Strange Magic

Since I just recently re-watched this movie, I thought it’d be a good chance to do a review on it, especially since there are only two main positions on it.

People either love this movie or hate it, very few are indifferent.

A lot of folks think this movie was George Lucas’ big joke at both our own and fairytales’ expense. The ending scene may well leave all the audience turning to their friends and asking “What the heck did I just watch?”

The movie seems so obviously bad that it’s baffling how many people left positive reviews for it on Amazon. Why?

Well, it may surprise you that after stating all that, I actually like this movie. You’ve probably never heard of it. I never had until a chance line in a review of a different movie, and the clips that started showing up on YouTube’s homepage.

I will not deny it is the weirdest movie I have ever seen all the way through. It beats out “Willy Wonka and the Cholate Factory.” It is not weird in the way that I’d say was wrong. It has no questionable scenes, no creepy stuff, no inappropriateness, beyond what will go over kids’ heads and is hardly even a thing to adults. It’s still arguable that its even inappropriate because I think circumstance counts for a lot.

So, that said, what is this movies big flaw that baffles its audience?

It’s really hard to pinpoint. The weirdest is scattered all over the place, but it mainly is in the awkwardness.

Maryanne, our main character, is socially awkward. I find it quite believable and in some ways too familiar for comfort; but that is the point. Maryanne is very human, despite being a fairy, and often doesn’t know how to handle herself unless it’s at the end of a sword. She is constantly shocking her father and sister with how rude or indifferent to people’s opinion she can be.

That said, Maryanne never does anything that can be considered truly wrong in the course of the film. she is painfully honest, fiercely loyal, and her chief flaw is being merciless to her ex, Rolland. Though he really leaves her no choice, and she never hurts him beyond what the situation calls for.

What makes up the rest of the awkwardness in this movie is the use of the love potion. It will make any two creatures fall in love with each other, though it seems only to work if they are of the opposite sex. It also only works on the one it’s dusted onto, so it can lead to one-sided, over-the-top obsession. An imp scatters the potion all over random creatures, leading to some very repulsive matches. It makes your stomach turn, and Maryanne’s as well.

But I can’t call that a flaw in the plot itself because the whole idea is supposed to be love shouldn’t be forced. We are supposed to be disgusted with how the misuse of this potion can ruin people. Maryanne’s sister spends a large portion of the movie in love with someone she’d normally be terrified of. Bog, the king of the Dark Forest, used the potion at one time, to no affect, and later realizes how wrong it was of him to do so.

Definitely the best thing this movie has going for it is Maryanne and Bog. Maryanne proves able to be very un-judgmental when she learns what Bog did in the past and why he hates love, she even sees herself in that and sympathizes. Bog also teaches her how to see the Dark Forest as a place that is more challenging than her own, and not actually evil, just different.

That is the powerful thing in the jumbled world of this movie. Because the audience perceives everything how Maryanne does, we see the forest as scary, evil, ugly, and hostile. But when she learns to see the beauty in it, we do too. Also we learn that sometimes ugly things are still amazingly complex. Like a centipede. Plus, some things will only grow in the Dark Forest, or on the line between it and the Lighter one, because some species need it cool and damp. This is stuff we have to remember as we watch, because everything in the dark forest looks the way it does because that makes it blend in with its surroundings. The creatures are ugly because they have to hide in the uglier places.

While I don’t think embracing ugliness is wise, it is wise to realize that different places look different for a reason.

There’s no racism message in this film, it’s more “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

But the best massage is that true love prevails. Maryanne goes from being a person who goes by appearances to being a person who doesn’t care about them. This has its drawbacks, as she is rude at times, and also impulsive; but it makes her a perfect match for Bog who is tired of being simpered to and having everyone afraid of him. Bog on the other hand rapidly goes from being bitter and somewhat evil to being heroic because he’s finally met someone who understands him.

The message is not that it’s okay to be evil, but that love can change you. Also, that love will accept you how you are. None of our characters are perfect. But only Rolland, the guy who thinks he is perfect, is the one who never changes. Everyone else grows and learns from their mistakes. But they also all learn that perfect or not, they can be loved. just for who they are. It’s a surprisingly sweet message in a very weird package.

So what’s the verdict?

I like this movie because only a move this weird could make you get past weirdness and love it anyway. In a sense, if you like the movie, you’ve learned what it was trying to teach you.

But…

If you can’t stand singing, especially if the songs are all unoriginal popular songs, most of them from the seventies, then this is not your movie.

All the songs fit the story, but one or two are completely unnecessary, and only one or two feel entirely natural in the movie.

And if the awkwardness of the dialogue is going to turn you off, than be warned, it is awkward most of the time.

The voice acting is sometimes surprisingly moving, but many times the characters make it weird, and to some people it will feel flat.

Also, the movie can grow on you, but it can also shrink.

Don’t watch it with anyone who hates musicals. Their scorn will  absolutely ruin it for you. Unless you are able to completely block it out.

But if you can get past all that and dig deep you’ll find that with all its flaws there’s something very charming about this film. Which seems to be the whole point. And for the rest, blame George Lucas’ weird imagination and not me. Or the movie itself.

Until next time–Natasha.

P. S. ( I hope I didn’t lose respect from anyone for liking this. You have to laugh at yourself, ladies and gentlemen.)

Important or unimportant?

Continuing from my previous post about teens and fame and correction…

What does this pressure towards fame have to do with the correction thing I mentioned? Because we teens feel so important, we don’t need correction. That’s the obvious answer, right?

Wrong. I’m inclined to think it’s because teen feel so unimportant.

At some point, either during high school or college, we wake up to the fact that not everyone can be the best, like we were all told back in kindergarten.

