Unexpected Treasure

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A few weeks ago I finally visited an antique shop near my house that I’ve been wanting to check out. While exploring shelf after shelf of random items, I stumbled upon the coolest Disney snow globe I have ever seen. The base is a wicker sewing basket adored with buttons, a thimble, a measuring tape, and thread. Inside the globe, Cinderella is modeling her lovely pink dress while her bird and mice friends altar it. This by far is my favorite scene in the movie. There is so much detail I can almost hear the mice singing “And we’ll make a lovely dress for Cinderella.” Two years ago, I visited Disney World and realized finding merchandise that features Jaq and Gus (the funny mouse duo) was impossible, so you can imagine my sheer delight at finding this snowglobe. I immediately grabbed it and after gushing to my husband (who politely pretended to care) about this incredible find, I hurried to the register to purchase it. Cinderella holds extra special memories for me because when I was a child my mom offered to invite my best friend Shannon (who I still talk to all these years later) to come to the theater with us. This was the first time I had ever been allowed to bring a friend with me to the movies and I felt so grown up (even though I was only like seven or eight). Now every time I look at my snowglobe I will have a beautiful reminder of this timeless film and the people I shared the experience with. What is your favorite song in Cinderella?

Coming Soon To a Theater Near You

Hello my fellow fairy tale fans! There are several fairy tale inspired films coming out within the next few months that I am extremely excited to share with you. Check out these trailers if you are interested and let me know which movies you want to see. Personally, I plan to watch all three of these films in the theater .

Into The Woods coming out January 2015

This musical, which features several beloved story book characters such as Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Cinderella, brings back very special memories for me. I was on the props crew for this play in high school and proudly helped build a full sized cow for Jack and his mother. Being involved in theater was a big part of my life back then and I can’t wait to see this on the big screen. The movie stars Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep so it has to be great, right?

Cinderella coming out March 2015

Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, and Maleficent have had their stories retold in live action, so it is only fair that the house maid- turned-princess gets her opportunity next spring. Since this particular version is from Disney, I have high expectations for the movie to be wonderful. In related news, Netflix has recently released a few Cinderella inspired tales (Ella Enchanted and Ever After), which I plan to review in the near future. Stay tuned for that post.

Pan coming out July 2015

Our favorite boy that never grows up is back in a brand new movie this summer. Ever since I viewed the disappointing retelling of this famous story, Hook featuring Dustin Hoffman and the late Robin Williams (I know I’m probably one of the only people on earth that wasn’t a fan), I’ve been eager for someone else to try their hand at making another version. Hopefully this one will be better.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and, if you are interested, I have a “Frozen Inspired Christmas Decor” post on my other blog Reels and Writings.

Movie Review: Malificent

If you think you know the classic story of Sleeping Beauty, think again. Malificent features battling kingdoms, an evil spell, and a princess in danger, bringing a whole new perspective on this age old story to the big screen.

Pros:
Angelia Jolie is the perfect choice for the lead role. She is mysterious, eerily beautiful, and masterfully balances Malificent’s desire for revenge with her longing for love and acceptance.

The graphics are amazing. The kingdom of the Moors where the magical creatures live is fantastic and I’m willing to bet watching this movie in 3-D would be well worth the price of a theater ticket.

I like the idea of retelling a well loved fairy tale through the eyes of the villain. It worked for the popular Broadway hit Wicked after all, so why not try it with Sleeping Beauty?

Cons:
King Stefan’s (Sharlto Copley) reaction to some of the significant events (I won’t give anything important away) did not make sense. The narrator tells us that he is distraught about the curse placed on his daughter, yet he seems completely indifferent during certain key moments of the film when he should have been concerned, sad, or thankful and overjoyed. I’m not familiar with this actor so I don’t know if this is a problem with the script writing or his acting ability.

I wish Maleficent’s crow Diaval (Sam Riley) had more personality. His character is very one dimensional. This could have been a wonderful opportunity to add some humor to the story. I’m guessing the writer thought the three ditzy fairies (Flittle, Knotgrass, and Thistletwit) that care for Aurora were enough comic relief, but I found them absolutely annoying. The fairies spent more time fighting with each other than they do about protecting the princess.

Rating: 3 Breaks the Spell This film was entertaining enough, but the few points I mentioned above kept me from giving this movie a higher score. As a fairy tale enthusiast, I’m glad I was able to see Maleficent on the big screen but, this won’t be something I purchase when it is released on DVD.

