Chicken Little (2005)

Chicken Little Movie Review

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Chicken Little Movie Review

Chicken Little is a 2005 animated science fiction comedy film which is the 46th Disney animated feature and easily their worst one.

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Hold your horses, here! And horses, hold your breath

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Chicken Little Movie Review

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Yes, I have to say that it is easily their worst film ever made. ‘Home on the Range’ is the only one that comes close. These two came at the same time and were the lowest point that Disney hit. It isn’t a horrible movie as it has its strengths (more on that later), but there is no denying the sheer unoriginality of its plot and many terrible choices in its production.

Let’s start with the story. Chicken Little never has any identity and it struggles because it never decides what movie it wants to be. At first it is a faithful adaptation of its source, then it veers to tired baseball drama and afterwards it goes to full extraterrestrial science fiction. There are a couple of movies you have here and neither of them are good.

I myself disliked the baseball one the most as I am not a fan of sports and especially of this stupid sport so those scenes bored me. They weren’t terrible, but were just too typical in execution and, not to mention, implausible. As for its science fiction elements, I wasn’t a fan of them either. The film is basically a rehash of ‘The War of the Worlds’ and maybe even the 2005 version as they were released in the same year. The aliens, the ship, everything reminded me of that with a touch of ‘Signs’ added. DreamWorks’ ‘Home’ is similar in plot and especially in ending, but frankly a better, more enjoyable film.

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Chicken Little Movie Review

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As I said above, the film isn’t devoid of good things and certainly the family drama is quite solid and it provides a couple of moving moments with their last conversation and embrace being quite touching. This is the heart of the entire film and the only aspect that provides any sort of emotion or storytelling.

Certainly the relationship between Chicken Little and Ace is quite strong and the movie should have focused on them even more. Ace is a very likable character, but unfortunately Chicken Little is not. He is obnoxious at times and just not a lovable protagonist as the story needed. That mostly stems from Zach Braff’s annoying performance and voice. The voice casting in this film is truly horrible and of the worst kind.

The film has some good characters such as Ace and Little’s team is pretty solid with a fine dynamic between them. Runt of the Litter is your typical nervous sidekick, Abby as this ugly duckling and love interest is okay, but forgettable and all of the other kids and “villains” are typical and not at all memorable. Fish Out of Water is the most lovable character here as his design is interesting and he has some good moments here.

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Chicken Little Movie Review

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Chicken Little’s animation is very mediocre and one of Disney’s first. So basically Disney struggled at the box office and before they acquired Pixar and before John Lasseter came to the studio, they decided to finally go to computer animation as their last resort and the results are beyond lackluster.

This is obviously a first attempt as the character designs are all over the place and not the greatest and the animation is unpolished, choppy and at times frankly very dated. It just feels incredibly dated and weak when compared to other films of its time such as ‘The Incredibles’. But it is better than ‘Madagascar’s animation, that’s for sure. I just wish that Pixar lent them a hand at this production as they were clearly not ready. And it truly is a shame that we got only two hand-drawn Disney flicks after this one. It breaks my heart.

The soundtrack is, well, horrible. I have to say that the soundtrack is the worst aspect of this movie and the one that entirely ruins it to no possible redemption. That is because it isn’t original and it is filled with an incredible amount of forced, frustrating pop culture references and pop music at just the worst times when the movie needed to be slower and calmer. I just hated the use of the songs here, really despised them.

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Chicken Little Movie Review

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Chicken Little is thus very weakly paced and the structure is just bad. The score, other than those reused songs, has its moments and is okay, but I wished for original songs or no songs at all. It has a very short running time and thus the use of those songs is entirely redundant. The dialogue is not great and the film’s humor is also pretty subpar. It truly is Disney’s worst film, but having in mind that Disney never made horrible and truly bad movies, surely this one isn’t bad as well and is just very mediocre.

Disney never made a truly bad, horrible movie and surely Chicken Little has its moments, some good characters and the family drama is moving, but it is still a very mediocre affair that is filled with annoying pop music, just terrible voice casting, quite subpar CGI animation as it is their first computer animated effort and an unoriginal plot that lacks identity and feels like two different movies put together. It truly is Disney’s worst film ever.

