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Sep 072016
 

It’s true that there are quite a few movie versions of Snow White, but there are seldom any versions that take place after the events of the classic fairytale. One such feature is Happily Ever After.

After the Wicked Queen’s death, the demonic creatures that served her run amok as though they are glad to not have a ruler anymore. Then who would expect that the queen had a brother? He’s a wizard named Lord Maliss, who is just as evil if not worse. It seems so strange that he just popped in at the castle when he did.

Image result for happily ever after 1993

For added comic relief, another villain that’s commonly featured is Scowl the Owl (voice of Ed Asner) and his friendly companion Batso. Scowl tries to help out Maliss, but ends up bumbling everything. It’s like he’s trying too hard to be evil. Of course the real distraction is that Scowl is always smoking a cigar. It’s so annoying. Who ever heard of an owl that smokes all the time.

As for Snow White, she and her Prince (who is unnamed for some reason) are on their way to get married only to be attacked by Maliss, who has the ability to turn into a dragon at will. By the way, Maliss desires revenge for what happened to his sister.

You might expect the Looking Glass to be creepy, but it really isn’t. That’s mainly because Dom DeLuise, who I can always expect to be funny, voices the role.

With the Prince captured, Snow White seeks out the seven dwarves for help. Unfortunately, they’re no where to be found. Instead, Snow White finds their cousins, the seven Dwarfelles, who are female dwarves with magical powers related to nature. They are Muddy, Sunburn, Blossom, Marina, Critterina, Moonbeam, and little Thunderella. Like the dwarves, these ladies are named after their personalities as well as their powers.

The Dwarfelles’ power comes from Mother Nature (voice of Phyllis Diller). I’ve seen versions of Mother Nature on The Smurfs and on Christmas specials about the Miser Brothers and I’ll tell you, this version is not one to take lightly, especially when she threatens to take away the Dwarfelles’ powers for making mistakes. Since Mother Nature does make mistakes herself, it sounds a bit hypocritical.

Along the way to Lord Maliss’s castle, Snow White finds a strange humanoid called the Shadow Man, who looks like he could be a character from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Snow White believes he’s good, but the Dwarfelles don’t. Could it be because he looks different, or that he doesn’t speak? Either way, I think the Shadow Man could be a good guy that’s just misunderstood.

This was an interesting movie with its level of fairytale adventure. You can really tell that Snow White has grown in skill since her previous adventure in the woods. She’s braver and more resourceful, but could there be any other relatives wanting revenge for the Wicked Queen?

Oct 282015
 

Welcome to another Halloween themed top 10 list. This year it’s about my most favorite wicked witches in pop culture. Just to set the record straight, there is a difference between witchcraft and sorcery, although it is hard to tell sometimes. Be sure to check out my Top 10 Wicked Sorceresses list for a comparison. Now here are the witches.

#10) Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes) from H.R. Pufnstuf: Witches don’t come any sillier than her. In fact, you can tell just by the sound of her name that Witchiepoo is more funny than creepy. She is intent on capturing young Jimmy and stealing his talking flute Freddie, but never succeeds. It doesn’t help that Witchiepoo has bumbling henchmen and a talking castle that doesn’t believe in her. Of course that’s what makes this witch so interesting and memorable.

#9) The Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus: Known as Winifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy), and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), this trio of witches intends to steal the life force from children for the soul purpose of staying forever young. They tend to bumble through situations while adjusting to the more modern world, since they’re from 300 years in the past, but that’s what makes them hilarious. However, these witches are also dangerous and creepy, so you definitely don’t want to get on their bad sides.

#8) Mirror Queen (Monica Bellucci) from The Brothers Grimm: This nameless beauty was vain and selfish, then eventually killed by the plague. Now as a vengeful spirit, the Mirror Queen has the power to possess an entire forest and capture young girls in creepy and mysterious ways to steal their youth. Seriously, what is it with old witches wanting to stay young?

#7) Maja from Adventure Time: This sky witch is known for taking various objects that contain sentimental affection for great power. In addition to that, Maja can fly, shoot bolts of electricity from her hands, and has an edgy distorted voice. At least she believes in fair trade, compared to most wicked witches.

