Posts Tagged ‘Disney’

March Madness: Pixar Pt. 2

May 5, 2018

It’s time for the second part of this March Madness Bracket post now that we have arrived in May! I’m not going to waste any more words, here we go Pixar!


Up vs. Brave

We are starting off with a difficult choice. Brave is an underrated (and underperforming) title in the Pixar franchise. For one, I love Scotland and the accent of Merida, the first Pixar Princess, is really beautiful yet strong. I think it was the story that threw people. I do not think anybody was expecting all of the bear stuff. I happened to love it but it definitely did not follow a traditional plot. Still, the movie was fun and also had great emotional beats and a clear message about the balance of self and family. However, Up was a revelation when it came out. People are still talking about using the opening sequence as a tool to discover robots in the future. If you do not cry, you will be sent to the junkyard. The rest of the movie is nonstop laughs, tears, and adventure. The movie also follows a clearer plot structure and the pacing ends up being better because of that. Winner: Up


Toy Story vs. Toy Story 2

Kind of a weird matchup here. Toy Story was a movie that absolutely destroyed me when it first came out. To this day, it is the only movie that I have seen a full five times in theaters. It briefly made me want to be an animator though I later put that energy into other artistic pursuits. The movie really hit home for me then and now as I often identify with Woody, the character suddenly relegated to the background. As a shy kid, I often felt left out. Also, I feel like the movie is great for an older sibling to watch soon after the birth of their younger sibling. Toy Story 2 was a great continuation of the first movie. Just as Woody gets over not being in the spotlight, he is tempted with a return to his former place but must lose his friends. I just feel like the pacing, characters, and story of the original still outmatches the sequel even though both are great. I think number 2 just feels like it was a rushed rehash of the original movie’s message with a mortality message in there too. Winner: Toy Story


Coco vs. Cars 2

Oh wow. This is not even fair. Coco was such a brilliant and fun movie. Its story is based on the Day of the Dead festival and its connected lore. However, the story has a lot of heart and so many twists and turns that I did not expect. For me, the movie also talks about memory which is kind of a big deal in my family since my grandmother suffered from dementia at the end. It also has such great music, most of which is done on guitar and wonderful natural voices. The imagery and mythology were captivating to watch. On the other hand, Cars 2 was really annoying. The movie took a somewhat interesting character played by Owen Wilson and put him in the background of a movie starring Larry the Cable Guy. They tried to mix a racing movie with a rehash/satire of various spy movies. The jokes felt flat to me and it was the first Pixar movie I watched that felt like it was absolutely not for me and was just for little kids which is not the Disney/Pixar way. Unlike Coco, it also held no surprises and all of the characters seemed either willfully ignorant or awful. Winner: Coco


Toy Story 3 vs. The Good Dinosaur

This is the tiniest bit harder. Toy Story 3 is a movie that I was wary of when it was announced because I knew that John Lasseter (the head of Pixar) had turned the movie down originally. Eventually, Pixar committed to the movie and when they did they really committed. They made a movie that was very thoughtful and exciting. It felt like they updated the humor a bit but it did not feel dated and each and every character felt more nuanced and complete. It also has one of the deepest moments in a Pixar movie. It also felt like the first Toy Story movie with a real antagonist that the characters could deal with directly. I really liked the Good Dinosaur when I reviewed it soon after it came out on DVD. The story of a young dinosaur who must try and survive and reunite with her family is very charming. The role reversal that makes the human the ‘pet’ is pretty fun and well done. I just feel like there was not as much meat in this movie. The Good Dinosaur just did not zing as much as a lot of the best Disney or Pixar movies. Still, it is better than Cars 2. Winner: Toy Story 3


Ratatouille vs. A Bug’s Life

Ratatouille was another Pixar movie that I did not see until it was on DVD. I really empathized with Remy the Rat. He was passionate about something that he loved and it was hard to fully explain that so that his family would let him pursue it. I have also felt shy and out of place like Lou Romano’s character. While the movie does get bogged down a bit, it is the voice acting of Patton Oswalt as Remy that really gives the movie its heart. His performance is so great that it is really easy to see the movie through his character’s eyes. The French-inspired musical score is also really pleasant to listen to and it is one of the more chill and mesmerizing Pixar movies. A Bug’s Life was an exciting movie when it came out and proved that Toy Story was not a fluke. It was a very funny movie. It was also very charming as we followed a mistaken identity version of the Magnificent Seven. I also really liked the idea of the togetherness message near the end of the movie. However, I just found it a little less charming and polished. Winner: Ratatouille


Finding Nemo vs. Inside Out

This one was very hard for me. Finding Nemo was a great movie. It is a really cool story not only about a father trying to find his missing son but also about a father learning when to let go a little bit. The movie is fast-paced and emotional from start to finish and the laughs are heavily blended with the stuff that almost makes you cry. It is also the movie that helped put Ellen Degeneres back on the map and her performance is a show-stealer. It was a home run for Pixar as it was a very exciting and funny/emotional movie for the young company. Inside Out is the story of how your emotions and thoughts work inside of you which is a bit more relatable to me. Also, it deals with elements of depression which is definitely something I can relate to now and then. It also has some of the best depictions of imagination. All of that in the midst of a great story with really interesting characters running on two different story tracks that often collide. Also, the general theme of finding the joy in the heart of sadness was really beautiful. Winner: Inside Out


Monsters Inc. vs. Cars

This is interesting because both of these movies are stories about the main characters figuring out they are going about life the wrong way. However, Monsters. Inc is about how you can bring about a happier life by living positively instead of negatively. It also has the voice talents of John Goodman and Billy Crystal who make a great comic team similar to Abbott and Costello. I also love the world-building of the movie as they take a concept from childhood (not mine but others) and builds it into this whole interesting world. Cars is basically a rehash of the plot from Doc Hollywood where city car Owen Wilson learns to slow down and treat people nicer and be less selfish. The movie is fun and the plot is simpler and has more heart than its sequels. Larry the Cable Guy is also way less featured and less annoying. The whole concept behind Cars is also just really troubling the more you think about it. Winner: Monsters Inc.


