When “Cars” first sped onto the silver screen, people were pretty split about it-some liked it, most don’t. Then “Cars 2” came along and it was pretty much a GIANT FREAKING MIDDLE FINGER from Pixar to those who love animation, film, and that studio. So when it was announced that “Cars 3” was making it’s way to theaters, people were understandably nervous. But then the trailers showing McQueen’s wreck and the aftermath appeared…And…Is “Cars 3” the redemption we’ve been looking for?
Plot: Racing legend Lightning McQueen finds himself blindsided by the next generation. After Lightning suffers a nasty wreck similar to both The King and Doc Hudson, he goes on a journey to prepare for the Florida 500, with help from his personal trainer Cruz Ramirez, the Legends, and his memories of The Fabulous Hudson Hornet.
- The CHARACTERS
- Here the movie turns the focus back to Lightning McQueen, who you immediately tell from the first few sentences in the film is older, wiser, but still McQueen in essence; he’s not one to say “no” to pranking his racing buddies Bobby Swift and Cal Weathers. He’s a bit more interesting here than in the first film, yet still a bit of a blank enough slate to be a good audience avatar. Cruz Ramirez starts off pretty annoying, but about at the halfway point you start to like her a bit and root for her as well as Lightning. Mater takes a complete backseat in this film thank GOD. The Legends-Smokey, Midnight, Louise and River are cool as well; it’s interesting to meet Doc’s teacher and watch Lightning learn from him.
- The ANIMATION
- This is nothing new with Pixar animation-even their lower films; “The Good Dinosaur”, “Cars 2”, “Brave” all films aren’t as highly regarded as Pixar’s others, but their animation is still stunningly beautiful to look at. Here it’s no exception. The artwork in the backgrounds, and even on the characters is great. McQueen gets several makeovers in the film-an electronic finish, his Corvette inspired looks, and a VERY touching look by the end of the film. It also looks as if they got better animating the expressions on the cars’ faces. It doesn’t look SO odd anymore…Or maybe I’m just used to how wide their mouths can get.
- The STORY
- The story is kind of basic, but the simplicity of it makes it work. It’s like Rocky meets Creed. I say that, because when you hear in the trailers and read in the basic plot that Cruz Ramirez has had racing dreams of her own, you can piece together just why so many say it’s a mix of Creed and Rocky. It’s an underdog story, along with a story of learning to pass the torch along. You understand Lightning’s fear of becoming like his late mentor Doc Hudson-the fact that he gave up his win in the 06 movie to ensure The King didn’t suffer that same fate shows that what happened to Hudson truly stuck with him. And yet he uses his time with Hudson as motivation to win.
- On that note, getting to learn more about Doc is certainly a treat as he’s quite a mystery in the first film. He’s kind of that stereotypical grumpy veteran who learns a few things from Lightning while teaching Lightning as well. You really truly get to understand just what both meant to each other here-not through words, not through speeches of how important one is, but through pictures, mostly silent flashbacks, and the animation on McQueen and Hudson through those flashbacks.
- The story is heartfelt, and you feel like they understood where they went wrong with movie 2, and this was most certainly an apology for their lack of a Paul Newman tribute in the second and an apology for the second film as a whole. “Cars” is a story of racing, so why they decided to make a spy movie and put racing in the background no one knows. But either way, the story here is heartfelt, simple, and clean-if you want to know how to write a screenplay, watch this film-it well and truly follows the simple 3 act structure.
- The VOICE ACTING
- Everyone does a fine enough job with their voice acting here.
- The PACING
- The first half of the movie IS indeed quite slow. After Lightning’s wreck, it’s a pretty slow burn until the crew get to Doc’s old racetrack. Then once Smokey, Doc Hudson’s old crew chief, starts training McQueen, the movie picks up to a considerable pace. But when I eventually get this movie on Blu-Ray or Digital Download, I know I’ll fast forward to just after the Demolition Derby-I’d say spoilers but that scene is clearly in the trailers.
- The Villain
- There’s a saying in film-you’re hero is only as strong as your villain. If your villain can transform into a fire breathing dragon by calling upon hell itself, you should have a pretty great hero to combat that. In this new Disney Renaissance, it seems like the focus is on the hero’s journey, and if there’s a villain….eh whatever alright. Here’s no different. Jackson Storm is pretty much your generic jerk-like how McQueen was in the beginning of “Cars” but worse. He’s really the only downside of the film. He provides some good competition and a threat to McQueen, but they could’ve done him a bit better.
It seems as though Pixar is completely wiping the slate clean with this film-it’s a total apology for “Cars 2”; Mater is pushed to the background, with the focus on a veteran McQueen facing his twilight years as a racer. You feel for the stock car-much more than in the first film. For him the stakes are actually high and meaningful. The characters he encounters are memorable and enjoyable for the most part-mainly Smokey Doc’s mentor and Cruz-Sterling is insufferable. The pacing has a few issues, there’s only one main subplot, which doesn’t detract too much from the film, and McQueen’s character arc gets a touching and fitting end. You also get nice closure for Doc Hudson which is something you don’t realize you wanted until you actually experience it-when you see how much he meant to Lightning, you appreciate him all the more. It can be predictable, but it’s still enjoyable as well.
“Cars 3” gets a 3.5/5 from me- while the film fishtails here and there, Pixar manages to settle back into place, and kicked it into high gear with this one. It’s a fine film that’s MUCH more enjoyable than the second, and improves on the first.
Cars 3 is slowly creeping up on us (and it ACTUALLY looks really good holy crap) so I figure I should take a look at the WORST Pixar movie out there….as in ever.
Plot: When Lightning gets invited to the World Grand Prix he takes along Mater the Tow Truck…And they somehow get involved in a secret spy mission dealing with gasoline vs energy efficient fuel and….yeah oh boy.
- The ANIMATION
- If there’s even a BAD Pixar movie, at least there’s this-they do have STELLAR animation. That’s the case here. The movie itself, is not really that good. But the animation is fine. But that’s because it’s Pixar. I wonder if this were a DreamWorks or Blue Sky movie if people would even say that about this film.
- The RACES
- When the movie focuses on LIGHTNING and the races, it actually gets a bit interesting. But….Lightning is sadly kind of shoved off to the side.
- The PACING
- The pacing isn’t really BAD….But god it’s just boring. Spy cars…..yeah that makes sense. TOTAL sense. Whenever it’s not on the race you want to fast forward it to the races. And then the races are too fast and quick and before you know it it’s over. Which is a bummer because we actually get to see Lightning race on dirt roads but….for like a second. Damn.
- The CHARACTERS
- The new guys are ok….Mater is annoying as hell. Lightning is the just average nice guy now that he’s learned his lesson of learning to take things slow. Mater is just way too in your face. If you don’t like Larry the Cable Guy then you don’t like Mater. Just a hard truth. And guess who the main character is? Not the red hot shot in the FRONT of this movie’s poster. NO. It’s Larry the Tow Truck. Ugh. And the villain sucks. Like….he’s so forgettable. And Doc is just like “eh….he’s not around anymore…..well that sucks…..ONTO SHENANIGANS!”
