Moana (2016)

Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Moana Movie Review

Moana is a 2016 animated musical fantasy adventure film that is the 56th Disney animated feature. It is such a wonderful, old-fashioned Disney film which I liked a lot.

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If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

I found the plot to be very good, if some plot points felt obvious. To me, the film succeeds the most as an adventure owing to its pure, unabashed sense of fun and discovery. I loved that about it as nowadays we rarely see these kinds of films and here we’ve got a grand sea adventure for the ages.

Of course the Polynesian setting is beautiful and highly authentic and intriguing. I loved that we got to meet this culture and their traditions, it definitely felt original and refreshing in that aspect. Another strong thing about it is its lack of villains. Moana has no villains whatsoever in it and that was great and realistic. The villain is the nature and its forces which was great to witness and so refreshing. I loved that the film focused more on the relationship between its two characters than on action. But the action is great too and actually the entire last battle and especially the final appearance of the goddess was just beautiful to behold and it was the best and most epic scene in the entire film.

Let’s talk about the characters. Moana is pretty good as the newest Disney princess. Yes, sometimes she felt too arrogant and annoying to me in a typical feminist fashion. But she was mostly likable and I liked that the movie was about her for the most part and her journey is so well established and her ups and downs are dramatic and emotional.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

As for Maui, I don’t know about this one. Mainly because I dislike Dwayne Johnson and his voice so much, I did not care about this character much. Auli’i Cravalho did a much better and more natural job in her voice performance. But even though the two are great together and their tumultuous friendship feels like one of those classic Disney friendships from yesteryear, I still did not like him individually. He had some great moments, but was overall too unwilling to help her at first, too selfish and his humor felt forced to me. Really not a fan.

I liked the fact that the movie chose to focus mostly on these two as that led to a better developed relationship between these two, but it still has a couple of memorable supporting characters in it. To me Moana’s parents and especially her father was a walking cliché, but the grandmother was such a kind and wonderful person and their relationship was so sweet. Her death scene was really impactful and tragic. Tamatoa as this gold-obsessed coconut crab was the closest that this movie came to having a villain and I really liked him. He was a memorable and sometimes even funny character and he served his purpose and made an impact for a short screen time he received. I would have really liked for them to have focused on Pua instead of Heihei and that was unfortunate as Pua is such an adorable, lovable pig whom I liked a lot. But Heihei is also pretty good as this incredibly stupid rooster and some of his gags were quite funny. He truly is the dumbest Disney characters of all time.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Moana is a musical and to me it succeeds as such much more so than ‘Frozen’ did because it has more than one really good song. The overall score was really good too. Tulou Tagaloa is a short, if good opening for the movie, but I loved its Polynesian sound and language. That is the major strength of this movie – finally we see a Disney movie that utilizes the culture it depicts in its soundtrack!

An Innocent Warrior is another strong Polynesian number, it has beautiful vocals and is really moving. But I disliked Where You Are quite a bit as it is so bland, so forgettable and it is probably the weakest song in the entire movie. I also disliked You’re Welcome which featured too much rap and Dwayne Johnson singing is not my cup of tea. That sequence is comedic and it explains his character well, but the tune as a whole was annoying.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

Shiny is a much better rap song. I still dislike that that genre was featured here as it does not fit, but I found the song’s chorus to be very catchy and memorable. But I have to say that I strongly disliked how this song started, but more on that later. I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors) was to me such a powerful number and not that much in the tune itself, but in terms of storytelling and characterization, it probably succeeds the most out of any song here as it perfectly helps us prepare for the storm and is so emotional and with beautiful vocals.

Logo Te Pate is also such a catchy, fun number that I liked a lot. But the highlights are naturally How Far I’ll Go which was Oscar-nominated and We Know the Way. How Far I’ll Go is such a classic Disney song in its style and it perfectly helps develop the character of Moana while also having a great scene to accompany it with good imagery and such good lyrics. But it is so immensely catchy too.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

But to me We Know the Way is easily the highlight. I love this song so much! With superb lyrics and a great usage of Tokelauan language, it features such a great scene as a whole and I just loved that backstory in this movie. But it is such a catchy tune, so catchy and so fun that I actually have listened to it at least fifty times so far. It is a new Disney classic song in my opinion.

So naturally I love these songs so much and I think the soundtrack is mostly superb and stupendous, but I really disliked the musical direction in this film. For example, We Know the Way just sort of started and those transitions were not the most polished. But as I said above, Shiny starts in such an unappealing way with the character basically saying that he is going to sing. I disliked this meta approach to the songs so much as it basically adds another strong reason for musical haters to hate the genre. I would have liked a more respectful approach.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

I liked the humor in Moana quite a bit, but I liked that it was mostly dramatic and that it focused on adventure and drama the most. It is a high-spirited adventure, but it succeeds in emotion as well because a couple of scenes are just so powerful, either poignant or uplifting. And some scenes, such as the last couple of them, are grand and majestic in both scope and emotion. The film is definitely ambitious in some areas.

The animation is gorgeous to behold. I loved its use of hand-drawn animation, but this is the first computer animated film from Ron Clements and John Musker and the results are more than stellar. The character designs are pretty good, but the highlights are some of the highly memorable imagery and the ocean. The water is so well animated and a character in its own right.

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Moana Movie Review……………………………………………………..

The film is well edited and well directed, I found the tone to be well handled and diverse and the film is emotionally engaging, but the dialogue needed to be much bigger to sell those abundant conversations and emotional scenes better. And because the film was too simplistic and definitely unoriginal in its storytelling, it never achieved the status of those Renaissance flicks from the nineties, but it came actually pretty close at times which I did not expect. And I loved that it was a return to classical Disney musicals and that is the major reason why I liked it more than Zootopia’ from the same year. it has its problems, but it is so wonderful and adventurous that it mostly succeeds.

Moana has its problems such as some typical plot points, a lack of stronger dialogue and I really dislike Maui and the film’s annoying meta approach at times, but the film succeeds as a high-spirited, grand adventure and it is a return to those classic musical adventure films from Disney which is why I loved it so much. The characters are mostly good, the film is very emotional at times, its lack of villains is admirable, some scenes are just beautiful and majestic to behold and the film’s Polynesian setting is so well utilized and intriguing. But the soundtrack is just fantastic with so many great, catchy or emotional numbers with the highlights being How Far I’ll Go and especially We Know the Way which are definitely future Disney classics.

My Rating – 4

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Fantasia 2000 (1999 )

Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Fantasia Movie Review

Fantasia 2000 is a 1999 animated musical film which is the 38th Disney animated feature film. It is a solid film that isn’t as inferior to the original as you would think.

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That age old question:

“What would happen if you gave a yo-yo to a flock of flamingos?

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Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Now because I was never a huge fan of the original ‘Fantasia’, I do not find it to be an untouchable masterpiece. I do respect it, but it is an uneven work of art. The same goes for its sequel Fantasia 2000 which is actually one of a few Disney sequels that we’ve got so far. Yes, it seemed unnecessary, but they actually justified its existence thanks to a couple of awesome segments that rival the best from the original film. It is still a vastly uneven film, but when it succeeds, it succeeds in spades.

Because this is basically a package film in a way, I would structurally organize this review as I usually do with such films meaning that I will go through each of its eight segments one by one and I will comment upon the overall technical aspects afterwards.

So let us begin. The first segment is Symphony No. 5 by Ludwig van Beethoven. Now Fantasia 2000 follows the pattern of the original film and thus we begin with the abstract segment first. This one features colorful butterflies and besides the obviously very good animation in it and of course great music, there is nothing else in it really. I do not like abstract pieces and this one is as basic as they come.

