Category Archives: Direct-to-Video

DTV Wonders Balto II Wolf Quest

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To start it off everything looks different.  Balto is chasing or running from a raven through perilous ice and some weird wolves are also there.

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Already this is just nonsense.  Unlike the tenth The Land Before Time film where the opening dream had plenty of reason in the insanity and clear excitement, this is just obvious foreshadowing of something at the end.  Boris wakes Balto up leading to a funny casting choice.  In the first film Boris was voiced by Bob Hoskins, Eddy Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.  Now he is voiced by Roger Rabbit’s actor from the same film, and he does a terrible job here.  He never comes off as wise or funny, and his humor is bad.  Balto is voiced by The Brain from Pinky and the Brain, and he is doing a very good impression of Kevin Bacon, and he still has fine range like telling Boris “I hate it when you get dramatic.”

They get to a totem pole as Boris goes on and on and on about Balto’s dream being important, and a small dog takes way to long to say Jenna and Balto had puppies.  How did they not notice she was pregnant, but this is still a logical next step for the franchise, and I was happy to see this despite the trailer showing it off.  Also the historical Balto was neutered.

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Jenna now looks notably different, but I am okay with that, and she is voiced by Ariel and Thumbelina.  After a few more dreams that I can still find no real foreshadowing in Boris finally does something funny and Jenna reveal the puppies will be adopted tomorrow.  The main plot finally starts, as Boris says Aleu, a puppy, looks more wolf than Balto does.  Some have criticized this by saying she has blue eyes, which are impossible in wolves, but I doubt many people know this besides her dad.

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They are then sold in the medicine box from the first film while the song “Taking you Home” is played.  I have cried when watching it before, but other times I am indifferent to it.  The non-wolf looking dogs are adopted leaving only Aleu, so I guess the people did not love Balto as much as I thought.  I would want his kid who resembles him. Muk and Luk show up, and I know I watched this a few times just to try and remember who is who.  Also they are somehow still cubs, while Aleu is full grown.

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Pinky, this magnet will accelerate her aging process.
After some badly synchronized sound to lip movement a raven (later confirmed to be a spirit guide) distracts her leading to a hunter nearly killing her.  She runs to the hunter thinking he wants to play with a dog, which is obviously scaring him.  Balto chases him away, and apparently Aleu is unaware she looks like a wolf.  I guess The Brain did something to her brain.  For having wolf heritage he gave to her Aleu denounces her father and runs off.  I was always bored of this scene when I was younger, as it is just predictable.
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A few future spirit guides are introduced in the background. Then Balto’s next dream actually has foreshadowing and good music, but now a voice calls Balto her son and mentions many future spirit guides.  Cool it with the supernatural elements.  Supernatural has less supernatural than this and the original film had almost none.  Balto wakes up wasting time assuming Aleu is back apparently forgetting the last scene. He then goes looking for his daughter.
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    Balto’s help from spirit guides is at first very unimaginative, just following them, but things get better eventually with the fox. It is a scene that is incredibly obvious she will randomly knock him in the water, where she tries to get Balto to just let the current move him, and that is part of what parenting is about, adapting with change instead of trying to fight it, but there are still three issues. This spirit’s plan is overly complex, why not just let him keep following the raven, as it can walk or fly, and I do not watch Balto to see a fantasy.
     Also the only way to make sense of the next wolverine clan scene is that other spirits are against him, but that is never brought up again.  Even worse there are two more scenes with Boris, Muk, Luk, and Jenna that go nowhere and focus on characters who do not speak for the entire second half of the film, they just are shown looking worried.  This film could easily have gotten a small enough run time to be an hour long tv special (thirty minutes off).
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    With thirty minutes left the villains are introduced and things finally get interesting. Some newer versions of the first film’s minions show up.  They get almost no screen time or personality, but Mark Hamill voices Niju, the main villain.  He is aggressive and evil, yet he does want what is best for the clan. His flaw is the relatable one of being scared of change, and he is the film’s best character.
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 He decides Balto and Aleu are a threat, and he sends the minions to deal with them, after some useless help from the raven Balto is being triple teamed while having to save his daughter who literally just trips off the peninsula they are on.  The rest of the clan lead by Nava (same actor as the evil police chief in An American Tail 3) saves them with his supernatural powers to control killer whales.  With the same powers he knows the Caribou have migrated away and will not return. He also says they will be lead by “The one who is wolf but does not know.” This obviously means Aleu, but everyone assumes it means Balto.  Niju counters leaving based on them being lead by a non-wolf
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 Many of the clan go with Niju, and then a really simple song about balance is sung by everyone. Balto literally goes back and forth on helping or going home, but then he and Aleu have a dream about the ice forming a bridge to where they need to go, and that happening is enough of a sign in the morning.  I would have ben on board as son as my leader could turn into a tree.  They all go across except for Niju who insists they will all die away from their longtime home.  Soon Nava’s piece of ice floats away, and Aleu swims after him, Niju also swims there to kill them both.
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After an Aleu swimming scene that also goes nowhere Balto arrives to save the day.  They then realize the other wolves are drifting away, and them not having a clear leader is portrayed as a travesty that only one of those four can fix.  I hate that idea.  It is not as bad as in The Lion King, but I hate the concept of a born leader and everyone else cannot do it.  Leadership is not inherent, it has to be mastered through experience like everything else. From this group you have an old wolf about to die of old age, two half-breeds used to people that have never lead wolves, and a fighter with bad decision making skills.  No way are these the only or best options.  Balto tells Niju to swim there, but he panics, changes away from his Joker voice and looks at his own home, where he ends up due to the ice breaking.  Aleu insists on going to lead them alone, and that is what happens.   Besides some brief psychic moments she was useless, and as a domesticated dog will doubtfully survive long.  Balto and Nava go back to the mainland, and in a scene I do like Nava says he will find Niju and continue the clan with him.  I love the moral here that evil can be redeemed. The film ends with the reveal that the great spirit is Balto’s wolf mom.
     I know this movie has fans, but I am not one. I heard this film was almost in theaters, and it has many problems of a thereatical film like inconsistencies due to too many people working on it.  The supernatural elements make this feel nothing like the first film.  Many scenes I skipped because they go nowhere. Unlike the sequels to An American Tail and The Land Before Time many characters from the original were put in that contribute nothing or incredibly little to the plot.  This is worse than The Land Before Time 13. Is it as bad as The Lion King II ?   No, it has a better moral and consistent theme, that we must learn to accept change, as it is inevitable.  It was shown with Balto as a parent and Niju as a citizen of a clan.  It also has less bad connections with the original, and it least has an okay last thirty minutes.  Also the acting is considerably better than in the Lion King 2 and the average character is much better mostly thanks to Balto and Niju.
     While I hate this film, I know it has fans.  For many fans a female protagonist with no love interest is appealing, and I know some viewers love the supernatural elements.  For viewers that enjoy those this is a film to watch.
 

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The big debate from this film came from the film saying the white wolf is Balto’s mother.  Well as a kid I had always toned out by the ending and never noticed that part.  Now I can see that they look nothing alike and should just be considered different characters.

DTV Wonders An American Tail IV The Mystery of the Night Monster

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An American Tail Four was made shortly after the third one with the same cast, except for Mama’s Mousekewitz’s actor, the same writer and director.  It takes place after the third film and… Why is this an American Tail film?  Fievel is really out of character, and most of the other important things are done by a new character, Nellie Brie.  It has little to no talk of America.  I think this makes more sense as a Chipmunks movie or something new.

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Meh, too bright

 

Unlike the other films in the franchise I actually have a tad of nostalgia for this, since I saw the beginning until “Get the facts” on TV, and like Fievel’s American Tails I had no interest in more.  In fact it is why I did not borrow the first one from Blockbuter when mom asked if I wanted to see it.  My target demographic mind found this opening nightmare scene dull.  Well it begins with a not scary nightmare, with a thankfully good score from Michael Tavera.  Basically Fievel is a coward in this film, and that is one reason why being An American Tail film was a mistake.  At least Dekker is much better at this out of character Fievel than he was last film.  In the morning Papa talks about how great a reporter (Nellie Brie) is, and Fievel wonders how brave she is.  All Fievel has done after all is defeat a corrupt police chief, keep a clear head amidst booby traps in order to solve them, which these same people made a movie about.  Not to mention every thing he did in the first film.  Since Tanya works at the newspaper office Mama demands she takes Fievel to wok so Nellie Brie can convince him there is no monster.  She must do it as Tony got her the job (Tony is later established as being a nobody there), and Tony is Fievel’s friend. Did the makers pay attention to the third film where he eats with the entire family?

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The next few parts at least have some really good mouse world parts like them using a mail chute as a train, and I enjoy those.  It also has some music from the seventh The Land Before Time film, but getting to work takes up way too much of a seventy-five minute film.  Fievel briefly meets Nellie Brie due to some more out of character cowardice, which does not really affect the story anyway.  They meet Tanya’s boss whose contributions to the plot are also completely unimportant besides assigning Brie to work with Fievel, because he wants to bug her, renaming Fievel “Rembrandt,” and making headlines that make the whole town scared, since apparently everyone is seeing the night monster.  After that the boss repeatedly shows up for useless scenes that go nowhere.  This leads to Tony and Tiger trying to sell papers, Fievel is wondering why he got a new name in three out of four movies, Tanya is now always super embarrassed, and  hordes of extras working at the sweatshop in Three are now working at the newspaper, so I guess the strike did not work so well, and Brie seems to love insulting people.  Also the mice built a wall that successfully keeps the cats out.

 

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I guess he was less controversial in the mouse world

 

I plan for that to be y first and last Trump joke.  Brie sings to Fievel “Get the facts.”  She is voiced by Susan Boyd known for her singing and for acting…  She has no acting experience except for extras, and she almost always sounds the same.  Dekker is outperforming her big time.  The writer Len Uhley also wrote The Land Before Time 7 and he takes many shots at this film there, so I think that supports my theory that this was not a fun film to make.  The song keeps saying that knowing details about something makes it less scary, but based on my study of demos that is really false.  Also the song is bad, and repeats the main lyrics way too much.  This is contradicted with “Beyond the Mysterious Beyond” where they instead sang about how mystery makes life more interesting, that answers raise more questions, and we must accept not knowing many things.  The screenwriter is debunking the nonsense for me, thanks Uhley.  They interview a few people whose homes were destroyed by the monster, and many mice have been kidnapped.

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A poodle named Madame Mousey is a fortune teller who offers some sort of essence that will keep the monster away.  I guess the writers wanted their own Scooby-Doo film.  When asked why Brie does not believe in the monster she responds with, “Not unless I see it with my own eyes.”  How will Uhley counter this in Land Before Time 7?

