Frozen 2 and Once Upon a Time Connections?

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If you are a fan of the first Frozen film and a Once Upon a Time fan, chances are you enjoyed seeing those characters pop up on the fairy tale series. Although, it wasn’t everyone’s favorite storyline, it was however overwhelmingly loved and almost every fan would agree that the characterizations were spot on and some of the best the show ever did. For me personally, the characters and storyline are definitely favorites, so much so that the story written almost became so embedded in my mind as what happened to the characters after the film concluded. So when I heard there was to be a Frozen sequel, I couldn’t help but have the Once Upon a Time story in my mind. Not that I actually thought that the film would do that as they are completely separate entities. Though Oncers, admit it- wouldn’t you love to see animated versions of Storybrooke, Emma, Hook, Snow and others. How fun would that be!

In all seriousness, now that we have seen three trailers for Frozen 2, I do delight in some similarities, visual and character wise, as well as other possible comparisons. Whether these are intentional or not and whether they drew inspiration and took cues from Once Upon a Time will probably be open for interpretation. But it wouldn’t be the first time a Disney film did so, which is funny given what the concept of the series is. But at the end of Season 1 of Once Upon a Time, which aired May 13, 2012, Emma awakens her son Henry from a sleeping curse with True Love’s Kiss, something that came as a surprise and proved the strength of True Love obviously exists between a child and parent. Two years later in 2014, Maleficent was released, and there was a similar moment where Maleficent, who had become a mother figure to Aurora, awakens the princess from her sleeping curse in the same way Emma had awoken Henry. Is this merely coincidence, or a case of drawing inspiration? Whatever the case may be, the similarities and possible similarities between Once Upon a Time and Frozen 2 are definitely present and are all positive, natural, and/or interesting ones.

Team Family

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From what we can tell from the two longer trailers for Frozen 2, it seems like Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff are a united family, venturing off on an adventure together, facing dangers of all sorts. It also seems as if Kristoff may be living in the palace, and possibly engaged to Anna by now. In Once Upon a Time that is very much also the case. Kristoff and Anna are engaged, and while Elsa and Anna are separated, Elsa and Kristoff grow closer as friends and future in laws. And when all three are together again, there is very much a sense of a united front- they are a family. Frozen 2 obviously also presents that. Now this similarity is most likely a case of both merely taking the story and characters in a natural direction from the first film. So these comparisons are not surprising at all.

Runes and Gravestones

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As we see in the above images, we see what Once Upon a Time would often do: gain inspiration from the source and create their own take on it. In this case, Once Upon a Time took an image we saw in the film of the Gravestones for Elsa and Anna’s parents, with what look like ancient Runes, and recreated them in a new scene where grown up sisters, now happily together lay flowers for their parents. What is interesting is something we see in Once Upon a Time’s sisters in this and other moments is then in turn seen in Frozen 2 creating some visual and character similarities.

Holding Hands

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Above we see in Once Upon a Time, Elsa and Anna hold hands as they approach their parents’ gravestones. In a moment in Frozen 2 we see something very similar as we see the sisters holding hands, standing before large stones that look very much that of the graves for their parents. Visually this is an obvious comparison to make. But what I love is that Frozen 2 seems to be taking that character beat of the affectionate gesture between sisters they really emphasized on Once Upon a Time, and continuing that in the second film. In the first film, Elsa became so petrified of hurting anyone with her powers and always kept her gloves on, so it is both a natural and lovely to see that after overcoming that, Elsa instead chooses to hold her sister’s hand as a sign of love and strength, no longer afraid but instead confident with her sister by her side.

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The Enchanted Forest

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This comparison is somewhat superficial but I still delight in it. In Once Upon a Time, Anna heads off in search of answers of what happened to their parents after discovering that they were seeking something that could rid Elsa of her magic (or so they thought). Anna boards a ship to a place known as Mist Haven, or more widely called by its inhabitants as the Enchanted Forest. In Frozen 2, Elsa and Anna’s father tells them a story about an Enchanted Forest, and years later, the sisters and Kristoff seem to venture off to this mystical place. That is where the similarity ends, but the same name thing is interesting.

Anna’s Sword Skills

 

In the trailer for Frozen 2 we see Anna wield a sword with a great deal of force and confidence, something previously unseen in the first film. Where we did see this before was in the version of Anna in Once Upon a Time. In the show, Anna comes upon a friend of Kristoff’s, David before he becomes the valiant Prince Charming. It’s here we see Anna, whom she says was taught to sword fight by palace guards, helps David and teaches him to wield a sword himself. That back-story was one beloved by fans, and the sequel’s Anna looks very much the same, remaining her brave and plucky self but with impressive sword skills.

Elsa’s Magic

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In the first Frozen film, Elsa’s magic is very powerful, but at times it seems she has trouble with control and has issues when her emotions get the best of her. In Frozen 2, it looks like that still may happen, but importantly it looks like there is also a sense of even more power and more control of that magic. That is something we definitely see on Once Upon a Time. In fact, her story involves Elsa realizing her sense of self and self love, one that doesn’t have to have Anna with her to calm her down. She helps Emma gain control of her powers and learn to accept herself exactly as she is, choosing to keep instead of rid herself of her magic. Might we see a similar story in Frozen 2? Given what we’ve seen in the trailers, I think the possibility is strong.

