WRECK-IT RALPH 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay quick little thing because I’m excited as all hell but WRECK IT RALPH 2 IS OFFICIAL AND IT HAS A RELEASE DATE!

https://www.facebook.com/Disney/?ref=nf (I have no idea how Facebook works but you can see the first two things that appear are news on it.)

As you can tell I am beyond ecstatic. Wreck-It Ralph is one of my all time fave movies and they kept talking about a sequel but news would be few and far between and rather vague about it so it was hard to keep hope up. But now, Disney officially announced it AND THERE’S AN ACTUAL RELEASE DATE (March 9, 2018).

And what makes me especially happy is that Disney’s making a pretty big deal out of this. Yesterday they posted “Tune in Thursday June 30 at 9 PST For some BREAKING NEWS from Disney Animation” on all their social media accounts, posted it LIVE, and then made a separate video on how Ralph returns. This shows me that Disney still cares about the original movie and considers it a hit (since after the movie came out all the merch for it practically disappeared and no one talked about it).

Ooh I am so ready to be able to see some of my fave characters soon. Wreck-It Ralph is one of Disney’s best movies and I’m so happy to see it revived soon. Be sure to see the sequel and support the franchise! I know I will!

I Want a Disney Film Set in Canada (and other set pieces)

This fall, Disney will take us to the beautiful lands of the Pacific Islands in Moana. 

Afterwards, however, it seems they’re going back to fantasyland Europe with Gigantic (with a Spanish influence) and Frozen 2.

I got to be honest: I’m extremely done with white princess movies and movies set in the same vaguely European world of yore. Disney has done that to death, and it’s not giving people of other countries, cultures, and ethnicities a chance to see themselves onscreen.

So, here are some suggestions of the many, many places Disney could set their films instead (I’m not going to get plot specific):

1: CANADA

Well, okay, I guess we already kind of did get a Disney film set in Canada with Brother Bear, but since that movie didn’t do so well, we could always go for another one.

Maybe I’m biased because I am Canadian myself, but I think Disney could make a really awesome film set in Canada. I think a really great period to set it would be in 19th century Canada, with all the different ethnic groups (First Nations, Metis, black people, the Chinese, French-Canadiens and the British) struggling to survive amidst harsh weather and fight for territory. You could also add in some spirituality as well.

2: SOUTHEAST ASIA

Southeast Asia is so gorgeous. With awesome architecture and culture, lush jungles and beaches, Buddhist spirituality and animal life (tigers and elephants being huge), you could make a truly beautiful film in this part of the world. I don’t know too much about the individual countries (something that I hope to rectify) but I can imagine you can make a movie about a Thai princess or a young Buddhist monk.

3:  AFRICA

This continent really gets a bad rep in media. It’s homogenized, demonized, and seen as ‘backwards’ and ‘primitive’ and while it is true the different countries have their struggles (most of them are still reeling from colonization and the slave trade) it’s not fair that the whole continent is painted as wasteland and whenever films ARE set there, they focus on animals, on white people, or how horrible and savage the actual Africans are. So I think Disney could have a huge impact by making a movie (or several) set in Africa with a more positive depiction of African people and culture.

(Image via Wikipedia)

There are a lot of regions and cultures to choose from, as seen above. North Africa has a lot of Mediterranean and Muslim influence, which might not  be a bad thing, but West Africa was the area ravaged most by the slave trade and a lot of the other areas suffered from colonialism so it would probably be best to set it before European contact and focus on the empires. At any rate, with proper research and respect, you could make something beautiful.

4: ANCIENT EGYPT

Related to the above point, but Ancient Egypt is considered to be its own entity. At any rate, I think you could make an awesome film set there, with all the gods/goddesses, the pyramids, the Nile River, and you could probably have an Egyptian Princess from it.

5: PRE-CONTACT AUSTRALIA

Australia has been brutalized by racism and colonialism, so you could probably do some good by making a film about the Aboriginals during their prime. With the cave paintings, the Dreamland, and the Bunyip, you could make a dreamlike film about the life and legends of the people who braved this land.

