Let’s face it, I really suck at updating this website. Something about how I would rather be watching The Flash or Supergirl on CW or eating lobsterthermidor in my pajamas:
Anyway, I suppose I have a real “job” (actually two), but I still enjoy writing about movies so much. Besides, I imagine hardly anything happened while I wasn’t doing this.
What in the holy windstorm? This is not right and I will boycott his death – #NotMyCorpse
Well that sort of puts a damper on things. One of my top favorite actors dies of complications from surgery. There are not supposed to be complications, that’s why it’s performed by a real licensed surgeon. Rest in Peace Mr. Paxton, you’re where tornadoes, aliens, or Kevin Bacon can’t get you. Well, there isn’t anything that could possibly make me feel better after that bit of news.
Oh, a new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 trailer. And I know that James Gunn didn’t invent the trailer with a catchy song played over it (in case you were wondering, this time it’s Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’), but until he did the first Guardians of the Galaxy trailer. We were introduced to misfits, Chris Pratt, and “a bunch of a-holes” while the tune of Blue Swede’s ‘Hooked on a feeling’ was burrowing inside of our ears like a disgusting vagina monster.
Like I said, that trailer didn’t break any new ground, but I don’t believe we’d have a sequel (let alone Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and a freaking INFINITY WAR AVENGER’S FILM) if it wasn’t for that trailer. I know Iron Man was what started this whole Marvel (then Disney) train, but since when did Robert Downey Jr. help spawn this:
The rest of the beautiful trailer is guns, gadgets, one-liners, cute tree creatures, and Kurt Russell doing his best visual impression of Jeff Bridges:
Of course it looks incredible and no one is likely to miss Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but in the worst segue ever, it’ll never win an Oscar.
That was the big news was that of all the critically acclaimed films nominated for Best Picture, Bonnie and Clyde themselves, stole the Oscar and gave it to La La Land. We don’t know if Faye Dunaway (Bonnie) or Warren Beatty (Clyde) did it on purpose , but La La Land wasn’t the winner. Come to find out that Moonlight actually won the Oscar for Best Picture. And in the classiest move since The Queen Tweeted to her Country last year, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz announced that the real winner was Moonlight.
My personal choice would have been Hidden Figures, but honestly, I only saw one of the other films that were nominated, so in this case, you really shouldn’t take this film reviewer’s opinion (although Hidden Figures really is amazing). While the Academy is still science fiction adverse (umm, Arrival), I had my own personal “Best Picture” in 2016…
In 1977, the world at large was introduced to a beautiful and bright eyed 19-year-old girl in the science fiction/fantasy saga known as Star Wars. There were many beloved figures in that film and the subsequent sequels, prequels, and even cartoons, but to many, none shown so bright as a star than Carrie Fisher. Today, December 27th, 2016, that starlight has vanished when, after a heart attack just a few days ago, she passed away.
Like many of you, and myself, this will be a heartbreaking affair. Not only did we love Carrie Fisher and her work, but have grown up knowing her as Princess Leia. There are a few things about her work that some forget to acknowledge and even admire. As I was not born yet, but raised on the Disney Princesses, I had an idea of what a Princess should be. Looking back at the Star Wars films as an adult, Carrie Fisher and the writers had already re-imagined what a Princess should be and absolutely what they could be.
I don’t have many words as this is a close loss of an actor as I’ve seen in a while and at the age of 60, Carrie was relatively young. I do want to draw your attention to a few things that Carrie loved and cared about over the years and perhaps you’ll get a glimpse of her as a person.
Her latest book, The Princess Diarist, which can be purchased here, show another side of the actress we all grew up loving. Carrie’s struggle with addiction and mental illness made her respected in the acting community as she was willing to speak open and honestly about what so many of us have have struggled with through the years. I believe her having the courage to be self-deprecating and share her pain is something that should be admired. She was an active advocate of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and if you feel the need to share something with the Princess you loved, go there are donate so that so many can benefit from their, and her, support.
