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.

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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.

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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

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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. 

anakins mother

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.

poe dameron hope

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. 

jyn's rallying hope

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.

smiling han

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.

kssel run

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.

goober han

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.

tom holland

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 

 

Star Wars: Every Story in the Galaxy

Back in the 1970s a creative guy named George Lucas made a little movie called Star Wars.

No one expected it to be a big thing. Sir Alec Guinness (who played the original Obi-Wan Kenobi) acted in the film because he’d always wanted to be a “children’s movie”. 

At best, they thought they might make a sci-fi cult classic that would gather a small but fierce following who met in basements and had mini-conventions. That was all they expected.

This is what happened instead…

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The world exploded, and we have never been the same since.

Why is Star Wars so popular? I had a friend of mine ask me a question along these lines recently. She’s an adult with grown children, and not super into many movies. But she loves Star Wars. “What is different about Star Wars?” she asked.

I could list hundreds of reasons why Star Wars is all that and a bag of credits, but we don’t have time for all of that today. Instead, I’m going to list the biggest reason I think Star Wars has resonated so deeply with millions of people internationally for generations.

Star Wars tells us every classic, cliche story we’ve ever heard, but they do it in an unforgettable way.

Star Wars is one of the most cliche-ridden sagas ever. We started our journey with a young hero possessing a unique “ability”, the old sage mentor, a rogue with a big heart, a princess, and a cute animal (or droid) sidekicks.

Original trio

They joined forces with the underdog (the Rebellion) and go up against Goliath (Darth Vader and the Empire). The hero uses his unique abilities at just the right moment to destroy the story’s greatest threat against all odds.

It’s not the first time this story has been told. Star Wars borrows from many classic stories, established religions, and other known influences. And yet, the world exploded.

See, we “complain” about cliches, stereotypes, and classics. But there is a reason those things became so well known. It’s because they are real, and we experience them on a regular basis.

Star Wars tells us all of the old stories. An underdog story.

A New Hope 3

A redemption story.

Luke and His father

People bravely fighting against all odds for a better future.

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Questions about free will.

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Darkness vs the light. Free will vs destiny.

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The danger of allowing your emotions to be manipulated.

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Mentorship. Family. Friendship. Growing up with grace in times of hardship.

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Choosing to not give into victimhood, but instead to stand on your own feet.

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Making the hard choices. Becoming a part of something bigger than yourself.

Han Solo

Stormtrooper Finn

Learning what true leadership is.

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And on, and on, and on.

And these classic stories are told in the most exciting and colorful way. With spaceships, planets, aliens, blasters, lightsabers, dark and light, good and bad. They are told with heart, with humor, with a connected history, a force that binds all of these stories together. With characters that feel like old friends.

Star Wars tells our stories.

I love our galaxy. I love the characters, the history, the messages, the hope. The fact that by now generations of families have all gotten to enjoy the same world and story as it is continually told. I love it all.

Happy May the 4th, may the force be with you!

Real Women: Jyn Erso (Rogue One)

6 Ways that StarWars: Rebels Differs From StarWars: The Clone Wars

 

Timeless Season 2: The War to End All Wars

*warning, many spoilers a good amount of Lyatt gushing ahead*

Last night we rejoined our Time Team with a bang! The only episode in Season One that came even close to that level of intensity for me might have been Episode 11: The World’s Columbian Exposition. But even that episode could not compare to the intensity of last night’s Season 2 debut.

First we are given an epic recap of last season to the tune of Imagine Dragons “Believer”. Can you say chills?

As with all of our Timeless episodes, we are given a small taste of our historical destination for the episode. We see a soldier desperately searching for “Captain Allbright” among the fallen on a dusty, bloody battlefield. Dog fights are still happening in the skies above. The solider finds his captain still alive, but wounded, he hurries off to find a vehicle, leaving the captain behind. Captain Allbright pats his jacket, appears to panic, and searches the ground desperately for a fallen item. He finds a small pouch beneath the dead solider behind him, inside is a cellphone?!? Clearly there is something off about this scene.

