………….

Home on the Range Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The titular opening number is actually incredibly entertaining and a good opening for a western film, very fitting to its style and I always say that I love when these films pay attention to its time period and setting which this one did tremendously. Will the Sun Ever Shine Again is very much the same case as with No Way Out from ‘Brother Bear’. It is just not needed as we can see the emotions ourselves and we don’t need the song to spell it out for us. Certainly the weakest song here.

Little Patch of Heaven is so good. Again very fitting in style, so well sung and with fine and charming descriptive lyrics, it succeeds as a very endearing and catchy country song and a very good theme for the entire film. Of course the highlight is Yodel-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo. I love this song so much and it is one of the best from Disney’s Second Dark Age. As I said above, it is a very effective scene for our villain and the greatest moment in the entire film, but I just love yodeling so I naturally loved this song as well. Again fitting to the film, it has good lyrics and the tune is just so damn catchy and the visuals are so psychedelic that you gotta love it.

………………………………………………….

Home on the Range Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Home on the Range is definitely too short and actually not all that engaging for that short a running time which is a big problem. The direction is quite weak but at least the performances are good. The dialogue is nothing to write home about too. In the end, it is in my opinion the ‘Oliver & Company’ from the 2000s – a Disney flick which is fun and with a great soundtrack, but so weak in almost every other way that it’s one of the company’s worst movies.

Home on the Range is definitely one of Disney’s weakest films owing to a standard plot, way too much action for its short running time, forgettable supporting characters and garish animation with unappealing character designs. But it is still not a bad movie as it is very good for kids owing to its cartoony and goofy approach, it has good performances and fine protagonists plus its country soundtrack is a lot of fun and quite underrated in its own right.

My Rating – 3

Share

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

………………………………………………….

My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 family fantasy anime film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is one of Studio Ghibli’s loveliest offerings.

………………………………………………….

Well, I’m not sure,

but I could’ve sworn that I saw

both of the girls up in the treetop, laughing

………………………………………………….

My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

………………………………………………….

This has to be Ghibli’s most childlike film and that is okay as it is wonderful and so pleasing and gentle that you gotta love it no matter the age. So basically we follow two sisters as they explore the country and the forest while interacting with friendly wood spirits. Yes, this film apparently doesn’t have a clear storyline, but I have to say that I liked it all the more for it.

In real life, rare are sudden conflicts and there are no villains so this film ended up being rather realistic and an original take on an animated film as I cannot think of any other animated flick that did this. It is a wonderful slice of life story for children and their parents and I myself sympathized with the characters and I loved the country setting. Despite not having a clear plot and goal, the film still explores some themes and the most emphasized are those of sibling love, benefits of living in the country and of course the film is as ecological as you’d come to expect from the director. It reminded me pleasantly of my childhood and seeing the two sisters explore the house and the forest is exactly what I did as a kid so it was relatable to me.

………………………………………………….

My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Let’s talk about the characters. Satsuki and Mei are such wonderful child characters whom I really liked. As with ‘Grave of the Fireflies’, the film showcases realistically and nostalgically the powers of childhood and how children really interact. Everything is a wonder to them, their thirst for exploration is never-ending and they even portrayed realistically how boys and girls do not get along at an early age and how boys are much more shy. Very well done.

Satsuki having  to care for Mei also reminded me of the aforementioned film and it again shows us how responsible the role of an older child really is. Mei is cute and sometimes funny, but also at times annoying. A very grounded in reality four-year-old. I loved Kanta and his shy interactions with Satsuki were very amusing and of course the grandmother is lovable.

………………………………………………….

My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

………………………………………………….

My Neighbor Totoro is a family slice of life film but it is also very much a fantasy flick. Its creatures are so original in design and authentic that they deservedly stood the test of time and are iconic to this day. The dustbunnies are very interesting and the Catbus is such a fantastic creation that is zany in the best way possible. It obviously influenced J. K. Rowling for her Knight Bus. And of course Totoro is such a lovable creature and the mix of cute and large is memorable and he is cute while also being very funny at times.

Hayao Miyazaki directed this film really well and you cannot deny his strong sense of space and time as both the setting and the fifties are very well portrayed here. I just loved everything about this country. The house is quite memorable and of course the forest is beautiful to behold. I loved how we got to see the country jobs and the various amounts of vegetables and fruit shown here can definitely make you hungry.

………………………………………………….

My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Yes, the animation is simply gorgeous as is expected from this magnificent studio. The character design of the humans is very good, but it is the creature design that really makes an impact as it is simple, yet unforgettable. The film is beautiful to look at and again highly advanced for its time as both the water and the light are so realistically portrayed.

