Coco (2018)

This beautiful animated film is set in Mexico around the holiday of the Day of the Dead, or otherwise known as Día de los Muertos. We start in young Miguel’s home and start to understand his family. His great great grandmother, Mamá Imelda, when her husband abandoned her with a young daughter to follow his dream of becoming a world musician, bans any sort of music in her life. This passes down generations and is accepted as a family tradition. Until… Miguel. Young Miguel finds his one love in the music his family so aggressively hates. On the day of the family, where photos are put up in memory of their loved ones, spirits are able to cross the bridge to watch their family in life. Although, it is this day, Miguel finally breaks and struggles between his love of music and family traditions. When Miguel tries to prove himself the musician he knows he is, he accidentally ends up transporting himself to the spirit world, to the Land of the Dead. However, there is a slight problem, Miguel must go back to the Land of the Living before sunrise, otherwise he’s stuck there forever. But it’s not that easy, he needs his family blessing to go back, although the family he’s with isn’t the one approval he wants. Instead he goes on a search for the greatest musician in Mexican history, Ernesto de la Cruz, his great great grandfather, the man who abandoned his family many many years before. On this adventure, he finds a companion in a desperate spirit man, just wanting to cross the bridge, although unable to without family on the other side presenting his picture. This is Héctor. Oh and I cannot forget that Miguel has a follower the whole way, Dante the stray dog.

Coco - Miguel

This different Disney-Pixar is obviously heavily influenced by Mexican traditions, which is brilliantly new and it is an amazing film. Because of this, there are many Spanish songs, Spanish words, but this is obviously understandable and I think it worked great. It didn’t make any difference to whether you understood the film or not, because trust me I don’t know much Spanish at all and I still loved and enjoyed every part of the film, learning the family traditions in Mexico and falling into their lifestyle.

COCO

The voices of the film are brilliant and all can sing really well, which obviously is important for a music-based animated film. I was surprised to find out who the voices were after, as Héctor is voiced by Gael García Bernal (aka Victor from ‘Letter to Juliet’) and Ernesto de la Cruz is voiced by Benjamin Bratt (ie. Agent Matthews from ‘Miss Congeniality’), which both of these actors I had no idea could sing! Finally, introducing the star of the show, the voice of Miguel, Anthony Gonzalez, who is brilliant as the young boy and has a great voice to go with. The songs celebrate Mexico well; some are fun, and some are emotional and beautiful. Two of my favourites: ‘Un Poco Loco’ and ‘Remember Me’. I can’t say all are songs I would listen to repeatedly on their own, but they are brilliant in this film setting.

Coco - Miguel and Dante

This animation is a fabulous film, I would definitely watch it again. It’s colourful and amazingly animated. It’s a film to make you think, a film to go through the emotions. Parts made me laugh, such as a selfie when you’re a skeleton means taking off your head and handing it to the person you want a picture with, or a skeleton falling off a bridge purposely to land in a heap of bones, to easily rebuild himself back up again. It was very clever. There were also parts that made me cry, I was actually balling my eyes out in the cinema. I was shocked in some parts, and it was heart-warming in others. I would definitely recommend this film if you think you would enjoy it, because I don’t think it is a let-down one bit!

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Brother Bear (2003)

Disney Classic number 44, so yes it’s not one of the older classics, however that does not mean it is not a good one. This Disney Classic might be less known than the older ones, such as ‘Bambi’, or ‘Pinocchio’, or even ‘The Jungle Book’, and no it isn’t a Disney Princess film either. This is a review highlighting the greatest of ‘Brother Bear’ and emphasising that this film is a Classic Disney film, even if one that not as many have seen and that is where things should change as it is one to watch.

