The Rise of Skywalker Trailer – 9 Things

Did you all catch The Rise of Skywalker trailer during the football game tonight?

So, our final trailer leading up to the movie premiere in December. In honor of it being the 9th and final movie in the Skywalker Saga, here are 9 things I noticed about it – for better or worse.

1. Finn…and Rey?

I’ve not been shy about how much I want Finn and Rey together. Their immediate connection and relationship in The Force Awakens are one of the things that made me fall in love with the movie instantly.

They are two broken people who have come together and are helping each other heal. Rey gives Finn something to believe in, Finn is the first person who comes back for Rey in her entire life – showing her that she is indeed valued and loved.

finn

The first voice we hear in this trailer is Finn’s.

I am so glad, I felt like Finn took a bit more of a backseat in The Last Jedi and FinnRey wasn’t even a feature of that movie at all! I deeply missed their dynamic of being together, but that ending hug we got on Crait was a huge indicator that none of the love between them had grown cold.

Not only are all of our characters back together, but I get the feeling that we will get to see once again that Finn and Rey dynamic that we fell in love with from Moment 1. I can’t help but believe Finn’s stirring line,

It’s an instinct, a feeling. The Force brought us together.

is likely aimed at none other than Rey. He’s speaking with a softer tone, as you might if you were talking to just one person or perhaps a small group of people.

Whether this line is aimed at Rey or not, it’s a beautiful testimony to the entire heart of this Saga as well as how far Finn has come as a character.

He’s a believer, 100%. 

reyyyy

Excuse the blurry image, but even with the lower image quality, it’s not hard to read what Finn is saying here (plus you can hear it in the trailer). This image is almost an exact copy of his face and body language in The Force Awakens when Kylo takes off in his ship with a kidnapped Rey. Finn is screaming her name in desperation.

Given that this appears to be the same place we have seen Kylo and Rey clashing in a lightsaber duel, I imagine whatever follows this image is pretty dramatic. #bringiton

This character wears his heart on his sleeve, and I love him for it.

Finn and Rey are right back where they belong – together.

2. The Ghost

the ghost

As a big Star Wars Rebels fan, I would be remiss if I didn’t give this a shoutout – The Ghost is actually flying directly to the back right of The Falcon. This is huge for the Rebels’ storyline!

Ezra disappeared right at the beginning of the Original Trilogy timeline. It’s 30+ years later, so he would be in his late 40s. Other characters will be even older.

Is this a much older Hera still flying her ship with the Resistance? She’s just the type of warrior to stay in the fight for the long haul.

Is it her son flying his mother’s famous ship? Did Sabine and Ahsoka find Ezra like he asked and are they the ones piloting the ship????

It’s a really, really big reveal, and I’ll just bet we get Dave Filoni to weigh in on it before long.

3. This Movie Is Beyond Gorgeous

Would you just take a moment to soak in the number of textures, landscapes, colors, and movement of this movie??? There are about 3 different things happening in this image below.

gorgeous shot

This iceberg planet is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in Star Wars.

iceberg star wars

Even the “getaway” device is filled with bright, colorful yellow powder! It’s almost like the filmmakers are celebrating the joy that is this Star Wars story all throughout this movie!

color explosion

4. C3PO

I think Anthony Daniels is about as adorable as they come – C3PO? Not so much.

3po

I’ve never been a huge 3PO fan (although I do have a pair of 3PO socks that I love). He always seemed to be bumbling his way through situations (or slowing everyone down) while R2D2 did the actual heavy lifting.

Seriously, if R2D2 had been taken out a long time ago the Emperor would still be ruling and every one of the heroes would have died.

But over time I have come to appreciate this incredibly “British” droid. He was made to be a human companion and helper, far more suited for aiding a senator (as he does Padme Amidala in The Clone Wars) than he is for fighting in a scrappy Rebellion.

But he’s made it this far, he’s done his best, and it would appear in this trailer that our old and sometimes annoying Gold Friend may be saying his final goodbye.

And I cried. Dadgum it, 3PO! I. CRIED! Han SOLO would have cried at that! #manytissueswillbeharmedintheviewingofthismovie

bye 3po

5. The People of the Resistance

One thing I deeply appreciated about The Last Jedi is there were scenes with “background” characters such as Paige Tico’s brave sacrifice that made sideline characters feel like the feature character for their moment. 

Rogue One was an entire movie made about the “little people”, the behind-the-scenes heroes who lived, loved, fought, and died for this cause of freedom. They are the foundation our bigger heroes stand upon, without them none of this exists.

It is my great hope that in this movie that theme will be continued.

Rebellions are built on hope…

And they are built on beautiful, normal people who stepped up and said, “Count me in.”

dom and rose

Shoutout to whoever gave Rose this fantastic new hair look (I couldn’t stand her old one even though I liked her). Also, it looks like we have Billie Lourde’s character as well as Dominic Monaghan’s character shown in the background. I am anticipating awesome things!

6. Palpatine Is STILL Being A Huge Drama Queen

creepy throne

Isn’t this throne just a bit…extra?

Not really. For all his evilness, Palpatine has a work ethic even I have to respect. Plus he’s been sitting in the shadows somewhere, scheming and planning for 30+ years. A guy’s gotta have a hobby.

But what’s his angle here? I suspect he’s interested in bringing Rey and Kylo together, this line seems to point to that idea,

Your coming together is your undoing…

Did you notice that it appears both Rey and Kylo are searching for something in the shell of this ancient Death Star? What are they hoping to find?

rey and kylo death star

 

It also appears that Rey and Kylo have laid their differences aside for a moment to join forces to destroy the Emperor? 

kylo and rey

Hmm, given that this creepy little old man has the stamina of a cockroach with a rotten life insurance policy, I find his easy demise hard to believe.

This floating chair throne is giving me major Thinker vibes (Season 4 of The Flash). The dark stillness of the room and the slow floating towards Rey is somehow the creepiest thing ever and her body language says that she agrees 100%.

rey and palp

I don’t know what Palpatine’s game plan is, but he is fascinating and an extremely cunning villain, so a final takedown of this menace will be beyond satisfying.

It’s time. Your day has come, Palpatine. We will get the last cackle.

7. Poe Dameron and The Spark

chewie, poe, finn

We’re not alone, good people will fight if we lead them.

The purpose and meaning of the Rebellion/Resistance have never been put into words and ideas more clearly than in the Sequel Trilogy. Despite the huge setbacks of the Original Trilogy, the numbers have never been lower for the heroes than they were at the end of of The Last Jedi.

And yet, they flew away from Crait with their shattered band of 7.5 people with a hope burning in their hearts because they knew the truth.

poe dameron hope

Star Wars may be a fictional world, but it is based upon reality. There is a gem here that we all need to hold onto.

Friends, we aren’t alone! Good people will fight if we lead them! So many people in this world are just waiting for someone to be brave enough and step up and say, “Let’s do this.”

That potential is inside all of us, regardless of the odds. We love Star Wars because it reminds us that no shadow, no Empire, no First Order can keep us from standing up and fighting back…and winning.

Light will always win over Dark, Light has the victory. The very music of this trailer is the music generations of us have been in love with for decades, but it has never sounded more hopeful than it does in this movie.

8. Rey And Her Identity

rey they know me

Everyone keeps telling me they know me, but no one does.

I do.

Seriously, Kylo? Are we still on this?

One of my absolute favorite things about Rey is that she doesn’t stay under a Lie for long.

It’s an old and tired song, but an effective one.