There are many more places (plus you could always make more films set in Latin America, the Middle East, India, East Asia, and non-white parts of the US) but those are my top five pics. I think they could also adapt different classic stories from around the world as well. But at any rate, there’s a whole world beyond Europe that Disney can draw influence from, and they should get down to it sooner than later.

Maui is fat. So what?

For some reason, even though images of this movie have been around for a long time, only NOW are people coming out of the woodwork and getting mad at the depiction of Maui. And the reason? They basically think he’s ‘fat and ugly’ (one person said he looks half pig, half hippo).

Okay, I’m really sorry, but this is pissing me off. Why? Because it’s really fatphobic.

Apparently, if you are a mighty heroic demigod, you need to be handsome and lean. You’re fat? Apparently you’re a bad role model. Fat people aren’t allowed to be heroes. They’re sidekicks at best, villains at worse. Being fat is inherently ugly and gross and bad and Disney should feel bad, is the impression I’m getting. Disney ONLY did this to be offensive to Polynesians (never mind they made a beautiful Polynesian princess and there are images of her father and he isn’t fat and they went out of their way to cast The Rock and consult actual Polynesians) and not because they possibly, you know, make it clear that the character is not a love interest to our teenage heroine and show that they’re moving away from making all their lead characters look the same, apparently.

To that, I say: no. Just no. Fat children of all races deserve to see themselves as powerful and heroic.

Look, you should absolutely criticize Disney’s depiction of Polynesian culture in this movie, but can we NOT give out the impression that, if you’re fat and not conventionally attractive, you’re automatically less deserving of respect and that you can’t be a hero? There’s a way to criticize the design choices for Maui without getting angry that fat people are given some much needed representation.

The End of The Galaxy and a Great Show

image

Beware of Spoilers!

Well, it’s official. After two seasons, three years, and 80 episodes, Craig McCracken’s Wander Over Yonder came to an end.

I really liked this show, so of course I’m upset that it’s ended. What really upsets me (and a lot of other people) is that McCracken and crew wanted to do a third season to explore the characters more, but the head honchos at Disney decided not to renew it, apparently feeling that 80 episodes was enough. Maybe they didn’t find the show very profitable?

Well, at any rate, it was a wild ride, but we’re here. At the end. How do I feel about the ending?

I’m a little mixed, to be perfectly honest.

It’s not a BAD finale by any means. It keeps you excited for what’s going to happen, and seeing Hater finally embrace his true power and leadership was pretty rewarding. I think the show ended Dominator’s part of the story rather appropriately. She was defeated, but they didn’t kill her or make her convert to the good side. She just sort of left in a huff. Though in a scene during the credits something comes alive? I couldn’t tell. But I feel like that was a way of saying, if there was to be a third season, she would’ve been back.

What disappointed me more than anything was that the relationship between Hater and Wander was never resolved. It pretty much ended with “things will never change” and I wasn’t too happy about that. Why?

Well, you see, throughout the show, the crew kind of acknowledged that people thought that Wander and Hater kind of sort of had an unspoken attraction towards each other and there were plenty of moments in the show when the crew teased that. There’s an entire episode dedicated to Wander and Hater planning their pretend wedding (it…works in context)! So, you know, in a world where LGBT representation is EXTREMELY important in the light of horrible hate crimes, I would think they’d want to have these two actually confess their feelings for each other. Even if they didn’t want them to be a couple, they could have at least had Wander and Hater admit they weren’t totally at odds with each other. Again, maybe this would’ve been resolved in a third season, but since that’s not going to happen, we’ll never know.

I’m also curious as to how many of the characters we’ve met throughout the show escaped to another galaxy or died. On the refuge planet, we only see about a handful of characters Wander and Sylvia met, so I’m wondering if that’s implying anything or not. But I’m probably overthinking things.

