Beauty And The Beast (2017) Review

Beauty And The Beast (2017)

Directed by Bill Condon

Based on Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont

Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson

Music by Alan Menken

Plot Synopsis: The same as the 1991 animated Disney film. Just watch the animated version instead if you haven’t already.

My Opinion:

Mehhhh…. I can’t be bothered to write much of a review for this movie. It’s a cash grab – we all know that. I can’t really trash Disney, though. I grew up on Disney films & I’ll always love Disney, even when they sell out. It doesn’t matter – the majority of film studios, actors & actresses, directors, etc etc, all sell out at some point. As long as Disney keep making some original & quality films alongside these pointless remakes & sequels, I can forgive some selling-out. But I’m sorry to say that this remake of Beauty And The Beast is indeed completely pointless.

I actually didn’t mind the live-action Cinderella (which I reviewed HERE). The kid watched that again recently & I still don’t mind it. At least it’s not a straight copy. I also enjoyed Maleficent quite a bit more than this as it felt somewhat original. With Beauty And The Beast copying everything, right down to giving us inferior versions of the fantastic songs from the original, I just don’t see the point. Okay – there were a few extra things added in storywise (and, I can’t remember now – one or maybe two new boring songs) that didn’t really enhance what was already a good & simple fairy tale.

Emma Watson: Wrong for the part. I’ve thought that since it was first announced that she would be Belle. She doesn’t do a horrible job but Hermoine as Belle was always going to be very distracting. Dan Stevens: Nope! Didn’t work. Plus he’s not hot enough (cartoon beast-turned-human was a babe). Kevin Kline: He was okay. Luke Evans: Actually, I guess he was pretty perfect as Gaston. Josh Gad: Not too bad – he was kind of fun but all I can hear is Olaf. Ewan McGregor: He did okay copying the original version of the character but the French accent was just confusing. Well, all the accents in this were confusing (but I suppose the same can be said of the original). Emma Thompson: Perfect casting but YOU CAN NEVER TOP ANGELA LANSBURY, dammit!!!! Chip was still cute, though. Just not as cute as animated Chip. But nothing in this topped the original in any way, so….

Whatever. It’s not a horrible movie. The CGI is decent. No, wait – I suppose the CGI actually quite good but we’re all spoiled these days & expect perfection. If you love the animated film, odds are that you’ll want to watch this at some point but I wouldn’t say you have to rush out to see it. If you haven’t seen the animated film for some reason, please just watch that first. Or instead. I’ll give this an extra half point since my kid seemed to enjoy it. I guess that’s all the really counts, right? 😉

My Rating: 6/10

Moana (2016) Review

Moana (2016)

Directed by Ron Clements & John Musker

Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk

Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain’s daughter’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the demigod to set things right.

My Opinion:

Yes! Moana is a really good film that I (and my daughter) thoroughly enjoyed. I have to say that the trailers really hadn’t blown me away so I was kind of worried this could end up being one of Disney’s rare duds. It’s not quite up there with some of Disney’s oldest classics & I think Frozen is better & more timeless but I’m happy to say that Moana is fully worthy of the Disney name. It’s certainly 1,000% better than some of the its late-90’s/early 2000’s stinkers! It’s great that Disney is making timeless classics once again. And I can add toddler Moana to my list of “animated kids I want to adopt” along with Boo from Monsters, Inc & Agnes from Despicable Me. What a cutie patootie!


So adorable that I had to include two pictures…

Speaking of Moana herself, she’s also a worthy addition to the Disney name. She’s strong-willed & has no interest in that whole “finding a prince” thing that annoys so many modern women about the older Disney films. However, she also doesn’t go over-the-top in the other direction, which annoys me in some of the more current animated films. Let’s face it – Brave’s Merida is a bit of a stroppy bitch! There’s nothing wrong with being strong-willed AND likable as well… Moana gets the right balance as a female lead character and I’d be happy to have my daughter look up to her.

Animated kids’ movies don’t solely rely on one good main character, though, and Moana is filled with the usual funny & lovable sidekicks we’ve all come to expect from Disney. I may be an adult but I loved that stupid chicken! Her pet pig was super cute, the “coconut” bad guys were adorably evil, her family (especially her kooky grandmother) were sweet, and the main “lava baddie” was actually quite frightening for a Disney villain (so this one isn’t really toddler-suitable, unlike a lot of other Disney movies. Just FYI – it’s nothing too scary, though). Yeah, sorry – I’m too lazy to look up all the proper names of these characters but I can guarantee you that I’ll know them once this is on DVD. 😉 I can tell my daughter will watch Moana multiple times (and I won’t even complain about that).

There are two other characters that need mentioning: the main one is sidekick Maui, the demigod voiced by Dwayne Johnson, and the other is the shiny crab villain dude voiced by Flight Of The Conchords/What We Do In The Shadows Jemaine Clement. I think most everyone will like Maui just fine – he’s charmingly cocky and makes a great duo with Moana. Plus, his “living tattoos” were quite amusing. I didn’t really expect to like his character as much as I did. Very predictable character arc, though!

However, the villain crab (Tamatoa – I looked that one up!) will be far more divisive. At first I kind of hated that character. Then I kind of loved that character. I think… I don’t know. I haven’t fully made my mind up on him yet. Guess I’ll know how I feel after 25 times of seeing Moana at home. Anyway, David Bowie is the clear inspiration for Tamatoa so I guess that’s why I’m conflicted as I’m such a big fan.

Summary:

Disney can be proud to add Moana to its resume (Or Curriculum Vitae in the UK. Yep – I totally had to look up that spelling). The animated scenes involving The Abyss-like ocean were beautiful, especially the one involving toddler Moana (Cutie patootie!  She’s much cuter than Ed Harris). I wish I could say that Moana was perfect – However, some of-the-moment jokes that will date and songs that aren’t as instantly memorable as some of the absolute classics in Disney’s history will keep this film from being quite as timeless as I’d have liked. Still, Moana helps keep Disney & Pixar a thousand miles ahead of anything made by other Western animation studios. Keep up the great work, Disney! We’ll just pretend things like Chicken Little didn’t happen.

My Rating: 8/10

Is there a scene after the credits? Yes, at the very end. Is it worth staying for? Hmm… Only if you’re one of those who HAS to see the end credits bits. Like me. It’s fairly funny but nothing too amazing if you really gotta pee. 

I’ll just say a very small bit about the short shown before Moana:

I’m sure a lot of people have called Inner Workings a rip off of Inside Out. Well, it sort of is but that’s not really fair as it’s quite a lovely short with a great moral about following your heart & living life to its fullest. I think it’s one of the better animated shorts I’ve seen in a while and I have to admit that I do love a good, non-preachy life-lesson. The Disney & Pixar shorts really know how to “tug at the heartstrings”! I far preferred this to Lava, which I didn’t like very much. I bring this up as it’s funny that Moana is quite reminiscent of Lava. Oh well – Inner Workings is pretty good. Better than Lava but still not as good as Feast (I loved that short!).

My Inner Workings Rating: 7.5/10

Tomorrow I’ll be celebrating the 100th birthday of Kirk Douglas by reviewing a lesser-known Brian De Palma film in which he starred…

Pete’s Dragon (2016) Review

Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Directed by David Lowery

Based on Pete’s Dragon by Malcolm Marmorstein

Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence, Robert Redford

Production company: Walt Disney Pictures

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon.

My Opinion:

I’m not going to ramble on & on with some long review of this. I thoroughly enjoyed this version of Pete’s Dragon. My 7-year-old didn’t like it all that much. My hubby pretty much hated it. I was so disappointed in him spoiling my enjoyment! 😉 Grumpy turd. Yeah, I get to go to movies with a hubby who says things in disgust like “sometimes his (Elliot’s) fur blows in the wind & sometimes it doesn’t” and “this is so hipster” and “this movie is draining” and “I haven’t felt so cold on a movie in a long time”. He’ll be annoyed when he reads this tomorrow & he’ll probably moan that I’ve misquoted him… Anyway, I feel like I must have watched a completely different film from the one my husband & daughter saw while sat next to me. I really liked it.

I’m not gonna lie – this movie is vanilla ice cream on wholesome white bread. This movie is golden retriever puppies sliding down rainbows into cotton candy clouds. I think that may be one of the hubby’s biggest problems with it. I can’t say that a film being too wholesome bothers me all that much, as long as I don’t feel like it’s preaching to me or trying to shove its values down my throat (like I felt while watching Zootopia/Zootropolis). I just thought this was a lovely family film with its heart in the right place. It doesn’t exactly cover any groundbreaking territory in terms of its lessons but it’s not preachy & I cared about the characters. What more do you want from a Disney movie?

The boy playing Pete (Oakes Fegley) was very good as was the young girl (Oona Laurence). How are kids such good actors these days? The acting from kids used to be pretty dodgy in old movies. I far preferred Bryce Dallas Howard’s character in this to the thoroughly unlikable one in Jurassic World. Her relationships with Pete and with her father (an underused Robert Redford) were believable. Sappy, yes, but you seriously want everyone to live happily ever after in this. For some reason, though, I felt like Wes Bentley & Karl Urban should have been in each other’s roles. Don’t know why, but I pictured Urban as Howard’s boyfriend for some reason.

Then, of course, there’s Elliot. I loved him. I think they did very well with his look. He’s just scary enough when need be but also believable as a gentle creature who could be a boy’s best friend. I want an Elliot! Oh, this movie was directed by David Lowery, who hasn’t directed many big films other than Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (which I reviewed HERE). These are obviously two very different films storywise but do have a similar lovely look & mood that I especially appreciated in Saints. Pete’s Dragon is luckily more of a re-imagining than an actual remake & doesn’t harm the (admittedly dated) original, which I can’t quite say of this year’s The Jungle Book. Of these two modern “remakes”, I definitely prefer Pete’s Dragon. I haven’t read other reviews of this yet so don’t know if people agree more with me or with my husband so I’d love to hear your opinions if you’ve seen the movie. I really liked it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Finding Dory (2016) Review

Finding Dory (2016)

Directed by Andrew Stanton

Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy

Music by Thomas Newman

Production company: Walt Disney Pictures & Pixar Animation Studios

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Finding Dory focuses on the amnesiac fish Dory, who journeys to be reunited with her parents. Along the way, she is captured and taken to a California public aquarium, from which Marlin and Nemo attempt to rescue her.

My Opinion:

I adore Pixar. Any regulars here will know that by now but, just in case someone new is reading this, I LOVE PIXAR!!! And we always have to wait a couple of months to see them in the UK. I love Pixar so much that I’ve even contemplated travelling to other countries to see Pixar movies when the UK has a much later release date. 😉 Finding Nemo just makes it into my Top Five (I did rank the Pixar movies HERE but I’d re-arrange that a bit now) and Dory is probably still close to the top of a list of my favorite Pixar characters (which I posted HERE on my very first day on this blog – I’ll update that list too!). So, yes – I was very much looking forward to spending more time with characters I love. Was it worth the extra wait? Well, it certainly wasn’t worth a trip to another country to see it early so I’m glad I didn’t do that.