#6) Taminella Grinderfall from Muppets franchise: This character was always cast as the wicked witch in some of the old Muppet fairytale specials like Tales of the Tinkerdee and The Frog Prince. Her methods of deceit are often silly and easy to see through, but they always seem to succeed, especially with King Goshposh. Since Taminella was never featured again after her defeat in The Frog Prince, she has definitely become underrated.

#5) Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) from Harry Potter franchise: Among many of Voldemort’s followers, Bellatrix is the most loyal as well as the most psychotic. She takes pleasure in killing anyone who crosses her and has sparked a personal vendetta with Neville Longbottom, since she was the one who tortured his parents. What really makes Bellatrix stand out is her crazy and sadistic persona, which is something any evil master ought to look for in a henchwoman.

#4) Theodora (Mila Kunis) from Oz the Great and Powerful: The Wicked Witch of the West has always been an iconic character. However, it’s the one in this movie version that stands out because it reveals how this wicked witch came to be. It’s so interesting to know that Theodora used to be good, then was driven to become a heartless monster. I’ve never been able to see the Wicked Witch of the West the same way again after that.

#3) Evil Willow (Alyson Hannigan) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow Rosenberg is a witch that has always been a loyal member of Buffy’s Scooby team. In season six, her girlfriend Tara was murdered and that pushed Willow to a breaking point. That drove her to take revenge and nearly destroy the world. It can be tough to see such a good character go bad, but Evil Willow’s edgy presence and determination makes her a witch you wouldn’t want to face in a dark alley.

#2) Queen Jadis (Tilda Swinton) from Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Best referred to as the White Witch, this self-proclaimed queen rules the land of Narnia with an iron fist and turns anyone who crosses her into stone. She won’t hesitate to hurt or kill others and is quick to judge when her servants’ loyalty is compromised.

Jadis has made appearances in the sequels and even the animated version was good. One thing is for certain. The White Witch is as evil as they come.

#1) Nancy Downs (Fairuza Balk) from The Craft: This troubled teen is the head of her coven and desires great power, so she can use it to get what she wants. Eventually, Nancy lets that go to her head and ends up losing her sanity. As wickedly crazy as she is, I think Nancy is also likable, especially when she smiles. That is why I rank her at the top of this list.

Mar 112015
 

Many of us remember Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Now here’s a new film version that focuses on a different angle, which is the story of Maleficent. Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) was the main villain of Sleeping Beauty, but she wasn’t always evil.

Maleficent was once a good powerful fairy that lived in the Moors, which is a magical forest realm that neighbors a human kingdom. She even had wings like an eagle, which would allow her to fly anywhere. As for Maleficent’s horns on her head, they’re actually a part of her. Until I saw that, I always thought she wore a helmet.

After the greedy King Henry (Kenneth Cranham) fails to conquer the Moors, he decides to pass on the crown to whoever manages to kill Maleficent. Of course everyone wants that reward. Unfortunately, that includes Stefan (Sharlto Copley) who used to be good friends with her.

Apparently, Stefan chose the crown over friendship, but instead of killing Maleficent, he cuts her wings off. It was that betrayal which drove Maleficent to evil. Now it’s clear why she goes to the castle and curses Stefan’s newborn child, like in the animated version.

From this point, the movie does follow the story line to the animated version, but with different twists from the other characters. For starters, Maleficent’s raven companion has a name, Diavel (Sam Riley), and can turn into a human among other things under Maleficent’s control.

The three pixies, which were originally named Flora, Fauna, and Meriwether, are named Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton), Thistlewit (Juno Temple), and Flittle (Lesley Manville). They are very comical while trying to put up with one another. Flora and Meriwether’s conflict over a dress being pink or blue was one of my favorite highlights on the animated version, but these three are more like female versions of the 3 Stooges, especially while in human form.

Then there’s Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning). She’s a sweet girl with a big smile. Even though Maleficent dislikes her and nicknames her Beasty, she tends to check up on Aurora very frequently and eventually likes her. It must be Aurora’s adorable beauty and kind nature that makes her so likable.

This was a great version of the Sleeping Beauty story from a different angle. It makes me wonder how the new Cinderella movie will turn out.

Sep 032014
 

Loosely based on The Snow Queen, Frozen is about sisters Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel) and Anna (voice of Kristen Bell), who are the princesses of the kingdom of Arendelle. They used to be very close, but a lot changes in a short time.

