Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens Review

Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens Review

The Force Awakens

  • My star rating: 5 of 5
  • Kids? Yes, but it contains violence (not much worse than the earlier films)
  • Do I recommend it? Yes!

Part I: A story

This was me this year.

counting-down-to-star-wars

I was SO excited for this movie.  Star Wars pretty much runs in my family.  My uncle is one of those (awesome) nerds who owns a “Revenge of the Jedi” poster.  My dad tells me how he and his brother waited in a line around the building to watch Empire Strikes Back with surround sound (a cool, new thing back then).  My mom saw The Phantom Menace while pregnant with me.

Who am I kidding?  I am still so excited for this movie!  I’m the second-generation Star Wars fanatic.

So we find out that our long-awaited-for Disney cruise vacation (more articles on this to come) falls on the premiere night for The Force Awakens.  We read that typically Disney cruises showed movies that were in theaters and/or to be released on DVD/Blu-Ray.  We (my mom and I) did all sorts of internet searching to find out if The Force Awakens would be shown on the ship.  If it wouldn’t be showing, I needed to buy tickets!  My mom called Disney, but received an automated message.  Finally, about two weeks before we embarked, we read on a DISboard (a Disney forum website) that someone as obsessed as us had emailed Disney and had received a yes: The Force Awakens would indeed premiere on the ship!

Once on the cruise, we learned that they were prepared.  There were lots of Disney Cruise line/Star Wars souvenirs.  All of the crew/cast members were getting ready (As the animation class instructor put it, “We’re having ten hours of meetings for a two hour movie!”).  There would be five showings: two in 3D, three in 2D, including one at 5:15AM!

Voyage Through the Galaxy

We had the early dinner seating, which was moved to 5:15pm (rather than the normal 5:45).  We skipped dessert, and headed up two decks to join the growing line of excited Star Wars fans.  We opted to watch it in 2D because we suspected more people would go for the 3D and because Mom and some of the girls were apprehensive about the motion of the 3D while on the ship.

At about 6:40 the doors of the Buena Vista Theater opened, and at 7:15 exactly, the LucasFilm logo appeared on the screen.  The theater went crazy when STAR WARS started sliding backwards.

Before Disney bought LucasFilm, I’d sometimes ask my parents, “What was it like to see ‘STAR WARS’ appear on the big screen for the first time?”  Now I know.

I had to pee for an hour and a half during the movie.  I was not going to miss a single second of the greatest movie of the decade, maybe of the century.  As soon as the director’s credit appeared, I shot out directly toward our stateroom.  Let us hope that they stuck to tradition rather than the Marvel trend of after-credit scenes.

After the movie (and using the restroom), I felt like I could do anything.  On the drive home the next day, despite the break we took in South Carolina for Papi to fix the van, I was in a fantastic mood.  “How are you doing?” people would ask me to be polite. “Awesome! I just saw Star Wars!”

Star Wars VII - The Force Awakens review and Disney Cruise story

Part II: A short spoiler-free review

Like I said, I’m a second-generation Star Wars fan, so I was raised on the prequels as equally as the originals.  The Force Awakens doesn’t leave story of the prequels, but it’s definitely more reminiscent of the originals.  Some say it was too reminiscent, but I liked it.

The acting was great.  The new guys (Finn, Poe, and Rey) are going to do well holding up the franchise in their own, new, ways.

If you can afford it, see it now!  The theater offered some cool force sound effects that I don’t think will deliver the same effect my home TV does.  Also, how long are you going to be able to avoid spoilers?

Speaking of which…

Part III: STOP SCROLLING AND GO PLAY MINECRAFT.  DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN IT YET.  Spoilers ahead!

Continue reading “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens Review”

Why A Muppet Christmas Carol Is the Best Christmas Carol Ever

It seems that everyone has their own version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

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The classic from 1951
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A Christmas Carol starring Mickey (Bob Cratchit), Donald (Scrooge’s nephew Fred), and Goofy (Jacob Marley)
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That weird one where Jim Carrey was everybody
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Barbie’s was one of the worst

But the Muppets’ is the best A Christmas Carol.  When you pop a version of Dickens’s story into your DVD (or VHS if you’re cool) player, pick this one. Here’s why:

Gonzo quotes straight from Charles Dickens.
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Gonzo plays Charles Dickens (Rizzo plays himself), and not only does he tell the story, but he quotes so much from the book!  Other Muppets and Scrooge quote as well.  This movie isn’t just filmmakers telling a story from memory, but filmmakers striving to tell Dickens’s story.