Baby Dory is one of the cutest things ever but all the cuteness still isn’t enough to make up for such a weak story. I was even a little bored throughout the film (as was my kid). It breaks my heart to say that about a Pixar movie other than Cars! I enjoyed seeing Dory but Marlin & Nemo almost felt unnecessary, which sucks. I know they’ve already had their own movie but Dory was just as big of a star in Finding Nemo as Marlin & Nemo were. In this, it felt a bit like “well, we have to have Marlin & Nemo tag along as it makes no sense to not have them in the film”. They also tacked on an appearance from Crush & Squirt that I’m not exactly going to complain about as those two are AWESOME, dude, but I just walked out of Finding Dory feeling like I’d watched an inferior version of Finding Nemo. It’s the exact same story again minus the creativity & imagination involved in the first film. The characters are far weaker and there are none of the special little moments that made Finding Nemo so great.

The biggest new addition is an octopus named Hank & I know he has some fans. Hank is okay but, for me, he’ll never be a favorite. In Nemo, even the tiniest roles were fantastic. I could happily watch an entire movie set just in that tank in the dentist’s office… Gill, Bloat, Peach, Bubbles, etc – every single fish in that tank was more memorable than any of the new characters in the sequel.

I always do this – I’m far more critical of the things that I love. I suppose I just have really high standards when it comes to Pixar because they’ve made so many movies that I consider to be perfection. I did enjoy Finding Dory and, to be expected, I enjoyed it more than any other recent animated kids’ films from other studios. To compare it to something like The Secret Life Of Pets, I definitely liked it more. But when compared to other Pixar films, it would be fairly low down the list. I think I feel similar to how I now feel about Monsters University. Both sequels just can’t live up to the originals but that’s because the originals are so damn good (I just checked my review of that, though – I was way too generous with an 8/10! I guess it was my excitement at seeing Mike Wazowski again). But the Toy Story sequels are great so, I dunno… I’ve realized that part of the problem is seeing Dory upset & not the same silly, optimistic, lovably forgetful fish from the first film. She’s almost become Marlin in this film, which works well for his character but not for hers. The story & the characters all just worked together so perfectly in the first film whereas it all feels a bit too forced this time around. But, hell – it’s still Pixar and I still love Dory & it’s still a million times better than Cars. Maybe it’ll grow on me when I see it more at home. But I’m sad to say that I don’t think the kid liked it all that much so I don’t think it’ll get a lot of repeat home viewings unlike the Toy Stories & Monsters, Inc.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Is There A Scene After The Credits?: Yes – at the very end. I found it worth staying for, especially as a fan of the first film.

How About The Short Beforehand?: Piper is freaking ADORABLE. Just as adorable as baby Dory in that above picture and actually better than the Finding Dory film. It was great to see such a good Pixar short after being disappointed with things like Lava. Good job, Pixar!

The Jungle Book (2016) Review

The Jungle Book (2016)

Directed by Jon Favreau

Based on The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Starring: Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, Neel Sethi

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Jungle Book stars and introduces Neel Sethi as Mowgli, an orphaned human boy who, guided by his animal guardians, sets out on a journey of self-discovery while evading the threatening Shere Khan.

My Opinion:

(FYI – I’ve never read the book so can’t make any comparisons to it)

I actually wasn’t all that bothered about watching this one when I saw the trailer. I of course love Disney’s 1967 The Jungle Book. Who doesn’t?! It’s one of my top ten animated Disney movies (I did rank every single one I’ve ever seen HERE in the early days of my blog – I really need to update that list). And it’s one of the absolute best for songs (two of them made my list of My Top Ten Disney Songs. I love making Disney lists).

Anyway! I’m a big fan of the Disney classics and just didn’t really see the necessity (ha) of making this “live action” version. However, it’s pretty good. It could never replace the animated classic for me and I’m mighty pissed off that this new version has a higher IMDB rating than the 1967 film but, oh well – it’s an enjoyable film & its child star (Neel Sethi) does a really great job.

First of all, the CGI in this is spectacular. You have to remind yourself that Sethi was actually acting alone during these scenes – they just look so real. So you have to give the kid extra credit for that! A few bits didn’t look quite right but, overall, I’d have to say that nothing really threw me out of the movie the way that bad CGI can sometimes. Well, nothing as far as the “look” of the film threw me out of it… Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the voice acting.

Of all the animals, I especially loved Bagheera. He looked amazing and, just as importantly, he was voiced very professionally by Ben Kingsley. By saying that I mean this: you don’t go “WOW – that’s Ben Kingsley!” the second you hear Bagheera talk. In fact, we didn’t know until the end credits who actually voiced that character and that’s the way it SHOULD be if Disney wish to make their films timeless classics. I’d say the same for Lupita Nyong’o’s Raksha as well. Raksha was probably my second favorite animal character and I again think a big part of that was down to the fact that I wasn’t picturing the real-life voice actor the entire time.

I went to see this with extended family & seemed to enjoy it more than anyone else in the group. I’m glad I didn’t review it right away, though, as I liked it a little less the more I thought about it (I saw it a week & a half ago). My hubby was especially not a fan. He’s always pooping on my enjoyment of things! I’m pretty damn picky on movies but, believe me, he’s far worse. I do see his point, though, as his biggest complaint is that this movie felt like “The Bill Murray Show”.

I doubt there’s anyone out there who doesn’t love Baloo from the 1967 The Jungle Book. I suppose it’s a difficult job to voice such a beloved character but Bill Murray voices him in that typical Bill Murray way of his: he voices Baloo as Bill Murray. I guess that’s good if you absolutely love him and go to this wanting to see a Bill Murray movie but that’s not what I personally want from any Disney film. I don’t want to picture the actors. I want to get lost in the world created by the movie which, in this case, really did look pretty fantastic. But then Baloo came along acting all Bill Murray-like. And I also adore King Louie from the 1967 film (I actually prefer I Wan’na Be Like You to The Bare Necessities and love that part of the film). But who voices King Louie? Christopher Walken! Are there many voices more identifiable than his?! He did actually tone things down a bit in this but I still couldn’t help but picture King Louie with a gun to his head & talking about sticking a watch up his ass. 

My Daughter’s Opinion: I was surprised that she didn’t seem to like this one very much. Her first comment afterwards was “How long was that? It felt like it was on for aaaaaaages!” so that’s clearly not a good sign (it’s 1 hour 46 minutes, FYI). So I asked her how she liked it compared to the other movies she’s gone to this year & she said it’s last after Kung Fu Panda 3, Zootropolis, Pan & Goosebumps. Man, she’s harsh. But I’m not too upset – this hopefully means she’ll always prefer the superior 1967 film. 🙂

Summary:

If you pretend the 1967 film doesn’t exist, this is a very enjoyable family Disney film that looks absolutely amazing. A really good semi-live-action Disney film… (but not fully live action – it’s honestly so impressive that I keep thinking of it only as live action). The problem, though, is that the animated classic does exist so it’s impossible to not compare the two – especially as they’re so similar and this one does contain the two main songs from the animated film, which I was happy to hear yet at the same time wasn’t sure that they worked in this version. Plus they were sung by Murray & Walken and I’ve already said how I disliked their voices in this. Oh, actually – Scarlett Johansson was equally annoying as Kaa. That bit really didn’t work for me at all.

The other problem, and not everyone will care about this, is that you wouldn’t exactly want to have this one on if a two-year-old is in the room so it’s not as “entire family” friendly as the animated film. It looks far too real and many scenes are very intense for anyone really young.

Mainly, though, I’m just disappointed that they ruined the chance to make this yet another timeless Disney classic simply because they wanted to stick some big names in it. I expect that from other studios, such as DreamWorks, but not from Disney or Pixar. Okay – I’m not saying my two favorite (now joined) studios never use big names because, yes, they always do. But they usually first make sure that those voices suit the characters whereas this time it felt like they hired the actors without any thought as to if they were appropriate. It’s a shame as I think this would be pretty fantastic without those famous voice distractions. But, either way, it’s still not the animated classic so I don’t care too much anyway as that’s the one I’ll continue to watch for years. Interestingly, both my daughter and husband preferred Maleficent as well as the live-action Cinderella. Hmm. I’m not yet sure how I’d rank the three of them but I’ve given them all the exact same rating.

My Rating: 7/10

Oh! Oh! The baby wolves were adorable. Forgot to mention that. 🙂

Kung Fu Panda 3, The House Of Magic, Rio 2 & Muppets Most Wanted Movie Reviews

I have four quickie kids’ film reviews for you today! I promise they’ll be quick. Why? Because I barely remember three of them.

I’ve just seen Kung Fu Panda 3 so that review will be a little longer than the rest. You see, I get a little annoyed when I look at the pages on my blog & see that I still have some movies that I watched but never reviewed on the 2014 page & the 2015 page (never mind the 2016 page! I’m way behind). It’s especially annoying that the only movies that I actually went to the cinema to see but then didn’t review were these three 2014 kids’ movies. They were so “meh” that I guess I couldn’t be bothered.

So, here we go! I’ll finally say something about them two years later. I’m limiting myself to one paragraph each for the three older ones (plus my kid’s opinion on each). But let’s start with the longer review for the most current film (and by far the best of the four)…

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson & Alessandro Carloni

Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, J. K. Simmons, James Hong, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Bryan Cranston, Kate Hudson

From: DreamWorks Animation

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Continuing his “legendary adventures of awesomeness”, Po must face two hugely epic, but different threats: one supernatural and the other a little closer to his home.

My Opinion:

I actually thought this movie was really good. As far as DreamWorks movies go, at least. I’ve stated here before how I see DreamWorks movies as strictly kids’ films while I view Pixar & most Disney ones as just being great films overall for every age group. Like, I wouldn’t feel weird discussing both WALL-E & Citizen Kane in the same breath. Except, I’ve not seen Citizen Kane… Never mind.

What I liked about Kung Fu Panda 3 is that, while it has a message as does every kids’ movie, it didn’t let the message get in the way of the movie being fun and actually making kids laugh. The previous movie we went to as a family was Disney’s Zootropolis (aka Zootopia) & I did NOT expect to think a DreamWorks film was far better than a Disney one! But that’s the case this time.

Kung Fu Panda 3 hasn’t forgotten that, first & foremost, it’s meant to be aimed at kids. I felt that Zootropolis completely forgot this while trying to drive its message home with a convoluted plot and uninteresting characters. But Kung Fu Panda 3 isn’t dumbed down for kids, either, which is a big pet peeve of mine. Kids aren’t stupid & shouldn’t be treated that way. The jokes were all age-appropriate without being dumb but also not being too grown-up like things such as the Godfather references in Zootropolis.

