What Do You Think Of Disney’s New Mulan Trailer?

So. The trailer for Disney’s live-action Mulan was just released a couple of days ago; and honestly? I have mixed feelings about it.

As a kid, Mulan was one of my favourite Disney heroines. I remember coming home from school and watching it religiously every other week on VHS (Yes, I existed in the era of VHS. lol). Being somewhat of a tomboy myself, I completely related to Mulan’s struggle to conform to what her parents wanted for her, but still stay true to who she was on the inside. She was also one of the few Asian characters in Disney, and I loved everything about the film – the art, the characters (Mushu and Cri-kee’s dynamic), the humour (Mulan’s ragtag gang of soldiers, ie Yao, Chien Pao and Ling) and of course, the music.

Disney has been in the habit of making live action remakes lately, like Beauty and the Beast which played it pretty safe by following the animated film’s storyline, and Aladdin, which screened earlier this year to mixed reviews. Of course, another Disney remake that has gotten a lot of flak lately is the Little Mermaid, after it was announced African-American actress Halle Bailey would play the titular character of Ariel, who has always been portrayed as white with red locks – launching the #NotMyAriel hashtag on Twitter.

Coming back to Mulan, the less-than-two minute trailer seems to indicate that the film would depart significantly from the original animation, with most of the notable characters missing (aforementioned Mushu, Cri-kee, grandma, and Mulan’s team in the army). There is apparently no love interest either, as we don’t see Li Shang.

All accounts considered, the upcoming Mulan seems to more about her own journey, which would fit the feminist element which Hollywood is pushing strong these days with films like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel (I fkin hate that film and nothing you say will dissuade me). While I can’t necessarily say it’s a bad thing until I’ve watched the actual film, if this is how it’s going to be, I can’t help but feel a pang of loss and nostalgia – that Disney would take away so many elements that essentially made the original animation such a well-loved, everlasting classic.

Sure, we all want a strong and confident Mulan who doesn’t need no man, but we also want all the other stuff that made us laugh and relate so much to the 1998 version. Perhaps the argument is that Mulan is based on a Chinese legend, and they want to stay true to the source material, but there are plenty of other films out there that have already covered that angle – like the excellent 2009 Hua Mulan starring Vicki Zhao Wei. I want my Mushu and Cri-kee!

Another argument is that concepts/values in old animations have changed, and in order to showcase diversity and the values of today, they should be updated to reflect the current times (eg how Jasmine ended up ruling Agrabah in Aladdin rather than in the original where she was just a ‘princess’).  The thing is, Mulan has always been a strong, independent and badass character – heck, the Emperor bowed to her after she saved China – and she still had time to go home and bring honour to us all. I find there is little need to change what was essentially a perfect film on its own.

Disney’s need to ‘push diversity’ is a bold move,  but it risks alienating a large group of Disney fans who have waited for years to see their favourite films come to life in live action reenactments, only to find they’ve been changed to the point that they lose their essence. For me, I’d love to see more original Disney films with new and fresh characters promoting diversity (like Moana) – rather than trying to shoehorn stuff into what is supposed to be a ‘remake’.

BTW one of my favourite scenes from the original. Pure, raw, powerful emotions – no dialogue needed.

Also this:

Time to go rewatch the cartoon!

10 of my Favourite Cartoons/Animated Movies of all time

The idea of watching cartoons/animated films these days no longer excites me. Which is kinda sad.

Why, you ask? It’s not coz I’m all ‘grown up’, it’s simply coz the storytelling is so weak these days. Bland, boring, blah. Sequels abound. Take Frozen, for example (I’m gonna get a lot of flak for this). I found the story okay – not bad, but not very good either – but I have friends who praised it like it was God’s animation gift to man, who watched it 5x at theaters and bawled their eyes out at all the ‘touching’ scenes.

Idk. All I have to say is, they dont make them like they used to. 

Nw I sound like an old-timer!

