The Lion King.

The Lion King. One of the best Disney films ever made. In my opinion.

 

I can’t add much to this film by reviewing it. It’s themes are clear. And everyone knows the story.

But I want to look at the ideology of it, if you will.

I have heard multiple Christians use this film as an illustration of spiritual truths. What interests me is how deliberately the film itself seems to raise that sort of impression.

No one really would argue that it supports some kind of belief in the after life.

And it seems to go out of its way to establish that Mufasa’s reappearance is not just in Simba’s head. Rafiki sees him, and also communicates with him when Simba is not there. WE also see Mufasa as the sun, as well as the stars.

I don’t think anyone would debate that Mufasa is a God-character.

If you’ve never heard that term, or never int his context, it means a character who inspires other characters in the ways we would attribute to God. Typically meaning they give them instructions, seem to know things no one else knows, and give them hope in their darkest hour.

Mufasa fits the bill on all accounts.

Yet he’s totally believable as just a lion trying to be the best king and father he can be. Ultimately laying down his life for his son in an effort to protect him.

What just about killed me was that he never found out that it was Scar who put Simba up to doing those stupid things. (I guess he did once he was up in the sky, but still, closure!)

I don’t know what Simba means, or Mufasa, but Scar’s name, notably one of the only English names in the whole thing (except for Ed) is a giveaway to his character, both his personal issues, and the issues he creates for Simba.

Scar holds a grudge for being put out of succession. He holds a grudge against Mufasa because Mufasa is so much better than him. AT first we think he’s just sour over  being a nobody, but later when Sarabi taunts him, we realize he is secretly aware of how inferior he is to Mufasa and Simba both. Which comes up again when Simba has defeated him.

Scar’s name also relates to who he emotionally scars Simba by his treacherous acts and leaves him crippled for his whole adolescent phase, without a father except for two well meaning but ignoble beasts who just want to relax their life away.

Interestingly enough, Simba’s emotional scars only fade when Scar himself does.

Scar, as the betrayer and the deceiver and the false king, who accuse Simba of his own crimes, makes a fitting devil character. And a formidable villain.

The best lines of the film are all Mufasa’s, I love his speech to Simba when he is a spirit. I also love how in that scene Mufasa becomes more fully realized the longer he is speaking, going from clouds, to a starry shape, to full on color. Symbolic.

He tells Simba “You are more than what you have become.”

It seems odd that Mufasa doesn’t tell him “I love you.” Or something like that. But not when we consider that Simba is laboring under a delusion that he killed him. When he knows, deep down, that Scar is the one to blame. Simba also has just been confronted by Nala about what he needs to do. So this kick in the rear is exactly w at he needs.

He tells Simba further “You have forgotten me.” Simba denies it. “You have forgotten who you are, and so forgotten me…You must take your place as the one true king. Remember who you are.”

Who did not share Rafikis’ sentiment after the end of that. “Wow! What was that!”

Simba returns home and kicks Scar’s tail, but not without some pitfalls along the way.

But the scenery of the last part of the film is a huge part of the story.

Under an evil ruler , the land has faded. The herds are leaving t o find food, but Scar, like the coward he is, refuses to leave.

I never understood stood this when I was younger, but now I think he was afraid of other lion challengers on the Savannah. He knew he was no match for any healthy young or middle aged lion that wanted a pride. Also that the pride wouldn’t do jack squat to help him if he was challenged. (As they will for a lion they like.)

Scar just want to stay away from any competition that will expose him. So imagine how scared he is when Simba returns.

At first everyone thinks Simba is Mufasa. A resemblance the writer didn’t pretend wasn’t there. Because it’s more potent that it is. Yet when Scar knows it’s him, he think he can manipulate him because he always has before. Otherwise he would have slunk away while he could.

In the end Scar thinks his greater numbers may give him the advantage, and then fights Simba more in desperation than in courage. Then he begs for mercy when he is defeated, Simba gives it, but Scar pulls one more nasty back stabbing trick and then falls as a result. The hyenas, having heard him throw them under the bus, decide they’ve had enough of Scar. All four of them presumably burn to death.

There’s so much biblical resemblance here, it would be hard to deny it if I wanted to.

There’s a little thing I want to explain about what follows:

Simba’s roar is both symbolic as assuming his place as king; and literal, as Male lions do roar to declare their territory. Female lion actually do roar in response to males, so if that part always felt real to you, that’s because it is.

But it is not a magic roar.

I have hard theories on this, but they are ridiculous and here’s why.

When the land goes from desolate to healthy, we see Simba and Nala have a cub. (Everything came full circle.) Lionesses are pregnant for a year. It’s been a whole year. So the land has had time to recover, and the rain had time to work.

You can say the rain was magic and I won’t argue. But the rest is nature.

So, in defiance of modern values, this movie supports living up to you responsibilities. taking someone else;s place, following in someone else’s footsteps, and being what people need  you to be.

And all that could also be your destiny.

I don’t favor the very selfish viewpoint on finding your dream nowadays. Your dream can be what would help other people. And sometimes we have to adjust our priorities.

Even Timon and Pumba take a more noble place beside Simba and prove they are not the cowards they thought themselves.

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

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The Princes’ Quest.

I’m going to review a movie you have probably never heard of: The Prince’s Quest. 

This movie is, as it tells you, about two boys. One is named Azur, the other Asmar. Azur is the son of a nobleman, who had blue eyes. Asmar is the son of a nurse, with brown eyes. Asmar and his mother appear to be of Middle Eastern descent, I am not sure it is ever clarified what, but my guess is Arabic, because the Nurse tells both the boys a story about a Djinn Fairy. Or Djinn Princess, she’s referred to as both.

The story goes like this:

A small boy

Becomes a big boy

Crosses rivers and valleys, puts out fires

And he saves the Djinn Princess

Together they live in happiness

Happiness.

It sounds better in the native language she uses, but I can’t write that for you.

This song is a sort of prophecy, and both boys want to be the one to save the Djinn Princess.

But meanwhile, Azur is being trained in the arts of nobility, dancing, riding, and what not. Asmar is watching and trying to learn by imitation. But they have their share of tiffs. The worst  being over only having one parent, (though Azur says Janine is his mom also,) an dover who will save the Djinn fairy.