Other than her charities and causes, Carrie Fisher had a few true loves in her life. One being her daughter, Billie Catherine Lourd, who actually had a brief cameo appearance in The Force Awakens. Then there was Gary Fisher, her pet dog who was there with her everywhere she went and stayed by her side til the end. And when she took Gary as her date to the premier of The Force Awakens, it was a love that all could see and easily identify with due to their own love of their pets. I’m sure we will all mourn for her, but pet parents will know that Gary, who has his own Instagram page, will be particularly lost without his mother.
There are not many things left to say about the great Carrie Fisher, but I hope that you were able to learn a little more about the person behind the Princess who stole our hearts so many years ago. You will be missed Carrie Fisher and we here at IWTMM thank you for your contribution to film and to society as a whole.
Morning Bleary-Eyed fans, hope everyone had an excellent weekend…well, at least better than Sony did with the new Ghostbusters film. Only have time for a quick recap of last weekend’s Box Office results, but I really have to apologize for the lack of posts recently and of course I want to spend just a moment to mourn all the lives lost in the past few weeks. I love films more than a lot of things, but escapism right now feels, I don’t know, wrong. Especially when so many are suffering. Now I don’t want to speak for anyone other than myself (Manchicken has his own opinions), and it’ll be quick. So just as simple as it can be: Black Lives Matter, White Lives Matter, All Minority Lives Matter, and NO ONE deserves to die at the hand of another other, absolute extreme circumstances notwithstanding.
Also, to keep in the spirit with the subject of the website, but honestly, they had the answer to the future’s woe’s back in 1989. It was in a slacker time travel comedy that starred a young Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, called Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure:
“Wait, wait, wait…slow down now I say.” Why in the name of Stephen Spielberg remake The Jungle Book. And just to sate curiosity, they actually do mean a remake of the beloved animated film from 1967. This is Disney after all and they have been making it a bit of their MO recently: remake old animated features into live action adaptations, some good:
And some not so good:
So, it’s come to this Disney. You took the remake/reboot wagon to new heights and then made it skydive. Well, I have one thing to say to you about your precious new Jungle Book live action film: how did you make it so good?
First of all, I’m all for remakes. I don’t care, if I loved the film before, and Hollywood remakes it now, I either get to laugh at it and remember how good the original still is or I get to see it through new eyes and be surprised by the unique take a director or actor has done to my loved film. Of course the bottom line is that Hollywood is out of ideas so they’re just hoping all the people that saw the film originally in theaters are dead now. I mean, after almost 80 years, I think it’s okay to retread a little bit of ground:
But, now that I think of it…
Okay, so Disney is taking their classics and remaking them with today’s technology. In the case of The Jungle Book, director Jon Favreau (the guy that pretty much made the Marvel Cinematic Universe possible) used cutting edge animation to make the most believable CGI characters I’ve ever seen. There is even a question of if the film will compete as an animated feature instead of the typical “live action” films in Award Season. I’m reasonably tech savvy myself, but what those artists and Weta did is something unlike I’ve ever seen. Right there, it’s worth the price of admission.
After you’re done gawking at the realistic animals actually talking to the new actor, Neel Sethi (Mowgli), you then have to listen to who is talking. Voice work is where it get’s a little sticky for me. For a while, animation voice work was done by relative nobody actors or some that just had a natural talent at voice work and eventually became completely iconic:
But then Dreamworks had success with Shrek in 2001 with Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy headlining the film. First time I can remember that an animated feature actually billed the actors playing a role. Well, that’s not quite true:
Nevertheless, once Myers and Murphy headlined Shrek, every animated feature had to have Hollywood stars doing voice work, whether they could or not. This was not a problem in the least for The Jungle Book. Being told the tale by the amazing Ben Kingsley as Bagheera the panther, laughing it up with Bill “Freaking” Murray as the lovable lazy bear Baloo, or just being plain freaked out and comforted by Scarlett Johansson’s boa constrictor Kaa. These actors didn’t just phone in a lazy script. They made their mark on the characters, and yes, I thought of the animals just as real as Mowgli. Usually you can hear the voice and see the actor’s face, but Favreau went to great lengths to gather a cast of professional actors to bring more life into his CGI world.
