If Ever there was a Theme Park ride, that was turned into a Comedy Ghost Film, then that role belongs Solely, to Disney's - the Haunted Mansion:
As I have rode the Haunted Mansion ride (in Magic Kingdom) many times, I felt that this Fantasy Film, had a steep milestone to live up to (or is that a steep Gravestone to live up to?) ... For starters, it is hard to have a Haunted Mansion, just by itself. You need a storyline, and this film's storyline, of a love triangle (with a twist), really fits the Raven's bill! The film starts properly (for me), at the Iron Gates of the Haunted Mansion - which are of course, padlocked. Yet with some Ghostly magic, do the Mansion's Gate's then open ... And it is here, that I raised an eyebrow - as would I have been brave enough to enter? Probably not! Fortunately, such concerns are not faced, by the adventurer's of this film: the Evers Family :) And through those Iron Gates? Well ... First and foremost, I love this film's Fantasy Location - the Haunted Mansion itself :) There's Haunted Hallways, and Ghostly Stairs - with Spooky Curtains, and Guardian Knights. There's Spectral Ballrooms, and Darkened Bedrooms - with Glowing Candles, and Spying Portraits. There's Mothballed Libraries, and Marbled Studies - with Secret Passages, and Gothic Fireplaces. For this Haunted Mansion's, all Shroud in Dark - with Shimmering Cobwebs, and Scurrying Spiders, to Sleepless Tombs, and Spectral Carriages! For this Haunted Mansion's, all Cast in Light - with Flickering Candles, and Fiery Chandeliers, to Maleficent Green, and Whispered Balls! And of this Mansion, do I feel - no finer home, for Ghostly Haunts :) And it is here that I found, the next part of this Ghostly Tale, that I quite like ... As the Mansion itself, plays right into the variety of Ghosts, that are found within it's Haunted Halls :) There's Apparitions (both Touch and Wraith). There's Ghostly Balls (both Soul and Guide). There's Musical Instruments (both Sound and Chase). There's Replay Memories (both Masquerade Ball - and Locked in Time). There's Hitch Hiking Ghosts (both Speak and Hide). There's Suits of Armour (both Haunt and Axe). There's Spectral Horses (both Cart and Gallop). For in this Haunted Mansion - there's always My Way, You Know! Yet in all of this, did I find - three particular Ghosts, that are my favourites. First: is Ramsley (the Butler). For his Fantasy Character (being both straight faced and straight backed), helps guide the film, and is fundamental to it's storyline. Added to this, is the fact that Ramsley, made me jump three times: i) when he appears from the Knight's Corridor (in flashes of lightening) - would you hold your ground? ii) when he appears right behind Mr Evers (making him jump). iii) when he appears right behind Mrs Evers (making her jump). In all three, does Ramsley appear - to be Lending a Hand ... Second: is Madame Leota (the Gypsy Tarot Reader). Who for me, provides much of the comedy - whilst also guiding the Fate of both Mr and Mrs Evers (in a more helpful way). Madame Leota, is also responsible for some of the best footage, that's found within this film (in both terms of plot, and special effects). And of this best footage, do I have a favourite scene ... It's where Mr Evers first meets Madame Leota - and is soon being flown around the room: with Dancing Trumpets, Drums, Harps and Tarot Cards! Which eventually leads to, Mr Evers being chased down a corridor, by a whole ensemble - of Musical Instruments :) Third: is the Ghost Ball (which appears to Mr Ever's son and daughter). I liked the fact, that the Ghost Ball, is really a Will-o'-the-wisps - that has an honourable Quest, for the two children to undertake (even if it would have scared me, in reality!). I also enjoyed the humour, that surrounds the Ghost Ball - where the sister would follow it (being Brave), whilst her brother would not (shaking like a leaf). Even so ... There was one part of this film, that I found a little scary (especially the first time I watched it). It's where Mr Evers, undertakes the main Quest of the film (once he arrives at the Mansion), and goes down into the Mansion's Crypt. I was surprised by the Walking Dead (that he encounters down there), and felt that it would take a very brave person indeed, to Willingly Dive, Under the Water! Mind you, I now suspect that Ramsley, was solely responsible/behind this (in a bid to prevent Mr Evers, from completing his Quest). Although, if you don't like Spiders - then you'll probably be squinting, right after the Walking Dead scene, as well :) Overall: I feel that this is a lively Ghost Film, which brings the Haunted Mansion to Life - in a way that captures the fun side - of the original Haunted Mansion ride :) Yet at the same time, do I feel that the film, also contains an important message, about the need to maintain - a work life balance :) It took Mr Evers (as played by Eddie Murphy), several interactions with Ghosts - to fully realise/remember this ... Added to this, is the fact that several sub-plots of the film, are about Facing Your Fears, together with: You Try, You Fail, You Try, You Fail, You Try, You Fail - But You Only Truly Fail, When You Stop Trying! And you get a Fantasy Film, that has much more on the Inside of the Mansion, than on the Outside :) Finally ... I just loved the comedy scene in the Library/Study - as we all want a large Painting of Ourselves, hanging above the Mantelpiece - don't we? And if you should decide to join us ...
