Pete’s Dragon (1977)

I reviewed Pete’s Dragon for the Ultimate 70s Blogathon as part of a double feature, but I never do double features for Disney films due to the segment I’m working on for Baking Through Disney. Baking is going to happen soon but meanwhile, I will keep these Disney film reviews going as I get back into the baking routine. I will however jump right back to watching the movies in order of release starting the next one, which should be Bambi.

With that said, let’s check this one out. If you already read it in the double feature, its the same one posted again here with slight additions.

Pete’s Dragon (1977)

Pete's Dragon

Director: Don Chaffey

Cast: Sean Marshall, Helen Reddy, Jim Dale, Mickey Rooney, Red Buttons, Shelley Winters

An orphan boy and his magical dragon come to town with his abusive adoptive parents in pursuit. – IMDB

Mary Poppins opened up a world of blending animated characters with real characters and to be fair, there’s a few segments in Pete’s Dragon that calls back to it, particularly the song and dance of I Saw A Dragon which has somewhat of a Chim Chiminey where the bar replaces the rooftop choreography. Its amazing how its taken so long to catch up with Pete’s Dragon and really not know too much about it. Pete’s Dragon is a fun little adventurous tale filled with friendship, family and packs in a decent amount of laughs and emotions, along with a lot of nice musical pieces.

Pete's Dragon

Being a fan of Mary Poppins, the appeal of Pete’s Dragon struck me almost instantaneously especially when Pete’s Dragon, Elliott is around quite a bit and he is designed fairly friendly with tufts of pink hair and wings contrasting with this green body which actually makes Elliott one of the most charming parts. Pete and Elliott’s friendship is an odd one and its also why for a good part of the film, no one actually believed him and took Elliott as something of an imaginary friend sort of deal, which of course, it wasn’t. In fact, Elliott actually parallels a little like Mary Poppins instead he is a dragon that helps kids in need and then moves on when his job is done. Which is pretty much what Mary Poppins does but she is much more there. Drawing comparisons to Mary Poppins a lot here because there was a strong sense of similarities between the two, however, being similar to Mary Poppins is a not a bad thing, in fact, its what makes Pete’s Dragon so much fun to watch.

Pete's Dragon

There is also a variety of other characters. The first being the lady who takes Pete in in times of need with his somewhat eccentric drunk dad who gets into a ton of shenanigans. The dad is played by Mickey Rooney which is quite a funny role. Aside from that, there are the bandit family who are the supposed adopted family of Pete who pretty much tries to capture him back so that he can be their slave. These guys are like the odd and somewhat stupid family who is trying to be mean. It is quite suitable for kids because perhaps for kids they will feel somewhat scary but we all know that they are never going to feel too threatening. And then, finally there are the con artists in the magician or healer character who travels around with his cures with his sidekick. All he cares about is money and he turns into the guy who tries to get Elliott. Because of both the dangers to Elliott and Pete, we can see their friendship as well as the adventure part be fit in tightly into this story and it works to its advantage.

Pete's Dragon

Pete’s Dragon is filled with musical segments. It definitely has a lot of really catchy songs. Some energetic and others soothing to listen to but all in all, rather positive messages all around. In fact, I’d like to think that Pete’s Dragon takes a look at finding a place to belong and not losing hope for a better tomorrow. Its a hopeful film and one that teaches a lot about friendship and just emotions in general as Pete leaves for the big world and faces the situations no matter how scared he actually is about not finding someplace to be and what to expect next. And that is essentially what makes Pete’s Dragon a nice little family film.

Now that I’ve seen the original, I wonder how the 2017 version would be especially probably with CGI for Elliott although I do think that part of the charm of the film was the drawn animations for Elliott.

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Toronto & EGLX Haul!

We sneaked off for a little work and play trip to Toronto to cover EGLX and explored a little. To be accurate, we were in the surrounding Toronto areas and stayed in Markham. And of course, we met up with Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews, my darling Ultimate Decades Blogathon co-host like the past two years for celebration and fun friends hangout. This year, we decided to not go to Toronto Comicon and switched it to EGLX (Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo…something like that).

With that said, we picked up a few things here and there.

First stop: Pacific Mall

Glasses at Noble Optical

I have gotten my last three pairs of glasses here and my husband got his last pair here so when time to change, we got our new prescriptions and came to look for a new pair. He ended up with his 4th pair in a row of Hugo Boss glasses (never intended) and I had some struggles with this year’s style and ended up with a slightly bigger frame Ray-ban. Never thought I would get Ray-bans but they had a lovely matte finish and looked pretty good. I am still adapting to this new look but it happens all the time after a big purchase.