So yeah, I’m a little upset, but it was a great show while it lasted. Thank you to the entire cast, crew, and creators to help bring this show to life and I wish you luck on your further endeavours!

Finding Dory Review (or, how Talking Fish Made Me Cry)

MAJOR SPOILER WARNING FOR THE ENTIRE THING! Also, harsh criticisms against Pixar’s 2015 offerings.

I made it no secret that I hated Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur. So, that’s why I didn’t buy into the hype for Finding Dory. I was sure it was going to be disappointing. Still, I got a chance to go to a private screening for it, so I did. And man, I am so glad that I did. Finding Dory–as well as its short, Piper–achieved what Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur could not.

The Good Dinosaur is supposed to be about facing your fears. It tries to convey that message,  but mostly comes across as “how many times can we hurt and traumatize this poor little dinosaur?” and made the film unpleasant as a result. Piper, on the other hand, has a good message on facing your fears and finding something beautiful and new out of it, and executes it in a way that is charming and gets its point across without being overly sadistic. There’s also the fact that the character design and the set pieces actually work together (rather than making the backgrounds hyper realistic and making the characters look like plastic toys), which results in making the short much more enjoyable. So I was pretty blown away with that. Plus the short was absolutely adorable too. Then it was time for the full length movie to play.

And oh god, was I in for a ride.

While it’s not QUITE as thrilling or awe-inspiring as the first movie (and I don’t think the animation has anything necessarily NEW to offer, with the exception of Hank the amputee octopus) Finding Dory is still a really intense adventure, with lots of emotion. You really get invested in Dory’s quest to find her parents, and the characters she meets resonate with you pretty strongly as well. What I loved most was just how loving and caring Dory’s parents are, how much they support her and do everything they can to make sure Dory can succeed (take note, parents of neurodivergent and disabled children: THIS is how you raise them). Therefore, when Dory gets reunited with them, it is very rewarding. And it made me cry.

I also loved the climax so much. It was filled with all the spontaneity and creativity and randomness and sheer “screw the rules let’s have an octopus hijack a truck and drive it into the ocean and people will love it” found in classic Pixar and managed to really draw you in.

The whole world is just so vivid and full of life. It actually makes you want to go to the Marine Life Institute. This was so relieving because I find the set pieces of Inside Out so bland and dispassionate (Imagination Land is just a bunch of fries and clouds and cards and imaginary boyfriends. Really?) so to see them put more effort into making the set piece here stand out was refreshing.

But the main reason why Finding Dory is so much better than Inside Out is because of how it handles mental illness.

In Inside Out, Riley is barely in the movie and doesn’t demonstrate a whole lot of autonomy or even personality (besides “I want to go back to Minnesota”) and most of the movie focuses on Joy (who can burn in Hell for all I care) and Sadness (who is genuinely sweet) going on an adventure to get back to Headquarters. Throughout the whole thing, Sadness (who can be seen as a metaphor for a depressed person) is given the short end of the stick (at one point Joy is willing to leave Sadness to die) but never once stands up for herself or says “I don’t need to take this. I am important”. And Joy only becomes nicer to Sadness when she realizes she serves a purpose (not because, you know, all people, especially those who are sad all the time, deserve respect), and doesn’t apologize to her at all. Yikes. And at the end, after Riley vents to her parents, we skip over a year to see her all happy and adjusted, no lingering problems. THIS is the film we’re praising as a beacon of mental health representation? Gross. I don’t accept that.

Finding Dory, on the other hand, actually empowers our mentally ill protagonist and makes her a three-dimensional character. You see her actually struggle with her disability but on her own (without TOO much help) she realizes that while she can’t do EVERYTHING, that doesn’t mean she can’t do ANYTHING. She is able to find her parents, to use her resources to help her, and help save other fish. And when other characters are mean to her, she doesn’t just sit there and take it. She actually calls them out on it! We get to see her be happy, confused, despaired, and overjoyed. I’m so glad that they were able to expand Dory’s character.