Next we are dumped directly back into the center of the action. Wyatt and Rufus are rocking the 70’s duds, wondering where Lucy is. She wouldn’t miss this mission to get her sister back. A puzzled and slightly concerned Wyatt calls Lucy yet again, and we are shown a stomach churning image of her discarded phone ringing on the floor amidst the wreckage of some kind of altercation, next to a broken bottle and a puddle of blood. 

Before Wyatt and Rufus have time to even get further, Wyatt spots a very wrong looking canister, with a blinking red light. Everyone and their dog knows what that means. We zoom outside to see Mason Industries erupt in an orange fireball.

Fast forward 6 weeks.

We are at some post-apocalyptic looking bunker that has a very Rebel-base-on-Hoth-esque vibe. We see Wyatt’s bare shoulders covered with healing lacerations and burns, but thank heavens his face is intact! You can feel the weight of his anxiety, his anger, his grief, and his helplessness. The level of joy at the end of last season when he chose to stop living in his past, and embrace his future (potentially with Lucy) has now been transferred into an agonizing worry and fear of losing yet another woman he loves.

Wyatt is determined to track Lucy down, it’s his one and only thought. He’s chafing at every delay to repair the damaged Lifeboat.

Rufus seems to be dealing with the situation with a more surface level calm. He has an outlet where he can channel his concern into manually fixing the Lifeboat. But Rufus has deep fears and concerns of his own. His mother and brother think he is dead. Rittenhouse tried to kill him. His former benefactor and boss, Conner Mason is penniless and rather useless at the moment, another one of the fugitives. And while Rufus has the love of his life, Jiya, by his side helping him restore the Lifeboat, she’s regularly being attacked with strange headaches and seizures or visions that no one can seem to explain.

Agent Christopher is attacking the problem with her usual firmness. I would NOT want to cross this woman. She rubs Wyatt the wrong way many times as she appears calloused and uncaring regarding Lucy’s fate. But we all know that Agent Christopher is the Time Team’s link to the outside world, their supply line, and she does care.

Meanwhile, Lucy is trapped with Rittenhouse. We see her dressing herself in proper World War I vogue attire, as she stares at a newspaper article written about the explosion at Mason Industries and the deaths of 22 people. Her beloved guys are gone, she is trapped in Rittenhouse and about to be sent catapulting through history to rewrite the story according to Rittenhouses’ agenda. We sense a coldness in Lucy, a tense desperation.

Lucy, Carol Preston, and Emma (who is a devil woman and scares the living daylights out of me) go back to the Western front in 1918. Their mission? Track down a single wounded soldier, and heal him. Lucy wasn’t given all of the details.

It’s easy to be in the right place at the right time when you have the proper info. The soldier Rittenhouse wants saved is literally brought to the door of the cabin the ladies have been staying in near the Western Front. A concerned young soldier brings his battered and bloody friend in, desperate to find help for him. Emma and Carol get to work on saving the young man’s life, while Lucy pleasantly distracts his friend with conversation. She’s so good at this, kindly engaging on a personal level with new people.

The wounded man is crashing, Emma pulls out a modern defibrillator, and shocks the soldier, scaring his friend into thinking these women are trying to kill his buddy. Emma doesn’t have time for this, she pulls out a pistol and SHOOTS THE POOR MAN IN THE LEG! “You’re a better shot than that, Emma.” Carol Preston says dryly. Can you believe this woman actually raised a child? #cold #notmommymaterial

“I did it on purpose, I think Lucy should take care of this.” A cold Emma hands the soldier’s rifle to Lucy, who is staring at the scene in horror.

lucy and soldier

This moment of the show haunted me. I wanted Lucy to stand in front of the soldier, to shoot Emma instead, to come up with another plan, something, ANYTHING! What actually happened broke my heart, and I do not agree with it. But I also know Lucy was in an impossible situation and felt forced to make a horrible choice, and it’s one she will grieve over the rest of her life.