My Rating – 2.5

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Home on the Range (2004)

Home on the Range Movie Review

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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.

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

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Home on the Range Movie Review

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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.

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Home on the Range Movie Review

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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.

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Home on the Range Movie Review

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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.

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Home on the Range Movie Review

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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.

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Home on the Range Movie Review

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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

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Brother Bear (2003)

Brother Bear Movie Review

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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.

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This year, I lost my dear husband, Edgar.

Stop tellin’ everyone I’m dead!

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Brother Bear Movie Review

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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.

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Brother Bear Movie Review

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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.

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Brother Bear Movie Review

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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.

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Brother Bear Movie Review

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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.

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Brother Bear Movie Review

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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.

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Brother Bear Movie Review

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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

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The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)

The Emperor's New Groove Movie Review

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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.

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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

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The Emperor's New Groove Movie Review

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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.

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The Emperor's New Groove Movie Review

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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.

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The Emperor's New Groove Movie Review

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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.

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The Emperor's New Groove Movie Review

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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.

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The Emperor's New Groove Movie Review

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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

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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.

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Look at you! Glowing like a solar fire.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Dinosaur (2000)

Dinosaur Movie Review

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Dinosaur Movie Review

Dinosaur is a 2000 animated adventure film which is the 39th official Disney animated feature. It is unfortunately one of Disney’s weakest offerings.

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Some things start out big,

and some things start out small,

very small.

But sometimes the smallest thing

can make the biggest changes of all

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Dinosaur Movie Review

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It follows an orphaned Iguanodon who along with his family of lemurs moves in search of a new home after the asteroid hit. Now, the plot is fairly simple and very ordinary. Of course the setting and the creatures are great. Who doesn’t like dinosaurs? I myself like them a lot as most people do and I especially love everything ancient and prehistoric which is why this movie was intriguing to me and why that asteroid sequence was the highlight, so well done.

Another major highlight has to be the beginning which is just incredible! It is one of Disney’s better openings and although a bit too much inspired by ‘Tarzan’, it was still great. Watching the egg go from predator to predator and then end up at the lemurs’ place was a phenomenal way to open the movie, it instantly hooks you in the story. But it is then such a shame that the rest of the film is a failure. It is so slow and so typical in its conflict and very uninvolving in its overly standard journey story that it was just one giant snoozefest to witness.

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Dinosaur Movie Review

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Let’s talk about the characters. Well, they are not the greatest to put it mildly. The character development is so weak and uninspired that not a single character leaves a bigger impression after you watch the movie and all just fade away. Aladar is as boring of a hero as you could possibly be. Typically selfless and heroic, but without any other attributes to him. As for the lemurs, all of them are forgettable and the mother is basically Kala as the similarities to ‘Tarzan’ continue to pile up. And that womanizing lemur was cringe-worthy with his humor. As for the other dinosaurs, Neera is as basic and forgettable of a love interest as they go and Kron is just so over-the-top and typical. Such a clichéd and dull brute. The conflict between him and Aladar was so boring.

The voice acting is atrocious and possibly the biggest blow to the quality of the entire film. I don’t know what went wrong here as Disney’s films usually have great acting in them, but this one features such terrible or bland at best voices and whenever the actors and actresses had to sell those more emotional sequences, they failed miserably time and again. They definitely hurt the movie the most in the long run.

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Dinosaur Movie Review

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Dinosaur had groundbreaking animation for its time and it is worth noting that it is the first ever Disney movie to feature CGI and again Disney won’t use computer animation more prominently until 2005. But here lies the big problem – the film is dated. Yes, obviously it must have been absolutely incredible to watch when it came out, but nowadays, the animation is telling of its age. And that is the problem with computer animation, it is just never as timeless or as artistic as hand-drawn animation is which again goes to show that all of today’s animated films are going to be very dated in just a couple of decades. Such a problematic medium to use. Another problem here is that the use of live-action scenery also felt dated and to me not pleasant at all as it created a jarring look to it. Very frustrating.