I skipped two names up there. The first one, Idris Elba as the vicious tiger Shere Khan, who basically took an entire jungle hostage for the sake of revenge, was terrifying. Not one moment did he not sound menacing, in charge, and lethal. I’m now convinced that Elba should be available at all times so parents can have him call unruly children and calmly speak until their pants are full.
Hell, I bet it would even work on adults:
The other name I left off was someone that absolutely stole the show every second his character was on screen. Christopher Walken portrayed the devious (and humongous) King Louie the Orangutan, and oh yeah, they let him sing. Walken’s “I Wan’na Be Like You” started off as a discussion with Mowgli and soon took off like a bullet from a gun. His talents were absolutely perfect. Dancing, singing, and totally creeping everyone out. I have no doubt in my mind that Walken didn’t audition for the part, he simply came in took it over. There is not enough words of joy to describe his performance.
The only downfall in Favreau’s The Jungle Book is that it is a remake and thus no surprises in the story. It’s not even a “The original was better” argument, it was just the same. Sure, they added more adult dialog and changed a couple scenes up, but it was still the same Jungle Book I remember from when I was a kid. That’s the trap you have with a remake or a reboot: if you don’t make it different enough while still using the same framework, you’ve pretty much already lost. We’ve seen it happen with multiple films, and unfortunately the best example of a remake/reboot giving better life to the source material would be 2010’s True Grit. While tons of people will argue that there is no one better than John Wayne in a Western Film, seeing “The Dude” bring Rooster Cogburn to whole new levels and satisfactorily bringing in crowds for a Western film…in 2010! So, yeah, it sucks, but unless you’re Jeff Bridges getting drunk, you can’t escape this aspect of a remake.
Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version:
The Jungle Book took almost every fear away from being it being a remake. It was truly an adaptation. Showcasing probably the best CGI I have seen to date which allows a talented director and a myriad of stellar actors to move and breathe just as if it was all real. No surprise in the story, but it won’t matter when you here this:
I honestly had a real plan for this article. It was going to be a week long event in which we had guest writers discussing things like #OscarsSoWhite, how terrible the panel is due to ridiculous rules, eligibility, and voting, but I just can’t seem to care enough about the award show to make a real effort at posting something profound.
In lieu of an article about how awful the Oscars have become (and pretty much always have been), I’m going to go over some of the major categories and see if we can find something of interest somewhere among them to talk about.
Academy Award for Best Actress
First off, I really don’t like the fact that we still distinguish between “Actresses” and “Actors” via gender. They are all actors and should be treated as such. In my opinion, we should really put Jennifer Lawrence (nominated this year for the movie Joy) up against Eddie Redmayne (nominated for his (her?) performance in The Danish Girl) or Matt Damon (nominated for The Martian). If you’ve seen Joy, you know it’s no where near the caliber of her past performances (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, etc.), but it’s still a well put together movie and for her part, she does everything right and again, showcases an immense amount of talent.
Anyway, there are other actors (yes, screw the word Actress) that are nominated as well, here is a quick round up:
Cate Blanchett, in Carol Aird, as Carol
Brie Larson, in Room, as Joy “Ma” Newsome
Jennifer Lawrence, in Joy, as Joy Mangano
Charlotte Rampling, in 45 Years, as Kate Mercer
Saoirse Ronan, in Brooklyn, as Eilis Lacey
IWTMM’s Prediction: Jennifer Lawrence
Of course it has to be Jennifer Lawrence. Everyone loves her (she is really seemingly charming by all accounts) and if the panel even recognized any other actor’s name in that pile, then I would be surprised. Just give her another one, let her trip on the stairs or her dress *cue laughter* and a “surprised” winning speech.
IWTMM’s “Who Should Have Won”: Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Seriously, you’ve likely seen Mad Max: Fury Road, the other nominations, not too likely. If you have (or even if you haven’t), Charlize Theron kicks so much ass in two hours than all the “Action Stars” of the 80’s combined. I totally think she should go all Kanye West on the Winner.
