Frozen (2013)

Frozen Movie Review

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Frozen Movie Review

Frozen is a 2013 animated musical film which is Disney’s 53rd animated feature. It is a pretty good, competent, but still very flawed and ultimately somewhat overrated movie.

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He’s crazy.

I’ll distract them while you run

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Frozen Movie Review

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The story follow the fairy tale The Snow Queen but just barely and is basically so different from it that it might be considered to be an original film. I liked the story though it definitely felt rushed and undercooked in some places. It is adventurous, heartwarming and magical just like most real Disney classics are, but it is just never as great as it could have been.

The beginning is overly drawn out but definitely very intriguing and seeing the two girls separated was heartbreaking. I loved the magical elements and the first act is long, but sets up the rest of the movie pretty well. The coronation day was great, Elsa and Anna’s argument is memorable and Hans being portrayed as so good and innocent at first is a big plus.

I will later talk about the ice palace creation sequence when I talk about the song itself and in detail. As for the first scenes with Kristoff, they are all very charming and some of the best here. I loved the scene at the Wandering Oaken’s shop and the scene with the wolves. This is the most adventurous part of the film and it should have lasted longer.

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Frozen Movie Review

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The scene with the two sisters arguing is the second best of the film and actually pretty amazing in its own right. I loved that it involved singing for storytelling and dialogue and the intense build up to the eventual tragedy is superbly done. Marshmallow got a pretty fun scene, but the troll sequence is somewhat of a detour. The capturing of Elsa is excellent and the film needed more action and more usage of her powers such as in that scene.

Hans revealing his villainous side was done wonderfully and the entire third act is pretty good and exciting. The twist with the true love being that of two sisters instead of between a man and a woman is interesting and ultimately quite memorable and groundbreaking in a way. The ending with the ice skating was sweet.

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Frozen Movie Review

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Frozen has many plot holes unfortunately. It is a good, wonderful story, but so undercooked and you can see that it was reworked extensively for many years up to its release. How Elsa got her powers and why only she has them is never answered. And do not get me started on the parents. They were horrible to their children by separating them and I guess that in that day and age, they might be much worse in real life but the film tried to make them sympathetic and it failed and thus their death was not all that felt and of course as obvious and as expected as any Disney parent death. And what Elsa ate in that ice palace and how she intended to survive there remains a mystery to me. And who ruled the kingdom when they were little and parentless. And why doesn’t Kristoff recognize Anna as an adult? The film is sloppy in terms of storytelling.

The characterization is very good on the other hand. Elsa is underdeveloped when compared to Anna, but it works in the context of the story that she is somewhat of a mystery and I liked that Anna is basically a protagonist here. Elsa is mysterious, elegant, powerful and I loved her ice powers and it was convenient and quite ingenious how her problems can relate to basically any minorities/special needs persons.

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Frozen Movie Review

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But Anna is actually the better character. I love Anna honestly. She is your wonderful Disney Princess but different than most as she had to learn what true love is and how you cannot fall in love in the first day of meeting the prince. The deconstruction of Disney’s true love concept is modern and although too on-the-nose, it still worked and was clever. The film is sometimes overly feminist in an aggressive way, but it is still very nice that we got a Disney movie that centers on sisterhood.

Anna’s spunky behavior is great and she has some wonderful, funny lines in the film. Her journey and character progression is excellent and her interactions with everybody, especially Elsa and Kristoff are superb. The relationship between the two sisters is problematic yet very sweet just like in real life which is why it resonated with so many women out there.

Kristoff is very likable and it was interesting that talking to animals was portrayed as somewhat crazy here. Honestly, the movie felt so anti-Disney at times for better and for worse. But Sven is endearing and Kristoff is a great Disney love interest and he and Anna share a fantastic relationship.

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Frozen Movie Review

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Olaf is honestly pretty annoying at times, but also quite funny in a couple of scene with some hilarious lines. He is your typical overly modern and aggressively funny Disney sidekick, but I didn’t hate him surprisingly enough and I ended up mostly liking him. Duke of Weselton is annoying and basically just a decoy so we wouldn’t suspect Hans who is honestly very good as a villain. I really enjoyed the villain twist here. It was overdone in the next movies such as ‘Big Hero 6’ and ‘Zootopia’, but here it fully worked and I loved it. But I still think that men in this film are either villainous or crazy which remains a problem.

Frozen has very good, though not amazing animation. Some of the backgrounds and interiors were not as detailed as you would expect from Disney and the character design is mostly typical. But the CGI is excellent and the ice palace creation is the biggest feat of animation wizardry accomplished here. The ice looks amazing and the film was one of a few animated films that was ripe for computer animation as the ice needs the CGI and every icy scene was beautiful here.

Frozen is a musical and a very problematic one. Basically the structure of the film is all wrong. It makes the fatal mistake of putting most of the songs in the first act and the rest of the film is mostly devoid of songs. That made it seem very uneven. And I still do think that only one song here is great.

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Frozen Movie Review

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Frozen Heart is your typical opening work/local people Disney number that serves its purpose, but is forgettable. Do You Want to Build a Snowman? is actually quite sweet and the most childlike song here. It is a great plot point, but overly short.

Love Is an Open Door is so mediocre. I do not like it at all and it has a pretty weak, annoying chorus and it sounds way too modern. Definitely it serves its purpose in terms of storytelling, but as the actual piece of music it is rather weak.

Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People is extremely short and unnecessary. Fixer Upper is so annoying and possibly the worst scene in the film. The song itself is quite weak and uninspired. The same can be said for In Summer which is basically a detour as we already know that Olaf wants warm hugs and yearns for summer and we did not need a whole number for it, especially such a weak one.

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Frozen Movie Review

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For the First Time in Forever is the second best song in the film and I really like it. It isn’t the catchiest song, but it does accompany a great early scene, it has very good and at times even funny lyrics and a pretty fine chorus. I loved the grand ending to it. Also, the reprise is beautiful and, as I said before, it is the second greatest scene in the film.

And of course Let It Go is the greatest song in the entire film and one of the best Disney songs of all time. Words cannot describe how great this number is, but let me try. First off, the lyrics are absolutely amazing and it is probably the deepest Disney song ever, the one with which everyone can relate to. The singing by Idina Menzel is amazing and it is the kind of grand Broadway number that was mostly absent from Disney in recent decades.

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Frozen Movie Review

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The chorus is amazing and the finale is absolutely spectacular! It serves as a powerful vehicle for Elsa; it is the moment where the film just stops and your breath is simply taken as the overall sequence is spectacular in terms of characterization, music and storytelling. That beautiful gown was created here, the classic song was created here and one of the best Disney scenes too. History was certainly made here.

Frozen features excellent voice acting. Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff are very good, but Idina Menzel and especially Kristen Bell shine here. The film is well directed, but weakly paced. The dialogue is solid, but overly modern at times with too much new jargon in it. The film doesn’t pay much attention to its time period as it does to its setting. Overall, the film remains a phenomenon, but a highly flawed one. A wonderful experience, but when you look at it through the critic’s lens, you can see its many flaws easily. It surely is one of the worst Disney revival entries as it cannot compare at all with ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ and ‘Tangled’.