I know who you are…and it totally fits my evil agenda for you to believe everything I tell you.

Palpatine did it to Anakin. Maul tried to do it to Ezra. Palpatine tried to do it to Luke. Kylo tried to do it to Rey.

Our identity is everything. If we don’t know who we are then we get nowhere. We need to know who we are, why we are here, and where we belong.

Rey’s background makes her terribly vulnerable in this area, and Kylo tried to prey upon this vulnerability in The Last Jedi.

You come from nothing, you’re nothing…

…but not to me.

He tried desperately to get Rey to place her entire sense of purpose and value in him.

kylo

And she said no.

Rey always says no.

Confronting fear, it’s the destiny of a Jedi.

Rey’s biggest fear is that she is worthless. Everyone in her entire world until BB-8 and Finn arrived cemented the Lie that she was the dirt beneath people’s feet.

But the fire, the spirit inside of her knows better. 

And rather than running from this fear, rather than hiding from the world and her life, she has embraced it and jumped in with both feet.

I am worth something. I do have a purpose. I can make a difference. I won’t give up. I don’t have to believe what anyone says. 

I know who I am…

Rey is can be a role model to all of us. She’s stunningly beautiful in her vulnerable and confident humanity.

force with you always

9. So. Much. Joy.

Can you feel it?

Can you hear it?

The heartbeat of hope. And hope and joy often hold hands.

Star Wars has always been about hope. But joy has not always been present. We’ve seen beautiful moments of celebration.

Han and Luke returning to Leia after they destroy the Death Star.

The triumphant parade in The Phantom Menace.

The bonfire and dance in the Ewok Village.

finn woo yeah falcon

But we have had some pretty horrible lows.

“You were my brother, Anakin, I loved you.”

Han’s death.

Losing Caleb Dume.

Ahsoka leaving the Jedi Order.

Luke’s final kiss to his sister.

We have faced devastating grief in this story.

But the way this trailer made me feel?

Just look at the characters, look at their faces.

smiling at chewbacca

Han used to look at Chewie like that. #iamfeelingsomanythings

They are still fighting for freedom, for survival. They still might die.

lando and chewie

But they are doing it together.

fighting together

They are going to enjoy the ride for however long it lasts. They are going to celebrate the victories, no matter how small.

They are going to live to the fullest in every moment.

whoooo

They are going to find strength in each other.

leia and rey

And they are going to charge into the battle strengthened by the truth of what they believe in.

riding horses

The gift that Star Wars has been to the world is immeasurable. The joy, the connection, the hope, and the delight it has brought people is beautiful.

Star Wars is timeless because it is the story of us, told in a galaxy far far away.

I love it. I am so excited. I’ll see you all in the theaters.

leia and rey 2

I can hardly wait for December to arrive, but in the meantime, we have a nice little consolation prize in The Mandalorian that will be available on Disney + November 12th. 

Other articles you might enjoy…

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Star Wars Resistance: 10 Reasons Every Star Wars Fan Needs To See It

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Star Wars Resistance: 10 Reasons Every Star Wars Fan Needs To See It

Placed in a very new era of Star Wars, Star Wars Resistance is the third animated series to tell untold stories of our favorite galaxy far, far away.

Reason 1: Dave Filoni Is A Jedi Master At Storytelling

Dave Filoni has earned my trust as a storyteller. He never ceases to intrigue me, surprise me, and leave me feeling as though I have been fed a rich and fantastic meal, even though the “cuisine” varies for every show.

swtcw

The Clone Wars was heavy with layers, awesome in the moment but also bearing the weight of the impending collapse of the Jedi Order/Republic and the rise of the Empire. We feel the clock ticking down in every episode as heroes and villains battle for dominance in the dying sun of an era.

The Clone Wars gave the Prequels a greater sense of purpose and meaning, and it taught us that even the battles that are lost in the moment still matter and pave the way for future victories.

rebels

Star Wars Rebels (my personal favorite) carried on the tradition with a much simpler approach to the story. We had a smaller cast of characters but got to go far deeper into the intimate familial relationships they created. The character development was gorgeous.

Threads that had begun in the Clone War era were woven into this raw and gritty Rebel world with the deft hand of a master weaver. Season 4 of Rebels contained some of the most breathtaking Star Wars storytelling and lore I have ever seen in my life.

Hope is the key theme of this series and it was fully respected. I ended the show in tearful wonder.

Each of these stories has the potential to merely be a copy of its predecessor show(s), and certainly mirroring scenes, as well as crossover storylines/characters, are used to each story’s advantage.

But Dave always makes something entirely new while maintaining the same heart in all of his work. It’s a delight to see each new thing created by this man because he has a gift.

Reason 2: Star Wars Resistance Will Only Have 2 Seasons

I do really enjoy this show, so I am sure that when the final credits roll I will feel some sadness about it ending. However, only 2 seasons means that they have a plan and they know where they are going to wrap up the story beautifully. 

I will take 2 well-written, well-crafted seasons over Season after Season that gets watered down and wanders as the writers drift into apathy and unnecessary, trumped-up romantic drama. Or aliens.

Then again, this is Star Wars, so aliens wouldn’t really stand out that much.

Reason 3: The Timeline Is Current To Our Sequel Trilogy.

Season 1 begins 6 months before the events of The Force Awakens and ends on a cliffhanger during the events at the end of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

It’s so neat to be experiencing a show that is in “real-time” with the movies we are currently enjoying. Filoni has connected the show with the movie story so perfectly.

You know what happens in The Force Awakens, this is the story leading up to that story. We get a delightful peek into the build-up and behind-the-scenes of The First Order, The Resistance, and some of the chief characters who are at the center of these dramatic events.

kazua and the resistance

The new season will serve as a bridge story that takes place between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.  “The final season of Resistance takes place during The Last Jedi and leading up to the events of The Rise of Skywalker,” a Disney rep said. “With the movie coming up in December, this was a natural place to end the show with an epic finale.”

Reason 4: Kazuda Xiono Is Truly the Most Unlikely Hero For the Main Character

Our previous show MC’s were both Jedi proteges, Ahsoka Tano, and Ezra Bridger. Both of those characters were very intuitive, had street smarts and raw skills that gave them a leg up on their journey to becoming some of the most powerful characters we’ve ever met.

The movie MC’s have also been “Chosen One” levels of awesome.

And Kazuda? Well…he’s a…” good person”.

kazuda closeup

This kid could choke on the air without breaking a sweat. He essentially does half of the time. You’d think that would be annoying but in actuality…

He’s kind of crazy adorable.

Kazuda Xiono is the son of a wealthy senator in the New Republic on Hosnian Prime. He grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth and was trained by the best in the New Republic Navy.

He is an incredibly skilled pilot, but he didn’t gain any real-life skills until a mission to deliver a message to the Resistance put him in the direct path of none other than Poe Dameron.

poe and kazuda

Poe sees something in Kaz, a spark of potential that he is willing to blow into a flame.

Kaz leaves everything he knows overnight to be stationed on a remote oil platform and spy on behalf of the Resistance, gaining intel about the platform and potential First Order involvement.

And he’s terrible at it…for a while.

kazuda awkward

This kid has no practical skills, no idea what anything costs or is worth, and is about as low-key as a town parade. Why on earth did Poe choose him to be a spy?

The greatest gift of this show (and there are many) is watching Kaz grow and succeed against all odds, even against himself.

