Monsters, Inc. Review

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It’s time to look at a retro Pixar film. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this one, possibly even over 10 years at this point. I enjoyed the Dodgeball game that they made for the Gamecube so it was about time that I gave the film a revisit. It’s definitely aged really well and I’d consider it to be one of Pixar’s better films. Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve done any kind of rankings for it so I’m going to have a list near the end. I’m not sure why this film needed a prequel when a sequel makes more sense, but that’s an adventure for another time. Lets dive into the plot.

There exists a world filled with monsters who sneak into kids’ rooms at night in order to scare them. This is because their world runs on scream energy so they scare the kids and then dash back. They have to be careful because if a kid makes contact with them they will die from the poison. As such they can’t even touch anything that has been in touch with a kid. Sully is the best Monster Scarer in the business and is getting ready to break another record. The big hitch in this plan is that a kid manages to sneak out of her door and grab onto Sully. He must now find a way to return her to the human world without anyone noticing. His reputation is at stake, but he quickly finds out that kids may not be as dangerous as he was told. Will he make the right decision and help her out or follow corporate and not ask any questions?

Pixar has definitely come up with another very interesting world here. Doors that lead you to other worlds really sounds like something out of Kingdom Hearts. A whole society being born out of it is also very interesting. There’s definitely a lot you could do with the concept. If only Watermoose had adapted to the plot twist that laughter works just as well, he could have really been raking in the money. It’s sad because he seems like a decent guy for the majority of the film. I suppose they usually do seem nice at first though. He shows his true colors by the end though and the cops had the last laugh. Still a fun antagonist though and he can fight which is pretty impressive.

The writing is pretty solid for the film and that quickly makes the main characters pretty likable. Monster, Inc. has good pacing as well so it never really drags on. The film goes by in a snap with no real weak points. Even the brief Yeti part of the film had the potential to drag on, but the characters didn’t stay there for very long so I’d say that it wasn’t bad. The door hopping shenanigans at the end of the film do raise some questions though. They would jump in one door and escape through another. This is because Boo powered up all of the doors, but then can’t Randall do the same? I mean, if he is still alive anyway. If he isn’t, then there was no reason to break the door either though. I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry though.

The animation is pretty consistent with Pixar’s usual style. The character designs for the monsters and the humans are classic at this point. We even get a quick fight scene which looks good even if you’ll wonder how Randall can be so much more skilled than Sully. You’d expect the main character to put up a better fight considering how much raw power he has right? I guess he just wasn’t ready for invisibility and I suppose it can take you by surprise. There isn’t much of a soundtrack here, but maybe next time.

Sully is a good main character. He never let the fame go to his head even when he was the fear champ. He looks out for his friends and while he didn’t plan for Boo to be around, he still takes her appearance in stride and then aims to protect her. He’s just a nice guy who always makes the right call. There’s nothing really bad to say about him. He has no real negative qualities unless you count his poor combat showing, but that really can’t be held against his personality.

Mike provides a nice contrast to Sully. He is interested in the records and getting onto the covers of various magazines. He has bad luck with a stamp always canceling out his face, but always looks on the bright side of things. He talks a good game and doesn’t really fear anyone. His only downside is the romance plot. It’s one of those romance plots that is rather small, but still cringe-worthy and doesn’t add anything to the film. It’s just there so the film can say that it had a romance plot, but we didn’t need one of those. Mike and Sully may bicker at times as they disagree on what to do with Boo, but at the end of the day they’ll always be friends.

Boo is the little kid who tags along with the crew and she can be rather annoying. She can’t talk and keeps on trying to get the heroes in trouble. Not a very nice thing to do if you ask me and she does seem to know what she is doing. Boo is young enough where it’s hard to pin the blame on her, but that’s why I still prefer for kids to not be main characters. She’s more of a plot device than a character here I suppose, but her only role is to make things tougher on the heroes. I’m guessing she’ll be a
better character in a sequel since she’ll be older and more experienced. At least she can fight though which is really good since self defense is a must.

While Watermoose is the head honcho of the villains, Randall is still the main antagonist. He really wants to be the scare king and will do anything to get the title. He gets rather drastic by the end and is willing to attack the heroes to get what he wants. Of course, his skills don’t matter much against full fledged adults as we see by the end of the film. He’s a solid villain who is nice to have in the film. Whether he is acting as a rival or a pure villain, he’s definitely a lot of fun. Randall is able to be charismatic while also being a threat.

There is a group of workers who try to keep the place sanitary and they are definitely some of the best characters in the film. One of them goes for a full body slam on an unsuspecting citizen. They are certainly over the top with their methods of keeping the germs at bay, but you can never be too safe. There will definitely be no contagion event in this film since they have the place under lock and key. They may not be appreciated by the monsters, but their duty and service is the only thing keeping monster world together.

All right, it’s time to take a rough look at how all the Pixar films stack up. Here we go! Cars, Cars 3, Inside Out, Incredibles, Monsters, Inc., Cars 2, Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, Up, Ratatouille. At the very least this is how I’d rank them at the moment. There are quite a few close ones in there but there can be no ties so I had to make the tough calls. We’ll see how Toy Story ranks once I finally check that one out. I’ve heard pretty good things about that series.

Overall, Monsters, Inc. is a good film that has definitely aged well. It’s the kind of movie that has quite a lot of replay value so you could watch it multiple times because of how fast it moves. It’s just a charming film with a lot of heart and an upbeat tone all the way through. The ending gives it a nice boost as well since it’s the perfect way to wrap things up. Ending another way would have just been needlessly sad. If you haven’t seen it yet then I’d definitely recommend giving this film a whirl. It’s a fun premise and doesn’t go too far in making the monsters appear cowardly either. The writing is solid enough to keep the film balanced. Hopefully the prequel is as good although it’ll certainly be tough.