A Found Family?

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In Once Upon a Time, Elsa and Anna discover that not only do they have an aunt named Ingrid who like Elsa has ice magic, but also that their parents did not wish to get rid of Elsa’s magic as they had thought. Instead, in their final moments they left a message in a bottle where they confess about their past mistakes of not accepting Ingrid’s magic, and that it should have be nurtured and cherished. Their Aunt Ingrid, whose anger over her sister’s “betrayal” led her to become a villain, sees the error of her ways and sacrifices herself to reverse her deadly spell of shattered sight. Anna and Elsa’s found family may not be with them in the physical sense, after that, but their spirits and what they learned from them remained.

After watching both trailers for Frozen 2, the plot is still somewhat hard to distinguish but I think there is a strong chance that the voice Elsa hears calling to her, and the people they meet in the Enchanted Forest could very well be family they never knew existed, just like Once Upon a Time’s Ingrid, as we see what is most likely the King and Queen in the Enchanted Forest as children. The older leader might even be a villain in the same way Ingrid was. The plots will obviously not be identical and this is pure speculation, but I do think a great deal of Frozen 2 could deal with not only the origin of Elsa’s magic, but the discovery of what happened to their parents, and possibly even others who possess magical abilities.

A Redemption for Hans?

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Lastly, although the reappearance if Hans is not a guarantee, Santino Fontana who voiced him in the first film, is listed among the cast. What could he be doing in the film? Would he continue to be a villain, or will be do what so many Once Upon a Time villains did and find redemption? This was commonplace of the series, but it isn’t really something Disney Films have done much. Most villains either die or are no longer seen again, remaining their evil selves. I actually think it would a welcome change to see a villainous character change for the better.

The similarities between Frozen 2 and Once Upon a Time are most definitely there. Although some comparisons are simple and merely visual, others have a stronger connection. Whether even more plot connections exist remains to be seen. We shall find out this coming November. Whatever the case, Once Upon a Time’s Frozen interpretations will remain beloved, and any and all similarities that are present in Frozen 2 will be looked at with fondness and smiles in what is sure to be an exciting and beautiful film.

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End of Summer Movie Night

The end of summer may be drawing near, but for those us who want to hold onto that sweet summer fun just a bit longer, one of the best ways to do this is with a fun “Summer Movie Might.” Whether it be in the comfort of your own home, at a special screening in the park, on a television, or from a projector, these are some films that are perfect reflections and companions to the summer season, whether it be in the heart of it or in those sweet final days.

Classic

The Parent Trap (1961)

The original and superior film, this Disney classic starring Hayley Mills, Brian Keith and Maureen O’Hara is a funny, sweet and naturalistic classic look at two girls who meet at summer camp and realize they are sisters, separated and each going with a different parent when they were just babies. That realization is quite sad when you examine it, but when they devise a plan to switch places in hopes of getting their parents back together, in turn it becomes a heartwarming and often hilarious film. Taking place in the summertime, the scenes at Camp Inch and at the father’s home in Monterey, California are rich with warmth, sunshine and sweetness of a more carefree era.

Gidget (1959)

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A slice of Americana, 50’s and 60’s era summer nostalgia, Gidget starring Sandra Dee, James Darren and Cliff Robertson is both adorable, light-hearted fun about the surfing craze and beach lifestyle of the time period, as well as a surprisingly poignant look at the complexities, confusion and pangs of being a teenager on the cusp of adulthood when it comes to love, sex, and what you want out of life. It’s simply seen with a lens that is less explicit than modern cinema, but still relatable. Of course at its core, the adventures of Gidget, Moondoggie and the Big Kahuna  are sweet summer fun.

Summer Magic (1963)

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Another oh so sweet lesser known Disney family film, is for those with a love for old fashioned sensibilities and way of life. Following a family who have fallen on hard times after the death of their father, they find happiness again in the Yellow House in the provincial town of Beluah, Maine where life is slow, and the people are friendly and generous. This may not be for everyone, but it’s rich with nostalgia of a bygone era. Taking place from summer all the way to Halloween, Summer Magic is a sweet showcase of overcoming loss and finding beauty in the little things from serenades on the front porch, to games of croquet and carving pumpkins.

Romance/Drama

Letters to Juliet (2010)

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Lovely little tale for the hopeless romantics, this film is not only beautiful in the sun-kissed splendor of Italy, but in the story of Sophie and the “Juliet” she helps to find her long lost love, while also finding a little romance of her own. What makes this film so lovely is that it showcases a love story that is about those who have lived a long life and yet their hearts still beat for each other after many years apart. A fine cast including Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave, this modern tale of love in Verona is the perfect romantic summer delight.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series (2005, 2008)

Touching, poignant, relatable interweaving stories of four best friends as they make the transition into young adulthood, going through the trails and tribulations of young love, the loss of loved ones, personal struggles, and insecurities, all while sharing a miraculous pair of jeans that somehow magically fits all of them. Over the course of two summers, these four young women discover so much about themselves and life and realize that their bond, their sisterhood is an unbreakable one, and that together, or apart, true friends will always be there to offer love, support and comfort as soft as a well worn pair of jeans.