Academy Award for Best Actor
I believe they add, “in a Leading Role” to this title, but I don’t really care (that’s going to be a theme during this whole article). Let’s take a look at our powder-white nominees:
Bryan Cranston, in Trumbo, as Dalton Trumbo
Matt Damon, in The Martian, as Mark Watney
Leonardo DiCaprio, in The Revenant, as Hugh Glass
Michael Fassbender, in Steve Jobs, as Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, in The Danish Girl, as Lili Elbe / Einar Wegener
IWTMM’s Prediction: Leonardo DiCaprio
Leo has been passed over for this award in four separate years. They skipped a year between nominating him so it didn’t look too suspicious, but I believe DiCaprio has been thoroughly snubbed. It likely doesn’t make any difference to him. Did you see what he got to do in The Wolf of Wall Street?
I mean, come on, you think Leo cares? Does he want to win, probably, it’s seemingly a big deal to these Hollywood types. But if a little gold statue is more important than the millions he rakes in for almost every film he does, then I really think the “art” in film is moot.
Academy Award for Best….
You know what, I really don’t give a crap. The Oscars are horrible. The monologue is obnoxious and no matter who wins, someone is going to be upset. I don’t even have enough apathy to finish this article.
IWTMM’s Prediction for Best Director: Adam McKay for The Big Short
IWTMM’s Prediction for Best Picture: The Big Short
Seriously, I don’t care. The Big Short was a phenomenal movie with excellent actors, a horrifying reality, and was honestly both entertaining and filmed very well. It’s on the “Unicorn List”. It’s both entertaining and “Critically” acclaimed. So, for my money, it’s going to come out the winner, but I really don’t care. The whole thing is just a big Hollywood circlejer…….
…..and that’s all I have to say about that. At least I get to see Zootopia next weekend.
I don’t have kids. That’s Manchicken’s job. He’s got three boys that are probably the coolest little monsters I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Regardless of the lack of Darkmovienight offspring (seriously, the world is better off), I absolutely love animated comedies. Some of the absolute best films of all time are animated comedies and we owe it all to just a few people and studios: Disney, Pixar, Don Bluth, and Dreamworks. Now I know I’m likely missing out on a few key people (Steve Jobs and George Lucas had a LOT to do with the creation of Pixar), but as I see it, those studios and Mr. Bluth are the reasons we have cinematic gems like Kung Fu Panda 3.
Despite my unhealthy enjoyment of children’s movies (this doesn’t hurt since Mrs. Darkmovienight and I only have the attention span of 90 minutes anyway), I can still spot a good one, a classic, or just a disaster. Sadly in today’s age, we’re only given those options. For every Toy Story, there are at least four Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. Now to kids, this really doesn’t make much of a difference. I’ve seen some misses where the kids in the audience don’t even laugh (see last year’s The Good Dinosaur), but typically they’ll enjoy anything colorful you put them in front of for an hour and a half.
All of the mediocre children’s entertainment out there, it is extremely refreshing and relieving that Dreamworks decided to make a quality animated trilogy based on a Kung Fu Panda. In almost all regards, these films shouldn’t work. But somehow, they took a ridiculous idea, one of the largest, clumsiest, and cutest animals out there and turn them into an amazing warrior, sticking Jack Black’s voice in the titular character, and then unleashing it upon the cinematic world. Well, in 2008 the first Kung Fu Panda was introduced to the public and collected about $215M from the Domestic box office. Was it the star power? Sure, you had Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Jackie Chan, and the immortal Dustin Hoffman, but those names meant nothing to the kids. Nah, what you had was an excellent premise, fun looking slapstick action, and of course, a touching story of becoming more than you thought you could ever be.
Well, eight years from the original Kung Fu Panda, Dreamworks releases the third (and hopefully final) chapter to this epic tale of inner peace, humor, kicking butt, and of course…noodles & dumplings. If they choose to end the franchise right here and right now, then I believe Dreamworks will have succeeded in making one of the most complete trilogies in film during the modern era of animation.
If you’re not familiar with the Kung Fu Panda franchise, let me give you the nickle recap. A lowly Panda named Po, voiced by Jack Black has an utter obsession with Kung Fu and the protectors of the valley in which he lives: The Furious Five. These heroes of Kung Fu consist of Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Lui), Crane (David Cross), and Monkey (Jackie Chan). They’re also under the tutelage of Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman).