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Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi is really good. The only problem here is that it is too slow and actually boring at times, but other than that, this segment is actually quite impressive in terms of the animation which is absolutely gorgeous to behold and the character designs are great. Watching those whales swim was beautiful. The movements were polished and the segment is not only artistic, but sometimes even magical.

Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin is my second favorite Fantasia 2000 segment without a doubt. It is set in New York City in the 1930s and we follow four individuals with each one of them getting their wish fulfilled at the end. I loved it not only for its of course terrific technicalities, but mostly because of its heart and charm. I love the 30s so I naturally loved its setting and time period, but the characters felt relatable, likable and I rooted for them.

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Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Piano Concerto No. 2, Allegro, Opus 102 by Dmitri Shostakovich is a weak part. The Steadfast Tin Soldier is a famous fairy tale, but I just did not think that it received justice in this adaptation which was problematic. The characterization and action are weak and this animation is my least favorite of the entire movie.

The Carnival of the Animals, Finale by Camille Saint-Saens is another weak segment. This is where the film really slowed down and weakened significantly which is a testament to its uneven quality. What would happen if you gave a yo-yo to a flock of flamingos? Yes, that is a basic concept here and needless to say, it was overly simplistic, cartoony and just too short and kind of pointless.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is naturally a classic, but I did not get the need to revisit it again here other than to acquaint the movie with the newer audiences. It just made the movie cheaper than it should have been and this was definitely a needless rehash and they should have just made another original segment instead.

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Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Pomp and Circumstance – Marches 1, 2, 3 and 4 by Edwald Elgar is based on the story of Noah’s Ark. I just loved this one! It is my favorite segment from the entire movie. Every story that features Donald Duck is a winner in my book and this is no exception as I just love this guy. Daisy is also stupendous here and their romance is sweet and endearing. The ending is simply wonderful. But the reason why it succeeds lies in its beautiful animation with excellent designs of all the animals and of course the score is superb and not only my favorite composition here, but also one of my personal favorites when it comes to classical music. I love this piece and I love the entire segment.

The movie finishes off with Firebird Suite – 1919 version by Igor Stravinsky. Now this is obviously a very poetic, emotional and actually quite artistic experiment with a gorgeous, epic conclusion that brings to mind the conclusion of the original film and was a perfect ending to the entire film, but it was still disappointing to me as it was overly slow, sometimes even boring and prolonged.

Fantasia 2000 features gorgeous animation and I liked the variety of styles present here. Almost all of the segments were beautifully animated and the animation is even artistic at times. It isn’t as inspired as in the original, but still very good in its own right and frequently great. The compositions that they chose were probably even better than before and I liked the use of animals and Donald Duck in it. Donald was also hilarious in one in-between segment along with Mickey. Quite charming and endearing.

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Fantasia Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Now let’s talk about those segments in-between. I strongly disliked them. And they are the worst thing about this movie. Let me elaborate. They brought in celebrities and famous actors and actresses, mostly comedians, to do the introductions to the segments and most of them did a cringe-worthy job with Steve Martin being forgettable and Penn & Teller being just so off-putting that they annoyed me immensely. Some got less to do, others got a lot more, but I disliked most of those introductions and it really hurt the movie in the long run. But it is otherwise a solid sequel in the Disney canon that still is weaker than all of the Renaissance movies prior to it which is why it counts as the first film in the Disney’s Second Dark Age.

Fantasia 2000 is a pretty solid Disney sequel with off-putting and cringe-worthy introductions to the segments and some segments are weaker as the film is quite an uneven work as a whole, but most of the segments are very good with my favorites being Rhapsody in Blue and Pomp and Circumstance which are awesome. Donald Duck is as lovable as ever and the technical aspects are impressive with excellent classical music and sometimes quite inspired animation.

My Rating – 3.5

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Tarzan (1999)

Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

Tarzan Movie Review

Tarzan is a 1999 animated adventure film that is the 37th Disney animated feature film. It is a bit underrated film that is one of my personal favorite Disney flicks.

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What am I doing? Captain!

Tell them you never found us!

After all, people get lost in the jungle all the time!

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

This famous story got a great treatment in the Disney form and truly it just might be the best ever adaptation of the novel. It is such a fun, joyous and charming adventure flick with a couple of genuinely dramatic and heartbreaking moments as well. It flowed mostly really well and it is a well crafted film, albeit a bit too rushed at times.

The ending is most certainly overly happy, but still satisfying. As for the highlights, all of those emotional scenes were the best. For example, the beginning is just breathtakingly beautiful and it just might be Disney’s finest opening, possibly inferior just to the one in The Lion King of course. I loved the sequence in which Tarzan and Jane first met. Beautifully shot, tremendously well scored and filled with an excellent silent and even poetic approach to it, it is one standout scene from beginning to end. The scenes between Tarzan and Kala were naturally some of the best as well.

Now is the perfect time to talk about the characters. Tarzan himself is really good. Too serious, but he has such a great, genuinely moving and powerful arc. He grew up a bit too fast, but his adult part is great. Jane is fantastic. I don’t know why she’s so underrated, but when it comes to Disney’s female characters, she is one of the most endearing and likable. I liked that she was a stereotype at first, but that she eventually changed. The romance between the two is very sweet.

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

Kala is such a sweet soul and a wonderful mother. Kerchak is superb and the relationship between him and Tarzan is possibly the strongest one in the film and that says a lot. He proved his worth near the end and watching Kerchak die and utter that line of acceptance to his adoptive son was just heartbreaking and wonderful to witness.

Terk is definitely funny and it is great that we got a female comedic sidekick who is also a tomboy. She is genuinely funny with a couple of great lines and succeeds as a comic relief as well as being a great friend. Tantor is nowhere near as good as her, but he still has his moments and is better than most secondary sidekicks. Professor Porter is absolutely phenomenal. I just loved him as he is such a sweet, at times funny and always immensely likable person who brought a smile to my face. Clayton, on the other hand, is one of the film’s major weaknesses. I get that he was important to the story, but he was still a typical villain who didn’t really pose serious threat. He is well designed and definitely not bad, but still not great and his death is typically foolish and even ridiculous in a way.

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

Tarzan has excellent animation. Now there isn’t anything truly artistic here and some of the earlier Disney renaissance films were more inspired for sure, but it still looks terrific. The character designs I loved. I wasn’t crazy about Tarzan’s look, but the gorillas looked terrific and all of the other humans were great. But the highlights are the action which is stupendously well realized in movements and the natural scenery which is simply gorgeous. Some scenes here truly are breathtaking to witness.

Now the soundtrack is splendid. I get why some may find it cheesy, but I like Phil Collins and what he did here was great. All of the songs here are either moving or catchy and I liked that for once the characters do not sing, but the songs serve as a background. All of them serve as great plot drivers or character moments and thus they are successful.

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

Trashin’ the Camp is naturally the weakest of the five, but watching it and listening to it the second time, I do not dislike it as much as I did the first time around. It is still basically a non-song with silly singing, but the tune itself is catchy and the sequence is actually a lot of fun, although definitely a detour and even filler in terms of storytelling.

Strangers Like Me I don’t love as it is a bit boring to me when compared to the next three songs, but it is still solid and actually great in its lyrics and very fitting to the story. The entire scene is one of the film’s best, so well done and animated. I have a soft spot for Two Worlds. Not a lot of people love it as much as I do, but not only does it accompany a master class opening, but it is genuinely good in its own right with moving lyrics and a great, dramatic and inspirational change in rhythm near the end.

