Monday, February 17, 2014

A Serious Discussion Regarding the Disney Princesses

When you say "Disney", certain things immediately spring to mind. Mickey Mouse and friends, for example. Another thing emblematic of Disney as a company today are the Disney Princesses. This powerful media franchise, crossing several films, reaches out to many. Considering the proliferation of the brand, I think it's high time to discuss one of the issues that I'm sure many have thought about...


If the Disney Princesses were to get into a fight, who would win?

Before I begin this serious and scholarly discussion, some ground rules...


1) I will only be discussing the current, official members of the Disney Princess line-up, so Anna and Elsa do not figure into this discussion, as they haven't been inducted yet. Similarly, characters like Esmeralda, Jane Porter, or Megara are not official members of the franchise and as such will not be discussed.

2) I will only be counting the characters as depicted in the primary film. Straight-to-video sequels, animated series, and any other assorted spin-off media will not factor into this.

3) No weapons, no cute animal sidekicks.

4) All the princesses will be fighting in a huge free-for-all.

Now, that we've established the rules, let's run down the list, starting with the least likely to win up through the Princess most likely to come out of this as Queen of the Mountain. Here we go!

11) Snow White




Being the youngest and the shortest, Snow is already at a clear disadvantage. Combine that with her unrelenting niceness, she'd probably try to talk her way out of this. The only thing in her favor is that anytime we see someone directly trying to harm her in the movie, they fail. The poison apple doesn't count, as she made a choice to eat that; it's her fault for being so trusting of strangers. Snow quickly gets eliminated.


10) Princess Aurora/ Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty)



Well, she's got fae gifts, so that's in her favor. The downside is that those are limited to being pretty, a lovely singing voice, and not dying from a curse. She is one of the tallest princesses, so she's got a reach advantage. Much like Snow, however, Aurora is naive and nice. She lacks the killer instinct that's going to take her to the top.

9) Belle (Beauty and The Beast)




Intelligent, yes, and able to dodge traffic and other obstacles while reading a book. Impressive, but she needs some brawn with those brains. She may have read a book on self-defense or Sun Tzu's The Art of War, but I doubt that's going to be enough.

8) Cinderella





She might look sweet and nice, but she does have a bit of a temper (remember, she was ready to jack that cat's s*** up at one point). However, she's got no sort of combat training. She's willing to stand up for herself, but without help, she's going down.

7) Tiana (The Princess and The Frog)



Now, granted, we don't see her fight in the movie, and most of her conflicts seem to be resolved with her using her wits, and those were in her frog form no less. It's hard to say how well she'd do in a physical confrontation as a human with other humans. However, I've been assured by people much more knowledgeable about certain facts than I am that she'd handle herself quite well. "Honey, the girl's from Nawlins! She's gonna take this!"

6) Pocahontas



 Physically, she's got what it takes. Again, though, we never see her in combat. She's definitely the fastest of the Princesses (she might even qualify as possessing superhuman speed), and when you combine that with her ability to sneak around, Pocahontas is a definite wild card.

5) Jasmine (Aladdin)






Now, the "no spin-offs" rule I added really hinders Jasmine, as she got pretty bad-ass in the animated series. As it stands, though, she's got a good shot. She's very good at deception, though I doubt she'll be able to bluff her way to victory.

4) Rapunzel (Tangled)







Now, we're assuming for this one that she still has her hair. She does seem quite adept at using it, and she's very good at adapting to changing circumstances. On the other hand, lack of any formal combat training is going to be a major hindrance, and it's unlikely she'll be able to sing her magic song fast enough to use her hair to offset any damage she might suffer.

3) Merida (Brave)


She's mainly known for her skill in archery, and, in a contest with no weapons, that's not going to help her here. However, she also managed to both disarm and disable her much larger and more experienced father, meaning she's got a few surprises up her sleeve when it comes to hand-to-hand combat. Also, she's a feisty redhead. NEVER underestimate that.