The Incredibles vs. Wall-E

The Incredibles was the first and only time that the same guy was allowed to both direct and write one of their movies. When that guy was Brad Bird (already famous for Iron Giant) then it was clear that this one was going to be a winner. Also, I will always be a sucker for comic book and superhero movies and this movie has plenty of great superhero action. However, it also has an emotional core as we really get behind each character and get a sense of what they want and need. There is plenty of gentle parodying of superhero faire but also plenty of loving homages and both make me smile. I have a confession to make now. I have not seen Wall-E all the way through. I love Pixar but having a movie with very little dialogue was really weird for me. I am definitely a lover of fine dialogue as I feel that words really help convey intention and character. However, what Wall-E attempted to do was admirable and its central message is one we still need to listen to. One day, I will attempt to watch this movie again. Winner: The Incredibles

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March Madness: Disney Pt. 1

April 14, 2018

Bracket

So March has come and gone but March Madness lives in people’s hearts forever, right? The thing about that is that I am not a basketball fan. While I played pickup games in middle school, I was never a fan because Baltimore does not have a team. If Baltimore does not have a team, I quickly lose interest in those sports. What I am a big fan of is Disney animated films and Pixar (before and after acquisition by Disney). I heard about this bracket and how it was driving everyone crazy and I thought it would be fun to fill it out and then explain my choices. Art is subjective and ranking things is absolutely just an exercise in examining your personal tastes. In other words, don’t get mad at me for my choices.

 

Lion King vs. Tarzan

This was an easy one to start of with. Tarzan has an interesting story about discovering one’s place in the world and also the evils of poaching. Lion King tells the story of a son’s love for his father and is basically Hamlet but with lions. While both are adaptations of established stories, Lion King has a lot more to say. Lion King also talks about duty vs. enjoyment and overcoming your fear to do what is right. It is a much more inspiring story. Lion King also has better music as Elton John and Tim Rice beat Phil Collins any day of the week, at least in my opinion. The Lion King also is funnier when it tries to be funny and more touching when it needs to be touching.

The Princess and the Frog vs. Lilo and Stitch

This one was a little harder. I like that Lilo and Stitch does not have a romantic subplot and it depicts Hawaii more as it actually is. It is a movie about sisters and misfits finding a family. It is honestly a really great movie. The Princess and the Frog is a movie about working hard for what you want but also trying to find the fun in life. The work/life balance message is something that is important to me. Also, The Princess and the Frog is a musical which uses great jazz tunes including a song actually sung by Dr. John. That definitely edges it ahead. It also does not hurt that Tiana is the first African American Disney Princess.

Tangled vs. Big Hero 6

It got difficult again. Big Hero 6 was a comic book series I read when it first came out. It was a charming and fun series with a lot of brand new heroes, Silver Samurai, and Sunfire. The movie version was really fun and had a different take on the character Baymax that knocked my socks off. It also did a great job with the theme of dealing with death. I also love superhero movies a lot. However, Tangled is an underrated movie that kind of paved the way for a new wave of Disney Princess. This new take on the Rapunzel story is really strengthened by the undeniable, bouncy energy of Rapunzel and the offbeat, goofy humor of the movie. This movie was a go to for a while when I was depressed to try and get me out of it.

Frozen vs. Moana

This was a totally unfair first round matchup. When I first saw Frozen, it blew me away. It was a total game changer when it came to Disney Princess animated movies. Setting aside that it had Kristen Bell in it, it also was the first of those movies that did not have a real romantic subplot. It was more about the love between sisters than the love between two people who had just met. Moana has even less of a romantic subplot and it is about being true to yourself and following your passion while staying true to your roots. It is a truly beautiful movie both visually and figuratively. It also has songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda who does so well that he ended up defeating the unstoppable catchiness of the songs of Frozen. That alone is saying something.

Aladdin vs. Hercules

Like most people, I love Hercules. It has a lot of snappy humor and is a great adaptation of various Greek myths with a slick modern style to it. The animation style is fun and it has an interestingly complex love story that comes second to a story about believing in yourself and becoming a hero. However, I have a big history with Aladdin. Back then I was a superfan of Robin Williams but the event that really cemented my love for the movie is when I watched it on drugs. To be fair, I watched it as I lay in the ICU after heart surgery in fifth grade. The movie has absolutely beautiful art and awesome voice talents. The story is also about believing in yourself but it is also about seeing people as they are and the power of friendship. The songs by Alan Menken are leagues above most Disney movies as well.

The Little Mermaid vs. Pocahontas

This one was easy. I really dislike Pocahontas. It is the only major release Disney Animated Movie that I dislike and that’s saying something. It is a historically inaccurate portrayal of a woman who was mistreated as a Native American by European colonists. The art style is also kind of off-putting to me for some reason. Also, I never liked the music very much. The Little Mermaid, on the other hand, is a really fun movie and a happier take on the Hans Christian Andersen tale. The music is all so fun to sing along to and the humor is cute and enjoyable. I love the theme of feeling like you are in the wrong place and yearning for a place that just feels right to you. It also has some interesting magic spells and supernatural powers go along way with me.