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“If they don’t see it with their own eyes it doesn’t exist.   What limited thinking.”  I now like that film even more.  The show then cuts to one of Fievel’s nightmares about Yasha dying, but the problem is later scenes will feel like a fake nightmare instead of real.  At the next attack Fievel and Brie find a cat’s hairball.

Tail 7.pngIt is then revealed that Mousey is working with cats as a Scooby-doo scam to get rich, while the cats sell the mice to other cats with a mechanical monster (big surprise as the trailers ruined that part).   For “Mystery” everything is wrapped up less than thirty minutes into the film.  Well Mousey is a poor villain.  They repeat the same gags with her like characters pronouncing her name as “Mouse-ey,” being mistaken for a rat, or her getting very angry only to calm down before talking.  At least somewhat smart green cat comes off as competent and fairly murderous making him by far the best villain.  Mousey shows her dominance with a villain song.  fortunately Michelle Brourman and Amanda McBroom wrote the songs, but unfortunately this is just dull, and hard to understand.  She wants to remove Brie, and instead of just using the monster on her at night she leads a direct trail back to herself by telling Tony a spot, and that leads to Brie and Fievel going there.  Well Tony is mad about not being assigned to reporting it (partly as he is not a reporter), and save Fievel and Brie from the monster by dropping a chandelier on it.  They also find a jewel from Mousey’s collar.  Tony hopes they have more chandeliers in the future, as the others note a terrible smell.

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This leads them to the dog park from some sort of thing to do with contacts, and five and a half minutes of screen time later they find out that Mousey is a lost poodle, which… somehow proves she is behind it.  In the process they meet some dogs, and have a song, “Who Will.” Best of the movie, but way too basic in lyrics.  It does however, stick out as the only song of the franchise where Tony sings. The lost dog poster means nothing until they connect the dots based on Tony’s tip coming from Mousey.  The newspaper writes that she is behind it, and leaves the papers vulnerable except for the boss, Brie, and Tanya who stay late to work.  Meanwhile hordes of captured mice try to escape, as for some reason they have not been sold yet.   With machine broken green cat wants to rebel against Mousey (good idea), but she says she is needed to fix the machine, and she will then destroy the papers.  Also Brie is talked like she is super famous, when reporters are not famous.

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They first kidnap Fievel’s family, despite it doing nothing to help them.  Seriously if they did not then Fievel would have gone to bed, and the villains would have won.  Way to ruin your own plans by being pointlessly evil.  Well Tiger and Tony show up, and they decide that Tiger has to get the dogs to help, as in a surprisingly hard to follow storyline they want to catch Mousey to get her back to her owner.  Meanwhile Papa needlessly angers his captures making them want to eat him.  Tony and Fievel arrive, but Fievel insists the best thing to do is get Brie despite her showing no skill at quick thinking, while Fievel and Tony have.  Even worse there was no need to take up that much time, because Tony then just gets everyone rescued all by himself.   He does it with enough water that all of the mice should be very dead.  When Fievel gets back to the newspapers Mousey, and a few cats with the machine destroy the papers and capture the late workers, but Fievel electrifies Mousey, and then a  chase scene ensues.  Thanks to Fievel distracting it Brie is able to destroy the monster by using the mailing tube to shoot some machine parts at it.  With Fievel actually acting like Fievel he easily defeats the only serious villain, the green cat, and the dogs show up thanks to Tiger (a little late there Cavalry) finishing the cats and Mousey off.  Shouldn’t the mice be worried about dogs, which kill mice being in their wall?  A dull brief scene at the beach ends the film.

The songs are bad, the plot is too Scooby-Doo, the mystery is not a mystery, the lesson about bravery is extremely basic, and this might be worse than The Land Before Time 13.  It lacks any of its complex moral attempt and scattered but some good scenes.  It has inferior humor, but it gets its major attacks on its own franchise out of the way quickly, and it is overall better acted.  It also has more complexity in its plot, and it is actually pretty fun to make fun of this, so I think it is a little better.  It is certainly not as bad as The Lion King 2, but certainly bad.  This was a poor way for a franchise to end, and Universal Cartoon Studios quickly went back to the Land Before Time, and a new franchise, Balto. 

 

 

 

 

DTV Wonders: An American Tail III


 

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First thing is this could be more accurately titled An American Tail I 1/2, as they made the very understandable choice to be a sequel in New York instead of the Wild West.  Fievel’s American Tails was a TV show that came out to directly after the second movie, and it stank.  Also the first film made considerable more money despite four years of inflation and renewed interest in animation, so it takes place in New York and is modeled after the first film.   Both the franchises’s wiki and TV tropes says this movie recons the second film, but that is false.  The second movie started with Fievel dreaming of being in the Wild West and being a famous gunfighter, which is way more accurate to the opening dream of the second film than the actual second movie.  That gives it a connection to both films.  It is directed by Larry Latham (nothing else important) and written by Len Uhley (writer of The Land Before Time Seven).

I heard (with an unreliable source) that The Land Before Time Six The Secret of Saurus Rock was supposed to be the last Land Before Time film, and both an American Tail DTV sequels came out with two Alvin and Chipmunk movies cam out within two years.  Considering they went back to The Land Before Time so quickly after these came out I think that production liked making Land Before Time films more.

The commercials are very similar to those in The Land Before Time Six only it has one for October Sky.

Tail 3.png                                 The first song is “We Live in Manhattan,” and this song actually really sticks out for the studio.  Unlike The Land Before Time, An American Tail is a musical, in fact this film got accused of using too few songs.  Also this is a crowd song, and I just counted that four of the forty-four songs in The Land Before Time franchise are crowd songs.  The song itself is really forgettable unless the viewer already knows the plot, as they sing about how happy they are to work, which will be contradicted later.  When it cuts to the family more good news, they got most of the actors back.  Papa, Mama, Tony, and Tiger all have heir actors back leaving Fievel and Tanya as the only exceptions.  This is Tanya’s third actress, so it is not like that is new.  For Fievel they cast Littlefoot’s singing voice from the fifth film and full voice all the way to Nine, Thomas Dekker.  That does not make it a good choice, as Littlefoot like Dekker’s voice is less assertive and more meek.  Ironically Dekker’s Littlefoot in the sixth film is more like Fievel than he is in the next An American Tail film.  The basic plot is first revealed that the working conditions are too hard (they had fourteen hour days then), and Papa is overworked along with most of the blue collar workers.  This scene mainly works due to how it obviously does take a toll on the family, yet they are still proud Americans due to America’s many chances to get ahead.

I love America.

If someone is not an American I think they will not care for this much mostly because it is very American dream focused and loses the parts from the first film about being foreign immigrants.  Also I keep unintentionally playing the game of guessing whether the music is from the first film (“Somewhere out there” plays frequently) or which Land Before Time movie.         

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Fievel, Tony, and Tiger then find a treasure map (and remind me that the old subways were powered by a fan).  Some fans have wondered why Tony is hanging out with little Fievel, but I always just presumed that saving the mouse population of a city brings very good friendship bonds.  They bring it to Dr. Dithering who realizes it is from the Delaware Indians.  His assistant is a fat mouse named Scuttlebutt.  Why do you love names that are so hard to spell Uhley?  First Pterano and Sierra and now these two.  Scuttlebutt’s grumpiness is pretty funny, and they decide to go on a treasure hunt for whatever is down there, but Tony quickly realizes he is late for work, and the main villains, his and Papa’s bosses, are introduced.

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The lesser villains want to fire him, but the main one (middle of course) wants to keep him around thinking it will make him the definition of punctual if he gets to keep him job.  Yes robber barons are the villains, and they are mice, not cats.  Earlier mice were immigrants and cats were established Americans, so I guess with the old rich gone thanks to Fievel these guys took over.   It is later established they also took a week’s pay from him, and then shown that they own the police and Scuttlebutt.  Also they have an overly long scene about getting Mama to let Fievel go look for the treasure.  Thus Tiger, Fievel, Dithering, Tony, and Scuttlebutt are going.

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No wonder he hates his boss if that is what he constantly has to do.  At least Fievel constantly encourages him.  They then get stuck in an exciting and comedic booby trap scene, which is probably too cartoony.  The best part is Scuttlebutt giving his boss all the supplies and leaving until he realizes the supplies are a great shield.

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They eventually get through and find an underground Indian civilization.  Based on the pictures I just saw of the Delaware tribes these clothes look accurate except for the feathers.  The chief discusses how they hid to avoid the upper worlds greed from the Europeans, and in a nice touch Scuttlebutt yawns throughout it.  One criticized aspect is that Tony was falling in love with Bridget in one, and in a cameo he was showed married to her in two.  In this film he flirts with Cholena, the chief’s daughter.  I explain this as he temporarily broke up with Bridget, and then they got back together.  The Indians give them a feast, but Scuttlebutt is caught stealing food.  At least steal potentially valuable items you idiot thief.  Oddly if Scutlebutt was not prone to dumb mistakes and pushed around so much he could be a great villain.  This leaves Fievel turning on his American ways considering them to be centered on greed.  Cholena counters that the American Dream is great despite some not “taking it to heart.”  The theme is advancing your own life is good, as long as it does not get in the way of others living their life.  It is very basic to me, but definitely something everyone I know has problems with acting on.

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This leads to the film’s only remembered song “Anywhere in your Dreams.”  It is better than any from two, but inferior to all songs from one.  It does have very good visuals, and the singing voices are very good.  Fievel and Cholena come up with a plan for Cholena to come with them to the surface to see if it is kind enough for the Delaware tribe to return.  Unfortunately Fievel tempts fate by asking “besides, what can happen?”

First problem is the main villains now have a complete monopoly, and when a worker speaks out against the new longer hours he is beaten by the police.  This movie seems to have too much plot.  Papa speaks against revolting and villains somehow interpret it as being against them.  Yeah, how did these idiots get a monopoly?  Well after showing Cholena enjoying New York dressed in some of Tanya’s clothes the main five villains are discussing plans as Scuttlebutt (clearly their second most useful member) told them about the Indians, but the police chief is certain his little army would beat them if they ever invaded, but absolute main villain has a plan that is actually good.  Make everyone think they are being invaded, and they will be set up as the heroes who discovered and stopped it.  Again teaching children that people in authority are likely evil is a good message they have to learn eventually, but the first film already taught it.  They then sing a poor villain song.  William Anderson wrote the first song as well, and he did not do a good job.  They tell the workers about in an invasion from within New York, a young female spying on them, and traitors in their midst.  They also appeal to it being their American duty, and the workers are off.  The police lead them and hand out weapons.  They also go after Papa, as Scuttlebutt told them he is harboring Cholena.

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Well Fievel got his escape ability from somewhere, and Papa gets away.

