How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World

*Major Spoilers ahead*

Fellow Dragon Riders…that was utterly magnificent.

What a beautiful, beautiful story. The animation was breathtaking, the music reached my soul, and the characters. Our precious, beautiful, real characters.

I was shocked by how deep this beautiful story was.

The Hidden World somehow managed to teach us about the 2 sides of love. Letting go…and committing. 

Commitment…

Hiccup has chosen to commit to holding on to Toothless over and over again. He’s fought against his natural instincts, his culture, and even the death of his own father in order to stay true to his best friend. He changed his culture to make room for Toothless. And Toothless has returned the favor every time. He’s saved Hiccup from death and even reordered the entire dragon social structure (his culture) by challenging the alpha in order to protect his best friend.

hiccup and toothless challenge the alpha.gif

Letting Go…

When Toothless discovered the new love of his life, the Light Fury, Hiccup let him go for the evening to be with her, a first for them. The truth is, he did not know the full meaning of this choice. If he could see into the future he may not have been brave enough to let Toothless go. How true to life that is, sometimes we open the door for these massive and often upsetting life changes without even realizing what we are getting into. Hiccup was opening the door to let his best friend and ally go, but he did it because he loves him.

The Hidden World showed the need that arises sometimes to let those we love go in order to reach their full potential and thrive. But at the same time, with Hiccup and Astrid’s love story, it showed us the value and need to commit.

hiccstrid

Hiccup and Astrid have been an incredible pairing since their first flight together. Their strengths and weaknesses complement each other beautifully. It’s clear that they make a mighty leadership team.

Up to this point, they have remained merely a boyfriend and girlfriend. And that was enough for the context of that time. But today is a new day.

Hiccup has been a chief for a year, and it’s clear that he’s still very green in this position. He’s doing his absolute best, but he’s literally flying by the seat of his pantsYet another new threat emerges, and Hiccup reacts. He must protect his own people, but he is also torn because he feels the need to protect the dragons as well.

Astrid is still operating as an encouraging and playful girlfriend. She’ll tease him, give him a good kiss, and then fly off into the sunset again. She supports him in public sometimes, but she does so sitting down. I am speaking literally, watch the movie again.

We aren’t ready for marriage.

astrid and hiccup, the hidden world

I love the role of the mentors in this movie. Gober is not always to be taken seriously, but his comments to Hiccup and Astrid about the need for them to commit to each other so that they may lead their people with strength are words of wisdom.

hiccup and his mother

Valka’s words of wisdom blew me away.

He thinks he has to lead alone just because his father did.

Valka looks to Astrid, who is still hanging back while she watches Hiccup in emotional agony, struggling with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Go, he’ll listen to you.

In the darling flashbacks with tiny Hiccup and his father, we see that there was more to Hiccup and Stoick’s relationship than just the dysfunction we were introduced into in the first film. Stoick was a kind and tender father who was doing his utmost to lead his people and make the world safe for his beloved son.

stoick and little hiccup

And Stoick bore it alone. The scene of Hiccup walking down the stairs at night to find his mighty and strong father crying by the fire was so important.

Stoick did not have his queen. He did not have his better half, his light, his partner. He needed Valka. What might have happened if Valka had stayed? It’s possible she could have changed the culture before Hiccup ever had to. It’s possible Stoick and Hiccup may have never fallen out of understanding with each other. Stoick would likely even still be alive.

Valka knows all of this now. She now knows the weight and value of the position and place she gave up at Stoick’s side. She has the humility to accept her failure in that regard, but rather than sinking into the shame of that failure, she instead uses it to teach Astrid (the new generation) how to live better.

hiccstrid hidden world

Valka shows Astrid the value and honor of her position at Hiccup’s side. She makes Astrid aware that the need to commit fully to Hiccup isn’t just a future joy, it’s a necessity for Hiccup, for Astrid, and for the future of their people.

Hiccup cannot do this alone. And so Astrid takes up the challenge. She soothes his hurting heart, gives him encouragement, fights at his side, and puts everything that is overwhelming him into perspective. She shows him how to fly on his own two feet…thus replacing Toothless as the most important person in Hiccup’s world. 

toothless and light fury

There were so many mirrored moments from the first HTTYD movie in Hidden World. When Toothless has his first meeting of romance with the Light Fury, I was heavily reminded of the first scene where Toothless and Hiccup bonded.

Taming Toothless

This concept of discovering each other. Toothless regurgitates the fish that Hiccup brought him as a peace offering to share with his strange, two-legged friend. Toothless coaches Hiccup in what he wants him to do. Hiccup barely gets the fish down and then gives a large smile…that Toothless then attempts to copy.

smiling toothless

And my favorite, Hiccup draws his new friend. And Toothless copies.

In this scene, Hiccup teaches Toothless to be a personToothless is already deeply curious, intelligent, and noble. But the more time he spends as a part of Hiccup’s world the more person-like he is.

Enter, the Light Fury. She is beauty and grace itself, and she is all dragon.

Toothless has spent so much time with Hiccup that he is a bit lost on the traditional dance of the Furies and what he must do to impress his new lady love. He continues to look to his human friend for guidance, for just like Hiccup, Toothless has yet to learn to fly on his own.

Every scene with the Light Fury was so, instinctive. It was quiet, and yet it spoke volumes. This beautiful girl taught Toothless how to be a dragon again…and like Astrid for Hiccup, she replaces Hiccup as the most important person in Toothless’s life.

toothless and his queen

When Hiccup goes looking for his friend in the hidden world he finds Toothless seated as king of the dragons. He is comfortable, regal, at home. The look on Hiccup’s face is utter devastation. But it’s not just the crushing realization that he is going to have to lose his best friend, he is also overwhelmed with inadequacy.

He does not know how to be what his people need without Toothless. They have always relied on each other to fly. Toothless changed everything for him. Now he is beset on every front with enemies, questions, and problems, and his friend has found his place in the world apart from Hiccup.

