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

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Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories Review

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It’s time for the next installment in the Kingdom Heart novels. This one covers the Chain of Memories game which was always a fun follow up to the original. The story was a lot more intense as you could say that the plot finally started here. This novel is quite a bit larger than the first as it has 2 Sora stories plus the Riku one. It clocks in at a clean 400 pages and makes for a pretty epic read from start to finish.

The first novel finished with Sora, Donald, and Goofy being split up from Riku and King Mickey as the latter stayed behind the door of Kingdom Hearts in order to shut it to save the world. Sora vowed to find them once more and Kairi stayed behind on the island. Unfortunately, something seems off. While the heroes were on a road, they suddenly find themselves at a castle and a mysterious individual warns that as they go through it, they will lose their memories. At the same time, they will gain new ones to replace the old memories that they have lost. Sora decides that they must press on and so the heroes continue.

You can definitely say that this is one of the toughest challenges that the heroes have encountered. What they don’t realize is that the castle is owned by Organization XIII. They are using a girl named Namine to rewrite Sora’s memories. She deletes his memories of Kairi and slowly inserts herself into them instead. She begins deleting his memories of his friends as well to the point where Sora begins to forget everything. This starts to cause some tension between the 3 heroes, but fortunately they’ve been through a lot so this doesn’t lead to any big split like in the first novel. Donald and Goofy know something is wrong, but their memories are being tampered with as well so it’s difficult to fight back. You can’t stop an opponent that you don’t even know you are fighting after all.

One of the challenges of the Castle is that Sora must revisit all of the worlds that he visited in the first novel. Admittedly, this part can be a little repetitious. Even more so since I just finished reading the first novel a few days ago. During each chapter, I would just look forward to the parts where he would leave the world and fight with the Organization XIII members. That and the new inner monologue were the most important parts. The actual worlds progressed in just about the same way as the first time around. That’s basically the point, but it doesn’t make those challenges too engaging.

Finally, Sora also has to watch out because the villains created a fake Riku to mess with his mind even further. Fortunately, Sora deals with this fairly well. He does suffer from a ton of self doubt in this novel but considering the circumstances, I suppose it makes sense. Sora’s definitely a great lead and acts as a real hero throughout these trials. Even when he finds out that Namine has been manipulating him, he decides to aid her since it wasn’t totally of her own volition and he claims that even if he never made the promise to protect her, the memory of it (Fake or otherwise) makes it real so he’ll live up to it. It’s an interesting concept and one that I can agree with. (As long as the fake promise wasn’t anything crazy) Donald and Goofy’s roles are a lot smaller here, but they’re good sidekicks to have around. They could maybe use more character at times, but as long as they don’t betray Sora or anything, we’re good.

The Riku story at the end takes place at the same time as Sora’s adventure although it ends after the first one. Since their main target is Sora, the Organization doesn’t bother to mess with Riku’s memories. They don’t even know that he has infiltrated the castle at first since everyone thought it would be impossible to escape from Kingdom Hearts. Riku spends most of the novel trying to fight off the darkness so he can be friends with Sora again, but this is a tough challenge. It’s one that becomes even more difficult once the Organization notices him. Surprisingly, he only gets about half of his own story though. Fake Riku (Replica) gets the other half as he tries to become a real person by destroying the original and taking down Sora.

I actually preferred the Riku story to the Sora one. Since Riku kept his memories, it made his experiences in the various planets feel fresh. After all, we never got to see him there originally so in that sense it was already new. Throw in the fact that Ansem, Maleficent and all of the other villains kept jumping in and the whole thing got even better. Also, as cool as Sora is, Riku’s even better. He’s the intense rival that every good series needs and he fills the role perfectly. Walking the path of light and dark is definitely only something he could do. It was also nice to see Mickey show up even if he didn’t do much til the end. As with most things in the series, it was still a little vague how they escaped and why Mickey has telepathic abilities, but we’ll roll with it. Part of the fun with the series is that the mysteries continue to grow, but the vague statements all amount to something by the end. Since I’ve already played the rest of the games, what they’re saying makes a lot of sense the whole time. I’m sure once I play Kingdom Hearts III there will be a lot of stuff that doesn’t make sense. That’s just how it goes.