Overall 7/10

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Cars 3 Review

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It’s time to take a look at the end of the trilogy. Cars had a good run as there aren’t too many Pixar films that have gotten two sequels. That being said, while the final installment is pretty solid, I’d still say that the original Cars is the best one. This film just had one thing that went against it, but it was a fairly big thing, the ending.

The film starts off with Lightning McQueen in a big race. He is at the head of the pack as per usual but then he is passed by Storm, a new kid on the block. The kid claims that he used to look up to Lightning, but that the main character is just too old to compete nowadays. He throws a lot of age related burns Lightning’s way and the lead pushes himself too hard as he tries to catch up and ends up getting into an accident. This leads him to stay out of the races for a few months, but nothing can keep Lightning down for very long. He decides to get back into the races and to do that he will have to use the latest training tech. His sponsors were bought out by a millionaire who loves the high tech stuff, but he may not be quite as nice as the older guys. At the end of the day, Lightning is going to have to prove that he has what it takes to get back on the track and claim victory.

The theme of the main character getting old and being surpassed by new talent is certainly a tried and true one. Rocky is certainly well known for doing it. We even get a lot of training for Lightning as he tries to get better although the film fumbles this part a little. Lightning’s personal trainer, Cruz decides to follow him and she doesn’t believe that he has what it takes to go all the way. As such, Lightning spends most of his time helping her out instead of actually training. He doesn’t get much faster than he was so in a way old and actually ended up winning this time. Lightning looks good during the final race but he doesn’t end up winning so that’s too bad. It’s not like he got a clean win in the first film either but at least it was obvious he was going to win and the crowd reinforced this. In this film Lightning was only projected to make it to the top 10 before he tagged in Cruz. To be clear, the point of this part of the film is that Lightning couldn’t train as much as he wanted too so that was the film’s intention. I just say they fumbled the ball because the plot took a different turn than I had been hoping for. I wanted the hype comeback story where Lightning wins and then I’d be fine with him retiring. Having him put it all on the line one last time would have been exciting. Maybe Lightning would have been able to take 1st or maybe not. We’ll just never know. As the ending played I thought that Lightning and the trainer would both be competing but under different teams. That would have been neat.

The animation is as solid as ever. The film’s definitely does a great job with all of the car designs and I still crack up at their facial expressions. Throw in the grins and you are constantly entertained. The racing scenes look really nice and the music is also pretty good. The film has an actual soundtrack which is nice. Cars 3 definitely did a good job on all the technical levels. Even the way everyone says “Lightning McQueen” is a lot of fun. I don’t know why but they always seem to taking a jab at him with the way they stretch out his name but maybe I am overthinking it.

As expected the writing is also really good and is a considerable upgrade from the last film. It is just really great to have Lightning back as the lead. He does a great job of looking like the seasoned veteran you would expect him to be at this point. The mind games don’t really work on him at this point and he doesn’t take his training for granted. Even his depression phase was quite small and he snapped out of it very quickly. I do think it makes the initial teaser very misleading as the crash wasn’t nearly as bad as it implied, but it was a good misdirect. After all, the crash still did happen so it certainly wasn’t false advertising. It’s probably safe to say at this point that Lightning is one of Pixar’s best leads.

The supporting cast is solid as well. They brought back Lightning’s rival from the first film and he definitely does not like Lightning any more than he used to. In fact I’d say his aggression has only increased with age and he takes numerous shots at McQueen whenever he is on the air. His segments are definitely a lot of fun and certainly is a highlight of the film. What you have to respect the most about this guy is that he isn’t trying to put on some kind of act. He is straight forward about how he doesn’t like Lightning and I dare say that he is the most enjoyable character in the film. It just doesn’t get better than this guy.

The new villain is also pretty solid. Storm thinks that the younger cars are the ones who should be on top of the circuit and is always throwing insults at Lightning based on his age. He has a great design and his speed is certainly the real deal. The scene where he is training and passes a hologram of Lightning is a lot of fun as well. Jackson is arrogant and extremely confident. Those are definitely qualities that you always want in a villain and he pulls them off very well. We have yet to have a bad enemy racer for Lightning which is pretty impressive. All 3 opponents were fun villains. At least this one doesn’t play dirty til the end so he did win all of his races with skill.

Finally we have Cruz. I’m afraid that her character was a bit of a miss since the movie tries to portray her as a prodigy with the oblivious nature of Mater. This isn’t a good combo for many reasons, one of which is that these character traits really clash. You can’t be someone who really knows what to do on the track and also not have any real common sense for new roads. When she heads to the beach for the first time she has absolutely no idea how to drive. Cruz can’t turn and falls in every puddle. She is exaggeratedly bad at being a racer despite earlier scenes making a point of showing that she was great at the simulator. Then she is supposed to be a great trainer who is great at helping any car get to the next level. She individualized the training for each car based on which obstacles they had which prevented them from getting to the next level. Yet, she could not do the same for Lightning and instead seems to be trying to sabotage his chances of being ready for the race. Perhaps the angle that the film was going for was that she was such a big fan of Lightning that she really did think he was too old and didn’t want him to tarnish his legacy. That theory is a bit of a stretch though and either way it doesn’t really help her case. The part of her character that had the most potential was her dream of driving but even that is a little murky.

When this plot was first introduced I figured that they were going to say that Sue wasn’t able to be a racer because girls weren’t allowed at the time or in her district. It would have been very disappointing for her and would have been a legitimate reason for her to have hung up the tires in place of being a coach. Instead, she was simply intimidated by the cars and quickly gave up. It’s hard to be sympathetic to her plight because it sounds like she never even gave it a second go. She couldn’t have been all that excited to be a racer if she gave up on her goal so quickly. At least for me, this twist weakened her story.