Actually, back in kindergarten I was told we can please God by helping others, and years later I still believe that. Go figure.

I’m not dissing the message exactly, but we all feel disillusioned at some point. If you never have, good for you.

The fact is, this disillusionment proves nothing. As a boy C. S. Lewis felt even more disillusioned than some of us have. He never expected to become famous or even to be greatly important at all, from what I gather from his writings. And he stayed immensely humble even after he became famous.

Whether you feel great or not has little to do with whether you will be great. But I do know that the surest way to not be great is to strive after it in all the superficial forms.

Which to most teens seem unattainable, and so they give up thinking they are important.

Many of us come from broken homes and other bad situations, it may seem like no one ever thought we were important.

Personally my problem had always been being told I’m exceptional, but not being encouraged to be. People think I’m already on the right track so they need to focus on the people who really need help.

But no matter how smart I am, it doesn’t make me exceptional. Like I mentioned before, several years ago I found out that God wants us to accept correction. For a long time, I’d only accept His. IF it was in the Bible, fine; but if it wasn’t, what did anyone else know?

As stupid as that seems, I was 13. I’m just glad I had something I considered the infallible period. But since then I’ve learned to listen to other people more, and the downside can be you start questioning your infallible source.

I’m still convinced the Bible is always right. But I’ve had my moments. And if you have no such rock to hold onto, you’re bound to drift.

Honestly, I think I wouldn’t be sane if not for the Bible and my faith. Someone like me, left to her own devices as I often have been, could go very wrong. But I also could go very right with the proper direction.

That’s what God has given me. I had to be willing to learn from Him though.

I want to be clear, neither with God nor with anyone else should fear be your only motive or your central motive to learn from them.

I didn’t learn jack squat from anyone I was afraid of. In fact, once I was afraid of them, that pretty much cut off whatever good they had done; maybe you’ve been there. If God was not my safe place, and if I had not found other people who were also a safe haven,  I could not learn from them. You probably will not learn from anyone you don’t trust.

Once trust in established, its’ your choice. You can misuse this new confidence you have to get away with stuff you never would have dared to do otherwise, or you can get wise and listen up.

Sometimes you need to shut up, and sometimes you need to speak, but what people older than you, or more experienced, will teach you is when and how to do either.

The more times you shut up or speak at the right moment, the more other people will start to think you’re wise. And when people think that, they’ll trust you. That’s the main thing about true greatness, people know they can count on you to do the right thing, and to advise them to do the right thing. In that sense, you can be great on social media just as much as on TV. If it works.

One more thing:

“The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps. A wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is self-confident.” Proverbs 14:15-16.

Consider the sources in your life now. If all you hear is rage, and at surrounded by people who do not consider these steps they are taking, then find some new sources. It’s okay to know people like this, we all do, but do not listen to them. This goes for you TV and movie influences as well. It’s okay to know what they say, but if they do not encourage departure from evil, and they do encourage you to believe their every word without questioning, then don’t heed them.

Fox news has a motto “We report, you decide.” You may not think they live up to it, and I admit, they are not perfect, who is? But that’s at least the right kind of thinking. You need to think for yourself.

But don’t be self-confident if you’re only thinking through your emotions. Wise people know not to act when they’re in a rage. Trust me, it always backfires.

But then again, feel free to question what I’m saying. I would not be a hypocrite. You can take my advise or leave it. But I will say, I need to take it myself.

So, hen you’re done with this post, take a minute to think about what I said. Maybe you disagree, maybe not. I don’t mind more imput.

Until next time–Natasha.

“Kid, you’re just getting started.”

Does anyone else here really hate criticism? Not giving it, but receiving it?

Personally, unless I asked for it, I get mad when people criticize me. I don’t know if this happens to you, but often people who have a problem with me do not go directly to me first, but to someone in authority over me. I then get the treat of at wo pronged attack when I’m confronted both by the person who can punish me and the person who I didn’t even know had a problem with me. Anyone relate?

But several years ago I read the book of Proverbs and found out that being corrected was actually a good thing. Do I like it? No. Do I think the way I just mentioned is the right way to do it? No. But do I need it? Yes, like everybody, I am not perfect.

I have often wished people would just be more sensitive when they correct me. I don’t know what it is about me that makes people in authority be very blunt and sometimes harsh when I cross them, but I guess I inspire that reaction.

Oddly enough, I usually butt heads with the type of people who like to have control, who like to do things their way, and who don’t like to be questioned. I am one of those types of people. They say like forces repel.

I don’t even think its always okay when I act that way, but I also don’t think its’ always wrong. The problem usually is, I’m a teen, and people don’t like to be questioned by teenagers, above all others.

But on the flipside, many teens have chosen to flat out rebel as a way to deal with their emotions. It’s true often people don’t understand us, because we don’t even understand us, yet. But instead of developing patience, adults and teens can often take the easy way and grow apart.

I am no expert mind you, I’m still figuring this out myself, and I won’t be a teen for much longer. (Roughly a year and a half to go people, yea!) but here is what I do know.

Young people, teens and 20-30 years old alike, all feel enormous pressure to be world changers. At this time more than perhaps any other in history, because social media has made it possible to get the message to almost every country. We all want to change the world.

I’ve been doing some research on our founding fathers in America, and those great men all did remarkable things, but you know what their ambitions were after the war? All of them that I’ve studied, they said they just wanted to settle down with their families and live quiet lives for the rest of their days. Really, how can you think there’s not a God, up there laughing and shaking his head saying “Kid, you’re just getting started.”

Now those words are exactly what all of us hear as soon as we move out of one phase of life into the next. “Kid, you’re just getting started.” As soon as we go to middle school we hear this, when we go to high school we hear it, when we go to college and when we get out of college. But when does greatness catch up with us? It seems like we’re all just getting started on the ordinary work we have to do.