Now does the film have problems? Well, yeah. The characters are a little snippy at each other (though they do get sweeter as the film progresses), Bailey the beluga’s echolocation problem gets solved almost immediately for the sake of the plot (and it doesn’t make sense for him to end up in the coral reef, since belugas live in the arctic) and Gerald (the sea lion that is clearly coded to be intellectually disabled) is treated very meanly. I’m not sure why they felt the need to make this character a punchline. I’m just glad he (sort of) gets revenge on his bullies later on, but still. I want a short where Gerald is shown in a better light.

Overall, though? Finding Dory is fantastic, and it certainly deserves the hype it gets.

Shanghai Disneyland…where are Big Hero 6 and Zootopia?

Disney’s newest park opened in Shanghai in the company’s continued quest to appease and attract the Chinese market. (At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney started making more movies set in China later on.) As parks go, it does look really nice. If THIS video is anything to go by, a lot of effort was put into it.

But I couldn’t help but notice something.

There were quite a few moments when Anna and Elsa could be seen, but there was no trace of Hiro and Baymax (or the rest of the BH6 team for that matter) or Nick and Judy. I know there was a park celebration that played “Immortals” and had Baymax perform, but that was about it (and I’m not even sure if that’s going to be a mainstay event or if it was a one-time only deal); no meet and greet or special San Fransokyo attraction. And when I looked at the (English version) of the park’s site, I can’t find any references to BH6 or Zootopia. You can meet Elsa and Anna along with the other official Disney Princesses at the Enchanted Storybook Castle and they have a sing along celebration, but I can’t seem to find anything for BH6 and Zootopia.

Why does this bother me?

Well, Frozen’s total Chinese gross was about $48 million. Not bad, but compared to it’s run in Japan, where it made almost $300 million, that’s kind of underwhelming. Big Hero 6 on the other hand was known for being a bigger hit in China (along with DreamWorks’s Kung Fu Panda franchise), with about $83 million. And Zootopia was a HUGE hit in China, earning $235 million and having a huge impact with audiences. So, you’d think Disney would take China’s love for those two movies and feature them a lot in this new park, right? Well, apparently not.

What baffles me the most is that there’s an attraction for Star Wars characters, even though the Star Wars isn’t as big a phenomenon in China than in the rest of the world (in fact The Force Awakens did pretty poorly in China). So if they’re going to feature a franchise that doesn’t resonate as well, why not prominently feature franchises that DO resonate well?

Maybe I’m being paranoid, but to me this feels like Disney’s continued effort to focus exclusively on their billion dollar franchises and nothing else, even if that means forcing it on countries that have different tastes.

Now I could be wrong. There could be other reasons why this is happening. But at any rate, at some point Disney SHOULD feature good BH6 and Zootopia content in a country where they have both been proven to be popular, and it’s kind of ridiculous that it’s not the case so far.

We’ll have to see, but for now, I can’t help but feel a little suspicious. Let’s hope Disney proves me wrong.

EDIT: A friend pointed out that a possible reason why they have Frozen and Star Wars featured so prominently at the park is a way to make them more popular in China so that they’ll pay to see Frozen 2 and further SW films. That actually does make an unfortunate amount of sense. While I can understand Disney’s decision to do that, it still doesn’t excuse them to not feature BH6 or Zootopia AT ALL, where they are already popular (and could make them into bigger hits). So, you can understand my frustration with the whole thing.

EDIT 2: I have been told that Hiro and Baymax have a show at Tomorrowland, and Zootopia has been added to a parade. That’s relatively good news for Hiro and Baymax (though I would think the whole team would be added), but that’s pretty underwhelming for Zootopia, considering its monster  hit status in China. I guess we’ll have to see what happens from there. My point is, Zootopia and BH6’s attractions should be just as big, if not BIGGER, than Frozen’s and SW’s because they’re so popular in China. But we’ll see.