2) Mulan





She's not a Princess because she was born into it, she's not a Princess because she married into it, she's a princess because when the Huns invaded China, she wasn't having ANY of that crap. She's skilled, fast, and clever, and that's a combination that almost no other Princess can beat. Almost. Which leads me to my pick for the Princess most likely to come out of this brawl the winner....

And the winner is....

1) Ariel (The Little Mermaid)

She's excited about that fork because she's imagining just how many people she can stab with it.
 I know what a lot of you are thinking. "Ariel? ARIEL?!? How the heck can you pick her over Fa Mulan, the Savior of China?" Simple. Sit back and prepare to have your minds blown.

First, being a mermaid, Ariel has both superhuman strength and durability, a lifetime under the sea toughening her musculature. Now, before you start quibbling, saying I'm just pulling this from comic books, this is in fact supported by the film. When she's turned into a human, she's neither crushed by the pressure under the waves, nor does she suffer any sort of decompression when she's rapidly brought to the surface. Furthermore, when Ursula grows to giant size, and makes a whirlpool, Ariel falls from the surface straight down to the rocky bottom of the sea with no water in between, yet she's unscathed. That's the durability. As for strength, remember, she moves the large rock guarding the entrance to her treasure grotto with ease. When you factor in the size of that rock and the difference in water pressure between the inside and the outside, that's no easy task for a comparable human of her size.

"Fine," you say, "She's got super-strength. Shan-Yu was much larger and stronger than Mulan, and she beat him!" Well, first, Mulan didn't actually ever beat Shan-Yu; she was just stalling him long enough for Mushu and Cri-Kee to get into position. More important is another supernatural ability- Ariel learns things really quickly. Despite having never done so before, she learns to walk with ease in a matter of hours, whereas a normal human would spend months or years learning or, in the case of rehabilitation following an injury, relearning how to walk.

Now, you might argue that combat is much more difficult and complicated than walking, and Ariel does not have the luxury of hours to adapt in a big brouhaha like this. I've already taken that into account. It would appear that her powers of adaptation react accordingly to the danger of the situation. Now, when learning to walk, she was in no immediate danger, so it took longer. Later on in the film, during the montage where she and Prince Eric are having a pleasant afternoon, Eric hands over the reigns of the horse and carriage to Ariel, and the carriage immediately goes out of control, several times threatening to crash. However, Ariel gets things under control in moments, and her skill at driving impresses Eric enough that he leans back, places his hands behind his head, and puts his feet up, confident that there will be no further danger.

Now, when you take all of that into consideration, Ariel is essentially a combination of Aquaman and the Taskmaster. Unless someone like Mulan can deliver a knock-out blow to Ariel early on, which would be exceedingly difficult given the aforementioned super-durability, then Ariel will quickly acclimate to the ebb and flow of the battle, easily becoming the combat equal of the more skilled fighters in the contest. With all of that in her favor, Ariel finds her voice in this contest, and it's not the sweet song "Part of Your World" but rather a triumphant battle cry as she defeats her opponents.

And there you have it. If you disagree with my arguments and conclusions, feel free to comment, as I am eager to offer rebuttals to any and all.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Can You Feel The Love Tonight?

It's Valentine's Day, and if you're anything like me, you're single because you watch too many cartoons to be taken seriously by the opposite sex. There's no shame in that. Anyway, I thought I'd provide you all with a list of my top ten favorite Disney couples, those who make me think that romance is possible. So, here we go, in no particular order...

10. Milo Thatch and Kidagakash Nedakh (Gesundheit!) a.k.a Princess Kida (Atlantis: The Lost Empire)
He's a nerd, she's an immortal warrior princess. Yeah, they're making the list.


9. Jumbaa and Pleakley (Lilo and Stitch)
Now, the the Disney Wiki lists these two as "best friends". Suuuuure. They bicker like an old marry couple, and each one thinks it's his turn to wear the dress because the other has warn it enough already. Now, I'm not implying anything, but they do live in Hawaii....


8. Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)
My goodness, these two are so cute. The love story in this movie is just so Shakespearean at times. They fall in love with a stranger even though they're already betrothed, and neither one realizes that they're betrothed to the person they just met.



7. Aladdin and Jasmine (Aladdin)
Attractive, adventurous, and quick enough to know when the other is lying to some sap and then starts playing along brilliantly.



6. Goliath and Elisa Maza (Gargoyles)
Oh, please, if you've read any previous article on this blog, then you should have known this was coming. Of COURSE I'm going to include these two. I think what I like best about their relationship is that, probably more so than any other Disney couple, these two would argue. A LOT. Goliath is awful stubborn ("I think your head stays rock hard even at night."), though, to be fair, Elisa doesn't always like to admit she's wrong either. Still, at the end of the day, er... night... whatever, these two don't let disagreements get in the way of their relationship.


5. Hercules and Megara (Hercules)
Herc and Meg are basically the Disney equivalent of Superman and Lois Lane. He's the good-natured farmboy who happens to be a demigod, and she's the sassy, sarcastic cynic who still deep down does the right thing.


4. Buzz Lightyear and Jessie The Yodeling Cowgirl (The Toy Story Franchise)
Two words- "Spanish Mode".


3. Jack Skellington and Sally (Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas)
People love creepy yet cute couples. It's the Gomez/ Morticia Syndrome.


2. Mr. and Mrs. Incredible (The Incredibles)
As a long time comics fan, I love superhero couples. However, as a long time comics fan, I'm inevitably disappointed, as both Marvel and DC seem to think that, despite the average comics reader being an adult, most people can't relate to the idea of a hero or heroine being married and raising a family, so they undo them, often in a ridiculous manner that insults the fans' intelligence ("One More Day" and "Brand New Day", I'm looking at you). Pixar proved that notion wrong, as The Incredibles is regarded as one of that studio's best films to date.


1. Donald and Daisy Duck

Well, it's fortunate that they already have the same last name, so they don't have to change their stationary if and when Donald finally pops the question (come on, it's been nearly seven decades!). Seriously, though, these two are cuter than Mickey and Minnie, because while those two are just too cute and sweet, Donald and Daisy, like others on this list, love each other despite their glaring and noticeable personality flaws. Donald is arrogant and short-tempered, and Daisy can be a bit fussy and opinionated. Still, they love each other so much that they try to be better for the sake of the other, and they forgive each other when they falter. (At this point, you should be humming "Fixer Upper" from the Frozen soundtrack).

Monday, February 10, 2014

Year of the Gargoyle!

Well, 2014 has been around for a bit, and it's not been TOO obnoxious thus far. Furthermore, Chinese New Year has been around for a few days, and it also doesn't seem all that bad. But it's not the Year of the Horse, like everyone is saying. No, no...







It's the Year of the Gargoyle.

That's right- in October 2014, Disney's Gargoyles will be celebrating it's 20th Anniversary. So, to commemorate, all my posts in 2014 will  be Disney-centric, focusing on Gargoyles, other Disney films that skew towards geeks and nerds, Marvel, Star Wars, and other things.

In the meantime, what can YOU do to celebrate? Here's a list...

1) BUY THE DVD'S!- Season 2, Volume 2 is now available after a wait of nine years, so now is the perfect time to get caught up. Furthermore, these are the unedited, original broadcast versions, so that's awesome. And if you haven't gotten the previous installments yet, what are you waiting for? After you buy and watch and enjoy, go to Disney Movie Rewards; every Disney DVD has a code that you redeem for points that can be used for neat swag. This also lets Disney know that people are buying them.

2) Take to Social Media!- Talk about how much you love Gargoyles on your Tumblrs and Twitters and Facebooks and share! Use the hashtag #Gargoyles20.

3) Show your love!- Do something fun? You like fanfiction? Write some Gargoyles fanfiction. Are you an artist? Draw some Gargoyles! Planning a trip to one of the Disney Parks? Take some of your Gargoyles merch and snap some pictures. Bonus points if you get one with one of the characters down there, like so....

Yes, I took Gargoyles comics to Walt Disney World with the sole intention of getting a picture of Belle reading them. You will never be that geeky.


So, stay tuned, and let's make 2014 the year that Gargoyles "LIVE AGAIN!"

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Turkey Day Part 9- It Conquered the World (with Snow Thrills)

As we all recover from our food coma, here's another Turkey Day installment- It Conquered the World! I like this episode, so much so that I've talked about it before, running the classic Peter Graves monologue through the Bad Translator. You know the one I'm talking about; it goes a little something like...



He learned almost too late that Man is a feeling creature and, because of it, the greatest in the universe. He learned too late for himself that men have to find their own way, make their own mistakes. There can't be any gift of perfection from outside ourselves. And when men seek such perfection, they find only death, fire, loss, disillusionment, the end of everything that's gone forward. Men have always sought an end to the toil and misery, but it can't be given, it has to be achieved. There is hope, but it has to come from inside, from Man himself.

Powerful stuff. But, before we get to that, let's start off with the short. The Sport Parade: Snow Thrills showcases all kinds of winter shenanigans, from ice skating to skiing (though the film insists on the German pronunciation) to... uh... skinny dipping. The riffing gets really dark and a bit saucy. It's fun, but for some reason, I never remember to include it when I compile a list of the best shorts they've done. The sketch they do about it is good fun though.

Now comes Roger Corman's It Conquered The World. Lee Van Cleef is a scientist who's protesting the launch of a satellite for some reason that's never adequately explained, something about pissing off aliens. His buddy, Peter Graves, is the lead scientist for the project. Flash forward two months later, and the satellite mysteriously disappears, reappears, and then crashes. Peter is concerned, but Lee is smug. Why so smug? Because Lee is in communication with the giant Venusian space pickle that hijacked the satellite so it could come to Earth.

Lee thinks that Space Pickle is there to help humanity, but Peter and Lee's wife Beverly Garland (rrroooawwr!) aren't so sure. Space Pickle sends out mind control devices to convert various humans so it can conquer a small town in the southwest. (Think globally, act locally, after all.) Peter Graves shoots his mind controlled wife, Beverly Garland dies trying to kill the Space Pickle. Peter and Lee join up with a roving military unit and face the Space Pickle.

In the end, Lee sacrifices himself to save the world. Why? Well... He learned almost too late that Man is a feeling creature and, because of it, the greatest in the universe. He learned too late for himself that men have to find their own way, make their own mistakes. There can't be any gift of perfection from outside ourselves. And when men seek such perfection, they find only death, fire, loss, disillusionment, the end of everything that's gone forward. Men have always sought an end to the toil and misery, but it can't be given, it has to be achieved. There is hope, but it has to come from inside, from Man himself.

The riffing is great in this one, but Corman films tend to bring out the best in the crew. The middle sketch wherein Joel and the Bots have dinner and make a series of sarcastic jabs at each other is hilarious; they channel their inner Lockhorns quite well. Of course, even with the short film preceding It Conquered the World, they still need to pad out the episode thanks to Corman's habit of not making very long movies. (Say what you will about his films, you have to grant that the man is a concise filmmaker.) Which is why Peter Grave's speech is repeated twice, word for word in the last sketch. You know the one.

He learned almost too late that Man is a feeling creature and, because of it, the greatest in the universe. He learned too late for himself that men have to find their own way, make their own mistakes. There can't be any gift of perfection from outside ourselves. And when men seek such perfection, they find only death, fire, loss, disillusionment, the end of everything that's gone forward. Men have always sought an end to the toil and misery, but it can't be given, it has to be achieved. There is hope, but it has to come from inside, from Man himself.

All told, the speech is repeated three times throughout the episode, with the first line also composing the episode's stinger. It's a fun episode.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Day Part 8- Hercules Against the Moon Men!


Now it's time for a favorite episode of mine, Hercules Against the Moon Men. MST3K watched more than a few Italian sword & sandal films, and this is quite possibly the "best" of them.

Before I begin with the plot synopsis, I'm going to break with tradition and talk about one of the opening invention exchange sketches. For their invention, Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank have "Deep Hurting" featuring "Sand Storm". Bear that in mind, because it'll be important later.

 
Anyway, on to the main event! In this corner, Hercules!

Against the Moon Men!


In the kingdom of Samar, the people are forced to sacrifice their children to the Mountain of Death, which is hq for the Moon Men. Well, actually Moon Man, as we only ever see one of them. Anyway, the people of Samar petition Queen Samara to stand up to the Moon Men, because now they have a fighting chance, for coming to their aid is the great hero Hercules (who looks a lot like Machiste, but never mind that now).

But the Samara doesn't want to fight, as she and the Moon Men are in cahoots! Cahoots, I say! In return for her cooperation, she's been given the power to bewitch any man into thralldom and also the power to have a completely different hairstyle in every scene she's in (the reason why she needs so many different hairstyles is never adequately explained).

Anyway, Herc shows up and meets Old Adviser Guy, who is quickly bumped off. Luckily, his hot daughter Agar is there to help Herc. Meanwhile, Queen Samara is trying to sabotage the romance between her half-sister Phyllis and royal second-cousin (or something) Derek. Waitasec, Phyllis and Derek? That doesn't sound very Greek epic to me! Ah, well. Queen Samara tries to kill Derek because he's a part of the Resistance, and Phyllis is given to the Moon Men who need her as a sacrifice to revive their queen.

Anyway, Samara captures Derek and Agar. Hercules will save them! But, what's this? Hercules has been bewitched by Samara! Blast! Derek and Agar are sent to the dungeon. While Samara and Hercules are alone in the bedchambers, she reveals the full details of the evil scheme. Hercules chuckles; he wasn't bewitched at all! Now it's clobbering time, and he clobbers with gusto as Samara makes her getaway to join the Moon Men.

The Samar Army (Samarmy?) joins with the Resistance, and along with Hercules, make short work of the Queen's Royal guard. Now, it's off to fight the Moon Men. NOW, the Deep Hurting can commence.

What follows is a long, painful walking sequence, worthy of Roger Corman himself. The Moon Men have summoned up a Sandstorm (Saaaandstorm!), and what should have been a quick, brisk walk to the Mountain of Death turns into a 10-minute or so sequence. This sequence is compared with the infamous Rock Climbing bits from the Season 2 episode, Lost Continent. Many argue that the latter is more painful, as there's lots of Rock Climbing in that movie to pad out the film. That may be so, but at least all the characters were wearing pants.

Anyway, Herc shows up at the Mountain of Death, lifts some rock monsters over his head, lifts the Moon Man over his head, and all the bad guys wind up dead. The people of Samar are free, Derek and Phyllis become the new rules, and Herc and Agar ride off into the sunset.

This movie is bad (and the Sandstorm bit is awful), but otherwise, I'd enjoy this movie even without the riffing; Alan Steele plays the big muscle bound hero with aplomb and seems to enjoy himself. The riffing is great, however. The sketches are fun, and interspersed with the Mads taunts of "Deep Hurting! DEEEP HURTING!". And finally, there's the Pants Song (not to be confused with "Hike Up Your Pants" from Daddy-O), an ode to the garment that all men should wear at all times, especially the author of rival blog Nick's Nonsense (ya hear that, Nick? Put some damn pants on!)

All in all, Hercules Against the Moon Men is the best of the Hercules films, in my opinion, and certainly an all around great episode of MST3K in general.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Turkey Day Part 7- The Killer Shrews (with Junior Rodeo Daredevils)

And now we come to The Killer Shrews, with it's accompanying short Junior Rodeo Daredevils. I have a fondness for this episode, so much so that I named a super-villain after it in my smash hit story Can't Fake Gravity. Anyway, let's look at the episode.

First, we have the rodeo short. Some old guy catches two hooligans messing around on his property, so he catches them and forces them to organize a Junior Rodeo. What follows is a combination of two questionable activities- child endangerment and animal exploitation. It's a recipe for hilarity. The riffing on this is great, and I'd easily put it in the top ten shorts they've done.

Next comes the film and oh boy does it hurt. Hunky sea captain Roscoe P. Coltrane arrives on an island populated by a German scientist, his hot daughter, and a band of incompetent assistants. The scientist's project? Do something with shrews to combat overpopulation. As a result, the shrews have grown to enormous size and possess a venomous bite; the reason for this mutation is never adequately explained.

"Don't ask me, folks; I'm just a shrew."

People stand around and drink. And drink. And drink. Martinis, wine, vodka- you name it, it's drunk. I briefly toyed with the idea of making a Killer Shrews drinking game where you take a shot every time you see a character take a drink, but then quickly realized that would result in severe alcohol poisoning, even if I just used a Diet Coke.

Anyway, asides from the drinking, the cast gets eaten by the shrews until Roscoe, German guy, and Hot Daughter escape to the beach in trash cans and make a break for the boat.

That's a very sparse plot synopsis, but it's really hard to tell what the hell's going on in this film. The sound is awful, and half the characters speak with accents or just plain mumble. When the Sheriff of Hazzard County is the most erudite person in your film, there's a problem.

The sketches are great fun, particularly the final sketch, as it's representative of the "cow town puppet show" dynamic MST3K had going on, particularly in the early days- the bots, dressed as shrews, gibber incoherently as dying scientist Joel reads a fan letter. It's a hoot.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Turkey Day Part 6- Fugitive Alien

And now we continue our Turkey Day event with something from Japan, Fugitive Alien. A Japanese TV series edited together into a movie, Fugitive Alien is a great big mess.


The "film" opens with Wolf Raiders from the kabuki planet Valnastar attacking Earth, with all of the clown white that entails. The Wolf Raiders are armed with ray guns and helmets adorned with blond wigs, the functionality of which is never adequately explained. One of the Raiders, Ken (who is twice as strong as other Raiders and ten times as strong as any human), is about to open fire on a young boy when he learns that the lad is also named Ken. This triggers an attack of conscience in Ken (the Raider, not the boy). He gets into a fight with his best friend (who's also his girlfriend's brother), resulting in Ken killing his compatriot. (Get used to this scene; it shows up A LOT in this movie.) Branded a traitor, Ken is on the run. He escapes, and falls in with the crew of Bacchus 3, Earth Space Command's oldest ship.

Let's take a look at the crew. There's Tammy, perky young science officer. There's Rocky, the pilot- loyal and courageous, but also proud and slow to trust. There are two other guys who just generally mill about. Holding this motley crew together is Captain Joe, the cigar-chomping, hard-drinking, two-fisted veteran.

"Do you like gladiator movies, Ken?"





Joe, well aware of Ken's shady past, blackmails Ken into serving with the Bacchus 3.

Meanwhile, Evil Clown Emperor sends Ken's girlfriend, Rita, to kill Ken.

While preparing for their next mission, Joe drinks and mourns his family who died in the Wolf Raider attack, Tammy gets all swoony over Ken, and Rocky tries to kill Ken with a forklift (ole'!). The misfit crew then embarks on their mission, involving two warring planets and a superweapon, or something.

Ken gets arrested on the first planet, breaks out an officer from the other planet, and reunites with Rita, who finds she can't kill the man she loves. She quickly gets killed by an errant shot from some soldiers. Military officer in tow, Ken mourns his love and heads off to complete the mission. Our film ends, but Captain Joe and company will return in Star Force: Fugitive Alien 2!

Ow. That was painful. At least there's a lot of fun segments and jokes in this episode. There's the song Joel and the Bots make up ("He tried to kill me with a forklift! Ole'!"), there's the sketch where Joel acts like Captain Joe, and then there's Jack Perkins. Mike Nelson portrays A&E's Jack Perkins during several bits of the episode, and it's hysterical. This bit was so successful, Mike would reprise this impersonation several times throughout the course of the series, most notably as the host of the Mystery Science Theater Hour (basically, an episode cut in half and shown on weekday afternoons on Comedy Central).

This movie is odd and off-putting, which probably explains why it's such a good episode.