Dr. Dithering is captured and surprised when Scuttlebutt does not help him.  Next time carry some of the load you bad boss.  Papa reunites with Mama and Tanya saying he will get help, and since help is not Gussie I assume she died between movies.  Cholena is caught, but Fievel and Tony save her by… Smashing a window on the cops.  More on that later.

Scuttlebutt and the Robber Barons put Dithering on a trial to be made guilty, but Tiger (the help) saves him, and blows away members of the mob.  This could be seen as contradicting Tiger’s cowardice in Two, except standing up to cats is no where near as heroic as standing up to mice, and Two just made that character flaw up anyway.  The only problem is Tiger barks at first, which is just a terrible continuity nod.  Papa then turns the workers on the Robber Barons, by pointing out how they have always been their enemies and are now trying to kill dithering.  After escaping the villains send the police to destroy the tribe worried they will side with the workers in an uprising, and Scuttlebutt is forced with them as a guide, and Scuttlebutt and the chief are very funny together.

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Fievel, Tanya, and Tony are taking Cholena back underground, and Fievel always being the hero finds out how to skip the booby traps.  The police go though them, but all live.  These traps are nearly useless.  The chief is certain they will die, but through Fievel’s plan of throwing food at them the police all run off but the chief and Scuttlebutt who is being held back.  Despite sounding dumb the food is nearly as big as the mice are, they are worn out, and they do not know the Indians have no normal weapons.  New plan is Fievel, Tony, and Tanya will blow up the pathway, as the Indians can still return in a future date with other secret routes.  They have little Fievel, nearly adult Tony, and in between their ages Tanya, so naturally little Fievel is given the job of using the match.  Well, Scuttlebutt and the chief show up.  Scuttlebutt is overweight and weak, while the chief is incredibly muscular so naturally Tanya and Tony double team the non threat leaving Fievel to face the powerhouse.  It is no harder than facing Warren in the first film.  In a fine fight scene Fievel beats him hard enough to regain the match and throw it at the fuse presumably killing the chief and Scuttlebutt in the explosion, which nearly kills Fievel.  A universal workers’ strike organized by Papa and Tiger taking over as police ruin the Robber Baron’s power.

This is too comedic of a tone for its dark plot, but at least it has some good comedy and a child friendly lesson on the good and bad of the American dream and economics that only has boring parts in the beginning along with a complex plot that always has something going at multiple angles.  It is not as good as The Land Before Time II.  It has inferior designs due to no dinosaurs and well inferior songs than what The Land Before Time franchise had been giving.  I think it is around the quality of the eighth film in the series.  On the bright side it does not feel like a Disney, but instead a Bluth like Universal Cartoon Studios film helping the studio to have an identity beyond The Land Before Time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DTV Wonders of Summer 2017

School is done meaning DTV wonders is returning.  The first step is to edit some older posts for spelling errors.  I will also redo The Land Before Time 14, 13, and 12 in the style I started using for 11.  I may do the same for Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island.

For new videos they will be done in this order.

An American Tail III

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It will be followed by the fourth film in the series.

After that will be Balto II

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It will be followed by the third film in the series.

Afterwards will be Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase

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After this it is time to return to Disney with The Lion King 1 1/2.

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This will be continued with Aladdin 2.

I will then work on more Warner Brothers films afterward.

DTV Wonders: Dragonheart a New Beginning

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Sure I have a glaring very negative review, but I have mostly reviewed DTV sequels where they work nearly best, as an animated film.  The place they would natural work worst is as a live action fantasy to a film that a sequel just feels wrong, like Dragonheart.  As a live action film they cannot simply replace actors, and with a  lower budget key special effects would be cheaper, and it is a harder to simply adopt a cheaper style.

The one returning presence is this film has the same producer as the original.  The film is directed by Doug Lefler, who besides this has directed no movies, but at least he directed some episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journies, and The Last Legion seven years later.  By direct to video standard this was an expensive film, as it cost 11.4 million dollars (one fifth of the original’s budget), and based on what I heard that is way more than an animated sequel.  A live action fantasy film is the worst thing to make work with a low budget, but sometimes looks are deceiving, but sadly this is not one of those times.  I think what this movie needed was mystery, and it gave none.

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For the viewers who will not see the original Dragonheart, or need their memory refreshed it ends with the Dragon, Draco, one of the two main characters dying.  This makes further adventures hard.  This film takes place years alter, and through exposition old Bowen got this egg from his old cave.  Apparently Draco who had been away from his cave for twelve years never checked on the egg or told Bowen about it despite having ample time before dying.  Also it is specifically mentioned Bowen found it right before dying of old age.  For being on his death bed Bowen looks incredibly strong.  The egg hatched in Brother Gilbert’s monastery, which is now controlled by Friar Peter.  Also there is a two tailed comet and according to a prophecy (no explanation for whether it is reliable) says that when it passes the moon in a week an evil will use a dragon’s heart.  Finally a sable boy named Geoff wants to be a night.  Despite having quite a bit of tell, do not show the exposition is actually not a weakness.  The events are both shown and told later, and it is surprisingly both quick and easy to follow.

The film’s real opening is Geoff watching the knights pass, as Friar Peter reminds him to accomplish his chores.  We then get to a problem with a lack of unity in plot.  Quickly the film cuts to Lord Osric being promoted to main advisor, and it is practically stated by the narrator the king is suffering from a mysterious mental illness caused by Osric, and Osric is running the kingdom.  Osric can actually be kind of entertaining, but for everything else this film needed a mysterious villain instead of an obvious one.  To describe his basic plan is that he wants a Dragonheart to make him immortal.  For now he is settling for simple power, and everyone in the kingdom will wear a tunic color coded based on class.  He will also make everyone live by the old code, which is actually quite villainous, as Bowen was against that since it cannot be forced.

 

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Mansel, our narrator, is a monk in charge of watching the young dragon, but Geoff gets by him to explore a place that he knows Mansel refuses to talk about, hence it must be important.  He finds a sword and…

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bad special effects.  His name is Drake, and drake as never been outside or done anything that dragons are expected to do.

I know I am changing to different character too much, but that is because the film changes around every thirty seconds, and I cannot talk about drake and Geoff’s next discussion without first revealing how bad Friar Peter.  Kwon and Lian, two strangers from the East, arrive to discuss the prophecy.  They heard about Drake due to Brother Gilbert’s old writings about dragons and want to stay until the prophecy’s time is gone.  First Friar Peter calls Brother Gilbert moderately dumb, okay.  He then calls him a bad poet. what? Brother Gilbert is quoting The King James Bible over six hundred years before it will be written probably meaning in the Dragonheart Universe his old poetry was used to make it.  Worst of all friar Peter says he does not believe in dragons, due to the Bible.  I have only read the Bible three times, and I know there are hordes of dragons in it described as real beasts.  Friar Peter asks them to see Osric, and he asks them to leave to avoid a peasant panic.  If he was not an obvious villain the audience would see him as a reasonable authority figure with a classist flaw.  Mansel tells Drake Friar Peter is dead, presumably struck dead by God.  Drake takes the news badly, but he does go outside the next day making his mood seem better than usual.

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In outrage at being deemed a commoner with no chance at moving up and becoming a knight Geoff throws his tunic off a cliff and demands that Drake fly him away  Drake refuses and Geoff goes to get his tunic except he gets cornered by some of Osric’s men who are angry at him for not having his uniform tunic.  Basically they are running things like high school with lashings instead of demerits.  Also the secret dragon talked in plain view where the Easterners saw him, and they decide to save Geoff as he can lead them to the dragon.  Lian unarmed wipes out all of the knights, which is probably the worst fight scene I have ever seen.  It does not make Lian seem awesome, but Osric’s minions look like incredibly weak.  It also last a reallllllllllllllly long time.  This whole horrible fight is practically useless except giving them a reason to be allies, s Geoff is again corned by knights and knocked off a cliff.  This time Drake lies and saves him, and Geoff thanks him by telling him to pull quite so hard.  To make it worse the flying effects are really bad.  Already no one is likeable with the possible exception of Mansel (he has nothing important to do, but he offers some comedy), the story is really predictable, and the action and special effects are really bad.

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Everyone saw it, and the peasants are mad, but obvious villain to the rescue.  He wants Drake as “Protector of the Realm,” and Geoff is now in a huge position of power.  He tells them to let the Easterners stay, and can now wear a red tunic of a knight.  This flaw does not really go anywhere, but Geoff has a problem with only accepting something if it suits him.  When the tunic marks him as a peasant he hates it.  When it marks him as important he loves it.  When Osric considers him unimportant he hates him, and when Osric values him he thinks Osric s better than Drake.  I do not think this goes anywhere other thank making Geoff seem selfish, but it is at least fun to notice and shows potential with a better script.

Mansel being the narrator decides he had better become important.  He says Drake is the subject of the prophecy.  Geoff says Drake is too innocent.  Mansel has a comeback that the prophecy states it will use a dragon, but Geoff says he will protect drake, and finally Mansel accuses Geoff of helping it.  If not for the narration I would have no idea these two are supposed to be best friends.  Also by not describing everything Geoff is being edited to be way nicer than he is.  Kwon and Lian decide to kill Drake, but Drake knows something I wrong, and ignores them.  They then decide Drake gets to live, as he passed a test.  Again Geoff was too busy training to be a knight with Osric to notice making his protecting abilities beyond horrible.  Also Osric has gained his trust with bare minimum flattery.

The Easterners agree to train Drake, and tell him about Dragon hearts, like how they can be split in two to help a human.  Also they are carrying around with no security the heart to an ancient evil dragon named Griffin, which can still be put in a human, and… Why have they not destroyed this obviously evil thing that fits the prophecy so well?  They wanted to kill drake with minimal evidence he was evil, so why is this inanimate object that can fulfill the prophecy, but not fight back yet burned already.  It is made clear later fire can destroy it.  There is no mention of it having any type of value.  At least do not carry it with only two guards around literally all the way from China to Britain where anyone could use I to fulfill the prophecy of bringing evil back.  Well, this twist that Griffin is the villain is pretty obvious except for how he fits with Osric who is constantly working on his evil plan on camera.  What the audience knows is he will now replace the king if he dies, he wants half of Drake’s heart, and he wants a war.  Griffin wanted the extermination of humans, so maybe an evil vs. evil fight.  Maybe instead of being a knight who slays an evil dragon Geoff will have to get an evil knight to turn good making him a hero maker to ironically his mentor.  Two obvious villains with no common goals can surprisingly make many options.