What “Gargoyles” Can Teach Us About Gun Safety

(Image via Wikipedia)

Trigger warning: blood, gun violence

Since misuses of guns in the United States continues to be a hot button issue, I thought now would be a good time to talk about how this isn’t a new phenomenon. Some twenty years ago, the issue of gun violence and gun safety was discussed very candidly in an episode of the hit show Gargoyles in the episode “Deadly Force”.

If you haven’t seen the show, you really should. It’s one of the best animated shows out there. If you need some context, I suggest you look up the many wikias for the show to catch up. What you need to know is that the show consists of a band of Gargoyles (the leader Goliath, the old mentor Hudson, the young ones Brooklyn, Broadway, Lexington, and their ‘dog’ Bronx) who awake from a 1000 year sleep in 1999 New York, befriend Elisa Maza (an example of a genuine good cop) and fight crime, often instigated by Xanatos (the man responsible for their resurrection) and Demona (Goliath’s old flame).

In the episode, Xanatos has a shipment of special high-tech weapons (lazers, but they could pass for guns) delivered, but they are stolen by Anton Dracon, a crime lord. Elisa Maza is determined to bring Dracon to justice, but has no proof of it. Meanwhile, Broadway is enamored with an old Western movie that glamourizes the use of guns. He goes to Elisa’s apartment to visit, and notices that she leaves her gun out in the open. Without knowing any better, he decides to play with it…and it has serious consequences.

(Imagine via AV Club)

Horrified, Broadway takes Elisa to the hospital, where she just barely makes it out alive. She is in a coma throughout the episode. When Goliath finds out, he is enraged, and vows to seek vengeance for her. Since the cops believe that Dracon is responsible, he sets out for him.

As this is going on, Dracon has been selling the deadly weapons on the street, much to Broadway’s anger. He makes it his mission to get rid of all the weapons and teach the owners a lesson. Eventually, both he and Goliath make it to Dracon’s hideout, where they are expecting a buyer for all their weapons. There’s a fight, which the gargoyles win. Goliath is ready to kill Dracon, but Broadway begs him not to when he confesses that he shot Elisa. It ends with Goliath restraining the criminals, destroying all the weapons (which Xanatos had sought to reclaim), and making sure that Dracon is tied in with it all.

Elisa wakes up, and Goliath and Broadway visits her. Broadway apologizes for what he did and promises to never touch a gun again, but Elisa also admits that she was in the wrong for not properly putting the gun away. (In later episodes, we see Elisa securing her gun in a locked container out of sight.) The episode ends on a bright note, with everyone having learned something important and knowing that everything will be okay.

As you can see, this is a really important episode. It carefully teaches the audience the consequence of glorifying guns and not using or storing them properly. So what happened?

The episode got banned from subsequent re-runs on Toon Disney (and I think it might not have been broadcasted at all). Because it was ‘too violent’ and ‘too heavy’.

You can see how I might have a problem with that.

In the United States, fatal or near-fatal shootings happen all to frequently, and for an episode that’s explicitly meant to teach audiences how to avoid them to get banned because it’s too violent (even though there are plenty of other shows and movies aimed at younger viewers where gun violence is depicted gleefully) is deeply problematic and missing the point entirely.

What makes this episode stand up for me is how relevant it is after two decades. Even now, we still need to remind people to not leave their guns out in the open, to make sure kids don’t have access to them, and how we need stricter rules and regulations on them. It’s a little sad how, after so long, we still have a lot to learn about using guns properly.

In the meantime, maybe if this show could be revitalized (either a reboot or streamed through Netflix) and this episode was left in tact, maybe we can slowly start to see change. Maybe if this episode could be seen by more people, we could start to learn how to be more careful with our guns. I would like to hope so at least.

The series is available on DVD so I recommend you start there. Show this episode to your kids and start talking about the way guns are depicted in media and pop culture and your part in it, and how we can all be a little safer with them.