Coco (2017)

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Coco Movie Review

Coco is a 2017 animated fantasy musical film directed by Lee Unkrich. It is a strong film from Pixar, but far from their best works.

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I thought I was related to a murderer!

You’re a total upgrade!

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Coco Movie Review

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I was tremendously excited for Coco and I have been looking forward to it for a very long time. It was actually one of my three most anticipated films for 2017. But unfortunately it ended up being a disappointment for me. The film is quite good, don’t get me wrong. But it is just not great and certainly not amazing. My expectations were too high I guess.

So it follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who is transported to the land of the dead where he seeks help from his ancestor to return him back to the living world. The boy wants to be a musician, but his family disapproves. Now basically in that disapproving part I found it to be disappointing as I never really got why they opposed music so much. And I also found the first act somewhat lacking as it was too rushed and lacking in characterization.

The film definitely became much better in the second act and that second act is easily the highlight for me as the third one was overly emotional. I do realize now why so many people are getting frustrated with Pixar’s emotional manipulation. Coco isn’t manipulative, but certainly its last scene is overly sentimental. But I do think they somewhat earned that emotion, but not fully for sure.

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Coco Movie Review

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The second act is where the movie shines because it features wonderful fantasy and adventure elements and very memorable plot points. The twist itself I did see coming. I mean I didn’t predict it fully, but I did expect the darker turn and that obviousness was problematic for me. However, they still did the best they could with it and although somewhat soapy, it made the film very intriguing nonetheless.

Let’s talk about its characters. Miguel is very good and likable. He’s a standard, but still a good protagonist. Ernesto de la Cruz is very memorable and effective. Hector is easily the best character in the entire film as he is very well developed, immensely likable and the relationship between him and Miguel is fantastic. The grandmother is too strict, the parents are boring and of course Coco herself is a fantastic plot device. The film needed more characters and better characterization of the supporting players.

Coco is definitely a musical as it relies on music so much, but I have to say that it does that with mixed results. For a film which literally is about music, you would think that we would get a great soundtrack, but what we got was a pretty weak, forgettable soundtrack which is never, ever on par with Disney’s classics.

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Coco Movie Review

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La Llorona is the only song apart from the main one which is even remotely memorable as Everyone Knows Juanita, Un Poco Loco and all of the others are so forgettable that I already have forgotten them. They really needed stronger songwriters for this film.

Of course Remember Me is the standout song. It isn’t great, but it is pretty good with moving lyrics and I particularly liked how it was used so well in all those different sequences in different contexts. But I still had a problem with that approach as using mostly this one song meant that we got less of the other songs which was a giant problem the movie never overcame.

The animation is the best reason to see Coco in my opinion. It is phenomenal. It isn’t as inventive as ‘Inside Out’ was but it’s still very strong and particularly polished and colorful with a great use of many wonderful colors to accompany its Mexican setting so well. The colors of green, yellow and orange were the highlights. The character design is solid and I loved how the skeletons looked and moved.

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Coco Movie Review

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The world building is amazing and they created this whole world populated with the dead beautifully. That is actually the highlight of the film along with its animation – the mythology. I loved the concept of fading or second death after all living people forget you. That was a very powerful and sophisticated approach and I loved it. The film does deal with the theme of death so well and cleverly which is why its final emotional scene is not manipulative.

The voice acting is especially strong and emotionally evocative. The direction from Lee Unkrich is very good as well and the pacing of the film apart from its beginning is pretty good. The score is also very good, but not as great as the trailers promised me. The whole film is just never as fantastic as the trailers were leading to an eventual disappointment for me.

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Coco Movie Review

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Coco is a very good, but unfortunately disappointing film which is far from Pixar’s best works. The standout aspects are its world building which is amazing, its animation which is beautiful and pleasingly colorful and its mythology which has some very interesting concepts very well explored. The film explores death so well, it is sophisticated in that theme and it is particularly effective in the portrayal of Mexican culture and Día de los Muertos. The characterization is good and I particularly loved the second act with the fantasy adventure angle to it. But even though its emotional ending was somewhat earned, it was still too sentimental. The twist is also quite easy to predict. And its major problem is the soundtrack. Remember Me is definitely a good, well utilized song, but the rest of the songs are very weak and never at all comparable to the works of Disney. And when you have a film that is literally about music, you need to have a killer soundtrack which sadly isn’t the case with Coco.

My Rating – 4

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Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)

Gold Diggers of 1933 Movie Review

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Gold Diggers of 1933 Movie Review

Gold Diggers of 1933 is a musical film directed by Mervyn LeRoy and Busby Berkeley and starring Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler and Ginger Rogers. It’s such a phenomenal movie.

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Fanny is Faneul H. Peabody,

just the kind of man I’ve been looking for,

lots of money and no resistance

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Gold Diggers of 1933 Movie Review

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It follows four aspiring actresses who struggle during the Great Depression. They get a call for work and make a new successful show. But in the background a variety of shenanigans ensue where the girls make fun and try to use rich men. It sounds like too much story for an hour and a half film, but they manage to make use of all these storylines so well.

Let’s first talk about the characters and then I will comment upon each and every musical number. I absolutely loved the characters in this film as they are so well developed and actually a lot of fun. The group dynamic is so well established and they work beautifully as a team.

The acting is sometimes clunky with some problematic performances, but most of the actors and actresses did a fine job with the highlights being Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon and of course Ginger Rogers.

