Tuesday, January 17, 2017

MY 19TH FAVORITE DISNEY VILLAIN

PERCIVAL C. MCLEACH

Rescuers Down Under

FROM "THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER"

WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!

It still stuns me that the sequel to a very bland and mediocre Disney film is 100 times better than the original, and yet for some reason is not recognized as being one of the Disney classics, when its in reality thee best out of all Disney sequels by far (that is if you don’t count Pixar). I mean what is there not to like about the film?! It has an awesome and exciting adventure feel to it. The characters are fun, adventurous, and cute. The humor is laugh out loud funny. The animation is beautiful and epic looking. And it has a cool villain who sadly (just like the film itself) gets overlooked.

 

Now in some respects I can see why he's not recognized as one of the great Disney villains (and with ignoring the fact of how the film gets so overlooked). Since most Disney villains are known for either having magic, being a creature of some sort, or in the very least is part of a Fairy Tale universe, Mcleach is just your average Saturday morning cartoon poacher that we've seen a dozen times already. His goal in the long run is to just capture a rare eagle, and make money off of it, which is a pretty basic and standard motivation for a Disney villain that sounds boring. Also his design as intimidating and at times scary as it is, it’s not all that interesting compared to many other Disney villains (kind of like the villain Sykes from “Oliver And Company” for example).

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But as cliched as the villain and his motivation is, there are still plenty of cool things about him that overpower how basic of a villain he is. The decision of casting an amazing actor like George C.Scott certainly helps a lot. I know that he doesn't sound Australian at all (seriously why are there very few characters in the film who have Australian accents) but his performance in this film has such the right balance of humor and intimidation that never goes too over board, that you don't care, and you can tell that Scott is having a lot of fun voicing this villain. There are plenty of scenes of him laughing and taunting the boy Cody, and saying priceless lines like "I didn't make it all the way through the third grade for nothing". But they'll be more than enough scenes where he'll come across as one of the most ruthless and bloodthirsty of poachers that you've ever seen on film. He has a temper that you do not want to see him lose, where he'll yell and behave violently with such demand and force that Scott perfectly sells. And his passion and joy for hunting animals and slaughtering them to make money off of their hides is so dark and insane that it's kind of disturbing for how much he enjoys it. He even sings twisted renditions of songs like "Home On The Range" and "Crawdad" to express his love for ripping off animals hides, and feeding people to the crocodiles. On top of it, it's also revealed right from his first on-screen introduction that he already killed the Father of the eagle that Cody is trying to protect, as he makes a taunting "cut-throat" gesture towards the kid with the remaining feather of the deceased eagle.



Speaking of Cody, out of all the things that make this villain feel so dangerous and menacing is the fact that the person he threatens all through out the film is a little boy. And no he doesn't just stand there yelling at him like the Cruella De Vil wanna-be Madam Medusa in the last film, he actually does some pretty nasty things to him that are just downright cruel and at times sadistic. He drags and pushes him around with absolute force, locks him in a cage with the frightened animals he's captured, has his pet go after him, and goes as far as tossing razor sharp knives around him as he's tied up. There's even one occasion where he thinks about loosening the boy's tongue by sticking him inside a giant ant hill. But the worst thing he ever does to Cody is tie him up to a hook to dunk him into to a river filled with hungry and vicious crocodiles. And just when you think that's not evil enough, when the crane stops working rather than just flat-out shooting the boy with his riffle, he tries to shoot the rope attached to Cody so he can watch him get ripped to shreds by a pack of crocodiles, that's pretty messed up. I mean really, put yourself in Cody's position if you were that age and tell me that you wouldn't be scared by all that in the least.

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Even though Mcleach has never made it passed the third grade, has made up some very poor lies (like telling a trapped Cody that his pet Gonna dug up the large hole he's trapped in), and never succeeds with getting Cody to willingly spill the beans about where the eagle's nest is, he is still shown to be a smart and cunning villain. When Cody threatens that his Mom will call the rangers when she finds out that he's missing, Mcleach throws Cody's back-pack in the water full of crocodiles to make it look like that he got eaten. And when Mcleach realizes that he'll never get Cody to talk, he makes up a lie about the eagle being shot as he casually mentions that the eggs won't survive without their Mother, where he'll know that Cody will go to her nest to save the eggs as he follows him. There's never a sense that Mcleach will ever give up on his desire because he will find one way or another to get what he wants. And why not, judging by the amount of animals he's captured and killed, and acts so confident about finding his next prey that's incredibly rare, it's no secret that he always gets every animal that he's desired to hunt.

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The most incredible feature that this deranged hunter has to help him locate and capture an animal is a gigantic truck. It's not only an incredible looking badass design that's supported by cool CG animation (that looks just as cool as Sykes' limo), but the features it carries almost seems like the kind of gadgets that James Bond would have for his car if he decided to go hunting. It has a radar screen that blinks whenever one of his alarms goes off after an animal falls into one his traps; a cage that’s large enough to contain any animal or beast; a rocket launcher with rockets that explode into a giant net to capture his victim; a giant crane; and it all comes complete with a PA system that just adds to the awesome factor of it! Mcleach's driving is a bit more tamed compared to Cruella’s and Sykes' reckless driving, but his driving and truck is still crazy and powerful enough to plow through countless trees without any problem, as his truck leaps and topples down like how a Monster Truck would.

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Assisting Mcleach with his hunting is his pet Goanna Joanna. Just like her master, Joanna comes across as deadly and scary, but also fun and comical. While there are plenty of scenes of her getting threatened and abused by her master that comes off as slap-sticky from her comical scarred expressions and the ways she gets injured, there are many other scenes of her suddenly popping out of nowhere and chasing after the characters that are pretty intense for how cunning and quick she is. Her best scary moment is when we first see her head pop-out snarling at Cody as if she was going to attack him that makes me jump every time I see this scene. Another trait about Joanna that I admire about her is how taunting she can be. Much like how the Stepmother's Cat in "Cinderella" loves to taunt people with that villainous smile that always gets under your skin as he makes things worse for the character, Joanna is practically the same like how she always prevents Cody and the animals from succeeding with every chance they have to escape, as she walks away sassing them. Or how Mcleach will give bad news to Cody as Joanna would make taunting gestures as if she was pouring lemon juice over an opened wound. You just feel like smacking her around sometimes despite that she gets more than enough of that from her master. My favorite comical scenes involving Joanna are whenever it involves her trying to eat eggs, whether it's at the eagle’s nest where she tries to bite and tare apart rock's that are shaped like eggs, or when she’s stealing eggs from Mcleach's egg's box when he isn't looking. If I had to pick a favorite between the two that makes me laugh the hardest, I would have to go with the last scene I mentioned. The timing, expressions, and Scott's voice acting are all what make the entire scene so priceless. And I love how it ends with Mcleach slamming the lid on Joanna's claws laughing and telling her that she got her "hand caught in the cookie jar".

But after laughing so hard when the scene is over, what follows is Mcleach's scariest moment in the whole entire film, and that's the look he gives when he figures out how to get Cody to take him to the eagle's nest. Just look!

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One minute he looks normal as we're laughing at him. But then all of a sudden the light around him begins to dim, and for no rhyme or reason at all a purple light begins to reflect on his face as his eyes turn red. It's just so terrifying for how out of the blue it is, much like when the Stepmother gives her evil stare at Cinderella when she discovers about her and the Prince.

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Mcleach in the end gets the infamous Disney villain death that is caused by gravity, and compared to all the famous villains who fell to their death, this is the most intensely animated one of them all. I'm not saying a villain falling to their doom like Mother Gothel or Frollo aren't better than this one because they are for how poetic and brutal they are. But in terms of animation this one offers the best thrills. The way Mcleach is trying to swim away from the waterfall as the current keeps on forcing him down stream is riveting since you can feel the power of him being pushed to his doom. And when you see him fall over the waterfall you get a perfect size and scope of how gigantic the waterfall is, that looks gorgeous but yet so treacherous at the same time, especially when considering that Cody and the mice are about to fall over it as well. What makes me glad about Mcleach's death is his pet Joanna gets to avoid it as she bids him farewell before going off on her own. I'm not saying that she's not a jerk, because she is. But after seeing her getting abused so many times by her owner, as comical as they are I can't help but feel a little sorry for her, which would make the idea of having her die along with Mcleach seem very unwarranted since she is practically a victim herself.

It seriously does pain me that Mcleach gets so overlooked as a Disney villain. Granted I don't think he's up there with villains like Jafar, Maleficent, Frollo, etc etc, but he's nowhere near the mediocre category of villains like Ratcliffe or Madam Medusa either. There are truly many things that make the villain stand-out as a forgotten addition to the Disney villain line-up. The performance from George C. Scott carries all the enjoyable qualities that you would expect to get from a villain by Disney, along with his faithful pet being just as fun as he is. His love of torturing animals and children is disturbing. And he drives one of the best vehicles to have ever been driven by a Disney villain. If "Man" in "Bambi" was a loan villain who we actually see, it would probably be someone as crazy and cold as this hunter.

"Home, home on the range / Where the critters are tied up in chains / I cut through their sides / and I rip off their hides / and the next day I do it again."
-Mcleach