So if you know the plot of ‘Brave’, this is similar, but I have to say, ‘Brother Bear’ is the original animation of a person being turned into a bear! As much as I love ‘Brave’, it came out in 2012, ‘Brother Bear’ 2003. Although saying this, there is of course a different reason and altogether a different plot, just happens they’re both turned into bears, I guess that’s where the similarities end. Where the Queen in ‘Brave’ is turned because her daughter put a spell on her, Kenai (Joaquin Phoenix) is turned by the spirits to teach him a lesson of the importance of being a man. Straight away from the beginning, we notice what sort of person Kenai is, he glides through life in hope of becoming a strong, brave man, but when he is given his totem and it is the bear of love, he is repulsed as he didn’t get bravery or strength. The film moves on quickly escalating when a tragedy hits, and out of anger Kenai tries to avenge what has happened, unfortunately this isn’t the way to go, so he is turned into a bear by the spirits to learn a more important lesson of how love can influence life.

Brother Bear - Kenai and Koda

It’s along his journey we hit the comedy of the film, but also some emotional and heart-warming moments. Furthermore, a realisation in the film which is actually quite heart-breaking, and done so well to be emotional and hit the audience powerfully. There is a moral to the story but this is obvious for Disney films. This moral yes might not be so different from other films, but it is executed in a different way. There is love and there is family, amongst humans and bears.

Anyway, on this journey, there are some great characters that we meet. We can never forget the two characters that I always remember ever since I was little from when I first watched this film, the two moose. They stand out as the comedy of the film, still great to this day. Rutt (Rick Moranis – Dad in ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids’ and Seymour in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’) and Tuke (Dave Thomas). They are the memory of the film in my opinion, they truly are great and bring so much comedy, their stupidity, their jokiness, it’s all brilliant in the film. There are also two other characters, which aren’t in the film for long at all, but they bring dumb stupid humour as well. On his travels, Kenai meets a young cub separated from his mother, this is Koda (Jeremy Suarez), an adorable young cub who influences more of the moral of the story than anything else, but just a great main protagonist within the film.

Brother Bear - Rutt and Tuke

Don’t assume that because it’s a Disney Classic it is a musical, because this one isn’t. Although, saying this there is a soundtrack and it has one of my favourite Disney songs on it. The soundtrack done by the same as ‘Tarzan’, Phil Collins, in which he does do some pretty amazing Disney chill songs. In ‘Brother Bear’ this being ‘On My Way’, which is great in my opinion. Even though ‘Brother Bear’ isn’t a musical, it is clever in the way how the music is so influential in this film. The soundtrack is occasionally used in this film to portray the emotions of the characters without them saying anything, when we already know what is supposed to be said but instead the music takes over and we witness the facial expressions. It is very clever for the audience to witness. There is particularly one part where they do this and it is very powerful for the audience (bringing my little brother to tears, and probably many others).

So as you can probably tell, this is a positive review as I believe more should jump to knowing what this film is about and that it is a Classic Disney. I would definitely recommend it. It is also quite a short film, only 85 minutes and it flies through, with actually quite a lot being said. This is a great film and should not be ignored. Come and watch Kenai take his journey from boy to man.

Princess Protection Programme (2009)

This is definitely one of those cheesy chickflicky, very overdramatic films. A TV Disney Channel film, so what do you expect? A film with the likes of ‘Camp Rock’, ‘The Cheetah Girls’, ‘Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure’, ‘Lizzie McGuire The Movie’ – some of those cheesy but great movies, however some just aren’t great and they’re a bit too cheesy to say the least… Saying this, I think ‘Princess Protection Programme’ fits into the former category. I do love it.

A film revolving Selena Gomez as “bait girl”, the sixteen year old girl who is disregarded in school, the girl who believes to be in love with someone who can’t even have the decency to remember her name, this being Donny (Robert Adamson); the girl who doesn’t realise that her best friend, Ed (Nicholas Braun), worships her. But the girl who has the most adorable and best relationship with her father, her “pal” (Tom Verica). Selena Gomez plays Carter, who plans to get out of school and actually make a difference with her life. Her father, Major Mason, does that. Now this is where the film is quite different to a lot of others, his job is to protect Royal Princesses, stay with me, I said it was a bit cheesy. So when Princess Rosalinda of Costa Luna, is under threat and her country is held captive by General Kane (Johnny Ray Rodriguez), she is put into the Princess Protection Programme. Her relocation happens to be in Louisiana, no other than Carter’s home. Princess Rosalinda, now normal teen Rosie as Carter’s cousin. The person who plays this Princess is Demi Lovato. Now I’m not going to lie to you, I love Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato as actresses, having grown up with Alex from ‘Wizards of Waverly Place’ and Sonny in ‘Sonny with a Chance’; plus Demi Lovato’s albums are some of my favourites ever. So I guess, for this film, it helps if you like the actresses.