 

The training scenes can be funny, and Geoff does get called out on not helping Drake enough.  Also due to borrowing his suspicious full body coat Mansel gets mistaken for Kwon, and Osric’s men kidnap him, and Mansel is now in the dungeon. Osric sends more men to capture Kwon and Lian resulting in another horrible fight where Osric’s men look like complete incomptetents.  Lian and Kwon are winning easily with fans (that are like shields as they deflect sword blades).  The Easterners get swords and now have an even easier looking win, but Osric arrives.  Again as Geoff does what is best for Geoff unlike last time he fully trusts Osric’s wonderful argument that… “These foreigners are not like you and me.”  Geoff surrenders and Kwon and Lian follow.  I guess they are different, considering that is all it takes for them to surrender.  Maybe if Geoff came off as important to their fight or even goals now that drake was close to them too, or if the guards were not so horrible.  To make their surrender even more ridiculous when marched to the dungeons tied up and weaponless the guards are still terrified of them and not trying to hide it.  Also Mansel is wearing a diaper like thing, and only a diaper like piece of underwear.

After awful fight after awful fight we finally get a legitimately well done plan and wording by Osric, genuinely good stuff from Geoff and Drake, and a very good battle scene. To add to the good without the bad script and plot being around it is easier to notice that the angles, cinematography, backgrounds, and sets look very similar to the original and still match this film.  This is not a horrible film, but besides this scene over an hour into the movie it is just consistently bad or poor.  If the whole movie could capture the cost effective and exciting nature of this fight, the intelligence of both hero and villain, and emotion of nearly repeating Draco’s mistake in the original.  Osric’s plan is for some of his minions to pretend to be enemy warriors.  He will save Geoff from one of the, and he will pretend to get injured in the process.  As Geoff trusts him now and will feel indebted to him and get Drake to give him half of his heart.  This plan was not revealed, making me wonder if he did do a legitimate heroic act, get injured, will get the heart, and will turn into a hero later. Instead Geoff discovers he is faking and gets Drake to not give him the heart.  All of the troops turn on Drake and Geoff, but Drake finally masters fire breathing, and he gets them out of there.  Finally this movie is turning around, unless this was just a fluke great scene, but…

 

This film wastes no time confirming it was just a fluke.  Lian uses a bad humming sound to woo a guard into getting close enough for him to be knocked out in one punch, and of course he is the only one, and he loses the keys.  They find Griffin’s heart, and Osric gets back and realizes it is a dragon’s heart.  Out of nowhere Osric reveals what would have otherwise been a good villain backstory.  Griffin was cursed before he died to be reborn into the form he hated, most, man.  Osric is Griffin reborn.  Besides coming out of nowhere it also has the flaw that he was reborn a wealthy lord, instead of say a stable boy.  He grabs the heart after Lian throws it in a fire (should have done that years ago you idiots), Osric kills Kwon with an arrow, and he puts the heart in his chest cavity turning him into

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I owe Drake’s design an apology.  To the movie’s credit the dragons do not look horrible, they just smile and fly horribly and look bad.  I can still believe they are talking and there.  He says he will enslave humanity…

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It has been well established a really good knight is a perfectly good match for a dragon.  One dragon is not powerful enough to take out 100 knights, much less sixty million people.  Drake is mesmerized by a fellow scaled fire breather and nearly joins Griffin until Geoff points out how evil he is, and Drake remembers how he was nearly ticked into giving him half of his heart.  Instead they have a very bad looking duel (a low budget live-action film should stay away from fantasy action), and Drake wins, Geoff gets injured, and Drake shares his heart with him.

That was Dragonheart a new Beginning.  It had good sets, an okay human villain, and not much else.  There was a good movie getting ready to come out in the seventy-five percent the way through battle scene, and Ostric had plenty of potential, but Geoff never learned his lesson about not being selfish.  Mansel and Lian never really go anywhere.  Drake trusts too much, and learns to trust the right people, at least he had a complete arc.  It is no where near as bad as Lion King II, but it is worse than The Land Before Time XIII.

DTV Wonders: Pooh’s Grand Adventure, the Search for Christopher Robin

There is one Disney DTV sequel that I have as much nostalgia for as most of The Land Before Time movies.  This is it.  Despite having some sequel elements I always thought it was more of a film of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh partly due to having more of its actors and animation style.  When I was younger I really loved it, and today I still like it and enjoy the songs.

Right away the trailers talk about how Disney always offers “something new and exciting.”  It then does ads for lots of films that are at least eight years old.

The storybook look is gone, a butterfly looks ahead in fright foreshadowing the coming darkness, and the coloring is now darker.  As expected it begins with Pooh being happy, and he gets even happier when he runs into Christopher Robin.  Christopher Robin has a British accent unlike the TV series but like the film.  Pooh Bear is still voiced by Jim Cummings from the TV series.

An incredibly versatile actor.

Christopher Robin has to tell bad news, but Pooh does not want to hear it.  He sings “Forever and Ever” about how long it can wait.  It is the least good song in the film, but it has plenty of the charm that the character naturally brings.

They then “do nothing.”  A reference to the first film.  It also contains the quote “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”  I have heard this originated here, not in the book, and I could not find it in the book, making this movie the birth of many senior quotes.  Pooh cannot remember it, but some of his attempts (“longer than a goose”) are funny.

He then awakens the next morning to find it is Autumn (when school starts).  He finds a honey pot and wonders who sent it.  He starts to doubt he can eat it, and he decides to ask Christopher Robin, but he is not around there, or here, or anywhere.  With him gone he is becoming lost.  It is Pooh’s main arc.  He then goes to Piglet (still played by John Fiedler).  He is trying to conqueror his fear of heights like Christopher Robin said, but he is now stuck on top of the tree.   until he is bounced by the greatest Disney character ever, Tigger.  Tigger is still voiced by Paul Winchell.  Hi arc is introduced as not being strong enough, which is similar to Rabbit’s but not Piglet’s arc.  Piglet is the odd one as his is something he often struggles with, while Rabbit and Tigger have issues with their own gifts not being enough.  He tries to bounce up and rescue Piglet, but he cannot and Piglet falls from the tree where Tigger does save him.  at the meantime Eeyore makes his appearance.  Eeyore is not important to this film actually.  Rabbit’s arc about going by the book too much is briefly shown.

Even rabbit cannot read the note on the honey pot so they go to Owl who proceeds to misread it that Christopher Robin is in danger from Skull.  I would think that with the ending reveal that there was no real danger this would be lighter on a rewatch, but the colors are so dark, the characters are so dramatic while still clearly being themselves, and the images are similar to that of a haunted house to makes this very intense even on a rewatch.  Owl says they must go on a quest, and he sings about it.  As a kid I loved this song, and as an adult I still love I.  I have hummed it many times.

The animation is creepy, and Owl comes off as sadistic talking about how they will all die like it is great, and I love every second of it.  It somehow does this while feeling so natural to the main series by keeping everyone in character.  Owl does refuse to actually go with them, as he salutes them away.  Some fans are mad that Kanga, Roo, and Gopher did not appear, but I thin they are unnecessary characters for this story, and Roo seems to have a major role in every Winnie the Pooh film since this one.  Owl did write them a map, which Pooh is carrying.  It is constantly saying an area is full of dangers and writing objects like trees with scary eyes on them.  He also warned them about the Skullasaurus, which we later learn that even though they constantly hear it, the Skullasaurus was actually Pooh’s tummy.  That was referenced in The Tigger Movie.  When they hear it everyone runs around in circles except Pooh until Rabbit takes the map and goes to what the map calls “This lovely meadow.”

    The map is clearly a little off, but eventually Piglet flees and he arrives at the real meadow.  We now know the map is a little off, as the meadow was a little further than it was on the map.  Piglet plays with butterflies until they carry him off like a flock of hawks.  I know this sounds like a comical scene, but it comes off as incredibly dark.  Even the most innocent looking things in the most peaceful place may kill you.  Pooh while misquoting the earlier quote eventually gets Piglet down.  One little problem is Pooh is so good at solving their problems he does no actually seem very lost.  Rabbit, Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet seem more lost.

We then get to the rabbit’s song “If it Says so.”  I am having bad memories of “Say Soes” from The Wisdom of Friends when typing that, but this is actually my favorite song in the film, and I have hummed it and sang it many times.  Rabbit’s problem with taking the map at face value instead of thinking to himself is a major problem I also have.  As you can probably tell from the picture the compass is wrong, and the map constantly says to go the unnecessarily long way.  Rabbit accidently loses half of the map and Tigger chases it over a gorge.

Despite that poorly animated still the gorge scene’s animation is very good.  Tigger cannot get the map, and the log falls.  He is now miserable about not being able to get it and he rescinds himself to death.  Pooh then tries to get him out resulting in a stuffed animal ladder.  Somehow Piglet is holding both Pooh and Tigger.  Eventually Eeyore lets go of the root, and they all fall.  Piglet sees his friends rising from the mud and thinks their monster until Pooh points out that they are his friends.  It does help further solidify Pooh as the most important member.

Even with the other half back the map is nearly useless, and Rabbit cannot figure it out.   He gets really depressed and for a third tie Pooh cannot remember Christopher Robin’s comforting words right.  They eventually find a cave to sleep in, while they are very depressed.  After a little comic relief from Tigger and Rabbit Pooh sings “Wherever you are.”  It gets hard to believe that his actor did this and some notable villain songs like “In the Dark of the Night” and “Be Prepared.”  The song has many verses that are a dark reprise from “Forever and Ever,” and it is very sad to see Pooh so depressed.

They wake up to see Skull.   It is not worth the build up on the outside, but the inside seems like a bottomless pit.  They go inside and split up.  Some mist looks like a waterfall going up.  Eeyore gets stuck in a piece of wood making him look like a monster.  Tigger is chased by bats.  Rabbit falls down a hole, but the last one is played more for comedy than drama.  Pooh can just hear their screaming.  Besides Pooh they accidently run into the eye of skull, but it is way too high up for them, and pooh falls down a cliff like area.  Everyone else hears his screaming and assumes he is dead.  This is really getting dark.  In order to make Pooh happy the main characters minus Eeyore finally overcome their problems to get to the Eye.    Meanwhile Pooh…

This shot is the worst part of the film.  He gets out only to get stuck in a  huge chasm.  He eventually realizes he will just starve to death in it.  I have mostly neglected the honey pot in this review to save it to hear.  It represents Pooh’s thoughts that he is forever separated from Christopher Robin, and he clings to it.  They are only reunited when he is willing to abandon it.  Pooh finally remembers Christopher Robin’s words and he realizes in a way they will never be apart.

The rest of the group are all up thanks to Rabbit’s plan, Tigger’ strength, Piglet’s bravery, and Eeyore’s… extra weight slowing them down?  They then see a scary shadow thinking it is the Skullasaurus, but it is Christopher Robin.  I still do not know how he got there, but at this point I am happy to finally see the characters be happy again.  Christopher Robin takes the note and reads out loud what it actually says.  He also finds Pooh, and he rescues him with a huge honey pot he somehow carried over there and a rope.

