Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Aladdin Review


It’s time to take a look at the remake that came out recently. The original film was one of the weaker Disney classics for me so I was ready to see if the remake could fix that. Fortunately it was up for the challenge. I’d actually put Aladdin as one of the best remakes and holds its own/even beats other heavyweights like the recent Maleficent film which I was impressed with. Aladdin’s a very high energy film and it paid off.

The film starts with a guy telling his kids a story about the olden days. We cut to what is a normal day for Aladdin as he slips through the streets grabbing whatever he can. He’s a thief who needs such things to scare by as his country isn’t exactly one of the more luxurious ones. One day he notices a lady having some trouble so he helps her get out of the jam. Unfortunately due to a misunderstanding with his monkey stealing her pendent she dashes off. Aladdin tried to repair the damage but he is soon captured by the Jafar and forced to enter a dangerous cave. He secures the lamp and will now get 3 wishes, of course Jafar won’t forget about his wishes for power anytime soon. Can Aladdin impress Jasmine and stop the kingdom from being plunged into chaos?

Right away the film got off to a really strong start here. The chase scenes with Aladdin right from the beginning are great. The scenes have a lot of energy and with the song it all flows together nicely. It’s always risky to have the best scene show up this early on in the film, but I think it’s good because first impressions are important. It’s just nice how casually Aladdin is basically taking on a full platoon of troops and singing about it. He also does a good job of directing Jasmine as well and showing how well he has mastered the city and all its alleyways. He’s basically a genius.

Aladdin definitely makes for a really solid lead even if he does weaken a bit towards the end of the film. He gets corrupted awfully quick when he becomes a prince and I feel like there were a lot of ways he could have gotten himself out of the situation earlier. If he was going to lie anyway, why not just admit that he was pretending to be a prince to impress Jasmine later on? I think she probably would have been impressed as to how he could pull that off since he had such a large troop of fighters behind him. I’d also argue that Jafar even deciding to mess with Aladdin is super risky because if those troops were real than Agrabah would have been doomed from the start.

Jasmine’s a fun heroine and definitely a character who has also been very improved from the original. She’s very determined to become the next sultan and also stands up to Jafar and the others. Jasmine gets a fun song towards the end about how she won’t be quiet anymore and gets to quickly exhibit her time stop powers until the song ends and you realize it never really happened. The thought is what counts though. She may not have grown up in the streets like Aladdin, but she’s definitely got that toughness about her.

Then you have Genie who steals the show as expected. It was a tall order to try and top Robin Williams from the original so I think adding in Will Smith was the perfect option. His style of humor is very different, but ultimately very charismatic and fast which works really well. His powers are still impressive although the way that his powers work is still awfully loose. At the end of the day he can still do whatever he wants and is just pretending to have to work on the rules. It seems to me like he just can’t go against his owner, but otherwise he can do what he wants. If I were Aladdin I’d be tempted to ask for a wish back, but at the same time he is still alive so being grateful is more important in this scenario. Genie is definitely here to look out for Aladdin and does a great job of looking after him. Without Genie Aladdin would have been doomed.

The film does a good job of mixing in a lot of good humor to supplement the action and adventure. The jokes land and the film is just written really well. They certainly didn’t phone it in here which is key. It would have been easy for the movie to just try and borrow all the original jokes and such but coming up with a completely new script is always good. The film’s still a direct remake and all, but it brings its own unique flavor to the mix.

Then you’ve got Jafar who is a much better villain than he was in the original. In that film he felt more focused on the marriage to Jasmine than his actual aspirations. Here it is flipped and he really just wants power to capture everyone else. He’s the kind of villain who while not relateable is just very interesting. It makes sense why he would have a bit of a power complex here since he started at the bottom of the social totem pole and now wants to go to the very top. I also thought his character had more layers here since he actually kept his thief skills and is a legitimate threat to the other characters. The scene of him pick pocketing Aladdin was handled very well.

There’s the Sultan but there’s not much to say about him. He gets mind controlled the whole time as expected. Abu doesn’t get to do a whole lot and mainly just gets Aladdin into trouble. He does save the lad from making a critical mistake in the cave of wonders though so I’ll give him some props, but he basically nullifies this after that by actually falling for the trap.

Iago doesn’t get the witty dialogue that you’ll remember from the original which is unfortunate. I think the film could have gone all the way with him if it really wanted to. At least he did get the super form though so that was neat. Then you’ve got the character made for the film called Dalia. She’s basically Jasmine’s best friend and just like how Genie supports Aladdin she helps Jasmine in this journey. I’m not sure about the random plot with her and Genie though. That romance was a bit weak, but for the character Dalia was definitely a standout. She’s definitely the kind of character that you want to have by your side. Dalia is very loyal and supportive.

