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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Porky & Daffy (1938)

Porky & Daffy ReviewPorky & Daffy Review

Porky & Daffy is a 1938 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It is such a funny short.

Porky enlists Daffy for a boxing match and the entire cartoon then revolves around Daffy screwing with his opponent. Now I usually dislike boxing shorts, but this one truly is phenomenal because it is non-stop hilarious action from start to finish with so many inventive quality gags.

I love Daffy Duck here, he is so energetic, crazy and a lot of fun. The belt joke was so funny, I liked the pelican referee and how Daffy used him as a punching bag and literally every single action from the duck here is very inventive and incredibly smart. The only problem is that there is certainly not enough of Porky Pig here and he did not even need to be here whatsoever.

Porky & Daffy features a bunch of hilarious and smart gags making this boxing short truly phenomenal.

My Rating – 4.2

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Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Howl's Moving Castle Movie Review

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Howl’s Moving Castle Movie Review

Howl’s Moving Castle is a 2004 fantasy anime film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is far from the best that Studio Ghibli has to offer, but still a solid film in its own right.

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I don’t cook!

I’m a scary and powerful fire demon!

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Howl's Moving Castle Movie Review

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I actually liked this one much more upon second viewing as I really did not care for it the first time around. But watching it now, I could certainly appreciate it more. The storyline is admittedly quite good and I particularly loved that it is an alternative historical film. This is early 20th century for sure, but with magic added as a bonus.

The story is fascinating, magical, endearing and as imaginative as you would come to expect from the studio. I loved the magical elements and I really liked some of its themes with aging being particularly well explored.

However, the major problem I’ve had with it is that it is undercooked. The narrative is very problematic as it doesn’t give us too many answers to some really crucial questions such as whether or not Sophie is a witch, Howl’s origin story is left unexplored as is his entire relationship with Suliman.

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Howl's Moving Castle Movie Review

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To me the film just happened and it gave us way too many characters and way too many plot points that some were seriously shortchanged. That is the problem of the script but also of the action as the runtime is more than long enough for it to develop properly. But the action is frequently quite overwhelming that we do not get to spend enough time with some characters and story points.

I liked Sophie quite a bit. She has excellent development and growth in this film and is a likable protagonist for whom you root for. Howl is also very good and interesting as this man obsessed with looks and young age. The relationship between the two is moving and one of the film’s highlights.

The Witch of the Waste is excellent and I ended up liking her quite a bit. Underutilized for sure, but she is at first excellent and memorable as a villain and then quite sweet as their companion. Calcifer is a cartoon character in his appeal and design, but a good one nevertheless and having fire literally be a character was interesting and he was so well animated and very endearing.

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Howl's Moving Castle Movie Review

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Markl is sweet, but entirely underutilized unfortunately. But his relationship with Sophie is heartwarming. Madame Suliman is memorable as the film’s greatest villain, but once again entirely underdeveloped. The voice acting is superb and everyone did a great job across the board.

Howl’s Moving Castle features brilliant animation. Yes, that is certainly one of the standout aspects here. I loved seeing for once the early 20th century in a fantasy flick and the attention to detail is so meticulous that I was transported to that era from the first moment. The costumes look great, the hairstyles, the various imagery is highly interesting and in particular the interiors looked awesome with the castle itself being so well imagined. This anime surely is beautiful to look at.

To me the highlight in terms of the scenes was the beginning and especially the transformation scene which was very intriguing and wonderfully reminded me of fairy tales. The film is very much a Japanese fairy tale which I loved of course. The ending with the imposed end credits was not my cup of tea, but each scene in the house was wonderful and Howl and Sophie’s scenes were all heartwarming.

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Howl's Moving Castle Movie Review

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The action is very well executed even though it is overwhelming. The pacing is frenetic for sure and the film should have been much calmer as its runtime demanded it. Miyazaki’s direction and vision are reliably strong, but he was influenced by ‘Spirited Away’ a bit too much and the film never is comparable to it. The score is also not as memorable as some other scores from the studio. In the end, I liked the film, but it is way too flawed to be considered in the top half with Ghibli’s biggest classics.

Howl’s Moving Castle is admittedly much better upon second viewing and it features excellent world building and attention to detail. I really liked its historical period and the magical elements. The two main characters and their relationship are strong and the animation is magnificent and beautiful to look at. But this is still one of the more flawed Ghibli films with overwhelming action and a problematic narrative that leaves too many things unanswered and too many characters underutilized. Miyazaki was influenced by his ‘Spirited Away’ a bit too much and this is obviously a pale imitation of that classic film.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Moose Hunt (1931)

The Moose Hunt ReviewThe Moose Hunt Review

The Moose Hunt is a 1931 Mickey Mouse cartoon. It is a weird short.