- The PLOT
- Boy…..Spies with cars. If they had just kept it to the World Grand Prix that would’ve been interesting enough-traveling the world, seeing new sights…..But no. We have an environmental movie about spy cars. We all get it-we’re screwing over the planet and it’s gonna be royally mucked by the next 100 years or so………..And maybe not even that. But good GOD if you’re not a toddler this movie is just BORING. And it doesn’t make sense. You’re basically watching Larry the Cable Truck bumble around as a spy even though he’s not a spy, and trying to keep his friendship with Lightning but…..ugh. But the first and third movies have NOTHING to do with spies. And there’s like a point where there’s a character killed off in a rather violent way. And…..It’s kind of a waste of time and money. Especially since again………THE FIRST AND THIRD HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SPY NONSENSE. The most this movie has to offer, is neat racing stuff for your kid when he needs to be baby sat by Uncle Television. Dammit Pixar you’re better than this B.S.
Everyone says “Cars 2” sucks and….yeah compared to the first it really does. Compared to most animated films it does. It doesn’t hold up to the standards of good films, even when you take off the Pixar label it has. And when that film HAS the Pixar name on it….it doesn’t even reach “watch it on tv when you’re bored” status. I bet if those who watch “Cars 3” don’t watch this…They wouldn’t miss a god damn thing. Which is a shame because Pixar is so much better than this nonsense. The voice acting is fine, the animation is pretty, and the racing stuff is neat. Everything else that you need to work in order to make a good movie…..that all sucks. There’s nothing inherently BAD for kids but….It’s just dull. I think “Cars 3” could be better-it certainly looks like they’re actually trying to finish up Lightning’s story (hell trying to make a GOOD story to begin with) with this one but….It doesn’t take much to be better with this film.
“Cars 2” gets a 2/5 from me-it’s pretty to look at but….it’s basically only there for when it comes to kids who need to be watched by the TV.
Time for that question….What’s your LEAST favorite Pixar movie? There’s gotta be some you don’t like that much. Let me know in the comments.
With the release of Cars 3 set for June, I figure it’s time to look back at the first two Cars films to see how they hold up….To this day, both films both films are the lowest ranked Pixar movies on Rotten Tomatoes….Yep. Cars which has more of a cohesive plot than The Good Dinosaur sits lower than The Good Dinosaur…..Sometimes I don’t get people. There’s nothing inherently BAD in any of the Cars films….and I can certainly see through the animation why the first at least was made….But….well let’s just get into it.
- The ANIMATION
- No matter the film, Pixar has taken animation to new heights. This is shown surely throughout the film. From the cinematography, to the actual animation itself, the film looks wonderful. They made the god damn desert look PRETTY. That is HARD to do. Believe me I know; I live in Southern Arizona and more often than not it can look rather dull. But dang they made it look nice. The long winding roads, the waterfall at the hotel, the views….it all looks lovely.
- The MESSAGE
- The message in the film is as simple as the film itself…..Take life easy. It’s not about the destination, it’s the journey….And also maybe hinting at the fact that the “old days” were “So much better” where people went on the highway to make new friends and memories rather than to just get somewhere. Where old sleepy towns were in their heyday.
- The ACTING
- I always say voice acting is harder than live action acting. And I’ll hold to that…Unless say you’re working with a REALLY bad director on a live action set. But with animation, it’s just you in a booth, with a script, and pictures of your character. The acting isn’t BAD….Owen Wilson does a good enough job with Lightning to where first time viewers might not know who the actor is….But if you know who Owen Wilson is or what he at all sounds like….It’s obvious right away and can become a bit of a distraction. Which on a side note….Anyone think he makes Lightning sound WAY older in the third Cars film? Or is that just me? Anyways, Paul Newman did an amazing job as Doc Husdon, Lightning mentor in a sense, and of course there’s Larry the Cable Guy as Lightning’s new friend Mater….you’ll either love him or hate him….I’m more or less “meh” on Larry but the whole “get ‘er done” thing….Not my thing. It’s a half and half sort of thing with the acting; some people do ok, others you can tell are just reading the script.
- The PLOT
- The plot…..it’s pretty basic. For most they can see the story points a mile away. Sure though that Lightning is a likeable enough character to keep one entertained and not bored senseless, he doesn’t quite have the capability to carry the entire weight of the plot. It’s a good lesson for little kids, but for those who have grown up and experienced other Pixar films, this doesn’t quite reach that bar that they raised. It’s not BAD just….average.
- The PACING
- The pacing is like most things in the film….just pretty average. It does slow down quite a bit….mostly when Lightning gets to Radiator Springs hence the duration of the second act. It kicks up during the third act-during that final three way race in LA though.
- The CHARACTERS
- Once again the characters are like most other things in the film….Not bad….just average. Lightning is an ok main character-starting out in that typical “all about me I need to learn my lesson” type dick, before getting that “heart of gold” personality. Sally seems pretty typical as well; that nice love interest who helps show the main his way. Tow Mater is….well….uh….you either like him or hate him. I’m personally not a big fan of the “get er done” type character and found myself rolling my eyes a lot at his antics. I think Doc Hudson aka the Hudson Hornet is really the only GOOD character in the film…Or the character you feel they (the animators and creators of the film) had actual respect for. Chick Hicks is….whew. Yeah he’s your typical bad guy dick who never learns the lesson our beloved hero does. I just hope that they don’t make Jackson Storm QUITE as intolerable as Hicks. Yeesh. The characters of Radiator Springs are all nice and unique though….Their car makes and models are also wide ranging as well….All stemming though from 50s onward styles….Which….yeah we can all agree that the 50s had some nice looking designs.
The film isn’t BAD….It has a nice message for the kids, and the animation is just lovely. Some of the camera work is nice too; I particularly love how the “camera” shakes whenever the racers speed by, which is a thing that actually happens in real life. The car designs are interesting, the characters are ok, and the concept is also….Interesting. It’s something more so geared toward little kids, rather than general audiences. I think the reason people feel such disappointment towards this film, is because it feels like this was made for toy sales, rather than a good movie first-it’s the first time among many first times that Pixar would lower their very high bar, so of course their fans would feel some sort of disappointment. But to outright call this film “horrible” or “bad”….A bit of a stretch. It does have good in it. At least it doesn’t just completely meander around like other Pixar films do.
Cars gets a 3/5 from me….It’s…..Just….well…Average. Believe you me it’s not the worst Pixar has to offer.
When it comes to prequels, they’re easy to mess up. We’ve already seen the story, why must we see how that story came to be? Especially when we know the fates of many of the newer characters, since they were not in established movies and lore of a particular franchise. In the case of Star Wars, it had real, real bad luck with its prequel trilogy. It tried to make the story as big and grand as the original trilogy, but the original trilogy wasn’t big and grand; it was a simple redemption story that we made big and grand. With Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, quite simply put, it does more for the original trilogy than the three prequels ever did. And while it has problems, overall, it’s an incredible tale of a fight for not freedom, but hope for that freedom.
