‘Lion King’ fails to roar

“A lion is called a ‘king of beasts’ obviously for a reason.” – Jack Hanna As a kid, I had an odd disliking for The Lion King. Sure, perhaps I thought it was fine the first time through, but it … Read more

‘Aladdin’ is low on magic

“Arabs are the most maligned group in the history of Hollywood. They’re portrayed basically as subhumans.” – Dr. Jack G. Shaheen During the cinematic reckoning I underwent in my undergraduates years, one of the films that impacted me the most … Read more

Pirates of the Caribbean: Apparently, Dead Men Tell No (New) Tales

Javier Bardem in 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales'
Javier Bardem in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’

Dead men tell no tales. Neither do movies on the fifth go-around, apparently. However, the latest installment in Disney’s goldmine franchise proved two things. One, that a return to the glory days of Pirates, while somewhat repetitive, was necessary and long past due. Two, Orlando Bloom, even with a barnacle-encrusted face, can never look bad.

Read morePirates of the Caribbean: Apparently, Dead Men Tell No (New) Tales

A “Beauty and the Beast” for the Modern Age

The Beast of 'Beauty and the Beast'
The Beast of ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Beauty and the Beast may be timeless, but Disney’s latest revamp of the “tale as old as time” is steeped in special effects and themes of the 21st century.

This reimagined live-action Beauty and the Beast, under the eager direction of Bill Condon, features a cast of enchantingly detailed CGI furniture, an impressive new soundtrack, and Disney’s first (debatably) openly gay character, all while taking place in 18th century France. The film retains the roots of the story we all love and know while stamping it with a modern style of its own.

Read moreA “Beauty and the Beast” for the Modern Age

2016 at the box office

As of December 28, 2016 here are the top ten movies at the box office (worldwide) for movies that were released in 2016: #1 – Captain America: Civil War with $1,153 billion in box office #2 – Finding Dory with … Read more

‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ gets ‘special’ treatment on DVD

[rating=3]Starring: John Goodman, David Spade, Patrick Warburton, Eartha Kitt
Director(s): Saul Andrew Blinkoff, Elliot M. Bour
Writer(s): Screenplay by David Reynolds; Story by Chris Williams, Mark Dindal, Roger Allers, Matthew Jacobs

Pacha (left) and Kuzco are back-to-back in 'The Emperor’s New Groove'
Pacha (left) and Kuzco are back-to-back in ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’

The Emperor’s New Groove was one of those handful of Disney movies in recent years that I’ve seen in the theaters. I wasn’t really expecting much from it, because it’s been a while since I was all that impressed by Disney’s animated films. I was actually pleasantly surprised, because the film was pretty funny, with some outstanding animation work and memorable characters.

The story has a spoiled young emperor named Kuzco (David Spade), and a peasant named Pacha (John Goodman) in whose care Kuzco winds up after a failed assassination attempt turns him into a llama. This brat of an emperor must then rely on the kind-hearted Pacha to regain power, and ultimately save Pacha’s village from destruction.

Read more‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ gets ‘special’ treatment on DVD

‘Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch’ is a charming sequel

Stitch loses control in 'Lilo and Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch'
Stitch loses control in ‘Lilo and Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch’

[rating=3]Starring: Dakota Fanning, Tia Carrere, Chris Sanders, Jason Scott Lee, Holliston Coleman, Jillian Henry, Kevin McDonald, Liliana Mumy, David Ogden Stiers
Director(s): Michael LaBash, Anthony Leondis
Writer(s): Anthony Leondis, Eddie Guzelian, Alexa Junge, Michael LaBash

Before I sat down to watch Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch, I had to take the time to watch the original film. I wanted to get a sense for the originals of all the characters and how they ended up together. I have to say, this series of film is probably one of the most original things to come out of Disney in years.

Read more‘Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch’ is a charming sequel

Disney’s ‘Bambi’ remains a stunning animation classic

[rating=4]Starring: Featuring the voices of Peter Behn, Paula Winslowe, Bobby Stewart, Cammie King, Donnie Dunagan, Hardie Albright, John Sutherland, Sam Edwards, Sterling Holloway, Ann Gillis
Director(s): David D. Hand
Writer(s): Perce Pearce and Larry Morey

Disney's classic 'Bambi' gets the DVD treatment
Disney’s classic ‘Bambi’ gets the DVD treatment

I believe the last time I had seen Bambi, I was five years old and saw it during a re-release or special screening. It was probably the first time I had seen the movie, as well. So, when I was sent the upcoming special edition DVD — which is set to hit stores on Tuesday — it was as if I was seeing the film for the first time.

First and foremost, I’ve repeatedly been impressed with the DVDs Disney has put out of its most treasured classics. They really are shining examples of how films should be released (and I’m not just saying that because I get advanced peaks at these DVDs). And this “platinum edition” of Bambi is probably the single best release of a classic Disney film yet.

Read moreDisney’s ‘Bambi’ remains a stunning animation classic

‘Walt Disney’s Classic Cartoon Favorites’ highlights their staple of cartoon legends

Starring: Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Chip and Dale

Goofy is among the cartoon legends featured in 'Walt Disney’s Classic Cartoon Favorites'
Goofy is among the cartoon legends featured in ‘Walt Disney’s Classic Cartoon Favorites’

I think it’s probably safe to say that the animation industry would not exist without Walt Disney. Say what you want about the company, it’s politics or whatever, it established the standard by which all animation films and shorts have been judged.

And the characters who helped set those standards are Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy. Those three iconic figures grew beyond the two-dimensional drawings they are into pop culture standards. But it always seems to me that Disney has shied away from using these cartoon greats too often. It’s been years since any of them have been seen on the big screen. The closest we have is Goofy, who made his most recent big screen appearance along side his son.

Read more‘Walt Disney’s Classic Cartoon Favorites’ highlights their staple of cartoon legends

Mickey Mouse’s pup takes center stage in ‘Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Pluto’

[rating=2]Starring: Pluto, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Minnie Mouse
Company: Disney

Pluto with Mickey Mouse in 'Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Pluto'
Pluto with Mickey Mouse in ‘Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Pluto’

The evolution of Pluto differs from the other famous Disney icons, in that the character didn’t change in appearance too much, and he’s the only character that doesn’t speak.

To be honest, I was never a big fan of the Pluto cartoons. The strange part of watching this collection, unlike the Mickey Mouse one I reviewed earlier this week, was that I had actually seen many of these cartoons. I started from the beginning, watching “Chain Gang”, which is considered Pluto’s first appearance, even though it’s not really him. Since Disney approaches these characters as if they were real people, it’s been generally accepted that Pluto made his first appearance in that short as two different bloodhounds. It wasn’t until a few shorts later in “Moose Hunt” — which is on the Mickey in Black & White: Vol. 2 DVD set — that Pluto actually got his name, and only then does he begin to fill the role he is famous for — as Mickey’s loyal sidekick.

Read moreMickey Mouse’s pup takes center stage in ‘Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Pluto’