Yes, this short is quite odd when you think about it. Pluto’s two gags are not bad, but are way too ridiculous to be taken seriously. One involves him actually speaking and giving us a spoken line which remains the only time he has done that. And another is the ending where Mickey escapes from the running moose by flying, yes flying on Pluto who suddenly could fly. So silly.

However, I still ended up liking this short because it features solid animation and movements and it gives us a wonderful relationship between Pluto and Mickey who share some great interactions here. The moose is also very well designed. The film is important for being the first one where Pluto is actually Mickey’s pet and I can’t wait to see more of him in the future.

The Moose Hunt benefits from Pluto and Mickey’s fun interactions, but is also ridiculous and silly in its two gags which are not doglike at all.

My Rating – 3.5

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Porky’s Spring Planting (1938)

Porky's Spring Planting ReviewPorky’s Spring Planting Review

Porky’s Spring Planting is a 1938 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It is a solid, but not great entry.

I did not care much for this particular cartoon and in my opinion the gardening short ‘Porky’s Garden’ is the better short of the two. Certainly the animation is nice and the overall story I found to be interesting and not really done before. The ending with Porkys negotiations with the chicken was the highlight, but the rest wasn’t really funny.

The film takes its time to get there owing to a very slow start and thus we are not introduced to these chicken well into the film. They only arrived around the half mark which was beyond problematic. Another very troublesome aspect is Porky Pig who is here animated oddly and he both looked and behaved strange and different than usual. I was not a fan of that at all.

Porky’s Spring Planting is perfectly solid with a good story, but weak structure and a problematic depiction of Porky Pig.

My Rating – 3.5

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Cinderella Meets Fella (1938)

Cinderella Meets Fella ReviewCinderella Meets Fella Review

Cinderella Meets Fella is a 1938 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is such a hilarious short.

Having in mind that this short is directed by Tex Avery, it was bound to be great as it is. It has his great signature humor and I loved its parody. It parodies Cinderella and it does that really well with a couple of hilarious moments. The film is still sweet and moving, but with a couple of decidedly adult gags which I appreciated. It isn’t perfect as the second half never quite is comparable to the first one and Cindy is portrayed as too young, but other than that, it’s awesome.

I really liked the animation and of course the characterization is excellent. Cindy is young but fun and memorable and of course Egghead is as amusing as he usually is. The funniest gags were the cuckoo trying to stop the clock, the various radio cuts as they were modern and put into an older period and of course the highlight is the Fairy Godmother who is here portrayed as a drunk lady who visits booze pubs regularly. The gag in which she pulls vodka instead of a magic wand from her purse was so funny.

Cinderella Meets Fella is one of the best Merry Melodies so far owing to it being such a great parody with excellent characterization and many hilarious mature gags.

My Rating – 4.3

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Ranking 1980s Animated Short Oscar Winners

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Ranking 1980s Animated Short Oscar Winners

The eighties actually proved to be one of the better decades when it comes to the category of Best Animated Short Film at the Academy. Certainly some films here are weak, but most were admittedly very good and a couple are phenomenal and very authentic. So here is my ranking of all ten of these 80s shorts.

 

10. Sundae in New York

This one deserves the dead last spot for sure. Its song is catchy and that is basically all I can say that is positive when it comes to this overly short, overly patriotic and downright pointless and weakly animated love ode to the city of New York.

Sundae in New York Review

9. Charade

Charade is better than the aforementioned entry, but not by much. It is again weakly animated and overly short in length. It isn’t bad, but it is another basic and rehashed entry with the game of charade not being fully explored with no humor be to found here whatsoever.

Charade Review

 

8. A Greek Tragedy

I liked the animation in A Greek Tragedy and the score is also very nice. However, this film is anything but its epic title as the story is non-existent and we just follow these three women who try to hold the stones of the building. The humor is weak and I missed the point of the movie entirely. If there is any…

A Greek Tragedy Review

 

7. Tin Toy

Tin Toy is a very dated film. Certainly the plot is great and it influenced countless animated features in its wake and the action and humor are solid. But even though the CGI was groundbreaking for its time, it now looks awfully dated and especially in that ugly design of the baby. The lack of score also troubled me leading to an undeserved Oscar winner as there are so many better Pixar shorts out there.