- The BATTLES
- It’s not Star Wars without a few good battles in the film. The battles in this film, unlike most other films in the series, are hard fought, fast paced, and long, though not long winded like in say Transformers: Age of Extinction. The perils in these battles feel real, and you genuinely care about most of the characters going into them, knowing what the fates of some of them could be. The cinematography in these fights is great-lots of good close ups of TIE fighters, of the AT AT Walker firing upon a beach full of rebels, and the camera spins and angles fit nicely with adding great atmosphere and tone to the film. While in the other films these fights did have a sense of serious air to them, here, thanks to the overall tone, you feel the reality sinking in, and get the sense that this is indeed a much darker, grittier Star Wars film.
- The ENTIRE SECOND HALF
- The first act-as most people have said-is pretty wonky. It’s oddly paced, and seems to jump from place to place. As soon as the second act hits-you’ll know when it does-then it’s like the entire movie does a 180. The scenes become tight, the battles more intense, and the characters seem to fit better into the story.
- The SCORE
- The music is wonderful. Composed by Michael Giacchino the same man up composed Up, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Jurassic World, and Inside Out. The man knows when to hit the emotional moments, and when to get that crescendo just right. He also gets those battle scores down to a T; it feels like Star Wars, yet it feels like something new.
- The CHARACTERS
There’s quite a few colorful cast of characters in this film. And like most “Group films” some get the shaft, others the spotlight. Jyn Erso the main lead, she’s pretty bland. Some could argue that the reason for that, is as main character, she is meant to be the audience avatar; someone we can easily slip into and imagine ourselves in her situation. But it’s important to make your main character interesting and she just isn’t. She has a tragic past, sure but that’s really the only thing that defines her character. There’s a really cool blind warrior named Chirrut Îmwe who believes heavily in the Force even when no one else does-he’s a big minority there. Seeing him have so much faith in something most people in this universe believe is a Myth thanks to the destruction of the Jedi thanks in part to Vader himself….It’s really uplifting in their dark world. The other standout character is a droid called K2-yes named after the second tallest mountain in the world after Everest itself. He’s pretty hilarious-complete opposite of the worrisome C-3PO.
There are also returning characters such as Grand Moth Tarkin, who even at one point states “You may fire when ready.” One must remember that THIS DUDE and the Emperor were the only dudes Vader himself took orders from. He’s a pretty big deal. Of course he’s in this movie. It’s interesting to note that he IS CGI, but if they were to ask Peter Cushing I’m pretty sure he’d give them full permission because he does stay in character throughout his screen time in the film. Vader makes a few scenes and BOY is there an AMAZING Darth Vader standout moment that trumps even a few from the Clone Wars, Rebels, and the beloved Original Trilogy. He’s dark, menacing, and BRUTAL. And it shows why he’s so feared throughout the galaxy.
- The FIRST ACT
- When everyone says the first act or first half of the film is “meh” or “a little off” or “slow building”….they’re pretty much right. It just jumps from planet to planet, there’s no real time character building. It makes you wonder if you’re just along for the ride-if it’s the main story you’re here for rather than the characters and their plights. I’d say if you had it on Blu-Ray to fast forward it, but that wouldn’t help you at all then you’d be REAL confused. So, just sit and bear through the first say half hour and then it just picks up and becomes the huge epic war movie that feels unlike any Star Wars film to date. It’s just…..oh man if they polished up the first act this movie would be near flawless.
Rogue One: a Star Wars Story is not without problems. The pacing is weird, especially in the first act, the characters aren’t entirely fleshed out, and something about it feels off. However, after that second act hits, you feel like you’re truly in this galaxy far far away, fighting to save the lives of millions of innocent people. There’s not only the threat of Tarkin, but Krennic, and the underlying threat of Darth Vader. Some would complain that he isn’t in the film enough….I personally like that he wasn’t in the film all that much; this isn’t Vader’s story. Here, it’s Tarkin and Krennic. Next movie, Tarkin and Vader. Movie after that, Vader and the Emperor. And then Vader and Luke. It builds up to Vader rather than “here. Here’s Vader have fun.”. There are plenty of fun little Easter eggs in the film to please the hardcore fans, and the death scenes hit hard and close to the heartspot. You feel for the Rebellion, yet you also leave the film questioning them as well. It’s a smaller story, in this grand universe Lucas set up all those years ago, and it truly does seamlessly fit into the Original Trilogy. There are also good moments that show the Rebellion aren’t all squeaky clean like the Original Trilogy makes them out to be….It clears things up in that trilogy that seemed to make no sense as well. Overall, it’s an intense, gritty look into what went into stealing the plans for the dreaded Death Star. It’s not ALL THAT grand, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s a smaller story, in a grander tale. It does what it’s supposed to do and does it well.
I’m going to give Rogue One: A Star Wars Story a 4.5/5-it’s a great, emotional ride that seamlessly fits into the Original Trilogy; perfect for most fans of Star Wars.
How would you rank the Star Wars films? What did you think of the first of many Star Wars anthology films? Let me know in the comments below!
A hero is only as good as the villain….And HOLY LORD ALMIGHTY does Disney know how to do their baddies. From ferocious cats, to sorcerers, to the Devil himself, to just plain pricks…Disney has graced us with some pretty horrific villains to counter their heart of gold heroes. So since it’s October, here is my list of the BEST Disney villains.
1. Cruella De Vil
If she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will….While one of the first Disney Villains, I put Cruella so low because of memory factor. Most people remember her because of her song alone. Also because she wanted to murder 99 Dalmatians for fur coats….Though I’m not entirely sure who quoted her on 99 puppies. Doesn’t seem like enough for the amount of coats she would’ve wanted. She’s pretty wicked, but not as bad as some of the other evil doers on this list; her main crimes include kidnapping, plotting to murder innocent puppies, and insanity. Which is never a good thing to come across.
This villain is honestly way too good for this bore of a movie. Perhaps because he’s voiced by the one and only James Woods, whom at one point Family Guy loved to make fun of….even with him voicing himself in those episodes. When you want the villain to actually win, that’s when you know there’s something wrong with your heroes. Hades has this used car salesman huckster type of persona, which wasn’t going to be his original persona. He was going to be all drab and boring and deep voiced and thank GOD James Woods showed up. You can indeed find much more accurate portrayals of Hades in media….but you won’t find a more fun one.
Behold the jock jerk of animation. With an ego the size of three United States of Americas combined, and looks to match, this evil jerk wants to marry Belle because she’s the most beautiful woman in town, and he’s the most handsome man in town….What great logic. In most other animations, he’d be the dashing hero. But with the point of Beauty and the Beast being that beauty is on the inside, on in the inside, Gaston is a complete jerk. To the rest of the town, he IS a hero, so when he’s able to easily incite a mob to attack Beast’s castle, that’s when he shows his true colors. He also stabs Beast in the back right after Beast decides to let him live. Stand-up guy.