As for some of the flaws, sometimes the kids yelled a bit too much for sure and the film can definitely be too simplistic and childish to some. I don’t see how a lot of people can like it. I myself did, but it isn’t for everyone. And even though I really liked the inclusion of their mother’s illness and the third act was more emotional and dark while still ending on a very positive note, I still wished that it was a bit darker and more emotional. I loved the film’s ending for sure, but maybe a more ambiguous ending would have been better.

And I loved the properties of the creatures such as the Catbus flying and Totoro making a tree grow to full size in a matter of minutes, but I still would have liked a bit more explanations and more concise rules for the powers as an adult. Again, that is where being a kid really matters as it leads to a better viewing experience of the film.

………………………………………………….

My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

………………………………………………….

My Neighbor Totoro is very well paced and although it may be too slow for some, I actually loved its languid pace and that meant that you can enjoy the power of the animation much more. The level of detail in this movie is truly staggering. The dialogue is also solid and some lines are quite memorable. And I have to mention its score as it is beautiful per usual but this time containing a song and its theme song is so endearing catchy and ultimately fantastic. The film has a big heart and very much a timeless appeal to it. It is one of the most wonderfully childlike films that I have ever seen and certainly one of Ghibli’s best works.

My Neighbor Totoro is a gentle, leisurely, simple slice of life film that offers you a heartwarming look into the eyes of a child without ever succumbing to clichéd conflicts and villains and thus it led to an original, more realistic take on an animated film. The characters are lovable, the creatures even more so and the animation is as brilliant as you would come to expect from the studio with a painstaking level of detail. It is a beautiful movie that is timeless in quality and it’s one of Studio Ghibli’s best.

My Rating – 4.5

………………………………………………….

Share

Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977)

Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure Movie Review

……………………………………………………….

Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure Movie Review

Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure is a 1977 animated musical fantasy film directed by Richard Williams. It is a pretty trippy movie.

……………………………………………………….

Is this endless eating all there is to be? Or not to be?

……………………………………………………….

Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure Movie Review

……………………………………………………….
This is one of the weirdest animated films that I have ever seen, there is no doubt about it. It is definitely influenced too much by Disney’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and it is infinitely inferior to it in terms of quality, but it is still a pretty good, in my opinion even an underrated flick which surprised me pleasantly.
I could have gone without those live-action sequences and I found the first half to be overly slow and sometimes even dull to be frank. And when it suddenly goes into crazy territory, the shift is abrupt, not subtle at all and it makes you question its direction, pacing and structure which are all rather problematic.
But that second half is so good that it is worth the watch for sure. It has an abundance of either weird or creepy or downright loony characters and that I liked a lot. Yes, it definitely is similar at times to the aforementioned Disney classic, but that movie is obviously the archetype of such stories so that was to be expected. And having in mind that animated films like this are very rare, this one should be appreciated more.

……………………………………………………….

Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure Movie Review

……………………………………………………….
The voice acting is good and I really liked those weird characters such as the Camel and King Koo Koo. And of course the Greedy is quite memorable. Each and every one of those imaginative characters was very interesting and a lot of fun. But the main characters Ann and Andy are flat in comparison and immensely boring.
Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure is obviously a musical as its title says. And I have mixed feelings about this soundtrack. On the one hand, I liked its Broadway feel a lot, but on the other hand, most songs blend into each other as they are mostly too bland and similar.
I’m No Girl’s Toy is catchy, but somewhat annoying. Rag Dolly is also fine, but way too long as most songs are in this film. Camel’s Mirage has good imagery, but that’s about it. The same goes for I Never Get Enough. Two weak songs, but two great scenes. And all of the other songs are very forgettable and overly abundant. But there is no denying the power of Candy Hearts which is a wonderful song and the only song here that reached Disney quality even though its second half is weaker. I loved its lyrics, it is such a catchy tune and the song is sweet and accompanied by charming imagery.

……………………………………………………….

Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure Movie Review

……………………………………………………….
The animation here is phenomenal and one of its highlights for sure. I loved its weird imagery and there are many memorable scenes such as the two aforementioned scenes in the passage above. The character designs are actually rather impressive and the overall animation is quite fluid, inspired and mostly fueling its imaginative action so well.

Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure has a very frustrating lack of structure, the first half is too slow and dull and the main characters are bland, but the other characters are quite memorable and the entire second half is so great in its trippy and weird imagery. Some songs are bland, but some such as Candy Hearts are very good. The animation is simply fantastic and that coupled with its weirdness is a good enough reason to see this crazy, underrated flick.

My Rating – 3.5

……………………………………………………….