Where Dinosaur excels is in the score which is amazing. I just loved its theme which was gorgeous, majestic and epic in the style of Disney’s best scored movies. It certainly helped to elevate many of its scenes to greater and more epic heights. It doesn’t have any songs in it, but the score is so good and it accompanies the scenes so beautifully and fittingly that it is the most memorable aspect of the entire film.

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Dinosaur Movie Review

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It isn’t well paced and it isn’t particularly well directed. The dialogue is as ordinary as these types of films usually have. And I have to say that the humor was also lacking and the film was overly serious and whenever it tried to be funny, it mostly failed miserably. Also the emotional investment isn’t the greatest. Yes, some of it was moving, but most wasn’t. I appreciated its realistic approach to the character designs no matter how dated they look now and I liked its apocalyptic and adventurous overtones, but the film was ultimately too ambitious for its own sake and it is one of Disney’s weakest films for sure. It was evident by now that they have entered their darkest period yet.

Dinosaur definitely is realistic and ambitious, it has a couple of awesome sequences with the beginning being the highlight plus the score is the major standout being uplifting and majestic, but the CGI animation here is dated by now, the characters are beyond forgettable, the story is dull and the voice acting is bland leading to one of Disney’s more lackluster efforts.

My Rating – 3

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a 2001 animated science fiction adventure film which is Disney’s 41st animated feature. It is one of their weakest outings.

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“You are a scholar, are you not?

Judging from your diminished physique

and large forehead,

you are suited for nothing else?”

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

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I don’t know how they could have screwed a premise like this – A crew in 1914 goes to search for Atlantis, the lost civilization. They find it, but the trouble arises when their captain wants to use its resources. It definitely had a lot of potential, but the execution is so muddled that it ended up being one of Disney’s weakest films ever. Now I changed my mind upon second viewing and now I do not think it is bad but rather passable. But still that is very weak for Disney’s standards.

It is crazy to think about, but James Cameron basically ripped this movie off when making ‘Avatar’ which is just too similar to this storyline. That is because this is a good story that deals with important issues and themes. I liked its adventurous tone and it is also the first science fiction film to come out from Disney. But the storytelling isn’t the greatest and the film ended up being too simplistic and way too fast paced for it to work.

Let’s talk about the characters. They are unfortunate as the character development is Atlantis’ biggest flaw. The voice actors admittedly did a very good job plus it is a very interesting cast of characters as it is so diverse. There is a Black/Native American character than a Puerto Rican one and also an Italian and French guy. The movie is surprisingly ethnically and gender diverse for a Disney flick.

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

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But that ultimately did not matter as the film is overstuffed with too many characters and neither of them ever get properly developed and they are all thin as a tissue paper and very forgettable. Milo James Thatch is such a boring central character who is actually more annoying than sympathetic. Rourke is such a typical villain who did pose some threat near the end, but is mostly forgettable.

Kida is a typical native love interest who is weakly developed and overly sexualized. Vinny is the most forgettable of the bunch and his jokes did not work. Sweet is highly likable, but also underdeveloped. Helga is interesting and has some great scenes, Ramirez is also interesting albeit not particularly likable and Mole is just too ridiculous of a comic relief and never really funny. But Packard was funny as this elderly bored lady and she is the only character who made me chuckle here.

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire is gorgeously animated. This is the first movie from the studio to be heavily influenced by anime as they really wanted to employ that Japanese style here. And they definitely could employ it successfully so it’s a shame that character and plotwise, all three Disney anime films are very weak (‘Treasure Planet’ and ‘Big Hero 6’ are better than this one, but still so problematic).

I loved its hand-drawn animation, the character designs are very good and particularly the scenery is gorgeous. Some scenes such as that last sequence were stunningly beautiful and that was probably the highlight of the movie. I loved the city, I loved the water and everything looked awesome. The attention to detail that went into this production is staggering as the Atlantean buildings are very unique and they even created an entire language for them. That was very fascinating to witness.

