A while ago I did a list of non-Christmas Christmas movie list on Hubpages and I thought let’s do that again but here with different movies. So you can check out the other list HERE which is a bit more in step with other lists like this. Do look at it, it’s all I want for Christmas.    

So here are eight other movies that are less commonly on other people’s lists. No shade to other lists on other sites.  These movies have a winter setting or have a scene at Christmas and they have a familial tone.   

Many films have the winter-y or snowy setting and a familial  tones like Fanaa or Star Wars but I would not call those non-christmas Christmas movies, even though Star Wars movies have been coming out around Christmas (except Solo) so there is that added touch but all the same there not among the list.

So here are eight movies. I’m going try to avoid spoilers. These are ranked in no order.   

Emmanuelle Beart as Manon in Manon des Sources picture image
Emmanuelle Beart as Manon in Manon des Sources

Manon de Sources –  I think I have talked about this movie a little bit before. But towards the end of the film there are some scenes at Christmas,  at least one scene at Christmas. However would say the the family angle some more into play here. Also if you want to want this movie you must watch Jean de Florette first because Manon des Source is the second part. But I highly recommend this movie.  

Lady and the Tramp

Lady and the Tramp – This movie has a Christmas bookend as it starts and end at Christmas. But I don’t think I have to say too much about this one, it being a Disney classic however I will say that this film does have a strong message of family. 

Belle and the Beast 

Beauty and the Beast – This one might just be superfluously here but I don’t care, it’s snowy and magical, so It counts. 

Anya journey to the past Anastasia picture image
Anya

Anastasia – Again you have snow imagery  and a strong message of family togetherness. Plus Once Upon a December could be played in a Holiday rotation and wouldn’t feel out of place. 

Gin, Miyuki and Hana 

Tokyo Godfathers – I wouldn’t say that this was my favorite Satoshi Kon movie, (that would be Paprika.) It is one those movies that is a Christmas movie but it seldom makes any of the list, so it’s here. 

The film is set on Christmas eve and is the story about three homeless people finding a baby. It has a non-traditional take on family.  

David Bowie as Maj. Jack 'Strafer' Celliers in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence picture image
David Bowie as Maj. Jack ‘Strafer’ Celliers in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence

Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence- I haven’t seen this movie is quite a long time and I don’t really remember it super well but I recall liking it. So this a war-time Drama starting David Bowie as a POW. The last scene of this movie takes place at Christmas. 

Daniel Emilfork as Krank dressed as Santa The City of Lost Children picture image
Daniel Emilfork as Krank dressed as Santa

City of Lost Children – I reviewed this movie  not too long ago. It has some Christmas imagery and it weird but there is also the family connection as the main character tries to save his brother, the weird family the mad scientist makes and the orphans. It has all the making of a Christmas classic oddly enough.

Dr Zhivago

Dr Zhivago – I will admit I haven’t seen this movie but I have always wanted to but the run-time is intimidating.  Then again I have seen Lawrence of of Arabia which is longer so that is on me, one day.  Anyway like most of the movies listed here this one again is about family and has a pivotal scene set at Christmas. 

Do you have a favorite non-Christmas movie? If so what is it?  One of my favorites is on my Hubpages list . Can you guess it??? 

Episode 14: The Girl in the Tower

Rose Reynolds as Alice & Tiera Skovbye as Robin Once Upon a Time Season 7 Episode 14 The Girl in the Tower picture image

Rose Reynolds as Alice & Tiera Skovbye as Robin Hood

Let’s get the stupid nitpick of this episode out of the way; The Death Card in a tarot card reading does not mean literal death. Granted the meaning of cards can be fluid but still.

Otherwise this was a pretty great episode. Alice/Tilly has been a highlight of this season so seeing an episode center around her is great.  

The past section revolves around how she got out of the tower and her how her Robin meet/bond. The relationship between Robin and Alice is an apology for how the show has handle Lesbian pairings before. Mulan was in love with Aurora and then she teamed up with Red only to have Red fall for Dorothy in one episode. It was unearned. Here with Alice and Robin it was set up prior. Both Alice and Robin bond and grow from each other so it more than just a physical attraction on the onset.  They feel more natural than the Red/Dorothy pairing. Still wish Mulan had found love.

The present section dealt with Tilly trying to come with an alibi. Which she does in the form of the troll statue which had a camera in it. The Troll is also the magic Alice conjured to get out her Tower.     

The B-plot was Regina/Lucy mission stuff with Dr.Facilier. His goal is to get the Dark one dagger. Regina and Facilier’s dynamic continues to be interesting.  

Good episode all around. The second half of this season better than the first.  

 

Episode 15: Sisterhood  

Adelaide Kane as Drizella & Yael Yurman as Anastasia Season 7 Episode 15 Sisterhood picture image

Adelaide Kane as Drizella & Yael Yurman as Anastasia

I will miss Drizella. This episode wasn’t bad, it moved things along in the ultimate direction. The main focus of this episode was on Druzilla and her relationship with Anastasia.