His determination to not let Poe down, as well as his genuine love and concern for the people around him, transforms this awkward and messy kid into a brave leader. By the end of Season 1, we too see what Poe saw within Kaz.

kazuda getting serious

The New Era of Star Wars is all about the idea that anyone can make a difference, whether you are a stormtrooper, a scavenger, or a spoiled rich kid with a heart that’s often bigger than your brain. Resistance emphasizes this concept in a very visual way with the character of Kaz. It’s deeply encouraging.

Reason 5: Poe Dameron

Oscar Isaac is the most believable voice role I have ever heard in my life. If you have not gotten enough of a Poe Dameron fix from the movies then watch this show!

poe

Poe carries himself with the same lazy grace and daring decision making as he does in the movies. He’s 100% the Poe of the big screen, even down to his “selective hearing” when it comes to General Organa’s orders.

Oh yes, that makes for a purely delicious episode.

These flaws and tension in regards to his character add to the realism. To Kaz, he’s a hero and a mentor. But Poe still has room for growth, as we all do.

IMAGE DESCRIPTION DATA

Poe shows up quite a few times throughout this series, and some of my favorite episodes include the ones where he and Kaz go on “missions” together. They are the kinds of episodes that, while still moving the story forward, are made by a fan for the fans who want to have a good time.

And any moment when Poe is on screen he is giving you a good time.

poe on mission

The Poe and BB-8 love is as strong as ever, which leads me to my next Reason.

Reason 6: BB-8

To me, BB-8 is the best thing since sliced bread.

kaz and bb8

Every Star Wars story is marked by a remarkable droid. The Sequel Era is truly BB-8’s domain, and like every other droid in every other story, BB-8 essentially keeps everyone alive all the time.

IMAGE DESCRIPTION DATA

We get to see even more of his quick wits and antics, and as well as a hint of droid romance that just delighted my soul. How is it possible to love a little metal sphere this much?

bb8 and his girl

Reason 7: The World Is Fascinating

The Colossus is an oil platform in the Outer Rim. It’s a very self-contained and yet colorful world. This rig runs on an “everyone in their place” system that is both orderly and also confining to many of the characters.

the market resistance

The Colossus only works if everyone does their job, which makes for a sense of community that is hugely important for various parts of the show.

resistance oil platform

The most exciting aspect of this world is the regular sky races and the team of crack pilots known as “the aces”. They are the local celebrities as well as the protection force called upon when pirates attack. It’s a distinct culture where skilled pilots with good equipment sit at the top of the food chain.

oil platform

There are the local regulars who add flavor and spice to the story.

Still, the constant threat of pirates and the regular visits from First Order officers remind the characters that they are not as “remote” and “safe” as they would like to believe.

the parts store resistance.jpg

This world is distinctly Star Wars without having any visible connection to The Force, the planets/systems we are more familiar with, or any Force-sensitive characters.

It’s exotic, it’s full of unique species and people, it has its local heroes and villains. It has its “monsters”, local politics, and time-honored traditions.

The animation is b-r-e-a-t-h-t-a-k-i-n-g.

We’ve stopped off at places like this before in Star Wars stories, but never have we set up shop in one. The setting is a delightful treat.

the races resistance

Reason 8: The First Order Is An Unkown

As an audience, our first introduction to The First Order came through the eyes of characters who knew their threat well.

Finn fled its cruel tyranny. Poe was teething and fighting The First Order at the same time. Leia has been at war with these kinds of baddies her entire life, she was literally birthed at the beginning of the struggle. Rey was introduced to them via surprise air raid.

first order jerks

But the characters of Resistance? To them, The First Order is unknown.

Is it the oppressive Empire all over again? Is it a vague and irritating shadow? If we just mind our own business the First Order will surely mind theirs…right? What if they are actually here to help us?

It is a neat perspective to see how different characters view TFO and how the unfolding story affects them. Off-hand comments and lightly expressed perspectives suddenly gain intensity and weight as life gets more serious.

As the season builds towards the climax, the audience sees the stars aligning to the well-known events of The Force Awakens and the tragedies that are unsuspecting characters are in for. If only we could warn them.

It’s painful to see the places where ignorance and deception in regards to The First Order’s villainy lead characters into places of loss and heartache.

The First Order

Reason 9: Responsibility, Discovery, Redemption Tragedy, and Betrayal Take It To the Next Level

kazuda spy

Dave Filoni lulls us into a false sense of security with Resistance. He uses a much lighter touch with these characters as well as a more relaxed and goofy sense of humor. This is certainly the most “kid-friendly” series he’s made thus far.

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But do not let that light touch fool you, this show tells a compelling story that brings many characters on a journey with real themes. Some things will lift your spirits, other things will break your heart.

kaz and yeager

There is redemption. There is growth. There is deception. There is betrayal. There is loss. There is triumph.

It. Gets. Real.

hosnian prime gone

Reason 10: We Ended On A Cliffhanger Heading Into Uncharted Story Territory

For once we don’t know everything that’s going to happen next, just like our characters.

We know what more of what they are capable of and where they still need to grow. Our characters have surprised us and taken us on a journey.

But starting Season 2, we all know their biggest battles are yet to come.

It’s not the longest Star Wars ride we’ve ever been offered, but it’s a good one.

commander oil platform

There are still unanswered questions, looming threats, and broken hearts.

Star Wars of any era carries that golden quality that sets the really good stories apart from the mediocre ones.

It’s constantly showing us a reflection of our real world and our real stories.

This reflection just happens to take place in a galaxy far, far away.

the bowels of the oil platform

Star Wars Resistance returns on October 6, 2019, on Disney XD. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aladdin

One Jump Ahead

“Riffraff,” “Street rat”
I don’t buy that
If only they’d look closer
Would they see a poor boy?
No, sirree
They’d find out
There’s so much more to me…

Speechless

Here comes a wave meant to wash me away
A tide that is taking me under
Swallowing sand, left with nothing to say
My voice drowned out in the thunder…

…I won’t be silenced
You can’t keep me quiet
Won’t tremble when you try it
All I know is I won’t go speechless
‘Cause I’ll breathe
When they try to suffocate me
Don’t you underestimate me
‘Cause I know that I won’t go speechless

To be heard.

To be seen.

To be known.

This, my friends, was the purpose of Aladdin.

I want to discuss a few scenes that stood out to me as hugely important for the story, but even more than that, they rang true for the world we live in.

Scene 1: Aladdin giving up his dates for the starving boy. Aladdin intervening on Jasmine’s behalf in the marketplace. Aladdin saving the girl from being trampled by Prince Ander’s entourage.

A combination of many small moments that clearly define Aladdin’s heart. He is a colorful character with large helpings of mischief and insecurities, but there is one overwhelming fact about who he is.

Aladdin is a prince

He is the diamond in the rough. Aladdin essentially lives hand to mouth, but he is not completely self-focused. He sees the needs of those around him and intervenes on their behalf.

It is this heart that wins Jasmine over. She’s seen enough glittery people to last a lifetime, what she longs for is substance. She finds substance in this street boy with a big smile and kind eyes.

Substance over style. Style fades, substance grows.

Scene 2: The Best First Date Ever

Likely the most iconic Aladdin scene in existence, the magic carpet ride where Jasmine and Aladdin get a chance to connect is beautiful.

In the animated movie, we see our two lovebirds fly around well known worldwide landmarks such as the Sphinx in Egypt or the Great Wall of China.

In this version, the landscape is far less defined or varied. I believe this was done for the purpose of enabling the audience to focus in more on the two people in the scene and their intentional interaction with each other.