Replica was also a decently good character. You can’t help but feel bad for him when the Organization forces him to have his memory wiped. At least he tries to stop them, but he was a little out of his league. The villains were also pretty good. There were quite a few of them and they all had different personalities. I do question the power levels though. The girl was able to detect Replica pretty easily, but then Sora was able to take her down for the count. I don’t think the difference in power should have been that great. At times, Sora also seems outmatched against the Organization while at other moments he seems to be out of their league. Whatever the case, it’s safe to say that he should be able to hold his own against them in Kingdom Harts III. By then he will have more than enough experience needed to take them down now…as a Keyblade Master!

Overall, This was a fun follow up to the first novel. It was definitely quite a bit more epic since the gang was already together and I really liked Castle Oblivion. The repetition in the worlds was maybe a little tiresome, but that was overshadowed by the increased amount of fights in the arc. I also felt like the fights had more stakes since Sora was up against sentient antagonists as opposed to normal heartless. I expect that the novel adaption of Kingdom Hearts II will be even better and will continue bringing up the series. If you haven’t read this one yet, I highly recommend it!

Overall 8/10

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

The Whalers Review

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It’s time for the second Disney special. On TV they aired both back to back which was pretty neat. This one is a little more of a big deal since it’s the crossover between Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy. Seeing the three of them on the big screen was intense. Despite this, it actually wasn’t as good as the Donald special though. Lets face it, Goofy can’t really hold his own next to the other two and Donald just makes for a more entertaining character.

The special starts off with Mickey Mouse getting another reality warper upset. This causes a bunch of water to come alive and constantly knock Mickey around. Mickey takes it in stride, but after getting knocked around the whole boat for a while, he realizes that he is in over his head. Donald tries to eat a sandwich, but he takes a little too long so the bird take it off of his hands. Meanwhile, Goofy keeps setting himself on fire, which is most unfortunate. The three of them have definitely fallen on hard times and they certainly can’t hope to snag a whale this way. Ah well…maybe they should have gone fishing instead.

The animation is pretty clean as you’d expect. The colors are all pretty seamless so you can see how much effort was put into the character designs. From the 3 plots, Mickey was probably the best even if it was rather repetitive. After getting blasted by the water for the 2nd and 3rd time, you kinda get the point. The Goofy plot was your typical slap stick. It wasn’t anything special, but at least Goofy always tries. Donald’s plight was the most sympathetic since everyone really wants to be able to finish their lunch in peace. Donald did an admirable job of trying to hold on, but you really can’t stop the birds. The three plots converged at the end, but even teaming up they weren’t able to do much.

It’s pretty interesting that Mickey’s boat can essentially turn into a giant mouth that can eat people up. It was even more interesting how the Whale just barreled through the place. If we’ve learned anything from the classic Disney shorts, it’s that you really can’t mess with aquatic animals. They fear nobody and have the raw strength to back that attitude up.

Overall, The Whalers isn’t quite as fun as the Sea Scouts. That’s mainly because of the fact that the special which was already very short, had to also juggle 3 different plots before merging them. There’s not much time to do anything so they settle for just using one joke each and then reusing it until it’s time to shift gears. I think a better use of its time would have been to have just had all 3 characters on screen at once. With one plot, then the special could have given them more things to do. It’s fun enough though and it’s so short that it’s not a big investment of your time. I’d recommend checking it out. Try to imagine how you’d handle the Mickey situation differently and think about your odds of success. There wasn’t much he could have done, but I would have at least gone under the ship into the boiler room. The water would probably be a little scared to follow me in there!

Overall 6/10

Sea Scouts Review

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It’s time for one of the classic Disney shorts. It’s been a while since I’ve seen an animated short from any company so it’s fun to go back and review one. This short is only around 7 minutes so it takes the term quite literally. It’s about Donald and his nephews enjoying a nice boat ride around the world. Donald is at the helm so he’s too busy to be steering. Unfortunately, the voyage isn’t all smooth sailing as a shark decides to attack. Donald’s a pretty tough character, but can he really hope to win this round?

It’s a fun enough short. The whole special is essentially a chase scene with the Shark trying to chomp up the heroes once and for all. I’m glad that Donald realized that his hat’s safety was his top priority since you really can’t afford to lose that. The nephews actually didn’t get to do much and you may even wonder why they are here. The special wouldn’t have changed much if they had not been present. The animation is pretty fluid throughout and it certainly has a very retro feel. You’ll find yourself feeling bad for the Shark since he really had the edge as only reality warping could stop him during this battle. If Donald didn’t defy gravity so much he would have met with an untimely demise.