Azur’s father gets tired of him fighting and associating with these lower class citizens so he sends him off to boarding school and drives Nurse Janine and Asmar out. With no money and without even letting them pack their belongings.

Azur grows up and declares to his father that he intends to sail across the sea and search for the Djinn Fairy. His father thinks this is nonsense and doesn’t seem to consent, but Azur sets sail anyway, till a wave comes up and sweeps him overboard. He washes up on the shore of a strange, and he thinks ugly, land. And realizes he’s lost everything. No one could find him here.

Azur goes looking for people and finds some, who speak the language of his Nurse, though he remembers only a little. But he doesn’t get much of a chance to try for everyone runs from him and one man spits at him, telling him that his blue eyes bring bad luck.

As stupid as this seems, Azur believes that he has no choice but to pretend to be blind for the rest of his life.

He gets directions to a city from a different group of folks who think he is only a blind beggar, and on the way he meets a guy whose name I forget, but he offers to be his guide if he’ll carry him on his back. Claiming to have a problem with his own legs. They proceed to the city, where his “guide” proceeds to criticize everything, but the people do give him alms. And some food too.

I forog to explain earlier, but the prophecy of the Djinn fairy also involves three keys. One of fire, one of spices, and one of steel.

While Azur is walking around, his guide mentions that the keys are reputably hidden in the temples of each thing. At least we see two temples, one of heat, one of spice. The Temple of heat has been all dug up in the search for the key, but Azur, never opening his eyes, feels along the outer wall and finds the key hidden behind one of the stones, which was hot.

Later he finds the spiced key on the peak of the Temple of Spices.

After this Azur is told where the house of Janine is, whom he recognizes as his old nurse. She is now wealthy and owns a huge property and a lot of servants. With the help of his guide he finds her door and knocks. They don’t let him in, but he begins yelling for “Nanny” and Janine opens the door. She doesn’t believe it’s him, she says she left Azur across the sea. She says Azure did not have his voice. And Azur was not blind. Azur answer all these in turn, and answers the last by opening his eyes. Janine gasps and embraces him.

After that it all happens pretty quickly. Azur is brought in, and fed, and told about what happened to her. Janine makes the servants stop talking about his eyes. Asmar is also at the house, but he is less enthused to see his brother. He is bitter over what Azur’s father did.

Janine agrees to help Azur with his quest, just as she is helping Asmar. She sends Azur to see the Princess ( I can’t remember or spell her name) who gives him three gifts to help him. She gave these same gifts to Asmar, and now there is none left. (If you think this is convenient, then remember this is a fairy tale.)

The two men set out, and endure many difficulties, finally they reach the tunnels and caverns of the mountain where the Djinn Fairy is supposed to be. They get close, but then they are attacked by other men looking for her, who are not so honorable. Asmar gets stabbed for warning Azur, and Azur carries him into a tunnel. They find three doorways, one of fire, one of gases, one of sword blades. Azur uses the two keys he has, and then the one Asmar (of course) had, to open each door. Asmar is fading fast, but Azur carries him on till they come to two doorways. One leads to shadows, the other to the Djinn fairy. Azur chooses one in a hurry as Asmar is saying he’s going to die.

They find only blackness. But just as Azur is despairing, a voice gives command for light, and the whole room is lit by hundreds of light djinns, and the Djinn Fairy herself is sitting behind a wall of glass. Azur reaches for her and the wall shatters.

The Djinn fairy is able to save Asmar. But then they can’t decide who it was that actually saved her. Both boys say it was the other. They bring in more and more people (pretty much all the principal characters) to decide, no one can. Finally the Djinn fairy calls her cousin the Elf Fairy to come and decide. The Elf Fairy appears. She is white and blue eyed, whereas the Djinn Fairy looks Arabic.

She can’t choose either, but everyone else realizes that the answer is clear. One Prince for both fairies. The Djinn Fairy chooses Azur, and the Elf Fairy prefers Asmar. Neither Prince seems to have a preference. Everyone ends by dancing and living happily ever after.

This took way longer to tell than I expected, so I’ll try to sum up briefly why I thought it was worth sharing:

This is a very old sort of story. But that doesn’t mean it lacks depth. It covers themes like forgiveness, brotherly love, treating people equally no matter what they look like, and also self-sacrifice and true worthiness which comes from bravery and unselfishness and honesty. (Yes, like in Pinocchio.)

Three is also plenty of mythical danger and obstacles to satisfy the fantasy lover.

The only real flaw is in production. The movie is clearly low-budget. But once you’ve got through the first ten minutes, you stop caring, and the art is still pretty stunning in its own style.

Anyway, it may be out of stock, but if you can find it anywhere, I recommend checking it out.

Until next post–Natasha.

P. S. (Would you believe spell-check doesn’t recognize the traditional way to spell djinn? Honestly.)

Mary Poppins

If I may wax nostalgic without ripping off some popular you-tubers, I’d like to look back on this classic.

I just watched it today, and it seems, like all classics, to have more in it than I realized as a child.

Since I grew up right as Disney was transitioning more and more to 3D and coming to the end of it’s Renaissance phase (that’s all the 2D princesses and princes after Sleeping Beauty,) I never found the really old films quite as interesting to re-watch, but I felt their charm and I think it’s shame a lot of kids now haven’t even watched these classics.

Mary Poppins is at least a perennial favorite movie of mine. I always wanted to ride those merry-go-round horses (it used to really frustrate me that I knew they weren’t real) hop into pictures, laugh on the ceiling and dance on rooftops.

I also have seen Saving Mr. Banks, so that lent the movie even more meaning. I remember asking my mom once during Mary Poppins, while Bert was talking/singing to Mr. Banks, why he was doing so. She told me he was trying to help him learn the lesson Mary Poppins was trying to teach him. I wasn’t entirely clear on what that lesson was. I’d often ask my mom questions about stuff I had already figured out just to hear what she would say, and often she’d say something I hadn’t thought of though basically agreeing with me.

So, that said. What do I think about the movie now that I’m older?

I think that in the end there are two basic messages of the film, and they are expressed in different ways through the whimsical things that happen.

The secondary message is that life needs a little wonder in it and a little fun in everything, or it isn’t worthwhile. I know that this movie influenced my attitude about chores and other tasks. I play music and sing when I clean just because it’s more fun  hat way and I’m more likely to finish the task. Oh the tedious hours of cleaning before I clued in to this trick. Ugh.

Now my mom might just listen to a radio talk show, or nothing at all, not everyone needs to use this method; but the point is, especially if you’re young, you don’t like grueling work.

And who doesn’t want a merry-go-round horse that can go off the carousal? I wish.

The funny thing is, though I didn’t like Mr. Banks, I knew he was right that those things weren’t real. Even Mary Poppins never admits that they were and seems affronted at even doing them half the time. I was that kid who grows up knowing Santa Claus isn’t real, and frankly the Easter Bunny was never appealing to me. And fairies aren’t real, and so on.

Yet I never ceased to enjoy stories aobut those things, or to wish in a way that they were real. And now I believe in them in a different sort of way.

I don’t believe that Santa Claus is real, but I believe in the possibility of things like Santa Claus. I don’t believe Mary Poppins is real, but I do believe that there are people just as wondrous as her who don’ get have the recognition. Remember that real life is stranger than fiction and their are weirder things than tea parties on the ceiling.

Heck, in the very same movie Mr. Banks references the Boston Tea Party, and that story is almost as odd as an actual tea part defying gravity.  I mean, colonists dressed as Native Americans? Seriously? Why would the Natives have thrown tea overboard? It was almost comical…funny. Like the tea party on the ceiling…hmm.

Anyway, the Primary message of Mary Poppins hits even closer to home. It’s about how adults can get to where they miss the little things that are so important.

You see, fixing the children’s kite, the tuppence, the feeding the birds, they are all of a piece. They are all little things. Things that seem to a busy man like a waste of time. He is focused on railroads, bridges, tea plantation, etc. All noble things perhaps (it’s debatable) but are they necessarily more important?

It’s an age old dilemma that adults have been trying to answer forever. Is it more important to be contributing the world in general and helping humanity or is it more important to be at home with your family making real memories. And people have answered it different ways. There’s a big movement now, especially among feminists and Hollywood, that we can have both.

But the fact is, that is almost impossible. Some few people can make it work, but most can’t prioritize family and work equally.

Which is more important? Mr. Banks comes to think that it is his family. Time goes by so fast, and kids will grow up, perhaps not hating their parents who neglected them, but never having that kind of bond with them that kids who felt valued did.

I can personally attestify to this. Once childhood is gone, it’s gone. Adult children can become close to their parents even after years of estrangement, but it’s a different kind o close. It can be just as good but never just as innocent as the first.

That’s why we need to treasure childhood instead of trying to rid ourselves of it, as Mr. Banks does at first.

The spoon full of sugar metaphor is pretty clear, a little sweetness is not hard to give, and it pays dividends in relationships.

The fixing of the kite ties all three metaphors together. The tuppence for paper and string, the kite, and the sweetness even after the medicine of being fired and disgraced.

Little things are important.

As an author and a reader I notice how often in stories little events end up being what the whole ending is hinged on. Often our Salvation turns on the smallest thing.

Big things are important of course, but the secret may actually be that big things are composed of many small things suddenly coming together. That’s my experience.

Those are my thoughts, until next time–Natasha.

Guardians of the Galaxy vol #2

I held off saying anything about this move until I’d actually seen it, and now I finally have! (celebratory noises.)

I do think it had way more inappropriate humor than necessary and earns that PG-13 rating in full. And it had a lot of gross stuff, more than the first one.

That’s only superficial elements. What was this movie about?

I agree with the other people who reviewed it, it’s about family, parenthood, forgiveness, and how pride gets in the way of really bonding with people.

This film is about how friends can be better than family because it’s not blood that makes loyalty but the choice of the person. There’s actually a verse in Proverbs about it “there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs was written by Solomon, who had brothers who wanted to kill him, so his point of view makes sense.

I found Nebula a little disconcerting, something about her is always kind of sadist and psyco and even though you know she’s had a horrible life I don’t think trying to kill your sister is okay, even if they were bad. I also have to say Gomorrah “joking” about killing Nebula didn’t seem in character after the first film in which she made it a point to try to get her on their side.

Am I nitpicking? Maybe.

But by far the biggest concern to me personally is the character of Ego. I’m aware that some people out there probably think he’s supposed to represent God. Or Jesus. Because I’ve seen hints of theories like that, though I have yet to watch or read any.

But now that I’ve seen the film, I do see some similarities (on the surface) between Christ and Ego. Actually, it’s my theory that the movie was parodying the whole trinity. But Christ especially, because Ego is all like “Oh I walked among them and took their form and then I decided I wanted to fill the universe with copies of me.”

A person could make the argument, and I wouldn’t blame them, that this is a lot like what the Bible says Jesus did. He became flesh, dwelt among us, and he wants to make us like him. (Like him, not into him.)

That doesn’t sound at all creepy to me, I was raised hearing it, but the way the movie portrayed it, I suddenly saw how it could seem creepy to someone else. And it should.

Because if that was all there was to the story, I’d be freaked out too.

Ego is all about himself, he doesn’t even really seem to care about being worshipped, except by Peter, though he enjoys the admiration he gets. He just wants everything to be made of the same matter as himself.

He also has killed off all of his children as soon as they let him down, and some would see a parallel to God in this also. (A false one, but still.)

And no, I’m not afraid to bring all this up, and I admit that on the surface, it might look right.

But here’s a Christian’s perspective on this:

You could believe that God is like Ego, but God is way more powerful, and also just. Which Ego is not.

Actually you know who Ego really resembles? Satan.

I’m not kidding. There’s this part of the movie where Ego is going on about how “We will do all this…” and he lists several things. Is sounds eerily like a passage in the Bible where Lucifer is saying “I will be like The Most High.” a.k.a. “I will be like God.”

And you remember when Ego said that he was a small “g” god, at least on days he was feeling as humble as Drax?

The defining characteristic of God is Love. You know what Ego is another word for? Pride. Which is the defining characteristic of Lucifer.

Yep.