Mulan vs. Zootopia

This is a weird matchup. Zootopia is a really interesting movie that has a lot to say about racism and affirmative action. It disguises that message behind really well-animated animals living in a big city together. I love the world building involved in that and the story is a great roller coaster that has a lot of ups, downs, twists, and turns. Mulan is a great tale about the clash between following tradition and being who you feel you need to be. It also has the first Disney Princess who could fight. The animation is also really pretty with its own style that clearly illustrates that we are in China. What edges Mulan ahead as the clear winner is the music. Mulan has a lot of great, singable songs. Mostly I am thinking about I’ll Make a Man Out of You which was written by Donny Osmond of all people.

Beauty and the Beast vs. Nightmare Before Christmas

This one is not even fair. Beauty and the Beast is a beautiful movie. The art is a shining example of what 2D animation can be and the art style was so unique. It also introduced us to a heroine who was smart, brave, and who would not back down. It also introduced a romantic couple who believably wanted nothing to do with each other who were also both questionable individuals. The story does a good job of showing two parallel character arcs with a satisfying conclusion. The songs are also among the best in Disney. Nightmare Before Christmas is a movie that I watch every year at some point between Halloween and Christmas. It is yet another movie that I have used to battle depression because the movie itself is about battling depression. It is also the only movie on this list that uses stop-motion animation which is done so well I sometimes thought of it as live action. On top of all of that, it has music from Danny Elfman at the peak of his abilities. Every song is awesome and portrays so much emotion that I cannot ever let this movie go.

Alright, this one is getting a bit too long so I will have to continue it at another time. Of course, part 2 will have to wait until sometime after April but I am excited to get back to it! In the meantime, feel free to offer your own opinions. As I said, art is subjective and I am not “right” and you are not “wrong”.

Media Update 1/11/18

January 11, 2018


Ducktales (2017)

As an old-school Disney nerd, I loved the first series of Ducktales which featured Uncle Scrooge having to deal with nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. The adventures were fun as the show had a curmudgeonly yet lovable hero with a great supporting cast. Of course, it also had one of the catchiest theme songs in the history of children’s television. Last year (still weird to refer to 2017 that way), Disney decided to resurrect this show. I was a little skeptical until they announced that David Tennant would be playing Scrooge McDuck and then I was sold. I was right. This show was able to capture the charm of the original show and they even improved on a few things. The new series has more dynamic animation and each character has more detail. The three nephews actually look different from one another and have different voices. Webby is both not annoying and is actually allowed to be a cool, interesting character. They added Donald Duck to the cast instead of just being MIA. The show is funny and exciting and it still has that awesome theme song. Best of all, it feels like they have added some central lore that will tie all of the episodes together as it is slowly revealed. I will be digging up all of the episodes so far of this as soon as possible and I recommend it.


The Magic School Bus Rides Again

As a kid, I had a couple of sources for science beyond school. I was a big fan of Beakman’s World and I also occasionally watched Mr. Wizard and Bill Nye The Science Guy. However, few things got me as excited about science as The Magic School Bus. I read all the books as they were released (and even met the author) and when the television show premiered I was very into it. The books and show were somewhat formulaic but the characters were excited about science and the writing was clever. This new show is basically a continuation of the original series, picking up as the kids start a new school year. The show adds two new characters in new teacher Fiona Frizzle, the original Friz’ sister and new student Jyoti Kaur. The new additions help the new viewer but also make the new show a little fresher for those who absorbed the original show. Basically, the show has the same formula as the old one. Ms. Frizzle goes on a field trip with her students to show them something new about science and often a lesson about dealing with life as well. The original Friz (voiced by Lily Tomlin) is still on the show and she finishes each episode by explaining a few further things about the episode. Finally, the show’s great theme song is actually sung by Lin-Manuel Miranda. I definitely recommend this especially if you have a child in your life who is excited about science.


Danger Mouse (2015)

Danger Mouse is a British cartoon which is basically a 007 parody starring a mouse with a hamster sidekick trying to save the world. I watched the original show when it was rebroadcast on Nickelodeon not long after it premiered in England. The creators made a great choice to give the show a license to get silly and therefore puns and absurdity ruled the original show. More than that, the show was also fairly meta and the narrator was constantly accidentally breaking the fourth wall. The new show is really just more of the same with leaner, more exciting animation. The new show also has an expanded budget which is lampshaded in the very first episode. The original was forced to cut whole sequences (literally plunging scenes into total darkness) in order to come in under budget. The new show does not have that problem although they do bring it back once or twice for fun. Something new for American audiences is that they took away a lot of the localization changes such as restoring an Italian villain. The show is fun and I can’t wait to see how they treat some of the old characters as they return. (Count Duckula!) The show feels fresh to me and more accessible now that I have indulged so much in English television since I first watched the show. I definitely recommend this one too.

Music of the Week:
The Regrettes – Hey Now

Saint Motel – My Type

DOOMTREE – Final Boss

Tiger Lillies – Crack of Doom

Animadness – Kizuna

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Childhood Cartoons Rebooted”
– I finished Season 5 of Longmire
– I watched more Season 2 of Little Witch Academia
– I continued watching Season of The Magicians
– I finished Season 1 of Blue Exorcist
– I started Season 2 of Schitt’s Creek
– As usual, I watched Game Grumps, GTLive, Critical Role, and DCA on Youtube

Interview Questions 8

June 5, 2017


What is your favorite movie quote?