I should wrap up this section or it’ll start to be as long as the rest of the review! This is just my explanation for why her character was ruined out of the gate. Her personality and what we knew of the character completely clash with each other. She appears to be smart and competent in some scenes and not so much in others. You’d think that the film switched writers midway or at least made some big changes to he character. As for the other supporting characters, they were okay. We got a group of older cars who help Lightning get ready for the race with some motivation and a track for him to ride on. They don’t appear too much of get much of a role, but they seemed like solid characters. The other cars back home got their cameos in as well.

The only relatively weak part of the film is when the gang heads over to the underground racing arena where they fight a Magic School Bus homage. It’s not so much that this is a bad scene but it basically feels like filler and I didn’t care for any of the characters there. This was also during the phase where Cruz was pretty annoying. I suppose it was a good way of showing that Lightning is proficient in all kinds of races, but that probably could have been handled better.

Overall, Cars 3 is a good way to end the trilogy. If the story does end here, it’s not such a bad way to end off. Lightning still should have won the race and that would have solidified this as a great film and the best in the trilogy, but I suppose you can’t win them all. If you’re looking for a fun racing film with a good lead then you have come to the right place. What really makes Cars 3 so solid is the fact that the writing is certainly on point. It’s an enjoyable film even when not much is happening because the dialogue is good. That being said, the pacing is pretty quick for the most part. I would definitely recommend this film. It’s an all around solid movie.

Overall 7/10

Brave Little Tailor Review

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It’s time for a retro Disney short. Mickey Mouse returns in this one as the star of the show. I’ve seen more Donald shorts than Mickey ones I believe so this will help the mouse catch up. It’s a pretty fun special and Mickey is an earnest character as always. While he may lack Donald’s charisma, Mickey’s still a likable enough guy. This short is a fairly action packed one which earns it extra brownie points.

The film starts with Mickey at his house swatting flies. He is so enthralled in the task that he doesn’t notice how everyone outside is panicking about a Giant coming to destroy them all. He thinks it’s about the flies and so he is summoned to the King to deal with the menace. A giant slayer like Mickey Mouse should have no problem with the task right? Mickey says he wouldn’t do it for all the gold in the world but when Minnie makes herself part of the prize he cannot say no. The rest of the special is his big battle against the giant.

As these specials aren’t very long there is no time for filler or stalling. Mickey heads right for the Giant and their confrontation begins. Of course, while Mickey has Toon Force on his side there really isn’t much he can do against such a powerhouse for a while. The Giant seems to have the upper hand for 90% of the fight as he eats Mickey and in general he intimidates the Mouse so much that Mickey just chooses to hide. Fortunately Mickey does remember his Toon Force and super speed just in the nick of time. You almost feel bad for the Giant since he doesn’t seem to be an intentional villain and simply didn’t think things through very carefully. Of course, I doubt he would listen to reason so taking him down was the right move. It’s not like they destroyed him either. Honestly the guy seems pretty content at the end if you ask me.

As always the animation is also really good. I never cease to be amazed at how good animation was back in the day. Then I look at some current products and wonder what exactly went wrong. Sometimes I think the newer animation programs simply are not as good as the older ones, or in this case, the natural drawing ability of the animators here. I can see how many animators may not have the same drive to spend so long animating a single scene but if you want to make something great you do have to put in the effort.

The Giant himself is fairly generic as you’d expect but the scene of him grabbing a cigaratte does give him a little character. This is a Giant who likes to do what he pleases even if it isn’t very healthy. He’s not afraid of the side effects that the smoke may have on him and embraces the risks. He’s also very laidback so once he loses, the Giant doesn’t try to escape his fate or make a big deal about it. He just lazily accepts this and goes back to relaxing. If anything, he seems to be a force of nature similar to Godzilla. He’s only antagonistic when attacked and otherwise just does his own thing. The consequences of his actions just happen to destroy nearby towns at times.

Overall, This is a nice enough special. The misunderstanding between Mickey and the others is handled reasonably well. The only part I wasn’t sure of was the very first line Mickey overheard and assumes it was the flies. I mean, you can maybe stretch the meaning into it being flies, but that wouldn’t be my first guess. Well, be sure to check the special out to see if you’re on team Mickey or if you end up feeling bad for the Giant. Little did Mickey know that he would eventually obtain keyblade skills and would have enough power to easily slay giants.

Overall 7/10

Out of Scale Review

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This is the start of the Chip n Dale triple feature. The two match wits against Donald on 3 occasions. Naturally you know who I’m rooting for as Donald just seems like a good guy…sometimes. I’m not really a big Chip n Dale fan with all their infighting and constantly getting in Donald’s way. Donald does start the fight in two of the specials but let’s put that to the side for now.

The two chipmunks were heading home for the day when they realize that it has gotten a lot smaller somehow. Little do they know that Donald has removed their tree as it was deemed to be too big and he replaced it with a much smaller one. He is trying to build a tiny sized world that he can rule. The Chipmunks enjoy it for a bit but eventually Donald goes mad with power and takes it too far. Can the Chipmunks stop him or is it game over?

The special was pretty good and squarely in the middle of the 3. For once Donald and the Chipmunks basically got along the entire time. It seems like Donald just can’t resist making a prank and that’s when the tensions start to rise. The Chipmunks do make a great peace offering at the end though so for once it ends on a happy note for everyone. I can tell you that this is certainly a very rare event indeed. The animation is pretty smooth as always. The character designs are on point and the backgrounds look realistic and cheerful. It is able to make the plots work on screen as all of Donald’s gadgets can be instantly recognized. Disney was still ahead of its time in animation at this time.

The Chipmunks almost should have kept on living under Donald’s care. They would have had a home in the winter and enough food to live comfortably. Sure, he’ll have his pranks and all, but I doubt he would do anything to wreck the house so they’re only in trouble if they go outside. It may not be an exciting life, but it could be a pretty solid one all the same. That being said, I’m sure Donald would get bored after a while so it’d be more like a hotel stay. Once the service ends it’s time to go.

