Tag Archives: animated film

My Thoughts on: Onward (2020)

Onward is a film that I’ve been pretty excited about ever since it was announced because, let’s face it, in a world dominated by ongoing franchises, sequels, reboots, etc., you don’t see wholly original stories all that often. This is one such example and it lived up to pretty much all of my expectations.

The story is set in a fantasy world turned on its head. Imagine a world filled with unicorns, mermaids, elves, fairies, even manticores…but modernized. Instead of using magic, modern technology took over. Enter Ian and Barley Lightfoot (Tom Holland and Chris Pratt respectively), two brothers who have an amazing opportunity thrust upon them: the chance to be reunited with their late father for one day only. This revelation sends the brothers on an insane quest to achieve the impossible.

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I’m not sure where to even start because there is so much to love about Onward. First of all, Tom Holland and Chris Pratt are fantastic together. I’ll bet anything they recorded lines together because the chemistry between the two is off the charts. Also, there’s something just inherently funny about all of these fantasy creatures living in a modern suburban environment. I know this is hardly the first story to put fantasy creatures in a modern setting, but the way Onward does it is just a lot of fun. Outside of the Lightfoot brothers, my favorite character is the Manticore, she is in one of my favorite moments in the entire film.

The setting of New Mushroomton is beautifully rendered and contains a lot of Easter Eggs. I won’t spoil any of them but there’s one pretty early in the film that made everybody in the theater laugh. Also, fans of Dungeons and Dragons will likely love this movie because one of the major plot elements is basically straight out of a D&D book (the film doesn’t call it that but the reference is obvious). And the one spoiler I will mention: the fact that all of the spells in the roleplaying book are real is just funny.

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The quest, once it gets started, is mostly hilarious though (this being Disney/Pixar) there are some serious twists and turns before it’s all over. Onward deals several emotional gut punches, none of which I can discuss for spoiler reasons, but believe me when I say that you will need tissues before the end credits roll. It’s very satisfying to watch Ian and Barley grow throughout the story. The ending will probably surprise you, by the way, but I do understand why Disney/Pixar went the route they did. It’s very atypical for this kind of story, and it’s nice that the studio tried something new.

All in all, I highly recommend Onward to anyone wanting to have a good time at the movies. I would be more than willing to go see a sequel, as this is a world I very much want to visit again. Bravo to everyone who helped create such a beautiful story and bravo to Disney/Pixar for creating something original!

Let me know what you think about Onward in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Animated Film Reviews

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Disturbing Bluth #7: Charlie Dreams of Hell in All Dogs Go to Heaven

Oh boy….let’s talk about this shall we?

I’ve made no secret of the fact that Don Bluth’s animated films have given birth to some of my worst childhood nightmares, and All Dogs Go to Heaven is a prime example. Aside from Charlie being brutally murdered in the film’s opening act, the most disturbing part of this entire film is a sequence that takes place mid-film, when Charlie has a nightmare about falling into Hell. It’s a very real prospect, since Charlie’s impulsive act in winding up a certain watch and escaping Heaven means he’s forbidden from returning there, meaning Hell is the only place he can go when he dies.

The sequence starts ominously, with the faint voice of Annabelle (the dog who welcomed Charlie to Heaven) repeating “You can never come back, you can never come back…” before suddenly Charlie is thrown headlong into a nightmarish landscape that quickly opens up to reveal the mouth of Hell.

And then it gets worse.

After being dragged into the mouth of Hell, Charlie falls into a demonic boat surrounded by lava, fire, and brimstone. It’s a nightmarish image, and the ominous music certainly doesn’t help. Oh yes, and there’s also a skeletal monster onboard that lunges and snaps at Charlie. But then comes the worst of all: from out of the flames and lava comes what can only be described as a terrifying Hellbeast, one that breathes fire and causes other, smaller demons to appear and torment Charlie.

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This creature is terrifying, horrifying, the last thing you’d expect to see in a children’s movie (which All Dogs Go to Heaven is supposed to be don’t forget). The thing is…I think this isn’t the only time we see this creature. Look at the picture of the Hellbeast again and notice the reddish fur/skin and the jutting chin. Look at all familiar? If it does, it’s because that’s awfully similar to Red, the demonic villain of All Dogs Go to Heaven 2. I admit Red isn’t nearly as demonic in appearance, but I have a theory that this appearance in Hell is how Red really looks while his appearance in the sequel is the appearance he chooses to wear while on Earth.