Hiccup feels so small.

Whew. Did anyone else take that moment in the gut? This entire movie I was nodding my head. YES! Oh yes, I have felt this in my soul. I know what he feels.

The true conflict in this movie did not revolve around the villain, he merely put a face to a much bigger problem that brought the true struggle into the light. Hiccup and Toothless can no longer thrive together in the way they have up to this point. In order to truly grow, they must go their separate ways.

grimmel

Grimmel represented the problem that was going to continue to plague Hiccup and Toothless. Evil people coming after the dragons, and by extension, the Berkians. As chief of his people, Hiccup could not in good conscience keep endangering them. As alpha of the dragons, Toothless had to protect his people.

True leadership is not about control, it is more often about sacrifice and servanthood. Both Hiccup and Toothless had to give up being together as friends in order to do what was best for their own people, and for each other.

It hurt. It hurt a lot. The five-year-old child sitting 3 seats away from me in the theater was sobbing and I started tearing up on her behalf. I know, Baby. I KNOW! This hurts! This growing, changing, letting go, it hurts.

And yet…

Hiccup came into his own. His new partner, his lifelong partner, Astrid, stepped in beside him and gave him the courage to fly on his own. And he did. And he won.

hiccup flying on his own

Toothless and he fought together to save each other and their people. And then they said goodbye.

Another beautiful mirrored scene. When Hiccup awoke from the victory of his first battle where he and Toothless fought The Green Death, he was walking wounded. He was missing a leg. This represents his need for support. He almost falls to the ground when Toothless jumps in and holds him up. They have held each other up for years.

hiccup holding onto toothless

This time Hiccup is down a leg his new support steps in to hold him up, Astrid. She is his future.

astrid ive got you

Oh the symbolism. I love it!

hiccup saying goodbye

It hurts, but it is also so beautiful. It is so real. This is what love does. Love commits, love lets go. Love commits to doing what is best for the other one, and sometimes that means letting go.

Hiccup let go. His people were safe. He marries the love of his life and you know they will lead their people into a glorious future. He becomes a father, a tender, loving father by the looks of it. And he never stops being Toothless’ friend. I so deeply enjoyed the intimate scene at the end where Hiccup and Astrid take their children to go meet the dragons. We end on all of our favorite people (and dragons) flying together in the future they all fought to win.

I ended this movie with hope and joy. Yes, there is sadness, but there is also joy. So much joy. What a gift. What a gift.

I hope you enjoyed this movie as much as I did. Even if it hurt, I hope your heart was ministered to as well. There is so much truth and life to be gleaned here. I feel very blessed.

And yes…there are dragons.

How to Train Your Dragon: What Hiccup and Toothless Mean to Me

Netflix: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Frozen II

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How to Train Your Dragon: What Hiccup and Toothless Mean to Me

…I looked at him, and I saw myself.

I know this is what Hiccup felt when he saw Toothless, but it’s an apt description for how I felt as well. I looked at Hiccup, and I saw myself.

15-16 years old, same age as Hiccup, I was at the beginning of a pretty horrible 5-6 years. I was sitting on my bed checking out this movie, How To Train Your Dragon, that everyone seemed so excited about. If I liked it, I’d show my family.

And I saw him. I saw a boy, an adorable boy. A boy who felt out of place in his world that only valued things he was not able to achieve. He didn’t know who to be, how to be. He was lost.

baby hiccup

But I also saw what lay beneath the surface, hidden below the aching loneliness and insecurity. A deep gentleness, his art speaks of that. A thinker, a planner, an inventer. And a friend.

The key to why How to Train Your Dragon is so special is not because there are dragons. Not because of the animation (which is breathtaking). Not because of the voice cast. Not even because of the amazing music. Music that I have listened to over and over again, sometimes during the hardest or emptiest moments of my life because it gave me hope and courage.

No, the key to How To Train Your Dragon is relationship.

That is the sole foundation, the common thread, the stone upon which the story is built.

Fierce Toothless

How to Train Your Dragon is the story of a remarkable friendship that not only shapes two remarkable individuals but also changes the course of the world’s history.

I felt like I was drinking from the fountain of youth during the scene where Hiccup and Toothless first bond. The colors, the movement, the soul! The connection of two characters who find not only belonging with one another but healing as well. It was so beautiful it made my heart thirst.

I was in tears when Toothless and Hiccup flew for the first time. Yes, of course, the music is triumphant, but they are free. So free. Out there in that wild wind and ever-changing and alive sky. That moment captured things in my heart that had been burning for as long as I could remember.

At that time in my life, like Hiccup, I wanted to run away. I felt trapped by my circumstances, by the strife in my family, by my own body as crushing anxiety caused terrifying symptoms to exhibit themselves. School became this heavy burden that I felt inadequate to bear. I wanted to leave, to find purpose and adventure somewhere else!

That was 6 years ago. In the time in between, somewhat like Hiccup, I have lost a parent through a divorce and the climax of decades of pain. I’ve had my world turned on its ear countless times. I’ve had to grow from child to woman under some very difficult circumstances.

And yet…I’ve learned to soar.

Flying Toothless

I always wanted to be free. As a child and teenager, I used to have these dreams where I found a stretch of rolling green hills. I knew that those hills ran on and on and on, into the wide open space of the West, into mountains and big skies. In the dreams, I would take off running into that world, nothing but me and miles of freedom. I could leave my problems behind me.

Running away. It would have been easy for Hiccup to jump onto Toothless’ back and take off into the sunset, never to return. He could have become a dragon-person like his mother, living apart from the human world. It was too hard to bring change, too hard to go against the grain. Too hard.

Hiccup does consider running away, but he is halted by the future love of his life, Astrid (a love story that deserves more attention on another day). Astrid has a way of calling the man out of Hiccup when no one else can. Not just the Man, the Chief.