The two girls are from completely different backgrounds, Rosie has crashed into Carter’s life and everything changes. Rosie struggles to try and fit in, Carter struggles to keep the way things were. They both struggle to relate to each other’s differences. Rosie having everything done for her, Carter doing everything herself. The lives in polar opposite worlds. But this film, excuse the cheesiness, is a film of friendship, and they soon become best friends, pretty quickly I have to admit. They both struggle together at school, normal teenager issues at school.

‘Princess Protection Programme’ does jump from Louisiana with Rosie and Carter, and their struggles with boys at school, with the school dance coming up and with the election for homecoming Queen rising quickly, and most significantly, the struggle with the stereotypical popular yet not nice girls of the school. To Costa Luna and the difficulties rising there as Kane is desperate to locate where the Princess has been taken. This break-away from the school troubles is a nice change in this sort of film. Of course, the film echoes the many films of popular teenage problems during school, but also because of the fact that Rosie is actually Princess Rosalinda, it’s a refreshing change to have that essence in the film, rather than just school school school.

As I’ve already said, I love this film. But of course, it is of a required taste. I appreciate those cheesy, easy to watch films, I find they do have comical moments and the morals in the films are strong. This is definitely what ‘Princess Protection Programme’ is, so it’s completely understandable to easily disregard the film, but there are many films alike to this out there. Not only just the ones I’ve previously mentioned, but there is ‘Bratz’, ‘Hannah Montana The Movie’, ‘Monte Carlo’ – just those cheesy childhood movies that have their own appreciation.

Mulan (1998)

This has to be one of my favourite Disney Classics. Number 36. And not to be forgotten or lost in the mass. This is one of the Disney films projecting a strong moral to the story, I know all Disney films send a message, but this one in particular is different to others before it, and should be acknowledged as one of the most important ones.

If you haven’t seen this film or even know the plot, then I will explain now. ‘Mulan’ is set in China, and when China are under attack by the Huns led by Shan Yu, the only thing they can do is to build an army strong enough to defeat them. This brings in Mulan, a young woman who doesn’t quite fit in, she’s not like all the other girls, the ones who put beauty first, that they must be married off to a great man and uphold the family honour. Instead, Mulan values thought and knowledge. When her injured father is called to the army, Mulan does the only thing she can think of, which happens to be high treason… Pretend she is male and fight in the place of her father so he would not have to go. Mulan, now Ping, is transported into a different life, but luckily she has the help of one of her ancestors, guaranteed it is one ancestor that was demoted, but nevertheless he is there every step of the way, this is Mushu (a voice you would probably recognise as Eddie Murphy – even if you only recognise it through Donkey from ‘Shrek’). Mushu is one of the best characters, he is comical, spirited, and definitely an improvement in the film, without him it wouldn’t be as near as great, and yes that does go to Eddie Murphy as he does it so excellently! However, it’s not just Mulan and Mushu, of course she has her horse and the luckiest cricket, because of course it is Disney, there needs to be animals!

Mulan 1

‘Mulan’ is a musical, although not so much as other films, especially newer films. Also, they aren’t the best Disney songs out there, though I do love ‘I’ll Make a Man Out of You’ and of course the most popular of the film, ‘Reflection’. Oh, there’s ‘A Girl Worth Fighting For’, as well! Other than that, I can’t actually remember any other songs, maybe there isn’t many others, or maybe they just don’t stick out as much. I think one of the reasons for this is that the actors that voice the characters, don’t do the singing, they have different singing actors to those speaking. But regardless of this, I don’t think it makes much of a difference, yes it’s less of a musical, but still a classic great film. The film more revolves around the plot of the story, rather than the film being carried by songs.

