Hey everyone. I've ben thinking lately. I've written reviews for the Disney Renaissance films, the Pixar films, and the Revival films, but then I thought, what about the other eras. Well, I'm going to start reviewing some of the other film eras that Disney has made, starting with the era that Walt Disney himself has started. Now, the package films you won't see in this blog since I have already written a separate blog for those, so this is about the single narrative films, starting with the one that started it all.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
While Walt Disney made excellent shorts, he decided to take a big step up in national film history by making the very first full length animated film: Snow White! I haven't watched this film a lot as a child since...well, it was a princess film and I was a guy, but I do have enough to say about it. Snow White herself is a stereotypical bland princess who waits for her prince to rescue her and the prince is a bland prince who just comes to the rescue, but I don't think it needed to be. The most important priority was just to create a full length animated film for the first time. And since that was so new, people didn't mind the character flatness. Every time I see a first something, it does have to start off as itself, and just improve step by step as time goes on. The dwarves are pretty cool too, especially when they sing that silly song. It didn't need to have a point, it just had to be a silly song. The film also has its emotional moments like how scary it was for the queen to turn into a hag, or sad when Snow White temporarily died. But that's one of the charms of a feature length animated film. It was what it was. Without it, we'd never have the many great animated films we see today.
Based on how this movie goes, I should hate Pinocchio because this has certain flaws I normally can't stand in movies; The villains never getting punished, a cruel place with a bad outcome,and the main character taking a giant idiotic step backwards. And yet...I love this movie! Pinocchio is my favorite film to be made by Walt Disney himself! I guess it's because all that dark stuff I hate isn't really what first came to mind whenever I thought of this movie! My focus was more on Pinocchio himself, Jiminy Cricket, and the song When You Wish Upon A Star! Though Pinocchio is beyond naive and gullible, he's just so sweet of a little guy that you just love as opposed to the version that Collidi made. Jiminy is also a delightful character, always trying to guide Pinocchio, always trying to be cheerful, and entertaining too. Figaro is also very cute too. He may not talk but he's excellent at non-verbal communication. However, there are those dark elements that can make the movie terrorizing, like how Stromboli locked Pinocchio in a cage. I used to fast forward through that part when I had Pinocchio on videocassette. And even worse, Pleasure Island. Pinocchio lets the bad side get the best of him, the boys get turned into donkeys, get sold into slavery, and the Coachman never gets defeated. But maybe the darkness is why a lot of people connected with this movie. There are bad things in the world, but praying and hoping can give you a chance that good things can come your way. And maybe that's why the song When You Wish Upon A Star became Disney's iconic anthem. I love that song; it's beautiful, enchanting, and magic. Despite the movie's problems, I love it! The good stuff is just too darn good!
There really isn't much for me to say about Fantasia since I have rarely heard of it as a child. But it is kinda unique in its own way, since the movie is all shorts with just orchestra and no dialogue. The only short I remember, like most people, is the sorcerer's apprentice starring Mickey Mouse. It has great music, and I love the sorcerer Mickey design. And that's it. Sorry that my review on Fantasia is too short, but I just have too little to say about it since it is an orchestra.
When I was a little kid, Dumbo was my favorite Disney film to be made by Walt Disney. It had elephants, it had a train song, it had a memorable mouse character, it was just awesome! I will admit though, while I don't like it as much as I did as a kid, I do still like it. This was that kind of Disney films that seems like it would have been told today since it has that story where the main character is tormented and loses hope, but has a happier outcome. But let's take a look at the good stuff. In my opinion, the best thing in this movie is Timothy Q. Mouse. As a kid, I LOVED mice, and Timothy was no exception. He's optimistic and he's the only one other than Mrs. Jumbo who doesn't think of Dumbo as a freak. He's always sticking up for Dumbo, always at his side, and eventually helps Dumbo summon courage. My other two highlights are the song Casey Jr and the Pink Elephants song. Casey Jr has a very catchy melody and it is what introduced to me to trains in general. Pink Elephants is creepy and cool! It takes our minds off of Dumbo's big ear dilemma and lets the animators' imaginations run wild. And in the end, Dumbo uses his big ears as wings to fly! Dumbo is one of Disney's best examples of good morals.
Ok, I'll just get this statement over with: Bambi's mother's death was really sad, it scarred so many kids for life and is one of the most saddest scenes in Disney history. There. Done. Now what about the rest of the rest of the movie? While Disney was talented in creating big stories involving obstacles and villains, they knew to limit that in Bambi. This was just supposed to be a coming-of-age story involving a young deer grow up. And it could represent the story of anyone. We grow up, me learn lessons, we make friends, and we could experience tragedy. That's exactly what Bambi went through. The villain is Man himself, and even though viewers don't see him, the idea of him shooting animals is intimidating enough. The scene that caught my interest the most was the fight scene with Ronno. Fight scenes always captured my attention. So whenever we go through growing up, we can look back at Bambi and all the lessons we learned from it.