Share

Brother Bear (2003)

Brother Bear Movie Review

……………………………………………………….

Brother Bear Movie Review

Brother Bear is a 2003 animated adventure film which is Disney’s 44th animated feature. It is such a shamefully underappreciated film that is the studio’s most underrated for sure.

……………………………………………………….

This year, I lost my dear husband, Edgar.

Stop tellin’ everyone I’m dead!

……………………………………………………….

Brother Bear Movie Review

……………………………………………………….

It follows a young Inuit boy Kenai who out of revenge kills a mother bear and eventually turns into a bear himself and develops a bond with her cub Koda. The story is deep and meaningful and perfect for children, but just fun and funny enough for adults to enjoy as well, not to mention very sweet and moving.

I will later talk about the cruel response the film received, but now let me state my favorite scenes here. The ending, though too happy, is immensely beautiful and highly emotional. I also loved their journey sequence which was accompanied by such a good song and every scene between the two brothers was simply wonderful.

……………………………………………………….

Brother Bear Movie Review

……………………………………………………….

Kenai is such a well developed Disney protagonist who goes through a lengthy change of heart and becomes a better person at the end. Even though that is typical Disney stuff, it is so well executed here that it worked entirely as his shift was smooth and well realized. Koda is one of the standouts as this realistic, bratty and sweetly annoying kid who talks too much. He is a fun and funny character and, as I said above, the relationship between the two is one of the best ever for Disney, heartfelt for sure.

Rutt and Tuke are a mixed bag. I am in the minority when I say that they are the worst part of the film and certainly not the best. They have some funny lines and it is interesting that they are Canadian, but they interrupted the flow way too often, they felt like regular Disney sidekicks that were thrown onto the movie for no apparent reason and mostly they were more annoying than funny.

……………………………………………………….

Brother Bear Movie Review

……………………………………………………….

Denahi and Sitka were solid for the little screen time that they got and Tanana is also a memorable presence who reminded me of Mother Willow from ‘Pocahontas’. But apart from her, I do not get why some say that Brother Bear is a rip-off of ‘Pocahontas’ and ‘The Lion King’ as I just don’t see those connections. And as for those bears in the third act, they were so incredibly funny that they made me laugh quite a lot.

Brother Bear is criticized for having very weak animation but once again I strongly disagree. Its animation is certainly far from great and nowhere near as artistic as you would want from Disney, but it is still in the line of other Disney flicks from the 2000s and certainly not weaker than many of those so I do not see why they chose to trash just this one movie and not the rest. I admired the change in its frame and animation from realistic to cartoony when he turns into a bear, that was very inventive. Although sometimes a bit too colorful, I mostly really liked the look of the film and some of the scenery was lovely. The characters also look good and Koda is very cute. The spirits scenes were the best animated and most visually dazzling parts for sure.

……………………………………………………….

Brother Bear Movie Review

……………………………………………………….

Brother Bear has quite a solid soundtrack which was again needlessly trashed by the critics (see the pattern here). Great Spirits sounds a bit too contemporary, but is a good, catchy opening for the movie. Welcome is somewhat forgettable and No Way Out is a fine song, but it describes the emotions that we see for ourselves on the screen rendering it totally useless.

Look Through My Eyes is wonderful, catchy and filled with fine lyrics and such a great chorus. And of course the standout here has to be On My Way which is definitely one of the finest songs from Disney’s Second Dark Age. It is a lot of fun, immensely catchy and certainly accompanied by a wonderful, important and charming scene. I personally really like Phil Collins and although his work here is of course very inferior to his work on ‘Tarzan’, it was still solid and I wouldn’t mind if we got more of his involvement in Disney productions.

……………………………………………………….

Brother Bear Movie Review

……………………………………………………….

Brother Bear has very good voice acting and it is mostly very well made. Its problems are twofold. One is the ending which was sweet, but a bit too happy and I wish that it was more tragic as somehow the film would have felt better that way. The second problem is the pacing which is all over the place as the first act is a bit extended, though definitely important in terms of storytelling, and the third act is certainly quite rushed. The running time here needed to have been longer.

I thought the action scenes were very well executed and pleasantly reminded me of those dark scenes from ‘The Fox and the Hound’. The film is very dark actually as it features two deaths in its first act and I liked that diverse tone here. The humor is fantastic. That old lady bear talking about his “dead” husband and him telling her to stop was absolutely hilarious and one of the funniest scenes ever in a Disney film. And that other bear suddenly talking in Serbian language was just such an unexpectedly hilarious moment which I just loved. The film was sometimes too simplistic in dialogue, but so incredibly emotional in many of its scenes that it honestly touched me quite a bit.