Noble Optical is pretty cool because they can get the glasses done the day of purchase which is useful for us because we come from out of town so we wanted it to adapt to new glasses over the weekend with our new prescriptions and everything worked out great.

The Best Shop

A little houseware shopping here as we picked up some kitchenware and a shower curtain. Nothing special just a little random purchases we found.

Egg Rolls

A staple of Toronto is picking up these sweet egg rolls usually as a little gift. They are delicious.

Location: Toronto Zoo
Toronto Zoo Cap

My husband loves caps. He gets a good few every year and the Toronto Zoo one had nice colors and the logo was really stylish. So it worked well for him.

Victoria’s Secret

I initially went into Victoria’s Secret to see what style of sports bras were available and whether they were on sale. To my surprise, the quality and design just wasn’t what I wanted. Walking out I saw these T-shirt bras that were so cute plus they had a 2 for $55 sale so I went for it, considering one is usually $43.

LCBO

It wouldn’t be a trip to Ontario without stopping at LCBO for some VQA wines which we can rarely find in SAQ stores. First one is the seasonal rose wine called Sibling Rivalry. The next is a new tasting white Moscato wine called Fresh Beginnings. My husband chose the Innis and Gunn ale beer and I chose a local apple cider drink called Queen Street 501 by Brickstreet Ciderhouse. The next wine recap will review these ones.

Location: EGLX 2018

Studio VTAS

The big day for the trip was definitely EGLX for myself since it is kind of work and play. We didn’t pick up any games however, we did have a goal to fill up a few walls in our house with art and we found two places that we just loved. I had never seen these two artists either so it was a lovely find. The first above is from Studio VTAS. Not sure what the name is exactly but you can find her on Instagram and Twitter. The silhouette ones are beautiful. She also has a fantastic Studio Ghibli collection. Lots of great art here.

Mariya Haponenko

The second artist created these original art called Crystal Monsters at least the one on the right is that. There is an obvious influence for its general design but its inspired by the galaxy and botany for artist Mariya Haponenko. They were slightly pricey but I do love to support indie artists and they were just too awesome to pass up. I love the design of the galaxy one but the botany ones have a really cool technique of pressing glass together or something like that. I’m not artist but the way she described it was very cool.

Location: Vaughan Mills
Disney Store

In theme with yesterday’s Moana review, I actually picked up Pua. There was a sweet deal on plushes at the Disney outlet there and I just couldn’t resist. On a side note, over on Avenue of Daydreams, I will be archiving my Disney plush collection. Still thinking of how to structure it but it will happen soon.

Location: Big Apple

Final stop whenever we go to Toronto by car is The Big Apple where they have a ton of pies and other apple baked goods. This, time, my husband wanted the brownies (not apples at all) but he said it tasted delicious. I got the Apple Strudel and we got an apple pie for my mother in law.

Thats it for this Toronto and EGLX haul!
Enjoy this post as I sort through 1000+ photos for the trip to share!

Moana (2016)

Its a lovely Sunday morning! Nothing like talking about some Disney! Today’s we look at 2016’s Disney film, Moana.

Moana (2016)

moana

Director: Ron Clements, John Musker, Don Hall, Chris Williams

Voice Cast: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk

In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by the Demigod Maui reaches Moana’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the Demigod to set things right. – IMDB

The 2016 Disney film went to Moana. There was a lot of love for it because of its story and its strong female character and that this story isn’t the traditional princess finding a prince story but an independent girl following her destiny and saving her island. For all the above, I do like Moana a lot.

moana

 

Is Moana my favorite Disney movie? It isn’t. I can think of a few that are better crafted. However, it is a solid entry and a nice way for Disney to embrace the stronger women image. We had started seeing it in Frozen with Elsa and now at Moana, she truly is doing what she can without the added love story (like in Mulan). There is nothing wrong with love stories and for my own roots, I loved to see Mulan get its spot in Disney even if the story was never about love but about her courage, bravery for her family, much like Moana’s is. Seeing that Moana took the angle to simply avoid the love story angle and be about her getting over her obstacles was a really nice take. Moana also is colorful and visually appealing. It has to do with the warm setting and the vast open sea adventure that she takes. It still has the magical element which works well. In terms of characters, it also has of course, Dwayne Johnson who plays Maui, the demigod who caused all the problems in the first place and she has to find to fix it all. There are some cute sidekicks like the Moana pig and a silly one which is a weird and dumb chicken called Heihei. The grandmother plays the other role as an inspirational figure and something of a guiding light.

moana

 

Finally, a Disney film isn’t one without its musical elements. Moana definitely has a few fun and catchy songs. Our house is obsessed with You’re Welcome. The mention of it usually has that song stuck in our head for a while (guess what song is in my head now…). I can’t say that I love the soundtrack all that much though. It has some fun songs but nothing stuck a whole lot. But that might be because its so new and I haven’t watched it a ton of times. As nicely constructed and visually appealing as Moana is, its still somewhat of a good but not great experience. I love what its trying to do and it honestly all works together but somehow, I feel like its missing a certain grab for myself and I’m not completely sure why.

