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Review of “Robin Hood” (1973)

There are many adaptations of the “Robin Hood” legend. This one, however, is done with animal characters and even a rooster as the narrator. Although he is telling the story, he sometimes makes appearances in it.

Anyway, there is this evil King John and his wicked, but humorous, snake companion, who wants to steal everyone’s money. Robin Hood and his buddy, Little John, do everything they can to save the citizens from the malicious royalty.

The characters were memorable and likable. Although King John was the villain, he expressed his actions in a very immature way. The most common one was where he’d whine for his mommy and suck his thumb. Robin Hood was compassionate and caring. He showed sympathy to this child rabbit named Skipper when the mayor stole his birthday gift, which was money.

Speaking of which, right before that moment, the siblings sing “Happy Birthday” to Skipper, even though this story is supposed to be set in medieval times. And “Happy Birthday to You” was not written until the 19th century (1800’s). So, that’s Ana chronologic. Clearly, the production studio had enough money to pay that royalty to use the song, but was it really worth it for something set hundreds of years before it gets written? The same goes for the balloons. I’m pretty sure they didn’t exist during the middle ages.  

Okay, I apologize for the obsessing of historically inaccurate moments. But the main pitfall of this movie was that it didn’t engage me a lot. It’s hard to say why. Some movies have that mysterious engaging element, however, this film barely had it.

Aside from the weaknesses I stated, I found this movie to be okay. There were a good number of emotional moments. Yet, I would rate “Robin Hood” 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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I’m Out of the Unknown with this “Frozen 2” Review (2019)

The film begins with Anna and Elsa as little kids, around the ages they were when the first “Frozen” movie was released in 2013, but before Anna’s memories of Elsa’s magic were wiped. Their parents are telling them about an enchanted forest that was a place to visit, but then got hidden.

Many years go by; apparently three years have passed since the main “Frozen” film had ended. Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff, Sven, and everyone else in Arendelle is having a grand time. As the main characters play charades, Elsa hears a voice and eventually follows it. Arendelle ends up in trouble. Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf go with Elsa to the enchanted forest Anna and Elsa’s parents had told them about when they were small. They meet the natives there. Then things happen.

While I enjoyed the first “Frozen”, that one was more of a 4-star film for me as it wasn’t nearly as engaging as this one. Speaking of which, there are a few moments where the events from the first movie are being revealed. One is where Olaf acts out all the main parts in a funny way.

The characters have developed and changed as well, especially Kristoff. He is far friendlier and romance-worthy than in the previous movie, where he isn’t exactly the most favorable. There is a song he sings about separating from Anna, and I must admit, it sounds like a 90’s boy band song, such as one written by N-SYNC.

There are also a lot of twists and turns, some happy and some sad. I won’t spoil anything, though.

I would rate this sequel 5 out of 5 stars.

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Have You Noticed These Unique (and Kind-of Strange) Details in Disney Movies?

Who doesn’t love Disney? Many of us grew up with Disney classics whether they were older like “The Little Mermaid” or more recent, like “Frozen”. While I absolutely adore and enjoy Disney films, there are some details that have stood out to me in recent years. And I am not exactly pleased by them.

1: Good looks on human characters rarely exist after age 30

Many Disney protagonists are young, often ranging from younger child to teen to young adult. Since the turn of the century, however, there have been more adult main characters older than teens. I’m assuming Carl from “Up” is the oldest Disney protagonist to date. He’s in his 70’s.

Anyway, as I look at the secondary characters, as well as the villains, who are either supposed to be (or are possibly) over 30, I notice that many of them lack the attractive looks that the characters in their 20’s or younger possess. There are exceptions of younger characters who aren’t as handsome or beautiful, but a lot of adult Disney characters have large or long noses and are too skinny or heavy. Very few are as good-looking as the young people.

Um…hello? People can be as good-looking as late as their 50’s, 60’s, or even 70’s. Some mature TV shows, such as “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” are better at acknowledging this fact. Believe it or not, both Flanders and Quagmire are in their sixties. But they look incredibly youthful and good for their ages.

It’s not just in Disney’s 2D-animated movies where this happens. I looked at the extras in “Frozen” and saw this same detail there too.