……………………………………………………….

Brother Bear Movie Review

……………………………………………………….

So, why is it hated so much? I honestly have no idea. I usually do, but this time around, the critics seem to be hating it for no apparent reason whatsoever. Koda’s character obviously influenced Russell from ‘Up’ and the entire bear setup here obviously influenced ‘Brave’ to the point that you can call it a rip-off. So Pixar stole two of its ideas and nobody ever talks about that which is so frustrating. But the film has 38% on Rotten Tomatoes which is just horrible leading to what is in my opinion the most underrated Disney film ever that is along with ‘Lilo and Stitch’ and ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ the only legitimately good film from their Second Dark Age.

Brother Bear is weakly paced and the ending is a bit too happy, but the entire story is sweet and wonderful and it is filled with very likable characters with the relationship between Kenai and Koda being heartwarming. The film is frequently very touching, but it is also very funny with at times hilarious lines and also often quite dark. The animation and soundtrack are also quite solid. So the film is one of the best and rare legitimately good films from Disney’s Second Dark Age and in my opinion it is, out of all Disney movies, their most unjustifiably trashed upon and shamefully underrated.

My Rating – 4

……………………………………………………….

Share

Ballerina (2016)

Ballerina Movie Review

……………………………………………………….

Ballerina Movie Review

Ballerina is a 2016 animated musical film. It is a solid, but deeply flawed and ultimately quite disappointing film.

……………………………………………………….

I will take you to this dance school

and you will become the greatest dancer ever!

……………………………………………………….

Ballerina Movie Review

……………………………………………………….

A poor orphan girl dreams of becoming a ballerina and eventually achieves her dream and beats the other girl and dances in front of the crowd. Very clichéd stuff and actually this is one of the most clichéd animated films in recent memory. And also the most predictable as I knew everything that would happen in each and every one of its plot points. This story is well told, but in an overly familiar manner and thus ruining the potential to become truly meaningful and touching.

The characters are also pretty typical. Felicie is such an annoying protagonist and I just did not care for her. Odette is much better and much more likable. Victor I disliked at first, but he grew on me later on. His sidekick friend can be pretty funny here. Of course Camille is typical and especially her mother is awfully clichéd as this over-the-top villain.

……………………………………………………….

Ballerina Movie Review

……………………………………………………….

The voice acting is one of the worst things about Ballerina, quite mediocre. I guess some are fine here such as Dane DeHaan, but others such as Elle Fanning are very weak, uninspired and just the voices themselves were overly modern. The entire movie suffers from being too hip where it should have been more traditional to go in line with its time period.

Ballerina is definitely very well animated and its animation is certainly the best aspect here. I liked the characters, but the interiors and especially the nature and the city were all gorgeously animated. The dance movements are also fine and of course I loved those aerial scenes. The film does look really great.

I also liked its score. It is too modern, but still pretty solid. It does sound and look good, but I just wish that the dialogue wasn’t as uninspired and as simplistic as it turned out to be. Some of the lines spoken here were awfully corny. But the humor is actually pretty solid as the second half has its funny moments.

……………………………………………………….

Ballerina Movie Review

……………………………………………………….

This is a Canadian-French co-production and, just like ‘The Little Prince’ from the year prior, it was done in English with their voice talent. I disliked that so much here as the film revolves around Paris and thus French would have suited it much better and the film would have been infinitely better had it been in French. But besides from that, it is a solid film. I gave it a hard time for its immense clichés and somewhat typical characters, but still some of those characters are very likable and the film is very entertaining and it definitely won me over near the end. It could be quite charming when it wanted to be and some scenes are just very beautiful, not to mention gorgeously animated. Had the script been better, it easily could have been great, but this way, it ended up being just solid.

Ballerina has some likable characters, but others are overly typical. The plot is beyond clichéd and predictable, but the film is entertaining and charming to watch. The voice acting is pretty mediocre, but the score is good and the animation is frequently gorgeous. In the end, it is a film that is perfectly solid, but just never as good as it could have been.

My Rating – 3.5

……………………………………………………….

Share

The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)

The Emperor's New Groove Movie Review

……………………………………………………….

The Emperor’s New Groove Movie Review

The Emperor’s New Groove is a 2000 animated comedy film. It is Disney’s 40th theatrical animated feature and one of their most underrated for sure.

……………………………………………………….

Uh-oh.

Don’t tell me. We’re about to go over a huge waterfall.

Yep.

Sharp rocks on the bottom?

Most likely.

Bring it on

……………………………………………………….

The Emperor's New Groove Movie Review

……………………………………………………….
I love this movie so much. I love it mostly for the humor, but let’s first talk about the plot. It is a pretty good story, though standard and overly familiar. Not to mention predictable. But I liked its zany, goofy nature in pacing, humor and animation and that mix of familiar ideas and cartoony style was great.
To me it is one of Disney’s most entertaining films of all time and maybe even the most fun. It is fun and wonderful from beginning to end, I loved its emotional approach and I loved that it was so well paced and always very well crafted in terms of storytelling and character development.
Kuzco is one of Disney’s finest characters ever! Yes, he is that good and, needless to say, thoroughly underappreciated. I loved his smart-ass, charismatic and narcissist personality and he truly is a great anti-hero. He certainly changed to the good side a bit too much in the end, but it was still done in that heartwarming Disney fashion so I personally didn’t mind.

……………………………………………………….

The Emperor's New Groove Movie Review

……………………………………………………….
Pacha is kind of boring, but still an essential character for this movie and although on his own he isn’t as memorable, he is great with Kuzco and all of their shared sequences were outstanding. This is by far one of Disney’s most memorable and greatest duos as they are so fantastic together. I loved how their relationship progressed and it felt natural and emotionally rewarding.
Yzma is brilliant! Yes, she is also extremely underrated and one of the studio’s most interesting and entertaining villains. I loved her cartoony and over-the-top character and of course her relationship with Kronk is superb. Speaking of him, he is a typically dumb cartoon character who is always extremely stupid for sure. But Patrick Warburton elevated the material and of course he’s got many great lines. He is typical, but still so funny that I loved him regardless.

……………………………………………………….

The Emperor's New Groove Movie Review

……………………………………………………….
This is a chamber piece and only these four are utilized properly and I liked that as it led to such a great characterization for each one of them. But the rest of Pacha’s family is endearing and of course Bucky the Squirrel stole the show in those small scenes that he got. And I have to mention the other actors besides Warburton as they all did a great job. Eartha Kitt lends such a memorable voice to Yzma, John Goodman is as good as usual and of course David Spade stole the show in such a memorable, charismatic execution of his dialogue.
The Emperor’s New Groove succeeds as Disney’s finest comedy as it not just funny from start to finish, but frequently hilarious even. Thanks to a superb dialogue above all and strong characterization and good script, the film manages to utilize superbly all of its amusing scenarios and to play it for laughs beautifully. It is such an energetic and brisk movie that is almost always extremely funny which is such a huge accomplishment.
The squirrel scenes were so funny in their silliness, Yzma got some pretty great moments and I loved how she was turned into a cat with that funny voice. Kronk of course is very funny and I personally loved his cooking lines the most, so funny. Pacha is too much of a straight character, but that is still needed for such a heavily comedic movie. Naturally Kuzco is the funniest and most charismatic presence on the screen and my favorite scene in the movie is the waterfall sequence which is filled by some of the funniest dialogue exchange I have ever heard.

……………………………………………………….

The Emperor's New Groove Movie Review

……………………………………………………….
Of the two songs there are, I found Perfect World to be a forgettable song as a whole, but it still was fun, catchy and fitting in style to the movie and was a good opening number as storytelling and character development is concerned as it wonderfully introduces you to its main character in the quickest way possible. And My Funny Friend and Me is again forgettable, but featuring moving lyrics.
I truly admire The Emperor’s New Groove and it is quite possibly the best Disney film of the 2000s which was an incredibly weak year for the studio, but here they knocked it out of the park. However, it is still far from their best output mostly because it is at times too different from their style and almost feeling like a DreamWorks film plus it is a silly comedy with no songs and big heart which you expect from Disney. And it is predictable and it loses some of its steam near the end as it is an overly fast paced film.

……………………………………………………….

The Emperor's New Groove Movie Review

……………………………………………………….

But it is still mostly well executed, directed and edited. I loved the performances and I also really liked its animation which was weird, but interesting and different. I liked its angular character design and all characters look authentic and recognizable with Yzma’s design being the finest. I loved some of the imagery and the film’s cartoony animation style I ended up liking a lot despite it being lacking in artistry.

The Emperor’s New Groove is certainly too fast paced and predictable, but still hugely entertaining and funny from beginning to end and even frequently hilarious owing to its many unforgettable, hysterical lines. The character development is superb and all four of the main characters are quite unforgettable. It truly is one of the best animated comedies ever and one of Disney’s most underrated films.

My Rating – 4

……………………………………………………….

Share

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Grave of the Fireflies Movie Review………………………………………

Grave of the Fireflies Movie Review

Grave of the Fireflies is a 1988 anime war drama film directed by Isao Takahata. It is Studio Ghibli’s second film and one of the most heartbreaking animated films ever.

