“The Prince and the Pauper” (1990) SHORT FILM REVIEW
Written by Jambareeqi
In this adaptation of Mark Twain’s novel of the same name, “The Prince and the Pauper” features Mickey as a peasant who switches places with an English Prince – who looks just like him. With the King on his deathbed, the evil Captain Pete is screwing over peasants in the name of his majesty. While living as a poor mouse on the streets, the Prince discovers what Pete has been up to, and he vows to save his Kingdom from the corrupt Captain of the guards.
Even though this film is only 25 minutes long, it has all the weight and effort of one of Disney’s animated features. I kept forgetting that this was a half an hour special, because it’s so easy to get invested in the story being told, and that’s down to the work put into everything.
While many scenes are very slapstick driven, these physical antics are always played into character development; whether that means establishing Goofy’s clumsy nature or Donald’s short temper. Heck, slapstick can also bring some creative dynamic to the action scenes, because character’s butterfingers or slippy feet will make a fight or conflict more intense.
When the short gets a bit sombre or emotional, the slapstick is immediately sidelined, and the film will successfully achieve a level of dramatic nuance that may take you by surprise. The death of the king is such example, a sad moment that’s directed with a sense of respectful melancholy, but intrinsically tied to the story’s themes of leadership and hope.
I also LOVE how director George Scribner paints Tudor England under the thumb of Pete. The wooden-framed crooked houses are lightly-covered in cold snow, the sky is a murky grey, and poverty-stricken citizens look worse-for-wear. You really get a strong atmosphere of sorrow and hardship from it all.
At the heart of this film though is the story of two drastically different people trading worlds, and how it affects them as characters. Mickey learns that a position of royalty may give him privilege, but the obligations attached make such freedoms redundant. While the Prince gets a first-hand experience of Pete’s tyranny, after years of being blind to the corruption happening behind his back.
I’ve not read Mark Twain’s novel, so I’m no expert on the book’s intentions, but this short really conveys a message of a royal leader’s responsibility towards their people. The Prince is first introduced as a cheeky scamp who doesn’t take things too seriously, but he’s someone who truly believes in justice and compassion; important traits that his father preaches.
Once out in the wide world, the Prince embraces the fun and games of being a free mouse, but he also finds himself in the shoes of a peasant. He realises that his rose-tinted glasses have over-romaticised the merits of living with his people. He’s not a bad person at any stretch, but being born with a silver spoon has clearly distracted him from the bigger picture.
There’s also something really relatable about Mickey and Goofy’s dreams of better lives. Their failing self-made businesses are getting them nowhere, while they work in an eye’s view of the palace, where everyone is lucky enough to afford anything they want. This is a position that many people can resonate with, especially those who are less-than-privileged, because sometimes day-dreaming is all some people have.
Pete makes for a brilliant antagonist as always. His imposingly large pot-bellied size, the burning light of his cigar, crooked smile, and villainous laugh, all help make this one baddie that’s easy to hate with a passion. We’ve already developed pity for the peasants, but Pete’s sick joy from his cruelty makes us wish for his downfall even more.
To Conclude, this is one of the best Mickey Mouse shorts ever made. It’s blend of comedy and drama is neatly-handled with good taste, we empathise with the hardships of our down trodden heroes, and the film whole-heartedly believes in it’s message of justice and compassion for the poor. If you need your spirits lifted right now then I can’t recommend this short enough.
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“Star Wars: Clone Wars” (2003) TV SERIES REVIEW
Written by Jambareeqi
“Star Wars: Clone Wars” is an animated micro-series from director Genndy Tartakovsky. It serves as a midquel series set between episodes 2 and 3 of the Star Wars movies saga.
The biggest strength of the series is how it illustrates the sheer scope of this war, by detailing it’s ramifications on a galactic scale. The show pans between various raging battles across the galaxy, vividly painting the possibility of a successful Sith uprising, by showing that there’s now a chance that the Jedi COULD be outmatched.
The series also stays very true to the recurring themes of the Star Wars prequels. Anakin and Obi-Wan’s bond is carried on, with the two sharing a lot of scenes together that demonstrate their relationship – that being wise master and disobedient student. Palpatine is also still doing his best to convince the Jedi Order that he’s not really Darth Sidious, by keeping up his efforts to retain a consistent act and pretending to be a naive old man.
Although, a larger purpose for this series is to provide a bridge between episodes 2 and 3. At first, I wasn’t sure how it was going to do that? But we do get to see many important firsts! Big moments that further explain story beats that were maybe glossed over in the prequel movies. While there’s a wink to the audience about some more cosmetic developments (like C3PO’s new gold plating), the show knows how to handle certain integral changes with nuance, and will tastefully address these scenes with the required level of grace.
However, the most important part the show plays in the franchise, is how it examines Anakin’s relationship with his future. Throughout the series, Anakin displays both contrasting sides of his personality: reckless immaturity and heartfelt compassion. The show uses a spiritual journey plot to foreshadow Anakin’s path, while also admitting that this wasn’t always set in stone, and that there was a glimmer of hope for him to go another direction.
