Well this is a strange post for me, I am not a massive Disney fan and I shy away from any of their princess stuff. Maybe I am heading into that territory as I have a daughter now.
Anyhow, on with the post. We recently went to Granny and Grandad’s house where we found that Granny had recorded Moana to watch with the kids. After having seen parts of Frozen and being left very cold (pun most definitely intended!) I was not exactly excited at the prospect. My only other knowledge of Disney princesses had been the twee loved up sort who seem happy to be subservient as long as they get to marry the handsome prince, live in a big castle and be supplied with beautiful dresses. The sort of rubbish that stereotypes little girls and almost tells them that material goods are the most important thing. Strangely the only Disney princess movie I have every really wanted to watch is Mulan and I have never seen that one. I am guessing it is different to the others.
Basically I ducked out of the viewing of Moana and was then bombarded with how brilliant it was. I had to watch it so I could at least make jokes at the movie’s expense. However, when I watched it I actually thought it was pretty good. Yeah it is cutsie in parts and there is a lot of singing but it was fun and the songs are actually quite good. The thing that struck me most was the lack of a love story. Moana is not there to marry a pretty man, she is there to save her people. She is more like batman than a princesses (which is awesome!). She is strong, determined and intelligent as well as having a heart by caring for her family and friends. These are the attributes I would like my daughter to have not just a wardrobe of pretty clothes (although she can have that as well if she can afford it).
Moana is also not overpowered, her strength and speed are in balance with how it would be in real life. She just uses her intelligence and determination to get jobs done. Apart from the fact she is a cartoon, she is a real female and a positive role model for girls. I think the thing that makes the writing of her so strong is that Disney have thought about what makes a good character and not a stereotypical girl. She is not full of the classic princesses but also is not all girl power. In fact, if you got the two main characters of Moana and Maui and changed their genders it would not change the story one bit. In my opinion that is great writing. Yes there are some nuances that only males and females have but I would rather see well written characters in general rather then a well written man or well written women.
So, something I do not say very often, well done Disney. Moana is the princess that young girls need to show they can do whatever they want, not with flitting eyelids and feminine charms but with intelligence and determination. I get the feeling that Disney’s response to this would be, “you’re welcome!”
Finally, a film can’t be bad if it has the line, “oh I see what she did, she covered a barnacle in bio-luminescent algae,” in it! I seriously laughed for about ten minutes after that one!
Anyone who has read my blog may have seen me allude to the fact I am having a child. Said child is, at the time of writing, over a week overdue. As an author and avid reader, one thing I want to do is get my child into reading and thinking creatively. It was, therefore, that some time ago I thought I would like to read to my little one whilst they were still in the womb. I thought I would get to read some of the children’s books I had seen at school as I did actually wanted to read them but they were low on my priority due to having many a book on my reading list. I had been eyeing up Dark Lord: The Teenage Years by Jamie Thomson but my wife had other ideas. She felt it was too grown up, or rather she loved Winnie-the-Pooh when she was younger, had a copy of Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner and really wanted it to be read to her too. I was a little concerned, largely due to my only knowledge being the slightly sickly Disney version. Ok, so I didn’t dislike the Disney version it was just a little too feminine and message orientated. I had taken the time to watch The Tigger Movie and Pooh’s Heffalum Movie and they were quite enjoyable, but stomaching a whole book, nay two books in one, and feeding my unborn child with this drivel made me a little uneasy. However, as it was her favourite and she did state that baby would hear it when they were born I went with it. To my surprise, what I found was, interesting, well written and humourous tales that did not have a feeling of happy dancing flowers and pastel shades. Christopher Robin was not a dreary weakling who came in and solved all the problems at the end but someone who was well-rounded and could admit when someone else had the right idea. Pooh, whilst enjoyable in the Disney version, really came to life. One of those characters that accepts they are stupid but actually is one of the most intelligent in the room. I could not stand the scared Disney incarnation of Piglet but it turns out that is a caricature of the real character. Further to this, even both of my favourite characters, Tigger and Eeyore, were much better. Tigger is so much more bouncy and cheerily annoying and Eeyore is so much more glum. It really does feel like a band of misfits. In the classic version Owl isn’t that clever they just think he is and Rabbit is not grumpy just the astute organised one. Disney took their characteristics and multiplied them tenfold to make entertainment that is clearly for children. The original A.A. Milne characters are much more subtle and it really does feel like a group of friends. Yes there are a few dull stories, but the books are filled with witty one liners and clever ideas that only parents will really understand. They are also written in a clever childish way with repetition and lots of lists and simple words (well the odd big word is thrown in). Whilst Winnie-the-Pooh was nowhere near my favourite book (although I did include a quote in Bella and Lola: A Sting in the Tail) I can at least now see why it is such a classic and safe to say I will be reading it to my child when they are born.