2: Males often have drastically bigger hands and feet than females

Regardless of age, males’ hands and feet in Disney movies are often very big and wide, while females often have much smaller and thinner hands and feet. In fact, there are times where the males’ hands are so big that they could injure the females’ tinier and skinnier hands. The only exception I notice where this detail is absent is in “Tarzan”, when Tarzan and Jane place each other’s hands together. The sizes are similar, but it was for plot convenience. Since noticing this detail, I’ve always wondered if this promoted male superiority. Hopefully, not.

3: Non-verbal animals understand human language way too easily

While Disney is known for talking-animals (although it’s rare that they speak to people), when the animals make the same sounds as their real types do, they understand words much too easily. This was especially strange in “Pinocchio”, when he and Jiminy Cricket are asking the sea creatures about the dangerous whale, and underwater. That went a little too far with believability and setting examples for children. Kids, don’t try this in real life.

Anyway, to an adult, this looks too bizarre. In real life, animals can only understand tone. Even highly intelligent animals, such as dogs, don’t understand English. Parrots may mimic words, but their brains aren’t going to process language the same way humans do.

So, there you have it. Are there any unique details you notice in Disney films?

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Ranking of Disney Princess’s Fathers

While mothers rarely exist in Disney films, fathers often do. Some are likable, and others aren’t.

I know I said I would rank the Disney princess’s dads. However, I am not going to do all of them. Some don’t have paternal figures in their movies, such as Snow White and Cinderella—they have evil stepmothers. Anyway, the princess’s fathers I will rank will include King Triton, Ariel’s father, Maurice, Belle’s dad, the sultan, Jasmine’s dad, and Powhattan, Pocahontas’s father.

Note that these are only my personal opinions with the ranking from least to most likable. Also, be warned that there are spoilers below.

4: King Triton

I find King Triton to be one of the least likable fathers in Disney films. He has a terrible prejudice toward humans (even though he and the other merfolk are all half humans as well as half fish), a very hot temper, especially with Ariel, and doesn’t seem to suffer consequences for his actions, such as destroying the things in Ariel’s grotto. That moment made him so evil, I hated him more than Ursula. No wonder some YouTube video considered King Triton a good character who was actually a villain.

If Atlantica had CPS, and they penalized King Triton for the destruction of Ariel’s grotto as well as his other major flaws, and took all his daughters away, including those (possibly) over 18, I would have supported that. We all should be responsible with our actions and if we can’t, we suffer consequences.

Destroying your child’s huge collection out of anger is the equivalent to setting someone’s house on fire. Not only did I find it disappointing that King Triton never apologized to Ariel for the destruction of her stuff as well as either re-created it with his rake or provided her new items, but also never paying the price for that. That doesn’t include him trading places with Ariel to be Ursula’s polyp prisoner or when his seahorse messenger told him that he couldn’t find Ariel, Flounder, or Sebastian.

On the bright side, King Triton does advocate for Ariel when Ursula tries to hurt her after she went from being a human back to a mermaid, and allows Ariel to become a person with legs again to rejoin Eric. At least he changes his views on humans.

3: The Sultan

While not nearly as hot-tempered as King Triton (if anything, the opposite), he neglects Jasmine’s access outside the palace. The “Aladdin” live-action remake states that the sultan forbids Jasmine to leave the palace because her mother was killed out there. However, in the animated version, it’s only because she’s a princess. Couldn’t he just require Jasmine to be escorted by bodyguards instead? That’s how it is in real life for the royals, president and his family, as well as other highly elite people. Secret service bodyguards are mandatory for them.

Another flaw is that he forces Jasmine to get married by a certain year in her life (either her 15th or 16th) within a few days from when she first appears in the animated movie. And the guys who come to the palace and try to ask for her blessing are all old enough to be her dad, except Aladdin when he is disguised as Prince Ali. The sultan seemed to acknowledge him as the first young male to come as a suiter for Jasmine.

Since Jasmine is a minor, this whole situation is actually forced child marriage. I know it’s an ancient time period and a female getting married at no younger than 18 would probably be the equivalent of a woman getting married for the first time at age 50 today. Still, there are dangers to forced child marriage. Having a minor forced into marriage could be insensitive to those were forced to get married before the age of consent. There are still countries where that happens.