Maybe it’s nostalgia talking, but I miss those animations and cartoons they used to make in the early 90s and 2000s.Not just the mainstream ones, but the underrated ones that for some reason (either bad timing during the release or people just didn’t appreciate them) didn’t do well at the box office. I bet they hold a special place in many a heart of people my age.

So here’s a trip down memory lane: 

10) Chicken Run (2000) 

Painstakingly done in stop motion, this English classic has the Mr.Bean-esque, self-absorbed (yet very relatable) British humour down pat. The story chronicles a bunch of chickens on Mrs Tweedy’s farm, who plan to escape before their owner turns them into meat pies. Led by the smarter-than-your-average-chick Ginger, the bumbling crew (they are chickens, after all) try to escape with the help of an American circus stunt rooster, Rocky, whom the group believes can fly.

The story is hilarious, especially when it comes to the very ‘creative’ ways the chickens try to escape: attempting to pass off as Mrs Tweedy, catapults, etc., and when Rocky ‘teaches’ them how to fly. The characters are fun and engaging, like Babs, who loves knitting, Colonel Fowler a former cock in the air force, and Mac, who has a Scottish accent.

Watching this as an adult also got me thinking about poultry slaughtering practices. I wonder if that was what the animators intended for kids to watch and remember into adulthood. 😡

9) Dinosaur (2000)

This movie is a feast for the eyes, thanks to its beautiful animation. It was one of Disney’s first live action – CGI incorporated animations, which saw the crew travelling around the world to record nature backgrounds and blending them with CGI dinos. Even today, the graphics still stand well against newer animated films.

Storywise, the plot has been described as ‘dull’ by some critics, but I loved it. It’s one of those feel good films with the right amount of action and fun. And you just can’t help rooting for the socially awkward hero.

Aladar is an iguanadon that got separated from his herd as an egg, and was raised by lemurs. Raised on an island with no other dinos, his world is thrown into turmoil when an asteroid hits the planet and his lemur family drift to the mainland, where they meet other dinos. They cross the wasteland in order to look for a fresh source of food and water, while running from a pair of carnivorous Carnatauros.

8) Help! I’m A Fish ! (2000) 

My brother and I loved this show so much, we watched it almost every other week on tape (you know, that big black square thing? Ring a bell?). I’m not surprised people haven’t heard of it coz it’s actually a Danish-German-Irish film, and they dubbed it in English to make it more accessible to a wider audience.

Three kids visit a (somewhat mad) scientist studying ocean life, and in the process, the little girl Sasha accidentally drinks a potion which turns her into a starfish. She is sucked into the sea and in order to save her, big brother Fly and his cousin Chuck drink the potion themselves to bring her back before it’s too late. What follows is an epic adventure under the sea, and trying to outwit a mean fish who has gotten its hands on the ‘human’ potion and wants to become a man.

For such a good film (the animation style is really pretty and fluid, especially the underwater scenes – able to rival Disney films any day) it’s sad that it only brought in 5.6mil in the domestic market.

7) FernGully (1992)

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Before Avatar made blue aliens sexy and before John Smith fell in love with Pocahontas, there was FernGully. Similar in theme, the story talks about how a white (ha) man comes in contact with the natives, falls in love with their way of life/culture and attempts to protect the community from greedy, evil forces.

Zack works for a logging company, but is shrunk down and meets tiny fairies, protectors of the rainforest. He learns to love nature and its powers, as well as the fairy way of life, which he now must help to protect against Hexxus – a manifestation of human greed and evil in the form of polluted sludge that poisons everything it comes into contact with. Lots of humour (from the batty character, Batty. Lol), fairy mischief, fun adventures, a bit of romance (Zack and the heroine fairy, Crysta) and you have a great recipe for a story. Animation is pretty, and Hexxus legit scared the sht out of me as a child.

This was another film I had on VHS (parents used to buy lots of these for me to watch. Thank you parents, I had a magical childhood filled with imagination).

