Mousertainment Music: Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and the Mission: BREAKOUT! Soundtracks

I’m not going to see the new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 movie until tomorrow, but I know that one major thing I’m looking forward to is seeing how the soundtrack will integrate into the story. And I have complete faith in director James Gunn and Marvel to make musical and cinematic magic once again!

I think it’s safe to say that the original “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” soundtrack was at least half the reason that the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie was such a hit. Baby Groot dancing may have been the other half of its success – which is no doubt why he seems to be front and center in the advertising for the sequel!

Taking a look back to the first soundtrack, I can scan this list and off the top of my head sing or hum most of them:

            Awesome Mix Vol. 1:

  1. “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede
  2. “Go All the Way” by The Raspberries
  3. “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum
  4. “Moonage Daydream” by David Bowie
  5. “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” by Elvin Bishop
  6. “I’m Not in Love” by 10cc
  7. “I Want You Back” by Jackson 5
  8. “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone
  9. “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways
  10. “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes
  11. “O-O-H Child” by The Five Stairsteps
  12. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

The second soundtrack isn’t quite as obvious for me – although there are several songs on there I do love. However, I expect to recognize most of them when I hear them playing during the movie: Continue reading

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Mousertainment Movies: What’s Worth Watching in 2017?

Today I look ahead to the films being released in 2017 and make my best guesses as to which ones will be worth watching in theaters (for me at least!), although a few may wait for home entertainment releases.

There are a good amount of big tentpole films that are must-see for me in the coming year, but there are also a few smaller films on my radar as well.

Here is my list in order of how much I’m anticipating seeing them!

10) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Drax
  • Baby Groot
  • Kurt Russell as Ego
  • Chris Pratt as Star-Lord
  • Continuation of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) storyline

9) Cars 3 (Jun 16)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Pixar
  • Another visit with the wonderful Cars characters
  • Really hoping it’s better than Cars 2

8) Stephen King’s It (Sep 8)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Love the original source material
  • Love the original mini-series – it’s absolutely perfect and this will have a lot to live up to but I’m strangely rather optimistic about it.
  • Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise – nobody can compare to Tim Curry in his defining take on this role, but it looks like they’re going for a different style here and I am a big fan of all of the Skarsgards – Bill was terrific in the wonderful Netflix series Hemlock Grove. He can definitely do menacing and creepy.

7) Kong: Skull Island (Mar 10)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Tom Hiddleston
  • I’ve yet to see a King Kong movie I really like but I am intrigued by the concept and origins of the character.
  • I miss the amazing banana-breath audio-animatronic version of King Kong at Universal Studios Hollywood.  Not sure anything digital will ever top anything practical, however.

6) Murder on the Orient Express (Nov 22)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Director Kenneth Branagh
  • Agatha Christie stories are always fun
  • Stellar cast

Continue reading

Mousertainment Movies: What Was Worth Watching in 2016?

Today I will look back to my predictions at this time last year to see if I guessed correctly as to what films were worth watching and therefore brought me out to see them in theaters in 2016 (marked with an *) and which films I opted to wait to see as home entertainment releases.

Below were my picks in January 2016 in their original order of my interest in seeing them. At the end of the feature, I’ll put them in the order in which I actually liked them best!

Here was what I was looking forward to a year ago:

10) Finding Dory *

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Pixar
  • Ellen Degeneres as Dory

Reasons to go see it:

  • Baby Dory
  • Otters and Sea Lions
  • Ellen Degeneres as Dory

9) Zootopia *

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Disney animation
  • Ginnifer Goodwin as Judy Hopps
  • Humor looks cute

Reasons to go see it:

  • Flash
  • Probably the most entertaining story of the three Disney and Pixar releases this year
  • Appealing original world and characters

8) Gambit

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Continuation of X-Men Universe storyline
  • Channing Tatum reportedly really wanted the role – let’s see what he does with it!

Reasons I didn’t go see it:

  • A few weeks after this list was originally posted, this film was pushed back to a future production date. It has not yet been released.

7) X-Men: Apocalypse

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Continuation of X-Men Universe storyline
  • Finally getting to see a proper-looking Professor X in the prequel timeline!
  • Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy

Reasons I didn’t go see it:

  • Waiting for home entertainment release

6) Moana *

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Disney animation
  • Dwayne Johnson as Maui
  • But let’s not forget Lilo & Stitch did a Hawaiian-set film first!

