A Teaser and a Trailer, Fairytales and Fictional Science

Disney Studios happens to have some really interesting live-action stuff coming up in 2015. Back in October they released a teaser for Tomorrowland starring George Clooney, and last week trailers for the long-awaited live-action Cinderella came out.

I’ll tackle the short one first: Tomorrowland is probably one of those things where Disney realizes it’s got a movie for almost every major attraction in Disneyworld EXCEPT Tomorrowland; and in the spirit of Pirates of the Caribbean they wrote one. And boy, is this a teaser. This short glimpse at the film already establishes the two main characters, one of which is a teenage girl (yay for female protagonists!) and has a really intriguing vibe to it that got me all excited to see what it’s about. I really liked the music they used as well. It gives off the basic feel of the film without revealing too much, builds excitement as the protagonist familiarizes herself with going into another dimension (the titular location) and as she’s standing in a field of wheat, camera pans slowly to reveal a futuristic city looming in the distance. Then cut to George Clooney saying ‘Wanna go?’ and I was all like ‘HECK YES.’

Then, as if in reward, a very short scene within the city rushes past and cuts to black, and I was sold.

So. Cool.

To balance out this futuristic, science-fiction feature here’s Disney’s Cinderella. Like Maleficent, this is a fleshed-out, live-action version of the classic story…well, the classic story the way Disney told it. I wasn’t really keeping an eye on this movie till the trailer came out, bringing along with it Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter and Richard Madden, demoted from his stature of King in the North to fairytale prince. The titular role is played by Lily James, with Cate Blanchett as the stepmother (I’m sorry but she’ll alwAYS BE GALADRIEL TO MEEEEE) and bippity, boppity, beyotch– Helena Bonham Carter as the fairy godmother. Although I was a little surprises that she was cast as such, watching the trailer convinced me that no one else could rock the role. Also, look! Hayley Atwell as Cinderella’s actual mother! And she gives her daughter one of the most poignant quotes to come out of a Disney film since ‘Ohana means family’– ‘Have courage, and be kind.’

Again, the music makes the movie, and the score in this trailer swells with magic and wonder, making me feel like a little kid again. Lily James kind of actually does look like the animated Cinderella. It’s an immensely promising film; I was on a high after watching the trailer. And I’m sure you will be, too.

im really just glad that Richard Madden still has a career after being killed on Game of Thrones

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Mephistopheles Mondays

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His fingers walk over the keys producing an unholy, melancholy sound
And tongue licks the last drops of wine from his mouth
Saying “the black keys are nothing without the white keys
The white keys are nothing without the black”
The music grows in a deafening swell, and he says “I am the force which forever works for evils yet forever creates good–
And that force
Lives in all of us
In men and women
In light and darkness
And in…piano keys.”

After the crescendo, the volume drops.
A single bare bulb hanging from the ceiling
Casts shadows on the wall.
The melody continues softly.
And he says: “Light is nothing without darkness to define it.

“The black keys are nothing without the white keys.
The white keys are nothing without the black.”

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So this is it.

About a couple weeks back when I watched Big Hero 6 I was pretty much convinced that Fall Out Boy’s Immortals should win the 2015 Oscar for Best Original Song. Then fellow blogger Geekcritique  posted a link to Billy Boyd’s farewell song, to be played at the end of The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies.

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And it just hit me in all the feels everywhere. When the first LOTR movie trilogy ended, I was too young to be completely invested in the series. I remember there being a big hype about it. Only after Return of the King was I old enough to read the books and watch all the movies+extended editions. In 2012, I was able to fall back in love with Middle-Earth with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. 

Now I’m old enough to watch a Tolkein movie trilogy end all over again–and this time, for good. And what a goodbye it seems to be–rather than end with the epic bang that concluded the original series, this time Peter Jackson and co. have taken a more emotional approach, celebrating the awesomeness that the franchise and universe has given to us for years.