And actually, everything Ego did, Christians believe Satan either did or will do. Right down to making biological life forms. It may seem bizarre, but our own scientists are already able to do that, so…

In fact, the similarities to Christ can all be attributed to the fact that The devil will become the antichrist. Which you don’t have to believe is true to acknowledge that it is still biblical.

And in my mind, Ego is that. For he does not love, he rejects love as weak (like the devil;) he wants to remove free will (like the devil) and he wants to destroy all other life save what he can use (like the devil.)

I understand that this is all my own perspective, and some people out there might think I’m conveniently transferring all the clues into a picture I actually like. And maybe I am.

I won’t deny, I do wonder if the director of the movie is trying to mock God, or show contempt for our ideals. But the fact of the matter is, no one can successfully mock God.

The only way people can do that is by inventing things about him to mock. People do this to other people anyway. much more to beings they can’t understand.

Whether James Gunn meant to mock God; meant to show how pride twists all attributes; or just meant to tell an interesting story with a  metaphor; I can’t say. But that he does not know how true that metaphor actually is, I have no doubt.

One thing I do appreciate is how all the characters seemed to sense something was wrong about Ego and his planet, and I certainly got that impression watching it. There was something uncanny about it.

One more point: Ego made matter from himself, but even he was obviously created, because when he came to consciousness there were other life forms in existence. There was other matter. This again fits in with him being like the devil, but it also raise the question, where did all that other matter come from?

I don’t expect Marvel to ever actually admit there’s a God in their films. But I still think the existence of superheroes only makes sense in that context. That could just be me.

Anyway, I hope some of this made sense. Until next time–Natasha.

 

 

 

Shallow Hal

“Shallow Hal wants a gal,” that line sums up most of this movie.

Whether or not you’ve heard of this story specifically, I’m sure you’ve heard that Beauty is not only skin deep, and it’s about what’s inside.

That’s all well and good. But does this movie make that point well?

Here’s the good and bad of Shallow Hal.

Good: Hal is a loser, who’s trying to find a hottie to go out with, but he’s not that good looking, so most of the hotties he meets aren’t interested in him. Even his neighbor, Jill, who’s less shallow, is disgusted by his shallowness and not interested.

But after a self-help guru helps him broaden his horizons (sort of) Hal starts getting successful with the hotties he’s flirting with. They seem a bit surprised by his attentions, but they go along. Then he meets Rosemary, a blonde beauty with a great personality who’s also really nice. He’s scored big time!

Until he finds out that he’d be seeing everyone as they are on the inside.

Long story short, Hal gets over his shock, and his shallowness because he’s fallen in love with Rosemary for who she really is. They go off to live happily ever after (after a few hurdles he has to clear.)

Bad: This movie’s number one sin is how stereotypical it is. The whole plot almost revolves around stereotypes. Even though the guru says “We’re all brainwashed to see certain things as beautiful, by society.” (I paraphrase.)

But the movie implies that society is partly right. If a girl is nice, smart, and funny, then she’s obviously not pretty. Or she’s pretty but doesn’t realize it. And there is some evidence in Rosemary’s character to support this. She’s pretty, in her own way, but believes she’s ugly and fat. She is fat, but Hal still thinks she’s beautiful when he finally sees her at the end.

But what made me kind of annoyed is that anytime we, as the audience, see Rosemary in a good light is when she looks like Gweneth Paltrow, who plays her. Whenever we see her as fat, she’s always being insecure, upset, and otherwise less desirable. We don’t get to see her humor or smarts except when she looks pretty.

This might seem to defy the stereotype that pretty girls are stupid or mean, but it really doesn’t. We know the whole time what she really looks like, The effect is that at the end it’s hard to see why Hal is attracted to her, since we’ve never seen chemistry between him and her in her real form.

Say as much as you like about what her real form actually is, it still doesn’t work in the context of  movie where you need to be able to see it.

Also, I find it offensive that the movie doesn’t give one example of a pretty girl in real life who was also pretty on the inside. Other than Rosemary that is. I’m not sure she counts.

Possibly there were one or two, but we don’t see for sure, so it seems incomplete. Also there’s no example of an ugly person who was ugly on the inside.

The movie ignores the fact that inner beauty makes outer beauty and inner ugliness makes outer ugliness. Which is a tried and true fact. Lots of people have observed it and written of it.

It’s a valid point to make that Hal never was looking for either inner beauty or ugliness, so of course he missed both.

But does that help us as the audience? The movie lays down no real guidelines as to discerning inner beauty, other than that someone does things which are culturally perceived as nice.

But wouldn’t even a beauty want to help her Grandma?

Couldn’t people working at the Peace Corp have bad motives?

The nurse at the hospital does indeed look ugly, and act ugly. But we never see her in real life to know if she was pretty on the outside or if she was ugly there too.

We just don’t know.

Maybe I am asking more of this movie than it ever meant to give. I think Shallow Hal is what it intended to be. A slightly different take on a Romantic Comedy in which instead of a girl getting a makeover, a man has to learn to accept her how she is.

But I don’t think it’s true that society has brainwashed us all into perceiving beauty. Different cultures have different ideas of beauty, yes. (Sometimes that can work out in your favor.)

But it would be incredibly racist, as well as untrue, to say that our culture blinds us to the beauty of people in other cultures.

White people can find African American’s attractive; American’s can find Asians attractive; and in many cultures looking American is seen as an enviable thing because they associate wealth and strength with America. While in other cases, looking Jewish or African has made people uglier to countries that hated them.

Sometimes that hatred actually takes advantage of the beauty in those races.

But the point I’m making is, beauty is universally acknowledged. And most people wouldn’t argue about external features being beautiful. Even if they have a different taste.

Just because you like tall, dark, and handsome doesn’t mean you find short or blonde unattractive.

So this brainwashing line of reasoning doesn’t hold up.

The verdict:

In the end Shallow Hal is more about how love makes you desirable than it is about how our culture is wrong about its standards. It’s an okay movie, but there are better sources for the subject of superficiality.

Hope you enjoyed, until next time–Natasha.

How to recognize a weasel.

I have finally watched the new “Beauty and the Beast.” I didn’t actually want to buy it or go see it in theaters but by a stroke of luck I got the opportunity to see it for free and judge if it was as bad as I thought.