“I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t like bullies; I don’t care where they’re from.”
Steve Rogers, Captain America: The First Avenger

This was the most powerful line of the movie for me. It also made me fall in love with the character of Captain America and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. The line is in response to Steve being asked whether he wants to kill Nazis. A lot of soldiers probably entered World War II hoping to destroy evil. This line sets up Captain America not as a weapon but as a shield. He cares more about protecting the innocent than destroying evil. As a child of the eighties, I grew up hearing epic stories of World War II. I was one generation removed so there was definitely a more romantic sheen on every story I heard. While war is not ideal, evil prevails when good men do nothing. The Nazis were the ultimate bullies and the world rose up to stop them. It was the last time we had a clear conscience in a fight like that. I still get chills when Chris Evans delivers that line with such passion.


Would you rather spend five days exploring Disney or New York City?

I would take five days to explore Disney World or Disney Land. I am lucky to have been to both New York City and Disney World. I have not been to Disney World for a long time but I have been to NYC off and on for decades. I have enjoyed both places a lot at different times. However, New York City is a real place. It has real dangers and real downsides. Disney World and Disney Land are fascinating as they are wholly manufactured worlds. Every inch of the parks are built for my pleasure and there are a million surprises waiting for me. I would never run out of things to examine and re-examine if I lived there forever but definitely not in five days. New York City is interesting but there is just more of a chance of me searching for treasure and getting disappointment instead. If I am dedicating five whole days, I pick a Disney park hands down. Of course, if we are talking about the fictional Disney multiverse, then I also chose that because that would be amazing (and probably dangerous but whatever).


Would you rather be the most popular kid in school or the smartest kid in school?

I have never been the popular kid. To a certain extent, I have always been part of the nerd and geek subculture which was never at the top of the food chain while I was a kid. I was also never the smartest kid but I was always on the smarter end of the student body spectrum. School just came easily to me. I worked hard but I usually understood things pretty quickly. I enjoyed being smart. Being smart makes homework easier, which left me more time for video games and other extracurriculars. Being smart also makes lectures a little more fascinating and learning a lot more fun. Schoolwork is almost never too frustrating when you are smart enough. However, being the smartest brings the pressure to excel to higher heights but I would be secure that I was qualified to do whatever I wanted. While I pursued being popular as a kid, I was kind of glad that I never really succeeded. Socially, I am more comfortable in smaller crowds. I would hate to have too many people clambering to hang out with me. I like having my solitude when I want it. I would prefer the life of the mind while I maintain my small circle of trusted friends.

Media Update 6/1/2017

June 1, 2017


Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

After finally watching Pirates 4 (see below) the night before, I went off to meet my friends at an IMAX matinee. I was excited for the movie in the same way that I get excited for Fast and the Furious Movies. I love the familiar characters and the impossible antics and this movie showed promise of being that again. Like some reviews have said, the movie is a little long. However, I only noticed that after the movie and I was surprised that two and a half hours had passed. I never looked at my watch once during the movie. It was pretty much a nonstop adventure full of comedy and some poignant emotional moments. Depp, Geoffrey Rush and a lot of character actors return to do what they do best. We also get a new couple for Jack to assist in breaking yet another curse. They were great, played by Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario who were both totally new to me. We also got a great villain in Javier Bardem who is making a good living playing great villains. If this was the last Pirates film, it was a fitting send-off as it felt like it called back to the first one while looking forward. I definitely recommend it.


Treasure Planet

This was one of the Disney animated movies that I missed because I was off at college and I just fell off from watching Disney movies. I had already read Treasure Island so I am sure that this one would not have interested me so much. It has been probably about twenty years since I have read the book so the movie actually sounded a little attractive. I was right, I had forgotten enough of Treasure Island to be unsure of what was happening next and what parts were added in and what parts were from the book. This is an update, of course, putting the story in space in a setting where extraterrestrials freely mingle with human beings. The animation is really pretty as you would expect. What really got me was the art direction and the character design which felt a little fresh to me which is hard to do with aliens. As the movie went on, I started to remember the book but by then I did not care so much. The voice acting is fun, the animation is fluid and the plot is classic. None of this is surprising from the Writer/Director team of The Little Mermaid and Moana. The music is a little bit too much butt rock to me but it was fine. I recommend it.


Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides

So when I decided to go with my friends to Pirates 5, I knew I finally had to watch Pirates 4. This was something I had wanted to do despite hearing it was a bit of disappointment. My motivations to watch the movie were the same as above. Right away, the movie felt like the rest of the Pirates movies. There was Captain Jack and he was going to have an adventure. It did not take long for me to realize that this was not a normal Pirates movie. Most Pirates movies are about the other characters (for the majority Swann/Turner) doing stuff and Captain Jack trying to do stuff with or against them. This movie was more of a personal story for Jack. For once, he was the male romantic lead and it felt a little weird. Still, as much as I love Jack being a degenerate reprobate, the moments where he actually cares are powerful. I did feel it was a little weird to bring in Blackbeard as the villain but it worked. Penelope Cruz was a pretty strong character as well. It just felt like maybe this one rambled and meandered a bit too much. There were a lot of great moments but the movie lacked the emotional punch the other movies had for me. Still, I would recommend it if you are a completionist like me.