Thankfully, the nightmare comes to an end as the boat sinks back into the lava, trying to take Charlie with it. The sequence barely lasts two minutes but it makes quite the impression. For years this scene scared me out of my mind, and to this day I don’t understand why anyone would think a little kid could handle something like this. On the one hand, I do get that Bluth was trying to get across how scared Charlie is of going to Hell (hence why he’s so protective of that watch), but surely there was another way to do it that didn’t involve…this. I can’t overstate how messed up this entire scene is. I’ve wanted to write about this one for a while, and I hope my words did justice to how disturbing it all is.

Let me know what you think about Charlie’s nightmare of Hell in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disturbing Bluth #1: The Secret of NIMH (Overview and Trivia)

Disturbing Bluth #2: The Secret of NIMH: Dragon the (Demon) Cat

Disturbing Bluth #3: The Great Owl in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Disturbing Bluth #4: Jenner in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Disturbing Bluth #5: The House is Sinking in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Disturbing Bluth #6: Meeting Brutus in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

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FernGully: The Last Rainforest “Toxic Love” (1992)

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FernGully: The Last Rainforest “Toxic Love” (1992)

It’s a shame that FernGully: The Last Rainforest is such an underrated film today because it features one of the more terrifying animated villains of the 90s: Hexxus, the spirit of destruction. Hexxus is voiced by Tim Curry (and I don’t think any actor could have done it better) and was originally sealed away in a tree by Magi many thousands of years ago. However, when that tree is cut down by humans, Hexxus escapes as a literal ball of slime and slips into the Leveler machine to regain his strength. Once inside, the dark spirit feeds off the pollution the machine gives off until he regains his form as an oily, black spirit. He’s so delighted with the Leveler that he sings about how this can help him get revenge at last.

Hit me one time!
Hit me twice!
Oh, aaah!
Ooohh
That’s rather nice!

Oil and grime
Poison sludge
Diesel clouds and
Noxious muck
Slime beneath me
Slime up above
Ooh, you’ll love my
(Ah-ah-ah)
Toxic love

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I see the world
And all the creatures in it
(All the creatures in it)
I suck ’em dry
And spit ’em out like spinach

‘Cause greedy human beings
Will always lend a hand
With the destruction of this
Worthless jungle land
And what a beautiful machine
They have provided
To slice a path of doom!
With my sweet breath to guide it

Filthy, brown
Acid rain
Pouring down like
Egg chow mein
Slime beneath me
Slime up above
Ooh, you’ll love my 
(Ah-ah-ah)
Toxic love

Now while Hexxus, in his spirit form, comes off as this suave (but thoroughly evil) being, let’s not forget that he initially manifests as a skeleton (a form he returns to at the climax of the film). Hexxus is the personification of destruction and pollution and he hates all living and growing things. If he had his way, the Earth would be reduced to a lifeless wasteland. It’s a scary thought and “Toxic Love” is a scary song. It’s a reminder that if we continue to build destructive machines, we in turn can release destructive forces that cannot be controlled upon the world.

What do you think about “Toxic Love”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

FernGully: The Last Rainforest “Spirit of the Trees” (1992)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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Thumbelina “Let Me Be Your Wings” (1994)

In one of Don Bluth’s last animated ventures (the studio closed the following year), Thumbelina follows the titular character as she lives a relatively happy life with her mother in the countryside. The one thing that makes Thumbelina unhappy, however, is the apparent reality that she is the only person her size (she’s only as big as a thumb after all). All of this changes one night when Thumbelina meets the fairy prince Cornelius, who is enchanted by her singing. The pair go for a whirlwind ride on the prince’s bumblebee where he proceeds to woo her with “Let Me Be Your Wings.”