A Kingdom of Love, with her Mum and her Dad. Two Twists of Fate, and a Test of her Spirit:
In Childhood Dreams, did Ella play - with Clouds of Horse, and Animal Chat. In Childhood Dreams, did Ella trust - with Mother's Verse, and Father's Smile. Belief in All, did Ella grow - with Twist of Fate, and dying Mother. A promise made, Truthful Ella - with Dashing Horse, and Wild of Stag. Father Dreams, new Stepmother - Merchant Trip, and Change for All ... Ella slaves, Ella plays - Ella's promise, to her Mother: Have Courage and be Kind! Yet: To Stepmother, Cinderella, to her Sisters, just a Half-wit. I love the fact that this film, tells the story of Cinderella, in a modern magical way! I especially love the portrayal, of the Fairy Godmother - who is just a little scatty! My favourite comedy scene, is when the Pumpkin grows into a Golden Coach: as both Cinderella, and her Fairy Godmother, manage to overlook the fact that there's not enough room for the Pumpkin to grow (inside the conservatory). Which leads to them both, being squeezed against the windows - and in turn, seems to be right at home, with the scattiness of her Fairy Godmother! On the other hand, does this contrast with the harshness of Cinderella's Stepmother, who at certain times, do I feel is overly mean - such as when she tears Cinderella's Mother's dress, and thus prevents Cinderella from attending the Prince's Ball (at least with her Stepmother, and two Stepsisters). Fortunately, such scenes are intermixed with further comedy: such as when the Prince's personal Oil Painter is lowered all-the-way to the floor (and accidentally finds a new painting position), and when the Prince laughs with his Father, at the girl who loses her shoes (as this reminded me of someone I used to know!). I find it interesting that the film goes to great lengths to illustrate two key points. First: that large houses (such as castles and country manors) may very-well be stocked full of possessions, but unless those very same houses are full of Love (from a woman that stokes the Fires of your Heart), than those same houses, may as well be empty! Second: marrying someone for any reason other than Love, is doomed to fail ... This is exactly what happens with Cinderella's Stepmother - who married Cinderella's Father for the sake of her two children. (The Stepmother drives this point home to Cinderella, when she again attempts to exploit, the Kindness that is found within Cinderella). I also feel that this film, gains much of it's magic, from it's use of Pixie Dust. There's two scenes where I feel, that this is particularly true. First: when Cinderella has her dress Geed-Up (as she twirls around in both pink, and blue Pixie Dust, intermixed with blue Butterflies). And second: when the Pumpkin is changed into a Coach (as there's Golden Pixie Dust, which glitters around the Pumpkin's sides - taking shape, forming wheels and curves, that befit the Carriage of a Loving Princess). And yet, in all of this, is there a twist: for if Cinderella had not been kind to the Old Hag (her Fairy Godmother in disguise), then it seems to me - that Cinderella would not have been able to go to the Prince's Ball (at all). Overall: I find this film to be a lovable mix of both fun (such as when Cinderella talks to her Mice - Jacqueline, Teddy, Matilda and greedy Gus-Gus), and harsh reality (such as when Cinderella's Stepmother goes to great lengths to seclude Cinderella - from family activities). An enjoyable reworking of a classic tale, that I feel, shall bring plenty of Pixie Dust into your Heart! Even so, I can't help but wonder - what would have happened, if the Stepmother (as portrayed in this film), had never overheard the conversation between Ella and her Father ...