Even though Atlantis is not a musical and doesn’t have any songs whatsoever, it still features a stellar score. The sound is great, but the score is excellent from beginning to end and very atmospheric and grand. It pleasantly reminded me of those old adventure flicks and in that area, it managed to recreate that adventurous feel. That theme near the end is stunning.

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire Movie Review

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So in the end it is a three-star movie and one of Disney’s weakest for sure. It is awfully fast in pacing and that is why it was a bit dull at times as I dislike excessive action and the third act here suffered from that. But the first act is very rushed too. I just wanted fewer characters in its cast and more time to breathe with more quality dialogue and emotion. This movie is so cold emotionally that it infuriated me. Disney movies are supposed to be heartwarming. So it is an okay film and intriguing, but ultimately frustratingly weak.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire is one of Disney’s most intriguing experiments with a gorgeous anime-influenced animation, excellent score, an impressive attention to detail and a winning premise, but it ultimately failed to become a great sci-fi adventure as it is too fast paced, too emotionally cold and filled with way too many characters who are all very weakly developed. It is a film that had great potential, but is so frustratingly misguided that it ended up being one of Disney’s weakest efforts.

My Rating – 3

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Waking Sleeping Beauty (2009)

Waking Sleeping Beauty Movie Review………………………………………………………..

Waking Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

Waking Sleeping Beauty is a 2009 Disney documentary film directed by Don Hahn. It showcases the history of the Disney studio in the 80s and 90s with an emphasis on the beginning of the renaissance.

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I just don’t think anything is quite as magical as a Disney cartoon fairy tale.

There’s just nothing like that.

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Waking Sleeping Beauty Movie Review………………………………………………………..

I love this topic naturally as I am such a huge fan of Disney animation. The Disney Renaissance is truly a special period for the studio and for the American animation as a whole. I love all of the movies released there and although I would have liked to have seen the later Renaissance entries here as well, I still loved that I got to see the makings of ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Lion King’, four of their biggest movies.

That footage was fascinating and although I knew a lot of this stuff already, I still loved seeing it on the screen. Jodi Benson’s recording of Part of That World is definitely one of the highlights and of course watching those real lions in the studio was so much fun. I also liked that they showcased their rivalry during the eighties such as Don Bluth and Spielberg and we even got to see some 80s movies here such as ‘The Black Cauldron’ and ‘The Great Mouse Detective’. It is always tragic seeing how the former hurt the studio when it is such a solid film and of course the jokes about the latter’s title were so amusing.

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Waking Sleeping Beauty Movie Review………………………………………………………..

It was interesting learning a bit more about the studio’s troubled history. Of course Waking Sleeping Beauty glorifies a bit too much their own work, but that is understandable as they’ve had such enormous success during the nineties. Of course seeing the Oscar nominations and seeing that ‘Beauty and the Beast’ ended up in the Best Picture race was so emotionally rewarding and such a huge feat in the history of animation.

You learn a lot about Michael Eisner and Roy Disney’s roles which were very important and Roy always seemed so nice to me. But I also learned a lot about Frank Wells and his death was tragic. Jeffrey Katzenberg was well portrayed here and not in an overly toxic manner which they could have done, but thankfully did not. He remains a controversial, but still important figure for Disney and that was well portrayed here. And of course the movie wonderfully showcases the importance of Howard Ashman’s input and his untimely death truly remains tragic and you only can imagine how much more he could have done for Disney had he lived more.

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Waking Sleeping Beauty Movie Review………………………………………………………..

Waking Sleeping Beauty uses archival footage and interviews instead of new interviews and that was truly such a unique and different angle to a documentary feature. Very interesting and it ultimately worked really well for the film. However, the movie remains very troublesome for relying too much on archival footage of the filmmakers and animators and not enough on the films themselves. They should have showcased and emphasized the films more and how they were made and it would have been much more entertaining and much better. But the ending is really moving and the movie was so insightful and a great history lesson for an animation fan like myself so I forgive them for those flaws.

Waking Sleeping Beauty definitely should have focused more on the films themselves instead of relying so much on the filmmakers and animators, but it is still such an insightful and fascinating look at the Disney Renaissance and a big reminder of how important and great that period was. The movie showcased really well the troubled history of each film as well as the various troubles with the studio executives and animators plus it is a unique documentary that relies entirely on archival instead of new interviews.