Then you’ve got Hakim who also gets a bit of a big role here. He is quick to change sides though and while the characters gets his redemption arc it doesn’t work all that well. It just seems a little too late in the game for him by this point. He’s not really my kind of character but I’ll still give him some credit for making the right call even if it was late.

The first half of the film is definitely more dynamic than the second half, but I wouldn’t say there is any part of the film where it totally loses steam or anything like that. The dance scene with Aladdin being manipulated was also pretty fun. I don’t think that the back flip was overdoing it to be honest, but he definitely did show everyone up. All of the songs are also a blast. It seems like the film is using some kind of auto tune or audio adjustment to give everyone a certain kind of voice though so I wonder if the characters actually sound like that. It’s a sound that works well though so no complaints here.

Aladdin doesn’t hold back on the special effects either. I think part of what makes the film work so well is that it just looks great. The musical numbers feel grand as a result and especially the “You’ve never had a friend like me” song is awesome as a result. The special effects are really akin to that of a big blockbuster movie (Which this film basically is) and I dare say that this may be the best musical out there. I don’t really know how you would go about topping this one.

Overall, Aladdin was definitely a success. It’s a very fun film that has a lot of replay value. I think a good bit of credit here goes to the great script/writing. There are a lot of clever moments and even some callbacks to the songs. One good scene is when Genie points out that Aladdin’s never had a friend like him as opposed to vice versa. The only annoying part here is really how quick Aladdin was to betray Genie. It’s definitely something that will be annoying on a re-watch and all since Genie was so helpful the whole time. Still, if you’re looking for a great film to watch then this is the one to check out.

Overall 8/10

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Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Spider-Man Far From Home Review


Spider-Man has finally made it to his third iteration of Spider-Man 2. He’s definitely had a lot of films across different timelines and they’ve all been pretty solid. Even the worst Spider-Man entry is still better than average. So where does this one rank? Right away I would say that it is in the top half. I prefer it to Homecoming, Spider-Man 2, and The Amazing Spider-Man. It doesn’t beat The Amazing Spider-Man or Spider-Man 3 so that leaves it with the always tough battle against the original Spider-Man. Still, I think it beats that one as well so I would put this as the third best Spider-Man installment. It’s got a lot of good replay value and its solid mix of action and light hearted moments make it a quality watch.

After the fallout of Endgame Peter Parker is ready to finally get on with his life. His class is going on a vacation tour to Italy, France, etc. His big plan is to finally confess to Mary Jane during this trip. Unfortunately a lot of social complications like Brad show up and then Nick Fury shows up to sabotage Peter’s trip. It turns out that there is a multiverse and one of the greatest heroes from another world is around to help fight off some elemental creatures who are planning to attack. His name is Mysterio, but even with this guy Fury wants Spider-Man on board. Can Peter manage to lead a normal life and be a superhero or is it time for him to choose once and for all which job to keep?

I think one of the most impressive parts of the film is definitely the visuals. We get a lot of great action scenes both with the monsters and the other action scenes. There is one sequence in the second half which is particularly solid. Some of the visuals are like something out of Dr. Strange. You’ll know what scene I’m talking about when you watch the film, but it is most excellent. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which is also quite solid. There are nods to previous films as well as brand new themes. It makes for a pretty solid soundtrack that is also in the top 3 for the Spider-Man films.

Romance always plays a big role in the Spider-Man films so we can’t overlook that. There are 3 romances here so lets go in order. Ned has his own subplot romance which I dare say is only included for humor. This romance wasn’t very good and even if that was the point it definitely could have been left out of the film. Then you have Happy and Aunt May……definitely a bad romance. I can’t say that I’ve ever liked Happy so I may not be totally impartial, but there’s also no point to this romance. It’s very unlikely to go anywhere and the scenes are pretty forced. The resolution also makes Aunt May look a little iffy here. Her reasoning definitely wasn’t what I expected.

Those are basically the backup romances though, the main one is naturally between Peter and Mary Jane with the slight addition of Brad. Brad is around to make things tough for Peter, but I don’t think anyone seriously thought that he ever had a chance. This version of Mary Jane is definitely quite different from her other portrayal in the original trilogy which does make the romance pretty different. I’d say that on the whole it’s handled well. At most I think Mary Jane’s shell broke a little too quickly by the end of the film though. Part of the fun in her character is how she likes to make morbid quips and is always pretty blunt/stoic. By the end of the film she seems a lot more emotional and outspoken which is fine…to an extent. I hope she still keeps her main character personality but otherwise it’s a reasonable romance. I think it’s definitely a lot more developed than most of the other romances we’ve seen.