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Frozen Movie Review

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Frozen is a good, but highly problematic movie. The animation is not as detailed, but it is frequently gorgeous. The story is very intriguing and memorable, but full of obvious plot holes. The dialogue is overly modern and, although refreshing, sometimes the film was aggressively feminist (all men in the movie are either crazy or villainous) and deconstructive. The characterization is admittedly excellent with Hans being a very good villain (the twist was great), Kristoff is very likable and of course Anna and Elsa are wonderful characters and their sisterhood is beautiful to witness which is the reason why the film touched so many people. The songs are actually rather weak as only For the First Time in Forever is quite good and of course Let It Go is an amazing, simply fantastic song accompanied by a spectacular, iconic sequence. The film is frequently very adventurous, charming or even funny, but mostly rushed in pacing and problematic in structure owing to it having been extensively reworked on for many years. In the end, Frozen reaches greatness in a couple of truly special scenes, but for the most part it is a very uneven, troublesome film which ranks among the weakest Disney Revival films.

My Rating – 4

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Spirited Away (2001)

Spirited Away Movie Review

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Spirited Away Movie Review

Spirited Away is a 2001 anime fantasy film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is the best Studio Ghibli film and one of the best films ever made.

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Once you do something, you never forget.

Even if you can’t remember

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Spirited Away Movie Review

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I have seen Spirited Away at least three times by now and upon this fourth viewing I again confirmed its greatness. Rare are films that get better and better upon each subsequent viewing and this is one of those films. It has an amazing replay factor. I have always watched it in a dubbed version as that is how I first saw it so I cannot comment upon the Japanese sub acting, but the dub is actually one of the better anime dubs.

Let’s first talk about the story and the highlight scenes. This film is obviously influenced by ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and it is a much darker, much better crafted version of it. It managed to eclipse that story due to a sheer epicness of it. It feature an amazing use of Japanese mythology and spirits and every creature here looks great and is highly memorable.

The beginning is excellent and very eerie in its atmosphere. Highly mysterious and otherworldly. All of Chihiro’s first sequences in this world are great and a wonderful build-up for the rest of the story. As for the stink spirit scenes, they are slightly extended, but still very memorable and the character is fascinating. So the film sometimes feels like a series of vignettes, but those vignettes are all fascinating and the editing is great so it still ended up being tight and well structured.

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Spirited Away Movie Review

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Then the story gets much more intriguing with the introduction of Yubaba’s sister. The second act and mostly the latter half of it features a terrific use of build-up to the action and it rises the tension and stakes superbly.

Of course my favorite act is the third one as it is the culmination of everything we had learned previously about this world. That train is just breathtaking, those travelling scenes are transcendent in quality and the imagery is unforgettable.

Then we have the greatest scene from this film which is of course the goodbye scene between Zeniba and Chihiro and then the marvelous dragon flight which includes a great realization and an excellent, fascinating answer to the mystery of how she and Haku met. The final test was great and of course everything about that ending rings awesome. Beautifully filmed and immensely resonant in terms of emotion. The film reward you for taking this long trip with such a moving, deep final scene.

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Spirited Away Movie Review

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Let’s talk about the film’s characters. Chihiro is a one of a kind protagonist and quite possibly the studio’s best creation. She is spoiled, clumsy and childish at first, but upon taking this amazing, fantastical journey, she becomes much more independent, stronger and more responsible and brave. It is an archetypal hero’s journey, but the one done infinitely better than most as it takes its necessary time to develop and thus feels all the more special.

Haku is also excellent despite appearing in not so many scenes. His mystery backstory is intriguing and very well resolved and his dragon form is striking and his job is very well utilized. The relationship between him and Chihiro is never overly emotional and just right.

Yubaba is such a hilarious character. At first menacing and all-powerful, but later deconstructed to a mean old lady. I loved her interactions with each of the characters. Her giant baby is so funny and her story with Zeniba is realistic and a lot of fun. Her sister is the polar opposite of her and a good witch. Loved her and her heartwarming relationship with Chihiro.

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Spirited Away Movie Review

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No-Face is fascinating. He is a famous Japanese spirit, but he can be interpreted as being the metaphor for loneliness which many of us deal with and people are struggling much more these days and thus he is very relatable and endearing. I loved his many forms and how his backstory remained a mystery. I also loved that he stayed with Zeniba in the end as both need some company. Certainly the film resolved each of the characters’ stories successfully.

Boiler Man is very sweet and caring and I just loved everything about his working steampunk environment and those employees of his are so incredibly cute and feisty. Chihiro’s parents serve their purpose and to me Lin is wonderful as this on surface calculated, yet ultimately very caring and good friend to Chihiro. Every character here is great and every spirit and creature is memorable even if they are not too present.

Spirited Away features absolutely breathtaking animation. What is there yet to say that hasn’t already been said? This film utilizes on the power and pure imagination and art of hand-drawn animation superbly and rare are animated films with better animation than this one. Only Walt Disney’s earliest films can compare honestly.

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Spirited Away Movie Review

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The film is colorful in just the right amount, it is both dark and light in equal amount both in terms of animation and atmosphere and it has absolutely terrific character designs with each spirit being fascinating, different and unique. The humans also look great. The various sets are amazing, each one of its locations is beautifully explored and mesmerizing and the action is so well executed.

It has some of the best world building that I have ever witnessed. I felt as if I really went into this spirit world and I felt as if I also learned something and became more adult just like Chihiro. The movie gives the child in all of us the opportunity to dream again and because it is so dark and serious at times while being funny and lightweight at other times, it manages to be perfect for both children and adults. A perfect mix of everything that the best of animation can offer.

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Spirited Away Movie Review

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In terms of the humor, it succeeds. It is rarely used, but quite enjoyable and endearing when it happens. I loved the cutesy factor here, but I also admired the inherent darkness of this world as well as it reach themes which span from growing up to greed (best exhibited in those bathhouses) to environmentalism (refreshingly subdued here for Ghibli) to Japanese folklore. The film truly is very smart and consistently deep and transcendent.

The action is never overwhelming and is excellent and sparingly used. The runtime of two hours is perfect for this film and it never feels long despite for animation long runtime. That is because this world and this story are so rich that they needed more time. And the pacing is excellent.

The tone is diverse and the score is phenomenal! I loved this score and in my opinion the dragon flight scene is the best scene in the movie not in small amount thank to that gorgeous, moving and highly transcendent score which is honestly magical in its quality.

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Spirited Away Movie Review

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The attention to detail is magnificent, the dialogue is terrific and the film is unforgettable in its every aspect. Hayao Miyazaki directed Spirited Away marvelously and it clearly is a work of art and magnum opus from this famous director who was clearly making a masterpiece here. It thankfully got its Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and it is critically acclaimed for all the obvious reasons I stated above. It is the best that both Studio Ghibli and anime have to offer and one of the best overall film of all time.