Music of the Week:

Nina Hagen – Naturträne

Amandititita – La Muy Muy

Scissor Sisters – I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’

Run The Jewels – Legend Has It

B.E.R. – The Night Begins to Shine

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is obviously “Disney Pirates”
– I finished Season 3 of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
– I watched more Fairy Tail
– I watched more Glitter Force
– I finished watching The Get Down and I’m pissed that they canceled it
– I started Supernatural Season 12
– I watched more Lucha Underground
– I don’t know if I want to trust Wonder Woman
– I am planning Halloween

Media Update 12/8/2016

December 8, 2016


Suicide Squad

I went into this movie with incredibly low expectations. I still have not seen Batman V. Superman and, at this rate, I may never see it. It helped that the movie was written and directed by a more competent man in David Ayer who made Training Day. The movie apparently had a lot of studio meddling in it. A lot of the movie felt like a music video with supervillains in it. I clocked at least three different popular songs in the first four minutes which just reeks of trying to be more like Guardians of the Galaxy. The highlight of the movie is Margot Robbie who is the highlight of most movies she is in. Her portrayal of Harley Quinn was heavily quotable and brought a lot of life and comedy to what otherwise could have been a much darker movie. A lot of people complained about Jared Leto’s Joker but I really think he did a fine job. What really bothered me was that he did not really need to be in the movie because he barely impacted the plot. They could have reduced his role even more, made the movie shorter and saved him for when he would have more impact later. Viola Davis and Joel Kinnaman also really stood out as Amanda Waller and Rick Flag. Davis was especially great with her nearly sociopathic performance. While it was dark, it was in line with the comics and previous portrayals of the character in media. Kinnaman had a tough job of trying to stand out and remain likable but he really pulled it off. Will Smith should not play bad guys. He just was not believable as a contract killer to me. He was fun but he was not the one for that role. Overall, I liked the movie and I really think they should continue with this franchise instead of the Superman franchise. I recommend it but realize that it is still connected to the current DCU movies.


Yoga Hosers

I never saw Tusk (the first film in this trilogy) because it never appealed to me and I also listened to the podcast where Kevin Smith detailed pretty much the whole concept. I am a huge fan of Kevin Smith. Amid all the dick and fart jokes, a lot of Smith’s movies spoke a lot of truth about life. This movie was written and made while Kevin Smith was smoking a lot of pot and it kind of shows. However, that is not quite a horrible thing. It is a love letter from the US to Canada and also a family affair. This movie is very playful and has a lot of meta, self-referential humor similar to Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The movie also has a similar kinetic energy to that movie. The power of this movie comes from the chemistry between its stars Harley Quinn Smith (Kevin Smith’s daughter) and Lily-Rose Depp (Johnny Depp’s daughter). The two of them have been best friends in real life since kindergarten and that was definitely channeled into the movie. Kevin Smith and Johnny Depp are also in the movie. Smith is like a Looney Tunes character and his joke gets old but then suddenly gets funny again. Depp transforms into a character from Tusk, a pathetic French detective who enlists the young girls to combat evil. Finally, there was Ralph Garman who managed to work his celebrity impressions into the movie despite it not making any sense but he was still fun. There are also a ton of fun cameos. The movie really makes me want to see Lily-Rose in more stuff. I definitely recommend it for Kevin Smith fans and fans of goofy movies.


Jungle Book

I have been wary of watching this movie because the original was such a good movie on its own. It has some really good Disney music and some really good animation. It is a classic for a reason. When I saw the trailer for this movie, I thought it looked pretty but it was clear that it was not a musical. I kept hope that it was still a musical but it was not to be. Strangely, there is one single music number almost halfway through and again over an hour in. I would have rather they just left it out at that point. While I kind of missed the musical aspects (the score is nothing special) the movie is stunningly beautiful. It is incredibly hard to believe that this was shot with one child actor and a boatload of computer generated animation. The animals are all so lifelike and well-animated that they feel almost like real animals (except for the speaking perfect English part). The kid, Neel Sethi, is really good for his age. He put in a lot of work and does a lot of good acting and some stunt work. The voice work of all the famous actors they hired is fantastic. Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley and Lupita Nyong’o especially were fantastic. Scarlet Johansson was also excellent but she was only in the movie for less than two minutes. I think they should have cast somebody besides Christopher Walken. Bill Murray was good. I think what I liked about this is how much better the writing is from the original story. It added more lore to the story as well, drawing more of Kipling’s work. I recommend this one for sure.

Music of the Week:
Red Sun Rising – Amnesia

The Record Company – Off The Ground

Eli “Paperboy” Reed – Come And Get It

Blackalicious ft. Chali 2na & Lateef the Truthspeaker – 4000 Miles

Getter – Rip N Dip

Weekly Updates:
– I am now on Season 2 of The Office
– I continued to watch Season 2 of Dark Matter
– I am caught up on Season 2 of Ash vs. The Evil Dead
– This week’s theme is “Unlikely Heroes”
– I continued Season 2 of Parks and Recreation
– I continued Season 1 of Luther
– “Not expecting much but being surprised and happy” is probably a secondary theme this week

Media Update 3/3/2016

March 3, 2016


American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson

I had reached the tender age of twelve when the verdict was read at the end of the OJ Simpson murder trial. Since there was no Baltimore team, I did not care about OJ being a football player but I had liked him well enough in the Naked Gun series. Still, I remember everybody saying how guilty he must be and I remember Saturday Night Live making fun of the dream team. I remember watching the trial in school too. Still, I wasn’t with it enough to really follow the evidence and all of the proceedings to determine whether he was guilty or not. So there’s a mix of discovery and nostalgia watching the show. I know the show can’t be a hundred percent true but it covers a great mix of legend and truth surrounding the trial. John Travolta’s acting and makeup are truly horrible on the show and clearly they should have gotten somebody else. Everybody else is passable so far but Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Courtney B. Vance are exceptional at acting like real people instead of caricatures. I would suggest watching it if you’re interested in legal procedure, the media and a semi-fictional historical account.


Tomorrowland

I had high hopes for this movie. The trailer was amazing and made me wonder what this movie could be about while feeling nostalgic for older Disney days. I like George Clooney and all the visuals for the movie looked pretty spot on. I did not see it in theaters and I was disappointed when I got reports that it was not very good. It was deemed 50% fresh by Rotten Tomatoes so I was curious to see if it was really that bad. The movie was not what I imagined it was and that immediately intrigued me. The only complaint I had was that the movie was a little too long. At over two hours the pacing started to feel too slow and that could have been tightened up. Other than that, I liked the comedy and I liked the play between the three main characters a lot. Hugh Laurie was an excellent villain but there was enough gray area to make you think. The movie started out with problems that make you despair and left off with hope which is a great message to put out there. In the end, the movie was pretty good and I liked it. While I don’t outright recommend it, I would say not to be scared of it.