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

You’ll Be in My Heart is a deserved Oscar winner, a song that is emotional, even heartbreaking and is pleasantly reminiscent to Baby Mine from ‘Dumbo’. So well sung by both the mother and Phil Collins in the official version. But it is actually Son of Man that is the highlight of this great soundtrack. I just adore this song! It was a great, fun way to have Tarzan transition from child to adult without it being boring, the lyrics are good, the rhythm is so entertaining and it is just such an infectious, immensely catchy tune that is in my opinion one of Disney’s catchiest songs ever.

Tarzan is technically quite polished. The action is stupendous, so well done and exhilarating at times. It had a lot of action, but the kind of action that is adventurous and fun instead of dull. The humor is mostly charming and satisfying, the dialogue is solid and the movie’s admirable emotional approach is evident from the beginning (the way they explored family was beautiful to behold). The voice acting is top-notch, the direction is excellent and both the animation and the effects are fantastic. The pacing is one of my problems. It was just too rushed which is something I’ve only noticed watching it for the third or so time, but it was definitely noticeable. Some scenes were way too abrupt and the entire movie had such an epic, long story that needed to be told in at least 100 instead of 88 minutes.

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Tarzan Movie Review…………………………………………………………………….

That is the only flaw here, that along with the villain and a somewhat too happy, if still heartwarming ending. It felt way too convenient and to me unrealistic that Jane chose to live with him in the wild, but still watching her make that decision, jump into the water and kiss him at the shore was wonderful and watching the Professor join them with that very funny line made my day. The film has a couple of flaws for sure, but it is still one of Disney’s best films in my opinion. Not in the top five, but certainly near the top of the list and probably in my top ten.

With absolutely terrific animation, memorable and very well developed characters, greatly established relationships between each and every one of them, stupendously well executed action sequences and some great tunes with Son of Man being so catchy and a lot of fun, Tarzan is such an underrated Disney film that is one of my favorites from the studio, a film that is rushed in pacing and with a typical villain, but is simultaneously emotional, dramatic, romantic and adventurous and well crafted on almost every level. It was a great film to end the Disney Renaissance.

My Rating – 4.5

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Hercules (1997)

Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

Hercules Movie Review

Hercules is a 1997 animated musical fantasy comedy film that is the 35th Disney animated feature film. It is such a minor, but very entertaining Disney entry.

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I’m a damsel, I’m in distress, I can handle this.

Have a nice day.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

It is based on the titular legendary hero who is the son of Zeus. And this of course all comes from the wonderful Greek mythology. And that makes it the second Disney film to be based on the myth or legend after ‘Pocahontas’ released two years prior to this one. Here the change in pace was quite welcome as we have never before seen a film from this studio tackle such a subject matter and they mostly did a good job with it, if admittedly far from a great one.

Now of course the film follows the very familiar trope of an underdog/superhero origin story and that is certainly typical, but definitely well done here as the film is entertaining from start to finish. It marks a major departure from the other films released during the Renaissance as it is rarely serious and is much more comedic in tone. In fact, it is definitely a comedy at its core and there is nothing wrong with that as it’s a fun romp that also has a big heart and some genuinely memorable characters.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

Speaking of the characters, the protagonist is definitely a typical heroic type you’ve seen countless times before. He is charming for sure, but definitely forgettable. But Megara charges this movie and is easily the most memorable and best character of the bunch. First of all, she is animated and presented differently and is for once a more realistic in looks female character which is great. Another great thing about her is her backstory which is dark and I loved the explanation for why she’s working for Hades and it all ties well into the overall arc and her relationship with Herc. She is such a funny, realistic and extremely likable personality and it’s a shame that she’s not regarded as one of the best Disney female characters when she most certainly is.

These two are fantastic to watch together. In fact, their romance is one of my favorites from the studio as they are just so charming together and those romantic sequences are pleasantly playful and charming. It is at its core a traditional love story, but it’s presented in a more modern way which makes it more relatable.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

Phil is solid and I liked his character quite a bit here. He wasn’t as funny as he ought to have been, but he is such a good soul and some of his moments brought a smile to my face. Another great relationship is between him and Herc too. Hades is definitely a joke of a villain in the vein of Captain Hook from ‘Peter Pan’. He is too easily defeated and is never menacing. But he is still good for this type of movie as he is very funny at times and such a delightfully memorable presence on screen. Zeus is great and I liked how the Gods were depicted and animated quite a bit, Pegasus is of course endearing and Pain and Panic are such amusing, at times hilarious henchmen for the villain that they are quite underrated characters in their own right. The voice acting here is fantastic with Susan Egan, Danny DeVito and James Woods all knocking it out of the park.

Hercules is never animated as artistically as most of the other Renaissance flicks which makes it inferior in comparison. But it is still good when viewed in its own context and honestly the designs here are simply phenomenal. The character designs in this movie are some of the most original in the animation history as they look like their representations on those vases and they look like they actually came from this particular time period. That is something that ‘The Prince of Egypt‘ would repeat a year later, but this movie came before which makes it quite unique in that matter. The film is also pleasantly colorful and its color palette also fits well into this world. The animation here is another testament to how great Disney once was at adapting its songs and animation within the time period.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

However, the songs in Hercules are quite the opposite. They never fit in with the period as they are way too modern. But that wasn’t a problem to me as these songs are just so good. And of course incredibly underrated, at least some of them are. The only song here that I honestly really dislike is One Last Hope. Danny DeVito is good in this role, but his voice is too distinctive and here that shows a lot along with his lack of a greater musical talent. But the song is above everything else very boring and the scene too should have been better.

The Gospel Truth is inferior too, but a solid opening and I liked its backup sinking quite a bit. A Star is Born is another similar song, but very well sung and very catchy. I liked these female voices a lot actually. Go the Distance is a typical Disney song in its entirety, both in imagery, plot and tone. It is a regular “I wish/I can do it” song and it sets up the rest of the movie just fine and is admittedly very well sung, but the melody itself is boring and the lyrics aren’t the greatest.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

The two best songs from Hercules are of course Zero to Hero and I Won’t Say I’m in Love. The first one is just so incredibly catchy and one of the fastest and most purely entertaining Disney songs ever with fun lyrics and such a phenomenal melody. I loved that it also has two parts and both are absolutely terrific.

And of course I Won’t Say I’m in Love is the highlight both in terms of music and in terms of storytelling. The sequence that came before it is so wonderfully romantic, but this scene is phenomenal, so well filmed and with great imagery. It is such a perfect vehicle for Meg and it wonderfully propelled her character forward, but it is as a song just awesome. It is a Disney ballad turned upside down with an added feminist twist of sorts as the girl doesn’t want to fall in love this time around, but can’t help it. Its lyrics are so good and the song is so catchy and instantly memorable.

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Hercules Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………..

I liked the action sequences here, but they still could have been a bit more majestic. The pacing is totally off and the entire third act just felt rushed which is weird as the material there is so good and it had the potential to be much better executed and much grander. The ending is so wonderful, but those scenes that came before it were admittedly rushed. The film is moving at times and always charming and the humor and dialogue are definitely strong, but it is never ambitious or particularly memorable in any way which is its main problem. It is fun and funny, but never great and always just good. And even though it wouldn’t stack up pretty high on the Disney list, it is still a very fun ride when watched singularly.

Hercules definitely lacks ambition, the pacing is totally off as the third act is rushed and even abrupt plus some of the songs and scenes were subpar, but the film is a fun and funny ride with solid humor and such phenomenal, memorable characters with Meg being one of Disney’s finest heroines. It also has an interesting animation style to it, it is moving at times, very charming and it has a very good soundtrack with Zero to Hero and I Won’t Say I’m in Love being the highlights.