Has comes right after Gaston (and is just barely better in rank) because while the audience knew right away that Gaston was a jerk and a prick, in Frozen it took some time before we (the audience) finally realized “oh crap Hans is a prick!”. Hans is pretty devious-leaving Anna to freeze to death while lying to the council that he married her, which would make him Prince of Arendelle, thus giving him authority to bring Elsa to “justice” by court trial or by outright killing her. Not only does he try to kill her, but he also manages to convince her that she accidentally killed her own sister…Then not only that but while she’s wailing in despair he tries to kill her anyways………That’s kind of mucked up on a lot of levels.
Who here loves a good psychopath? Well apparently Disney does. Jafar, the former Vizier is amoral, a psycho, and a sorcerer. That’s a deadly combination. He basically wants Jasmine for his slave queen, so that he can kill her and take over Agraba completely. Which he does so anyways for a short time even without having to marry the stubborn Princess. He even manages to take control of the Genie and use his wishes to empower himself completely. Yet he also has a rather odd, twisted sense of humor, and a few good comical moments with his parrot Iago, who is just as wicked as Jafar. But humor aside, with just one look, you know this villain is dangerous, and doesn’t have time for petty games with street rats.
6. Shere Khan (original and remake)
This cruel cat is almost as bad as Scar but in the original animation he doesn’t actually kill someone. Rather, he’s suave, cool, and calculating. There’s so much build up to his character, that when we do see his first appearance, we know exactly who this is and that we’re supposed to be afraid of him; simply by virtue of him being a tiger, the largest of the big cats. Even when he knew he was being lied to he just kept calm and ever so persuasive. Because he knew of his own power. In the remake of this film, Shere Khan is just as dangerous if not more so because he does kill someone; he THROWS THE ALPHA WOLF AKILA OFF A CLIFF. He then takes over the wolf pack, and goes to great lengths to kill any human that enters the jungle. His motif in the animated film is a bit stronger though for his hatred of man; they killed his family so he hates them and fears man’s fire. In the remake it’s not really clear why he hates man he just does. But that weak motivation doesn’t detract from his ferocity, his menacing voice (thanks to Idris Elba) and terrifying presence. Shere Khan is definitely not your friendly house cat.
7. Judge Claude Frollo
The Hunchback was an interesting film to try and gain public interest in Disney after the failure that was Pocahontas. It had some studio interference that was clear in the final product, as it was dark, yet had some standout kid friendly moments to try and balance everything out….But the one thing that took it to a new level of dark? Judge Claude Frollo. Holy Lord what a creeper villain. Perhaps that’s why the stupid gargoyles exist; to help keep that G rating. Frollo is remembered because of his sickly slick voice, and being a closet horn dog. His lust for Esmeralda is so great that he actually burns all of Paris down in order to find her, wages war on Notre Dame herself, and nearly kills Esmeralda by immolation….Christ.
Along with Frollo, this character ACTUALLY. KILLED. SOMEONE. And not just any someone; his own brother. This character is as infamous as Disney Villains get mostly thanks to his song “Be Prepared” in which he was voiced by both Jim Cummings and Jeremy Irons, but for the rest of the film he’s voiced by Irons himself. Scar is certainly one of the most wicked villains out there….mostly because he’s an actual murderer.
9. The Devil/Chernabog
Now this guy here….you’d think he’d be in the number 10 (the absolute best) spot considering he’s you know the Devil himself. However, I put him at number nine because there’s one in my opinion who just barely outshines him and is a little bit more memorable. Now that’s not saying that the Devil is a pushover; his segment “Night on Bald Mountain” is definitely nightmare fuel, with him reviving the dead, just to torment their spirits, causing death and misery to all who are near him, and he’s only defeated by the angelic light and music of “Ave Maria”.
What. A. Badass. Don’t take the live action remake into account when talking about The Mistress of All Evil. Because that just degrades her. She simply wants Aurora dead because she got snubbed at a party. That’s both petty and cruel. Along with Scar, for a short time (thanks to plot conveniences and magic) she manages to “kill” Princess Aurora, and when the Prince tries to save her, she fights him HERSELF both using her sorcery, and then turning into a dragon by calling upon the darkness and evil of hell itself. And that’s why she’s ranked as the best Disney villain even more so than the Devil himself; the Devil may be the ultimate ruler of evil, and all of these bad boys and girls work through him, but Maleficent is the only one to truly call upon the powers of the darkness time and time again in any iteration she’s in (Kingdom hearts, and in the animation). She’s truly the Mistress of All Evil, and doesn’t have that title just to be fancy.
Now this is all subjective and opinion based. Perhaps there are some Disney Villains that are better than the ones mentioned here, perhaps not. So I’m going to leave it to you guys…in the comments below, tell me…who do you think is the best Disney Villain?
We all have our favorite films. Films that we identify with, films that we are in awe of, or inspired by….Films that impacted our lives or are just guilty pleasures. Well in honor of getting to a kind of big milestone on this site, I figure it’s time to share my 20 favorite films of all time. Because I can’t limit this list to ten.
Here we go…..
20) Transformers (2007)
Is it okay if I put a guilty pleasure on here? I don’t care it’s my list dammit. And really, fundamentally, there’s nothing HORRID about the first movie. The script could’ve used a few more tweaks but it is easily the best written of the….quadrilogy? Saga? Eh anyways, what I like the most about this movie is the visuals. That being the Transformers themselves. It’s easy to argue that there aren’t characters in the Transformers series just plot devices to get to the next set piece; that being the action. But when the action goes down, it goes DOWN HARD. Optimus is a god damn BADASS for reasons. The music composed by Steve Jablonksy is just gorgeous as well; at times almost too gorgeous for this film series. And this was back when Michael Bay actually cared enough about the franchise to do so much research into the lore of Transformers he called himself “the biggest fan” in behind the scenes footage. The technology used to bring the Cybertronians to life is astounding even for 2007-keep in mind with pre and post being years before the actual release). It’s a fun ride that has serious undertones for a post 9/11 film but not completely devoid of humor…Even if it’s Michael Bay humor. It was great and awe-inspiring to see Optimus and the others transform on the silver screen for the first time, and when a MICHAEL BAY Transformers movie makes the audience cheer not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES throughout the film….It has to be doing something right. It’s the Bayformers film I watch the most, and hate the least. People don’t really GET just how much this movie changed cinema….Or how much Mr. Bay himself has changed the game of marketing, aesthetics, what films get greenlit….But oh. They will. Also “I ate the WHOLE PLATE”….Seriously how is that not like a THING?