 

Let me be your wings
Let me be your only love
Let me take you far beyond the stars

Let me be your wings
Let me lift you high above
Everything we’re dreaming of will soon be ours

Anything that you desire
Anything at all
Everyday I’ll take you higher
And I’ll never let you fall

Let me be your wings
Leave behind the world you know
For another world of wondrous things
We’ll see the universe and dance on Saturn’s rings
Fly with me and I will be your wings

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“Let Me Be Your Wings” is the quintessential romance song. As Thumbelina has no wings of her own, Cornelius vows he’ll be her “wings” instead and give her everything she ever wanted. Of course, this song does suffer from the flaw found in a lot of pre-2000 animated films in which we have a hero (Cornelius) professing love to a heroine (Thumbelina) that he’s only just met. Of course you can be attracted to someone right away, but professing eternal love and wanting to marry right away? It’s not exactly a realistic depiction of love is it? However, putting that aside, it’s easy to feel happy for Thumbelina as Cornelius shows her a night to remember. Given what happens next though, I’ve always found myself wishing that Cornelius had just whisked her away to the fairy kingdom then and there (which would have avoided so many problems).

What do you think of “Let Me Be Your Wings”? Let me know your thoughts about the song in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Thumbelina “Marry the Mole” (1994)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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Thumbelina “Marry the Mole” (1994)

Despite earning a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song (the only award Thumbelina picked up), I really like the song “Marry the Mole.” As the title implies, the song features Mrs. Fieldmouse (Carol Channing) convincing Thumbelina (Jodi Benson) as to why she should marry Mr. Mole (who is admittedly very wealthy but also cynical and blind as a bat). From Mrs. Fieldmouse’s point of view, love is highly overrated and it is far better to marry someone who can take care of you financially. I think Mrs. Fieldmouse really believes she wants the best for Thumbelina (even if she does call her stupid more or less later in the song) but it’s still depressing to think of a life where you marry someone ONLY for their money. After all, what’s the good of being fabulously rich if you’re locked up in a dark hole way underground?

 

Ms. Fieldmouse: Love? Love is what we read about in books, my dear.

“Here Comes the Bride” is a lovely little ditty

But marrying for love is a foolish thing to do

‘Cause love won’t pay the mortgage or put porridge in your bowl

Dearie, Marry the Mole!

True, it’s a fact, that he’s not exactly witty

He’s blinder than a bat, but at least his eyes are blue

His breath may be alarming, but he’s charming, for a troll

Dearie, Marry the Mole!

Romeo and Juliet

Were very much in love when they were wed

They honored every vow; so where are they now?

They’re dead, dead! Very, very dead!

Poor Thumbelina, your brain’s so itty bitty!

I hate to seem a pest, but I know what’s best for you

Just think of all the ways that you can decorate a hole!

Take my advice; I’ll bring the rice!

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Dearie, Marry the Mole!

Marry the Mole!

Mar-ry that Mole!

M is for money!

Thumbelina: Oh!

Ms. Fieldmouse: L-E!

I both love and hate that Mrs. Fieldmouse uses Romeo and Juliet as an example of why you shouldn’t marry for love. On the one hand, as soon as she mentions the couple you know where that verse is going (the lovers wind up dead). But then again, Romeo and Juliet is about the worst example of “love” you can possibly choose. Allegedly, Romeo and Juliet meet and fall in love in a matter of days (and that’s being generous), get married and promptly kill themselves (that’s an oversimplification but more or less accurate). They barely knew each other so it’s doubtful they truly loved each other (but then again one could also make that argument about Thumbelina and Cornelius’s love since they’ve only met once but that’s besides the point).

What do you think about “Marry the Mole”? Let me know your thoughts about this song in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

My Thoughts On: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

*note: To be fair I’m trying to keep spoilers to a minimum

I have a confession to make: while I’ve seen the original Spider-Man trilogy and I enjoy Tom Holland’s performance in the MCU, I’m actually not the biggest fan of Spider-Man (not sure why, it’s just not my first choice when it comes to picking a superhero movie to watch). On that basis, I was nervous going into the theater, because despite the critical acclaim surrounding the film, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. Now after having seen it, I can definitely say that I *do* like, love and enjoy Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but it took me a little bit to get into the film.

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I’m convinced that I must suffer from secondary embarrassment (feeling someone else’s embarrassment/awkwardness as if it were my own), because without fail, every time I see a superhero go through that awkward phase where they’re trying to figure out what’s happened to them (like what happens with Miles), instead of finding it funny (which I think we’re supposed to), I find it all very awkward and hard to watch. Happily, the film doesn’t linger on this part for too long. But before I move on to what I loved about this film, I have to make it clear that I found the sequence (after Gwen loses some of her hair) where Miles is overwhelmed by the fact that the entire school knows what happened and is laughing at him to be very triggering for me (having gone through extensive bullying and isolation during grade school). Again, I’m happy and relieved that the film didn’t linger on this aspect.