My Rating – 4

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Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

Beauty and the Beast is a 2017 musical romance film directed by Bill Condon and produced by Disney. It stars Emma Watson, Luke Evans and Dan Stevens.

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My dear Belle, you’re so ahead of your time.

This is a small village, and it’s small-minded, as well.

But small also means safe.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

This 2017 version is a remake of the 1991 classic Disney animated film which is regularly cited as one of the best animated movies ever made. So naturally this adaptation was a risky venture and some may say even unnecessary. However, the end result is quite good so to me it was worth it. I liked most of the things and I truly hated just a couple of aspects so I ended up liking the film overall despite it being naturally inferior to its predecessor.

The plot isn’t as rehashed as everyone has been saying. Definitely some scenes are just way too repeated, but because those are classic scenes, you basically couldn’t do it any other way. So I am here only going to talk about those different plot points as we all know the overall story from the original film.

The beginning was a nice idea as it showed us how the prince was turned into a beast. However, they didn’t do it in the best way possible and the scene felt too safe and tame as is the whole flick, but more on that later. I have to say that I almost disliked the first act of the movie as it was mostly just repeated from the original with nothing new added to the table.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

What I liked is that we got too hear the backstory for the Beast, but the highlight was Belle’s backstory. That entire Paris sequence was beautifully conceived and executed. It was emotional and a perfect way to both progress their relationship and reveal to Belle what happened to her mother. That explanation was definitely good, but more often than not, I actually really disliked the film’s talkative, explanatory approach as they had the need to spoon-feed to their audience literally everything (how the two learned how to dance for example) and thus they lost the simplicity and sophistication of this tale and the original movie.

How Maurice got blamed and proclaimed a madman was changed and actually for the better as it was much more believable. The same goes for Agathe as I really liked her mysterious presence throughout the whole film. And the objects turning into anthropomorphic state was another good idea well executed. Overall, I liked these changes, but they were too minor and I would have liked to have seen more sophisticated additions and themes.

The characters are great. Belle is as great as before and the same goes for Gaston who is even funnier and more memorable here. Sometimes the feminist approach with Belle was too on-the-nose, but she was mostly too likable to dismiss. Beast to me was the only truly weaker character as I thought he was too timid and his design was thoroughly unappealing to me personally. Quite poor CGI there. But I have to say that the various romantic scenes that they added for the two were great and they helped strengthen their relationship even more.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

Maurice is different than in the original film, but still quite good and likable. LeFou being gay is an interesting and fitting choice, but it backfired as they didn’t do anything with it. They raised the roof for him being the first gay Disney character and I thought that those elements here were too much played for laughs and ultimately disappointing. But I liked his relationship with Gaston and how he eventually turned to the good side, that was great.

Lumiere and Cogsworth and solid and they provide some quite good laughs, Mrs. Potts is also solid albeit infinitely inferior to the original version and Madame de Garderobe and Maestro Cadenza were good new additions.

The acting in Beauty and the Beast is superb. The casting is top-notch as everyone looks the part, even Dan Stevens who is too physically unappealing for the prince, but he was like that in the original too and he gave a good performance. I love Emma Watson, I always have and I am glad that her career is as strong as ever nowadays. To me she was weaker at first, but as the film progressed, she became much more confident and ended up being great in the role. She blended in this movie beautifully as she was just born to play this role. She became Belle and I adored her.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

But Luke Evans is great as well. He managed to bring both the comedic and the serious to the role and he both looked the part and played it superbly. All of the other actors and actresses did a very good job with the exception of Ewan McGregor whose French accent is just horrible.

Now is the perfect time to talk about the songs. This is the first movie in this live-action adaptation era for Disney that is a true musical and I liked that, but to some extent. Musically speaking, it is infinitely inferior to the original and it just makes you appreciate the 1991 film even more. But I still liked that the songs were there as it was pleasant to experience them again and in live-action treatment.

