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What Can I Say, Except, “You’re Welcome” for this Wonderful Review of “Moana” (2016)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

I saw this film a year after it was released in theaters. I watched it at my house. It was such a beautiful movie.

As a baby, Moana is interested in the story she is hearing in daycare about Maui stealing the heart of Te Fiti. All the other children are scared. Moana is somehow called to the ocean. But her overprotective father forbids her to go near it.

Years later, when Moana has reached her current age for the main part of the story, there is a shortage of fish by the reef. Moana suggests going beyond the reef. But her father gets angry and will still prohibit anyone going further than the reef. Moana’s mother reveals why her dad is so against going beyond the reef. Moana tries sailing, but it ends up not working out. Her grandma shows the story of her ancestors and how they used to go beyond the reef all the time. They stopped because there were too many dangerous monsters, especially Te Ka the lava demon. Unfortunately, not long after, Moana’s grandmother is dying. She tells Moana to sail out to the ocean, seek Maui, and return the heart of Te Fiti. Moana’s journey begins from there.

I really admired many parts of this movie, from the story to the characters, especially Moana. She is one of the few Disney princesses to have no love interest. The other two are Merida and Elsa (which is why fans were begging Disney to give Elsa a girlfriend in the “Frozen” sequel). Anyway, Moana was fierce, brave, and strong, which is what many expect for female characters today.

The music was also fantastic. Many songs sounded different from traditional Disney songs. Some sounded more like pop songs, such as “How Far I’ll Go” and “Shiny”. I particularly appreciated the rap section in “You’re Welcome” sung by Maui.

That being said, there were a couple flaws in this movie, such as some urine jokes and (sorry to disappoint some of you) the coconut pirate scene. I loved when Moana said that they were cute and then they went vicious. However, I couldn’t see how important it was to the story. I felt it was just a little filler to add conflict. And the story told in Moana’s daycare is really too mature for little kids. It was only used for plot convenience.

The ending was beautiful. After violence with Te Ka the lava monster, Moana figured out that she was really Te Fiti without the heart. The scene where Moana returns the heart and Te Fiti turns back into a beautiful Goddess and Island was heartwarming. It was also funny how Te Fiti looks a lot like Moana.

I would rate Moana 5 out of 5 stars. It is such a wonderful movie that I would recommend to all, especially with a strong, independent female lead.

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He is the God of Thunder, from the Planet, Asgard – Let’s Review “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017)

Warning: Contains spoilers***

I’ve never been a superhero fan, regardless of brand or characters. I saw “Thor Ragnarok” at a birthday party a little over a year ago. It turned out better than I thought. However, I will say that I didn’t love it.

The film starts with Thor is some underworld environment. He then joins his father and brother. Thor discovers that the planet, Asgard, is in danger. In fact, an evil woman, named Hela, gains so much power and puts the whole planet in danger as she becomes a tyrant.

Thor is whisked away to another planet, where there are messed up beings and cannibals. Thor is imprisoned somewhere. Not long after, his hair is cut and he has to fight the Hulk in a stadium. Meanwhile, Asgard is falling apart. It takes time for Thor to get others to trust him and try to save his planet.

Unfortunately, the planet is pretty much destroyed once Thor arrives. The people there have to move to Earth.

The film was interesting. I will admit that. But I found some things disappointing, like when Thor had his long hair chopped off (I actually have a super-painful memory of me experiencing my hair chopped off years ago) as well as his eye removed. I felt sorry for Thor’s hair to be cut and right after that, the crowd booing at him. At least the scissors guy let Thor keep his beard. As for the eye, something satisfying happened in the “Avengers” film with all the Marvel characters (I won’t say what, though).

Hela was so evil. She was not only unlikable to the point that I couldn’t even have just the tiniest amount of sympathy for her, but she also wasn’t really believable . She just abused her power. Maybe she has a tragic backstory and wasn’t always evil. But pure evil villains are too stereotypical and even lazy.