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For that is who Hiccup is meant to be, he is meant to be a chief. A king, a leader, a pillar of strength for his people. This is who he is destined to be. Who people need him to be. 

Valka (Hiccup’s mother) had a very similar heart to her son, but she lacked his courage and determination. She lacked his hope. Valka never chose to return to her family and village, thus robbing them of the life and change she could have brought.

I had/have people who needed me to. I too have a destiny. And that destiny does not come in the solitude of those rolling green hills of my dreams. Hiccup finds freedom right where he is at, and because he stays and steps into the responsibility of who he was made to be…

he changes the world forever.

hiccup haddock III

I did too. I stayed. It felt like death sometimes, but I stayed. No, I hadn’t actually been planning on hopping on a plane to run away, but I was toying with the idea of running away in my heart. Checking out. Leaving it all behind to set off on a “grand adventure”.

Oh, what I would have missed. I might have missed changing the world forever. 

I’m free now. I have found the freedom I was looking for in the Heart of My King, My Abba Father. This thirst for the wild, alive skies? The rolling green hills? The adventures? He put those things inside of me, and now I know I do not have to run away to find them, I just have to run to Him.

I also found myself, in Him, in His freedom, in my relationship with Jesus and the relationships I built, I found me.

I’m a lot like Hiccup. I’m a peacemaker, a strategist, a warrior, an artist, a thinker, a friend…and a leader who thrives on connection.

Hiccup is the kind of leader that I aspire to be. He does not lead out of a desire for control, he leads to make a difference. People are drawn to Hiccup because he lifts them up, he brings fresh ideas and purpose to the table, and he draws the best out of everyone around him. Hiccup is a redeemer, he gives second chances and forgiveness willingly.

hiccup a warrior

We get to observe this type of leadership more so in Dragons: Race to the Edge the series on Netflix that takes place between HTTYD 1 and HTTYD 2. If you have not watched this series, I highly recommend it. It’s in this series that we watch Hiccup go from being a boy to becoming a man. A king!

You have the heart of a chief, and the soul of a dragon.

His mother is right. Hiccup is a noble leader with a fierce and gentle heart. It’s a long and often painful road that leads him to become who he was meant to be. I can relate to that. If I had known what my life held for me I don’t know if I would have gotten in line. 😉

But I’m here now. I’m me. And I wouldn’t have gotten this far if it hadn’t been for the relationships and connections that upheld me to this point…just like Hiccup and Toothless.

Hiccup and Toothless were two broken people who needed each other to fly. The strength of their friendship as they walked through those hard years together is what enables both of them to walk their own respective paths when the time comes.

God is everything to me. He’s the air I breathe, the dreams I have, the plans I make, the colors I love, the gifts I carry, the bright future I walk into. My mom and siblings have stuck by me through thick and thin, and we have held each other up in the dark of night and the light of day. I have a wonderful group of friends who I have laughed and cried with over the years. My circle is ever expanding, my ability to influence for truth and love is ever-growing.

I love my life. I love my story, even the ugly parts. Because the person I was destined to be is beautiful and I am going to change this world.

Taming Toothless

Hiccup and Toothless began their story together as youths, but they part ways as kings.

I feel as if I have grown up with Hiccup. I have been inspired and encouraged by this oh-so-human character and his oh-so-human best friend and the story of them facing life together. Like Hiccup and Toothless, I began this story as a youth, I am parting from this story as a queen.

However, unlike Hiccup and Toothless, my story is just beginning.

My relationship and connection with this story, with these characters has changed me. I am so sad to be saying goodbye, but I am so grateful for the journey. How To Train Your Dragon was and still is a powerful influence for good in my life.

One last battle. One last journey. A friendship to last a lifetime. See you at the movies.

hiccup and toothless, kings

Frozen II

“LOOK!” My friend sent me a video link.

Frozen II? I didn’t know this was even ready yet, for some reason my brain thought it was next year.”

I watched the video after work.

Whoa.

Have you ever seen an animated trailer like this one? I haven’t. This is the most intense animated trailer I have ever seen.

There is zero dialogue. Just a faint okay under Elsa’s breath.

It’s all movement, facial expressions, music, and power. The power of the waves

elsa and the ocean 2

…the determination in Elsa’s face…

elsa and the ocean

…the ferocity and strength of Anna’s movements and facial expressions…

anna in midair

…the doggedness in Kristoff.

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The wind ruffling through our beloved sisters’ hair, a wind that speaks of change, adventure, and new horizons.

our big three and sven frozen

And then the forest, the mountains, the fire, the leaves.

wind frozen

fire and ice frozen

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Frozen was portrayed to be a cute, playful princess movie. Awesome! We love those! We all went to the theater expecting another delightful Disney experience.

And then BOOM!

do you wanna build a snowman

Could somebody pick my heart up off of the floor, please?

The level of deep, raw, aching grief in Frozen was unlike anything I’d ever seen in an animated film. The level of loss! The missed love and life that both of our girls were robbed of in their childhoods because of lies and misconceptions.

Elsa’s oh-so-human outburst and relief on that mountain.

I know I left a life behind, but I’m too relieved to grieve…

let it go

Sweet Anna’s desperate need to be loved.

for the first time in forever

…I won’t be alone…

And then that beautiful sacrifice Anna makes to save her sister? An act of true love?

Whew! Way to go for the gut, Disney! Thank heavens we had characters like Olaf, Sven, and Kristoff. Thank heavens Anna has adorable mannerisms! Thank heavens there were some cute inside Disney jokes.

We might have died of grief if the sorrow had not been tastefully interspersed with lighthearted moments.

But we survived Frozen. These characters are a part of us now. We’ve accepted the grief and the loss because we’ve seen the brightness and hope of the future. Two follow-up shorts have shown us the beautiful love and connection our characters now exist in.

Frozen christmas

And when we’re to-gether…it’s my favorite place to be…

Frozen was such a deep, deep movie. An epic movie. A beautiful movie. An irreplaceable movie.