One moment Jasmine is holding onto Aladdin’s arm as he makes a steep turn, another moment he’s handing her the “reins” so she can have a turn flying. They are singing together, he’s looking at her with pure delight because of her joyful response. She is enthralled with the opportunity he has given her to be 100% herself at this moment.

He loves conversing with her and he wants to hear what she has to say.

She SEES him. He HEARS her Aladdin

They communicate.

You can see the power created by these two. Aladdin’s life experience and mingled with Jasmine’s authority and education make them the perfect couple to lead Agrabah into the future. They share a similar heart that points them both in the same direction.

So many people are struggling with communication. So many people are involved in power struggles with one another that not only cause them harm, but also those around them who depend upon them.

Jasmine and Aladdin struggle, just like anyone else, but they persevere, and when the credits roll they have reached a strong place of connection.

Jaladdin communicating

Scene 3: Jasmine’s confrontation with Jafar. Jasmine’s almost wedding to Jafar.

The new song “Speechless” is one that brought tears to my eyes. We need to be paying attention right here. The two cultures represented in this fictional world are the Arab/Middle Eastern culture, and the Indian culture. Jasmine represents both.

These two cultures are among the worst in the world for how horribly they abuse and oppress their women. Many Middle Eastern women are wrapped up from head to toe, they cannot drive, they cannot be educated, they cannot work, they cannot even go places without a male escort.

They are not to be seen and certainly not to be heard! Women are treated like despised objects or pretty toys to be used on a whim.

*This may not be the case for every woman or family in these countries, it is not in any way my intention to claim that or disrespect those who are from these places but not living this way. But the injustice I speak of is a true reality for millions, and we need to be willing to stand up and acknowledge that without fear of “offending” someone. These women deserve more courageous actions on their behalf.

In India, millions of women have been downtrodden for centuries. Many of the old traditions are harsh on women. If a woman cannot produce children (which is often the result of abuse or malnutrition), she is often scorned and abused by either her husband and or her in-laws. Women fear to walk to someplace as necessary as the village well for fear of being raped or murdered on the way. Oh yes, rape often isn’t even treated as a crime. Thousands of women have died from starvation, abuse, murder, malnutrition, or working themselves to death. 

These silenced, abused, downtrodden women are crying out for a voice.

Jasmine essentially a prisoner in a golden cage.

Jafar takes personal pleasure in controlling and silencing Jasmine.

The look of glittering delight in Jafar’s eyes as he forces her to speak vows of marriage to him turned my stomach. I saw that scene in horror, as I can imagine just how many precious women throughout history have found themselves in the same situation. Unlike Jasmine, however, there was no one coming on a magic carpet to give them a way of escape.

This scene was a cry for justice. A cry for the women Jasmine represents who are precious and beautiful, who have amazing things to share with the world. These women who remain unseen, unheard, buried.

jasmine giving a voice

I know I went out of order here, but let’s talk about Jasmine’s confrontation with Jafar that happened before her forced almost-marriage.

She is being led away by the guards who were her own servants but a moment before. Her beloved father and handmaiden are unable to help her. She had to silence Rajah (who was glorious) to keep him safe.

In her mind’s eye, she pictures everyone else disappearing, every person who is an obstacle to what she knows is right. She cannot be silent, not this time!

Rather than just swallowing it again, Jasmine makes her stand.

She speaks out in a strong voice. She ignores the degrading words of Jafar and focuses all of her energy on speaking to Hakim, the noble lead guard who truly desires to do what is right.

Jasmine speaks to him personally, she knows his story and she cares about it. She appeals to his integrity and deepest desire to do the right thing. She exposes her deep heart of love and compassion for “my people”. And she gives him an opportunity to change his course of action. At this moment with the information they have, Hakim is a pivotal character for what happens next.

Jasmine sees him, she calls him by name. She knows his story and his heart, which means she has heard him. Jasmine does not speak on her behalf but rather on the behalf of her people, he and his people are her priority. And Jasmine gives him an opportunity to make a different choice, she gives him a chance to be his best self.

Jasmine true, sacrificial leadership.

Jafar may as well be a shadow in the back of the room, all of Jasmine’s focus is on Hakim and the future of Agrabah. She doesn’t attack, she doesn’t tear Hakim down, she builds him up with truth and calls the good man out of him.

It’s a beautiful, powerful, encouraging scene. While it seemed to do little good at the moment, it does truly change everyone’s future as Jasmine unconsciously opens her father’s eyes to her true worth as a strong and virtuous leader for Agrabah.

Scene 4: Aladdin Selflessly Walks Away

Both Aladdin and Jasmine are given opportunities to be heroic in the climax of this movie, but it is called Aladdin for a reason. When it comes down to it, Aladdin is the one who has to defeat Jafar.

Aladdin is not a brawny warrior like Hercules. He’s not a gallant and gorgeously arrayed prince like Phillip or Charming or even Beast once he’s been declawed. Aladdin is very simple and straightforward.

The reason Aladdin became “Prince Ali” and got himself involved in this mess was a noble one, he loved a girl and wanted to win her heart. During that time he has been stripped down to the core of his deepest longings and hurts, and he almost loses focus on who he is because of it.

Aladdin humbled

But here is where the diamond comes out.

Aladdin has the humility to recognize his mistakes and turn them into life experience. He sees the flaw in Jafar’s arrogant plan and manipulates Jafar into a natural course of actions and consequences. Jafar’s own pride and ambition lead him to the prison he chose for himself. #poeticjustice

Aladdin just saved the day. He could reason out that he deserves another wish, a wish that could elevate him in the eyes of the world and especially the eyes of the woman he loves. Instead, he again shows that selfless spirit and keeps his promise to free Genie even though it gains him nothing materially.

Aladdin just saved the royal family, an arrogant “hero” would demand recompense.

He does not. He looks at Jasmine, still loving her as much as the first day he met her, and he apologizes. He looks at everyone with humility and respect and walks away. #thisissosexy #jaladdinforever

As Aladdin walks out of the palace to return to Agrabah’s streets, he looks down at Jasmine’s hair barret with deep tenderness. He loves her and treasures her, and he always will. But because he loves her he is willing to walk away because he believes that is what is best for her.

True love Jaladdin

Jasmine has been treated as a pretty bird in a cage. Not a person.

A mere prize to be won, not a heart to fall in love with.

An obstacle to control or crush (I’m lookin’ at you, Jafar).

A child who must remain hidden for her protection. Not a mature young woman.

It’s all about what someone can get from her, or keep from her, or keep her from.

Jaladdin giving her his best.It was humble, it was peaceful, it was confident. Somehow Aladdin walks out of that gate with his head held high because he now knows his own worth, and he stayed true to his noble heart.

Yeah, I’d run after him too, Jasmine. #substanceoverstyle #diamondintherough #putaringonit #jaladdin

I loved that Jasmine runs to him on the street by herself. No guards, no entourage, no handmaiden or father. She may be the sultan now (a quick line that she uses to tease him) but she truly comes to him as herself. He heard her, he knew her for who she was when no one else did.

It’s humble, it’s normal, it’s sweet. And they have a beautiful kiss among their people, in the streets where they came together, in the streets of the place they both love.jladdin kiss

Jasmine knew her own worth but struggled to be heard. Aladdin doubted his own worth, he struggled to be seen.

 

Jasmine saw Aladdin, and Aladdin heard Jasmine.

And God saw that it was good, people. It was good.

Genie

Holy cow! Y’all, what? Robin Williams created Genie, and no one can ever replace him! Will Smith not only honored the character Williams created but he also didn’t try to replace him, he became his own Genie.