I have to admit that Kung Fu Panda 3 was even enjoyable to me as an adult who probably wouldn’t watch many animated films not made by Disney or Pixar if I didn’t have a kid. I do love Jack Black (I don’t care about the haters!) and think he’s been perfect as Po in all these films. I think all the characters are strong & really like the setting and the look. In this one, the baby pandas are adorable & even had grumpy me going “aww”. The baddie in this one was also pretty cool, as were his storyline & all the chi stuff. Plus I’m a sucker for the color green. Here’s the baddie:

I’d even go so far as to say that I like the Kung Fu Panda movies the most out of all the ones made by DreamWorks. I find Shrek a little overrated and I’d say that the How To Train Your Dragon films are possibly their “best” work but they’ve never really clicked with me at all (or the kid). But all three of us have enjoyed each of the three Kung Fu Panda movies.

My Rating: 7/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She liked this movie a lot & giggled through the whole thing. She was far more enthusiastic about this one than she was after walking out of Zootropolis, which she called “not very good”. Her favorite part was Po doing his “chitty chitty chat chat” thing that she’s been annoying us with ever since (thanks a lot, Jack Black!). She also loved the baby pandas, especially when they ate everything in sight. She’s not watched the first two films since we went to see them but this one has renewed her interest (and mine!) in watching those again. I’d happily pick them up on DVD now – I think this is a very solid trilogy from DreamWorks.

The House Of Magic (2013) (US Title: Thunder And The House Of Magic)

Directed by Jeremy Degruson & Ben Stassen

Starring: Cinda Adams, George Babbit, Murray Blue, Kathleen Browers, Joey Camen, Grant George, Shanelle Gray, Nina Grillo, Kyle Hebert

From: nWave Pictures, StudioCanal

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The House of Magic is a 2013 3D Belgian-French computer-animated fantasy-comedy film. The film focuses on an abandoned young cat who seeks shelter in the home of an old, retired magician with his automatons and gizmos.

My Opinion:

I admit to not fully remembering the plot of this strange little Belgian/French film (which was in English but I assume originally in French?) two years later. But I clearly remember the kind old magician, the cat he adopts, and the man’s REALLY cool magical toys (automatons and gizmos) such as that adorable lightbulb dude in the photo at the very top of this post. I also remember some great songs being used quite prominently (The Lovecats by The Cure & the always catchy House Of Fun by Madness). It’s not some big Disney, DreamWorks, etc production and that does show but I still thought that the characters, the music, and especially those inventive toys were pretty damn good! I wonder if those who made this have gone on to do more animated films? I’d like to see this sort of thing with a bigger budget. It’s a very sweet & charming film from what I remember. I wouldn’t complain at being made to watch it again.

My Rating: 6/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She doesn’t now remember much of this but does remember all those really cool toys that I mentioned above. She said she’d like to watch it again too (fine with me – I’ll pick up the DVD if I see it).

Rio 2 (2014)

Directed by Carlos Saldanha

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Andy García, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement, Kristin Chenoweth, George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, will.i.am, Jamie Foxx

From: Blue Sky Studios

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
It’s a jungle out there for Blu, Jewel and their three kids after they’re hurtled from Rio de Janeiro to the wilds of the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in, he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful Nigel, and meets his father-in-law.

My Opinion:

Wow. I really remember very little of this except that I think it was about saving the rainforest, right? I don’t remember the first one either – I only know that these Rio movies are very bright & colorful and have some big musical numbers that are okay. This is from Blue Sky, whose movies are quite similar to DreamWorks in that I see them strictly as films aimed at kids and only truly enjoyed by kids. The only Blue Sky one I really liked was The Peanuts Movie but that’s because I’m obsessed with Peanuts & the movie stayed very true to its spirit. Don’t get me wrong – these Rio movies aren’t bad. They’re very pretty to look at & not the worst way to spend a couple of hours with your kid but I don’t think they’re very memorable. I’d have to say that the Ice Age films are a stronger series from this studio as the characters are better. Also, could they get a more annoying set of voice actors for Rio? Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann & Kristin Chenoweth(!!)?? Ugh. I think I remember Eisenberg’s bird kids in this being quite cute, though…

My Rating: 5.5/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She says she liked this although she couldn’t remember the specifics of it now. She said “I liked the pink frog!” (Ugh. Kristin Chenoweth.) I think it’s proof that the Rio films are pretty & enjoyable enough while being watched but are ultimately forgettable.

Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Directed by James Bobin

Starring: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, The Muppets

From: Walt Disney Pictures

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
While on a grand world tour, The Muppets find themselves wrapped into an European jewel-heist caper headed by a Kermit the Frog look-alike and his dastardly sidekick.

My Opinion:

I grew up with The Muppet Show so I of course love The Muppets. Who doesn’t?! The Muppets movie in 2011 (2012 here) was pretty good. It was fun and managed to kind of capture the spirit of the original show (plus I like Amy Adams). But I found Muppets Most Wanted really disappointing even though it was great, as always, to see these beloved characters. The problem was the messy, boring story and the fact that I really didn’t like the main real-life stars. Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell & Tina Fey? How do you go from Amy Adams to some TV stars? Never been a fan of any of them (in fact, who is Ty Burrell anyway? That prick in Dawn Of The Dead??). I just think they made a real mess of this movie – I’ll stick to watching my DVDs of the original show.

My Rating: 5.5/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She remembers this one more than I thought she would! She remembers the plot & the evil Kermit with the mole. She likes The Muppets & says she liked this movie. Maybe I should give it another try…

This is her favorite Muppet-related thing. I agree:

**I’d like to finally take this opportunity to draw attention to a favorite blogger of mine here who does fantastic paintings of The Muppets (and loads of other awesome artwork with a focus on pop culture – but I first started following him because of The Muppets). Please have a look at Scott’s site at Mojoswork.com. You can see all his Muppets artwork HERE.

Scott – I’m sorry it took me two years to finally get around to doing this review! Let me know if you want me to add any more info or if you want me to include a specific Muppets image you’ve done. 🙂 Oh! Scott does a lot of wrestling & sports stuff as well and I thought his History Of The WWF was absolutely amazing despite knowing nothing of that sort of thing myself (MIB – you should really check this out).

I figure I should end this with some Madness since I have House Of Fun in my head after talking about The House Of Magic. I miss this era of music!

Zootropolis (2016) Review

Zootropolis (2016) (aka Zootopia)

Directed by Byron Howard & Rich Moore

Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, Shakira

Music by: Michael Giacchino

Production company: Walt Disney Pictures

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox must work together to uncover a conspiracy.

My Opinion:

I’d seen very positive reviews for this but I made sure to read very little about it & only really looked at the ratings to get the overall vibe that people really liked this one. I mean, this has an 8.4 IMDB rating & is currently ranked at #150 out of the supposed Top 250 of all time. Sorry, but…. No. I still haven’t actually read any of the reviews for this so I’m not sure what people see in it that I clearly missed but I was very disappointed with this outing from Disney. And I’m, for the most part, a big fan of Disney. Sure, it has a lovely message and all that but it’s a shame that Disney let the message get in the way of actually making a good film…

Where do I start? I honestly don’t want this to turn into some long rant (plus I’m a little worried about getting a negative reaction from people). I don’t have the energy to now go & read all the reviews of this here on WordPress plus it’s been out for a few weeks in America and people always just want to move onto the next brand new release. I’ll happily read any comments from anyone who disagrees with me, though. We’ll discuss it & maybe you can talk me into liking this one a little more!

I admit that when a movie has the Disney or Pixar name attached to it, I have much higher standards for it so I know I’m probably being a little too harsh on this movie. It’s not a “bad” kids’ movie. Yes, I’m aware that Zootropolis is first & foremost for kids but it’s still hard to not compare it to something like Wreck-It Ralph, which is a thoroughly enjoyable movie for the entire family. Or The Lego Movie! That wasn’t Disney or Pixar but it was a great, funny film AND it even had a rather deep & meaningful message in the same way Zootropolis does. But the difference is that it felt like The Lego Movie first focused on having an excellent script & characters & making a really fun family film and then concentrated on the film’s fantastic message. With Zootropolis, it feels like the filmmakers came up with the message they wanted to convey first and then tried to write a story around it, resulting in a rather convoluted and far too grown-up plot that I don’t think many kids will have enjoyed that much anyway.

In the end, I think the extremely forced nature of the storyline takes away from the message they’re trying to shove down our kids’ throats. No, wait… To be honest, I think it’s the parents who are having the message shoved down their throats this time. And it’s a message I most certainly agree with but, sorry Disney, you aren’t going to change the ways of the world with a mediocre kids’ film and messy story. I think your message will have been lost on the kids, will have completely gone over the heads of the adults you’re targeting, and will have simply annoyed the adults who do agree with your message and don’t need you to preach to them.

I’ve not yet fully discussed Zootropolis with my kid but I know she understood the message behind The Lego Movie whereas, as I said, I don’t think this one managed to at all get its point across to her and to its young target audience (and she’s very bright, if I do say so myself). 😉 Here’s my attempt to discuss the movie with her: Me: “What was your favorite part of the movie?” My kid: “I don’t know….” *pause* “I don’t think Zootropolis was very good”. Well, I think that kind of says it all.

My Rating: 6/10

P.S. – Disney, please don’t stick pop stars, crappy songs, and current trends such as stupid phone apps into your movies. You’ve instantly dated your film. Stick with Pixar, who know how to make a timeless classic. The worst thing I can say about Zootropolis is that I walked out of it feeling like I’d just watched a DreamWorks movie. That’s a step in very much the wrong direction.

My Top Ten Movies That Are 90 Minutes Or Less


Because sometimes, you like ’em short.

I’m sure we’ve all sometimes chosen what movie to watch based on whichever has the shortest running time. Life is busy and, for movie lovers, it isn’t always easy to find the time to devote to watching a film. And it seems that many of the most critically acclaimed films are at least two hours or more. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Well, luckily, there are some good ones to watch that don’t go to the lengths of Seven Samurai (which is an awesome movie that you really should watch when you have a spare three hours and 27 minutes). So, I’ve gathered some of my favorite cinematic quickies together in this list. And thanks to the hubby for this one as he’s the one who came up with the idea for the list (but, of course, I’ve done all the actual work. as always). 😉

While scouring IMDB for running times, it soon became apparent that certain types of films tend to be the ones that are always short. Loads of animated movies, especially older ones from Disney, are under 90 minutes. Then there are all the old, silent films. Finally, a lot of horror films are also short. So I’ve decided to create two Top Tens as there are way too many short animated films & it’s always hard to know where to put them within a list of non-animated films.

