REVIEW: The Lion King [1994]

Remember who you are. The sun rises at the screen’s bottom as Lebo M. is heard singing in Zulu. We take a look at the wide-open expanse of an African savannah before slowly honing in on herds of animals moving towards a single spot: Pride Rock. There we find Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and Sarabi (Madge Sinclair) resting with new lion cub Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) as trusted allies Zazu the hornbill (Rowan Atkinson) and Rafiki the baboon (Robert Guillaume) arrive to offer their services for what’s to be a…

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REVIEW: Aladdin [1992]

We’ve all got swords. I forgot how refreshingly simple Aladdin is. Disney and Pixar utilize such elaborate narrative set-ups today that their films don’t rely on charm and fun alone anymore. That’s not to say this one does since its ability to put its hero and heroine on equal footing rather than blindly relegating the latter into mere “love interest” status is very effective for this era. But you wouldn’t be blamed for having a good time with Robin Williams‘ manic impressions regardless of the plot his larger-than-life presence augments…

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REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast [2017]

“Now find it in your mind’s eye and feel it in your heart” This latest Disney epoch consisting of live action remakes/re-imaginings of their classic animated tales has the studio utilizing a few different creative motivations. The best has thus far has been their ability to find ways to create something wholly new and better from the blueprints of those that didn’t age well (The Jungle Book‘s basic sing-along and Pete’s Dragon‘s archaic values). Then there’s the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” school with Cinderella wherein the filmmakers…

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REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast [1991]

“There may be something there that wasn’t there before” The fairy tale Beauty and the Beast is so perfectly suited for the Disney princess treatment that it’s shocking they didn’t do one until 1991. Crafted to provide young girls a metaphor for the arranged marriages many of them would inevitably be a part of in 18th century France (Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve wrote the first version with Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont soon streamlining it into what we know today), its trajectory became one of the idyllic fantasy of raising one’s…

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REVIEW: Alice Through the Looking Glass [2016]

“Everyone parts with everything eventually, my dear” Now that the whole “should we reboot or create a sequel or just go ahead and do both at once” debacle is over thanks to Tim Burton‘s misguided Alice in Wonderland, maybe Disney’s desire to create an imaginative and surprisingly dark franchise of the absurd could find creative merit to match its insane billion dollar gross. This is because the filmmakers (Linda Woolverton returns as screenwriter with James Bobin taking over the director’s chair) have acquired the latitude to think outside the box…

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REVIEW: Maleficent [2014]

“Goodbye, Beastie” Let’s be honest, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty is a bit of a bore. I remember my sister often wanting to watch when we were kids and me having none of it until the end’s fire and brimstone and menacing dragon spawned from the tale’s creepy, wide-smiling villain. Did I understand the fairy’s reason for cursing the princess? No. I’m not quite sure I realized the political ramifications of her baby shower invite getting lost in the mail until it was explained to me last night after watching Maleficent—the Mouse…

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REVIEW: Frozen [2013]

“Conceal it. Don’t feel it.” Over half a century in the making, Disney’s adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen has finally made it to the big screen. It was 1943 when Walt Disney and Samuel Goldwyn decided to co-create a live-action/animation hybridized biography of the Danish author—an idea that stalled due to their inability to bring the aforementioned fairy tale and The Little Mermaid to life. While Disney of course figured out the latter in 1989, the former continuously proved troublesome as it failed to come together in…

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