Our fathers may have wanted a quiet life and been given a busy one, but most of us want to do great things, and feel we are stuck in the ordinary. How many of us would trade with Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, or George Washington in a heartbeat? “We’ll take the war, the inventing, the diplomacy, you take the school and the home life.”

I’m sure, whatever country you live in, you’ve heard that it’s not the people who want fame and power who actually deserve it– or can be trusted with it.

Is telling kids that they can all be the greatest really the best idea?

I don’t doubt that everyone can be great in some way, but not everyone can be famous. I read somewhere that people my age all feel they will be famous some day. But we don’t know how.

Some of us have good motives. We want to help our fellow man. We think the more people know us the more we can help. Others of us just want to be popular.

The hard fact is, we can’t all have that.

Some of us don’t really want it either, we just think we do. The spotlight would make a lot of us miserable. But, it’s usually the people who hate it the most who need to be in it. Not those who love it.

I’ll be honest and admit I’d still like to be well known. I do not want to have everyone all in my business, and scrutinizing my every move. I hope that my gifts and talents do help humanity, I really do. What are we here for if not to bring God pleasure and help each other to do the same?

But I recognize that if I ever am famous, it will have its pitfalls and drawbacks. A person needs to have a strong character to survive it. Look at all the poor teen celebrities who have let their lives go to pot because they can’t help it. I wonder if they are secretly relieved when they lose a lot of their fan base. I don’t judge them because I feel no teen should have that kind of pressure on their lives, and few teens could be expected to handle it.

However old you are, fame is not an easy thing to cope with. Unless it’s limited to a very small circle perhaps. But even then, you should see the lives of some pastors. One church has a lot of needs.

Maybe we should be grateful that things are quiet for now. But there’s more to this I think, so catch my next post–Natasha.

Taboo–2

Depending on how part 1 was received, this may or may not be getting myself in deep.

But I’ve started now, so let’s continue.

I already talked about Taboo Topic #1, but there’s a bit more to say before I go to #2.

As I mentioned before, some people feel they were born homosexual. I say feel, because the fact of the matter is, no one is born any kind of sexual.

We all have a sex, yes; but some people never marry; some, like nuns and priests, remain celibate; most people marry the normal, traditional way; and some people choose a homosexual lifestyle. It is a choice.

But no one is born with a sexual preference. We all grow up and decide how we feel about it as we go, and our opinions change.

It is true that young teens often have no wish to experience feelings, which they do experience, that tend toward what the world calls homosexual.

I think this term has been blown grossly out of proportion.

Not every desire for affection and for touch is a sexual desire; and people make this mistake  as often about heterosexual relationships as homosexual ones.

As I’ve said in “Are we starving?” Human beings need touch to show affection and feel loved, that’s from anyone, of any age group.

That said, it is true that some people develop those kinds of feelings.

However, some people enjoy hurting other people. Some people are addicted to substances. Some people develop a taste for porn.

I know, I am bringing up every controversial issue I possibly can, aren’t I? Sorry. (But uh, check the title of the post, people, what did you expect?)

My point is, human beings develop desires for many unhealthy things. Lust itself is unhealthy when it is out of marriage, and then it is not lust, but healthy desire.

Desire itself if no proof that anything is a good idea. When our emotions are screwed up, or just fluctuating, as any woman can tell you, we want to do crazy things. (Like binge on chocolate.) Not that these desires are on the same level, but it is clear then that not all desires are rational or good.

There’s a book written by a man who struggled with this issue, and he’ll probably go into better than I can, “A Strong Delusion.”

I’ll suffice it to say the Bible does deem some desires evil. And it tells you which ones.

Just to really entrench myself in this matter, I’ll address one more argument. The one that goes “people should be free to express themselves however they want.”

Let me go back to Romans for this, in chapter 1 verses 22-23 it says  “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man…”

Self has been made into a god in our culture, and we wonder why people are so selfish. It is good to express yourself, but it is never good to disobey God.

I might further point out, God has given us a whole planet full of things we can express ourselves in and with, and it’s harmless; it’s kind of silly to go to the very things he warns us are dangerous and say “I want to use my freedom of expression for this.”

But I’m aware none of this will fix the problem, because it goes deeper than that.

Not everyone cares what God thinks of them, and so preaching about it will not get one anywhere; but that will not change that fact that those who do claim to care, often ignore God as much as the others.

That’s really why I’m doing these posts, I don’t want to be intimidated by the culture into acting like this stuff is not real and deadly. And it is deadly.

It’s not the homosexual act itself that really is deadly, though it does affect people’s health, but it is the attitude we promote with it.

An attitude that is destructive because it is determined to ignore everything expect what it wants.

People are encouraged to think about what they want and think they need, not what is really best for them, their family, their friends, their children, or even their partner.

It used to be those relationships had some weight, and we were encouraged to be unselfish in them, but now we think it’s unhealthy to give way to other people and their needs.

I get that people have been hurt. Abortion, issue #2, is often justified because of rape, or incest; which are ugly, evil things. It is terrible when they happen. And they happen a lot.

I don’t live in a different world than you do, I know about this stuff. And to be honest, I have feared it too. What girl has not?

It’s easy to be afraid of other people and think they will hurt you. Some people do choose homosexuality after being hurt by the opposite sex. Some hate the opposite sex.

I can’t say we don’t give each other reasons to hate.

But now that I’ve admitted all this, how can I still call it wrong? Shouldn’t I have more compassion?

Well, I do have compassion. I don’t want to encourage people to do things I think are wrong, because to me, that is encouraging them to destroy their own lives.