So first, here are My Top Ten Animated Movies That Are 90 Minutes Or Less:

10. The Jungle Book (1 hr 18 min)
9. Yellow Submarine (1 hr 30 min)
8. Heavy Metal (1 hr 26 min)
7. TIE: Sleeping Beauty (1 hr 15 min) & Beauty And The Beast (1 hr 24 min)
6. TIE: 101 Dalmatians (1 hr 19 min) & The AristoCats (1 hr 18 min)

5. The Last Unicorn (1 hr 24 min if I cheat & go by the British version’s running time, which is always shorter anyway due to frame rates per second or something like that) 😉

4. The Iron Giant (1 hr 26 min)

3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1 hr 16 min)

2. Grave Of The Fireflies (1 hr 29 min)

1. TIE: My Neighbor Totoro (1 hr 26 min) & Toy Story (1 hr 21 min)

Now we have the list that more people will probably be interested in – here are My Top Ten Non-Animated Movies That Are 90 Minutes Or Less:

10. TIE: License To Drive (1 hr 28 min) & Before Sunset (1 hr 20 min)
9. The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari (1 hr 18 min)
8. Robot & Frank (1 hr 29 min)
7. Daft Punk’s Electroma (1 hr 14 min)
6. Videodrome (1 hr 27 min)

5. Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1 hr 30 min)

4. This Is Spinal Tap (1 hr 22 min)

3. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1 hr 30 min)

2. TIE: City Lights (1 hr 27 min) & Modern Times (1 hr 27 min)

1. Stand By Me (1 hr 29 min)

Other Greats That You Can Watch In 90 Minutes Or Less:
I figured I’d list a lot – all of these are more short movies that I like as well. Use it for future reference if you’re short on time! 😉

Animated:
Corpse Bride (1 hr 17 min), Alice In Wonderland (1 hr 15 min), Lady & The Tramp (1 hr 16 min), Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs (1 hr 23 min), The Rescuers (1 hr 18 min), Cinderella (1 hr 14 min), Peter Pan (1 hr 17 min), Bambi (1 hr 10 min), Pinocchio (1 hr 28 min), Dumbo (1 hr 4 min), The Lion King (1 hr 29 min), South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1 hr 21 min)

Non-Animated:
Freaks (1 hr 4 min), Airplane! (1 hr 28 min), Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1 hr 27 min), The Kid (1 hr 8 min), Brief Encounter (1 hr 26 min), Exit Through The Gift Shop (1 hr 27 min), Rubber (1 hr 22 min), The Wicker Man (1 hr 28 min), The Purge (1 hr 25 min), Rope (1 hr 20 min), Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (1 hr 28 min), Office Space (1 hr 29 min), Hobo With A Shotgun (1 hr 26 min), Scrooge (1 hr 26 min), Attack The Block (1 hr 28 min), Primer (1 hr 17 min)

Horror:
Night Of The Creeps (1 hr 28 min), Tucker & Dale Vs Evil (1 hr 29 min), Zombieland (1 hr 28 min), What We Do In The Shadows (1 hr 26 min)

Disney Infinity: Star Wars! 

I don’t know who was more excited when this came out in the UK on Friday: my Star Wars crazy husband or my Star Wars mad daughter. Probably my husband, although he played it cool instead of squealing with delight like my six-year-old did. 😉

This is just a quick post & certainly not a review of the game itself as I’m not exactly a gamer. In fact, I’ve not played it yet (but I’m sure I’ll be forced to soon – which won’t be so bad as I’m a bit of a Star Wars fan myself). I just want to say THANK YOU to Disney Infinity for probably being the best Star Wars-related thing yet to actually not ignore its young female fans! 🙂

We have not just one, or two, but THREE female Star Wars Disney Infinity characters! I’ve talked about this a bit in the past but it’s crazy how difficult it is to get any Princess Leia toys/clothing/etc nowadays as opposed to all the widely available items with all the male characters. Okay – you can sometimes get a Leia but only as a part of a ridiculously expensive set (like the Lego Ewok Village). Want a cheaper Lego Leia? You’ll have to get the keychain & pull the chain out of her head. Better than nothing, I guess?

Having a daughter, she’s of course happy with any Star Wars toys & has loads of male character toys as well. But how do you explain to a six-year-old why female characters are so often excluded? She loves Star Wars Rebels, which has two main female characters, but all the merchandise in Disney Store is aimed at boys and the girl characters are actually not even included in the images of the cast of characters on the boys’ clothing & things like stationery. Occasionally Sabine Wren is included in an image but, when she is, she tends to have the helmet on so you can’t tell that she’s a girl. It’s like Leia in the Boushh helmet – you can sometimes find that version of Leia. Is a boy really going to complain at one or two girl characters on a t-shirt or a school folder along with the male characters? I highly doubt it. I blame idiotic marketing execs.

I’ll stop rambling before I sound too complain-y. I just wanted to celebrate the fact that you can get Princess Leia, Ahsoka Tano & Sabine Wren Disney Infinity characters (and that super cool Boba Fett up there as an exclusive if you buy the set that includes him. hubby did, of course). Things seem to be improving slightly for female fans of what are considered “boy movies” – let’s hope this is just the start of things. On a recent trip to the Disney Store, we were able to buy an awesome unisex R2-D2 sweatshirt plus an R2-D2 t-shirt specifically for girls! I was so happy that I won’t even complain that it’s pink & full of glitter. She can wear her Darth Vader helmet with it to balance out the pink. 😉

Speaking of Star Wars, I’ve participated in another great Question Of The Month for Luke over at Oracle Of Film. This month’s question: Who Is Your Favorite Star Wars Character? You can read everyone’s answer, along with mine, HERE. (FYI – I didn’t choose a girl) 🙂

Someone Take Me To Banksy’s Dismaland Bemusement Park!

Banksy has put together this “dystopian tourist attraction” featuring art from a long list of famous artists (including his, of course). I love Banky’s work (you can read my review of Exit Through The Gift Shop HERE). I did a “Banksy tour” of London years ago to see some of his most famous street art and I WANT TO GO TO DISMALAND!!!!

There’s a very good article about the whole thing at This Is Colossal so take a look at that link if you’re at all interested & live anywhere near Weston-Super-Mare. There’s loads of info, a video & lots of photos.

It’s very likely that reading that article will be your only way of experiencing Dismaland. So far, demand is very high and there are long queues to get in as the official website is experiencing problems and people have been unable to buy tickets. Ha! Rumor has it that even that is all part of the Dismaland experience. How very Banksy! I love it! So I’m extremely unlikely to experience Dismaland first-hand as I live nowhere near there (plus I can’t imagine Disney letting this stay open for long!!!) but just knowing of its existence puts a smile on my face. Which is kind of missing the point. Or is it?! Who knows. Gotta love art! 🙂

Inside Out (2015) Review

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Inside Out (2015)

Directed by Pete Docter

Starring Voice Actors: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Richard Kind, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan

Production company: Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.

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My Opinion:

So, I finally saw this Pixar movie on Tuesday – SIX YEARS after its release everywhere else on the planet!!! Okay – I guess it was only about a month’s wait but that’s like a lifetime to me when it comes to waiting to see a new Pixar film. I adore Pixar! I know the UK gets (and will be getting) all the Marvel films before America. But who cares?! Screw Marvel! I’d much rather not have to wait for the Pixar movies. Anyway, I was feeling some bitterness (along with some disgust, anger & sadness) at the long wait so didn’t exactly rush out to see this when it came out last Friday. I figured it might as well wait a few more days so I could go on my cinema’s cheap day. I give you enough money, Pixar, and you make me wait a month just because of the stupid UK school holiday dates! Lol. Okay… I can’t stay angry at my beloved Pixar for long… 😉

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Inside Out has a brilliant concept (it’s almost up there with Monsters, Inc in that department) and it’s so cleverly written, which is what we’ve all come to expect from Pixar anyway. I love that they don’t feel the need to dumb their movies down and they don’t treat kids like they’re idiots. Yes, some of the ideas and jokes will be over very young kids’ heads. So what? It’s a movie they’ll grow up with and they’ll learn to appreciate more and more as they get older. So bravo to Pixar once again making a brilliant, timeless classic for all ages. This is why I love Pixar so much and have come to respect their films far more than a lot of the non-animated movies that get made.

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However, I’m sad to say that I’m not exactly sure how I feel about Inside Out. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great film and I love that they’ve made something that will challenge young minds and might actually make the future a better place (well, it’s possible… if anyone can discover the secret to true happiness & world peace, it’s Pixar). But I’m not instantly in love with it the way I was with a lot of other Pixar films (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc and especially WALL-E). Man, I remember the feeling I had when I walked out of the cinema after watching WALL-E… You know that pure joy you get as a movie fan when you’ve just watched an absolutely amazing film?? I still almost get chills when I watch the opening of that movie and I stand by my belief that the beginning (on Earth) is a masterpiece. There were a few moments in Inside Out that almost reached those heights but it still didn’t pack the emotional punch that the opening scenes of WALL-E and Up did and it doesn’t have any characters that are quite as strong (and instantly loveable) as in Finding Nemo or Monsters, Inc.

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Okay – I know I take Pixar films way too seriously so I’ll lighten up a little now. 😉 I know they’re essentially “family” movies but, especially with one as grown-up as Inside Out, it’s hard to not review them as I would any non-animated films. As far as other, non-Pixar animated films go, Inside Out blows them all away. As far as most non-animated films go, Inside Out blows those away too. As far as other Pixar films go, Inside Out is definitely one of the best but may not be quite as instantly loved as some of them. That’s the problem – Pixar has such a huge reputation to live up to! Yet they continue to live up to it. I know Inside Out will grow on me. But I’m an adult – what do kids actually think of it?

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My Six-Year-Old’s Opinion: (in my words)

She of course loved Inside Out but most kids will say they love a movie immediately after they’ve watched it. I go more by her reaction to a movie while watching it & how much she talks about it over the next few days. She was completely engrossed throughout the entire film and had a big smile on her face. She entirely understood the overall, basic concept (which is good as the movie was way more abstract than I was expecting – it’s massively clever but also seriously deep at times). She’s been talking a lot about the different emotions she’s been feeling and I love how much the movie has made her think about things. That’s awesome. I think it’ll be a firm favorite of hers for years to come, especially as she reaches the same sort of age as its main character.

As a parent, I’m very happy that movies like this are being made for her generation and I’m a million times happier to let her watch a movie like this than one of those idiotic Barbie movies (which I do let her watch if she wants to. I’m not going to be some movie snob – she’s only six!). However, those Barbie movies usually get watched once and she never really has anything to say about them. That’s the power of Pixar! I think this is proof that kids can handle a more grown-up film with a complex concept and without a load of silly jokes and characters.

My Husband’s Opinion:

This is unusual but the hubby has read my review & actually wanted to state his opinion as he doesn’t fully agree with me. Here’s what he said:

“I consider after all the films Pixar has made, as pure commercial fun, this one is basically a true gift to the world that will fundamentally change how human beings relate to one another. AND they did it in a so-called kids film… I think this is actually Pixar’s most significant piece of work. Not about which movie is their “best movie”. But one that utterly changes the game? This one.”