Another Disney film that shines hope through its difficult tunnels. I thought Cinderella was uncomfortable and sweet at the same time. Whenever I think of women who are forced to do all the work around, Cinderella is the first one I usually think of. She's so beautiful, gentle, and kind, yet what does she get for a reward? An evil stepmother and two vicious stepsisters who mentally abuse her and turn her into a slave! Not all bad, really. Like Dumbo, my highlights of the movie were Jaq and Gus. They are a very silly comedic duo who always save the day. When Cinderella can't get a dress for her gown, they go get the supplies. When Cinderella is locked up in her room by Lady Tremaine, they come to her rescue. Jaq and Gus are usually the first sidekicks I think of who save the day. Lucifer is a great cat villain; causing trouble and trying to catch Jaq and Gus in a typical cat-and-mouse rivalry. I also like how Lucifer is foiled by Bruno in the end, another character I like in the movie. The song Bibbidy Bobbity Boo is very catchy, and So This Is Love is sweet. The King and the Duke are comedic and entertaining, and they distract me from Lady Tremaine's cruelty. And the rest of the movie follows the fairy tale very closely-um,in a family friendly style of course as opposed to the original fairy tale. It's a magical Disney dream come true.
Alice In Wonderland
There's not much for me to say about Alice In Wonderland, either. It's meant to be a kind of animated film that takes you to a world of imagination. For me, this movie was a little...weird, like the Mad Libs of Disney films. Butterflies with wings of bread...ok. The characters are also weird and don't make much sense or help Alice. And the songs I find kind of forgettable. The only song that I thought was really bad was that paint the roses red song, especially when the queen was singing about it. And they were singing about victims losing their heads. It wasn't entertaining, wasn't that imaginative, just a stroll through imagination, I guess. Not really one of my personal favorites.
Like Alice In Wonderland, Peter Pan is another imaginative world type movie, but I think it has more charms. We all have our ups and down about growing up, getting criticized for the use of imagination,and making up magic stories, and wanting to go somewhere where you can just be whoever you want. As marketing goes, the boys get into the sword fighting, and the girls can get into the romance and mermaids, and the adults could get into its story. Captain Hook is pretty entertaining, especially because of his voice actor Hans Conrad. However, my focus of the movie is the crocodile! He's just a great character! He's a funny predator always trying to eat Captain Hook and shows plenty of personality. All in all, Peter Pan is very delightful, fun, and definitely a film that has Walt Disney's imagination written all over it.
Lady and the Tramp
Awww isn't this a sweet movie. When I was a kid, one of the Disney films I liked watching the most were about cute animals, and Lady and the Tramp was probably one of the best in my opinion. It told the perspective of how dogs view the world, how they feel when neglected, or when we misunderstand their behaviors, and how we could improve. I know it taught me a lot about how dogs feel since I dogsit a lot of dogs for my neighbors. I admit it does seem a little odd how the main part of the story involving Lady and Tramp's romance doesn't start until the film's second act, but it doesn't really bother me that much. The spaghetti scene is very sweet and it makes ME hungry for spaghetti. I also like that Siamese Cat song, the fight scene with the alley dogs, the rat climax, and Trusty and Jock coming to rescue Tramp at the end. So I think Lady and the Tramp is a very endearing Disney film. I still really enjoy watching it.
Ok, I will admit. I'm not a huge fan of Sleeping Beauty. I mean, it's not that bad, just not really my movie. It kind of feels like a flat fairy tale. It mostly seems like a straight up adaptation of Sleeping Beauty. Not really any major differences as far as I can remember. But getting upset or being uninvited to a party seems kind of ridiculous. Wasn't she already the mistress of evil before this party? If she was, then it is no wonder she was not invited. Also, the movie seems to be more about the fairies than Aurora and Prince Phillip. I mean, the couple does have a tiny bit of chemistry, but not enough for me to consider it a great romance. Aurora I think is a little too beautiful. She is very sweet, but that's about it. She's cursed in a sleep and does not talk for the rest of the movie. Maleficent is a very powerful deadly villain, but I think her motivation to harm Aurora needs more motivation. Overall, I don't hate Sleeping Beauty, I just don't think it's as great as some of Walt's other works like oh say, Pinocchio. It's a nice fairy tale, but I think it could use a little more work.