Overall, you can’t go wrong with this classic short. It’s only a few minutes so the pacing is pretty tight. Even if you didn’t like the special it wouldn’t be all that bad for the same reason since it finished very quickly. I still prefer to see Donald hanging out with Mickey or Scrooge but he certainly does help Chip n Dale be more interesting as well. Donald can hold his own specials easily so throwing him with other characters is a way to bring any special up. Now a Goofy and Chip n Dale team up….let’s not even think about that!

Overall 7/10

Lonesome Ghosts Review

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I always tell myself that I’m not afraid of ghosts, but watching shorts like this one reminds me that they could be deadly if they were real. Intangibility, Invisibility and reality warping are just the tip of the iceberg for this trio of ghouls. It’s really hard to deal with opponents that are this versatile and skilled in combat. It naturally makes for a good adventure though and this may be the best of the classic Disney shorts. It’s nonstop action as we get the hyped team up of Donald, Mickey, and Goofy.

The three of them are called to a haunted house to deal with a ghost problem. Mickey eagerly accepts the mission and brings along his squadmates, Goofy, and Donald. The three of them are ready to tackle any challenge that comes their way, but they’ll definitely have to use every skill at their disposal if they want to come out on top. Once they get in the house there is no turning back. Not that our brave heroes would run though, the only one who would beat a hasty retreat is Goofy and even he claims that he isn’t afraid of ghosts.

Donald is still my favorite member of the 3 and he does the best against the ghosts. He actually lands a solid haymaker. While the ghost may have quickly bounced back to mess with him some more, it was a satisfying moment. Donald also doesn’t show as much terror as the other characters. Goofy does the worst of course. While he looks so bad throughout that it is pretty funny, you just wish he could be a little more useful at times. Stabbing himself is not the way to win fights. As for Mickey, he’s determined, but he definitely felt outgunned the whole time. He’s a good team leader, but we know his group wouldn’t do too well without Donald.

The animation is consistent and looks really good. Especially when you consider just how old this special is. Disney was certainly ahead of its time in the animation department. The music is also fairly good. Perhaps it isn’t very memorable, but it gets the job done and sets the stage for the hype encounters with the supernatural. The special is only a little over 10 minutes so it definitely ends pretty quickly. While that means we don’t get to see as many pranks and shenanigans as I’d like, it also results in the pacing being quite fast. It doesn’t slow down for an instant and there is really nothing negative to say about this special. It’s a fun way to spend 15 minutes and the premise was just really good. I think it’ll be tough for a Disney short to pass it anytime soon.

Overall, If you haven’t started watching the classic Disney shorts yet, now is a good time to start. This one is very accessible for new viewers and you’ll be able to get the character personalities right away even based on just a few minutes of action. It’s also good to start with this special since you see the three big characters right away as opposed to seeing them separately for a while. It’s hard to name a more iconic trio than these guys.

Overall 7/10

Good Scouts Review

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It’s been a while, but time to finally check out the next Disney special. Donald Duck always makes for a pretty good protagonist and this time is no different as he tries to survive the harsh elements of the great outdoors. Unfortunately, he doesn’t tie up his tent correctly so he gets splattered with honey and then a bear attacks him. Can Donald stop the bear and get back to teaching his nephews what being a professional is all about or is he doomed?

The special is super short as always, but it manages to capture the adventure rather well. The plot/pacing felt a lot tighter than usual which was really good as all of the scenes really had a purpose. When you have to tell a full story in roughly 10-12 minutes you really have to think through every scene to decide if it should be there or not. I can’t think of any scene that should have been removed. Donald was perhaps even more sputtery than usual as it could be hard to hear what he was saying, but it just increases the “Donald” effect that you like to see in his specials. His nephews were pretty solid this time around as well. They did at least try to stop Donald from nearly breaking his back on the stone tree. Perhaps they could have tried a little harder, but they did enough.

Donald also recovered from it pretty well which is why he’s such a good character. He took the whole thing in stride and even decided to play a practical joke on his nephews. It may have failed in every sense of the word and I’m not sure about the spelling of the ketchup (Was the word copyrighted back in the day?) but it showed that Donald was ready to spread the chaos. It just didn’t work this time around.

The animation is pretty fluid and consistent like you’d expect it to be. I do like these simple hand drawn days. You can tell that the animators put a lot of effort into it and I still can’t imagine drawing frame by frame. That just sounds like soooo much work. There isn’t much of a soundtrack in this one, but we get all of the classic sound effects for the chase scene. You could feel the desperation in Donald as he struggled to escape before realizing that it was all ultimately futile. There is just no running away from a big bear.

Overall, I enjoyed this special quite a bit. It’s easily one of Disney’s best shorts. The cast may have been a little smaller than usual, but it just meant that we got to see Donald more. I’m waiting for a special where he challenges Mickey to something like Basketball or Hockey so we could see his competitive side come out a little more. We know that Donald never gives up and is always bursting with confidence after all. Putting him in a situation like that would absolutely make for quite the spectacle. If you haven’t seen this special yet, then I’d advise you to do so ASAP. Prepare yourself for the somber ending though. Donald knows that he’s got to keep running because if it catches him….it’s game over.

Overall 7/10

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Review

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It’s time for one of Disney’s most iconic films of all time. Snow White is a tale that everyone knows about and I dare say that they are aware of the general plot as well. It’s always fun to see the original adaption because the specifics will still be different than you may recall. For example, I didn’t remember the intro being so long in this film. The actual action doesn’t start until you’ve made a lot of progress in the film already. It’s a pretty fun film. Parts of it have aged better than others, but the pacing is good and it’s over rather quickly.