My Rating – 4

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Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Pete's Dragon Movie Review………………………………………………………

Pete’s Dragon Movie Review

Pete’s Dragon is a 2016 family fantasy adventure film directed by David Lowery and it is the newest Disney live-action remake. It is a solid, but typical endeavor.

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You can’t say ‘dragon’ over the radio

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Pete's Dragon Movie Review………………………………………………………

The film tells the story of an orphaned boy who befriends a dragon in the forest and the ensuing repercussions of their discovery by the town’s local residents. It is the remake of the 1977 eponymous movie and it succeeds as a remake for two reasons. One is that the original itself is one of the weakest, if not the weakest, live-action animated Disney feature so it was pretty easy to top it which this one did. And the second reason is that it abandons the original’s storyline in pursuit of its own.

And that latter approach is done for better and for worse. On the one hand, it certainly works better to have a live-action adaptation that isn’t a cheesy, overlong musical and is rather a straightforward adventure movie. But the problem here lies in its familiarity. We’ve seen this countless times before. Just in this movie you can see the influences of ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘How to Train Your Dragon’. It is never original and it never has anything truly unique or interesting in it.

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Pete's Dragon Movie Review………………………………………………………

Pete’s Dragon is still done really well despite its tired plot. The execution is so good that it is actually one of the better kids’ flicks of this type. I particularly liked its third act which featured some pretty good action scenes and a very good conclusion with a strong emotional payoff.

But the characters and their actors are not the greatest. All of the characters are as typical and as forgettable as you would expect from this type of family film. And by the way, the entire film is incredibly forgettable, both the remake and the original, which is something that this property never managed to overcome. And the actors are very weak or they gave weak performances. The child performances are solid, but Bryce Dallas Howard was much better and much more memorable in ‘Jurassic World’ and Robert Redford is… well, let’s just say that he seemed like he didn’t want to be there. That is his performance in a nutshell.

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Pete's Dragon Movie Review………………………………………………………

But even though I criticize it too much, Pete’s Dragon is actually a good or solid at least movie with especially good CGI. I did find it typical for today’s movie to have an animal that acts like a dog, but Elliot was otherwise really solid both in his look and in his personality. And the relationship between the two is been there, done that, but at least it is very well done and sometimes actually quite moving and warm. The soundtrack is good and definitely fitting in its country genre, but it still had way too many songs in it. The structure of the movie is good, but it is sometimes a bit too slow and uninvolving. And the beginning was weird as it just kind of started, but the other parts are all good with the entire third act being a real winner. All in all, it is a solid live-action adaptation, but both ‘Cinderella and ‘The Jungle Book’ were much better in my opinion.

Pete’s Dragon is sometimes uninvolving, definitely forgettable, weakly acted and overly familiar in its storyline, but it is also pretty heartwarming at times, its third act is very good, the special effects are solid and the movie succeeds as a remake because they took a different approach that worked in its favor and it ended up being much better than the original which was very weak.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

The Hunchback of Notre Dame Movie Review

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a 1996 animated historical musical drama film that is the 34th Disney animated feature film. It is such a good, awfully underrated movie.

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Quasi, take it from an old spectator.

Life’s not a spectator sport.

If watchin’ is all you’re gonna do,

then you’re gonna watch your life go by without ya

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

It is based on the classic novel by Victor Hugo. And although some of the darkest elements were omitted in this adaptation, it still remains one of the darkest Disney films of all time, one of the most sophisticated and most mature. That is because you can’t really make this material kid-friendly no matter how hard you try. But that is okay as its darkness makes it so memorable. Yes, it ends with a happy ending, but it isn’t all that happy as, in the vein of ‘Pocahontas‘, the protagonist doesn’t get the girl in the end and that is so admirable.

The plot here is very well told and always wonderfully dramatic and serious which means that it thoroughly succeeds as a drama film. In fact, it is such a dramatic movie that it doesn’t even have fantasy elements to it as those sidekick gargoyles can be interpreted to be Quasimodo’s imaginary friends. Couple that raw seriousness with its darkness and you’ve got one of the most atypical Disney films out there.

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

Now, let’s review each of the characters here. The character development is strong. It isn’t fantastic, but it is mostly very good and in some cases even fascinating. Quasimodo is a bit bland as he is a bit too good, but that is an expected trait for a hero. But he is such a tragic figure that you can’t help but sympathize with him and root for him from beginning to end.

Esmeralda is one of the best Disney princesses that never received that official title. Yes, she is cocky and overly sexualized, but that is necessary for the plot and she can also be quite sweet at times while also being admirably selfless in others. She is definitely one of the strongest female characters in the Disney canon as she is both inspirational, pretty and very capable.

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

Captain Phoebus is also pretty good. Their relationship could have been a bit better, but his friendship with Quasimodo is excellent and is just as good as is the relationship between Quasimodo and Esmeralda. Clopin I never really found all that interesting and he is to me a character that could have easily been cut off from the end product.

Djali is a forgettable animal sidekick, but the fact that she is a goat makes her interesting. Victor, Hugo and Laverne are quite solid, if at times a bit annoying gargoyles. Some may say that they are unnecessary, but the scenes with them were heartwarming and they served as Quasimodo’s shoulders to cry on. And if my theory that they are actually the figment of his imagination is true, that is even better.

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

Judge Claude Frollo… What is there left to say than has already not been said? Fearless, extremely realistic and all the more powerful for it, he is such a strong dark presence in an already pretty dark movie that he elevated the material even more. His lust for Esmeralda provided us with some of the most mature sequences ever for the company and his inner conflict is so powerful and dramatically conveyed. His interactions with each and every character is exceptional and he never made a single mistake throughout the movie. Needless to say, he is one of the finest Disney villains ever created.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame features some of the most underrated animations which again goes to show what an underappreciated movie it is. All of the designs here are strong and the animation is fluid and polished. However, what makes it stand out is its attention to detail. The eponymous church is absolutely gorgeous to behold and so meticulously and realistically portrayed. I also loved how wonderfully utilized it was and how we got to explore it from all of its sides. The city scenes were also excellent and the camera angles are terrific throughout the movie.

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame………………………………………………………………….

Now is the perfect time to praise its soundtrack. It consists of six songs and most of them are very good. Let’s start with those lesser ones. Topsy Turvy is my least favorite number here as it to me served as a filler in terms of storytelling and the overall tune is forgettable and boring. I realize that the gypsies needed to be portrayed and showcased in their music and lifestyle, but those scenes with them tended to go on for too long in my opinion.

A Guy Like You is definitely fun, but it is more fun than meaningful and it is another song that didn’t need to be here. It isn’t bad, but it is inferior when compared to others that I am going to talk about now. Out There is weaker in its beginning, but so great in its ending and that quality is something that is present in another song too, but more on that later. Out There is exceptional in scenery and in its final moments which are so well sung and powerful. It is a solid I Wish number for sure.

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

And now for the top three. As I said above, The Bells of Notre Dame is another song that starts off weaker and ends magnificently. It is a song that lasts for way too long, but it is such a great opening for this movie that perfectly sets it up in terms of storytelling. But those final moments in the song are jaw-dropping and when you hear those bells and that awesome chorus, you instantly appreciate 1990s Disney and how wonderfully they used to fit in the score with the time period which is something that today’s entries are lacking unfortunately.

Hellfire is a blast! It is so powerful, so well sung and so vivid in its lyrics and so creepy in its imagery that it is naturally one of the best, if not the very best, villain songs in the Disney canon. Its chorus is so powerful and its lyrics are so descriptive and they serve as awesome character development for Frollo leading to a song that is great both as a musical number and as a plot device.