There isn’t a massive cast here so lets quickly run through the characters. I just talked about some of them so no need to redo those. Basically Mary Jane is solid and Aunt May is fun enough. Happy and Brad definitely get a thumbs down. Flash is definitely a more enjoyable bully than most, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t say that he is all that good either. He doesn’t really do anything although there is some setup for a third film likely to explain why he acts the way he does. Ned’s still not really clicking for me and his romance plot did not do him any favors. He’s definitely a nice friend and always has Peter’s back even if the “help” doesn’t always put Peter in a better place.

I definitely did like the main teacher though. He always means well and definitely rolled with the punches. He’s a glass half full kind of guy and nothing seems to get him down. He also brushes past Brad’s allegations pretty easily (with help from MJ) and in general steals every scene that he is in. The other teacher doesn’t get much to do, but he was pretty fun. He reminds me of the ice character from Incredibles with how he kept darting from room to room. He also kept reminding the kids that he was the cool teacher. Meanwhile Nick Fury and Maria Hill get quite a bit of screen time here. They look pretty consistent with what you’d expect. Fury naturally uses a hard approach with Peter to get the kid to try and be a hero but it’s definitely pretty unfair the whole time. Spider-Man’s doing his best but nothing ever seems to satisfy these guys.

As for Spider-Man himself he’s good for sure. He may not be the most eager to get back in the field, but he’s got so many reasons why now is the worst time. Why did every other hero have to suddenly vanish when these threats are arising? He does have one pretty bad scene involving his glasses though. The whole thing was a huge stretch, especially considering that it was part of the plan. The stars had to align just right for this to work and I really feel that it shouldn’t have. It’s the one big moment where peter was really lapsing in judgment. He’ll definitely have to bring his best for the next film though since it’s probably going to be his most difficult experience yet. Also, it’s good to have spider-sense back on board but that subplot was a little murky. I don’t see how or why the ability would have been suppressed at all. It does explain why he isn’t doing so well for the majority of the film, but it does seem a bit like an excuse.

Meanwhile, Mysterio is definitely a very good character. I like his confidence and his showmanship will remind you of Tony or Strange to an extent. He’s a well developed character and really makes his presence felt. I think he made all of the scenes with him even better than they would have been. His final scene in particular is excellent and the opening scene wastes no time either. There are also some characters from the old Marvel films who surprisingly show up. It was a pretty nice guest star cameo.

I think I mainly touched on everything by this point. The film’s able to accomplish a lot during its run time and part of what helps the replay value is the fact that the humor is handled through a lot of quick jokes. There aren’t too many gags that drag on (Happy and May) for too long which is good and a lot of the scenes actually are funny. You get those classic Spider-Man vibes and his human interactions have always been some of the best in Marvel. It’s why the original comics did so well in the first place. The cast is solid and I could easily re-watch this film. It may not be quite as large scale as most of the other Marvel films, but a grounded film once in a while is never a bad idea.

Overall, Far From Home is definitely a very good sequel. I’ve avoided talking about scenes in particular to avoid spoilers since this is still such a new release. It basically brought back all the good parts from Homecoming and continued to build on them. The villain here is pretty memorable and the film did a solid job overall. Even if some of the romance wasn’t perfect, more parts of the film’s humor and writing hit their marks than missed. I definitely recommend checking this film while it’s still in theaters so you don’t get spoiled on the interwebs. The movie naturally has 2 after credit scenes so I’d recommend checking them out. Both of them are actually pretty important even if the second one may be a sliiiiiight stretch. I’m just not 100% sure that it really works, but at the same time you can very reasonably explain it so it’s more of a nitpick than anything. I’m definitely ready to see what they do for Spider-Man 3.

Overall 8/10

Animated Short Reviews, Animated Shorts, Reviews

How To Play Football Review


It’s time to look at another Goofy short. This one is actually about Football which is always fun to see. You’d assume that this would automatically beat the Basketball one since I do prefer Football in general, but that wasn’t actually the case. The special is definitely still fun like the last one, but I thought that they just did a lot more with the Basketball concept. Maybe Basketball just makes for easier comedy than Football.

The basic plot is that two Football teams are about to face off. One of them only has a handful of fans left while the other one appears to be the fan favorite. Still, neither team is ready to call it quits so they both square down. Surprisingly the two teams are pretty evenly matched though and from there on they use their toon physics to gain as much ground as possible.

Naturally most of the humor here is in the fact that the characters can do just about anything on the field. This means that any player can tilt the balance of an entire match but on the flipside they can also be taken down by any other player as well. It’s a pretty short special so both teams are going full throttle from the start. The ending is also pretty emotional as the game goes down to the wire.

The animation is pretty solid as expected. It’s very smooth and so it works really well with the general physics. The animators are very creative here and I think that’s low-key one of the reasons why the old Disney animations were so good. It’s one thing to have good animators but you’ve also gotta know what to do with them. It’s all pretty inventive here like when one of the Goofy creatures manages to wrinkle up the whole Football field like a rug before scoring. It’s a good way of bringing the field to you instead of the other way around.