The film starts off the Queen worrying about who the fairest lady in all the land could be. The mirror hints that Snow White has surpassed her so the Queen forces her to be a maid/slave. This works for a while, but Snow White’s beauty continues to level up with each passing year. The Queen hires a Huntsman to take Snow White down for the count, but he too gets captivated and warns her to escape. The Queen decides that she’ll have to get involved personally. Meanwhile, Snow White befriends a bunch of dwarves and is fairly safe in theory. What can an old queen hope to do against these powerful miners? Not much, not much at all!

Fortunately for her they are away for most of the day. The Queen isn’t one of Disney’s more interesting villains as she doesn’t actually have a lot of personality. She’s just very vain and wants to be as beautiful as she can be. She took the title by force and I wonder how many people she’d had to bump off to reach the top. I imagine it must have been a lot. Her poison apple is certainly a useful tactic even if it wouldn’t work on most main characters. If she had only brought her lightning shield with her, the ending could have been very different.

As for Snow White, she’s a nice lead I suppose. She is very naive which is a problem in these tricky times. That being said, she knows how to make a good first impression and is easy to get along with. She may have less personality than some of the other Disney princesses, but she has heart. There’s nothing wrong with her as she’s basically a perfect heroine. Of course, to be truly perfect she will need to learn how to fight. The Prince has even less personality and is basically just trying to find a princess. He comes through when it counts in the end, but it’s hard to say whether this makes him a great character or his goal just coincided with her path to being alive again.

The characters that I didn’t like are the Dwarves. Their exaggerated personalities ensure that they are all annoying, just in different ways. It’s hard to like them at all as characters and since they couldn’t even protect Snow White in the end…what was the point of them? I wouldn’t have minded if we had gotten 3 Bears instead. If you understand that reference then you’re already ahead of the curve. I think it would be hard to make them good characters due in large part to the very concept behind them. You would have to completely change the characters.

The animation is pretty good. As with just about all of Disney’s classic animations, it looks very smooth. You can see how effort was put into all of the frames and it is quite telling that it looks better than some modern shows. Th animation is bright and you can always see what is happening. The designs have become iconic over the years and I can see why since they work well. Surprisingly, I wouldn’t say that this film has an exceptional soundtrack though. None of the music/song tracks are all that memorable and I can’t say that I remember any at the moment. Perhaps I need to give it a revisit, but some films are memorable from the start. I’d use Let It Go from Frozen as an example…but I just did in this sentence.

Disney’s been remaking a bunch of their old films lately so I can definitely see this one showing up as well at some point. There would definitely need to be a bunch of changes, but that’s part of the fun with the remakes. Seeing how they modernize the story without actually changing it. For example, I doubt they’d play it straight with the poison apple since that’s basically a meme at this point. I also like to think that the Prince’s role will either be changed or he’ll have more screen time before the pivotal moment. No matter what they do though, I’m sure Disney will do the film justice. It’s the kind of film that you certainly don’t want to take lightly since it’s so well known. I’d like to see the film expand a little more on Snow White’s ability to communicate with all of the animals. After all, if Universal can create a Dark Universe and make all of their old monster films supernatural, why can’t Disney give all of its iconic princesses cool super powers? I think that would actually be pretty neat. (So long as Snow White doesn’t send the animals off into battle)

Overall, Snow White is a fun film. From the Disney Princess films, I dare say that it has the lightest plot though. At least half of the film is basically just Snow White hanging out with her animal buddies and teaching them how to keep the house neat. The evil queen doesn’t appear as much as you’d expect and the Prince’s total screen time is probably under 5 minutes. The film’s very short, which helps for pacing, but I fear that it worked against the film when it comes to the story. Everything had to be rushed through which makes the events appear to speed along. That being said, it did get legendary for a reason. It’s still solid overall and I’d recommend checking it out. After all, how can you call yourself a film fan if you haven’t watched this classic?

Overall 6/10

Moana Review

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It’s time for a fairly recent animated film although it feels a little old by now. We haven’t gotten too many films that take place in the islands. Lilo and Stitch is one of the only big ones that I can think of. I’m perfectly okay with this since the big cities are where I like the films to stay. It just makes for a more engaging backdrop. That being said, the film did have some pretty nice visuals along the way thanks to the nice action scene at the end. It’s a good film, but one that does have some issues.

The plot revolves around a girl named Moana. She is destined to rule the island at some point so she is learning as much as she can. That being said, she wants to venture off the island because she feels too constricted there. It’s prohibited because of a risky endeavor led by her father. The choice is taken out of her hands when she is chosen to save the world by delivering a relic to an island where it was stolen long ago. She’ll need to enlist the help of Maui, a demigod whose abilities are matched only by his intelligence. He really doesn’t want to help, but he gets taken along for the ride. Can these two really manage to get the stone to the island where they will have to face off against Te Ka? It certainly won’t be easy!

Moana is a good main character. I’d want to leave the island if I was in her shoes as well. The economy wasn’t going well and the job market seemed to be wearing thin as well. The village simply needed new materials and she would have to venture out to get them. Moana is very determined and keeps getting back on the track no matter how many times Maui fails. The ocean’s blessing was also super useful since it meant that Moana couldn’t drown. She had a little crisis of self confidence towards the second half of the film, but fortunately she managed to get past it.

Unfortunately, Moana is perfectly countered by Maui who is one of the worst Disney “heroes” that I’ve ever seen. There is absolutely nothing heroic about this guy. He seriously tries to drown Moana in one scene and then leaves her to die in a blocked off cave in another. Fortunately, the ocean saved her the first time and she found an exit the second. The fact that Maui tried to murder her is glossed over later on and his attempts grow less drastic as time goes on. That being said, he was already too far gone for me to see him as a likable character. Even up to the end, Maui is really just fighting for himself and his ego.