With breathtaking, absolutely wondrous animation, stellar direction, meticulous world-building with an overwhelming attention to detail, terrific character development and extremely powerful score which is honestly one of the best in film history, Spirited Away is an undisputed masterpiece and one of the rare films that can easily be called art. The story is well crafted with great influences, a diverse tone which ranges from cute and endearing to dark and atmospheric, high emotional resonance and a great character journey for the protagonist. The film manages to be magical, sometimes serious, at times funny, but always engaging and simply fascinating. The entire, wonderful new world is created here with an impeccable attention to detail which is a reason why it has such a lasting appeal and endless replay factor. Consequently, it is a pure masterpiece and undoubtedly one of the best film ever produced.

My Rating – 5

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Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

Wreck-It Ralph is a 2012 animated fantasy adventure film which is the 52nd Disney animated feature and one of the best of all time.

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Because if that little kid likes me, how bad can I be?

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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Yes, I absolutely love this film!! This is one of my favorite Disney movies which is definitely in the top 15 Disney films list for me. The greatness of this movie lies in its great replay factor. This is the third time I’ve watched it and it is even better now than it was before and every next time I watch it, I put it a little bit higher on my Disney list.

It is about an arcade game villain who wants to become a good guy and be respected as everyone else. He sets out to get a medal in another game, befriends a young girl and uncovers the conspiracy behind the whole Sugar Rush game. To me this film has that wonderful, traditional friendship and heart at its core, but is set in a modern video game world and thus it achieves a perfect mix of contemporary and old-fashioned.

It is without any doubt one of the most original films of the decade as its plot is absolutely brilliant and so incredibly authentic and inventive. It is an action-packed, but always entertaining and heartwarming film and always so original in almost every way. It features some of the best and most intricate world building that I have ever seen as every little detail is thoroughly thought out here and all of those 80s video game references should prove delightful for their fans.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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The beginning features narration, but is essential here and thus a good choice. I loved everything about that Game Central Station as it was brilliantly conceived and I just loved the rules of this universe. The human players play them and everybody has their own role but if they step outside of their own game, they could die for real and not regenerate. Great rules.

Hero’s Duty is not my favorite scene as it was too dark but still refreshingly so for an otherwise lighter film. The danger there was well conveyed and the first person shooter elements are so well realized. I loved how Ralph and Venellope met and those scenes where he builds a kart and teaches her how to race were wonderful.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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Ralph breaking her kart was such a dark, unexpectedly brutal sequence which was emotionally devastating and one of the movie’s highlights for sure. I loved the mystery here and how Ralph uncovers it, the twist with the villain is actually very interesting and well executed. The final race was fine, but the twist with Venellope being a princess was actually fantastic. The fact that they managed to sneak in their usual princess formula into this different, non-princess film is highly admirable as that development honestly worked. Loved it. And of course the ending is one of my favorites as seeing Ralph watch Venellope from his arcade and the two smile and wave was just so emotionally rewarding and I was incredibly moved by it which is a testament to how strong emotion and characterization here is.

Yes, the character development is superb across the board as is the voice acting. Ralph is one of the best Disney protagonists in my opinion as he is that great. He is relatable, very well developed and likable without being too heroic. John C. Reilly was perfectly cast for this role and he did a phenomenal job.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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Venellope von Schweets is even better! She is again not too likable and a realistic modern kid, but so well developed and I admired how the two shared the same dreams and goals and that strengthened their relationship. She is such a moving character with a terrific backstory and their friendship is the heart and soul of the entire film and its driving force. Sarah Silverman’s husky voice bothered me at first, but then I grew to like it and she really did an outstanding job in the role.

Fix-It Felix Jr. could have easily been an insufferable, one-note character owing to his inherent heroism but I loved that Ralph was the protagonist and he was in the back and he definitely became better and better as the movie progressed. His relationship with Sergeant Calhoun is so silly, but it honestly works. She is a very memorable, strong female character and they are the exact opposite of each other but that is maybe why their relationship felt so entertaining and strong. And I loved her backstory. This movie is a textbook example of how to properly do character backstories.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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All of the other characters are not all that memorable though they did serve their purpose really well such as all of those bratty girls, henchmen and of course the various famous video game characters were so well incorporated with the highlights being Q*bert who is so cute and tragic and Zangief who is absolutely hilarious.

As for King Candy, I honestly wasn’t thrilled with him. I have to be honest. He is the weakest aspect in the film and he really held it down quite a bit. Now I loved his backstory which was once again very strong and the twist that he is Turbo is great, but the problem with him is that he is obviously meant to portray a feminine gay guy stereotype and this is the 2010s and this type of villain is no more excusable.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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The animation is fantastic in Wreck-It Ralph, absolutely gorgeous. It is undoubtedly the finest computer animated film so far from Disney because the character design is very strong as all characters look very authentic and the way they movie and look is very much like a video game character fittingly. But the film is so polished, it looks fittingly modern and high-tech and I adored how colorful it is, especially Sugar Rush. The film looks beautiful and is a rare movie that gives CG animation a good name. Plus those video game scenes were fittingly very retro and realistic.

Wreck-It Ralph isn’t perfect. The villain is weaker, the action is at times slightly overwhelming and the humor could be immature (some of the banter between Venellope and Ralph was too childish). But most of the other humor is actually very strong and the action is mostly fantastic and a lot of fun to watch. The film is briskly paced, but never rushed and it is an absolute blast to watch. It is unfortunately over too soon and you want more so I am glad that we are getting a sequel as this world is just so rich with endless possibilities.

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Wreck-It Ralph Movie Review

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The film has no songs but it doesn’t need them as it isn’t suited for a musical. That one song from Rihanna is here (Shut Up and Drive) and I wasn’t a fan of it nor was I the fan of the other songs with the only exception being Celebration which was well incorporated. The score itself is terrific and pleasantly retro which I loved, especially in those earlier scenes. It is a memorable film with strong dialogue, amazing world building and very high emotional engagement as some scenes moved me so much. Needless to say, it is, along with ‘Tangled’, the best modern Disney film.

The characters in Wreck-It Ralph are amazing despite a weaker villain. Fix-It Felix Jr. and Sergeant Calhoun are such a fun couple and of course Venellope and Ralph are the heart and soul of this film. The animation is so beautiful and so phenomenal that it gives computer animation a good name for once. The emotion is overwhelming and some scenes moved me tremendously. And above all else, it is fueled by one of the most original and intricately plotted stories in recent memory filled with excellent character backstories and simply extraordinary world building. It has its small flaws, but it is mostly a brilliant film which is, along with ‘Tangled’, the best modern Disney film and one of the best of all time as well. A future classic that only gets better with each subsequent viewing.

My Rating – 4.5

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My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)

My Neighbors the Yamadas Movie Review

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My Neighbors the Yamadas Movie Review

My Neighbors the Yamadas is a 1999 anime comedy film directed by Isao Takahata. It is Studio Ghibli’s most underappreciated film.