While the sultan is drastically more likable than King Triton, he still could do for some improvement (not counting the end of “Aladdin”, when he changes the law and lets the princess marry whomever she wants, even if he is not royal).

2: Powhattan

Powhattan allows Pocahontas the freedom to explore and wander, except during dangerous times. While he doesn’t have a temper and is usually patient with his daughter, he does have prejudice toward the English settlers. Luckily, that changes.

1: Maurice

Maurice is patient, sweet, and tolerates all types of people, including those who don’t understand him and consider him crazy. His relation to his daughter, Belle, is very heartwarming. Belle loves her father enough that she is willing to take his place as the beast’s prisoner. Out of all the fathers on this list, Maurice is the only one I feel sorry for. The villagers think he is so insane, he and Belle are almost taken to an asylum.

So, there you have it.

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Let’s Get Down to Business…to Analyze “Mulan” (1998)

Warning: contains spoilers***

I was 11 when I first saw “Mulan”. I also wrote an essay about the use of femininity in the film when attending college.

Speaking of which—I didn’t find the attitude toward females in the movie to be offensive when I was 11. In fact, I saw it as historically accurate. I was well-aware of how girls and women weren’t allowed the same rights as boys and men. So, it came up as no surprise to me that Mulan couldn’t go to war as a female.

When her dad is called to the battle against the Huns, Mulan disguises herself as a male by cutting her hair and then putting it up, faking a manly voice, and having to behave like a male. It only lasted so long.

Coincidentally, there was a true story of a lady who pretended to be a man to fight. That was Joan of Arc. Anyway, I think Mulan identified herself as not-very feminine. She fails the bridal test at the beginning. But she befriends the other soldiers, all of whom are male.

Also, she is considered an official Disney Princess, even though she’s not a princess at all. She wasn’t born into royalty, nor does she marry a royal (unless Shang, whom Mulan marries in the sequel, has some mysterious connection to royalty that nobody is aware of). I heard that she was only added to the Disney Princess line because Disney wanted an Asian character (I guess Jasmine doesn’t count, even though Arabia is in Asia).

Nevertheless, I consider Mulan to be a good role model for girls. She is one of the few Disney females to be a warrior. I’ve always wondered how the film, “Mulan” would’ve been handled if it’d come out in the 1930’s. Would it have been banned for improper female character portrayal? I don’t think 1937’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” would be released today, as is.

While Mulan is a memorable and likable character, her dragon mentor, Mushu, appeals to me too. He is voiced by Eddie Murphy, who also voiced Donkey in the “Shrek” movies. And what’s funny is that Mushu’s characterization is very similar to Donkey in “Shrek”. However, “Mulan” was released three years before the first “Shrek” film. But I saw the first two “Shrek” movies before watching “Mulan”.

Like other Disney films before “Mulan” beginning with “The Little Mermaid”, I would rate “Mulan” 5 out of 5 stars.

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The Mystery of the Maturing Appeal of “Winnie the Pooh”

Many of us grew up with “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”. We enjoyed the characters, the morals, and much more.

However, in the 2000’s, according to my observation, “Winnie the Pooh” apparently became more suited for small children. From the products geared toward little kids, and most of the fans being in their early childhood, I had considered “Winnie the Pooh” kiddie.

But thanks to movies, like “Goodbye, Christopher Robin” and “Christopher Robin”, “Winnie the Pooh” might be appealing to older crowds again. While I didn’t see “Goodbye, Christopher Robin”, I did see “Christopher Robin”. It is anything, but kiddie, let alone the PG-rating (which is pretty much like G, and has been since the 90’s or early 2000’s).

I won’t spoil anything from “Christopher Robin”, but many of the content and elements used are more sophisticated and appealing to adults and bigger children. Perhaps Disney wanted to make “Winnie the Pooh” more interesting to older audiences—maybe they didn’t wish to give the general public the impression that “Winnie the Pooh” was only for small children.

Nevertheless, I am glad that “Winnie the Pooh” no longer seems to attract just little kids. The same seemed to happen with the Disney Princess line in the 2000’s. That also used to allure merely early childhood, but is now enticing older crowds (some people have had Disney Princess-themed weddings).

While some franchises, such as “Barney” and “Teletubbies” will probably always attract mostly small children, it’s great that Disney tries to engage all ages.

