Weekend Roundup & Review of Disney’s Maleficent

Hi everyone! Hope you had a lovely weekend. Well it’s sort of the calm before the storm as Twin Citians are bracing for the first snow storm of the year. We’re supposed to get anywhere between 6-12 inches, ugh! I ran a bunch of errands today just so I don’t have to go anywhere besides to and from work, though even THAT is gonna be quite an adventure tomorrow.

In any case, well it’s been quite a busy week for me movie-watching wise. Like many of you, I saw Interstellar on Saturday night in the AMC IMAX theatre. I’m still trying to process it, but I’m gonna try to review it this week, along with Big Hero 6. Y’know what, this time I’m agreeing w/ the critics in placing the Disney animated feature ahead of Christopher Nolan’s big space drama (91% for Big Hero Six vs 73% for Interstellar)

Friday night, my hubby and I opted for a fairy-tale reimagining that we’ve been wanting to see for some time. Boy it took forever for this movie to be available on iTunes, who knows why Disney delayed the rental release for SO long as the movie was released back in May. So here’s my review:

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As a huge fan of Sleeping Beauty, which is my favorite Disney fairy tale, I’m curious to see the backstory of Maleficent, which is also one of my fave Disney villains. The twist of the story itself is a hit and miss. I thought that the unlikely relationship between Maleficent and Aurora is interesting and also kind of hilarious. I mean before Maleficent curses Aurora to die on her 16th birthday upon pricking her finger on a spinning wheel, she also confirms one of the three good fairies’ blessing that she will grow in grace and beauty and that she’ll be loved by ALL who meets her. Well I guess that includes Maleficent herself as she can’t help to also grow to love Aurora in the end. Therein lies the issue I have w/ the plot – Maleficent isn’t so much an evil sorceress we expect from the animated version, as she never really did anything evil at all despite her vengeful quest. She’s portrayed more like a victim of the ambitious Stefan who betrays her to become King and he’s definitely the malevolent one in the story.

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That said, there are quite a few enjoyable moments to be had and Angelina Jolie is mesmerizing as Maleficent. I really can’t imagine anyone else in the role and she handles the dramatic as well as the mischievous moments brilliantly. The scene when she discovers her wings are cut off is quite heart-wrenching, but she also seems to be having fun with the more whimsical moments in the movie. The rest of the casting doesn’t fare as well, I’m so baffled why Sam Riley agrees to do the role of Diaval, Maleficent’s shape-shifting crow as it’s such a thankless role. I really thought there’ll be more to that character later on, but it never happened. Seems that all the guys in this movie are either evil or pointless, including Prince Philip, Aurora’s supposed suitor. Sharlto Copley’s plays Stefan with a sheer madness about him, consumed by paranoia and contempt against Maleficent that he seemingly forgot about his own family. I wasn’t crazy w/ Elle Fanning as Aurora, as she’s more cute than beautiful, but I guess they’re going for more an innocent girl so I warm up to her as the movie progresses. Given this is Maleficent’s story, all three gifted actresses (Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville and Juno Temple) weren’t given much to do here.

The visuals are basically a CGI extravaganza, which is not surprising given first-time director Robert Stromberg worked extensively in the visual effects department most of his career. The flying sequences are great to look at and there are some beautiful scenery and set pieces. That said, I’m still partial to the animated version from 1959 with its hand-drawn illustrations. Even by today’s standards, I’m still in awe how lush and beautiful it is. I like that the movie pays homage to the original in some ways though. Per IMDb, Jolie apparently insisted that the dialogue in Aurora’s christening sequence has to be written word-by-word and based exactly from the original animated film because she feels that it was the main core and setup of the entire film.

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So overall I think this is a decent film if you’re willing to accept the reimagining of the fairy tale classic for what it is. The ending is kind of predictable and the ‘true love’ aspect seems to be borrowing from Frozen from a year before. But if you want to see this for Jolie’s performance as Maleficent, she certainly doesn’t disappoint.

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Have you seen Maleficent, well what did you think?

Music Break: Top 10 Disney Princess Songs

Can’t believe I haven’t made this post sooner as I grew up with Disney Princess movies. But thanks to Cinema Parrot Disco who put up her fave Disney songs last week, I thought I should do the same.

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So this list is limited to the Princess Movies, otherwise I’d have included The Lion King‘s Circle of Life & Can You Feel the Love Tonight, as well as Hercules’ Go the Distance and Tarzan’s You’ll Be In My Heart. That last one by Phil Collins never fails to make me tear up as the lyric’s so beautiful. I’m also excluding Pixar films, otherwise I’d have included Brave‘s Touch the Sky on here.