Reasons to go see it:

  • Terrific soundtrack
  • Dwayne Johnson as Maui
  • But Lilo & Stitch is still a way better film 

Continue reading

Mousertainment Movies: Top 10 Favorite Disney Soundtracks

Going along with yesterday’s feature on my favorite lyricist, Howard Ashman, today I’ll turn a spotlight onto my top ten favorite Disney soundtracks – including both live action and animated films. But don’t be surprised if Ashman’s contributions appear along with his musical partner Alan Menken!

While such lists are by nature subjective, this one was challenging to settle on as several of the most classic Disney songs – “Someday My Prince Will Come” (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), “When You Wish Upon a Star” (Pinocchio), “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” (Cinderella) and “Once Upon a Dream” (Sleeping Beauty) – come from otherwise less memorable overall soundtracks. Although granted, Cinderella did have two other fun contributions of “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” and “The Work Song” and Snow White had “Heigh-Ho” and “Whistle While You Work”.  But really, other than in Disney movies, who enjoys work so much that it makes them want to sing?!

Some of the other classic Disney soundtracks that were hard to exclude were Dumbo with its charming tunes “When I See an Elephant Fly” and especially the heartbreaking “Baby Mine” – and The Jungle Book with its irresistible catchy numbers “Bare Necessities” and “I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song)”. But if I had to narrow it to ten favorites, here’s how the list turned out – and yes, I know it leans heavily to modern pop…

10) Tarzan (1999)

  • When Disney joins with rock stars to make music, the results can be terrific – such as this pop-infused soundtrack from Phil Collins that produced radio hits including “You’ll Be in My Heart”. But really, every song from this film is worth singing along with!  “Trashin’ the Camp” is far more fun than housework, right?

9) Enchanted (2007)

  • With just a few songs, this Alan Menken soundtrack (with Stephen Schwartz lyrics) takes you on a journey of the history of Disney princesses, starting with the Snow White-era “True Love’s Kiss” to the Cinderella-style “Happy Working Song” to the Ariel-like “That’s How You Know” and ending with that modern ode to happiness “Ever Ever After”. But the real winner for me on this soundtrack is “So Close”, the ballroom dance number – I can never ever get enough of listening to this song!

8) Aladdin (1992)

  • The last of Howard Ashman’s contributions to a Disney film still delivered great songs with his musical partner Alan Menken such as the scene-setting (though ultimately edited for political correctness) “Arabian Nights” as well as the upbeat “Friend Like Me” and “Prince Ali”. And while I found the Tim Rice lyrics a bit on-the-nose, there is no denying the beauty of “A Whole New World” or the fun of “One Jump Ahead”. However, the best song as far as I’m concerned was one of Ashman’s that never made it to the original film but was later released as archival material and covered by such artists as Clay Aiken and John Barrowman – “Proud of Your Boy”.

7) Mulan (1998)

  • Though the music was composed by pop singer Matthew Wilder (with lyrics by David Zippel) and generated the sensational “Reflection” (a major career breakthrough for former Mouseketeer Christina Aguilera) and bouncy “True to Your Heart” (from 98 Degrees featuring Stevie Wonder), it is the story-driving songs such as “Honor To Us All“, and “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” that help also to explain Mulan’s character and make this soundtrack such a moving emotional and musical experience.

6) Pocahontas (1995)

  • Another wonderful Alan Menken soundtrack (with Stephen Schwartz lyrics – in some of his best writing ever in my opinion!) is highlighted with the award-winning “Colors of the Wind”, but for me every song is wonderful in its place-setting (i.e. “The Virginia Company”), its character-defining numbers (“Just Around the Riverbend” – a personal all-time Disney favorite – and “Mine, Mine Mine”) as well as its compelling cultural commentary (“Savages”). Continue reading

Mousertainment Movies: My Hero, Howard – An Appreciation

Betcha on land, they understand…”

Mousertainment Memorandum: I meant to post this piece for Howard Ashman’s birthday in May, but got caught in a run of other features. However, I present it today in recognition of the contributions and creations of this truly iconic and timeless talent.

I fell in love with Howard Ashman when I first saw the movie version of the musical Little Shop of Horrors and ate up every word of his witty, subversive lyrics. But I didn’t really recognize his genius until he and his composing partner Alan Menken joined up with The Walt Disney Company to create the late 1980’s/early 1990’s renaissance of animated films running from The Little Mermaid to Beauty and the Beast to Aladdin.

He was only 40 years old when he tragically passed away far too soon, but in those years that he wrote, he made a permanent indelible impression on generations of people, including myself.

As I child, I was enamored with the words of Lewis Carroll in his tales of Alice and Wonderland. It wasn’t his characters or their story so much as his ability to play with and reconstruct and reinterpret words that fascinated me.

When I grew older, that appreciation of this type of writer grew to include William Shakespeare – who also could use words to inspire and provoke, as well as move and amuse and define.

For me, Howard Ashman was one to be included in their ranks of the most admired wordsmiths. Something about the way his brain worked to twist language into its cleverest connotations tickled my fancy and pleased my vocabulary-loving mind. (Cole Porter would be another, may I add.)

From his litany of fish playing instruments to his ode to food dismemberment by a chef to a flatware “culinary cabaret” or a command to “genuflect, show some respect, down on one knee!” – Ashman’s mental acuity and linguistic gymnastics were such a special unique gift that they still make me marvel every time I roll his words around on my tongue. Continue reading

Mousertainment Movies: What’s Worth Watching in 2016?

Today, it’s time to look ahead to the many great films coming out in 2016!

While I’m going to focus here on the top ten I most want to see in theaters (although time will tell if I wind up making the effort!), at the end I’ll add a few more that I’m more likely to catch when they get to home entertainment rental/on demand!

Without further ado:

10) Finding Dory

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Pixar
  • Ellen Degeneres as Dory

9) Zootopia

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Disney animation
  • Ginnifer Goodwin as Judy Hopps
  • Humor looks cute

8) Gambit

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Continuation of X-Men Universe storyline
  • Channing Tatum reportedly really wanted the role – let’s see what he does with it!

7) X-Men: Apocalypse

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Continuation of X-Men Universe storyline
  • Finally getting to see a proper-looking Professor X in the prequel timeline!
  • Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy

6) Moana

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Disney animation
  • Dwayne Johnson as Maui
  • But let’s not forget Lilo & Stitch did a Hawaiian-set film first! Continue reading

Mousertainment Movies: What Was Worth Watching in 2015?

Today I’m going to take a quick look back at the films of 2015 and highlight the reasons I did or did not go see what I had planned at the beginning of the year and give my reactions to the films I did see and whether they got me out to see them in the theater (*) or whether I waited for home entertainment rental/on demand.

As always, these reflect my personal opinions/reactions to the films.

Note: these are listed in my original order of interest in seeing these films at the beginning of the year.  At the end of the article, I will provide the order in which I actually liked them best!

10) Home

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Really liked the book “The True Meaning of Smekday”
  • Jim Parsons

Reasons I didn’t go see it:

  • Waiting for rental/on demand

9) Inside Out *

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Pixar
  • Director Pete Docter

Reasons to go see it:

  • It will very likely win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature this year and possibly even be nominated for Best Picture
  • Parents and people who have moved away from home can connect to the story of a girl coping with loss and dealing with the mixed emotions of growing up
  • But for me, personally, I couldn’t relate at all and was very bored by it – however, I’m apparently in the minority in not enjoying it

8) Terminator: Genisys

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Continuation of Terminator storyline
  • Return of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator

Reasons I didn’t go see it:

  • Got truly terrible reviews
  • Waiting for rental/on demand

7) Jurassic World

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Continuation of Jurassic Park storyline
  • Chris Pratt
  • Dinosaurs

Reasons I didn’t go see it:

  • Waiting for rental/on demand
  • Still REALLY want to see it and need to do so!  This is the one I’m sad I missed seeing in theaters.

6) The Good Dinosaur *

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Created by Bob Peterson
  • Pixar
  • Dinosaurs
  • Concept Art

Reasons to go see it:

  • The animation of nature is very pretty
  • The characters were appealing in this attempt on a reverse take on “a boy and his dog” story
  • But otherwise, to me, it felt too often like an overly familiar re-tread of The Lion King including certain sequences that seemed taken directly from it. You’re better off re-watching The Lion King or the original Pete’s Dragon instead (one of the best Disney versions of “a boy and his dog”… well, dragon… tale). Continue reading