19) Ed Wood
Anyone who has a passion for film should watch this film. It follows Edward D “Ed” Wood Jr., a director going through with his dream of making films….Only problem is they’re all terrible and he’s wasting everyone’s time and money. It’s a brilliant study on filmmaking-do you pity Ed Wood, or sympathize with the man? This was the film that really sort of started that Burton/Depp team up we so often see. But before Depp got “Type cast” into Diet Jack Sparrow post Caribbean, he was pretty amazing in this film. Seeing him completely disappear into this character (who WAS IN FACT REAL by the way) is incredibly amazing to watch. It’s also a giant love letter to anyone who….just creates. There’s always a chance something you do might not work out, or just suck. But you have to do it because you love it. And Ed Wood teaches us all….Even if the quality doesn’t turn out good as long as you enjoy doing it….Does that even matter in the end?
18) Lights Out
It might seem premature to list this as a favorite movie of all time….But it definitely has some staying power. Why? Because it taps into our most primal fear. The fear of the dark. Even if we say we outgrow it, we’re still afraid of it. The mechanic of this film is sheer genius; that the creature could not only be something from the mother’s demented and tormented mind, but can only attack her victims through the shadows. There are reasons why we fear dark stank ass allies, creepy AF parking lots at night, unlit hallways, and dark thick forests. It’s a fear of the unknown. EVERY single sentient being exhibits fear; dogs bare their teeth and flatten their ears with a snarl at anything they don’t know, cats arch their backs and fluff their fur to make themselves look bigger than whatever may be threatening to them. And humans do whatever it takes to they’re not afraid; walking out of the threatening area at a quick sure footed pace, keeping their back straight, eyes narrowed, we try to look more intimidating than the thing/person intimidating than us. But what if that thing intimidating us is a supernatural entity? That takes security of “I can survive this” right out the window. And again playing on that mechanic is a wonderful move; light is safe but light costs. What if the power goes out? A fireplace only does so much. And you can forget about stupid freaking lanterns they do JACK. The movie is also a deep dive into depression, and how it can completely and utterly warp the human mind, and take its victim’s friends and family down a horrifying path. Coupled with good pacing and brilliant acting…Well…This is a film not for everyone, but for most others…..You’ll definitely be sleeping with the lights on after this film.
17) Pulp Fiction
You’ve often heard certain directors be called things. “Master of Horror” for Wes Craven. “Master of Storytelling and Oner aka The Long Take” for Spielberg. And for infamous/famous director Quentin Tarantino…..”Master of Dialogue”. And if you’ve ever wondered why….Just watch Pulp Fiction. Told out of chronological order following various people throughout the city, this highly stylized film is full of Tarantino tropes; moments that would make Game of Thrones blush, Tarantino style dialogue, unapologetic screenplay, and outrageous deaths only to be seen and appreciated in a Tarantino movie….Who else laughs when Marvin gets shot in the face? Yeah you do. This movie is nuts, violent, fifty shades of whacko and I adore every minute of this film. Only someone like Tarantino could make a conversation either thrilling, enthralling, or tense. He can turn the most awkward and boring thing or subject and make his audience invested in it. I never get tired of wondering just what’s in the suitcase, and it’s really fascinating seeing that these stories are interwoven together yet told out of order only for the last part of this film to be the diner just with Jackson and his partner. There are two groups of people in the world; those who just aren’t into Tarantino, and the other half is those who say Kill Bill is better than Inglorious Basterds and those who say just the opposite. Me personally….Pulp Fiction beats out both films. A dialogue heavy script can be easy to screw up….But Tarantino teaches us that words are indeed incredibly powerful.
This is easily one of Disney’s best movies. I truly mean that. Visually stunning, musically genius, put those two together and you get a gorgeous film. It’s a piece that just puts you on an emotional journey; one moment you’re having fun and watching Mick learn the mysterious dark arts (glad they touched on this bit of his history in the Kingdom Hearts story) the next you’re on a journey with the dinosaurs while listening to the iconic “Rite of Spring”. You get to see winged horses soar, centaurs find love, and a devil weak chaos and death and despair only to be defeated in the end by “Ave Maria” and heaven’s light. Those two segments along with “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” are my favorite. Sorcerer Mickey is my favorite rendition as I connect with him the most; he teaches a great lesson in biting off more than you can chew. And his shaking hands with Leopold Stokowski is the icing on the cake that cements the very serious air this movie has. It’s not at all geared for the children save for Mickey himself. It’s a film mostly for adults. It’s a visual musical masterpiece to the ears.
15) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Surprised to see a Harry Potter film on a top favorite of all-time list? Well as a huge Potterhead but even bigger film fan it was hard….IS any one film from the HP Saga truly worth such an honor? And if so….Which film would it be? It’s truly a tie between Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2 and this film, however overall the better film is Prisoner of Azkaban. Heralded by a newcomer to the series, Alfonso Cuarón Orozco the Mexican director certainly took the series in a different approach. And it couldn’t have been better for it. Sure they did leave out a scrap ton from the book, however as its own entity….It’s a marvelous film. The overall dark eerie tone sets it apart from its predecessors, and gives you a great foreshadowing of what’s to come. And it’s the film that really gets you deep into this universe’s lore. The Golden Trio are much more defined as characters than ever before; Harry continues to grow as does his actor which show. The effects just get better and better as well; showing off griffins, soul stealing dementors, and human to animal transfigurations. It’s the film with that started Harry down a path that he couldn’t divert from….And gave us all a taste of the other side of the bright magical world we came to love. And whether we were ready or not, that darkness within the series would only grow after this film.
14) Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring
If anything this particular trilogy is a wonderful study of successful adaptation….Along with Harry Potter. So much could’ve easily gone wrong, especially given that Miramax wanted only one film, and Jackson had at first drafted a two film series. It’s funny that those making this thing had to fight for three films given the legacy it’s left behind. The character Frodo isn’t the best in retrospect, but his friends more than make up for his….character. Those in the Fellowship from kickass archer Legolas (who is pretty much relegated to “Expository Man”) to Boromir each have a role to play in the film. And the “Everyman to hero slot” works very naturally here vs in films like Harry Potter or Transformers. One where someone was told he was Jesus the whole time….And the other admittedly being idiotic despite how much I enjoy that film. This movie is a big ass sprawling epic that sucks you in the moment you hear that iconic music. It’s an amazing film that more than earns a spot on this list….Despite Frodo falling as much as he does.
13) All Dogs Go to Heaven
Arguably one of Bluth’s best films, this film is a highly sophisticated incredibly deep allegory….And the way they go about this is with…Singing dogs. Yeah for whatever reason the 80s just loved Burt Renoylds’ singing voice. Bad songs aside, the plot is pretty deep for a kid’s mainstream animation. The characters are all pretty morally gray (not the least of which Charles B Barkin himself). The animation is fine (pretty standard for a Bluth production), hard lines, hard colors, lots of darker colors throughout the whole movie. The Heaven in this film really does look like something a child might imagine; it’s the only time in the film we see nice soft strokes of paint, no hard lines. Soft pallets and soft gentle lights. The movie is deep; one of the deeper animations out there to this day. True it is a Christian analog of the rise and fall and rise of man but told through anthropomorphic dogs. This is a deep allegory for the aforementioned things and also shows some of the flaws in Christian doctrine; what IS heaven and would it be truly earned? Or would we rather have free will? That which makes us human? And for those reasons, All Dogs certainly earns a spot on this list as one of my favorites of all time.
12) Jurassic Park
This is one of Spielberg’s best films. Despite the flaws it has; spotlight fetish, plot threads that go nowhere (glad they continue that tradition in Jurassic World) and character arcs that just disappear. However, it’s a good fun survival story not just a monster movie like in the newest addition to the franchise. The children are actually likeable, the action intense, and of course the MOTHERFREAKING T-REX! Even after all this time, she still looks fantastic. All the dinosaurs-minus the Velociraptors-look great. From a few CGI shots to LIFE SIZE recreations of these beasts they still hold up to this day for the most part. Add in Jeff Goldblum being Goldblum and other good actors and you’ve uh, well uh got one hell of a uh fun movie.
11) Saving Mr. Banks
Another bio picture makes this list. This time, during one of Walt Disney’s more…trying times during his career as a filmmaker. That being when he worked with creator of Mary Poppins PL Travers to create the now beloved film Mary Poppins. Both have HUGE egos, and when big egos clash, it’s hard to get anything done. We certainly see things from both sides; Travers very reluctant to give up her pride and joy, and Disney wanting so very badly to make this film, as part of a promise to his children. With Walt being this charismatic, friendly very bright eyed young man eager to make the world laugh, and Travers a cold cynic, it’s amazing that Mary Poppins exists at all…And seeing it come together is astounding and interesting. The best thing is that this film is entirely pre-production based. We’re not on the film set, there’s no principle photography being done, actors haven’t been talked about, it’s just buffing out the script so that Travers will approve the film rights to Walt. There’s a particularly lovely scene where Walt is with one of the Sherman Brothers just talking. It’s quiet, feels like a one long take. We all know the story of Mickey Mouse’s creation; how Walt sketches him up on a train ride. But to hear the creator talk so openly how no matter what he couldn’t sell the rights gives an insight on how much he cared about the mouse. How he views the mouse as family. Which in turn is what Disney is to many of us. This movie does Disney-fy a few things but overall it’s a good tale of how patience, perseverance, and determination can bring a beloved fictional character to life. Let’s go fly a kite indeed.
And that is part one of my favorite films of all time. Part two is coming soon.
What are some of your favorite films of all time? Let me know below!
Plot: After his parents are murdered by Sabor the leopard, a baby known as Tarzan is taken in by Ape Kala, and raised among her family. Everything changes when three humans Jane, Clayton and Jane’s father come to the jungle….Tarzan learns how to be human, and ultimately has to decide on living with Jane in England, or staying in the jungle.
Starring: Alex Linz as Young Tarzan, Tony Goldwyn, Minnie Driver, Glenn Close, Lance Henrikson, Brian Blessed, Rosie O’Donnell, Wayne Knight.
- THE CHARACTERS
- From Tarzan to Kerchak the characters are nearly fully realized in this film. This Tarzan is said often to be a full realization to the Tarzan of the famous books. He moves, thinks, speaks like an animal but looks like a man. This Tarzan does things that would kill a living human character, which is probably why there are so many live action films that all feel the same. This Tarzan is completely new. He surfs on trees, he’s the only one to swing from vine to vine, he’s a master mimic. His curiosity at the humans who enter the jungle and at everything they have is understandable and relatable. Tarzan himself is a relatable character.
- Kerchak and Kala and Terk are all nice characters as well. In this animation rather than the new live action, they’re able to give the Apes personality, they have distinct personality and traits. You feel a connection to them through Tarzan, who is the audience avatar-he’s the one who takes the audience on this journey through the jungle. Kerchak’s journey of acceptance is still something relevant to today. Kala’s journey of loss and love is moving. Terk’s journey of accepting Tarzan as a best friend is nice to witness. Even Tantor is a fun character. Something like Tarzan works more as an animation since it allows the animals to talk. Something that’s taken directly from the books is his ability to talk to the animals-they can’t talk to other human quite yet, but Tarzan does indeed know how to talk gorilla or leopard or python and that’s shown expertly here.
- THE ANIMATION
- Something that shouldn’t come as a surprise from most Disney Animations is that the animation here is stunning. The POV shots of Tarzan either swinging through the jungle, or surfing on trees is cool. Probably a cooler thing to witness in 1999 when it was released. The trees Tarzan surfs on were created in the computer, while Tarzan and the other characters were merged into the CGI jungle. Seeing rough animation of him moving like that is fascinating. There are quite a few close ups of Tarzan’s face and the range of expressions that animation can get across is stunning; fear, horror, confusion, shock all in the span of a couple seconds. That’s only something a live actor can ever hope to accomplish. The use of background color of greens and reds and sunset colors is beautiful as well. The animation team’s trip to Africa to study the jungle and silverback’s really paid off.
- THE MUSIC – INSTRUMENTAL
- The music is half and half here so it’ll also go into the bad category. “Strangers Like Me” is the standout hit that never gets old. “You’ll Be in My Heart” which is the lullaby that you can hear throughout the film through instrumentals does get old here and there and at times feels like it’s being shoved into your face. It’s much better done through the motifs you hear throughout the film here and there. “Trashin’ the Camp” is pretty simple and fun. “Son of Man” works as a narrative route which is how the songs work here. However what makes the music work is taking from African roots while keeping it contemporary which is Collins’ specialty. However, most of the lyrical songs are just kind of meh.
- THE SCRIPT
- The story of Tarzan is known throughout the world. It was built from the ground up. There’s relatively less dialogue in this film than say The Lion King or Aladdin but it works. A lot of the emotions are shown visually which is a keystone in animation. There are good dialogue moments between Kala and Tarzan, some funny moments with Terk who serves as more or less a comedic relief along with Tantor the elephant. But for the most part the script is anywhere from good to wonderful.
- THE VILLAIN
- There are two villains in this movie. Sabor the Leopard and Clayton. Sabor was wonderful. She never talked, but she was incredibly dangerous. The way she was animated and moved felt dangerous and alive. She was a real true threat to the Apes’ and to Tarzan. The final showdown between her and Tarzan is not only the real action scene in the film but one of the better scenes overall.
- THE VILLAIN
- Both the new Tarzan and this Tarzan suffer from the same thing; BORING FREAKING VILLAINS. Oh my goodness while the conflict in Legend of Tarzan serves a greater purpose with the slavery thing, the only thing the villain here wants is the Apes for money. While that serves as a threat to Tarzan himself since it’s his family, for the bigger picture it’s a small threat and Clayton is only doing it for the money. Money is one of the weakest villain motivations and it’s something we’ve all seen dozens of times before. We’ve also seen a villain like Clayton a dozen times before.
- THE MUSIC
- As mentioned before this also goes into the bad category. Not for anything big just I’m not a big fan of the Phil Collins songs. A few hit the mark like “Strangers Like Me” and “Son of Man” but the rest are just okay. I do understand the fact that it’s Collins narrating Tarzan’s thoughts and feelings which in a way works.
Tarzan in the end is a pretty solid movie. It stands the test of time, and as the last film of the famed Disney Renaissance it often gets overlooked. Which it shouldn’t. The animation is of course stunning, the story told in a wonderful way mostly through the visuals, the rhythmic beats this movie seems to possess makes it feel alive, the characters for the most part are great (Jane and Clayton are meh) and Tarzan’s inner conflict is touched upon in the right places for the right amount of time. It’s just a good solid movie with a few problems here and there. But those problems don’t really detract from the experience.
I’m going to go and give Tarzan a 4/5. It’s just a solid Disney movie and the last solid movie they’d make in a while. Films after Tarzan weren’t BAD but they’d never hit that same stride until Bolt or Princess and the Frog came long.
13 years ago, Pixar released (to me) it’s all time greatest film; Finding Nemo. Toy Story had set the bar and Nemo had completely surpassed it. It seemed like that was it-in a world where sequels were on the rise, Nemo would be one of the few that was just by itself.
And now we’re presented with Finding Dory; a companion piece to Finding Nemo. And I have to say…after thirteen years of waiting….it’s well worth the wait.
What’s the story? Well a year has taken place after the events of Finding Nemo. Marlin, Nemo and Dory are back in their nook of the world, when suddenly while on a school field trip, Dory’s memory is triggered and is on a desperate search to find her family. Marlin and Nemo are taken along for the ride as they must cross the ocean once again to the “Jewel of Morro Bay”; a Marine Life Institute. Along the way, it’s Dory this time who meets a cast of colorful characters on her journey to find home.
Literally there’s nothing wrong with this movie so let’s just talk about all the good stuff. There’s a lot.
- The CHARACTERS
- Once again, the characters are incredible. I’ll talk about the new ones first-Bailey the Beluga Whale, Destiny a whale shark, two seals, and Hank an octopus with only seven legs, are all funny and well written-each contributing it’s own way to help Dory. My favorites were Hank and Destiny. Hank was a scene stealer. The old crowd make a welcome return-Crush the now 151 year old sea turtle provides the means to get to California; the East Australian Current once again.
- Marlin. I could really write an entire separate article on this character and Dory. About how this film is a huge double character study. Because his character isn’t perfectly reformed and changed after his trip across the ocean. Sure he’s a bit less stern, but he still goes into manic states, and is still overprotective-and even tries to deny things he’s done. To see him grow completely and utterly as a character-to see him take fault and responsibility for those he hurt and done, is really refreshing. Marlin here finally admits some things that he couldn’t have done before due to pride, and thus grows. There’s a wonderful scene in the pipes, and another wonderful scene with him and Dory towards the end. It’s these two scenes that SHOW you how much Marlin has grown and changed.
- Dory. Dory here is the center of the film. Unlike most main characters where (while they have good personalities) for the most part they’re just okay-it’s the side characters that take over and become more interesting. Here, Dory doesn’t suffer that. She completely holds the film, and Ellen does a wonderful job selling both the serious heart wrenching drama scenes Pixar is best at and the comedy Pixar is known for. What’s interesting about her character, is while you can understand Dory’s plight of her memory problem, you can also understand why certain fish would get annoyed, particularly with Marlin. She’s certainly an all around interesting character.
- The VOICE ACTING
- Once again, everyone brings their A Game here. Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres and Andrew Stanton return as Marlin, Dory and Crush the turtle. Ty Burrell voices Bailey, the Beluga Whale, Eugene Levy is Charlie, Kaitlin Olson is Destiny the Whale Shark, and Diane Keaton voices Jenny. Ed O’Neil voiced Hank the octopus. The emotional scenes are so well acted, and every line was just well performed. At least this time I knew immediately who Dory was. After Finding Nemo had premiered….Sad to say that it took me a long, LONG time before I would realize who Dory was voiced by. Once again, with voice acting, as you see above this paragraph, actors don’t have much to go on other than a few photos, maybe a few barely rendered scenes, and their own instincts. They have to really rely on their director and themselves to bring these characters to life.
- The ANIMATION
- At this point it’s almost pointless to talk about Pixar animation. Even their most disappointing, pointless films have had great to stunning animation. The way animation can capture so many emotions on the face in the span of seconds fascinates me. When there were extreme close ups of Dory you could see she doesn’t have scales like Marlin or Nemo her skin is different. She also still has the scars from her and Marlin’s run in with the Jellyfish Forest. The lighting from the Kelp Forest was nice and eerie, and the aquarium looked great and how they all managed to get to the different exhibits and how those looked was great too.
- The SCRIPT
- In some ways…this film is in fact better than the first. In one important way, is the script. Here the characters are given more time to just breathe, and let you experience the journey. With the first, there was a simple goal-find Nemo. It’s a fine goal, and the movie is still to me Pixar’s best yet…sometimes it felt a bit slow, and the message a bit hammered in. it’s a good message, but maybe I’d skip when a moment when they’re in the whale, or when they’re talking to the turtle. Here? I’d skip the first 5 minutes-I’d start the movie when they’re getting chased by this giant squid-after Marlin yells at Dory for putting Nemo at risk and his son in shock, it’s Marlin who sets this journey into motion. The way the characters interact with each other is great-nothing felt forced, nothing felt too rushed or not worked on enough…There’s a saying that if you have to tell your story through flashbacks you’re doing something wrong in film…but here…it works because it adds to the mystery of the film. There were about 3 powerhouse scenes; when Dory finds out what happened to her parents and goes into shock (I’ll explain later), when Dory and Marlin and Nemo are in the pipes, and a scene revolving around her parents and shells.
- The CINEMATOGRAPHY
- There’s this scene where Dory is with other blue tang and Marlin and Nemo. She finds out what may have happened, through Marlin who has to unfortunately explain it to her. She then goes into this state of shock-I’m not sure how but through animation PIXAR did this amazing “Double vision” you often see in film when people are about to black out. It then becomes this incredible Point of View shot where Dory can’t hear a thing going on around her until she’s back into the ocean in front of the institute. As someone who’s had a few panic attacks here or there….that scene was spot on-you feel out of control you don’t pay attention to anything going on around you, you just try to think of a way to calm yourself down. That whole scene is one of my favorites in the film.
Like with Finding Nemo, while there’s a lot to talk about in Finding Dory review wise, not so much since…it’s so good. It’s easier to talk about the bad films than the good-with the good you say what’s good and move on. With bad films, you can just clamor on and on and on. This film builds upon this universe in a good way-the returning characters contribute to the story in unique and important ways. And they address a lot of Marlin’s issues as a character from the first film over here. There are some things that might annoy people-the first ten minutes feel strikingly familiar and Marlin’s constant going on and on about their journey can get annoying but this is thirteen years since people may have seen the first; maybe Pixar felt they needed to be reminded of Finding Nemo. All in all, it’s just as perfect as the original.