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My father and mother and grandma and brother all got lost

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My Neighbors the Yamadas Movie Review

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This film is for better and for worse a series of vignettes. That means that it has no story, but just various unconnected segments that tell the tales of the Yamada family through hardships and foolishness. It may seem at first that it is too disconnected, but I honestly found it thematically connected as the film shows the power of family and that the family union can help you stay afloat in this dark and cold world.

Let’s first talk about the characters and then I will touch upon its segments. There are basically only five characters in this movie and those are all the Yamada family members. I love movies with less characters so naturally I really enjoyed this one as well.

Nonoko is their five-year old daughter and although she was less prominent in the second half of the movie, she was wonderful in the first half and so incredibly funny at times. I really liked her and she is such a wonderful kid. Noboru isn’t as likable and is more typical, but still really well developed and his romantic as well as school problems were really well portrayed.

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My Neighbors the Yamadas Movie Review

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Takashi works too much to support his family whereas Matsuko is very much just a housewife so in that regard the film is overly archaic in gender roles and family structure. However, they are still both amazing characters. He is relatable for all great workers whereas she is pretty funny as this clumsy and forgetful housewife. The relationship between the two is great as it is such a realistic marriage filled with love and respect but also childish arguing and bickering.

Of course Shige is the highlight. She is the grandmother in the family and, ironically for the oldest member of the family, she is the most energetic and the most lively of the bunch. And needless to say, the funniest. She made me laugh the most with her many funny lines and actions. And the fact that she is the most adult and responsible and that she basically brings the whole family together was a strong statement on how important the elderly can be. Loved it.

As for its segments, the beginning was too silly and not my favorite. The family losing Nonoko in the shopping mall is easily one of the strongest segments here as it shows how irresponsible parents can be but in a very lightweight manner. Their scenes in the car are great, but Nonoko’s scene with that little, also lost, boy takes the cake as the funniest and most wonderful for sure. She thinks the family is lost and not her and thus they so amusingly and realistically show us the childlike innocence and cluelessness.

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My Neighbors the Yamadas Movie Review

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The next scene shows how the entire family is unorganized and how everybody wants to do their own thing and nobody wants to do the cleaning. Again another truthful segment. The next segment is all about the Yamada marriage and how chaotic it is. The standout scene is the remote sequence as it was hilarious seeing the two fight over TV. A typically silly anime humor is used here to elevate the material superbly.

The male bonding is also pretty solid as a story about the age gap and the distant relationship between fathers and sons. The next two segments focus on Takashi being a great father model but nobody notices that. The next two segments (umbrella and sushi) aren’t as essential but the breakfast scene is hilarious as always having the same meal is unfortunately very relatable to me personally.

Ginger Morning is so funny! It basically showcases the forgetful nature of all five of the Yamadas to a hilarious effect. A great use of situational comedy. The next two segments are about Noboru (school and romance) and although quite well executed, they are not my favorites as he is my least favorite character in the film.

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My Neighbors the Yamadas Movie Review

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The next couple of vignettes center around wonderful Shige and the highlight is the scene in which she takes back the ball that went over the fence to some kids and rewards them with another ball but the two boys eventually come asking for that ball. I laughed out loud here. Such a funny scene. And of course the grandma taking the action against bikers into her own hand was a great subversive scene where the woman takes action instead of the father figure.

The business speech of Takashi’s was very good and of course the ending is so great as it utilizes the power of Que Sera, Sera. I love how Ghibli once again used one of my favorite songs in their movie after Take Me Home, Country Roads in ‘Whisper of the Heart’.

My Neighbors the Yamadas features a very different animation from the regular highly stylized anime style of their other efforts and thus this makes it unique and singular. It employs computer animation in the creation of watercolor, comic-strip style in its animation and the results are wonderful despite the excessive use of the color white. I loved its fluid and simplistic look and the character design is excellent.

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My Neighbors the Yamadas Movie Review

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So My Neighbors the Yamadas is a very uneven film with uneven pacing and quality of the segments which is to be expected from its vignette format. But it is still such a good film that is probably the studio’s most underrated and it was much better to me upon second viewing. It employs a very good score and superb dialogue with many memorable lines. It has no story, but it is observational in message and themes and everyday life thanks to its wonderful slice-of-life storytelling. And the humor is just magnificent and I laughed more than a couple of times. It is another strong work from great Isao Takahata.

My Neighbors the Yamadas is probably the most underappreciated of all Studio Ghibli’s films. Its approach as a series of vignettes instead of a full story definitely led to its uneven quality and pacing, but the film features such a unique watercolor, comic-strip style to it and a superb dialogue and excellent humor with many hilarious lines and situations. The Yamadas are such a wonderful, relatable and endearing family and I’ve spent such a wonderful 100 minutes with them.

My Rating – 4

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Winnie the Pooh (2011)

Winnie the Pooh Movie Review

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Winnie the Pooh Movie Review

Winnie the Pooh is a 2011 animated family comedy film which is the 51st Disney animated feature film. It is such a pleasant, childlike, wonderful flick.

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Oh thank you, Christopher Robin.

And now I don’t think I shall be

hungry again for a good long while.

Oh bother.

Silly old Bear

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Winnie the Pooh Movie Review

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The plot is very simple. The Hundred Acre Wood residents embark on a quest to save their friend Christopher Robin from an imaginary friend. He left a note that he would come back soon as he went to school and our heroes misinterpreted back soon as Backson the monster. Meanwhile, Pooh deals with his hunger issues and Eeyore has lost his tail.

Needless to say, this is a highly simple plot, too simple and lacking in any real conflict whatsoever. It is predictable naturally how it will end and it doesn’t have any real stakes. However, that is mostly a positive thing as thus it led to a much more charming, simple and childlike adventure which should prove awesome for both children and Pooh fans.

I liked the entire first act and of course the ending is simply beautiful in its imagery and sweetness with a phenomenal final dialogue. I really enjoyed the Eeyore/Tigger subplot as their pairing proved to be excellent, funny and sweet. A clever clash of personalities. Pooh’s quest for Honey provided us some excellent and amusing scenes. But what is easily the finest scene in the entire film is the sequence in which everybody is in a pit and it is up to Piglet to save them. The combined stupidity of Piglet and Pooh with Rabbit’s frustration made my day as it was hilarious.

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Winnie the Pooh Movie Review

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Let’s talk about Winnie the Pooh’s characters. The greatest thing about this film is how all of its characters are basically intact and they felt like their classic counterparts from the sixties and seventies. That was amazing to witness in 2011. It does have too small set of characters and maybe one new character was needed, but its small set led to better development for everyone so I am not complaining all too much about it.

Pooh bear is as cuddly and as lovable as usual. He is still not my favorite character in this franchise, but here he was better than usual actually as many of his lines were immensely funny and he made me laugh how silly and stupid he is. And I loved his quest for honey and how it led to him becoming a better person and realizing that Eeyore’s tail is more important than his meal and he eventually did get a reward for his good heart. This is a great message for kids.

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Winnie the Pooh Movie Review

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Tigger is as awesome as he always is. He continues to be my favorite character and here he got a pretty good ark for himself. I would have liked to have heard the entire The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers song but the bit that I got was still nice. As I said above, his pairing with Eeyore proved to be a winning streak in terms of the humor and heart as they were wonderful together.