101 Dalmatians is a Disney film I consider just okay. I didn't really like it much as a kid, and I still don't feel like I'm a big fan of it today. I neither love nor hate it. I feel like I should love it, but I still mostly feel...eh. I'm not sure if it was because of the winter setting or the charcter animation, I dunno-it's complicated. But there are some nice charms to it as well. Let's look at the good stuff. I guess the best thing about it is the "animal rescue mission" style. I do like how some kidnapping (or dog-napping in this film's case) happens in the dark of the night which gives us chills, it's pretty cool. I also do kinda like Pongo. He's clever and he's one of the only bachelor type characters who want a family. If you look at the scene of the puppies' birthday, he was so happy he looked like he was going to be sick. Some of his plans sorta got him in trouble with Roger, but hey. Pongo still had the guts to fight for his dreams. The other characters...they're ok I guess. Someone on the movie's page called me a lemon for thinking the characters were weak, but I should have used the term "not that entertaining". They're fine. Perditia is a nice mother, the humans are typical nice owners The puppies are cute of course, it's just that there are too many for me to keep track of. Now how about the villains? Well, sorrty to say but I'm not a fan of Cruella DeVil. I mean, her plan is sadistic and rare but I just don't find her temper and other scenes that dark or funny. I don't hate her, I guess she's just not for me. Jasper and Horace are...eh. The way they bully the cook on the night of the dog napping is pretty funny to watch. But otherwise they're just... Ok. So overall, I don't think 101 Dalmatians is a timeless classic the way its fans do, but I do think it'ce nice and cute. I guess I just didn't grow up with fondly. But it's certainly a nice film to check out once in a while.
The Sword In The Stone
If I had to choose a least favorite animated film from Walt Disney's lifetime, I'd probably say The Sword In The Stone. It's much too episodic and rather...ridiculous. Let's get to my biggest problem of the movie: the way the characters treat Arthur...and no, I am NOT calling him Wart! Everybody keeps picking on this poor kid! He's trying to do the right thing, but everybody pressures him too much! Sir Ector is like a male Lady Tremaine all over agin; favoring his biological kid over the adopted one, and forcing the adopted kid to do all the work around. He's what I call the predecessor to Uncle Vernon from the Harry Potter series. But what about Merlin? Maybe he can brighten up Arthur's life the same way Cinderella's Fairy Godmother did?.....Eh, most of the time, but not entirely. His lessons distract me from Sir Ector's cruelty, but only for a limited time. He grumpily throws tantrums at random times, and he keeps insisting to push Arthur to his academic limits. During the first lesson underwater, Arthur is endangered to becoming dinner of a barracuda and guess what...Merlin doesn't help him! Teaching that brains conquers brawn is a great lesson, but not the way Merlin taught it. And if Merlin was a real character, I don't think parents would want him tutoring their kids. The songs, I don't remember fondly. None of them are catchy or entertaining. The only thing about this movie that's kind of entertaining os the wizard duel between Merlin and Madame Mim. It's good to see them change into all different kinds of animals to outwit each other, but once that's over you never see Madame Mim again. I wish Madame Mim took up more screen time than Sir Ector or Kay do. So therefore, The Sword In The Stone I just don't think is worth checking out. If you like it, good for you. But my interest in this movie is far too little.
The Jungle Book
And now we come to the last animated film released in Walt Disney's lifetime-The Jungle Book. Do I think it's as good as Pinocchio? Do I think it's as bad as The Sword In The Stone? Um, I'd say in the middle, but closer to being as good as Pinocchio. Not only do I love this movie for it's entertainment, but this is one of the best examples of Disney storytelling in terms of emotions one feels for another. That's exactly what Baloo feels towards Mowgli. Despite knowing him only for one day, he already loves Mowgli as it if he was his own cub. Also, kind of like Pinocchio, I like how Mowgli meets all kinds different characters during his adventure in the jungle. There's pleasant characters like the vultures, the elephants, but others like Kaa-not so much. I also like Bagheera. He's sorta like a grumpier version of Jiminy Cricket-trying to keep Mowgli out of trouble, getting him back where he belongs, but caring for Mowgli on the inside. Shere Khan is also a great villain. Although he does not appear until the last third, the build up and talk about him is enough to let viewers know that he's very deadly. Shere Kahn a tiger-one of my favorite animals, and gently sophisticated ost of the time except when he's ready to attack his foes. He fears nothing (other than fire and guns) and shows his deadly side in the climax. Kaa is also cool too. He's sneaky, sly, and comedic. The movie also has very catchy musical numbers too, just the right kind for this kind of movie, like Colonel Hathi's March, the Bare Necessities, I Wanna Be Like You, and so on. Another one of the great aspects of The Jungle Book, like I said, is the emotional story the characters go through. Mowgli is very upset about having to leave his jungle home, similar to Aurora finding out about her princess identity in Sleeping Beauty, and feels sad about his difference. Baloo is also unhappy about having to take Mowgli back to the Man-Village after his talk with Bagheera, but knows he has to do it for Mowgli's safety, no matter how much he'll miss Mowgli. But step by step, everything turns out all right in the end. Overall, I love The Jungle Book! It's my 2nd favorite animated film made in Walt Disney's lifetime. It's one of his best films ever, and I enjoy watching it!
I hope you enjoyed this blog, and I hope I didn't criticize too much. I'll see you later with the "Dark Age" Disney films and the Post-Renaissance films later. Take care.