Top 5 Disney Movies

Posted on February 4, 2011. Filed under: Top 5 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

That’s right folks, it’s another Top 5.

With the release of Tangled, critics are going wild telling us that Disney is finally “back on form,” but what exactly is Disney’s “form?”  When you think about it, and discard the Pixar movies, it’s been a long time since anything worth getting excited about came from the world’s most famous animation studio.  A lot of fuss was made over The Princess and the Frog but it didn’t seem to come to much, and before that we had such shockers as Atlantis to contend with.  It seems in recent years, Disney has been left behind while other studios, namely Pixar and Dreamworks, tapped into the new world of animation, where there is just as much for the adults as there is for the kids.  It’s not something Disney haven’t managed before, but they seem to have lost their way somewhere.   From what I’ve heard about Tangled (and hopefully I’ll be able to back it up soon) they’ve finally got themselves back on track.

If Disney has finally recaptured the magic, what are the movies we’re holding this latest offering up against?  Here are my Top 5 Disney animations, the best of the cartoons that captured mine and many thousands of other people’s childhoods.  Coming up with this list has actually been incredibly hard.  It’s animations only, so no Pirates, but it’s been harder than I thought picking just five films from the vast back catalogue.  The number one spot was easy, but narrowing down all my other childhood (and adulthood) favourites to just four spaces was tough.  Knowing me, I’ll probably want to change it tomorrow.

5. Lilo and Stitch

This is an incredibly underappreciated film, but it’s one of the best ones they’ve brought out in recent years.  The characters are surprisingly realistic (I’m not talking about the aliens, obviously!) and it takes on some pretty tough issues with the kind of honesty that kids have grown to love in Disney.  It also helps that it has a fun script and some great music, mixing Hawaiian tradition with Elvis classics.

4. Mulan

One of the school of Disney films that used a big name in comedy to inject some energy into the script.  Eddie Murphy’s Mushu is perhaps now overshadowed by his Donkey (which sounds weird…) but the former character provides some great laugh out loud moments that I still find myself quoting on a regular basis.  Music is another big factor in this movie, as it is in all of the Disney films since they are essentially animated musicals, with Donny Osmond lending his vocal chords to Shang (bet you didn’t know that did you?) Moments of intense drama are interspersed with show stopping musical numbers and comedy that the whole family can enjoy.

3.  Robin Hood

When I was little, my three Disney loves were Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp and Robin Hood. Trying to pick which one to include was torturous, but in the end I had to pick Robin Hood as it’s one of the first films I can remember watching over and over again and never getting bored.  Casting the famous legend amongst a group of woodland animals is brilliant in a way that you don’t even notice until you get older.  Robin as a fox is a natural, but I also love Little John as a bear (voiced by the equally legendary Phil Harris) and Prince John as an immature Lion, shown up by his full maned older brother.

More great music. More big laughs. Pure Disney magic.

2. Aladdin

This was in my top spot film for two years until the film below came along.  Robin Williams makes this movie.  The genie is an iconic character and the improvised script (also found at the beginning: “it will not break! It will not break……it broke) is full of comedy that both the kids and their parents can enjoy.  Aladdin has also given us one of the classic songs in the Disney songbook: A Whole New World and, along with Beauty and the Beast, was one of the first animations to use computer graphics in some scenes.

1. The Lion King

There really is no better Disney animation than The Lion King. They really hit on a masterpiece here.  The story is compelling and full of heart, the animation is beautiful (the opening sequence is one of the best bits of animation I’ve seen) and the music is just stunning.  Everything about The Lion King works.  Seeing it for the first time in the cinema is one of my clearest early memories, and I love it just as much today.  It’s not just my favourite DIsney film, but it’s one of my favourite films of all time, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

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Top 5 Tear-jerkers

Posted on August 1, 2010. Filed under: Ramblings, Top 5 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Carrying on with my Top 5 posts (an idea not even slightly nicked from Ross vs Ross) let’s look at those lump-in-the-throat moments we for some reason can’t get enough of.

I am absolutely useless when it comes to crying at movies.  In the right (wrong?) mood I will end up crying at the most pathetically not sad things.  Despite this distressingly girly quality it is ironically quite often boyish movies that get me going.  So without further ado, here are my Top 5 tear-jerker moments. *Sniff*

**Beware Spoilers and thanks again to all the YouTubers**

5. Mufasa dies

I think everyone of my generation has this scene burned into their consciousness.  It was our “Bambi’s Mum,” except this time, and for the first time in Disney history, there was a dead body on screen.  Scary stuff for little kids.  Add to that Hans Zimmer’s score and you have a really moving scene.  Don’t worry though kids, he’s up in the clouds keeping an eye on things.

4. Billy gets into Ballet School

Even though you can sort of guess where it’s heading, the tension is so high by this point that when that letter appears on the table we are right there with his family waiting to hear what happened.  There is almost no dialogue and a very sparse piano accompaniment to go with some great acting from the young Jamie Bell.  This scene is also the first time we see Billy’s family really getting behind him, as they all are obviously desperate for him to succeed.  The fact that Jackie’s joy is so short lived brings us smack back down to Earth, emphasising what Billy is escaping, and how lucky he is to get out.

(It’s the first 5 minutes you want.)

3. Armageddon Goodbye

I think this might have been the first film to really make me cry.  I know that it tops the list of films tha make most men cry too, and I bet I don’t even have to tell you what scene I’m talking about.