Musical

La La Land (2016)

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City of Stars, are you shining just for me? A bittersweet love story, a nostalgic, colorful musical splendor, a love letter to the beauties of Los Angeles, La La Land is all that and more. If you are a lover of the old fashioned musical and a modern romantic story, then this is the perfect combination. It makes one want to head to LA and see all of its local treasures. It may be a bit of a fantasy, but it’s one wrapped in love, joy and the thrill of summer days and nights filled color and music. And who does not love the effervescent duo of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling who shine as brightly as that city of stars.

Summer Stock (1950)

Gene Kelly and Judy Garland made three films together for MGM, and this one is by far the sweetest, funniest, and brightest of the bunch. A summer stock company led by Kelly descends on Garland’s farm, as her sister, often carefree and thoughtless, brings them to rehearse their upcoming production. Of course, mayhem ensues and well as the romantic entanglements that so often fill these type of musicals are presents, as well as lovely musical numbers, incredible dancing, the fantastic chemistry between Garland and Kelly, and just wondrous summertime fun for all.

Adventure

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

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The first (and still the best) in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is a perfect, swashbuckling adventure. Filled with humor, romance, a creative story, incredible cast, and characters that have become so a part of our culture, The Curse of the Black Pearl is not only a great “popcorn” flick for a summer night, but ones that never seems to grow old, no matter how many times we watch and are transported to the exotic and beautiful Caribbean, frightening battles of moonlight crews of skeletons, romantic tension of young Elizabeth and Will, and hilarious, captivating Captain Jack Sparrow, the clever rapscallion we all adore.

Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

The strength of the human spirit, the importance of love and family, and the admiration of ingenuity and bravery are what make this story of a family who are stranded on an island truly special. They must learn to adapt to this new world while encountering wild animals and fending off cutthroat pirates in this Disney classic based on the book of the same name. It’s a fun and touching family adventure film that remains a lovely, timeless classic.

Sports

The Sandlot (1993)

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No matter if you love or play baseball, this coming of age story of kids learning about this sport and themselves is a hilarious and often sweet look at childhood, its pangs and its simple joys, is one we can all can find something to relate to. Nostalgic, funny and rich with a small town American vibe, the summer spent with these young boys changes their lives forever, and the film has become part of or culture. Forever we will quote it when we think of that summer classic treat s’mores. If you don’t know the line, “You’re killing me Smalls,” do yourself a favor and check out this hoot of a summertime family film.

Bend it Like Beckham (2002)

Soccer, or as it is known in the UK where this film is set, Football, may not be a sport we all are familiar with. But the story of two young women who want so much to play while dealing with families who do not necessarily approve or understand is one that remains always relatable and poignant. Both dealing with cultural and gender issues, breaking free from the norms, and coming out triumphant and happy is a story that we should always delight in, celebrate and encourage to see more of. Bend it Like Beckham is a perfect film to end the summer with.

What are your favorite films to watch in the summer? Did I mention some of yours? Let me know in the comments!!

 

My First Trip to the D23 Expo

My first trip to the D23 expo which is held in at the Anaheim Convention center every two years was most definitely quite the learning experience. While I enjoyed myself, it was also a bit overwhelming and I now know what to expect, what to do and what not to do if I decide to attend the next one. Instead of taking the plunge and attending all three days, I went only one day (the last one). I actually almost missed attending all together because I grew ill a few days before, but luckily I started to feel better quickly enough and was able to power through and still go- albeit because of said illness I went about things at a slower pace and not at 100%, so there was definitely things I missed. But going in I had a few things I hoped to accomplish: see the show floor and attend at least one panel. And for the most part I did that.

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Without a doubt my favorite thing I saw from the expo was The Art of Disney Storytelling Panel, hosted by John Stamos and his wife Caitlin and featuring Disney Legends, animators, producers and imagineers Tony Baxter, Floyd Norman, Don Hahn and Paul Briggs. They each told stories and offered insights on their experiences and different approaches to storytelling in film and in the Parks and it was funny, informative and overall a delight. Some of my favorite things including stories about Walt Disney inventing the concept of storyboards (which I was unaware of), and Howard Ashman and Alan Menken being really involved in story meetings and Ashman explaining how foreshadowing exists in the song “Part of Your World,” which for as many times as I have heard that song and seen The Little Mermaid, is something I never thought of. I also loved Tony Baxter’s story of how he received a postcard from Ray Bradbury after he rode Peter Pan’s Flight with Charles Laughton of all people. He wrote to him that he had “boarded a pirate galleon, flew out of a child’s bedroom and over London! You can’t get much better than that!” And how true is that!