Speaking of Eeyore, he is strong here and his depression is high per usual. That one line in which we learn that he is still not happy after getting his tail back, but he says that the tail is fine was very funny and quite in-character. Piglet is funny and likable and as for Christopher Robin, he is fine, but not present all too much this time around.

Kanga and Roo are as forgettable and as underutilized as usual, I liked the narrator as his narration was mostly excellent and sweet and the post-credits scene where we get to see the real Backson was such a fun, inventive and memorable scene. Owl is even more insufferable than before in this movie as he deliberately stole Eeyore’s tail and that felt excessive, even for him. And of course Rabbit is quite good and very funny when dealing with the never-ending stupidities of Pooh and Piglet.

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Winnie the Pooh Movie Review

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Winnie the Pooh features beautiful animation. Yes, most people think that ‘The Princess and the Frog’ is the last traditionally animated Disney film, but that title belongs to this 2011 charmer. I absolutely adored this animation. It may prove too old-fashioned and simplistic to some, but to me that choice was fitting as anything else would be bad for this property. The character design is strong, the use of color (especially yellow) is accomplished and the film has such a fine classical feel to it not just in designs, but also in backgrounds, colors and the movements. The use of the book and its letters was also superb.

The soundtrack is unfortunately the film’s weakest aspect, I have to admit. The Tummy Song is fine, but short and a too typical Pooh song. A Very Important Thing to Do definitely gave me a strong 60s and 70s vibe, but it is again too short and forgettable. However, I did like that all these songs employed the old-fashioned tone to them.

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Winnie the Pooh Movie Review

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The Backson Song is pretty solid, but definitely lacking in comparison to Heffalumps and Woozles from the previous Pooh movie in the canon. It’s Gonna Be Great is okay and particularly strong as an emphasis on Tigger’s character, but it felt very repetitive to me.

The Winner Song is very annoying and I really disliked it and how it was repeated for so many times. And I have to say that the only pretty good song in the movie and the only standout one is Everything is Honey. This is a very fun, catchy tune which is accompanied by gorgeous honey and pots imagery and it is the kind of detour that is very successful, entertaining and a superb character moment. And the titular song sung by Zooey Deschanel is solid, but the original was much better.

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Winnie the Pooh Movie Review

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This movie is very short, clocking in at just an hour with the credits included. But even though it was very short, it was sweet and very engaging. The humor is actually stupendous as it made me chuckle quite a number of times and the dialogue is pretty strong. The voice acting is very good across the board with only Christopher Robin’s and in some way Tigger’s voice being not that great, but Jim Cummings is amazing as Pooh. Overall, it is such a wonderfully traditional, very good film which is a great return to an old-fashioned Disney film even if it falls short in comparison to ‘The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh’.

Winnie the Pooh is a very short, but sweet flick. This 2011 Disney outing is wonderfully and competently traditional in every sense as both its characters (Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore are the highlights) and animation were pleasantly old-fashioned. This is regrettably the last hand-drawn Disney film and it looks simply beautiful with a wonderful use of color and a great simplistic approach to it. The soundtrack is weak and the plot is overly simple and lacking in any real stakes and conflict, but the film is pleasantly childlike, sweet and charming with a surprisingly strong humor with many funny lines. It is an often overlooked, but very strong Disney entry indeed.

My Rating – 4

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Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

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Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

Lady and the Tramp is a 1955 animated romance film which is the 15th Disney animated feature film. It is a classic film which is flawed, but immensely charming.

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Now, here you are-a, the best-a spaghetti in-a town

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Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

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The story here is, like most dog pictures, animated or not, pretty straightforward and simple, but it serves its purpose and is a joy to watch. There is sometimes a lack of goal and the pacing can be slow as it drags at some parts, but the protagonists more than make up for it. They are incredible, both their relationship and their evident chemistry. Their romantic sequences are the highlight of the film.

There is the spaghetti scene which is incredibly romantic and simply charming with a wonderful animation and propelled by an outstanding song. It is inarguably the most famous scene in the whole film and one of the most iconic romantic moments in film history. Everything about that scene from the visuals to the setting to the characters to the music is perfect. The movie just stops there and leaves you overwhelmed with emotion and charm.

But the scene where Tramp shows her the town and the opposing theme of life with humans versus life in the wild is greatly explored here and is such a great look at those very different types of lifestyles. It is a standout scene with charming animation that works both as a plot device and a character study.

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Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

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Lady’s interaction with the humans is also very well done. From the moment she arrives, the first night where she does not want to sleep alone up until the changes in her life when the baby arrives, all those things are realistic and done in a great manner. And her intention to save the baby from the rat is very endearing and heartwarming as well as her naming of her owners. The film does dogs really well from the movements to the behavior. It shows why they are so beloved and that is why this film is one of the essential dog pictures for dog owners and why upon more viewings and after having dogs myself, I appreciate it much more than before.

The third act is definitely too bombastic and they did not need to add all that tension when the film’s simplicity was so elegant before. And the rat was ridiculously villainous. But there are some great scenes in there with Jock and Trusty and the finale was beyond sweet.

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Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

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The zoo sequence is definitely a detour as it dragged way too much and it has animals that are all dated stereotypes in their representation. The beaver is typical and forgettable and scenes such as this really weigh the movie down in my opinion.

The characters in this movie are mostly well developed, especially the protagonists. Lady is very kind, romantic, caring and of course, as the name suggests, very ladylike and polite which is thanks to her being raised by humans. Tramp is very friendly, cunning and of course mischievous and laid-back, the qualities he earned from living on the streets. Their juxtaposition is typical of romantic comedies but timeless and with the fun twist that they are dogs.

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Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

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Jock and Trusty are the sidekicks here and their care for Lady and their friendship is very endearing. They can be repetitive and too old-fashioned, but still highly likable. As for the human characters, they serve their purpose, but the dogs are the focus here. But Tony as this Italian guy who befriends Tramp and gives him food is wonderful and I liked him a lot. As for Aunt Sarah, she’s your typical old lady who hates dogs.

Si and Am are the Siamese cats and they are probably the worst part in this movie thanks to their annoying voice and song and very racist overtones. They are clearly meant to be some sort of villains here because the movie has no real villains and that is perfectly fine because it does not need one (and the addition of these two as well as the rat at the end was obviously unnecessary), but those two are awful, especially nowadays because every Asian and of course cat owner could (and should) easily get offended by them.

The animation in Lady and the Tramp is still nowhere near the quality of that of ‘Pinocchio’ or ‘Snow White’, but it is still one of Disney’s best owing to some incredibly beautiful and artistic sequences including a wonderful stylistic opening. It is colorful, but not garish, with great outdoors cinematography as well as excellent character design.

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Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

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This is the kind of hand-drawn animation that is honestly timeless in quality, very artistic and highly effervescent in style which accompanies the mood of the film so well. Bella Notte scene and the night sequences are just gorgeous whereas the winter opening seems to be coming from a beautiful postcard. And the CinemaScope widescreen format definitely led to a different looking, authentic film experience.