What makes this even worse is the fact that Maui isn’t even very tough. On the contrary, I’d say that he is actually very weak. He can’t really hold his own against anybody. He gets wrecked by a giant crab and doesn’t even put up a good fight against the fire demon. Maui is really just one of those characters who is all talk and no action. He gets old rather quickly. For the other supporting characters, we also have Moana’s father and her grand mother. The Dad gets annoying pretty quick as he tries to stop Moana since he lost in his mission a while back. I definitely don’t think leaving the island should be banned. The grandmother is nice and seems to know a lot, but she also does act a little crazy half the time. Her antics probably could have been dialed down a notch.

There are two main villains here. The first one is Tamatoa, a giant crab who sparkles. This guy humiliates Maui quite a lot so I was on board with that. He’s a fairly intimidating villain as well even if he is easy to trick. He made for some pretty fun scenes so I was glad to have him on board. He didn’t seem that strong, but his strength was ultimately enough anyway. The other big villain is Te Ka, who defeated Maui so completely that the poor guy was scarred for life. Te Ka’s fire abilities were pretty great and the heroes definitely didn’t seem like they had a chance against her. That being said, it does lead to one of the film’s biggest plot holes. Te Ka is probably the best character in the film.

Here’s where the plot gets messy. Okay, the whole point is that the ocean is sentient in this film and wants Moana to save the day. She needs to get the pendent/stone/mcguffin to the island to seal the demon. Here’s where the plot falls apart. We learn that the water can move and walk around. It can grab things and shoot blasts of water. Why isn’t the ocean just placing the item back itself? From what we see in the movie, it would be very easy to stun the fire demon and place it. After all, the ocean finally does take the fire demon down in one shot when it acts at the end. The fire demon keeps healing so it’s not down for the count, but it would be long enough for the water to finish the job. There is no reason for it not to act and I feel like this is a glaring hole in the film’s script/plot. It just made no sense and I was puzzled about that during the entire film.

The film isn’t very long so the pacing is relatively sound. Quite a lot happens during the time frame as the heroes have to reclaim Maui’s weapon, fight off pirates, and go on a bunch of adventures. I have to say that Maui’s shape shifting was as underwhelming as you’d expect though. He made a big deal about how he would get super tough once he had his weapon back and he still had a habit of getting knocked around by everyone. I was just surprised that he never lived up to his own hype.

The animation looks pretty good. The water is crispy and clear. The energy blasts and disaster zone with Te Ka are also visually striking. It’s a pretty well made movie all around in terms of the visuals. The character designs are also on point and I certainly didn’t notice any animation errors. By and large, the writing is pretty good as well. It’s nothing special, but it doesn’t make any mistakes so that is most certainly a good thing.

The humor can be a bit weak in this film. One of the main comedy subplots is that Moana has a bird who can’t really think straight. This means that he is always getting lost, pecking the ground, or just getting in everyone’s way. There’s nothing really fun about seeing a bird just crash into everything all the time and I could never get behind the plot. As far as animal mascots go, this one was a complete dud.

Overall, Moana is a good film. It goes by fairly quick and has some nice action scenes at the end. What holds it back is mainly Maui. The guy is just unbearable whenever he’s on screen and comes off as a total jerk. The bird subplot certainly didn’t do the film any favors either. It’s a fun flick, but odds are that you’ll find yourself choosing something else to watch. There’s nothing that this film does particularly well that isn’t completely surpassed by a better film. Don’t even get me started on comparing the songs to the classic “Let It Go” That won’t end well. Still, if you’re in the mood for a tropical animated film, there aren’t a lot of other options. This will definitely be the option for you.

Overall 6/10

Batman Beyond Review

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It’s time for the final main show in the DCAU lineup. I still haven’t seen the Zeta Project or Static Shock yet so those two won’t be getting reviewed for quite a while. I’ll probably be watching them at some point though. Batman Beyond took a very different approach to the Batman mythos and it certainly worked well. I imagine it was probably pretty controversial back in the day and I can only imagine the reaction it would get nowadays. Still, that’s why you have to take a chance sometimes since it can pay off very well.

Batman Beyond takes place well after the events of the original Batman show. Bruce Wayne started to get older and suffered heart problems. He was forced to take off the Cape and cowl. (The final movie in the series has a plot twist so old age wasn’t the cause for Batman’s retirement, but that’s another story) Gotham City has completely reverted back to how it was before Batman showed up. Crooks are everywhere and the civilians are all scared out of their minds. Terry is a teenager who has grown up in this era and has developed into a tough individual who can look out for himself. One day, his father is murdered by the Joker gang so he decides to steal the Batman suit to avenge him. Wayne is reluctant to agree at first, but gets on board and that’s how Terry becomes Batman for the rest of the series. He may not be the genius that Bruce was, but Bruce assists him through a communicator which makes that a non issue. Terry was also already a fighter so we don’t have to watch him act like a total rookie. He handles his tenure as Batman very well.

Terry is the main character and for the most part he is a great lead. While he may not have Bruce’s charisma, he has the passion and hot headed nature that most great anime characters possess. His first episode was a little rough as he was acting out quite a bit, but a tragic attack forced him to mature a lot in that regard. He always sticks up for the weak and keeps his emotions in control when it counts. Terry has no shortage of confidence either and is never afraid to go up against an opponent, even if Batman thinks he should wait. Like Peter Parker, (A character who has a lot of similarities to Terry) Terry has to deal with a lot of romance drama, but it never becomes the main theme of the show or a priority to the point where it would take away from the plot. I was definitely satisfied with having him as the main character.