Thor’s brother wasn’t too likable, either. The ruler of the planet (played by Jeff Goldblum) or the Grandmaster, was wicked in a special way. He was calm and acted more positively. I think that’s more creative than the approach to developing Hela.

The ending was disappointing too. I know this is an installment, but still. It could have been at least a little more satisfying. Will things turn around later?

I would rate “Thor Ragnarok” 3.5 out of 5 stars. It was engaging. I will also admit that many parts were funny. Just a few things didn’t really work out for me.

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Pocahontas Plot Hole (1995) – All About the Flying Leaves

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

Many of us have seen Disney’s “Pocahontas”, whether we grew up with it, watched it in our early childhoods, or first saw it in recent years. I was 21 when I first saw it. Despite the mixed success and criticism on the movie’s portrayal of Native Americans, I really enjoyed the film. I would give it five stars.

However, no story, in any form, is without its flaws. Aside from the grossly insensitive lyrics in the song, “Savages”, sung when John Smith is about to be executed (but he is rescued, of course), there are a few parts of “Pocahontas” that bother me a bit. They are plot holes. Regardless of what I said about them, I don’t obsess over them. At least not too much.

There’s the first plot hole, of where are Nakoma’s (Pocahontas’s friend) parents or guardians. The second is how did Pocahontas sneak out to see Grandmother Willow after her father yelled at her for wandering off at a dangerous time. And the third, which this post focuses on, is where do those flying leaves come from.

I noticed they come at crucial points of the story. They also seem to arrive when characters change. Obviously, Pocahontas is not unknowingly or secretly an enchantress (that would make an interesting conspiracy theory, but would be shut down by everyone). But what is the point of the flying colored leaves? I’ve actually recently nicknamed them the deux ex machina leaves.

Having you also noticed this? When Powhatan is about to execute John Smith and Pocahontas not only saves her love interest, but also defends him, the leaves fly into Powhatan’s face. He closes his eyes and seems to absorb the wind. Then he suddenly changes and decides not to fight the English. He also lets John Smith go.  

I don’t believe the leaves forced Powhatan to change. Nor do I think they have a bunch of supernatural powers (they do have some, though, as they alter John’s shirt during the “Colors of the Wind” number). But is seems to be a mystery to where they come from and what powers they have besides changing colors as they fly as well as a few other skills.

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Hey, Buddy, Check Out this Review of “Elf” (2003)

Thirty years prior to the film’s main time setting, an orphaned baby is put to bed in his crib. The infant sees Santa come down the chimney. The baby crawls into the sack while Santa is not looking.

Santa returns to his workshop, only to discover the infant coming out of his sack. An elf reads his diaper and sees the name, Buddy. An elder elf, known as Papa Elf, adopts the child and his name becomes Buddy.

Through the years, Buddy notices that he is different from the other elves. He grows much bigger than them. After realizing his differences, Buddy leaves the north pole to seek his father in New York City.

This film was absolutely funny. Buddy had such a great sense of humor by acting uncivilized in New York City as he has never been around humans, besides Santa Claus. He runs into a coffee place that says in its sign that it’s the world’s best coffee, and congratulates them loudly. He also tries to hug a racoon, drinks an entire bottle of Coke and burps for a long time, and screams happily in revolving doors.

But the funniest moment of all is when Buddy sees “Santa” at the mall and gets excited. Then he discovers that he was just an ordinary guy dressed as Santa. He rips off the beard, the kids scream, and he wrestles the man. So hilarious!

I would gladly recommend “Elf” as a great holiday classic and comedy. It is a definite 5 out of 5 star-rated film.

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You Better Not Pout, Cause I’m Gonna Critique “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (1970)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

I first saw this film last year around the holidays. I can’t remember why. But I enjoyed it both then and this year. It’s about the legend of Santa and his early life, why he does certain things, and much more.

I’m not going to narrate the whole movie. But I am going to point out what I thought worked well and what could’ve been better.