She picks up the rifle, and shoots the innocent soldier in order to prove her loyalty to Rittenhouse. She goes blank for a moment, the world drowning out around her, until the voice of her mother breaks in, “Are you okay?”

Like you care, Carol! You can prepare to be disappointed next Mother’s Day!

We know our Lucy. We know her big heart, we know something is very wrong for her to have just done this dark deed.

The soldier is full of shrapnel, an x-ray machine is needed. Lucky for our Rittenhouse ladies, Marie Curie and her daughter Irene are contemporaries of this era, and happen to be nearby with their portable x-ray machine. How serendipitous!

Meanwhile, back in 2018 the Lifeboat is working! And bad news, they have tracked the Mothership to the Western Front, where it has been for two days. The look of fear in Wyatt’s eyes rise, that area’s a bloodbath. Thank heavens the mission where we are missing our historian it happens to be one involving military history!

Wyatt and Rufus jump on the Lifeboat, “We are BRINGING Lucy home!” Wyatt declares as they shut the door and jump through time to rescue their girl.

Lucy and her mother, and their armed guard “Mac” have found Marie and Irene Curie. The shared moments of mother-daughter history nerding would be way cuter if Carol Preston wasn’t a sicko. Lucy fears dragging the Curie ladies into the crossfire. Her mask is starting to slip and we see the panic starting to take over. She manages to slip away into the military camp, and seek out a tent where she finds grenades. You can see a half-baked plan form in Lucy’s mind, but as she turns to leave the tent, a hand grabs her from behind.

She whips around to defend herself, only to be brought face to face with Wyatt. She cannot believe he is still alive, and throws herself at him where they have the most delicious hug. The peace and joy in Wyatt’s eyes that he found his girl, safe and well is just overwhelming. Rufus comes in behind him and Lucy eagerly embraces him. The guys want to get out of here, but Lucy is here to stop Rittenhouse. She shows them the grenades and outlines her plan to blow up the Mothership. She was going to do it on her own, but now that her guys are back they can help her out.

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A shadow falls on Wyatt’s face, “How were you going to get home?” Lucy quiets. “I wasn’t.” You see how that quiet little statement just shatters Wyatt’s heart. She was gonna be trapped in the past, alone and grieving for the rest of her life.

Lucy rushes off to join her mother, leaving the mission of destroying the Mothership in her guys’ hands. We see our old Wyatt spring back to life, he has a mission, his sense of humor is back. Lucy is alive and well, our boy is back!

Wyatt and Rufus attempt to steal a vehicle to drive to the Mothership’s location, only to be caught by “Mac”, and a man we recognize to be Captain Allbright. We feel a cold fear in our gut as our guys are led to a tent, where Wyatt assumes they will simply have to talk their way out of this situation, but Rufus spots Mac going for his gun. “Wyatt!”

The next few minutes are fast-paced and intense as Wyatt and Rufus tag-team a fight. The teamwork chemistry between these two is simply beautiful, and you feel their brotherhood. Together, they defeat the Rittenhouse agents, and find Allbright’s cellphone? What on earth is a WWI captain doing with a cellphone?

The guys finally get to steal their jeep, and share a little personal conversation on their way to destroy the Mothership.

“You’re in love with Lucy, just admit it!” Rufus, calling it like it is! We love you, man! Wyatt balks at this statement, but doesn’t deny it.

Lucy and Irene Curie share a neat conversation about having demanding mothers, but it is clear the Irene adores her mother and their depth of love is real. You can see the longing in Lucy’s eyes, she thought she had that with her mother. But she was so, so wrong.

The Curie ladies use their x-ray machine, but the picture is not very clear. Something is interfering with it. The Rittenhouse ladies give each other a knowing look, but then attempt to send the Curie ladies on their way.