So the moral of the film, is very gender based. It’s a Disney film of women being able to act the same as men and do the same things as them as well, for them to be taken more seriously than just marriage. Obviously a very important message, this has changed now anyway but it is a film set in the past, being made in 1998. I think this makes ‘Mulan’ a film so different from the older Disney’s, especially if you go back to the beginning. ‘Snow White’ is so different to ‘Mulan’, don’t get me wrong I love ‘Snow White’ being the first Disney Princess, however I definitely prefer ‘Mulan’.

Mulan 2

This is a film with comedy, action and little bit of romance, and I mean like the smallest amount. Because the film is revolved around family honour and ancestors, we are transported to a different life from the other Disney films which is great. There is action in the film, the villain is quite creepy, and could be scary for some children, although he is a great villain to go against Mulan. The film is based in a war, so action and adventure in the film is understandable, although I do think it’s great and again different from other Disney’s. It is done well, it isn’t a film to scare children, obviously, it is a kid’s film. And like I’ve already mentioned, there is comedy, I even find it funny now.

As you can tell, I would definitely recommend ‘Mulan’. One of my favourites. Different from so many, yet enjoyable, comical, action-filled and a strong moral of the story. Watch ‘Mulan’ for an enjoyable hour and a half. Especially if you’re a fan of Disney and haven’t seen it!

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

The moment I found out this interpretation was going to exist, I couldn’t have been more excited. Then I found out who Belle was going to be played by and I knew it was going to be amazing. Being a fan of Harry Potter and growing up believing Hermione Granger was the best and a role model; Emma Watson in anything I would love. The best thing to say is that I wasn’t let down. Not one bit. I absolutely loved the film.

So if you didn’t know, this 2017 film is an interpretation of the Disney Classic Princess number five. One of the best princesses I would say. This 2017 adaption is very close to the 1991 film, although there were added parts, in which I thought were excellent additional scenes to the film and should be appreciated. I liked that they added more to the film as it meant that those who have seen the classic aren’t guessing every single aspect that next happens. Instead, we are thrown into different and more intense emotions, for example, the depth within the past of Belle’s mother and what happened to her. This does mean the film is longer, although not by much, two hours and nine minutes flew by and to be honest I wish there was more and I would watch over and over again. These additional scenes also meant there were much more songs. You think you’re going into a film knowing the original soundtrack off by heart, but you will be mistaken when there are many new songs to enjoy.

Beauty and the Beast 2017 2

I’m guessing the majority know the story of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and therefore know the ending. I apologise here if you don’t and do not read ahead (although it is a Disney so you can probably guess anyway). But I have to mention the amount of actors I recognised after they returned back human, and I didn’t even know it was them from the voices! I was completely shocked that Ian McKellen was Cogsworth, or that Lumière was voiced by Ewan McGregor, again, Mrs Potts being Emma Thompson! Didn’t recognise any of those voices at all, but a nice surprise they were actors and actresses I did know and many would know so well! The acting in the whole film was excellent as well. The Beast was well played by Dan Stevens, he even made some of his parts comical. Which I loved that the film was also funny in aspects. Gaston was also played well, by Luke Evans, he executed the villain of the film down to the final point. And, oh and, I cannot forget LeFou, played by Josh Gad, a comical character as always, but one who also has moral-testing moments in the film. He was excellent in the song boasting about Gaston, he added so much emotion and comedy to the character, and you could definitely see it in the song.

Beauty and the Beast 2017 3

Now I have to mention the animation. It was outstanding! Everything looked so realistic as you were transported to this little village in France. The attention to detail was so thorough, it really was phenomenal. For example the detail in Cogsworth and Lumière were brilliant, or the graphics to change the actor Dan Stevens to the Beast, or even the whole spectacle of ‘Be Our Guest’ with the colours and all the different appliances during dinner. It definitely made the film realistic and believable in a magical cursed castle.