Lawrence is such an amusing, funny character and of course Fanuel is hilarious. A stereotype for sure, but they made fun of him so well with the highlight being that Pekinese scene which is so funny. The film actually makes fun of these types of men more so than gold digging women which was refreshing to see.

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Gold Diggers of 1933 Movie Review

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Polly and Brad are the straight duo here and thus more boring, but still essential and their relationship is sweet. Fay is bitchy and fun and Carol is the best developed character here for sure. But the standout one has to be Trixie who simply steals the show with a bunch of highly entertaining, hilarious quotes. Whatever came out of her mouth was bound to make me laugh.

Gold Diggers of 1933 is a glorious early musical and one of the very best of the thirties. The film is fantastic as a drama and especially as a comedy, but it succeeds tremendously in the musical sequences thanks to a bunch of unforgettable, simply fabulous songs and a great score.

We’re in the Money is naturally the standout song here which I just love so much. Not only is the song extremely catchy, incredibly entertaining and great to sing along to, but it also features actually very serious, dark lyrics. The song is so well written and sung leading to a standout opener for the entire film.

Shadow Waltz serves its purpose as the romantic spot in the film, but is much less memorable than the rest of the songs. I’ve Got to Sing a Torch Song is pretty good, but again not all that memorable. Both of these songs are good, but not as great as the rest.

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Gold Diggers of 1933 Movie Review

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Pettin’ in the Park is simply fabulous. The song itself is very good and with excellent lyrics, but it is the visuals that count here. The production design here is simply unbelievable how good it is and thus honestly groundbreaking. The costumes, the poses, the dances – everything is so well composed with the highlight being its Pre-Code sexy streak with a lot of innuendos and mild nudity.

Remember My Forgotten Man is another highlight of the film. The film closes with this musical number which I did not expect at all. It left me shaken and sad. The song is about the Great Depression and most specifically about how everybody forgot the heroes of WWI and how those men are unemployed now. This segment is beautifully shot, very dark and simply heartbreaking in a very haunting manner.

And I have to congratulate Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies on how timely they were as I recognized all these songs from their parody films: ‘I’ve Got to Sing a Torch Song’, ‘Pettin’ in the Park’ and ‘We’re in the Money’ are all films that utilize on titular songs so well.

So Gold Diggers of 1933 is a great film, but not a perfect one. Some of the acting is, as I said, clunky and the pacing is very problematic as it is incredibly fast and thus rushed at times. It needed a bigger runtime to accompany its rich storyline. But the direction is phenomenal, the dialogue is clever and the humor is fantastic as the film is very funny and frequently even hilarious. Those gold digging scenes are priceless.

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Gold Diggers of 1933 Movie Review

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But it is its variety of tones that make this film a winner in my book and one of the finest, most underrated musicals ever. It is funny, but also poignant, heartbreaking and serious while being very sensual and sexy too. I loved the production design here as all numbers are visually spectacular.

Gold Diggers of 1933 is way too fast paced, but very funny and frequently hilarious while also being very serious and poignant at times. It is tonally diverse and very accomplished while featuring groundbreaking production design, excellent costumes and stunning choreography. The dialogue is clever plus the characters are memorable and a lot of fun. We’re in the Money is such a fantastic, very catchy song which is so well written too; Pettin’ in the Park is visually spectacular, sexy and hugely entertaining; Remember My Forgotten Man is unexpectedly serious, dark and hauntingly devastating. All of these musical numbers are amazing leading to a hugely underrated film which is one of the best musicals of all time.

My Rating – 4.5

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Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

Sleeping Beauty is a 1959 animated musical fantasy film which is Disney’s 16th feature film and certainly one of their very best. It’s such a classic.

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Now,  father, you’re living in the past.

This is the 14th century!

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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This fairy tale is actually incredibly dark and thus the movie is also pretty dark, but much milder than the original tale and thankfully so. It is an updated, modernized and frankly much better version of the story. Again Disney made the ultimate film from this story and thus made it their own.

It was a risky, somewhat odd fairy tale to film and thus I hugely appreciate the filmmakers for managing to craft it so well and make a coherent feature film out of it. For a film where most of the characters spend sleeping, it is rather involving and intriguing to watch and that sleeping, dreamlike state is beautifully conveyed thanks to an awesome atmosphere, wonderful score and stellar animation but more on those later.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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The film is definitely childlike in its first half, especially with the fairies, but is very dark, atmospheric and mature in its second half and I loved that shift in tone and it was very well handled. Both halves are excellent and both achieved what they set out to do.

As for the characters, many argue that Aurora is a weak character, but as a princess who is only in a movie for just about 18 minutes, I honestly can’t blame her and I think that she is actually pretty well developed for little screen time that she received. She is beautiful, wonderfully animated and, for such a short time she is in the film, you manage to see why everybody would love her so much. I do realize why nowadays feminists criticize her and yes, she did fall in love with a man she did not know. However, she clearly objected to being betrothed and that progressive side of her should not be forgotten.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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Aurora is more of a plot device than an actual character and there is nothing wrong with that and that choice paid off and worked really well for the film. But when you really think about it, the fairies are the protagonists of this film. They are the ultimate Disney fairies and some of the best sidekicks of all time.