………………………………………

Why must fireflies die so young?

………………………………………

Grave of the Fireflies Movie Review………………………………………

It follows two siblings as they try to survive during the final months of World War II. It is a very serious film and is actually one of the most mature animated films of all time as even live-action war films rarely are this tragic. To me the film does not have a high rewatchability factor and surely I do not plan on seeing it again soon as three times is quite enough for now. Watching it for the third time, I was again overwhelmed and even disturbed and the film is definitely better to be taken in small doses which is not a problem as some films are too tragic to be watched many times and this is such a film.

………………………………………

Grave of the Fireflies Movie Review………………………………………

The film is so deep and heartbreaking in its ending and that wouldn’t be achieved had it not been for the previous two awesome acts. Grave of the Fireflies acquaints you with its two protagonists so well and it gives you many touching, sweet and even beautiful moments before overwhelming you with tragedy later on. And that was essential as it made the tragedy all the more powerful and everyone should feel it.

I am one of the rare people who did not cry during this film, but it came pretty close to making me cry. I loved its structure with the same beginning and ending. The highlight was definitely the burning of the body sequence as it is so terrible and fueled by that haunting score, it manages to totally crush you. The same goes for the scene where she wants to eat rocks out of despair and of course the part where we see Setsuko run around their place and disappear like a ghost. Those three scenes are so horrible, but they are not cheap and manipulative because, again, they were earned through some extensive character work and built emotion before.

………………………………………

Grave of the Fireflies Movie Review………………………………………

I am talking about the firefly scenes, especially the one where they find a bunch of them. Visually arresting and simply beautiful in every way, that was the only truly happy scene in the entire film and it made the rest of it feel like an even bigger nightmare. The quote about fireflies dying so quickly is also deep and truly phenomenal as the film’s theme. Fireflies area  a great metaphor here, but the visual detail of that box of candies was an even better and smart touch as it came at just the right parts in the story and it always felt important. To me it just might be the most memorable thing about the entire film and that says a lot.

Seita is excellent and Setsuko is so sweet. I just loved their relationship and it goes to show how terrible it is for parents to have children with big age gaps as the responsibility of parenthood befalls to the older child and he becomes a third parent in a way. But it also shows us how beautiful that can be and truly Seita’s love for Setsuko and her dependence on him is truly moving to witness. They share a great, evident bond and the huge power of this movie mostly stems from that bond.

………………………………………

Grave of the Fireflies Movie Review………………………………………

There aren’t a lot of supporting characters in Grave of the Fireflies as we only see their aunt get a significant role and she is good at first, but becomes horrible later on. She seemed realistic, but my only gripe with the movie is the fact that that farmer did not want to give Seita food even after he told him his sister is gravely sick. That felt unrealistic in my opinion as even the biggest piece of shit person would help two children, not to mention during wartime. But maybe I am mistaken. However, that part still felt not real to me personally.

Their father dying in a battle and of course their mother dying in front of our eyes was a terrible thing to witness. That scene with her entirely bandaged was just horrible and one of the most disturbing and maybe a bit too realistic scenes in all of anime, not to mention animation. But it was still needed as Seita needed to get used to the horrors of war quickly. It shows us how the effects of war can be horrible to children and pitying the innocence of children against the horrors of war has been done before, especially in the world cinema of the fifties and sixties (‘Ivan’s Childhood‘ and ‘Forbidden Games‘ immediately spring to mind), but it was never done in this great a manner and this just might be the best war drama ever made as it is that strong.

………………………………………

Grave of the Fireflies Movie Review………………………………………

Grave of the Fireflies is technically superb as the voice acting is excellent and Isao Takahata’s direction is amazing and he certainly is one of my favorite anime directors. The score is so powerful and haunting in quality that it propelled those tragic scenes to even more difficult to watch and exhausting parts. Its theme is truly gorgeous and unforgettable as it sticks with you long after you’ve heard it. The editing is also great as the film is slow, but never boring. As for its animation, it is awesome as the beauty of fireflies is definitely brought home in that arresting scene, but the war horrors are also conveyed well through the use of realistic details. I loved the look of the characters and in particular its attention to detail and color palette were great.

With many simply horrible to witness sequences that stick with you long after you’ve seen it, Grave of the Fireflies truly is a deeply tragic, devastating film that is all the more powerful as the emotion in the last third is earned thanks to its great character work, build up and many beautiful bonding scenes between the two siblings portrayed before. The animation is excellent and the direction from Isao Takahata is superb and he is one of my favorite anime directors, but it is its score imbued with a haunting quality to it that makes those tragic scenes even more unbearable to watch. It truly is one of the best animated films of all time and it might be the finest war drama ever made.