Bruce Wayne may not be Batman anymore, but he is still rich and retained his intellect. Batman was never feared purely for his amazing hand to hand combat. His genius is what also intimidated opponents. It can be frustrating to see him so old and unable to defeat opponents like Inque, but at least he continues to try so you have to give him points there. That’s why it was cool to see him turn young again in the Ra’s episode since he got to finally fight at peak strength again. The show even managed to give him a stronger sound effect than Terry’s to show the difference in power. Bruce was only a little unlikable in the first episode and you can understand his reasoning for wanting the Batman legacy to die. The last thing he wants is for another ally to bite the big one. Terry wasn’t even formally trained so he would be in a lot of danger. I can get that, but shutting down Terry’s suit while he was being attacked was going a little overboard. Not to mention that sending Terry away without any real help was also pretty bad since he was essentially helping the villains by doing that. Letting Powers steal the company is also something that is hard to picture for such a strong willed individual. I guess you can say that Bruce also regains his old spark while Terry learns how to be Batman. We also can’t forget that he has a real cool guard dog by the name of Ace. I didn’t care for Ace’s episode as it was one of the iffy ones, but he’s definitely a great character. Ace is fearless and never backs away from an enemy. Terry was lucky to have him around quite a few times.

Max is one of Terry’s friends. She has good hand to hand skills and after she finds out his secret, she helps out in the background a lot like Oracle. The heroes are always hesitant to accept her help, but by the end she is one of the gang. She did give us the weakest two part event with the King Cobra villain, but you can’t really blame the character for that. Max was a solid supporting character and I’m sure that her role would have grown more f we had gotten another season since the heroes were working with her more.

Dana is the main heroine of the show. She is around to give Terry a reason to have a daily life, which prevents him from being Batman close to 24/7 like Bruce. Bruce was always in the Batman mindset at any rate I’d say. Dana is pretty reasonable for the most part and there is certainly less drama than some other super hero romances like Mary Jane and Spider-Man. I’m definitely on Dana’s side more than Terry’s for the show since she was always loyal while Terry did cheat on her with someone else. He broke it off fairly quick, but it shows that he went on the rebound fairly quick. It would have been cool to have seen Dana get a crime fighting suit, but I suppose every supporting character doesn’t have to turn out to be a fighter. Dana is smarter than some of the other characters as well since she actually put the pieces together about Terry’s mysterious disappearances.

Barbara Gordon lost a lot of her personality in the transition to the new era and has become another pencil pusher with no real idea of what goes on in the field. The worst part is that she knows who Batman is so she can effectively blackmail the heroes. It is definitely annoying but luckily Batman is always ready for things like this and Barbara got a fairly small role in the show. It’s a shame, but I guess some superheroes lose their likability after they hand the costume in. Powers is really the main villain of the series. There are other recurring villains of course, but Powers is the only one who lasted a full season. He would show up a lot in both major and minor roles. Powers even got special abilities of his own that made him a real threat. The radiation that he emits would allow him to beat many foes despite a difference in power. Sure, he would lose to a really strong foe, but he would give them cancer so it would essentially be a draw. He was a good villain to have since having someone who’s not one and done is always a good thing.
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Inque was another villain who shows up a few times and I thought that she was definitely better than most of the others. Her powers make her a really powerful threat to Batman. It’s hard to capture her or to even land any damage because of how she can almost become liquid. Electricity is her only weakness and even then you have to be careful how you handle her. Forcing Batman to swallow her was definitely one of the most traumatic moments of the series I’d say since it looked quite painful. Mr Freeze is one of the few old villains who shows up in Beyond. His fate is rather tragic here as he was a head for many years and once he finally gets his body back, he is promptly betrayed. He really wanted to turn over a new leaf and become a good person, but it wasn’t to be. The betrayal made him go off the edge once more and then he lost his motivation to go on. He was easily one of the best “villains” here and it’s too bad that he couldn’t have a happy ending.

Shriek had a cool design. I figured that was worth giving him a quick write up here. He’s basically a generic villain otherwise. There’s not much to him otherwise. Kobra is a fairly annoying villain who took over the big villain organization at a young age. He’s just that much of a prodigy I suppose, but he went from being a fairly decent rival/classmate to being a generic villain. Now, Ra’s is a more interesting opponent. Granted, his method of kidnapping Bruce Wayne and going about his plan was rather off. He could have planned things out a bit better and then maybe his plan would have been successful. It was still neat to see how he had survived all of these years though. He certainly was a very cunning opponent for the dark knight.

The Royal Flush Gang went after Batman a few times. This show’s Ten got the biggest role out of all the members. They made for good opponents because while they were weak individually, they were a threat as a group. Defeating Batman with sheer numbers was always their plan, even if it wasn’t always an effective one. I like the designs and the concept is fun too. They’re just rich people with a bunch of time on their hands so why not become thieves right?

Finally, we also had the Justice League show up. Their members may not be as impressive as the ones you’re used too, but they can still deal some damage. Superman is still around and while his powers have lessened over the years, he’s still quite powerful. He’s as smart and dependable as always even if his will power isn’t quite as good as it should be. I do like his Justice Lords design, but I do have to wonder why he would ever don that costume. It certainly makes you wonder. Aquagirl’s probably the only super nice member of the group and she does her best to help Batman fit in with the others. She doesn’t seem to be all that powerful when it comes to combat though. Green Lantern comes off as rather annoying and is easily my least favorite GL. He doesn’t appear to have a great imagination and his voice just got on my nerves. It’s easy to see how he died in Justice League. Warhawk is basically a male version of Hawkgirl. He’s loud and talks a good game, but he’s not all that strong. The design was good though and at least he did have enough strategic awareness to come up with a plan when things started to get out of control. I’d say that this already makes him a better character than Hawkgirl for me. Big Barda’s another tough member who doesn’t like Batman. It should come as no surprise that Batman was eager to get away from the team as soon as possible. Lets face it, there was no reason for him to stay somewhere where he’s not wanted.