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The other favorite thing I saw was The ‘Heroes and Villains” Disney Archives costume exhibit. For just about anyone this display of a wide array of gorgeous and intricate costumes is amazing. But for someone like me who truly appreciates and loves what goes into filmmaking, including the aesthetics and true artistry of costumes, this exhibit was absolutely incredible. I truly lucked out with this year’s display as we got to see such a variety of yes, heroes and villains, and such a variety of films and television, from Once Upon a Time’s Cinderella and Captain Hook, to the live action remakes Cinderella, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast, to the wonderful National Treasure and Prince of Persia, to EnchantedHocus Pocus, Alice in Wonderland and three different Mary Poppins costumes. It was a sumptuous feast for the eyes and I loved seeing each and every work of art.

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As far as everything else I saw, and the overall process I can say it was a combo of fun, overwhelming, and in my particular case a little lonely and confusing. The staff was overall friendly but would sometimes give me conflicting information and finding the line for my reservation panel was quite difficult. And lines are definitely everywhere. Consequently, I missed seeing some stuff because lines were quite long, or just long enough that I skipped them as I was tired. It is also very large and, at least for me, easy to get turned around and not be sure exactly where you were and if you missed walking by/through anything on the floor. After watching some videos from the expo I discovered, there was A LOT I missed. And being by myself, I didn’t have anyone for another set of eyes and help with confusion and bearings, take pictures, and overall share the con experience with. I have been to many cons alone before, but for some reason, perhaps because it was my first one, or simply the nature of it being a Disney con, I wish I had not been alone and with a friend or group. It was a little lonely. Still there were come really cool things to be seen and I was able to enjoy myself despite everything.

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Attending the D23 also gave me the opportunity for a few other things. I stayed at the Anaheim Hilton for the first time, and this is a beautiful hotel. My room offered an amazing view and Disneyland’s fireworks were visible at night. And On Monday I had the great pleasure of finally meeting Becka, aka DisneyKitee, in Disney California Adventure, along with her husband. I spoke about Becka in this article about Disney Tubers, and since have been getting to know her. Finally getting to meet was so wonderful as she is a sweet and lovely person. Disney friends really are the best!! Go watch her videos on YouTube if you don’t already!!

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So all in all, while I enjoyed walking through the show area and seeing the panel, I know that if I decide to attend in 2021, there are definitely things I would do differently. I would only go if I went all 3 or at least 2 days as there is just so much to see, panels to watch and stores to shop in, and there must be sufficient time to walk around and wait in lines. I also would only attend with another person or group as it would be an easier, more relaxed, and simply more fun con experience than attending alone. That might not be an issue for some, but for me it is. Disney is my favorite thing in the world, but sharing that love with others makes it even more magical. Fingers crossed for magical D23Expo experience in 2021!!

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Aladdin (2019) Film Review

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When it comes to the live action remakes of Disney’s animated classics, the results most definitely vary. For me, some are absolutely enchanting (Cinderella), while others are middling and underwhelming (Maleficent). When it comes to Aladdin, I will be honest and say I was extremely nervous to see this movie. Not only does the 1992 Aladdin rank at number 4 in my list of favorite animated films, but the trailers left a lot to be desired and felt somewhat off and disjointed. It’s puzzling how the trailers did not do the film justice, but it just goes to show you how significant context is. Those fears were not only put to rest, but absolutely vanished and replaced with sheer delight and overall love. Indeed, much like the classic song we are treated to a shining, shimmering, splendid film that is infused just the right amount of nostalgia and feel of the original, while also adding some wonderful and rich new story beats, character enhancements, and music. Aladdin is a visually sumptuous, funny, and heartfelt retelling of the classic story that soared right into my heart.

Casting/Performances & Story/Character Enhancements

When it comes to any film, but especially in these Disney remakes, casting, and in turn performances, plays a crucial role in the overall quality of the film. And one of Aladdin’s finest attributes is indeed its cast. Mena Massoud is a brilliant and perfect Aladdin. He’s charming, funny and earnest with a dynamic energy and dazzling smile to match. He was able to make Aladdin’s agility look natural and believable, and his journey of self discovery that his strength of character was always there really touching. Naomi Scott’s Jasmine is equally terrific, infusing the feisty princess with heart, compassion, strength and an intelligence that comes from inherent nobility and desire to truly help her people. Individually, they are fantastic. Together they are equally wonderful with significantly more screen time together which added some lovely depth to their relationship, and showcased a natural, sweet, romantic chemistry that helps makes Aladdin and Jasmine remain of Disney’s greatest couples.

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Of course, a great deal of the film’s success rests on Will Smith’s Genie’s shoulders, and is undoubtedly who audiences were anticipating the most. No one can ever replace or replicate Robin Williams. What he created was unique, brilliant and beloved. But Smith truly brought his own amazing spin to the character. He brought a great deal of charm, sweetness and humor, and with the music a hip hop flair that he is not only known for but does exceedingly well. He was charismatic, but also at times profound and importantly very human. And that may be one of the best things Smith brought to the role. Instead of trying to replicate the larger than life portrayal by Williams, this Genie is more grounded, which not only felt appropriate but was undeniably likable. And like the original, the friendship between Aladdin and Genie is poignant and the cornerstone to the film’s themes, and the chemistry between both actors is terrific. I’m going out on a limb here and saying that this may be my favorite role Will Smith has ever done.