My Rating – 5

………………………………………

Share

Treasure Planet (2002)

Treasure Planet Movie Review…………………………………………………

Treasure Planet Movie Review

Treasure Planet is a 2002 animated science fiction film which is the 43rd Disney animated feature. It is a solid, but very flawed film.

…………………………………………………

Look at you! Glowing like a solar fire.

You’re something special, Jim. You’re gonna rattle the stars, you are!

…………………………………………………

Treasure Planet Movie Review…………………………………………………

The film is basically a modern retelling of Treasure Island, but set in space. That is a high-concept idea of mixing old with new that is pretty clever in my opinion, but it’s a shame that it was never executed to the fullest degree. It never utilized on its great potential. In my opinion, Disney copied Star Wars too much here with all the robots, space adventure and weird alien designs. The film is engaging to watch and sometimes quite charming, but it’s just never as adventurous as it should have been.

The characters are a mixed bag here. Some work, others not at all. Jim Hawkins is a solid hero as he is more modern than usual for Disney. I also liked that he wasn’t as heroic and as good as usual and that was refreshing. He is definitely an even more modern version of Aladdin. John Silver is excellent and he is the finest character here without any doubt. I loved his accent and his constant shifting from good to bad was very interesting to follow. The relationship between the two again reminded me of ‘Aladdin’. In that film Al and Genie were best buddies and their friendship seemed like a bromance. Here it is exactly the same and although not done as well, they are still a very charming, wonderful duo and the heart and soul of this film.

…………………………………………………

Treasure Planet Movie Review…………………………………………………

Delbert Doppler is a hit-or-miss character who still could be funny at times and Captain Amelia is a tough female character and of course Emma Thompson killed it in the role, but the two just weren’t as well developed as they should have been which is a shame as both had potential. But their pairing was fun. And even though I liked Emma in this role, it was still too obvious that it was her and to me the voice casting here should have went to the unknowns.

Mr. Arrow is underdeveloped, but his death was still pretty tragic. Jim’s mother is typical, but still it was great that finally a Disney hero has a mother and the fact that his father did not die but left them was also pretty refreshing. Scroop is a pretty striking spider villain and some of his scenes verged into horror territory which was an interesting and ultimately successful approach. Morph is so cute and I loved all of his scenes. His design is interesting and he’s a wonderful sidekick. The same cannot be said for B.E.N. who is such an annoying robot that is an obvious rehash of C3PO from Star Wars that it was quite shameful. His jokes did not work and he was so annoying and unnecessary that he totally ruined the second half of the movie.

Treasure Planet is beautifully animated as it features a very pleasing mix of hand-drawn animation with computer generated imagery. The use of Deep Canvas from ‘Tarzan’ is also put to good use. I loved the looks of the different aliens and especially of the ship itself. The color palette is gorgeous as the extensive use of blue and purple was great as it led to a pretty interesting looking and different film.

…………………………………………………

Treasure Planet Movie Review…………………………………………………

But it’s such a shame that, as I said in my review of ‘Atlantis’, Disney just never managed to properly make an ”anime” film which is basically what they tried here. The attempt is certainly admirable, but only half-successful unfortunately.

As for its score, it is excellent and its theme is very uplifting and memorable. Whenever it appeared in the movie, it lifted those scenes emotionally. And its basically only song I’m Still Here is an interesting departure for Disney as it is a rock song for once. I liked it personally. It isn’t great, but it is catchy and serves its purpose in terms of emotion for the relationship between Silver and Jim.

…………………………………………………

Treasure Planet Movie Review…………………………………………………

Treasure Planet isn’t as emotional as it should have been overall and only the main duo provides charm and emotion here. The humor is hit-or-miss. The film is awfully frenetic in pacing and the action is solid, but certainly overwhelming. The film is not well edited at all and the entire second half is rushed and not as great as the build-up demanded it to have been. Overall, it succeeds as a solid and even underrated in a way sci-fi tale (similar in quality to underrated ‘Titan A.E.’), but it is still far from great and another proof that Disney never quite managed to make a successful movie when it departed from fairy tales and animal pictures.

The bromance between Jim Hawkins and John Silver is interesting and charming, the visuals are frequently mesmerizing and the film features a fine mix of new and old ideas. But it has too much action, it is badly paced and the supporting characters are not as memorable. It was also influenced by Star Wars a bit too much. So Treasure Planet is in the end a solid and admirable sci-fi effort, but a very flawed one indeed.