The Tinkering of an Animal Fairy, with the Mystery of Something Gruff:
Within the Realms of Pixie Hollow, lives an Animal Fairy: who goes by the name of Fawn. A friend of Tinker Bells, with a Heart of Gold, and a scatty personality - that sees her caring, for ALL the Woodland Critters (even a baby Hawk). Yet Fawn's Heart, at logger-heads with her Head, sees her test the patience, of both Queen Clarion, and her Scout Fairy protector (called Nyx). Akin to Tinker Bell, is Fawn unable to resist, the mystery of a Forest Growl. Thus, do the adventures of Fawn begin! I like the fact that this film's storyline, revolves around a single (main) theme: that it's best not to judge a book by it's cover. At first, does the NeverBeast - scare Fawn. At second, does the NeverBeast - scare me! (as he lives within some darkened woods). But with persistence, does Fawn - learn more about the NeverBeast, as she seeks to earn his trust. My three favourite comedy scenes are: when Fawn first meets the NeverBeast (as she plays dead, then freezes, then LOOKS BIG - all with a twist of scatty), when Fawn does her Monkey impression (I almost fell off my seat - especially with the irony of Nyx's stern face), and when Fawn's dressed in Fur (to catch the attention of the NeverBeast - as this seems more befitting of Rosetta!). I initially found it odd, that this film focused primarily on Fawn - yet after watching several times, I have found myself impressed by this approach: as Fawn is the only Fairy, that could have befriended the NeverBeast! Even accounting for the fact, that it's Fawn that removes the thorn from the NeverBeast's paw - I feel that the magic of the storyline, stems from the bond, that's found between Fawn and the NeverBeast: as she's his friend! Whilst I understand where Nyx (the Scout Fairy) is coming from, I feel that her character, could have been more investigative (like Fawn's) - as opposed to being tunnel-visioned: just out to get the NeverBeast. Overall: a film that's less about Tinker Bell (although she's still in it), that's more about Fawn (who holds the film - being just as scatty as Tinker Bell), that's entwined with mystery (green clouds, comets plus stars, and the building of four towers), that's also able to bury-down-deep within your emotions, and make you cry (as this films something of a Tear Jerker - especially at the end, when the Fairies of Pixie Hollow, have to say goodbye to the NeverBeast, their friend).
A classic Theme Park ride that I remember viewing the City of Atlantis within, is Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (within the video, skip to six minutes fifteen seconds to see Atlantis):
This used to be my favourite Magic Kingdom ride - until it was closed/depreciated in (circa) 1994. I loved the fact that this ride combined five distinct fantasy themes. First: There was a fantasy submarine - the Nautilus (which you rode in). Second: There was the concept of living underwater - the harvesting of Kelp Beds and Sea Life (both for food). Third: There was a Ruined underwater City - the Lost City of Atlantis (which the Nautilus just-so-happens to discover). Four: There was a reminder of just how rough the Sea/Weather can be from the point-of-view of earlier Sea Explorers - the Graveyard of Lost Ships (the wooden hulls of Pirate Ships, Viking Longships, etc. located near/under the Polar Ice Cap). Five: My personal favourite - was the fact that this ride portrayed two of my favourite Mythical Creatures: Mermaids and Sea Serpents. As such, I approved of the idea of Mermaids having Sea Serpents as their pets - as is suggested within the ride (when the Sea Serpent is on leads). I also approved of the way that Mermaids were represented - with long flowing hair and their lower half modelled by a fishes tail, moving gently on the currents, but still being somewhat stationary (watching the Nautilus). I think that the Sea Serpent was suitably sized - as I got the impression that it could have sunk the Nautilus (if it wanted to), although, within this particular ride, it was the Giant Squid/Sea Monster that attempted this! As for the City of Atlantis - I enjoyed seeing the Classical Ruins appear from the dark: the white Stone Pillars, Temples and Statues being gradually revealed/highlighted in white/green, all intermixed/overgrown with Seaweed and Kelp. I also remember that the ride left you with a good impression/feeling of having (actually) been on a submarine! For the most part, this effect was achieved by the use of air bubbles - bubbling up along the side of the Nautilus, to suggest the fact that you were diving. The narrator also played into this belief - especially when he orders the Nautilus, to dive, as deep as possible! I also enjoyed the narration that's related to the Green Sea Turtles - especially the suggestion, that they are descendants of the Dinosaurs (living in the Modern Age). The Sea Bed itself? This created a good impression/illusion of realism - especially with the inclusion of Giant Clams and Lobsters/Crabs (both of which, were also, animated). The Nautilus herself? The two most striking parts about the Nautilus (that I remember) was: 1) The shear amount of rivets present upon her hull form. 2) The steep stairs when you entered/left the vessel. As for the rivets: I feel that these helped to capture the concept of an Earlier Time in Sea Exploration - as most (if not all) modern ships/submarines only make use of welding, when constructing their hull forms (as welding is much more watertight). Overall: this was a great water-themed ride, that I rode many times within Fantasyland (as a young Dragon!). It's a ride that left something of an impression on me - as I have hoarded a ninety-six litre freshwater aquarium, that just-so-happens to feature some Temples of Atlantis, a Viking Longship and a Nuclear Submarine model. Alas, as the Disney ride is now no more - I shall have to make do with watching my Mermaids swim between the Ruined City, that's found within my aquarium!