And God Help the Outcasts is definitely my favorite piece here mostly because it is one of the most purely human and selfless songs that I have ever heard. Its message resonates today as well as it did before, it is beautifully sung and, though a bit short, it is both moving and powerful. It is also one of my favorite sequences in the film.

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

The Hunchback of Notre Dame also benefits from other memorable sequences besides the ones set in music such as the ending which is emotional and just so well executed and every scene in and around the church is a winner. The score is tremendous and so in tune with its time period and the film is mature just enough that it is still suitable for children which is great. It definitely has its problems such as the pacing which isn’t the tightest and its biggest problem is that it should have lasted a bit longer as the plot demanded it. And the humor isn’t the greatest and is needless here. And again its atypical nature is both its strength and its weakness. But having in mind how powerful and tragic it is, it’s a shame that it is so underappreciated even today.

Another exceptional Disney Renaissance entry, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is so shamefully underappreciated as it is one of the darkest and most mature Disney films yet. It is a bit uneven at times, but it is so emotionally powerful, so well crafted both in story and in animation, so serious and dramatic and filled with many great musical numbers such as The Bells of Notre Dame which is wonderfully fitting to the time period, God Help the Outcasts which is emotionally resonant in its selflessness and great message and Hellfire which features one of the finest Disney villains ever in outstanding, devilish Judge Frollo.

My Rating – 4.5

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Pocahontas (1995)

Pocahontas Movie Review……………………………………………………………………….

Pocahontas Movie Review

Pocahontas is a 1995 animated historical musical romance that is the 33rd Disney animated feature film. It is a pretty good and underrated Disney entry.

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Still I cannot see if the savage one is me.

How can there be so much that you don’t know?

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Pocahontas Movie Review……………………………………………………………………….

The film follow a Native American woman named Pocahontas and her encounter with Englishman John Smith as he and the other settlers arrive on the continent in search of gold. The story itself I really liked and I realize the criticism leveled at it in terms of historical inaccuracy and that is valid. However, that is usual for Disney films and that’s why I didn’t find it that problematic. The lack of humor is definitely troublesome, but I mostly liked that the film is so serious and mostly realistic as we haven’t really seen a real historical Disney flick before. There aren’t that many fantastical elements here and I liked that. It succeeds as a period piece in my opinion and of course as a musical, but it doesn’t quite succeed as a romance, but more on its songs and romance later.

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Pocahontas Movie Review……………………………………………………………………….

Let’s talk about the characters. Pocahontas herself is quite boring to be honest. In fact, she is one of the dullest Disney princesses because she’s just so underdeveloped and somewhat forgettable. I liked her playful nature at first, but then she was too serious later. She is a tough and respectable female character, but that is also a problem as she was to me a bit too great and flawless.

As for John Smith, he is much more realistic and memorable than her and although far from great, he is definitely solid. And now is the perfect time to talk about their relationship. Well, it is both good and bad. It is great for being somewhat realistic and more serious than usual for Disney and I just loved that they didn’t end up together and this is the only somewhat sad ending in a Disney movie which is very commendable. However, the two lack chemistry which is evident from their first scene and they just needed more spark and fun in their scenes together.

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Pocahontas Movie Review……………………………………………………………………….

Governor Ratcliffe is a somewhat typical Disney villain who is obese, ugly and obsessed with gold, but I mostly liked him, especially how he mostly satisfied as the bad guy. Chief Powhatan is a strong, if underutilized figure, Thomas is pretty good and very likable, Nakoma is sympathetic as Pocahontas’s friend and Kocoum was annoying to me. Grandmother Willow is such a wonderful motherly presence and a rare, but strong fantastical inclusion here. As for the animal sidekicks, they are quite frankly not great. Flit didn’t get much to do and Meeko was oaky, but his scenes with Percy the pug went on for too long. This is the movie that didn’t need animal sidekicks and these two are cute, but totally unnecessary and disappointing in humor.

Pocahontas benefits from some gorgeous animation. I do get why some people may not like this movie, but nobody really can deny its artistic and musical merits. And the animation is one of its strongest suits. The colors are so pleasant and very authentic as we’ve never really seen the use of red so much before. The movie looks fluid and sometimes even poetic, especially during some of the musical sequences. The character design is pretty good and the humans look quite solid and realistic.

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Pocahontas Movie Review……………………………………………………………………….

And the reason why Pocahontas entirely succeeds as a musical film is because it has such an awesome soundtrack with excellent songs as well as a terrific score. The Virginia Company is so cool! It is the song that I picked upon only upon my third viewing, but I now realize how incredibly catchy and wonderfully fitting to its time period it is. This movie definitely benefits from a strong attention to detail as it looks and sounds like 17th century and Steady as the Beating Drum is another strong case for it.

Listen with Your Heart is intriguing and well scored, but If I Never Knew You is boring and I just strongly dislike Mine, Mine, Mine and it’s the only mediocre song here. But of the big three, all are pretty good. Just Around the Riverbend is a bit overrated to me, but its sequence is so well constructed and it serves as a very good plot device. Savages is phenomenal. It is one of the darkest and purely evil songs in the Disney canon thanks to some really striking words. It is such a great villain song. I really liked the reprises of all of the songs too.

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Pocahontas Movie Review……………………………………………………………………….

But of course the highlight has to be Colors of the Wind. This is undoubtedly one of my favorite and one of the best Disney songs of all time! The scene alone is gorgeous both in its animation and in its poetic feel. The lyrics are just beautiful and it has such a strong environmental message as well as being a great plea for tolerance and a good case against ignorance. But it is also beautifully sung by Judy Kuhn and it’s such a catchy, moving and grand musical number.

As I said before, the score is also great. In fact, it might just be better than the songs as it is that good! The Colors of the Wind theme at the end is just breathtaking and it propels that scene to even higher levels. Speaking of that scene, I adore it and it’s to me one of the finest ever Disney endings. Nobody died and the conflict was stopped, but Pocahontas and John Smith say goodbye to each other and that was definitely such a sad moment. But watching her run to the cliff and then say goodbye using her Native American hand language and seeing him use it too was just beautiful and the fact that it was followed by that perfect score and gorgeous animation just adds to its incredible quality. I also really liked the use of nature in this film and how the leaves flew by in this scene. I thought that said movement was a bit overused before, but in this scene it worked to its fullest advantage.

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Pocahontas Movie Review……………………………………………………………………….

The cinematography is excellent, the pacing is a bit slow, but thankfully the movie wasn’t boring, at least not to me. The voice acting is quite good, but the humor is very weak as I stated before and it’s one of the movie’s biggest detractors. But I really liked its time period and setting along with its protagonist. It is very rare for a Hollywood film to revolve around Native Americans and I found Pocahontas to be very respectable of these people as they were very well portrayed. And I loved that it didn’t take sides as it showed how hostile both groups were to one another. It is quite artistic at times and mostly quite sophisticated, if a bit too straightforward at times. Its emotion is evident and strong, but the dialogue should have been better. And of course its message is important and well conveyed. In the end, it isn’t one of the strongest Disney movies and it is weak when compared to most of the other Renaissance entries, but it is still a pretty good, respectable feature that is definitely underrated.

Pocahontas is at times overly serious, its humor is quite weak, the use of animal sidekicks is mediocre and the characterization overall isn’t the greatest, but I still find it to be a pretty good, sometimes even admirable film that is quite underrated as well. Its animation is just gorgeous and at times even artistic and contributing greatly to a somewhat poetic quality to the movie. It succeeds as an interesting period piece, but mostly as a great musical as the songs are amazing, the score is just terrific and it has one of the best ever Disney endings in a scene that is so powerful and breathtaking.