Belle to me felt somehow too long and Emma Watson’s singing, although good for an actress, is ultimately subpar and I missed Paige O’Hara here. Belle Reprise is never as grandiose as it was before. Be Our Guest is actually pretty solid, although definitely too muted. I never liked Gaston so I didn’t like it here either, but The Mob Song is quite good and serves its purpose well. Something There was pretty good and quite comedic which I liked.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

All of these songs from the original are actually rather fine, but the titular song is just so bad that it thoroughly took me out of the movie. Not only did they change the song and added new instruments, they also slowed it down significantly and the entire sequence was just so poorly filmed that it was totally ruined in my opinion. I was actually quite mad for what they did here.

As for those new songs, How Does a Moment Last Forever is brief and effective and Days in the Sun features mediocre lyrics, but is a solid and somewhat catchy tune, although ultimately too forgettable. Evermore isn’t great, but it is perfectly solid with good lyrics and excellent singing. It is also accompanied by memorable castle imagery. All three of these new songs are far from great, but still turned out better than I expected.

Beauty and the Beast is a visual feast for the eyes and that is where the film shines completely. It becomes such a magical experience and you witness a fairy tale unfold right in front of you. Even the 3D was pretty solid with some good, popping moments. I loved the costumes despite Belle’s iconic dress which felt cheap, but all of the others were great and they transported you to its time period wonderfully. The same goes for the imagery and the special effects, both terrific. The score is also very good and I thought that the pacing is solid. The film is long, but it never felt like it which is a testament to how entertaining it is.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review…………………………………………………….

As I said, the Beast didn’t look terrifying and was even scarier in the animated film and that was so disappointing. They should have gone with a much darker and atmospheric tone. But if there is one thing the film does better than the original, it has to be the humor which is so great. I laughed out loud quite a lot as more than a couple of lines were so clever and hilarious. The comic delivery from the actors was excellent. I actually held a smile on my face throughout the whole running time as I was having such a great time and despite its many shortcomings, I think the critics were too harsh to this movie and it is actually quite good, if far from great.

The 2017 Beauty and the Beast is a magical experience despite it being expectedly inferior to the original. Of the songs, the new ones were pretty solid in my opinion with Evermore being the best; both Belle and Be Our Guest were solid, but the titular song was totally ruined with so many incredibly poor choices being made. The characters are great, the casting is top-notch with Luke Evans delivering a strong performance and I adored Emma Watson here. She became Belle which was awesome to witness. The plot changes were minor, but quite good and even though the film should have been darker, I liked its improved humor with many funny lines and the film is a visual feast for the eyes with great costumes and effects. It is ultimately far from great, but still a satisfactory and pleasant remake.

My Rating – 3.5

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Mulan (1998)

Mulan Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

Mulan Movie Review

Mulan is a 1998 animated musical historical comedy film that is the 36th Disney animated feature film. It is a very strong, sometimes admirable Disney effort.

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The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.

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Mulan Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

This is a historical film in the rein of ‘Pocahontas’ where she may or may not have lived and the film took liberties adapting this story which is a famous Chinese story. And I loved the change in setting. This is basically a Chinese Disney film where all of the characters are from that country and some of the animation as well as the actors are also Chinese and I just loved that authenticity about it.

The plot itself is very good. The conflict is great and I found the film to be a solid historical as well as war picture, but mostly excelling in the drama and sometimes comedy department. It is a pleasant mix of genres in a typical Disney fashion and it succeeds in most of its areas. The highlights were of course the musical numbers, the sequence where Mulan cuts her hair is just so inspired, some of the action sequences are excellent, especially that with the avalanche, and of course the entire third act is beautiful and such an emotionally satisfying conclusion.

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Mulan Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

Fa Mulan is such a strong female main character and is actually one of the most, if not the most, feminist Disney princesses. She is brave and a great person who brought change, but unlike Pocahontas, she is actually very well developed as a character and is both likable and sometimes genuinely charming. Captain Li Shang is also very good and I liked him and the relationship between the two. I know that it maybe would have been better had they stayed just friends, but even though it was a bit rushed, the seeds were still solidly planted for their future romantic relationship.