Overall there’s not a whole lot you can talk about for a 7 minute segment so that’s about it. If you like the classic Disney style then you’ll enjoy this special. Donald is really able to hold his own special more than most of the other Disney characters. Only Mickey Mouse can really hold his own or good ole Uncle Scrooge. Otherwise, Donald has just got the title of best main character hands down. With the element of danger that the Shark brought in as well, it’s safe to say that this is one of the more exciting Disney shorts.

Overall 7/10

Pete’s Dragon Review

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It’s time for a film that really fell under the radar. It’s the kind of film that you knew was coming out soon, but would still end up missing it. I always forget that this film existed because nothing about it really stands out. It’s an okay film, but there are definitely some issues with it. They mainly all come back to the main character, which is expected. We have another kid lead and I just don’t think that he can hold his own film very well. The cast isn’t very good as a whole anyway though so I suppose that Pete doesn’t stand out in that regard.

Pete was raised in the forest after his parents were taken out during a car crash. He was raised by a dragon, but luckily still remembered enough of his humanity to still be able to speak in English. This setup worked for a while, but one day a park ranger noticed the kid and quickly brought him to the hospital. She sort of adopted him and naturally didn’t believe in the dragon. Pete wants to head back to the forest, but he’ll need to hurry since Elliot is really weak and the villagers want to nab him for bragging rights. It’s a race against time and Pete isn’t the fastest kid on the block.

Pete is actually worse than the kid from Jungle Book. Pete’s very annoying and takes way too long to make a move. He helps out Elliot, but after waiting for many hours and letting the dragon get stressed out. It’s also annoying that he is so young because it means that every conversation with him is a little grating. If he was older, then the dialogue would have been a lot more engaging. I think I’m just about done with jungle kid character types. They’ve been done to death already.

Elliot is a decent dragon, but he’s really weak as I mentioned before. He has some mild fire breath, which is used in one scene. Unfortunately, he doesn’t use it quite enough and Pete is always there to yell at Elliot to stop. Pete was a little unreasonable, but at least he helped to save the hunters. If Elliot had not been captured, that would have helped his case a great deal. Grace was one of the main supporting characters and I guess she was okay. At least she believed in the grand father’s tales in the end. I guess her character was just a little on the empty side though. She was supportive and around to help Pete, but you never got much of a read on her. The film just didn’t have much time to develop her personality. Likewise, Jack is played off as a villain for a little while before the roles completely switch and we find out that he is the hero. It’s just hard to see that though since he doesn’t seem to be a great boss and even when he helps out at the end, it’s rather half hearted.

Gavin is the main villain of the film. At first he was easily the best character in the film, but he went downhill fast. He got a little too obsessive with capturing the dragon and also became very unreasonable at the same time. Even once he was put in his place and saved during the bridge showdown, he still wanted to hunt the dragon. This is my main issue with the ending. Elliot is essentially forced to move away and fly with the dragons instead of living with Pete and the others. The reasoning for this is that the humans are just too tough and cannot be reasoned with. It’s essentially a defeat and that’s not a great ending. It could have been a lot worse though. At first, the film hints that Elliot will have to move far away and they’ll never see him again. Instead, he just moved up to the top mountain so they can still visit him from time to time. It’s an improvement, but certainly not the optimal ending if you ask me.

Natalie was a nice enough character. She helped Pete realize that humans aren’t all bad. It was tough for them to become friends though since the humans kept doing mean things to Elliot and then not caring enough to offer up a pretense. Natalie would have to try and defend them, but it wouldn’t work too well. She helped Pete save him in the end though so that was a good move. It’s just too bad that the rest of the village was so unrelenting, it made the whole place seem pretty mean spirited.

Well, that’s the cast in a nutshell. Certainly not the strongest bunch that I’ve ever seen. Aside from the lackluster cast, the film itself just wasn’t very good. Some of the scenes don’t even make that much sense as the kid lived in the forest for many years, but none of the rangers ever saw him. The dragon makes a lot of noise, but they evidently never noticed him either or the cave where the characters would hide. Grace even said multiple times that she knows the forest like the back of her hand and has been everywhere. Pete calmly takes them to the base and while it is a quick walk, Grace somehow never noticed it. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Beyond that, the writing is only okay. The film tries too hard to be cute and happy, but doesn’t offer up any real depth. The film doesn’t really drag on, but it’s just not all that fun either. Between the somber ending and the scenes of the humans picking on Elliot, it’s just not much of a feel good film. You’re better off checking out just about any of the other big animated movies like Finding Dory or Zootopia. It’s not a bad film, but Pete’s Dragon also doesn’t do many positive things either.

