Posts Tagged ‘Rapunzel’

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 5

August 22, 2020

Mulan sat at the table sipping a cup of tea. She had made the tea herself, not willing to flag down a soldier or other refugee during such a tense time to make the tea. She had been taught to make tea by her mother and she really needed a cup to calm her nerves. Seated around the table were the foreigners. Mulan had called a meeting with them because she trusted members of the Emperor’s army but these people were mysteries that Mulan would need to solve before she could effectively lead what may be the only resistance left in China. The fort was out of the way but this monstrous army would eventually find it.

Anna was sitting directly to Mulan’s right with her hands folded neatly and trying to look professional. Aladdin was sitting to her left, relaxed and slumped back in his chair a bit. Rapunzel leaned heavily on the table, obviously exhausted from working hard in the medical tent. Merida sat on a windowsill nearby, looking half at the room and half out the window. Mulan could not really catch her eye because the redhead was wearing a hood to keep the sun out of her eyes and presumably to hide her shocking red hair. Merida had also declined a cup of tea when the others had accepted. Mulan was not offended but curious.

“Thank you for meeting with me,” Mulan said. “I am Fa Mulan, agent of the Emperor and formerly of the Chinese army. The soldiers here have chosen me as their leader temporarily.”

“Temporarily?” Aladdin asked. “Until what happens?”

“My husband is General Li Shang,” Mulan said. “I am much more comfortable with him leading.”

Merida snorted. “A woman can lead just as well as a man,” she said. “Sometimes better.”

“I agree,” Aladdin said without explaining further.

“I agree with you,” Mulan said. “but having my husband lead is a matter of logic rather than tradition. He has much more experience leading and I am much better when I have time to myself to think.”

“Of course, too much time alone can be bad for you,” Anna said pointedly, glancing over at Merida. Merida either did not hear the comment or chose to ignore it.

Mulan took a sip of tea for serenity. “Why don’t you tell me again who you all are and what you are doing here at the fort.” She gestured to Anna who seemed most excited to speak.

“My name is Anna,” she said. “I come from Arendelle. My parents were the King Agnarr and Queen Iduna of Arendelle but they died on a trip to solve the mystery of the source of my sister Elsa’s magical ice powers. My sister Elsa became Queen of Arendelle and she accidentally froze our kingdom. I had to go on an adventure with my current fiance and a snowman to stop a wicked prince who happened to be my fiance at the time. My sister and I reconnected and then she unfroze Arendelle. After that we journeyed to the Enchanted Forest and the not-so-mythical Ahtohallan to solve the mystery of the Enchanted Forest and our parents. After that, Elsa made me Queen of Arendelle.” Anna looked around and then tensed. “Sorry, sometimes I talk a lot when I’m nervous.”

“That’s alright,” Mulan said. “What are you doing around the fort?”

“I’ve just been making myself available,” Anna said. “I had been learning to cook back in Arendelle so I have been helping in the mess tent a lot. I don’t have a lot of experience in battle but I’m ready to help however I can.”

Mulan nodded and gestured to Aladdin.

“My name is Aladdin, I am a Prince of Agrabah,” he said. “I have been using my friend Carpet to search for surivors and supplies. I know what it feels like to be chased and to be hungry.”

Mulan nodded and gestured to Rapunzel who sat up and rubbed her eyes.

“My name is Rapunzel and I am from the same world as Anna although we first met here,” she said. “I am a Princess of Corona although I spent a long time lost in the woods so I am new to the whole royal thing. I used to be able to heal magically but when I lost that ability, I tried to learn as much as I could about other magics and natural healing. My, um, godmother’s journals taught me a lot about herbalism. I have been trying to heal the sick and wounded.”

“How is that going?” Mulan asked.

“It’s going well,” Rapunzel said. “The forces here are almost back to full fighting force.”

“And my husband?” Mulan asked with as much patience and calm as she could conjure.

“Your husband will recover soon,” Rapunzel said. “However, his wound was really bad. Oh by the way, I am pretty good in a fight.”

Mulan nodded and breathed a sigh of relief.

Without prompting, Merida climbed down from the windowsill and pulled her hood down. “My name is Merida of DunBroch and I suppose I’m a Princess too,” she said. “I’ve been up on that tower shooting innae thing that moves. It’s my job to alert everybody when they finally find us.”

“I feel that you have been up there too long on your own,” Mulan said. “When do you sleep?”

“I sleep in bits here and there,” Merida said. “I make it through.”

“I’ll take a turn above,” Mulan said. “You consult with Rapunzel and get some rest and at least one proper meal.”

“Nobody’s a better shot than me,” Merida said. “I can’t take a break for too long.”

“Trust me, I am a pretty good shot myself,” Mulan said. “I’ll call you if there is an emergency. Get some rest. That’s an order.”

