Film Review: Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Release Date: January 29th, 1959 (Los Angeles premiere)
Directed by: Clyde Geronimi (supervising director), Eric Larson, Wolfgang Reitherman, Les Clark
Written by: Erdman Penner, Milt Banta, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Joe Rinaldi, Ted Sears, Ralph Wright
Based on: Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault
Music by: George Burns (adapted from Tchaikovsky)
Cast: Mary Costa, Bill Shirley, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Barbara Luddy, Barbara Jo Allen, Taylor Holmes, Bill Thompson, Marvin Miller (narrator)

Buena Vista Film Distribution, Walt Disney Productions, 75 Minutes

Review:

“A forest of thorns shall be his tomb! Borne through the skies on a fog of doom! Now go with the curse, and serve me well! ‘Round Stefan’s castle, cast my spell!” – Maleficent

This is my favorite classic animated Disney film of all-time. While I also love Alice In Wonderland immensely and have (in my own mind) debated which one takes the cake for me, it’s always Sleeping Beauty that wins out, especially when I see them both pretty close together.

As far as the classic Disney style and patented tropes go, this is a perfect motion picture but then it’s also more than that.

This, at face value, looks like a standard Disney princess story but it also features the greatest villain that Disney has ever had in Maleficent. A villain so badass and cool that she’s been featured in the great Kingdom Hearts video games and gone on to have her own series of live-action films featuring her as the main character over Aurora a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty.

On top of that, this is a visual triumph for the Disney company, as it has a very unique animation style with incredible character design, a delectable, vivid color palate and a sort of looming darkness that their other films don’t have. There’s a real beauty with this picture that holds it above Disney’s other masterfully crafted and visually impressive films.

The animation is also so smooth, especially in regards to the great action sequences. The big action-packed climax that sees Prince Philip take on Maleficent in her massive dragon form is stunning to behold. Sixty-plus years later, it has held up incredibly well and is, hands down, one of the absolute best and most memorable animated action sequences in film history.

For me and what I like in Disney films, as well as fairytale stories, this is just a perfect storm, which is greatly enhanced by the unique and alluring visuals and one of the greatest silver screen villains ever created.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: other classic animated Disney films of the classic era.

Video Game Review: Mickey Mousecapade (NES)

I used to play this a lot, as a kid. However, it’s not as good as I remembered it being, especially when compared to the other games Capcom made for Disney properties in this era. This is one of the earlier ones though and I guess it paved the way for the better games that followed.

This is a decent platformer for the most part. It’s just kind of short and overly difficult not because it was meant to be hard but because it had some shoddy design and mechanics.

Some of the boss battles are made to overwhelm you and there really isn’t a way to block or dodge a constant barrage of attacks. You just kind of need to have full life, take damage and hope for the best.

Also, some levels are overly complicated. I remember having problems with the woods level, as there are hidden doors you have no idea are there and you have to access them to advance. When I was a kid, after hours of frustration, I found one of the doors by mistake. I remembered that and that’s the main reason I was able to beat the game this time.

None of the bosses are particularly interesting or fun to fight but you do get to fight Pete from the classic Steamboat Willie cartoon, as well as Maleficent, even though she has an incredibly oversized head and looks more like a Funko Pop than a badass sorceress.

Mickey Mousecapade hasn’t aged well but it’s kind of fun, even if it is frustrating.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: other Capcom made Disney games for the original Nintendo: the DuckTales series, the Chip & Dale series, Darkwing Duck, TaleSpin, etc.