They transcend the role of the sidekick stupendously as they not only help Aurora, but also Phillip and basically save the whole kingdom. Plus all three are strong, so well developed, unique characters and I loved the emphasis on them as they are so charming. Fauna is so sweet and of course the fight between Merryweather and Flora about the color of Aurora’s dress (pink or blue) is so much fun and I loved it. They share such wonderful dynamic together and all of their scenes are either very endearing and moving or just a lot of goofy, cartoony entertainment. They provide the necessary humor and childlike nature to an otherwise more serious, dark film.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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But the kings are also quite goofy and funny in their own right as well as their drunk, wine-obsessed servant. That scene almost comes off as a detour, but it is so pleasantly cartoony, amusing while also being grounded in reality in its portrayal of 14th century kings that it worked for me. And I loved the father’s argument with his son with that line about the 14th century being hilarious. It’s again a rather progressive, unfairly forgotten element to this film.

Prince Phillip is without a doubt the best of the early princes. Not only is he given most to do, but he also has a distinct, present personality and is much, much better than all the previous princes. He is a strong character in his own right, a true hero and I loved that, but I also loved his look as he is very handsome and well dressed. He’s very likable and his horse Samson is also quite endearing.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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And as for Maleficent, what is there to say that hasn’t yet been said about her. She is menacing, genuinely creepy, so well developed, beautifully animated and wonderfully cast – Eleanor Audley once again gave a standout performance after her terrific performance in ‘Cinderella’ as horrible Lady Tremaine. She is one of the rare villains who never made a mistake, is always menacing and pose definite threat to the protagonists. She is such a memorable and authentic character with unforgettable looks and voice, a standout in this film and easily one of the very best Disney villains of all time. Plus Diablo is an excellent, very helpful henchman.

Sleeping Beauty has beautiful animation. It is absolutely gorgeous to behold with a painting like, artistic quality to it and a style that is truly original and distinguishes itself from their other animations. The character design, the style, the movements – everything is polished, fits the time period and feels like a work of art. I do think that more Disney films should have utilized on this painting style as it worked like a wonder here and helped create its ominous and dreamlike atmosphere so well. It isn’t as stupendously detailed as Disney’s earliest films, but still I liked its style a lot and it is in my opinion one of the studio’s most artistic endeavors. The highlights include the forest, Maleficent’s look, her very creepy and unforgettable castle and the wonderful cottage in the woods which looks so cozy and charming. I do think that the film was obviously cheaper in terms of budget (the still backgrounds are noticeable), but still I loved that painting quality to it and it fits the storyline extremely well.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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Sleeping Beauty is definitely a musical. It only has two true songs with a couple of minor ones as well, but it relies so much on the score to tell its story that it definitely is a musical, but a different one than all the previous Disney films. The score from Tchaikovsky is of course beautiful and again complementing the film’s dreamlike feel perfectly. It was a terrific choice to include his compositions and I adored this score to pieces. It is also quite diverse in style – ranging from thrilling and eerie to dreamlike to playful and comedic.

The Skumps Song, One Gift and Hail the Princess Aurora are all very short pieces which could not be called songs, but they all serve their purpose and accompany their scenes very well. I Wonder is of course the weaker of the film’s two musical numbers. Now I like this song and it is quite sweet, very well sung and with solid lyrics, but it is just too short in length and overall a standard princess fare.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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Once Upon a Dream is a masterpiece. This song is just beautiful. The score is brilliant of course, but the added lyrics are so well incorporated and I loved each and every word here. That scene is the standout of the entire film and easily the most romantic scene in all Disney films. I loved the singing of both the prince and the princess and thus it succeeds as an incredible duet, but it is its ethereal, dreamy and timeless chorus that transcends it to the ranks of all-time greatest film songs. It is a perfect ballad, an impeccable waltz and the second best Disney song of all time just after Part of That World from ‘The Little Mermaid’.

The pacing here is sometimes a bit problematic, but mostly better than the troublesome pacing in ‘Snow White’. The voice acting is simply terrific and the direction is superb. Some of the imagery is iconic and visually this is truly a moving work of art. The action near the end is also excellent and thrilling to behold. The tone is diverse and well handled and the humor is not all too great and far from hilarious, but definitely charming and very endearing. I liked the dialogue as well plus the film is emotionally resonant, most especially in its wonderful finale.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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The finale is awesome, but every scene with Maleficent and her castle stole the show. Of course the forest scene is the highlight for me, but the dragon fight is amazing too. All of the action set pieces are certainly magnificent but the highlight is that very last battle between Phillip and Maleficent. And of course the spinning wheel sequence is so incredible – eerie, otherworldly and impeccable. The film truly is close to perfection even though it is very short in length. It truly belongs among the five best Disney films of all time.

With beautiful, truly artistic painting-influenced animation, brilliant score and an outstanding, simply iconic song in Once Upon a Dream, Sleeping Beauty is one of the best Disney films of all time and a moving work of art. The characters are excellent – the fairies are charming and of course Maleficent is one of Disney’s ultimate villains not only in her looks but also her voice and actions. It is an atmospheric fairy tale with a dreamlike, eerie and almost ethereal quality to it. A lot of the scenes here are unforgettable and the film achieves so much in so little time that it truly is a masterpiece in the world of animation.

My Rating – 5

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Dumbo (1941)

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Dumbo Movie Review

Dumbo is a 1941 animated fantasy film which is Disney’s fourth animated feature. It is one of the better and most charming Disney outings.

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What’s the matter with his ears?