How do you top that?

This trailer answers that question- you go deeper.

I have a feeling we are in for one of the most epic, intense, and emotional animated adventures to date. Buckle up, Buttercup, they are holding nothing back.

You might say they are about to let it go.

frozen ii

See you in November.

Disney: Why Disney+ is a Good Thing

There have been mixed reactions since Disney announced their intention to create an exclusively Disney streaming service that will be available in 2019.

As more and more news has come out regarding the service, the conversation has heated up.

I’ve spent months thinking about the pros and cons of this service, how it is going to affect media in general. I have come to one conclusion…

…this Disney streaming service is a good good thing.

Here’s why.

Why Disney’s Streaming Service is Good for the Consumer

During a discussion on this very topic, someone brought up a very real point regarding the multitude of streaming options available. Yeah, I know I’ve felt like I am straddling so many different services it’s becoming obnoxious. The desire to find everything in one location (like shopping at Wal-Mart once rather than 5 different specialty grocery stores) is deeply appealing.

However…streaming services are not like grocery stores, they are more like the fast food of the visual storytelling world. They are fast and immediate.

I could spend fifteen minutes just listing the number of fast food options we have available in this country. Some are nationwide, like McDonalds, and some are more localized. Dear Folks, do give Braums a try if you are ever in the Lower Midwest.

That many options can be overwhelming, wouldn’t it be simpler to just have one?

Maybe. Would it be better? NOPE!

Ask any person in a one-stoplight town that has ONE McDonalds. They will give you a resounding NO.

nope kermit

 

One restaurant means the same food all the time. Occasionally there may be a new menu item added, but that’s rare. No guarantees on the quality of food or service, after all, there is no competition for our One Restaurant to force it to be its best in order to stay in business. Food, service, prices, bathroom cleanliness, our One Restaurant dictates these things because due to the law of scarcity, they can! They know we have nowhere else to go, they are our One Option if we want to eat out.

However, suppose we added five other restaurants to the mix? What happens?

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Now our One Restaurant is one of Many restaurants, we have other options, now they have to step up their game and compete, or go out of business.

Think about the deals we have available right now in fast food. Wendy’s 4 for 4. A McDonald’s $1, $2, and $3 menu. Taco Bell has a pretty dang tasty $1 menu. And on, and on, and on.

So much variety and constant change that is to our (the consumer)’s benefit.

Competition.

You may not have realized it, but I just described capitalism to you. Capitalism gets spread around the media like it’s a dirty word, and socialism is the “cool” thing that makes life better for everyone!

Wrong. Most people don’t actually understand capitalism or socialism. You love getting a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, fresh flowers from the farmer’s market, a toothbrush from Wal-Mart,  and a hand-knit wool hat from Etsy? Cool! Thank Capitalism!

Capitalism is not all about trampling everyone underfoot in a mad scramble for the top spot. Capitalism that is done right can create freedom, opportunity, options, and competing in a way that holds each business accountable. The ultimate judge and jury for said businesses? Us, the consumers.

I don’t know about you, but I really like options. Sure, if I decide to eat at Fazolis, I can’t eat at Taco Bell. We do eventually have to choose one thing or another. But that’s okay, I make the choices I want for my life. And I appreciate the ability to choose.

What does this have to do with Disney’s streaming service? Lemme tell ya…

…Disney just majorly upped the ante…and we as consumers are going to benefit.

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Netflix is gonna have to up their game. I know they are trying. Lost in Spacis a work of beautiful storytelling and art that I applaud from the highest mountain. They just signed a deal to create a Narnia series, another decision that I am incredibly excited about. Netflix has its claims to fame with Stranger Things, but that’s not gonna be enough anymore, and I am interested to see how Netflix decides to combat this new challenge.

Amazon is a fierce competitor. This online giant has more than just a streaming service in its empire, Amazon has a little bit of everything, and they are getting bigger by the day.

*Sidenote, just so that you can become aware, I am starting to suspect that Disney and Amazon are secretly working towards world domination, and one day this battle will come to a head. Choose wisely, Citizens, will you be a Prime Member or belong to the Micky Mouse Clubhouse? Sides must be chosen. Choose wisely.

We all know Disney is giving their streaming service the red-carpet treatment. They are intent upon taking every wish we have made upon a star and making it come true. And while I have a love/hate relationship with Disney, I have to honestly say, they usually deliver.

Yes, some of these streaming services/shows that exist are going to die. We are going to take some hits. Daredevil and it’s fellow Marvel shows are early casualties. I can understand why those shows will no longer be continuing from a business perspective, but I can also understand the grief from fans. I’m sorry you feel disappointed, folks. I know how that feels. *coughs, AGENT CARTER! 

In the end, however, we as consumers will reap the benefits. Every streaming service with its own content is going to have to do their absolute best to compete with Disney, which means better content with higher quality.

Now, onto the really fun part.

a whole new world gif

Why Disney’s Streaming Service Is Good for the Fan

Loki.

Scarlet Witch and The Vision.

The Mandalorian.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

Live Action Lady and the Tramp.

CASSIAN ANDOR!

 

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I am looking at a whole new world right now, ladies and gentlemen. A world made possible by streaming services.

I am never going to stop going to the movie theater to enjoy movies on the big screen. I do not go to the theater because it is convenient, no, I go because I value the experience so highly. Millions of other movie fans do as well, therefore I have no fear that we will lose our movie theaters into the black hole of streaming services.

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Putting a movie into the theaters is more complicated than you may realize, however. It costs tons of money, and you have to not just make that money back, you have to make a large profit for that movie to be considered a success. Next, you have Blu-ray and digital sales, and then your film ends up on streaming services.

It’s a tough world, which means that film studios really have to be choosy about what they put their time and money into for the theaters and television. Despite the number of amazing characters and stories that we as fans love and want to see told, we are only given a few at a time because they HAVE to be picky. Which means that large groups of minority fans are left disappointed.

