Posts Tagged ‘Tangled’

Top 11 Favorite Disney Villains Pt. 2

November 3, 2018

We now return you to regularly scheduled programming.

Top 11


5 Ursula (The Little Mermaid 1989)

Ursula was a sea witch who lived near the kingdom of Atlantica somewhere under the sea. From the looks of it, she lived on the outskirts of the kingdom where few people dared to go. She lived among the bottom feeders and decay of the ocean. She lived there because she had been banished by King Triton, the ruler of Atlantica. Her crimes are unexplained but, based on her actions during the plot of the film, she probably deserved her banishment. Even so, she has plotted her revenge against Triton for a long time. She is a practicer of magic and, like Dr. Faciler above, has great power to make magical bargains with merfolk. She is akin to a crossroads demon. Through the power of the bargain, she has been able to punish merfolk who were foolish enough to leave Atlantica to visit her. She makes magical bargains with these poor unfortunate souls and when they cannot hold up their end of the bargain, she is able to transform them into helpless sea polyps. Eventually, she targets Triton’s youngest daughter Ariel who wishes to connect with the human world. She agrees to transform Ariel into a human in order to pursue Prince Eric but she stacks the deck in her favor by taking Ariel’s voice in the bargain. Without the gift of speech, Ariel finds it more difficult to make a true connection with the object of her affection. When Ariel comes close to beating the odds, Ursula uses her magic to hypnotize Eric to win the wager. She then uses Ariel as a bargaining chip in order to take Triton’s power. Now having succeeded in her revenge, she remains petty and tries to kill Eric and Ariel and that leads to her getting killed in the tussle. If she had simply gone back to the sea and consolidated her power, she could have easily killed Ariel, Eric, and the rest of both royal families.


4 Jafar (Aladdin 1992)

Jafar was the Royal Vizier of Agrabah, a Middle Eastern-flavored land ruled over by a Sultan. In many Muslim countries, the Vizier is a high-ranking political advisor and Jafar had somehow made sure to ascend to this position. He was the Sultan’s most important adviser and he wielded great political power acting often as the Sultan’s voice. Based on what we know of the Sultan from the film, Jafar may have been the most direct cause of the disparity between economic classes in Agrabah. While it is not completely his fault, he has an obvious disdain for the working class and the poor and probably never did anything to help. He uses the country’s rules to help him manipulate the Sultan into making decisions favorable to Jafar’s plans of domination and power. His magic seems to be derived mostly from researching and obtaining enchanted objects. Eventually, his goal becomes to find the legendary Cave of Wonders where he will find a genie who will grant his wishes for the power to achieve his goals of domination. When that plan initially fails, he becomes desperate and tries to force marriage on the Sultan’s daughter, Jasmine, in order to inherit the power he wants. He uses mind control and manipulation to try to achieve that. Eventually, he successfully obtains his wishes and becomes a powerful sorcerer and seems to have more ready access to magic. He uses that to punish those he felt wronged him, damage the city, and even tries to enslave the mind of Jasmine. He tries to kill her when that does not work but he is felled at the last minute by his own hubris. Jafar always desired power and used the rules to manipulate those around him but, in the end, he was captured by somebody else’s rules.