I don’t see nothin’ wrong with ’em. I think they’re cute

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Dumbo Movie Review

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The story is obviously a tale of discrimination against those who are different. It examines that theme really well and is obviously highly emotional in some scenes. I liked the film in terms of storytelling as it is very short and thus very effective and getting to point and never dragging.

I do realize that nowadays the circus setting is not as pleasant, but it was timely for the forties and I thought it was very well explored. The film showcases how the animal circuses worked and I really liked that. It has its fantasy elements and it also is a musical as it has quite a lot of musical numbers for its short runtime, but it is above all else a nice family drama that is very emotionally resonant and consistently sweet and endearing without ever being cloying.

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Dumbo Movie Review

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Let’s talk about the characters. The character development here is very strong as is expected from Disney’s Golden Age. Each character is well emphasized and properly developed and in that way the film is basically a rich character drama. The voice acting is also top-notch across the board.

Dumbo continues the tradition of Disney’s silent protagonists and of course I adored the little fellow. The choice to not have him speak paid off significantly as he is all the more endearing that way. It is impossible not to fall in love with this little elephant.

His mother is so sweet and all the scenes between the two are instantly heartwarming and pulling on the heartstrings. The human characters appear scarcely and rarely are fully seen on screen, but that worked as they are still well utilized but never taking the focus off of our animal stars.

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Dumbo Movie Review

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Mr. Stork is quite likable and I liked the anthropomorphized Casey Junior quite a bit. Those elephant “ladies” are a bit too on-the-nose, but they are still excellent and serve finely as the film’s only antagonists as the movie has no villains which was also a terrific choice. Some may consider the crows to be the villains, but I find them to be animal sidekicks and great ones at that.

I do realize that they may seem racist for today’s audiences as they obviously have those black accents, but I think people exaggerate too much. They are actually not stereotypical in my opinion but fully developed characters who helped our main duo significantly and not to mention that they are incredibly funny and unforgettable in behavior and many great lines.

Timothy Q. Mouse is definitely somewhat similar to Jiminy Cricket from ‘Pinocchio’, but still he is an excellent character. I loved how he cared for Dumbo and how he constantly tried to cheer him up and helped him. Their scenes are so lovely and he is such a nice, wonderful soul. The parody here is that he is a mouse and Dumbo is not afraid of him and I loved that they made fun of that stupid myth.

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Dumbo Movie Review

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Now in terms of animation, Dumbo is not great. That aspect is actually the film’s weakest one. I do not think it is bad and it is actually pretty good, but it is just not up to par with the studio’s three previous artistic achievements and some later movies as well. The reason why it isn’t as artistic is obvious – Disney opted to make a somewhat cheaper flick to capitalize in the troublesome war years and to recuperate from the losses of their two previous efforts.

That is why the film looks much less artistic and much more cartoony than Walt’s usual films in this period. The backgrounds are charming, but overly simplistic and less detailed. However, that is not to say that the film doesn’t have its terrific elements. The character design is one of them as all elephants, the mouse and crows look great. And of course the drunk sequence is amazing and so incredibly imaginative, crazy and just downright unbelievable and simply unforgettable. That is the only truly artistic, inspired animated scene in the film and it’s an all-time classic one at that.

Dumbo is definitely a musical which is all too often forgotten, but shouldn’t be as the film has a pretty terrific, very underrated soundtrack in its own right. The score itself is excellent and fitting in its setting and period, but the songs are mostly fantastic with three of them being classics by this point.

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Dumbo Movie Review

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I will first talk about the weaker numbers. Song of the Roustabouts serves its purpose in terms of imagery and plot point, but is entirely forgettable and somewhat annoying. Clown Song is actually pretty amusing, but way too short of course. Casey Junior also serves its purpose, but is again forgettable. Look Out for Mr. Stork is accompanied by a great sequence, truly wonderful. However, the song itself is somewhat dated and dull.

But let’s talk about the classics now. Pink Elephants on Parade is my least favorite of the three great songs here because it does not have enough singing in it, but the score itself is awesome, highly catchy and very atmospheric thus accompanying its wild, crazily nightmarish, imaginative sequence oh so well. This is the weirdest scene in the movie and it works because the animation is absolutely stellar and because the song is very strong.

Baby Mine is of course highly touching. This is one of the saddest Disney scenes of all time as watching Dumbo touch trunks with his mother who is confined is just heartbreaking. The scene works as it stops the entire story in its tracks and you are left with pure heartfelt emotion and such a terrific, gorgeously sung and simply beautiful musical number.

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Dumbo Movie Review

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And the standout one is of course When I See an Elephant Fly which is simply amazing when you think about it and oh so underrated when it comes to Disney’s classic songs. It is a jazz song which is in style and execution different than your usual Disney song and is thus highly original, but also phenomenally sung, infectiously catchy and with simply hilarious lyrics. I love it and I was happy that it got repeated in the end sequence.

Speaking of the ending, I have to talk about one film’s flaw which is minor but still relevant. It runs for just about 64 minutes which is basically an hour which is just too short. It is short, but sweet and it wouldn’t have worked if we got another thirty minutes as the story is too simple. However, the entire third act with the flying felt way too rushed. The rest of it was greatly paced, but that part was definitely abrupt. The circus action scenes were somewhat prolonged and not my favorites, but the highlights are the beginning, the ending, the crows scene, the mother-son reunion and the pink elephants scene.