That’s not a popular mindset, but all through history it has proven to be the correct one, people stand against the tide because they care about those who are caught up in it.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 4:12.)

The good news is that despite all the negativity of these two posts, I still have a hopeful attitude, because I still have faith. Knowing all this doesn’t change that. Christianity is actually the faith for those who live in a messed up, broken world. It really is in the definition.

I know blogs do not have a dislike button, so if anything I said offended you, you can’t mark your disapproval, but feel free to comment about whatever your thoughts were on the subject.

Until next time–Natasha.

Taboo–1

I think the word taboo is hilarious. We have made ourselves afraid to mention certain subjects to each other, it’s ridiculous.

It’s also funny how the things that are taboo change over the centuries. Sex used to be taboo, now it’s barely even taboo in PG movies. It used to be taboo to mention many parts of the body, that’s gone too. I’ll grant you some taboos are just silly, but I notice that among many people it is now taboo to talk about important issues.

I’ve been in a few different churches in my short time, and there are certain subjects that you can be sure will not be brought up very often, and when they are people react, and that scares the youth directors so much that they shun the topics after that.

It may not surprise you to know that I’ve never particularly cared about whether anyone wanted me to speak up about some issues, if they get brought up and I don’t hear anyone else saying what’s right, I go for it.

It’s not because I like making people angry at me, or enjoy making them uncomfortable, but I feel that it is lying to them to pretend that there’s not more to an issue than what they are saying or believing.

There are two or three main taboo subjects, and they are, possibly in this order, 1. Homosexuality; 2. abortion; 3. Politics.

Okay, at this point some people would be going “Oh she did not just bring up all three of those! This is going to mean war!”

And others would be going “Finally, something really relevant to talk about.”

At least this is what usually happens when this stuff gets brought up.

My opinions on all three subjects will surprise no one, but I think I should prelude by saying I’ve heard many different opinions on all subjects, and I think I know the opposition’s standpoint fairly well.

And honestly I have considered in the past that they may be right, but as I grow more, I get more convinced of the truth.

Let’s start with the first one, why is this such a taboo subject? Really, think about it. On one side of the spectrum we have the people who encourage it, who are trying to get children in school to identify with it, (that is so freaking wrong, by the way, even if it was for hetero-sexualism, sex should not be brought up in elementary school, period.) At the other end we have people who think it is an abomination against nature, and in some religions it will get you killed.

So, I mean, why can’t we all just get along? This is no big deal? There’s right on both sides… right?

Obviously I’m being sarcastic, because I think it’s clear that with two such extremes, they cannot both be right.

I don’t favor killing anybody over this issue, I think that is wrong and taking it way too far, and I think that about any matter of belief. But my concern is that many people feel like their hands are tied when it comes to this taboo. If they are in favor of homosexuality, then they can have the honor of being like the majority of people in the public eye, but at least no one will accuse them of being a hater. If you speak against it, people get angry at you. I should know.

Interestingly, when people argue for it, they don’t usually tell me it’s right. They say something like “Well if two people love each other, then they should be together.” Or “I was born that way, God must have made me that way.” (This is in the church.) On the non-religious front, I hear things like “They should be able to express themselves however they want.” Or “There is no right answer.”

Okay, I can’t discuss all of these reasons in the same post, but I’ll address the first one because to me it seems one of the saddest.

Not that love has to be sad. But I find the reasoning faulty. We all know that sometimes people think they love someone and marry them, and then realize it was a mistake. Girls get pregnant out-of-wedlock because boys claim to love them. Women stay with abusive jerks because they love them. Men make mistakes because they think they are in love, they just aren’t talked about as often.

All these examples are sad, and they also prove that many human beings don’t really know what love is.

Yet you use it as a justification for such a major issue of morality?

The point is not to shame everyone who ever made a mistake about love, it’s better to error because of love than to never love and still error.

According to the Word, true love wants the best for the beloved. It rejoices not in sin, but rejoices in truth. It bears all things, believes the best, hopes for the best, and endures all things. Love does not demand its own way. It never fails.

When love is like that, then it might weigh in the balance, but statistically, homosexual love is no better than any other kind of human love when it comes to being unselfish. The couples don’t usually stay together. They, I would say, don’t show as much respect to other people.

Even if they were saints when it comes to loving each other, it still ignores one very important matter.

If you are a Christian  then you are bound to do what the Bible says; it goes with the turf. If you are not a Christian, then your choices are on your own head, but if you are one, can we really keep ignoring what both the Old Testament and the New Testament teach about the issue?

Romans 1:24-28 talks about how unnatural and ungodly the act of homosexuality is. I am merely quoting it. I did not come up with this idea myself.

But I have to challenge myself and every Christian with this question:

If we really believe that Jesus saved us, if we believe He is our lord; and that God is our Father; if we have His Word that we can reference in any moral dilemma; if we believe His word is alive, and is truth; if we believe He himself is truth; then can we afford to ignore Him?

Can we claim to believe his word if we disregard what it says even when believing it makes us unpopular?

This is no and, or, but, in this matter. This is a yes or no question.

People will always be furious when they are presented with this type of dilemma; we all like compromise better than black and white.

Sometimes there is no grey area.

So, comment if you want to, I’m going to pause this until part two–Natasha.

Personal Interpretation?

Have you ever watched a movie and thought that it was advertised all wrong? Or thought that what you heard people say about it was bogus? This also happens with books, to a lesser extent, because to be honest,  I rarely hear anyone talk about the last book they read. (The last one I finished was The Magician’s Nephew, those Narnia books never cease to be awesome.)

Movies, books, pictures, songs, as we all know, these things are what make up most of our cultures and every culture’s art. Except for movies, that’s not something every culture can afford to compete with the U.S. in.