They leave Skull and see it is not scary looking anymore, and other places from the movie are shown to no longer be scary as well.  The ending song is “Everything is Right.”  I always really enjoyed it.  It is very happy and the characters are shown using their new confidence and waving goodbye to the audience.

Despite its late plot holes and misuse of Eeyore I really love it.  It is by far the best of the Disney DTV films so far, and it is almost as good as the early odd numbered The Land Before Time sequels.  The characters are still lovable, and I got to see them going through something harder than ever before.  The writing is very good.  The songs are great.  I loved it so much as a kid I know most of the lines by heart.  I heavily recommend it for children because of its dark yet child friendly tone.

 

 

DTV Wonders: Stitch the Movie

  This cover made me overestimate 625’s role.

 

Oddly after I pan The Lion King II the next film ahs a trailer for the DVD release of the first one.  This trailer made my brother want to play the safari game so much we bought it.  We also lost it in the last few months.  I always liked the Bionicle: Mask of Light commercial, but I never felt a need to see it.  It makes me wonder what film has a commercial for its sequel.  The commercial for the series has many spoilers for the film, which I somehow missed the first time I watched this around twelve years ago.  The main menu has a part with Stitch swinging from a rope, which made me assume he would do that in the climax.

T8              Gantu is back to be one of the main villains.  He still comes off as intimidating.  I know several fans think he got way weaker after the original, but considering he is now much stronger than Jumba (Jumba fought Stitch far better than Gantu in the original) I have doubts about that.  He is now working for Hamsterviel.  Despite Gantu still being rather intimidating the overly small stuff and Hamsterviel’s voice keep this part surprisingly funny.  The plan is for Gantu to go Earth (which the aliens no longer call Yars) and retrieve the other 625 evil experiments.

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The new animation did make the characters look uglier, but I only thought that for two minutes.  The main plot line is Lilo and Stitch want more people outside of their family to like Stitch.  This leads to the main problem, there is very little story.  In fact the run time is less than an hour, but there are still plenty of scenes that could have been cut easily.  This easily could have been reduced to a 2 part episode.  As expected it does not go well with Stitch scaring a few people away and that results in a little fire (Lilo was very happy to help put it out).  Stitch goes to Jumba (his creator) to ask about family.  Jumba says they both have no family.

After a few jokes such as Pleakly cooking dog food, which is actually more nutritious than most human food and David getting his small role to keep his fans happy Gantu breaks in.  This film has received a few idiot plot accusations.  I disagree with most, but I always found it odd that Gantu beats Stitch early and does not use the opportunity to finish him off.  It would have saved him a horde of misery the next three years, and it is later revealed that Hamsterveil would have plenty of use for him.  Also Jumba just then tries to actually hide his other 625 monstrosities he thinks should not be activated instead of burying them a while back.  Also Gantu decides to just kidnap Jumba instead of looking harder.  He des also find experiment pod 625, with its ominous music.  When I was younger I only noticed the first one, and I thought it was very bad for the main heroes that Jumba is aliennapped.

Stitch then hotwires Jumba’s ship, and they chase him into space.  Stitch apparently has really good aim and manages to shoot the engines without actually hurting Jumba, but they run out of power.  Presumably they have some emergency power that Stitch uses to make sure they fall at home and not in Antarctic or Venus.  Wow, I am already throught one quarter of he film.  I have criticized David’s role as being filler but most of his lines are funny such as him watching an alien invasion movie oblivious to Gantu having just assaulted his want to be girlfriend’s house.  This leads to Nani calling Cobra for help.  Lilo realizes that one of the experiments could repower the ship letting them chase after Gantu.  Pleakly has the more long term plan of calling every phone in the galaxy.

Lilo and Stitch release 221, but he wrecks the house’s power and leaves.  They should have used insulators.  They go looking for him, but it goes nowhere except some fun ideas for the characters like seeing Stitch’s night vision in action.  It was not important, but the scene is fun to watch.

In the meantime Jumba is set up to be tortured by Hamsterveil but nothing worries him especially Hamsterveil threatening his family.  “Ha, I have no family.”  I like how happy he is to say that.  Hamsterveil is really hard to understand, but I still enjoy his blunt rudeness, Jumba’s uncaring attitude, and Gantu being overly polite.  These three are really funny.  They then decide to release 625 on him.  The music indicate that is very bad.  All three are scared of him, until it turns out he is very lazy an just makes and eats sandwiches.  625 makes the funny trio an even funnier quartet.  Eventually Jumba is singing ninety-nine beers on the wall except he is singing about pieces of me on the wall.  I have actually sung that many times.  Pleakly reaches him, but Hamsterveil takes the phone and makes a ransom demand.  Gant puts the phone gently away…

No! Slam it!  I think one of the idiot plots is how Pleakly tried to reach Jumba, which actually gave the villains an option for a ransom, and Lilo now regretting releasing Sparky since the ransom is now incomplete.  I thought that was a nice change where plans work or fail.  Sometimes a person realizes half way through their plan was bad and now has to change it.  Stitch hotwires Cobra’s car, and they look for Sparky over a montage.  I remember my dad laughing at the part where Stitch drinks an entire case of coffee.  After that they find Sparky by following the screaming people and broken electronics.  Stitch catchshim witht he rope swinging in the menu (I was surprised to see it so early) and a glass vase.  They bond over some similarities, and they realize they are family.

Pleakly and Cobra go to meet Hamsterveil and Gantu at the lighthouse.  Cobra’s actions do fit into his plan later.  He is hoping to give the experiments to Hamsterveil, get Jumba back, then the Galatic Federation will destroy Hamsterveil and the experiments.  IT also has the good part where Lilo shows up and reveals she named 221 Sparky.  The real good part is where Cobra claims she cannot see how complicated the situation is when she is like him taking a third option, save everyone by using Sparky as a distraction, which gives Stitch time to save Jumba.  Despite that Hamsterveil gets the experiments, and Sparky takes out the Galatic Federation’s ship before it can destroy all 624 of them.  Hamsterveil and Gantu with the experiments get back in the ship.  Lilo and Stich ruin after them.  This is less heroic on a rewatch since Lilo was useless from here onward except for a bit of keep away Stitch could have done by himself.

They successfully get the experiments out of the window, and the case breaks letting them fall freely back to the island.  It looks happy until Pleakly points out how dangerous they will be and the chairwoman agrees with Pleakly.  to make it worse Lilo and Stitch are captured.  I still do not know why Stitch cannot go through the glass, but I guess Gantu used better material.  Hamsterveil threatens them from a huge pile of phone books.  He plans to cut Stitch in half so he can clone him.  Gantu is teleporting Lilo to a soup company.  He then gets distracted as 625 is getting a huge order of baloney teleported to them.  As everyone knew would happen Sparky comes in to save Stitch.  They easily overpower Hamsterveil.  Getting to Lilo is harder, as the musicand grunting make sit obvios the ship is hard to move through and the walls do not let Stitch climb them like he normally can.  He gets here, but he cannot stop the teleportation.  He then realizes it was for the baloney and frees Lilo from the other one.  Gantu then chases them and sees someone is stealing his ship, but it is just 625 wondering where his baloney is.  All he has is cheese and bread.  It was actually a red herring and Sparky locks the doors and sends Gantu’s ship crashing on Earth. It also turns 625’s sandwich into a grilled cheese.

They get back to earth.  Hamsterveil is arrested.  Sparky finds that he can do a lot of good at the lighthouse, which had no power before him.  The councilwoman then says she will evacuate the planet and gas it to destroy the experiments.  Lilo convinces her not to, as they will find them and turn them good.  Now I feel the ending is a poor set up.  When I was younger this made my whole family really want to watch the TV series, which is really good.

Today I do not care for this so called film, but as the target audience I thought it was a great pilot.   It is still funny, and it has good action.  It lead to a very good TV series, and I do like the new characters.  It is just too dull with the story for me now.

DTV Wonders: The Lion King II Simba’s Pride

I have reviewed the entire The Land Before Time franchise.  I loved it, and it is an example of DTV being great, but Disney also did plenty of DTV films.  I am not going in order this time, and it would be way harder for me to find them all.  I know that the two companies have rivalries over who made better DTV sequels, so I will compare them.  Surprisingly I can find very little behind the scenes information on the creative team.

I know I watched this film a few times just for The Animal Kingdom commercial.  It has great animals and a dinosaur.  Oddly it then has a commercial for the soundtrack, and I do not like seeing the animated characters’ actors.  I think it really harms the illusion.  It also has a horrible commercial for Lion King on Broadway.  It has a Disney channel actor getting all the spotlight instead of Simba, and she keeps saying even adults will “like” it.  So they will only tolerate it, and animation is only for kids according to Disney.  Still that one commercial was awesome and made it worth it.

This film has a large hatedom, and a fandom.  The negative is its fandom seems to hate all DTV films and say this is the least bad, which is a horrible sign.  The first song is… Ugh.  The whole introduction is full of them wasting time with needless references to the original, but that does not really harm a  film much unless it spends more time on referencing than its own plot like this does.  The opening song is very similar to “The Circle of Life,” only notably worse.  The animation is just like the original only notably worse and an ugly version, which is something I have never thought about The Land Befor Time sequels. At least the lyrics are okay.   Even worse Timon and Pumba are in a painfully long joke about thinking the new cub, Kiara, is a boy instead of a girl.  he humor of the original is not going to make it.

 

The poor designs did only distract me for the first 15ish minutes at least.  Kiara is trying to leave, Simba promises to let her have fun by himself, but he secretly appoints a watcher.  Will he pick Zazu, Rfikki?  No he picks the least stealthy animals possible, Timon and Pumba.  Picking help is arguably the most important part of being king, and he is failing.  They watch her through over the top non funny slapstick with no one in the audience laughing.  This really hurts the dark mood that is supposed to be forming.  Kiara finds them obviously, and lots of scenes from the original are referenced.  Kiara is at most shown to not like being a princess.  So our new character getting all the focus is the character who does not want her job, et she does not support making The Lion Republic.  After Timon and Pumba forget to keep watching her…

Missed opportunity alert.  Timon and Pumba were useless for this scene and not necessary.  Why not make no one follow her, she gets into trouble as we see later, and that makes Simba over protective.  It would make this faster paced and Simba would be more likable.