This special will definitely be over before you know it which speaks to the enjoyment factor of it. It doesn’t overstay its welcome and that’s definitely a plus of the short format. I don’t think there would have been enough substance here to last for a whole movie, but if it’s just a short then it manages to stay humorous without hitting the same story beats over and over again. I wonder if Goofy tackled more sports beyond Basketball and Football. It definitely makes sense to go with those 2 right away though, Baseball could make for another solid one. I suppose I’ll find out at some point if he did nay more.

Overall, I’m not sure if this special will actually teach you how to play Football, but it still makes for a fun experience. I think even casual Football fans will be able to follow the action here as it just covers the basics. It’s only a few minutes so there is only so much that the special can do on its own, but I think it succeeds in making for a fun time. It’s a good diversion and Goofy has actually done a much better job of giving us solid specials than I ever would have guessed.

Overall 6/10

Animated Short Reviews, Animated Shorts, Reviews

Double Dribble Review


It’s time to look at a Goofy short. I haven’t seen a whole lot of these over the years as typically the specials are about Mickey or Donald. I admit that I assume Goofy’s specials would be the weakest since he definitely isn’t one of my favorite characters, but he’s actually not that bad here. In fact, the special is surprisingly real good and one of my favorites from these retro shorts that I’ve seen.

The plot of the special is all about a big basketball game that is about to start. The home team is heavily favored to win to the point where there is only one guy in the stands for the away team while the other one is packed. Both teams don’t have any real energy though but someone’s got to win. Additionally the blue (away) team has one player who may not be as tall as the rest but he’s got heart.

One interesting thing to note is how the blue team is actually about on par with the red one. I guess their fans didn’t want to pay the ticket prices of going to the away game, but it’s actually not because the team is bad as you may have expected. The game is within 1 point at the final seconds and that’s considering that the team was fielding a bunch of backups by this time. Both teams have basically identical players so this makes sense as well.

Even though the players start out with no motivation they gradually start to get into the game as the special goes on. This leads to a lot of fun tricks like guys appearing out of nowhere and even some crazy bodyslams. I guess even these players can feel that competitive spirit. The guys making the calls in the booth also did a tremendous job of keeping up with the plays on the field since it was all so fast. These guys definitely knew their stuff with the sport.

The animators also probably had a lot of fun here. The characters start out by using realistic basketball moves but by the end they’re using super speed, stretching abilities and all kinds of other techniques. As always Disney presents you with very smooth animations here so it all flows together really well. The fast paced nature of the animation fits perfectly.

Overall, Double Dribble is definitely a great special that I would recommend. It’s a lot of fun and doesn’t drag on. I also tend to enjoy specials that revolve around sports and what better one to show than a quick paced basketball game? If you haven’t seen this one yet then you should change that ASAP. It’s very short too so it’s not like it’ll take you all that much time to give it a whirl.

Overall 8/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Dragonslayer Review


It’s time to look at a fairly old Disney film. You’re probably familiar with the name whether you’ve seen the film or not. It’s definitely a very catchy title, although it paints a few warning bells right away. For starters, films with dragons usually take place in the really olden days where so the film won’t really be visually pleasing. Dragon films just don’t tend to have the best track record and unfortunately this one doesn’t really change that melody.

The plot starts off with a group of people heading to the lair of a sorcerer. They have come to ask for his help in slaying a dragon. This is the last dragon haunting the kingdom, but currently it is basically impossible to stop him. The sorcerer agrees to help, but he is quickly murdered by some of the king’s men. They don’t want anyone to try and attack the dragon because if that person were to fail then the dragon would just get even more upset. This band of men also murder the sorcerer’s right hand man so now all that’s left is the apprentice. Galen tells the group he’ll slay the dragon and sets off to do so. Still, he is just a boy…can he really stop this mighty beast?

Galen won’t really leave a positive impression with you. First off, he’s incredibly overconfident. From how he talks and swaggers about you would expect him to have a considerable amount of magical talent at his disposal and yet we see that he can barely even lift a table. That’s certainly not an image that will inspire confidence into your heart. On the contrary, it’ll just let you know that you really can’t trust this guy. Then when the group is just trying to get by the dragon territory so they can make a plan he decides that he absolutely has to see the lair. Galen puts all of their lives in jeapordy just for that. Then he doesn’t even see the job through. He’s just a pretty bad main character and I don’t blame some of the characters for being upset with him.

Of course, the King and his men are portrayed as unreasonable. While they may have some valid complaints, they are completely overshadowed by the fact that they’re petty and corrupt. They just want to keep sacrificing everyone so the dragon will stay quiet. Since the rich are exempt from the sacrifice, it’s of no concern to the King. It only becomes a concern once his daughter is in trouble. Of course, he is a villain, but at least he’s consistent about it. It makes him a fun antagonist since he has no moral compass and only does what is best for him and his family. The leader of his guard who fights with the heroes probably gets the more screen time from the antagonists though. He does put up a good fight each time and in terms of swordplay might be the toughest fighter in the film.

The main heroine gets a big role as well. The twist likely won’t work too well for most since it seemed pretty clear that Valerian was a girl from the start. I suppose as long as the trick worked on the other characters then that’s what counts though. She was definitely helpful throughout and without her the main guy would have definitely gone down for the count several times. The rest of the supporting characters don’t really do much. To go back to the sorcerer though, I can’t say that I liked the guy. Of course towards the end it turns out that he did have some kind of master plan and all, but at the end of the day he still allowed himself to be destroyed and the rest of the group could have easily fallen right after that. He’s just lucky that the villains decided to leave.

For the most part if you take away the fact that this isn’t really my kind of film then it’s not that bad. It’s still a lot more engaging and fun than something like LOTR. The cast may not be particularly strong, but it’s still a reasonable adventure. Unfortunately the film begins to falter towards the second half. It actually gets pretty violent once Galen goes in the cave and starts slaying the dragons. We even see one of the characters get ripped to shreds. It is definitely unfortunate for her since the only reason she was in that spot in the first place was because she tried doing something noble. I was really expecting her to get saved. Still, while offering herself up as a sacrifice was a heroic move, she should have just let the main character save her the second time around. Running into the cave like that just wasn’t good.

So, the climax hurt the film because with all the stabs and the violence it was basically animal violence. Dragons differ from monsters in that respect. The visuals age pretty well though. The fire blasts from the dragon are surprisingly lifelike and I like the shield that the hero used. So if you just take away the dragon part and make it some kind of inanimate object instead then maybe the climax would have been really awesome and overall the film would have been a big success. After all if not for the climax then this film would earn a few extra stars at least. A shame that it had to go down right at the very end.

Overall, Dragonslayer does live up to the title. It’s a pretty long film, but the pacing is pretty decent. Even if the intro is slow, it does set up the characters and does so without a lot of exposition. Then when we get to the action part we get multiple fight scenes. Even the old sorcerer gets to fling a few lightning bolts. I will say that the Dragon was definitely very persistent. He just kept getting up no matter how many people kept trying to strike him down. The film even makes him sympathetic at one point when he sees that Galen is murdering all of his kids. That’s when I remembered that I was rooting for him all along. He should have ended the village ages ago though instead of taking his time. So, I don’t recommend this film, but if you really love old school adventures then you may like this one. Just be prepared for an annoying main character. He doesn’t do the film any favors.

Overall 4/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

The Little Mermaid Review


It’s time to look at the classic story of The Little Mermaid. It’s definitely a very well known Disney film and for good reason. It’s got solid animation, a tight plot, and even good action scenes. This is a very complete Disney movie and one that holds up well to this day. One of these days I ought to do a ranking of the classic Disney titles, but this one would be pretty high. It beats Aladdin, Dumbo, Snow White, Cinderella, but isn’t quite ready for Mulan.

The film does a good job of showing off the underwater kingdom and really illustrating how much better it is than the human world. Ariel lives in pretty much a paradise, but unfortunately the grass always looks greener on the outside. She has always had a fascination with the human world and after saving a prince she realizes that she wants to be with him instead of the kingdom. Ariel makes a deal with Ursula that she can woo the prince in 3 days or she will obtain the mermaid’s immortal soul. The stakes are high, but Ariel is ready for action.

Right away you can tell that this title is a little more intense than the previous Disney films. Maybe they wanted to take advantage of the fact that is was a newer title, but it is noticeably more violent than the others. Now, when I say “violent” keep in mind that this is still G-PG. It’s nothing crazy, but the stab at the end is pretty brutal and then you have Ursula eating creatures that are still alive. Her lipstick seems to be quite nefarious and then there’s also the scenes of the cook chopping up the fish. It does raise the stakes a bit here as the heroes are in real danger most of the times. There isn’t all that much slapstick or humor during the chase scenes compared to some of the other titles. When the villains are after the heroes it is life or death.

The animation is also quite stunning. In that regard I can definitely say that this is the best Disney animated flick from this era. The colors are all very vibrant and yes, I did see it in Blu Ray, but I’m sure the film also deserves most of the credit here. Naturally the songs keep pace as well with quite a few excellent tunes in there. In particular Sebastian gets a really solid song “Under the Sea” which is rightfully as popular as it is right now. There really isn’t a weak song in the mix.

As expected the pacing is also pretty sound. There’s never a dull moment here and the story is always transitioning into something. We also get development for all of the characters. The Prince even has his own supporting characters like his attendant who wants him to settle down. This is usually where I’d bash Prince Eric for going for rebounds, but I guess he was being mind controlled so it isn’t quite as awful as it usually is. Once the control was gone he went back to being normal and seemed more or less loyal. I can see why he was interested in the voice, at first, but it’s good he tossed his instrument away when the going got tough. You’ll still feel bad for the attendant who has to get hit with all of these shenanigans the whole time. He just wants a peaceful day, but he isn’t likely to get one.

Sebastian is definitely the best character here though. He has the hype song of course and aside from that he is always the guy who stays calm and collected. He does try to stand up to the King for a while even if the other characters in the film don’t really give him credit for that. He gets put into a lot of difficult situations and I don’t think we can fairly blame him for most of those. Stuff happened and he made the best choices he could under the circumstances. Then we have Ariel’s friend Flounder. He isn’t quite as resourceful or interesting, but he’s a nice guy I suppose. He’s certainly got Ariel’s back and tries his best to help her.

The King is definitely not as reasonable as some of the other Kings. He definitely isn’t willing to hear Ariel out after all, but at the same time she probably should have approached him about it first. I think we can reasonably assume from the dialogue that she did in the past though so even though I’m going in a loop here I ultimately have to pass the verdict that he wasn’t too reasonable. He also gets played like a fiddle against Ursula. He should have aimed anywhere else but at the scroll if he wanted to stop her.

Ariel’s a charismatic character of course even if she is a little too desperate to get to the human world. Everyone warns her that this is a bad idea, but she just won’t listen. She did make the right choice in saving Eric regardless though. Just letting someone drown is never the right answer. From there she was doing a good job at fulfilling her end of the bargain if not for Ursula’s meddling. She just shouldn’t have accepted it in the first place. As for Ursula, she’s definitely a pretty solid villain. She’s ready to win at any price and is totally content with playing the long game. Who knows how long she was waiting until someone like Ariel was finally ready to make a deal? She’s clearly gotten other clients in the past as well so her business is booming.

Overall, there’s a whole lot to this story and that’s why Little Mermaid holds up to this day. The action is intense and the graphics are quite sound as well. Throw in an excellent soundtrack along with a solid cast and you’ve definitely got a winner. I imagine that it’ll be tough for the sequel to match up to this one, but naturally I’ll hope for the best. If you somehow have not seen this film yet then I’d recommend fixing that straightaway. It’s definitely a solid title that I’d recommend to any viewer. You can’t go wrong here and at the end of the day it’s just a fun movie.

Overall 7/10

Animated Short Reviews, Animated Shorts, Reviews

Pluto’s Sweater Review


It’s time to look at an old Disney special about Pluto. Pluto typically can’t hold his own special as well as Donald or Mickey but the character always has potential. After all, Snoopy ended up becoming quite the hit in Peanuts even if their circumstances may be a little different. This special is also a lot less tragic than Pluto’s last one which helps quite a bit.

The general premise is that Minnie has made a new sweater for Pluto. The problem is that she’s not the smartest character on the block and made Pluto a pink sweater despite knowing that he wouldn’t want to wear such a thing. She forces it on him and Pluto spends the remainder of the special trying to get it off. It’s tough because the sweater is sentient and wants a host so that it can continue to survive and thrive. Honestly it really isn’t a bad strategy when you think about it. The sweater just wants to live so you may be rooting for it.

Naturally as with most of the Disney special this one is only a few minutes long so it goes by real quick. The pacing is on point and it stays interesting throughout. As I mentioned this special isn’t tragic which is definitely important. There is a cat that mocks Pluto for a while, but eventually the tables are turned and it learns that embracing the sweater ultimately isn’t a choice. You just have to roll with the punches, better now than later. Pluto is now safe once more, until next Christmas.

As far as the animation goes it is just as solid as the rest of the Disney specials. The colors are all pretty vibrant and the characters are on point. Consistency is the key to success and it’s an area where Disney has excelled for years and years. There is always something happening on screen whether it is in the forefront or in the background. Part of what makes the specials a lot of fun is how chaotic and energetic the animation is. It’s something that you simply can’t duplicate with traditional CGI or some of the more low budget hand drawn stuff that you see nowadays.

I do have to say one last time that Minnie wasn’t a great character here though. She is brought to tears way too quickly and basically starts to guilt trip Pluto. Naturally the fact that she didn’t notice how much Pluto didn’t want to wear the sweater is used for comedy, but it doesn’t make you any more likely to take her side. If she had noticed that Pluto didn’t want to wear the sweater then she probably wouldn’t have felt quite as bad about it being shrunk down to size.

Overall, Pluto’s a fun character but I still do think he can’t hold his own specials quite as well as Mickey of Donald. That’s not to say that the special is bad or anything, but the other two just add an extra element through their dialogue that Pluto can’t match. He has to rely on pure animation as a visual medium which is fine, but it just won’t have the same impact as the others. How could it? Dialogue (With good writing) is just too powerful to be matched in most situations. If you haven’t seen this special yet then I would recommend checking it out. You’ll get to see the sweater in action and what could be a greater honor than that?

Overall 6/10

Animated Short Reviews, Animated Shorts, Reviews

Society Dog Show Review


It’s time for what is the weakest Disney short so far. I don’t really think it would be right to blame it on Pluto here, but at the same time I have always suspected that he isn’t quite ready for the big time. He’s better as a supporting character than in the lead role. This special just isn’t all that fun and reminds me why dog shows like this one are more sketchy than anything.

Mickey brings Pluto to a dog show to show that high society aren’t the only ones with fashionable dogs around here. It’s a noble sentiment but seeing as how the judge is one of them I suspect there is already some bias in the equation. There’s no time to think about that though as a big fire starts and Pluto has to quickly turn into the hero that he always knew he could be. It’s a pretty emotional climax there and the special would have been better if it had started with the fire and abandoned the intro.

The scene that is the most drawn out is when the appraiser is messing with Pluto. Pluto tries to grin and bear with it, but the whole thing is pretty unreasonable so I wouldn’t have blamed him if he had tackled the guy right from the get go. Mickey shouldn’t have brought him here in the first place either. Pluto wasn’t having any fun and so it wasn’t fun to see him have to put up with all of this either. The special isn’t very long so it’s not as if any scene goes on for too long either, but the slapstick and comedy just wasn’t all that fun this time around. If a comedy special isn’t too fun…then what hope does it have of being all that solid?

As always the animation is pretty smooth and fluid though. The fire scene is impressive because of how fast everything is going and you just know that the artists must have had to draw a considerable amount to bring all of these scenes to life. Disney really got big through their animation and inventing such colorful and memorable characters really sealed the deal. It’s a visual masterpiece even if the actual special isn’t really the best one that they’ve put out.

Overall, I don’t think Society is ready for a dog show. Stick to the Puppy Bowl if anything since there they all follow the rules and don’t have to worry about bias judges. The second half of the special at least brings in a sense of danger and a lot of tension, but it isn’t enough to totally eliminate the first half. I’d say that if you are in the mood to check out a Disney special, watch one for one of the other characters. If you want to see Pluto then choose a Mickey Mouse special instead of a Pluto one. That is the optimal strategy here.

Overall 5/10

Animated Short Reviews, Animated Shorts, Reviews

Mr. Duck Steps Out Review


Mr Duck Steps Out focuses on how it can be tough to babysit while hanging out with a friend. Donald has to face off against his nephews while impressing Daisy at the same time. Can it be done? Well, this might not be such a hard feat if the nephews weren’t actively trying to sabotage him. I have to say that I was rooting for Donald here since the kids were just being unreasonable the whole time.

The only questionable thing Donald did was take away their present to give to Daisy but he gave each of them an ice cream in exchange which is a really fair price if you ask me. I’m sure Donald would make it up to them at a later date as well. At the very least they shouldn’t have decided to take revenge over something like that. I’ve never been a big fan of the nephews and this appearance certainly did not help their case in the slightest.

Daisy doesn’t really have much in the way of character here so it’s hard to say much here. She is oblivious to everything around her which is part of the humor for the special but it also means that she is barely a character here. I suppose she seems nice enough so maybe she will get more to do in a future special.

Donald is certainly the MVP here as he does his best to get past the traps of his nephews. He gets them out of the way whenever possible and even seamlessly gets back into the dance or whatever other activity was going on. Donald is always ready to go with the flow and even intentional sabotage is rarely enough to stop him.

The animation is pretty solid as always. The Living Popcorn routine with Donald was certainly animated pretty well. The scene where you see the initial Corn in the Cob transforming into popcorn is definitely solid. It is very detailed and shows the step by step process the animators went through back in the day. It’s a Disney special so I certainly expected as much from them.

Overall, This was a pretty fun special. It’s not nearly as good as most of the other ones as the plot is a bit thin and the nephews are too annoying but it’s solid nonetheless. I’d recommend checking it out if you like the Disney specials or if you just want to watch a high energy special for a few minutes. Something is always happening on screen and typically it involves a lot of running and smashing. We’ll see if the next specials can top this one.

Overall 6/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Coco Review


It’s time to look at one of Pixar’s newest films! It’s definitely been a pretty big hit and the film has a lot of heart. While it may not be the greatest Pixar film of them all, it is definitely quite solid. The music selection is probably Pixar’s best since and Mexican music in general is something you don’t hear too often. If I ever became a ghost I would certainly expect everyone to leave me a lot of Macaroni and Cheese. I didn’t see any cheese products in the film from what everyone was leaving for the ghosts so I felt like this had to be pointed out.

The film stars a kid named Miguel who is having a hard time fitting in with his family. They really can’t stand music because a long time ago their great ancestor left the family to become a world famous musician. Miguel believes like Gon Freecs that maybe this was justified and still wants to be a music master. The family forces his hand and which causes Miguel to break into a shrine and steal the legendary guitar. The problem is that he is now stuck in the world of the dead and must find the famous musician to be able to get him back to the real world.

Naturally there are a few twists and turns in the film and my plot summary is rather general and cuts out quite a bit. While you will likely see the final plot twist coming about the musician, it doesn’t take away from the character. Ernesto makes for a pretty hype villain and the guy certainly knows how to put up a pretty good front. Nobody dares mess with this guy in either world and he has a strong cult to back him up. The scene where he embraces the song while still trying to get the picture away from the heroes showed that the guy was quick on the uptake and he had no hesitation. This villain wasn’t going to start doubting himself after coming this far or do anything drastic like turning good. Ernesto always knew to seize his moment and never forgot this.

As for Miguel, he’s a reasonable main character I suppose. He’s not great, but kids rarely are. At the very least he showed that he was pretty good with a guitar. I think the movie would have worked even better if the main character had been someone like Ernesto, but a lot of the plot would likely have to be retooled if that was the case. Pixar did a good job of keeping him from being too annoying at the very least and I also wouldn’t have accepted going back to the human world with the conditions that were imposed on him from the family. That would have definitely been a little too much if you ask me.

Hector, pronounced Ector is another one of the big characters. Again, you’ll probably see his plot coming from his first appearance, but that doesn’t hurt him…the rest of the film does that just fine. I just couldn’t bring myself to be a fan of this guy. Not only did he actually leave everyone for music, but then he couldn’t even see his dream through to the end. In the dream world he is basically a running joke to everyone around him and it’s just hard to sympathize. He was naive to the end and not noticing what he was drinking was a rookie mistake. Perhaps if he had won a fight I would have gained more respect for him, but at this point I think it was all over for him. Don’t think he’s a terrible character, but he is probably the worst character in the film now that I think about it.

Despite the film being called Coco, the character doesn’t get much of a role. She seems like a nice enough person I guess, but her memory could use a bit of work. I wish she could talk a little more so she could actually stand up to the others. Miguel’s Aunt/Grandma character seemed reasonable. She was good at throwing her shoes around and keeping Miguel in line even if it didn’t work too well. On the whole Miguel’s family seemed nice. They really just had one rule, don’t associate with music. For everything else they were perfectly reasonable. It’s just a shame that Miguel had to find the one taboo and quickly shatter it.

I do have one relatively big issue with the film. It’s the dog’s design. Lately it seems to be an in thing to make the animals look rather ugly at times. Remember how disturbing kid Dorry was in the Finding Nemo sequel? This is even worse as the dog’s tongue is always hanging out as if he is panting and it makes the character hard to look at. That honestly just looks painful and I felt bad for the dog the whole time. He never actually served a purpose in the film and should have been cut out. Whoever did the character design for the dog also should have been fired on the spot or told to axe the design instantly. It’s just so unfathomably terrible and it was distracting whenever he was on screen.

That aside, I didn’t really have any problems with the film. As I mentioned earlier the soundtrack was quite good. It probably wouldn’t hold up as well if I could understand all of the lyrics since I got most of them and the songs weren’t exactly my style. The beat of the music is good though which is certainly important. They are all very fast tempo which is exactly what you want to see with good music. Slow songs work once in a while, but I have to stress that these are very rare times and usually a fast tempo is the safe option.

The whole ghost dynamic was pretty fun as well. It’s definitely interesting to have a whole system set up, but it does make you feel bad for the people running the scanning program. That was my first thought at the cashier wished the ghosts a happy time on this special once a year day. That’s because the people working the desks wouldn’t be able to enjoy the day themselves. It’s definitely pretty realistic as many people have to work holidays here as well, but I just felt bad for those people. Hopefully they got triple pay.

Overall, Coco is a pretty fun movie. Aside from the distracting dog it’s hard to find any real issues with it. I suppose the cast wasn’t great, but we got some solid musical themes and a lot of action pieces so that worked well enough for me. I’d be up for a sequel, but the movie has a really complete beginning and ending so I suppose it’s not like it actually needs one. Pixar continues to impress with consistently good movies so it’ll be fun to see what they have planned for next time. If you haven’t seen Coco yet then I definitely recommend that you fix that!

Overall 7/10