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The more human and grounded qualities in the other cast members and characters, as well as the story additions and changes are also what made the film work so well. What works in an animated film may not always translate or work in a live action one. Moreover, it’s important to distinguish it from its predecessor and add the necessary story beats needed for a new and longer live action film. In Aladdin’s case, these changes felt necessary and were executed beautifully. Jafar for example is an amazing villain in the animated version, but mostly a mustache twirling, over the top kind of villain whose evilness is obvious. That is great and works perfectly in an animated film. But I loved what they did with this new version of Jafar, who is younger, handsome and much more subdued. Marwan Kenzari grounds the character and showcases that villainy not only can come from a place of hardship but also that evil may not always look as such. It can be simmering under a surface that can be very attractive and persuasive. Honestly, much like they did with Gaston’s character in Beauty and Beast it’s important to portray villains in this realistic way. The same can be said for the Sultan (Navid Negahban), who is more reverent and realistic rather than goofy, as well as the animal characters of Abu, Iago and Rajah. There is obviously still the fantastical element about them but they feel closer to reality and in turn perfectly blended into the story. I smiled whenever they were on screen. Moreover, some other character and story additions that I absolutely loved were Jasmine’s hand maiden Dalia (Nasim Pedrad) who was sweet, funny and gave Jasmine a true friend and another scene partner that added real humor and heart. Some other changes were made at the climax and conclusion to the story that I won’t spoil, but they were refreshing, added dynamic action, and meaningful messages that a modern audience will certainly appreciate.

Direction and Visuals

I am a fan of many of Guy Ritchie’s films and his signature style. Aladdin is a much brighter and happier story than his usual fare but he was still able to bring his moments of slowed down or sped up film that is his trademark in some of the dancing and action sequences that I comes to expect from his work. This may be off putting or odd to some, especially if unfamiliar that this is Ritchie’s trademark visual that he always employs. I personally find it fun, but it may not be for some viewers. In addition to the direction, indeed all of the visuals are sumptuous and wondrous, from the rich and colorful costumes and sets to the sweeping camera work. These truly are an artistic feast that are both similar to the original but something entirely different and often as magnificent as what we saw in Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. And while the blue version of the Genie is still a bit jarring on first glance, you quickly get used to it and are simply looking at the character.

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Music and Songs

If I were to rank my favorite Disney soundtracks, 1992’s Aladdin is tied for the top spot with The Little Mermaid, so there was certainly a great deal to live up to with these new versions of the songs and score. All of the songs that we love are included and are brought to life with amazing and fresh takes and a different but wonderful energy. It’s difficult to actually choose a favorite, but “Friend Like Me,” which was already so fun and colorful in the original, has the same kind of fun flair and new hip hop vibe, also found in “Prince Ali,” which is slower, but drawn out in a way that almost felt necessary with the changes to Genie’s character. There is definitely a vibrant Bollywood influence to this number, while “One Jump Ahead” is just fun and gives added interaction between Aladdin and Jasmine. “A Whole New World,” which is my favorite Disney song, perhaps may not soar as high as the original, but at the same time, it’s almost impossible to do so. What is does do a give us a beautiful new version on this romantic scene. And I loved it vocally, orchestra wise, and visually with new locals the couple flies throughout and a lovely depiction of their inherent and natural chemistry. The new song “Speechless,” which is a anthem of strength given to Jasmine’s character, is a great song and moment for her arc. However, it’s inclusion, which is sung in a dream like sequence, and songwriters are La La Land and The Greatest Showman’s Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, instead of one of Menken’s other collaborators feels a bit disconnected and decidedly different from the rest of the songs. Is the song great? Yes, indeed it is. But its style does feel like a Paul and Pasek song as opposed to a Menken song.

Lastly, what is truly remarkable is that Menken composed new versions of his Aladdin themes and motifs as well as all new orchestrations for the entirely of the film, all of which are magnificent. They are deep, rich, and gorgeous and profoundly demonstrate what we already knew- that that Menken is not only a living legend for his body of work, but can still compose equally brilliant new musical scores. Menken should be revered in the same breath as such illustrious composers as John Williams and Hans Zimmer.

Final Thoughts

If you are debating whether to see this new version of Disney’s Aladdin, especially if you are a tremendous fan of the original or not always sure about live action remakes, I cannot recommend this film enough. Currently, for me this Aladdin ranks just below 2015’s Cinderella, but another viewing may move that to a tie for the top spot. Regardless, what I do know is that despite trepidation Aladdin proved to be a funny, effervescent, colorful and heartfelt diamond in the rough.