6) The Prince of Egypt (1998)

I watched this on a bootleg CD, coz Malaysia banned the film (boo, Malaysian censorship board) for its depiction of Moses. The film tells the story of Moses’ life – how he was adopted into the Egyptian royal family, how he eventually found God, and led the Israelites to the promised land. Even without religious connotations, the story of Moses is a good one in itself, and the people behind the film (DreamWorks) did an amazing job of bringing it to life. I feel like it would be great educational material for religious classes. And who wouldn’t be moved when Moses cries “Let my people go” ?  The animation is sombre but beautiful.

Also, amazing musical score. That opening song where Moses’ mom floats him onto the river still moves me as an adult. Now that’s a timeless classic right there.

5) The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)

Another Disney film that somehow flopped at the box office for reasons unknown. I thought it was a very clever story with witty narrative and good lessons on friendship, appreciation and humility.

Kuzco, the spoiled emperor of an ancient South American civilisation, is turned into a llama by his evil advisor, Yzma. He seeks help from Pacha, a peasant whom Kuzco has just rudely turned down and evicted so that he could build his summer mansion. The pair travel to the palace to look for a cure, whilst avoiding traps laid out by Yzma and her bumbling assistant, Kronk. The material is hilarious, with lots of slapstick humour done just right, snarky dialogue, and loads of fun.

Kuzco in human form is really cute, by the way.

4) Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) 

I think one of the reasons why Atlantis didn’t do as well as its counterparts is due to its radical departure from the ‘classic’ Disney storyline. It is Disney’s first science fiction animation. While funny at times, it’s humour is more subdued, more adult-like. For the most part, it was an epic adventure story, with darker themes such as death, betrayal and greed.

The story starts off with the fall of Atlantis, an advanced civilisation for its time, and its sinking into the depths of the ocean. Thousands of years later, Milo Thatch – nerdy linguist-turned explorer – is funded by an eccentric millionaire on a bet made with his grandfather, who discovered the ‘Sheperds Journal’, said to lead to Atlantis’ whereabouts. Leading a team of experts, Milo heads underground and finds that the inhabitants of Atlantis are not so dead after all; and have continued living under the earth’s surface. However, the power that holds them up is dying, the city decaying and its people wasting away. Meanwile, Milo discovers that the team expedition that came along has a personal agenda of their own.

The art style is amazing. Beautiful, rich with culture and historical research, and with an equally awesome music score to boot. And those underwater chase scenes.. it’s made for 3D. I think it’s one of the most underrated Disney films of all time. Wish people could appreciate great films like these instead of Frozen and that infernal Do You Want to Build A Snowman song.

3) Land Before Time (1988) 

I cried like a baby when Littlefoot’s mum died. Nuff’ said.

That friggin score still tugs at my heart strings *wipes eye with sleeves*

2) Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003)

My top two favourites are both from Dreamworks! It’s really sad because after this film (in which they suffered a loss), they abandoned traditional cartoons and started doing CGI stuff instead. 😡 A pity, coz this was brilliant. From the art style to the storytelling and the characters, everything was amazing.

Sinbad, pirate/sailor used to be best buds with Proteus, a prince. When Sinbad tries to steal the Book of Peace which Proteus is protecting on its way back to his kingdom, they are attacked by a sea monster, summoned by the goddess of discord, Eris. As a result, Sinbad is dragged down to Eris’ lair, and tempted to steal the Book of Peace in exchange for riches. When Sinbad ultimately refuses, Eris impersonates him and steals the book on her own, causing Sinbad to be sentenced to death. Proteus takes his place, sending Sinbad to retrieve the book from Eris at the edge of the world. Along tags the feisty Marina, Proteus’ fiance. Hilarity, adventure and romance ensue. Danger at every corner! Running from giant creatures! Tidal waves! Everything an evil goddess can throw at them !

**If you’re wondering… yes, I loved this cartoon and the Eris character so much that I adopted that name.

 

and last but not least….

1) The Road to El Dorado (2000)

My favourite cartoon of all time. It’s everything that a good cartoon, heck, a good film – should be. Feel good and funny, the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously but still manages to pull off a meaningful story.

