Movie recomendations and reviews : Walt Disney from A to D

Since the 1920’s. Walt Disney has brought some fantastic movies to for families’ enjoyment and entertainment, whether it is in a busy movie theatre or in the quiet comfort of your own home. I have put together a list of must see Walt Disney DVDs, in alphabetical order from A to D. Check out the list and see what movies tickle your fancy and that you want to watch during the drizzly spring weather and during the next round of school holidays.

 

A is for Aladdin

This movie will take you on a journey of wonders, non stop laughs, thrills and magic carpet rides.  In the heart of an enchanted city, a commoner named Aladdin battle to save (and win the heart of)  the free-spirited Princess Jasmine from the schemes of the evil sorcerer Jafar. Aladdin’s whole life changes with one rub of a magic lamp as a fun-loving, shape shifting Genie, voiced by the late Robin Williams, appears and grants him three wishes, setting him on an incredible journey of discovery, love and true meaning of friendship. This movie is 100% recommended! Robin Williams owns the role of Genie and brings a comical and warm hearted presence to the story and absolutely love Princess Jasmine, who is the embodiment of a tough, no nonsense free spirit feminist  who refuses to settle for less and abide by the traditions and expectations set out for her, I still recall when my best friend and I went to saw this in the movie theatre, then watched it home on video (Yes, in my day it was video cassettes instead of DVDs), singing along to the songs and wishing we too could soar away on a magical carpet ride.

 

image courtesy of amazon.comB is for Brave

Another movie about another tough no nonsense Scottish heroine, named Merida, who determined to be in control of her own destiny sets off a catastrophic chain events that could affect her destiny, as well as the destiny family forever. Now this brave beauty must keep her wits and rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse. Seriously, I don’t words can stress enough how much I love this film. As I have mentioned in previous posts, this is one of my favourite Pixar/Walt Disney films and a tribute to my Scottish ancestry. Have a read of my review and my post of Pixar films to be furthered sold on why this is a great movie.

 

image courtesy of amazon.com

image courtesy of amazon.co.uk

C is for Cinderella and… Cinderella

There’s a saying I am very fond of, courtesy of a wise Chinese philosopher, which is “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” In Walt Disney’s animated adaptation, originally released as a motion picture in 1950, the story of Cinderella is told in that context, where she undertakes a magical journey to the palace ball, taking her first step in glass slippers, to escape the life of servitude, the clutches of her abusive step-family and win the heart of the prince that begins all before the clock strikes midnight. Also you might want to check out the live-action reboot of the animated version, have a read of my review to get an idea on why this is a great DVD to watch.

 

image courtesy of amazon.comD is for Dumbo

A favourite childhood classic of mine, not to mention one that I cried buckets over! A baby elephant named Dumbo is ridiculed because of his enormous ears, despite his mother’s best efforts to protect him. However a guardian angel arrives in the form of Timothy the mouse, who puts Dumbo’s tormentors in their place and helps Dumbo achieve his full potential and soar to fame as the world’s only flying elephant. A great family movie about the true meaning of friendship and celebrating individuality!

 

 

Children’s DVD Review: When Marnie was there

This movie, When Marnie was there, was screened at last week at the Thursday Night Film screening at the Central Library. If you missed out on the movie night, then have no fear, we have this DVD in the Children’s DVD collection, which you can watch for your own viewing pleasure, in the comfort of your own home, especially as we may be in for a few cold nights during this mid-winter season.

 

image courtesy of amazon.com

This film tells the story of Anna, an introverted orphaned girl and a bit of a lost soul, who feels abandoned, unwanted and unlovable.

However, while on holiday, a chance encounter with a mysterious blonde girl, Marnie, who in many ways is a reflection of Anna, changes Anna’s life forever.

As the summer progresses, Anna spends more time with Marnie, and eventually Anna learns the truth about her family and foster care, which allows her to open up to possibilities all around her, mainly meaningful relationships with friends and her surrogate family.

This film is hauntingly beautiful and truly captures the essence and beauty, you would in find in most Japanese animated films produced by the Company, Studio Ghibli, who also brought such Japanese animated films to life, such as Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro.