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Lucy’s grip on the situation is slipping. Emma has made it clear that she doesn’t trust “the princess”. Emma has worked her way up through the ranks of Rittenhouse, she “earned” her place, while Lucy rejects her royalty. Cry me a river, Emma. Your rags-to-riches story does nothing for me. Emma and Carol go outside for a private conversation, and Lucy is left alone with the soldier. This goes against every instinct she possesses, but she searches for a means to kill the soldier. If Rittenhouse wants him alive, she needs him dead in order to save thousands of others. Her mother comes in on her just as she is about to smother him with a pillow.

“I was hoping that Emma was wrong.” Carol is disappointed in her daughter, you have no right to be upset, Mother Gothel Rittenhouse! She gives Lucy some baloney about still loving her, being the same woman who kissed her skinned knees, but if Lucy doesn’t shape up she will no longer be able to protect her daughter. If you have a nice mother go hug her now on poor Lucy’s behalf.

She Rittenhouse bundles up their wounded soldier, and start to take him to the Mothership, which is still operational due to the unfortunate fact that Wyatt and Rufus ran out of gas and are running behind.

The Rittenhouse ladies arrive at the Mothership, only to find the Curie ladies on site.

“We wanted to see what was interfering with the machine.” These Curie ladies are too smart for their own good! Emma whips out a pistol, and prepares to murder the women where they stand.

“No!” Lucy pleads with both her mother and Emma, even throwing herself in front of the Curie women. Her mother stands behind Emma (a contrast to Marie Curie, is standing in front of her daughter protecting her, while Carol looks on as her daughter is in imminent danger). Emma has orders from even higher up than Carol, if Lucy interferes she is to be killed. The look of pleasure in Emma’s face is evil.

“Your mother can’t save you.”

“But I can.” Can we get some hero music playing? Wyatt is standing, his gun to the wounded soldier’s head, Rufus standing by at the ready. Lucy’s guys showed up in the nick of time. Emma has her gun to Lucy’s head, but clearly the wounded man is important, Wyatt negotiates, “Let’s both leave here with the people we came for.” He’s not losing this woman.

A tense standoff happens, then Emma releases Lucy who walks towards Rufus. In a last plea, she begs her mother to return with her.

“Come with us, be on the right side of history!” Her mother looks sadly at her daughter.

“Oh, Lucy, this is so much bigger than you or me.” Yeah yeah, *gag*.

Emma has to get one last dig in. She eyes Lucy triumphantly.

“Before you came, I went on a few missions. You are NEVER getting your sister back.” In agony Lucy lunges at the devil woman, but Rufus pulls her back. It’s time to cut our losses and make a run for it.

We go back to the bunker, where Jiya, Agent Christopher, and Conner Mason are waiting. The entire team comes out, quiet and shaken.

Later we see Lucy in sleeping quarters. Her surroundings are very spartan. She’s got her hair down and is wearing plain clothes. She looks so, lost. Wyatt comes in and makes some remarks about “it’s not what you were expecting to come home to”.

Lucy shares her grief over killing the innocent soldier. “If I hadn’t, Emma would have.” Wyatt understands, he doesn’t skip a beat. The weight of her losses and the past six weeks hits Lucy like a wrecking ball, and she bursts into gut-wrenching sobs,

“I’ve lost everything.”

Wyatt comes over and envelopes her in a huge. “You haven’t lost me.” He’s been in her place before, he knows the grief, and he is not going to leave her alone in it. It’s a deeply tender scene, full of deep love and compassion.

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Jiya (poor Jiya) walks in on them as we were about to get a #lyatt kiss, but she has important news.

The cellphone the guys found back in 1918 contains a Rittenhouse manifesto, and it’s no bueno. Also, the Mothership went back in time 10 times before the 1918 mission. They have planted sleeper cells throughout time, agents awaiting to be activated to bend history to Rittenhouse’s will. The cold terror of this reality seeps in on everyone present. A name comes up as the writer of the sick manifesto, it’s Nickolas. The soldier Carol and Co saved back in ’18. The soldier who came back in the Mothership.

 

The wounded soldier from WWI wakes up in a modern-day hotel room. Carol Preston is standing over him in current clothing.

“Where am I?” He asks, puzzled by his surroundings.