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Summary:

While I may not instantly love Inside Out quite as much as I do some other Pixar films (or quite as much as both my daughter & husband seemed to), you can see I have a massive amount of respect for it. I know I’ve not really discussed any of the specific characters or anything but I think there have been enough reviews of this by now that I didn’t really see the point of being too specific. I’ll say that I was afraid I might find Joy slightly annoying as overly happy people piss me off but that wasn’t at all the case. I also really liked Disgust but Sadness was my favorite. I’m not sure what that says about me… 😉 Finally, I liked the character of Riley and the importance of her relationship with her family. The human characters seem like the background characters in this one but they’re the true heart of the film. As always, I found I cared more about these animated characters than I tend to care about the characters in most live-action films. I don’t quite know how Pixar manages to do this (or why I can’t make it through the beginning of Up without bawling) but they’ve once again made a movie that they can be very proud of. I’ll grow to love it a bit more – I know I will!

My Rating: 8.5/10

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Is There A Scene After The Credits?: Well, you should all know this by now but there are some great extra scenes during the credits that you have to stay for. I loved these scenes. There’s nothing after the credits, though.

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A very quick review of the Lava short:

As if the main Pixar film doesn’t fill me with enough joy, we of course also get a great short before the films. I always look forward to the shorts! This one, Lava, wasn’t my favorite. It’s of course very sweet and, hey – anthropomorphic volcanoes! I’m a huge fan of anthropomorphism. However, I found the song a little bit annoying and the ending predictable. To be fair, and speaking of those emotions in my head, I was in a very bad mood when we went to this movie so that may have had an effect on how I felt about this sappy little romantic short. Sorry. :-/ But it’s still a million times better than that stupid Boundin’. The short I loved most in recent times was Disney’s Feast – that one was brilliant!

My Rating: 6.5/10

Beauty And The Beast (1991) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Steven of Past, Present, Future In TV And Film. Thanks for the review, Steven! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Beauty And The Beast, IMDB rank 228 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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Animated films. You grow up with them as kids, watch them over and over, and love them to pieces. Sadly, it seems, these films can lose whatever hold they had on you, and become a part of some time long ago, that the kids of today are only just discovering.

The Walt Disney Pictures film “Beauty and the Beast”, certainly reminded me why animated films, newer or classic, aren’t to be discarded once you reach a certain age.

This animated film features the voice talents of Paige O’Hara (“Enchanted”, “Disney Princess Party: Volume Two”), Robby Bensen (“MXP: Most Xtreme Primate”, “American Dreams”), Richard White (“House of Mouse”, “Great Performances”), Jerry Orbach (“Law & Order: Trial by Jury”, “Law & Order”), David Ogden Stiers (“Regular Show”, “Leverage”), Angela Lansbury (“Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011)”, “Heidi 4 Paws”), Bradley Pierce (“Up in Smoke”, “The LEGO Movie Videogame”), Rex Everhart (“Law & Order”, “Family Business”), and Jesse Corti (“Annie Sunbeam and Friends”, “Handy Manny”).

The film was directed by Gary Trousdale (“The Pig Who Cried Werewolf”, “Scared Shrekless (TV Short 2010)”) and Kirk Wise (“Spirited Away”, “Atlantis: The Lost Empire”). It was written by Linda Woolverton (“Maleficent”, “Alice in Wonderland (2010)”).

The film originally opened on Nov. 22, 1991. It would go on to be nominated for 6 Academy Awards, winning two, four Golden Globe Awards, winning three, and nine Grammy Awards, winning five.

Originally I thought it was going to be difficult to find a copy of this film. The only one my family had, for the longest time, was on VHS, probably the original one bought when I was a kid back in the early ‘90s. I just dated myself. Ugh. Anyway, I didn’t give up. Thank God for both Netflix subscriptions, as the DVD one had the film! However, it wasn’t what I was accustomed to. Since I last saw this film, and I honestly have no idea when that was; for all I know, the last time was in the ‘90s. So, this version was one of the most recent updated versions of the film. I was okay with that, mainly as I’d only heard of the new musical number and hadn’t seen what the animation and coloring would look like in a restored or remastered version. I still got an incredible experience! It seriously makes me wonder why I don’t own this film myself.

The animation, which I immediately fixated on, was incredible! I’m not sure if it’s just because this film is 24 years old (and restored/updated), and the way things are animated is vastly different, but I felt like I was getting something different or special. I instantly fell in love with every aspect that went into bringing this world to life. The detail! The color! Spectacular! Watching these characters move and interact with other characters and the environment was something else. It could also just be telling, in that I don’t usually focus on the way an animated film looks. Certainly not to that level of detail and with the attention I afforded this film.

Much like with the detail of the film, I was able to really focus on the music and lyrics. While in film, Alan Menken (“Galavant”, “Tangled”, “Enchanted”) may not have done much, he somehow delivered incredible, fun, and moving music. Lyricist, Howard Ashman (“The Little Mermaid”, “Little Shop of Horrors”), well, as we now know, wrote amazing songs. I don’t know how best to describe this. I can’t recall if I ever payed that much attention to the music and lyrics before, but this time around, I really, really did. Maybe more than need be, but because of this, I found the lyrics at times funny and highly enjoyable, plus, overall, brilliant! This really explains why, even though I haven’t seen this film much, little pieces of the songs go in and out of my memory, to the point where I must search YouTube for a clip with whatever song is stuck in my head. It also afforded me the chance to see why I love this film more than many of the other animated Disney musical films.

While I pretty much loved every song in this film, including the originally omitted “Human Again”, as well as the darker ones sung by Gaston and his friends, (seriously, listen to the lyrics), there’s only one that stands out the most. That being, “Be Our Guest”.

I think this is mainly because “Be Our Guest”, is so big! That’s the great thing about animation. You can do so much more than in live action. Okay, this may not be entirely true, but let’s just go with it here. Thanks. I love that they even had Belle do a tiny little dance towards the end of the song. I guess I remembered the number a bit differently and thought that this piece just meant something else. It certainly had me getting into the song and dance all that much more, as well as just smiling and laughing and enjoying every moment!!

After the song is over, Belle says, “I figured it out for myself”, for which she’s referring to recognizing that where she is, is an enchanted castle. I found it so fascinating that this very specific thing was mentioned. I don’t know why, but it just stood out for me. Guess it really shows how long ago it was I saw this and what I remember of it.

I don’t think it would be normal if I skipped over a chance to talk about the characters, even if they’re animated.

You always see or hear about surveys, or something, asking which Disney princess is your favorite or which one you are (something like that), and most people seem to have an answer. I usually dismissed this as some silly and obnoxious thing people did for reasons I’ll never understand. I still don’t think, after putting in five minutes of thought, I could tell you. Anyway, after having seen this film I must say that, and I mean this, that Belle is my favorite. I should now throw out that I find many of the Disney princesses annoying, as well as the films they’re featured in, so it makes it easier to pick Belle.

I think most of this love for her comes from the fact that she reads. If that sounds weird, let me add that I’m a big reader. My own personal library now partially lives under my bed, as well as the three other bookcases I have. This probably explains why, when Belle is shown the massive library the beast has, my first thought was, “I want that library!!! So many BOOKS!!!”

Moving on. Maybe this is just some quality I picked out of hers, like with Matilda, that actually carries little actual meaning towards character. I’m not sure. I will say too, that I like her for all the reasons everyone else does. She independent, kind, free spirit, blah blah blah. In the case of the film itself, a large portion goes to O’Hara who had, as I have remembered for so many years, a phenomenal singing voice and the right voice for the character. It’s what makes me love the songs Belle sings so much!

As I’m talking about Belle, I feel it a good time to mention one observation. I love how she just opens up to halfway through the book, but apparently, that’s really the beginning. I know some books have extra pages, that are truly useless, but with her book, that was something else. I think it was something like hundreds of pages before the story actually began. I guess that’s just 1991 for you.

The Beast was an incredibly likable, if not lovable, character. It all has to do with the fact that he’s a very emotional creature? being? thing? Whatever it is, the portrayal of emotions makes him very sympathetic. I was surprised by how quickly he made me feel bad for him. After he catches her in the west wing, he’s so saddened by his outburst. You can see it, and it hits, to me, quite strongly. A kid might not read too much beyond sadness, but I felt much more than I thought I could. You feel so bad for him. It’s so sad!! Fortunately, as is the point of the film, his feelings change and he becomes even more capable of loving, and by the end, you really side with him.

With this version, I loved and didn’t like it, only as it was sort of an awkward placement for a scene, that during “Human Again”, when Belle’s finishing reading “Romeo & Juliet”, you see the Beast just totally taken by the story. Giant paws holding up his head as he listens with attention you don’t really get to see in the rest of the film. This scene, made me so giddy, as you could really see him enjoying this time with Belle! I know there’s plenty of examples of their relationship growing, but somehow those don’t convey the same thing as this one scene does.

Lumier, well, he’s Lumier! I still love Lumier the most. Don’t get me wrong, the other characters are absolutely refreshing as well, but not like Lumier. I’m not entirely sure why, but every time I see Orbach on a “Law & Order” rerun as Lenny Briscoe, I think of Lumier!

And, this wouldn’t be a kids movie without violence! Even if it’s to protect someone from wild animals. Then, there’s the fact that in a kids movie, violence is apparently funny. I got a nice laugh on some of it. I do feel surprised, however, that the animators included such a graphic scene as the knife coming out of the beast. The scene then features a trickle of blood. Really it’s nothing any kid would obsess over, but somehow it just seems shocking. If that doesn’t indicate how long it’s been, I don’t know what will.

Lastly, and just because they’re extra observations, and I even made a note at the top of my page that says, “I’m over thinking most of this film”, I’m including some really random observations. Things which really just made this film a different, yet still enjoyable experience, overall.

– Apparently nobody knew of this prince living in a massive castle. How???
– But, the beast knew there was a village. Or did he just know because of Belle and her father?
– Oh, look! Lumier and Cogsworth sound French! Why are they the only ones?
– Belle has no friends, so she must talk to the chickens. Yeah, that makes sense.
– Everyone’s gotta have a sidekick!
– “How can you read this? There’s no pictures.”
“Well some people use their imaginations.”

Pretty much the sentiment of today’s youth and a lot of people in general. Or, maybe it’s just the people I know that don’t read. Sad on so many levels.

I may watch animated films every now and then, but seldom do I react the way I would if I were still a kid, or as others do when the little kid inside them comes out. Not since “The Lego Movie”, which wasn’t watched all that long ago, have I been so entertained by something animated. Perhaps this newfound love of this film, is telling me I need to revisit my childhood. Maybe I need to spend more time giving new animated films a chance, as I could be surprised by what I’m seeing. There’s a whole genre of film I feel that I’ve been missing for some time, that only now, seems to be acceptable for me to watch again. Animated films, they’re not just for kids.

What If Disney Princesses Were Minions?