A tale of two bears, with Castles and Kingdoms, a matter of pride, with Magic and Fate:
The corset of a Princess, the hands of a fighter, the teachings of a Queen, the stubbornness of a King: Merida. Betrothed to a Lord's son, the freedom of a loner, the quest for perfection, the skill of an archer: Carrot-topped. The drive for adventure, the demand for etiquette, the love of a family, the distance of a mother: Princess! I like the way that this film portrays the relationship between a mother and her daughter: Merida is head-strong (having little interest in becoming the Queen), whilst Queen Elinor is inflexible (demanding that she prepares for the role). I like the fact that Merida chooses to go her own way: she would rather explore the Kingdom (and make use of her bow and arrow), than dress like a Lady (and undertake the activities that befit a Princess). I also feel that there's some truth in the way that fate is portrayed within this film: you can be free to choose your own path/fate, you can have the option of working hard to change your fate, and that sometimes, when your feeling lost, the Will-o'-the-wisps (or equivalent) may appear - to help you get back on track. I especially enjoy the comedy that's found within this film, with most of this coming from Merida's three brothers (Harris, Hubert and Hamish) - who remind me (so very much) of my nephew! My three favourite (comedy) scenes are: when King Fergus has his leg tied to the table (causing it to fall over and spread it's food all over the floor - Boys!), when King Fergus has managed to calm the fighting tribes (only to have the fights start over again, as a mace is clobbered onto Lord Dingwall's foot - Boys!) and when the Boys! are turned into three little bears (as I could not help but imagine the mischief that they could get up to now). Overall: a highly entertaining film that makes good use of the atmosphere that is typically found within woods (such as quietness, mists and being on the wrong path), together with the fun that you would expect from a medieval castle (such as feasting and jesting). There are also some lessons on the importance of finding your own fate (which may be at logger-heads with other peoples point-of-view). Just one spell remains: would you follow the wisp?
A tale of two sisters, a palace of ice, a blizzard of snow, some icy powers and a comical snowman:
Elsa and Anna, best friends and sisters, torn apart in childhood (by King and Queen), conceal not reveal - Elsa has a secret: she can control both ice and snow. The castle doors are shut, it's people kept out: Anna is forced to forget her sisters magic. But she doesn't understand, why can't she spend time with Elsa? She just wants to build a snowman! A storm at sea, a year or two, a coronation: Elsa becomes the Queen of Arendelle. I like the way that this film portrays the contrast between two sisters: Elsa is polite and quite (trying to conceal her powers and keep people out), whilst Anna is scatty and happy (wanting to open doors, meet the people and accept a wedding invitation from a Prince she just met). My favourite scene is when Elsa (after having accidentally revealed her powers to her sister/people) walks up the side of a mountain, finally accepting who she is, giving into her powers: she conjures some snow flakes, rains some snow, creates some wisps, pushes her powers, creates a bridge, stamps her feet, grows a Palace of Ice and makes a stunning icy costume (for herself). My favourite comedy character is Olaf (the snowman) - as he just appears from nowhere, missing a carrot nose, often falling apart and (at one point) puts on some weight (after rolling down a snow covered roof). He also has a strange interest in Summer - and wants to sunbath on the beach! My second favourite scene is when Kristoff (the True Love of Anna) takes Anna and Olaf to meet his family: the Trolls. I found myself laughing when both Anna and Olaf regard Kristoff as being crazy - as he's just talking to the rocks (at least until they wake up/turn into trolls). This film has some stunning vocals/lyrics (sometimes bordering on a musical) and my favourite words that Elsa sings are: The cold never bothered me anyway! Overall: a stunning film, that raises the bar very high, especially in terms of: storyline, special effects (e.g. I just love the wind-swept snow) and singing/musical quality (e.g. I found myself foot tapping and wanting to sing along). True Love can thaw a heart of ice, yet this film will do everything but freeze your heart: do you want to build a snowman?