“I don’t do well with orders,” Merida said. “but I suppose I’m a guest here. Fine. I’ll play along.”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 2

July 11, 2020

The carpet approached a large fortress far outside the outskirts of the Imperial City. Aladdin was determined and Mulan just held tight to Shang, trying to keep him still and stable on the fluttering fabric. It was at this point that an arrow whizzed past them, managing to nick Aladdin’s ear making him wince in pain. It was a good thing he was not the one actually controlling the carpet. The carpet slowed down and approached the guard tower where the arrow had come from. A young woman with striking, frizzy red hair and shockingly white skin came out of hiding carrying a massive longbow. She had a fierce look in her eyes as she leveled the bow toward them and drew back an arrow halfway and held it.

“Halt and declare yerself,” the woman said. “I cannae let you pass.” She had a thick accent and the posture of a warrior of some renown. Mulan sensed that the woman was used to people watching her, something Mulan was just starting to get used to.

Aladdin slowly maneuvered between the woman and his passengers. “Stand down Merrida,” he said. “You know me. It’s Aladdin. We just saw each other a little while ago.”

“Oh. Yer back from scouting too quick,” Merrida said, squinting a bit at Aladdin. “Can you blame me for getting a wee bit twitchy?”

“I guess not,” Aladdin said. “I’d probably be angrier if you had actually aimed for me.”

“Nae,” Merrida said coldly. “You wouldna feel a thing. You’d be dead.” Then she smiled and shrugged.

Aladdin smirked. “Tough talk,” he said. “I came back early because I spotted these two. One of them is injured.”

“Who do ye got there?” Merrida asked and Carpet rotated slowly to reveal Mulan and Shang.

“My name is Mulan,” she said. “This is Shang. He’s bleeding out. Please let us go.”

“If yer good with Aladdin here then yer good with me,” Merrida said. “Go on to the healers and give my best.” She relaxed her draw on the bow, un-nocked her arrow, and slipped back inside the tower without another word.

As soon as she was gone, Carpet floated over the fort’s walls and down toward a small building toward the rear. As they descended, there was shouting from below. Another white girl came rushing out of the building. She had light brown hair that was cut very short in a style that Mulan kind of wished she could adopt. The girl had big, beautiful eyes full of optimism even in grim surroundings.

“Get the injured inside and on a table!” the girl called out. “We need to stop the bleeding immediately. Bring bandages and herbs.” She clapped her hands and everybody started running around. Mulan and Aladdin helped carry Shang inside but then the short white girl pushed both of them back outside. Mulan fumed and was about to head back inside when Aladdin caught her by the arm. She almost took a swing at him but backed off.

“He’s in good hands with Rapunzel,” Aladdin said. “You’d do best keeping out of her way. I need to scrub the blood out of Carpet before I do anything else.”

“Who put you people in charge?” Mulan asked. She was still on edge and she was tired of having to trust absolute strangers in the midst of danger.

“We’re not in charge,” a young woman said, walking toward Mulan and Aladdin. She swept her hood back and Mulan could see that she was also white and had a long braid with a single shock of white hair running through it. Mulan had seen more white people on this day than she had seen during her entire life to date. Something very strange was going on even beyond the destruction of the palace and a strange gray army swarming over everything. “My name is Anna. We’re just trying to help out since the soldiers took us in. If you’re looking for who is in charge, that would be Lieutenant Yao.”

“My name is Fa Mulan,” she said. “Yao’s here? I know him. Where is he?”

“I can take you to him,” Anna said. “I’m sure he’d be glad to see a friend. We’ve been trying to help but this land is very foreign to us. It’s weird.”

Mulan shrugged. “It’s all I’ve ever known,” she said. “Lead me to Yao so we can start getting to the bottom of things.”

March Madness 3: The Disney Quarterfinals Pt. 1

June 2, 2018

Once again, the opinions are mine and all four of these movies are excellent.  As we get into the nitty-gritty, I found myself needing to write more to justify my choices.  They were not easy choices.

Bracket

Lion King vs. The Princess and the Frog

As I have said before, The Lion King is an epic Shakespearean story about a son having to figure out how he can fit in his father’s footsteps. It is basically a take on Hamlet mixed with some African-styled folklore thrown in. Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Matthew Broderick play the main character as he goes from childhood to adulthood and tries to figure things out. The highlight of the film is the music by Hans Zimmer and Elton John, the latter of which departed a bit from his on-stage style to create a mix of musical-style songs, easy listening, and one big epic song. The animation is beautiful and colorful and definitely inspired legions of other animated projects as well as a brilliantly-staged musical. A tip of the hat must also go to the memorable comic relief roles of Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Rowan Atkinson, and Whoopi Goldberg. When it comes to villains, it is hard to beat Jeremy Irons as Scar. However, the story is a little too simple to win this fight as Simba does not really go on much of a journey on screen. He spends years not growing up and then rides to the rescue in the third act. I love the movie but it wraps up a little too neatly. It also tends to treat female characters more like props.