 

First with the strengths.

 

1: The plot and reasons behind Santa’s life and choices

 

Using the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” as a guide, I must admit that this was done with lots of thought put into it. It was likely no easy task, let alone the stop-motion animation. You find out why Santa was called Kris Kringle in his early life, why he wears red, why he goes through the chimney to deliver toys, and a lot more.

 

2: The musical numbers

 

Every song in this film is fantastic. They have great tunes, lyrics, and emotional sensation.

 

3: The brief Rudolph cameo

 

When the children are naming Santa’s reindeer, one almost acknowledges Rudolph until the narrator stops them and says, “That’s a different story.” Even the character’s design in this film differed from the Rudolph in 1964’s “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”. Lol.

 

And now onto the parts that could’ve been improved.

 

1: Kris Kringle’s character design as a young man

 

As much as I enjoyed this movie, to be honest, I was never a fan of Kris Kringle’s youthful face with mature voice. I don’t know his age at the time, but still.

 

2: Why were the wizard and penguin still alive when Santa reached old age?

 

Unless the wizard was supposed to live longer with magic, even if he lost most of it (and this was made long before “Harry Potter”), shouldn’t he have died years before? Same with the penguin?

Yes, yes, I know. It’s a child-friendly movie. So death might be too mature. Even if it was never mentioned and the warlock and penguin disappeared without reason, it still would’ve raised questions to parents.

However, to young childless adults, like me, it feels strange and unrealistic. Oh well. It’s a cartoon.

 

3: The characters never really expressed strong emotions

 

Even in high-stressful situations, characters barely reacted. Their emotions seemed weak and neutral. It’s kind of hard to relate to them like that. In other child-friendly movies, characters will react more strongly, thus making them more believable.

 

That’s all. Despite some of the flaws, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is a great film, worthy of 5 out of 5 stars.

 

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Let it Go… Can’t Hold These Thoughts Anymore… For an Analysis of Disney’s “Frozen” (2013)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

I did not see “Frozen” in the movie theater. However, I did see it on my computer. I also saw the Broadway show, which I actually liked more. But this post is only about the movie.

I am not going to include thoughts on the shorts, such as “Frozen Fever” or “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure”, as I did not see those. So here is the analysis.

Many of us know the story. As young children, Anna and Elsa play together until Elsa accidentally knocks Anna out unconscious with her ice powers. Anna’s memories of Elsa’s ice powers are altered and wiped. Elsa has to have a bunch of restrictions on her until she can control her powers. Anna and Elsa grow up mostly separate. Their parents die, and then three years later, Elsa is crowned queen. She accidentally does ice magic at the coronation and flees while creating an eternal winter. Anna goes out to look for her. I could go on, but I’m not going to.

So here are my thoughts. First off, I really appreciate how Elsa is developed. She is misunderstood by others, scared, and struggles to control her ice powers. That made her seem very real and likable.

Speaking of likable… did you know that Elsa was originally supposed to be the villain, in “Frozen”? She was going to be much older and use her ice powers for evil, like in the original story “Frozen” was based off: “The Snow Queen”. However, I am glad the creators changed it and had Prince Hans be the villain instead.

In fact, I think it was a smart move as standards have changed since Disney’s early days. Just because someone seems charming, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should love and trust him or her. It was also a nice, unexpected twist for the story, straying away from the traditional approach, where the prince the princess falls in love with is a good guy. Kristoff ended up being Anna’s love interest, even though he wasn’t as easygoing as Hans seemed.

It was also pretty unsanitary that Kristoff and Sven shared carrots. At least it’s not realism, otherwise, Kristoff would’ve gotten sick, as well as Sven.

While still discussing character development, I did find Anna too immature at times for her age. For instance, Elsa had to remind her that she couldn’t marry a guy she’d just met. But Anna had unrealistic expectations for romance. I knew better at Anna’s age (18) and even younger.

Now the most memorable character for me was Olaf the snowman. He was silly, enthusiastic, and comedic. I especially love his song about summer. It was cute to see how a snowman envisioned summer, especially when he didn’t know that heat melted snow.

The songs were all great. Many of them didn’t sound like traditional Disney songs. For example, I thought “Let it Go” and “For the First Time in Forever” sounded like “Wicked” songs.

The layout of the setting was executed well. Another fun fact is that the cast and crew had to go to Norway to study the land and architecture for the film. And it worked out well.

I would rate “Frozen” 4 out of 5 stars. While the story content was done with lots of effort, something about it didn’t engage me enough to give it 5 stars. In fact, when I first saw this movie, I found the beginning to be kind of boring. I only watched the whole thing because it was a big, popular film.

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed it very much.

 

 

 

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Merry Christmas, Mickey! And a Happy New Analysis of “Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse” (2001)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

It’s the first holiday post of the year, focusing on a straight-to-video holiday Disney special: “Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse”. I saw a couple clips of it in junior high at school. But then I watched the full film at a friend’s house last year and again recently.

Disney characters from different movies are at the House of Mouse, where Mickey and his pals have hosted a show. Mickey lets everyone go home until Goofy reveals that they are snowed in. Everybody tries to remain positive, except Donald. He remains grumpy. To keep the crowd occupied, Mickey plays some holiday videos of him and his friends.

The clips were great, although some concepts seemed outdated and wouldn’t pass for today. For example, in the “Nutcracker” clip, where Mini plays Maria (I don’t know why they didn’t call her Clara. Maybe for copyright reasons?), she acts as dependent on males to dance with. When the mouse king (played by Donald) captures her, the nutcracker (played by Mickey) fights and rescues her. It isn’t until the end that Maria puts in effort. She was pretty much a damsel-in-distress. When Mickey asks what everyone is thankful for, Cinderella says something that also reminds me of a damsel-in-distress. I can’t remember right now. But in 2001, wouldn’t that have been a bit insensitive?

Another element that I found odd was that the villains were there and out-of-character. Not a hundred percent, though. When Mickey shows clips of what he asked others for Christmas, Jafar asks for the lamp and Ursula asks for his voice.

However, during the moment Mickey gets everyone into the Christmas spirit, Jafar’s all-powerful snake staff turns into a candy cane and he gladly accepts it. Really, guys? If you were a sorcerer, and your powerful, magic-producing item turned into a powerless treat, would you really tolerate that? Probably not. In fact, if Jafar were true to his character, he would’ve used his snake staff to get back and Mickey and his friends, get furious and overly dangerous. Perhaps, he would’ve turned into a snake creature again and everybody would’ve erupted into panicking. But he had to behave because… you know… plot convenience. So why did Jafar and any other villains need to be there? During the song at the end, the villains took part as taking the good character’s sides. Pretty strange, huh?

But enough of the flaws. There are a ton of strengths and well-done moments. The song at the end that all the characters participated in was beautiful. The [good] characters’ attitudes were great and very much like them. I especially admired Kuzco’s appearance as a crying llama when Mickey asks what everybody wanted for Christmas. So funny. The Mad-Hatter was also hilarious when he was thankful for different hats. At the end, with the musical number, the mice bring back Cinderella’s old dress that the stepsisters have originally destroyed. Very satisfying.

Now onto the videos Mickey shows. The first one is where Huey, Dewey, and Louie are building a snowman while Donald is trying to skate. Donald struggles and ends up damaging his nephews’ snowman. The ice cracks and breaks different things, including very sturdy things, like a tree. I found that to be too silly. Yes, I know. It’s a cartoon. But what a silly concept for an ice crack to be that powerful.