She eventually leaves the pridelands chasing a butterfly and finds Kovu.  He is an outsider.  Apparently Kiara is interested in them having more fun lives with less rules, but that will be horribly contradicted later.  They accidently run into some crocodiles, and I really enjoy this early action scene.  The pacing is very good.  I enjoy seeing both Kiara and Kovu saving the other.  After that their parents arrive.  Kovu’s mom is Zira, and outsider exiled from the pridelands and…

They were loyal followers to Scar.  I thought he had a 0% approval rating.  Why did he not get lions who would follow him instead of the weaker hyenas.  Their numbers are shown to be huge despite their recent poor living conditions, so they should have with the hyenas help won the last film easily.  The only good explanation is they were all away hunting, but I have trouble believing all left due to stealth.  It makes n sense in a logical world, but in a filmmaking world this is good besides that.  She is however a much better orator than Simba.  It has earlier been established that pridelanders and outsiders hate each other and never turn their backs towards each other, but they all turn their backs to each other.  I do not like the beginning at all, but if someone were to like Kiara I think they would like it.

Simba takes Kiara back.  He says that she must be queen (or democracy), and that not being queen is the same as not being a lion.  Does that mean every lion who is not royalty does not have the title of lion?  He sings to her “We are One.”  I like most of the lyrics, but the chorus is annoying.  To make it worse both actors are more focused on sounding pretty instead of making emotion.  The meaning of it is.. he never says what it means, and the meaning in the end is not good.

Kovu and Zira arrive back with the rest of the Outsiders.  Kovu’s siblings I presume are Vitana and… I do not know his name.  When I watched it as a younger viewer I had no idea what his name was until I discovered Wikipedia.  Idiot lion exists for jokes about him being covered in termites, give moderate slapstick, and whine about Kovu being the chosen one. Basically he is a comedic villain.  Vitani is actually competent.  To highlight their clear love for fun she immediately plays with Kovu.  Zira blames comic relief, but Kovu takes the blame.  Being a surprise mastermind that he is Zira goes over possible results of being friends with Kiara and slowly realizes that it could make him closer to Simba, and then he could kill him.  Our villains are definitely more interesting already then our heroes.  Apparently Kovu was the kid of a rogue lion and Scar chose him as his successor.  I thought the head lion killed all the cubs from other males meaning all the young outsiders should be his kids.  Apparently they act nothing like real lions, which is understandable.   The villain song has a horrible name, “My Lullaby,” t the lyrics are good, the callbacks to “Be Prepared” show a contrast and are till good on its own merits.  Comic Relief Villain’s  comedy is still not good, but other than that the song is good.

Despite advertising the main characters as cubs they are already early full grown.  I would prefer that they met as teenagers.  Kiara gets to go hunting, but Simba still sends the unstealthy Timon and Pumba after her right after promising he would not.  I finally found what I think makes some people like or hate this movie.  Some people would like Simba no matter what thanks to the original.   Simba is horribly unlikable in this movie, but some viewers like him in it because of how likable he was in the original.  Other fans are like me, we hate Simba so much here that we also cannot like him in the original.  For us this film does the worst thing a sequel can do, make the original worse.

She is shown to be really bad a t hunting and catches Timon and Pumba making her really mad at Simba.  To make it worse Timon once says she has caught them watching her for her dad “8,000 times.”  Kiara is so mad she leaves the pridelands.  In the meantime for Zira’s plan Vitani and Comic Relief Villain set the savannah on fire.  Well Comic Relief Lion puts the fire around him and leaps out twenty feet into the air.  As the plan Kiara falls unconscious (so many things that could go wrong here like here dying and Simba blaming them and going on revenge), and Kovu saves her.  Kiara recognizes him and Zazu, Nala, and Simba show up.  The resulting political debate is something like this, Simba wants to kill the Outsider.  Kovu insists he is actually a rogue and wants to join the pride.  Kiara and Kovu point out he is the rescuer.  Zazu supports them, but then wants him dead.  Zazu si very confusing.  Simba relents.  He does make Kovu stay outside to hate him more instead of setting up a night watch.

The following dream sequence is really bad.  Instead of making new emotional challenges they reuse Mufassa’s death.  Paying James Earl Jones to come back with a limited budget is horrible money management.  They should have had a dream about Kiara dying a similar way to Mufassa to keep the plot of this movie going and be more stand alone.

Kovu helps teach Kiara how to touch as she somehow cannot see he is getting ready to pounce on her dad.  Both Simba and Kiara need to work on awareness.  The next scene shows the Outsiders do not know what fun is and…  It has been shown the whole film they are better at being fun.  It turns out they do not even know how to roar.  To make it worse Rafiki gives us a horrible song with terrible lyrics, and it portrays love as nothing but heart imagery.  Simba decides it is time to start trusting Kovu thanks to Nala.  It is glossed over in the film too.

Simba and Kovu go to talk.  Simba shows him the fire and says how destruction can be good in the next generation, and he shows him a sapling coming up.  It is a good scene, but the Outsiders surprise them both.  Um?  They do know they are at the borders anyway where enemies are?  Why did he go that far with no reliable help.  Simba really stinks at border management.  Zira lies giving Kovu credit and Simba assumes everything his confirmed enemy says is true.  Did I mention how much this movie makes me hate Simba.  It is heavily implied that male lions are very dominant in fights later.

Well thanks to that the Outsiders have trouble controlling Simba as Kovu is somehow out 3 seconds in.  This male domination makes Comic Relief even more pitiful, but that is what comic relief villains do.  Wait what?  He is one coming closest to killing Simba.  Maybe if he was made out to be a bumbling but very skilled fighter this would be intimidating, but certainly am not intimidated.  To my surprise he dies and Vitani reveals his name is “Nuka.”  You will not be missed bad Tybalt/Mercutio stand in.  Apparently his whole family misses him.  If he was not such poor comic relief, had some redeeming traits, or supported a side that was not simply bloodthirsty this would be sad.  The death mourning is instead overly long.  Zira blames Kovu for doing nothing and gives him a scar like Scar’s scar. She is shocked as if no ne else got scratched near the eye.  Kovu flees to priderock.  Simba exiles him because clearly his arch enemy was not lying.  What do you think he did?  He did not assault you.  He did not lead you to the Outsiders, in fact you lead him to the Outsiders.  If Kovu was somehow leading what were you doing following someone with suspect loyalty to where you had no allies and lots and lots of enemies?  We the get a song from what characters?   How about nameless ones?

       Kiara receives the blame from Simba and banishes her to inside Pride Rock.  Did I mention how much a Lion Republic is needed.  Also Timon and Pumba are still assigned to watch her.  She attacks Simba by saying “You will never be Mufassa.”  Considering it is terrible advise to be exactly like anyone great since every person is different the film is giving us the horrible advice to be someone else instead of the best you, you can be.  She finds a hole to escape out of and leaves.  It leads to he final song, “Love Will Find a Way.”  It is the best song in the film.  It is sung well with emotions.  It ahs some actual discovery, Kovu using the only remotely smart stuff Simba taught him, and it is about the only likable characters in the film.  Kovu wants them to run away together.  I support this.  Kiara says they must help the two prides.  I guess that could work, but between all the nearby animals who clearly do not want the Scar supporters back no way could they go to war.

It turns out Zira got the outsiders to go to war.  Why they did not do this before Kovu jumped ship or years ago, but at least we are promised good action.  Zira would be a good one dimensional villain except this Romeo and Juliet story requires both groups being in the worng, yet they should be likable.  Here both groups are in the wrong and are overly unlikable.

The Outsiders come.  The Pridelanders come.  The naimals tat can fight lions do not come.  I guess they do not car if Simba or Zira rule them despite the elephants and rhinos being in no real danger.  Apparently Scar’s disapproval rating was shockingly low.  The main fight is… Very confusing ad slow.  I cannot tell who is who.  Timon and Pumba have hijinks I never understood until I was 13.  Kiara and Kovu come to break it up.  Kiara gets them to stop fighting by saying “They are us.  What differences do you see?”  So if you look like someone you are them?

According to Kiara they are the same
According to Kiara Charlie Chaplin is Adolf Hitler

 

Congratulations Kovu, you no longer have competition for best character here.  Somehow it makes all of the Outsiders decide to join the Prideleanders except Zira.

 

After that Zira leaps to knock Simba into a raging river. Kiara gets in the way, and they both go down.  Kiara got to do the speech; therefore, they let Kovu jumps down to save his lionness friend and mother.  No, he just sits there and looks worried.

Remember first film all Simba wet through?  His dad died, he saw his mother get beaten, he was kicked out of home.  Here is wore than useless, and he now has a much bigger pride.  He probably has a bigger ego too.  I hate this movie.  It has mostly poor songs.  No characters end it likable.  It has a story that requires a grey and grey morality with white morality heroes, yet it accidently gives black vs black.  The climax is bad.  The animation never looks better than average.  Nuka is perhaps the worst villain ever, and their version of Simba is just awful.

In comparison to The Land Before Time this has a better climax than 13, and if it was not a sequel it would probably be better, but it fails so horribly as a sequel due to making the first one worse.  It is worse than 13.  Its best song is no where near as good as the twentieth best song in Universal’s flagship DTV series.  I plan on never watching this film again.  At least it had a great commercial.

 

DTV Wonders: The Land Before Time 2 The Great Valley Adventure

The first sequel.   It only has one preview of “The Adventures of Timmy the tooth.”  It includes the villains capturing the sun with a rope.   I think that sounds fun  The Universal logo starts the film.  It does not begin with a description of long ago.  It shows meteorites in space (foreshadowing 3), and The Great Valley with music from the original playing.  The narrator talks about “The Dreaded Sharpteeth” and shows Chomper’s dad.  At the times he is ambiguously the sharptooth from the original and Frank Welker’s roar is very frightening.  In the meantime the prequels have their first song.  This is not confirmed, but I noticed all three songs are in the first half.  It makes me think executive meddling forced this to be a musical and Smith wanted the songs done rather quickly.

I think that is the same ledge they were on at the end of 5.  It is a good song if you remember that they just got to the Great Valley after the first film, and it does a good job showing their parents being watchful, which foreshadows a key part of the film.  Having survived the journey there the children view themselves as more impendent, but the adults still see them as children for a good reason.  It also uses words like “sun” and “clouds” instead of bright circle and sky puffies.  I really love how they o not use proper scientific terms by simplifying them to a basic English understanding.

The next few parts is a natural extension of the theme that Littlefoot feels too small (like in 11 but done better by making him less whiny).  It also shows The Great Valley is full of dangers further proving it is not Heaven.  It has volcanoes, dangerous Geyser things, and hostile egg stealers ( presumably the one in the original that tried to get Littlefoot or the one sneaking in during the credits).  With Jeff Bennet and Rob Paulsen voicing Spike and Petrie they are also several minor characters like Ozzy and Strut).  They are after eggs.

Like the ending to the original Cera calls Littelfoot to play, but they are bored, as they unknowingly stop Ozzy and strut from taking an egg.  They eventually decide to play past the sinking sand.  Thanks to Cera’s less than stellar jumping abilities they get stuck and are only saved by Grandpa.  With this going on all of their parents are mad at them and not as trusting as earlier.  Cera gets them to all leave at night.