Looper

I felt like watching this movie was inevitable. I had heard so many people talking it up that I would eventually have to watch it and either agree with the crowd or dislike it. Of course, this was oversimplifying things because neither thing happened. I’m not exactly a fan of science fiction and I was trying to figure out why after watching this movie. I think it’s that most science fiction is grim and depressing while most science fantasy is more hopeful and happy. I usually side with science fantasy and this movie had a lot of science fantasy elements but it was definitely grim and a bit sad. The movie drags in places but is overall a pretty good movie. It is certainly a messy movie and I feel like they tried to plug in a few too many sci-fi elements that muddied the water perhaps so they could do a few more special effects. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a great protagonist although they could have done with the awkward prosthetics to make him look like Bruce Willis. Willis himself was pretty good as he’s best with roles where he can grumpily chastise or shoot people. Overall I actually wouldn’t recommend seeing it except to certain people and they have already seen it.

Links of the Week:
BABYMETAL – KARATE
Steve Vai – Ya-yo Gakk
Political Correctness Doesn’t Censor
Lorde – Life on Mars (Bowie Cover)
Hevisaurus – Saurusarmeija

Weekly Updates:
– I did not watch the Oscars
– I need to see Spotlight though
– I agree with all the Mad Max and Revenant wins
– The Oscars need more diversity obviously
– Still don’t care about Batman v. Superman
– I also want to see The Big Short
– Gonna grab the NSP Under the Covers album

Interview Questions 2

February 13, 2016

Alright, this one is the Disney edition.

Which Disney animated villain would you be? Why?

I would have to go with Hades. He keeps a calm demeanor despite being a literal hothead who explodes into violent rage at times. I have had my own anger problems in the past and I know what that fiery rage feels like. I am putting all of that behind me so I won’t let it impair me like Hades. He has a subtle sense of humor that sometimes borders on morbid. I have a sense of humor which can sometimes get dark though I realize I have to curtail that in polite comedy. I love a good laugh as it can quickly bond strangers together and make everyone feel good. He is also tall and I have always been somewhat envious of people who are physically tall. He has magic powers as he is a god and is in tight with the Titans. In a world where I could be King of the Dead, I no longer fear death. He is also good at making plans as evidenced by his near victory over Hercules. I always want to get better at strategy. Like Hades I would strive to better my situation and not be shelved by the other gods.

Who is your favorite Disney Princess? Why?

My favorite Disney Princess is actualy Mulan since I finally watched the movie recently. I had a lot of misconceptions about the character before I watched the movie. Mulan defies a lot of expectations about her but that is not what she sets out to do. She wants to find a good arranged marriage because that is what is best for her family and herself. She’s not excited about the idea but at no point does she rebel against it and even tries her best in her own way. When push comes to shove she does what she feels is right by upholding her family’s honor. Instead of relying on brawn, she puts her intelligence and creativity to the task and excels at combat. She even puts her duty above romantic attraction for a time. Even when she is disgraced and banished she still manages to steel her courage and ride to the rescue. In short, Mulan is a good example of honor, intelligence and determination.

Which Disney location would you most like to live in? Why?

Given the choice I would love to live in Atlantica which is the underwater setting for a lot of The Little Mermaid. Atlantica is nestled safely deep under the sea, specifically the Atlantic Ocean. The ruler of Atlantica is the fair and just King Triton. King Triton is a confident ruler who protects his subjects with intelligence, trust and a magical artifact. Although he is a monarch, he is not completely unwilling to admit that he is wrong and tries his best to rectify the damage he indirectly causes. That is the kind of decisive but thoughtful ruler that I would like to live under. Atlantica is also quite musical as what looks like half the population joins in Under the Sea. That song also illustrates how happy everyone is to live where they are even if they are part of the servant class. That’s an amazing approval rating if only one character out of nearly a hundred is dissatisfied.  On top of that, the deep sea is still a mystery to us humans and I would like to explore that some.

Media Update 11/26/2015

November 26, 2015


AKA Jessica Jones

I’m a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic/Television universe and the direction Disney is taking all of their properties. There are a few outliers at Fox and Columbia Pictures but those characters are mostly fine where they are. As part of the Netflix Initiative (separate from the celebrated “Phases”) there was supposed to be at least five shows. Daredevil, AKA Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist would each get an order of episodes. Daredevil was successful and already received a second season. The four shows would be followed by Marve’s The Defenders mini-series where all four heroes will team up. AKA Jessica Jones really got me even more excited for what’s to come. I’m not too far in but it’s really, really good. It’s hard to do the imperfect hero. This show takes an alcoholic, anti-social and pessimistic character and makes her inspiring. Krysten Ritter (an actress I already adored) is really believable and doesn’t falter a single step in her acting. In fact, everyone is spot on. The only warning I have is that the show is very, very dark which seems par for the course for Marvel’s Netflix projects. I’m so excited to watch the rest of this and see the future projects.