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A Journey of Kismet, Anxiety, Healing, YouTube, and the Magic of Disney

In life for as many changes as we experience there are also many constants. For myself, the longest one has been my love for Disney and those who share this passion. It’s also said that life is a journey, not a destination. And it’s a statement I definitely agree with. But I would amend this philosophy with what I’ve also found to be true- That life is filled with many journeys towards destinations that are merely paths, that lead you down more paths; and is often the case, it’s a domino effect that has a lastly impact on your life. Which leads me towards my purpose in writing and sharing this. Many that I’ve been following me are aware, but many also are not, so let me enlighten you. I always wanted to create and share things that bring people happiness and to spread some positivity in the world. That is my goal for The Girly Nerd: to create my own content as well as share such that does just that. But sometimes life throws you curve balls and it can be a great struggle. It can be difficult to share things like this- to be open and vulnerable and wear your heart on your sleeve. It’s honestly somewhat terrifying to open up this way with my personal struggles, especially when you have dealt with anxiety, depression and wounds of cruelty and rejection. Consequently it can very difficult to reach out to people in any way. But with encouragement from family, friends, and those inspirations that one finds in life, as well as the caveat that perhaps others may be helped with my story, I’ve been sharing more with all of you and I cannot thank those who have helped me enough.

(Additive: Since I began writing this, one of my most beloved college professors passed away suddenly and she was the second one I’ve lost. Both were young and this hits me deeply, so it’s a wake up call).

I’ve also come to realize that in what feels like kismet, so many of my experiences and these paths are interconnected. So no matter who sees this, it’s important for me to share what’s led me to this place, in my effort to be less passive, to engage and connect more with lovely people, and be brave enough to put myself out there more. On Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram I’ve made an effort to do just that- chatting, liking, commenting, and such with those I truly like.  Once such source of motivation to do so is Jennifer Morrison, who has become such an inspiration not only through her Once Upon a Time character Emma but also through her own grace through life. And a quote she herself said has come to mean a great deal, especially at present time. “Don’t wish for your fairy tale. Fight for your fairy tale. Slay your dragon, then go to the ball.” And so, I slowly but surely find myself doing just that. Not just dreaming but fighting and slaying those demons that are hurting and holding me back. I am not perfect; some days are still hard. But isn’t that part of everyone’s journey?

First I must preface this with the times in my life where, when I recently stopped and thought about it, have striking similarities to the present. In my last semester of college, a few weeks in, I became ill with a severe kidney infection. I vividly remember asking my doctor when I could return to school. He laughed because my recovery was going to be long- not astronomically long, but long enough that it would make it so I couldn’t possibly catch up in my classes. I was about to graduate and here I had to delay it for a whole other semester. It was disappointing and dejecting to say the least, on top of feeling awful physically. But out of something bad, came something wonderful. When I was well enough I  began auditing one class and talked to my advisor about going to Graduate School for my Master’s after finishing my Bachelor’s. And if I hadn’t gotten sick I would have been with different students and class options and professors. But because of the timing it led me to some of the greatest friends I’ve ever made in my life. They are my steadfast support and loving kindred spirits and if I hadn’t gotten ill I may never have met them. And I cannot imagine a life where they are not part of it.

Similarly, a job I had after college required a laptop, which funnily enough with a new computer it led me to both streaming TV shows for the first time and to tumblr, which led me to discovering the show Chuck and becoming a fan of Zachary Levi, getting into the fandom of Once Upon a Time, and discovering the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. And this led me to writing for The Nerd Machine, attending NerdHQ, and becoming more immersed and actively in social media where I began writing so much and creating art, as well as becoming motivated to create The Girly Nerd. Though social media can be fickle and often negative when you immerse yourself in these worlds, in the end despite some hurtful experiences, I’ve also had some amazing experiences and found some lifelong, wonderful friends. There were some low points and struggles job wise and emotionally, but these wonderful things were brought about because of them. It truly shows that with storms come rainbows. And take one thing out of the equation and things would be completely different.

And thus leads me to the real my real purpose with this piece, and thank you for reading this far and indulging my typical loquacious ways. In those experiences above, certain individuals proved to not only be kind, lovely and positive, but also inspiring to me in my present state. For the past few years I have been struggling a great deal with my health both physically and mentally. I developed anemia on top of hypothyroidism, which is being well handled now with medication, but I often was still feeling a lack of energy, motivation and often sadness. Recently, I was given an official diagnosis of anxiety and dysthymia, which is a mild depression. It was difficult to hear this, and it’s even more difficult to talk about. But in today’s age it seems people are more open and encouraging regarding things like this. And I finally feel at a place where I am not only getting to a better place, and more actively working to feel better, but also brave enough to talk about it.

Zachary Levi has proved to be truly inspiring and a wonderful person not only the many times I met him (If you have not listened to the first time I did so, with an interview with him and Mandy Moore, you can do so here), but he’s also been so encouraging to others in the ways he talks about his own life’s journey and encouraging to talk about your own mental health and how important self care is. As I mentioned, Jennifer Morrison is ever an inspiration with her grace and work ethic and similar philosophy of learning to be brave and open with both yourself and others, especially when loving yourself may be difficult. Being a fan of hers introduced me to her sister in law Eleanora Morrison, whose very open dialogue about journey with her health she so bravely shared, and now she is doing amazingly with her own magazine Eleanora Magazine, once again proving to be an inspiration for me. And finally Maxwell Glick, who I discovered in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and was so happy to meet at NerdHQ a few years back, led me to discovering his YouTube channel.

Which leads me to now. For so long Maxwell’s, aka MrCheezyPop, was the only YouTube channel I watched. But for awhile I got out of the habit of doing so, among other things and I didn’t find much joy, energy or motivation for much of anything. Some days I found even getting up for the day difficult. The thought of writing or creating anything became a source of anxiousness instead of joy. Now I know why. And I won’t pretend these struggles are completely gone. But I am in such a better place for the reasons above and one more- the very reason I am writing this article. One day (and a day I am so thankful for) I began to watch Maxwell’s channel again. And once again, like the other times in my life, a beautiful domino effect occurred. Finding so much joy, and with the convenience of being able to watch YouTube on my smart TV, I started up with these videos again and they brought me so much happiness. And with the wonderful way YouTube works, you can discover more and more wonders. And oh my goodness, so began a long line of discovery. Through MrCheezyPop I discovered FreshBaked, Tiffany Mink, Sarah Sterling, Leo Camacho, and the Hayes Family Vlog. Through FreshBaked I discovered TheTimTracker, and through their channel I found Justin Scarred and AdamtheWoo, which led me to Life Disney & Beyond, Disney Kittee and Fairy Tales and Fitness. Over the course of a year, though I was still not always in the best place, I had found these channels filled with fun, positivity and such truly wonderful people. I don’t want to be too hyperbolic and say this saved me, but I can say that these discoveries changed me, helped me beyond measure, and made my life brighter. I don’t even want to imagine where I would be if I had not had that fateful day where I decided to watch Maxwell’s videos again. Like these other moments I truly believe the universe was working its magic for me. I found my soul reawakened.

So here I am wanting to share all of these wonderful people in gratitude, and admiration, deep appreciation, and even a hand of friendship. And between YouTube and Instagram I find new, lovely people all the time. The online community can be a crazy place, and sometimes dark and cruel. But you can also find amazing, gifted, beautiful, kind souls. I may not know many of the following well, and some more than others; but you never know, that may change. And that would be lovely. With no agenda and a bit of hope, connecting with others is an important part of life. To any of the following who sees this, I want to say above all THANK YOU, and whatever may come, I am better off. As I said in my Favorite Films of 2018 about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a deep love of any kind of media has “the ability to awaken and move the soul in a profound way. For we see how [it] can bring people together- reach across time and space and not only make us feel, but help us feel connected to others. Isn’t that what the finest books, or films, or music or art can accomplish- create an unique kind of radiant magic that can helps create unbreakable bonds of love, family and friendship. In a world filed with darkness, this is a glowing beacon of light and hope.” And to everyone else who reads this, I hope you discover this wondrous Disney community for yourself and let that magic into your life. You will not regret it.

And here they all are:
Maxwell Glick (MrCheezyPop)
I definitely owe a great deal to Maxwell as I would not have discovered any of the other channels otherwise. But even beyond this, with him you will find the epitome of positivity, kindness and class with his “Adventures Through Happiness.” Fun food reviews, which is probably his trademark, hilarious reactions videos, Disney Parks trips in not only Disneyland and Disney World, his videos are truly the best. The channel has evolved a great deal in exciting and wonderful ways and I also love the special events, film reviews, and even more fantastic things beyond the world of Disney that I personally love and relate to such as Top 10 lists, original music videos and pop music, insights into his acting works, and sports. No matter what I find myself always smiling, laughing or at peace with these videos. Max is funny, sweet, positive and a wonderful guy in every way. Every day could be made magical with such a kindred spirit.

FreshBaked
These are without a doubt my favorite Disneyland walk through vloggers. Led by David, wife Liz and friend Ian, each week I adore becoming immersed with whatever they are doing in Disneyland whether it be rides, food, or special events. They also do Secrets and Histories, Construction Updates, weekly fun livesteams all with so much positivity and lighthearted fun. I laugh so much and definitely relate to them, most especially Liz who is beyond sweet and funny with the Friends and fave film references. And their reverence for Disney history is ever relatable. Founding member Sara is no longer part of FreshBaked but I highly recommend going back and watching past videos. I unabashedly admit watching a great many of the past trip reports at the same time as the new ones. And special shout out also to Damion who runs the FreshBaked Twitter! They are all such wonderful, kind individuals who let us feel like we are right there with them in the Happiest Place on Earth.

Sara still does her own thing as Lady Romey and I recommend following her further adventures because she such a lively and loving person as well extremely creative with her shop. I bought an adorable sign for Halloween which I just love. She also has been very open and raw with her personal struggles and it’s truly touching and inspirational.