Genie took me by surprise multiple times, while he was not anywhere near as spastic as Robin’s Genie, he was regularly unexpected.

The Genie/Dalia romance was brilliantly used to fill in the story/characters and add a lighter balance to the romance scale. Jaladdin was dealing with heavy-duty issues that held kingdoms in the balance, Denie was talking about goats and boats. We needed both. #denie #jaladdin

DenieI can’t imagine being trapped and forced to do the will of whatever jerk happened to grab your lamp and give it a rub. If you actually consider Genie’s life, it’s pretty horrible.

Genie fell in love with Dalia, and he desired a normal life. He has all the power in the world and yet he’s as much a prisoner as someone in a dungeon. Dalia increased my longing for Genie’s freedom. When Dalia was being pressed down by Jafar’s dark power Genie’s sorrowful face for the woman he loves made my heart hurt. He was helpless to protect her.

This isn’t funny anymore, this is real.

The look of pure shock and deep emotion on Genie’s face when he realizes he is free was a beautiful moment. I loved the hug he gave Aladdin. The hug+his face spoke volumes.

genie and aladdin

I wasn’t overly fond of how the movie began, I felt it had a weak opening, but by the end, I was in love.

I did enjoy the first shot that skimmed over Jafar in the desert, Jasmine in her palace, and the torchlit houses of Agrabah.

But I felt that they rushed through the iconic scene of Aladdin weaving his way through the streets, stealing and smirking aka making a nuisance of himself. And since they made the decision to combine Aladdin’s first introduction with him and Jasmine meeting for the first time, I think they should have given it a less choppy, sped-up rhythm. It was an unnecessary sacrifice that bought them nothing.

I recognize that the filmmakers wanted to flesh out other parts of the story more, and I respect that. I just do not think they made the right call in how to carry that out.

Let’s talk Jafar.

I heard some people complaining that Jafar was too weak. He didn’t look or sound as scary as the animated one.

Ahem…have y’all seen the animated one? The animated Jafar is not anatomically correct. Animated characters are often exaggerated for effect or to bring across a specific message.

So please, drop that argument. This is supposed to look real, this is a real human playing this character.

And Jafar? Jafar was savage. 

Jafar was a perfect villain

Real villains aren’t always weirdly shaped with angry eyebrows and menacing voices. They are often normal-looking people with dark hearts. Jafar was a villain who was all too real, he reminded me of some true villains from history. Jafar was also supposed to be a dark reflection of Aladdin, someone who Aladdin could have been. Jafar even makes the comparison to Aladdin outside of The Cave of Wonders.

Jafar made my blood boil. 10/10 villain status.

This is the first live-action Disney Prince(ess) movie that I feel could actually support a sequel.

I have loved all of the live-action remakes up to this point. But I do not think that all of them need sequels. Cinderella was a very intimate, self-contained story. It was perfect. Beauty and the Beast was a more complicated tale, but it finished itself well at the ending. You feel whole by the end of both films.

While Aladdin also leaves you feeling deeply satisfied, you also have room for more.

REASONS ALADDIN CAN ACTUALLY SUPPORT A SEQUEL

I was utterly delighted in this movie, they got the big things correct and made room for fleshing out the story and characters. They delivered big moments and characters while also filling in a thousand tiny details (magic carpet building a sandcastle, anyone?)

Aladdin is my favorite old prince(ss) movie. I was so excited for this live-action version and I was not disappointed. I am enjoying myself immensely and I cannot wait for more!

a whole new world gif

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

Disney: Why Disney+ is a Good Thing

Frozen II

FinnRey Is True, Sacrificial Love

 

 

 

 

 

The Important Role Food Played In Avengers Endgame

Endgame was without a doubt the most “human” Avengers movie to date.

Everything from the different, non-superhero music “Dear Mr. Fantasy”  in the opening credits scene to the fact that Natasha Romanoff spent most of her non-Voromir scenes wearing comfy lounge-wear set a different tone for this story.

After everything that has happened over the past decade, the Russo brothers wanted a heavy emphasis on FAMILY in this story.

We’ve always been told to see our characters as a family. They have acted as a family with the teasing/inside jokes, and shared living spaces (yes, Vision, we’ve talked about this, you still need to knock on Wanda’s door before entering).

We’ve also seen them hurt each other and break one another’s hearts. We’ve seen the damage that can result from a family being broken apart. Civil War felt like a personal punch to the gut.

The Russo brothers confirmed that had the Avengers all been united in Infinity War that they would have actually beaten Thanos. It was possible, they had the power. But they were fractured, fighting on separate fronts, therefore they lost.

It’s a sobering reminder to us how important unity is and just how powerful families walking in unity can be.

We lost everything in Infinity War, but we also gained something that was Thanos’ ultimate undoing…

We got our family back, and this time they were stronger for the breaking.

One of the chief ways the Russo’s communicated this idea of togetherness and family was through a very visual feature.

Food.

I have never seen a Marvel movie that has this much eating in it. Sure, we’ve gotten cute moments of eating before. The famous “Shawarma” scene from the first Avengers is probably the most memorable one.

Food is necessary for our continued existence, but even more than that, food is a part of who we are.

When someone dies, we bring their family food. When a new life enters the world, we bring food.

Weddings are celebrated with food. Birthdays, sporting events, parties, and holidays as well.

People enjoy food together on dates, during long work hours, late night snacks, last minute taco runs, etc.

Food can also be used as an escape. Food can mark times and seasons as well as locations.

Food is comfort. Food is tradition. Food is artwork. Food is memories. Food is home. Food is a new adventure. Food is family. Food is gathering. Food is escapeFood is healing. Food is normal. Food is special. Food is celebration. Food is personal. Food is uniting. Food is provision. Food is safety. 

Food is the common thread that ties a whole life together, the good, the bad, and the glorious.

Avengers: Endgame was meant to tie all of the previous threads of the MCU together just as it was also meant to tie our characters together more strongly than ever before.

Every film is a conglomeration of many parts. If the set guy doesn’t do his job as well as the lighting lady does hers, the whole movie suffers. The musicians have to create music that illuminates the story. The actors have to bring the lines the scriptwriters wrote to life. The director has to see a million details and arrange how they come together in order to create a masterpiece.

No detail is too small. It is no mistake that there was so much food shown in this story, it was an excellent use of setting+props+actions to communicate the keyword, the solution, the most important theme for this entire story.

Together.

We open the movie to Clint Barton having an archery lesson with his lovely and strong daughter. In the background, his sweet wife is fixing hotdogs for lunch while the boys play catch. It’s calm, peaceful, and homey.

hawkeye farm scene

Clint pays no attention to the ankle bracelet he is wearing, it’s a forgotten object of his other life. This place, these people around the picnic table, this is his life, his heart, his home. Hotdogs at the picnic table, it doesn’t get much more normal and relatable than that.

One moment his wife is calling out for condiment orders, the next moment Clint’s entire family is dust. A very normal, familiar scene is turned into a horror show as he runs around screaming their names. The normalcy is polluted by the tragedy and shock.

Natasha Romanoff sits at an empty Avengers headquarters and talks to all of her super friends across the galaxy, trying to keep the whole universe safe at once.

And she’s making a peanut butter sandwich. A girl still has to eat, it is a strange juxtaposition. A woman in lounge pants making a peanut butter sandwich while managing intergalactic tensions and listening to the horrendous crimes her best friend Clint is committing in his grief.