Overall, Pete’s Dragon is fairly bland. It follows a very obvious plot and ends without any sudden twists or turns. You can correctly guess everything that is about to happen. This may not bother you and it can still be an enjoyable experience, but it could have just been so much better. This trend of having main characters who are still kids is something that has definitely got to go. If there aren’t any other options available, check this film out. Otherwise, just go re watch Frozen. That film has emotional characters and a solid soundtrack so you will certainly not get bored. Now, if we get a sequel that takes place 10 years later and involves evil dragons showing up to claim revenge, I can get behind that. A little action would have gone a long way for this film.

Overall 5/10

Polar Trappers Review

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It’s time for the final Disney special that I’ve seen so far. This one features the long awaited team up between Donald and Goofy. I can’t say that I’m a big fan of Goofy. His character gimmick of not being too smart has been done more successfully by other characters like Knuckles from Sonic Boom. That being said, he was a little better here than I had expected. Goofy tries to capture some fish alive so he can take them back somewhere while Donald wants to eat Penguins for Brunch. Think of it like Batman V Superman with the moral dilemmas of this. Goofy gets a pretty neat song about how he catches them and keeps them alive. It was pretty hype and you feel bad for Goofy since he had better motives than Donald here, but still gets soundly defeated by nature in the end.

As for Donald, he’s essentially the antagonist here. He’s always trying to stir up some trouble and make life a little dicey for the Penguins. Luckily, they were onto him and his plans were spoiled yet again. He should have just kept on eating the beans right? I do like beans quite a bit, but they are one of the few foods that I actually would get bored with so I can totally sympathize with Donald’s reluctance to eat them. I can’t sympathize with his plan to eat a Penguin though. As with the other two specials, the animation is nice and smooth here. It’s a neat coincidence that all three specials took place with a lot of ice and snow. I suppose if it works, it works right?

Overall, It was neat to see the two heroes team up. “Hero” is a bit of an ambitious term for these two characters though. It was good to see the Penguins put them in their place as they reminded the main characters of who was really in charge here. It’s not quite as good as Corn Chips, but I’d say that it beat Rescue Dog. Once again, the short is only a few minutes so you’ll be able to blast through it in no time. I can definitely see the appeal of a good short as well, it is easy to just plug it in and watch without making a long time commitment. It’s a good style for telling stories as long as there is no really big plot.

Overall 6/10

Corn Chips Review

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It’s time for the next Disney short. This one focused on good ole Donald Duck. He was too lazy to shovel the snow out of his front yard so he tricked Chip n Dale into doing it. They weren’t too thrilled about this and decided to steal his Popcorn. It quickly becomes a battle of wits and brawn as the two groups fight to take control of the popcorn. The loser will be left hungry and in the cold so the stakes are certainly very real. This special is a lot more entertaining than the Rescue Dog one because Donald is a more interesting main character. He’s someone you can easily root for even if his actions are morally dubious. Tricking Chip n Dale is not something that you can do lightly after all, but Donald is nothing if not charismatic.

Chip n Dale aren’t quite as likable and are more annoying than anything else. They didn’t start this whole charade so you can’t give them 100% of the blame, but it would certainly help a lot if they could talk a little more. The little animal mascots can be fun, but they needed more personality if you ask me. The snow in the background is always fun to have and Donald’s home looks like a pretty cozy place to be. The animation is smooth like you would expect and as the special is only about 5-8 minutes long, it ends in a flash. That means the pacing has to be very quick the whole time. We get some brief fight scenes between the three characters. In the end, one team does win so luckily there are no cop outs.

Overall, Corn Chips is an improvement over Rescue Dog. I was waiting for a special with Donald in the lead and I ended up getting it just how I would have wanted. The only way to make this better would be to have Donald and Mickey team up. I’m sure we’ll get that soon. I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t like this special as it is so short and I recommend it if you want a glimpse into Disney’s past. This should bring back memories for the older readers on the blog.

Overall 7/10

Cinderella (2015) Review

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Cinderella is a classic film and I actually got a chance to review the original about half a year ago. It’s a pleasant film and you can see why people are so fond of it even if it’s not my cup of tea. That being said, the remake leaves a little to be desired. It tries too hard to be emotional and some characters like Cinderella’s father look pretty bad. I’d also argue that Cinderella herself isn’t a great character here.

I’m sure that you are all aware of the story. Cinderella’s mother died when the girl was still young and then her father decided to marry someone else and then leave home for a few months. He died while overseas and Cinderella went from being a girl of high standing to a slave. She finds magical strength through her fairy god mother and marries the prince so she can regain her social power. The plot limits the film’s potential, but if handled right it could still be good.

First off, I did not like Cinderella’s father at all. He certainly doesn’t come off as being very smart or wise and he is played the entire time. He marries a widow who has two rather mean spirited kids and then leaves Ella to fare for herself. I’ll just stick to calling her Cinderella since it held up I suppose. You just have to wonder how the father did not notice how sinister his new family members were and he was very oblivious. I also felt that he moved on too quickly even considering that there was a time skip. He was a very unlikable character.

Naturally, he was not as bad as the step sisters. They’re bullies who pick on Cinderella the whole time and since the main character doesn’t know how to fight or engage in verbal fisticuffs, she’s easy prey for them. Cinderella’s step mother is also fairly mean to her as she just wants to be rich and doesn’t like Cinderella from the start. Dealing with the three bullies turns out to be too much for the delicate main character.

Even Cinderella ended up being an unlikable character in the end. I like main characters to be nice. It’s a good trait and one that you don’t see as much as I would like. The problem is that Cinderella is a push over and there’s a very fine line there. Keep in mind that the place was still hers, but the step mother asks her to move to the attic and Cinderella allows this. The step mother gives her slave chores to do and slowly takes away all of Cinderella’s possessions. “Did she just walk up slowly and wreck Cinderella’s dress?” Props if you got the meme reference, but Cinderella basically allows herself to be a verbal punching bag for the new recruits.

One scene where you will also be frustrated with the main character is when she allows the cat to almost destroy one of her little mouse friends because the step mother stared her down. Cinderella seriously has no backbone in this film and allowing one of her friends to see his life flash before his eyes was the last straw. You’ll have a tough time finding a weaker willed main character no matter what film you decide to watch. Naturally, the romance was also nothing special and Cinderella was basically just escaping her situation. Falling in love with someone after meeting them for like 4-5 minutes is certainly iffy by any stretch of the imagination.

The prince was decent and I’ll give him kudos for not hunting the animal that he nearly destroyed. Hunting is wrong and now he has learned his lesson for good! His plot had some drama as his father died and there was a traitor in his army, but I actually preferred this plot to the main one. The royal characters were all fairly interesting and it’s always nice to see their social power. The bullies wouldn’t be able to stop these guys so the Prince was able to have his justice at last.

I think you can probably tell that this film is getting under a 5. For the most part, it’s a fairly charming film, but it starts to fall to pieces once the father dies as the bullying starts and drags on for quite a while. Another negative is actually the costume designs. I haven’t actually had to launch a complaint against a live action film for this in quite a while (Since the Charlie’s Angel days) but there is a lot of cleavage and it’s very overdone. The film was simply trying to copy the style from back in the day, but it’s still excessive and just not done in a classy way. The film could have easily used the same style of clothes without making it a different size. It’s a rare negative for live action films, but that just makes this error all the worse. I actually thought this since the trailer for the film first came out and I was sad to see that the film hadn’t changed.

Cinderella’s fairy god mother also didn’t look too good in this film either. For whatever reason (For comedy) she did not know what she was doing and came off as more of a novice than she should have. The original Fairy God Mother is fun because she’s a pro and with enough prep time, she can take down any foe. This one nearly destroyed herself by making a pumpkin too large and her scenes actually managed to drag on quite a bit. This is why changing things from the source material backfires so often. It’s simply not done most of the time and the film needs to recognize and accept this before moving on.

Due to the film taking place back in the olden days, there isn’t a whole lot of colorful scenery to look at. That’s too bad and while it’s not terrible, you could easily pass this film off as a 2005 film rather than 2015 and that’s always a bad thing in my book. Seriously, a 2015 film should look modern and this film already feels dated in some areas.

Overall, Cinderella’s plot simply isn’t for me so a future film will need to really change things up in order to win for me. For starters, Cinderella should be a nice lead, but she shouldn’t just let herself get bullied the whole time. Honestly, writing out the step sisters and all of their cringe worthy dialogue would be a nice step up for the film. They simply aren’t needed and just keeping the step mom around would keep the plot virtually the same. That, or just having one step sister. The film does try to have its comedy moments at times, but they’re pretty uninspired. This film may try to take you for a ride, but sometimes the best thing to do is to simply step off. If you’re looking for a good romance drama, I recommend watching Yugioh Bonds Beyond Time and just remember that a drama without romance can still be a very good film!

Overall 4/10