My Rating – 4

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Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

Beauty and the Beast is a 1991 animated musical romance film which is the 30th film in the Disney canon. It is the second Renaissance film that truly is magical.

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Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme,

beauty and the beast

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Let’s talk about the plot first. Beauty and the Beast has the now famous storyline that has been adapted countless times for obvious reasons as it truly is a powerful fairy tale. I loved that opening quite a bit, it was very magical and a great fairy tale moment. I loved the first scenes with Belle as she is instantly likable and well developed. The arrival scenes are also really well done.

Then we have those many scenes where Belle and Beast’s relationship is explored and all are great. Those were my favorite moments from the movie as this is one of the rare instances where Disney developed a romantic relationship in a proper, slower and more realistic manner. The mob scene is overlong, but well realized and of course that whole extended ending is superb. I loved the fight scenes, but I just loved the finale as it was so emotionally and visually powerful.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

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The characters are phenomenally depicted and the characterization is absolutely superb. Belle is such a fantastic Disney princess who manages to differentiate herself from all of the other princesses due to her reading hobby which is great and due to her more realistic, natural looks. I loved that down-to-earth approach with her and she really is a wonderful, strong female protagonist. The Beast is also excellent and to me the finest character here as he is so well developed and his behavior is so nuanced. I loved his interactions with his servants, but the romantic relationship is of course the heart and soul of this movie as it is so wonderfully executed and its development is just beautiful to follow.

Gaston is also a different villain as we finally have a good looking bad guy. That is the major thing that differentiates Beauty and the Beast from all of the previous Disney flicks – the villain is handsome whereas the prince is not. That approach is refreshing and it worked. Gaston is too over-the-top, but I found his arrogance amusing and he served as a pretty solid, if not great villain.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

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LeFou as his henchman is very forgettable and doesn’t bring anything interesting or memorable to the table. Maurice is quite likable as Belle’s father and I loved their relationship. As for the servants, they are all quite memorable and likable. Mrs. Potts is great and Chip is endearing, Wardrobe has her moments and of course Lumiere and Cogsworth are the highlights as they are such a great comedic duo. Lumiere is also great on his own as his romantic excursions are very entertaining.

The animation in Beauty and the Beast is absolutely amazing. In fact, it is to me the finest animation of the Renaissance period and that really says a lot! The character designs are amazing, the attention to detail is evident and the colors are really well incorporated, ranging from colorful in the village to darker in the castle. The castle itself looks splendid and I gazed at its corridors amazed throughout the whole running time. Of course the dinner sequence is the highlight of the film in terms of the music, but also in terms of the animation as it is one of the earliest uses of computer animation in its backgrounds and that mix works in creating one of the best sequences ever for Disney. This animation hasn’t aged a day, it still looks absolutely terrific and it also has definite artistic sensibilities which I respect a lot.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

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The soundtrack is for the most part excellent. But the score is just as good. That theme near the end is so majestic and just brilliant. And the entire movie before it is beautifully scored as well. Let’s talk about the songs. First off, I have to say that one of my biggest complaints while watching this movie has always been its number of songs and their quality. Yes, most of the songs are great, but some are unfortunately pretty mediocre and the film, although a musical, is still filled with way too many songs and it would have been much better if some of those weaker ones had been cut off. But at least those songs that are great are classics.

The film has just six songs which is weird as it feels that it has much more than that which is the testament to my problem as it uses too many reprises. The worst songs are of course Gaston and The Mob Song. The Mob Song is somewhat catchy and the sequence is necessary in terms of storytelling, but it is still a very forgettable and way too long song. Gaston is even an unnecessary song as we already know who this man is due to some great character development. Therefore, those very funny comedic bits during this number are not enough to compensate for a very forgettable and mediocre tune.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

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Something There is a very good, romantic song with good lyrics and a wonderful scene accompanying it. It is definitely the most underrated song of the bunch that, although short, is still sweet. And now we come to those three major songs and all three are definitely fantastic and classics by now. Be Our Guest is the most entertaining song here and that scene is so well animated and very energetic. It is the best sequence for our sidekicks and the lyrics are so great, but the tune is wonderfully catchy and even majestic near the end with great vocals and a perfect execution.

Belle is the song that I wasn’t very fond of before as it isn’t my type of song, but it grew on me. It is very much like a Broadway song, but it works in creating this character and juxtaposing her against the background of the town and its redneck residents. The lyrics are also phenomenal and the song is very long, but because it is very good and the scene is great, it never becomes a nuisance. But I have to say that the reprise of the song is easily the better version which is weird as I usually tend to not like reprises as much, but this is one of the rare ones that trump the original. That is because that scenery, animation and overall scene is so powerful, the camera movements are wonderful and the song gets much more majestic in tone and in emotion.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

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And yes, the highlight is the obvious one and that is Beauty and the Beast. This is not only the best song of this movie, but also one of the finest Disney songs ever in my opinion, a song that once again grew on me upon repeated listening and now I love it and respect it. That whole sequence has, as I mentioned above, absolutely breathtaking animation and the interior is just beautiful, but it is also the most romantic and emotionally rewarding scene in the movie and a scene that is built up in such a sophisticated, polished way. The lyrics are timeless as is the tone of the song, Angela Lansbury’s singing is beautiful, the music is swelling and it is such a special experience that stays with you long after you’ve first laid eyes and ears upon it.

The film has absolutely amazing cinematography with great camera movements. It is one of the most polished looking Disney flicks. The tone is wonderfully romantic, but also pleasantly dark an also comedic at times. The humor isn’t the greatest, but Gaston can be pretty funny at times and Lumiere is also one of the highlights. The dialogue is very good, the emotion is definitely felt, the script is quite sophisticated and realistic for the most part and the pacing is excellent as it moves in a tight manner and is consistently engaging. The animated costumes are amazing, that dress is iconic, the interiors are beautiful and the film has a lot of detail. It also has that great fairy tale feel to it which is essential for a Disney film to become a classic.

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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

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Beauty and the Beast isn’t perfect because there are too many songs and some songs are not that great, but the film also has too many characters, of which not everyone is fantastic (LeFou immediately comes to mind). And for a movie that is proud of being sophisticated, it does have its simplistic moments with Gaston’s theatricality and villainy being very childish. But apart from those things, the movie is great and although ‘The Little Mermaid’ is a much better film in my opinion, Beauty and the Beast is still one of the very best films of the Renaissance period, even better than ‘Aladdin’ and the ‘The Lion King’. It was deservedly nominated for Best Picture and it maybe should have won and its masterpiece and classic status is very much deserved.

Beauty and the Beast is a Disney classic with unforgettable, powerful songs such as Belle, Be Our Guest and of course breathtaking Beauty and the Beast. It also has absolutely terrific animation, many powerful and instantly recognizable sequences and it succeeds as a romance because the relationship is so well depicted and the emotion is felt. It isn’t perfect however as some of the songs aren’t that great and some moments are too over-the-top, but this film is mostly terrific with a sophisticated script, a great soundtrack, memorable characters and such an iconic animation.

My Rating – 4.5

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The Little Mermaid (1989)

The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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The Little Mermaid is a 1989 animated musical fantasy film directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. It is the 28th entry in the Disney canon and it is undoubtedly one of the very best Disney films of all time.

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The human world is a mess.

Life under the sea is better than anything they got up there.

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Let’s talk about the story. It is one of the most well crafted and most entertaining of any Disney film. I loved the beginning with that music instantly reminding you that you are about to witness something special. I also really liked the choice to not feature Ariel in its first scene as that led to a great development of other characters. The relationship between Ariel and King Triton is wonderfully established in the first act and the romance between her and Eric developed quite smoothly in a very satisfying sequence in which she saves him from drowning. That whole prolonged sequence is absolutely fantastic.