There are a thousand different opinions about art, even about the same piece of art. So, it’s no surprise that what one person sees is not what another person sees. We’re not all looking for the same things.

But there is a point where I’d say personal interpretation goes too far.

I am getting heartily sick of reading or watching the most innocent of material, and then finding out somebody is pushing to get it acknowledged that there’s a homosexual character present in the said material.

People even did this with Frozen, to an extent that makes me sick, because what they were suggesting wasn’t okay even if one accepted homosexuality as normal. I really don’t want to repeat it, but you may have come across it yourself. If so, enough said.

And then there’s just the heterosexual remarks too. People do read way too much into some stuff.

However, even more common than both those unwholesome incidents is just misinterpreting what something really means.

What astonishes me is how often both authors and screenwriters do this with their own creations.

My siblings and I call it a lack of vision. What happens is someone creates a character that ends up catching the interest of a lot of people, and they develop the character enough to keep that interest, but then inexplicably, they just stop and leave it at that.

I know a couple of kids shows that young adults still watch because they’re actually good, and the shows make this same mistake. They build a character up and then they let you down.

I suppose to anyone not interest in the show or movie or book, it hardly matters; but interested or not, I do think such problems affect you more than you realize.

You see, history shows that it is art that inspires greatness, or imparts it, to other people. This is particularly true of the art of words. And it was the art that had something real and good to say to us, that caused us to become better people. that is still true.

Anytime an opportunity to make something like that is wasted, so is a chance to inspire kids and adults alike to be better people.

I have a case in point that should be harmless to give because the author is long gone.

There’s a book titled Miss Pettigrew lives for a day that was later made into a movie. I saw the movie first and liked it a lot. I was sure the book would be even better–it wasn’t. Mind you, I’ve only said this of maybe half a dozen books. Almost always the movie is inferior. (Just look at what they’ve done to The Chronicles of Narnia, even Disney sometimes disappoints me.)

The whole reason that the movie was better than the book was simply this: both portrayed two different outlooks, and two different lifestyles, but while the movie was honest about the pitfalls of both, the book very much leaned towards one (that I’d say was the worst of the two.) Plus, the book offered no real reflective moments in which the characters could see something new about life and themselves, whereas the movie had quite a few.

The difference was simply vision. The people who made the movie saw something in the story that they could speak to their audience about. the author of the book just wanted to impress upon them what kind of lifestyle was the more fun and free.

I am grateful to the people who really tried to say something good with their work. “Rise of the Guardians” is another example. The people behind it had something to show the kids and adults watching. It’s a great movie.

One of the reasons Moana originally was somewhat of a turn off to me was because I kept hearing that they were trying to make her the anti-Disney princess.  Presumably by giving her a different build, no lover interest, and her own adventure, they were accomplishing this.

First of all, Moana is not the first Disney girl to have no love interest and her own adventure, or a different build.

Second, if that’s what they think has captivated little girls, and even boys, for years about Disney Princesses, then they do not understand anything about making a quality character.

Children love Disney movies for a few simple reasons: One, there’s a clear hero and a clear villain. Two, they are animated nicely, (usually,) and so there is no problem with wanting to be a “part of that world.” Three, the music is often more unique and fun than you’ll find in other places, and what kids don’t like to sing and dance until they get old enough to be embarrassed about it?

But the last and most important reason that kids love Disney is because Disney tackles important subjects, and shows us things about real life, in a way kids can understand, and often adults still find profound.

The more we forget this and see Disney simply as a tool to teach kids to be as pluralistic as the rest of the culture, the less the movies will be good. Because the movies that promote that stuff are simply not good. How can they be? When to say that there is no right answer is to defeat the point of making a movie about it?

That’s all for now, until next time–Natasha.

“I am Moana” part 2.

Okay, I’ve already outlined the story and the positive and negative elements of the film itself, now I want to get to my favorite part: The message.

It’s funny that directors often don’t know their own message very well. Everyone thinks Moana is about being true to yourself.

“You always, always say ‘be true to yourself,’ but you never say which part of yourself to be true to!”–Buddy, The Incredibles.

Well, as Buddy points out, being true to yourself is not as simple as just being told to be.

And what does it really mean anyway?

I won’t argue that a large part of Moana is devoted to that message, but I don’t think we should just apply it to Moana. What about the Ocean? The Ocean wrecks Moana’s canoe, twice; almost drowns her; almost drowns her father and does drown his best friend; it also doesn’t respond to Moana’s cries for help every time she want sit to. What is the deal with the Ocean?

Moana, as we all would, gets frustrated with her new “friend.” Maybe you have a friend like that, one who acts in ways you can’t understand. I do.

But I actually love that the ocean acts this way, because the Ocean reminds me of God.

I know Christians say this about virtually every movie, but don’t roll your eyes yet, I have an unusual reason.

If you’ve read the Chronicles of Narnia, you’ll recall that Aslan, the king, is not safe; but he’s good. Even in the movie they admit “He is not a tame lion.”

The wildness of Aslan frightens many people, in and out of the books, I might add. Aslan himself may not frighten those of us in the real world, but when we meet anything like him, we are frightened.

When it comes to things that aren’t alive, I’d say the Ocean takes the prize for being the most wild and unpredictable. You know why sailors are famous for cursing? You try being on a boat in the middle of rough water and see if you don’t at least think about it. I have been, it was one of the worst days of my life–and then there was the return trip.

No one can tame the Ocean. And that is something Moana needs to realize, no matter whether it chose her or not, the Ocean is still the Ocean, and it has to act according to its nature. Aslan admits to swallowing whole villages of people, to Jill, (in Book 6,) and not at all as if he is sorry or glad. He just is.