Image result for tin toy gif

 

6. Tango

Tango is the first truly good film on this list. Yes, the use of live-action figurines in an animated film bothered me as I do not like that approach at all personally. But there is no denying that it is thematically a deep film which is very authentic in its execution and the exploration of the passage of time.

Tango Review

 

5. Anna & Bella

This charmer is overly weird and odd in some of its imagery, but I really liked it mostly for the strong sisterhood at the center of it. It is a moving, very endearing film which benefits from a particularly strong structure and wonderful animation.

Anna & Bella Review

 

4. The Man Who Planted Trees

This movie is very long as it lasts for thirty minutes. It is not particularly engaging and the narration is excessively used. But the animation is beyond beautiful and even artistic in quality, the emotion is evident and some scenes are downright magical. It features a great environmental message that anyone could get behind with.

The Man Who Planted Trees Review

 

3. Balance

I do get what Balance is all about, but only after I read about it after watching it. That is because the plot is way too vague. But even though it is vague and the sound editing is mediocre, watching these figures try to balance themselves on a platform was a pretty strange and interesting experience. The film is otherworldly in its atmosphere and definitely highly original.

Image result for balance 1989

 

2. The Fly

The Fly is way too short, there is no denying that. But you can also not deny how strong its subdued animation is and how amazing its fittingly hectic cinematography is. It is a short which puts you in the shoes of a house fly with remarkably detailed, realistic and downright authentic and admirable effect.

The Fly Review

 

1. Crac

Crac follows the story of one rocking chair from its conception to its place in the art museum where it eventually winds up. Its watercolor animation is simply beautiful and the film is dreamlike in its effect and not to mention incredibly original and also highly moving. Most of the movies on this list are very authentic in premise and execution, but this is the best of them all thanks to its high emotion, a wonderful score and artistic visuals.

Crac Review

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The Castaway (1931)

Image result for the castaway 1931 gifThe Castaway Review

The Castaway is a 1931 Mickey Mouse cartoon. It is such a weak entry.

It follows Mickey who is here ashore on an island. A piano also washes ashore and he plays on it with other animals in order to reduce boredom. Now the short has okay animation and I liked the animals here, but it is one of those typical musical shorts that relies entirely on song and dance numbers and thus feels like a 1929 entry much more so than a 1931 film.

And the plot just makes no sense whatsoever. The prospects of a piano washing ashore just when Mickey arrives on this island are slim to none and it wouldn’t work anyway. That was silly and the overall animal routines were also too cartoony. This is a short that should not have been a musical and it was forced to become one.

The Castaway is one of the weakest Mickey Mouse shorts so far with a senseless and forced musical storyline.

My Rating – 3.1

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The Man Who Planted Trees (1987)

The Man Who Planted Trees ReviewThe Man Who Planted Trees Review

The Man Who Planted Trees is a 1987 Canadian Oscar winning animated short film that is strong, but not great.

I like this film. I do not love it, but I like it. It has a moving story with a great environmental message. It is very emotionally resonant and highly beautiful in score and in animation. I absolutely adored its animation which is quite artistic in style and competent in execution. The biggest reason to see it lies in its wonderful style and of course in the beauty of nature and its message.

However, it is not a great movie because it is just way too long clocking in at thirty minutes and thus it can get tiresome and it is rarely truly involving despite its many strengths. And I also disliked the narration. The narrators did a good job, but I do not like the narration style overall and having in mind that it is a long movie and it was wholly narrated, that bothered me quite a bit.

The Man Who Planted Trees is artistic in its animation and moving in message and story, but overall overrated as it’s pretty boring and overlong with too much narration.

My Rating – 4

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Love and Curses (1938)

Love and Curses ReviewLove and Curses Review

Love and Curses is a 1938 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is a solid flick.

The problem I’ve had with this short is that it never utilizes on its admittedly very strong and interesting premise to the fullest extent and both the score and especially animation are quite weak and unpolished this time around. Technically speaking and in terms of the gags, it should have been much better.

But the characters are memorable even if the villain is familiar. The action is a lot of fun and the highlights are the ending and especially the cozy beginning. It was very interesting plotwise to have an older couple reminisce on how they beat this guy out in the gay 1890s. I liked the period details quite a bit and the film is quite charming.

Love and Curses is technically weak but with a charming central couple and an interesting plot.

My Rating – 3.6

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