Next we have that famous scene in which Ursula gives Ariel her legs.  This is probably my favorite sequence in the entire movie for many great reasons – it is perfectly executed from beginning to end, the visuals are gorgeous, the imagery and the overall tone of the sequence is suitably dark and Ursula is just fantastic.

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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I really found the scenes with human Ariel to be excellent as well. They somewhat slowed the movie, but in a good way as they were romantic and this was the time where I started to genuinely care and root for her to succeed in her task and that is a testament to how likable this character is and how great the script is. The romantic sequence where the two almost kissed is another highlight.

And now we come to the ending. I have to say that it isn’t my favorite part of this movie for some obvious reasons such as Ursula’s demise which is disappointing and a somewhat too rushed final scene. All of those moments were pretty good, but they weren’t as great as was the rest of the movie. But I still liked the action here as it was dramatic and mostly powerful.

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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With the plot now out of the way, let’s talk about the characters. The Little Mermaid is such a classic for various reasons, but one of the big ones is character development. The movie is blessed with such a great characterization and many not only memorable, but also extremely likable characters. Let’s start with our heroine – Ariel. I just adore Ariel. She is to me the cutest and most beautiful Disney princess of them all, but she is also one of the most charming ones too. She is so endearing and so wonderful. I rooted for her the entire running time as I was so invested in her story and I found her so lovable that I wanted her to be happy. That strong reaction rarely happens to me which is why this is such a masterpiece.

King Triton is just superb and he, along with Sebastian, is the finest character here in terms of complexity and development. He is never made a one-note bully father type as he showed emotion and evident care for his daughter from the first moments, but his conflict and eventual sacrifice is all the more powerful because of that strong connection between the two that was established before. And that brings me to my next point – the relationship between King Triton and Ariel is the emphasis and basically the heart and point of this movie. Most people criticize The Little Mermaid for being sexist in its rushed and one-note portrayal of romance, but the romance is not the point here and many miss that. The major and most important storyline here is that father-daughter relationship and the growth that Triton gains. He has to learn to let go and to give some freedom to his daughter and let her make her own choices and all of that is beautifully explored and just so touching to watch.

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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Now, Sebastian is amazing. I don’t know why, but many people fail to recognize the strength of this character as he is without a doubt the best Disney sidekick ever in my opinion. Only Baloo from the ‘The Jungle Book‘ can compete with him. Sebastian the crab is a departure from the silly sidekicks that were usual for Disney Animation of the time and is instead realized in the vein of Jiminy Cricket from ‘Pinocchio‘. He is never just the servant of Triton and is never just the sidekick. He genuinely cares for Ariel and he wants her to be happy and he also learns to let go and be more relaxed and more fun. I just loved that Triton/Sebastian/Ariel dynamic and it is so strong that it drives this whole film.

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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Ursula is one of the strongest Disney villains because she is original in her appearance, but also genuinely charismatic and posing some real threat. If it wasn’t for that disappointing death of hers, she would have been one of the very best Disney villains, but she ended up being near the top of the list because of that. But she is still excellent, very menacing and extremely memorable. Flotsam and Jetsam are quite solid henchmen, but are fairly underused.

I wasn’t such a big fan of Flounder as he was never really utilized and is just there to be cute. Also, apart from that first act, he is quite underused later on. But Scuttle is absolutely hysterical! He is easily the funniest character here as his advice and false knowledge of human things led to many hilarious moments. Chef Louis is okay and those scenes with him and Sebastian are definitely fun and pleasantly childlike, but I still found them to be detours and almost unnecessary to be honest.

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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Prince Eric is quite solid. He isn’t that well developed, but as Disney princes go, he is quite good. I liked the romance between the two. Yes, I get why some would take fault with it as it truly is troublesome that Ariel practically changes her species to be with the person that she’s just met. However, on the other hand, people fail to notice that the film is progressive in featuring a princess who chases after the prince and not the other way around. That made her character a strong female character and it was refreshing to see a more active Disney princess. It definitely ushered into a new era of more progressive female characters for Disney. But as I said, I liked the romance between the two and, although rushed, it isn’t as contrived as it could have been and it is genuinely sweet and romantic at times.

The Little Mermaid’s animation is splendid. It isn’t as great as the one in ‘Beauty and the Beast’, but it’s still phenomenal and gorgeous to the eye. I loved the character designs and the imagery is fantastic. It was so great to go under the sea and Disney took us there in a suitably adventurous, very detailed manner. Ursula is my favorite character in terms of design, but Ariel is, as I said, simply beautiful and all of the animals are really well animated as is the underwater scenery. The film also has a great color palette with dark colors replacing the lighter ones at all the right points.

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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The soundtrack is brilliant! The Little Mermaid has to be my favorite Disney film in terms of the songs as there are so many songs here that I just love. Fathoms Below is okay, but forgettable. It does set the mood well though. Les Poissons is also solid and satisfying for that scene, but also forgettable and not that great. As for the big ones, Poor Unfortunate Souls is the weakest one, but it is still a very solid villain song that perfectly accompanies that amazing sequence.

I just love all three major songs here. Under the Sea is so incredibly catchy. Yes, it is childish, but more childlike than childish and it is again a perfect song for that scene in terms of storytelling and characterization. Yes, The Little Mermaid absolutely succeeds as a musical because it understands what the songs are supposed to do – be fun, catchy and memorable, but also drive the plot forward and help develop the characters more. In Under the Sea we get a great look at Sebastian and his Jamaican accent is quite amusing.

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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Kiss the Girl is a perfect romantic song. This film also succeeds in having different songs of different styles and tones. Poor Unfortunate Souls is a villain song for a darker and more mature scene, Under the Sea is a more childlike and innocent one etc. Kiss the Girl serves the romance of the movie, it flawlessly accompanies its beautiful sequence, it is not only catchy, but also wonderfully sung and it is just wonderful to listen to.

And the finest song here has to be Part of Your World. It is a perfect Broadway-like, serious song and the most impressive piece of music to be had here. The music is just splendid and the song is impressively sung by Jodi Benson, but the lyrics are the standout aspect here as they are so well written and serving the plot and the main character perfectly. For all of those reasons, it is one of the best Disney songs ever in my opinion. And it also accompanies the sequence which is even poetic in nature. The song and its lyrics have a couple of hidden meanings. It reminds us that we humans also share the same problems that Ariel has and the juxtaposition of our understanding of ourselves and hers of us is brilliant. But it succeeds because it gets us to the heart and soul of Ariel and it perfectly showcases her wander and awe of the upside world.

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The Little Mermaid Movie Review

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The Little Mermaid is a technically polished movie. It is well directed and so well acted with Jodi Benson, Pat Caroll and Samuel E. Wright being the major highlights. The imagery and animation are splendid, the details are evident and the score is great. It doesn’t just have great songs, but it also has a great score and an excellent use of the wordless composition of Part of Your World. The tone is deft, ranging from comedic to serious to darker to romantic at just the right moments. It is also wonderfully paced and mostly not rushed. The dialogue is good, the film is memorable and also quite powerful at times. It has such a big heart and such a strong emotional approach being one of the most emotionally investing Disney flicks. And of course, its humor is great. It isn’t present as much, but when it’s there, it is so good and it made me smile and laugh a couple of times. But I’ve held the smile on my face throughout the entire running time because this is just that beautiful a movie. It possesses such a strong fairytale feel to it and it just draws you in its world and in its story and never lets go due to a great world building and excellent script. It most certainly is one of the best Disney films of all time.