It was exactly what I expected.

Now, I post unpopular opinions so often on this blog that I take it a lot of my readers must share them, but if you liked this movie, I can sort of see why.

The visuals were a lot better than the old one. The singing was better, I thought. I won’t say I didn’t feel a little moved by “Tale as old as time.” The only song of that film I’ve always liked. Nor was I too upset that “Human Again” was removed, which I never liked. (I never liked any of the other songs, for whatever reason. Just like I liked all the Lion King songs except the ever popular Hakuna Matata.)

I will say the Beast was pretty charming. /he seemd older as a beast, but it worked for him really well. I also never cared overmuch for him in the old one, so it was an imporvement.

But I will always say Emma Watson was the wrong choice for Belle, exspecially without revising Belle’s character at all. Gosh, I never could stand her anyway.

What is jusst killing is that I have a lot in commom with Belle, and yet I find her just so annoying.

That said, I was not unbiased going into this film. Nor was I unibased on the religious front. IF you know what I mean.

So it’s no surpirse I didn’t like it. I thought some moments were right, and I felt something, but other moments just took me down from the high.

Now to ge tinto my actual problems with it.

The film had a big Gay sticker stamped right across its forehead. I’ve watched lot sof films featuring gay characters simply because they seem to be  token character now. But not as many that were so clearly trying to make a statement. And to get into kids heads.

AM I exaggerating?

Well let’s explore that. When a movie has a man commenting on the proportions of another man in a creepy way, has a man dressed as a woman told to “be free,” has a freaking teapot tell a guy that he cold do better than Gaston…nope. Not exaggerating.

Can I just say that I’ve never approved of sex jokes and references in kid’s films even when they were limited to the hetero-sexual. I think kids just don’t need to hear that crud.

But it’s even worse when it’s done in this manner. Sly, sneaking; surreptitious.

This may sound weird, but I actually prefer bawdy jokes that are said in a bawdy way just because the people saying them at least are acknowledging that they’re inappropriate. But I don’t like this highly controversial subject treated as admirable and normal and romantic by a freaking remake of an old kid’s movie. Hasn’t anyone in the audience ever heard of propaganda?

Sorry, sorry, I’m getting a little carried away. I’m sure plenty of parents didn’t let their kids watch it. And I wouldn’t let my kids watch it. I was actually glad that my young cousin was out of the room for pretty much every bad moment of the movie.

It’s no secret that I’m not progressive in my views. I don’t excuse any of the film-writers who were for making this film because what they did was still wrong.

I think someone might ask me, would I mind if it had been a christian message? The truth is: it depends

Because Christian messages are mostly family friendly. Now if the christian message was about chastity or adultery or something, I would say no, don’t put that in a kids’ film, that’s sick.

And if you must promote gayness, promote it in a film that grown up people are going to watch, making their own choice.

I do have a problem with Christians bending the truth or using stereotypes to promote Christianity. I find it horrifying that anyone claiming to know the Truth would have to lie to get it across.

But the fact is, Christian movies are at least honest about being Christian. You know what you’re getting into when you watch one.

But then again, the director did warn us about the “nice gay moment.”

I’d like to address Lafou actually. As I’ve said, I hate the old Beauty and the Beast. And he was one of the worst parts of it. But not because he acted gay. he doesn’t.

Lafou’s name means fool, and that’s what he’d supposed to be. He’s enamored of Gaston’s popularity and strength and hangs around him because it makes him somehow cooler by associations…and it sort of works. He does get the whole town to join him in singing Gaston’s praises.

I mean, doesn’t anyone get what a kiss-up looks like anymore? That’s what Lafou is, he’s a brown nosing little weasel, who does whatever Gaston tells him to because he’s intimidated by him. We see Gaston threaten him during their first scene.

And everyone is singing about Gaston, so you’d have to convince me that every single married man in that town is gay before it proved anything. But why it should even be a cartoon character in a kid’s movie promoting homosexuality, I don’t know.

There is such a thing as guys admiring other guys for bad reasons. It’s called peer influence. It causes a lot of problems.

And frankly, I think turning that into something else takes away  he actual lesson we’re supposed to learn from those characters. Lafou and Gaston represent loser who judge by appearance. Lafou is the follower, Gaston is the self absorbed jerk. And by the way, Lafou does despicable things in the original without feeling a bit sorry for them, he’s just as rotten as Gaston, only less liked, because he’s not buff and handsome. Is this really so hard to understand?

Yet everywhere I look people are interpreting it as infatuation. Ugh.

This does make me mad because no one is going to remember the actual message of not hanging around people just because they’re popular and good looking.

And the impertinence of this movie, thumbing its nose at everyone who disagrees with its message. There was nothing respectful about the way it presented any of its themes. (I might add, it didn’t do such a good job of following up its other messages. It was too busy being progressive.)

Now, you didn’t hear me say that I hate gay people. I don’t. My complaint is against what this film and its writers are trying to do.

There are worse movies, but if this is the new road Disney is taking, I might have to jump off the train. But I have higher hopes for other movies coming out.

Until next time–Natasha.

Thoughts on The Spiderman Trilogy.

Hey folks, so the Solar eclipse is happening right now. Pretty cool right?

Of course no one will read this until it’s over, probably.

I don’t have any real thought provoking observations about it, there’s plenty of those out there, I’m sure.

It is funny to think I haven’t lived to see one of these yet, and I’ll probably live to see only one more. Of course form where I am, I can’t see it fully.

But I digress.

I really like the old Spiderman movies, with Tobey Maguire. They’re a bit old fashioned, but then so am I.

And I only just saw 1 and 2 this year. So it’s new to me.

I know they aren’t the most epic of superhero movies, but I think that’s part of their charm.

Whoever wrote those films, (Raimer wasn’t it?) knew how to use superheroes. I think the themes of all three are pretty great, even if the third one is notoriously inferior. (I haven’t seen it yet, but I ‘m not convinced I would hate it.)

The trilogy is dealing always with the question of power. with power comes responsibility. But many people don’t live up to that responsibility.

There’s the Green Goblin, Osborne, who misuses first his business power to do a dangerous experiment, and then gets corrupted by the effect that experiment had on him. He ends up going completely insane.