The past section involves  Drizella’s test to join the coven in which she and Gretel  bond but she is forced to kill her because there can only be one. Druzilla didn’t want to and this plays in the present where Druzilla is posed to kill Anastacia to charge up a magic bean. It was all a ploy by Faclier tio get some magic for Regina and in the end the two sister’s return to the A.E.F.

So in the present we learn the identity of the murder who is going after the coven members. Turns out it was Hansel a.k.a Nick a.k.a Lucy’s fake dad a.k.a Henry’s B.F.F. At least he has a motive. Gretel said that Hansel was changed by the experience of the child eating witch AND Gretel was murder because of the coven however how did he wake up? Or is operating under subconsciousness, like he knows to go after these women but he doesn’t.

Anyway it was fine episode, it’s a shame than Ivy’s part is done  yet Jacinda’s and Henry awkward relationship continue but it was as bad in this episode as it has been in other episodes.

Cinderella 2015 picture image

Cinderella 2015

I feel like on some level, the 2015 version Cinderella was cast just for me. I mean it had people from Game of Thrones (Richard Madden and Nonso Anozie), Downton Abbey (Lily James and Sophie McShera), The Borgias (Holliday Grainger) and a former Frollo (Derek Jacobi). Plus it has pretty costumes. How could I could not love it? Well, all I can say is that I wish I could like this movie more than I do. I respect it on one level but on another I’m tepid to it.

This movie was based on the 1950 version of Cinderella which is the Disney version and it also has peppering of Ever After all over it. I should also note that Kenneth Branagh.

Lily James as Ella and Richard Madden as Prince Kit Cinderella 2015 picture image

Lily James as Ella and Richard Madden as Prince Kit

This movie is for the most part a standard re-telling of Cinderella. Ella lives in a dream of peace with her loving parents until tragic fatal disease #742 kills her dear momma. As she dies, she tells Ella to have courage and be kind, which is the mantra of the movie.

Flash forward years as teenage-ish Ella’s dear papa remarries Lady Tremaine who has two daughters, Anastasia and Drisella. After a month Ella’s dear father goes off on merchant business but not before Lady Tremaine overhears Ella and her new husband recount that they miss Ella’s dear momma and that Lady T can be trying, this is the reason why Lady T dislikes Ella, at least the best reason the film offers.

While Ella’s dear papa is gone Lady T literally wastes no time pushing Ella into the attic and calling her Madam. Then Ella’s dear papa dies of tragic fatal disease #1092 while he is on his business trip. This is when Ella becomes the help which she doesn’t mind that much as it offers a distraction. Lady T and the girls are mean to her by calling her Cinderella as she sleeps in front fire and not letting her eat with them. This makes Cinderella ride off into the woods. There she see a stag that being chased, she help the stag by having it run off with her animals speaking powers which is powered with kindness. She then meets the Prince who just introduces himself a Kit. They bond and stuff and Ella tells Kit that just because things are done doesn’t mean they should be.

Because Kit didn’t get Ella’s name he asks his father, the King (name withheld) to allow all the maidens of the kingdom to come to the ball. The King agrees but urges Kit that he needs to marry a Princess and for some reason the Grand Duke wants it to be the Princess Chelina of Zaragosa, which is this movie’s answer to Spain, hey wait why she get a name but the villains don’t?

Anyway so the ball comes and Ella wears her dear momma’s dress but Lady T rips it and tells her she can’t go to the ball. Then enters the Fairy God Mother who does the magic, coach, animals to servants, beautiful ball gown, glass shoe and a disguise spell so Lady T and crew won’t know it’s her. So yeah, grand ball scene and dance with the Prince and running away at curfew and leaving the shoe. You know the drill. Also Kit still didn’t get her name.

Ok so here is where the movie gets little confusing, or just weird. So the King dies and he tells Kit he can marry for love but the Grand Duke is REALLY pushing for Princess Chelina. But Kit and him strike a deal that all the maidens will try on the shoe that Ella left and if he can’t find her he will marry Chelina. It’s also at this point that Lady T figures out that Ella is the mysterious princess that danced with the Prince. Lady T tries to brokerage a deal with Ella that she will allow Anastasia and Drisella to marry well and that Lady T will manage the country. Ella rejects this deal as Lady T would be terrible for the country. So then Lady T break the shoe and then goes brokrage a deal with the Grand Duke which is the Lady T will make Ella out of the way and she will get a peerage and the good marriages for her daughters.

So the royal maiden shoe fitter search is on and you would THINK Kit could tell which one was Ella was  or at least have the fitting apply only to young blonde but they go through every single maiden. The last place is Lady T’s house. Ella is up in the attic and she doesn’t even care that people are in her house as she just figure it not for her and she would rather twirl around and sing. The mice open the window so the people can hear her singing. As it turns out Kit, who now the king is with them unknown to The Grand Duke. So they get Ella and she finally tells Kit her name, or rather her mean nickname but it’s ok he is happy that he found her. Ella forgives Lady T who then gets banished. And Ella and Kit get married, yay.