In the meantime Ozzy is starting to be present as drug addicted killer, while Stut is more level headed, but he hesitantly goes along.  Ozzy’s love for eggs when they can just eat plants is like a drug addiction.  I do not think too many fans consider his song “Eggs” good, but I think it is the best in the film.  I like the puns and seeing him get so angry at is brother, and I always laugh at some point.  Ozzy becomes the only dinosaur in the series to say his species name.

The main characters besides Littlefoot decide they do not need parents (I am pretty sure this film was a major part of me deciding the reverse).  Littlefoot does not like their idea of running away to prove it.  They eventually notice Ozzy and Strut taking an egg from Ducky’s family.  Littlefoot wants to tell the grownups.  Lead by Cera the others want to catch them to prove they are not hatchlings.  Some fans are annoyed Cera is so much nicer ignoring she got nicer at the end of 1, and events change people.  I really loved it how they resected us enough to keep character development.  Cera reasons they have a 5-2 advantage (size wise I think they are outnumbered).  They give chase and foreshadowing Chomper’s shadow Ozzy and strut only see the shadow and think they are huge.  Eventually they hide in a cave.  Now Cera is scared saying they should get help.  Littlefoot has also switched saying doing that would this late would let them get away.  Ducky and Spike are with him and Petrie tags along.  Also like in the original Cera is scared of Thunder.

In ensuing chaos They smash into a rock formation making a huge hole in The Great Wall separating The Great Valley from The Mysterious Beyond.”  The egg never actually hits the rocks thanks to the egg stealers trying to safe it, and it rolls back to its nest.  The main characters fall to a swamp filled with sharpteeth skeletons (like what the bullies walked through in 3).  They find an egg that they assume is a grown up egg from earlier.  They make a carrying nest to get it back, but find that the egg is already back.  Littlefoot wants to tell the grown-ups, but Cera by threat o violence makes him not under the assumption they will be punished for leaving.  I think she actually is mad at her daddy and wants to keep a secret from him.  The egg stealers prepare to take it back until it hatches, and it is a sharptooth.  The rest flee and run over the egg stealers knocking them unconscious.  Littlefoot stays to raise it.  He tries to teach him to walk, names him Chomper.  He then realizes the food source is a problem.  He refuses to eat plants.  Some critics said the message about acceptance is broken due to the food issue.  They are mistaking 2 with 5.  The food part is never hidden at all, and that is why Littlefoot and Chomper cannot stay together.  The message is really that parents know best and like his parents Littlefoot has to accept that he cannot take care of Chomper due to not being able to feed him like his real parents can.

In a cute scene he asks his parents for information under the lie that he is just curious.  They think it is just their grandson dreaming about being older, and play along.  In the meantime Ducky, Spike, Petrie, and Cera think sharptooth ate Littlefoot and the egg stealers attack them.  Littlefoot just realized Chomper did not obey him about staying in one place.  He finds him, but then notices the egg stealers are about to throw the others off a cliff.  He fails to save them, but Chomper’s shadow scares them into leaping to safety and great pain.  Unlike the yellow bellies the animators did a great job at making these guys look fit.

If this did not come out the same year as The Lion King I would think one of them was inspired by the other, as they both involve herbivores trying to raise a carnivore who eats bugs.  Of course here it is used for drama, while in The Lion King it was used for comic relief.  They sing the final song already “Family and One of us Now.”  I never notably liked it, but it is perfectly fine.  Chomper ends it with biting Cera on the tail turning all but Littlefoot against him.  Ducky and Spike also turn against themselves realizing theyare acting like their parents to Chomper.  Chomper runs off.

For the first time until nine films later two sharpteeth enter The Great Valley.  Ozzy and Strut climb their way back up (arm day today and leg day was yesterday I guess) they go for another nest, but the children’s screaming alerts mommy to save them.  Ozzy is clearly mad while strut is slightly funny scared at the same time. Ozzy vows to kill them in retaliation.  The gang saw Chomper at an active volcano.  Time to completely ignore the poisonous gases.  I am really wondering how the volcano did not affect the valley more than the drought next film.  The egg stealers find the main characters and threaten to throw them I some boiling water.  Strut laughs happily.  I have mostly left out that Strut is slowly becoming more murderous like Ozzy.  It is not really important to the main plot, but it does help keep the character interesting and show the audience what bad company gives.  It started when he was mad the children took their egg.  Cera claims they are friends with a huge  sharptooth, but she slips and mocks them for being scared by a baby sharptooth.

2

        Chomper distracts them by biting Strut, but it is the volcano’s lava bombs that scare them away actually saving them.  The lava is no where near as threatening as the fire and pales in comparison.  Eventually there is a huge drop off on one side, a cliff on the other, egg stealers trying to kill them on another, and lava the way they came.  Due to his growing protective instincts as he wants to protect someone he considers to be like a son, Chomper, he can now knock down a tree to make an escape path.  Ozzy and Strut fall down and everything now looks good until the sharpteeth came.  In a major way Ozzy and Strut are like Sue from 10.  They could have been written out (harder for them than Sue), but they serve as red herrings making the actual big moment seem bigger.  These sharptooth move faster and more normally than the one in the original and more like a cross between him and the Jurassic Park T-Rex.  They also make a show of stomping on every tree they see.  In a good move after one instead of finding The Great Valley it is now heavily threatened.  After hiding Littlefoot reminds them and the audience that they caused it, and he wants to take responsibility by fixing it.  Mama Sharptooth then successfully beats Grandpa in a fight but Petrie… Petrie’s mom colored wrong and then right distracts her long enough for Grandpa Longneck to get up and just leave.  I guess he was telling the others where they were.
           This next climatic fight is not as polished as later ones but it has many good parts.  The gang fights them with tripping them with vines (Littlefoot and Chomper).  Cera rams one, but unlike in 10 sharptooth is moderately annoyed and Cera is on the ground.  She is saved by Spike dropping a huge rock.  It is then Papa sharptooth who makes problems by nearly killing Spike.  Ducky jumps on his nose.  Mama sharptooth tries to eat her, but Petrie moves her.  Mama bites Papa on the head
Image result for the land before time 2 sharpteeth
    They nearly fight but go back to get Petrie and Ducky until their parent arrive.  I guess the stegosaurus and Ducky’s mom stays in the rear, as Grandpa and Grandma take out Mama Sharptooth and Mr. Threehorn beats Papa Sharptooth.  They then flee, the children come out of hiding, and “If We Hold on Together” plays making it better by default.  Chomper quickly follows the other sharpteeth.  Cera spills the beans about the hole and the grown-ups go to close it.  Littlefoot chases after Chomper and finds him, but so do the sharpteeth.  Littlefoot gets stuck and thinks he and Chomper are done for until the sharpteeth kindly lick him and put them on their head.  Littlefoot lets them leave until he is captured by the egg stealers, and it is Strut who suggests throwing him off the Great Wall (this is the only film to use those three words).  Making Strut get more villainous kept these two surprising, threatening, and interesting.  Chomper hears and leads his parents back to the egg stealers, and they save the day.
 
     Technically the chase last until 4.  In a rather emotional moment Chomper is torn about who to stay with, but Littlefoot insists he go with his real parents who can take care of him.  He leaves and the others arrive in time to tell him goodbye, which is important for Chomper’s ending if he did not show up again.  This is bittersweet enough to leave a sequel, which could even surpass it.
          In the closing actions it is confirmed that the main characters are on good terms with their parents again due to accepting their dependence on them, and a reprise of “Peaceful Valley” is played, and it is actually better than the full version.

          The villains are very good.  The moral is very good.  The action is fine, but the beginning and not so amazing songs hold it back from the best sequels.  Then in the credits one key animator is named “Thomas Decker” giving him a very similar name to an actor later in the franchise.

The new climax ranking is 3, 5, 6, 10, 7, 2, 14, 4, 11, 12, 8, 9, 13

For the first time the new film has no songs to be added to the top 15 song list.  “Eggs” is the best, but it is not as good as “who Needs you.”  Of course this list was put together rather hastily, and most years it would be different especially after the first 4.

The new running time order is 10 (85 minutes), 14 (82 minutes) 12/11 (81 minutes each), 6 (77 minutes) 13 (76 minutes), 9/8/7 (75 minutes each), 5/4/2 (74 minutes each), 3 (71 minutes)

The new film rankings are 5, 7, 3, 2, 6, 10, 8, 14, 4, 12, 11, 9, 13.  It depends on the year about whether 3, 5, and 7 are ordered, but they are the top 3 sequels.  The odd numbered films in the second half are notably the worst of the series.  It depends on the year about how I rank the even numbered films, but 6 and 4 heavily change each time.  I decided two is the best of them due to being a major part of the series and direct-to-video.  It is nowhere near as good as 3, but it is very enjoyable.

My favorite eras in order are theme (5-7), Roy Allen Smith (2-4), Full CG (8-10), and Later (11-13).

 

DTV Wonders: The Land Before Time 3 The Time of the Great Giving

Many older fans do call this the best of the sequels, as it has very scary moments, intensity, high stakes, and a surprisingly complex theme for the title.  The theme is that anger leads to more anger from others, and that stops teamwork from being effective.

The Previews here are very good.  I like the commercial to the second film, and it does make me want to watch it again.  Then it gives a commercial where they sing “All Sorts” from 4, with clips from the film instead of most the song clips, and I like that better than the actual song clips.  I remember saying Babe has a commercial for this film.  well it has a commercial for Babe too.  It is very good and fast paced.  The “Timmy the Tooth” commercials are better in 2.

Of all the sequels this has the best opening.  It uses the same music from the original film.  It talks a lot about evolution and how single celled organism became land dwellers, yet I it is actually because of these openings I became  a Young Earth creationist.  I got exposed to so much evolution I turned against it.  I still like seeing the animations of it.  They even got the narrator to say “dinosaurs.”  I also like how it briefly shows feathered raptors and then they take out a three horned like dinosaur.  Like 2 it role calls the entire group.  Littlefoot the longneck.

They are no longer extinct.

Cera the Threehorn (who has one horn for now).  Ducky the swimmer (who is hardly ever shown swimming), Petrie the Flyer (Still love him), and Spike the Spiketail (a little redundant).  They are using a huge rock as a ball until Hyp and… Nod and Mutt.  Unlike Rinkus and Sierra they blend together.  I know the bullies are often hated by older viewers, but these three are great, as they actually come off as murderous.  Just considering how soon this is from the original it makes sense.  The group is yet to save anyone living in the Valley so no one owes them anything.  The bullies are teenagers who probably dislike that some children have had a far more adventurous life than them.  In their opening talk Littlefoot views them as potential playmates.  Petrie views them as bullies and dislikes them.  Ducky and Spike agree with Littlefoot Cera not only agrees with Petrie but tries to fight them, which makes Hyp excited until a meteor shower comes including a big one into The Mysterious Beyond.

