Thursday, September 26, 2013

Disney Sequelester - The Hunchback of Notre Dame II

Well this just screams "quality".
Much like with Lady and the Tramp II, truly I'm baffled as to how this movie came about. The original Hunchback of Notre Dame wasn't even all that popular - too many creepy old priests, not enough cutesy animals. 

The original Hunchback is a good, though flawed, movie. Its biggest strength (as is so often the case in Disney movies) is its diabolical yet compelling villain Frollo. In many ways he's the most complex Disney villain ever, and yet that complexity doesn't stop him from being horrifyingly evil. Frollo believes in the law of the Catholic Church, but not the message behind it - he feeds, clothes, and educates Quasimodo, but makes it clear to Quasimodo that he is worthless. He chases down a woman on horseback and when she falls to her death on the steps of a church seeking sanctuary, he feels no remorse, since he didn't personally raise his hand to kill her. As the movie goes on, Frollo's sinful desires (particularly his lust for Esemerlda, all the more damning because he can't explain it away as "for justice" like he does other urges) begin to consume him, to the point where he gives into his wickedness entirely without even a pretense at doing God's work. 

That'll be a triple order of ew, coming right up.
He's an impressively crafted character, and he has one of the absolute best - and certainly most controversial - songs of any Disney movie with "Hellfire". Even the name is controversial in and of itself, for a children's movie!

I think a lot of young girls like this movie because of Esmerelda, who is essentially an updated Cinderella. She's has a whole song about being a martyr for the good of her people. But because Esemerelda is smart and lively, she's entertaining rather than boring like poor old Cinders. And eeeeeeeveryone wants to put Esmerelda on their dance card, from scarf-sniffing priests to the super white captain of the guards to the hunchback in the tower. Basically she's a total Mary Sue who never makes any mistakes, but she's still a fun character, and thankfully she's not the main character, so the movie gets away with it much more easily.

Eat your heart out, Eponine.
Hunchback's two biggest flaws are its relatively boring main character and its painful "comic relief". Quasimodo is... nice. And that's about it. It's not that he's entirely flat - like Hercules, he's allowed a range of emotion from desperate hope to murderous anger - but like Hercules, he's just generally a kind of nice dude. And kind of nice dudes aren't very interesting without some phenomenally clever writing, which this movie doesn't have.

Then there's the gargoyles. Dear Disney: you made a movie about a hunchback and a persecuted ethnic minority being pursued by a villain whose motivation is lust and revenge. Do not feel the need to add singing gargoyles who make fart jokes. Love, Selma.

Seeking consistent tone...
All this is to say that in The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, Disney made the genius decision to dial Esemerelda and its villain way down, and to turn the gargoyles and Quasimodo up to 11. And to give him a proto-Bella Swan klutzariffic love interest. And to center the movie around a nonexistent love festival that depends on a bell, as all decent love festivals do. Good plan!

So the movie starts out with some of the most depressing shifts in animation quality we've seen thus far. I mean, at least Cinderella was made back in the 50s, you know? One of the big advantages the original Hunchback had was absolutely stunning animation that really took advantage of scale and angles, particularly from heights, since the main character was a bellringer.

The lyrics that accompany this shot: "such a busy buzzing hive"
Esmerelda and Phoebus are married and have a kid now. A really, really annoying kid named... Zephyr? What? I guess it's a reference to his father's name, but... really? Zephyr? That was the best they could come up with? Good lord.

Zephyr (...) and Quasimodo are somewhat disturbingly close. They keep talking about how they're best friends forever and ever and ever and they'll never leeeeeaaaveeee each other and now I'm uncomfortable.

But the plot waits for no woman. The CIRCUS has come to town, because the citizens of Paris needed a new group to discriminate against. Only in this case it's completely justified, since all but one of the carnies are in fact thieves, so... I guess the moral of Hunchback II is that discrimination is sometimes entirely justified. Good talk.