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You Ain’t Never Read a Critique Like This…For Disney’s “Aladdin” Live-Action Remake (2019)

This year is a huge year for Disney, especially with live-action remakes. I went with some friends to see the live-action remake of “Aladdin”. I liked it.

From the trailer, I could easily see that it was going to differ a lot from the cartoon. Unlike my other movie critiques, this will not have spoilers that occur toward the end of the film. However, there will be some minor revelations. So, if you don’t want to know, I’d suggest you see the movie first. But if you do, or you already saw the film, proceed.

Anyway, let me start off with the strengths.

1: Giving Princess Jasmine a girl BFF

Unlike other Disney princesses, Jasmine has no female companions in the animated version of “Aladdin” (as well as doesn’t have the lead role). I noticed that in recent years and thought about how it would’ve been nice if she had a female companion, like a girl BFF. Coincidentally, it happened. Not long after I realized that Jasmine only had males in her life did I come across an article that announced that she would have a female friend in the 2019 reboot. Yay! More female presence—not counting the extras.

2: The song “Speechless”

This was added in the live-action reboot. It was given to Jasmine and as a single solo. It added character development and more backstory to Jasmine.

3: Will Smith’s portrayal of the genie

While no one will truly beat Robin Williams’ portrayal of the “Aladdin” cartoon in 1992, Will Smith still did a good job. He still executed jokes and humor successfully. I especially admired a realistic approach of the genie’s look and why (I won’t say—see the movie to find out).

Now here are the aspects that could’ve been better.

1: The characterization of Iago and the sultan

Okay, I get it. The creators didn’t want it to be a copy of the cartoon. They also had to make changes for new characters, like Jasmine’s friend, Dahlia. However, I was quite bummed with the sultan and Iago’s developments.

The sultan was dull, conservative, and had little screen time, compared to the cartoon. He was also not nearly as enthusiastic and positive. And he didn’t play with toys. Bummer! I understand that the younger characters need to make their own choices, but cartoon sultan is far better.

And Iago. Oh my God—he was so one-dimensional. He flew around to check on things for Jafar, would repeat phrases, and would state when someone was doing something wrong, such as lying or hiding something. Where was his personality? His complexity? I comprehend how the crew couldn’t re-cast the original cast to reprise their roles. But I still wish Iago was more developed. Like cartoon sultan, animated Iago is far superior.

2: The romance between Aladdin and Jasmine was weaker

In the cartoon version, Aladdin and Jasmine fell in love and stayed that way. However, in the live-action remake, Aladdin has trouble getting Jasmine to love or even trust him. Remember when Jasmine tried to free Aladdin from the guards and revealed her true identity for it in the animated version? That didn’t happen in the live-action remake. Also, while some musical numbers were a bit stronger than in the cartoon, the scene with the song, “A Whole New World” did not convey nearly enough emotion for the audience as in the cartoon.

That being said, I would rate this film 4.5 out of 5 stars. While I liked certain versions of story adaptations equally as much (such as the cartoon and live-action “Beauty and the Beast” movies), this one was almost as good as the cartoon. My main issue was the characterization of Iago and the sultan. I know they aren’t major characters. But still—even if they were just a little different from the animated movie, I would have appreciated that.

Nevertheless, I would still recommend this movie.

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I’m Here to Review “The Rescuers” (1977)

Warning: Contains spoilers***

People are gathering at the UN. So are the mice. They received a message from a little girl named Penny that she needs help. Miss. Bianca and the janitor go to assist her at the orphanage she lived at. There is also a cat named Rufus who tells the mice about a woman named Madame Medusa, who’s kidnapped Penny before. Madame Medusa is desperate for a particular diamond.

The mice continue to guide Penny. But Madame Medusa won’t surrender with her plans. She even uses her pet alligators to hunt for Penny when she runs away. Her assistant, Mr. Snoops, tends to be nervous with her and more relaxed with his attitude toward Penny. But when things worsen, everything changes.

There are elements in this movie that make it differ from other Disney films. For example, the mice and cat can talk to Penny. While talking animals are super-common in Disney movies, it’s rare that they talk to humans. Usually, they make their natural animal noises around people. Another instance is when Penny prays that things will improve. With the exception of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, religion rarely plays roles in Disney. In fact, the characters are often not allowed to say the word, God. None of the characters get the classic musical numbers, except for the work anthem at the beginning and the twist of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” the kids sing at the end when Penny is finally adopted.