“You’re with Rittenhouse.” We discover this man, Nickolas, is an important member of Rittenhouse. He believed in the possibility of time travel. And….

“I’m your granddaughter.” Carol says with a smile. Nickolas smiles back, but it’s not a smile that made me feel good.

There is one person the Time Team can turn two who might have some answers. Agent Christopher goes to a top security facility, and enters a cell where we see a chained Garcia Flynn.

“We need to talk.” He gives her one of his signature side looks.

“I only talk to Lucy.”

 

This episode was possible because of all the character groundwork laid in Season 1. The writers took their time to develop our characters, to give them arcs that strengthened them to be able to withstand the heightened darkness and stakes brought in Season 2. They aren’t trying to wrap their heads around time travel and team work any more, that part is now instinctive. Now, it’s a battle for history.

To me, I think Wyatt (Matt Lanter) was the MVP of this episode when it comes to acting.

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His facial expressions, the unspoken words his eyes communicated, and his ability to convey multiple feelings and histories in his scenes blew me away. My favorite moment was when he was comforting Lucy. This wasn’t just a chance to cuddle the lady who has had his heart for a while now, his heart broke for her pain, and he was able to be her rock in that moment because he has walked through that pain himself. His tenderness, compassion, and love in that moment was beautiful.

I cannot wait to see what we have in store, I am so glad to be here, writing about this episode now. Until next week!

Timeless airs on Sundays on NBC at 10/9c. Catch up on Season 2 now on NBC!

Character Details: Disney Princesses and Prince Caspian

Detail work is vital when it comes to creating a full character. We may not instantly take in every single detail about someone when we see them on screen, or meet a person in real life. But let me tell you, we WOULD notice if those “unnoticeable” little details were gone.

Detail work can happen on a character’s person or in their surroundings, like Wanda Maximoff’s bedroom in Civil WarThat setting gave us a very personal look into the who of Wanda, without us even realizing it at first. Without the careful attention to detail in that scene, we would have known so much less about this mysterious character.

Today I want to talk about personal details about the character’s physical appearance. These small things in how they look, sound, or appear, are in fact HUGE when it comes to telling us about this character. Who they are, where they are from, how they feel, and what they want.

Here are 2 examples of details. The first one is a detail that has been done well and added to the character. And the second is a detail that was handled poorly and it detracted from the character.

1. Disney Princesses and their big eyes.

Ever noticed how HUGE Disney Princesses’ eyes are? It’s become something that even Disney fans are pointing out as rather ridiculous, especially considering that our latest princesses Rapunzel, Anna, and Elsa have the hugest eyes of all. Right?

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I mean, take a look at above slideshow of Disney princesses. The eyes have only grown more disproportionate over the decades, even though you would think they would get more realistic. What’s with that?

Obviously huge eyes are beautiful. But some fans have complained that these beautiful princesses with their impossibly huge eyes and tiny waists have created an unrealistic image for little girls everywhere. It is quite true that Disney does not create the most realistic looking characters. But what if that was done entirely on purpose?

The eyes are the windows to the soul. Eyes are the most important feature on a character to portray what happens in that character’s heart. Squinty eyes = villain. Sad eyes = someone who has suffered. Huge eyes = a person feels trapped, or they are searching for something.

What are the 2 things most Disney princesses have in common? They feel trapped. Trapped by an evil stepmother, trapped under the sea, trapped in a marriage custom, trapped in a little French provincial town, trapped by societal bounds, and trapped in a tower/castle and cut off from the whole world.

Or, they are searching for something. Searching for freedom, adventure, love, safety, truth, floating lights, peace, etc.

Yes, I can now see why especially Rapunzel and the Frozen sisters have impossibly huge eyes. Their lives have been so incredibly isolated, they have been cut off from the world and human interaction and they are desperate to find freedom and love. You can see it in their eyes.

Those who have been drawing or animating stories that are more geared toward children have been using visual clues to communicate more subtle messages and understanding for centuries. And children have been picking up on those details for centuries. I guess the big-eyed Disney Princess is starting to make more sense now. It’s not just an impossible standard of beauty, it’s a clue into these girls’ souls.