Jana Perez as Princess Chelina and Stellan Skarsgård as The Grand Duke Cinderella 2015 picture image

Jana Perez as Princess Chelina and Stellan Skarsgård as The Grand Duke

I have a few questions. Number #1 why did the Grand Duke want princess Chelina as Queen? Did I miss that plot point? Was she or someone from her kingdom black mailing him? Were they lovers and her marrying Kit would allow for them to be together? Was he bribed? I mean tell me movie because that was his core character. If there is no reason for it what is the point I mean for more than drama? Number#2 Kit was hunting in the forest near Ella’s house and judging from shot of them going to house for the shoe it looked pretty remote, so why didn’t go there in the first place? Was it because he thought she was a Princess? Also he knew her features. I dunno seemed out place with the narrative. Number #3 How did Lady T figure out that it was Ella at the ball? I didn’t see anything that indicated that she knew till the scene where she knew. Did she read the scripit? I have other issues with Lady T, so let’s just continue.

Lily James as Ella and Richard Madden as Prince Kit Cinderella 2015 picture image

Lily James as Ella and Richard Madden as Prince Kit

As was mentioned before, this movie is a live-action remake of the Disney movie. As it goes it follows the movie decently but the focus is a little weird. To bring the movie into the modern standard, Ella and Prince Charming now named Kit meet prior to the ball. I just want to point out that Kit is a nickname for Christopher which is the name of the Prince in the Rodgers and Hammerstein version. However is having them meet once while both of them withhold information about themselves any better? Ella not giving her name for really no reason and Kit saying that he apprentice, being heir to the throne isn’t really an apprentice thought it’s a clever bending of the truth. At least in Ever After, Danielle’s lie made sense as she was trying to save a man while prentending to a member a court.

On a story level this makes sense, we need them to have more to their romance other that their being attractive but I don’t get a sense of love from them. But what this movie is really doing is giving the Prince and his father more of a characterization than in the Disney movie where the King just wanted grandchildren and the Prince is a plot point.

I do respect that Kit went along in the search for Ella. I mean it’s like duh that he should search her out as he wanted to marry her but it was entertaining that the mere fact that he was there thwarted the Grand Duke and Lady Tremaine.

Lily James as Ella and Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine Cinderella 2015 picture image

Lily James as Ella and Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine

Then we have the villains, Lady Tremaine and The Grand Duke. I would say Lady Tremaine is more the villain, however compared to the Disney version and Ever After she falls short.

First off she comes more cartoony than the cartoon and she is really chewing the pretty sets. The reason for her hating Ella is that Ella’s father prefers his first wife so she was jealous and that pretty much it. At least in Ever After, Danielle’s father’s last words were to Danielle after he looked at Rodmilla and passed her over to give his dying words to his child. Both women are petty but still, Ella’s father didn’t know she even heard him.

Second Lady Tremaine was more concerned with having parties so why the hell did she try to make a power grab? It was WAY out of character. On the practical level in the story Ella can’t go with any deal Lady Tremaine offers so there needs to the bull-shit where Ella has to be sacrifice her chance for happiness for the good of Kit and the country but it was dumb. Lady Tremaine’s deal with The Grand Duke made more sense and I think Ella probably would have gone for that deal over the one the Lady Tremaine offered her in the place.

Lily James as Ella Cinderella 2015 picture image

Lily James as Ella

Speaking of Cinderella, this version of her is polarizing. The point of her character is that she is kind and has courage but this also makes her looks like she is a push-over. She doesn’t really stand up for herself, instead she just takes the abuse. The idea here that she has the strength and courage to look the other way and she still be kind. This isn’t a bad thing so much but even if we compare her to the Disney version, Cinderella had snarky comments and she did try and talk back. Really it does make this Cinderella look more passive than the 1950’s version.

However my big issue with Cinderella is that when it came done to her getting a happy ending, she literally didn’t care. She just twirls around then sat her window and sang a little song. If the mice didn’t open the window she wouldn’t have married Kit. There was a deleted scene where she did write Kit a letter and the Grand Duke withheld it. Honestly the should kept that scene as it gave her a little agency and made the Grand Duke more a villainous bent.

I like that the movie didn’t make Cinderella some super-hero woman but it’s telling when the “Passive” 1950 does more to get out the attic (it was her idea to get the dog to save the mouse with the key from the cat) than this “modern” re-telling who really just twirls and dreams. Though I like that she was never a princess, she went right to Queen.

Helena Bonham Carter as The Fairy Godmother Cinderella 2015 picture image

Helena Bonham Carter as The Fairy Godmother

One of the big issues with movie is the pacing, this movie feels very long. It could be because the movie spends a longtime setting up Ella’s happy childhood and downfall but rushes Lady Tremaine’s contempt and the love story. It also doesn’t get into the Grand Duke’s motives.

Also the movie has weird set-ups. Like Ella’s dear momma tells her about fairy godmother when she is a kid but when the Godmother is introduced she starts as old woman and then changes. It would better to either set up the old woman, like they do in the Rodgers and Hammerstein version OR have the her be a butterfly that followed Ella (since they do set-up the motif on her dress). OR just mimic the original where the Godmother appears while comforting her. I really just felt that scene was awkward. And I hated the narrating by the fairy godmother, it got in the way.

Lily James as Ella Cinderella 2015 picture image

Lily James as Ella

If I seem like I’m bitching about this movie too much well there was something I liked. The technicals, this movie is glorious. Everything about the look of this movie is beautiful.

This movie lives in the costume. Most of the costumes have a 50’s vibe to it which is homage to the original movie. Cinderella’s ball gown really is a work of art, it moves so gracefully and has a watercolor quality that is just lovely. Really this movie looks so lush and rich.

Also the acting is not bad on the whole, though I wish Anastasia and Drisella did more, they really aren’t much more than featured extras.

 

Lily James as Ella, Sophie McShera as Drisella and Holliday Grainger as Anastasia Cinderella 2015 picture image

Lily James as Ella, Sophie McShera as Drisella and Holliday Grainger as Anastasia

On the hand I do like Cinderella (2015) but it feels too long and some the decisions that movie makes with updating the plot are just weird and confusing.

Side Note – if we got Jana Perez (the lady who played Chelina) and Holliday Grainger (Anastasia) as Esmeralda and Fleur-de-Lys in a movie version of Hunchback, I would be a-ok with that. Or Lily James as Fleur-de-Lys that would be fine too.

Clue 1 and Clue 2


This list was also REALLY hard to compile.

Number #10

Arete trying to escape Princess Arete picture image

Arete trying to escape

Princess Arete – While it had glacier slow pacing it did have some interesting ideas and a unique style. Did I really enjoy it? No but that is a personal opinion, it was still a better than most of the Non-Disney Princess movies I reviewed, which is kind of sad.

Number #9

Clara with the Nutcracker Prince The Nutcracker Prince picture image

Clara with the Nutcracker Prince

 

The Nutcracker Prince – I’m surprised I liked this movie but it did have solid narrative and interesting take on growing up, plus the music.

Number #8

Dmitri, Anya and Vlad Anastasia picture image

Dmitri, Anya and Vlad

Anastasia – I wanted to put this higher on the list but considering the history and Rasputin as a villain the 8th spot is perfect.

Number #7

Lady Amalthea a.k.a The Unicorn's Human Form The Last Unicorn picture image

Lady Amalthea a.k.a The Unicorn’s Human Form

 

The Last Unicorn – This was an ambitious story to tell. It has its flaws but it is a good identity piece.

Number #6

Nausicaa not wearing a mask in the Sea of Decay Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind picture image

Nausicaa not wearing a mask in the Sea of Decay

 

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind – Nausicaa is a solid entertaining movie. It has issues as it tries to do too much for one movie but it’s still highly enjoyable.

Number #5

Shrek meeting Fiona's parents Shrek 2 picture image

Shrek meeting Fiona’s parents

Shrek 1 and 2– Yeah it’s a tie. But Shrek is a keystone fairy-tale parodying movie(s) with great characters and heart, plus the 3D added to the movie and at no point was I like “Oh, this thing should have been hand-drawn. What the Fuck Hollywood.”

Number #4

San and Ashitaka Princess Mononoke picture image

San and Ashitaka

 

Princess Mononoke – This is a beautiful environmenal movie. It loses points for a rushed ending but it’s forgivable.

Number #3

Pazu and Sheeta seeing Laputa Castle in the Sky picture image

Pazu and Sheeta seeing Laputa

 

Castle in the Sky– Castle in the Sky is great adventure movie with great pacing, great characters and a satisfying ending. There is just such a great balance to this movie that seems rare in cinema.

Number #2

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya picture image

Kaguya

 

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya – Again, I debated whether or not to put this at number one because I really loved this movie and it has a unique style, fluid animation and a compelling story. However this movie does have a pacing problem in the middle. That being said it is a masterwork.

Number #1

Tzipporah, The Prince of Egypt picture image

Tzipporah,

The Prince of Egypt – My biggest criticism of this movie is that it was rushed in parts which meant I wanted more of it whereas Kaguya ultimately I wanted less and that is how it nudged the top spot.

The Prince of Egypt is a gorgeous movie. It’s big on style, dynamic angles and shots and great drama. There is no denying this movie is stunning.

It’s funny that the one of the best and the worst of the Non-Disney Princess were reviewed at the very end.

The next bunch of movies are going to be Live-Action Fairy Tale movies. I’m reviewing them in sort of random order, if you want make a recommendation for a movie you can because there is A LOT of them and I hope they don’t suck or at the very least not as painful to watch, though some will be, Kstew and the Thor, I’m looking at you.

Anastasia  picture image

Anastasia

Anastasia (1997) was one my favorite movies back in the day. It was made by our old pal Don Bluth and came out on November 14th 1997 under 20th Century Fox. In many ways this film is the definitive princess movie and people sometimes mistake it as Disney movie as it uses that sweet, sweet Disney formula and did well at box-off as well garnered two Academy Awards nominations for the music. But is the movie good or is it bad? It’s a little bit of both.