The villagers
The Muppets do such a great job living with humans, and the humans do a great job living with Muppets.  It’s like that’s the way the world was made.  Below are three of my favorite villager moments.
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Exhibit A: The Baby Band during “It Feels Like Christmas”.  Check out the beginning of it here on Youtube.  Watch the two babies on the right in the front row, and you’ll see what I mean.

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Exhibit B: The classic singing vegetables. “If he could be a flavor you can bet it would be sour!”

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Exhibit C: The carolers. “He must be so lonely, he must be so sad, he’s really a victim of fear and of crime, look close and there must be a sweet man insiiiiiiiiide!  NAH!”

Heatwave
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“How would the bookkeepers like to suddenly be UNEMPLOYED?!”
“Heatwave!  This is my island in the sun!”
I’ve seen the movie a dozen times, but this part still makes me laugh.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
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He’s super scary, but he doesn’t infiltrate your nightmares (like Jim Carrey’s).  He’s the best Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in A Christmas Carol‘s movie history.  He’s creepy and dark, but not downright evil (like Pete in Mickey’s).

Why do you think (or not think) that the Muppets have the best A Christmas Carol?

the-muppet-christmas-carol-poster

Photo cred:
Classic – http://derekwinnert.com/scrooge-1951-classic-film-review-552/
Mickey’s – http://amdoar18ani.ro/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/mickeys-christmas-carol-10.jpg
Jim Carrey – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kihm2da45sE
Barbie – http://www.amazon.com/Barbie-Christmas-Carol-Kelly-Sheridan/dp/B001B7CNZQ
Gonzo – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/552042866797617145/
Baby Band – https://muppetmindset.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/weekly-muppet-wednesdays-bobby-benson/
Vegetables – http://blogs.disney.com/oh-my-disney/2014/12/23/the-muppet-christmas-carol-is-the-gift-that-keeps-on-giving/
Heatwave – http://muppets.disney.com/muppets-most-wanted

Prince of Egypt Movie Review

  • Star Rating: 5 of 5
  • Kids: Yes, but be prepared for the slavery and angel of death scenes
  • Do I recommend it? YES YES YES!

The Prince of Egypt is one of the best animated musicals ever made.

Ever.

I’m pretty skeptical of any non-Disney film, especially DreamWorks-produced films, especially ones made before I was old enough to be skeptical.  But Prince of Egypt blows me away, even more so the more I watch it.

The opening musical number with the people crying out “deliver us”?  Oh!  So good!  I mean, NOT good that a nation is crying out, but good in telling the story via song.

If you can’t tell already, I like stories.  I really like stories sung.  “Through Heaven’s Eyes” and “When You Believe” are my other favorites.

Seriously, y’all.  The last time I watched this, my sisters and I were snuggled up all comfy on our individual couch spaces.  But when Tzipporah and Miriam transition the sorrow to the joy of freedom in “When You Believe”, I just HAD to stand up.  Too many butterflies were flying inside me.  My sister Ana soon joined me.  It was so beautiful, intense… a story told well.  Here’s a good article on the writing of “When You Believe”: When You Believe. This article also explains what the kids sing during their chorus (so cool!)

Prince of Egypt is based off of the true Moses story, obviously.  I mean, it states so at the beginning of the movie… for the most part.

Yes, historical and artistic license has been taken, but I agree with that the film retains the essence of the story: God delivered His people from slavery.

The relationships developed in Moses’s 40 years as the Prince of Egypt aren’t told in Exodus.  It causes me to think when I watch the movie.  I’m reminded that Moses was a real person, he’s not just this bearded face on a Sunday School classroom wall.

Patterns of Evidence: Exodus, a documentary I found on Netflix, and Unwrapping the Pharaohs, a book by John Ashton and David Down, taught me a lot about Egyptian archaeology.  They both get a little too technical for me, but I still found the matching of Biblical and Egyptian timelines interesting.  Contrary to popular belief, more recent evidence has pointed to the fact that Ramses was probably NOT the pharaoh who Moses and Aaron dealt with.  I still enjoy watching Ramses’s character in Prince of Egypt.  This is just some random knowledge I’ve picked up. 🙂

I go back and forth on the burning bush scene.  Here I’ll write about the two things I don’t change my mind about.  One is about Moses taking off his sandal because he’s on holy ground. It’s so cool!  “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5)  The second is about when God proclaims who He is.  It’s what really happened!  SO cool!  God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you’.” (Exodus 3:14)

The angel of death scene is an interesting take.  But hey, it lines up with the (limited) information Scripture gives.  Exodus doesn’t say what the angel looked like, but it says what happened.  The Israelites did put blood on their doors and every Egyptian firstborn died.  The movie portrayed both.

The “Playing with the Big Boys” sequence was also rather scary.  The Egyptian priests dealt with some scary stuff.  But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. (Exodus 7:22)  And just as it was portrayed in the movie, our God is bigger.

There y’all have it, a bunch of random Prince of Egypt thoughts.  Overall, one of the best musicals in the history of musicals.   Remember, don’t just take this movie for granted.  Go read where the story came from.  Read about its context.

Prince of Egypt @ Unreached by the Frost

AWESOME movie poster!  SO. COOL.  “The Time Is Now.”  AAAAAAAH!  Too. Awesome. For. My. Limited. Vocabulary!!!!

Screenshots photo cred:
Disclaimer: https://thimblerigsark.wordpress.com/2014/02/
Deliver Us: http://www.cornel1801.com/animated/Prince-of-Egypt-1998/Deliver-Us/videosong.html
When You Believe: http://kingofthewilderwest.tumblr.com/post/105891372557/the-music-of-when-you-believe
Playing with the Big Boys: http://imageck.com/121834285-the-prince-of-egypt-playing-with-big-boys-now.html
Poster: http://www.impawards.com/1998/prince_of_egypt_ver2_xlg.html

Strong Female Character Costumes

Strong Female characters are quite the trend today.  The public wants less kind and sweet Snow White and Cinderella types, and more Black Widow and Katniss Everdeen kick-butt, cool-story types.

A while back, I read this good article about character development for strong female characters: Strong Female Characters.  You can read about the way newer strong female characters fit into the stories there, because that’s not what I’m here to write about today.

I recently watched Avengers: Age of Ultron with my sisters (skip the rest of this paragraph if you haven’t seen it yet).  I enjoyed the film overall.  I haven’t read any of the comic books, so I really like Hawkeye’s family life twist.  The scene where the characters take turns trying to lift Mjölnir is one of my favorite movie scenes ever.  The scariest part for me wasn’t during the action scenes, but was when the new Vision guy held Thor’s hammer.

(You can come back now, no more spoilers.)  Black Widow and Scarlet Witch both fit into this “strong female character” category without being just cookie cutter molds.  They both have their own terrible backstory and have individual struggles as a result.  They each have super cool robot/alien fighting skills.

So why do they dress like this?

These costumes don’t give the independent impression at all.  They don’t tell us that these women stand up for themselves and that they don’t rely on others’ affections.  These outfits cry, “Look at me!”

Not only do these outfits disagree with their characters, but they’re impractical.  If I were to go into a high-intensity, super-dangerous situation like the ones these girls face, I wouldn’t wear a tight suit.  It could rip when shattering glass flies, or when I kick too high.  I’d put on as many layers as comfortable in hopes of impact protection, especially in a rather cold country in Eastern Europe.

These aren’t the only strong female characters that dress like this.  I’m just using them as my example.

I like J.R.R. Tolkien’s strong female characters.  The Middle Earth ladies, particularly Galadriel and Éowyn, exhibit dignity and respect.  Galadriel is married and Éowyn marries, but they both stand on their own.  And their costumes tell that story in Peter Jackson’s movies.

Eowyn

Éowyn has a rather tragic back story.  Her father and mother are dead, and her uncle, the king of Rohan, is possessed.  She has always lived under the shadow of her brother Éomer.  When the time comes, Éowyn is the one who kills the Nazgûl.  Yet, she wears a modest (and gorgeous) dress.  When she goes to battle, Éowyn goes all Disney-Mulan and dons the armor she finds.

Galadriel

Galadriel is the fairest of the elves living in Middle Earth.  She has powers strong enough to keep Sauron and his armies away from Lórien, the land she rules with her husband.  She is the Lady of Light, which her costume radiates.  It is as pure as she is.  Her dress is gentle, but not plain.  Galadriel and her dress speak the same message.