This space war maybe a series of relentless battles, but that’s not to say that the action is just repetitive sequences of explosions and gunfire; heck I’d say it’s anything BUT uninspired. Each action scene is oozing with charismatic tension and inventive tenacity, always finding ways to make the fights visually impressive or simply badass cool, but all while never forgetting the purpose of each confrontation.
Genndy Tartakovsky maybe renowned for his more comedic work, like Dexter’s Lab or the Hotel Transylvania films, but he’s also the visionary behind more dramatic animation projects like Samurai Jack and Primal. While Tartakovsky’s art style is quirkily angular and his animation techniques rely on a snappy dynamic, this never takes away from the seriousness of the war narrative or any intense tragedies that play out. Quite the opposite actually! The show uses it’s uniquely bold aesthetics to enhance character’s emotions or intensify gestures.
Heck, there are scenes in this show that are down-right cinematic! Little atmospheric sequences that let weather elements or empty silence set the stage for drama. Not to mention, Tartakovsky REALLY knows how to take advantage of the 2D animation medium, giving us imaginative imagery that would have had a different impact in live action, because the effects are so uniquely set in this animation style. Side Note: expect a couple of nods to the cult anime Akira!
There’s comedy here or there, but never in a distracting silly way. It’s the kind of dry humour you’d expect from Star Wars in general, with an emphasis on character relationships to spur on snarky banter – particularly derived from the brotherly bond between Anakin and Obi-Wan. Tartakovsky tones down the inherent cartoony nature of his animation, and let’s little tounge-in-cheek exchanges sell the subtle comedy.
To Conclude, Tartakovsky’s “Star Wars: Clone Wars” serves as a highly satisfying middle chapter for the Star Wars prequels. If Lucasfilm released this as “Star Wars Episode 2.5: Clone Wars”, I would have believed it was intended to be an official prequel film, because it bridges the gap THAT smoothly. It stays true to George Lucas’ mythos and lore, but relies on it’s chosen animation medium to embrace ideas that could have looked too over-the-top in live action.
Now, I know that we were given ANOTHER Clone Wars animated TV show years later, but I’ve not seen that rendition yet (though I have watched the pilot movie, which I’ve reviewed on my Youtube channel). However, after seeing this series, I am curious how Lucasfilm expanded this arc into something longer! I’m wondering what more could be explored in this timeline. Maybe I’ll give it a watch someday, but no promises when though.
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“The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” – Krunch Time (EPISODE REVIEW)
In this episode of “Jimmy Neutron”, Jimmy invents the greatest candy ever! However, this homemade confectionery is so delectable, that that the people of Retroville become addicted to it, and Jimmy decides to take advantage of their dependence.
Whenever I look back on this show, it’s this particular episode that sticks out the most, but why is that? Well, my theory is that it simply appealed to my childhood love of sweets, because what kid doesn’t love candy? Okay, maybe a few, but it’s still a common passion when you’re 12 or under.
The candy itself doesn’t exactly look yummy, it appears a little off-putting even. So yeah, I don’t think I can even imagine what it would taste like based on it’s design, but it’s people’s reactions to eating it that says everything. Their highly satisfied taste buds make this weird yellow spotted ball seem so appetizing! To the point where I’d actually love to try one myself haha.
Even though this episode has a goofy tone, there is a dark side to it that I never noticed before, because this candy brings out the worst in EVERYONE. Not only does it turn loved ones against each other, to the extent where they fight one another for one measly bite, but their addiction also inspires Jimmy to exploit them; bringing out a rather sleazy side of Jimmy that we don’t often see.
Although, Jimmy is still Jimmy, he knows when he’s ended up going too far with an invention. He still has his morals despite giving in to easy temptations sometimes, and he does end up wanting to do the right thing by the end.
What changes his mind? Well, in a sinister change, the entire town becomes a sugar hungry mob! Even his own loving parents are out for his blood. Not just that, Jimmy’s confections have also put Sam the candy bartender out business – sparking him to want to rile up the mob.
Most “Jimmy Neutron” episodes are about an invention going terribly wrong, but this one ends up being a parable on something deeper than usual, whether it was intentional or not. I can’t confirm if an underlying metaphor for the candy was on purpose, but it is easy to come up with interpretations – especially for adults going on nostalgia trips to revisit this show.
You could see Jimmy’s candy as an analogy for drugs, how their addictive element can bring out the worst in their users and what lengths they’ll go to show their loyalty to their dealers. On the other hand, the episode is sort of a commentary on the candy industry in general, because most candy is produced with addictive chemicals that’ll send kids loopy. With the drug metaphor not being blatant as all hell, it makes for a much less preachy story.
Heck, not many drug related kids’ cartoons are about actually MAKING drugs, they’re usually warnings about not saying yes to them, so it’s quite refreshing to see one showing the dangers of drug production.
To Conclude, this is a great Jimmy Neutron episode! It’s exciting seeing what this candy does to these usually harmless friendly characters, there’s some hilarious black comedy from Jimmy’s parents turning on their own son, and the episode acts as a good lesson on the dangers of producing addictive products for the public.
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