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…

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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. TIE: Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1 hr 30 min) & Freaks (1 hr 4 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), Ghost In The Shell (1 hr 23 min)

Non-Animated:
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), Circle (1 hr 27 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)

Giant God Warrior Appears In Tokyo (Studio Ghibli Live Action Short)

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I don’t have another Studio Ghibli review ready for today so I figured I’d re-post the link to Giant God Warrior Appears In Tokyo, a great live action short from Studio Ghibli. It was directed by Higuchi Shinji and the god warrior was designed by Hayao Miyazaki. I posted this in the first few months of my blog two years ago so I don’t think it got many views. It’s well worth a watch for any fans of Ghibli and/or Japanese monster movies. Having just watched and reviewed the amazing Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind (review HERE), I was reminded of this short as it features a God Warrior like those in Nausicaä.

You can see the full short film at this link (FYI – it’s in Japanese with no subtitles but you get to see a monster destroying stuff so it’s cool): itsartmag.com

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 😉

Toy Story Of Terror (2013) Review

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Toy Story Of Terror (2013)

Directed by Angus MacLane

Starring:
Tom Hanks
Tim Allen
Joan Cusack
Don Rickles
Wallace Shawn
Timothy Dalton
Kristen Schaal
Stephen Tobolowsky

Music by Michael Giacchino

Running Time: 22 Minutes

Plot Synopsis:
When Bonnie and her mother get a flat tire while travelling, they must spend the night in a motel. The toys are at first excited to be spending the night. But then they begin disappearing one by one…

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My Opinion:

This 22 minute TV special aired in the UK over the weekend. I’m a huge fan of Toy Story and all things Pixar so I couldn’t wait to see what they’d do for a Halloween Special.

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This was a lot of fun and I have a feeling I’ll be watching it every October in the same way that I watch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown every year.

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It starts out with the toys in the back of Bonnie’s car watching a classic black and white horror movie. Mr Pricklepants, being the thespian he is, chuckles as he explains all the horror movie cliches to the other toys and continues to do this after the car gets a flat tire and Bonnie & her mother stay in a motel for the night.

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When the humans are asleep, the toys want to explore the motel despite Mr Pricklepants telling them that a motel “is one of the most common locales for a horror film”. After the toys start disappearing, it’s all up to Jessie to face her biggest fear in order to solve the mystery and save her friends. Jessie takes center stage in this one which is nice for a change as Toy Story is often so “boy”. But all the usual main characters are of course in this plenty plus we get to meet a few new toys.

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Toy Story Of Terror is a great short. It’s actually quite scary at first (in a kid-friendly sort of way). I know a four-year-old who has watched it about ten times already and always hides during a couple of tense scenes but always laughs like crazy during a couple of bits and ALWAYS asks to immediately watch it again. As with all Pixar stuff, it’s quite a clever and well written little story with a nice twist. Recommended (for all ages). 🙂

My Rating: 8/10

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