The Princess and the Frog is a lovable romp through the jazz-infused swamps and city of New Orleans. As I mentioned in the first part, there is a song by Jazz legend Dr. John. The rest of the music explores different niches of genre as it touches on different cultures in the Louisiana area. Overall, I like more songs out of this movie more. The funny thing is that they were all written by Randy Newman of all people who really stepped up his game on this one, I guess. It also felt like Princess had more story and more character development. The movie is about working hard for the good things in your life but it is also about opening your heart and letting other people help. It is about creating a good work/life balance. Tiana is such a good character that Anikka Noni Rose brings to life. She is an easy protagonist to connect to and empathize for but also realize that she is not seeing the whole picture. Many people feel that her choice at the end goes against feminist principles but it is not a weakness to accept help to get you that last bit across the finish line. On top of that, there is a great villain in Dr. Facillier who uses interesting applications of magic to do all sorts of things. He also felt a little more of a rounded character than Scar.

Lead Character: Simba’s fear turned to courage at the midnight hour loses to Princess Tiana’s journey of self-discovery

Supporting Characters: The Lion King’s goofy (but lovable) side characters lose to Princess’ hopes and dreams of their own who are also fun in their own right.

Music: Elton John did a really great job but ultimately he loses out to Dr. John and Randy Newman’s jazz/blues sampler platter.

Story: A voodoo magic plot that also involves class warfare wins over a simpler version of Hamlet with lions.

Animation: After rewatching some scenes Princess is a clear winner here as the movie actually uses several different 2D animation styles for different sequences.

Winner: The Princess and the Frog

Tangled vs. Moana

Tangled is a girl-positive version of the Rapunzel tale. Instead of depicting a story where a man must climb a tower to save a poor girl held captive, we instead get the story of a woman who uses that intervention to escape on her own. A sheltered girl goes out in the world to discover what it might hold for her. The way that Rapunzel is depicted is similar to Kimmy Schmidt as she uses her optimism as her armor in life. This is one of the earliest movies that I can remember that flipped the paradigm of the damsel in distress well. The male lead is charming and capable but Rapunzel’s skills and personality are more suited for the tasks they face. The villain is one of Disney’s most insidious villains as she tends to use psychological techniques even more than magic. It is kind of refreshing to have a villain who the main character loves even until the end of the movie. Sadly, there are not a lot of secondary characters since the two sidekicks are non-talking animals but there are some fun comic relief thugs at one point. Since they were able to hire Mandy Moore as Rapunzel, they also got a fairly accomplished pop star and subsequently went for a poppy feel for some of the music and then went with standard musical stuff for the rest. The animation is very fluid and I especially like how Rapunzel’s hair acts.

Moana is the runaway sensation about a young girl’s obsession with the sea that leads to her trying to save her people. This was Disney’s third real attempt at depicting a culture beyond something vaguely European or modern American. They failed with Pocahontas but they succeeded with Mulan. Now they decided to try and tackle a combination of various island cultures (Hawaiian, Samoan, New Zealand, etc.) that all share a common link. They were able to create a story that required the main character to fix the world both physically and emotionally. The movie is literally and figuratively a journey for everyone involved and there is so much character growth to be had. Of course, the heart of the film is newcomer Auli’i Cravalho whose voice is full of so much soul and spirit. Combined with the animator’s skills, she brought that character to life. Her journey is very emotional and easy to cheer on especially because there is no love story to distract from it. Of course, the big story here is that Lin-Manuel Miranda composed and wrote a lot of the music but he it is not often publicized that he was joined by Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa’i. The songs flow so well and the composed score adds to every moment. Finally, the secondary characters are all great. Chief among them is Dwayne Johnson doing what may be one of his most charming performances. There is also a whole cast of characters, each of which is a rounded character. The journey in Moana is just stronger as proved by the fact that I almost cry every time I hear “There You Are’.

Lead Character: This is a close one. Both Moana and Rapunzel are positive people who are trying to follow their dream. Moana wins by having a clear goal and I just love her determination and charm more.

Supporting Characters: Eugene is a fun thief but he, Maximus, Pascal, and the bar patrons lose to Maui, Grandma, Hei Hei, Grandma, and Tamatoa.

Music: Lin-Manuel and his crew win by making me cry even though Mandy Moore has a really good voice.

Story: Moana’s journey of self-discovery and world-saving happens without a love story which beats a very good but very simple adventure story.

Animation: Both are done with beautiful 3D animation but Moana is a little more fluid. It is also literally more fluid with some of the best-animated water that I have ever seen.

Winner: Moana


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