Yo ho, yo ho, a fairies life for me! Shiver me wings, swab the dust, it's off to the screen we go:
Tinker Bell is not the only tinkerer within Pixie Hollow, there's also her Dust-Keeper Fairy friend: Zarina. Whilst Tinker Bell tinkers with Lost Things, Zarina tinkers with Pixie Dust: she is fascinated by its colours, and wants to learn all she can about it! Even so, Zarina still has an important task to perform (just like the other Dust Keepers): she helps to gather Pixie Dust and distribute it amongst the fairies - which in turn, is what allows them to fly and (for example) is what allows Silvermist to control water. Zarina does not stop there though: she likes to experiment with Pixie Dust, which eventually causes an incident within Pixie Hollow, and she is forced to run away. There's a fair amount of comedy within this film - and I have several favourite scenes. The first, is when Tinker Bell, Silvermist, Fawn, Iridessa, Rosetta and Vidia have their powers swapped - as it takes them a while to figure out how to use their new powers: Tinker Bell ends up soaking everybody, when she touches a water fall (as she is now a Water Fairy). The second, is when Rosetta accidentally befriends a baby crocodile - as he's the cutest crocodile I've ever seen: Rosetta is seen by him as his Mum, and he follows her to the Pirate Ship, where he helps to protect Rosetta (by biting some Pirates), before he eventually develops a Tick-Tock Tick-Tock (sound). The third, is when the Pirates break into their sing song - as they (easily) have you tapping your feet: they dance around the decks, swing around the masts and soap ski on the deck! The dancing and singing Pirates actually caused me to forget that they are indeed Pirates, and I was shocked when they suddenly take control of the Pirate Ship (and capture the Pirate Fairy). My favourite (comedy) character is Rosetta: it makes me laugh when Fawn (accidentally) damages her hair! Overall: An enjoyable tale that bridges the gap between Tinker Bell and the Neverland/Peter Pan tales. I have been impressed by the films storyline (throughout), and have also been impressed by the films special effects, especially towards the end - when Zarina returns to Pixie Hollow, and helps Tinker Bell (plus friends) put on an amazing light show.
Curiosity, Chance and Snow, combine with Tinker Bell, to create a magical tale:
Although Tinker Bell is a Summer fairy, her adventurous nature gives rise to the idea of meeting a Winter fairy (and exploring the Winter Woods). As it is forbidden for Summer and Winter fairies to interact, Tinker Bell acts in secret: travelling to Winter, when the curiosity over her glowing wings becomes too great. I found the storyline to be totally engaging, and have been fully sold on the idea that fairies can have sisters. My three favourite scenes are: when Tinker Bell meets her Frost Fairy sister Periwinkle (as they both get to see how they were born from the same babies laugh), when Periwinkle shows Tinker Bell around the Winter Woods (as they both go figure skating and end-up in a heap of snow) and when Periwinkle is surrounded by butterfly's (as she is passionate about them - and wished that she could meet them). I like the transition from hard Winter to soft Winter, as the boundary between them melts away. This happens both in terms of characters (e.g. Winter fairy Spike has a similar personality to Summer fairy Vidia) and in terms of plot (e.g. both Summer and Winter fairies have to work together to save the Pixie Tree/Pixie Hollow). I also like the fact that Tinker Bells character has evolved: she is prepared to risk injury to herself, for the sake of others. Overall: An amazing tale that captures the magical fun of Winter, yet at the same time, shows the similarities between Summer and Winter (Silver Mist skies on water, whilst Frost Fairies ski on snow).
I like the way that Tinker Bells inquisitive personality is portrayed within:
Despite being told that humans and fairies don't mix, Tinker Bell is unable to resist tinkering with a horse-less carriage, which eventually leads her to meet Lizzy, a young girl whose fascinated by fairies. Lizzy and her father are at logger-heads over her stance/belief in fairies, and Tinker Bell eventually manages to fix this. My three favourite comedy scenes are: when Fawn twists her leg back into shape (only to discover it is in fact Rosetta's leg), Rosetta initially refusing to cross a river of mud (although she is in-fact a Garden Fairy) and when the fairies take it in turns to bonk down on Clanks head (just after they opened the door to the human house). The film has helped me to remember something: even when snowed under, you should still take some time for yourself/family, even if its just for a couple of minutes, to help remember how great it is to be alive! I just love that saying: Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust!