DIVA’S REVIEW: Moana

… Better late than never …

 

I just HAVE to do a review on this movie, because, it is literally one of my favorite movies of all time and since I already spend so much time and energy talking to people about it (whether they like it or not!), I figure it’s time to get all of my thoughts out here.

Moana is a story about a strong-willed girl who follows her heart to fulfill her destiny that was bestowed on her as a little girl. This movie is incredibly uplifting and surprisingly emotional. The connections developed between all of the characters are real and they almost feel like family. The cinematography is magnificent, and I was amazed at how realistic they sand, rocks, and water appeared. They just keep getting better!

There are so many parts to this movie that I simply adore. What I would like to focus on is the uniqueness that Moana explores by utilizing her grandmother’s spirit as a large part of the progression of the movie. The patriarchal grandmother, Tala, is the self-proclaimed “crazy-lady” of the village of Montunui. Her understanding of the world stretches beyond the comprehension (because of hesitation, perhaps?) of the rest of the village, including her son and Moana’s father, Chief Tui.

Tala is the oratory guru and spreads the tale of the creation of the earth. She tells about Te Fiti, a Goddess with the power to create life, and how her heart was stolen by Maui, a shape-shifting demigod. This act began the destruction of the earth, slowly sucking the life out of the islands until the earth would inevitably be swallowed up. Tala’s connection to this story of the Goddess strengthens her spirituality, and we begin to see that she is a strong believer in this tale. Tala also believes in reincarnation, as she tells Moana that she hopes to return as a stingray, which matches her tattoo.

While the rest of the village ignores her stories, Moana is enchanted by them. She holds her grandmother in the highest regard, especially since Tala allows Moana to dream and silently encourages her to feed the wild side she struggles to keep at bay. Moana is not allowed to follow her heart, however. Her father does not want her to travel beyond the reef, yet, Moana is enticed to travel the ocean. This struggle grows as she does, and soon her grandmother feels it is time to reveal to Moana that their people used to be voyagers. Tala tells her this because she knows a secret about Moana. The secret being that the ocean chose Moana to deliver the Heart of Te Fiti and save the earth from its inevitable destruction.

The most heart-wrenching part of Tala’s story can be summed up during the reprise of Moana’s song, “How Far I’ll Go.” Tala knows Moana is weary of the ocean after her one attempt failed miserably. However, Tala also knows that Moana needs to leave the island, find Maui, and save the world! The moment Tala reveals to Moana that their ancestors were voyagers, you can see her begin to get weak and tired. There is a theory that Tala’s purpose was to guide Moana to the truth of her destiny, and once that action began to roll, Tala’s life began to dissipate. Extremely quickly, Tala’s life is shortening and Moana is struggling to understand why. You may have noticed that as Tala is lying down, she is beneath a wall scroll which has the form of Maui drawn on it. Underneath him is the image of a stingray, aka, Tala.

Tala insists that Moana leaves immediately. As Moana is rowing away towards the open water and singing the reprise, she looks back at the hut where Tala was laying. Suddenly, the lights go out, and a breeze rushes down the landscape towards the ocean. Once it reaches, you see an illuminated stingray, which heads for Moana’s boat and guides her through the reef safely. It is absolutely beautiful and crushing at the same time. I cry every time!

The strong connection this movie makes to ancestors, family, and discovering where you fit in to the whole puzzle, gives this movie the  distinct feature of depth that makes the movie better each time you watch it. The humor and beautiful songs help as well!

 

 

I love that Moana is a movie about a young woman on a mission. The absence of a romantic arch is something I hear a lot of other people comment on. Some love the fact that the movie had a strong plot while avoiding the sometimes predictable plot line, while others felt it lacked something without it. For my Miyazaki fans, we are used to strong female leads and I appreciate the fact that a romantic arch is actually less common, therefore, I did not feel that anything was missing at all.

I’m not saying only women will enjoy this movie, however. It really is a wonderful film that has a great story, awesome characters, fun songs, and a refreshing take on story telling. Maui, voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is hysterical and downright perfect for the role! The sidekick chicken, Hei Hei, voiced by the impressive Alan Tudyk, is another funny-without-being-annoying character that has his own destiny to fulfill, and he does it well!

 

 

 

 

 

Moana feels like an ancient tale while at the same time is a breath of fresh air to the Disney collection! It’s been an instant favorite and I just can’t wait to see what else Disney has in store!

 

 

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A Diva Update!

So far, 2017 has been great for this Disney Diva! I have been able to go to the homeland itself, Walt Disney World, twice – AND! – I am planning one more trip before the year is out!

My obsession has only continued to grow. My goal is to join the DVC by next year, as it appears I might have the flexibilty to get down to WDW more often. *Fingers crossed*

Here are some pictures of my trips this year. I spent a week with my sister and friend at the Art of Animation in the beginning of February. The AoA has become an instant fave! I’ve stayed at a few of the resorts and let me tell you, this one has it all! If you’re like me and love to remain submersed in Disney 24/7, this is the place to stay! We even found some Hidden Mickey’s in the shower! 🙂

We enjoyed every park! It was great to go with someone who has never been there, and experience the parks through their eyes. I wanted to make sure we did all the best attractions and Disney faves! We enjoyed the Fantasmic show, utilized the FastPasses, and stopped to meet some of our favorite characters – including Moana and the sisters from Frozen!

We also did a few firsts, even for me. We got celebration pins for one of our birthdays, which brought on some unexpected free treats! We got to try Mike’s Laugh Floor which I will absolutely do every time, it was adorable! We also did the Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party, which was great! That time of year was chilly at night, though, so maybe it would be better in the summer. Also, although you have a great view of the fireworks, you can’t really see the show projected on to the castle. We also ate at Japan, which was delicious and beautiful! Speaking of food, I just have to share some food pics from my February AND March trip! 🙂

When I went back in March, I took my mother and we stayed at the Port Orleans French Quarter. The resort was really beautiful, and we took advantage of the boat ride from Disney Springs (which has been gorgeously updated btw!) back to the resort. It was great! We got to ride by the Treehouse Villas (#goals) and it was very relaxing.

We also got to enjoy the beginning of the Flower & Garden Fesitval at Epcot, which is always beautiful. It was getting crowded at that time, but not too bad. My mother and I are not roller coaster people, so, we never have to deal with crazy lines. We did great at Magic Kingdom, too. We were there open to close, and got to essentially do the part twice over! It was a great time and I have wonderful memories!

We actually rode on The Little Mermaid ride about 6 times that night, because there was no line!

I cannot wait to bring my mother back for the Food &Wine Festival. She’s never been to it and we are both foodies so I know it will be great! Til next time 🙂

DIVA’S REVIEW: Zootopia

Yes, yes yes… It’s about time!

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How can I express my overwhelming elation with this brilliant film! Zootopia is an instant classic which cleverly utilizes anthropomorphic characters with both stereotypical traits true to how we would expect them to be if they were human-like, and also typical traits of our protagonists, antagonists, sidekicks, etc…

I won’t be mentioning any spoilers as I assume most people have seen the movie already since this review is “past due” IMHO, and you don’t need to be re-told what happens. However, I wanted to focus a bit on the undertones of the film. Ok cool, thanks!

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This film caught some heat from those who believed there were strong racial undertones. This, I’m assuming, is in regards to the “Predator vs. Prey” theme threaded throughout the film, which felt very familiar as our social issues between race vs. race, or perhaps religion vs. religion. While the topic is certainly heavy for a kids movie starring a bunny cop, I definitely felt that fourth wall disappear on a couple of occasions while watching the film.

Whether it was the intention of the writers on not, I actually approve of this “hidden” plot line. Taking infamous enemies such as a fox and a bunny and using that connection as an analogy for prejudice was not only a perfect call, but overdue in my opinion. The reason it worked so well is because of the characters themselves. Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) and Nick Wilde (voicef by Jason Bateman) had some amazing chemistry. And while this isn’t a love story, the evolution of their friendship was extremely believable.

Judy Hopps comes from a small town, where the community appears set in their ways. Her dreams of being a cop strikes a cord with her town, including her parents who believe in having “realistic” dreams. It’s a great scene when the two parents are trying to explain that she should actually not try, and stick with what was normal, AKA acceptable or expected of her. Hopps’ resilience is catching as she works hard to prove herself, and her hard works pays off! In the end, she defeats all odds, silences the naysayers, and becomes the first ever “bunny cop”. She is assigned to work in the heart of Zootopia, a mega-city full of diverse landscapes and bustling with animals from all walks of life.

Of course, Hopps is not the most popular rookie on the team, and while she starts off full of fanciful dreams of saving the world, she is quickly pulled down from that dream as she realizes that her assignments are rather menial.

nick-and-judyHer vigor leads her to volunteer to find a missing otter, against her Captain’s orders. She basically bets her career that she will find him. It’s an impulsive mood, especially considering that the file on Mr. Otterton is practically non-existent, and, Hopps has little to no resources. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Hopps has no choice but to swindle herself a sly fox that she had previously met. Enter Nick Wilde!

The two could not be more different, but as they move through this crazy search together, they realize that they have both suffered lifelong judgments based solely on their appearance.

Wilde decided as a child that if people expected him to be a certain way (a sly fox), then that was all he would be. Interestingly enough, Wilde does possess a strong trait of being unusually clever. Hopps points out how his cleverness could be a useful tool and he would make a great cop. It’s a great moment, because Wilde accepts that there is more to him than he ever thought. Also, he shouldn’t be ashamed to be “clever”, because it was something they needed to solve the case!

There is a lot of focus on working hard for what you want, believing in yourself, and, not judging a book by its cover. The lessons in this movie are amazingly taught. But beyond the lessons we get from this movie, it’s also just a hands-down wonderfully funny and visually beautiful film, filled with excellent Easter eggs as well!

I can’t say enough good things about Zootopia! The plot moves along and doesn’t drag out. You get super involved with the characters, too. I especially love watching the little hamsters with their little suits on OMG!!!! SO cute!!! But I digress.

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This film has heart, and the moment the credits began to roll, I honestly debated with buying another ticket and watching it a second time. Not to mention, I did see the movie for the first time while at Disney Springs, so hello major Disney-ness!

You’re just going to love it, I promise! Zootopia is also available on Netflix, so really there is no excuse to not check out the movie.

And if you’ve already seen the movie, please tell me what you thought of it!

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Got Brave On My Mind

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This weekend was chock full of Disney movies, mainly because I was super sick with my FIRST COLD OF THE SEASON!

I found myself reaching for some strong, empowering female-lead movies as well. Not sure why, but anyways, Princess Merida from Brave is a great “spokesperson” for this role! Her whimsy and independence are truly endearing. Merida, you rock!

 

Fun Fact Friday! #186

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Hurricane Matthew is making a mess down in Florida, and as we speak, the Walt Disney World theme parks are shut down and preparing for the storm. Folks on vacation at the magical land must be disappointed to miss visiting the parks and the MNSSHP events, I would be! Some comments have been made that it’s risky to travel to WDW during hurricane season, however, it should be pointed out that it is a truly rare occasion that the parks have to close due to the weather.

A flyer handed to all guests exiting the parks on August 13, 2004 explains admission refund policies. Image from Chris Barry. Source: MousePlanet.com

Hurricane season in Florida runs from the end of June to November, believe it or not! But since opening in 1971, the parks have only been closed because of the weather a few times. Hurricane Floyd rushed through in 1999. and this caused the all four parks to close down for the first time in WDW history! And then in 2004, which was a crazy hurricane season in Florida (I know, I was there for Hurricane Charlie!), the parks saw a few different full-day closures.

My trip wasn’t interrupted, however, we were leaving the day it got really bad. But I remember seeing the cast members, all calm and collected, as they had to prepare to shut down some of the attractions. Obviously the rides that are outside get shut down first.

Being in Florida during a hurricane can be unbelievably nerve-wracking! In 2004, during Hurricane Charlie, my family and I were staying with my grandmother who lived in Kissimmee at the time. We were there to help move her up to Boston so should could live with us. Of course, my family planned a couple of nights at the Walt Disney World parks, and, we actually stayed at the Grand Floridian Resort!

That resort is absolutely GORGEOUS and I remember feeling very posh and important whenever I walked onto the property!

Anyways, Hurricane Charlie rushed in, and my whole family (including the dog) had to bunker down in my Grandmother’s pantry! It was crazy. There was six of us all huddled together in an 8×8 room, holding hands, praying, and panicking. The destruction was craziness! My Grandmother’s trees were pulled from the ground, roof shingles were littered all over the yard, but the worst thing was the weather afterwards.

Obviously, we had no power, and the humidity was super oppressive. Without AC, we were getting pretty snippy with one another. Also, we were packing a house full of things by candlelight, mind you, so it was just awful! I remember the need for ice was also in high demand, and the lines… oh my GOODNESS the lines to get ice, gas, just the necessities. It was completely surreal for a New England gal like me.

Don’t get me wrong, we have our Nor’easters to contend with. But to be honest, it’s easier to make a fire and warm up then go without the use of a fan or AC. Horrible.

While I understand that Central Florida does not usually get hit by this Hurricane Season, having lived through one 10+ years ago, my thoughts go out to everyone who is being affected by this right now. I hope that proper aid and help comes swiftly, and everyone remains safe.

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Celebrate October!

October!!! I love October, it’s my second favorite month in the entire year (following December, of course)!!!

So many awesome great exciting things happen in October, especially up here in New England. It’s cool, beautiful, comfy, rejuvenating, and sometimes just a little spooky!

We got the Salem Witch Trial thing up the road, we’re known for being the location where Hocus Pocus was filmed, and it’s easy to believe that mischief and mayhem can occur on our cobblestone streets littered with colorful leaves.  *sigh* It really is beautiful right now.

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To get in the mood for the “mischief” October brings, I decided to find out What My Disney Villain Name was, by checking out this quiz.

No surprise, I got the magically deceiving Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog. Not only is that one of my all time favorite movies, I think that Dr. F is a great villain! However, I’m not exactly sure I relate to these “traits” the way the quiz believes I do…

“You are very much like Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog. You are shady, suave, and powerful. Your magic is great but comes at a cost, and everyone knows you’ve got friends on the other side.”

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Hmph.