Seemingly no one is dead.  Littlefoot and Grandpa point out that now the danger is over it is a pretty sight from the “flying rocks.”

           Then the water source stops flowing.  I mentioned in my review of 6 that there are other water sources.  Since they have not been in The Great Valley for long I guess they have not found them yet.  Grandma and Grandpa do not want Littlefoot to hear the others fight and ask him to go play somewhere else.  He does that as we can hear the grown-ups fighting.  Littlefoot meets with the other children where to further Show spike’s hidden intelligence he hides before the bullies show up.  The song are again written by Michele Brourman and Amanda McBroom, as the first one “When You’re Big” is sung.  Unlike Charles Grosvenor who used one film with sentient villains in eight films Roy Allen smith used three in thee films, and they all have villain songs.  I know this sounds like the song I usually hate being a villain song and just talk about being evil, but I love it.  It captures the destructive energy teenagers and their pure threat level.  It is also so catchy.  I have seen some good fan videos of it with Jurassic Park dinosaurs.  After the song Hyp tells Nod and Mutt how they will presumably kill the group for fun, as they sneak out.  They miss Spike who just hid.

After that Grandpa’s water conservation plan is basically to trust everyone to do their part.  Being the small government supporter I am I am okay with the idea, but it needs work.  I presume everyone else just interrupted him before he could finish.  Mr. Threehorn suggests firm action against wasting, and he unintendedly starts many others going on a crusade on who has previously wasted the least water.  Another lesson in the film is cooperation is needed to survive the hard times, and the grown-ups do not have it, and the immediate negative effects of the film start.  At the same time the bullies splash some water and Mr. Threehorn accuses Littlefoot (presumably thirst and hunger is making him less sane).  He deems Littlefoot a bad influence, which makes Ducky wonder what influence is, which is surprisingly funny.  He also demands that Cera stay away from Littlefoot and she angrily goes with him until night when she runs off.  It is then shown that Mr. Threehorn is overly worried about his daughter, which makes him angrier than usual, which Cera can tell.

In a key moment showing that Grandpa does know best they educate Littlefoot and most the audience on morning dew.  They get an okay meal, but the food is dying out fast, as the valley dries up.  It is also revealed that off screen they made a time schedule for each herd, but Grandpa says it does not affect the Children, and Mr. Threehorn disagrees.  It is surprisingly hard to follow the logic that Mr. Threehorn’s problem is he refuses to compromise, but he gets a song.  “Standing Tough” is surprisingly enjoyable.  It furthers his motivations that they will die without him doing it and any compromise is weakness.  They are too busy fighting to notice Littlefoot leave with Cera.

To further the depression of losing water there a few quick silent scenes showing how the water level is clearly way lower, the fish are struggling, and there is far more dust than usual.  The group finds water (I like to think it is the same pond that dried up in 6), but the bullies show up.  In a move that really sets them apart instead of trying to take credit for finding water they give the gang a decision, never tell anyone about it and let the bullies only use it or die.  In short their plan is to have water and let everyone else likely die.  Instead of lying that they will not tell and then tell (no one would fault you) they say they will not and flee.  They are saved by a wasp chasing away the bullies.  I really like that.  The group goes a strange route reasoning their larger pursuers could not cross where they see the desert part of The Mysterious Beyond, but it is covered in the water that would go to The Great Valley, as flying rocks dammed it up.

They go to tell the grown-ups sure they will know what to do, but as Grandma warned earlier a fire starts.  Unlike the fire in Bambi that uses an orange fire that engulfs the forest, this fire is mostly smoke blotting out the vision except for a very red fire burning every tree and piece of vegetation near it.

        This fire is quite scary.  Michael Tavera is alternating music from 2, and it is actually working better here than in its original use.  Presumably due to their bickering the grown-ups missed the smoke.  It also would have obviously been seen by The Great Valley residents not near the water.  Mr. Threehorn takes command and gives an escape route, but Grandpa points out it is heading downwind where the fire will spread and he gives an alternate route.  Instead of listening to superior advice and noticing he is wrong (When you should devote to the one group ironically) he is fine with them going another way, but he orders Cera to go with him.  Grandpa goes to stop them, while Grandma leads the others to safety.  The smoke gets to thick so Littlefoot (closer to the ground) has to take charge and tells everyone to use their voice instead of ears.  It is the first time he saved the valley instead of just an individual or his friends.  The music then gets even more scary, as it shows Mr. Threehorn and Cera running.  It is slow and constantly makes it clear how much of the valley the fire is destroying.  It is also clear that Mr. Threehorn is watching for Cera more than himself, but they eventually get trapped.  Grandpa saves them by knocking a tree on the fire, and they run out before it is engulfed in flames.
         They arrive as “If We Hold on Together” plays.  Everyone but Mr. Threehorn is at first optimistic, but his pessimism runs into everyone.  Grandma gets Mr. Threehorn happy by mentioning his daughter being safe, but most others are convinced they are doomed ( a good trailer shot).  They know the water would have to be covered in sharpteeth.  Mr. Threehorn says no place is safe unless they free it. Mr. Clubtail (voiced by Rob Paulsen again) points out his plans could not be worse than his fire escape plan resulting in them roaring at each other.
This is politics

Grandma says they are acting like children and finally a movie has a kid defend themselves when that happens.  Thank you Petrie.  We can hear the adults fighting as Mr. Threehorn wants a quick plan and Grandpa wants a well thought out plan.  The bullies decide to get it themselves.  The main group notices and besides Littlefoot they are rooting for the sharpteeth.  One reason I love “When You’re Big” is because it is deconstructed in another song, “Kids Like Us.”  I should point out at some point.  Thomas Decker voiced Littlefoot for 13 songs, while other Littlefoot voice actors voiced him for only 15 songs over nine films, and this is the only time Littlefoot sings in this film.  It perfectly contradicts every point made in Hyp’s song.  I love it.  After that they go to help Littlefoot with the last one being “a scaredy egg.”  My brother and I used that insult so many times.

        Hyp gets stuck in  a tar pit (the toxic tar is at the bottom, so he did no drink toxins).  Littlefoot hears, and from the first film they know how Tar works.  They make a dinosaur ladder to pull him out.  Humorously and important for Hyp a buzzing stinger (he is scared of them) lands on his nose.  He must overcome his fear and stay still in a funny pose.  He eventually falls in, but Petrie pulls him back up where he is pulled out.  Petrie is so amazing.  Hyp denies he needs help until he sees his dad coming and cowers behin the main group.  It consists of Nod’s father (prumably), Hyp’s father, Mr. Threehorn, Grandpa, and Mr. Clubtail (I presume he is Mutt’s father but Wikipedia disagrees with me.  Maybe he is friends of his family or just brave).  We have the dull reveal the bully has a rough father and Mr. Threehorn reveals the error of his way until Mr. Threehorn of all dinosaurs gets very preachy, which is a good touch.  Nod is crying about being in trouble and “THAT!”
        This is the first time I ever saw velociraptors, and four of them show up.  I love the shot where one’s foot goes down, and his claw comes up.

There are four of them.  One lunges at Grandpa, but he uses his tail instead of his head (like in 10) as bait.  He then hits him to Mr. Threehorn.  A rock falls on his head, and we never see him again.  Based on what his friends do I presume he was the weak scout they sent in.  Hyp’s dad takes the children to safety, and the rest face the others 4-3.  Well Littlefoot looks back and sees Grandpa is double teamed, and almost stops to help.  It does contrast form earlier how nicely Hyp’s dad tells him not to look back.  Despite most likely triple teaming the other one they cannot beat it I presume because they must have put Nod’s dad on him.  The grown-ups make the wall defense, which is horrible in real life because they attack the weakest link, but in movies it often works, but not here, as they just run around or even over Nod’s dad.  He should have stayed home today.

The children and Hyp’s dad see them from the high ground in front, but the grown-ups have a growl off with them, and we hear shaking as if there battle is making an earth quake.  Then all seven of them fall.  The grown-ups are out, but somehow all three sharpteeth shake it off.  What steroids are they taking?  Hyp’s dad runs off to the rescue in a scene that would be horrible if the pacing was not so good making it awesome.  It goes from slow paced to so fast.  I presume the sharpteeth are still shaken up from the fall and too bruised to move fast, and their steroids affect their brains.  Nod and Mutt mock him, but Hyp goes down to distract them, but all three go after him.  The sharpteeth chase Hyp, but Grandpa takes them all out in one hit (I am pretty sure that should kill them all).  The sharpteeth flee to the rocks to get the children, but Mr. Threehorn takes out another one who gets buried in rocks.  I know I often criticize the show for throwing rocks at them too much… Actually I only did that in 13 and 10.  Well it really starts right now, but the music and theme coming together about working together, and Hyp’s humor make this rock throwing work so well.  Unfortunately all three sharpteeth catch second wind again (I also have to question why Grandpa used his head as bait with no counter attack as usual).  It then turns out all the rocks they knocked around has freed the water.  The grown-ups flee to the high ground, while the velociraptors are swept away.  A later scene shows all three on shore seemingly kissing it.  That was awesome.

Surprisingly the falling action is very long, and kind of boring, an it includes a title drop.  Only 3, 7, and 12 have title drops and this was the only one that was forced.

Overall this has a great use of silence and pacing.  The songs go together so well.  The theme is remarkably adult and child centered.  The climax is amazing.  It took clichés that children were not yet well aware of, and it did great with them.  As the target audience this was my second favorite of the series after only 5.

The new climax ranking is 3, 5, 6, 10, 7, 14, 4, 11, 12, 8, 9, 13

The best songs are now 1. Very Important Creature (7) 2. Beyond the Mysterious Beyond (7) 3. Kids Like us (3) 4. Bestest friends (10) 5. Always There (5) 6. Grandma’s Lullaby (4) 7. Big Water (5) 8. When Your’re Big (3) 9. “The Lesson (8) 10. “Family (8) 11. Adventuring (10).  12. flip, Flap, Fly (12).  13. How do You Know (13). 14. “On You’re Own” (6) 15. Who Needs you (4)

The new running time order is 10 (85 minutes), 14 (82 minutes) 12/11 (81 minutes each), 6 (77 minutes) 13 (76 minutes), 9/8/7 (75 minutes each), 5/4 (74 minutes each), 3 (71 minutes)

The new film rankings are 5, 7, 3, 6, 10, 8, 14, 4, 12, 11, 9, 13.  3 was a heavy contender for the title of top film, but I enjoy 5 too much as a kid and 7 too much as an older viewer.  It 3, 5, and 7 are the top 3 and very close, and they are the notable big three.