Then there’s Dr. Octopus, who was definitely less desperate to begin with, but was over confident about a power source he couldn’t really control or understand, he gets turned into a monster by it, but in the end his better self is able to overcome it and he saves the day. Only after he is willing to let that power go.

In the third movie there’s three villains. Harry Osborne, who is following in his father’s footsteps. The Sandman, who I know the least about, but is given power by an accident if I remember right. And Venom, who is the worst of all.

In the third movie, Spiderman is also abusing power. In the first two, his struggle was leaning what to use it for, and whether he really should use it all, this time around he is struggling with wanting more. The struggle his first two foes were falling to has finally come around to him.

Which is important to note, you will always be tested on the same things your greatest enemies are, your greatest enemies are always the ones who had the opportunity to be heroes  and chose the wrong thing. That’s why so often the good guy is the better version of the bad guy. With similar skills and personality traits, but with a stronger character. Because it’s always hardest to fight yourself.

In the end of the third film, two of the villains give up on villainy; one forgives Peter, the other just decided to stop, (I think, I’ve seen bits and pieces only) like Dr, Octopus. The third one decides to embrace the monstrous power, and enjoys being bad. Some villains do. The others all denied really being evil, but this guy got a kick out of the thrills of it. No rules, and all that.

Peter Parker finally rejects the power of the weird alien goop because he realizes it’s making him into the wrong kind of person.

This seems like a decent way to cap off the first two films to me, I think the complaint is it was too choppy and spread out over three separate stories. IT wouldn’t be the first movie like that.

but the idea at least was good. Thought the mud always freaked me out and still does, but I think it’s like The Ring of Power. IT’s supposed to scare you so you know hwy it has to be resisted. (Where did that instinct go? Now it seems like people embrace the fear and want more of what’s causing it, instead of knowing to run from it.)

Tobey MAguire’s PEter Parker had charm becuase he was really just a normal guy, with extraordinary character, given extraordinary powers at a confusing time of his life.

But it’s like it was planned. With the exception of Harry’s Hobgoblin persona, none of Spiderman’s villains are born because of something he did. Not like Ultron, or even Loki, or Hydra’s reoccurring villains. All of them would have risen up whether or not there was a Spiderman. But Spider man was given his power at just the right time to stop the Green Goblin, and later all the rest.

Actually, you could see special planning in how he stopped Dr. Octopus. Spiderman had no cause to know Otto Octavious, but by sheer luck it seems, Peter got to meet him before he went bonkers, and so was able to talk him back into himself.

And Harry was his friend. So was Venom, briefly, but not really a good one.

There’s really a Supernatural aspect to the three films. And I don’t say that just because I look for it, it was glaringly obvious form the first one.

Here’s why I think that makes them better.

If Superheroes were in fact real (and the Bible has at least one, if not more, that were real;) then I would expect their powers to be a gift from God, to protect His people from some great threat that ordinary abilities just won’t cover. If they gave themselves powers, I would expect it to corrupt them, because power that is grasped at will corrupt.

The Bible says that Jesus did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped. But Satan did. Jesus is our savior, Satan is the great enemy. Because equality with God means having all power, over all things. Jesus didn’t try to take it, it was given to him. (Read the first part of the Gospels for the whole story.) Satan tried to take it, he got cast down.

Which is precisely what happens to Spiderman’s villains. They try to harness power and it destroys their lives. But Peter is given power, and though it test his endurance, in the end he knows it’s his gift. Something he has to use for others.

I am not saying Peter Parker represent Jesus, I am not one of those people. I think few superheros even being to fit the role of a Christ character. They aren’t supposed to.

They are heroes, plain and simple. The kind of heroes we should all strive to be. Whether we can climb walls or see through them or not. Whether we can fly or shrink or shoot an arrow backwards. (By the way, I took archery for awhile, I still have serious doubts about Hawkeye being able to do that. Even if he looked first, it could change in a split second. But it sure is a cool trick if you suspend disbelief.)

If anyone but Peter Parker was Spiderman, Spiderman could not be what he is. That’s why the trilogy was smart to focus on how Peter Parker’s normal life is such a huge part of his Spiderman life.

Those are my thoughts for now, unil next time–Natasha.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

I know this movie is old news now, but I saw it for the first time yesterday, SI I thought I’d give my thoughts on it.

I’ve made no secret of my general disinterest in the Avengers, but I like to keep moderately up to date on them. I guess I’m hoping I’ll finally see what everyone else sees in it.

I’ll list the positives first: The character interaction of this film felt way more authentic to me than it did in the first one. You can buy that these people have known each other for awhile now. Clint Barton’s family was a cool part, and how Natasha is basically like their aunt, that’s cool.

Also the action made a bit more sense this time around, it wasn’t as all over the place as the first one felt, at least to me.

Fury was barely in it, but he always makes the plot more confusing so that was actually a good thing. He was in it enough to provide a good element of inspiration.

Finally, Quick Silver was great. I expected to dislike him most of the time but I didn’t. (I did go into it know what happens to him at the end, so that made it easier.) I think he was the best part.

And as a side note, Captain America and the Hammer did look totally like he could have lifted it, I saw it move. And the look on Thor’s face was priceless.

But beyond that, I don’t think this movie held up to the original”s standard, and definitely not my own.

Nice action is great in a superhero flick, but for me it doesn’t make it or break it, so long as the scenes don’t look like a sixties Batman fight, I can tolerate less spectacular fight techniques. And a lot of cool powers isn’t enough to tip the scale either.

Banter gets old unless it’s really good, and cliches and subverted cliches can be equally annoying. (Just because you subverted the cliche doesn’t mean it was a better scene.)

No, what gets me is the heart of a film. It’s why the Incredibles and that Justice League movie about two earths are my favorite superhero films, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

What the heart of Age of Ultron is would be hard to say. Other than Ultron gets his heart ripped out, which was gruesome even if he’s a robot.

I think the heart of it was supposed to be putting the civilians first, and valuing human life instead of just victory over evil.

Did I miss the announcement when a superhero valuing human life ever became something they had to decide in the middle of the film? Uh…that used to be for villains who were finally starting to see the light.