It’s REALLY tough to narrow it down to just 10 but here we go (in order of the movie’s release):

Heigh-ho – Snow White (1937)

I actually love the songs by the seven dwarves more than those sung by Snow White. This one is just so chirpy and fun to sing along to!


A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes – Cinderella (1950)

Ok so the part where the birds and mice are singing along are pretty silly but I find it endearing. The song has such a dreamy quality about it that’s lush and lovely.


Once Upon A Dream – Sleeping Beauty (1959)

I love this song so much I’ve dedicated a Sleeping Beauty’s Music Break post for it a few years ago. Based in Tchaikovsky‘s ballet, this song still sounds fresh even today. I like how the originally perky song is made darker and sexier in the Lana Del Rey’s rendition for Maleficent coming this May. I’m including both versions below:


Part of That World – Little Mermaid (1989)

I remember being so moved by this film as a kid. What teenager doesn’t want to be someone else sometimes, but Ariel’s plight seems more than a flight of fancy. I really feel for her and her desire to be part of our world and this song still gets me teary-eyed.


Kiss the Girl – Little Mermaid (1989)

I LOVE LOVE Sebastian, the adorable red crab voiced by Samuel E. Wright. I even owned the stuffed animal as a kid! This one deservedly won the Oscar for Best Original Song. I just love the Calypso/Afro-Caribbean music style used here, it’s such a whimsical and jovial tune!


Something There – Beauty & The Beast (1991)

I’ve made a Beauty & the Beast Music Break post of this one as well. It never fails to make me all gooey inside every time I listen to it.


A Whole New World – Aladdin (1992)

Anything by frequent Disney composer/lyricist Alan Menken &  Tim Rice is usually a recipe for gold. This one won Best Original Song at the Oscar. I actually prefer the Brad Kane and Lea Salonga rendition instead of the Peabo Bryson/Regina Belle version.


Colors of the Wind – Pocahontas (1995)

Oscars seems to get a lot of their picks right when it comes to songs, this is yet another Best Original Song winner by you guessed it, Alan Menken! I love both the Judy Kuhn version in the film, as well as Vanessa Williams’ cover. Great melody and poetic lyrics I love listening to year after year.


I See The Light – Tangled (2010)

For some odd reason I always burst into sobs every time I watch this! I love Tangled and this emotionally-charged lantern sequence is by far my favorite scene. This unabashedly sweet and romantic love song between Rapunzel and Flynn is classic Disney. It’s Menken’s magic once again, featuring the voice of Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi who’s a surprisingly good singer!


For the First Time in Forever – Frozen (2013)

Let It Go is likely to nab Best Original Song at the Oscars this Sunday, but it’s actually not my favorite tune from the movie. THIS is the one I love most and the scene as its played in the movie is so much fun! I actually prefer Kristen Bell’s voice to Idina Menzel’s for some reason.


HONORABLE MENTION:

In Summer – Frozen (2013)


What do you think of my picks? Let me know YOUR own favorite Disney Princess songs!

Music Break: Sleeping Beauty – Once Upon A Dream

I was driving home the other day and heard Tchaikovsky’s ballet score The Sleeping Beauty and almost instinctively started humming away. It’s such as highly infectious score that you’d be hard pressed NOT to hum to its waltz-like theme after you listen to it. I adore Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, the music is such an integral part of why I adore that movie so much. From the beginning of the movie with Hail to the Princess Aurora all the way to the finale, it’s filled with beautiful melody. Mary Costa, who’s also a professional opera singer, lent the voice of Princes Aurora/Briar Rose.

The feature itself is fantastic, it’s by far one of the best hand-drawn animation with its vibrant colors and detailed texture, an impressive feat given it was done back in 1959. It has such a timeless quality even compared to today’s sophisticated CGI animation. Tangled, which is a contemporary take on the Princess fairy tale genre looks pretty good, though it remains to be seen if it’ll be regarded as a Disney classic like this one.

I’m taking a bit of a blogging break today so I thought I’d share my favorite scene from the movie – Once Upon A Dream:

Disney’s Princess flicks certainly got some truly memorable songs. If I were to list my top five, it probably goes like this:

  1. Sleeping Beauty‘s Once Upon A Dream
  2. Cinderella‘s A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes
  3. Little Mermaid‘s Part of Your World & Kiss The Girl (tie)
  4. Beauty & The Beast‘s Something There
  5. Pocahontas‘ Color of the Wind

What’s your favorite song from Disney’s animated feature?