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Dumbo Movie Review

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I loved the direction, the dialogue and the storyline – all are great. The film is simple but never simplistic. It works because its emotion is genuinely felt and because it has its charm in setting, music and characters. It is thus in the line of ‘Cinderella’ which is lower 4.5 rating, but still in the top twenty for the studio overall.

Dumbo is a great charmer. It is rushed in its third act and definitely short, but sweet. The animation isn’t as artistic as other films of its period, but it is still quite charming and highly imaginative and weird in the pink elephants sequence. The film is simple, but never simplistic and its emotional impact is undeniable as some scenes are truly touching. The characters are highly endearing as well with the crows, the protagonist and Timothy Q. Mouse being the highlights. The soundtrack is also pretty great and underrated as Pink Elephants on Parade, Baby Mine and When I See an Elephant Fly are all classics. In the end, Dumbo is one of Disney’s less ambitious, but sweetest and most endearing flicks.

My Rating – 4.5

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Victor/Victoria (1982)

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Victor/Victoria Movie Review

Victor/Victoria is a 1982 musical comedy film directed by Blake Edwards and starring Julie Andrews and Robert Preston. It is a wonderful film.

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Oh, God…

there’s nothing more inconvenient

than an old queen with a head cold

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Victor/Victoria Movie Review

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It is about a jobless singer during the 1930s who gets pressured by her gay friend to develop a new persona. She will be a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman. Needless to say, this story is very original, exciting and just a lot of fun while also containing very sharp social commentary in it.

The film showcases homophobia during the thirties but it above all else showcases sexism and how for women it was even more difficult in a way than for gay men living in this period. When Victoria says that living as a man liberated here, you believe her and that moment truly is the most powerful in the entire film.

But Victor/Victoria handles those themes subtly and stupendously without ever getting in the way of its humor and the humor is terrific. The film features such a great mix of old-fashioned slapstick comedy and more insightful humor such as clever dialogue and back and forth between the characters. Both work to the fullest extent and some of the highlights are the restaurant scene as well as all of the romantic scenes between Victoria and Marchand.

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Victor/Victoria Movie Review

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The film is also a musical and even though it is better as a comedy, it is still quite good as a musical as it features fittingly retro musical numbers that transport you to its wonderful time period really well.

Gay Paree is amusing and, well, gay. The Shady Dame from Seville is repeated throughout and that was a great choice as it is the most catchy and infectiously exuberant number in the film. You and Me is also solid and the other songs serve their purpose, but are somewhat forgettable. But still this soundtrack is pretty good and the score itself is excellent.

The casting is the film’s only and unfortunately big problem. Andrews, Garner and Preston are all magnificent in their roles, there is no doubt about that. But I just never bought any of them in their roles. Garner is not manly enough for the role, Preston isn’t gay enough and Andrews isn’t androgynous at all. And because these three are the most important, essential characters, the fact that I never bought them in their roles was troubling.

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Victor/Victoria Movie Review

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But the acting remains fantastic. Lesley Ann Warren is suitably over-the-top and frequently hilarious as ditzy Norma Cassidy, James Garner is charming as Marchand and Robert Preston is sweet and subtle as Toddy. Julie Andrews definitely steals the show from all of them and deservedly was Oscar nominated. If it wasn’t for Meryl Streep in ‘Sophie’s Choice’, she would have won. She is radiant, beautiful and always wonderful and charming as the protagonist of the film and I simply loved her here. An elegant actress in an elegant role.

Victor/Victoria is a consistently entertaining film which is never rushed and never prolonged. It lasts for just the right runtime and always delivers. I loved its very clever dialogue and couple that with terrific acting and fitting music at display and you’ve got a wonderful homage to the best era in filmmaking. It is also superbly directed by Blake Edwards.

Very insightful in its social commentary but never forgetting to be funny and it truly is hilarious, Victor/Victoria also has fittingly retro, solid soundtrack and it thus succeeds as a phenomenal musical comedy set in wonderful 1930s. The casting is pretty bad, but still everyone did a great job – Lesley Ann Warren is hilarious, James Garner is charming, Robert Preston is likable and Julie Andrews steals the show in a powerhouse performance playing wonderful, elegant and charming Victoria. The movie fires on all cylinders and I’ve had a blast watching it.

My Rating – 4.5

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Cinderella (1950)

Cinderella Movie Review

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Cinderella Movie Review

Cinderella is a 1950 animated musical fantasy film which is Disney’s 12th animated feature. It truly is one of the better Disney films of all time.

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They can’t order me to stop dreaming

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Cinderella Movie Review

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After almost a decade of low-quality package films, Disney is back with a classic Cinderella, the film which will prove to be one of the best Disney films and one of their most fondly remembered pictures decades later. It surely has its obvious flaws, but the strengths are abundant that they mostly render those flaws minor.

First, the characters. There is a plethora of characters in this movie – from the innocent protagonist to wonderfully evil villains to the prince and his silly father to the mice, the necessary sidekicks. Cinderella is, like Snow White – kind, pretty, a good singer and great with animals, but unlike the first Disney Princess, she has a bit of a feisty and rebellious attitude making her more believable and modern. She is not too developed, but still a solid early Disney Princess who is actually much more active than people nowadays give her credit for. She actually went to the ball and managed to find her own happiness instead of waiting for it to happen.

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Cinderella Movie Review

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Prince Charming is unfortunately a non-entity as the most underdeveloped character in the film. It is a shame, but at least all of the other characters are strongly developed and he would have been more utilized had the film been longer in length, but more on that later on.