Now Mushu is your typical Eddie Murphy animated character that came even before his Donkey persona in ‘Shrek’. Although a typical goofy sidekick, I mostly really liked him as he was quite funny at times with a larger than life personality and a good heart. Grandmother Fa is actually funnier than Mushu as she is one of the most underrated Disney supporting characters. She isn’t present a lot in this movie, but whenever she was on screen, she killed it with hilarious lines.

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Mulan Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

I liked the Emperor of China in the third act and the villain Shan Yu, although disappointing in the ending, was a solid presence overall with a great menacing look and voice to him. And his animal henchman in the form of a falcon is very cool. But even though all of these characters are quite good, the problem with Mulan is that all of the other male characters as their fellow recruits were quite forgettable and not one of them stood out. That was unfortunate.

The animation in Mulan is quite good with a couple of reservations. The overall visuals are stellar and the film looks like a Disney film, but with strong Asian influences spread throughout too. I loved some of the interiors as well as the imagery, very striking. I also liked the costumes and the movements were well choreographed and the flick is well filmed. My one issue with it is the character design. Some characters such as Mulan and Mushu look really good, but others such as all of those recruits did not look that great. I don’t know why, but some of the character designs here did not personally appeal to me. And I found the fact that most of those men were either skinny or fat or entirely incompetent to be very unrealistic and frankly stupid given the historical period in question.

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Mulan Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

Now let’s talk about the soundtrack. It is another good Disney Renaissance soundtrack with a couple of absolutely terrific songs in it, but more importantly a fantastic score. Yes, the score is absolutely phenomenal and most of the scenes were fittingly dramatic in their score or fittingly Asian as well. But Mulan’s Decision stands out as one of the finest compositions that Disney has ever put out as it is just such an iconic, powerful and instantly recognizable theme perfectly incorporated into its scene and story.

There are only five songs here and to me only two stood out as True to Your Heart is catchy, but a typical end-credits song that is forgettable and doesn’t have a context to it, Honor to Us All is a solid movie opener but is overall bland and not memorable and A Girl Worth Fighting For is actually quite catchy and fun, but overall not great.

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Mulan Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

But of course Reflection and I’ll Make a Man Out of You are just superb across the board. The former is such a beautiful song accompanied with a great scene, imagery and character drama and it is a perfect vehicle for Mulan to help us connect with her emotionally. It has great lyrics, excellent singing and is catchy, but powerful and moving as well. But the latter is the standout musical number which is unlike any other Disney song and that works in its favor. It is overall such a great and important scene that is one of the best montages that I have ever seen, but the lyrics are excellent and the song even manages to incorporate otherwise boring recruits in it solidly. It is such an entertaining song that is just infectiously catchy to sing along and very original and exciting.

Mulan features some really good voice acting in it and everyone did a good job. And of course the singing is great. But it is also very solidly paced and always entertaining to watch and dramatic. It features a great message and is one of the most feminist Disney movies out there, but is done right instead of preachy. Mulan truly is a great role model for girls. The dialogue is also really strong and some of the lines here are actually quite inspired. And the film was emotionally rewarding, especially in its ending.

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Mulan Movie Review……………………………………………………………………

But there is one problem here that prevents it from being a classic and that is why it is inferior to most of the other Renaissance films and is only better than ‘Hercules’ and ‘Pocahontas’. I am of course talking about the humor. Now the humor is okay and sometimes even quite good, don’t get me wrong. But I just did not find it necessary for this particular film at all. This is the type of film that should have been very serious and somehow Disney put a lot of the humor in it and that signature touch of theirs did not connect in this instance as good as it mostly connects. Some of the characters are too goofy and only Mushu and Grandmother Fa have their comedic moments whereas others are forgettable and some scenes were too lighthearted. But all in all, the film is mostly satisfying and was a wonderful experience.

Mulan is too comedic and goofy at times and some characters are forgettable, but Mulan herself is such a strong female role model, the animation is quite good, the score is excellent, the message is strong and the action is solid. It features a good story, a great Chinese setting and feel to it and two fantastic songs in Reflection and I’ll Make a Man Out of You.

My Rating – 4

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