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Ha! This is old news in Internetland (a week) but I needed something simple to post today. Minions finally comes out today! Oh my god – I can’t wait to see it!!!!!! Lol. (I love those wacky minions…)

Anyway, here are some Disney Princesses turned into Minions by Jen Lewis at Bored Panda. Click the link to see them all. 🙂

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Tomorrowland (2015) Review

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Tomorrowland (2015) (aka Tomorrowland: A World Beyond in the UK)

Directed by Brad Bird

Starring:
George Clooney
Hugh Laurie
Britt Robertson
Raffey Cassidy
Thomas Robinson
Tim McGraw
Kathryn Hahn
Keegan-Michael Key

Running time: 130 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of a former boy genius (Clooney) and a young girl (Robertson), who travel to an ambiguous dimension known as “Tomorrowland”, where their actions directly affect the world and themselves.

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My Opinion:

Damn. Damn! Damn damn damn! Tomorrowland was one of my most anticipated movies this year. In fact, it’s the one I chose over everything else (even Star Wars!) when Luke over at Oracle Of Film asked the question: What is your most anticipated movie?”. Damn. Is it too late to change my answer?? What a disappointment.

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I desperately wanted to like this movie. It seemed to have everything going for it: Live action Disney sci-fi directed by Brad Bird! Everyone loves Bird’s Ratatouille and of course The Incredibles but my own personal favorite of his is The Iron Giant and I think I was hoping that Tomorrowland would have the heart that that one does. Unfortunately, Tomorrowland feels very cold & sterile and most of the characters, other than teenager Casey played by Britt Robertson, aren’t very likeable. In fact, George Clooney’s character is so grumpy & unlikeable at first that I wasn’t able to warm to him at all, especially after he knocks Casey off his front porch in a way that could’ve broken her damn neck. They explore his past to show us that he was once an optimistic “dreamer” but don’t really explain why all that changed. We’re given hints but not enough to make us care.

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I don’t know if this is SPOILER TERRITORY so look away for the rest of this paragraph if you still want to see this movie. A lot of the rather convoluted story revolves around an android girl and she’s almost as unlikeable as Clooney’s character. This movie reminded me in a lot of ways of A.I. Artificial Intelligence, which also felt very cold & sterile and was a bit convoluted and unsure of its message. However, Haley Joel Osment was at least very good as the “robot boy” and you cared about his character. It IS possible to make us like “robot people”! Loads of movies have managed it. Heck, even D.A.R.Y.L. managed it! (Yes! I got another D.A.R.Y.L. mention into one of my reviews!). But in Tomorrowland, I didn’t care at all about this little android girl and her world so I didn’t really care if Clooney’s & Robertson’s characters would be able to save it or not. I should point out, though, that I don’t think any of this was the fault of the actress (Raffey Cassidy) as I think she was very good in a poorly written role. Oh! By the way – Hugh Laurie is in this too in a rather stupid & pointless role. He’s really not even worth mentioning. Although I guess I just did…

I’ll mention that there’s quite a bit of violence against the androids, which may disturb young kids as the androids look completely human and the very young may not understand that they’re just robots. This includes one sudden & shocking Final Destination/Meet Joe Black moment that felt out of place in a Disney film.

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I’ll say that the one thing I did like about this was Britt Robertson. I know I watched this silly show that she was on for a while (The Secret Circle) and she was the one thing that really stood out. I’m not surprised that it seems she may be on her way to bigger roles now and, although she’s 25, she has a very young look which means she can play a teenager in something like this without it being embarrassing like Olivia Newton John in Grease. Her character helps save Tomorrowland from being a total disaster, at least.

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Summary:

Tomorrowland has a convoluted plot set in a cold & sterile environment where everyone (besides the main teenage girl) is unlikeable and the audience won’t be able to buy into them or care about their fate. Its story is far too complicated for young kids plus the level of violence was a bit surprising for a Disney “family film”. It’s hard to figure out who this movie is aimed at as the confusing story won’t make any kids like it (even I was confused by the end as to what exactly was going on) and there’s not enough here for adults to enjoy either. I can’t see this being a movie that most homes with kids will own and that will get played over & over again, which is unusual for a Disney film. I know it’s very unlikely that I’ll ever see it again (and I have no desire to) and I highly doubt my kid will ever ask to watch it over and over again like Frozen or most of the Pixar films. The movie’s message gets lost in the confusing plot but, basically, it’s saying that we should all be “dreamers” and full of hope. It’s unfortunate that Tomorrowland can’t achieve what it clearly wants to as it isn’t going to actually inspire anyone. I’ll say the final scene & image are pretty good & is the closest the movie comes to achieving its vision but it doesn’t come even close to making up for the previous two hours of the film. I’m very disappointed but it won’t make me give up on Brad Bird as I think he’s very talented and hopefully has another The Iron Giant in him. I blame Damon Lindelof.

My Rating: 5/10

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Family Film: Cinderella (2015) & Frozen Fever Reviews

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Cinderella (2015)

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Starring:
Lily James
Cate Blanchett
Richard Madden
Stellan Skarsgård
Holliday Grainger
Derek Jacobi
Ben Chaplin
Sophie McShera
Hayley Atwell
Helena Bonham Carter

Running time: 113 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Don’t be a bitch & you might snag a prince. It helps if you’re really pretty, though.

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Okay – I’m going to review family films in a slightly different way from now on so that you don’t think I’m taking them too seriously. Would I watch as many kids movies if I didn’t have a kid? Of course not! But I’d still watch some, especially from Disney/Pixar. I may be all grown-up (physically, at least) but I do still love the Disney classics & I see Pixar movies such as Toy Story & WALL-E (an all-time favorite movie of mine) as brilliant filmmaking just as worthy of recognition, not just “movies for kids”. So here are my thoughts as well as my daughter’s & husband’s thoughts on the live-action Cinderella remake (and the Frozen Fever short).

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My (Mommy’s) Opinion:

I enjoyed Cinderella much more than I was expecting. I was happy that Branagh kept this very traditional instead of trying to make it more “modern” (the big, puffy blue dress is as fairytale as you can get!) & he stayed quite faithful to the 1950 Disney film. There were only a couple of changes: one involving the slipper, which I think worked better in the 1950 film & one involving the addition of Cinderella’s mother, which I really liked about this adaptation – it was great to see Cinderella’s relationship with her mother as well as with her father.

I’m not going to go much into that whole argument of “are Disney Princess movies damaging to young girls as they’ll think that all that’s important in life is being pretty & snagging a rich guy?”. Absolute bullshit. As long as you teach your kids right from wrong & reality from fantasy, they won’t be forever damaged by watching a harmless Disney film. The original Disney Princess movies are OLD (like me!) and I & other women my age grew up with them and most of us have ended up pretty well adjusted (well, I have my crazy moments but Disney certainly isn’t to blame). Let’s worry more about the boys playing Grand Theft Auto & girls thinking that The Kardashians are “reality” and that that’s the way they should live life. At least Cinderella actually worked. While singing! And making cute outfits for mice. And keeping her ass covered. And not being a superficial bitch even though she was hot. I’m going off on one of my tangents now so, my point is, CHILL. I’d love to live in a world where Disney movies were the biggest thing we had to worry about when it came to raising our kids. Some of their values may be outdated, especially when it comes to the roles of women, but they always tried to teach kids the right sort of morals & had their heart in the right place.

The unfortunate thing with this Cinderella remake is that I think they managed to make Cinderella herself have even less personality than she did in the 1950 film. I know they’re really pushing the “always be kind & brave” thing in this one so I AM glad that she stays kind-hearted & true to herself but, taking out the classic songs from the original (especially the amazing “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo“, one of My Top Ten Disney Songs), leaves this live action remake far inferior as it’s basically the same movie again but without the catchy songs. (FYI – Helena Bonham Carter does at least sing the song through the credits). Oh! And can I just point out that that big, puffy, ostentatious blue dress may get all the attention in this movie but Cinderella’s wedding dress is absolutely stunning! Wow. SPOILER if you’d like the dress to be a surprise but I have to include a picture of it:

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Anything Inappropriate/Scary?:
No. As I said, I’m not one of these “this movie gives girls unrealistic expectations blah blah blah!” moms. Everyone knows this story & it stays very faithful to the original Disney film. Nothing in it will do anyone any harm (in my opinion) but my kid did loudly proclaim “That’s THREE people who died now!” toward the end so, as usual with a typical Disney movie, you may get some “death talk” with your kid but every parent has to deal with death questions from their kids anyway.

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Would I Watch This If I Didn’t Have To?:
Yes. I like all the Disney classics & wanted to see how they’d handle this live adaptation. However, if it wasn’t for the Frozen Fever short before the film, I’d probably have waited to watch it at home instead of in the cinema/theater.

My Rating: 7/10

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The Kid’s Opinion:

My daughter really liked this. Of course she did – she’s six. She loves Disney movies, as to be expected. However, she’s never been too overly crazy about any of the Disney Princess movies until the phenomenon that is FROZEN came along. (Her two favorite movies are Frozen and Star Wars so you can’t accuse me of just raising a Disney Princess). She currently claims to like this live-action version of Cinderella better than the original because she “liked the lizards and the golden carriage” but you know kids – she’s just saying that since it’s more recent in her mind. Trust me – the original is far superior. 😉

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Favorite Part:
The entire Fairy Godmother “transformation” scene & the bit where Cinderella first meets the prince in the forest.

Least Favorite Part:
Slight Spoiler:
“When the stepmother smashed the glass slipper.”

Overall Attention Level:
85%. She seemed very tired, though, so I think it could have been higher. However, her attention level was at 100% during the Cinderella transformation scene with the Fairy Godmother.

The Kid’s Rating: 8/10

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Daddy’s Opinion:

Did Cinderella’s hair, shoulders and chest REALLY need vajazzling? It would have been more timeless without…

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Frozen Fever (2015)

Directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

Starring:
Kristen Bell
Idina Menzel
Jonathan Groff
Josh Gad

Running time: 7 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Elsa overcompensates by preparing to throw Anna the best birthday party ever since she was such a cold-hearted bitch for years & didn’t even want to build a snowman with her. But she refuses to invite Hans or John Travolta.

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My (Mommy’s) Opinion:

I loved Frozen Fever! It’s totally adorable plus, of course, I loved seeing how happy it made my daughter which always makes me have extra affection for something. I’m not really going to say anything more about this short, however, as I enjoyed it FAR more not knowing anything about it beforehand. Unfortunately, I think loads of pictures have been released online anyway, spoiling the short’s most adorably sneezy surprise. Avoid knowing anything about this one beforehand if you can. It’s very sweet & maintains the same sense of humor as the original film.

Anything Inappropriate/Scary?:
No. Unless you’re offended by adorable cuteness.

Would I Watch This If I Didn’t Have To?:
YES! I personally really like Frozen & wanted to see this more than I wanted to see Cinderella.