I can flick to this film while I’m watching anything else on TV and the effect will be almost instant.  From here to the end of the movie is a cry fest for me.  I’ve only managed to get through it dry eyed once, thanks to two friends (you know who you are) continually checking to see if I was crying yet.

I always think Ben Affleck has had a bit of a rough deal when it comes to criticism, but he’s pretty good in this movie.

2. “You died on a Saturday morning.”

Everything that happens in Forrest Gump is about him trying to get back to Jenny, which makes the ending all the more heartbreaking.  Tom Hanks is fantastic as ever, and the dialogue is simple but effective.  I love the final scene where he sits on the stump watching the school bus leave, because we know he is probably going to sit there all day waiting for Little Forrest to come back home.

(Start from 2:15)

1. “They fought like Scotsmen, and won their freedom.”

As I’ve said before, I can honestly only watch Braveheart once a year.  I know that there are huge embellishments in this movie, but it is still essentially a true story.  I’ve been to Bannockburn and I’ve been to the Wallace memorial; they are both incredible places.  The part of this scene that always gets me is Robert the Bruce’s voiceover telling what happened to Wallace’s body, because that part at least is true, and shows just how ruthless the monarchy used to be when it came to so-called traitors.

Despite being hugely outnumbered, with no resources and having just watched their leader being brutally tortured, the remains of his army still stood against the English.  God I wish I was Scottish!  James Horner’s score is absolutely magical.  It holds all of the power of this scene.

Hope I didn’t depress you all! I promise my next post will be more upbeat.  Meanwhile if you want to share you’re favourite weepies please do.

Interestingly, 3 of these movies made it into my Desert Island Discs picks.  Guess we all need a good cry to keep us going.

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I want to play too!

Posted on April 14, 2010. Filed under: Memes and Blogathons, Movies to see before you die, Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

If you haven’t been paying attention, like me, you may have missed all the fun that’s been going on in the movie blogging world over the last week or so.

It all started with Andy over at Fandango Groovers, who thought it might be an idea to play Desert Island Discs with DVDs.  For those of you not from the UK, the game works like this: if you were stranded on an island for an indeterminate length of time, what 8 films would you take with you to keep you sane while you waited for the rescue boat?

You might have noticed that making decisions is not my strong point. Trying to list my favourite films is an impossible task as far as I’m concerned, so I’m taking a slightly different tack here. Yes, all the films I pick will be firm favourites, but, fickle as I am, I reckon if I was stuck on an island I’d need variety to keep me going.

Right, here goes.

My first choice isn’t going to shock anybody. I am, of course, going to pick a Lord of the Rings film. However, cruel fate means I can only pick one, and that’s a harder decision to make.  I get asked a lot which is my favourite of the trilogy and I honestly don’t have an answer. I have a particularly soft spot for Fellowship because when I first saw it I had no idea what Middle Earth was or how I would react to the film.  In this case though, I’m going to pick Return of the King, for two reasons.  First of all, value for money! It’s the longest (and if I  take the extended addition, it’s over 4 hours) so it would keep me more than occupied while I sat on my beach; and secondly, it’s got everything in there.  Almighty battle scenes, heartbreak and laughter. And of course, I’m never going to get tired of watching it over and over.

Onto number 2.  I’m going to need a guns-blazing action flick while I’m stranded and when it comes to action there’s only ever one real choice. Die Hard. Bruce Willis, British actors playing German terrorists, Enough C4 explosive to blow a hole in the world, what more could you ask for?

Round 3. This one has proved a popular choice, which I’m picking for much the same reasons as Ross McD.  This is a movie I can (and have) start watching again straight away as soon as it’s done.  It’s full of energy, colour, great music, humour and heart.  It’s a story about Truth, Freedom, Beauty and above all things Love. It’s Moulin Rouge.

Halfway through now, time for pick number 4.  At some point during my time in isolation I’m going to get a craving for some Disney magic.  It was a tough battle between this next film and Toy Story, but in the end I had to go for The Lion King. The score alone is enough to make me want to take it with me and it’s probably the last truly great Disney film before Pixar came along.

It’s getting a bit harder now.  I’m trying not to over think my choices and just go on instinct.

So pick number 5.  Well, I couldn’t have a list that didn’t have some Johnny Depp in now could I?  I’ve got to take Pirates of the Caribbean with me (the original and the best) if only to remind me that being stranded on a desert island might not be the end of the world. Unless the Rum is gone.

Time for a sweeping score, wide angle landscape shots and some patriotic passion. If only I was Scottish. Braveheart is my 6th choice mainly because I never seem to get around to watching it.  I love the film, but it does make me hate the English and try and claim a larger proportion of Celtic heritage than I’m due, but if I’m stuck on an island I might as well have something that reminds me of home (sort of)

Number 7 I think is going to have to be Billy Elliot. It’s my go to film when I’m feeling down.  Full of great British actors and even better British music, it’s a beautiful story that reminds you that even when things look hopeless they can still turn out OK.  Think that might come in handy.

Right. The last one. This is really tricky…

I think what this list is missing is a comic book movie, and if I’ve got to pick my favourite, I think it will have to be X2. Close run thing with Wolverine, but I think the former just has the edge.

And that’s it.  I think with those 8 to keep me company I’d be quite happy on my island for a while.

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