Sarousche steals from all the townsfolk at his circus, but he has his eyes on a bigger prize... La Fidel, because it's BEAUTIFUL ON THE INSIDE AND IF YOU DON'T GET THE PARALLEL, BY GOD DISNEY WILL SLAM YOU OVER THE HEAD WITH IT UNTIL YOU SURRENDER.

"Takes more than looking to really see."
A) Bullshit
B) What exactly is THAT supposed to mean, Esmerelda?
Also, what is UP with Disney and its affinity for prancing foppish villains? Off the top of my head we have: Scar, Jafar, the organ (...) from Beauty and the Beast: Enchanted Christmas, Ratcliffe, Captain Hook, Hades... I don't get it.

Here we encounter the real problem with the movie (other than horrible animation, terrible screenwriting, flat characters, and a boring plot). Sarousche sends his assistant Madellaine (no really, that is the official way it's spelled, I research this shit for you) to woo Quasimodo in order to "find out which bell is La Fidel". This is important enough that when she fails the first time...

Failing looks like this.
...he sends her back again. That's great, but THERE IS AN ENTIRE FESTIVAL CENTERED AROUND THIS DAMN BELL. This is not top secret information. It's the bell that rings at the festival, the end. Also, Quasimodo is the most desperate Nice Guy in all of Disneydom except possibly Hercules, and would have been thrilled to have anyone ask him anything. This did not require wooing.

Then, the instant Madellaine walks in the door, the gargoyles start saying, "It's her! Get out there!" and freaking out about his new honey. Except Quasimodo has never met her before. And then right after she runs off in horror they go see her perform, and Esmerelda and Phoebus start going all "oooh is that her" as well. How do they know who Madellaine is? He didn't even have TIME to tell them, had he wanted to! And why is Quasimodo so invested in a person that talked to him for a minute and then ran off in disgust once she saw his face?

The whole movie is a really terrible case of what I like to call "leaning on the fourth wall", where instead of creating actual plot arcs and character motivations, the writers simply assume that the characters know everything the audience knows, even when that's clearly impossible. It's dumb, it's LAZY, and it means that if you pull at a single plot thread, the whole movie unravels.

Madellaine and Quasimodo's romance is rushed and nonsensical as a result. Here is the timeline:
Day 1 - Go looking for Quasimodo; run away in disgust when he's not super pretty.
Day 2 - Quasimodo stalks her to the circus. She comes to visit him again, and they go on this ludicrously long date through Paris where they run around on rooftoops and crap. He presents her with a carved figurine of herself, saying, "This is so you can see yourself the way I see you." YOU HAVE MET HER ONCE.
Day 3 - Madellaine goes on another date with Quasimodo in order to keep him out of the belltower while Sarousche steals the bell (the bell is like 20 feet tall and weighs a zillion tons btw but whatevs).

There's also this scene where they emo in stereo, which is admittedly
pretty funny.
Day 4 - Sarousche squeals on her. Quasimodo realizes he's been duped; Madellaine goes to jail. When Sarousche nabs Phoebus's kid as part of his exit strategy, Madellaine begs to help, saying she understands Sarousche's tricks, so she can help. She does, and everything okay because shut up it is.

Even the little details of this movie don't make sense. Madellaine tells them that all of Sarousche's magic is fake, like how when he made the elephant disappear, there was a tunnel under the stage the whole time. They've been in Paris for 4 days.

They dig fast.
The screenwriters make a few small attempts to catch your interest - for example, Madellaine's problem is supposed to be that she has no self-esteem, which is admittedly different from most of the Disney heroines. But on the whole, in spite of the overall low quality of the sequels, this is the first sequel where I've felt that well and truly, nobody gave one single solitary damn.

Except me, I guess.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Disney Sequelester - Cinderella II: Dreams Come True

Check out Fairy Godmother voguing
back there.
Dreams do come true... so whatever person wished for a Cinderella sequel, know that I hate you. Just know that.

On an unrelated note, this is a lovely time of year to visit Disney World!
One day after they get married, Cinderella and Princey pull up to the castle after their honeymoon. The movie explicitly states both of these as facts. Ummm... that is a very short honeymoon. But back to business, I guess, because Cinderella has to plan a banquet and Princey has to leave on business of indefinite kind.