Enter, the Disney Streaming Service.

loki looking bad

Loki Odinson has delighted viewers since 2011. He’s a complex character, one moment the villain, the next, an antihero? He’s fast, his motives blurry, his emotions unpredictable. But what is predictable is the love of his fans for this character. A large minority of Marvel fans have been begging for a Loki film for years, but in the grand scheme of the Marvel storyline and budget, it just hasn’t made sense. Until now…

Loki is getting his own miniseries. Given how complex his character is, a miniseries is a far better format for his story than a film would be. Miniseries have the option of telling a story more slowly and going into greater personal depth than movies do. It’s just the type of storytelling the god of mischief deserves.

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Scarlet Witch and The Vision are all about exploring what it means to be human. They are complex enough characters on their own, and together? Even more so. They have not been given the amount of time required to really dig deeply into the wealth their characters’ have to offer. Not to mention these characters are not big enough mainstream favorites for a full theater release to be profitable. But a miniseries? Perfect!

captain cassian andor

The moment I saw Captian Cassian Andor my brain was on fire (yes, the man is gorgeous). But what truly got me electrified was the story he represents. It’s the untold story of the darker side of the Rebellion. A dark, painful, morally complicated side. A whole realm of questions and potential we have never seen before. We had no time for side trips in Rogue One, it was such a beautiful and focused movie that was precisely what it should have been. But at the end, my heart didn’t just ache for what we had lost, my heart ached over the stories that had been briefly introduced that I felt we had lost. Stories that I was desperate to discover. And now, I can.

the mandalorian

The Mandalorian. I’ve watched 6 Seasons of Clone Wars and 4 Seasons of Star Wars Rebels. Mandalorians are the kinds of characters that take up all the oxygen in a room. They need to be explored. I love how Star Wars films/series have recently started exploring more characters beyond just the high profile heroes and villains. It’s a fascinating world, let us explore it more!

Falcon

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I am constantly saying that Sam Wilson never gets the credit or time he deserves. He’s just the greatest guy ever and I am so thrilled to finally get to see more of him. And we can all agree that there is a big question mark hanging over Bucky Barnes’ life. It’s about time.

white wolf

My other big hope for this streaming service is that we will have resurrected series/films. Star Wars fans fell off of their tauntauns when we discovered that our beloved Clone Wars series (which ended horribly) was being renewed for a proper send off. Dreams really do come true!

swtcw

My personal request is that shows like Agent Carter and Girl Meets World who ended FAR TOO SOON would be next up on the renewal docket. These shows had strong enough fanbases and quality storytelling to make said endeavors worthwhile. But we shall see.

Don’t you all understand? The possibilities available to us? The potential? We may actually get a National Treasure 3 out of this service! It would flop in theaters but on the service?

And the best part yet, the monthly cost for this magical service is supposed to be less than Netflix.

take my money

In conclusion, Disney is moving into the 21st Century with style. And we, the consumers and fans are going to reap the benefits.

disney movies

I can’t wait. How about you?

 

Disney Live-Action Remakes: Not Losing What We Have, But Becoming More of Who We Are

Since Disney began making their live-action remakes, there have been some rather disgruntled folks among us. Funny how something that to me says, “best day ever” is such a thing of negativity to others.

…but everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. This is a free country after all, and that needs to be the top thing we remember when in the discussion.

Still, it is my opinion, that the people who claim that Disney is ruining their childhood need to lighten up. 

And here’s why.

disney movies

A friend of mine expressed her opinion on the same subject. It’s an awesome blog post, please check it out if you are also a fan of these live-action remakes. And if you are not, maybe it will show you the perspective of someone on the other side.

Like my friend says in her blog post, I also did not grow up with this magical Disney childhood that so many other 90s kids did. I was not raised on princesses, Robin Hood, or Mickey Mouse.

I actually grew up on PBS, cowboy movies, animal/nature documentaries, and Veggie Tales.

But, I did watch The Jungle Book. That was MY Disney movie. Maybe that’s why I love jungles so much. And animals. I’m actually far fonder of the wild Disney movies like The Jungle Book, The Lion King, and Tarzan. Don’t ask how many times I have seen Tarzan because I have lost count by now. I never tire of that movie and I would absolutely adore it if Disney would do a live-action, musical version of that film. It’s gorgeous.

As I said above, The Jungle Book was my Disney movie. My older brother and I used to dance around the house singing “The Bare Necessities”. Bagheera was my favorite. He is the unsung hero of that story, the panther who doesn’t get to be the “cool parent” but has kept Mowgli alive and loves him like his own child. It always seemed unfair to me as a kid that Bagheera was made to look like such a drag while Baloo got to play and get all the accolades. I’m pretty sure that’s where I fell in love with panthers and jaguars as well.

When I heard they were making a live-action The Jungle Book this was my reaction.

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Are you serious??? I GET TO RELIVE SUCH A PRECIOUS PART OF MY CHILDHOOD IN A WHOLE NEW WAY!!!

The Jungle Book

I took my baby sister to the movie for her 10th birthday.

We were utterly enthralled.

I expected it to be good, but I never expected to love it even more than the animated one! It was so rich, deep, and meaningful!

It took the story I had loved as a kid and made it human. 3-D. What was once a cardboard cutout was now a walking, breathing story!

I had never considered how tough it must have been for Mowgli to reconcile who and what he was when growing up with a family that was so different. I wonder if there are adopted children out there who were actually ministered to by watching this movie.

“Yes! Someone got it right! That’s how I have felt my whole life!”

Bagheera was so beautiful, his deep care and love for Mowgli were given a place of honor and respect. Baloo was perfectly obnoxious, just as he should be. Shere Khan was freakin’ terrifying! I did not see Akeeva’s death coming, but it scared me! I felt like we had crossed a line or something and I didn’t know who was going to buy it next!