Charming’s father is an interesting attempt at comedy proving to be quite an unexpectedly funny creation. He is very desperate in his need for grandchildren which is realistic given the time period portrayed and he is a needed comic relief, influencing the fathers in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in the process.

Now, the mice. They are at times funny, at times sweet and always helpful. Their chases with Lucifer should prove entertaining for children and a pleasant diversion for adults. Those action scenes are definitely cartoony, but still done so well and pleasantly reminded me of classic cartoons such as Tom and Jerry. Bruno is particularly memorable as this fat, food obsessed but also very endearing mouse.

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Cinderella Movie Review

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Their voices are awfully squeaky and they more than occasionally feel as if they were the protagonists thus ruining the film’s pacing a bit and greatly contributing to Cinderella’s lesser screen time. But still they are endearing enough that the film did not suffer too much for having them appear too often. Plus I liked that this is the ultimate Disney Princess animal film as here Cinderella not only speaks to animals and helps them, but it is a mutual relationship as they help her too and they do help her a lot. The relationship is wonderful and important in terms of storytelling too.

Lucifer is one of the most villainous animal characters in all of Disney films thanks to his mean personality and negative attitude towards the protagonist. I do think that this film is not for a cat person as they are very much the villains here whereas the dogs are heroes, but still I liked that archetypical approach as here it worked in its favor and fitted the film really well. And he truly is a great animal villain or henchman should I say.

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Cinderella Movie Review

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Grand Duke is a funny counteract to the King and I really liked their amusing interactions. Fairy Godmother is of course very endearing and such a wonderful character. She is great both as a necessary story point and as the necessary magical element in the film. Anastasia and Drizella are very funny as these ugly, incompetent and stupid stepsisters.

But the one character who totally stands out is Lady Tremaine. She is mean, cold and just plain evil, coming across as even scary in some noir-influenced scenes. Her attitude along with her voice work and actions make her one of the very best Disney villains, probably better than Maleficent and the Queen because she does not need powers to be scary and evil. She is at the top or near the top of the list of best Disney villains and definitely the most underrated villain as well. A very menacing presence and even more disturbing for being a real, non-magical person.

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Cinderella Movie Review

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This famous fairy tale is very well adapted here as Cinderella is enchanting, magical, endearing and always mesmerizing to watch. The highlights of course include the ball dance, some of the cat and mouse chases, every scene with Lady Tremaine and the dress making scene which is an unforgettable, simply beautiful Disney sequence. The film should have been much longer in length as the mice took too much of the screen time this way and the second half felt somewhat rushed. The first act is prolonged and the third is rushed but despite weaker pacing, the story is great and wonderfully traditional that it in the end works.

While the animation is not on par with the studio’s first couple of films, it is nonetheless far better than the package films thanks to an interesting beginning, colorful style and an artistic ballroom sequence. The character design is excellent and the interiors look great, but to me the highlights here are the exteriors. This is a rare animated film which feels like a concept-art come to life as some scenes (especially the outside ones) are so elegant, artistic and dreamlike in their quality that they almost felt like paintings. I loved that artistic angle here.

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Cinderella Movie Review

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Cinderella’s soundtrack grew on me over time. I still think that it is one of the weaker of the Disney Golden Age soundtracks, but still quite solid with some great songs. Cinderella serves its purpose as the opening of the film with that classic book added. The lyrics are too descriptive and spoilery, but the song is quite okay and catchy in a traditional way.

Sing Sweet Nightingale is way too short in length, but again it serves its purpose in terms of storytelling and as a showcase of the contrast between Cinderella and her stepsisters. The Work Song is the weakest song in the film which is accompanied by a wonderful scene where the mice make her a dress, but their squeaky voices ruined an otherwise catchy number. So This is Love is a forgettable Disney ballad again accompanied by a wonderful scene, but the song itself is too short and not memorable, catchy or romantic enough.

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Cinderella Movie Review

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Of course the two best numbers here are Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo and A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes. The former is such a wonderful children’s song which is incredibly catchy, fast and irresistible to sing along to while the latter actually grew on me over time as at first I did not care for it, but now I really like it. It is the classic “I Wish” Disney Princess song and the ultimate moment for the main character. The lyrics are great, the song is wonderfully traditional and so well sung with the highlight being the last chorus. I loved its scene too.

Thanks to superb villains and their awful actions, you can’t help but feel sad for the main character, making the film one of the darker films in the canon because of its evident sense of danger and sadistic intentions of Lady Tremaine.

The tearing of the dress scene is unforgettable in its brutal and heartbreaking imagery. Even though Cinderella’s characterization is not particularly strong, you always root for her and you are happy at the end when everything turns out fine. Lady Tremaine, like all of ‘Pinochio’s villains, ends unpunished and she has never made a single mistake making her one of the best villains ever to come from Disney.

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Cinderella Movie Review

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The humor is quite good at times and I loved the film’s diverse tone and also its elegant score. It is abrupt in its ending, but flies by how short and incredibly engaging and wonderful it is. The best part of the film is its emotional aspect. So in the end, the film is not quite on part with some of Disney’s previous classics, but it was still a great, important step in the right direction for the studio and certainly one of their better films out there.