In the first film, an important ceremony is held in which the Elderly Master Oogway (a tortoise voiced by Randall Duk Kim who is a relative unknown, but tied to many martial arts films), chooses “The Dragon Warrior”. Prophesies and such as they are, point to The Dragon Warrior mastering Kung Fu, saving the Valley, and bringing the neurotic Master Shifu “Inner Peace”. Through several slapstick moments and the usual cartoon foolery, Po accidentally interrupts the ceremony and is chosen as The Dragon Warrior to everyone’s disbelief. Two things then stand out from this film: acceptance of yourself and not judging a Panda by his belly. Shifu eventually trains Po in the ways of Kung Fu through Po’s exceptional appetite. The main antagonist, Tai Lung (voiced by the insanely good Ian McShane) is defeated by Po as the Dragon Warrior by not only using Kung Fu, but his true abilities: his bouncy stomach and a lot of luck. Oh and an amazing and advanced Kung Fu technique called the “Wuxi Finger Hold”. Shown below the Wuxi Finger Hold is what equates to the Kung Fu version of “The Nuclear Option”.
At any rate, Kung Fu Panda succeeded on all levels: animation, storytelling, character development, comedy, action, and a well tuned lesson to both children and adults. Not to mention the absolutely jaw-dropping escape of Tai Lung from his prison in a mountain. Not only is it possibly the best animated fight scene I’ve ever seen, but it truly blows you away with gorgeous animation and A-FREAKING-MAZING audio. I just have to show it, see below.
Kung Fu Panda 2 followed a lot of the same plot and of course added 3D, another prophecy, and the villain, Shen, voiced by Gary Oldman (which is again a step up from so many other animated films). This prophecy was about how a warrior of “White and Black” would eventually defeat Shen and save all of China. Shen attempts panda genocide and Po goes all Moses in a radish basket. It ends much the same way with good action, some pretty funny dialogue, and excellent animation. Still, it falls into the dreaded “Sophomore Slump” and doesn’t exactly have the most vibrant life from the first movie.
The first two films in the series do great jobs of everything discussed, but Kung Fu Panda 3 does something even more special: it ends a series well. Again, this is so rare that you just have to admire Dreamworks for finishing strong. It really did come full circle. If you watched the first two, there are so many jokes that have continued throughout the entire series and they find their way into the third iteration with ease.
As far as the animation, it was beautiful, but I’ll be honest that it seems we’ve hit a plateau for computer generated animated features. I honestly don’t know what is the next jump, but it’ll likely be about water, hair or grass…so we probably won’t even notice.
Again, taking Kung Fu Panda as an entire connected trilogy, you definitely see the growth of every main character (Dustin Hoffman’s consistent exasperation with Po learning complicated Kung Fu concepts that should take years is kinda brilliant). Along with the characters that have grown well over the past few movies, the story continues to be stellar. If you’ve seen the trailer, then you know Po attempts to train other pandas in the ways of Kung Fu. Not only does this concept bring the series full circle, as Po teaches them Kung Fu that fits each of the other pandas’ skills, just as Shifu did for him in the first movie. I really loved that symmetry.
While the first few films dealt with prophecies, Kung Fu Panda 3 concerns itself with legends. This an important distinction and one of the reasons why I feel it was brilliant and will ultimately end the Kung Fu adventures of Po. The latest baddie is Kai, again, voiced by the phenomenal J.K. Simmons, is out to take over all of Kung Fu and conquer China. Only the Dragon Warrior can stand in his way.
My only hope is that Dreamworks quits while it is ahead. I’m sure that everyone went and saw Kung Fu Panda 3 this week, so it made money. I just really want them to be smart and let this film be the end. I know there will be HUGE temptations to keep going, but there are plenty of examples that show why a franchise shouldn’t go too long (I’m looking at you Pirates of the Caribbean franchise).
Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version:
Kung Fu Panda 3 succeeded on all levels just like the first film: slick animation, compelling storytelling, true character development over three films, comedy with tons of call backs throughout the entire franchise, killer Kung Fu action, and finally the lesson that this series has consistently hammered- believe in yourself and you can do anything. I loved it and at least up North, you and your kids have been stuck inside all week and you’re bouncing off the wall, so go see this film, you won’t regret it at all. Every kid will love it and it has everything that you loved about the first few movies. Just be ready for a little bit of Kung Fu Fighting:
There isn’t a good way to start a review of the most anticipated film of 2015. But, we have to start somewhere. And all I can think of is…
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away….
The Star Wars franchise wasn’t in the best of shape. From 1999 to 2005, George “These are my toys” Lucas released prequels to the beloved Star Wars franchise. He wrote and directed each film and after 17 years since Return of the Jedi, his creation fell flat. Perhaps it was an expectation that could not be matched by any film trilogy. However, The Force Awakens seems to disagree with the anticipation vs. fan enjoyment argument, seeing as it could become the number one grossing film of all time. That’s right, it’ll pass Avatar by James Cameron.
When the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney was completed (to the tune of $4.05 Billion) in 2012, they wasted no time in announcing new Star Wars films. A great tremor was felt in the collective fan community. How could the ‘House of Mouse’ ever do this franchise properly? Could they possibly do the The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn (which this reviewer thinks is the best Expanded Universe tale ever told)? What would happen to the excellent Clone Wars animated show? All questions, but no answers.
Finally, after what seemed like ages, news slowly trickled out about the state of our Galaxy Far Far Away.
From the movie production:
Who was the director? J.J. Abrams.
How much CGI? Lots, but hey they’re using practical effects too!
Reasonable expectations began for the film. Then came the dark times. Clone Wars was cancelled in favor of a new Disney Star Wars cartoon. The Expanded Universe many fans had been reading since the 1980’s was disbanded as canon and rendered to a “Legacy” status. It seemed that our worst fears had been realized, Disney had taken away everything we loved and filled it with hollow promises of movies, shows, and merchandise. Then a new hope arose in the form of a trailer in November 2014:
In my opinion, that’s when the tide changed. Instantly everyone changed into a five year old with their Star Wars toys. Of course a lot of people made fun of Kylo Ren’s cross guard lightsaber, but everyone was pumped and just like that…December 2015 couldn’t get here fast enough for anyone.
More trailers came out. And so did the merchandise. “Star Wars all the things!” cried every manufacturer and retailer. I honestly don’t have a problem with this as long as it wouldn’t effect the storytelling. Now if Luke Skywalker had been playing with the amazing Hot Wheels line while some dialogue, I think there might have been a problem.
There are a lot of things to be said about the film itself. I could really go into the amazing space battles, which were the center of the action over any lightsaber battle shown. Truly, it was well done. Then there was the acting. Every single person there was excited to be in a Star Wars filmed and their enthusiasm and talent showed.
The old cast really meshed well with the new characters introduced and the delight was very evident on everyone’s face. The writing, the actors, the sets, the CG, and the thrill…it was all there. Star Wars is back and I cannot wait for the next iteration.
Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version:
You didn’t need my review to decide if you were going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, you were either going to see it or you were never going to see it. Sure there are plenty questions left unanswered and of course I could really nitpick at details and find reasons why this issue or that issue…blah blah blah. Nothing I can say will change what you’re going to do. I can say it’s as simple as this: I really enjoyed the film. And I hope you do as well.
And today is the last day of the year, and the last post of 2015. We hope that you all enjoyed our random writing, be it reviews or some of our other content.
Manchicken and I will likely share our favorites from 2015 over the next few days, but the best all around movie in 2015 was The Martian. There is lots more to say (comedy, action, failures, etc.) but I’ll get to that in another post. For now, I wish you all a wonderful New Years and hope you’re looking forward to 2016 as I am!
“Imagine if you had three wishes, three hopes, three dreams, and they all could come true.”
Those are the words adorned across the beautifully simplistic original movie poster of Aladdin. In 1992, Disney was in the early stages of what many call “The Disney Renaissance”. It started in 1989 with The Little Mermaid and ended in 1999 with Tarzan. In that time we were gifted films like Mulan, The Lion King, Hercules (my personal favorite), and the first animated film to receive an Academy Awards nomination for Best Picture, Beauty and the Beast. As with all Renaissance periods, it wasn’t until afterwards did many recognize these great achievements in film making history.