Beauty and the Beast 2017 1

You can probably tell I enjoyed this film very much. Especially if you’re a fan of the original ‘Beauty and the Beast’, I don’t think you can be disappointed with this one. Yes, there are added sections but it is still brilliant and just brings in deeper emotions to the film, and yes you can considerably tell that there is more songs, but oh well, it is just as good and makes it even more of a musical. I would watch this film over and over again, and definitely be buying the DVD when it comes out. It rose to all the expectations I was hoping for. I loved it!

The Princess Diaries (2001)

One of the classic chickflicks of my childhood. Any film with Anne Hathaway I will watch and this one is no different, throw in Julie Andrews too and that just makes it even more brilliant. They both play the main protagonists of the film, excellently of course, why do I even need to mention that? The plot of the film goes: Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway), a clumsy, “invisible” 15 year old teenager is surprised when a visit from her Grandma (Julie Andrews) is suddenly sprung on her. A Grandma she hardly knows anything about, but that is all about to change when Mia discovers her Grandma isn’t any normal Grandma, but in fact Queen, Queen Clarisse of Genovea. This, ultimately, means that Mia herself is a Princess. A drastic change of lifestyle to say the least. In an urgency to keep the peace in the family, a deal is struck, Mia will participate in Princess training and will decide whether she will take her place in the royal family or not at the ball.

The film is filled with comedic moments, I really do think this is a great film. My favourite has to be the drastic change Mia has to partake. I will admit, this isn’t a film that has you laughing at every moment or crying with laughter, but it is one of those feel good movies, one that makes you smile and giggle occasionally. Anne Hathaway really does play the 15 year old girl brilliantly, every single part is recognisable in the stereotypical teen, which is perfect. Her transformation is one that couldn’t be further apart. A girl who never brushes her hair to a princess, a princess who must present herself in front of people, a princess who would be followed by the press. Such a big transformation and of course not one that many can relate to, but it was a film that had to be made and I’m glad it was.

Princess Diaries - 2

This film is one of a huge cast. There are many characters to love in this film. A character that does need special attention to, in my opinion, is Joe (Hector Elizondo). Joe is a brilliant character, one that can have the audience routing for him, one where we know he is always there watching, helping, caring, loving. He should not be a character underappreciated. There are of course many other characters; so many that, in the credits, the cast are split into scenes they appeared in… There is Mia’s best friend, Lilly (Heather Matarazzo), a character the audience has its ups and downs with. Then the ‘popular’ girl, the stereotypical popular girl of the school who is horrible to everyone, played by Mandy Moore, Lana. Mandy Moore recognisable as the lead in ‘A Walk To Remember’ or even the voice of Rapunzel in ‘Tangled’. Her character is probably more relatable to the school life of teenagers, alike to others in Mia’s life before her Grandma arrived and changed everything. The film jumps to the school life to the princess life and then they drastically cross over as things start to get out of hand.

Princess Diaries - 1

I would definitely recommend this film, it is enjoyable and just a feel-good chickflick film. If you like movies such as ’10 Things I Hate About You’, or imdb even suggests ‘Freaky Friday’, ‘Enchanted’ or ‘A Cinderella Story’, I can’t see why you wouldn’t appreciate this one. Based off the books by Meg Cabot, it is a great family film, to rise happy moods in everyone. There is also the second film, ‘A Royal Engagement’, which I probably prefer, but that doesn’t mean this one is bad, not at all. Anyway, if you think this is a film for you, I would recommend it over and over again. Watch Mia come to terms with this new life that has suddenly collapsed on her, while she tries to travel through her teenage life like a normal human being.

Moana (2016)

I love a Disney film, and this one is definitely to love and watch over and over again. I loved it! It was beautiful and heart-warming. The animation was of course outstanding. The film was comical and emotional, but also adventurous and thrilling (in a Disney way obviously). It’s a different Disney film from all the rest, standing out, and should be appreciated.