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Movie Review: The Secret of Moonacre

After the death of her father, 13 year old Maria Merryweather (Dakota Blue Richards) and her nanny, Miss Heliotrope (Juliet Stevenson) move to the countryside with her estranged Uncle, Sir Benjamin (Ioan Gruffudd). While getting adjusted to her new life at the mysterious Moonacre Manor, Maria discovers an ancient family feud between the Merryweathers and the sinister De Noirs. Now with the help of a zany chef, a magical unicorn, and her new friend Loveday (Natascha McElhone) she must unearth the secrets of the past and set things right by the 5000th rising of the moon to save her family’s Mansion.

Pros:
The setting of The Secret of Moonacre and the costumes are beautiful. This is exactly how a fairy tale should look. Upon further research I learned The Secret of Moonacre was filmed in Hungry and England so now I have an even stronger desire to travel abroad.

Tim Curry as the greedy and cruel Coeur De Noir was fantastic! I’m a huge Tim Curry fan (Congo is one of my all time favorite movies) so I was very excited to see him in this film. However I would have liked Tim to have more screen time. He was certainly more interesting to watch than the moody Sir Benjamin or the beautiful but no substance Loveday.

The unicorn and the lion were a nice touch. Again I wish these creatures had more screen time and (perhaps this is silly) that they talked or showed a bit more personality. The NeverEnding Story and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe do a better job with this aspect.

Juliet Stevenson was wonderful as Miss Heliotrope, the awkward, gassy governess and Andy Linden was funny as Marmaduke the quirky cook. These two provided some much needed comic relief and kept the story a bit silly and whimsical which is exactly what a fairy tale needs to be.

Cons:
While the bones of this story seem to be good I kept getting the strong feeling that this movie was missing something. This film is based on the book The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge so I suspect as with most novel to film adaptations that some characters were cut and elements of the story were simplified to fit in an hour and forty three minutes. If anyone has read this book let me know what was changed I’m curious.

Maria seems to have a bit of chemistry with Robin De Noir (Augustus Prew) but that is never fully explored. I feel that this could have been another nice side story to make the movie more interesting. Again why do I suspect that the book may have explored this more fully?

Rating: 3 Breaks the Spell This fairy tale is cute and mildly entertaining if you are looking for something to watch on Netflix with the kids.

Movie Review: Frozen

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A sister with a secret, a goofy snowman, and a whole lot of ice…why yes I am talking about Frozen, the latest full length animation from Disney. In order to save her kingdom from permanent winter, Anna must travel into the mountains under brutal weather conditions to confront her estranged older sister Queen Elsa.

I’ve been wanting to see this movie for months, but a tiny voice in my head was worried it could never be as fabulous as Tangled, however I am happy to be proven wrong.

Pros:
Lovable characters – Anna is fun, energetic, and full of life, Olaf the snowman has a sunny disposition and a huge heart, and even Sven, the reindeer is highly expressive.

Beautiful animation -Though I didn’t see Frozen in 3D, I bet it would be amazing. I loathe winter, but this movie certainly put me in the mood for ice skating and snowman building. It reminded me of childhood when you could be outside sledding all day and have so much fun you didn’t even feel the cold.

The theme of sisterhood – having a feisty little sister myself, I can certainly relate to Elsa’s desire to protect Anna and in turn sympathize with Anna’a desire to be close again like they were as children.

The music – I already know if someone buys me this movie on DVD I’ll be memorizing the songs in no time.

Cons:
Frozen was a sheer delight to watch, but it did leave me with some pressing questions. Why are Anna and Elsa’s parents so neglectful? Anna spends a great deal of her childhood completely alone. It kinda made me wonder if I needed to call child protective services? And where did her parents go and why did they leave town? This wasn’t explained at all and I hate when details like this are left out. Another issue that bothered me is the girls’ education. Why aren’t Anna and Elsa in school or have a tutor? And what about a caretaker? Shouldn’t someone be in charge of the girls when their parents are fulfilling royal duties or fretting over Elsa’s secret?

Rating 4: True Love’s Kiss This movie is lovely and had me smiling long after I watched it.  In fact, walking out of the theater I half joked (but was slightly serious) that I wanted to go buy tickets and watch it again. Minus the questions I had at the end of movie Frozen was extremely enjoyable.

Gift Suggestions For Fairy Tale Fans

As the holiday season swiftly approaches I have compiled a list of presents that any fairy tale enthusiast would love.

Movies:
Tangled
The adventure of Rapunzel, the girl with the magic golden hair, and her journey to see the annual lighting of the lanterns. Throw in a sassy thief, a determined horse, and a manipulative mother and you have a delightful animated story fit for all ages.image

Enchanted
Princess Giselle is about to have all of her dreams come true when an evil queen sends her to modern day New York City. This hilarious look at a fairy tale princess trying to navigate the real world is sure to make anyone smile.
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Books:
Entwined by Heather Dixon
A clever retelling of the classic tale The 12 Dancing Princesses Azalea and her eleven sisters dance every night in a secret ballroom which is all fun and games until they learn the cost of passage. The imagery was so detailed and realistic it made me feel like I was actually in the story.

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The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long
This book reminds me of the next Wizard of Oz. As a child, Jenny watched her older brother Tom get taken by the trees and no one believed her. Many years later, before leaving for University Jenny revisits the place in the forest Tom disappeared and gets her chance to find out what happened to Tom and attempts to save him.

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Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon
I reviewed this wonderful book in an earlier post. See “The Truth About The Little Mermaid.”

Products:

Cell Phone Cases

Who these days isn’t obsessed with their smartphone? And what better way to dress up this must have gadget than with a beautiful fairy tale inspired phone case. Amazon has many cute cases to choose from for a variety of phone types.

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Jewelry Fit For A Princess
Baublebar features several bedazzled necklaces that would wow anyone at the ball, office, or out on the town. These statement pieces can be dressed up or down and are well worth the price. Check them out at http://www.baublebar.com.
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Movie Review: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

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Abandoned in the woods as children, siblings Hansel & Gretel learn to survive on their own in a time when witches are rampant across the land. As they grow up, the pair gains fame as ruthless witch seekers and destroyers. In Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, they are sought after to help a town defeat some witches and recover the townsfolk’s missing children before the dreaded blood moon festival.

Though the origins of Hansel and Gretel may stem from children’s fairytales, make no mistake the movie Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is not intended for little ones. This film features gore that would rival some horror films (which is great for me because I love horror movies), inappropriate language, and nudity. If you like your fairy tales to be light hearted and fluffy, this movie is NOT for you. I would suggest something more along the lines of The NeverEnding Story, Princess Bride, or Enchanted. All of which are delightful family fun.

Pros:
All the creative ways the witches are killed.
I loved that this movie showed a dark, serious, and violent side of fairy tales along the same vein as Snow White and The Huntsman. Have you ever read Grimms’ Fairy Tales? They aren’t exactly full of joy and rainbows.
Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) are certainly a force to be recked with. They are Samuel L. Jackson tough which pleasantly surprised me. For some reason when I saw the trailer I thought this movie might be campy…wow was I ever wrong!
Femke Janssen was the perfect actress to play Muriel. She is confident, beautiful and portrays evil rather well.

Cons:
Hansel was a bit of jerk (drinking too much, trolling for women, and acting rude to a fan, just to cite some examples) which disappointed me. I really wanted to like him more since he is a main character.
Gretel doesn’t find love. This is a fairy tale! Where is a dashing, brave man who will capture her heart? I really missed this movie having a love story element.

Rating 3: Breaks The Spell I enjoyed this movie and always appreciate when a film has the power to surprise me, but I don’t think I need to see this one again. If I find myself in the mood for gore I’ll pop Saw into my Blu-ray player instead.

Movie Review: Jack The Giant Slayer

ImageJack is a poor farmer barely making ends meet. So like anyone desperate to secure a roof over his head and his next meal, he heads into town to sell his horse and cart. In town he meets a mysterious monk who offers Jack magic beans as payment. Remembering a fairy tale his father used to tell him as a child, he accepts the magic beans and puts in motion an adventure that will change his entire life. In Jack the Giant Slayer, there is about to be a war between humans and a race of giants, and Jack will be called upon to help save the kingdom.

Pros:

The graphics are amazing.

Giants are exactly as you would expect. Ugly, horrible, and have a keen sense of smell. I was pleasantly surprised they have so much personality. My favorite one was the two-headed giant.

Jack the Giant Slayer makes the fairy tale pop from the pages without being cheesy or too childish.

Stanley Tucci is wonderful as Roderick. I enjoyed him showing a more evil side and think he should go for these kinds of parts more often. Nicholas Hoult as Jack made the main character a guy the audience was excited to root for. You want him to fight the giants and you hope Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) will return Jack’s feelings for her.

Cons:

Jack the Giant Slayer is missing an element of humor that I find delightful in other fairy tale movies. Most of the characters are pretty one sided and serious. Ian McShane (King Brahmwell) and Ewan McGregor (Elmont) are talented, versatile actors that I have loved in other productions and I know they are capable of showing more character depth so I must fault the script writing in this instance. Because this is a fairy tale, the movie could have easily made King Brahmwell quirky or made Elmont more of a humorous side kick; but no, this film is all business.

Rating 4: True Love’s Kiss I will gladly recommend this film to any fairy tale lover.