She can barely choke the sandwich down, the peanut butter and the lump in her throat and her chest are in conflict with each other. #youcantcryandeatpeanutbutteritsscience

Steve Rogers drops by, and after threatening him with the sandwich Nat affectionately slides it across the table towards him. It’s a comfortable, casual kind of hospitality that shows their intimate friend/sibling relationship and trust.

nat and the sandwich

Scott Lang arrives in a flurry, he’s excited and he’s hungry. “Is that anybody’s sandwich? I’m starving!” #ilovethismansomuch

He downs the discarded sandwich in between sharing his brilliant idea to use the Quantum Realm to bring everyone back.

One sandwich tied together multiple characters. It was a strangely normal object in the midst of abnormal circumstances. It connected heavy grief, deep friendship, and new hope.

The hope of a new possibility. The sandwich connects the old mindset, the ruins of the previous era to the birthing of the new one that will drive the entire rest of the story for this movie and all that follow.

Tony Stark comes out of a very normal-looking cabin (normal for a Stark) to go bring his messy-haired little princess in for lunch. It’s such a darling domestic scene that highlights everything we ever wanted for our beloved Ironman.

A car pulls up, Steve, Nat, and Scott get out and interrupt the moment. Tony pours them some sort of healthy “smoothie”? A homemade smoothie likely made from the same vegetables we saw growing in the garden between the cabin and Morgan’s playhouse. They talk “quantum physics”  and saving the world, and Tony invites them to stay for lunch. They have to decline and leave to go talk to Dr. Banner.

tony and morgan

Later on, Tony is doing his dinner dishes in yet another scene of beautiful domesticity. The great Tony Stark does dinner dishes, AND in a moment of distraction, his own water sprayer attacks him. I loved that moment. He may be a genius/billionaire/superhero but even he gets attacked by his own water sprayer! #beentheredonethatandsohaveyou

He pulls up the specs to play with the idea of time travel while drinking another health drink (a neat callback to his famous green chlorophyll drinks) and munching on nuts.

Tony falls into his chair in shock at the discovery that this plan could work…only to be interrupted by Princess Morgan who wants juice pops. He tucks her in later and finishes off the juice pop.

 

Almost Tony’s entire story is summed up and highlighted by the use of food in these scenes. A callback to his earlier green drinks that were once upon a time his attempt to give himself a few more days to live in Ironman 2. 

His new life is such an opposite to the previous days of flashy towers, unhealthy sleep and eating habits, superficial relationships and constant noise.

This new life is deep, rich, simple, and pure. It’s wholesome and nourishing, just like the kinds of food we see around the Stark household. The juice pop is playful and childish, but it represents Morgan, therefore it’s utterly precious in it’s meaning.

Tony tells his wife that he may actually be able to save the world, all the while he is still playing with the stick from his baby girl’s juice pop.

This moment is huge for the Starks. Rather than jumping the gun, Tony actually has a calm and honest conversation with his wife that shows the vast growth and maturity of him as a character and of their relationship as a couple.

Pepper also shows huge growth as she actually listens to him, lets him know that she knows who he truly is, and gives him permission to pursue this new direction, knowing full well that she may lose him as a result. Tony is at peace when he makes this step, and he’s in unity with his wife. That peace enables him to unify with the rest of his family.

I believe that is why Tony is so incredibly successful this time around. Home and family were rooting for him now, he wasn’t reacting anymore, he was making conscious choices.

That sweet cabin with its vegetable garden and playhouse and two lovely ladies and a freezer of juice pops, that is why Tony Stark was able to defeat Thanos.

After thinking that Tony was out of the picture, Steve, Scott, and Nat go seek out Dr. Banner/aka Professor Hulk…and they meet at a diner.

The Dr. Banner of old would have been horribly uncomfortable in this casual, well-peopled setting, he would have felt exposed and nervous and been unable to relax. This time around Banner is fully in his element. He’s downing giant bowls of eggs and sausage and taking time for cool selfies with the neighborhood kids.

hulk at teh diner

It’s stinkin’ adorable. This big, green “Hulk” sitting at a little diner table eating eggs and sausage talking Quantum Physics, Time Travel, and selfies with his pals. Oh yes, and we noticed the “looks” he and Nat were trading. #youthoughtwewouldntnoticebutwedid

The small American diner is a common experience many of us have had throughout our entire lives. It is in this setting over eggs and sausage that part of our team comes together and begin a bizarre plan to save the world.

In previous movies, these kinds of plans were usually made dramatic surroundings, be it the Avenger’s Tower or the ruins of New York streets. The only thing that comes close is Nat and Steve enjoying breakfast at Sam’s house while they make a plan to take Hydra down. But that moment was still a reactionary thing.

Good, high quality food requires excellent planning, preparation, and proper execution. Just like good food, this Time Heist the Avengers have to pull out cannot be a haphazard plan, this is their Sistine Chapel. This is their Great Wall of China. It’s their masterpiece.

Our heroes have had to react after the fact so many times over. In their line of work, that’s often the only way to do it and maintain some balance of freedom. Like Cap says, “I thought the punishment came after the crime.” It’s hard to anticipate every threat without aiming a whole gun at the world.

But this time around they have had five years to sit and think about Thanos’ crime. This time they have a chance to take a breath, assemble the pieces of their plan carefully, do their research, and launch from a place of preparation.

This isn’t a quick breakfast before or shawarma after, this is a fine, full meal that our Avengers have planned. Most of our characters have grown immensely over the past 5 years, they have nourished different parts of themselves that were always on hold before.

Scott Lang is sitting outside about to enjoy a lovely taco when suddenly all of his toppings are blasted out of his shell by the arrival of the Milano bringing Rocket and Nebula. He stares open-mouthed (oh how I love this man) only to be called an idiot by Nebula (WHY? Cause he’s excited to see a spaceship? I call that charming, sister, get over yourself!) And then he’s scared half to death by the arrival of Rhodey, who thoroughly enjoys calling him “Regular-sized man.”

I was so panicked that Scott would be left a laughingstock with no taco, but then Hulk walks by, beams at him, and gives him not just one taco, but two. Scott beams back. It’s one of the most adorable moments of the whole movie.

hulk gives taco

Hulk/Banner is so chipper, so benevolent, for how heavy some of the other parts of the movie are, Banner’s turnaround was really refreshing to me. This moment showed just how far he’s come, how at peace he is with himself. It also cemented the fact that Scott is an accepted member of the family now, he gets to share their tacos.

Tacos are playful and celebratory. Both Professor Hulk and Scott Lang provide some of the lightest moments in this movie, they were bouyant characters who lifted it up even as the subject matter and parts of the storyline were really heavy.

We see food used in a negative context with Thor. From the bulging beer belly to the pizza that looked non-to-fresh (where did he even get pizza in New Asgard?), we see that Thor has not been nourishing himself well in the past five years.

chunky thor

I do not judge him, that man had taken more hits of grief one after another than almost anyone else leading up to Thanos. His personal crash dive was inevitable and made him more “human”. But food has had a negative effect on him, it has become an escape as well as a prison to him.

Even this very shocking change in our handsome god of Thunder made this movie seem more normal. We have experienced grief, and many of us have medicated with food, and some have medicated with alcohol.

But just like we try to bring those broken brothers and sisters back into the fold, so our Avengers family bring their broken brother back home. He may feel unworthy, but they have not forgotten who he is. They still need him, they still want him. It’s a beautiful thing.

Gathering together in unity around a feast of ideas, personalities, abilities, and experiences; this is how the Avengers save the world. Together.