In 16th century Spain, con artists Miguel and Tulio are caught out while playing a game of dice, and escape by stowing away on a ship to the New World. Once there, they run away and stumble across a rich ancient civilisation, only to be mistaken for Gods. With the help of native bombshell Chel (Chel Dorado hahahaha god I saw that joke somewhere), the pair plan their escape back to Spain with all the gold they can carry. But there are obstacles – an overzealous shaman Tzekel-Kan insists they prove their powers and constantly pushes for human sacrifice; as well as the ruthless Spanish ship captain, Cortes, who is inching closer to discovering the city.

Tulio and Miguel are the best of buds, and their exchanges are both hilarious and dynamic. They also live life on the edge, trusting most things to luck and getting away with it (it’s a cartoon, duh). The jokes are punny, and Tulio’s pessimistic, snarky demeanour contrasts well with Miguel’s more upbeat, kinder nature.

But again, this was a box office bomb, losing money for Dreamworks. It also got negative reviews for a ‘thin’ plot and ‘flat characters’. But fk it, I love it so 15/10.

 

Now excuse me, I want to go re-watch El Dorado. :–D

What are some of your favourite childhood cartoons/animations? Share in the comment box below!

 

 

 

Movie Review: The Intern

When Mabel invited me and Jo to a free screening of new dramedy The Intern @ 1Utama, I had no idea what to expect. I had not heard of the movie and didn’t even know it starred two big names: Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro.

So imagine my pleasant surprise to find out that the movie was pretty enjoyable (A welcome change from the slew of bad movies that Hollywood seems to keep churning out lately)! Of course it’s no Stanley Kubrick, but like movies such as The Hundred Foot Journey, it will leave you feeling fuzzy and warm on the inside after the film.

Synopsis: 

It’s no secret that Western societies are young-centric; more so in a place like consumer-based, fast-paced New York, where there is no room for the old and jaded. The Intern is a fun tribute to the older generation, with the underlying message that sometimes, we have to slow down and appreciate the world around us.

Ben Whittaker (de Niro) is a retired 70-year-old widower, who signs up for the ‘senior citizen internship’ programme offered by a major fashion retail company. He is accepted as an intern under Jules Osten (Hathaway), the no-nonsense but passionate CEO who thinks of Ben as a chore she has to take up to set a good example to other employees. Thinking that there is no possible way an oldie like Ben will be able to add value to the company, Jules initially snubs him, giving him menial tasks and wanting to transfer him to a different department.

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But as time goes on, she finds herself opening up more and more to Ben, welcoming him into her own life as both friend, mentor and fatherly figure. As Jules struggles to maintain order in her own company and a marriage that is falling apart due to her work commitments, she turns to Ben for precious life lessons and help her to get through hard times.

The movie has its serious moments, but its mostly light and the jokes are funny – I found myself laughing out loud (and that’s not something that happens very often with me and comedy films!).

While the story-telling can be a bit choppy at times, and the ending felt rushed, The Intern has achieved what it set out to do – a feel-good movie you can enjoy with friends and family on a weekend that is not about blowing things up and actually teaches you a lesson in life to appreciate the wisdom of our elders. I think in Hollywood, which is a very young-centric industry, this was a welcome change.

Director: Nancy Meyers (of Parent Trap, The Holiday fame)

 

Book/Movie Review – The Maze Runner

A lot of films these days come from book adaptations – meaning that the book probably had a wide fan base before they decided to make it for the silver screen. Although I love books, I’m not ‘hip’ when it comes to choosing titles: which means that I probably read the ‘hot’ ones wayyyy after they have been published and the hype has died down.

In fact, I actually watched the movies before I read the books (like Lord of The Rings and Hunger Games). So The Maze Runner, the latest sci-fi/dystopian young adult movie, was no exception.

THE MAZE RUNNER TM and © 2013 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  All Rights Reserved.  Not for sale or duplication.

