Thursday, June 24, 2010

#3 - Pocahontas - 1995

The third movie I have chosen is Disney's Pocahontas. This Disney animated classic was released in 1995, yet another movie released the year I graduated high school. Pocahontas like many other Disney classics from the past introduced us to a new story, new characters, and wonderful new music. All of these were wonderful additions to the Disney list and this movie in particular introduced me to what would eventually become my favorite Disney character of all time. Below is my full detailed review of this film.

This movie starts out with English sailors getting ready to board a ship which will be led by Governor Ratcliffe as they head out to find the new world and all the riches it will bring them, in gold. We are quickly introduced to one of the main characters who basically at that time was the only real character who was voiced by a popular actor. His name is Captain John Smith and he is voiced by none other than Mel Gibson. Gibson has the perfect voice for this character and it fit like a glove. Shortly into the film the sailors are battling a ferocious storm in which one point a young sailor named Thomas gets thrown overboard. Captain John Smith as expected dove into save the day and bring Thomas back on board. This pointed out the main hero right from the start as some, but not all Disney movies do.

After this we get a chance to see the Indians who live in the village led be Cheif Powhatan. He is voiced by Russell Means who is probably most notably known for his role in Last of the Mohicans. His daughter is Pocahontas and after seeing a clip of Indians returning home to their families the Cheif notices his daughter is missing. It turns out she is on top of a cliff with her friend down in the water in a canoe waiting for her to make a leap over a beautiful waterfall. Once learning that the villagers have come home Pocahontas free falls and dives into the water off the cliff atop the waterfall. This is where we are introduced to Pocahontas friends Meeko and Flit. Meeko is curious and always hungry raccoon and Flit is a hummingbird. Meeko and Flit always go back and fourth with each other throughout the movie. After returning from the water Pocahontas is welcomed back to the village with news that the village hero, Kocoum has asked for her hand in marriage which the Cheif is ecstatic about. Pocahontas on the other hand does not feel this way and takes off on a journey of her own.

As the story moves along Pocahontas canoe's down a riverbed and this is where we hear the song "Just around the riverbed" by Judy Kuhn. This is one of the most notable songs in the entire movie which was filled with excellent music. Pocahontas reaches Grandmother Willow and asks for advise of this newfound news her father has sprung on her. As Pocahontas nears the edge of the ocean she hears the ship and gets a closer look at the English sailors who have come on land to check the place out which was led by Captain John Smith. In easily my favorite part of the movie Smith ventures into the woods to get to a higher peek and look across the "new world" and this is where he encounters Meeko. After Meeko startles the Captain, Smith offers him some biscuits and to his delight he eats them all up in a hurry and turns back to tell Pocahontas its ok to come out. Smith notices something and hears a ruckus in the bushes but as he nears Flit springs out to help avoid Pocahontas being discovered and as this is taking place biscuits are flying out of Smith's bad to Meeko's delight as he grabs them all up and feasts on them. Then as he finishes off the final one he wipes the crumbs of his face and licks his finger and grabs those 6 little crumbs off the ground to end his snack. It is classic!

Back at the village during a pow wow with the Cheif he asks Kekata what he see's in the spirits about these visitors that are coming on land. There is nervousness around the village about these visitors. After that we are treated to a scene where Meeko crashes in on the Governor's dog while taking a bath and steals all his yummy cherries. Again Meeko is after food and this character literally steals every scene he is in, I wish he was in more. After a musical scene with the Governor the film finally allows us to see where Captain Smith first meets Pocahontas. It is at the waters edge and after pulling his gun on her at first a beautiful friendship occurs which is obviously leading to more. Amongst their conversations they both realize that their sides (the Sailors and the Indians) will be at war with each other and will not approve of their friendship, let along anything else that would develop. At the end of their time together the musical scene with the famous "Colors of the Wind"song sung by Vanessa Williams plays and just as they start to close in on a kiss Pocahontas reveals that she must go back.

As the movie carries on Smith and Pocahontas continue to meet and grow more fond of each other but concerns and advise from friends stand in their way. After a heated exchange with the Governor on the decision making in the new world Smith goes back to meet with Pocahontas. Back at the village Pocahontas's friend Nakoma has alerted Kocoum that Pocahontas is in the trouble and needs help. After reaching Pocahontas and Smith together Kocoum almost kills Smith as a battle ensues but Thomas instead comes to Smith's rescue this time and kills Kocoum. This would easily be the most dramatic scene in the film and it ends with the Indians taking Smith captive and the Chief announcing that his death will come first in the morning. After Pocahontas visited Smith who was being held captive another musical scene is upon us, this time the battling "Savages" songs which showed both sides planning for battle.

In the final moments of the film these two groups meet and it is Captain John Smith saving Chief Powhatan's life as the Governor attempted to kill him with his shotgun. Smith has been shot and must get to a medical facility in order for his life to be saved and as the movie concluded the final scenes include the Indians helping out Smith and his fellow sailors as they embark on their journey to save Smith's life and we see Pocahontas running to the edge of the cliff to say goodbye to Smith. At this final moment the song "Colors of the Wind" again plays as the film ends with its hero being whisked away in order to save his life. Although most Disney fans would have enjoyed a more storybook ending, I personally enjoyed it myself and thought it was a great ending for this particular film.

As I mentioned before Meeko was my favorite thing about this entire movie. The writing for this character was brilliant and his actions throughout the film were pure comedy. I loved this character. I was saddened to find out that in 1994 the late John Candy had actually led his vocals to a character named Redfeather who was a turkey and would have been Pocahontas sidekick. They scratched the role after his death. I'm not sure if that would have taken over Meeko or Flit's roles but if it would have been in addition to their characters it would have been awesome. Anything with John Candy would be comedic! One other surprise for me was to find out that the voice of Thomas, the young sailor was voiced by none other than Batman himself, Christian Bale. I would have never had guessed that then again that was 15 years ago so his voice was obviously a little different back then. Although it is not my favorite Disney movie of all time, it did have my favorite Disney character of all time in Meeko so overall I felt this movie was a good movie and was a nice addition to the Disney film collection. I give it a B!

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