The Disneyathon – Part 7: The End of an Era

Link to Previous Part: The Disneyathon – Part 6: More Classics

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You know the poster for this movie is one giant spoiler.

The seventh Disney movie of the silver age is Sword in the Stone and it’s certainly different.

This is the first official Disney movie I had not seen before, which is mainly to do with my lack of interest. (Luckily I made this marathon series so now I had to watch it.)

I was quite surprised by how little the title has to do with the actual movie. The Sword in the Stone stuff takes up about 5% of the movie. Why is it called the Sword in the Stone? It’s clearly trapped in an anvil that’s sitting on a piece of stone!

The actual story follows a young boy who’s treated poorly by his foster family and has to do the housework for them while the foster parents focus on the future career of their dimwitted child. (Haven’t seen this before!) Arthur, or Wart, gets lost in the woods and accidentally falls into the home of Merlin the wizard. We learn Merlin knows everything. He’s read the script in advance and he also knows information that won’t be relevant to this time period for hundreds of years.

Most of this movie has Merlin taking Arthur and his owl friend on a fun, educational lesson while Arthur’s foster dad prepares his dimwitted son for the big jousting event. These scenes I didn’t really find educational, but more entertaining. The main thing I wondered was why isn’t Merlin teaching Arthur how to use magic? If I was spending time with a wizard, every five minutes or so I’d be asking when do I get to learn some magic!!

Arthur is a pretty standard kid and the most interesting thing about him is that his voice gets deeper as the movie progresses. I had to watch some of these scenes again to make sure that I wasn’t mistaken.  It wasn’t until I looked it up for this review that I found Arthur is voiced by three different kids, it’s such an odd choice. The best character in the movie is Merlin as he’s a fun, witty character with so much personality. I guess a close second could be the only speaking female character in the movie, Mad Madam Mim.  All of the side characters are memorable, it’s just the main kid who sucks.

I am actually struggling to think of other stuff to say about this movie as it’s very tame. Nothing really bothered me except the three child actors. I think the animation and music has dropped in quality a bit as it isn’t very good compared to most of their previous works. Overall, Sword in the Stone was not too bad. It didn’t really do anything to make me feel annoyed in any way. I might regret it later but I’m going for a 6/10. If you’ve got 1 hour and 20 to kill, then pop this one in.

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I can explain!

Yeah I know it’s not really an animated movie but back in the first part of this series I did say: ‘Along the way I’ll add in some other Disney animated movies that take my fancy’. Okay, I might be stretching it a bit. Whatever, it’s my series so I get to choose what I watch.

Mary Poppins is probably the first movie in this series that I have a childhood attachment to. So no matter what criticism I give this movie it will always hold a special place in my cold black heart. (Still, I’m going to enjoy ripping this to shreds.)

Our story follows The Banks family. You’ve got George Banks, a firm strict business man who also works in a bank. Mrs Banks, a dipsy housewife who is fighting for a more female dominated world while not really doing anything in her own male dominated home. You’ve got their next door neighbour the old Navy Admiral who has turned his roof into a navy ship and fires a cannon every day at 8 o’clock. (Don’t worry, no one is concerned about this.) Then we have the children who ticked off their nanny because they went searching for their kite. These kids are supposedly little monsters who scared away six different nannies in four months, yet when you see them they look like the most adorable well behaved little kids on the entire planet.

Mr Banks is convinced they need a better nanny so he writes an ad.  The kids decide to make their own ad but dad just tears it up. The most outrageous part in the movie is Mary Poppins’ arrival. (I guess living on a cloud is pretty hard to top.) All of the nannies are blown away and presumably killed as Mary Poppins drifts down on her umbrella. The maid’s reaction after is what sells it for me. Once Mary Poppins shows up we focus on Mary teaching these flawless kids you’re not perfect without magic and along the way driving all the other grown ups mad. (Also the kids at some points.)

My biggest problem with the movie is that it does like to stall alot. This movie is over two hours long and there is a fair amount of filler musical numbers and most of them revolve around Dick van Dyke’s character Bert. This guy’s only purpose is to bring the plot to a halt. He also has such a terrible accent! I like Dick van Dyke as a performer but could you remove the stupid accent?  It ruins some of the best songs in the movie!

Whenever they do focus on the story it’s pretty damn good. I strongly believe George Banks is the protagonist of this movie. He’s the only character with an arc, he’s the only character to cause any conflict with the other main characters and he’s the most relatable character in this movie. Jane and Michael are who children would relate to whilst George is someone grown ups would relate to as it’s all work and no play. Mary Poppins I see as the puppet master moving all of the pieces so George will eventually crack and become a lot more carefree. I only thought of this at the end of the movie as I felt the magic and charm this movie has to offer and it made me feel like a kid again.