There is also the clip where Mickey is getting a tree and decorating it for Christmas. Chip and Dale are in the tree. Pluto finds them and tries to hurt them. He ends up damaging the entire tree. Then Minnie, Donald, and Goofy come and sing “Deck the Halls”. Chip and Dale participate and Pluto howls. Mickey scolds Pluto for that. However, that’s normal for dogs to do when hearing high voices. But the clip’s ending had to be satisfying. Also, why didn’t Mickey recognize Chip and Dale? Why was he also accepting of them in his tree? Hmmm…

The decorating processes in that clip and the next one were too perfect. No errors whatsoever. Oh well. As long as we don’t try it in real life and expect the same outcomes.

After Jiminy Cricket cheers Mickey up, Mickey finally gets Donald to have a more positive attitude. Then he plays the “Christmas Carol” clip (based off Charles Dickenson’s play). Many people probably know the story. For those who don’t, here’s plot. Scrooge is grumpy, unthankful for Christmas, and is obsessed with making money. Four ghosts then visit him. The latter three show him his past, present, and future. Scrooge changes into a better person with a positive attitude for Christmas.

Not ironically, Scrooge McDuck plays the main character (although I don’t know if Scrooge McDuck is usually that grumpy). The characters were well-cast. Goofy did an amazing portrayal of the first ghost. The chains made me feel sorry for him. I found it sad when Isabelle (play by Daisy) cried because Scrooge called off his marriage. And she’d waited ten years. I guess that’s believable, but not sure how common it is.

At the end of that clip, when Scrooge has grown and changed drastically, he reverted back to his old self when visiting Bob Crachett (played by Mickey) to fool around. Then he returned to a good character. The song at the end of the “Christmas Carol” clip sounded kind of like “God Bless us Everyone” from the live musical version of the story. Of course, it wasn’t.

My final thought is wondering how all the different characters from different movies came together and knew about it as well as celebrated Christmas (including Timon and Pumbaa—there are no humans in “The Lion King”). I guess that’s supposed to be a mystery.

I would rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars. It’s a great holiday classic for everyone and I would gladly recommend it.

 

 

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What Review is This? It’s “The Aristocats” (1970)

It’s 1910 in Paris. A retired opera singer named Madame Adelaide Bonfamille and her butler, Edgar, return home. Duchess the mother cat, and her three children, Berlioz, Marie, and Toulouse play around. Meanwhile, Edgar brews some milk to put the cats to sleep. The cats drink the milk and get taken away in a basket. The four cats end up frightened until they meet the alley cat, Thomas O’Malley. From there, they journey back to Paris.

This movie was amazing with its characters (with the exception of a few stereotypes), retro 2D animation style, French culture, and music. My favorite song from this film is “Everybody Wants to be a Cat”.

Duchess was very motherly and gentle with the kittens. Marie was a bit of a snob. And should she really have made goo-goo eyes at Thomas O’Malley? Speaking of which, Thomas O’Malley was voiced by the same actor who played Baloo in 1967’s “The Jungle Book”.

The hounds were great, too. I loved how the lead dog, Napoleon, claimed that he was the leader. Abigail and Amelia, the British geese, were hilarious. Uncle Waldo was okay, although he was not very developed except for his drunk-like attitude. I don’t think Disney or any movie geared toward families and children would get away with that today.

The songs were good, although there were only a few. While the movie was a good watch, to be honest, it wasn’t super-engaging. I don’t know why.

Nevertheless, I would rate “The Aristocats” 4.5 out of 5 stars. I would gladly recommend it today. It didn’t do as poorly as some Disney films (i.e. “The Black Cauldron”), but I was surprised to hear how many people don’t pay as much attention to “The Aristocats” as to “Aladdin” and “The Lion King”. However, the movie did do pretty well when it came out.

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He’s the Boss – “The Boss Baby” Review (2017)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

I saw the trailer for this film many times. At some point, I was on a plane and decided to give this movie a try. I had no idea what the plot was until I watched it.