Whilst I watched a lot of Trek when I was young, I was never really a massive fan. Wars, yes Wars is where it is at. I fell in love with Vader, Chewbacca and R2 when I was younger and in the Trek vs Wars debate I always came down on the Wars side. For me Trek was too much talking and stories quickly wrapped up in the last five minutes of a show. Wars was expansive, intriguing, full of battles and big set pieces. It had a villain you just could not hate and was far far cooler. Despite the debacle of Episodes 1 and 2 (I love the clever story of Episode 3 and the dark moments such as Anakin killing young ones and order 66 so will not have a bad word said against it! Ok the acting was terrible, you can have that!) I have never lost my love for the saga. Trek, on the other, I discarded some years ago like some child’s toy found at the bottom of a draw when finally moving out of your parents home, feeling myself to old and mature to watch. It didn’t give me that childhood charm like Wars. Recently, however, I was invited to go see Star Trek Into Darkness with some friends. I don’t visit the cinema much so though, ‘what the heck, I’ll give it a go!’ I decided to pop the first Star Trek reboot on high priority on my LoveFILM list to make sure I had seen the prequel. Late one night I watched it and thought it to be decent viewing, nothing special but better than the Star Trek I had watched as a kid. Now mildly excited I went to see Into Darkness. Now that was a much better film. It had the morality and discussion of the series I had fallen out of love with, but also action and excitement with enough comedic elements to keep it fresh whilst not being over the top. But there was one scene, only a little scene, but a scene all the same that got me more excited than I could thought I could be. At one point Scotty is given some co-ordinates and takes a shuttle to check them out. As he flies round a small moon we get a shot of a planet, a planet that looks like Tatooine. It made me think, ‘this guy is directing Star Wars as well, I hope it’s this good!’ Into Darkness had dark elements as well, double-crossing and breaking of rules by a rebel with a cause, a just and right cause. What it got me thinking then was, does the improvements in the new Star Trek films bode well for the new Star Wars films as J.J. Abrams is directing these too? He also directed one of my favourite US series, Lost. Well the pilot episodes but those were some of the best. If Abrams can keep the dark feel and stylised visuals he has got with Star Trek then at least the films will look good. Acting in the new Trek is good as well so hopefully we wont get any of that horrendous Portman and Christensen false love stuff that makes you shudder with every syllable. The only thing then is the script, with what has been learnt about comedy from Jar Jar Binks then we can only expect this to be improved. As it is written by Michael Arndt, the likelihood is that it will be pretty good (well I am only really saying that from watching Toy Story 3 and Brave!). All in all those Disney concerns might be being pushed to one side and if Star Trek is anything to go by then the other Star franchise should, hopefully, be reborn successfully this time.
So a few weeks ago Lucasfilm got sold to Disney. Most posts that start like this are going to turn out terrible for two key reasons…
1) It is something we all already know
2) You never use So to start a sentence (I know I have done that but it is for dramatic effect alright!)
Anyhows, as a Star Wars fan I thought I better put my waste of time nobody cares view into the mixer. Unlike other people’s views I have not bothered to research anything, I only know what I know from hearsay and the odd facebook comment. Basically I like Star Wars but don’t have time to surf the net for other people’s’ views. Actually I don’t really care what other people think because what I have heard through hearsay is the biggest load of twaddle (see how I censored myself there) ever. Firstly I would like to say that I think this is a good thing, the George Lucas marketing bandwagon has gone far enough so lets let someone else have a slice of the pie, plus Disney really need it, it’s not like they are a massive corporation or anything! As far as I am concerned this can never be a bad thing, look at Episode 1 and 2. Nothing Disney can do will ever be that bad! Loads of fans have said they disowned the second trilogy (looking at it from production not storyline, no-one would ever disown 4, 5 and 6!), well if you didn’t like them you’ve got nothing to lose, you can simply disown this new trilogy too. The thing is that everyone knows that when Lucas outsources his ideas good films get made (please don’t mention Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull!). When Lucas tried his hand at directing and writing we got Jar Jar Binks and acting that made even Hollyoaks fans shudder. I have heard that the guy who wrote Toy Story is writing the new ones aka were on to a winner already, we just need a good director. But not Steven Spielberg, everything he does has aliens in….oh…wait! P.S. Sorry for spoiling the surprise twist in 97.3% of Spielberg’s movies!
The other thing that annoys me is people stating, and some in all seriousness, that Mikey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy are going to be in it. There was me thinking that Disney made other films like Pirates of the Caribbean, Tron and The Chronicles of Narnia. These are all good Sci-Fi/Fantasy films (ok I haven’t seen the new Tron but I am trying to prove a point!) and I don’t remember Mickey’s gang ever popping up in those. Stop being silly!
There are others saying let it lie, let the films be. Well to those I say that the toys, cartoons, books and general other merchandise never stopped when the films ended. Lets just allow them to produce three more two hour long adverts to help them shift that stuff! I for one will be buying in with a sense of irony until I realised I just spent £20 on a Chewbacca Angry Bird Plush Toy.
Really, what I am trying to say is it’s probably going to be bad but it can’t be as bad as before and Disney do have a good track record so lets all sit back and forget about it until 2015 when we can spend £6 to £8 to get into the cinema (probably about £20 by then) and sob slowly into our popcorn thinking how the cinema has fleeced us once again and our love for Star Wars has diminished to so minute proportions you would miss it in a post-mortem!