3 Hans Westergaard (Frozen 2013)

Hans was born as the thirteenth son of the king of the Southern Isles. His family would often mistreat him and he always felt that he got lost in the shuffle when it came to the royal family. As one would expect, he was bullied by his older brothers and he felt neglected by his parents. As a result, he grew bitter and desperate for some sort of path to power so he could finally be above his brothers. The problem was that he was so low in the line of succession that he would never become king of the Southern Isles. He decided to try and marry the newly crowned queen of Arendelle, Elsa, in order to escape his position. When Elsa proved to be inaccessible, he targeted her naive younger sister Anna. He used her desperation for human contact and her storybook outlook of love to manipulate her into agreeing to marry him the first day they met. He planned to use this love as an open door to become the heir to the throne of Arendelle. His marriage proposal caused friction between the sisters and caused the Queen to curse the land into eternal winter. He used that crisis to further ingratiate himself to the citizens of Arendelle by leading relief efforts. He allowed the Duke of Weselton to drum up anti-Elsa sentiment which led to an assassination attempt on the fugitive Queen. He later decided to let Anna die, blame it on Elsa, and then execute Elsa for the crime and also to bring back summer. That plan ultimately fails as the sisters are able to reunite and refute his claims of marrying Anna and he is defeated and captured. He is sent back to his former life to be punished by his father and his brothers. In the end, he tried to escape a bad situation the wrong way and he made it worse.


2 Mother Gothel (Tangled 2010)

Gothel was a witch living alone in the wilderness when she observed a single drop of sunlight fall to the Earth. She tracked the point of impact and found a flower infused with its magic and she found that being near the flower had healing properties and stopped the aging process. She hid the flower’s existence and used its magic for hundreds of years to stay young and healthy. Eventually, the kingdom of Corona came into existence nearby and she avoided it. When the Queen of that kingdom grew deathly ill, Gothel was powerless when guards found the legendary flower and it was used to heal the Queen. The flower’s magic passed on to the Queen’s daughter, Rapunzel, and her hair gained the healing properties. Gothel decided to kidnap the baby and raise her in her tower in the wilderness in order to maintain that healing magic for herself. So, first she kept the flower a secret so that only she had access and then she kidnapped a child for the same reason. She positioned herself as Rapunzel’s mother in order to control her but never loved the child. She constantly ground Rapunzel down with passive-aggressive and sarcastic behavior and kept her isolated and ignorant. When Rapunzel convinced Flynn Rider to guide her away from the tower, Gothel was furious and desperate. She hired mercenaries to track the pair down, perfectly willing to let them harm Rapunzel and kill Flynn. Even at the end, she tried to manipulate her false daughter who was also her kidnapping victim into choosing to be re-imprisoned in exchange for Flynn’s life. She dies when Flynn does what she could never do and sacrifices the magic for somebody else’s happiness.


1 Oogie Boogie (The Nightmare Before Christmas 1993)

Obviously, the world of Halloween Town is different from ours and morality plays out a little differently. However, when it comes to Oogie Boogie, he is clearly on one side while the rest of the town is on the other side. The citizens of Halloween Town like to scare and disgust the humans of our world but none of them seem to actually want to harm anybody. Obviously, our world responds well to being scared on Halloween but not the rest of the year. However, Oogie has a different idea about Halloween and his kind of fear and desire for harm are not fun for anyone. Because of this, Oogie seems to have been banished and ostracized by the rest of Halloween Town except for his minions. He is constantly scheming to take over Halloween and he would probably make it a much darker holiday. It is obvious that he has taught his minions to be more violent than the other citizens as demonstrated in their song. If he was successful in his plans, it is sure that the world at large would suffer and humans might die. He is constantly kept in check by the presence of Jack Skellington, the only thing he seems to actually be afraid of himself. When Jack gets distracted by depression and Christmas, Oogie sees his opening and convinces his minions to give him Santa Claus. He tries to consume Santa Claus. Although it is unclear what this would have achieved, at the very least it would have at least magically damaged Christmas if not outright killing it. In the end, he was defeated (but not killed) because fear made him run from Jack and he was defeated by his carelessness.

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

March Madness 1: Disney

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”.

Interview Questions 12

March 26, 2018

If you could be a cartoon character for a week, who would you be?