My Rating: 8/10

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The Kid’s Opinion:

She’s a young girl so, duh – she absolutely loved this. Those who don’t have kids may not realize just how crazy little girls are for Frozen. It’s bizarre! They’ve latched onto Frozen in a way far beyond other girl-aimed films of recent years such as Tangled or Brave. Elsa mania is everywhere!!! And I’m okay with that – I think it’s the strongest Disney film in years & more deserving of the hysteria than a lot of other kids films for girls lately. This is just like the movie with all the favorite characters included so there’s no way that kids who love Frozen won’t love Frozen Fever.

Overall Attention Level:
100%.

The Kid’s Rating: 10/10

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Daddy’s Opinion:
“What happens when she sharts?”

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The Lion King (1994) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Kim of Tranquil Dreams. Thanks for the review, Kim! 🙂 Now let’s see what she has to say about The Lion King, IMDB rank 79 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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The Lion King (1994)

Director: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff

Cast (Voice): Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Ernie Sabella, Nathan Lane, Robert Guillaume, Moira Kelly

Young Simba’s destiny is to one day take his father’s place on Pride Rock as King. Not really understanding the full responsibilities of it, he runs around heading into certain troubles. Luckily his father Mufasa is always there for him. When his father dies trying to save him, his Uncle Scar scares him into running away from his past. Its there he learns from a meerkat Timon and warthog called Pumbaa to live life with no worries. Thats until the past catches up with him and he learns about the maltreatment of Pride Rock after Scar has become King. Its his choice whether to go back to face his past, assume his place and save Pride Rock or continue hiding from it.

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I’m a huge fan of Disney animations. MEGA fan! I own a whole lot of the movies and I schedule in when the vault releases are so that I can get the movies when they come out. I haven’t seen all the Disney classics but I’ve seen a good bunch of them. The Lion King was one that came out when I was 8. Its one of the memorable animations that linger on in your mind even if I never owned a copy of my own. To say the least, there isn’t a time when The Lion King would pop up in my head and the word masterpiece doesn’t pop up.

To be honest, if it wasn’t for this review, I probably wouldn’t have gone back to watch it quite so soon. Its not because I don’t love it because I’m sure I do. I guess there’s always a worry that some movies are only good because of nostalgia. The Lion King is definitely not one of those. Sure, there’s nostalgia but The Lion King is a movie experience with a beautiful story full of a roller coaster of emotions.

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The animation itself is mesmerizing with all its sharp colors, stellar landscapes and pretty animals. Its full of catchy songs that will stick in your head for a long time. Trust me, I haven’t seen this in at least 15 years and I knew the words to most of these songs. The whole African beat and chant with Circle of Life with the fun-filled music like I Just Wanna Be King and Hakuna Matata makes this absolutely unforgettable.

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Aside from that, the voice cast is fantastic. You watch them as they bring life to each of the characters. The young and playful Simba, stern and responsible Zazu, brave father figure Mufasa, sly Scar and the hysterical yet stupid hyenas. Of course we can’t forget the inspiring yet slightly weird Rafiki and the hilarious duo, Timon and Pumbaa. Other than how well the actual animation is done, the voice cast is a big contributing factor and The Lion King has got that down as well. Its with this same cast that can make the audiences connect with these animated characters. That is exactly how The Lion King can bring on the feelings of being happy and free then sad and disappointed whenever the story shifted into a different scene.

The Lion King is beautifully animated, has catchy songs and is filled with talented voice performances bringing life to memorable characters. However, the story itself not only brings on a span of different emotions but also some valuable lessons about being responsible and not running away from your past among the many many other themes. The Lion King is definitely a must-watch and a masterpiece in the Disney collection that will give its audience an unforgettable movie experience.

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Big Hero 6 (2014) Review

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*I chose an alternate movie poster because I really like it. It’s by artist Kaz Oomori.

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Directed by Don Hall & Chris Williams

Starring:
Ryan Potter
Scott Adsit
Daniel Henney
T. J. Miller
Jamie Chung
Damon Wayans, Jr.
Génesis Rodríguez
James Cromwell
Maya Rudolph

Running time: 102 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes.

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My Opinion:

I was lucky enough to catch a preview of this the other weekend! It’s still not out fully until the end of January in the UK…

Since Disney has given us some great films in recent years (such as Frozen & Wreck-It Ralph), I had pretty high hopes for Big Hero 6. Luckily, it lived up to my expectations. I still think Frozen is the best one overall as far as the long-term impact it will have (think of all the five-year-old girls who worship Frozen – they’ll still feel the same way about the movie as they grow up). I can’t help but keep comparing Big Hero 6 to Wreck-It Ralph in my mind as they’re the more “boy” ones and I’m still not sure which one I like more. I think Big Hero 6 has the better overall story and you really can’t beat the character of Baymax (how many people now want their own Baymax?! I know I do!). 🙂 However, the entire concept of Wreck-It Ralph probably gives that movie a slight edge over Big Hero 6 for me. I don’t think the story was executed quite as well as in Big Hero 6 but it really was a brilliant idea for a story and created a more interesting “world”.

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The best thing about Big Hero 6, for me, is definitely Baymax the healthcare robot. His “personality” and the sweet relationship that develops between him & main character Hiro Hamada reminded me in a way of The Iron Giant (which is a very good thing). Why are there so many lovable robots in movies?! By the way, I was planning to post a “Top Ten Robots In Movies” list after this movie but I may now wait until I’ve seen Ex Machina, which I’m hoping will be amazing. Will Baymax be on the list? Hmm… Maybe! 😉 But my top two will NEVER change…

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We get some slightly predictable but heartwarming moments with Baymax as well as some very funny ones. I wasn’t expecting a ton of humor but there are a couple of hilarious bits with Baymax that made me look over at the hubby & smile – I love when that happens as I don’t find that many movies funny. I also really liked Hiro’s brother’s group of misfit friends (including the geeky “stoner” type – I always love the “stoner” types!). I think the characters in this were really strong for a kids’ film, even down to the brothers’ aunt who doesn’t have a huge role. The relationships work really well and the story, although somewhat disappointingly predictable, is very strong. It’s certainly one that can (and you totally know WILL) have a sequel or two and I’d happily watch them.

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Summary:

Big Hero 6 is another great film from Disney that’s just as enjoyable for adults and teenagers as well young kids. It’s also just a really good superhero film full stop (or “period” to my American buddies). Being dragged to movies for kids all the time, I really do appreciate ones such as these where I’M just as excited about seeing them. This has GREAT characters and it’s funny and it has some kick-ass action as well as all the heartwarming (and heartbreaking) moments you expect from a Disney film. The story is a little predictable but people need to remember that it’s a movie for kids and kids won’t have seen loads of superhero movies so the story won’t be predictable to them. I’d have to say that, although I think The Incredibles is a better film as far as kids’ superhero films go, I kind of enjoyed Big Hero 6 even more. The Incredibles has no Baymax. *fistbump!*

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Scene After The Credits?: Oh yes! I often forget to add this to my reviews even though I always stay to see if there’s a bit at the end. YES! There’s a scene after the credits that I think is very worth staying for, especially if you’re a comic book/superhero geek. Also…

Feast:

Almost forgot to mention this great short before the film. It’s adorable! I loved it. And it almost brought a tear to my eye when I realized what the “solution” was going to be at the end. Definitely arrive on time so that you can see this short beforehand as well.

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Adventures In Babysitting Sequel Is Coming… NO!!!!!!!!!

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*sigh*

Okay, I have to take a deep breath. Give me a minute…

Serenity now!

Okay. So, Disney are making a straight-to-cable sequel to one of my most beloved movies of all-time: Adventures In Babysitting. I reviewed Adventures In Babysitting (also known in some countries as A Night On The Town) HERE as part of my CPD Classics series where I used to review my very favorite films. My sad 80’s dorkiness is on full display in that review (and my obvious girl crush on Elisabeth Shue at the time). I don’t care – I’m not ashamed. It’s a great movie and really deserved way more recognition than it got.

I read about the sequel in this article here: moviefone. It’ll be called Further Adventures In Babysitting and will star Disney Channel actresses Sabrina Carpenter & Sofia Carson (before they move on to twerking and Spring Breakers 2 if previous Disney Channel stars are anything to go by). 😉 Speaking of that, the article mentions that Miley *barf* Cyrus (I just threw up in my mouth) was once attached to the project so thank god for small favors, I guess – that may have pushed me over the edge. I’m trying not to lose my head!

No. Just…. No. This will be SO bad. It’ll be so tame and “Disneyfied”. Adventures In Babysitting was sort of a “family film” but it was aimed more at teens & pre-teens with some slightly saucy scenes & naughty language. It had some balls and was actually funny.

*sigh*

Well, if anything, it gives me a chance to mention the original again to anyone who’s never seen it. I highly recommend Adventures In Babysitting, especially to anyone who is fond of the 80s. 🙂

Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014) Review

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Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014)

Directed by Steve Purcell

Starring:
Tom Hanks
Tim Allen
Wallace Shawn
Kristen Schaal
Kevin McKidd
Emma Hudak

Running time: 22 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
It’s a post Christmas play date and the toys have to go up against the fearsome and aggressive new dino toys.

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My Opinion:

Yes! Another Toy Story short! This aired in the UK on Saturday and I couldn’t wait to see it as I’ve loved all the shorts so far (Hawaiian Vacation, Small Fry, Partysaurus Rex and of course Toy Story Of Terror, which was a longer TV special like this one). It’s hard to pick a favorite, but… I think it’s probably this one now. And Angel Kitty RULES. 🙂

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I’ll say that, yes, this sort of uses the same idea from the first Toy Story film in the same way Toy Story Of Terror was similar to Toy Story 2. I thought this one worked better than Terror, though, and I found myself giggling at funny moments a lot more often this time. I really liked the new characters that are introduced, especially Reptillus Maximus and Angel Kitty with her profound statements said in an adorable child’s voice.

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Trixie the dinosaur is the star of this one and I don’t have a problem with that at all – I love it when they focus on characters other than just Buzz, Woody & Jessie. Although Jessie is sadly almost completely absent from this one, the other main characters are still in it enough to keep fans happy. In this story, Trixie wants the chance to play at being a dinosaur for a change and is finally given the chance when Bonnie takes her along for a play date at her friend Mason’s house. It’s a couple of days after Christmas and he’s just received what appears to be the entire set of toys called “Battlesaurs”. I won’t go into the story much more in order to avoid spoilers but it of course has an obvious but simple message that once again fits in with the overall themes in the Toy Story universe. They don’t hammer you over the head with the message or anything like that, unlike in most of my favorite Christmas specials (Charlie Brown, The Grinch… Not that I’m complaining as I loooooove those). My only complaint would possibly be that it didn’t really feel at all like a “Christmas” special but it makes it one you can easily watch year round, I guess.