The score is overly loud and repetitive for my taste, but the songs are solid. What is a Baby/La La Lu is just a plot device and not much of a song although that scene where Lady is intrigued by the newly arrived baby is definitely one of the film’s most wonderful moments.

Peace on Earth is a solid opening for the film and it has such a charming, old-fashioned Christmas spirit to it. The Siamese Cat Song is very annoying. I already criticized this scene a lot so I am not going to repeat myself, but I will just say that the song itself is also highly annoying in tune and with awful voices.

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Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

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He’s a Tramp is definitely catchy as well as a great plot device. It is a very amusing scene which is pretty risqué for a children’s film and honestly quite funny too. The tune itself is really well sung by Peggy Lee and quite memorable and hilariously seductive with a good use of barking as backup vocals.

Bella Notte is arguably a classic Disney song, beautifully sung and very romantic. It is the standout scene in the movie which I talked about before, but the song itself is gorgeously sung with such a strong voice and I loved the classic opera feel to it. It is the most traditional of all Disney songs and certainly one of the best from this period. A beautiful ballad.

So the soundtrack is solid but more along the lines of the movies from the same decade, notably ‘Peter Pan’, and nowhere near as close to something like ‘Snow White’ or later Renaissance films. But the songs do not matter here as there is no strong emphasis on them which is evident in their small quantity.

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Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

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Lady and the Tramp is weakly paced, but well directed with excellent voice acting and with pretty strong dialogue and although the humor is sometimes repetitive and too innocent, it was mostly solid nonetheless with some amusing moments. The film is simplistic, elegant and the charm is off the roof in this one. It is the kind of movie most suited for dog owners and children and its somewhat limited appeal led to it being one of the better, but not the best Disney films.

Lady and the Tramp is a very flawed, but still immensely charming and wonderfully romantic Disney classic. The pacing is problematic, some scenes felt like detours and the third act employed unnecessary tension and conflict. But the animation is one of Disney’s best with many absolutely gorgeous, even artistic sequences and the soundtrack is pretty solid with He’s a Tramp being amusing and Bella Notte being such a beautiful ballad which accompanies one of the most iconic romantic scenes in film history. In the end, this is a film most suited for dog owners as it is a definitive classic for them owing to its very realistic portrayal of dogs’ movements and behavior and a pretty detailed look into their lives.

My Rating – 4

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Despicable Me 3 (2017)

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

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Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 is a 2017 animated comedy film directed by Pierre Coffin and with the voices of Steve Carell and Kristen Wig. It is a pretty solid, enjoyable sequel.

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Dance fight!

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Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

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This is on par with ‘Despicable Me 2’ and of course much weaker than the first film. But there is no denying that it is an improvement over 2015’s ‘Minions’ as thankfully this entry was restrained with those guys. The plot itself is your typical zany and cartoony Illumination story but mostly done well.

This is a cartoon movie and not an animated movie meaning that it is loud, action-oriented and very comedic. It is best suited for kids but some jokes definitely favor adults and once again Gru’s mother killed it as she was hilarious in the one scene she got. The various 80s pop songs were also funny as was the villain. And some of the childish humor was also quite good and it made me chuckle, but most of it was typical and forced.

The major problem this movie has is the lack of coherence to it. The film tries too hard to be too many things and the filmmakers should have focused on just one or two things and it would have been a much smoother and well crafted movie. So it has the plot where Gru has to capture Bratt, but also the plot where he and Lucy lost their job. He has to deal with his newly found brother whereas she has to learn how to become a mother. Throw in there the unicorn subplot with Agnes and Edith and the Margo boyfriend subplot and you’ve got a really convoluted, super busy film which should have been expected given that it has such a huge, ever-expanding cast of characters.

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Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

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Let’s talk about those characters. First off, our main hero Gru. I found him not as likable or as interesting here as he was in the previous installments to be honest as his role was not the greatest here. But Dru is pretty memorable as his more handsome brother and the relationship between the two is mostly finely done and with some emotional moments. The film is not too emotional which some critics faulted, but I found appropriate this time around.

Lucy got such a typical and cliched storyline for a female character as she needs to become a better mother which was somewhat annoying as she was always better suited as an action heroine. But her scenes with Margo were sweet. Agnes and her pursuit of unicorns was a charming, sweet subplot, but the kids’ roles here were unfortunately shortchanged. Of course the Minions are there, but not too much and they can be quite funny and enjoyable when used sparingly which is exactly what we got here.

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Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

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Balthazar Bratt is a surprisingly solid villain. He is a cartoony villain but that fits with the cartoon style of the entire film. Trey Parker did a really good job in this role per usual and I am so glad to hear him in a feature project. Bratt’s obsession with 80s was a cliched choice for today’s adult audiences, but definitely done really well as he was quite funny at times with his dance movements and singing. I also really liked his TV show backstory.

Despicable Me 3 is expectedly really well animated. It looks polished and stylistically speaking it looks great with the interiors and buildings being very detailed. The character design is as strong as usual with the more cartoony, grotesque look being applied to the villain as well and his overall design is top-notch. It isn’t high art, but it succeeds as a really well animated cartoon.

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Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

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Despicable Me 3 has some good action scenes, but most of it was overwhelming. The highlight for me was easily that tower scene which was so well executed and hugely entertaining. The beginning of the movie is not the greatest and the ending is typical so the middle parts were the most entertaining ones this time around.

Despicable Me 3 is a solid sequel which succeeds as a pretty enjoyable, fun cartoon. Most of the plot points were cliched, some characters were shortchanged here and the film is filled with way too many subplots and thus it felt very uneven and convoluted. But the humor is solid, the animation is excellent, the score is good and Balthazar Bratt is such a good, highly amusing villain. It is on par with the previous installment and an improvement over ‘Minions’.

My Rating – 3.5

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Princess Mononoke (1997)

Princess Mononoke Movie Review

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Princess Mononoke Movie Review

Princess Mononoke is a 1997 historical fantasy anime film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is one of Studio Ghibli’s weakest offerings.

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You cannot change fate. However, you can rise to meet it, if you so choose

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Princess Mononoke Movie Review

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I never really cared for this movie and now upon second viewing, I can confirm that it truly is the most overrated Studio Ghibli film ever and also one of their weakest. That puts me in the vast minority, but I have to be honest and say that this is one of a handful of highly respected animated films which I deem very overrated.

That does not mean that Princess Mononoke is a bad movie. It is a solid film which has its strengths. Technically, the film is very strong and more on that later. In terms of story, it is ambitious and its attention to detail is remarkable. It has a strong environmental message and its characters are not painted black-and-white but are rather complex and realistic.

However, I still disliked those characters personally. That is because I could just never connect with any of them. Neither of them was remotely relatable or likable to me and that was a huge hurdle for the movie which never managed to overcome it. And it has too many characters and most are highly forgettable.