It is certainly way too short in length and somewhat rushed, but Cinderella was nonetheless a phenomenal return to form for Disney with mostly strong character development, evident emotion and sense of danger, engaging story, solid humor and such an elegant, artistic animation style to it. The soundtrack is weaker than most of Disney’s Golden Age soundtracks, but it still features two classics in Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo and A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes. The mice take away too much of the screen time, but I still really like the classic cartoon animal chases here. It has its minor flaws, but it is still one of the better Disney films thanks in no small part to Lady Tremaine who truly remains one of the finest and most menacing Disney villains of all time.

My Rating – 4.5

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Frozen (2013)

Frozen Movie Review

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Frozen Movie Review

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

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He’s crazy.

I’ll distract them while you run

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Frozen Movie Review

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

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

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

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Frozen Movie Review

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

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

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Frozen Movie Review

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

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

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Frozen Movie Review

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

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

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

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Frozen Movie Review

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

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

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

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Frozen Movie Review

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

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

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

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Frozen Movie Review

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

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

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Frozen Movie Review

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

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

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Frozen Movie Review

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

My Rating – 4

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Tangled (2010)

Tangled Movie Review

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Tangled Movie Review

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

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Go. Live your dream.

I will.

Your dream stinks. I was talking to her

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Tangled Movie Review

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

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

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

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Tangled Movie Review

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

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

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

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Tangled Movie Review

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

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

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Tangled Movie Review

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

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

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Tangled Movie Review

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

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

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

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Tangled Movie Review

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

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

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Tangled Movie Review

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

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

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Tangled Movie Review

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

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

My Rating – 4.5

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The Princess and the Frog (2009)

The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

The Princess and the Frog is a 2009 animated musical film directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. It is Disney’s 49th animated feature and one of their most pleasant outings.

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Like I told y’all, kissing a princess breaks the spell.

Once you became my wife, that made you…

A princess. You just kissed yourself a princess.

And… I’m about to do it again

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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This is it. This is the movie that signaled the arrival of the Disney Revival era. From here on, the films were much better in quality and major improvements over Disney Second Dark Age flicks. The Princess and the Frog ushered in this new era which is interesting as it contains both the modern and the old-fashioned elements to it and that mix did not hold it back, but it actually strengthened the movie and made it incredibly appealing.

So the modern is the princess herself who is the only Disney princess who works as she has a dream to open her own restaurant. That was great and important. Of course you have African Americans for the first time ever prominently in a Disney movie as the prince, princess and villain are all black. But you also have a very strong relationship at the center of the movie, the setting of New Orleans, the 1920s era and those are all unique things present just in this movie. And the greatest thing about it is that these things are just presented to us and the movie never gets preachy with them which was excellent.

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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As for the traditional aspects to it, there are a lot of those as well honestly. So firstly, the technical aspects from the animation to the action to the humor are all very much done in that wonderful classic Disney style of yesteryear. The film looks and sounds like a Disney classic and the fact that we got it this late in the game, 2009, was just awesome. And the most important thing is that this is a princess movie and a musical. Disney went back to their roots here and created a wondrous film in the process.

So yes, The Princess and the Frog is historically very important on multiple fronts, but let’s talk about the story itself. I honestly found the first act a bit rushed for my taste and the movie has way too many characters in it. It is a testament to how strong the character development here is that most of them are memorable and great, but still I could have done with less characters. Those are some of the problems of the movie and why it is not great, but still very good.

The movie has a lot of the elements from other Disney films such as ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘Cinderella‘ and especially ‘Snow White’ in its mix of dangerous and lightweight. It doesn’t do that shift as greatly as that classic does, but still I loved how innocent and carefree the movie felt and still it gave us one major death and a funeral which was great. The film has a very good plot overall, very detailed and filled with a lot of plot points which I really liked and it honestly flies by how engaging and lovable it is. And that prolonged ending is beautiful with its two weddings.

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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Tiana is truly a phenomenal Disney princess, probably one of my favorites after seeing the movie for the second time and so incredibly underrated. I loved her dream of owning a restaurant, but I liked how she had to learn how to live her life and be fun as well. She is very sweet and charming, so beautiful and just a wonderful princess overall.

Prince Naveen is an excellent Disney prince as well. He is spoiled and rich, but gets better and learns the benefits of work in the end. The clashes of their personalities and how each had to complement each other was a really clever choice that paid off tremendously as their relationship was truly terrific and so well established. They are a wonderful couple.

The movie has some charming sidekicks in it. Louis the alligator plays a trumpet and is just such a fun, lovable dude. I really liked him and he was sweet and caring. But of course Ray the firefly is probably the standout supporting character as he is the most heartwarming creature here. His death was tragic, but also simply beautiful and the entire Evangeline the star subplot was honestly poetic in quality. Some really moving stuff to be had here.

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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Mama Odie is a hilarious take on a Fairy Godmother persona. This old woman is blind and lives in a boat on a cottage with her pet snake. How fun is that?! Lawrence is the forgettable henchman, but Dr. Facilier is solid. His design, his song and his voodoo shtick are all great and unique. However, he was too silly, he rarely posed real threat and was disposed of pretty quickly by Tiana. He had the potential for greatness, but was ultimately a missed opportunity.

And the final character I want to talk about is Charlotte. She is a stereotypical Southern girl in search of a wealthy husband and she surprised me. At first I thought she was going to be just that stereotype, but turned out to not only be funny, but also a great, truly admirable friend to her Tia and the lack of any malice toward Tiana’s eventual marriage to Naveen just made me love her all the more. So the film has too many characters (those henchmen were forgettable and that entire frog hunting sequence was a fun detour, but detour nonetheless), but those that work are great and surprisingly well developed.

