Sunday, November 14, 2010


When thinking about the Disney movies of when I grew up, everything always seemed like it went downhill a bit after The Lion King.  While Hercules, Pocahontas, and Mulan were good, they weren't quite up to par with The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin.  And the ones that came after that were even worse.  However, when we watched Mulan again I realized that I really enjoyed this one, much more so than I thought I would.

Like many Disney movies, Mulan is based on a story that came before it; in this case it's an old Chinese legend.  I never knew this until I looked it up on wikipedia right now, but it's interesting to know.  In the movie, you'd think Mulan's character would be really tough and awesome at everything, and while she's intelligent, she also kinda lacks good social skills.  Even though she may not be too suave with the other guys at the camp, at least she comes up with the brilliant idea to get the avalanche to fall on the Huns.  Speaking of which, the fact that any of them rose out of that avalanche was pretty unbelievable.

It was also a lot funnier than I remembered.  Eddie Murphy is a fun character as Mushu, the dragon.  Mulan herself is pretty endearing, too.

One interesting thing that Jason pointed out is that he thinks this is one of the only Disney movies where the hero actually intentionally kills the villain.  We're still trying to figure out others, but it actually is kind of true.  I tried to argue Simba, but we decided that was really more self-defense and not actual intentional murder.  Mulan definitely wanted to kill that hun, though!

The Music
The music in this one is pretty good.  There are two really excellent songs in it: "Reflection" and "I'll Make a Man Out of You."  None of the others are really all that memorable, though, so while it has two good songs the soundtrack overall isn't the best.

The Villain
Shan Yu is a jerk, certainly, but he's not really all that interesting of a villain.  I tend to think of the villains here as "The Huns" overall, and so the villain is just an idea, not a specific person.  Shan Yu really has no personality, he's just "the bad guy."  Anyway, Mulan's personal struggles and fight against societal norms is really the more interesting plot.

The Disney World Connection
Mulan never really hit off with the world all that well, so it's not too surprising that she doesn't make a huge appearance in Disney World.  Mulan herself appears around the park, specifically in the Japanese pavilion in Epcot, but as far as I can remember there's no ride or attraction in WDW dedicated to the movie.  She can be found other places as well, and Mushu can be seen sometimes too.

My rating:  8 out of 10
Jason's rating:  9 out of 10

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Lion King

Many people might say that The Lion King is Disney's finest film ever made - the peak of their renaissance period of the 1990's, not to mention the epitome of a Disney classic. I am one of those people. While the competition is stiff, I think I can say that The Lion King is my favorite Disney movie. I absolutely adored this movie growing up. I watched the movie over and over again, and I had a cassette tape with most of the soundtrack and dialogue on it, and I listened to it so much that to this day I basically have the movie memorized. I also decided when I was about seven or eight that my family would perform The Lion King as a play, in which I would play Simba. I don't believe this ever actually came to pass, but I remember "rehearsals" and trying to create costumes...

Anyway, my point is that The Lion King is an awesome movie. It really has all of the qualities of a good movie (not just a good Disney movie, or a good cartoon), and it's got something for everyone. It has some of the best music found in any movie. It's also an extremely moving story with an interesting message. I always cry no matter how many times I've seen it when Mufasa dies. And yet it also has some of the funniest characters in any Disney movie in the dynamic duo of Timon and Pumba.

Some of the "lessons" learned from this movie include moving on with your life after bad things happen, believing in yourself and in what's right, and taking action to fight for what's right. I think one of the most touching moments in the movie is when Mufasa talks to Simba and tells him about the circle of life - how we are all connected to everything else in the world, and that even when one person or animal dies life as a whole goes on. Just like the lions are connected to the antelope, and although they eat the antelope and are often the cause of their death, "when we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass, and so we are all connected in the great circle of life."

There's also an all-star voice cast in this one. When I first watched the movie at 7 I had no idea who any of these people were, but you've got a lot of talent here. James Earl Jones at Mufasa, Matthew Broderick as older Simba, Jonathan Taylor Thomas as younger Simba, Whoopi Goldberg as Shenzi, and Nathan Lane as Timon.

This is one Disney movie that isn't all about rainbows and perfect, fairy tale happy endings. It's realistic about life and events, in a sense, but it still has a positive ending and hope for the future. And that's one of the reasons why I love it.

The Music

Probably the best music in any Disney film, done by the genius Elton John and Tim Rice. There isn't one dud song in the bunch. The Circle of Life is a beautiful opening number with an authentic feel. I Just Can't Wait to Be King and Hukuna Matata are kids' favorites with fun, upbeat tunes and great lyrics. Be Prepared, when shown with the animation, is quite creepy. And Can You Feel the Love Tonight is in my opinion one of the best love songs ever (perhaps more the Elton John recorded version, but the one in the movie is a lot more plot oriented). The Lion King won two Oscars - one for Best Music, Original Score, and one for Best Music, Original Song (for Can You Feel the Love Tonight).

The Villain

Scar is pretty much complete scum. He's motivated completely by his desire for power and attention. The interesting thing about him is that he doesn't really start with power - he's brother to the king, but that doesn't mean much. Unlike characters like the evil stepmothers that are queens, Hades, a powerful god, Frollo, and so many others, Scar basically has to get himself any sort of power, and that he does. In some ways he's almost like the "bullied kid turned bully" - you can tell that he's been picked on his whole life, with Zazu and Mafasa making some comments about him, and he's kinda small and scrawny for a lion. He may not be the most absolutely evil Disney villain, but he's sneaky and underhanded and despicable. He's also pretty entertaining for a villain, with his sarcasm and sly jokes.

The Disney World Connection

Due to its popularity, it's no surprise that The Lion King has a pretty big presence in WDW. It's particularly popular in The Animal Kingdom. Magic Kingdom has Cinderella's Castle, Epcot has "the big silver ball," and Animal Kingdom has The Lion King's tree of life as its icon. Animal Kingdom is also host to a performance called "The Festival of the Lion King," and the research and education center is known as "Rafiki's Planet Watch." The Lion King is also in Epcot, with the "Circle of Life" movie in the Land Pavilion, which is hosted by Timon and Pumba. In The Magic Kingdom, Zazu now stars along with Iago in The Enchanted Tiki Room. And you can find the characters Rafiki and Timon wandering around several parks, including Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom.

My rating: 10 out of 10
Jason's rating: 10 out of 10