Is it BETTER than the original? Welllllllllll………………
For now….I’ll just go ahead and give it 5/5 stars how about that?
Comment below what Pixar movie is the BEST of the best?
There’s a saying- you’re never too old for Disney.
That has never rang more true for some of its animated shows such as Phineas and Ferb-we’ll talk more about that show later-and this show; Gravity Falls.
Created by Alex Hirsch, based around his own life adventures, the show centers on two preteen children who are forced to live with their Grunkle Stan (short for Great Uncle Stanley) in Gravity Falls, Oregon. Once the two arrive however, they discover there’s much more to the little town and they and their friends get wrapped up in mystery after mystery, leading to a final epic showdown with someone named Bill Cipher.
That’s just the show in a nutshell. The rabbit hole goes FAR deeper than that with this show my fair readers.
There are episodes that deal with exorcisms of vengeful spirits, episodes that show off the main villain Bill Cipher who is the biggest Cool Ranch Doritos fan, that deal with the possibilities of leaving your family and growing up, and an episode that shows just what goes on underneath a mini golf course. Hint – to those who thought it was tiny little men…..You got it right.
In my other post about how cartoons now beat out those of the past, I mention that one reason, is because of the characters. Gravity Falls is an incredible example of amazing character growth and development.
Dipper Pines (Jason Ritter) is an adventurous nerd, the younger of the twins. Yet always ready and willing to come to his big sister’s aid. Kids can easily identify with him as the kind of awkward introvert hero who just wants to do what’s right. Or they can see themselves in the social butterfly and polar opposite Mabel (Kristen Schaal). She’s really quite adorable. Adults can relate to the loveable grump Grunkle Stan (Alex Hirsch), and Grunkle Ford (JK Simmons; yeah. THAT JK Simmons). Wendy (Linda Cardellini) is the badass chick able to stay cool under tense situations, while Soos (Alex Hirsch) is the loveable idiot who actually has some baggage in his past.
And of course….We need to talk about the villains.
A kid known as Gideon….What a little creeper. He is the main villain of season one.
And the villain of the entire show…..Bill Cipher (Alex Hirsch). This dude. This. DUDE.
His design is as simple as it gets. He’s a triangle. He’s a closet Cool Ranch Doritos fan but….Immediately when he comes on the show for the first time by the end of season 1, there’s been so much build up and mystique to his character, that not only does he pay off, but you feel like he’s a legitimate threat to the heroes of the show. And the more you see him, the more you’re worried every time he interacts with the mains of the show. His manic personality mixed with a bit of humor really works, but the humor doesn’t downsize how threatening he is-this rings true in the finale Weirdmageddon Part 3: Take Back the Falls. Where he straight states he needs to turn the younger Pines twins into CORPSES. Remember this is a DISNEY cartoon.
The writing is at some points sheer genius. At other times, you realize “oh yeah this is from Disney.” It’s gonna have its cornball moments, but more often than not the writing is so good you can ignore that. The comedic timing is as quick as ever, and the in jokes, references, and all around comedy is just golden. But there’s also quite a few serious moments within the show, such as the episode “Into The Bunker”….Good luck sleeping after witnessing a shapeshifter as Dipper get frozen into crystal while screaming. Or how about that episode “Northwest Mansion Mystery/Noir”; in which Dipper fights an unholy ghost who wants revenge against the Northwests? There’s a point in the episode where the animal heads on the wall start chanting “ancient sins” while bleeding REAL LOOKING BLOOD from their eyes and mouths. It’s a filler episode certainly, but it doesn’t at all feel like a filler episode. Even episodes from the critically acclaimed Avatar the Last Airbender at some points, had to be filler before getting back to the main story. That’s not the case here.
The writing in terms of the characters is also wonderful. There’s never a dull moment between each character interaction, and everyone is given room to grow and develop.
The focus is more on the characters than the overall mystery hanging over Gravity Falls, Oregon. That’s a central focus of the show-finding out who the author is, and stopping Bill Cipher from trying to take over the planet. BUT even if the show were to be canceled before it’s time, not having a set ending wouldn’t be such a big deal, because you wouldn’t mind going back to hang out with those wonderfully written characters, and expertly paced episodes. The show does pay off with its ending, but again, even if it pulled a lost on its audience, the writing and characters are so good, it wouldn’t matter.
Back to referencing my other post about cartoons today….A reason why they’re so much better, is simple. They look stunning. The character designs for the show are incredibly simple-back to Bill Cipher who’s a damn triangle. The mains a look like simplified humans-complete with the big Disney eyes, and flimsy looking noodle arms. The simpler the character though, the faster episodes can come out. And the more time can be spent on the background animation, and artwork.
Usually in cartoons, the opening sequence is the only thing that looks amazing, while the animation in the episodes is pretty low key, unless it’s a big several part episode. That’s not the case with Gravity Falls. Every. Single. Episode has absolutely stunning animation, from the first episode to the Weirdmageddon finale trilogy. The backgrounds look amazing, and the lighting, shadows, and overall look and feel of the town is gorgeous to look at in each episode.
There’s no doubt that this is a Disney product. You have that sense going in straight away. And with Disney, all of their films have a nice little message for their audience-sisterly love can conquer all. Face your fears and overcome your past. True love can save the day. The message in Gravity Falls is something not only for the children, but for adults. And that is that family can overcome just about anything. Along with be true to yourself no matter what. There are a lot of parallels between the two generations of Pines twins. BUT where one set of twins fell out and did everything wrong in terms of treating family, the other seems to get it all right-even when faced with the end of their world. They have fights, they have distrust, but in the end they’re able to work together, and remain close despite their obvious differences in personality. The show does a good overall job of showing that Dipper and Mabel Pines work best together, not separately.
Also the overall theme of solving mysteries and clues is a fun one as well. Having kids and adults try to figure out the ciphers at the end of each episode is just brilliant.
Whether or not Gravity Falls has staying power, remains to be seen. But for now, it’s captivated not just children, but full grown adults. The Walker Brothers-Doug Walker aka the Nostalgia Critic and Rob Walker-both got into the show after a fan of theirs gave them the DVD set. I myself only got into the show after hearing about it from their vlogs of each episode. After witnessing “The Hand That Rocks the Mabel” I was hooked-I needed to learn the secret of the vending machine. And I’m 23. I got a friend of mine to watch it and she loved it. It’s a show for everyone, not just the children. At the end of every episode, there are ciphers to be decoded that were created by Alex Hirsch himself. Those codes would become clues to future episodes such as the code “Stan is not what he seems, Stan is not what he seems, Stan is not what he seems.” And BOY did we get a storm in the episode “Not what He Seems”.
The show took risks, as Disney has recently been doing with their feature films. The characters all stand out, and are extremely memorable. The episodes are well paced and well written, and there’s something in it for everyone. If you love good tv, not just cartoons but actual good tv, and a good mystery, this is the show for you.
Gravity Falls Final Rating – 5/5 Stars