Written and performed by actor/musician Billy Boyd (and that’s Peregrine Took to you), The Last Goodbye was crafted specifically as a way of wrapping up the trilogy in a meaningful way for all the fans. The song is heavy with emotion and depth, and they just HAD to bring in an actor from the first trilogy to amp up the farewell feels by 150%, didn’t they?? And I thought my childhood ended with The Deathly Hallows. It’s a beautiful song filled with poignancy as it is, but to any Ringer out there, guaranteed it will mean a whole lot more.

So, without further ado, this is it. The Last Goodbye.

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Grandmothers

One of my grandmothers is in the States right now. She is a strong woman in more ways than one. She should have been home by now, but she decided to extend her trip until after Thanksgiving.

I miss my grandma.

One of my grandmothers died when I was fourteen. She had brown hipster glasses and a thing for big coats. She would have been seventy-four years old yesterday.

I miss my grandma.

November 17, 2014

I miss both my grandmas

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On Meeting Someone You Admire

Five years ago I fell in love with Arnold Arre’s The Mythology Class, a riveting epic about the creatures of old myths trapped in a new world and the modern-day college students that try to send them home. I was only twelve or thirteen when I read that book–borrowed off a classmate who I’ve never seen again– and instantly marked it as a favorite.

Arnold Arre– with his funny writing, compelling and lovable characters, brilliant storytelling and wonderful art– was the spark that set off my love for Pinoy ‘komiks’ and was one of the many who influenced my current style. My discovery of Private Iris, a children’s series illustrated by Arre, helped that along as well. From that day on I always thought that meeting this legend would be right up there on my bucket list.

And today at Komikon X, I did. I picked up the latest edition of The Mythology Class, the book that started it all. And I found myself face to face with Mr. Arre himself.

I could have been one of millions to tell him that I loved his work, that it inspired me. But I realized that sometimes, there’s a funny thing about meeting someone you admire. It’s just enough to revisit the world they created, to know that they know you love what they do. There are simply no words. Really.

And you stand, speechless, and perfectly content to grin like an idiot as they sign your copy–

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–and draw your idiot face.

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Save Me San Fransokyo: Big Hero 6 Review

‘It’s time to use those big brains of yours and look for a different angle!’- Hiro

Last weekend my family and I got to see the new Disney feature that everyone’s been talking about. The hype did not disappoint– Big Hero 6 is absolutely triumphant. Brilliant animation, huggable robots, science, science, SCIENCE and Marvel superheroes? How do you seriously go wrong? It’s currently the number 1 movie in the Philippines, and RIGHTEOUSLY SO. You’re gonna come out of theaters grinning like an idiot and wondering ‘what is Frozen?’

Spoilers after the jump! *knuckle touch* ‘blalalalalala’

STORY: Big Hero 6 has a fairly simple, Avengers-ish plot, but it’s executed quite uniquely. Set in San Fransokyo, an alternate universe/futuristic version of San Francisco fused with Tokyo, the heart of the story is Hiro Hamada, a genius 14 year old boy. Hiro would have wasted his remarkable engineering savvy on participating in underground robot fights if not for his (hella good-looking) older brother Tadashi, who studies at San Fransokyo University of Technology and encourages his younger bro to do the same, using his talent to make innovations that will benefit people. A brief trip to his brother’s ‘nerd school’ familiarizes Hiro and the audience to the four characters (Honey Lemon, Wasabi, Gogo and school mascot Fred) who will later make up most of the titular team, as well as their mentor Prof. Callaghan. We also meet Baymax, Tadashi’s robot invention, for the first time, and immediately fall in love with his non-threatening, huggable design.

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^ this guy, Bae-to-the-Max

To get accepted into the school, Hiro creates multi-purpose microbots that totally stun the crowd at an expo and earns the attention of one Mr. Krei, who’s kind of like the Justin Hammer of this movie (or is he? Huehuehuehue.) Hiro refuses to sell his invention to him and gets accepted into university by Professor Callaghan– but mere hours after their triumph the expo gets blown up, taking the good professor, Hiro’s microbots AND Tadashi with it. That leaves Hiro all by himself with their aunt– and Baymax, who insists on elevating Hiro’s dopamine levels as per his programming to treat the sick and injured. The pair soon discover that the microbots haven’t been destroyed at all, and someone’s been making more– a super villain in a kabuki mask who uses them to attack the boy and his robot. To catch the villain, Hiro upgrades Baymax into a badass battle droid. Tadashi’s friends catch on and, believing the masked man to be Mr. Krei and responsible for the explosion, combine their tech savvy to become the Big Hero 6. Also, there’s stuff about a portal, which makes the latter half of the movie look hella lot like The Avengers.