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Princess Mononoke Movie Review

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Ashitaka himself is very boring. I do not know why Miyazaki stated that he is an atypical protagonist when he couldn’t be more standard as heroes go. He’s bland and uninteresting. San is underdeveloped as is their relationship. Lady Eboshi is the only very good character in the movie as her motifs, her background and her goals are well realized and she is a complex person in the grey area of morality. But even she was not great.

As I said above, the only truly excellent thing in Princess Mononoke is its animation which is expected from such an art-driven studio. I really enjoyed the forests here and the animals are so realistically designed. The film features very polished, but still old-fashioned type of hand-drawn cell animation. The mix of traditional animation and the computer animation (present in demon flesh) is really well executed.

The film is very well animated, but even its animation is nowhere near the quality of Ghibli’s best films such as ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ for instance. The film succeeds as a historical piece as it has a great eye for detail and it recreated this period in Japan’s history so well.

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Princess Mononoke Movie Review

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But even though the dialogue is strong and the script is quite good, the execution is far from great. The film is just overlong, clocking in at over two hours. I was honestly bored. It is ambitious and epic for the sake of being ambitious and epic. I am not a fan of epic fantasy and thus this did not suit my tastes.

The film also features overwhelming action. Certainly some of it was great and so well executed with the fight between San and Lady Eboshi being the highlight, but still the film favored action and spectacle over substance. The gore is also overwhelming and not really needed so every bloody scene felt like a big distraction for me. All in all, even the environmental message is done better and more subtly in some of the studio’s previous classics so this surely is one of their weakest offerings.

Princess Mononoke is one of the most overrated animated films. Certainly the animation is excellent and frequently even stunning, the script is good and the characters are realistic and quite complex, but none of them was remotely likable or relatable to me and the film bored me with its prolonged runtime, excessive gore and overwhelming action and spectacle. And even its environmental message is done better in some of the studio’s previous classic films. It truly is Studio Ghibli’s most overrated film and one of their weakest offerings.

My Rating – 3

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Tangled (2010)

Tangled Movie Review

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Tangled Movie Review

Tangled is a 2010 animated musical fantasy film directed by Byron Howard. It is Disney’s 50th feature film and probably their finest modern effort.

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Go. Live your dream.

I will.

Your dream stinks. I was talking to her

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Tangled Movie Review

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This is the story about Rapunzel, but it of course differs from the original fairy tale as is usual for Disney. The storytelling here is excellent, the film felt like a fairy tale, much more so than most modern fairy tale films, and most importantly, it was very charming and incredibly entertaining to watch. It is engaging from the first to the last moment and it just flies by how fun and wonderful it is.

Tangled is the kind of Disney film that I like and I want. This is the movie that Disney would not make anymore as they unfortunately moved to more modern flicks which are not as great as this one because they are not as warm or as timeless. Tangled mixes the old with the new even better than what ‘The Princess and the Frog’ did.

I will later talk about the diverse animation, but in terms of pure storytelling, this is classic Disney 101 and something that we did not get after this movie unfortunately. You have a fantasy and you have modern action set pieces and more modern humor, but you also got a wonderful romance at the center of it and most importantly – magic. It is an enchanting, gorgeous film above anything else.

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Tangled Movie Review

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Let’s talk about each of its great characters and yes, they are excellent and the characterization here is truly phenomenal. First off, Rapunzel. Wow, I adore her! Honestly, she is my favorite Disney Princess after ‘The Little Mermaid’s Ariel and I adore Ariel. What a wonderful character and a textbook example of why this movie is better than overrated ‘Frozen’ or ‘Moana’.

Rapunzel is never a feminist character who doesn’t need a man. She gets her man and she gets her romance, but she remains incredibly strong and a positive role model nonetheless. She is bright and energetic, spunky at times and immensely charismatic and charming. I love her and she is the heart and soul of this film. She represents the greatness of the concept of a Disney Princess.

Flynn Rider isn’t as great, I have to say. He reminded me too much of Aladdin. However, he is still very funny, very charismatic and ultimately a very memorable, competent Disney Prince. His change in heart is typical, but done really well. The romance between the two is honestly probably my favorite Disney romance ever, they are quite possibly the best couple out of them all. They dislike each other at first, but eventually become friends and then partners. This all sounds familiar, but the execution is so good that it doesn’t matter. The interactions between them are top-notch and very modern. Again the mix between modern and old-fashioned is put to great use in their relationship.

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Tangled Movie Review

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This film doesn’t have that too many characters which is great as those that we do get are so well developed. The entire Snuggly Duckling pub bunch was a lot of fun and they were very endearing. As for Maximus, he is honestly a bit overrated and your typical over-the-top Disney sidekick that was meant to bring in the vast audiences. He is still good and at times quite hilarious with his humor, but he behaved too much and too obviously like a dog. Pascal was honestly the better of the two as this wonderful chameleon pet of Rapunzel’s. His facial expressions were priceless and I like that both of them are mute.

Now, Mother Gothel. Oh, where do I even start with her. She is one incredibly manipulative and extremely intelligent woman. How she tricked Rapunzel was brilliant and every plan she orchestrated fully worked and she never, ever made a single mistake. She is a big presence in the movie and a force to be reckoned with. The exploration of domestic abuse is actually quite strong here and brave to do for Disney. Without any doubt, she is one of the best Disney villains of all time and one of the most underrated ones.

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Tangled Movie Review

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Tangled features such a unique, different and ultimately refreshing type of animation. Yes, this is computer animation and the characters are your typical CGI characters. However, the film also includes hand-drawn animation into its mix and the results are more than stellar. Probably because it is too difficult to do and thus they did not do this again, but this proved how potent the mix of these two mediums could be as they complimented each other so well with both of their strengths. The backgrounds were particularly effective in recreating the fairy tale, historical feel to it with the influence being the wonderful paintings from Jean-Honore Fragonard. The film is rich in detail, fluid in execution and enchanting and unique in its style.

Tangled is a fantasy romance, but also a musical. It has only five songs, but I have to say that this soundtrack is very underrated and actually better than ‘Frozen’s soundtrack as it doesn’t rely on just one musical number. So let me comment upon each of the numbers.

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Tangled Movie Review

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Healing Incantation is short, but enchanting and it works in the context of the story so well. I loved that for once Disney utilized singing actually as a power which was interesting and smartly convenient. I loved all of the hair’s properties and how it looked. I forgot to mention above, but her hair was so difficult to pull off that they employed a new program for it and thus the film became the biggest budgeted animated film in history which is quite interesting.

When Will My Life Begin? is easily the weakest song in this soundtrack, I have to say. It does work as the “I wonder” princess song, but it is still too forgettable, too much like a modern pop song and although the sequence showcases her hobbies and talents extensively, the song itself is bland.

Mother Knows Best is a Broadway number in style, the one that uses that style the most here. It isn’t catchy and it isn’t great, but it works for Mother Gothel and is a very good vehicle for her manipulations and her deceiving character. It is in the end one of the better Disney villain songs.

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Tangled Movie Review

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I’ve Got a Dream is so entertaining! It is the kind of song that we haven’t seen a long time from the studio, the one in which sidekicks sing and it is meant to be one giant, fun, endearing affair. It showcases the heart and quirks of each of its characters and is one of the most purely enjoyable and lovable scenes in the flick. The lyrics are excellent and the song is funny and catchy.