However, putting my own preferences aside, Moana is a well-crafted film. Its one that will have elements for both adults and children alike especially with its colorful environment and fun songs as well as its inspiring and silly characters, both human and animals. Its is a nice direction for Disney to take and I appreciate all of what it has achieved with Moana. Hopefully, we will be seeing more of these sort of films which help empower women characters and send them on some fun and adventurous quests.

Finding Dory (2017)

Baking Through Disney has hit quite the snag but I am working on catching up on some Pixar and Disney titles in the meantime. I needed a lighthearted movie and decided to give Finding Dory a go.

Lets check it out!

Finding Dory (2017)

Finding Dory

Director: Andrew Stanton & Angus MacLane

Voice Cast:  Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Hayden Rolence, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy

The friendly but forgetful blue tang fish, Dory, begins a search for her long-lost parents, and everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way. – IMDB

Following the success of Finding Nemo, Pixar continues in this universe with Finding Dory. While it still features our favorite father and son clownfishes, this time’s star is Dory and her search for her parents and where she came from. Dory is a great supporting character in Finding Nemo but the question here is whether she can carry an entire movie by herself and that was also my hesitation. Other than the Toy Story trilogy, lets just say that I’ve been disappointed with Pixar sequels so this one had the same idea as making a movie out of the Minions from Despicable Me (which I haven’t seen but will soon since it just landed on Netflix) and Penguins from Madagascar (which I have seen and reviewed here). They turn out fun and a good time but never quite has the meaningful and memorable punch that some of the Pixar movies have been able to deliver.

Finding Dory

The good part is that Finding Dory delivered everything I expected it to be. It was fun and silly and had some hilarious characters and moments. Was it a necessary movie? Probably not. Its fairly easy to see where the story was going to go but it was a cute, especially the baby Dory was absolutely adorable. It had a nice message about family, just as Finding Nemo had but somehow, it felt like it still lacked a little bit more substance, maybe its because it felt so much like watching a Finding Nemo movie that it lacked some uniqueness. There’s been a lot of sequels for everything kind of movie in the last decade (maybe longer) so its hard to not hope that a sequel can deliver a little more.

finding dory

With all that said, Finding Dory excelled with some fun characters to match up the vibrantly forgetful Dory, voiced by the ever so talented Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen herself makes me happy so its hard to not love having an excuse to watch Dory’s origin story. Dory, Marlin and Nemo are exactly as fun as you would expect them to be. Of course, some of the new characters really did make it a lot of fun. Hank is a cranky octopus who wants to escape the aquarium and helps Dory only to get her ticket out of there. In the process, his many octopus abilities helps them out a lot while still realizing that a big scary octopus like him still has his fears. On the other hand, much nicer sea creatures here is Dory’s childhood friend, a whale shark called Destiny who they used to talk to via the aquarium pipes and Destiny’s aquarium neighbor, a Beluga whale who had a concussion and thinks he lost his sonar abilities. All of them together is absolutely a riot and its a ton of fun to watch.

Finding Dory

Overall, Finding Dory is a fun entertaining adventure and while there was some predictability in it, its still an enjoyable Pixar film. Pixar always comes with great animation and colorful palettes. The underwater aspect gives it this cool touch. While still the movies and has some level of imagination is a nice entry point for kids to know about different underwater creatures, I would imagine. Other parents who post about kids reaction to animated films probably would provide a better opinion on this. I loved marine animals (and still do) since I was a kid so whale sharks, beluga whales and colorful tropical fish, etc are all my favorite things so this movie really hit the spot for me on that level.

TV Binge: Once Upon A Time (Season 4, 2014)

It has been WAY too long since the last time I watched Once Upon A Time. I watched Season 3 at least 2 years ago. Look at them now, its Season 7 and apparently the whole cast has changed. Anyways, I finally decided it was time so here we are. Hopping into Season 4 knowing only that Frozen princesses are included in the mix.

Once Upon a Time (Season 4)

Creator: Adam Horowitz & Edward Kitsis

Cast: Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Lana Parilla, Jared Gilmore, Josh Dallas, Colin O’ Donoghue, Emilie de Ravin, Robert Carlyle, Rebecca Mader, Sean Maguire, Victoria Smurfit, Georgina Haig, Kristin Bauer van Straten Elizabeth Lail, Merrin Dungey

I’ve always like how people use the fairy tale characters and twist their stories or their nature. That is exactly what Once Upon a Time has always excelled at. Jumping back in, it feels like I never left with the exception of a few details that I needed to read up to remind myself or most that came naturally through the characters’ conversations. Season 4 is an all around fun time. Its pretty much split into a few plots. The first is how Elsa is stuck in Storybrooke and then Anna and Kristoff also get there and they realize that its the Snow Queen that has been behind this the whole time. The second being of Rumpelstiltskin who wants to get his bond broken from the dagger so he can have his happy ending and this leads us to the hunt for the writer of Henry’s Storybook and also bringing in three villainesses: Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella de Vil.

once upon a time

These three plot lines were all great. For one, Elsa and Anna when this series aired was probably riding the wave from Disney’s Frozen. Its costume and characters are also inspired by it. All factors that work well. They do brings in how the Snow Queen factors into all of this. We will discuss villains later. Elsa and Anna’s tale factors into the whole Prince Charming link and its really nice to see how everyone works together. Putting that one aside, the hunt for the author started out for Regina and a little secret project she had with Henry. Its incredible to see that Regina having a lot of growth here even in one dangerous moments somewhat mocking her old self. Emma and Hook also have the center stage which I love to death. If only they could have just one moment of peace and be together, that would be so great.

once upon a time

The villains here are quite inspired. The Snow Queen’s final showdown was pretty great as it brought a lot of quarrel which in some part was more comedic than anything. Another plan going awry send Rumpelstiltskin to his depths as he searches for his happy ending and its pretty fun to watch them get pulled back into another story and get back out then proving that no matter what villains come into the picture, and how competent they could be like Cruella de Vil, Ursula and Maleficent, Rumpelstiltskin is still the most powerful enemy they could have. Is that more a compliment on how great of a character they’ve created or that the writers are out of ideas on how to create better villains? I choose the former because I’m a fan of the show and this season still was pretty good.

once upon a time

Season 4 was a jam-packed affair though. There were tons of plots and tangents. It had so many characters enter the scene and they tried to give them all a backstory while also dealing with the going ons of Storybrooke. It might have been a slight overkill but at least it never gets boring and thats all good for me.

Thats it this TV binge! Its time for Season 5! 

Music Obsessions [May 2017]

Another month has passed us by! We’re almost at the halfway mark of the year! Wow!

Seeing as I’ve been busy, music has been my constant companion and surprisingly, this is when I found all kinds of really fantastic tunes that has been keeping me very upbeat and motivated and on the more tired days, given me energy. They are rather random choices so hope you enjoy!

Blind Heart – CAZZETTE ft Terri B!

By far, one of my favorite finds this past week. CAZZETTE has made some really great music and this one is definitely one I love a whole lot.

Ev’rybody Wants To Be A Cat (‘The Aristocats) – Charles Perry

The AristoCats is my favorite Disney movie. Perhaps its because I love cats a lot but then its just because I love the songs and everything. Its adorable and fun and super lighthearted. Plus, Everybody Wants To Be A Cat gets stuck in my head and makes me pretty happy most of the day afterwards. I never knew about this 2015 We Love Disney soundtrack with Disney songs sang by more popular artists. I honestly like this one a lot.

Still Feel Like A Man  – John Mayer

I’ve never heard much of John Mayer. Or I have but never quite acknowledged it but somehow I was reading something and landed on watching this one. I have to admit that other than the video being really fun to watch, the song is pretty catchy as well. John Mayer has a lot of charm but something about adding in dancing pandas and some quirky choreography works for me. At least it makes me so very happy to watch and incredibly pleasing to listen to.

Confessions nocturnes – Diam’s feat Vitaa

I may have shared this one before in some other segment over the last few years but I come back to listening to this song every once in a while. I like songs that have this conversation style to it while telling a story. I personally find this one pretty catchy but my husband disagree.

Attention – Charlie Puth

Not exactly a Charlie Puth fan. I’m really indifferent about him however, somehow I landed on this new song and its pretty good. I just know that if this reaches the radio, and after listening to it a billion times, it might get old. For not, the tune is pretty cool.

It’s Gonna Be Me – N’Sync

I do have to be honest that the radio has a way of putting on good music every once in a while when they dive into the 90’s and while it makes me happy to listen to Backstreet Boys, I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m a N’Sync girl so it always makes me happy when that pops up. This past while, It’s Gonna Be Me has been popping up quite a bit. So yeah, added that also to my playlist.

What songs/music do you listen to to keep you motivated and/or energized?