With beautiful animation, great humor, excellent score, strong emotional investment and many powerful sequences, The Little Mermaid is an undisputed classic that has such lovable and incredibly well developed characters, excellent script, such a great varied tone to it and an absolutely fantastic soundtrack that is Disney’s finest to date with so many amazing songs with Part of Your World, Kiss the Girl and Under the Sea being the highlights. But the movie also has such a big heart, it also possesses such a strong, welcome fairy tale feel to it, the character interactions and relationships are superb and the film is very romantic as well. For all of those reasons, The Little Mermaid is a masterpiece and one of the best musicals ever made while also being one of the very best that Disney Animation has to offer and one of the finest animated films of all time.

My Rating – 5

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Zootopia (2016)

Zootopia Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

Zootopia Movie Review

Zootopia is a 2016 animated adventure comedy that is the 55th feature in the Disney canon. It is such an excellent, stupendous movie that is Disney’s best one in years.

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Life’s a little bit messy.

We all make mistakes.

No matter what type of animal you are, change starts with you

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I will talk about its themes later on in depth, but now let’s talk about the overall plot. I really liked its storytelling as it does have such a clever, really terrific script and that is to be admired as it is a rarity these days. The film was not only incredibly entertaining, but it also contained a lot of heart and charm which are the essential ingredients for a classic Disney feature. In terms of the genres, it is a mix of comedy, adventure and mystery, but definitely is a buddy cop comedy above everything else. Confession time – I dislike that genre and I always have. However, it is a strong case for this movie’s greatness that I still loved it regardless of that. Yes, some of those genre tropes bothered me at times, but this was mostly such a greatly conveyed storyline, so well crafted and detailed, that I really enjoyed it. And it is refreshing as it’s the first buddy cop comedy for Disney.

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Zootopia Movie Review

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The character development in Zootopia is particularly strong as each and every character is not only well realized, but also memorable and both main and supporting characters are well utilized. Judy Hopps is excellent. She seemed a bit annoying to me at first, but she grew on me later on and I really liked her goal and her personality quite a bit. It was great that she was a strong female character, but she still had those girly, feminine qualities in her and I loved that mix. Nick Wilde is awesome, the only problem with him is that he isn’t in the movie as much as he should have been as he is really phenomenal. He is a classic Disney character and although his personality did seem familiar at first, I really loved him in the end as he is so funny and so likable. And of course the relationship between the two is naturally the standout aspect of the entire movie as it is so moving, so wonderful and just a lot of fun.

Chief Bogo is very good and sometimes even funny which I did not expect. Bellwether isn’t as strong and the twist with her, although clever as is everything in this movie, was still somewhat typical as Disney is really starting to annoy me with their new obsession with twists in the third act. The parents of Judy were quite typical for this kind of film, but some of their lines were hilarious nonetheless. Yax is amusing, Lionheart is solid, Duke Weaselton is absolutely hilarious and of course Mr. Big is the highlight with such a great gangster parody and absolutely hysterical lines.

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Zootopia

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Now is the good time to talk about the themes. Yes, Zootopia is a very sophisticated Disney movie and I would even call it a political film as it really does have too strong political overtones. And although at first it seemed too on-the-nose with the remarks about bunnies not being suited for cops being so obvious, those overtones became much more subtle and much smarter as the movie progressed. I actually admired some of the parallels here. For example, only a bunny can tell another bunny that she is cute is obviously analogous to the word nigger. And probably the smartest and just most brilliant analogy was the one with the theme of predators only being able to go savage as that is so obviously a remark on Muslim people and terrorists. I was blown away by how sophisticated and perfectly disguised and incorporated into the storyline were those analogies and that definitely led to this being one of the smartest and most mature Disney films ever made. Zootopia is not only a plea for tolerance, but also a fantastic exploration of stereotypes and the way different races cooperate in today’s world leading to a bit too convenient, but still incredibly timely and relevant movie.

The animation is gorgeous. I loved it. Zootopia has such lush colors and such gorgeous visuals that I was blown away by it. I would even go so far as to call it groundbreaking in terms of its animation as it does look incredibly advanced and revolutionary not only in its details, but also in its colors and realism. The character design is just spectacular and so Disney. It is a perfect mix of classic and modern and the entire movie is like that as well. Fur, faces, clothes, interiors, nature, the overall city, everything looked splendid here and it is absolutely mesmerizing to watch. Literally every frame is pause worthy how good it looks. The only problem here is that the film isn’t particularly artistic, but it is still such a stunning looking film that is definitely going to set a new standard for computer animation.

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Zootopia Movie Review

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Let’s talk about some of the problems here as the movie is so far from perfect. One of the major ones is definitely its beginning. Boy, did it start on a lackluster note. That beginning was so clichéd with a clichéd backstory and such a forced dialogue that I really started to fear about the entire film. Thankfully, it became much more clever as it progressed and much less clichéd, but that opening still remains a big problem. Also, the film is too convenient at times and almost too political and it definitely takes its time to get there not only in terms of emotion, but also in terms of the relationship between Hopps and Nick as it was slowly built. And I also wasn’t such a big fan of its ending. Zootopia is such a weird Disney movie that is quite the opposite from most of the studio’s films that really star and end well, but this one has a weaker ending and a weaker beginning, but with the middle parts being the highlights.

Speaking of highlights, the humor is one of them. This flick is so funny and frequently hilarious. I laughed out loud many times with most of the supporting characters being comedic gold. Mr. Big is awesome, but what they did with Duke Weaselton was just something special. That sequence is one of the best ones here as it had the releases both new and not released yet from Disney and that was just so funny and so perfect for Disney fans like me who know everything about this. Another highlight is Nick’s flashback. Whereas Judy’s backstory was clichéd, this one is much better and much more emotional. And some other highlights are its mystery elements. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a neo-noir, but it surely has a strong mystery in it and some fantastic atmospheric thrills.

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Zootopia Movie Review

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The score is mostly really good, if not that memorable. The only song here is Try Everything from Shakira and I really enjoyed it as it was catchy and fun. The imagery and cinematography is splendid, but what takes the cake as being the most intriguing is definitely the movie’s world building. Wow, it was fabulous! Everything here is so meticulously constructed and the city of Zootopia is not only vivid and detailed, but also seems real. I felt as if I was literally there and that is a testament to some strong world building and animation. The dialogue is clever, the direction is strong, the pacing is really excellent and the film’s running time is perfect as is its tone. The script is its major asset along with the characters, humor and animation and having in mind that those are the essential ingredients for a great Disney flick, this surely is one. I wouldn’t call it one of the best Disney films ever as it is pretty flawed, but it is certainly the finest Disney animated movie since 2012’s ‘Wreck-It-Ralph‘. And I just loved how authentic it is, but also classic, that mix was great as it was great to see a Disney movie with anthropomorphic animals as they haven’t made one for a long time.

Zootopia is another strong proof that we are living in the Second Disney Renaissance. This movie is just phenomenal with a great mix of classic and contemporary with a perfect mix of genres, absolutely stellar script and terrific character development with many memorable and likable characters. Yes, its beginning is clichéd and the film was too convenient and too on-the-nose at times, but its analogies are for the most part brilliant and so clever as it is such a perfect exploration of stereotypes and the relationships between people of different races in today’s world. But Zootopia doesn’t forget to have a heart and it has emotion in spades, but it also has absolutely gorgeous, even groundbreaking animation, such an entertaining and well crafted storyline, absolutely amazing, admirable world building and superb character interactions. It is a great cinematic achievement and Disney’s finest effort in years.

My Rating – 4

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