The most prominent scene involving our Avengers and food is around the dining room table during the Time Heist planning montage. It’s an utterly charming montage of people sprawled all over furniture, storytelling, note-taking, and yes, eating noodles.

I loved, loved, LOVED this quick scene. No, I didn’t appreciate Rocket giving Scott such a hard time for his excitement over space. GUYS! Would you all give this man a break? Part of what I love about Scott is his open-eyed wonder and enjoyment of all the super stuff around him. He’s exactly how I would be if I suddenly became a superhero but I was still me. He’s adorable.

scott endgame

But we see most of the team taking in some delicious looking Chinese takeout. Thor is at his drinks again. Rocket is walking on the table as he shares about the Power Stone, and no one blinks an eye. Hulk is eating a giant carton of ice cream that given the color and ingredients we can only assume it is Ben and Jerry’s Hulk Hunka Burning Fudge flavor mentioned in Infinity War.

They are all so…weird.

Rocket is on the table. He’s a raccoon with a deadly shot, brilliant mind, and sassy mouth, and specific cleanliness standards just like any other raccoon. Thor, King of Asgard, the god of Thunder is wearing a dirty hoodie and drinking cheap beer. This dude can literally fly and channel lightning through his body.

Billionaire, genius, playboy, philanthropist-now-husband-father Tony Stark. Serum-super WWII hero Steve Rogers.

Nebula, an alien/cyborg who really needs to see a counselor. James Rhodes, former military-rule-stickler turned Avenger who gets around with his robotic legs.

Scott Lang, a brilliant thief who can become smaller than comprehendible or the size of a giant. Natasha, formerly a ruthless killing machine turned into the biggest, sweetest heart we’ve ever seen.

Clint Barton, husband, father, expert bowman, samurai assassin? And Professor Hulk. He’s huge, green, playful, and sophisticated.

They are so weird, but they are teammates. They are partners. They are a family. They have gathered together as individuals carrying their own griefs, their own burdens, their own regrets.

They also came to carry each other’s burdens as well, to stand side by side and fight not just for their own sakes, but for the sake of their loved ones and millions of strangers.

A family dinner with the Avengers means that the earth is about to shake. Good is about to happen. Darkness is about to fall from its throne. This family is gearing up to take down evil and bring life together.

avengers planning endgame

The final mention of food is the one that brings us full circle in this decade of films. It’s the part of the movie that got me the hardest.

Cheeseburgers.

Dangit, Happy! I cried harder when Happy got choked up than at any other part of this movie.

Cheeseburgers. Cheeseburgers.

Cheeseburgers marked the turning point of Tony Stark. The moment he came back from captivity in the Middle East the first thing he asked for was cheeseburgers, and a press conference.

Tony had come back from the Middle East a changed man. He saw a bigger picture now, he was not just living for himself anymore, he had decided to use his incredible gifts to make the world a better place. “Don’t waste it.” 

Tony didn’t. He made a heck of a mess along the way, he made a lot of mistakes, hurt some people, but oh man, he did NOT waste it.

The sweet moment where Happy is cuddling Morgan on the front porch and being a kind, fatherly figure to her was such a precious, gut-wrenching moment.

Like father, like daughter. Morgan just did something really hard, and she’s setting out on a new journey that is going to be hard, she wants cheeseburgers. #somebodyhelpmemyhurtiswounded

cheeseburgers

This movie is a masterpiece. It brought together so many precious stories, so many beloved characters, so many hard and triumphant moments. It used imperfect characters to bring heartache and healing.

It gave us redemption, second chances, and a new future. It encouraged us to walk out of those theater doors as changed people, changed for the better.

The use of food in this movie was like a thread in a rich tapestry, a bit of theme music on low volume, present but subtle.

It added to the richness and the purpose of this story and appealed to our personal experiences. It reminded us of old and precious memories and gave us new ones. It marked times and seasons, it tied our characters together and drew them even closer to us, the audience.

Endgame is unlike any movie I have ever seen in my life. I don’t know if you could replicate that level of amazing. Like a fine meal, there are so many layers to be addressed.

I left the theater feeling very full in my heart. Some parts of the feast that was Endgame were sweet, others were bitter, some were salty. But regardless, I walked away feeling full.

Future filmmakers should take notes from the excellent use of food in this movie. It was not a 100% necessary element, but it was used effectively to flesh out a story in an unforgettable way.

Thank you, Anthony and Joe Russo, you gave us a feast.

Endgame: Sam Wilson the New Captain America

Dear Chris Evans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

excited gif

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.

f07a5cab26f847f41979cf041948e2dc

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

Solo: A Star Wars Story

I saw this movie opening day, an entire week ago, and I have been sitting here since,  terrified to write this article. Why? I just felt so, so many things. Good things. But I felt overwhelmed with the task of trying to put all of those things into coherent words and sentences.

Until I found the key to my thoughts. And amazingly, that key also happens to be the key to all of Star Wars and why it is so beloved.

Hope.

It’s as simple as a gentle, four letter word. H-O-P-E.

star wars hope

Hope is the summation of the entire Star Wars saga and every single story contained within the galaxy. Solo is about the heart of Star Wars…it’s about hope.

There is a lot of pain to be felt in Star Wars stories. The agony of loved ones lost, betrayal, wanton destruction, questions of value and purpose, merciless and cruel evil sweeping upon the innocent like a shadow of death.

The ache of Anakin holding his dying mother in the desert. 

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The death of clone after clone after clone as they march into an unwinnable war, all while wondering if they are more than just forms created for endless violence.

The pain of Ahsoka leaving.

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The death of the Jedi by one of their own. Obi-Wan’s tearful scream, “You were my brother, Anakin! I loved you!”

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Padme’s death. 

Ezra Bridger losing his parents. Caleb Dumes’ sacrifice.

Ezra and Kanan

Our entire Rogue One team, gone. Alderaan. Countless Rebel pilots and soldiers. Ben Solo’s fall to the Darkness and subsequent death of many Resistance leaders and beloved friends. And so many destroyed lives in the middle.

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And yet…we stand in hope.

After every breath of darkness and pain, no matter how deep, we are always left with even a glimmer of light.

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Perhaps it’s babies hidden away in the desert or the palaces of Alderaan.

It’s clones who took their stand and made their choice to live free and walk their own paths.

It’s long-lost warriors rising again from the dust of the Clone Wars. It’s Jedi returning, it’s warriors, pilots, soldiers, street rats, senators, princesses, moisture farmers, scavengers, Storm Troopers, and orphans standing up and fighting back. 

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It’s a ragged kid from Correllia lifting his eyes above the squalor of his life and daring to dream of the stars.

Han Solo. 

corellia street boy

We know him in later years. He’s a scoundrel. He’s sarcastic, crusty even. A scruffy-looking nerf herder with enough bravado to destroy a planet and a heart big enough to envelop the galaxy.

How do you become Han Solo, the legendary smuggler who made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs? (12 if you round down). How do you go from appearing like a selfish jerk to winning the heart of a Rebel princess, befriending a Jedi, and leading in a rebellion that destroys the Empire?

Han Solo

Solo: A Star Wars Story is the tale that tells us the how, and the why of our favorite smuggler.

What the makers of Solo did is they gave us a horrible set of circumstances. Then they gave us a cast of characters each faced with the same awful world. The truth of the story came out as we saw how each character faced that world and what came of their chosen paths.

Some chose to nurture and create more evil beneath the Empire’s shadow. Some characters would have appreciated change, but when it came down to the wire, they made choices out of self-preservation and fear. Other characters gave into hopelessness and despair that anything could ever change. Some characters drowned the pain of their world in alcohol, games, and fancy capes.