The world was so rich. It was beautiful, layered, complex and yet straightforward. They created actual cultures for these animals that mingled with nature. King Louis was also terrifying. My mom instincts were kind of firing this entire movie as I watched this beautiful, brown-eyed boy (I’m a total succor for little boys with big brown eyes) battle for his life.

The music I had so loved in my childhood movie was woven in delicately to a story that had taken on so much more life. Mowgli as a character showed true growth, maturity, and bravery, and his growth changed the entire world around him.

It. Was. Glorious.

jungle book

It was my movie, but this was my movie 2.0.

*I actually love this one MORE than I love my animated one. I can be talked into watching this movie at the drop of a hat. You name it, and I’m there!

Which brings me to my point…

These live action remakes are not about stealing the joy and identity we had in our childhood, they are about taking it to the next level. We are NOT losing what we had, but rather becoming more of who we are!

When I was 5, I was me. I liked variety, art, playing pretend, and movies.

Guess what, at 22, I’m still me, I’m just a deeper me. I’ve got more layers, a larger story, more colors fill my past, more emotions, more experience. I love variety, art, playing pretend (in my imagination) and movies. I also love relationships, people, running my own business, the world, and history. I’m me, but me 2.0.

Don’t you see? These live-action films are not stealing something away, they are giving us a greater gift! We loved these movies in our childhoods because they ignited our imaginations, they gave us courage, life lessons, dreams, they taught us to wonder!

Oh, how the world needs more of those things! We need some of that magic, we need some of that courage, we need to remember how to wonder!

Maleficent showed us there are two sides to every story. It taught us about love in a new way.

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Cinderella showed me why Ella had such courage, and it showed me WHY Prince Charming was worthy of that title. I’m glad to know because I’m looking for my own Prince Charming, so that’s useful information. It also taught me about forgiveness. Whew, that’s deep!

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The Jungle Book is the struggle of a boy reconciling with an animals’ world. Where does he fit into it? How does he become a man without destroying what he loves? And so he actually becomes a man! 

Beauty and The Beast. Why is Belle so different? Does she ever feel different? What is the town’s problem with her? Why did some enchantress sic a curse on a kid? How are the servants so dadgum cheerful all the time when their impending doom is upon them? The truth is, yeah, Belle IS different and she really feels it. She’s lonely. She’s aching over a mother she never knew. The Beast was a grown man who was capable of making better decisions, so, that’s a relief. The truth is the servants have beautifully hopeful hearts, but there is grief, oh! Such deep, deep grief over what they have lost and what they stand to lose.

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Beauty and The Beast gave me the gift of grief, which made the discovery of joy that much more beautiful.

What a gift. What a gift. To be reminded of who we are, but also to be given more. We are older now, hopefully, wiser, and we have room for even bigger lessons to fit into our hearts.

I have yet to see Christopher Robin, but as a child who grew up on Winnie the Pooh I know I’m going to love it. The gift Pooh and his friends gave us was the gift of valuing the things and people that really matter. The little things, the simple, extraordinary, earth-moving things. And Pooh gave us the gift of wonder.

winnie the pooh

Dumbo is going to be beautiful. It’s going to teach us to fight for what we love. To see value in people that others have cast aside.

Aladdin is going to thrill my soul. It’s going to show the struggle of a boy who has been nothing his whole life rising to the occasion to build a life for himself and for a woman he loves and cherishes. It’s going to show a young woman who is in a strategic place of influence but is also trapped by tradition and expectations, and she has to navigate the situation in a way that takes care of everyone she is responsible for.

I teared up when I saw The Lion King trailer. That story is timeless and applicable to everyone. Our place and purpose in this world matters. We cannot let evil drive us away from that.

Mulan is going to be a dramatic story about a woman fighting a life and death struggle for her nation, and doing it with a threat of death hanging over her own head. Talk about inspiring!

My friends, my dear friends. Unclench your hands, and open your hearts!

It’s fine if you want to love the animated ones more. This is a free country, you can like and dislike what you want. I may see one of these live-action films someday and think, “Nope, that wasn’t my cup of tea.” I am not making a law for myself that I MUST love each one of these stories more than the original.

But consider what is being presented to us. Consider the fact that Disney GAVE us these stories in the first place, they know how precious they are to their fans.

So enjoy your animated movies, enjoy the heck out of them! Share them with your kids, build precious memories! But don’t walk around feeling robbed and angry, embrace the time we are in now!

That is my opinion. Disney is giving us more than just the bare necessities, they are giving us a whole new world.

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Disney Live Action: Treasure Planet

Spider-Man Far From Home: Peter Parker, Next Level

What a delightful surprise to have this Spider-Man trailer dropped in our lap this morning. If you haven’t seen it yet, take 3 minutes and enjoy yourself!

Currently, this is the Marvel movie I am most looking forward to. I know that sounds like crazy talk with Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame on the docket for this year, but I’m telling you, I love the fresh perspective that this sweet boy brings.

Spider-Man: Homecoming was a beautiful movie. There are many movies out there termed “coming of age”. What that really means is, “let’s show teenagers drinking, having sex, and making stupid decisions that could have long-lasting consequences but oh well that’s life so let’s enjoy it”.

Yep, that’s totally the kind of movie I want to take my 13-or-more-year-old child (because yes, teenagers are still learning how to transfer from childhood thinking to adult thinking) to. That’s totally the kind of behavior I want them to emulate.

a clue, no

I for one am sick of it. The kind of trash we are giving to teens is ridiculous, non-beneficial, and teaches them nothing but how to make huge mistakes in a time when they are already struggling to find their way.

Enter, Peter Parker. Ah! Yes! This is what a coming-of-age movie SHOULD BE! Here we have a teenager who is a good kid. He works hard, he’s kind to people, he loves his aunt. And, oh yeah, he’s a superhero!

So, starting off, Peter Parker is already a shining example of someone I want young people to appreciate. He gives value to the right things, treats people with respect, and has a true heart to serve.

