The World According to Renee

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Moana: A Review

Disney non-princesses sure have come a long way. No longer do Disney heroines need Princes to kiss them, they just need an animal sidekick, a loving mentor and a dude who can help kick some butt along the way (but she does most of the work).

Enter Moana, a tale of mortal heroine defeating gods to restore life to her dying world. Moana herself is Disney’s first Polynesian heroine, based on Polynesian legends and culture. The daughter of a Chief, she’s poised to take over official duties but cannot ignore the call of the ocean as she’s drawn to find the demigod Maui and convince him to return the Heart to goddess Te Fiti in order to save her island (and the world).

Moana is everything modern audiences would want from a Disney film. Visually, it’s stunning, although I thought the people looked very plastic-y. Everything from the crystal clear waters to the fierce gods is beautifully animated and I read that Maui’s tattoos were hand-drawn. There’s a ton of Easter eggs and other film references hidden in the film so keep an eye out for those.

The story is based on Polynesian legend. I’m not usually one for stories of gods vs humans, but I was able to overlook it just this once. Moana and Maui meet some interesting characters along the way, including the materialistic Tamatoa. He is voiced by Flight of the Conchords‘ Jemaine Clement with a David Bowie-esque song (which I am still humming).

This brings me to the music. Wow! I was flabbergasted at the lyrical atrocities committed by the frighteningly awful Frozen (I know- just shoot me) but Moana redeems my faith in Disney musicals. Not only are they lyrically on-track, but the music itself is toe tapping happiness. I came home and downloaded the soundtrack immediately; I know it’s gonna be on repeat in my car forever.

Moana is awesome. I can’t write enough good things about this film. It’s amazing. As the cliche goes, if you only see one Disney film this year, make it Moana.

Nine out of ten popcorns.

January 9, 2017 Posted by | Reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Saving Mr Banks: A Review

Regular readers will know that I am a huge fan of Disney movies. Thank God for Walt Disney, whose creations are still loved and enjoyed the world over, and whose legacy will never die.

Saving Mr Banks tells the story of Walt Disney’s fight with author P.L. Travers to turn her books into a film. That film, of course, is Mary Poppins, which is an iconic film, still beloved by children and adults.

The problem is, I’m not entirely sure this story needs to be told. Pamela Travers, author of the Mary Poppins books, was an infinitely interesting person. She was bisexual, and by all accounts, a professional curmudgeon. Emma Thompson, who plays Mrs Travers in Saving Mr Banks, said in interview that Travers was the most complex person she’s ever had to play. However, in this film, Travers is portrayed as nothing more than a royal bitch who doesn’t want anyone to tamper with the story she’s created. Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) eventually gets to the bottom of the problem and empathises with Travers, resulting in what we all know was going to happen anyway: Travers signing over the rights to the story for use in film.

Betwixt the endearing battles of Disney and Travers lies Travers’ backstory: a highly imaginative but alcoholic father whom Travers adored. The best part about these flashbacks is Colin Farrell, who stretches his artistic wings and plays a character far more complex than first meets the eye. Rachel Griffiths is the “real” Mary Poppins, who promises to save the family. Disappointingly, Rachel’s nanny is relegated to cameo status with no real story there at all. I suppose if the story had switched to her, the film wouldn’t be called Saving Mr Banks

The film runs at two hours, ten minutes. It’s far too long and missing the traditional Disney magic. It does, however, contain plenty of other Disney traits such as cheesiness and “everything is happy” moments. The principal actors are fantastic and cannot be faulted (except perhaps for Tom Hanks’ Southern accent), but with very little actual plot to work with, this really just seems an excuse to pump out an adult Disney movie while the kids are in another theatre watching Frozen.

Bringing a classic children’s book to the screen may have been interesting to those involved, but it really didn’t deserve to have its own movie. I await the film franchise showing J.K. Rowling’s issues getting Harry Potter to the screen.

6/10 popcorns

 

December 30, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment