So I was challenged on Facebook to the Ice Bucket Challenge, to raise money for Macmillion Cancer Support. Challenge accepted!
See my video here and who I nominated to take part in it.
You can find our more details about the Macmillan Cancer Support Challenge at:
Like millions of people across the globe, I was absolutely shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Robin Williams. He was an incredibly beloved actor and comedian with absolutely perfect comic timing – and his range of voices was just mesmerising. He could switch from one accent to the next just like that as it if it was second nature – but he could also move you to tears with his brilliant performances. Even if the film he was in was crap, he was mesmerising to watch. I must say, not since James Gandoflini’s death have been so affected by a celebrity passing away.
Now many tributes have already been paid to Robin Williams already and some might say that I’m “late to the party”. However, work commitments have prevented me from doing this blog until now – and I wanted to do honour this man in some way. Like many, Robin Williams was my childhood hero and I loved watching his films. So today, I am writing this list, not to mourn him – but remember what a fantastic person he was.
Today, I pick my Top Five favourite Robin Williams movies. These are the films of his that I enjoyed the most and can watch a million times and still love them. As always, this is based only on films I’ve seen, so films such as Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society won’t be on the list – however I am going to make sure that I see those films soon. Hook is also a film I should give an honourable mention to and, whilst I do love that film, I could only choose five for this list.
As always, these films are in no particular order. Also, just in case you haven’t seen any of these films, I should warn you that spoilers are ahead. I just hope my emotions can stay in check whilst writing this.
I saw this film at the cinema and it scared the living crap outta me! Based around a cursed boardgame, Robin Williams plays Alan Parrish, who was trapped in the game as a child and only released when the kids of a new family move into the vacant Parrish house. It’s up to them, and Alan’s childhood friend Sarah, to finish the game – and all sorts of chaos ensures as everything from stampedes to monsoons start taking over the house.
Jumanji may be more “serious” than other Robin Williams movies, but Williams is, as always, entertaining to watch. His performance of Alan is a great balance between a man who has faced horror for all his life, mixed in with a scared little boy, coming to terms that everything he knew is gone. Especially harrowing is his battle with Van Pelt, a big game hunter that’s capable of reducing him to terror (interesting enough, Jonathan Hyde, who also plays his father – making Van Pelt a metaphor of Alan’s fear of his father).
I love Jumanji as it’s a roller coaster ride from beginning to end. The special effects are awesome, Robin Williams performance is brilliant and it also has a good moral about facing up to your fears. Even today I still find that scene where Alan is sucked into the board game pretty scary. It may not be one of his best films critically, but it’s an entertaining family film nonetheless.
This film is especially poignant in that a picture has been circling social media of the genie and Aladdin, with the words “Genie, you’re free”, which has been lauded (and in some cases, criticised) by the public. But let’s not dwell on the sad parts, we’re here to remember Robin Williams for the talented man that he was. And few films showcase his extraordinary skills than Disney’s Aladdin.
As the Genie, Williams is quick witted, hilarious – dazzling us with amazing visuals and comedic dialogue that only Robin Williams could pull off. Even more amazing is when you realise that Williams actually ad-libed most of the dialogue in the film and let himself go crazy. Very few people could pull that off and make it convincing.
And let’s not forget Friend Like Me, one of the most amazing Disney songs ever. Don’t believe me? See for yourself and tell me this isn’t fun to watch.
It is a shame that Robin Williams had a fall out with Disney and didn’t come back to do any of the Aladdin films for a long time (he was replaced by Dan Castellaneta of The Simpsons fame), but his voice on the Genie remains one of the most loved of all Disney films. We certainly will never have a friend like him, that’s for sure.
3. Mrs Doubtfire
I just had to mention this film, because this film deserves it for being both funny and poignant in a way no other film can match. Everyone remembers laughing themselves stupid at Robin’s Williams performance and his antics – and not to mention the excellent voices that he puts on during the film. However one of my favourite things about this film is that the main character Williams plays is called Daniel. Two thumbs up from me!
In the film, Daniel is an out of work voice actor who marriage is on the rocks. When his wife files for divorce, and gets full custody of the kids, Daniel uses his acting talents to disguise himself as a Scottish Nanny so that he can be close to his kids. Through his actions as Mrs Doubtfire, he becomes closer to his children. However his family are somewhat threatened when his wife’s new love interest Stu comes to visit (played by Pierce Brosnan). I will admit I do like the dynamics between the two characters, it makes for some funny moments.
As much as I love the comedy that Williams does, in Mrs Doubtfire, it’s the heartfelt moments that really catch you out. The last scene where Mrs Doubtfire (on her own TV show) reads a letter from a worried girl that their parents are divorcing, and Mrs Doubtfire tells her that as long as there is love there will always be a family is really moving and perfectly coincides with Daniel’s own fight to keep his family. It’s a film that can move you to tears as much as move you to laughter and that’s testament to Williams acting ability. A standout film for many fans of Williams and it’s not hard to see why.
4. One Hour Photo
Now this one I find is one of the most underrated Robin Williams films. Because unlike others on the list, this one isn’t a comedy – it’s a psychological thriller. You wouldn’t think that someone like Williams, who does mostly comedy, could do serious acting. You’d be wrong.
In this film, Williams plays a photo technician called Sy, that takes his work very seriously. He leads a lonely life, dedicated to the old school art of printing pictures, leading no real life of his own. He becomes somewhat attached to the Yorkin family. And by attached I mean obsessed, wishing to be part of their happy family. When the husband, Will Yorkin, starts cheating on his wife, Sy becomes hateful of him and seeks to make him pay. What follows is a scene where Sy catches Will and his paramour unaware and torments them until he is captured by the police.
Yes, you heard me right, in this film Williams plays a psycho. It’s not the first time he played a character like this (he was the killer in the Chris Nolan Insomnia remake), but here he is just as chilling. But strangely enough, you actually kinda feel a little sorry for the guy. He’s not really a bad person. Sure he does bad things, but when it boils down to it, he’s just lonely. He’s never had a loving family or anything like that (in fact the film hints that he was sexually abused by his father) so he just wants to be part of the Yorkin’s family life. And in his own way, he believes he has good intentions, drawing attention to what a poor husband Will is.
You won’t get many laughs in this film. But what you will get is a creepy, frightening, but somewhat sad character that you will either come to despise or feel really sorry for. If you didn’t think that Robin Williams could do serious, this film will make you think twice. As I said, it’s an overlooked film when people talk about their favourite Robin Williams movies, but I think it deserves a mention, if anything to demonstrate the range than Williams is capable of.
5. Good Morning, Vietnam
I’m just gonna say that, hands down, this is my FAVOURITE Robin Williams movie. Very few films have made me laugh my ass off more than this one.
In Good Morning, Vietnam, Williams plays Adrian Cronauer (of whom the film is loosely based on), a DJ that is brought in to do a radio show for the troops whilst stationed at Vietnam. Although his superiors hate him, his brand of comedy mixed with news, and a little bit of rock and roll, is highly popular with the troops and even lifts their spirits. But all too soon, the horrors of Vietnam start to take form and Adrian finds himself at odds with what his superiors want him to say and his own desire to make the truth heard.
Like all Williams films, this has some extremely funny comedy mixed in with real world issues. Must like with Aladdin, Williams improvised a lot of the radio talk he did – which again shows what a talent he was when it comes to it. The fact that he can change from one voice to the next in the drop of a hat, and do it so convincingly, just adds a lot to the performance and makes it amusing to watch.
I think may favourite scene is when he starts a fight with a soldier in a bar, declaring him to have big muscles but no “p***s”. It’s just the way that Williams can turn a serious and dangerous moment into a comedic moment at the drop of a hat. It’s one of my favourite comedy moments of cinema.
Like all films in this list, I could watch this over and over again, if nothing just for the brilliant impressions that he does. Good Morning, Vietnam is a little more light-hearted than other war films (although it certainly gets the point across as well) but it is highly entertaining and worth the watch.
Those are my favourite Robin Williams films, what are yours? Please let me know, and remember...
RIP Robin Williams, you made our lives so much better and you will be missed.
All above images are copyright of their respective owners
You know, there’s just nothing more heart-wrenching than seeing your favourite characters die on the big screen. I’ve talked about this before about how the death of a character can add a real emotional shock to a scene. And whilst these scenes can really impact on a story, I find that they are even powerful if they appear in an animated film.
Maybe that’s just me, but deaths in animated films get to me more so than in live action. I guess you don’t really expect things like that in animated films as they are, for the most part, aimed at a younger audience, so you expect them to be nice and jolly. So it can be a real shock to the system when they add in very really elements like this. That being said, if you look at many classic animated movies, they usually have that ONE death that will definitely hit you right in the feels.
Recently I’ve been catching up with some of the animated movies I used to watch when I was younger and was quite surprised with the hard hitting deaths of characters. No wonder I get so depressed! So today I decided to honour the lives of those characters who have passed away and whose death’s had (and still do have) the largest impact on me.
For this list, I’m looking at animated films I’ve seen who had a death that affected me the most. I also would like to point out that I made a rule of including only ONE Pixar movie and ONE Disney movie (those films could be a list in themselves!). Also, as always, this is in no particular order. And just a heads up – spoilers included!
Have your tissues at the ready as today I countdown the Top Five Saddest Deaths in Animated Films.
1. Littlefoot’s Mother in The Land Before Time
Forget all the crappy direct to DVD sequels, the original The Land Before Time is a masterpiece of cinema – a wonderful tale of family and friendship with some loveable characters. Oh and did I mention its set during the time of the dinosaurs? It’s also notable for being the first film to traumatise me as a child. I don’t think any film made me cry so much – hell it still makes me weep when I see it 26 years later!
In this particular scene that will haunt your childhood forever, Littlefoot and his family are migrating to The Great Valley after all the food in the area dries up. During the journey, we see how close Littlefoot is to his family, and how protective his mother is of him. It’s really heartwarming – but then, like with any tragedy, their happiness gets torn apart.
When Sharptooth (a T-Rex) attacks Littlefoot and Cera (a young Three-Horn), Littlefoot’s mother comes to save them, but is fatally wounded in the process. What follows a few minutes later is a crushing scene where Littlefoot finds his injured mother and she imparts a few words of wisdom and support before she dies.
Annnnnnnndddd then the tears come… :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'(
This scene is tragic for many reasons. Firstly, not only does Littlefoot have to watch his mother die, he now has to complete the journey to The Great Valley alone. And let’s not forget – Littlefoot is just a kid. When you add all this up, it makes one of the most depressing scenes in cartoon history. But that being said, we can also give credit to Littlefoot’s mother – she sacrificed herself to protect her child, making her one of the bravest heroines in animated film. And even though she dies, she is still with Littlefoot in spirit.
If you haven’t seen it, The Land Before Time is one of the best animated films you will see. It’s a tale of courage, friendship and hope, with some loveable characters and a tragic story. Just make sure you have some tissues at the ready, because this scene alone will definitely hit you in the feels!
2. Flynn Rider in Tangled
I’m sure when you heard a Disney film would be in this list, you were expecting me to include the death of Simba’s father in The Lion King. And yes, that scene is sad, but as I already included the death of Littlefoot’s Mother, I decided to use another film so as to vary it a little. Not only that, but I wanted to make it up to the readers who were upset by my last blog.
When I did my first Disney Deathmatch, with Tangled Versus The Hunchback of Notre Dame, quite a few people on facebook were quick to voice their disapproval that Tangled didn’t win. I actually was kinda surprised how much people loved this film. I’ve done numerous mentions of how I think Frozen was an overrated film and hardly got any rage from it (luckily), but Tangled I got a lot of angry people at my throat– one of my best friends I thought was never gonna speak to me again!
Let me make one thing clear – just because Tangled didn’t win it DOESN’T mean that Tangled isn’t a good film. In fact, I would say that Tangled is one of the most enjoyable Disney films of all time. In fact, I’d actually say it was a better film than Frozen, that’s how much I enjoyed it.
But I’m getting off track here.
Anyway, in Tangled, Rapunzel wishes to leave her tower and enter the great wide world. After Flynn Rider (real name Eugene) hides in her tower after a robbery goes wrong, Rapunzel “forces” him to take her outside and escort her, so that she can find the reason behind the lights that are released every year. But, like any Disney movie, as the story progresses Rapunzel and Flynn become closer and, as you may guess, fall in love. And you know what, I actually like Flynn – he’s a really good character for reasons I will explain later.
At the climax of the movie, Flynn is wounded by Mother Gothel whilst trying to save Rapunzel. Rapunzel begs her to use her magic hair (which contains healing magic) to save Flynn, after which she promises to be taken prisoner by Gothel. However, Flynn – not wanting Rapunzel to be at the mercy of Gothel, cuts her hair off, removing her healing magic, which then causes Gothel to vanish to dust. Flynn essentially sacrifices himself to save Rapunzel, which is a very brave deed in and off himself. He then dies. And when Rapunzel’s starts singing and her tears fall, so do the audiences.
Ok, so this is kinda cheating as Flynn DOES come back to life – but before that it’s still pretty sad. I thought that Flynn was a likeable rogue and probably one of the best heroes in Disney history. Sure he’s brash, arrogant and selfish, but he’s very funny and a good man at heart. Through Rapunzel he finds something more precious than gold and in the end he is willing to give up his own life to save her. I reckon Kristoff could learn a thing or two from Flynn as to what a real hero should be like!
3. Optimus Prime in Transformers the Movie
I’m just gonna come right out and say it, the recent Transformers movies suck and Michael Bay can go to hell! That is all I have to say on that matter. However, the 1986 Transformers: The Movie is a underrated classic that kicks the ass of anything Mr Bay ever did. But it is also infamous for one of the most shocking deaths in cartoon history.
Set in between Seasons 2 and 3 of the original series, this movie is a treat for Transformers fans. The voice acting is somewhat questionable, but the movie has great action, a kickass metal soundtrack and features voice acting from Hollywood heavyweights Leonard Nimoy, Eric Idle, Judd Nelson and Orson Wells (in his final film role). However, the film does have a much darker tone than the TV series – and even include character deaths! Yes, that right, characters DIE in this film! Ironhide, Prowl, Ratchet, Brawn, Windcharger, Wheeljack and Starscream all meet their end in this film. But NO ONE could have expected that the filmmakers would pull the ultimate asspull and kill off the most beloved character of all – Optimus Prime!
Near the beginning of the film, a final battle between Megatron and Optimus results in the Autobots leader being fatally wounded. Calling together his trusted Autobots, Prime passes on the Matrix (no not the Keanu Reeves film) to Ultra Magnus (who refuses it under grounds that he is no leader). After which he gives a final speech, turns black and his head falls to the side of his bed. And at that moment, every Transformers fan scream in disbelief!
Ok, so it may be a little weird to those that haven’t seen the series, but to any fan of the show, this was a real shock to the system. Optimus Prime was a badass warrior, but he was also a fatherly figure to the Autobots, willing to lay down his life to protect his troops and the humans that they lived alongside. Not to mention he could turn into a truck, which is pretty awesome. So why did the filmmakers kill off such a popular character? Blame Hasbro!
When the film was coming out, Hasbro were bringing out a new line of toys for the Transformers franchise, so they asked for certain characters to be killed off to bring them into the series – Optimus included. However the backlash that resulted was intense and fans were quick to voice their disapproval of his death. Even Peter Cullen, the actor that voiced Optimus Prime, was surprised at how loved the character was. In fact, the backlash was so huge that they even changed a scene in G.I.Joe The Movie. In that film, Duke was supposed to die, but instead they wrote it that he entered a coma - which he then woke from at the end.
The impact of Prime's death was probably on par with The Red Wedding from Game of Thrones. It’s a death that many fans still feel for today. So much so that, when the Nostalgia Critic did his Top 11 Saddest Nostalgia Moments, he didn’t include the death of Optimus Prime, which caused a lot of fans to lash out at him. He did make a joke about it in his next video, and even included it in one of his Top 11 Nostalgia Critic F*** Ups.
Optimus would eventually return to the Transformers cartoon, much to the delight of the fans – but this death will forever live in peoples’ minds as one of the most traumatic moments of their childhood. Mine included.
4. Gen’s Family in Barefoot Gen
Due to the somewhat disturbing content of this scene, I’ve decided not to include a picture of it. But just be warned that this section does have some parts that readers may find upsetting.
This one may be a bit of a stretch as I don’t know how many people have seen this film. But I wanted to include at least one Anime film on this list. I suppose it would be better to have a Studio Ghibli film in this list, and considering their recent announcement of their closure – or reorganisation – it would have been pretty easy to include one. However, I wanted to highlight this film as Barefoot Gen is, in my opinion, the most underrated of all Animes and one that gets criminally overlooked when people list their favourite Animes.
Starting off as a Slice of Life, it’s set around a boy called Gen and his life with his family, which is pretty decent for the most part. The first part of the film is Gen getting into mischief with his brother. However, a somewhat innocent story foreshadows a greater danger to come. Why? Because this film is set during the Hiroshima bombings.
When the bomb drops, the film doesn’t hold back showing the full horror that the hydrogen bomb is capable of. In fact, the fact that it’s an Anime shows the audience just what damage it could do. People are melted, vaporised – and there is one scene where a mother tries to shield her baby from the bomb and they are fused together. Gen survives and rushes back to his family, who are trapped in the house. He gets his mother out, but his father, sister and brother are buried under the rubble and the house is about to collapse on them. Worst still, the flames around them from the bomb threaten to burn them alive.
Gen and his mother make numerous attempts to save them and pull them out and we watch with terror, hoping that there would be a happy conclusion. But it is ultimately hopeless and he and his mother break down. Gen’s father, knowing that his wife is pregnant and seeing that they cannot escape this, tells Gen to leave them and protect his mother. Eventually having no choice but the accept, the house falls on Gen’s family and they are consumed by the fire, their screams ringing out.
Never has any Anime moved me as much as this. Gen seeing his friends burned alive by the bomb is one thing, but then having to watch as his family die and knowing he is powerless to do anything to help really rips at your heart and you feel Gen’s pain. What makes this scene especially poignant is that the creator of Barefoot Gen, Keiji Nakazawa actually lived through the Hiroshima bombings and, from what I can gather, he actually lost his family this way. I don’t know how much of this film is actually true or made up, but knowing that this is based on the first hand experience of someone that lived through it just hits you right in the heart in ways that few films can.
Sadly, Barefoot Gen isn’t shown that often, but it is fairly easy to get on DVD if you look for it. I highly recommend this film. It’s not easy to watch and will definitely bring out the tears quicker than a waterfall – but the film does serve as a grim reminder of the price of war and the lives that are destroyed because of it.
5. Ellie in Up
Yeah, you guys knew this one was coming. :) But then, as I’ve said, Up is and always will be the best Pixar movie ever – possibly even the best Disney movie of all time if you count Pixar and Disney as the same entity. One of my favourite love stories of all time, my plan is to watch this film without crying. Not succeeded yet.
At the beginning of Up, we meet Carl and Ellie as children. Carl being a huge fan of the explorer Charles Muntz finds a common friend in Ellie, who wishes to one day move her “clubhouse” to Paradise Falls. Becoming friends, Carl makes a promise to take her there one day.
After this we flash forward several years to when Ellie and Carl are married. We are then treated to a wonderful montage where we see them move into married life. Ellie and Carl settle into the “clubhouse”, making it their own home and they get jobs and eventually wish to start a family – only for Ellie to find that she is infertile, which is pretty sad in itself. Remembering the promise that Carl made, he and Ellie gather some money to pay for a trip to Paradise Falls, but real life gets in the way and they constantly have to abandon their plans (something we can all relate to). We watch as they get old, their love for each other never floundering. Eventually, they make enough money to travel to Paradise Falls and Carl tries to surprise Ellie – only for her to fall ill. It then goes from Ellie in hospital, to Carl at the end of her funeral, ending with him walking into the house – all alone.
Never have I seen a montage perfectly capture the love and pathos of a married couple within four minutes. Even though there is no dialogue, the music perfectly captures the love between the two of them and the audience feel what they feel. This is why it is especially painful for us when Ellie dies. It reminds us that we are only mortal, but love can live on forever. And when Carl tries to fulfil his promise to Ellie, it acts as testament to the love the two had for each other.
Another scene to mention would be the bit where he reads Ellie’s scrapbook near the end of the movie, seeing all the pictures of her and Carl in the “Things I have to do” section. But Ellie’s death is especially powerful as it is the driving force for Carl and invigorates him to do one more thing before he passes away. If that’s not an act of love then I dunno what is.
I dare ANYONE to see this opening montage without crying. If you can then you are either heartless or just a stronger person than me. This montage is one of the best I have ever seen in a film and Up is just one of the greatest love stories ever told. Proof that love never dies.
So now that tears have been shed, I’d love to hear from you guys – which character deaths in animated films made YOU cry the most? Please leave a comment below to let me know.
Thanks for reading guys.
All images above copyright of their respective owners
Today we’re trying something a little different. A piece I like to call... (add dramatic voice and hardcore thrash metal music here)
PANDRAGONDAN’S DISNEY DEATHMATCH!!!
Ahem, ok... it’s not going to be QUITE as bloody as the title makes it out to be, but... I couldn’t think of a witty title! XD
This is similar to a previous idea I had called Animated Musical Showdown – which I decided to stop in favour of this. For those new to this, don’t worry, you aren’t missing anything.
As many of you guys know, I love Disney – whether old school or new school. Having purchased a bundle of Disney films with works vouchers over the last few months, it got me thinking – what do I consider the best Disney films of all time? And this is where this comes in! In this blog, I will pit two Disney films against each other to try and determine which film is better (at least in my opinion). I’ll try and pick films with similar themes and ideas to try and keep it as fair as possible.
In each battle, there will be five “rounds”, of which I will talk about what I like, don’t like, etc, then award a point accordingly. Whoever has the most points at the end wins. Simple as that! And I’m keeping it to five so that there is no chance of a tie happening.
And just so you guys are aware, elements such as animation and awards/recognition won will NOT factor into my choices – only the categories mentioned in each one will matter.
Just a warning, this blog may contain spoilers for each story, so consider yourself warned. All opinions/conclusions reached are my own.
So with that being said, for my first Deathmatch, I’m putting up one of my favourite films of all time, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, against a modern reimagining of a famous fairytale, Tangled. Both are unique twists on classic stories – but which one holds up the most? Let’s find out.
ROUND 1 – Protagonists
Here I look at the protagonists of each film – Rapunzel for Tangled and Quasimodo for Hunchback – and decide which one of them is a more sympathetic and likeable character.
In many ways, both are very much alike and have similar back stories. Both are locked away from the outside world by their respective antagonist, who in turn pretends to be a “guardian” for them. Both of them wish to be outside amongst the people, but are warned the world is cruel and will reject them. And both of them have a love interested that is “killed” by the villain. But each character has differences that sets them apart from the other.
In Rapunzel’s case, she was born with the ability to heal through her hair, granted by a magic flower was fed to her mother at birth. Kidnapped by Mother Gothel as a child, who wished to use her healing powers to stop herself from aging, Rapunzel was locked away, never knowing who her real parents were. Every year, the castle would release lights into the sky in memory of the princess (and their parents hoping it would bring Rapunzel back to them) and Rapunzel was drawn to them, never knowing their true meaning. That’s a pretty tragic back story – and quite sad as she was torn away from loving parents, without ever knowing much of where she came from or the truth behind her being held. She was a prisoner without even realising it.
Quasimodo’s story is equally as tragic. His mother was a gypsy that was murdered by Frollo when he was a baby and Frollo was going to drown him – until the Archdeacon forced Frollo to keep him in penance for his sin. Forced to hide in the belltower, Frollo locked him away from the people of the world, telling him that his visage would frightened them and he would be persecuted. In many ways he has it a little harder than Rapunzel, because even with her long hair, at least she could fit in with the people of the world. Quasimodo is deformed and, unfortunately, people tend to be afraid of anyone who are “different”. It makes him just that little more tragic in my eyes as his appearance makes him a monster to everyone.
In terms of character, Rapunzel is loveable Princess. Though slightly naive (she was locked away for years so we can forgive her for that), she is capable to an extent and can look after herself. She did knock out Flynn with a frying pan after all and she even managed to stop a whole gang of thugs from killing Flynn. Not to mention her hair is just badass! It’s so long that she can use it to lift people up, use it as a rope or a swing. It can even heal people – that is pretty cool! However, she is a little bit of a damsel in distress (which I never really liked), but to be fair to her, she DOES save Flynn’s life in the end. It would have been nice if she was a little more proactive and maybe a bit tougher, but I did grow to love her and totally bought into her story.
Quasimodo is also a loveable character and equally as naive as Rapunzel (if not more so), but I have a bit of a soft side for the guy. He’s deformed and looks like a monster, however he is anything but. He’s artistic, has a beautiful singing voice and also very trusting – maybe a little too trusting. He was fooled by Frollo for many years and, when Esmerelda shows him kindness, he mistakes it for love – then becomes heartbroken when she goes for Captain Phoebus. Though easily frightened and manipulated, Quasimodo does possess superhuman strength (he was shown ripping off chains that were holding him, albeit with some effort) so he can fight for himself, but due to his shyness and low self-esteem he rarely fights back. But in the end, the people do come to accept him after they see he is not such a monster after all – after Frollo tries to burn down Paris.
It’s hard to choose between the two of them, as they both have tragic back stories and both are loveable. But, I’ll give the point to Quasimodo purely on the basis that his tragedy was based on his deformity, whereas Rapunzel was held capture for her magic hair. So, as much as I love Rapunzel, the point goes to Hunchback.
ROUND 2 – Antagonists
A hero is only as good as their villain – and both Tangled and Hunchback have some pretty nasty villains to boot. For Tangled we have Mother Gothel and for Hunchback we have Judge Claude Frollo. But which of them do I love to hate the most?
Firstly, I’d like to say that both these characters are somewhat unique amongst your typical Disney villains like Maleficent, Jafa and Ursula (to name a few) in that they don’t rely on magic to perform their deeds, which I think makes them more believable. Also, both these villains lock the main character away from the rest of the world and both of them also die by falling.
Mother Gothel is an aging hag of a woman that found a magic flower that she used every now and then to stop herself aging – the film hints at her being well over 400 years old. But when this flower was taken to use on the sick Queen, Rapunzel was born and the magic was held in her hair. Mother Gothel stole Rapunzel (in fairness to her, she did only intend to take just a lock of her hair – but realised that when her hair was cut, the magic was lost) and kept her locked in a tower, where she periodically visited her to use her magic to keep her young, keeping her locked away from the outside world. Geez, what a bitch!
Judge Claude Frollo is a fundamentalist xenophobe that seeks to have all the gypsies (who he considered sinful) cleansed from Paris. A devout man that sees himself doing the Lord’s work, he is willing to torture and murder people to achieve his goals. In his case, he never WANTED to keep Quasimodo alive – in fact he murdered Quasimodo’s mother and tried to drown him as a baby, but the archdeacon forced him to stop. Since then he’s kept Quasimodo away from the world, pretending that he is doing it for his own good.
In terms of character, Mother Gothel is the more “lighthearted” of the two, to an extent anyway. Most of the time she is sarcastic to Rapunzel, often putting her down and making fun of her like the mean girl she is. She talks down to Rapunzel with a condescending “mother knows best” tone – but man can she turn nasty when she wants to! She was even prepared to murder Rapunzel’s love interest and lock her away in darkness to keep her away from the rest of the world. Mother of the year she is not! But despite her wicked nature, she does occasionally get a few funny lines in now and then.
Frollo, by contrast, is much darker and takes himself a bit more seriously. In fact, one could argue that he is the darkest of all Disney villains. He murders and tortures, lusts over Esmerelda and even burns Paris in his search for the gypsies. And yet, in his own mind, he believes that he is doing God’s work. He sees himself as a holy avenger, sent to cleanse the world of sin. Ironically, whilst Quasimodo is viewed as a monster because of how he looks, Frollo actually is a monster because of the evil deeds he does. And yet he justifies his actions by claiming to be a good Christian – although whether he believes this and whether he is just using this as an excuse is open for debate. As Clopin states in the film "who is the monster, and who is the man". All these factors make Frollo much more interesting as a villain as unlike Mother Gothel (who was motivated by her own vanity and desire to cheat death), Frollo is motivated by his religion and his desire to see sin cleansed.
All these factors (plus the fact that Frollo was voiced by the incredible Tony Jay, who’s baritone voice adds a sinister threatening tone to the character) make Frollo a much more rounded villain. So, not surprisingly, I’m giving the point to Hunchback for this one.
ROUND 3 – Supporting Characters
Here I look at the supporting characters in the film. For Tangled I’ll be looking at Flynn Rider (aka Eugene Fitzherbert), Maximus the Horse, Pascal the chameleon and the thugs. For Hunchback it’s Esmerelda, Captain Phoebus, the gargoyles and Clopin.
Let me just start off by saying that the characters in Tangled are some of the best I’ve seen in a Disney film. Flynn Rider is actually my favourite Disney hero out of all of them – he’s a dashing rogue that seeks nothing but fame and fortune and comes across as quite arrogant and full of himself. But then when he meets Rapunzel, that kinda changes for him and he finds something else worth fighting for. Learning that his real name was Eugene and that he got his name from a character in a book was a nice twist as well and actually makes him a lot more believable as a character. Maximus, the horse, was just funny as hell to watch. The scenes between him and Flynn as they try to outdo each other are just entertaining and crack me up every time. Pascal... I gotta be honest, he didn’t do much for me. But the thugs were also very funny. They look like some of the toughest people you will ever meet, but they are just so overly camp and silly that you can’t help but smile, despite their frightening looks.
Now onto Hunchback – and yes, I am just going to say this now. Esmerelda is the sexiest Disney heroine ever in my opinion! Whether it’s just that she looks beautiful, the outfits she wears, or maybe it’s the fact that she’s voiced by Demi Moore, Esmerelda is a great character. She is tough and streetwise, but also gentle and sincere, especially to Quasimodo, who in many ways she shares his plight as she’s an outcast because of who she is. Oh, and her goat Djali is also entertaining to watch, that little goat kicks ass! (pardon the pun). In fact, Esmerelda can also fight when needed, making her tougher than most Disney Princesses. Can’t blame Frollo for wanting a piece of her. Captain Phoebus, whilst on the antagonistic side, is more heroic than Frollo is. He is a soldier that tries to do the right thing and eventually sees through Frollo’s wicked action, becoming ally to Quasimodo and lover to Esmerelda. Nice guy, but pretty much your standard hero. The gargoyles are a source of a lot of the humour in Hunchback and are a lighthearted touch in an otherwise dark movie, which I think helped balance the story. Clopin, the leader of the gypsies as he acts as a kind of narrator for the film, explaining through performance Quasimodo’s backstory. He is entertaining to watch, but is willing to do some pretty dark things to protect his people.
Whilst I like the characters in Hunchback, I have to say that the scenes with Flynn and Maximus are entertaining as hell to watch. So this time, Tangled gets the point.
ROUND 4 – Music
Now let’s look at the music in each film. I’m quite lucky here because both films are scored by Alan Menken – who is a god amongst film composers in my eyes!
The music in Tangled is a little more modern than Hunchback, incorporating a lot of modern day pop elements and folk. Not surprising seeing as Rapunzel was voiced by pop singer Mandy Moore. Now some reviews say that the songs in Tangled aren’t that good, but I disagree. When Will My Life Begin is a catchy, upbeat number where Rapunzel wonders when she will leave the tower and begin her life. Mother Knows Best is a jazzy number by Mother Gothel with dark undertones and becomes really dark later on. I See The Light is a beautiful ballad to listen to and actually brought me to tears – not to mention the scene itself (with Flynn and Rapunzel on the boat at the lights are raised up) is just amazing to watch with all the flying lights. I would actually go so far to say that it has more heart and is more entertaining than Let It Go from Frozen (sorry guys). My favourite one though is I Got a Dream, sung by the thugs. It was a fun musical number and seeing all kinds of barbarians singing and dancing (including a scene where a thug with a hooked hand played piano) made me crack up no end. Overall, the music is brilliant, has a lot of heart and is pretty upbeat for the most part, but dark when it wants to be.
But no matter how dark the songs in Tangled they are nowhere near as dark as the songs on Hunchback. Incorporating a lot of themes from religion to xenophobia, the music in Hunchback is often foreboding, but also full of pathos. It has a couple of typically upbeat Disney showtunes such as A Guy Like You and Topsy Turvey, but the real power comes from songs like Out There, where Quasimodo laments his desire to be amongst the real people – and God Help The Outcasts, which is a heart moving song about Esmerelda praying for her people’s salvation, interjected with people praying to God for rather mundane and material means. These songs don’t hesitate to get the emotions riled and the tears flowing. And if that doesn’t do it for you, the end credits song Someday, sung by Eternal, will most definitely hit you in the feels.
However, there is ONE song in this film that I think, without question is the greatest Disney song ever made. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about – Hellfire! Man I can’t get enough of this song – it’s powerful, dark, twisted and has a lot of mature themes in it. I love how the song perfectly captures the many sides of Frollo, his zealous belief in his faith, his secret lust for Esmerelda, his growing insanity as he believes he is turning to sin – and then his final dark wish that he will burn everyone and everything to get what he desires (you know, for kids XD). It kinda foreshadows Frollo’s eventual fate in many ways as when he dies, there is fire like imagery, symbolising his fall to hell. Not to mention that Tony’s Jay’s vocals are just chilling to listen to. No matter how many times I listen to this song, I still get goosebumps! As I’ve said before on previous blogs, this song isn’t just better than Let It Go in my opinion – it eats it for breakfast! Menzel, take a hike!
Awww... why you gotta be so mean?
I’m sorry, Elsa. Do you want to build a snowman? That cheer you up?
Just promise me the snowman won’t be as annoying as Olaf.
Anyway. Moving on...
So with all that that being said, it should come as no surprise that I’m giving this point to Hunchback. Even though I love the songs in Tangled, I just can’t get over how powerful they are in Hunchback.
ROUND 5 – Story and overall theme
In this last section, I look at the story and overall themes of the film. What I think works and what doesn’t work.
Tangled is a really enjoyable fantasy romp, with colourful landscapes, vibrant characters and entertaining songs. It has plenty of heart with some really moving scenes – the love story between Rapunzel and Flynn I actually would say is the best of any Disney film. The idea of Rapunzel being held back by Mother Gothel is a symbol of breaking free and discovering your true potential, and not being bullied by abusive parents. I just wish that Rapunzel wasn’t so much of a damsel in distress and had a bit more strength to her, like Esmerelda. Sure, Esmerelda got captured as well, but at least she could fight and look after herself a lot better. But overall, I say Tangled had a strong plot and is easily accessible.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame may be a little harder to take for some people. It’s much darker than other Disney films with a lot of mature themes, but does have the usual Disney humour that makes it entertaining for younger audiences. For me though, I think Hunchback has a much stronger message. It’s a story about acceptance and finding your way in the world, regardless of race or appearance. It also highlights racism and the dangers of fundamentalism, but doesn’t completely say that religion is the enemy. It’s heart warming as much as it is heart wrenching and carried across by some brilliant characters and performances. It’s a story that I personally can relate to, often I feel isolated as I don’t seem to fit in with any particular trend or sub-culture.
So even though I do love Tangled, I have to go with what I think has the more meaningful story. And The Hunchback of Notre Dame just has more emotion and a stronger message for me. So therefore, the point goes to Hunchback.
And at the end of this battle, with 4-1, the outright winner is The Hunchback of Notre Dame!
So does this mean I don't like Tangled? Not at all. In fact, as I said in the blog, I love Tangled and think it's one of the best Disney films of all time. I just feel that The Hunchback of Notre Dame has more emotional appeal and a stronger moral. Both films are amazing in their own way - but there can only be one winner.
Agree with this? Disagree? Please comment below to let me know what you think. And please suggest any ideas for Disney films you’d like seen put together.
Next time on Pandragon Disney Deathmatch – the King of the Jungle goes up against the Queen of the Box Office.
Be prepared – to let it go.
All images use are owned by Disney. No copyright infringement is intended.