Overall a great film that young girls will enjoy, that explores the true meaning of friendship and finding yourself.

Rating: 7/10.

Children’s DVD Reviews: Meet the Robinsons and Maleficent

The school holidays are almost done. And while we have some pretty nice days so far, doesn’t mean good old Jack Frost isn’t going to pay Wellington a visit. So if are looking for some more DVDs to watch over the blistery cold periods, why not have a read of my latest reviews of Walt Disney’s  movies: Meet the Robinsons and Maleficent, (which aired on TV 2 last weekend),and see if they appeal to you. But you better get your hands on these DVDs quick … before someone else does! I promise you these movies deliver on what Disney does best: Excitement, adventure, action and… a happy ending! 

 

image courtesy of amazon.comMeet The Robinsons

If you have seen and liked The Incredibles, then this is another Disney movie you must see.

Described as the ‘Back to the Future’ for kids, Meet the Robinsons takes you on a journey that the whole family can enjoy. Lewis is an orphan and brilliant inventor who meets mysterious stranger named Wilbur Robinson, whisking Lewis away in a time machine and together they team up to track down Bowler Hat Guy, who wants to destroy Lewis in a showdown that ends with an unexpected twist of fate that has a huge impact on Lewis’, Wilbur’s and even the Bowler Hat Guy’s future.

I found the film very funny and exciting. The Robinsons are an eccentric family headed by the mysterious patriarch and tech mogul genius, Cornelius Robinson, who Wilbur jokes looks like Tom Selleck. Everyone is strange and unique in their own way, from Frannie – Wilbur’s ‘no-nonsense’ Mum, who conducts frog band, Grandpa who wears his clothes backward, twins Dimitri and Spike who stay in flower pots and Carl a talking robot like C-3PO.  But what touched me most about this film the “keep moving forward” motto throughout the film.

I rate this movie: 7/10

 

Extra: The movie also features a fantastic quote from Walt Disney himself: “Around here we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”  Walt Disney, Film Producer, Director, Animator, Entrepreneur

 

Maleficentimage courtesy of amazon.com

This is Sleeping Beauty as you have never seen it before.

The story of Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” is different from its predecessor. But more importantly this story focuses on the evil fairy/villain in the original story, Maleficent. In this version, Maleficent, (Angelina Jolie), who was originally a good fairy and protector of the fairy lands called the Moors, becomes a vengeful, bad fairy, (or ‘turns to the dark side’ in tradition Darth Vader style), after she is betrayed by King Stefan.

To pay him back, she curses his daughter, the infant princess Aurora to a ‘sleep like death’ which she can only awaken from by ‘true love’s kiss’. However things become complicated when Maleficent realizes  that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom – and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well. To add more complication to the mix, Maleficent, acting as a surrogate mother, becomes fond of Aurora!

Throughout the film, Maleficent experiences conflict, similar to iconic Star Wars villain, Darth Vader, whether being trapped in the dark side is permanent or whether there is still good in her… and she will save the day.

Overall  I found the film very entertaining and without question, does it’s predecessor justice.  Lots of things you can expect from a Disney movie: Excitement, adventure, action and… a happy ending!

I rate this movie: 7/10

 

Extra: While you’re at it, why not grab Sleeping Beauty to watch alongside this movie:image courtesy of amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

Great children’s movies based on Roald Dahl’s books.

The wintery-est of school holidays have started. Are you still stumped on what DVDs to watch during the coldest and blistery of days? With the release of The BFG, based on the lovable story by Roald Dahl, why not go down to your local library and check out some other movies, based on his novels:

image courtesy of amazon.comFantastic Mr Fox.

An urbane fox cannot resist returning to his farm raiding ways and then must help his community survive the farmers’ retaliation.

Trivia: Roald Dahl allegedly fashioned Mr Fox after himself.

 

 

image courtesy of amazon.comJames and the Giant Peach.

An orphan with terrible aunts for guardians, befriends human like bugs who live inside a giant peach, who take the boy on a journey to New York City.

Trivia: The lyrics for the song “Eating the Peach” were written by Roald Dahl.

 

image courtesy of amazon.com

Matilda.

Story of a wonderful little girl, who happens to be a genius, and her wonderful teacher vs. the worst parents ever and the worst school principal imaginable.

Trivia: The picture of Miss Honey’s father, Magnus, is actually a portrait of Roald Dahl, the author of the book “Matilda,” upon which the film is based.

 

image courtesy of amazon.comDOUBLE TAKE ALERT!

Believe it or not, there are two versions of the same movie adapted from Roald Dahl’s novels. Which version tickles your fancy? Original vs. Remake? You decide!

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) vs. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (2005)

Both DVDs are the same story, but made different years, which is about a young boy wins a tour through the most magnificent chocolate factory in the world, led by the world’s most unusual candy maker. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is an afternoon-delight film that the whole family can enjoy and is indeed a classic, that follows the story roughly to a tee. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is also a brighter and more colourful film, though it still manages to show the darker side of the story.

Trivia: Roald was reportedly so angry with the treatment of his book (mainly stemming from the massive rewrite by David Seltzer) that he refused permission for the book’s sequel, “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator”, to be filmed.

 

 

image courtesy of amazon.comThe BFG (Animated DVD) vs. The BFG (2016 film.)

*** Please be aware that the 2016 film version of The BFG is not yet available at Wellington City Libraries. The DVD release date is yet to be confirmed ***

A girl named Sophie encounters the Big Friendly Giant who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kind-hearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because, unlike them, he refuses to eat children.

bfg 2016Trivia: Roald Dahl has a granddaughter named Sophie,  who is an English author and former fashion model.

Trivia: Roald Dahl dedicated The BFG to his late daughter, Olivia, who died of measles at age seven in 1962.

 

 

 

image courtesy of amazon.comExtra recommendation: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Roald Dahl wrote the screenplay to this fantastic movie, based on the novel, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car, by Ian Fleming, the same guy, (believe it or not), who wrote the James Bond series! The movie is about a down-on-his-luck inventor, (played by Dick Van Dyke, who also played Bert in Mary Poppins), turns a broken-down car into a fancy vehicle for his children, and then they go off on a magical fantasy adventure to save their grandfather in a far-off land.

Trivia: Roald Dahl also wrote the screenplay to the James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice.

 

 

 

 

 

More great Pixar films to watch and… a special bonus Pixar surprise.

image courtesy of amazon.comThe Pixar theme continues! Here are more Pixar DVD choices to watch over the school holidays and a special bonus Pixar surprise that shows why you must go down to your local theatre and see Finding Dory!

 

 

Toy Story, 2 and 3.

image courtesy of amazon.comToy Story was the first Pixar film ever released and changed the world of animation films forever.

These films are timeless classics that takes you on a journey into the world of the secret life of toys. Join Buzz, Woody, Jessie and lots of amazing toys that unexpectedly embark on adventures that challenge and change them. These films are full of excitement, adventure and will change the way you think of toys.

 

image courtesy of amazon.comA Bug’s Life.

Life is not easy, especially if you are a bug. An inventive ant named Flik hires ‘warrior bugs’ to defend his colony from a horde of freeloading grasshoppers, led by Hooper. But when Flik’s cavalry turns out to be a ragtag group of circus performers, the stage is set for comic confusion …as well as unlikely heroes.

 

image courtesy of amazon.comMonsters Inc.

In the world behind our closet doors, monsters like Mike and Sulley work hard for their income. To be exact, the monster world depends on our children’s screams: It is their energy that makes lightbulbs glow and cars drive. Big companies like Monsters, Inc. collect the scream energy, and many monsters work there in shifts. In these times, it is getting harder and harder to shock the kids properly, since they’re so spoiled by television, so that there’s an energy shortage in the monster world. Sulley, the number one frightener, one day accidentally lets a human child into the monster world. Since kids are supposed to be poisonous and carry loads of diseases, pandemonium ensues. After Mike and Sulley discover that the girl they named Boo actually seems quite harmless, they decide to bring her back through her door into her room. But Boo’s presence is more than just a mere accident. Now, Mike and Sulley have to face an enemy within their own ranks.

 

image courtesy of amazon.comMonsters University.

Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan are an inseparable pair, but that wasn’t always the case. From the moment these two mismatched monsters met they couldn’t stand each other. Monsters University unlocks the door to how Mike and Sulley overcame their differences and became the best of friends.

 
image courtesy of amazon.comBrave.

One of my favourite Pixar films and a tribute to my Scottish ancestry. When chaos is unleashed in the kingdom as a result of Princess Merida’s actions, she must harness all of her skills and resources to break the beastly curse before it’s too late, mend bonds “torn by pride”  and discover the meaning of true bravery. If you’re not convinced that this DVD is worth watching, have a read of my review here.

 

 

 

Special Pixar bonus: (Drum roll please….)

Movie review of Finding Dory

image courtesy of amazon.com

Last weekend I went to see Finding Dory at the movies and it is in a word, FANTASTIC! Finding Dory reunites the friendly but forgetful blue tang fish, Dory, along with her friends, Marlin and Nemo on an epic quest to find Dory’s family. The questions that hangs on everyone’s lips are what does she remember? Who are her parents? And where did she learn to speak whale? Favourite moments in the film include Dory as a baby – Boy, she’s adorable!, Marlin and Nemo’s encounter with the seals, Still can’t get the ‘OFFOFFOFFOFF’ aka the seal talk out of my head, Dory making new friends with Hank, an octopus with seven tentacles and who, for a guy with three hearts is very bad tempered, Dory reuniting with her childhood friend, Destiny and the odd cameo of previous characters from Finding Nemo. Overall, I loved the film! It will make you laugh, it will make you cry and it will make you want to watch it over and over again. It is truly unforgettable.

A well deserved 9/10.

 

Also check out footage of Baby Dory and the Pixar short film, Piper that was released alongside and screens before Finding Dory.

Children’s DVD Review: Oliver and Company

Looking for a Walt Disney classic of all time? Check out the latest DVD that has been added to the Children’s movie collection: Oliver and Company.

image courtesy of syndeticsI loved this movie when I was a kid, which was released in 1988/89. Nearly thirty years later and on DVD, I love it more as an adult, and especially as a proud fur parent of two cats.

Based on the novel Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, Oliver, the orphaned kitten, is befriended by Dodger, the cool mutt from a New York pack of pickpocked pooches.

Soon, Oliver is lovingly adopted by Jenny, a lonely little rich girl, until tough-guy Sykes and his Doberman sidekicks try to keep Jenny and Oliver apart. Now it’s up to Oliver, Dodger, and all his colourful, street-smart canine pals to outwit the villains and rescue the girl.

Overall , Disney’s wonderfully charming classic “Oliver and Company” is one of the most best animated films you’ll ever see.

It has a fantastic cast, not to mention musical numbers from music icons such as Billy Joel, Bette Midler and Huey Lewis – very popular artists in the 1980s and 1990s – and from your parents’/grandparents’ generation.

This is a film for all the Walt Disney and feline lovers out there.

A well deserved 8/10.

5 Pixar Movies to watch these school holidays

Just in time for the wintery-est of school holidays. With the release of Finding Dory, produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures, why not go down to your local library and check out some other DVDs released by the same companies:

image courtesy of amazon.com

Finding Nemo (2003)

Go back to where it all began where Marlin goes on an epic quest from the great barrier reef to Sydney in order to find and save his son, Nemo, while meeting and encountering new friends on the way such as surfer turtles that live to 150 years old, vegetarian sharks who have regular meetings and of course, Dory herself!, a good-hearted and optimistic regal blue tang with short-term memory loss.

 

image courtesy of amazon.com

The Incredibles (2004)

Looking for a DVD where action, Superheroes and Disney are combined? Look no further, Check out The Incredibles, a movie that follows a family of superheroes who are forced to hide their powers and live a quiet suburban life. Mr. Incredible’s desire to help people draws the entire family into a battle with a villain and his killer robot.

 

 

image courtesy of amazon.com

Cars (2006)

A hot-shot race-car named Lightning McQueen gets waylaid in Radiator Springs, where he finds the true meaning of friendship and family. This is a movies that boys will enjoy, especially boys into cars and formula one racing.

 

 

 

image courtesy of amazon.com

WALL-E (2008)

In the distant future, a small waste-collecting robot named WALL-E, inadvertently embarks on a space journey, to reunite with new found friend, fellow robot named EVE, that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.

 

 

image courtesy of amazon.com

Up (2009)

Seventy-eight year old Carl Fredricksen travels to Paradise Falls in his home equipped with balloons, inadvertently taking a young stowaway named Russell. This is the movie that came up with sayings and references such as ‘Adventure is out there!”, “the cone of shame.”, and where Kevin can be a girl’s name and Dogs can talk, not meaning woof, woof but actual words like: “My name is Dug. I have just met you, and I love you.”

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Top 5 family DVDs to watch during winter

The holidays are over but winter is well on it’s way. So come on down to your local library for DVDs to watch while you hibernate.

Check out the following five DVD recommendations, many that I watched (on video tape) during my childhood, and are still family favourites today:

 

lochness1) Loch Ness.

Is the Loch Ness monster real? A scientist (Ted Danson) sets out to Scotland to try and prove it’s existence. However nothing can prepare him for the magical journey ahead of him. Overall, it’s a beautiful, heart-warming film without losing sight of its main theme, not to mention a brief cameo from “Nessie” which  is heart-warmingly portrayed, thanks to the  creature effects by the Jim Henson Creature Shop.

 

goonies_2) The Goonies.

The Goonies plunges a band of small heroes into a swashbuckling adventure beyond their wildest dreams.  A true family classic that pays homage to the 1980s aka your parents’ generation.

 

 

 

HEIDI3) Heidi.

After charming her reclusive grandfather and falling in love with the beautiful mountain he calls home, Heidi is uprooted and sent to Frankfurt where she befriends Klara, a young girl confined to a wheelchair. Interesting fact: The actress, Patricia Neal, who plays Peter’s Grandmother was married to Roald Dahl.

 

 

image courtesy of amazon.com4) The Adventures of Milo and Otis.

What happens when you put together a curious cat and a pug nosed pup? Why The Adventures of Milo and Otis of course. Watch this movie and join Milo (an orange tabby cat) and Otis (a pug) on an epic adventure when they leave the farm for the first time and venture out into the big, bad world, while getting separated, then reuniting and making some new friends along the way. A must see film for all the animal lovers out there.

 

image courteesy of amazon.comimage courtesy of amazon.com5) The NeverEnding Story and The NeverEnding Story II.

A lonely boy, Bastian finds solace in magical book that tells a story of a young warrior whose task is to stop a dark storm called the Nothing from engulfing a fantasy world called Fantasia. But Bastian is yet realise his importance in role of destroying the nothing and ensuring the  survival of Fantasia and all its  inhabitants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top children’s fiction authors for May

Here’s a joke: Why did the librarian slip over? Because she was in the non-friction section!! Get it?

No one like falling over, so we aren’t going to talk about non-fiction today. This post is all about FICTION.

We love fiction, you love fiction, everyone loves fiction! So here are the most popular children’s fiction authors for this month, based on how many of their books have been borrowed from the library.

 

1. Daisy Meadows (Rainbow Magic, Magic Animal Friends series)

2. Geronimo Stilton (Geronimo and Thea Stilton series)

3. Enid Blyton (classics stories of adventure and bad behaviour)

4. Erin Hunter (Warriors series)

5. Sally Rippin (Billie B Brown and Hey Jack series)

6. Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid series)

7. Adam Blade (Beast Quest series)

8. Jacqueline Wilson (amazing stories about different lives and adventures)

9. Liz Pichon (Tom Gates series, and picture books)

10. Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson series)

11. Roald Dahl (Charlie and the chocolate factory and other funny tales)

12. Andy Griffiths (Storey-treehouse series)

13. Megan McDonald (Judy Moody and Stick series)

14. Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants series)

15. Francesca Simon (Horrid Henry series)

16. Alan MacDonald (Dirty Bertie series)

17. H. I. Larry (Zac Powers series)

18. David Walliams (Hilarious stories)

19. Jacqueline Harvey (Alice Miranda series)

20. Rachel Renee Russell (Dork Diaries series)