That would have been cool enough, but Marvel took it a level further. They showed us how even good intentions can be hazardous if used at the wrong time, and in the wrong context.

We felt Peter Parker’s growing pains. He wants to be a big hero. He has the heart, but he lacks the maturity and decision-making skills wrought by experience to be ready for the job he thinks he wants.

The disgusting movies I mentioned above are often justified by, “Oh, that’s life, everyone sows some wild oats and makes mistakes!” True, mistakes are often made. But they do not have to be the kind of mistakes that are glorified as “life experience” in those films. You know, the kind that can lead to ODs, STDS, car accidents, etc.

What I loved in Homecoming is that we get to see Peter making mistakes. True mistakes that so many of us with good intentions have made. It shows that just being a “good kid” and having “good intentions” are not enough. There is a level of wisdom and maturity required.

Peter employs his new wisdom at the end of the movie when he recognizes that he has a lot to learn, and he chooses to take the slower path to become a rising star because he’s learned the value of “faithful in little, faithful in much”. He knows just how much he doesn’t know, and he respects the process.

spiderman

As we all have seen, Peter is called to a big battle far sooner than he ever anticipated when he joins in against The Mad Titan himself in Infinity War. And our baby Avenger ROCKS IT! This kid is totally going places!

So, with all of that knowledge, I found myself just a bit confused by these slightly confrontational and challenging words uttered by Nick Fury to our friendly-neighborhood Spider-Man.

You’ve got gifts, Parker. But we have a job to do…are you going to step up and do it or not?

Uhhh, didn’t he just majorly step it up? What are we fussing about? Obviously, we have no idea what just happened in Endgame. Clearly Peter’s fate was reversed or erased somehow, but what happened in between?

And then I caught on, oh, these fightin’ words from Nick Fury are about 2 important pieces in Peter Parker’s arc.

1. PTSD

Like I said, we have no idea what just went down. Did Peter’s mentor/father figure Tony make it out of the battle? What did Peter have to do in order to come back to his life as we see it in this trailer? Who did he lose?

Peter looks at his suit hanging in his closet and you can see the reluctance in his eyes. Grief? Fear? A desire to forget?

peter and ptsd

He may be Spider-Man, but whatever he just went through is making him just want to be Peter Parker for a while.

This is so natural. Often our gifts require us to do really hard, sometimes traumatic things. We were needed, vital to that moment and that situation to set things right, but it cost us. And we are carrying the scars to prove it. This face is holding some scars. And when this happens, often we want to pull back from that aspect of who we are because it hurts too badly.

I don’t blame him, even though I know he can’t stay this way. If you watch the International Trailer, you will see that May sent his suit along anyway. This is very telling about their relationship. People who love you remember who you are even if you have forgotten, they believe even when you can’t.

may sent the suit

2. Faithful in Little Leads to More, More Is Scary, But More Is Necessary For Growth

Despite the fact that Peter has gone toe to toe with Thanos, he did it with his mentor and the best warriors in the universe. He wasn’t alone. Even now he’s not truly alone, clearly we’ve got Fury lurking in the shadows, plus this mysterious and cool Black Spider-Man who appears briefly in the trailer. I get the feeling that Ned and MJ are going to be a very important part of supporting Peter as he takes this next step.

Peter has been faithful in little. He may think that he needs to keep being little for a while longer, but life is telling him something else. It’s time to level up, kid. Whether you feel ready or not.

What is right for us in one season is not always right for another. This is a new day, a new era, a new world. It’s time to extend the comfort zone, Parker. I know you’re scared, but you’re not alone, and you can do this.

We believe in you.

I cannot wait for this movie. Peter Parker is a great role model for children, teenagers, and adults alike. I am so excited that we get to “grow up” with this character!

Until next time, Marvel fans!

Here is the international trailer with a few more scenes and wider shots.

Avengers Endgame: Steve’s Past, Or His Future

If you haven’t seen the Avengers: Endgame trailer by now, then drop everything and take a moment to inhale this heroic humanity…

Aside from Scott Lang being the delightful goober that he is (I would have died of misery if I hadn’t had his comic relief during Ant-Man and the Wasp to ease the tension of this year’s movies)…

…the best part of this trailer to me is Steve and Nat.

I was originally very disappointed with Infinity War as I felt that everything was off.

For the large variety of unique and beloved characters the Russo Brothers had at their disposal, I felt like some characters were given all the spotlight while others (like Steve and Nat) were left backstage. Add to that the ridiculous melee that took place in Wakanda that was in complete opposition to that country’s entire infrastructure, I was unimpressed.

Some time has caused me to view a few aspects of the movie more gently.

No, there is no excuse for that ridiculous melee. Sorry, Mr. Russos’, there is no excuse. The most basic military strategy available is to NOT pile all of your warriors and resources in one big mass and yell “charge” at the enemy!

infinity war melee

I don’t care if you have a Force Field or people with powers. It was a gross misuse of your resources and insulted my intelligence. You made it even worse by placing the world’s greatest soldier, Captain America, and the King of the World’s most advanced technological and military nation, T’Challa, at the head as leaders.

king and captain

That was an insult. I don’t care if you thought it looked glorious, especially Thor’s stunning entrance, it was insanity and we all knew it. Here’s another article that shares some (not all) of my sentiments regarding this film.

But, there is nothing I can do about that now. The mess has been made. People are gone (PETER PARKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). I have read a few articles since then that have given me a bit more perspective.

I now know that showcasing characters like the Guardians, Tony Stark, Dr. Strange, and Bruce Banner was a conscious choice.

They are reactive characters and when something happens, they react immediately. Characters like Steve, Nat, Falcon, etc tend to dig in and deal with the problem at hand, saving their reactions and or breakdowns for after the fact.

Therefore, as was shown by the trailer above, and confirmed by an article I read, we will actually be getting more of The First Avenger and The World’s Greatest Spy, Steve and Nat, in Avengers: Endgame.