It is largely forgotten among the Church that God is like this. He is not predictable, we can not carry Him in our pocket. God Himself does destroy things, he does mete out justice, He does cause death. Many people hate Him for those reasons.

Yet God is not responsible for murder, for evil, or for every sorrow. But eh never tells us how we may know the difference between what he ahs caused and what other things have caused, He just ells us to trust Him.

This is why many people think Christians who are not fake are simply nuts. Well, maybe we are, maybe we are crazy for the sake of others, as Paul says.

But is it not somewhat crazy for Moana to set off alone, with her dumb chicken, to find Maui, who doesn’t seem the hero type even to her, and fight a lava monster single handedly after Maui abandons her like a jerk. (Really, if he’d just left it would have been one thing, but the mean things he says made me want to punch him.) Moana’s Grandma is crazy, and Moana definitely takes after her, but I loved it and I was not in the minority for once.

The Ocean teaches us a very important lesson: Good things are dangerous.

Things cannot be truly good until they are dangerous. Otherwise they are not tested. Evil things are also dangerous, but not in the same way. The difference, if we go by Jesus words, is one can destroy your body, the other can destroy body and soul, but the first is men, the second is God. Which is more good?

Of all the monsters in the realm, none of them defeats Moana or comes as close to it, as her disappointment and discouragement with the Ocean does. Good is far more dangerous than evil.

But that’s not bad. Because it’s good. That’s the paradox the movie is trying to show us. The Ocean helps Moana, just not in the way she expects, nor in the way she understands. For example, because the Ocean wrecked Moana a few times, she is not fazed when the Lava monster is making waves and nearly drowning her. She’s figured out how to swim.

And because Mona has had to do things without the Ocean’s help, she is brave enough to tell it to part when she needs Te Ka to come to her.

Because Moana has to carry so much of the weight, she is able to go on with or without Maui.

Maybe the Ocean knows what its doing.

The Ocean chose Moana for a reason, and I believe God chooses people for a reason too. But it’s not really about what’s special about us, it’s about if we will learn to trust.

That’s what’s great about Moana. It spends more time focusing on the journey than on why she was chosen, that becomes more apparent as we go.

Moana means Ocean, so the movie is really named after both of them, and Moana and the Ocean are in a sense, both the hero, neither is independent of the other.

Christians believe that God does not need people, but I personally believe that He has chosen to set this world up so that he does, in a sense. Not like we need things, it’s a different kind of need.

Moana realizes that our desires are awakened by something outside ourselves. That she longs for the Ocean because it calls her.

“And the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me. It’s like the tide, always falling and rising. I will carry you here in my heart to remind me, that come what may, I know the way. I am Moana!”

I am the ocean. Not that I literally am it, or that I have the power of it, but that the ocean is a part of me.

As weird as that may sound, the movie completely backs me up on it. Who we are is, literally, who we are called to be. Think about that sentence.

That song is what made me like the movie, and in my opinion, it’s why everyone likes it.

Is it better than “Let it go”? Of course not; they are two different songs that describe two different feelings, which are connected but are certainly not the same.

But Moana is like Frozen continued. Not good in the same way, but still good, and that is my verdict.

Until next time–Natasha.

“I am Moana.”

I’m having fun doing reviews, though I don’t do them exactly like how people generally do, but that’s fine, because I figure if someone wants to know about the cast, the score, and the rating, there’s a bunch of other sites that tell them better than I can.

So, as my title says, I want to talk about Moana.

Everybody, including me, went into Moana with high expectations, except those who hate Disney Princess movies, and they went in with that expectation.

I will say from the beginning that the advertisers never should have marketed this movie as something made by the creators of Frozen. Frozen is hard to replicate for its own screen writers (have you seen that horrible short that came with the 2015 Cinderella?) let alone for other people.

I tried hard not to watch the movie with a Frozen bias, but I realized that I couldn’t help myself, the result was, upon first watch, I really disliked it.

But now I’ve had plenty of time to reconsider, and I’ve had my sister give me a lot of reasons why the movie was not as bad as I thought, and I liked some of the songs; and the long and short of it is, I have changed my mind.

Now, the people who say (and there are many) that this movie is better than Frozen, are completely wrong. From the first moments of the film there is a different tone and style to it than Frozen, Moana herself is nothing like either Elsa or Anna, and she has no special power, there is not threat form the elements. Plus, Moana is based off of a myth, not a fairytale, and the writers and animators did a good job of making the whole thing feel like a legend.

So, since this is the case, Moana is not actually the same kind of story as Frozen, and comparing the two in that light, is not fair to either.

Just in case you haven’t seen it and don’t plan to (Spoiler alert!) I’ll outline the story. Moana is the daughter of the village chief of an island in Hawaii, not yet called that, of course. she had a love for the sea, that her father discourages for reasons of his own, but Moana can’t help herself. Then we find out the Ocean chose her to be the one to save her people. As we are told in the opening minutes of the film the heart of Tafiti, the Polynesian goddess of creation, was stolen by the demigod Maui, and that brought a curse of decay and death over the world, which now finds its way to Moana’s island. Realizing this, and with some pushing and revelation from her crazy Grandma, Moana finally sets out to restore the heart, despite various setbacks. She finds Maui, they team up, and after a lot of monsters and storms, and Te Ka, the lava monster, Moana figures out how to restore the heart, and succeeds. (You knew she would.)

Okay, so what is negative in all this?

Well, though the story works a lot of the time, it unfortunately breaks down whenever Maui is acting less than demigodly.  Also, some parts of it are a little rushed, not very well explained, and why did we need that dumb chicken? But that’s a personal preference, not an actual plot problem.