I was impressed at this movie’s solid storytelling– there were no loopholes, no flimsy excuses for why something happens the way it happens, and surprisingly, no unnecessary romance angle! It also does a good job at fooling you with the villain’s secret identity– if you don’t catch a supposedly throwaway line during the exposition, you’ll definitely be led on. And the story may be all the way up there with its high tech, colorful design and outrageous premise (these crazy fool kids all turnt up tryna be superheroes…) but at the end it really loops back on the simple themes of dealing with grief and how easily technology can be used for either good or evil.

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^ from left to right: Wasabi, Gogo, Honey Lemon, Fred, Hiro, Baymax, Aunt Cass, Tadashi, Prof. Callaghan, Kabuki Mask Man (Yokai, according to Disney Wiki)

CHARACTERS: One of the gems I found about this film was how positively it portrays college life– as something fun and exciting, with students working long hours, giving each other crazy nicknames and getting around town all squished together in a beat-up car. There’s a Big Hero 6 character for just about every college kid out there: Wasabi is the neat-freak, by-the-book sort of guy, Honey Lemon is your all-hopped-up-on-caffeine, one-Selfie-every-hour hipster girl, Gogo’s the tough perfectionist and Fred is…well, Fred’s not actually a student, but he does appreciate free food, and you will meet people like that in college. It was refreshing to have all these colorful characters but focus, development-wise, on Hiro, who they immediately include into their group after his brother dies.

Aaaaaand of course, Baymax deserves his own paragraph. I would like to state, not for the last time, that everybody needs a Baymax in their lives. From his first appearance, the character’s number 1 imperative is to provide healthcare to anyone who needs it, and he’s damn persistent about this programming throughout the whole movie. He puts Hiro before himself in every situation, especially at the end, when he sacrifices himself to send the boy out of a collapsing portal. He’s a lovable and good robot, and interestingly enough, the way Hiro overrides his purpose turning him into a battle-bot echoes the way their villain uses the microbots– initially created for good– to further his evil plans.

But who IS the villain anyway? It’s none other than Prof. Callaghan, who happens to have survived the fire. Turns out the accident was just that– an accident, albeit one that allowed him the opportunity to exact revenge on Mr. Krei. When we first meet him, the professor briefly mentions his daughter, and his daughter is later revealed to be a test pilot who apparently dies while testing one of Krei’s new inventions (the aforementioned portal.) Like almost every effective good vs. evil story, the villain experiences what the hero experiences; only he chooses to act on it in an immoral way. (Whoa, man, deep!) And that makes the mysterious Callaghan one of Disney’s most fascinating bad guys to date.

And our hero, the aptly named Hiro, reminds me of myself at age 14 complete with the mood swings, big dreams and aversion to convention. Disney really hit home with his development as a character, which felt totally natural all the way through, and his interactions with Baymax are the shining moments of the whole movie. He’s what makes the story a Bildungsroman in its own right, and the way the movie is composed shows how much he’s changed– from scenes of him isolating himself after losing Tadashi at the beginning to scenes of him going to school and hanging out with his friends after losing Baymax at the end, and eventually rebuilding the robot using his brother’s programming. I tell you, it’s flawless.

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(Also I have reason to believe that Hiro’s Tony Stark’s illegitimate son. I’m not even kidding.)

SCREENPLAY: What can I say? It’s Disney, so when it had its funny parts, it was hilarious, and when it got all feelsy, there was nothing but the feels. It had great references to actual science and nifty name-dropping, plus one great and epic cameo at the end. And I am very much a sucker for superhero training montages set to sick beats.