Hate Princess Bride? Inconceivable!

imagePrincess Bride is the perfect fairy tale. A handsome hero, sword fights, true love, and a giant…what more could a story ask for? This hilarious, action packed, fantasy movie from 1987 is a timeless classic.

Pros:

A stellar cast: Peter Falk is wonderful as the frumpy but kindhearted grandfather, Cary Elwes (Wesley), Robin Wright (Buttercup), Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya), Chris Sarandon (Prince Humperdinck), Wallace Shawn (Vizzini), and Andre The Giant (Fezzik).

The sword fight scene between Wesley and Inigo reveals the famous line “I am Inigo Montoya, you killed my father. Prepare to die!” It also provides excellent character development in a funny, entertaining way.

Battle of wits between Wesley and Vizzini.

Any time Vizzini, Inigo, and Fezzik are together. Their personalities play so well off of each other and provide lots of laughs during the film.

Chemistry between Wesley and Buttercup is convincing. I hate when it is obvious in movies that actors were chosen for box office ratings but have zero believability as a couple. And what good would a fairy tale be if the love story fell flat? Cary Elwes and Robin Wright really sell that deep, passionate, forever love that all story books must have for a happily ever after.

Cons:

This is extremely minor but while watching the commentary on this film everyone kept gushing about Billy Crystal’s small role as Miracle Max. All of the people interviewed said that he was so funny and stole the spotlight, but I must disagree. He only appears in the film for a few minutes and honestly it seemed like anyone could have played that role. I just wasn’t enchanted. Don’t get me wrong, I like Billy Crystal. City Slickers and When Harry Met Sally are movies I have watched many times in my life and throughly enjoyed them. I just felt his role was way over hyped.

Rating 5: Happily Ever After If you haven’t seen this movie yet I would recommend you rent it immediately. It is suitable for children while still being humorous enough for adults to enjoy.

The Truth About The Little Mermaid…

disney-little-mermaidDo you remember the charming 1989 Disney film The Little Mermaid? If not, allow me to recap this motion picture in a few brief sentences. Ariel, a headstrong sixteen year old mermaid, explores the upper world against the wishes of her overbearing father. During this visit she rescues a handsome prince from a shipwreck and falls madly in love with him. Desperate to win Eric’s affections and tired of her life as a mermaid, she makes a deal with Ursula, the Sea Witch, trading her voice for human legs. But there is a catch. If Ariel can capture Eric’s heart with true love’s kiss, she can live as a human forever but if she fails she must return to the sea and become Ursula’s prisoner. Since this is a Disney movie you can easily guess how this ends. Add in some catchy tunes that shaped the very core of my childhood, and some quirky sidekicks, and you have one heartwarming little movie.

MermaidNow that you know The Little Mermaid is one of my favorite childhood motion pictures you can imagine my surprise and delight when I stumbled upon Mermaid at my local bookstore. A new version of this timeless tale in book form? For an avid reader this felt like an amazing find. And as soon as I read the first few pages I knew I was right. Mermaid explores this famous story in a new and equally compelling way. The basics stay the same. A mermaid falls in love with a human prince. But in this version Lenia, the mermaid, must compete with Princess Margrethe, the daughter of a rival kingdom, for the prince’s affections. If the Prince marries Lenia he risks his kingdom going to war. If he marries Margrethe he will have peace in his kingdom but Lenia will die.

I loved this novel. Carolyn Turgeon has such a gift for drawing the reader in and not letting go until the last page. I found myself wanting the prince to be with both women equally but for different reasons. This is a refreshing change from the usual love triangle format in literature where one person is written as the clear winner and the other as a villain. The book is narrated by Lenia and Margrethe so the reader gets an opportunity to view both perspectives and understand each woman’s inner struggle. I could hardly wait to see how everything would unfold.

I rate this book a 4: True Love’s Kiss. While I loved several aspects of this novel, the most unlikeable character was the prince both women were pursuing. I strongly felt Lenia and Margrethe could do better. The prince didn’t seem to have any redeeming qualities and his romantic interests varied moment to moment; made even worse by the fact both women were advised of his fickle nature.

HCAAfter thoroughly enjoying Mermaid, I decided I needed to pay my respects to the original story and researched the Hans Christian Anderson version from 1837. I was impressed that Carolyn Turgeon kept the integrity of this famous tale intact but added her own flavor. In this version the prince is also sought after by two women but I was surprised to find he loves only one. It broke my heart that the mermaid gave up her life in the sea, her tongue, and her tail, only to suffer with every step she takes and lose the prince to another woman. Even more heart wrenching, she is given the opportunity to get even with her beloved and spare her own life, yet refuses. I had no idea this fairy tale was so dark and tragic but it has helped me gain a new found respect for all versions of the story.