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

The final part of the Toronto ComiCon weekend meet-up with Drew is our Friday’s night movie going adventure to see the live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Drew and I both have Disney segments on our respective blogs and it really highlights how much we love it in general. Plus, we just finished our 90’s Blogathon so hey, it all fits perfectly together. As objective as we would like to be, it is hard to not compare it to the original animation. I am just going to be honest here before we start.

Lets check it out!

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

beauty and the beast

Director: Bill Condon

(Voice) Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ian McKellan, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson

The beauty of animation is how magical they can be because they are imaginative and creative. To bring something like that to life creates a lot of challenge. There has be matching music and atmosphere and most importantly, the magical chemistry that we can feel with these characters which is usually easier to believe when its animation than in real life. I would be lying if I didn’t go into Beauty and the Beast optimistically skeptical. Why? I haven’t watched anything from Emma Watson since Harry Potter series ended and I only know Dan Stevens as the creepy dude in The Guest and an extremely small part of Season one of Downton Abbey. Not a lot to compare to and I didn’t really look too much at the voice actors either. The question now, after a few days of the initial excitement and thinking about it: does it live up to its original? The answer is no. I have to reluctantly say that because of a few aspects. However, I also never expected it to live up to the original so I still had a lot of fun with it.

Beauty and the Beast 2017

Beauty and the Beast’s best part is creating its atmosphere and the world. It is absolutely gorgeous. The effects and CGI put us right into the setting of the town and especially the castle and forest areas. There was a darker tone however, it does manage to capture a great part of the magic that made the first one great. Of course, the original animated film offered up some of the most beautiful animation with its rich colors and catchy musical tunes. That comes to the second part that gives this movie something more. While retaining a lot of the music from the original, they manage to put a few new songs in. The nostalgia and magic of the old music still is the fun parts of the movie plus it shows a true determination of creating a animated film with this one that stays true to a musical with actually not a lot of dialogue.

Beauty and the Beast

Belle is one of my favorite heroines/Disney princesses. To be honest, Emma Watson did a decent performance. I can’t say that she was particularly memorable though. She fit in well because she had a good enough singing voice and the movie’s overall magical appeal swept me away. That isn’t to say that I didn’t like her. I just can’t really pinpoint a part of hers that stuck out to her. On that note, her chemistry with the Beast worked well enough that the story made it easy to fall in love with the story again even knowing what would happen and in that final scene where there’s that twist, I had tears in my eyes, which was definitely unexpected. Turning over to Dan Stevens as the Beast, his face was pretty much CGI and yet perhaps it is because of that, it was easier to keep it imaginative. When he was angry at the beginning, there were moments of fear and later as he softened, his features also made it so much more gentle. There was so much more to love in how Dan Stevens portrayed the Beast than Belle which seems to be the opposite of how I remembered the Disney animation.

Beauty and the Beast

The stars and the most dynamic characters of the original was almost always these supporting animated enchanted characters. Who knew that clocks and candelabras and teapots could make us fall in love with them, right? That is something that really stands out also in this live action. The voice cast is a fantastic ensemble with Cogsworth being voices Ian McKellan, Lumiere by Ewan McGregor, Mrs. Potts by Emma Thompson and of course, the man who tends to sneak into every movie in some supporting part and almost makes it shine, the grand piano (Maestro) by Stanley Tucci. I loved them the most in this live action adaptation (or is it a remake?). There are so many similarities to the original but somehow their enchantedness makes it easier to imagine them in this way.
Beauty and the Beast

Finally, we can’t not talk about the most self-absorbed villain, Gaston. I honestly like Gaston quite a bit and his sequences especially the Gaston songs and bits are quite humorous in the animation and I’m pretty happy about how they approached this character and Luke Evans take on it. There were a lot of funny moments and it helps a lot. The ending battle with the Beast was a little underwhelming but it was never meant to be overly long even in the original. Gaston isn’t really a true threat ever. I’m not sure any believes that he’ll amount to anything too much especially not when his right hand man is Lefou who is just there for comedic relief. Josh Gad didn’t quite stand out as much either.

Overall, Beauty and the Beast is a decent live action take of the original. In comparison, it is hard to meet the original’s masterful animation however there is still a lot to love especially because this one takes good care in creating a beautiful environment and magical atmosphere. The winter and snowy landscape with the dark but beautiful castle captures lots of mystic, especially watching the take on the castle falling apart as the magic wears away from each rose petal falling. While some characters are a little underwhelming in their portrayal, the majority did a pretty great job however the magic of the story itself did carry itself and shadowed the shortcomings in the moment.

Have you seen Beauty and the Beast?