I grew up on cartoons and I still watch cartoons on a weekly basis because animation is such a fun genre of television and film and the stories it is able to tell are so interesting. I immediately wondered what the question means by cartoon character. Does it just mean a character who is animated or an actual, original cartoon character? For the purposes of my answer, they are the same thing. My first inclination was to pick Bugs Bunny because he is so confident, funny, and he always succeeds somehow. However, he also is constantly getting into trouble that he has to get himself out of. That sounds like a hassle. Off the top of my head, I think I would pick Maui from Moana. With the aid of a magical artifact, I could change into different animals at will. I would also have super strength and speed. I would spend the week seeking out adventure and helping people out. That would not only be rewarding but it would also make me feel even more powerful. I assume I would be spending that week here in modern times which seems like it would be a lot of fun. Being extraordinary seems like it would be fun for a while but being able to go back to normal after a week sounds like the ideal opportunity to have my cake and eat it too.


If you could be an Olympic athlete, in what sport would you compete?

There are a ton of Olympic sports between the Summer and Winter Olympics. The Olympics are all anybody can talk about for a week or two every two years. Some of the most memorable televised moments in the world are from the Olympic Games. That right there does not appeal to me. I have never been the guy who grabs the spotlight and I do not really like performing in front of huge crowds. So, competing in a sport like ice skating, gymnastics, or any other fan favorite would be absolutely nerve-racking. Besides, a lot of those sports rely on judges who hold subjective opinions as illustrated by stuff like I, Tonya. Instead, if I had any athletic prowess, I would love to compete in one of the lesser televised sports. Judo comes to mind. Judo is a fascinating martial art that deals heavily with momentum to throw one’s opponent rather than punching and kicking. Similarly, competing in Wrestling would be fitting. I wrestled for two years back in grade school and it is a sport that requires brains, brawn, and reflexes. Both of these sports do not get as much publicized attention but both are also very prestigious sports to compete in. I think that would take a bit of the pressure away while still providing the thrill of intense competition. Proving myself in a sport like that would be amazing.


When you’re having a bad day, what do you do to make yourself feel better?

My answer for this used to be that I would eat. I remember many times where I would make up for depression with a snack or a fast food or take out meal. It really was not healthy and I am glad to have kicked the habit, especially when it comes to sugar. Anyway, now I try to pour that same emotion back into writing. Getting a lot of writing done makes me feel like I accomplished something and makes me more confident about myself even if I do not always feel like I have written well. One shot short stories often allow me to get some of the anxious emotions out of my system. I also have a long history of watching something fun to lift my spirits. I used to have go to depression movies to try and shake myself loose from my funk. Tangled, Enchanted, Ghostbusters, Twister, and many more were movies that I watched to try and get happier. Now I am more interested in watching something new but I often search out something I feel will be lighthearted and cathartic. Often, I will have it on in the background as I write. If I do not have time for either of those two things, I really like to listen to music. On the really bad days, it is great to put on hard rock or heavy metal that I know the words to and just sing my heart out. This is done in private since my singing is not so great.


What 3 famous people, living or dead, would you want at your fantasy dinner party?

This is always such an interesting question because when I think of actually meeting famous people, I get intimidated. Will they like me? Will I say something stupid? However, I have met and gotten along with plenty of people. I know how to talk to people. I should not allow myself to have that frozen feeling inside. I think the first person that I would love to have over would be Mick Foley. Foley is a former professional wrestler who moved on to become a New York Times Bestselling author and stand up comedian. The guy is highly intelligent for somebody with so many head injuries and I would love to talk pro-wrestling, writing, or whatever with him. Another fun person to have around would be Justin Roiland, one of the creators of Rick and Morty. Justin just seems so energetic and, if Rick and Morty and his other works are any indications, he is a pretty smart and funny guy. He seems like an interesting guy to joke around with or talk about science-fiction with. The final one has to be Arthur Marx aka Adolph Marx aka Harpo Marx. Harpo had a reputation for being a fascinating guy. While he never finished third grade, he was still intelligent in a lot of ways and he gained a unique perspective during his life. He was part of the Algonquin Round Table which was one of the most famous groups of talkers in history. Famously, he was the best listener in that group. I would love to talk about whatever with him and feel like we are both truly listening to each other.


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