Oh that’s right, superheroes apparently are villains, in a way. (Gag.)

Look, if I have to question the moral choices of my hero, then they aren’t my hero anymore. I can’t look up to someone who is morally inferior to me. That’s stupid.

But I get why it’s popular. So many people identify with this because they are unsure of what their moral standard should be.

A hero should be an inspiration, so why did most of the Avengers spend more time in the film depressing me than they did lifting me up?

If you want to make a morally ambiguous, or philosophically uncertain film, great, but don’t call that a hero film. Heroes are the people who stand up for what’s right, defend the defenseless, and don’t back down from the villain. They are not the people hanging back brooding over whether or not they have the right to even interfere. Yes, the right.

Isn’t that what it’s all about? The Avengers are being accused by Ultron of being the disease of the planet, and they wonder if he’s right.

Well, if he is, it started when they made him.

Up till then, only the Hulk was a threat to society, and he was getting better. If they movie had focused on how the power of love and trust can make people rise to new heights, that would have been a good message.

One many would call cliche and cheesy. But there’s a reason these messages keep being repeated time and again, in every generation. And guess what, the generations that reject them are the ones that crumble in on themselves.

See, the day good things become too boring for the population is the day the population becomes more interested in feeling things strongly then they do in feeling what’s right. It’s like the people who chase erotic love instead of lasting love. The first one is just more of a thrill.

And believe me, I get how these new movies are emotionally seductive, if I may use that term. The stakes are always high, and there are tense moments, and some touching ones that feel very real.

But to what does it all tend?

When I watched The Hunger Games I understood everyone’s fascination with them. I’ve heard snippets of Twilight, and I get why teens were sucked into the series. I get it. Folks, I am not immune to the appeal.

But the appeal is something I despise in myself. Even though it’s there, I know it’s not good.

As a human being, I am as tempted as anyone to sacrifice principal for something that will make me feel all keyed up and pumped, or make me hang on the edge of my seat, or make me sigh and feel all wish- washy. Hey, those aren’t bad feelings.

But pursuing something just to get those feels, that’s either a waste of time, or it’s downright dangerous.

I know this for a fact. I’ve read and watched stuff for all those reasons, that’s how I got addicted to it. And that wasn’t healthy.

Now, it;s become kind of a joke to say you’re addicted to something that people really think is harmless. But addiction is never, ever harmless.

It makes you unhappier in the long run, it can make you depressed. It can make you pull away from the people around you. And it can make you crazily obsessed over something to the point where you neglect real world things.

That’s not a joke. And no one should act like it is.

But most people are unwilling to pull away from their screens long enough to really tell whether or not they have a problem. that’s part of the problem.

As for the Avengers, this movie made them look seriously messed up. Natasha’s whole part just made me sad, but without any hope that she’ll get better. She’s not allowed to, where’d all the conflict come from then, it is the only character development she gets after all…

Yeah, so I didn’t like it. I thought Ultron sucked, not because he wasn’t creepy, but because he made no sense to me. None of it did. I wish they’d decide whether the infinity stones control people or people control them. They can’t make up their minds.

There’s more to be said on this, but it’ll have to wait. Until next time–Natasha.

The Guardians of the Galaxy.

I’m a little late to the party on this, but I thought I’d review Guardians of the Galaxy.

This will go on record as being the only modern Marvel movie I actually like. So far.

It’s also the only one I get at all emotional watching. The sad scenes are actually sad. And that killer scene at the end when they all have the stone, it’s the only Marvel end scene that actually makes me feel pumped.

I’m sure some people think there’s something wrong with me that the Avengers moviesare basically boring to me, but I never feel like anyone, least of all the heroes, is really stopping to take in the weight of what’s really happening.

The Avengers are really like soldiers in an army, no time to be emotional, or to have hesitations, or to need more time to figure things out, they just charge into every battle they can and kick rear end.

I’ve never like watching people beat each other up without any personal investment in the fight. In fact, sometimes I get mad at the hero for punching the villain when I feel the villain didn’t deserve it, or that there was more mature way to handle it.

I feel like the Avengers are often like kids who can’t solve anything except by slugging it out.

Obviously, the Guardians of The Galaxy are the same way, so what makes the difference?

First of all, the Guardians acknowledge the dysfunctional nature of their anger issues. It’s not pretty, but at least they realize it’s messed up, and slowly begin trying to control themselves. This is a nice change from it being no moral conflict at all as to whether you should beat the crud out of the person you’re angry with.

Secondly, no one expects any of the characters to be good when the movie starts out. And none of them are. But over the course of the movie they realize what’s at stake, and they realize that working along side each other might be bizarre but it feels right, and it’s nice to have friends; so they are motivated to protect each other as well as the innocent people.

Thirdly, the villain, instead of bringing out the worst in the team by manipulation that they’re too blind to see coming (Loki anyone?) ends up bringing out the best in them. Spurring Gamorra to finally stop being an assassin Quill to finally stop being a selfish jerk, Drax to be willing to help someone else and admit his rage just wasn’t enough to justify his actions; and Rocket and Groot to stick their necks out for someone else.

By the way, this is traditionally the role a villain is supposed to play. Heroes are usually created when ordinary people rise up to stop evil, not when evil draws them together to destroy them.

There’s more reasons to like this movie. I think the on-the-edge violence and questionable ethics of the heroes makes more sense in the Galaxy setting, because of course the justice would be less focused in some planets, and we’re dealing with criminals turning good, not good guys experiencing moral conflict. The guardians start out at the opposite end of the scale, so we like them better as they progress, instead of worse as they give into temptation.

The way they constantly bicker isn’t really funny to me most of the time, I feel more frustrated, like Quill does, then like I’m enjoying it. but that’s another good point, they have to stop the petty banter before they can really realize why they need to do what they need to do.

Another point, and by far one of the best points of the film, is when Rocket says, for the first time not really sarcastic or bitter “Quill, you’re asking us to die.” The timing here is perfect, because Peter says “Yeah I guess I am.” And turns away, because he realizes he can’t actually ask people to die for his 12% of a plan. This moment is what makes this movie seem real, because the stakes are high, but there’s a healthy respect for the lives of your friends, and how you don’t have the right to demand they risk them. That’s why it’s not as cheesy or cliche when Gamorra  stands up and says she’d be grateful to die among friends. No one really believes they’re going to win, but they’d rather die trying with people they care about than live by running away.