I’m not much of a fashion designer, but I love stories.  Clothing is a part of the story telling.  Right now I’m wearing jeans and a T-shirt.  I have a watch on my left wrist, and I threw a clip in my hair to keep it out of my face (my mom called it the ‘messy clip look’). You can’t tell my entire life story from it, but you can tell a few things about me.  You can see I like being productive, and that I don’t think through too much about what I wear on a normal day.

What does your clothing say?  It doesn’t need tell everything about you, but it shouldn’t contradict your story either.  Proverbs 31:23 says that the godly woman is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.  Do your clothes shout for attention from guys or do your clothes whisper confidence?

Strong Female Characters @ Unreached by the Frost

Photo cred:
Scarlet Witch: https://blog.adafruit.com/2015/05/05/assembling-an-avengers-age-of-ultron-scarlet-witch-costume/
Galadriel: http://peter-jacksons-the-hobbit.wikia.com/wiki/File:Galadriel_poster.jpg
Éowyn: http://www.zazzle.com/eowyn_with_sword_poster-228050378804375500

Cinderella (2015) Movie Review

  • My star rating: 4 of 5
  • Kids? Yes, but be aware of the romance and the deaths.
  • Do I recommend it? Yeah, pretty much.

Part I: The short answer for those who have not seen it

Cinderella is yet another shot at this classic fairytale.  I liked it, not as a replacement of the classic Cinderella of 1950, just as a separate movie of its own.

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It was a very appropriate for kids kissing-wise.  I wish that Cinderella’s dress wasn’t so revealing with the collar.  The only other modesty issue was the stepsisters’ collars of their fancy chemises in one scene.  The chemises were relatively covering, hardly worth mentioning, honestly.  While talking about issues you might have with kids watching, let’s bring up deaths of the film.  There was hope and healing after each one, but the deaths can still be really sad.

It’s worth watching, especially with a little sister to snuggle up with.  The characters of the classic story were expanded which made it interesting for me.  To see what I did not like, come back after you’ve watched the movie and read Part II.

Part II: A peek into my analysis of the movie

First off, Cinderella’s gown was GORGEOUS (even though it wasn’t anything like Ella’s mom’s dress as she requested).  Fantastic job, costume department.  It owned every scene it was in marvelously.  The blue was nearly a character of its own.  It was so bold, yet seems ever-changing.

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See what I said about owning the scene?

I liked the wardrobe of the film overall.  My sister did not like it because it seemed to jump too many time periods.  I liked that aspect because the movie did not take place in a particular historical period.  It was timeless, like other original fairytales Disney has animated.

About the prince, called Kit: He’s not charming in my opinion, but he’s handsome and stupid-fairytale-prince-like.  Kit’s not much like the prince of Disney’s original, but Disney’s original wasn’t much of a character until the low-budget sequels anyway.

The “love” was perfect for a fairytale, but not anywhere close to a model we should follow.  Kit was ready to marry Ella before he knew who she really was.  When he did find out – OH! – that was such a sweet moment!  He accepted her without hesitation!  So enjoy watching the romantic “love”, but keep it there.  Don’t apply it to your daydreams of Mr. Right.

“What do they call you?”

Lady Tremaine was awesome.  I couldn’t picture Galadriel (also Cate Blanchett) as the shallow and evil stepmother.  You know why?  Because she isn’t!  Lady Tremaine was a character with depth and a story of her own I’d like to know more of.

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That face.
That face.

The deaths of all the kind parents were necessary to the story, but I wish there was another way around them.  There were too many sad deaths for a movie that has kids as a major part of the target audience.  The only advantage to that many deaths was the sweet connection at the end of the film with Kit and Ella.  That’s it.  There were too many tears for me to justify it.

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One last negative thing for this article: Fairy Godmother.  I was into her introduction as the hag, but after that grew only dislike.  I particularly hated her eye make-up with her fantastic white dress.  The pumpkin/greenhouse into the coach transformation was fun, but not enough to make up for her character.  Considering she’d been following Cinderella around for 16 or so years, she was a tad too arrogant for her ignorance of magic.

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This picture says it all.
This picture says it all.

Oh, and one more thing.  Shout out to this guy who doesn’t have a name.  You’re new, but you’re nice.  We like you.

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That’s all I’ll share for now.  What do you think of the new Cinderella?  Who are your favorite characters and why?

Cinderella Movie Review @ Unreached by the Frost