I have to admit, the movie has no real plot holes, but it has plot rubbish. Maui may be the most unnecessary additional character that I’ve ever seen as part of the whole. But what I really had a hard time forgiving the movie for was that Maui and some other parts, constantly took away the mythic feel of the whole thing. They made it seem cheesy and too aimed at a young audience, and a young audience with low standards at that. The humor was just stupid at many times, and often it was modern, which threw off the movie because the whole point is to feel like you’re way back in time, watching the whole legend unfold before your eyes.

Moana is not the first modern Disney Princess movie to use modern humor, Tangled did in some ways, I’ve seen other movies do it and it worked fine, like Shrek. But those other movies were set up with a much simpler plot that would not suffer from that kind of humor, while Moana, form its conception, is supposed to feel more timeless.

I may be overstating my case, but the importance of this factor really cannot be stressed too much, I winced every time the movie got too modern, because, if I wanted to hear modern jokes, I’d watch a Dreamworks movie or a TV show, for crying out loud, I watch Disney to get away from that.

It doesn’t bother everyone the way it bothers me, but whether it bothers you or not, it does change the tone of the movie and that’s going to affect the quality.

Enough with the negative. What changed my mind about this movie was two things: The first was of course, Moana herself.

I’ve got to hand it to Auli, she kept this character grounded. Moana never is ruined by the stupid jokes, or unnecessary humor around her, she stays down to earth and passionate the entire time, and manages to sell innocent and shrewd at the same time. I have no problem with her character at all, and I would have liked her even better without the plot problems that were not her fault.

The other thing will not surprise anyone who has seen it: The Ocean.

I think the climax of this movie is one of the best parts, but the only thing that made Maui and Hei Hei bearable for me was Moana and the Ocean working together. The Ocean actually behaved just as I would expect it to if it were a conscious creature, and that was what really sold me on the plot. If the Ocean had been too nice, or too magical, it would have felt fake and contrived, but the Ocean being unpredictable and very real at times made it work. I was most into Moana’s head when the Ocean proved more dangerous than she expected, and when she almost gave up, because it was a natural feeling.

I can’t get into the meaning of the movie in this part, so I’ll do it in part two, until then–Natasha.

The Hunger Games–part 2

Okay, so after reviewing The Hunger Games, I drew one lesson from it. (If you don’t like drawing lessons from things, you’re reading the wrong review.)

The lesson is this: The movie is parodying the media.

I never knew this from what I was told or the few clips I’d seen before, but the whole driving force behind the games is the Media. They run it like that show “Survivor.” Except, there are no volunteers (I don’t count Katniss and the two other “volunteers” because being in the games is still a forced thing,) and the people must kill each other instead of learning how to work together.

Other than those two insignificant facts, the games could be any kind of survival show. The people behind them rig them with extra challenges because the kids being at each other’s throats is not enough, and they monitor the whole thing. There is no escaping, no quitting, nothing.

If the kids did not have to fight each other, their combined skills might be enough to escape and defy the elitists who were forcing this on them. At the very least they might die together, and retain their humanity. (I would’ve like that movie better.) That would be an inspiring story, and more true to what history teaches us about the overthrow of evil.

But not even Katniss thinks of such an idea, and it is never broached.

Think, if the kids had all seen the horror of what they were being compelled to do, they could have made a real statement by refusing with one accord to do it. there would have been repercussions, but if the movie had made it clear that it was the right thing to do, the kids could have overcome them.

Is there any doubt it was the right thing to do?

It’s true some of those kids were evil and demented, but they were that because they had grown up believing these games were their destiny, and that they were prepared to kill. Even if those kids had refused to change their minds, they could have been outnumbered by those who showed more humanity.

Katniss would have been a real hero had she convinced them to rebel against the idea of the hunger games, but we are never given any hint that the idea is even conceivable for them.

Because the games get their districts benefits.

The system is effectively evil, but after 75 years, you’d think someone would get fed up.

But the people have been convinced that this is entertainment. That it’s normal to take an interest in it.  Gale ha the right idea, everyone should stop watching. Katniss shoots that down, wont’ even try it. Don’t people go on strike in this world?

So, it really is the Media controlling it all. The sad thing is, the Media can only control compliant people. People may not listen to plain common sense, but they’ll listen to what someone on TV says.

WE all know better, but it’s easier to listen to Media and ignore our conscience.

Folks, what you see on TV is often no better than the Hunger Games.

There are dozens of shows that involve murder in every single episode, and many more involve crime in each one.

There have been scores of shows that show people disrespecting each other horribly, constantly, while laugh tracks are playing. Even some good kid shows still fall prey to that type of humor. I repeat, the good ones.

There are many more shows than I ever  thought possible that are pornographic.

who taught us this was normal? Who promoted it?

Much as I think the media fully deserves everything said against them, I can’t pin all the blame on the donkey, so to speak.

After all, who bought those televisions? Who turned them on? Who laughed at the shows? Who taught their kids it was all right?

I think its a testimony to my parents’ success in raising free thinkers that I to this day have different standards than the adults I know, concerning TV shows. But what if I did not think for myself?

It saddens me that things like The Hunger Games are so attractive to young people, because it tells me they are too used to little hope, little purpose, and low standards.

Now, I would not encourage people to be snobbish, I have been that, and I recognize now that it is also immature and small minded, but being snobbish is still better than having no standards beyond the Culture’s dictates.

But I will not say every show out there is bad. You all know I like some of them myself. But I am concerned that our focus is on the wrong thing, like who we ship. (If you’re unfamiliar with the term ship, it means who should be with who romantically, and some people use it as a friendship thing.) Or who we like. Or how funny it is. But we aren’t asking what the real message is, and if we should find it funny.

There will always be those who think I am a prude for thinking this way, but if I go by what the Word says, than I can never be too careful.

