Reviews written by registered user
|5 reviews in total|
Whenever I mention watching Gummi Bears, people can't help making the
oh-so-witty comment "Huh? You actually watch a show about little candy
bears?" "No," I patiently explain, "They are not the candy. They are
Gummi Bears, members of an ancient medieval civilization with advanced
technology, culture, morals, history, traditions..." By that point
whoever I'm talking to has usually raised their eyebrows and started to
back away slowly, or to laugh.
But it's their loss, because the Gummis are anything but little candy bears. This show goes further than any other Disney Afternoon show that I've seen in truly developing a whole mythology and culture that the viewer can actually learn from, while watching witty and entertaining plots involving adventures around the kingdom of Dunwyn. The show revolves around the Gummis of Gummi Glen, which used to be the center of a thriving Gummi culture that coexisted with humans, until the humans began to clash with the bears forcing them to flee overseas. A few were left behind in hiding, however, with the duty to protect the kingdom of humans from greedy people who might want to take it over (eg Duke Igthorn, a bitter exiled Duke who covets the throne), and to keep Gummi Glen functional until the other Gummis can return, at a time when humans will once again accept them without conflict. At the time of the show, the group living in Gummi Glen is composed of: Gruffi, the practical and cynical one who believes in hard work, living each day "the Gummi way", and not going out of his way to help silly humans (although in the end, he'll always go along to help); Grammi, whose work as the woman of the house cooking and cleaning and mending clothing hides an adventurous and daring nature; Zummi, the absent-minded and wise keeper of the library and ancient Gummi wisdom, including magic--which he is forever screwing up, in a truly endearing way; Tummi, whose name reveals his great love of food, although he also loves to garden and work on various crafts projects, and who has a patient and generous nature, sometimes to the extent that he can't say no to anything even when he should; Sunni, who's energetic and romantic, always dreaming of being a princess, but at the same time she's spunky and determined, and learns a lot as she grows up; Cubbi, who dreams of becoming a great knight and defending justice, and also just loves to play and to annoy Sunni; and finally Augustus, aka Gusto, who joins them later and doesn't live in Gummi Glen--he's an artist who doesn't believe in living life by strict rules and discipline, and so of course is constantly on Gruffi's nerves. In addition, there's Calla, Sunni's best friend, the princess who would rather be a tomboy or a knight, and Cavin, Cubbi's best friend, a page at the castle.
So that's the basic cast, plus a few others. Every character is multi-dimensional, and in particular, the development of their relationships is fascinating and complex and often touching. But in addition to the individual characters, the whole Gummi culture is well-developed and interesting. They are more advanced than the humans of their time, with wisdom and technology that the medieval humans have lost, now that they're in this era of rejecting the Gummis as silly myth. There are Gummi holidays and traditions, as well as sayings--my favorite of those being: "Though the first step is the hardest, and the last step ends the quest, the long steps in between are certainly the best." And of course the spells are great, with poor Zummi never picking up on the simple language they're written in. (One funny line is when Zummi's trying to create a small tornado, and misreads his paper: "Wumind Blumow Humere!" And then as the tornado suddenly starts up right under him: "I mean, Thumere!!") There are other centers of Gummi culture other than Gummi Glen, such as Ursalia, an ancient deserted city now inhabited by "Barbic" Gummis whose culture conflicts with the Glen Gummis' ideas of civilized culture, and also Gummadoon, the city that's under a spell to reappear for a day every hundred years. And of course, there's Gummiberri juice, the juice made from the secret recipe that allows the Gummis to bounce around, and makes humans extremely strong--hence it had better not fall into the wrong hands!
But not everyone will find a made-up culture of colored bears all that interesting. Even if you don't, the shows are well worth watching simply for the wit and entertainment of their plots and character interactions. The dialogue is sharp and amusing, the background music is charming, and the plots are sweet and entertaining. In my opinion, this is one of Disney's most intricate and well-developed and truly endearing shows. Highly recommended to anyone of any age who's willing not to be cynical about it.
In brief, this is a cartoon show about a gang of animals--two
chipmunks, two mice, and a common housefly--who live together in a tree
and solve crimes and have various adventures together. But it's so much
better than it sounds from that simple description. The writing is
witty with sharp, consistent characterizations, both of the Rescue
Rangers themselves and of all the various villains and minor
characters. The background music is catchy and the plots are inventive,
random, silly and at the same time serious, without being preachy or
heavy-handed in giving "morals" at all.
As for the basics of the show, the Rescue Rangers are composed of Chip--intelligent and determined with a streak of mischief that only occasionally surfaces; Dale--goofy and often trying to prove himself, and also to bring out Chip's goofy side; Monterey Jack--worldly and generally in control of the situation, except of course when it comes to cheese; Gadget--brilliant and absent-minded and sometimes startlingly wise; and Zipper--plucky and enthusiastic and loyal. But all of that can be found in any summary of the show; it doesn't capture what is so great about the show. None of the characters are even close to one-dimensional, and their interactions are complex, witty and fascinating, and can't even be summarized briefly.
Just as interesting are the "bad guys"--the main recurring ones are Fat Cat and his gang, and Professor Nimnul, a self-proclaimed unappreciated genius. The villains are witty, entertaining, ironic, outrageous, and just plain funny. And in general the show avoids the issue of "good vs. evil" directly; the plots typically revolve around the Rescue Rangers thwarting some scheme of a villain to gain power or wealth in unlawful ways (although some episodes don't even have an identifiable villain), but you're not made to hate the villains at all, only to disapprove of their selfishness or greed. In terms of subtle moral messages, I would say that this show shows (not preaches) the value of teamwork, the idea that everyone deserves help, and that selfishness and greed will get you nowhere in the end.
But the moral messages are not the main reason to watch this show, although they're important to the charm of the show. I started watching it when I was about four, and it's stuck with me throughout my life, becoming a central part of our family culture even when we go years without actually watching an episode. If a show can be judged by how often it gets quoted or referenced in everyday life, then Rescue Rangers has been the best and most important show in my life. So many of the lines and references have worked their way into my regular vocabulary, lines that are witty or clever or insightful or just plain funny. So often my dad and I find ourselves making analogies to RR episodes while having serious discussions. On the surface the plots may seem entertaining but not "deep" in a traditional dramatic sense, but believe me, the wit of the plots and characters and dialogue seeps into your thoughts in ways that will surprise you. It's fun and entertaining, and in a subtle way, very meaningful.
Overall, I wouldn't be who I am now without this show. I find that it's written with a depth of cleverness, references, wit, and character development that isn't quite matched in any of the other Disney Afternoon shows (with Gummi Bears coming closest). It's funny, entertaining, and deep, and I'd recommend it to anyone of any age who's willing not to be cynical about watching a show about crime-solving rodents. It's more than worth it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Okay, every single official review of this movie that I have seen says
it was basically the worst movie ever, or at least a contender. And yet
all of my friends who saw it thought it was awesome. Neither my friends
nor (I'm assuming) the reviewers are stupid people, so there must be
some reason for the huge discrepancy. The reason, clearly, is that we
are people who have watched a lot of the show and already have an
appreciation for the complexities of the characters and ideas in it.
This movie is simply not made for people who are viewing it with little
or no context. That's all there is to it.
Of course it's true that the plot is terribly contrived, the characters not very thoroughly drawn at all, and a good deal of the time taken up with the card game. Is it just a merchandising ploy? Well, yes it is a merchandising ploy, but that doesn't mean that that's all it is--in fact, if you know how to play the card game and know all the different cards and their significance, much of the dueling is quite interesting. Is the plot nothing but a clichéd "save the world from evil" sort of plot? Well...it's more that way than I personally would have done had I been given the task of making a Yugioh movie--I would have ignored all the ancient Egyptian and God Card stuff and focused perhaps on Kaiba's history and relationship with Yugi and Joey, or something. But let's face it, especially in America, the main market for this movie was pre-adolescent boys, and they tend to like powerful evil beings trying to take over the world. So I understand why they had to make it that way. Not my first choice, but understandable. The significance placed on the God Cards is also quite annoying. In fact, in the show, they are not used the same way--Yugi does not keep them in his deck. But they wanted to use them here. Kinda stupid, but whatever.
All that said, in my opinion within the framework of creating a movie based on a show that revolves around this card game, and needing to make it marketable in the right way, they did an awesome job making the movie funny and interesting for people who know the characters and the show. Everyone I've talked to agrees that the dialogue between Kaiba and Pegasus is priceless. If you don't know Kaiba and Pegasus, you can't appreciate the line "Do you ever shut up? I know what it means!" If you've watched Duelist Kingdom, you'll find it funny. Same for many other such lines.
One thing I especially appreciated was the role given to Yugi himself. The Pharaoh, Yugi's other half, isn't actually the hero of the movie, which is nice. Without little Yugi persisting inside the puzzle during the duel, the Pharaoh would have been toast. The movie made no attempt to make Yugi "cooler" than he is, which I was afraid it might. They let him be an innocent, shy, short little high school kid, not your typical hero.
Kaiba is an excellent example of why one needs to have watched the show to get the depth of the movie. They don't do much to develop Kaiba's personality, so it really helps to go into the movie already having an appreciation of it. If you do, then you'll find his struggles against the influence of Anubis to be interesting, and you'll understand his internal conflicts, and appreciate the significance of his throwing the Shining Dragon card to Yugi.
Basically, overall, I would never suggest that this movie could stand on its own as a great accomplishment of cinematic drama. Not even close. It's for people who appreciate the show, and all the characters and symbolism of it, and who are willing to accept that a somewhat contrived and over-dramatic plot was necessary for marketing, and who will enjoy the dialogue and character interaction and even the dueling. If you don't like it, fine. Not all movies have to be for everyone. But if you're not a fan of the show, then you have to realize that you're not going to get much out of the movie. That doesn't mean it's the worst movie ever made; it means you're not the right person to appreciate it. Personally, I thought it was amusing and interesting.
This show is entertaining enough to watch--the animation is good, the characters are well done, and the plots are silly enough to be entertaining yet complex enough to be interesting. However, when you think about what the plot of the show really is, it doesn't amount to much: most of the episodes consist of the main characters heroically managing to make sure Scrooge McDuck doesn't lose any of his billions of dollars. What is he doing with a humongous bin full of money when there are so many people in the world starving? :-) Obviously, I don't really think this show is sending out harmful messages--it's too innocent and warm-hearted to do that--but I do personally just find it harder to meaningfully sympathize with the characters on this show or their mission than I do on some other old Disney Afternoon cartoons (specifically Rescue Rangers and Gummi Bears--two of the best shows ever!!). But if you like Scrooge, Huey, Doey, Louie and company, and want a good, entertaining cartoon to watch, Ducktales will definitely deliver :-)
When my brother started watching this show and I heard bits of it in the
background I thought it sounded like the stupidest thing ever--I heard
of dialogue along the lines of "Oh, yeah! Well I attack with my dark
magician!" or "Now I shall harness the power of all millennium items and
rule the world!" or "Ha ha, with the power of our friendship we will
you!" However, after I had been forced to actually watch several episodes
and began to actually follow the plot and character development, I
discovered to my surprise that this show, while it is basically just a
marketing ploy to sell trading cards, is actually a complex and
story with well-developed and multi-dimensional characters and
Now, granted, you have to have certain tolerances to enjoy this show: you have to accept the world in which the characters live, in which for some reason everything seems to ride on this certain card game, Duel Monsters, and in which there exist ancient items with various spirits trapped inside them. If you're inclined to dismiss the premises of the plot as stupid, then this show is not for you. Secondly, you have to tolerate the fact that much of the show consists of duels, in which the characters themselves compete in the card game that the show is designed to market. It helps if you're a 6 to 12-year-old boy (or anyone else, I suppose) and are actually into playing the card game yourself. Or, like me, you can simply realize that the game actually is quite interesting and complex, and in the show is used to advance the plot and character development, and just accept it. Finally, you have to tolerate a certain amount of sappiness--the main characters do often take the time to go on and on about the importance of friendship and courage and standing up for yourself, etc etc...however, I personally find this somewhat refreshing after watching my brother play countless video games where the main message seemed to be Kill Anything in Your Path if It Will Give You Energy Points or some such advantage. And the character relationships are complex enough that these speeches, when they occur, are actually meaningful and sometimes (at least to me!) quite touching.
The point is, don't dismiss this show. The animation is crisp and nuanced (except for occasionally when they decide for some reason to switch to exaggerated, cartoon-like animation, particularly with Joey--those moments are probably my least favorite aspect of the show!), and the characters are real, touching, and very entertaining. Suspend your cynicism and just let yourself enjoy the show--it's actually quite worth it!!