I liked the movie because it had cute guys (felt like such a pedo until I found out later that the actors in them, who portray teenagers, are all around my age in real life. whew) AND a good story plot. The pace of the storytelling is just right and many of the characters are likable (even Gally, whose douchey-ness is understandable in the context that he just wanted to protect his own people and is suspicious of changes – quite different from the Gally in the novel who is just pure douche).

So while out browsing for my weekly book hoarding, I saw The Maze Runner series (there are four books) and decided to get it.9781910002117_2_Z

THE MAZE RUNNER

Author: James Dashner

Synopsis:

Thomas wakes up in a steel box filled with supplies, with no memories of who he is, where he’s at or how he got there. Being rudely jolted awake by a bunch of teenage boys hovering over him doesn’t exactly help – and no one seems to want to tell him anything. All he finds out is that he’s in a field called The Glade, and that everyone is stuck within it’s walls by a gigantic maze that shifts and changes. To make matters worse, the Maze is filled with Monsters called Grievers – huge sickening machine-beast hybrids that would either kill you or sting you with stuff that drives you nuts.

Not long after, the box which he came in from sends another ‘Greenie’ (slang for newbie at The Glade) – but this time, it’s a girl – the only girl ever sent all the years they have been there. She clutches a foreboding note, tells them that she’s the ‘Trigger’ and seems to have telepathic powers with Thomas – meaning they can talk to each other inside their heads. Before the bunch can really figure out what everything means, the maze mechanics changes – new sections open up, and they are attacked by Grievers. Now they must find a way to solve the mystery before all of them die inside, never knowing what is out there.

Verdict:

I admit that I had high hopes for the book, since the movie was quite enjoyable.Fans have compared the series to Divergent and The Hunger Games (which I love), so I was expecting some major kazam and nights staying up late reading.

I’m sad to say that Book 1 of The Maze Runner series was a disappointment for me.

Dashner loves using adjectives and verbs to the point of overkill. The formula of his writing style seems to be ‘dialogue’ followed by ‘description of feelings’. This means that after every single dialogue, the characters are feeling something or doing something. After a bit, it gets really, REALLY annoying. In the first few chapters of the book, nothing is explained, with Dashner preferring to confuse the readers as much as Thomas himself. Some critics have said that it was intentional, but for myself, I didn’t quite like it. Thomas in the book also seemed like one moody mofo, swinging from relief to panic to anger within a few sentences.

I also felt that Dashner wasn’t consistent with his characters ‘attributes’. For example, Minho, one of the Runners (people who explore the Maze), was extremely depressing and gave up as soon as he could when they were stuck in there overnight – Thomas, ever the hero, was the one giving encouragement. Fast forward a few chapters and the same Minho was suddenly giving prep talks on persevering, while Thomas was the one being sullen.

Although I understand that people can react differently in different situations, the change that Dashner uses is not smooth enough, making the characters seem like a bunch of bipolar teenagers.

Storywise, the movie did some tweaks – which were actually pretty  good. The same can’t be said of the novel – some parts seem clunky and dragged out, and were unnecessary to the plot.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t have redeeming points. After about 200 pages in, the book starts picking up the pace, and it does have it’s fair share of suspenseful moments.

All in all, I wished The Maze Runner Book 1 could have been a better reading experience. However, I think to compare it to The Hunger Games is a little… uhm, inaccurate. Oh well, to each their own.

Rating – 5/10

Read it for the: Interesting premise. I mean, how many books with people stuck in mazes do you get out there?

Movie rating – 7/10

Watch it for the: Hot gaiz. There is so much eye candy. Especially Dylan O Brien as Thomas, Thomas Sangster as Newt and Ki-Hong Lee as Minho.

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….Omg so hot.

Welp.. if you’re a guy… there’s always Teresa.

Nah, also watch it for the: action, character development (much better in the movie than the book, which is saying something coz the book is like 300+ pages long and the movie is only less than 2 hours), good acting chops and Gally (Eustace from Narnia all grown up!)