A detail that we have often passed off as ridiculous now seems rather vital.

*I have no good explanation for the tiny waists. I am with the thousands of other fans who are ready for realistic portrayals of both men and women in both animated and live action films.

2. Prince Caspian and his changing accent.

What? What in the world am I talking about?

Honestly, not many people have noticed this until I mentioned it to them. It may seem like it should be an easily overlooked detail, but hear me out.

In Prince Caspian Caspian spoke with a Spanish accent like the rest of his Telmarine people. This gave them a distinctly different flavor from the Pevensies, our classic heroes and monarchs who had British accents. The majority of the Narnian creatures also spoke with a British accent.

Listen closely to the difference in Caspian’s accent and the accents of those around him.

Caspian’s accent in that film made him stand out from the other main characters and gave his character even more of an outsider complex. It was a small detail that gave us tons of information about his backstory and culture vs. that of the Narnians or the Pevensies. I found it to be a very unique and charming aspect of his character that I enjoyed a lot.

However, something strange happens in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Caspian has over the course of just three years suddenly developed a British accent.

When did that happen? Typically, if you have been raised up to adulthood with one way of speaking, you tend to keep using that accent for the rest of your life, even if it may soften over time.

Caspian was a young man when he became king of Narnia. He was old enough that his Spanish accent should have remain entrenched, even if he picked up a few new things from those around him speaking with British accents.

The character of Caspian in TVOTDT has grown and matured since PC, he is a confident and capable leader. But he is still Caspian.

The creative choice to change this single, but very important detail of Caspian’s character was a bad one in my opinion. It robbed Caspian’s character of a very rich and intriguing layer and instead made him fade into the woodwork of the British-sounding cast instead of standing out as someone unique.

It created mental confusion and stole attention from his unique character, instead of adding to it. This was a detail that was poorly handled and hurt both the character and the authenticity of the story.

*****

Stories are made of up of thousands of details. Characters are created with a few big things, and a whole lot of details. The greatest characters have been given careful attention by their creators, folks who used details to their advantage.

What are some tiny things you have noticed that have made a big difference in characters? I’d love to hear from you, so please, share your thoughts with me.

Also, I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! I feel delight when I imagine the millions of people who will be doing the same thing this Thursday. Gathering in a common purpose for food, family, and thankfulness. May we never take these beautiful things for granted, may we never take those we love for granted. May we enjoy this day in which so many peoples’ stories are engaged upon the same moment, a shared experience. God bless you all!

 

 

 

Wanda Maximoff’s Room: Backstory in Less than 3 Minutes

The Russo brothers had their work cut out for them in Civil War. They had to bring us up to speed on all of our old characters, seamlessly introduce new ones, and engage in a deeply layered and interpersonal conflict in a way that was organic and engaging. What is the answer to that dilemma? Multitasking storytelling; using every aspect of a scene with characters, props, setting, music, etc to get the point across.

They pulled it all off magnificently. There are so many of this aspects of this film that I could discuss, but today I want to talk about how we were brought up to speed on the character of Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch.

When we last saw Wanda, it was in Age of Ultron where she spent most of the movie on the hunt for revenge on Tony Stark. We got a bit of her backstory, she and her twin brother lost both their parents and their childhood to a missile made by Stark Industries. Still, we didn’t really get to experience her heart, and we learned next-to-nothing about her personality.

Now, it is one year after the tragic events in Sokovia. Wanda lost her brother to that battle, and that meant she lost pretty much the only stability or identify she has ever known. Pietro was her foundation and safe place. She has been with the Avengers for a year now, and they have become her new sense of family and security. She’s no longer thirsting for vengeance, so….just who is Wanda Maximoff?

We got a few glimpses of who she is in the battle with Crossbones in Lagos, Nigeria. Wanda is obviously still in training, but her powers make her one of the biggest assets on the team. She was very tuned in to instructions and quick to have Captain America’s back. Her face was heartbreaking when she saw the accidental explosion caused by her efforts to save Steve from Crossbones’ bomb.

But the greatest download we got on Wanda was in the short scene in her bedroom. This scene was brilliantly done on every level, but I have to give the biggest applause to the set designer. Multiple levels of information and story were given to us in less than 3 minutes.

We know exactly who Wanda is when this scene is done; we know her desires, her hopes, and her fears. Her character arc for the rest of the movie is established in this scene. we know where she is coming from, which means we also now know where she needs to go.

Shall we examine this fine bit of set design?

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Notice the pin markers in her globe. Are these places she has already gone with the Avengers, or places that she dreams of going? Her life before wasn’t exactly one where she could dream, it was a life of survival and vengeance. She was experimented on and became this insanely enhanced person.

Despite all that she lost before, her normal life, her parents, and especially her brother, I would venture to say that Wanda also feels a sense of relief. She is now free to dream again. She is young and it is a big and beautiful world just waiting to be discovered.

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The color palette in this room is very subtle and restful. Soothing grays, blues, greens, and ivory. Despite her superhero name of “Scarlet Witch”, Wanda Maximoff is very non-scarlet in her both her color choices and personality. This room is her refuge, her quiet place to be vulnerable and to dream. This room represents who she is inside, and inside she is a soft, sweet person.

See the guitar? Wanda is learning to play music. She is a very gentle soul. There is a soft throw on the back of the chair, perhaps she cuddles up in it to watch late-night movies or read a good book. A bit of laundry in the hamper? It would seem she is actually still quite normal in the fact that she is procrastinating laundry day.

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Her shelf. It has books, a glass globe (I have one like it), candles, and this oh-so-telling bulletin board which I will get to in a minute.

My favorite part here is the cute hanging rack she made with a gold chain and a feather. Feathers represent freedom and whimsy, a side of Wanda we never saw in Age of Ultron. She has a feminine pair of dangly earrings hung on this homemade rack. I’ll just bet you she got the idea to make it when she saw a similar idea on Pinterest. Wanda can manipulate and create with her powers, but she can also create beautiful things with her hands.

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We can see a photo of what is obviously little Pietro. It is both sweet and heartbreaking. There are also photos of dogs and a cat. Were they her pets? Or does she just love animals? This bulletin board is completely stuffed. Memories matter to Wanda, she treasures them. She has experienced other people’s memories through the visions she gave them, how telling that she keeps her own memories out in plain view, even the tragic ones.

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More subtle colors. Another glimpse of her stuffed bulletin board. A stray headband that she never put away. Baskets stuffed with what looks like stationary or scrapbooking materials. And the final detail, a cross necklace hung in the background. Could it be a part of her past, or has faith become a part of her life since the events in Sokovia?

Dreams. Memories. Sweetness. Peace. Refuge. Femininity. We learned all of this just from the background setting, this doesn’t even include everything we learned in Wanda’s conversation with Steve.

This is not the room of a child, nor is it the room of a woman. It is the room of someone who is in between. It is a room reminiscent of the childhood that she never got to have, but it is also longing for the womanhood she is not yet sure how to grasp. Instead, she is a girl caught in the middle between fear and vulnerability, and bold strength.

Wanda made huge strides to grow and become braver. She faced down her fear when Vision confronted her and she triumphed. Everyone is well aware of just how powerful she is, she is not lacking for capabilities to protect both herself and others.

But underneath all of that, Wanda still has a sweetness that needs to be protected. All those who know her feel that and try to guard her. Steve, Vision, Clint, even Tony. She’s the baby Avenger, the kid sister, the girl who they have all grown to love and want to protect. I think Pietro would feel great relief to know that his sister is so well looked after.

We were truly introduced to Wanda Maximoff for the first time in Civil War. And we were introduced so subtly and organically that we never even noticed it.

Meet Wanda Maximoff, a sweet young woman with a heart that’s even bigger than her beautiful eyes.