31 Days Movie Meme Day #13: Favorite animated movie

I grew up watching Disney Princesses flicks, so to this day I always have a fondness for animated movies. Well, as I mentioned in my Films That Define Us post, one of the movies that left a lasting impression on me is Sleeping Beauty. But I’ve grown out of the fairy tale love story stuff and have since embraced pretty much everything Pixar has to offer, hence my top five Pixar characters list.

Suffice to say, it’s virtually impossible to pick just ONE favorite animated flick. As rules are meant to be broken, I’m going to list FIVE of them instead, as I shared in Peter’s Gimme 5 post series:

  1. Sleeping Beauty
    Gorgeous visuals, beautiful music (I still hum Once Upon a Dream from time to time), enchanting story, memorable villain. What else would you ask for? Briar Rose remains my favorite Princess to this day. The quintessential Disney masterpiece I can enjoy for years to come.
  2. Chicken Run
    It’s technically a stop-motion animation using clay figures, I adore the look of the movie. Based on the movie The Great Escape set in WWII POW camp, Ginger and her friends are imprisoned in the Tweedys chicken farm. Well-written and witty, this movie is pure fun and heartwarming. It even makes me feel a bit guilty eating a chicken sandwich afterward 🙂
  3. The Little Mermaid
    I LOVE Ariel! As far as princesses go, she’s by far one of the most relatable as she is like a typical teenager, giggly and naive… and who hasn’t had a major crush on a guy so much you’re willing to give up everything to be with him? I actually had a bit of a crush on Eric, too. Yeah I know he’s a cartoon but that’s how good this movie is! 🙂 Plus, there’s that adorable lobster friend Sebastian. Oh, and the music, especially Kiss the Girl and Under the Sea, absolute classic and downright entertaining!
  4. Beauty & The Beast
    A classic story with a timeless appeal. Disney REALLY upped the ante with this movie, too. The production quality and the dramatic camera movement, especially in the dance sequence in the chandelier-ed ballroom, was at the time, quite innovative and breathtaking to behold. As with any Disney flicks, the supporting characters are fun to watch, but never distracts us from the heart of the love story.
    ….
  5. Wall-E
    I never would’ve thought I’d enjoy a story about a mute little robot working in the trash department in a post-apocalyptic world. But Pixar’s genius is in creating such a sympathetic character that my eyes were hardly dry throughout the entire movie. I don’t just like this movie, I LOVE it. There’s a believable and sweet love story in this, too. Trust me, it’s even more affecting than the human version in a lot of those banal rom-coms!

    Honorable mentions:
    Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., Toy Story 3, The Lion King, A Bug’s Life, and all Disney Princesses movies! 🙂

So, what about you? What are some animated movies that tickle your fancy?

Films That Define Us Blog-a-Thon

Marc from Go-See-Talk invited a bunch of movie bloggers to take a trip down memory lane to list movies that ‘define’ our taste in movies. The films in question are those I saw at a young age and the ones I constantly refer back to as ‘classics.’ Not having grown up in America, I didn’t have as much access to movies when I was a kid, so without a doubt my taste was highly influenced by what my late mother exposed me to. In fact, three of the movies listed here I saw with my family before I could barely speak/understand much English, so she had to translate most of the story for me. I’ve since gone back and re-watched them as adults, and found that they are still as enjoyable and meaningful to me then as they did before. I will forever treasure these movies for years to come!

  1. My Fair Lady (1964)

    This is the movie that made me adore Audrey Hepburn. I was in awe by her beauty and grace, even when she was playing a lowly flower girl who encountered a misogynistic and snobbish phonetics professor Higgins and his buddy Col. Pickering one fateful night. It’s a fairy-tale musical, with wonderful tunes, affecting performances and whimsical scenes that stay with you for years (who could forget Eliza yelling “Come on, Dover, move yer bloomin’ arse!” and the lady next to her fainted!). George Cukor’s masterpiece is truly one of Hollywood’s best musicals, though this movie easily transcend just one genre, it’s a comedy/romance/drama that will delight anyone of all ages.