With the release of Aladdin on Blu-Ray, which you can buy here, we can finally pitch our VHS copies and toss in one of many next gen devices we have hanging out around the house. Anytime you watch a film from your childhood, you run the risk of nostalgia and quality clashing. I absolutely adore the film My Science Project from 1985, but it absolutely blows by film standards. So, you have two options at this junction:
Keep it in your memory where it may belong -or-
Take the plunge and revisit your childhood love and discover if the film was indeed as good as you remember
Let’s hold our breath and take that plunge.
Aladdin is not only the hilarious madhouse I remember it to be, but so much more as I view as an adult. I can only imagine my family sitting in the theater, watching Aladdin with me, and enjoying it just as much as I was. As I giggled at Robin Williams’ Genie, my family likely saw the lush, colorful animation, heard the catchy tunes, and were wrapped up in the brilliant storytelling which they could only hope to see in any live-action film that year. Viewing it now, I just cannot imagine anyone not being blown away by what they just watched.
While discussing Aladdin, we really have to start with Robin Williams’ and his pitch perfect performance of the Genie. The character was full of enough zany energy and 90’s pop culture to choke a camel. I cannot for the life of me imagine anyone not finding the Genie just the perfect centerpiece to this film. Most of, if not all, the comedy comes from the Genie and his transformations, dialogue, and songs. I mean, I don’t know anyone who can watch Aladdin and nothave “Friend Like Me” stuck in their heads. Even if you haven’t seen it recently, you are now humming that song.
I just don’t believe they’ve written such a beautiful and tragic character in any of their films. The Genie is a slave to the lamp and whomever holds it and here he has a master that says he’ll wish him free. However unlikely that he would give up a wish, it’s what we’ve come to expect from our hero Aladdin “The Diamond in the Rough”. Which is exactly why it’s such a gut punch when Aladdin may not hold up his end of the bargain later in the film.
All of the other voice actors do a fantastic job and the professional singers they bring in for some of the songs are just perfect. A lot of this can be attributed to the lyrics of Sir Timothy Rice (yeah, he was Knighted, how awesome is that?) and the score of Alan Menken. Much of the music from the Disney Renaissance was done by these two talented men. It also helps when your songs get radio play versions and some are even sung by Sir Elton John.
The whole cast of characters are great, but Abu, the Carpet & Jafar/Iago really stand out to me. I don’t know about you, but I wanted a monkey sidekick after seeing this movie. I had great plans for him all the adventures we would go on. Then one flung poo at me while visiting the zoo, so that fantasy ended pretty quickly. And you would have to be inhuman to not love the Carpet. Let’s face it, every kid wants to fly. I know that every one of you, even if you’re afraid of heights, has wanted to fly. Not only do the Disney Animators work their magic by introducing another means for flight, but they actually have the Carpet emote. Think about that for a second. Tons of characters on screen at any time, and they took the time to make it look like a rug can be happy or sad. That’s just utter dedication to your film and its audience.
Jafar and Iago’s villainy ranks right up there with some of the worst in Disney history (Hades being my favorite) in my opinion. Sure Jafar only has a single song and it’s a reprise, but it’s still pretty menacing. And Jafar is such a classic villain, which is absolutely perfect here. In a film where you’re dealing with the ambiguity of stealing for food, making selfish wishes, and forcing others into slavery, both the Genie and to some extent Jasmine, they really needed a defined villain. Not to mention Gilbert Gottfried’s Iago which his manic energy is only rivaled by the Genie (I can only imagine those recording sessions with those two comedians in the room together). Both Jafar and Iago combine to be an absolutely diabolical team and we know it from the very first scene. Just like audiences knew it when they saw Darth Vader in Star Wars.
I could go on for another several pages but you all know that Aladdin ranks up there with some of the all time greatest films, animated or otherwise. Aladdin is just perfect and it’s a shame they don’t make them like that anymore. We’ll just have to deal with all of our tears while watching a Pixar movie.
Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version: