Posts Tagged ‘Disney’

Media Update 6/21/18

June 21, 2018


Hearts Beat Loud

I have been a big fan of Nick Offerman since I first saw him on Parks and Recreation. I subsequently became a bigger fan watching his stand up and his appearances on talk shows. He is a highly intelligent performer and very charismatic. When I found out that he was starring in a feel-good independent movie, I was excited. I heard right away that it was getting good buzz but I stopped checking up on it because I did not want to spoil myself. The movie is about a single father who is on the cusp of changes in his life just as his daughter is about to go off to college. During that last summer, they write a song together. Offerman is great in the movie. There were parts where he did so much with his face and his eyes without even saying a word that made me laugh or made me feel for him. He played a less grumpy character than on Parks and Rec and he was really sweet. The other star of the movie is played by Kiersey Clemons, who plays the daughter. She is so amazing and fun and the soul of the movie is her interactions with her father. Also, her singing (and it really was her singing) is really great. I had not really known about her before this movie but I will be on the lookout now. She reminded me a little of Tessa Thompson in Creed. There were also great supporting roles from Toni Colette, Sasha Lane, and Ted Danson. The movie was really sweet and funny and the soundtrack is one of the best I have ever heard. A lot of the original songs were a mix of electronica and live instruments and the rest is an eclectic mix of more obscure artists. I definitely recommend it as I could not stop smiling all the way through.


Queen of Katwe

This movie is based on a real story of a young woman from a slum in Kampala, Uganda who tried to escape poverty by playing chess in tournaments. Her name was Phiona Mutesi and she was apparently a brilliant mind in chess. That is one of the things that I have always loved about chess is that as long as you dedicate yourself to it, it is a game that poor and rich people alike can succeed at. That is the main message of this movie. Phiona is an inspiration and a great role model for kids. The movie is also about what happens when you find the greater world beyond what you have known. Those in poverty and those in wealth live in entirely different worlds and, although my life has never been of great wealth, I have not wanted like Phiona must have wanted. When you move between two worlds, all sorts of identity problems start cropping up as you wonder where your worldview may take you and how it might change. The kids in the movie have great performances and Phiona herself is played unknown Madina Nalwanga. David Oyelowo is so amazing and warm as their coach who sees something in Phiona and the other children and does his best to shepherd them educationally and emotionally. The always great Lupita Nyong’o plays Phiona’s mother with both warmth and ferocity. I definitely recommend this one as well.


Paddington

I vaguely remember reading a Paddington Bear book when I was little but I realized that I have it confused with another famous British bear, Winnie the Pooh. I thought Paddington was a teddy bear as well but I was mistaken. He is an actual bear from Darkest Peru and speaks proper Queen’s English. I was a little worried about this one despite the good reviews because live-action adaptations of older properties have not been so kind lately. I worried that it would end up like bad adaptations like the recent Peter Rabbit. This was not the case. This movie was absolutely charming and the acting was top notch. Every joke came from a place of plot and character and there are no random, non-sensical gags that do not fit the source material. And yet, the movie updated the story to fit modern London instead of the fifties when the first book was written. The heart of the movie is in Ben Whishaw’s performance of Paddington but also Hugh Bonneville’s performance as the father of the Brown family. Their relationship felt so natural. Paddington was so warm and his fish-out-of-water story felt so genuine and heartfelt. Nicole Kidman was great as the villain. She was so over the top but oddly charming while doing it. There were also great character actor performances from Jim Broadbent, Michael Gambon, Peter Capaldi, Julie Walters, and Sally Hawkins. Apparently, a good deal of credit should also be given to Emma Thompson who gave the script an uncredited polish. Also, of course, Director Paul King who was also the director of the brilliant The Mighty Boosh. I definitely recommend this.

Music of the Week:
Ash – Annabel

Dilated Peoples – Worst Comes To Worst

Dua Lipa – IDGAF

Ratatat – Breaking Away

We’re Not a Band – Hearts Beat Loud

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “The Start of Something New”
– I watched more Wynonna Earp Season 2
– I finished Supernatural Season 13
– I watched more Riverdale Season 2
– I watched more Gurren Lagann
– I watched more Hemlock Grove Season 1
– I started Agents of Shield Season 5
– I watched more Barry Kramer on YouTube
– I am psyched for some other movies this weekend

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March Madness 3: The Disney Quarterfinals Pt. 1

June 2, 2018

Once again, the opinions are mine and all four of these movies are excellent.  As we get into the nitty-gritty, I found myself needing to write more to justify my choices.  They were not easy choices.

Bracket

Lion King vs. The Princess and the Frog

As I have said before, The Lion King is an epic Shakespearean story about a son having to figure out how he can fit in his father’s footsteps. It is basically a take on Hamlet mixed with some African-styled folklore thrown in. Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Matthew Broderick play the main character as he goes from childhood to adulthood and tries to figure things out. The highlight of the film is the music by Hans Zimmer and Elton John, the latter of which departed a bit from his on-stage style to create a mix of musical-style songs, easy listening, and one big epic song. The animation is beautiful and colorful and definitely inspired legions of other animated projects as well as a brilliantly-staged musical. A tip of the hat must also go to the memorable comic relief roles of Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Rowan Atkinson, and Whoopi Goldberg. When it comes to villains, it is hard to beat Jeremy Irons as Scar. However, the story is a little too simple to win this fight as Simba does not really go on much of a journey on screen. He spends years not growing up and then rides to the rescue in the third act. I love the movie but it wraps up a little too neatly. It also tends to treat female characters more like props.

The Princess and the Frog is a lovable romp through the jazz-infused swamps and city of New Orleans. As I mentioned in the first part, there is a song by Jazz legend Dr. John. The rest of the music explores different niches of genre as it touches on different cultures in the Louisiana area. Overall, I like more songs out of this movie more. The funny thing is that they were all written by Randy Newman of all people who really stepped up his game on this one, I guess. It also felt like Princess had more story and more character development. The movie is about working hard for the good things in your life but it is also about opening your heart and letting other people help. It is about creating a good work/life balance. Tiana is such a good character that Anikka Noni Rose brings to life. She is an easy protagonist to connect to and empathize for but also realize that she is not seeing the whole picture. Many people feel that her choice at the end goes against feminist principles but it is not a weakness to accept help to get you that last bit across the finish line. On top of that, there is a great villain in Dr. Facillier who uses interesting applications of magic to do all sorts of things. He also felt a little more of a rounded character than Scar.

Lead Character: Simba’s fear turned to courage at the midnight hour loses to Princess Tiana’s journey of self-discovery

Supporting Characters: The Lion King’s goofy (but lovable) side characters lose to Princess’ hopes and dreams of their own who are also fun in their own right.

Music: Elton John did a really great job but ultimately he loses out to Dr. John and Randy Newman’s jazz/blues sampler platter.

Story: A voodoo magic plot that also involves class warfare wins over a simpler version of Hamlet with lions.

Animation: After rewatching some scenes Princess is a clear winner here as the movie actually uses several different 2D animation styles for different sequences.

Winner: The Princess and the Frog

Tangled vs. Moana

Tangled is a girl-positive version of the Rapunzel tale. Instead of depicting a story where a man must climb a tower to save a poor girl held captive, we instead get the story of a woman who uses that intervention to escape on her own. A sheltered girl goes out in the world to discover what it might hold for her. The way that Rapunzel is depicted is similar to Kimmy Schmidt as she uses her optimism as her armor in life. This is one of the earliest movies that I can remember that flipped the paradigm of the damsel in distress well. The male lead is charming and capable but Rapunzel’s skills and personality are more suited for the tasks they face. The villain is one of Disney’s most insidious villains as she tends to use psychological techniques even more than magic. It is kind of refreshing to have a villain who the main character loves even until the end of the movie. Sadly, there are not a lot of secondary characters since the two sidekicks are non-talking animals but there are some fun comic relief thugs at one point. Since they were able to hire Mandy Moore as Rapunzel, they also got a fairly accomplished pop star and subsequently went for a poppy feel for some of the music and then went with standard musical stuff for the rest. The animation is very fluid and I especially like how Rapunzel’s hair acts.

Moana is the runaway sensation about a young girl’s obsession with the sea that leads to her trying to save her people. This was Disney’s third real attempt at depicting a culture beyond something vaguely European or modern American. They failed with Pocahontas but they succeeded with Mulan. Now they decided to try and tackle a combination of various island cultures (Hawaiian, Samoan, New Zealand, etc.) that all share a common link. They were able to create a story that required the main character to fix the world both physically and emotionally. The movie is literally and figuratively a journey for everyone involved and there is so much character growth to be had. Of course, the heart of the film is newcomer Auli’i Cravalho whose voice is full of so much soul and spirit. Combined with the animator’s skills, she brought that character to life. Her journey is very emotional and easy to cheer on especially because there is no love story to distract from it. Of course, the big story here is that Lin-Manuel Miranda composed and wrote a lot of the music but he it is not often publicized that he was joined by Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa’i. The songs flow so well and the composed score adds to every moment. Finally, the secondary characters are all great. Chief among them is Dwayne Johnson doing what may be one of his most charming performances. There is also a whole cast of characters, each of which is a rounded character. The journey in Moana is just stronger as proved by the fact that I almost cry every time I hear “There You Are’.

Lead Character: This is a close one. Both Moana and Rapunzel are positive people who are trying to follow their dream. Moana wins by having a clear goal and I just love her determination and charm more.

Supporting Characters: Eugene is a fun thief but he, Maximus, Pascal, and the bar patrons lose to Maui, Grandma, Hei Hei, Grandma, and Tamatoa.

Music: Lin-Manuel and his crew win by making me cry even though Mandy Moore has a really good voice.

Story: Moana’s journey of self-discovery and world-saving happens without a love story which beats a very good but very simple adventure story.

Animation: Both are done with beautiful 3D animation but Moana is a little more fluid. It is also literally more fluid with some of the best-animated water that I have ever seen.

Winner: Moana

March Madness 2: Pixar

May 5, 2018

Bracket

It’s time for the second part of this March Madness Bracket post now that we have arrived in May! I’m not going to waste any more words, here we go Pixar!


Up vs. Brave

We are starting off with a difficult choice. Brave is an underrated (and underperforming) title in the Pixar franchise. For one, I love Scotland and the accent of Merida, the first Pixar Princess, is really beautiful yet strong. I think it was the story that threw people. I do not think anybody was expecting all of the bear stuff. I happened to love it but it definitely did not follow a traditional plot. Still, the movie was fun and also had great emotional beats and a clear message about the balance of self and family. However, Up was a revelation when it came out. People are still talking about using the opening sequence as a tool to discover robots in the future. If you do not cry, you will be sent to the junkyard. The rest of the movie is nonstop laughs, tears, and adventure. The movie also follows a clearer plot structure and the pacing ends up being better because of that. Winner: Up


Toy Story vs. Toy Story 2

Kind of a weird matchup here. Toy Story was a movie that absolutely destroyed me when it first came out. To this day, it is the only movie that I have seen a full five times in theaters. It briefly made me want to be an animator though I later put that energy into other artistic pursuits. The movie really hit home for me then and now as I often identify with Woody, the character suddenly relegated to the background. As a shy kid, I often felt left out. Also, I feel like the movie is great for an older sibling to watch soon after the birth of their younger sibling. Toy Story 2 was a great continuation of the first movie. Just as Woody gets over not being in the spotlight, he is tempted with a return to his former place but must lose his friends. I just feel like the pacing, characters, and story of the original still outmatches the sequel even though both are great. I think number 2 just feels like it was a rushed rehash of the original movie’s message with a mortality message in there too. Winner: Toy Story


Coco vs. Cars 2

Oh wow. This is not even fair. Coco was such a brilliant and fun movie. Its story is based on the Day of the Dead festival and its connected lore. However, the story has a lot of heart and so many twists and turns that I did not expect. For me, the movie also talks about memory which is kind of a big deal in my family since my grandmother suffered from dementia at the end. It also has such great music, most of which is done on guitar and wonderful natural voices. The imagery and mythology were captivating to watch. On the other hand, Cars 2 was really annoying. The movie took a somewhat interesting character played by Owen Wilson and put him in the background of a movie starring Larry the Cable Guy. They tried to mix a racing movie with a rehash/satire of various spy movies. The jokes felt flat to me and it was the first Pixar movie I watched that felt like it was absolutely not for me and was just for little kids which is not the Disney/Pixar way. Unlike Coco, it also held no surprises and all of the characters seemed either willfully ignorant or awful. Winner: Coco


Toy Story 3 vs. The Good Dinosaur

This is the tiniest bit harder. Toy Story 3 is a movie that I was wary of when it was announced because I knew that John Lasseter (the head of Pixar) had turned the movie down originally. Eventually, Pixar committed to the movie and when they did they really committed. They made a movie that was very thoughtful and exciting. It felt like they updated the humor a bit but it did not feel dated and each and every character felt more nuanced and complete. It also has one of the deepest moments in a Pixar movie. It also felt like the first Toy Story movie with a real antagonist that the characters could deal with directly. I really liked the Good Dinosaur when I reviewed it soon after it came out on DVD. The story of a young dinosaur who must try and survive and reunite with her family is very charming. The role reversal that makes the human the ‘pet’ is pretty fun and well done. I just feel like there was not as much meat in this movie. The Good Dinosaur just did not zing as much as a lot of the best Disney or Pixar movies. Still, it is better than Cars 2. Winner: Toy Story 3


Ratatouille vs. A Bug’s Life

Ratatouille was another Pixar movie that I did not see until it was on DVD. I really empathized with Remy the Rat. He was passionate about something that he loved and it was hard to fully explain that so that his family would let him pursue it. I have also felt shy and out of place like Lou Romano’s character. While the movie does get bogged down a bit, it is the voice acting of Patton Oswalt as Remy that really gives the movie its heart. His performance is so great that it is really easy to see the movie through his character’s eyes. The French-inspired musical score is also really pleasant to listen to and it is one of the more chill and mesmerizing Pixar movies. A Bug’s Life was an exciting movie when it came out and proved that Toy Story was not a fluke. It was a very funny movie. It was also very charming as we followed a mistaken identity version of the Magnificent Seven. I also really liked the idea of the togetherness message near the end of the movie. However, I just found it a little less charming and polished. Winner: Ratatouille


Finding Nemo vs. Inside Out

This one was very hard for me. Finding Nemo was a great movie. It is a really cool story not only about a father trying to find his missing son but also about a father learning when to let go a little bit. The movie is fast-paced and emotional from start to finish and the laughs are heavily blended with the stuff that almost makes you cry. It is also the movie that helped put Ellen Degeneres back on the map and her performance is a show-stealer. It was a home run for Pixar as it was a very exciting and funny/emotional movie for the young company. Inside Out is the story of how your emotions and thoughts work inside of you which is a bit more relatable to me. Also, it deals with elements of depression which is definitely something I can relate to now and then. It also has some of the best depictions of imagination. All of that in the midst of a great story with really interesting characters running on two different story tracks that often collide. Also, the general theme of finding the joy in the heart of sadness was really beautiful. Winner: Inside Out


Monsters Inc. vs. Cars

This is interesting because both of these movies are stories about the main characters figuring out they are going about life the wrong way. However, Monsters. Inc is about how you can bring about a happier life by living positively instead of negatively. It also has the voice talents of John Goodman and Billy Crystal who make a great comic team similar to Abbott and Costello. I also love the world-building of the movie as they take a concept from childhood (not mine but others) and builds it into this whole interesting world. Cars is basically a rehash of the plot from Doc Hollywood where city car Owen Wilson learns to slow down and treat people nicer and be less selfish. The movie is fun and the plot is simpler and has more heart than its sequels. Larry the Cable Guy is also way less featured and less annoying. The whole concept behind Cars is also just really troubling the more you think about it. Winner: Monsters Inc.


The Incredibles vs. Wall-E

The Incredibles was the first and only time that the same guy was allowed to both direct and write one of their movies. When that guy was Brad Bird (already famous for Iron Giant) then it was clear that this one was going to be a winner. Also, I will always be a sucker for comic book and superhero movies and this movie has plenty of great superhero action. However, it also has an emotional core as we really get behind each character and get a sense of what they want and need. There is plenty of gentle parodying of superhero faire but also plenty of loving homages and both make me smile. I have a confession to make now. I have not seen Wall-E all the way through. I love Pixar but having a movie with very little dialogue was really weird for me. I am definitely a lover of fine dialogue as I feel that words really help convey intention and character. However, what Wall-E attempted to do was admirable and its central message is one we still need to listen to. One day, I will attempt to watch this movie again. Winner: The Incredibles

March Madness 1: Disney

April 14, 2018

Bracket

So March has come and gone but March Madness lives in people’s hearts forever, right? The thing about that is that I am not a basketball fan. While I played pickup games in middle school, I was never a fan because Baltimore does not have a team. If Baltimore does not have a team, I quickly lose interest in those sports. What I am a big fan of is Disney animated films and Pixar (before and after acquisition by Disney). I heard about this bracket and how it was driving everyone crazy and I thought it would be fun to fill it out and then explain my choices. Art is subjective and ranking things is absolutely just an exercise in examining your personal tastes. In other words, don’t get mad at me for my choices.

 

Lion King vs. Tarzan

This was an easy one to start of with. Tarzan has an interesting story about discovering one’s place in the world and also the evils of poaching. Lion King tells the story of a son’s love for his father and is basically Hamlet but with lions. While both are adaptations of established stories, Lion King has a lot more to say. Lion King also talks about duty vs. enjoyment and overcoming your fear to do what is right. It is a much more inspiring story. Lion King also has better music as Elton John and Tim Rice beat Phil Collins any day of the week, at least in my opinion. The Lion King also is funnier when it tries to be funny and more touching when it needs to be touching.

The Princess and the Frog vs. Lilo and Stitch

This one was a little harder. I like that Lilo and Stitch does not have a romantic subplot and it depicts Hawaii more as it actually is. It is a movie about sisters and misfits finding a family. It is honestly a really great movie. The Princess and the Frog is a movie about working hard for what you want but also trying to find the fun in life. The work/life balance message is something that is important to me. Also, The Princess and the Frog is a musical which uses great jazz tunes including a song actually sung by Dr. John. That definitely edges it ahead. It also does not hurt that Tiana is the first African American Disney Princess.

Tangled vs. Big Hero 6

It got difficult again. Big Hero 6 was a comic book series I read when it first came out. It was a charming and fun series with a lot of brand new heroes, Silver Samurai, and Sunfire. The movie version was really fun and had a different take on the character Baymax that knocked my socks off. It also did a great job with the theme of dealing with death. I also love superhero movies a lot. However, Tangled is an underrated movie that kind of paved the way for a new wave of Disney Princess. This new take on the Rapunzel story is really strengthened by the undeniable, bouncy energy of Rapunzel and the offbeat, goofy humor of the movie. This movie was a go to for a while when I was depressed to try and get me out of it.

Frozen vs. Moana

This was a totally unfair first round matchup. When I first saw Frozen, it blew me away. It was a total game changer when it came to Disney Princess animated movies. Setting aside that it had Kristen Bell in it, it also was the first of those movies that did not have a real romantic subplot. It was more about the love between sisters than the love between two people who had just met. Moana has even less of a romantic subplot and it is about being true to yourself and following your passion while staying true to your roots. It is a truly beautiful movie both visually and figuratively. It also has songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda who does so well that he ended up defeating the unstoppable catchiness of the songs of Frozen. That alone is saying something.

Aladdin vs. Hercules

Like most people, I love Hercules. It has a lot of snappy humor and is a great adaptation of various Greek myths with a slick modern style to it. The animation style is fun and it has an interestingly complex love story that comes second to a story about believing in yourself and becoming a hero. However, I have a big history with Aladdin. Back then I was a superfan of Robin Williams but the event that really cemented my love for the movie is when I watched it on drugs. To be fair, I watched it as I lay in the ICU after heart surgery in fifth grade. The movie has absolutely beautiful art and awesome voice talents. The story is also about believing in yourself but it is also about seeing people as they are and the power of friendship. The songs by Alan Menken are leagues above most Disney movies as well.

The Little Mermaid vs. Pocahontas

This one was easy. I really dislike Pocahontas. It is the only major release Disney Animated Movie that I dislike and that’s saying something. It is a historically inaccurate portrayal of a woman who was mistreated as a Native American by European colonists. The art style is also kind of off-putting to me for some reason. Also, I never liked the music very much. The Little Mermaid, on the other hand, is a really fun movie and a happier take on the Hans Christian Andersen tale. The music is all so fun to sing along to and the humor is cute and enjoyable. I love the theme of feeling like you are in the wrong place and yearning for a place that just feels right to you. It also has some interesting magic spells and supernatural powers go along way with me.

Mulan vs. Zootopia

This is a weird matchup. Zootopia is a really interesting movie that has a lot to say about racism and affirmative action. It disguises that message behind really well-animated animals living in a big city together. I love the world building involved in that and the story is a great roller coaster that has a lot of ups, downs, twists, and turns. Mulan is a great tale about the clash between following tradition and being who you feel you need to be. It also has the first Disney Princess who could fight. The animation is also really pretty with its own style that clearly illustrates that we are in China. What edges Mulan ahead as the clear winner is the music. Mulan has a lot of great, singable songs. Mostly I am thinking about I’ll Make a Man Out of You which was written by Donny Osmond of all people.

Beauty and the Beast vs. Nightmare Before Christmas

This one is not even fair. Beauty and the Beast is a beautiful movie. The art is a shining example of what 2D animation can be and the art style was so unique. It also introduced us to a heroine who was smart, brave, and who would not back down. It also introduced a romantic couple who believably wanted nothing to do with each other who were also both questionable individuals. The story does a good job of showing two parallel character arcs with a satisfying conclusion. The songs are also among the best in Disney. Nightmare Before Christmas is a movie that I watch every year at some point between Halloween and Christmas. It is yet another movie that I have used to battle depression because the movie itself is about battling depression. It is also the only movie on this list that uses stop-motion animation which is done so well I sometimes thought of it as live action. On top of all of that, it has music from Danny Elfman at the peak of his abilities. Every song is awesome and portrays so much emotion that I cannot ever let this movie go.

Alright, this one is getting a bit too long so I will have to continue it at another time. Of course, part 2 will have to wait until sometime after April but I am excited to get back to it! In the meantime, feel free to offer your own opinions. As I said, art is subjective and I am not “right” and you are not “wrong”.

Media Update 1/11/18

January 11, 2018


Ducktales (2017)

As an old-school Disney nerd, I loved the first series of Ducktales which featured Uncle Scrooge having to deal with nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. The adventures were fun as the show had a curmudgeonly yet lovable hero with a great supporting cast. Of course, it also had one of the catchiest theme songs in the history of children’s television. Last year (still weird to refer to 2017 that way), Disney decided to resurrect this show. I was a little skeptical until they announced that David Tennant would be playing Scrooge McDuck and then I was sold. I was right. This show was able to capture the charm of the original show and they even improved on a few things. The new series has more dynamic animation and each character has more detail. The three nephews actually look different from one another and have different voices. Webby is both not annoying and is actually allowed to be a cool, interesting character. They added Donald Duck to the cast instead of just being MIA. The show is funny and exciting and it still has that awesome theme song. Best of all, it feels like they have added some central lore that will tie all of the episodes together as it is slowly revealed. I will be digging up all of the episodes so far of this as soon as possible and I recommend it.


The Magic School Bus Rides Again

As a kid, I had a couple of sources for science beyond school. I was a big fan of Beakman’s World and I also occasionally watched Mr. Wizard and Bill Nye The Science Guy. However, few things got me as excited about science as The Magic School Bus. I read all the books as they were released (and even met the author) and when the television show premiered I was very into it. The books and show were somewhat formulaic but the characters were excited about science and the writing was clever. This new show is basically a continuation of the original series, picking up as the kids start a new school year. The show adds two new characters in new teacher Fiona Frizzle, the original Friz’ sister and new student Jyoti Kaur. The new additions help the new viewer but also make the new show a little fresher for those who absorbed the original show. Basically, the show has the same formula as the old one. Ms. Frizzle goes on a field trip with her students to show them something new about science and often a lesson about dealing with life as well. The original Friz (voiced by Lily Tomlin) is still on the show and she finishes each episode by explaining a few further things about the episode. Finally, the show’s great theme song is actually sung by Lin-Manuel Miranda. I definitely recommend this especially if you have a child in your life who is excited about science.


Danger Mouse (2015)

Danger Mouse is a British cartoon which is basically a 007 parody starring a mouse with a hamster sidekick trying to save the world. I watched the original show when it was rebroadcast on Nickelodeon not long after it premiered in England. The creators made a great choice to give the show a license to get silly and therefore puns and absurdity ruled the original show. More than that, the show was also fairly meta and the narrator was constantly accidentally breaking the fourth wall. The new show is really just more of the same with leaner, more exciting animation. The new show also has an expanded budget which is lampshaded in the very first episode. The original was forced to cut whole sequences (literally plunging scenes into total darkness) in order to come in under budget. The new show does not have that problem although they do bring it back once or twice for fun. Something new for American audiences is that they took away a lot of the localization changes such as restoring an Italian villain. The show is fun and I can’t wait to see how they treat some of the old characters as they return. (Count Duckula!) The show feels fresh to me and more accessible now that I have indulged so much in English television since I first watched the show. I definitely recommend this one too.

Music of the Week:
The Regrettes – Hey Now

Saint Motel – My Type

DOOMTREE – Final Boss

Tiger Lillies – Crack of Doom

Animadness – Kizuna

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Childhood Cartoons Rebooted”
– I finished Season 5 of Longmire
– I watched more Season 2 of Little Witch Academia
– I continued watching Season of The Magicians
– I finished Season 1 of Blue Exorcist
– I started Season 2 of Schitt’s Creek
– As usual, I watched Game Grumps, GTLive, Critical Role, and DCA on Youtube

Interview Questions 8

June 5, 2017


What is your favorite movie quote?

“I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t like bullies; I don’t care where they’re from.”
Steve Rogers, Captain America: The First Avenger

This was the most powerful line of the movie for me. It also made me fall in love with the character of Captain America and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. The line is in response to Steve being asked whether he wants to kill Nazis. A lot of soldiers probably entered World War II hoping to destroy evil. This line sets up Captain America not as a weapon but as a shield. He cares more about protecting the innocent than destroying evil. As a child of the eighties, I grew up hearing epic stories of World War II. I was one generation removed so there was definitely a more romantic sheen on every story I heard. While war is not ideal, evil prevails when good men do nothing. The Nazis were the ultimate bullies and the world rose up to stop them. It was the last time we had a clear conscience in a fight like that. I still get chills when Chris Evans delivers that line with such passion.


Would you rather spend five days exploring Disney or New York City?

I would take five days to explore Disney World or Disney Land. I am lucky to have been to both New York City and Disney World. I have not been to Disney World for a long time but I have been to NYC off and on for decades. I have enjoyed both places a lot at different times. However, New York City is a real place. It has real dangers and real downsides. Disney World and Disney Land are fascinating as they are wholly manufactured worlds. Every inch of the parks are built for my pleasure and there are a million surprises waiting for me. I would never run out of things to examine and re-examine if I lived there forever but definitely not in five days. New York City is interesting but there is just more of a chance of me searching for treasure and getting disappointment instead. If I am dedicating five whole days, I pick a Disney park hands down. Of course, if we are talking about the fictional Disney multiverse, then I also chose that because that would be amazing (and probably dangerous but whatever).


Would you rather be the most popular kid in school or the smartest kid in school?

I have never been the popular kid. To a certain extent, I have always been part of the nerd and geek subculture which was never at the top of the food chain while I was a kid. I was also never the smartest kid but I was always on the smarter end of the student body spectrum. School just came easily to me. I worked hard but I usually understood things pretty quickly. I enjoyed being smart. Being smart makes homework easier, which left me more time for video games and other extracurriculars. Being smart also makes lectures a little more fascinating and learning a lot more fun. Schoolwork is almost never too frustrating when you are smart enough. However, being the smartest brings the pressure to excel to higher heights but I would be secure that I was qualified to do whatever I wanted. While I pursued being popular as a kid, I was kind of glad that I never really succeeded. Socially, I am more comfortable in smaller crowds. I would hate to have too many people clambering to hang out with me. I like having my solitude when I want it. I would prefer the life of the mind while I maintain my small circle of trusted friends.

Media Update 6/1/2017

June 1, 2017


Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

After finally watching Pirates 4 (see below) the night before, I went off to meet my friends at an IMAX matinee. I was excited for the movie in the same way that I get excited for Fast and the Furious Movies. I love the familiar characters and the impossible antics and this movie showed promise of being that again. Like some reviews have said, the movie is a little long. However, I only noticed that after the movie and I was surprised that two and a half hours had passed. I never looked at my watch once during the movie. It was pretty much a nonstop adventure full of comedy and some poignant emotional moments. Depp, Geoffrey Rush and a lot of character actors return to do what they do best. We also get a new couple for Jack to assist in breaking yet another curse. They were great, played by Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario who were both totally new to me. We also got a great villain in Javier Bardem who is making a good living playing great villains. If this was the last Pirates film, it was a fitting send-off as it felt like it called back to the first one while looking forward. I definitely recommend it.


Treasure Planet

This was one of the Disney animated movies that I missed because I was off at college and I just fell off from watching Disney movies. I had already read Treasure Island so I am sure that this one would not have interested me so much. It has been probably about twenty years since I have read the book so the movie actually sounded a little attractive. I was right, I had forgotten enough of Treasure Island to be unsure of what was happening next and what parts were added in and what parts were from the book. This is an update, of course, putting the story in space in a setting where extraterrestrials freely mingle with human beings. The animation is really pretty as you would expect. What really got me was the art direction and the character design which felt a little fresh to me which is hard to do with aliens. As the movie went on, I started to remember the book but by then I did not care so much. The voice acting is fun, the animation is fluid and the plot is classic. None of this is surprising from the Writer/Director team of The Little Mermaid and Moana. The music is a little bit too much butt rock to me but it was fine. I recommend it.


Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides

So when I decided to go with my friends to Pirates 5, I knew I finally had to watch Pirates 4. This was something I had wanted to do despite hearing it was a bit of disappointment. My motivations to watch the movie were the same as above. Right away, the movie felt like the rest of the Pirates movies. There was Captain Jack and he was going to have an adventure. It did not take long for me to realize that this was not a normal Pirates movie. Most Pirates movies are about the other characters (for the majority Swann/Turner) doing stuff and Captain Jack trying to do stuff with or against them. This movie was more of a personal story for Jack. For once, he was the male romantic lead and it felt a little weird. Still, as much as I love Jack being a degenerate reprobate, the moments where he actually cares are powerful. I did feel it was a little weird to bring in Blackbeard as the villain but it worked. Penelope Cruz was a pretty strong character as well. It just felt like maybe this one rambled and meandered a bit too much. There were a lot of great moments but the movie lacked the emotional punch the other movies had for me. Still, I would recommend it if you are a completionist like me.

Music of the Week:

Nina Hagen – Naturträne

Amandititita – La Muy Muy

Scissor Sisters – I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’

Run The Jewels – Legend Has It

B.E.R. – The Night Begins to Shine

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is obviously “Disney Pirates”
– I finished Season 3 of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
– I watched more Fairy Tail
– I watched more Glitter Force
– I finished watching The Get Down and I’m pissed that they canceled it
– I started Supernatural Season 12
– I watched more Lucha Underground
– I don’t know if I want to trust Wonder Woman
– I am planning Halloween

Media Update 12/8/2016

December 8, 2016


Suicide Squad

I went into this movie with incredibly low expectations. I still have not seen Batman V. Superman and, at this rate, I may never see it. It helped that the movie was written and directed by a more competent man in David Ayer who made Training Day. The movie apparently had a lot of studio meddling in it. A lot of the movie felt like a music video with supervillains in it. I clocked at least three different popular songs in the first four minutes which just reeks of trying to be more like Guardians of the Galaxy. The highlight of the movie is Margot Robbie who is the highlight of most movies she is in. Her portrayal of Harley Quinn was heavily quotable and brought a lot of life and comedy to what otherwise could have been a much darker movie. A lot of people complained about Jared Leto’s Joker but I really think he did a fine job. What really bothered me was that he did not really need to be in the movie because he barely impacted the plot. They could have reduced his role even more, made the movie shorter and saved him for when he would have more impact later. Viola Davis and Joel Kinnaman also really stood out as Amanda Waller and Rick Flag. Davis was especially great with her nearly sociopathic performance. While it was dark, it was in line with the comics and previous portrayals of the character in media. Kinnaman had a tough job of trying to stand out and remain likable but he really pulled it off. Will Smith should not play bad guys. He just was not believable as a contract killer to me. He was fun but he was not the one for that role. Overall, I liked the movie and I really think they should continue with this franchise instead of the Superman franchise. I recommend it but realize that it is still connected to the current DCU movies.


Yoga Hosers

I never saw Tusk (the first film in this trilogy) because it never appealed to me and I also listened to the podcast where Kevin Smith detailed pretty much the whole concept. I am a huge fan of Kevin Smith. Amid all the dick and fart jokes, a lot of Smith’s movies spoke a lot of truth about life. This movie was written and made while Kevin Smith was smoking a lot of pot and it kind of shows. However, that is not quite a horrible thing. It is a love letter from the US to Canada and also a family affair. This movie is very playful and has a lot of meta, self-referential humor similar to Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The movie also has a similar kinetic energy to that movie. The power of this movie comes from the chemistry between its stars Harley Quinn Smith (Kevin Smith’s daughter) and Lily-Rose Depp (Johnny Depp’s daughter). The two of them have been best friends in real life since kindergarten and that was definitely channeled into the movie. Kevin Smith and Johnny Depp are also in the movie. Smith is like a Looney Tunes character and his joke gets old but then suddenly gets funny again. Depp transforms into a character from Tusk, a pathetic French detective who enlists the young girls to combat evil. Finally, there was Ralph Garman who managed to work his celebrity impressions into the movie despite it not making any sense but he was still fun. There are also a ton of fun cameos. The movie really makes me want to see Lily-Rose in more stuff. I definitely recommend it for Kevin Smith fans and fans of goofy movies.


Jungle Book

I have been wary of watching this movie because the original was such a good movie on its own. It has some really good Disney music and some really good animation. It is a classic for a reason. When I saw the trailer for this movie, I thought it looked pretty but it was clear that it was not a musical. I kept hope that it was still a musical but it was not to be. Strangely, there is one single music number almost halfway through and again over an hour in. I would have rather they just left it out at that point. While I kind of missed the musical aspects (the score is nothing special) the movie is stunningly beautiful. It is incredibly hard to believe that this was shot with one child actor and a boatload of computer generated animation. The animals are all so lifelike and well-animated that they feel almost like real animals (except for the speaking perfect English part). The kid, Neel Sethi, is really good for his age. He put in a lot of work and does a lot of good acting and some stunt work. The voice work of all the famous actors they hired is fantastic. Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley and Lupita Nyong’o especially were fantastic. Scarlet Johansson was also excellent but she was only in the movie for less than two minutes. I think they should have cast somebody besides Christopher Walken. Bill Murray was good. I think what I liked about this is how much better the writing is from the original story. It added more lore to the story as well, drawing more of Kipling’s work. I recommend this one for sure.

Music of the Week:
Red Sun Rising – Amnesia

The Record Company – Off The Ground

Eli “Paperboy” Reed – Come And Get It

Blackalicious ft. Chali 2na & Lateef the Truthspeaker – 4000 Miles

Getter – Rip N Dip

Weekly Updates:
– I am now on Season 2 of The Office
– I continued to watch Season 2 of Dark Matter
– I am caught up on Season 2 of Ash vs. The Evil Dead
– This week’s theme is “Unlikely Heroes”
– I continued Season 2 of Parks and Recreation
– I continued Season 1 of Luther
– “Not expecting much but being surprised and happy” is probably a secondary theme this week

Media Update 3/3/2016

March 3, 2016


American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson

I had reached the tender age of twelve when the verdict was read at the end of the OJ Simpson murder trial. Since there was no Baltimore team, I did not care about OJ being a football player but I had liked him well enough in the Naked Gun series. Still, I remember everybody saying how guilty he must be and I remember Saturday Night Live making fun of the dream team. I remember watching the trial in school too. Still, I wasn’t with it enough to really follow the evidence and all of the proceedings to determine whether he was guilty or not. So there’s a mix of discovery and nostalgia watching the show. I know the show can’t be a hundred percent true but it covers a great mix of legend and truth surrounding the trial. John Travolta’s acting and makeup are truly horrible on the show and clearly they should have gotten somebody else. Everybody else is passable so far but Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Courtney B. Vance are exceptional at acting like real people instead of caricatures. I would suggest watching it if you’re interested in legal procedure, the media and a semi-fictional historical account.


Tomorrowland

I had high hopes for this movie. The trailer was amazing and made me wonder what this movie could be about while feeling nostalgic for older Disney days. I like George Clooney and all the visuals for the movie looked pretty spot on. I did not see it in theaters and I was disappointed when I got reports that it was not very good. It was deemed 50% fresh by Rotten Tomatoes so I was curious to see if it was really that bad. The movie was not what I imagined it was and that immediately intrigued me. The only complaint I had was that the movie was a little too long. At over two hours the pacing started to feel too slow and that could have been tightened up. Other than that, I liked the comedy and I liked the play between the three main characters a lot. Hugh Laurie was an excellent villain but there was enough gray area to make you think. The movie started out with problems that make you despair and left off with hope which is a great message to put out there. In the end, the movie was pretty good and I liked it. While I don’t outright recommend it, I would say not to be scared of it.

Looper

I felt like watching this movie was inevitable. I had heard so many people talking it up that I would eventually have to watch it and either agree with the crowd or dislike it. Of course, this was oversimplifying things because neither thing happened. I’m not exactly a fan of science fiction and I was trying to figure out why after watching this movie. I think it’s that most science fiction is grim and depressing while most science fantasy is more hopeful and happy. I usually side with science fantasy and this movie had a lot of science fantasy elements but it was definitely grim and a bit sad. The movie drags in places but is overall a pretty good movie. It is certainly a messy movie and I feel like they tried to plug in a few too many sci-fi elements that muddied the water perhaps so they could do a few more special effects. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a great protagonist although they could have done with the awkward prosthetics to make him look like Bruce Willis. Willis himself was pretty good as he’s best with roles where he can grumpily chastise or shoot people. Overall I actually wouldn’t recommend seeing it except to certain people and they have already seen it.

Links of the Week:
BABYMETAL – KARATE
Steve Vai – Ya-yo Gakk
Political Correctness Doesn’t Censor
Lorde – Life on Mars (Bowie Cover)
Hevisaurus – Saurusarmeija

Weekly Updates:
– I did not watch the Oscars
– I need to see Spotlight though
– I agree with all the Mad Max and Revenant wins
– The Oscars need more diversity obviously
– Still don’t care about Batman v. Superman
– I also want to see The Big Short
– Gonna grab the NSP Under the Covers album

Interview Questions 2

February 13, 2016

Alright, this one is the Disney edition.

Which Disney animated villain would you be? Why?

I would have to go with Hades. He keeps a calm demeanor despite being a literal hothead who explodes into violent rage at times. I have had my own anger problems in the past and I know what that fiery rage feels like. I am putting all of that behind me so I won’t let it impair me like Hades. He has a subtle sense of humor that sometimes borders on morbid. I have a sense of humor which can sometimes get dark though I realize I have to curtail that in polite comedy. I love a good laugh as it can quickly bond strangers together and make everyone feel good. He is also tall and I have always been somewhat envious of people who are physically tall. He has magic powers as he is a god and is in tight with the Titans. In a world where I could be King of the Dead, I no longer fear death. He is also good at making plans as evidenced by his near victory over Hercules. I always want to get better at strategy. Like Hades I would strive to better my situation and not be shelved by the other gods.

Who is your favorite Disney Princess? Why?

My favorite Disney Princess is actualy Mulan since I finally watched the movie recently. I had a lot of misconceptions about the character before I watched the movie. Mulan defies a lot of expectations about her but that is not what she sets out to do. She wants to find a good arranged marriage because that is what is best for her family and herself. She’s not excited about the idea but at no point does she rebel against it and even tries her best in her own way. When push comes to shove she does what she feels is right by upholding her family’s honor. Instead of relying on brawn, she puts her intelligence and creativity to the task and excels at combat. She even puts her duty above romantic attraction for a time. Even when she is disgraced and banished she still manages to steel her courage and ride to the rescue. In short, Mulan is a good example of honor, intelligence and determination.

Which Disney location would you most like to live in? Why?

Given the choice I would love to live in Atlantica which is the underwater setting for a lot of The Little Mermaid. Atlantica is nestled safely deep under the sea, specifically the Atlantic Ocean. The ruler of Atlantica is the fair and just King Triton. King Triton is a confident ruler who protects his subjects with intelligence, trust and a magical artifact. Although he is a monarch, he is not completely unwilling to admit that he is wrong and tries his best to rectify the damage he indirectly causes. That is the kind of decisive but thoughtful ruler that I would like to live under. Atlantica is also quite musical as what looks like half the population joins in Under the Sea. That song also illustrates how happy everyone is to live where they are even if they are part of the servant class. That’s an amazing approval rating if only one character out of nearly a hundred is dissatisfied.  On top of that, the deep sea is still a mystery to us humans and I would like to explore that some.


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