"I know you're going to surprise us with an incredible feast." Yes, after meeting you at a ball, getting married, and having been on our extremely short honeymoon, I've known you for a total of three days, Cinderella. Thank goodness I know you so well now or all of this would be really weird.

This woman named Prudence (TOO SUBTLE) gets tasked with telling Cinderella all the ways in which she sucks and is not princessy enough. She can't tell cream from ecru, so she runs to her room sobbing hysterically about how she isn't good enough.

Crying after an extremely minor and stupid setback is
definitely the Disney Princess way.
On an artistic level, this is what irks me about Cinderella II. It's fairly boring, yeah, but it's decently animated and the writing isn't horrendous. The problem is that they clearly have no understanding of the source material. Like it or not, Cinderella does have substance: the message of patient faith. It's Not Another Christian Allegory. If you keep calm and carry on long enough, God will make you a princess. Or something like that.

This isn't a message I'm particularly interested in passing on to little girls, but it also wouldn't have been difficult to stick to Cinderella's personality traits (such as they are) of tolerance and faith. The only characteristic the screenwriters seem to have been aware of is "boring".

She's also not very bright. Cinderella has a meltdown and wants to know why they have to play by the royal rules. "And that rule about not letting commoners in the palace!" Yes, you have fun doing crowd control, Cinderelly.

And then there's a truly terrible pop song. It's not even being sung by an angsty teen princess. It's just meebling on the background about following your dreams while Cinderella waltzes around the town handing out invites to commoners, OH MY MOST IRREGULAR.

Yeah, the ball turns out to be the most wonderful thing a human being has ever done ever; try not to fall out of your seat in shock.

Then Jaq the mouse decides that he wants to be human. The Fairy Godmother apparently has nothing better to do than to poof around granting wishes willy-nilly to rodents, so she agrees, and turns him into Johnny Appleseed.

Fairy Godmother is a jerk.
Except it turns out that Jaq is even more useless as a human than he was as a mouse. At least nobody notices if you're a useless mouse, you know?

There's some other big fair that's somehow a circus with electricity, and there's an elephant, and Jaq scares it into submission by turning back into a mouse. Yes, this story is exactly as pointless as it sounds.

The final part of Cinderella II involves the evil stepsister Anastasia. She's being groomed for yet ANOTHER royal ball (little-known to the populace, an invading army is on the doorstep of France). But when she meets a humble baker, it's love at first bite. (I REGRET NOTHING.) Evil Stepmother forbids their romance, but Cinderella offers to help Anastasia win his heart through dress-up.

Cinderella is a lot more forgiving than I would be.
The funny thing about this storyline is that Anastasia continues to be a jerk throughout. She tries to bully Cinderella into giving her stuff, doesn't listen to her, and shoves people around. She scares babies with her smile (no really, it's in the script).

There's also an inane subplot about Lucifer falling in love with the castle
cat, which is almost worth it for the payoff of this shot.
When Anastasia finally gets up the guts to meet Baker Boy, she sees him rendezvousing with another woman, and flees in tears. And by "rendezvousing with" I mean "talking to right before her boyfriend comes over and smooches her", but hey, like you've never overreacted in your life.

Well this seems reasonable.
Through the miracle of the screenwriters getting bored, Baker Boy wanders up to the fountain she's crying by, they look at each other, and yay all their problems are solved! But mine aren't, because The Hunchback of Notre Dame II is next.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Noblest Savage of Them All is White

Ah, vampires. I mean, we're not actually talking about vampires today, but yeah, people sure do like 'em. In fact, Dracula is the most-adapted piece of literature.

The SECOND most-adapted piece of literature is Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. First published in 1912, this... respected work of fiction... is about a feral child raised in the African jungle by apes.