Now for what I loved, which is quite a lot: first, I love the animation style of this film, especially after Miles is bit by the spider. Once Miles begins to change, the film resembles an actual comic book, down to thought-bubbles and commentary boxes. It’s incredible to watch and for the first time I felt like a studio had actually succeeded in bringing a comic book to life.

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Second, I’m in LOVE with the other Spider-People. To be honest, apart from Spider-Gwen, I didn’t really know anything about these other versions of Spider-Man but I loved all of them. Seeing Spider-Gwen in action makes me really excited for the Spider-Women spin off (which will include Gwen, Spider-Woman and Silk). I loved Spider-Ham a lot more than I thought I would (especially when he whips out the anvil and mallet during the final fight). I’d never heard of Peni Parker but it was cool to see a character drawn in an anime style

Third, the film certainly does not lack for surprises. In hindsight, I should’ve seen the outcome of that first Spider-Man fight coming. Anytime you hear a character say “No matter what happens, I always manage to get back up” that should tell you something bad is coming. I also was not expecting Liv to be revealed as Dr. Octopus (to be honest, that was the first moment I really began to enjoy the film). But the surprise that got me the most was the reveal of the Prowler’s identity. Composer Daniel Pemberton wrote a heart-wrenching piece of music for this moment that makes it just so devastating.

 

A full-length review of Into the Spider-Verse‘s score will have to wait until I have a chance to listen to it again, but I can say the score is amazing. Daniel Pemberton did a fantastic job creating a score that is engaging and keeps you engrossed in the story. I also like that the score includes rap and hip-hop songs (meant to represent the music Miles would listen to).

In conclusion, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a fantastic film, and I can see why it’s being called the greatest Spider-Man film ever made. Let me know what you think of this film in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Animated Film Reviews

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The Aristocats “The Aristocats” (1970)

I often feel like the animated Disney films made during the 1970s get overlooked far too often as they’re made after the passing of Walt Disney and before the Disney Renaissance began. However, there were several animated gems made during this era and The Aristocats is one of them (it also has the distinction of being the last film project approved by Disney himself before his death in 1966). Set in Paris in the year 1910, The Aristocats follows a family of high-class felines that live with Madame, a retired opera singer. When Edgar, the family butler, learns that the cats will inherit the estate before he does, the disgruntled servant kidnaps the cats and abandons them in the French countryside, leading the cats into an adventure to get back to Paris and their home.

The titular song was performed by Maurice Chevalier, a legendary French singer and performer, who was actually talked out of retirement to do the song (his final contribution to the film industry as he died in 1972). The song describes all the advantages “aristocats” possess (‘aristocat’ being an obvious play on aristocrat) over ‘common’ cats and ends with the cats out with Madame on a carriage ride.

Which pet’s address
Is the finest in Paris?
Which pets possess
The longest pedigree?
Which pets get
To sleep on velvet mats?
Naturellement! The aristocats!

Which pets are blessed
With the fairest forms and faces?
Which pets know best
All the gentle social graces?
Which pets live
On cream and loving fats?
Naturellement! The aristocats!

The song plays out while we’re treated to the opening credits, as well as animations of the cats that will appear later in the film.

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They show aristocratic bearing
When they’re seen
Upon an airing
And aristocratic flair
In what they do
And what they say!
Aristocats are never found
In alleyways or hanging around
The garbage cans where
Common kitties play, oh no!
Which pets are known
To never show their claws?
Which pets are prone
To hardly any flaws?
To which pets
Do the others tip their hats?
Naturellement! The aristocats!

I’ve always found it interesting that the film points out the year as 1910, as there aren’t many Disney films that specify a year. Perhaps I’m being morbid, but every time I see that date, I always remember that it was only a few years before the start of World War I, when the glitz and glamour of the 19th century disappeared. The year is also a reminder that this is a time of great change (even before the war began). For instance, while Madame is riding in a carriage, her lawyer drives up in a car (albeit a primitive one).

Also, fun piece of trivia: Hermione Baddeley, the voice of Madame, is also the voice of Auntie Shrew in The Secret of NIMH (1982) (another Disney credit includes Ellen in Mary Poppins (1964)).

I like “The Aristocats,” it’s a fun little song that provides a good opening to the film and I hope you enjoy listening to it. Let me know what you think of this song in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

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