It’s been theorized and practically confirmed that time travel will be the solution to defeating the Mad Titan and getting half of the universe back. Actors have been spotted in their Battle of New York costumes from the original Avengers movie, which leads us to the conclusion that we are going to be blasting to the past to save the future.

Natasha: This is gonna work, Steve.

Steve: I know it is, cause I don’t know what I’m gonna do if it doesn’t.

These dramatic and beautiful lines come right on the heels of a quick scene where we are shown Steve looking at his old compass from the 1940s, the one containing a cutout picture of Peggy Carter, his first love.

Mixing this highly emotional moment with the idea of time travel obviously leads many fans to this question: after he saves the world (again) will Steve choose to return back to his original time and be with his first love for a lifetime? Will we actually get to have that dance?

My answer?

No.

And…yes.

the nomad

First, on a practical note, both Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter have been major power players, forces of good in world history. To misplace them, to change their destinies would be to rearrange the Marvel Universe as we know it.

Peggy Carter’s story was continued in the brilliant series Agent Carter that was ended far too soon. Oh, yeah, Dear Disney, if you are looking for another pet show that needs a renewal on your streaming service, LOOK NO FURTHER THAN THE QUEEN OF MARVEL HERSELF! It’s ridiculous that this show hasn’t been renewed already.

Peggy Carter

In the short 2 seasons that the show was allowed, we saw just what a huge impact Agent Margaret (Peggy) Carter was going to have on the world. She runs circles around literally everyone else. She’s faster, stronger, smarter, and has the best lipstick in the business.

Peggy would go on to fight Hydra as well as forces from other worlds her entire life. She created SHIELD. She was vital to keeping the world as stable and safe as it was by the time Steve awoke from his chilly beauty sleep. In Agents of Shield, Season 2 during Hydra’s big “coming out party” (contemporary to The Winter Soldier) it was revealed by high-level Hydra baddies that the one reason they hadn’t revealed themselves sooner is that they had to wait for Peggy Carter to retire.

They knew she’d kick their face in. So let that sink in, folks. Peggy Carter singlehandedly kept Hydra at bay for 70 bloomin’ years.

It is obvious that Steve Rogers will forever be a part of Peggy’s heart. Even as we watch her learn to let him go and move on with someone equally special and wonderful, we know that Steve lives on in her legacy.

The bond between Steve and Peggy is still deeply obvious in that beautiful and gut-wrenching scene in The Winter Soldier. Steve’s grief at Peggy’s funeral speaks of the still deep connection that is never going to end. We know how special these two were to each other, and how special they remain to us.

Sad Steve

I don’t need to tell you all how different the world would be if Steve stayed in the past. We’ve seen that play out before our eyes.

My point is this…it just doesn’t work to change the timeline. I am an avid Flash fan, believe me, peeps, I know what I am talking about.

steves smile

Point 2, Steve Rogers is not the same man he was in the 1940s.

The story of Steve Rogers is one of triumph and tragedy. The thought of being ripped away from your entire world and everyone you hold dear is horrifying, to some, a fate worse than death.

But of all things, we know that Steve Rogers is not a quitter.

i can do this all day

So he didn’t quit. He jumped back into the fight and kept going.

Steve has had a busy arc. He started out as the knight-with-shining-shield of his day, Captain America: The First Avenger. Next, he was a man out of time who tried really hard, Avengers. Steve integrated himself with the world following that event, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He made some friends and kept fighting the good fight. But something wasn’t sitting right. He was told it was his problem, he needed to get with the program. Good thing Captain America is actually terrible at following bad orders because he ended up being right.

After that Steve wasn’t going to apologize for what he believed to be right. He also showcases a rather frightening belief that fighting is kind of his destiny. Avengers: Age of Ultron. There is no world for him outside of this never-ending battle. No picket fence, no wife, no mini Steves running around. It’s a natural place for his character to go. He’s tired.

Next up, Captain America: Civil War. Steve chooses what he feels in his gut to be right, and he chooses the person who needs him most over being the status quo Captain America. He drops the shield and goes to discover who he is outside of Captain America.

Tony Stark to Peter Parker : If you’re nothing without the suit then you shouldn’t have it.

The above statement is a good one for any hero. Having seen Steve from his slim beginnings, clearly, we all knew that Steve Rogers is more than just a suit. But I think Steve needed to remind himself of that.

Avengers: Infinity War. We didn’t get much of Steve, but we saw was quite clear. He is not apologizing anymore. He’s going to take care of this world whether we like it or not. #hot And he’s still a really, really nice guy. He looks a bit tired, and yet, there is burning energy that wasn’t there before. Perhaps he hasn’t accepted the fact that his future is decided yet? It’s like he’s freshly alive, freshly awake…

Future.

Steve is not the same man he was in the 1940s. I believe he loved Peggy Carter with all of his being, but that is a past dream. It just a beautiful memory now. He still has the same noble heart, but he’s tread different soil. He’s got family here. He’s made a mark on the world, and he may actually want to stick around to appreciate it.

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I do think we may finally get our dance scene. It has been teased before and we have walked away disappointed. Despite the fact that Steve needs to move on, it would be appropriate to have one dance with his best girl. I believe Nat (whether she is just a friend, or more) would fully approve. Heck, she’d help him fix his tie and take photos for him on the dance floor!

nat and steve endgame

Life is not about trying to recreate every perfect and beautiful moment from the past. Our good memories are to be treasured, but life is about living in the here and now. It’s making the most of this moment that you are currently living.

If whatever “this” is actually works, and Steve makes it out (there are substantial rumors that he may not actually be leaving for good), Steve Rogers has a future here. 

Characters have to keep moving forward or they become stale. Steve is moving forward, and if he has a future in this world, it’s going to be here and now with either Sharon or Nat (please be Nat, PLEASE BE NAT).

Welcome home, Captain Rogers.

steven and nat endgame