The story is narrated by a man named Tim. It focuses on when Tim was 7 years old and living a happy life with his parents. They bring home a baby in a suit. Like many little kids, Tim is resistant to having to accept a new baby in the family. He discovers the baby talking on the phone in an adult voice. When the baby holds a meeting with a few other babies in the house, Tim records their conversation. His parents see him trying to hurt his baby brother. They ground him. The baby takes Tim to Baby Corp and gives him a tour. Tim improves his behavior with the baby and his parents end his punishment. The parents go to Las Vegas and leave Tim and the baby with a nanny. Things are not going to go well. Tim and the baby have to go stop them.

This movie had a lot of interesting and unexpected concepts, such as how babies are made in that world and how babies need a special formula to function like adults or else they function like normal babies. Despite that, it seems unknown and inconsistent why Tim’s parents told him where babies come from (the real way… I’m obviously not going into detail on that).

The scene with the Elvis plane and passengers was funny and creative. I liked how they had their own Elvis language. The growth and change Tim goes through was done well. When the boss baby has to leave, Tim is sad. There are even little figures removing all evidence of that baby and wiping the parents’ memories of the baby. It was so sweet how the boss baby was willing to give up his position and rejoin Tim as a normal baby. His name is then Theodore.

I would rate this movie 4 out of 5 stars and would gladly recommend it to anyone.

 

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On the Way… Now a Review of “Ice Age” (2002)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

One of the greatest prehistoric-set movies of all time is “Ice Age”. I am amazed how much effort the creators did to use prehistoric creatures. They got to use pretty much any kind, except dinosaurs.

The three main characters’ voice actors did such a great job with their roles. John Leguizamo expressed such great humor on Sid the sloth. Ray Romano did a superb job as the cranky Manny the mammoth. Dennis Leary portrayed Diego the dark saber-toothed tiger very well.

And Scrat? Ah, you can’t forget him—constantly chasing his acorn. He may not speak or be part of the main trio (or the group of 4 if you add the baby), but Scrat’s moments are wonderful. There was one moment in the film where Sid, Manny, Diego, and the baby came into contact with Scrat.

Speaking of which, the film begins with Scrat, trying to get his acorn in the snow. He falls and the snow is gone. He catches his acorn, and a larger animal steps on him. The title sequence and opening credits start.

The animals are migrating to prepare for the ice age. Manny goes in another direction. Another scene shows Sid waking up and unable to find his family. After accidentally angering a couple rhinos, Sid runs from them and meets Manny. Sid shows interest in being Manny’s companion. But Manny is too moody and prefers to be alone.

Another point-of-view shows the human baby and his parents. Diego and the other tigers are watching. At some point, the tigers attack. Diego almost gets the baby until the mother catches him. She runs away with the child, but dies as she sees Manny and Sid. Sid takes the baby. Shortly after, Diego meets Sid and Manny. They begin their journey to return the baby to the other humans.

This film had a lot of action, humor, and emotional moments. The scene where the animal trio and the baby get separated in the ice slide tunnels was funny. The baby had no fear whatsoever. The animal trio was for the most part good with the baby. Diego didn’t always act appropriately to the child, though. Sometimes, however, he was brighter than Sid. Sid tended to be naïve and didn’t always make smart choices. Like when Manny suggested milk for the baby, Sid reacted with, “Ooh, I’d love some.” Diego clarified that Manny was taking about the baby.

The dodo scene was awesome. I appreciated their Tae-kwon-do scene when the main trio just wanted to give the infant food. And Sid won. There was a slow-motion effect as Sid fought the dodos.

Now the film is not without its flaws. There is one inconsistency I noticed. At the end, when Sid is getting emotional and teary as the baby has been returned to his father and the other people, Diego comes back and says, “You know humans can’t talk.” But the baby’s mother talked. Diego was even there. When she ran away with the baby, she turned around to the other humans and said, “Bye.” I guess Diego must’ve forgot by the film’s end—or had tuned out during that time. I don’t know.

Nevertheless, “Ice Age” was a fantastic movie. There are three sequels after, I believe. I would rate this 5 out of 5 stars.