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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The Princess and the Frog has gorgeous animation. This is the penultimate Disney hand-drawn feature which makes me so sad as here they showed how powerful that animation is. The mix of CGI in it with the lights mostly added that modern polish to it, but the animation overall is so wonderfully traditional with some beautiful painterly backgrounds and a truly accomplished character design. I loved how this film looked and although the frogs themselves were too simplistic, Ray, Facilier and the humans all looked fantastic and the attention to detail is overwhelming here. They recreated this decade and town so vividly and I loved the swamp setting as well.

Finally, let’s talk about the soundtrack. It is in my opinion one of the finest Disney soundtracks of all time. It doesn’t have the best Disney songs, but it has a lot of very good songs and thus is becomes a terrific soundtrack. And I loved that it is a jazz score and we’ve never really had jazz songs in a Disney flick at this capacity before. That made it unique.

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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Down in New Orleans is a fun tune, the kind of tune that introduces you to the movie’s setting and time period and it does that really well. I was not a fan of it before, but now I like it much more as it is catchy, fitting in style to the film and overall successful, if too short. When We’re Human is the weakest of the bunch as it is very forgettable and to me unnecessary even.

Ma Belle Evangeline isn’t something I would sing, but it works well in the context of Ray’s character. Friends on the Other Side is awesome! It is in fact one of the finest Disney villain songs ever as the imagery is superb here, it reminded me so wonderfully of Ursula’s scene and song in ‘The Little Mermaid’ and it is the finest moment for Doctor Facilier for sure. It has such a catchy, terrific finale.

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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Gonna Take You There is the most entertaining song here for sure! It is a fun scene and the tune is endlessly catchy and you just can’t help but sing along with it. Dig a Little Deeper is a great moment for Mama Odie, again the descriptions and the message/motifs are so well incorporated into its lyrics and the song is not only so catchy and fun but also accompanied by gorgeous imagery.

And of course my favorite has to be Almost There. This jazz number is the perfect kind of “I wish” princess song but with the added twist of the wish being a job and not a prince. The entire scene is so well animated and I loved its different, simplistic style incorporated there, it has a great use of the mother’s character and the lyrics are great. It explains Tiana’s character superbly and is just all around incredibly well sung, immensely catchy and one of the most memorable parts of the movie.

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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So it isn’t all that well paced, but the score is great, the film is fun and innocent but also dark at times and it has some great imagery, details and animation style. The voice acting is also top-notch across the board and the humor is quite solid. I really enjoyed this film despite some of its problems. It was a great start of a new era for the company and it truly is one of the most underrated Disney films recently.

With a terrific mix of traditional and modern in its storytelling and presentation, gorgeous hand-drawn animation, a plethora of lovable, charming characters and one of Disney’s greatest soundtracks with wonderful songs like Almost There, Friends on the Other Side, Gonna Take You There and Dig a Little Deeper, The Princess and the Frog has its pacing issues and a weaker villain, but it is the movie that signaled the arrival of Disney Revival period with an abundance of style, a standout princess and many beautiful scenes.

My Rating – 4

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Jailhouse Rock (1957)

Jailhouse Rock Movie Review

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Jailhouse Rock Movie Review

Jailhouse Rock is a 1957 musical film starring Elvis Presley. It is a memorable, but deeply flawed and typical film.

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How dare you think such cheap tactics would work with me!

That ain’t tactics, honey. It’s just the beast in me

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Jailhouse Rock Movie Review

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The problem with Jailhouse Rock is mostly the plot which is so boring, typical and endlessly cliched that I really did not care for it. Everything presented here was been there, done that and not even the music could save that. Most of the scenes such as the ending and the relationship at the center of it felt obvious.

The characters are not great either. The protagonist is your typical 50s angsty guy and the girlfriend is quite bland. I liked his cellmate but he was underutilized and all of the others were quite forgettable. The characterization should have been better as only the protagonist is well developed, but typical in conception.

The acting, on the other hand, is pretty good even if the cast is not an A-list one. Mickey Shaughnessy is pretty solid and likable in his role and Judy Tyler is quite good for an unknown actress and it is such a shame that she got to go at such a young age. The tragedy behind this movie is truly horrible.

As for Elvis himself, he is solid. He is pretty good for a musician and he sold his role for the most part, but it is mostly an easy role that required not a lot of nuance in his performance. He is definitely not great as actors go, but for a singer, he is pretty solid.

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Jailhouse Rock Movie Review

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Let’s talk about the soundtrack which is the saving grace of Jailhouse Rock. One More Day is sweet and memorable, Young and Beautiful is quite solid and Don’t Leave Me Now is the best of these three. Others are forgettable. Of course the titular song is the greatest and it is the scene that transcended the movie itself. It is unforgettable in its imagery, it works great as a precursor to modern music videos, Elvis killed it with his dance movies here and the song itself is a classic – catchy and a lot of fun.

It is a shame then that the movie never caught up with that song as the rest aren’t all that memorable or well filmed and executed. The pacing is solid here, but the movie is still frankly boring and the direction is lackluster.

Jailhouse Rock is memorable for its titular song which is a classic and that entire scene is so great that it is worth a watch, but the movie is otherwise mostly boring and slight with solid acting, but bland characters and a story that is so cliched and obvious in its every plot point.

My Rating – 4

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