TheTimTracker
Tim and Jenn Tracker have had a long YouTube career and like Freshbaked I have gone back and watched a great many of their past videos as well as their new content every week. These two are truly the sweetest individuals, and certainly couple goals. I have never been to any other Disney park besides Disneyland, but I feel like I have thanks to them, and definitely know what I need to when I hopefully do someday. Their channel has evolved a great deal and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing this transformation and see them continue to do new things within Florida, a brand new podcast, as well as the constants with their home vlogs. But what I really love is that they have obviously remained very open, honest, funny, genuine and kind people. And I have to also say, for me personally, their videos have an overwhelming calming effect on me, which for someone who struggles with anxiety, is invaluable. I’ve also found myself working “Ding Dang,” “Holy Macaroni,” and “And now it’s time to pay the price” into my vernacular. The Trackers are the absolute best of the best!

Tiffany Mink, Sarah Sterling, Leo Camacho
They all have individual channels, but these three are so interconnected to me and are upbeat, creative, nice and funny people. I honestly aspire to be as creative and confident as they are!! The original Disney Bounders as far as I can tell, they all do their own thing but collaborate a great deal. I love Tiffany’s unboxings and creative fashion and Disney hacks, Sarah’s Disney histories, tips and park videos, and Leo’s gaming and top 10’s especially. Their presence is a bit more on Instagram now, but YouTube still has a lot of fun stuff to watch.

Justin Scarred
Justin is the very definition of just a cool and funny dude. But he’s also very honest and vulnerable in his struggles with anxiety that he’s dealt with in the more introspective moments. His video editing style is so fun and creative, making all of the Disney History and trip reports beyond fun. There’s more than just Disney, but all kinds of outings around California and beyond, many with fiancée Ally. The first video I actually watched included Justin’s story of how the two met, and it’s was so touching and frankly #GOALS! Both are sweet and a great balance of outgoing and more introverted. There’s so much to love in Randomland.

AdamtheWoo (TheDailyWoo)
Adam is another guy who I would above all call simply cool. The variety and amount of amazing things Adam has visited across the country is astonishing and I am still trying to catch up. Of course I especially appreciate the Disney Parks videos, but I am also a fan of the Universal trips, and other places of interest such as filming locations- the Back to the Future House is a personal favorite. He begins all his videos with the phrase “Join me. Shall You?” and if you do you won’t regret it.

Life Disney & Beyond
In Disney and other life adventures with Katie and Spencer, we get bright, happy times with this extremely sweet and positive couple who implore us all to live by the beautiful philosophy to live your best life. That is definitely something we all could aspire to and although I haven’t been watching their videos for as long, they certainly already have made an impact, especially with the struggles I’ve been going through. For that I am so thankful. Their videos always bring a smile to my face.

Disney Kittee
Becka is the YouTuber I have connected with the most and certainly one of the lovely ladies I relate to the most in personality and the kinds of things I enjoy and hope to do more of. Although we do have some different favorites and interests (and oh how I wish I could sing as beautifully as she), Becka is the kind of lovely person we all would want to be friends with and share stories and a love of Disney. Seeing her share some of her insecurities has helped me a great deal try to be braver. Her unboxings are so much fun, especially if you adore Disney merchandise, and I adore her trip vlogs, amazing Pin Boards, and the mystery pins which she often shares with her husband- the two of them are so adorable together! And of course her Magic Mail Mondays, one of which I was a part of because I simply had to send something, are a joy to watch as they shine a light of so many great people. And your Disney sketch is still coming, I promise!! Becka is a beautiful soul.

Fairy Tales and Fitness
Kaitlyn, much like DisneyKitte is someone I greatly relate to and thoroughly enjoy watching and getting to know. She has such as sweet and calming demeanor and her love for all things Disney, and positive attitude is just lovely. Her style and favorites are so akin to my own, so of course I love watching her shopping hauls, and trips to the all of the Disney Springs stores. Even though I can’t visit them myself, I love seeing all the new merchandise. I don’t call myself the Girly Nerd for nothing, so it is a joy finding a channel with so much girly delights. Her videos also often include her husband as well as her sweet mom and their relationship reminds me so much of me and my Mom. Everything here is a breath of fresh air.

Hayes Family Vlog
I discovered this channel the most recently, and it truly is an inspirational and heartwarming one. Following the Hayes family’s adventures through Disneyland and mostly little Malia’s encounters with Disney characters will melt the heart of even the biggest of Grinch’s. And for me who is about the easiest, softest touch in the world, I cannot help by always smile, and often cry. Malia has an autoimmune condition called Alopecia, and in addition to raising awareness, the Hayes family want everyone to know, and show through this brave and adorable little girl, that beauty is everywhere, and encourage us all to “live your best day ever” every day. That is a beautiful message!!

These are in my opinion some of the loveliest people you will find in the Disney community, but I am sure I will discover more. And I hope I get to know them all better. That is what is so wonderful. It’s such a large community with room for everyone. And it’s a very warm and positive atmosphere that I am so happy to be immersing myself in- and in so many ways. And I dare say Walt himself would be happy and proud of all the magic he has inspired.