My Rating – 3.5

…………………………………………………

Share

Castle in the Sky (1986)

……………………………………………

Castle in the Sky Movie Review

Castle in the Sky is a 1986 animated adventure film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is the first Studio Ghibli feature and one of their best in my opinion.

……………………………………………

There’s nothing worse than having your pigtails shot off!

……………………………………………

Castle in the Sky Movie Review……………………………………………

The plot is so good here. The film is a fantasy, but above all one grand adventure film and rarely have I seen this spectacular an adventure before. Such an amazing experience this movie provides. As is the case with most Miyazaki films, this one features a strong ecological theme and message to it which was great. The film is admirable for being very long, clocking in at two hours which is quite a lot for an animated film, but here it was worth it as the story is so majestic and big that it needed this much time to be told.

The beginning is intriguing and I liked how it started briskly and with an action sequence. Then the rest of the first act was a bit slow, but that was essential for providing character development, atmosphere and build-up. The second act is very good and that is where we get some of the best moments from the pirates. And of course the third act is the highlight as we finally see Laputa. It was fascinating to see the entire island and city on the sky. The details are remarkable, but more on that later. I loved the ending with the spell of destruction being used. It was dark, tragic and yet necessary.

……………………………………………

Castle in the Sky Movie Review……………………………………………

The character development in Castle in the Sky is solid, but not the greatest. To me Sheeta is a typical protagonist, but an interesting case of a strong female character and sort of a Studio Ghibli princess. Pazu is a bit boring and too good, but he serves his purpose. The two are too heroic and sometimes bland, but the relationship between the two is sweet and they got some charming moments together.

As for Colonel Muska, he is a typical over-the-top and power-hungry villain. However, the fact why I liked him quite a bit lies in the twist in his background which was well executed and in his actions which were capable and he actually was a very competent, strong villain who posed some serious danger for the protagonists.

……………………………………………

Castle in the Sky Movie Review……………………………………………

But Captain Dola is easily the highlight. Her entire pirate team is a lot of fun and I love her dynamic with her sons and husband. But she is so interesting and unforgettable not only in her looks – pink pigtails is a refreshing look for an old woman – but also in her character as she is good, but still treasure-hungry and she ended up taking a lot of treasure from Laputa in the end. She is simply hilarious and all of the film’s humor comes from her and her many funny lines. She is certainly one of Ghibli’s best and most endearing creations.

The animation in Castle in the Sky is something extraordinary. As I said before, the world building here is simply amazing and the attention to detail is unprecedented. But the animation is so great that it managed to give us all of this world in the best way possible – through old-fashioned hand-drawn style. The character designs are good, the use of color is great and Laputa is breathtaking to witness. I loved its original look, those robots also have an authentic look to them, the nature is beautiful here and the city and its magical properties are so well explored. Everything looks gorgeous in the titular castle, but Pazu’s village is also beautiful to witness and very cozy. This film honestly has one of the best animations ever, that’s how powerful it is. Not only wonderful and detailed, but also stylistic and even artistic. It’s certainly miles above anything Disney produced during this time.

……………………………………………

Castle in the Sky Movie Review……………………………………………

Castle in the Sky sometimes has overwhelming action for sure, but still that action is surprisingly well executed and it is in fact one of the best action oriented animated films. A lot of the set pieces such as the train scene and the final confrontation on Laputa are instantly recognizable and so well done. The movements are polished and the action is as exciting as the story is engaging.

And the score, oh how wonderful the score in this movie is. It is honestly breathtaking and timeless in quality as it lifts the material and animation to even greater heights and having in mind that both were excellent to begin with, the end result is nothing sort of astonishing. A perfect, well rounded package this film is. The entire score is great and I loved the song in the end, but naturally its theme is the standout here – simply gorgeous and unforgettable. Whenever it appeared in the movie, I was mesmerized.

……………………………………………

Castle in the Sky Movie Review……………………………………………

So it has its problems such as the protagonists and the dialogue should have been stronger as the script demanded it, but the message is great and this is an ecological movie done right. To me this is one of Hayao Miyazaki’s finest movies and a proof of how strong his direction could be. It is also one of Studio Ghibli’s best and such a phenomenal first feature for this amazing studio.

Castle in the Sky has weaker main characters, but the villain is solid and Captain Dola is one of Ghibli’s funniest and most endearing characters. The story here is excellent, so well told and with a great ecological message. The score is simply beautiful, the world building is extraordinary and the animation is artistic, meticulous in detail and simply mesmerizing leading to one of the best animated films ever in my opinion. It is such an epic, grand adventure that is one of Miyazaki’s best and such a terrific first feature for wonderful Studio Ghibli.

My Rating – 4.5

……………………………………………

Share