 


Puella Magi Madoka Magica

I’m pretty sure I’ve stated how much I love magical girl stuff on this blog. If not, I really do love that stuff a lot. I have a lot of memories of ditching Dragonball Z and being really excited to watch Sailor Moon everyday instead. I moved on to Card Captor Sakura later as I was pretty sold on the concept. It even works for magical boys too like Ronin Warriors and Saint Seiya. So I instantly put Madoka on my Netflix list as soon as it was available. I didn’t check it out until this week and I was pleasantly surprised. Forgive me as there is no other way to put it but this show is really fucked up. I don’t remember the last time I watched the first episode of the show and yelled “What the fuck!?” at my television with a big smile on my face. The show follows magical girls (aka transforming pre-teen superheroes) who battle witches. However, this show takes a hard look at the realities of using such young soldiers in a dangerous battle against evil. The stakes are high and death is their final reward. It’s pretty chilling and a refreshing look at the genre. I also like that the witches are portrayed by mixed media in the form of fabric arts and western-looking animation. The heroes are portrayed in clean anime style and it makes the situation even more weird and terrifying. I want to watch the second half of this series to see what happens to these girls. I have a bad feeling though.

 


Lilo and Stitch

I really needed something more light-hearted after the above picks so I decided to finally watch Lilo and Stitch. Missing Disney movies when they come out can be a pain in the butt as Disney has a tendency to lock them in a vault. I have legitimately become enamored of Hawaiian and Island culture ever since reading about it as described by Dwayne Johnson. From what I can tell online, the movie is a fair look at modern day rural Hawaii. The movie is very touching and sweet and funny. I’m no longer sorry I missed this one because that means I got to watch this now and not then. Much of the humor, at least for me, came from the older sister who I’m sure I wouldn’t gave identified with when this originally came out. She’s trying her best to manage an unruly little sister and the new addition of a space alien posing as a dog. Lilo and her sister Nani are some of the most accurate portrayals of modern human beings that I’ve ever seen. The alien stuff is merely fun background to three lonely and hopeless characters finding their place in a family unit. Also, the Disney record of making me at least tear up is intact.

Kaizo Trap

Day One

Pigeon Music Party!

Sweet Potato vs. Yam

Trains, Planes and Automobiles – Car Rental

Updates

– I’m really excited for Felicia and Jonah and MST3K
– I still wish that Mike and Kevin were involved
– I got my first Pro-Wrestling Crate and it’s awesome
– I have a few more Disney movies to check out
– Loaded this post on Monday because of holidays
– Happy Thanksgiving!

Top 11 Disney Animated Films

June 13, 2015

Top 11

I have found myself using the phrase “I’m a huge Disney nerd” a lot lately so I thought I’d prove it by doing a Top 11 Disney Animated films. This does not include films produced by Pixar because that’s a whole list by itself. I also don’t include any movies by Studio Ghibli because Disney just did the American distribution. There’s also numerous other studios that obviously won’t make this list.  These are films that were important to me growing up or spoke to me in more recent times.

11 Alice in Wonderland (1951)

I read Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass at a fairly young age but I’m reasonably sure that the Disney cartoon was my first exposure to the stories. The world of Alice is fantastic and illogical while still having a certain logic to it. As I grew up, I realized that the books were filled with logic problems, puzzles and riddles but the first time reading it I didn’t know all of that. I liked the story of a young girl travelling through a world that doesn’t making any sense that grows increasingly scary. As in the book, she realizes that none of it is real and wakes up. As I grew, I often wondered about how much she was willing to believe until she refused to believe anymore. The voice acting was very good (for its time) and I especially liked the proper British speech of Alice.

10 Beauty and the Beast (1991)

From a young age I was very interested in books and reading in general. Reading was something I grasped early on and being transported into other worlds was something I clung to. My life was good but there were people having adventures and my imagination wanted fuel to create adventures of my own. Because of all that, I identified heavily with the character of Belle and I have since identified with a lot of the dreamers in fiction. As a kid the story didn’t really effect me the way it does now and even now it’s not the story that sucks me in. I love the songs and all the little side characters and the bizarre world where all of the inanimate objects are characters. The animation is beautiful and definitely still holds up after all of this time. The music is fun and pretty timeless. The voice actors are all great but I especially love Jerry Orbach and Lumiere. That must have been a lot of fun to do.

9 The Lion King (1994)

The Lion King came very near the height of my animation hysteria in the part of my childhood when I thought I might be an animator later on. The Lion King’s animation totally blew me away with how fluid and beautiful it was and, as Frank Sinatra sang, the best was yet to come. Still, Disney really outdid itself with this movie. The voice acting is really great even though they succumbed to the pitfall of using celebrities instead of seasoned voice actors. The music was really well done and I sang along to Just Can’t Wait to Be King and Hakuna Matata everyday for a little while. One of my big problems with the movie is that the main character is kind of entitled and looks forward to adulthood for all the wrong reasons. Of course, part of his journey is learning from those mistakes and earning his place of honor. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to respect the character Scar more as a dynamic and fun villain and the probably the first villain song I really enjoyed.

8 The Little Mermaid (1989)

Once again, yearning for a new world and wondering about a life beyond what I saw around me were themes that resonated with me. It’s not that I had a bad childhood but nobody has a childhood that’s without its bumps. Like many children I felt unpopular and unliked as a kid, a feeling that actually grew well into high school and in some forms exists today. When Ariel sings about the world “Up There” I think about all the times I wasn’t invited to a party or when I was picked last for kickball games. Don’t get me wrong, I always had friends but every so often I wondered what being a popular kid was like. At the same time, like Ariel, I wanted to be different and I really reveled in the differences between me and the other kids. Of course, I realized all of that later in life, when I was a teenager. The main thing that actually attracted me when I was younger was the music. Jodi Benson, Samuel E. Wright and Rene Auberjonois (no really, Odo had a cameo as a French chef) made songs that were a lot of fun to sing along to and enjoy.