I watched the Blu-ray 50th anniversary version and unfortunately it doesn’t really hold up as well as I remembered. It all looked like a TV sitcom and the only time I forgot this is when they leave the house. The animated sequences aren’t that bad as it has definitely improved from The Three Caballeros. What does hold up is what I mentioned before – it’s very charming. It is pretty stupid at some points but that’s adds to the charm of the film.

Best for last – the music. It is very much a musical as characters break into song mid-sentence alot. The score is fantastic and it rightfully won an Academy Award for this. There are a lot of great songs in this movie but The Academy’s favourite is Chim Chim Cher-ee, with which I would disagree. I would go with the final song of the movie, Let’s Go Fly A Kite.

I guess I am a bit biased with this one but for what it is I think it’s great and not many movies can bring out the inner child like this one did. I feel like a George Banks 2.0 so I’m going with 8 to 9/10.

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The Bare Necessities of getting eaten alive in the jungle.

Phew… The final movie of the Silver Age and it’s another movie from my childhood, so this should be good.

The Jungle Book is an interesting movie as the behind the scenes history is more interesting than the actual movie. It’s not as fascinating as the Mary Poppins’ behind the scenes drama but it’s better than the movie we got. This is also the last movie Walt Disney was involved in before he passed away and it’s worth mentioning as he was involved in the story development. Apparently this movie would have been alot darker if Disney didn’t put his hand in.

Our story begins with Bagheera rescuing an abandoned baby Mowgli and then handing him over to a hungry pack of wolves. (Don’t worry, these wolves are vegetarian!) Years later Mowgli is a boy and is now considered a threat to one of the only meat eaters in the entire jungle and he’s definitely evil because he’s the only British animal in the movie. Bagheera promises the irrelevant wolf pack he’ll take the boy to the local Man Village. Once Mowgli leaves the pack everyone, and I mean everyone, wants him dead! He doesn’t just need to worry about a tiger, his own stupidity and whiny attitude may be the death of him.

This movie has kind of a similar plot structure to Alice in Wonderland as the whole movie is focused on mini set pieces. It worked well for that movie because the audience is experiencing these strange scenarios with Alice. It’s doesn’t really work with Jungle Book because the jungle really isn’t as interesting as a made up dreamland. It also doesn’t really work with the story they’re trying to tell. These set pieces aren’t bad but they  feel kind of pointless in the grand scheme of things.

I think Kaa is a good example as he shows up twice to eat Mowgli and it always ends the same way. I’m serious, his defeat and exit from the scene is animated the exact same way both times! This isn’t the only time I noticed this as there are multiple instances where animations are repeated and it is shocking to see this from Disney as it comes off as extremely lazy.

While the situations aren’t very interesting I found the characters more fun to watch. The most entertaining character in the movie is The Colonel Elephant guy. He’s so over the top that I can’t help but smile. I guess the only downside is near the end they build up The Colonel and his troops to search the jungle for the man-cub while Shere Khan is eavesdropping on the whole conversation. After this scene the race for the boy is never brought up again, which is so annoying!

I’m not really a fan of how this movie ended either. Shere Khan being defeated by Mowgli and some vultures felt kind of underwhelming and this movie also has a fake out death!  The real ending has Baloo and Mowgli feeling happy that they’re free to enjoy the bare necessities now. Then Mowgli comes across a strange creature that this movie has been very much lacking … a girl. All it took for Mowgli to go to the Man Village is for a girl to drive a wedge through Mowgli and Baloo’s friendship. Don’t worry, he gets over it very quickly and …. happy ending! There was an alternate ending which is a bit darker but honestly that one wasn’t great either.

To answer my question from earlier – no, Jungle Book isn’t good. It’s not terrible but it’s not as good as I remember. At least the music still holds up, but none of them really compare to The Bare Necessities. That’s all I’ve got, 3 to 4/10. Watch it if you like but don’t expect anything amazing.

Can you believe we just finished the Silver Age? We’re probably one third through this series now and I still feel like I haven’t even chipped a dent into this series. The Silver Age is a little bit inconsistent with it’s titles as some were really good while others weren’t. We’ll have to see what happens next but for now here are some alternate titles.

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The Disneyathon Part 5-7: An era full of instant number one singles.
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The Disneyathon Part 5-7: A good era to be bad!
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The Disneyathon Part 5-7: An era where the animation gets a budget cut.
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The Disneyathon Part 5-7: An era where the boring main characters are undermined by the far more entertaining side characters.

And finally…

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The Disneyathon Part 5-7: The era where The BC found 3 movies he actually liked.

My Official Disneyathon Ranking List

Link to Next Part: The Disneyathon – Part 8: The Bronze Age

 

 

 

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