Speaking of which, while it’s satisfying that she got parents, it was a little disappointing that it took a while. But I understand in some ways. The adoption process can take a while—sometimes, several years.

This film was decent, but not one of my favorites. I did notice the “may day” moment similar to the balcony scene in “Aladdin”. It could have been recycled. Disney does reuse moments and movements a lot. Anyway, the reason it was just okay was mainly the engaging element. It didn’t keep my attention too much compared to other films. So I would rate this movie, 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Imagine the Impossible… Review of “Mary Poppins Returns” (2018)

Warning: contains spoilers***

Many years have passed since Mary Poppins has left the Banks family. Michael and Jane are now adults. Michael is widowed and has three children: John, Annabel, and Georgie. Jane hangs out in the house too.

Michael is at risk of losing his house. While his kids are in the park, Mary Poppins flies down to them. She often denies anything magical, as usual. Nevertheless, she takes them on adventures, such as making the bath like an ocean, or going inside the children’s latest mother’s bowl to a musical hall performance.

Meanwhile, the bank is giving Michael a hard time about his home. His kids are just as worried. If not, more.

I saw this film in the theaters, and after seeing it a second time, I picked up some new elements. For instance, the format of this movie is very similar to that of the first “Mary Poppins” movie in 1964. The scenes are similar to those in the first installment, as well.

I was surprised how Jack was similar to Burt. Not just by his personality, but also having those other guys in the “Trip a Little Light Fantastic”, similar to the “Step in Time” number.

The music was amazing. It followed the same mood and tone, but more modernized. I still didn’t understand why the admiral had to fire the cannon every hour. What’s the purpose of that?

One scene that stood out to me was the balloon scene. Yes, it’s a movie, and it’s supposed to communicate a message about youth as well as be satisfying to audiences. But it was strange for me—the idea of holding a balloon in the sky and seeing it as a magical moment. In real life, if just one person held onto a balloon that took them up to the sky, he or she would scream, and so would everybody on the ground. It would be a scary, panicking disaster. The emergency departments would be there too.

Another moment that was silly, even if essential to the plot, was the scene where Jack and his buddies try to turn back time on the Big Ben. No one would fall for that in real life, not to mention that Jack and his pals would’ve been arrested too.

Nevertheless, this was a good movie. I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

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Satisfying vs. Unsatisfying Movie Endings

Warning: contains spoilers for the following films***

Avengers: Infinity War

Into the Woods

The Little Mermaid (both original tale and Disney movie)

Tarzan (both original tale and 1999 Disney movie)

When people watch a movie, they not only expect a good story, but also a lot of conflict. Because every fictional work, visual or written, needs problems and obstacles, many audiences expect satisfying endings, where the protagonists achieve their goals. If they don’t, then it’s either because they realized those goals weren’t what they wanted all along or they weren’t the right kinds.

Rarely these days are film endings unsatisfying. One example includes “Avengers: Infinity War”, where the characters dissolve into dust. But there is a part two now. I don’t know how it ends and I won’t look it up now. Anyway, the other example of a movie with an unsatisfactory ending is “Into the Woods”. The baker’s wife dies and so does the witch after her curse was undone. I understand that the point is that there is no such thing as “happily ever after”. But it was still unsatisfying, especially coming from Disney. Disney is known to sugarcoat their film endings.

Like in “The Little Mermaid”, where Ariel marries Prince Eric as a human. In the original tale by Hans Christian Andersen, she dies at the end and the prince gets another bride. I read that the creators of the Disney version found that sad. They felt that in order to make their adaptation more kid/family-friendly, the ending needed to be happier.

Another example, although probably not as sad (I could be wrong, though), is Disney’s “Tarzan”. While Jane and Professor Porter join Tarzan in the jungle, in the original novel, Tarzan is brought back to civilization.

Audience and genres also contribute to how the films should end. Horror films often end a certain way. The ones I saw didn’t have very satisfying endings. But there likely is a purpose for that. Horror movies are not intended for families or children. Kid-friendly films have different standards from mature movies, besides cleanliness. Also, many young people yearn for happy endings. So do older crowds.