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Sleeping Beauty Review


Excellent
It's a shame that Sleeping Beauty is saddled with such a sissy title. It's really quite the adventure, with a horse-riding hero, a spell-flinging evil fairy, and even a freakin' dragon! This is also the movie that the now-ubiquitous Magic Kingdom is taken from, it's where our titular heroine, aka Aurora hails from. But when that evil wench Maleficent (like the evil queen from Snow White but with horns) casts a spell that ensures she'll die from being pricked from a spinning wheel, three good fairies take Aurora into the woods, dub her Briar Rose, and try to keep her from harm. By the movie's midpoint, Rose has grown up to her teens, met the love of her life, and has finally been pricked by that wheel, and only through the good magic of the fairies does she stay alive, trapped in an unending slumber. And so our hero Prince Phillip rides into Maleficent's castle, showing down her evil minions and finally Maleficent herself (who takes the form of that dragon I mentioned). Awesome!

Beauty remains one of Disney's finest works. It was unequivocally the best animated film of its era up until arguably The Jungle Book (1967) or even Disney's comeback with The Little Mermaid (1989), depending on your point of view. It succeeds thanks to its awesome score -- borrowed from Tchaikovsky's waltzes -- as well as unprecedentedly detailed animation (dig the backgrounds) and its insanely over-the-top villain ("Me, the mistress of all evil!"). There's no freakin' singing animals or easy solution to the problem -- the prince has to hack his way through a wall of thorns then beat down a dragon in order to get his lady back! Young kids may not really dig the non-caricatured imagery and the lack of child-friendly messages; this isn't exactly the kind of movie you sing along to. (Poor Tchaikovsky missed the Mickey Mouse Club era by about a century.)

Continue reading: Sleeping Beauty Review

Alice In Wonderland (1951) Review


Very Good
It's a little sad to think that many kids today know Alice in Wonderland only from its references in The Matrix.

Good news then that kids can see the definitive film version of the classic Lewis Carroll story, Disney's animated 1951 version. For the uninitiated, this musical rendition takes young Alice on a whirlwind ride down a rabbit hole and into a surreal fantasy land where cats vanish, hares have intense schedules, and the world is ruled by a playing card. Remarkably, Alice takes all this in stride; whether potions shrink her or make her grow uncontrollably, she doesn't seem to mind much. It's not until that Queen of Hearts shows up that things start to get dicey... what with the "Off with her head!" and all.

Continue reading: Alice In Wonderland (1951) Review

Lady And The Tramp Review


Extraordinary
Today's kids may find this hard to believe, but Disney used to pride itself on making heartfelt and heartwarming, nee family style, films. Most people under 20 only know Disney as the place where they used to make hand animated films but now churn out the equivalent of CGI drive-in swill that froths at the mouth to meet only the basest of denominators. (Yeah, I'm talking about you, Chicken Little.)

So, I guess the best way to say it is: Disney used to be like Pixar.

Continue reading: Lady And The Tramp Review

Picnic Review


Weak
I'd never seen or read Picnic before -- and judging from the happy title I assumed it would be a lighthearted comedy -- probably full of music and dancing. Man, I was wrong. This is a big and sappy melodrama, with William Holden a train-riding hobo who descends upon a small town on Labor Day (in time for the big picnic), and wreaks all manner of havoc on the local romance pecking order. Ultimately the film finally focuses on his relationship with the lovely Kim Novak -- a one-day affair that ends with a vague, interpretable conclusion. Whoop de do. All that, and there's no hot dogs.

Sleeping Beauty Review


Excellent
It's a shame that Sleeping Beauty is saddled with such a sissy title. It's really quite the adventure, with a horse-riding hero, a spell-flinging evil fairy, and even a freakin' dragon! This is also the movie that the now-ubiquitous Magic Kingdom is taken from, it's where our titular heroine, aka Aurora hails from. But when that evil wench Maleficent (like the evil queen from Snow White but with horns) casts a spell that ensures she'll die from being pricked from a spinning wheel, three good fairies take Aurora into the woods, dub her Briar Rose, and try to keep her from harm. By the movie's midpoint, Rose has grown up to her teens, met the love of her life, and has finally been pricked by that wheel, and only through the good magic of the fairies does she stay alive, trapped in an unending slumber. And so our hero Prince Phillip rides into Maleficent's castle, showing down her evil minions and finally Maleficent herself (who takes the form of that dragon I mentioned). Awesome!

Beauty remains one of Disney's finest works. It was unequivocally the best animated film of its era up until arguably The Jungle Book (1967) or even Disney's comeback with The Little Mermaid (1989), depending on your point of view. It succeeds thanks to its awesome score -- borrowed from Tchaikovsky's waltzes -- as well as unprecedentedly detailed animation (dig the backgrounds) and its insanely over-the-top villain ("Me, the mistress of all evil!"). There's no freakin' singing animals or easy solution to the problem -- the prince has to hack his way through a wall of thorns then beat down a dragon in order to get his lady back! Young kids may not really dig the non-caricatured imagery and the lack of child-friendly messages; this isn't exactly the kind of movie you sing along to. (Poor Tchaikovsky missed the Mickey Mouse Club era by about a century.)

Continue reading: Sleeping Beauty Review

Alice In Wonderland (1951) Review


Very Good
It's a little sad to think that many kids today know Alice in Wonderland only from its references in The Matrix.

Good news then that kids can see the definitive film version of the classic Lewis Carroll story, Disney's animated 1951 version. For the uninitiated, this musical rendition takes young Alice on a whirlwind ride down a rabbit hole and into a surreal fantasy land where cats vanish, hares have intense schedules, and the world is ruled by a playing card. Remarkably, Alice takes all this in stride; whether potions shrink her or make her grow uncontrollably, she doesn't seem to mind much. It's not until that Queen of Hearts shows up that things start to get dicey... what with the "Off with her head!" and all.

Continue reading: Alice In Wonderland (1951) Review

Cinderella Review


Excellent
She talks to birds, lives in a secluded room, and makes little outfits for mice. What a wacko.

Nah, just kidding. We're talking about Cinderella, one of history's most beloved fairy tale characters, and an early star of Disney's animated feature canon, brought to life in this 1950 classic. In Disney history, Cinderella is a transition of sorts: the first major release in eight years (late-'40s titles like Make Mine Music are not as timeless), it kicked off a string of major successes that line home video shelves now, decades later. Business and legacy aside, what little girl doesn't love the magic of this movie?

Continue reading: Cinderella Review

Dumbo Review


Very Good
What you probably remember about your childhood experiences with Dumbo is a little elephant with big floppy ears that enabled him to fly. You probably don't remember the psychedelic sequence of pink elephants marching to song.

But yes, Dumbo swings from simple morality fable to Dali-esque, mystery-beverage-induced fantasy in what some critics call the best animated film of all time. I tend to disagree, seeing Dumbo as both overly simplistic yet bafflingly wandering story that is probably too intense for kids -- what with Dumbo stuck in a burning building as faceless clowns fail to rescue him to being shunned by society, there's enough horror to send any kid crying for mommy.

Continue reading: Dumbo Review

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Cinderella Movie Review

Cinderella Movie Review

She talks to birds, lives in a secluded room, and makes little outfits for mice....

Dumbo Movie Review

Dumbo Movie Review

What you probably remember about your childhood experiences with Dumbo is a little elephant with...

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