    On a related note, I know Hollywood’s still circling the remake of this, last I heard John Madden might take the helm with possibly Carey Mulligan as Eliza? Well, I think Alan Rickman might make a great Professor Higgins wouldn’t you think? He’s got that pompous air about him (a la Professor Snape in Harry Potter) and that voice… I wouldn’t mind him as my phonetic teacher! 😀
  2. Gone with the Wind (1939)

    Interestingly enough, George Cukor almost directed this movie, but a dispute with the shrewd but brash legendary producer David O’Selznick dismissed him from the production. Is this a chick flick? Even Clark Gable himself reportedly dislike his most famous movie, calling it a ‘woman’s picture.’ Well, I never see it that way the many times I’ve seen this movie, I’ve always regarded it as an epic drama. The first time I saw this, despite my mother translating it extensively, I had no idea what it was about, yet it didn’t stop me from being dazzled by it… and Rhett Butler 🙂 For the life of me I could not figure out what it was that Scarlett see in Ashley, and upon repeated viewings later I just figure that the only reason she was crazy for him was because she couldn’t have him. The production, the costume, the sets, one iconic scene after another, everything about this movie is done in a grand scale. A quintessential classic in every sense of the word, one might dislike this movie, but it’s hard to dispute its key place in the history of cinema. On a related note, here’s my Top Five Favorite GWTW scenes.
  3. The Sound of Music (1965)

    Another musical that sets the bar for future movies decades later, this movie never cease to delight me. It has become ‘my favorite things’ I’ll treasure forever. It’s hard not to be dazzled by the lush opening scene, the highly uplifting Reverend Mother’s Climb Every Mountain, cheerful Do-re-mi, patriotic Edelweiss and the romantic Something Good. I seriously think this movie is extremely tough to remake, so I hope Hollywood would never attempt no matter how dry their creativity well is. The musical genre is a tough one to do well at (I mean look at Nine that even all those actresses and Daniel Day-Lewis could not save), which makes Robert Wise’s masterpiece all the more impressive. The music is as much the star of this movie as Julie Andrews, but Christopher Plummer and all seven kids deliver wonderful performances to support the inspired screenplay and top-notch direction.

  4. Superman: The Movie (1978)

    I’ve mentioned several times that this is the first movie I saw a the theater… and I think I’ve gone more than once. I remember my uncle finally buying me the VHS as I kept renting it over and over again. This is probably what makes me love the superhero genre, so even if the technology looks dated now, it’s got all the ingredients that makes this one stand the test of time: the perfect actor to play Superman, a rousing score and epic, memorable scenes that truly made us believe that yes, a man can fly! To this day, Hollywood still has yet to capture the indelible charm that the first Superman movie had. The inspiring John Williams’ score is pretty much the only thing intact in Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, but not much else comes close to matching the beauty of this classic superhero movie.
    >>
    This chopper scene is one of my faves of all time, never fails to get me clapping and cheering as I watched it 🙂  As I said in that post, Christopher Reeve will always be Superman in my heart, inimitable and unrivaled to this day.
  5. Sleeping Beauty (1959)

    This wasn’t the first Disney Princess’ flicks I saw, but it’s one I still love to this day. I used to doodle as a kid which often got me sent to detention, and I remember always using Princess Aurora as my model. I thought the illustrations were so beautiful then, but as I just watched it not too long ago, I was still dazzled by it. The colors are so vivid and gorgeous, and I love Mary Costa’s voice as the Princess, easily one of Disney’s best voice work. I also love the fact that Prince Philip has a bit more screen time than the other love interests in previous Princess’ flicks. And who can forget one of the best Disney villains, the self-proclaimed Mistress of all Evil, who’s as graceful as she is sinister. Reportedly, Tim Burton and Angelina Jolie are interested in a spin-off adaptation of the evil queen. In any case, though the sub-genre of Animated Princess Movies might not be as popular these days, this stands as at the top of that genre.
    ….
  6. Ben-Hur (1959)

    If you read my blog long enough, you’d know how much I LOVE Gladiator. I guess you could say that Ben Hur is the reason I have a penchant for swords and sandals epic. The first time I saw this, I was not only dazzled by the visual effects and grandiose scale of this movie, but I was tremendously moved by the story as well. It’s a fictional story of a Jewish prince falsely imprisoned and came back with a vengeance, intertwined with a true story of the King of Kings who was also falsely sent to His death but came back to forgive. There isn’t many movies out there that moved me as much as this one, two of the scenes in particular are on this list. Even with all the advanced CGI technology of the movies today, the chariot race scene is still a tough one to match! I have not yet seen the TV adaptation, but from what I heard/read so far, it’s nowhere close to this masterpiece on so many levels.

So that’s my list of films that defined me. So what about you?