Elsa was born with ice power, even though it isn’t hereditary, and it gets stronger as she grows older without anyone to teach her how to use it. Elsa accidentally hurts Anna with her ice power. Although Anna was saved, her memories of Elsa’s powers had to be removed. Then instead of providing a teacher, the king and queen keep Elsa isolated in the castle and keeps her power hidden from everyone. Now how is that going to help?

Meanwhile, Anna is completely in the dark about Elsa’s problem and desperate for companionship. So desperate that on the coronation day ball, after Elsa becomes queen, Anna instantly decides to marry a prince she had just met that day.

 

The prince in question is Prince Hans of the Southern Isles (voice of Santino Fantana). He’s the youngest of 13 sons and seems to have a lot in common with Anna. It’s like they were perfect for each other.

Soon disaster strikes when Elsa ends up revealing her powers and causes an endless winter out of fear. Elsa retreats to the mountains, where she never has to hide her power ever again. This led to the song Let it Go, which is the most popular song in this whole movie.

As Anna goes in search of her sister, she finds a trading post. It’s a strange one, but not because it has a sauna. It has plenty of summer clothes, but very few winter supplies. Seriously, why would anyone want to buy summer clothes at a shop in the cold mountains?

There, Anna meets Kristoff (voice of Jonathon Groff). He has a reindeer named Sven and likes to pretend that he can talk, which is funny. However, it’s gross when they share carrots.

Anna also meets up with Olaf (voice of Josh Gad) the snowman. He’s sweet because he loves warm hugs and the thought of summer. Olaf is also funny and tends to literally fall apart, but always manages to pull himself back together again.

There’s also a race of trolls that take the guise of rocks. These trolls are friendly and became Kristoff’s adopted family. When they meet Anna, they tried to get her to marry Kristoff. They don’t feel that way toward each other, or do they.

I enjoyed this film, especially for its level of adventure. When I first saw the trailer it was misleading. It left the impression that Elsa was evil, trying to freeze Arendelle and it was up to Anna to stop her, which would’ve really made this movie interesting. It turns out that Elsa was never evil to begin with and I think that’s a good thing.

One last item: Not too long ago, I went to the Frozen parade at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Olaf

 

Mar 142014
 

There have been many movie versions of Snow White over the years. Snow White and the Three Stooges features Moe (Moe Howard), Larry (Larry Fine), and Curly Joe (Joe DeRita) as a group of performers who are house sitting for the seven dwarves.

The bigger focus, of course, is on Snow White (Carol Heiss). She is very kind and sweet to everyone she meets, which makes her a wonderful princess who will one day rule the happy Kingdom of Fortunia.

The happiness was not to last after Snow White’s father King Augustus (Edgar Barrier) dies and her stepmother the Wicked Queen (Patricia Medina) imprisoned her the first chance she got. Oddly, the Wicked Queen’s name is not revealed in this version.

Even though the Stooges are featured in the intro, they don’t appear until much later and as an added twist the Prince Charming in this story is actually a performer named Quatro (Edson Stroll). Quatro lost his memory 14 years earlier and the Stooges took him in. Quatro also uses a puppet called Quinto. It’s interesting to know that Mel Blanc voiced the role. I though he sounded familiar.

Soon Quatro finds out that he is Prince Charming, who was once betrothed to Snow White after the Wicked Queen’s soldiers seek him out and arrest him. What a way to discover the truth. Now it’s up to Snow White and the Stooges to rescue Quatro, but the Wicked Queen is after them too.

Afterwards, the story goes in a whole new direction. With the prince presumed dead, Snow White and the Stooges escape and head far away… in the snowy mountains?

Another new item featured in this fairytale is the sword of power, which was created by Count Oga (Guy Rolfe) the Wicked Queen’s magician. The sword grants wishes to whoever holds it. Power like that is unpredictable, especially if say one of the Stooges had it.

Meanwhile in Fortunia, it’s revealed that the prince didn’t die and he leads a rebellion against the Wicked Queen. The battle was exciting, but where did Prince Charming learn to sword fight? He certainly didn’t learn it from the Stooges.

This movie is an oldie, but a goodie. There are also musical numbers that take place on the ice, which would explain why the role of Snow White was played by an Olympic gold medallist figure skater. However, they tend to run long at times and leave me wondering when the Stooges will return to do their funny shticks.