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Summary:

A worthy addition to the Toy Story franchise, Toy Story That Time Forgot is packed full of the humor we’ve come to expect. I think I laughed even more than the kid I watched this with so, once again, I think they got the balance right with the adults liking it as well as their kids. Bonnie is still as sweet and wildly imaginative as in Toy Story 3 and we get a lot of Rex and especially Trixie, two characters I really like, as well as some great new toys. Plus a cute ending and scene during the credits. Oh, and watch out for the hilarious theme tune! I really had fun with this one. And… Everyone needs an apartment shaped like their own head! 🙂

My Rating: 8/10

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Btw – I’m posting a review on Wednesday for Brian De Palma’s Phantom Of The Paradise and I’m hoping at least a couple of people will check it out as it’s the type of movie I enjoy reviewing here. But people only want to read about things like Interstellar… 😦 (which I kind of trashed HERE…). Lol 😉

Question Of The Month At Oracle Of Film

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I’ve participated in yet another Question Of The Month for the amazing Luke over at Oracle Of Film. This month’s question was “What Upcoming Movie Are You Most Anticipating Right Now?”. You can view my reply (which may be obvious from the above photo) and a bunch of other great answers HERE. 🙂

Now, since answering that I’ve read about and seen a trailer for two pretty damn cool looking movies. One is called Ex Machina and it’s been directed by Alex Garland, the guy responsible for writing things like 28 Days Later & Sunshine and it sounds like the kind of sci-fi I love. Here’s a short plot synopsis from IndieWire (and you can read more at the link):

Ex Machina is an intense psychological thriller, played out in a love triangle between two men and a beautiful robot girl. It explores big ideas about the nature of consciousness, emotion, sexuality, truth and lies.

Then I saw the below trailer for Autómata and, damn – that looks good too! I do love sci-fi more than anything – Can’t wait to see all of these!

TRON: Legacy (2010) Review

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TRON: Legacy (2010)

Directed by Joseph Kosinski

Starring:
Jeff Bridges
Garrett Hedlund
Olivia Wilde
Bruce Boxleitner
Michael Sheen

Music by Daft Punk

Running time: 127 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A sequel to the 1982 science fiction film Tron, the story follows Flynn’s (Jeff Bridges) son Sam (Garrett Hedlund), who responds to a message from his long-lost father and is transported into a virtual reality called the Grid, where Sam, his father, and the algorithm Quorra (Olivia Wilde) stop the malevolent program CLU from invading the human world.

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My Opinion:

Let’s keep this short – I’m extremely behind on reviewing things (6 books & 23 movies. Ugh). I enjoyed this movie. Quite a lot! I’m not a huge fan of the original or anything (I don’t even remember it that well). My hubby is the expert on these films. He loves the original and, oh my god, when he found out there was going to be a sequel AND that Daft Punk would be doing the soundtrack?! He was in HEAVEN. He should be writing this! Oh well – you’re stuck with me and my total lack of TRON knowledge.

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I kind of didn’t know WHAT the hell was going on in this thing. I’m sure the hubby was sick of me asking him questions as we watched this. In the end, I decided to just enjoy the ride & not worry about the story. I’m not saying this was all style over substance – I’m saying I was probably just too stupid for it. It really was fun to watch, though. I loved the look of the whole thing (and the look of Garrett Hedlund, yes…). Olivia Wilde was also absolutely gorgeous in this & I’ve never thought that about her before – this look really suits her. Look at these beautiful people!:

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So… The movie looks awesome and the people are beautiful and there’s crazy sci-fi shit going on and I love sci-fi more than anything even though I’m a complete idiot and it’s always over my head. But then, to top it all off, we get the DAFT PUNK SOUNDTRACK. Yes! Loved it. Loved it so much! The music in a movie is very important to me and, when it’s right, it makes me love the movie even more. Yeah, I’m probably going to give this movie a higher rating than it deserves thanks to Daft Punk…

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Summary: (sort of)

You know what? I don’t know what to say. Woohoo! Worst review EVER! Basically, I thoroughly enjoyed TRON: Legacy even though I know it’s not a very good movie overall. Oh well – we all have our guilty pleasures. Plus Garrett Hedlund is a hottie.

My Movie Rating: 7/10

My Soundtrack Rating: 8.5/10

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Anthropomorphic Cuteness Part III

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For today’s Anthropomorphic post, I thought it would be fun to post this tribute to everyone’s favorite Disney live-action anthropomorphic car: Herbie the Love Bug. 😉 (and the cute art above comes from DeviantArt artist Zimeta HERE)

Maleficent (2014) Review

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Maleficent (2014)

Directed by Robert Stromberg

Based on La Belle au bois dormant by Charles Perrault & Little Briar Rose by The Brothers Grimm

Starring:
Angelina Jolie
Sharlto Copley
Elle Fanning
Sam Riley
Imelda Staunton
Juno Temple
Lesley Manville

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Maleficent explores the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty and the elements of her betrayal that ultimately turned her pure heart to stone. Driven by revenge and a fierce desire to protect the moors over which she presides, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) cruelly places an irrevocable curse upon the human king’s newborn infant Aurora (Elle Fanning).

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My Opinion:

Saw this today (it’ll be “yesterday” when this posts) and am still trying to decide how I feel about it. Overall, I think it’s pretty good. It starts out very strong then loses its way a little. There were things I thought were very good (Angelina Jolie), things I didn’t like so much (the story felt rushed) and, unfortunately, one thing I really hated (the good fairies). I’ll break it down a bit now and at the very end I’ll say how scary I think it is for those with kids although, of course, it depends on each individual kid & if they’re easily scared or not.

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I’ll start out with the good things about this. The best thing, by far, is Angelina Jolie. I’ve never been a huge fan of Jolie but I have to admit that she’s PERFECT as Maleficent. She looks great in this – they got the look of Maleficent so right. I’m actually a big fan of Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty. I know it’s dated in some ways (Sleeping Beauty herself is pretty insipid) but it’s a lovely looking film, Once Upon A Dream is a truly classic song, I LOVE the good fairies, and Maleficent is SUCH an iconic villain – I can certainly see why they’ve chosen her for her own movie. I don’t think Maleficent as a character is in any way damaged by this film. They’ve done an excellent job bringing her character “to life” in this movie & giving her a backstory and, of course, much more depth than in Disney’s 1959 version. It’s also nice that she’s such a strong female character. And I’m happy to report that Aurora is not so completely useless in this like she is in the 1959 film (although she’s extremely underdeveloped – more about that later).

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As I said, this movie starts out very strong. I really liked Maleficent’s backstory & seeing what turned her “evil”. I really liked the look of the film and was very much enjoying the first half of it. They managed to take a character who is one of the most evil Disney villains and did make her sympathetic. But here’s where we get into what some will like about this movie and others will hate…

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I’m doing my best to keep this review spoiler free but it’s a hard one to discuss in this way. I’ll say this: it VERY much changes the story in Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty. I admit I know very little about the original story but do know that the 1959 film bears little resemblance to it anyway so most everyone, like myself, will be comparing Maleficent to the 1959 Sleeping Beauty. The changes didn’t bother me – I see it as another interpretation. Others may not like it. I don’t know… I think the direction they took was a good one and made it feel less dated and “Disney-fied” (although, it’s fairly obvious where they’re going to go with the story). Sorry to be so vague but I don’t want to spoil anything. However, I will say that Maleficent DID ruin my absolute favorite thing about Sleeping Beauty: the good fairies.

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I hated them in this. They changed their names but kept their “colors” the same. Imelda Staunton was okay but I hated Juno Temple. Too young! I know I know – I’m comparing it too much to Sleeping Beauty in this case but, dammit – I love Flora, Fauna & Merryweather. They’re nitwits but they mean well and you can’t help but like them in Sleeping Beauty. In Maleficent, they’re just plain nitwits & I hated how they don’t seem to even really care about Aurora whereas they loved her in Sleeping Beauty. And they look pretty crap in Maleficent – I hated the look of them when they were small fairies. Ugh. Sorry to go on about this so much but they’re SO unlikeable in Maleficent! What a shame. It’s the only change that I hated, however, and I know that’s because they happen to be three of my favorite Disney characters.The other changes to the story were… Interesting. I liked them fine. But they’re very drastic changes so beware if you’re expecting Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.

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Another problem I had with this was that in making Maleficent a sympathetic character, they went a little too far in making us not care about the other side. Things in life aren’t so black & white, which they’ve proved by taking Maleficent & making us feel for her. But that doesn’t have to necessarily make those against her “evil” either. They spent a lot of time developing the character of Maleficent and did a very good job but, unfortunately, we get hardly any character development at ALL with anyone else. The first half of the film focuses SO much on Maleficent that, by the time Elle Fanning shows up as the 16-year-old Aurora, the rest of the film goes far too quickly and we barely get to know Aurora at all. Her father, King Stefan, well… I don’t know how to discuss him without spoilers either. I also wasn’t crazy about the changes made with his character although I didn’t hate it as much as with the good fairies. I’m just not sure it fully worked. And Sharlto Copley really didn’t feel right for the role. But after such a set up for his character at the beginning, he ends up very poorly developed in the second half of the film. Really, the movie is too short. After such a promising start, the second half felt very rushed and needed far more character development for Aurora & King Stefan at the very least.

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Summary:

Maleficent starts out very strong with a magical look & feel and does an excellent job in developing its title character. Jolie is absolutely perfect as Maleficent – she was born to play this role. But, unfortunately, the second half of the film feels very rushed and all the other characters are very underdeveloped. Still, I think it’s much better than things such as Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland (which I hated), Oz The Great And Powerful (which I hated with a passion), and Snow White And The Huntsman (which I thought was okay). Maleficent definitely improves on these and seems like a step in the right direction but I felt that maybe too many “executive” types were pulling the strings, resulting in a film that was too short and therefore felt rushed & underdeveloped. Maleficent is a great character but I so wish they’d focused on the story and the other characters a bit more as well. Overall, it’s a worthy film and I enjoyed it although it drastically changes the story most of us know from Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty.

My Rating: 7/10

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Is It Too Scary For Kids?

First of all, I’m no expert on kids so don’t come back here & yell at me if your kid was too scared! As always, every kid is different so use your best judgement. This ended up actually not being as dark as I was expecting from the trailer. It’s more tame than the ones I mentioned above (Snow White & The Huntsman and Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland). It’s maybe about the same as Oz The Great And Powerful as far as how scary it is. There are three bits that are maybe pushing it a little (I’ll still try to stay spoiler free here). One is a battle at the beginning and of course the final stand off at the end. These two fight scenes are a little intense but of course you don’t see anything like blood and nothing is TOO violent. In my opinion, at least. A lot of very young kids seem to have seen the Harry Potter movies which, to me, I think are too scary for anyone under 7 or 8. I think Maleficent is far less scary than the darkest Harry Potters. The scariest bit involves a dagger in a scene very similar to 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I’d say this one scene would be the most upsetting to young kids but it’s brief and you’ll see it coming if you want to shield your kid from that one scene. As I say – I’m no expert and you have to judge things based on each individual kid as some scare more easily but I personally don’t think Maleficent is much more scary than some of Disney’s animated movies, which can be very dark. Bambi scarred me for life! 😉