The story tells a tale of Moana, the young daughter of the Chief of the island. Voiced by Auli’i Cravalho, who is brilliant, and her voice is amazing. Oh yeah, it’s a Disney Musical if you didn’t know! Moana’s life is set out by her father (Temuera Morrison); that she will become chief and rule the island, however her heart lies elsewhere, she loves her island, she loves her people, but she loves the ocean and the ocean chose her. Chose her to be the one to save the world from the darkness, to save her island. Although, her father does not want this life for her, he fears the ocean is too dangerous, he fears for her life. The only one to push her towards the water is her Grandma (Rachel House), an inspirational character for children to believe they can chase their dreams, that they have the power to do what they want (even if she is regarded as the “village crazy lady”). This rebellious daughter runs out, following her destiny, sailing out into the ocean, all in hope to find Maui, the demi-god of the wind and sea (oh and hero of all). Now Maui is a brilliant character, complicated, comical and defensive, a demi-god who just wants to be loved by others. And I cannot forget to mention, voiced by the one and only Dwayne Johnson, and he does an amazing job, he even sings and it is enjoyable. He sure does bring the comedy to the film, especially through his talking to his tattoos, sounds weirder than it actually is, ok actually maybe it is weird, but it’s cleverly funny regardless. It’s a plot to get lost into, one to invite the audience into a new Disney plot so different to many others we have seen before. We are introduced to a different part of the sea, not exactly under the sea in ‘The Little Mermaid’, the powers of the sea and its extent and broadness of unknown discoveries. ‘Moana’ invites you to delve into this mysterious world and its beauties.

MOANA

So first thing I need to mention, the comedy of the film. It is brilliant. Like Maui mentions all princesses have an animal sidekick, but also she isn’t technically a princess, but she still has an animal sidekick. And this animal sidekick is one to never forget, it is a chicken. Don’t judge, because this chicken held the comedy of the film (obviously there were others), but I would have happily just watched this chicken for the film and been completely satisfied. The chicken was ridiculously stupid, and I mean hilariously so. The fact it doesn’t know what food is, just pecks and eats a rock… That it knows the ocean isn’t good and could drown it, yet it still walks straight in with a squawk… I’m not giving it justice, because it’s better to be watched, but it was a pretty hilarious sidekick. There was lots of other comedic elements in the film, the film felt realistic to laugh at, like accidental comical mistakes, similar seen in ‘Tangled’. Overall, there were many parts of the film that I was laughing at.

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But among this, there were moments of real adventure tension, of adventure on the sea, the limits of it and the dangers of it. There were also emotional moments of back stories from Maui, or even significant other parts (I really don’t want to spoil it – but if you’ve seen it, you’ll understand what I mean here) on the island, that were emotional, but heart-warming when they returned during moments of difficulty (it’s really difficult to not say anything here – I am trying!).

A Disney Musical means there needs to be great songs, and this film definitely had them. But Disney knows how they can create great songs, come on, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t know at least one part of ‘Let it Go’! However, I did notice ‘Moana’ is very much focussed around one song, but this is the song that would be loved by all once watched, it’s beautifully sung and defines the whole plot of the film and the character herself.

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As you can tell I really loved the film and Disney have outdone themselves once again! There was only one part of the film I was a bit unsure about and that was the creepy crab, I get it was supposed to be a villain, but it was beyond creepy… Anyway, regardless of that, the songs are enjoyable, the adventure is a fun one, the film is comical and heart-warming. The animation is amazing, from the adorable pig (this film has made me want a piglet as a pet), or the jealously I felt that an animated girl had better hair than I do! A film all about one girl to set her own way and help her people the way she knows, even if she has to learn on her own and escape from the dangers that surround her. Although, the ocean is her friend and she was the chosen one – very different from Harry Potter though. I would recommend this film, especially if you are a fan of Disney, but I’m hoping you’ve already seen it by now!