MUSIC: The score was great, really fit the mood, was alternately epic and urban, yada yada. No, what REALLY stands out in this film’s soundtrack is Fall Out Boy’s song ‘Immortals,’ written especially for Big Hero 6. It should win an award, it really should.

AND OF COURSE, ANIMATION: Bright colors and sleek rendering brings the city of San Fransokyo to life as a melting pot of Eastern and Western cultures. The team’s design draws from the original comics but also puts a realistic, funky spin on it that’s somewhere between Tron and Pacific Rim. Every frame is brimming with detail (specifically the boys’ room and the bot-fighting arena in the first scene) and you’ll always find something distinctly Japanese here and there. In addition, major props to whoever designed Gogo and Honey because the more you look at them, the more you’ll find they’re distinctly different from any typical, petite and childlike Disney girl design. Honey’s as tall as both Fred and Wasabi and Gogo actually has a biker chick’s build. It’s great that we have this especially after people were complaining that Elsa, Anna AND Rapunzel all look alike!

ANYTHING ELSE?: One thing I very much appreciated was the brotherly relationship that’s a big part of the story, and it sort of felt unfair that the girls of Frozen weren’t allowed to have that kind of interaction for most of their movie. I also loved how the team operates very differently from other superhero teams– where you’ve usually got one token genius making everybody’s tech for everybody, this is a team comprised of geniuses with only one guy whose IQ is relatively average. But Fred definitely makes up for it with his enthusiasm and geekiness, proving that a thorough knowledge of comic books can actually help you in life!

A minor grumble is Hiro’s family situation. Like Spider-Man and a lot of other superheroes, he’s an orphan; he and Tadashi were raised by their aunt. By now, it’s a cliche, and not even necessary in this film’s narrative. We could have easily filled in a single parent for this aunt, and not much would’ve changed– in fact, it would probably have added some more depth to the story. And really, just take it into perspective– Hiro’s parents are dead, then his brother dies, then at the end he loses his robot. Okay, so he manages to rebuild the robot. But STILL. That’s too much to take from one character in a family movie! There’s a limit, Disney!

Finally, my last observation is the quirky Avengers parallels– probably not intentional, but recognizable to someone who’s seen the movie no less than 10 times. Science everywhere! Someone dies and people assemble to avenge him! ‘Oh no, the bad guy’s using my tech against me!’ Portals! Genius makes a trip into a portal! NDE in the portal! And finally, the news goes crazy with reports of a superhero team while everybody gets on with their lives and starts over.

Yeah, definitely the Avengers. But also, distinctly, preciously, remarkably unique in its own way. Big Hero 6 pushes the boundaries of what is defined as ‘just a kid’s movie’ and brings up some really mature themes that honestly aren’t too early to learn, especially in a generation defined by technology. (Plus it gets kids hyped up for college.) And it FEELS SO GOOD TO GET ASIAN REPRESENTATION IN AN ANIMATED MOVIE!

The end doesn’t set up a sequel, and the story’s fine the way it is– but if they come up with a second one, well…you know who’ll be in cinemas nibbling a lollipop. Disney and Marvel, you’ve done it again– and I am 100% satisfied with your care.

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YOUR MOVE, DC CINEMATIC UNIVERSE!

‘Woman UP!’

‘It’s like spooning a giant marshmallow.’

‘Haaaaaiiiiry baby…hairy baby…’

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I Don’t Believe in that kind of God

I don’t believe in the kind of God that people say
Gets angry
Abandons
Hates gay people
Plays favorites with a little exclusive club that’s got a sign over the door saying ‘NON-WORSHIPERS KEEP OUT’
Damns people to hell
Or, if the time is right,
Will only save a chosen few

No,
I don’t believe in that kind of God

I believe in the God that lies tucked in out of sight deep down inside everybody
I believe that, despite all the reasons not to
Because even the worst of us brings out the best in others
And vice versa

The little God that lies buried under layers of lousy, wonderful humanity
That’s the God I believe in

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