I've gotta be honest: I've read the original Tarzan, and I'm not a fan. The book is meandering, hugely racist, and poorly researched: even in the early 1900s, PEOPLE KNEW that LIONS DO NOT LIVE IN THE JUNGLE. It's also a comedy of idiocy - Jane Porter leaves Tarzan in the jungle to make him happy and marries this William dude that she doesn't really like, then Tarzan follows her to America, and to make Jane happy he renounces his inheritance so that William (his cousin) gets to keep it. YAY NOBODY GETS WHAT THEY WANT except possibly William. Though William probably isn't too thrilled to have a wife that prefers a loincloth.

Tarzan is your prototypical noble savage, except with the added advantage of being white. He scorned the "hypocrisy of civilization" and embraced an extreme return to nature, tree-surfing optional.

It's all so noble I could hurl.
I think Tarzan's popularity was a product of its time. It was published at a time when America was moving off the farm; sort of a prelude to the mass exodus to the cities in World War I. This huge shift in culture and lifestyle evoked nostalgia for the old days when people's worlds were smaller and life was lived closer to the earth. You can see how new factory recruits crammed into dingy steel cities would long for earthy childhoods still within their memories.

Nowadays, I don't really see the appeal. I mean, I get the appeal of leaving civilization, but not with Tarzan. He's too one-dimensional, too bland, too... racist.

Disney tried to update Tarzan in 1999 with their animated film. In doing so, they found it necessary to change... uh... yeah, pretty much everything. In the Disney version Tarzan is adopted by gorillas, the leader of the pack doesn't kill his parents, Terk is a girl and instead of being Tarzan's arch-nemesis she's his BFF, Tantor the elephant is his friend instead of universally loathed, and the lion is instead a leopard. Oh yeah and William Clayton is evil and dies by hanging.

That's... oddly grim.
One really funny thing that happened was a letter to the editor complaining about how Tarzan would promote unhealthy body expectations for young boys was published in the New York Times when the movie came out. Considering the expectations young girls must have developed due to the zillion follow-your-dreeeeeeams-and-wed-royalty Disney princesses... STFU.

I don't know why I take such umbrage with Tarzan when I can enjoy equally dated things like Wade Everett westerns. I guess it comes down to intent. Edgar Rice Burroughs just seems like such a shallow, condescending, firmly of-his-time guy. Instead of taking stereotypes for granted, he wallows in them. Also given that he did not actually move to the jungle and live off hemp, I'm going to assume he was a big ol' hypocrite.

I love genre fiction, but I think this is one we can leave safely in the past and lose nothing. What old genre fiction do you hate?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Best Laid Plans

Finding the best time to write... also known as just finding TIME to write.

Insanity is supposed to be doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In that case... uh... I definitely don't keep expecting to write a ton of words on weekends. Nope! Not me. Because that would make me insane, apparently. Whoops.

The problem with time off is that you tend to use it to get other things done: errands, laundry, getting married. You know, normal stuff. Plus even if you make Butt-in-Chair plans, nobody else knows that, and feels free to invite you out to do fun stuff. Or does wanting to see the new Riddick movie instead of write make me a bad author?

Some people work well with consistent word count goals every single day, and some people write on and off in huge spurts. I'm somewhere in between; I've been known to churn out 5 or even 10k in a single night, but I wrote Detect Me by writing 3k every single day for a couple months.

I'm a work-in-progress when it comes to this. Maybe someday I'll have a set routine that enables me to be like that woman I read about who writes 5k every single day. Right now it seems like I have every distraction in the world, with mixed results. A week ago I wrote 3k in a day... I think I've totaled 300 words for the rest of the week.

I have today off. Maybe I'll write a ton tonight! Hope springs eternal, apparently.

When/how much do you guys write?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Disney Sequelester - Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure

Finally, finally, the movie the masses have been clamoring for... has arrived.

To hell with a Robin Hood sequel,
THIS is what my childhood has
been waiting for!
Disney movies made during and after the Disney Renaissance tend to be of a type. We like our coming of age stories about princesses who want ~more~, dammit. (Let's not get into the unfortunate Lasseter years of battling Pixar... nobody needs to remember Home on the Range.)

But before the Disney Renaissance, we saw Disney take a lot more chances in style and content. We had folksy anthropomorphic foxes, fashionistas dognapping puppies, secret mouse societies helping orphans, and a romance about dogs.

Lady and the Tramp is an interesting movie if only from a stylistic standpoint; it goes to great lengths to show us the world from a dog's point of view. As far as we know, Lady's owners are named "Jim Dear" and "Darling". The movie is shot at ankle-height, and while the dogs do talk, their words are relatively sparse and used only to convey immediate impulses with the short-sighted focus of an animal.

Note the perspective; the camera level with a dog's head
rather than a human's.
The focus of the screen is the dog; humans are treated more
like objects than they are as actual characters in the movie...
sort of like Pamela Anderson in Barb Wire.
Lady and the Tramp was billed as "Walt Disney's happiest movie". It's pretty light on substance, but certainly heavy on style. So the big challenge in creating a sequel was clearly going to be developing a unique stylistic approach that honored the first movie...

LOL yeah clearly nobody on production bothered watching
the first movie.
Lady and the Tramp II is such a strange little mess of a movie. I can't say that it's horribly done (though it's certainly not good). It has distinct (generally unlikable) characters with actual arcs, and the movie has a beginning, middle, and end. That puts it ahead of at least 50% of the Disney sequels, sry2say.

But the choices they made in this movie - on top of the choice to make it at all - are so very, very odd. Who actually wanted this movie to get made? I can only assume that the producers saw Puppy Pals for sale in Target and decided they COULD NOT MISS the popularity wave of anthropomorphized talking dogs.

Lady and the Tramp II is the story of Tramp's son Scamp (yeah, sooper clever naming there, guys). Scamp has three sisters, each as beautiful and boring as their mother. Scamp is the only one who gets a personality, because reasons.

Scamp doesn't like being a "house dog" - for some reason he thinks it would be great to be homeless. He wants to chew hats (ah yes, all those hats in the wild), run through the mud, and howl at the moon. This puts him at odds with his family. The dogs want to not get kicked out of the house, and the humans want to not be goaded into a Cruella de Vil moment.

Tramp tries to convince his son to behave, saying his family just wants what's best for him, and Scamp retorts, "Yeah, you love me as long as I do what you say."

What is it with Disney and evil Dobermans? Does Disney
just hate Dobermans?
This is a really weird concept for a movie aimed at 5-10 year olds. It's not that rebellious children don't exist, but they don't usually have any active desire to leave home. How could they? Kids that young have a very limited understanding of how the world works. This is a conflict for tweens at the youngest, but that's at odds with the cutesy tone and choice of adorable widdle puppies as your visual medium.

Here's the thing: For some teenagers, there is a degree of romanticization of "life on the street", whether we're talking about starving artists or hard gangsters. This actually is an issue, and not one typically addressed in movies. This could have actually been a really interesting concept to explore...

Yeah great animation there guys, THE DOG IS JESUS just
watch her gracefully step on thin air.

This movie is just flat-out stupid. Scamp runs away because he has a bro-crush on this evil Doberman at the head of the "Junkyard Dogs", he passes some tests, falls in love with the hot girl puppy, the evil Doberman finds out who Scamp's father is, life is miserable for about 3 seconds, Scamp decides to come home, and the Doberman is left under a piano, presumably to starve to death. Now you know, now you can save yourself 66 minutes.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Top 5 Common Misconceptions

There are some things out there, some universally accepted things, that are just flat out wrong. And they baffle me. Here's a few:

1. Romeo and Juliet is a romance.

It's just... it's not! It's not! It's a tragedy! And yes, the fact that it's a tragedy does preclude it from being a romance. Here's why: a romance is defined by the fact that it has a "happily ever after", whereas a tragedy is defined by the fact that the flaws of its main characters bring about their eventual demise. The reason something is tragic is because a person brings an entirely avoidable situation upon themselves.

Plus, I really just fail to see anything romantic about Romeo and Juliet's relationship. It's a couple of tweenagers who get the hots for each other after meeting at a party. Did you find American Pie romantic? Well then.

2. Napoleon was super short.

I wish more people would use this Jean-Léon Gérôme painting
when they talked about Napoleon.
No, British people are just too lazy to convert into metric. At the time, French inches were longer than British inches. Napoleon was 5'2" in French inches, which made him 5'7" in British inches - not only was he not short, he was actually above average height for the time.

But he was all conquering everything, so the Brits needed something to make them feel better, I guess.

3. Pride and Prejudice is a romance.

Also not a romance! It's a social commentary that revolves around the social station of one family, and in particular the situation of Lizzie Bennett, who happens to draw the eye of Mr. Darcy. Their relationship goes from adversarial to a sort of friendship to romance, but the book isn't really about their romance; love is more like the deus ex machina that saves the reputation of the Bennett family at the end. Darcy and Lizzie spend maybe 30% of the novel together at best. And remember that famous line from the novel - "In vain I have struggled; it will not do. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire you." I wonder how many people remember that Lizzie rejects Darcy after that speech?

It took me a long time to like Pride and Prejudice because I went into it expecting a romance. It's not. It's a brilliant social commentary, but when your heroine falls in love with the hero out of gratitude for saving the reputation of her little sister... not so much with the knee-buckling.

4. Anastasia and Thumbelina are Disney movies.

Nope, they're just blatant rip-offs! Back in the early 90s Disney was making bank off The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, so famous animator Don Bluth basically sold out and tried to copy Disney. It worked, too, sort of - Anastasia was Don Bluth's most successful movie, although it didn't stop Fox Animation from going under anyway.

5. Cleopatra was beautiful.

It's an unfortunate commentary on society's lens that it's assumed if a woman is powerful and attractive, she must be conventionally beautiful.

Plutarch: "For her beauty, as we are told, was in itself not altogether incomparable, nor such as to strike those who saw her; but converse with her had an irresistible charm, and her presence, combined with the persuasiveness of her discourse and the character which was somehow diffused about her behaviour towards others, had something stimulating about it."

Translation: She had plain looks but a brilliant mind and a charming demeanor.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sale! And also a wedding

Once upon a time, I watched Sex in the City. There's a few quotes I still remember from it, and this is one that happens in the episode leading up to Charlotte's first wedding (SPOILER...?)

Charlotte: "Carrie, you're right, you have to tell him. But not before the wedding! It's supposed to be my week."
Miranda: "It's your day. You get a day. Not a week."

Well, to hell with the rules! It's my wedding week (okay, "wedding" is a strong word), and in celebration I'm putting PROTECT ME on sale this week for 99 pennies. Because yay romance! Sometimes it leads to a giant celebration of your love. Or a courthouse, in my case :D

My friends are the coolest and threw me a surprise bachelorette party on Friday night. As seems to be the norm for me, it wasn't exactly a typical bachelorette party... A couple of my close friends are Hindu and Muslim so they don't drink, and my BFF apparently sent out an email that contained only the content "NO PLASTIC PENISES ALLOWED". So basically we hung out and stuffed ourselves with food and talked until somebody realized that holy crap, it was super super late.

Anyway, at this bachelorette party I received a gift that I'm now being peer-pressured into filling out! Just for funsies, I thought I'd include a few pictures for you. (Just for the record, although I'm not having one, I have nothing against big weddings. I've been in a bunch and attended a bunch more; they're lots of fun. But I crowdsourced my wedding dress on my blog after forgetting to order one until a month before. Me trying to plan a wedding would be a howling vortex of fail.)

This is 100% true; I asked people on Twitter
where they'd look for white dresses.


You can tell by the shift in handwriting that B decided
to get involved.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Disney Sequelester - The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea

Hey so, remember how last week I was talking about how I was getting spoiled with decent Disney sequels? Well, curiosity killed the cat and then Disney sequels brought it back and killed it again. At least I think that's how it goes.

The Little Mermaid II: Return to Pain
We start out the movie with Ariel singing to her baby daughter. "You are my world my darling..." Wow, got bored with Eric awful fast, didn't we? See, this is what happens when you give up your fins for a man, expecting him to change. You... whoa seriously Jodi Benson reprised her role as Ariel's voice? Well... darn. There goes that joke.

No time to contemplate Ariel's matrimonial status (not now that my JOKE IS GONE, thanks a lot Jodi Benson) - the kingdoms of land and sea are both turning out to celebrate Melody's birth! Never has it been more useful that the king of France (btw is Prince Eric still a prince? Does his father plan to live forever? Why was Prince Eric a prince when his dad clearly wasn't around in the last movie? So many questions and not a drop to drink) chose to build his palace DIRECTLY ON TOP OF THE SHORELINE. *Note for those of you not as as obsessed with engineering as I am: this is like printing a book on an Etch-a-Sketch. Five out of four professionals agree you're an idiot if you do it.

Saddam Hussein's architecture made more sense.
The people of France seem to be taking the whole "mythical fishpeople are real" thing rather well. King Triton pops up and makes a rainbow because shut up he can do that for reasons. Question: If the merpeople have the power to change the weather, why aren't they ruling the entire globe? Prince Eric = Satrap Eric, I'm thinking.

Also how the hell does he do this it's really bothering me I
mean it doesn't look comfortable.
Since this movie's animation budget could only afford a population of about eight merpeople total, security sucks and... sigh... "Ursula's crazy sister", in Sebastian's words, shows up and yoinks Melody. She wants Triton's mighty trident, of course (insert dick joke here) (no I didn't actually forget to put one in) (what do you think I am, some kind of hack?). What Morgana actually needs the trident for is sort of unclear, but she's evil, whaddya want? Evil people don't need motivation to be evil. They steal candy from babies when they so much as order a sandwich at McEvil's.

Everyone just kind of stands there and stares from a distance going, "stop no please don't ahhh oh well" while Morgana tentacles her way around the ship with Melody. FINALLY Ariel decides to actually do something and grabs Eric's sword. She cuts a line in order to do that thing that is mandated by federal law to happen in every single movie with a ship in it, where the ballast swings around and hits the baddie.

Prince Eric: "Ariel, no! People aren't allowed to DO THINGS
in this movie!"
The baby is saved, but Morgana is far too wily for them by virtue of plot convenience, and she disappears, because now teleporting can happen.

Ariel completely reasonably decides that the only thing to do is to build a GIANT WALL around THE ENTIRE OCEAN to separate France from the shore, and not to tell Melody that merpeople exist, even though you'd think that would be a little hard to hide. I mean, this isn't exactly the kind of thing that people forget. If you met el chupacabra in a cave and then got separated from him by a cave-in, you wouldn't be like, "oh huh wonder what's for lunch", you'd be like, "OMG EL CHUPACABRA IS IN THAT DAMN CAVE."

Proportionate Reactions: An Illustrated Guide
12 years later there's a ball, because of course there is.

The ball is pretty hilarious because it has the cast numbers of your average ballet, which always looks post-apocalyptic. Melody gets asked to dance by the one hot guy there, but due to circumstances too stupid to explain, Sebastian is caught in the back of her dress and this ruins everything when he falls out. Everyone starts pointing and laughing, and her life is ruined.

Treating your future ruler this way seems unwise.
The bully squad is going, "She's actually talking to a fish!" and Melody's all sadface. Um, why? Did the entire kingdom just FORGET the fact that twelve years ago they found out about the existence of mermaids? Is that wall a wall of amnesia?

Ariel comes in to comfort Melody, saying, "Oh honey, everyone has trouble fitting in at your age. I know I did. I was a regular fish out of water." Okay, you know what? I think that I've identified the main difference between good Disney movies and crappy Disney sequels. It's that EPIC MOVIES DON'T PUN. If your movie has the words "tuna colada" in it, abandon all hope immediately. Also stop making movies.

Melody finds this locket Triton made for her, and it has her name on it. Because the kingdom has a population of about thirty people, Melody knows the locket belongs to her. When Ariel is a big ol' meanie, Melody runs away to a rowboat (that appeared out of nowhere), saying, "This necklace means something, and if nobody's gonna tell me about it, I'll find out myself." HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS.

In her cave, Morgana sits and plots... until this bubble pops up showing her exactly what Melody's doing.

Melody is the dumbest person in the world, so when a creepy shark shows up and tells her to follow him, she does. Morgana greets her with open arms and speaks about Melody's destiny~~~~~~~ No longer will Melody be boring! She'll be a boring person with fins!

Melody: "I was destined to be a mermaid? But that's impossible."
Morgana: "Darling, nothing's impossible!"
Melody: "You can turn me into a mermaid?!"

Wait... what?
So because Melody somehow magically knows that Morgana can make her a mermaid, she agrees to go steal King Triton's trident in return for temporary fins. Theft is okay if you really want something, kids!

Eric and Ariel start looking for Melody. I do like how Eric actually tells Ariel he thinks she should go be the search party in the ocean while he heads up the search party on land.

he's still doing that
Meanwhile Melody is following the world's worst map and singing, "My fingers are wrinkly and I really don't care/If all of the curls have curled out of my hair!"

And if her hair was curly, that would mean something.


The movie then introduces the world's most unlikable sidekicks. They're cowards who want to be heroes. Their introduction is abandoning a baby penguin to a shark.

That's right. You should look ashamed.
But because Melody is the worst she joins up with them to go steal Triton's trident.

When it's gone, Sebastian exclaims, "But that's impossible! Nobody can remove the trident except you, sire... you or one of your descendants!" Well WAY TO PULL THAT RULE RIGHT OUT OF YOUR ASS.
You know what? He deserves it. I'm calling it. Everyone in this movie is stupid and deserves everything that happens to them.

Morgana and Ariel and Melody all meet up in Morgana's cave. Everyone in this movie is an idiot, as previously stated, so they bicker for like ten interminable minutes about who gets the trident and if Ariel should have told Melody her past and if the Cubs will lose again this year.

Yo Morgana, the trident is, like, RIGHT THERE. You could
just, you know, grab it. No? Okay that's cool I guess.
Anyway Morgana and her hair of evil seem really trustworthy so Melody hands her the trident and Morgana immediately tries to kill everyone, surprise!

Luckily Morgana really sucks at killing people.
Everyone in the entire movie shows up, which is about eight people.

Eric's ship is somehow navigating through glaciers, because the Titanic has nothing on a Disney prince with floppy hair. King Triton has brought his entire army of five guards. Morgana yells some, people yell back, and nothing really gets accomplished.

Ariel is like "yep well done with being kidnapped now" and pushes Morgana's tentacles off her to go do other things. Melody (she has legs again now, I'd explain but it doesn't matter) clambers up and grabs the trident. Morgana COULD just grab it back with one of her zillion tentacles, but she doesn't because REASONS.
Melody throws the trident back - like, swings her arm back and throws it - as Morgana watches. And then Triton freezes her instead of, you know, actually killing her. Because villains don't die in the Disney movie B-squad, I guess. Unlike with my girl Maleficent, I feel no pity for Morgana. Not because she's evil, but because she's deeply stupid and too lazy to yoink a magic trident out of a thirteen year old's hands.

And then everything's okay! Umm yep. Everything's just... fine again. No wall anymore (erosion once again begins to wear away the castle rock)! Just all the citizens of France being like "oh right merpeople lol funny how you just forget these cataclysmic discoveries that warp reality heh weirdddddd".

"Things are better now/We sing together now/In perfect
Yes be sure not to show us any actual character interaction, just tell us what happened.

And then all of the reindeer loved her.
Hey look it's the end I guess.

Occasionally you come across a movie so bad that it's hard to explain why it's bad, because it's just deeply wrong on a fundamental level. This is one of those movies. None of the characters have actual personalities; their actions serve only the demands of the plot, such as it is. The plot is ludicrous and based around a "i guess i want to rule the world or something MOO HA HA" villain. Characters know things they couldn't possibly know simply because the plot wants them to.

I don't know what they're doing, but it doesn't look