Onward – a Movie Review written by Samantha Lucas
Before I tell you all the wonders of Onward, let me preface with the fact that I am not unbiased here. I am a person who loves quests, adventures, and all things mystical. Therefore, this movie was a gift for me.
Onward is the story of two elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, living in a world that has forgotten magic, primarily because, “magic is hard”. Voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt these two brothers couldn’t be more different from one another.
Ian is anxious, scared of so many things, and in that very awkward stage of vacillating between feeling invisible, and wishing he was. While Barley is in what his mother calls “the longest gap year ever”. He seems to lack motivation and direction and is totally absorbed in a Dungeons and Dragons type board game, Quests of Yore, which Barely tries wholeheartedly to get his family to realize is all based in real history.
On Ian’s sixteenth birthday their mom, Laurel, gives Ian a present left by his father before he passed away. The present is a wizard’s staff and a magic spell that will supposedly bring their dad back for one full day. However, in the initial attempt to use this spell, remembering “magic is hard”, the spell goes a bit awry propelling the brothers on a quest that challenges them, bonds them, and gives the movie the bulk of its story.
Onward is Pixar at its best in my opinion. This movie goes on the shelf besides Coco, Up, WALL-E, and Inside Out, and reminds me of what they’ve always done best in their shorts, entertain us while getting us emotionally invested. This movie makes you feel. It’s beautiful, poignant, and shows us how important it is to remember who we truly are and just how far we can go when we have each other’s back.
I was absolutely thrilled with the side story of the boy’s mom who becomes involved with The Manticore in a perfect moment of girl power as they take on their own quest to find the boys before they find the Phoenix Gem and unleash the curse that they are unaware of.
Aside from the shameless pillaging from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, something I’m assuming was meant as an homage, but still felt a little funny as it was very note for note, this movie is a truly good reminder that there are more rewards on the hard path than the easy one, your travel companions will make or break any quest, and at the end of the day, sometimes we can’t see what’s right in front of us, without the quest.
This movie is emotional, touching, and fun for everyone, but I think will especially speak to families who’ve lost a parent, obviously to close siblings, and for people like me, quest going, adventure loving, believer of all things mystical.
**Please note that I was invited to a complimentary viewing of this movie on February 19, 2020 so that I could bring you this review on behalf of Krista at Disneyways. Complementary admission in no way influenced my review, and all opinions are my own.**
About the Author:
Samantha Lucas is an Author, Mystic, Disney Enthusiast, Dream Follower Extraordinaire. Follow her on Instagram HERE
STAR WARS Episode IX: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER ~ A SPOILER-FREE MOVIE REVIEW BY PETER ALDEN GRIGSBY
The End! And so STAR WARS Episode IX: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER brings to a close the “Skywalker” storyline in the Star Wars lore! Holy Moly, what a way to add an exclamation point to a franchise! Throughout this tale, there have been many ups and downs, (Jar-Jar Binks comes readily to mind). The fan base for Star Wars is an immensely loyal group, and they have lived through these tales with the characters so closely that they were almost there themselves. They have celebrated, and mourned with many characters along the way. To find a base that is so devoted to your story and characters is something every writer and director wants. And so, this was the weight that was placed on the shoulders of J.J. Abrams! Not only to craft and incredible film in itself, but to end the saga that has become part of so many people’s lives. Now to deal with the elephant in the room, there was some ‘worry’ among the fan-base that this was not going to be possible. The offering of Rian Johnson (STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI), was at best, polarizing.
Coming almost from a mindset of ‘don’t listen to what the fans want, do your own thing’, Episode VIII was definitely a different type of story, in fact it didn’t even ‘feel’ like a Star Wars story. The original trilogy painted a universe. They made you want to see more Star Wars. The Last Jedi did the complete opposite. It killed the interest in the Star Wars universe for many, because there seemed to be nothing left to care about. The Resistance is just the Rebels. The First Order is just the Empire. No end is in sight. Rey is perfect already. Snoke is dead and no one cared enough to even explain his existence in the first place. While I certainly understand the precept of not letting a fan-base ‘dictate’ the direction of a story line, there does still need to be, at the very least, a tip of the hat to your base. They have been loyal to you, and it is incumbent upon any writers and/or directors to give them their “moments” in the presentation. This, of course, does not mean that you cannot also include your own vision. And this film does that in spades!!
I am going to do my best to deliver a “Spoiler Free” review for everyone! As Episode IX opens we learn that Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is still alive, and planning on his final obliteration of the rebellion with his First Order. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is still in Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) head, and attempting to bring her over to the dark side of the force for the Emperor, however, he is working on a plan of his own as well. Rey is also still searching for what happened to her parents, and who she really is. After Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) learns that there is a way to stop the fleet, Rey decides that she is the one to complete it. Her friends Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac), of course, insist on accompanying her. Fans will appreciate that Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) plays a major role as well! We also get the return of Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams). As Rey continues to search for her ‘tribe’ and deal with her inner turmoil, she turns to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), now part of the force, in a nice homage’ to the Obi-Wan Kenobi/Luke life lessons. There are also some humorous scenes with C3PO (Anthony Daniels), who has become a bit of a foil for Poe. As I write this, I am fighting the urge to tell you some of the things that will literally make you yell “YES” in this film. Suffice it to say that this is the ‘final’ showdown of the Sith verses the Jedi. There is no more “…to be continued”! It is time for the characters to ‘pick’ a side and go! That being said, J.J. Abrams brings a story that shows he is a fan, and does his best to accommodate the hard core fans of the franchise.
As a fan who cares about these movies, I am satisfied! Is it a perfect film?!?! No. Is it a fitting end to this wonderful series?!?! Yes! Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker delivers an ending that should leave fans happy and, perhaps, with tears in their eyes. If you liked Force Awakens and Return of the Jedi, you will like this movie. If you are looking for an Empire Strikes back-type feel, you will appreciate the nod to fan favorite moments.
Sit back.and brace yourself! J.J. Abrams is able to keep this film dark for the story it presents, only to let the light still shine through. The force will be with us, ALL OF US…always!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Peter Alden Grigsby is a Florida native. Pete has appeared in an episode of the Mickey Mouse club, was a Jungle Cruise Skipper, “friend” of the Rocketeer, tram driver on the backlot tour, and opening day cast member at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM). When he’s not writing movie reviews, he is performing as a singer and tribute artist all over the world and currently has a cover album of Disney songs called Kingdom Classics
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened to the public December 5, 2019 and my good friend Tour Guide Barbi was THERE to bring us her full review and VIDEO! You won’t believe the mix of new technology that she saw! Are you EXCITED?! I know I am!! This attraction is located in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Are you ready to join the Resistance in an epic battle against the First Order?
The official description from Disney is as follows:
An Attraction on a Scale That Is Impressive, Most Impressive
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is a massive attraction with multiple ride systems that is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced at Walt Disney World Resort… or anywhere else in the galaxy!
Accept a Mission from the Resistance
The Resistance needs your help! Hidden in the forest outside Black Spire Outpost, the Resistance is gathering recruits for a secret mission.
With the First Order desperate to extinguish the spark of the Resistance, the mission is bound to have unexpected twists and turns. When your transport is captured by an imposing First Order Star Destroyer filled with legions of stormtroopers—and even Kylo Ren!—you’re going to need all the help you can get. Fortunately, a covert team of Resistance fighters—including Rey and BB-8—is at the ready to give you a fighting chance to escape… and a chance for the Resistance to rise.
Prepare for a thrilling, first-of-its-kind adventure!
Special Thanks to Tour Guide Barbi for sending us your review!
Rise of the Resistance Review
Wow. As a Star Wars fan and a ride technology enthusiast, this ride had me in joyous tears. Beware, there be spoilers ahead!!!!The Queue….
For the grand opening, Disney implemented a virtual queue. Upon entering the park, you join your “boarding group” via the My Disney Experience App and are given a group number. When the number was called, guests were given two hours to check in for the ride. This was fantastic because it enabled us to enjoy the rest of the park (Droid Depot, anyone?) and then there was no major time pressure to access the ride on time. Once we entered the actual line, the wait was around 20 minutes until we reached the first pre show. The parts of the queue that we saw today were just as detailed as the Smuggler’s Run queue, my favorite part being the cages with the Resistance flight suits.
The first pre show…
BB-8!!!! He’s there rolling around in full BB-8 adorableness until we receive a transmission from Rey. I can NOT convey how amazing all of this looked. From this point on, you are INSIDE a Star Wars movie. Nothing has ever been as immersive.
The next pre show…
Guests are standing in a vehicle (which moves!) headed from Batuu to the other Galaxy’s Edge. Poe, Finn and several other characters make appearances with an incredibly lifelike Lt. Bek (who says the best thing, ever) driving the vehicle. But, oh no! Disaster! The First Order has found the vehicle and is taking everyone onboard as prisoners!!!!
After disembarking and being marched onto a First Order Star Destroyer, we were greeted with a breath-taking sight.
A horde of storm troopers, standing in formation, most of which are animatronic. This sight alone will bring the most die hard Star Wars fan to tears. Then as prisoners wait to be interrogated, they are formed into lines aboard the Star Destroyer. We waited in our designated area..: Kylo Ren made his first appearance and then… Huzzah! Escape! The Rebel Alliance has found us and has a plan!
Finally… The ACTUAL ride…
Man. I really don’t want to give too much of this away. We were transferred into a droid-operated ride vehicle which seats eight and is trackless. It’s similar to the Penguin ride at Sea World, but moves MUCH faster and in many different directions. With no track in place, it was impossible to anticipate which direction we would be going in next. And it is so smooth!!!! From here on out we encountered Kylo Ren in several different formats (hologram, animatronic) and felt as if we were in the middle of a battle. Blaster beams and canons are firing all around and we could never tell what would be happening next. Finally, we made it to safety in a simulator section with a sudden drop as we entered into space. (This is a free fall, similar to Tower of Terror, less intense.) Then we surprisingly ended outdoors!
I have not experienced so many different technologies combined with such an incredible story. The rides that come closest are probably Transformers or Forbidden Journey over at Universal. I know that I missed a TON and can’t wait to see it again. Bravo, Disney Imagineers. Job well done.
-Tour Guide Barbi
Theme Park Academy
Here’s a short overview of our experience, enjoy!
Those who know my Disney side, are well aware of my love for Frozen and all of the Disney Princesses. More specifically, I love Elsa, who is not a Princess, but actually a Queen – so I guess it is safe to say she is my favorite Disney Queen of all time.
There was really no way fro me to bring you an unbiased review of Frozen 2 because I am incredibly biased and in love with these characters, forever. BUT – thank goodness for WDW Hints
I have included an unbiased review for in this space – so read on! For everyone waiting to hear what I had to say – here it is. In all of its gushing and totally biased glory. I LOVE FROZEN AND I LOVED FROZEN 2. For the rest of this article, I am going to give you some fun things to look for in this film – that really stood out for me!
Here they are in no particular order:
Olaf and the Gang Play Charades
One of the opening scenes includes Olaf and the crew playing charades. It is as cute as you can imagine. Olaf does a fantastic impersonation of Elsa, and even SHE giggles at his cuteness.
One of the best things ever? SVEN is the time keeper. Remember when Kristoff sang about how reindeers are better than people? Well apparently they are fantastic and fair when you need a timekeeper for charades too. Sven even rings the little bell at the stop and start of each round.
Olaf retells the story of the first Frozen, in his own special way
Practical, because he needed the Northuldra Tribe to understand the whole story. Entertaining, because it is Olaf!! Watch for his version of what happened in the first Frozen film. It is hilarious!
Animated Baby Reindeer
If you have been following our website for a while now, you probably know about my “thing” for baby animals. I wrote a full article when a baby zebra was born at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Oh and that one time when a mama and baby rhino came charging towards our vehicle on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride at Animal Kingdom? I wasn’t scared – I JUST THOUGHT THAT BABY WAS SO CUTE! So, you guessed it, I wrote about it – and included pics. One of my favorite things about Lion King in live action film? The babies!!!
You will have to look quick – but there is a scene in Frozen 2 where the cutest baby reindeer you have ever seen cuddles up with one of the girls. I can’t remember if it was Anna or Elsa now – because I was too busy looking at that BABY!!! He is not baby Sven, he belongs to somebody from the Northuldra tribe. They are all around a campfire… and oh… that little reindeer took my breath away!
Kristoff Made a Music Video
Bobby and Kristen Lopez, who did the music for the first film, wrote Kristoff this epic kind of 80s ballad and the animation that goes with it. It’s like an 80s music video,” Groff explained. “It’s a joke for the adults. The little kids don’t really get it.”
I think the kids that know about boy bands WILL get it. In Frozen 2, Kristoff belts out a song and that, combined with the video going on, made me feel like I was watching just that. IT WAS AMAZING …and hilarious!! I loved it. But Kristoff and I have a history.
Back when the first Frozen movie came out, Kristoff started making appearances in Magic Kingdom.
Some girlfriends and I were swooning over him. In fact, we may have started a hashtag.
If you love Kristoff and you love boy bands and you love music videos… you will totally understand this. And you and I can be friends forever.
Watch for Elsa’s beautiful little Queen toes. She is barefoot in parts of this movie. Maybe we got to see Cinderella’s toes too – but seeing the toes of a Queen seemed like a special thing to me.
EPIC COSTUMES ~ including one for swimming
Half of the fun of this movie – for me – was watching for wardrobe changes. These girls have more outfits than Cher!! Elsa wears the most fabulous swim costume I have ever seen. Watch for it! On a side note, all of the ocean and underwater scenes are breathtaking. I found myself wondering what was real and what was CGI. When animated films become so sharp that they look like reality – it freaks me out and delights me – all at the same time. What do you think about that?
Kristoff gets to be a hero…finally!
I understand we want to portray women in Disney films as strong and able to hold their own. But I was SO pleased to see a part in Frozen 2 where they actually let Kristoff be a hero. Finally!
Production Babies – Baby Presley!
It is tradition now at the end of a Disney movie to add the names of all babies born while the movie was made. Because of my obession with Elvis Presley, Disney, and how excited I get when my worlds collide, you can imagine my excitement about this. Somebody on the production team of Frozen 2 named their new baby “PRESLEY”
Spoiler Alert… what happens after the credits
Stay for the whole thing. You get to see Marshmallow and the Snowgies!
I hope you enjoyed my list of fun stuff to look for when you go to see Frozen 2! Disney princesses are a giant part of Disney magic to me. I started a facebook page just for celebrating them. Come on over to join in and participate HERE
**Please note that I was invited to a complimentary viewing of this movie on November19, 2019 so that I could bring you this review. Complementary admission in no way influenced my review, and all opinions are my own.**
Thank you to my friend Kitei for attending the media preview with me!
I want to thank my friend Tour Guide Barbi from Themepark Academy for her actual, spoiler free, review! She is less biased than I am because she honestly wasn’t in love with the first Frozen movie!
I was very lucky to receive last minute passes to the media screening of Frozen 2, which made my children feel very special. I find the words to describe it afterwards are a little tough to find. It is an epic, yet fairly predictable journey, with all of the characters acting in their established roles: Elsa is still being fairly reckless, Anna is still chasing after Elsa even though she doesn’t have powers and Olaf, Kristoff and Sven fill their supporting roles with humor and self-reflection. There are definitely some scenes where the these humorous breaks are appreciated due to some very tear-worthy moments. This film took several comedic shots at its predecessor, showing one of my favorite Disney studio traits, the ability to laugh at itself. The imagery is stunning, the score is as epic as the storyline and the new anthem “Into the Unknown” shows yet another stellar performance by Idina Menzel. Plus, the reprise at the end by Panic! At The Disco is equally as amazing. (I’m surprised that it took me this long to recognize Brendan Urie as Idina’s male equivalent! ) I fully expect Frozen Fever will be in full force once this opens to the public and in anticipation we have created a video on all the places to find the Frozen characters in the park. Enjoy! ~ Tour Guide Barbi
Big news for Disneyways fans!! We featured him before to wonderful acclaim! You remember his album of classic Disney hits – with a Rock n Roll twist!
Kingdom Classics Performed By Peter Alden!
Get your copy by emailing us at PeterAldenTeam (at) gmail (dot) com
WELL NOW … YOU ARE INVITED TO “PETER ALDEN’S CHRISTMAS PARTY!”
The wait is over!! Peter Alden’s first Christmas album in SEVEN years – is here. We invite you to join “Peter Alden’s Christmas Party” and order this album as a gift for yourself and maybe a few more copies to give to your friends who (you may have thought!) already have everything. Designed to delight everyone on Santa’s list – it is a wonderful mix of – FIFTEEN songs in all – requested by Pete’s fans!
Enjoy upbeat favorites to get you rockin’ around your Christmas tree (“Jingle Bell Rock”), memorable classics (Charlie Brown and the Peanut’s “Christmas Time is Here”) Elvis Presley covers (“Blue Christmas”) and reverent glorious hymns (“Oh Holy Night”) that will get your heart prepared in the reason for the season! Get yours now and one for everyone on your Naughty and Nice list!
Get your copy by emailing us at PeterAldenTeam (at) gmail (dot) com
Peter Alden’s Christmas Party CDs are just $15 each plus shipping! SAVE on shipping by ordering the album via digital download!
Get your copy by emailing us at PeterAldenTeam (at) gmail (dot) com
Ask us about discounts for bulk ordering! It’s the perfect gift for everyone on your list – or as a party favor for your next holiday gathering!
Listen to this episode on Anchor HERE
Listen to this episode on Spotify HERE
Jeff Barnes is the best selling author of 2 of my favorite books – The Wisdom of Walt and Beyond the Wisdom of Walt! He teaches the only accredited college course on the History of Disneyland and believes the Disney parks teach us some of life’s greatest lessons, as long as you know their history! Learn all about Jeff at TheWisdomofWalt.com !
Walt Disney – Master of Dreamers from Director Tony Cortese has been selected to open the 2019 Orlando Film Festival on Thursday October 17th 2019.
Detailed information on the film and how to get tickets can be found HERE.
The film will debut at 8 p.m.at the Cobb Plaza Cinema Café (Located at 12 at 155 S. Orange Avenue) in downtown Orlando. The screening will be preceded by a red-carpet event at 6:30 p.m.
The festival will offer more than 250 films through Oct. 24. The Disney documentary will screen again at 6:45 p.m. Oct. 24.
Cortese wrote, directed and produced the film. He also narrates the story of Walt Disney’s contributions to the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, the creation of Walt Disney World and the work of Imagineers to bring Epcot to life. The film salutes Disney, who died in 1966, as a mentor, visionary and urban planner. Details on the festival, the films and tickets are at OrlandoFilmFest.com. Tickets also can be purchased at the festival box office, which will be in the Cobb Plaza lobby during the festival.