Dmitri, Anya and Vlad Anastasia  picture image

Dmitri, Anya and Vlad

PLOT! The film tells us that everything in 1916 Russia was just peachy (sure movie) that is till creepy-pants Rasputin gets fired from being best pals with Tsar Nicholas II and curses him and his family as he sold his soul because he is pissed off. The curse makes the “spark of unhappiness in Russia fan into a flame” that destroyed Imperial rule and ushered in communism. The movie doesn’t use that word and blames it all on Raspy. The night of the attack on the Romanovs, Anastasia goes back to her room with Grandmama Marie to get a music box and young boy gets them out a special exist. Rasputin tries to stop Anastasia but is killed when he falls through the ice. Anastasia and Marie then get separated and Anastasia gets Amnesia.

Ten years later, Marie is offering a lot of money for Anastasia’s return as the rumor goes she survived the February Revolution and gossip is the only thing to entertain the Russian because communism isn’t any fun…? Dmitri and Vlad are two conmen who plan on getting that money by hiring an actress to play Anastasia. Dmitri thinks he has an in as he has Anastasia’s music box, though he thinks it’s a jewelry box. As this is happening Anastasia is now called Anya and is getting released from an orphanage. Anya decides to go to Paris intend of going off to a job at some fish place as she has necklace that says “Together in Paris” and believes that is where her family is located. She first heads to St Petersburg along with her new puppy Pooka that she met on the road. She is told that to get to Paris she needs travel papers and she should speak to Dmitri at the Old Palace.

She goes to the Old Palace to meet him and has deju-vu moment. Dmitri, who isn’t having much luck hiring an actress thinks Anya could pass as Anastasia so he convinces her to join them. As she just wants to get to Paris, she agrees. Rasputin’s bat minion, Bartok is hanging out with source of Raspy’s power, a reliquary when he notices that the reliquary is stirring in Anya’s presence which convinces him that she is Anastasia and then the relic plunges Bartok into the underworld where Rasputin is in limbo because the curse failed.  Raspy the plans to kill Anya as he has the source of his with his power back.

Rasputin tries to axe Anya a few times on the journey and fails but he does cause a lot of collateral damage. While Raspy fails, Dmitri and Vlad transform into Anya into a proper lady and teach her how to prove she is Anastasia, via song montage.

The gang reaches Paris and the meets Sophie, Marie’s cousin and Vlad’s old flame. Sophie interviews Anya and she proves to Dmitri that she is really Anastasia as he was the one who helped Anastasia and Marie out of the Palace as a kid. This bums Dmitri out since he is in love with her after all the bickering they did. They go to ballet to have Anya meet with Marie, however Anya overhears Marie chewing out Dmitri as a conman and this whole thing was just about the money, so Anya slaps him and decides to peace out of Paris that night, at least she got her Paris fun song montage.

Dmitri then kidnaps Marie and takes her to Anya’s room and shows her the box. Anya’s memories re-surface with the power of smell and the music box, which her keepsake necklace opens and the two are reunited.

Dmitri is offers the reward but doesn’t accept and peaces out. Anya then forced into her showdown with Rasputin which results is a lot of damage to both a nice bridge and her princess gown, that bastard. But Dmitri comes back and helps Anya defeat him and Raspy bits the dust, literally. Anya and Dmitri then elope and Grandmama is cool with it.

Anya and Pooka against St Petersburg Anastasia  picture image

Anya and Pooka against St Petersburg

Let’s not mince word here, the reason why Anastasia is bad is because it takes a very bloody tumultuous period of history and fantasizes it. This movie is only accurate to people’s names and nothing else. To enjoy this movie you pretty much have to forget this is based on historical figures. Really they didn’t get anything right. It’s not like Romanovs or Rasputin haven’t been depicted in films before but the movie really makes light of the historical climatic of Russia. I mean it’s a sad when a disco song is more historical accurate about Rasputin (it’s a fun song though).

To the film’s somewhat credit, they know this was fantasy and in classic Disney fashion follows their clues from a classic movie, in this case the 1956 Anastasia
movie starting Yul Bynner and Ingrid Bergman. However reading stuff on the film from The Art of Anastasia, it says that they wanted a My Fair Lady type story where a girl is transformed from something ordinary to something glorious and apparently the world princess got kicked around a lot so this was the story they decided on.

Would it have been better to not include this period of Russian history and instead have a clearly fictitious story with clearly fictitious characters with a Russian setting? Hard to say because the Anastasia myth captured the world’s imagination for a long period time. It’s an impossible story to tell cleanly for kids but clearly the people who worked on the film loved it tried hard even if it is  grossly inaccurate. Should we pass it because it’s children movie? No, that shouldn’t reason pass off this kind of stuff. It’s historically inaccurate, it’s just fact.

Vald, Anya, Pooka and Dmitri Learn to do it Anastasia  picture image

Vald, Anya, Pooka and Dmitri

If you can for 90 minutes tell your purist part of your brain to shut-up, Anastasia is a good movie. It has great pacing, a solid script, lovely animation, some great songs and some memorable characters. Vlad is likable, Pooka is adorable, Dmitri while a snarky lair does get a decent arc, Bartok thinks Raspy’s plan is dumb and Marie is somewhat harsh but kind. You understand them and that is something you don’t often get in movies.

Rasputin though is weak. I know we turned off our purist brains but the real Rasputin was a really intriguing figure and this movie doesn’t even try to capture him except one part of his death, the ice.

Rasputin and Bartok Anastasia  picture image

Rasputin and Bartok

This Rasputin is pissed off for getting fired or something so he tries to kill the royals. I mean Nicholas shouldn’t have fired crazy but really that is his motivation for selling his soul to the Dark Forces? Side note, movie can’t say Communism or evil or demonic. They can say comrade and dark forces though, so lame.

Rasputin as the antagonist is both obvious and contrived. He always took the indirect methods to kill Anya. Once made the train go crazy and destroyed a bridge, second to sneak in her dreams and tried to get her to jump off a boat, and the third to drown her by destroying another bridge. Rasputin doesn’t like bridges apparently, but likes water. He could used his dark minions to stop her heart or something but he had to go for theatrics and cause infrastructure damage. If you want  to watch a movie about Rasputin either watch Agony (which is a communist propaganda movie and he is a gross figure) or if you find it, Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny, staring Alan Rickman.

Anya journey to the past  Anastasia  picture image

Anya

Anya/Anastasia is great character. She’s tough and no-nonsense but she is compassionate and fun. She knows exactly what she wants; family and a home so she can know her past so she understand herself.

This makes her follow Ariel in a way, as Ariel knew what she wanted; the people world. The other Disney Princesses (and most of the non-Disney Princesses, looking at you Yum-Yum) are more vague in their wants and desires. Anya, unlike the more classic Disney Princesses works at what she wants. She seeks out Dmitri for help but he needs her more than she needs him, she helps with getting out Raspy’s train plan and she kills Raspy, twice. Girl even fights in her princess gown. Anya is probably the closet to Mulan in activeness and Ariel is knowing what she really wants from life but she never feels like she it directly copying the Disney Princesses.

Anya and Dmitri being snarky train scene Anastasia  picture image

Anya and Dmitri being snarky

Anya and Dmtri’s romance is interesting. They spend enough time together to form an attraction that starts off as snarky but over time they come to respect each other. It is formulaic but enjoyable.

Anya singing Once Upon a December Anastasia picture image

Anya singing Once Upon a December

The animation is really good for the most part. The CG work looks dated and forced but hand-drawn stuff is lovely. They do repeat animation but you hardly notice.

The songs run the gambit from amazing to ok. Once upon a December is the best song in the movie. It’s beautiful and haunting. Journey to the past is a good I want song and did get an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. In the Dark of the Night is a cool enough song but the bugs should have been skeletons or demons or something cool and creepy and there is some silly lyrics. The rest of the songs are ok. No complaints on the music it’s solid. And like Thumbelina the music numbers are all theatrical which is fun and memorable.

Some fun little Trivia- Helene Segara of Notre Dame de Paris, sang a cover of Once upon a December for the French Soundtrack and I used play Once upon a December on the Piano, I had the sheet music, it was my jam in the day.

Anya and Pooka Anastasia  picture image

Anya and Pooka

Anastasia suffers for its gross historical white washing but otherwise it’s a good entertaining movie. Did I mention this movie has a fucking puppy in it? PUPPIES! And not one but THREE PRETTY DRESSES!


Cinderella III: A Twist in Time picture image

Cinderella III: A Twist in Time

By every account, Cinderella III: A Twist in Time should be crap as the plot sounds really silly especially for a Disney sequel but it’s one the most enjoyable Disney sequels.

Anastasia fitting the slipper Cinderella III: A Twist in Time picture image

Anastasia fitting the slipper

The plot is Cinderella and Prince Charming are celebrating their first year anniversary with the Fairy Godmother. Anastasia overhears that Cinderella used magic to win over the Prince and steals the wand when the Fairy Godmother drops it. Anastasia tells Lady Tremaine, who at first is skeptical but when the Fairy Godmother shows up asking for her wand and accidently getting turn to stone by magic, Lady Tremaine uses the wand to undo the last year and resets time to the day after the ball. She uses the magic to make the slipper fit Anastasia leaving Cinderella confused. Cinderella then decides if she going to get her dreams to come true she going to work for it.

At the Palace, Prince Charming chats with his father about how he knew the girl he danced with and presumably fits the slipper is the girl for him because he felt true love when he touch her hand. He then meets the girl who fit the slipper, who is now Anastasia and Prince Charming knows it not her but Lady Tremaine uses the wand to make Prince Charming forget dancing with Cinderella and makes him think it was Anastasia. He then asks her to marry him.

When Cinderella sneaks into the Palace she is even more confused to learn that the Prince doesn’t remember her and is going to marry Anastasia. Gus and Jaq, who saw Lady Tremaine use magic on the Prince, tell Cinderella and she tries to get the wand.

Meanwhile Prince Charming and Anastasia share a dance. The Prince figures something is wrong as he feels nothing from her touch but he is still kind to Anastasia who proves to be an awkward dancer. After the dance the King gives Anastasia his most prized possession, a seashell. He tells Anastasia that he meet his Queen when he and her both reached for it and when their hands touched he knew it was true love.

Cinderella along with Gus and Jaq manage to get the wand but are caught and she is sentenced into exile but not before she touches the Prince’s hand. Jaq and Gus tell the Prince the truth about the spell and that her danced with Cinderella and he rushes to boat that is taking Cinderella into exile.

When they return Lady Tremaine and her daughters get way with magic. As Cinderella is getting ready for her wedding, Lady Tremaine reveals she has changed Anastasia into Cinderella. Lady Tremaine teleports Cinderella into a pumpkin coach and sends her speeding away to her death.

Cinderella frees herself with the help of Jaq and Gus and rushes back to the palace where she crashes her own wedding. Cinderella gets there just in time to see Anastasia says that doesn’t want to marry the prince. Lady Tremaine uses the wand to change the soldiers to various animals but when she try to use it on Cinderella, the Prince blocks the magic with his sword. The spell then ricochets and hits Lady Tremaine and Drizella, turing them into toads. Anastasia offers the seashell back to the King to which he replies that she deserves true love.

She then changes back to herself and her and Cinderella bring back the the Fairy Godmother. The Fairy Godmother offers to return Cinderella and The Prince back to their former lives which confuses them.

Cinderella saving herself  Cinderella III: A Twist in Time picture image

Cinderella saving herself

This movie makes Cinderella an active player. She now has to work for her happy ending. She is saved by the Prince off the boat and Jaq and Gus help her a lot but it through her own efforts that she gets what she wants. This makes Cinderella more likable by a modern standard. Today, we like characters who are active parts in their stories instead of just being acted upon.

Cinderella gets a little bit of a bum deal because she did try to make an attempted to go to ball but here she is tying her best to get want she wants. Cinderella also uses her wits and her psychical prowess, she tricks, runs, jump etc all in the name of love. The Prince also works her the happy ending when her saves her from the boat instead of making the Grand Duke do it.

Cinderella and The Prince Cinderella III: A Twist in Time picture image

Cinderella and The Prince

Another thing I like about this movie is it doesn’t add new characters it just expands on the old ones. With exception of The Fairy Godmother who is out of commission and Drizella, who has nothing to do, the other characters are a little more fleshed out.

Disney sequels have a habit of introducing new characters to focus on at the expense of the original beloved characters. Cinderella III gets away with more than other sequels because the original film didn’t have strongly fleshed out characters, so they were freer with their characterizations.

Jaq and Gun in drag Cinderella III: A Twist in Time picture image

Jaq and Gus in drag

The technicals are miles better than most sequels. The songs are bad, I will admit that but the dialogue, background music, pacing and dialogue are all very well done.

Even the animation was much better than most of the sequels. This could because Disney Australia had extensive model sheets and lots of live action footage to work off of. It just seems like there was a decisive effort put into this sequel that can be seen in some of the sequels but is lacking is more.

Cinderella and The Prince Cinderella III: A Twist in Time picture image

Cinderella and The Prince

Despite Cinderella III: A Twist in Time weird out there plot, it’s defiantly one of the few good Disney sequels, that is, if you can get pass the opening number.

I just want to add, I love it when the king tells the Prince that he can’t take another foot down the stairs and the Prince says “Okay” and jumps out the window. Classic!

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True is composed of three stories in the Cinderella universe that take place after the 1950 Cinderella Disney movie. In this capacity, this thing acts like a sequel. The three story structure in this is beyond lame. First, it’s hard to gauge if the stories being told did happen or if they are retellings or made-up. It sort of seems to be a combination.

Fairy Godmother and Mice Cinderella II: Dreams Come True picture image

Fairy Godmother and Mice

The set-up for the stories is that the mice are being told the story of the first movie by the Fairy Godmother. It seems weird that that story should be retold to the mice as they were the heroes in the first place. They lived it. It’s a flimsily set-up. However, Gus and Jaq miss the story, so the Fairy God Mother says they should make a book for Cinderella with new stories. The stories they tell for the movie are the ones they put in the book.

Cinderella and the Grand Duke Cinderella II: Dreams Come True picture image

Cinderella and the Grand Duke

The stories are standard dull fair. Each story is about dreams and being yourself. You know, very trite cliche stuff that Disney loves. It seems like each story wasn’t interesting enough to make its own movie or even subplot in a movie. So each scenario is given a part.

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True

Cinderella

The first one is deals with Cinderella’s first day of being a Princess. She has to plan a banquet and it has to be done in a very traditional manner. Cinderella is a free-spirit now apparently and she doesn’t want to follow boring traditions, so she spices up the affair and revolutionizes party planning at the palace. You Go Girl!

Human Jaq Cinderella II: Dreams Come True

Human Jaq

The second story, which is the worst, is Jaq the mouse becoming human. Spoiler, it doesn’t work out very well for him and he learns that being a mouse is cool.

Anastasia and Baker-dude Cinderella II: Dreams Come True

Anastasia and Baker-dude

The third is wicked step-sister number 2, Anastasia, finds love with a lowly baker with Cinderella and pals’ help. Wicked Step-Mother is very much against this match. But she’s mean, so who cares.

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True picture image

Cinderella

The stories may stink like poo but how were the characters? Let’s just look at the main characters of the stories Cinderella, Jaq and Anastasia.

Cinderella, oh Cinderelly, Cinderelly. I think Cinderella gets a bad reputation for not having a personality, I would disagree. She doesn’t have a strong personality but in the original she had a bit of mischievous streak and she’s a bit catty. You can see these traits in her teasing the birds who are waking her up and her remark on the musical lesson.

She’s kind but she a little more subtly well rounded than just being sweet and kind. Cinderella in the sequel doesn’t have though facets she’s nice but that is kind of it. She has a free spirit and like doing her own thing but she is not as interesting as she could have been.

Jaq Cinderella II: Dreams Come True picture image

Jaq

Jaq was the leader of the mice. Him wanting to be human to help Cinderella doesn’t really fit his character at all. But his core personality which is minimal is still pretty much there.

Anastasia and Cinderella, Cinderella II: Dreams Come True  picture image

Anastasia and Cinderella,

Then there is Anastasia. Anastasia is now a reformed former baddie looking for love. Anastasia didn’t have much of a personality other than being unpleasant and wicked. Here she is just awkward.

I don’t mind her being a nice yet misunderstood. It just seems like a bit of stretch for her to abuse someone and then be friends with them in like a few days. Although in this, it’s more  a reflection on Cinderella than Anastasia.

Cinderella and the Mice Cinderella II: Dreams Come True picture image

Cinderella and the Mice

There is really not a lot to say on this one. The characters are off and the stories are just not interesting or fun. I hate the three part story within a story structure. I hate it as a TV episode and I hate it here. I hate Cinderella II: Dreams Come True, they only dream that came true was when it ended.

Non-Disney Heroines; Thumblina, Yum-Yum,Odette, Chel, & Anastasia Picture image

Thumblina, Yum-Yum,Odette, Chel, & Anastasia

For every Disney Heroine, there is a host of Non-Disney animated female characters. From Thumblina, to Princess Yum-Yum to Odette to Chel to Anastasia the list goes on. But of the myriad of Non-Disney Heroines who could be considered Esmeralda’s counterpart?

 

Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Disney Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame dancing

It’s a tricky question. First off you need someone who has an equivalent look to Esmeralda i.e. a darker look but someone who isn’t royalty. Next, you need someone who fits her personality, brave, loyal, feisty, mature, and has a social conscious. That narrows the field a bit.

Given the necessary qualifications, I think the only choice for Esmeralda’s Non-Dinsey counterpart is …..

Tzipporah from The Prince of Egypt.

Tzipporah, The Prince of Egypt picture image

Tzipporah, The Prince of Egypt

Tzipporah start hating Moses as she was kidnapped and given Ramses. She is called a “Desert Flower” which plays in her being exotic. She is also played by Michelle Pfeiffer, who much like Demi Moore was considered a seductive actress.

 

A Lovely Shot from The Prince of Egypt , picture image

A Lovely Shot from The Prince of Egypt

Also Hunchback and The Prince of Egypt  are bit similar in their own right. Both movies are very stunning gorgeous, have a lot of drama and are underrated. I would highly recommend The Prince of Egypt  if you haven’t seen it already.

Holliday Grainger picture image

Holliday Grainger

Fleur de Lys isn’t the most fleshed out character in the Hunchback of Notre Dame but she does give Phoebus more of a characterization and with ease she could be made into more of a main character. Notre Dame de Paris did it after all.

Holliday Grainger picture image

Holliday Grainger

So who would make a good Fleur de Lys? I would say Holliday Grainger would make a fine Fleur de Lys. She is very lovely and sweet looking but in such a way that she could be devious and manipulative.

Holliday Grainger as Lucrezia Borgia picture image

Holliday Grainger as Lucrezia Borgia

She is best know for playing Lucrezia Borgia in The Borgias and if this isn’t an endorsement for casting her as Fleur de Lys I don’t know what is. She is also playing Anastasia in the upcoming Cinderella movie so that adds to her  capacity for the role of Fleur de Lys. Thouth I can’t help but to think she would have made a lovely Cinderella, nothing against Lily James. Though a wicked stepsister is more fun to play.

Holliday Grainger as Anastasia with Sophie McShera  in Cinderellla picture image

Holliday Grainger as Anastasia with Sophie McShera in Cinderellla

 

But aside from looks, Grainger is a fine actress and she could pull off the character very well. I would just hope that Fleur de Lys would get slightly bigger role in future movie/television adaptations.

Holliday Grainger as Lucrezia Borgia picture image

Holliday Grainger as Lucrezia Borgia

Off Topic – I’m really looking forward to Cinderella as a fan of The Borgias, Game of Thrones, and Downton Abbey. Get any of those actors in a Hunchback movie and my little heart might explode.