7 Tangled (2010)

Depression is a hell of a thing. Depression lies. Even now I hesitate to call what I have bouts of “depression” because depression just calls me an idiot and to stop faking for attention. I don’t feel depressed right now but I definitely go through it from time to time. It’s just bad brain chemistry and it’s hard to get through but one thing that has always helped me fight it off or pull out of the pit is a good song or a good movie. That’s why I talk so much about the stuff I love here, because it really, really means something to me. Tangled was a movie that briefly cast sunshine on a dark period in New Jersey where I had very conflicting feelings about my life. The fluid animation, great music and slapstick humor almost always elicits a smile. The ending just feels really good to me too but I won’t spoil it here. The music is very good and a lot of it feels spontaneous and improvised while being polished at the same time (if that makes sense).

6 The Princess and the Frog (2009)

I love jazz music I like it a lot but not enough to listen to it regularly as many other genres float my boat more regularly. I love the big band sort of jazz that is loud and brassy and full of vibrating, bubbling energy. I love the kind of music that Dr. John sings. What a coincidence, Dr. John sings the very first song in the movie!  I have never been to New Orleans but it’s always been spoken of with almost mythical reverence, especially by the jazz community. The art style and voice acting does a great job of setting the scene in a unique setting. It also takes us back to a different time period pretty effortlessly. The music is downright infectious and I especially like “When We’re Human”. I like the different twist on an old fairy tale with the added theme of working hard to make your dreams a reality but not too hard.

5 Wreck it Ralph (2012)

I love video games. I have loved video games ever since I laid eyes on (but was not allowed to touch) the Atari and watched somebody play Donkey Kong. Not long after we got an NES and I was hooked for life as a console gamer. I also hung out with my brothers and friends in several different arcades around town, pumping quarters for another few minutes of fun. This movie made me so nostalgic for those days of playing the hardest games kids were ever tortured with. The movie itself is really funny and also endearing and charming. I have to admit that I’ve done things in my life solely for the reward. I once ran for class president in high school just to see how many votes I could get. I’m not proud of it nor am I proud of hounding the teacher in charge when I never got an exact count. Later that year I actually won an award for service in the drama department and that felt way better. So I really love the theme of not trying so hard to be something you’re not and instead being the best you that you can be.

4 Big Hero 6 (2014)

This is the most recent animated Disney film I’ve seen. The art style, while similar to other recent movies, is also kind of infused with an anime feel which makes sense. The movie takes place in a mash-up of San Francisco and Tokyo. I read some of the first run of the comic and Big Hero 6 was supposed to be Japan’s official superhero team. While that movie would have been cool, the movie we got was incredibly creative and had a ton of heart. The movie dealt with a lot of tough issues like death in the family but managed to stay lighthearted enough to not get me down. It’s definitely not your typical superhero movie but Disney’s Marvel Studios has proved that it doesn’t always go where you think they will go. This movie surprised me with how good it was and I think it really deserved to win the Academy Award. I really hope that they can write a successful sequel because I will definitely see it opening weekend.

3 Aladdin (1992)

Aladdin was the first soundtrack I ever owned and listened to until the casette tape was nearly worn out. I can sing along to most of the songs (except Friend Like Me. How did he breathe during that?) and I really enjoy doing so. This movie both started my extreme fandom of Robin Williams and it was also the first time I realized that voice actors are people. Aladdin is the story of a poor kid making it to the top with luck and his wits. It’s also the story of being rewarded for both being true to who you are and a good person. The main characters are flawed people but come through fire. Besides the great music, great story and great characters, I also have a very personal connection with this movie. When I had heart surgery in fifth grade to fix the double aortic arch that I was born with, this was the movie they let me watch in the ICU. So it’s also the only Disney movie I’ve watched on heavy drugs.

2 Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

I think this might be the movie that I’ve mentioned most in this blog and it is a movie that I will probably always be fascinated with. As I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered more and more that I like about it. When I first saw it, I was a huge Tim Burton fan and fascinated with the macabre elements of Halloween. As I grew up, I still loved the dark elements married to the comedy elements but I began to appreciate the craft of stop-motion animation. I started to understand the story more and that led me to imagine the world they had created beyond the bounds of the story. What was Easterland like? What was Thanksgivingland like? As I watched it again in my adult years I now understood the parts about depression and self-discovery and creativity. I am always inspired by this movie and I love consuming anything connected to it.

1 Frozen (2013)

What more can be said about this movie? The movie became a phenomenon overnight and most people I know either love it or are apathetic. I actually thought I was going to hate it because the early trailer absolutely turned me off. It said nothing about what the movie was about but that actually worked in my favor. I wrote the movie off and filed it away somewhere in my brain. It came into theaters and left and I still had not watched it. Now, I had no idea at the time that Kristen Bell played Anna in the movie which would have swayed me as a Veronica Mars superfan. Also, had I known that Frozen had the same songwriters as Avenue Q and Book of Mormon I might have taken notice. No. I heard rave reviews and just decided to watch it one day. I love it now. The characters are so interesting, the acting is excellent and the story is a little bit different from what I’ve seen before in Disney movies. They’re are deep psychological stories being told just under the surface of a straightforward tale about the bond between two siblings. The music is amazing and Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel blew me away with how well they did with it. I definitely recommend this one and I promise I won’t get mad if you don’t like it. Just ask my brother.


Roxi St. Clair

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Silence Killed The Dinosaurs

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Daily (w)rite

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Wrestling Dreams

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DMing With Charisma

Stories, Reviews and Opinions!

half a 1000 miles

cringeworthy (adj) -- causing feelings of awkwardness or embarrassment

kayrayiam

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Abbs Abroad

27 Months with a Maryland Girl in Senegal

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