That’s what makes my absolute favorite part (battle-wise) so much more meaningful. when Quill grabs that stone, it’s not from the greed for power, he knows it’s going to kill him. The cool thing is, Gamorra knows it’s going to kill her too, so do Drax and Rocket; yet they still grab on, proving they meant what they said about being willing to die with friends.  And what a horrible death too, so it’s really brave of them all. I think for me it means the most when Rocket does it, because he just lost Groot, his first real friend, and might not have a reason to sacrifice himself for the rest of them whom he didn’t even seem to like, but he does anyway.

Then that moment when the stone suddenly stops killing them, it’s amazing.

We know it’s not just that they’re powerful, because the group of people that held it before was still destroyed, I’ve always thought that it was because when they held on, they were all one in heart. With the same motivations, the same drive, the same will; and that was stronger than Ronan’s insane wish to destroy all life.

And darn it if that doesn’t inspire me even when it’s between people whom I wouldn’t normally admire.

But I guess it’s because they find a moral rock to stick to, whereas a lot of other superheroes have been losing their grip. (Not like I’m pointing the finger here, Batman.)

Actually in a wired way, the Guardians remind me of some other superheros, but that’s for another post.

Until next time–Natasha.

Justice League: The Martian

Okay, first of all, if you were wondering I do know that he has a name.

The Martian Man-hunter’s name is J’onn J’onz, or something like that I don’t recall hearing his last name pronounced, but the first is just like John is said in French. Why a man from mars would have a name with a pronunciation like French, I don’t know.

Last but not least, as they like to say.

J’onn actually is the least relatable out of the seven, simply because he’s the only one who’s most definitively not human. He doesn’t even look human, unlike Superman, and partially Hawk Girl. He also doesn’t act human most of the time.

You’ve seen the character before, straight faced most of the time, really deep voice, rarely shows emotion. Spock-like.

But  not at the core.

J’onn was given some decent character development in the first season, and then pretty much reduced to the tech guy and overseer in the second (he also had to play bad cop to some of the junior members,) a decision the writers themselves seemed to regret, as one whole episode is devoted to the problem that became for him.

J’onn fulfills the family role of wise uncle or grandfather. He always seems older than the other members, even Batman. He usually provides the most cool headed and unbiased perspective.

The best example of this is in “The ties that bind.” In that episode, Flash and J’onn are the main League members. Flash is worried about being perceived as immature. We all know that J’onn is the most mature of anyone. What happens is that Mr. Miracle himself and Barda show up at the base to ask for some help in retrieving their friend Oberon from the clutches of Granny Goodness, the person responsible for brainwashing both of them in the past. They have to go rescue this guy named Kilberon. (By the way, he’s a modern invention, not from the original comic.)

J’onn refuses because Apokalips is a threat to Earth no matter who’s in charge of it (out of the choices) and he has no wish to make enemies with either side. Barda thinks this is a load of crud, probably because she’s made enemies with all of Apokalips, and Scott accepts it none too happily, they begin to storm off, when Flash intercepts them and volunteers to go just as an individual. Now they had wanted Superman, and J’onn was very much against that (Superman tends to be a loose cannon where anything Apokalips-related is concerned,) so they turn him down–until he shows how fast he is. Then they let him come.

Long story short, Flash helps them, they succeed, everyone gets home safety…and then J’onn calls Flash in to say something. Flash immediately launches into a speech about how he went behind J’onn’s back, but it turned out all right, and you know what? He’d do it again. How did J’onn like that?

J’onn takes a moment to sigh quietly, then he says “I was just going to ask you if you wanted to play–‘ (I forget the name of the game.) Flash just blinks and says “Oh, sure.”

That’s J’onn, super serious, but deep down he has a big heart. He probably felt Flash did the right thing after all–and maybe, just maybe, he wished he was not so practical and had been willing to recklessly do the same.

One thing the JLU got right that I think Marvel gets wrong a lot (sorry) is that the brainy part of the team should be led by the heart part. Whenever push came to shove on the show, you knew the characters thinking with their hearts and not just their heads were going to win.

When Batman and Superman debated crossing one of their lines to beat the Justice Lords, Superman opts for trusting one of his sworn enemies instead of being willing to kill.

When The League votes on whether Shirara can stay or not, it’s the people who are willing to give her a second chance who get the majority.

When Wonder Woman teams up with Hawk and Dove to defeat a magical war machine (I kid you not) it is Dove’s Peace–oriented perspective that saves the day, and Diana has to yield to it.

This list could go on, but I think that’s enough examples to make my point.

And perhaps the heart over head principle is most apparent in J’onn because he is the most in his head of all of them, but he’s also really devoted to the League because he sees it as his new family.

He only falters one time, in the horrible episode “Secret Society.” The one I really have a problem with finding believable. But even assuming the League really would act that way (out of the clear blue since none of those problems were there before,) J’onn’s part was both annoying and sad. he didn’t like them all tearing each other down, he’s actually the first to leave because it bothers him so much. It’s kind of out of character I think, but also understandable. He does end of being the one to save the day however, so I guess he redeems himself.

J’onn does make some tough calls over the course of the show. He’s also really sad quite a bit of the time, and loenly. His whole planet of people has been destroyed, though Mars is still orbiting the sun. Unlike Superman, J’onn actually watched it happen and was snatched from it seemingly by random chance.

Sometimes the strain of being the only mind reader is too much for him, when he pushes himself too far. But sometimes he can see things the rest of the League can’t because of hi understanding of thought. Like when they are fighting this thing called the Android (not the phone), who can copy all of their powers but is working for Lex Luthor. Wonder Woman tells J’onn to stay out of it because otherwise they’ll never beat him. But J’onn either through reading Luthor’s mind, or assessing the situation, realizes that the Android needs to be able to know what they want. So he allows him to copy his powers, telling him they are not his enemies. The Android then realizes Lex lied to him, and proceeds to defeat him and then leave.

Like I said, J’onn sees things differently.

And that wraps up this series. I hope you enjoyed, until next time–Natasha.