I See the Light is naturally the standout song here. It is too modern, yes. But it does have very good, fitting lyrics for the characters and story. It is beautifully song, it is a grand romantic duet the likes of which we haven’t seen since ‘Aladdin’ and it is both catchy and sweet. It was accompanied by the movie’s most romantic and visually gorgeous sequence which just transfixed me in the state of awe just like some of the company’s best movies have a tendency to do.

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Tangled Movie Review

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Some of the problems of the movie include an overreliance on humor and sometimes a tendency to replicate ‘Shrek’ a bit too much in its style. Actually the humor is frequently excellent and sometimes laugh out loud funny (“Oh look, you’re here too” and “Your Dream stinks. I was talking to her” instantly come to mind), but the movie was the best when it was less funny and less contemporary. And its beginning and ending offered a somewhat annoying voice over narration.

So I stated that the lanterns sequence is one of the best as is the pub one. My other favorites include the cave scene and that action set piece in the canyon. The film has too much action at times, but this one set piece was absolutely magnificent and so well thought out. And of course I loved the ending which was beautifully made and incredibly touching and timeless in its silent approach. Watching her reunite with her parents was heartfelt.

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Tangled Movie Review

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The voice acting is very good with both Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi being excellent while Donna Murphy was suitably menacing and dark. The pacing and direction are both pretty good as is the dialogue with a lot of funny lines. All in all, it is the best Disney Revival film for me.

With gorgeous and very unique animation that mixes traditional and computer animation with the style of Jean-Honore Fragonard’s paintings, a very good soundtrack with a couple of terrific songs such as I See the Light and I’ve Got a Dream and many memorable, heartfelt moments, Tangled truly is a modern Disney classic. It is touching, it is also very funny and highly romantic and enchanting. But the reason why it works so well lies in its characters: Rapunzel is so wonderful and one of my favorite Disney Princesses, Flynn Rider is a lot of fun and Mother Gothel is so menacing, manipulative and smart that she’s one of Disney’s finest villains. It is ultimately the best Disney movie of the 21st century so far and so much better than either ‘Zootopia’ or ‘Frozen’.

My Rating – 4.5

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Whisper of the Heart (1995)

Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

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Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

Whisper of the Heart is a 1995 romantic drama anime film directed by Yoshifumi Kondo. It is one of the best films that Studio Ghibli has to offer and one of my personal favorites.

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It’s not easy to live your own way. You can’t blame anyone but yourself

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Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

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Let’s first talk about the story. The movie is interesting for being one of the rare Ghibli films with no fantasy elements whatsoever. The Baron fantasy sequences were actually figments of imagination of the main character. They are fantastical, but not real. Still, those were wonderful and they complimented the storyline really well. They are a textbook example of how animation can sometimes suit the genre of drama much better than its live-action counterpart.

This is a wonderful movie which is exceedingly romantic and sweet. I just adored it and watching it was such a beautiful experience for me. The romance between the two is exceptional and it develops at the perfect pace. The entire story with how they meet and how they were reading the same books was just so romantic and wonderful that I ate it up.

But whereas Whisper of the Heart succeeds incredibly as a teen romance, it succeeds even more as a pure drama. And what drama this is! Honestly, this was the deepest and most thought-provoking film I’ve seen in quite a while. I saw this movie around five years ago, but I am more mature now, so I respect it much more upon second viewing.

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Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

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I am currently at the most unpredictable and dangerous moment in my life. I am trying to find a job online, but it is moving at a slow progression and I am very anxious about finishing faculty so this movie was just perfect for me. I watched it at the most perfect time possible and thus I connected with its characters enormously.

It is a very smart, incredibly sophisticated story about two teenagers who chase their dreams but are yet not ready for a job. The line from Shizuko’s father about high school was pitch-perfect in its honesty and truthfulness – you can follow a different path than the default one given to you by your country and the entire world, but that path is going to be incredibly difficult and it is in the end not worth it. It is a sad, terrible truth that the movie made clear and with that I am struggling in my life right now.

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Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

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And another great line is how wanting to do something is not the same as preparing constantly and bettering yourself so that you can manage to get that job and secure your future. Life is difficult and getting a job and growing up is so hard and Whisper of the Heart gets that and is probably the most honest teen movie out of all of them as it teaches us those great messages in a very urgent manner.

Let’s finally talk about these characters, these great characters. Surely the parents are sweet and respectful and Yuko is a great friend to our main heroine, but honestly this movie is mostly just about Shizuko and Seiji and that was great. It’s a phenomenal chamber drama in a way. He is at first a bit too unlikable in a forced way, but he became much more likable and sweet later on and of course their relationship is very strong and heartwarming.

But Shizuko is amazing and I loved her. She is one of Ghibli’s finest heroines as she is so well developed and although a good girl, she isn’t overly kind and she seemed very realistic to me. Her troubles are so well established and her interactions with everyone were top-notch, but it is her love for books that was awesome to witness, her wild imagination was beautiful and her constant struggle with herself and her own dreams led to such a terrific character development and complex dilemmas.

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Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

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Whisper of the Heart is gorgeously animated! The character animation and designs are nothing spectacular, but the landscapes are excellent and for once we got a Ghibli movie set in a city. That was refreshing to see and Tokyo is perfectly animated. I loved that final scene which was gorgeous and of course the antique toy shop is the visual highlight as it is superbly detailed and immensely charming. The movie is not fantastical, but it compensates that with an astonishing attention to detail to everyday objects and the city itself.

The movie is superbly voice cast and the acting was excellent. Yoko Honna was just marvelous in a great role. As I said before, the dialogue is phenomenal and the script itself is absolutely spectacular. It favors drama and emotion over spectacle and fun and that was very refreshing. It is in line with ‘Only Yesterday’ as these two are two realistic, contemporary dramas rarely seen in animation and both are some of my favorites from the studio, both honestly quite underrated.

I do realize that the final scene was a bit too sentimental and it surely was overly emotional, but I still liked it, especially for its gorgeous setting and animation. The score is fantastic and Take Me Home, Country Roads is one my favorite songs of all time and seeing how it was a perfect theme for the movie only further strengthened my love for it.

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Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

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The fantastical sequences should have been shorter and sometimes the movie struggled with its pacing, but it was mostly top-notch in terms of both technical aspects and story/characters/emotion. I loved the shop and the cat, the grandpa was wonderful and my favorite scenes were the ones in the antique shop and the library. A very charming, atmospheric movie this is.

With superb character development and one of the studio’s finest heroines, wonderful animation fueled by a meticulous attention to detail, a perfect use of one of my favorite songs and a top-notch script, Whisper of the Heart truly is one of the best Ghibli movies and one of my personal favorites as I connected with it on so many levels. Thematically rich and incredibly smart and truthful in dialogue and its statements, the movie speaks to me on a personal level. Gorgeous in its romance and deep in its drama, you just can’t get a better animated teen drama than this one.

My Rating – 4.5

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