And then we have Han, a rebel.

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Just a street boy working for thug overlords?

“The next person who hits me is going to get hit back.”

Stuck on the ground in the squalor?

“I’m gonna be a pilot.”

Foot soldier in the mud now?

“I got kicked out of the Imperial Academy for having a mind of my own.”

Thrown in a mud pit with a Wookiee? No problem, just befriend the Wookiee and get freedom for them both. Faced with a dangerous job stealing coaxium with a crew who doesn’t really want him, when do we start? Lost the coaxium and facing sure death from a crime lord?

“What about unrefined?”

Mauraders, homicidal crime lords, card games, giant space monsters, gravity wells, explosive materials, insurmountable odds…

never tell me the ods

 

Because he will always, always defy them!

Solo tells us a truth that we have suspected for a while now.

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Han has always been a Rebel.

Han may have grown up in poverty and violence, but he was rich. Rich in heart, and in hope during a time when hope was an even more precious commodity than coaxium. Han dreamed of the stars. He was ambitious, but not cruel. He spends the majority of this movie working to take care of someone he loves. He’s incredibly driven, driven by the unbending belief that there is more for his future, that he is NOT trapped by his circumstances, that he can fight for something better.

And he is willing to put his life on the line to ensure that others around him get that same chance. If only they had all followed his lead, they would have met with the same truth we were led to.

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Han, our hero, survives. Not only does he survive, he has a hope and a future. Oh, if he only knew just how amazing that future is going to be. Yes, it’s going to be filled with many heartaches, many setbacks, and losses. His life is full of tragedy. But it’s also full of love. Full of people he loves. Full of moments where he said no to evil and yes to making a difference, and what a difference he made. We see the beginning of that in Solo, we see where the hero’s roots are planted.

And he did it without selling his soul. Without giving into despair. Without trampling innocent lives under his feet. That’s what he proves in Solo. That is the truth of this movie, this character, this thing we are all crazy about called Star Wars. It’s hope.

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Han clearly grew more jaded in the ten years of life lived between Solo and A New Hope. I imagine kicking around the galaxy with the worst of its citizens with his bro Chewbacca probably caused his golden heart to crust over a bit, his perspective to skew, and the miles began to wear on his soul.

That is until he meets a crazy kid who actually believes he can make a difference. Until he meets a beautiful princess who is glowing with hope and purpose. Until he meets people willing to lay down their lives because they believed that there could be more for their future, that it could be better.

Original trio

Sound familiar?

He thinks he’s big. He’s bad. He’s a scoundrel. A legendary smuggler. He always shoots first. He’s rubbed shoulders, sweet-talked, and fought with the worst scum of the galaxy. He’s an outlaw, a terrible person.

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But one who knew him from childhood, Qi’ra. She knew better. Beckett, a hardened mercenary who chose to view life with harsh cynicism knew better. Chewbacca, who has seen the cruellest of people, knew better. Enfys Nest knew better. Lando Calrissian, the double-crossing fabulous smuggler, knew better.

They all knew better because they looked at this cocky kid who walks with a swagger and a smile, and they saw hope. And they knew in their hearts.

“You’re the good guy.”

And we, the world that loves Han Solo as if he is our own blood-relation reply,

“We know.”

chewie and han

Disney Live Action: Treasure Planet

Clearly, Disney has had wild success with their live action films. I learned much in MaleficentI cried in Cinderella. I was beautifully transported back to my childhood with The Jungle Book (I watch it over and over and over again). And I had all of my practical questions answered in Beauty and the Beast in the most golden, beautiful way.

What we are finding with these magical live action movies is not that Disney is incapable of producing a new story, but rather;

Disney is using their live-action remakes to deepen and flesh out the stories and characters we are already in love with.

Why is Maleficent so angry? Surely there has to be more going on here than not getting invited to the baby shower? Is there more to a true love’s kiss than meets the eye?

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Why is Cinderella so hopeful? There has to be an answer for it, a moment, a person who motivated her to have that perspective on life despite her circumstances. Is Prince Charming just a pretty face, or is there more to him? Why does the evil stepmother hate Ella?

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Why does Shere Khan hate Mowgli? What is the mindset of a man-cub who has been raised by animals in the jungle his whole life? Does he HAVE to leave the jungle, after all, this is his home and his family?

jungle book

Why is it that Belle finds understanding for the Beast when at first glance they have so little in common? What is it like being raised by a charming but eccentric inventor in a village that looks down on him? Why is Gaston so full of himself? Just how does it feel to be a servant of the prince who has been cursed all this time for a crime you did not commit?

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Disney took these stories from our childhoods and made them 3D. Turns out, there is more behind Maleficent than getting dropped from the baby shower list. Cinderella has an incredibly strong motivation to be who she is. Prince Charming is a real human with a heart, mind, and dreams. Mowgli struggles with trying to find his place in the jungle as he is still a human. Belle doesn’t have a picture-perfect life, she has been ridiculed, mocked, and feels like an oddity. The servants at the Enchanted Castle are heartbroken as they remember days in the sun when music, love, and life thrived, oh how they long for those days to return!

This formula is working. I cannot wait for DumboThe Lion KingAladdin, Mulanand so many more movies to come! I cannot wait!

Along the lines of live-action movies, I have an animated movie suggestion to send Disney’s way for a live-action remake. If you agree with me, let’s try to get Disney’s attention.

That movie? Treasure Planet.

treasure planet gorgeous

No, Treasure Planet is not as well-known as some of the other Disney classics, but in my opinion, it’s an often overlooked gem of a story and a treasure in the storehouse that Disney would do well to bring out into the light.

treasure planet fireTreasure Planet is a “treasure island” story, told in a science fiction/steampunk/space fantasy world. It features a deeply engaging story about Jim Hawkins, a fatherless boy in search of adventure and meaning. He falls in with charming rogue John Silver, a pirate with a bigger heart than he cares to admit.

 

treasure planet

This story deals with fatherlessness (something a huge majority of our world is facing), responsibility, betrayal, bravery, maturity, honesty, mentorship, fatherhood, and choosing to become someone better on behalf of someone you love. It has deep, rich themes, made even richer by the colorful and exotic world that it’s placed in. Just LOOK at this world!

treasure planet world

treasure planet world 2

treasure planet ship

Can’t you just imagine how beautiful this movie would be live-action? In the hybrid-filmmaking that combines beautifully crafted, physical sets with rich, intricate CGI? Can’t you just see the solid wood of the airship, the rough ropes, the creak of the many metallic costume pieces and props, mixed with a glorious CGI sky full of clouds, stars, and planets? Then we add in colorful characters from all across the galaxy, ship captains, inn-keepers, scientists, treasure hunters, and pirates! And ground it all with our deeply engaging and heart-rending character, Jim Hawkins.

jim hawkins in the night

This idea is even more plausible to me now that we have discovered Tom Holland. Can you think of anyone more perfectly suited to play the raw, untrained-yet-eager-innocent and sympathetic Hawkins? Nope, it’s like Tom was born for the role.

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Beyond the role of Jim Hawkins being given to Tom Holland, I’m open to any other casting. But. This. Is. Perfection.

jim hawkins

This movie live-action would draw new fans from an audience who hadn’t even seen the 2002 animated movie. It would be that beautiful.

Do you agree with me? If so, share all over and let’s make some noise and let Disney know what the people want. They have a treasure in Treasure Planet, and I for one want to explore this rich story/world deeper.

#liveactiontreasureplanet