Lets take a look at some of the episodes of Batman Beyond. Naturally, the opening two parter was a lot of fun. It got a high budget and started the whole series off. It was very fast paced and I was satisfied with the origin. It’s sad that gangs can break in and out so easily in Gotham, but the city has always been like that so it’s not too surprising. The place has always been corrupt and that’s why Batman is always needed. A Gotham without any crime fighters is a very scary place indeed.

There was an episode with a homage to the Fantastic Four as an experiment went wrong (Don’t they always?) and a group of individuals got super powers. It was nice to see how the FF would fare in a DC world and needless to say, it goes as you’d expect. They can’t really handle Batman, but it made for some nice battle scenes. Another good episode was Inque’s debut. As mentioned, she’s an interesting villain and a very deadly one. Batman really had to think fast in order to keep up with her. Since she also ends up finding the Batcave, the heroes have to think about making the place even more secure. Not that it worked as Return of the Joker showed us…

The Mr. Freeze episode is golden. His fight with Powers was a lot of fun. Now, I think Powers should definitely have the edge here and he was winning, but it was good to see Mr. Freeze put up a fight. Powers’ brief fight with Batman was also good. The episode just had a lot of action throughout and the animation was stellar. It’s the kind of episode that you could even watch directly after the first Batman series since it’s a sequel in part to the original. It’s a tragic episode, but an enjoyable one.

Another episode saw the debut of Curare, a skilled assassin. I forgot if the show explicitly said that she was from the League of Assassins, but if not, then an equivalent organization anyway. Her skills were certainly very good and as she has never failed an assignment before, Batman really had to be careful here. By the end she has to watch her back as well since the League is after her, but given her track record, she should be able to hold her own right? Well, that’s exactly what happens as she appears in another episode and we find out that she simply got rid of the organization. That’s why you probably shouldn’t try to destroy your best agent on a whim like that. Both episodes were great and some of the best in the series.

Lost Soul was a pretty interesting episode as someone takes over the Batman suit so Terry must used his hand to hand skills without backup for a change. It’s a fun change of pace since we don’t get to see Terry do a lot of formal sleuthing. He does check things out in his alter ego, but seeing him stick to the shadows is rare. Back to a more conventional episode, Terry is challenged by The Stalker. The Stalker wants to destroy Batman to prove that he can hunt anyone. Unfortunately, he’s bitten off more than he can chew and starts to suffer delusions by the end. Batman completely broke him. The Stalker made for a good enemy though. Babel was another fun episode as Shriek eliminates language. Nobody can understand each other now so that makes Batman’s job a lot harder. He’s got to find Shriek without Bruce’s help. It’s tough, but Terry never gives up so he’s got this.

Another solid episode is when Spellbinder frames Batman for murder. Barbara Gordan is very quick to jump on this so Batman must dodge the official lines and find a way to win. I believe that Mad Stan was also in this episode. I forgot to mention him earlier, but he’s easily one of the best villains in the entire series. I’m being serious here folks, Mad Stan is just amazing. He’s a conspiracy guy who is always yelling and talking a good game. Tell me with a straight face that he doesn’t sound amazing. It’s just not possible. He’s easily one of the funniest figures in the show.

Sneak Peek is a good episode where a reporter learns how to go intangible. Unfortunately, this slowly corrupts him since the powers were too much and he ultimately meets a sad fate. Batman got lucky here since he was completely out of his league by the end. Seriously, there was basically nothing that he could do against this guy since no attack would work. It’s why nobody likes dealing with intangible foes. Repeller had a villain who couldn’t be touched. He had a barrier around him at all times. This guy was also crazy strong and Terry needed some luck to take him out. It’s always been a fun concept and the original X-Men comics had a villain named Unus with the same ability. It’s not used too often though because of how overly powerful it is. Finally, Where’s Terry is another good episode as we see Max and Bruce be the main characters instead of Batman for a change. It plays out like a mystery as they follow a lot of clues to see where Batman is. The episode is a little embarrassing for Terry, but you can’t win em all right?

The show’s animation holds up very well to this day. The futuristic look ensures that it looks about as good as Justice League despite airing sooner. The colors are very good and everything is sleek. Batman’s suit is better than a lot of the redesigns that you see nowadays and is still one of Batman’s best costumes. It may be the best besides the classic DCAU one. (Yes, Batman had 2, so I’m talking about the Justice League one) Likewise, the soundtrack is excellent and one of the best that you will hear in a show. Certainly the best in western animation. It’s just hard to get better than this since every theme is very fast paced and techno. It fits the future environment very well. It also goes without saying that the writing is very solid in this show. It’s the DCAU so you’ve probably come to expect this by now, but it’s still a nice credit to its resume. Nowadays, shows would do a lot to grab writing as solid as this.
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Overall, Batman Beyond is a great show. It did a good job of showing what it would be like to be Batman in a future DC universe. It was dark toned throughout, but it was usually not dark for the sake of it and never got super violent or anything like that. There may have been one or two episodes that went a little too far with that, but they were few and far between. The average episode was very solid and this is a series that I recommend to all action fans and especially to DC fans. It’s the next generation of Batman, how can you afford to miss it? Even if you don’t ultimately end up finding Batman Beyond to be more likable than the original, you should end up being a fan by the end. To be fair, Bruce Wayne is still the definitive Batman for me as well, but I actually like Terry more than all of the Robins in the DCAU. He was just written really well.

Overall 8/10

Guardians of the Galaxy

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Well, Marvel Animation has gotten its next show! It perfectly follows the formula of the others so if you like Avengers Assemble or Ultimate Spiderman, copy and past the episodes from those into Guardians while switching the characters and you’ll know if you’ll like it or not. This will probably be a 7 by the end and it’s a fairly nice show. We just need the characters to become more likable. I shall review the show once it’s over.

Overall 6/10