Here are my fallback verses whenever I start to weaken in my belief that high standards are a good thing.

“I will behave wisely in a perfect (blameless) way… I wills et nothing wicked before my eyes. I hate the work  of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness.” Psalm 101: 2-3

When the Bible uses the word know, it means experience, or know deeply, to get inside someone’s head, or soul really. Too many characters in entertainment are used to get us inside the head of evil. That is what they are designed to do.

My other passage to go to is this:

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good (clear or healthy,) your whole body will be full of light.

“But if your eye is bad (evil or unhealthy,) your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in  you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23.

When I looked up the above passage, I found a bunch of articles about how our eyes actually are a giveaway of how we’re feeling, what kind of personality we have, and how healthy we are. Seriously, look it up, it’s cool.

science always caches up with the Bible eventually. But most of us have looked into other people’s eyes and seen something about them.

Just like everything else about us, the eyes don’t set our personality in stone, they only indicate what choice we are making now.

And what we watch is what fills our minds. Especially what we’re focusing on as we’re watching.

I’ll leave it at that. Until next time–Natasha.

The Hunger Games.

This is going to be a review post.

It may surprise a few people that until last week, I’ve never seen or read the Hunger Games. At least in my limited scope of things, it seems like that series was what kicked off the post apocalyptic trend in teen fiction. If you’ve read some of my previous posts you know how I view that, so needless to say the idea of The Hunger Games never exactly thrilled me.

I also never could understand why it was my 11 or 12 year old friend who first told me about them; and how great the books were. Man, if I had a dime for every time someone my age told me this or that was good and I thought they were out of their mind.

But over the years I heard more intriguing things about the series, so my sister and I decided to finally check it out and our dad sat in for some of it. (We didn’t ask him to, but he was curious.)

So, as we like to ask each other, what’s the verdict?

Well, to like this movie, I would have had to be surprised, it would have had to be different than I expected. But it wasn’t.

That’s not to say I expected it to be completely bad. There were a lot of good moments. Katniss saving her sister, Katniss and Rue (almost tears,) Katniss and Peeta making their big decision. Katniss grieving over Rue was more than I expected, and it brought a lot of humanity to her. Rue’s brother or relative saving Katniss was kind of cool.

And despite all the hate Peeta gets, I don’t see why he deserves it, but I’ve only seen the one movie.

So, after admitting all this was good, why wouldn’t I give this movie a thumbs up. I am one to find meaning in anything I can.

Which I do. But There are those who find meaning, and there are those who find a meaning that was clearly never supposed to be there, or if it was  it was the wrong meaning.

You see, it is hard enough to find a movie with any attempt at a good message, but it is harder to find one that even knows how to communicate its message.

At the end of “The Hunger Games.” I can’t really tell what the message was. It wasn’t about going against the culture, whatever Peeta thinks. It wasn’t about risking your life to save someone else, whatever Katniss’es original intent might have been. I guess, from what the scary guy with the white beard was saying, the movie is supposed to be about hope.

You all know how much I like hope.

And that is my huge problem with this movie and every movie like it. Hope is very, very slim. Hope is nearly given up. Hope lies in running for your life and then starting a rebellion. And I’m not even certain what part of what Katniss and Peeta did was meant to give me hope. They both started off willing to kill, steal, and destroy each other and their competition. This is supposed to make me like them?

I know Katniss wanted to save her sister, but doing bad things for you family used to be frowned upon; and it still would be in a different movie.  No one would question it then. Like Luke, should he have gone over to the Dark side to make his father happy?

It may seem like a completely different circumstance, but it’ not. Peeta had no such noble reason for being in the Hunger games at all.

I am glad Katniss killed no one who did not attack her first, but neither did she at any time declare it was wrong to do so. She did not stand up to the government till the very end, and then it was almost too late, everyone else had died.

But on top of all that, the whole idea of the Hunger games is highly disturbing. no one ever talks about it when they discuss the movies’ merits, but what kind of person thinks up such an idea, and what kind of parents in the future would allow their children to be taken without a fight? Gale at least wants to run away, why hasn’t that idea been adopted ages ago? I’d expect it to be a reoccurring problem by the time Katniss goes. (If it is in the second movie, then my apologies, I haven’t seen it.)

Really. Why do parents let their children watch this movie anyway? My sister and I are older teens, but our younger sibling wasn’t watching, and good thing too. Like I said, a 12-year-old first recommended this to me. Am I the only one who sees a problem with this?

Unfortunately, I usually am the only one who does.

As for the theme of hope, I want to know why we are satisfied with so little. We are given barely any to go on, we are shown precious little positive change because of that hope. Yet for this we are to be happy and feel inspired?

I think C. S. Lewis nailed the problem with most of mankind when he said “We are far too easily pleased.” (The Weight of Glory.)

We all talk about being exceptional, but we don’t recognize that exceptional people are not satisfied with small ideas, small goals, and small hopes. Things have come to a sad pass when I need to watch a movie about children murdering each other in order to feel related to and get inspiration.

And that’s my verdict. The Hunger Games is, in a sense, lowering the bar. I am perfectly aware I will make tons of people furious by saying so, and if it were deserved, I might mind. But though the movie has all the appearance of goodness, it is not actually good.

It has good acting, amazing scenery, and a fine score, it is moving in some ways; but none of that makes it good. It just makes it easier to mistake it for good. I almost would have too, but when it was over I realized that despite feeling horrified by what I saw, I was left with no lasting, strong impression of any injustice that I could have righted, or any improvement I could have made, all I was left with was the characters, and they didn’t inspire me.

I am sorry to have to upset so many people, but that is my honest take on it. However there is one lesson to draw from the movie, and I’m going to cover that in part two.

Until then–Natasha.