Theme Parks: Why Epcot is the Best Park in Disney World

Image of the Epcot ball in Walt Disney World Florida. Copyright goes to the Disney Parks company.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I can’t just talk about a theme park I’ve never been to without also talking about the ones that I have been to! I’ve been to all of the Disney parks in the US, meaning just the two. But I have been to each several times (the one in California possibly hundreds of times), and I want to talk about the park that I perceive to be the most underrated. When I was a kid Epcot was probably my least favorite park. I was absolutely not appeased by the fact that there weren’t many rides and my parents always wanted to walk all the way around the entire park for reasons that I could not comprehend. There were only a few places with rides, so why not just stay there? Because what Epcot has to offer is so much more than theme park rides. So, while this isn’t the best park to choose to take your small children to if you’re trying to decide on one park, this is probably the one you’ll enjoy the most as an adult. Let’s get into why Epcot is my personal favorite!

The World Showcase:

This is the main reason to go to Epcot for me. If you walk all the way behind the giant golf ball and fountain, you’ll see a wide stretch of land spaced out around this body of water in the center. This is the world showcase, an attraction in itself that features several places around the world all in this one very large section of the park. Here you can experience architecture from all over the world as well as several attractions unique to each place. For example, Norway features the ‘Frozen’ ride because of the setting of that movie. France will in the future have a ride based off of the Pixar movie ‘Ratatouille’, but more importantly it is home to a French bakery. This is one of my favorite stops around the entire showcase. Any type of French pastry that you wish you could go to France for is probably in this bakery. My favorite is actually this raspberry mousse that they serve with strips of chocolate cake. In China they have explanations and statues for each year in the Chinese zodiac. Because of this and going when I was so young, I knew I was year of the Rabbit long before I ever knew that I was a Taurus. They also have an amazing tea shop in this part of the showcase that I have to go to every single time now. In Canada there’s this entire show starring Martin Short. This doesn’t include the entertainment unique to each culture that the showcase highlights. It’s a giant place to walk around and adventure in. There’s always new stuff to see no matter how many times you go.

I should also mention under this, as I have already talked a little about food, the different events that the World Showcase often hosts. On one occasion we were there during an arts festival. This included several big names from Broadway performing on a stage and places to buy Disney paintings lining the showcase. There was an entire booth for Paige O’Hara the voice of Belle from ‘Beauty and the Beast’ who now spends much of her time painting. I was, unfortunately, not there for when she was manning her own booth, but it was amazing to see so many of the pieces she had painted by hand up close for myself. There’s also a flower festival that my family was there for that made the entire park absolutely beautiful. The most popular of these events, however, is easily the Food and Wine Festival. Each place offers delicious food selections that are, once again, unique to the culture of the place they are showcasing. Though I can’t necessarily speak to the quality of the wine (I don’t drink much and the last time I was there I was under the legal drinking age), I can say that the food is some of the best I’ve had in my entire life. It’s completely worth planning your entire Disney World trip around.

Journey To Imagination:

I have to admit here that the ride used to be much better, but I still love it with all my heart. Unfortunately, when Disney recently released plans for the new red-do of Epcot, the mention of this ride was no longer there. It does very much look like it won’t be there for much longer, which will make me very sad because I love Figment. I grew up with Figment, and he’s also become one of the identifying characters for the park. I’m sure they’ll keep him in the park in some capacity, but I’m not sure I think that’s good enough. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this ride, it features Eric Idle taking guests through different experiments to scientifically test their senses. He accidentally brings to life Figment, a figment of the imagination who is a purple dragon with orange scales and wings. Figment completely derails the tour to show the audience the fun of imagination. The ride initially also featured the Dream Finder, the creator of Figment, but the entire ride changed over time. Even though it is worse than the original, that doesn’t make it bad. Especially because the line for this ride features the only blatant tribute to Robin Williams left in the parks. Because the theme of the ride is science based, a large portrait of Robin Williams from the movie ‘Flubber’ greets guests at the entrance. I can no longer see it without crying, but that doesn’t mean I want it gone.

Test Track:

This is probably the most A-list ride in the entire park. This attraction has also seen a not-as-recent but still really recent refurbishment. Guests are put into a Tron like test for a car that they now design themselves. The ride is very futuristic and even has coaster elements to it at points. There are hot and cold effects as well as night time effects that make this even better. If you’ve been to the California Adventure park in Disneyland, California you’ll probably see similarities between this and their ‘Cars’ themed ride. This one is definitely better. It’s like if you took that ride and turned it up to eleven.

Spaceship Earth:

This is the ride that is inside the giant golf ball. If you were expecting some sort of thrill ride, I hate to disappoint you. This is much more like a traditional Disney dark ride. But it is still amazing. You ascend through a night sky filled with stars to time travel to the past, where the ride showcases several different moments of interest in history. This attraction is also receiving a bit of a facelift, but from what I understand the nature of the ride will remain unchanged. There’s also a feature where you answer questions about yourself including where you’re from. When you get off the ride there’s a giant virtual map so that you can see how many places the guests from that day come from.

The Theming:

Though the theming has changed and will continue to do so, that’s kind of the point of Epcot. Epcot is there to show a bit of the world we know today as well as to showcase the future. The soundtrack is probably my favorite part of the theming for this park and, yes, I am listening to it as I type this. It features several pieces that makes you hope for the future and really captures the futuristic parts of the park. I do wish that some of the theming for this park would be more cohesive and I’m really not sure any of the new plans will help with that, but some of the theming is still there and done well.

Those are only a few parts of this amazing park that I love so much. I really hope that the park will only continue to grow without getting rid of too much. But Epcot is definitely the park to go to if you want an adventure. The World Showcase is beyond words.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Marvel: ‘WandaVision’ Finale Review

Screenshot of Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in episode 9 of ‘WandaVision’. Copyright goes to Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios.

Hey! Hallie here!

The final episode of ‘WandaVision’ finally hit Disney+ yesterday and, as usual, there’s so much to talk about! Because it’s the end of the season, I’m going to stick to my original “What I Liked” and “What I Didn’t Like” categories to talk about this episode and the series as a whole. So without wasting any more time, let’s talk about this episode!

What I Liked:

Wanda: I was one of those people who was absolutely certain that Wanda was going to end the series a villain, or in the very least, an anti-hero. After all, she had kidnapped and mind controlled all of the people in Westview. I was also convinced that if she didn’t become a villain that would imply that the plot hadn’t held her accountable for her actions. The show surprised me by both holding her accountable and still keeping her as a mostly moral hero. While she and Agatha are fighting towards the beginning of the episode, Agatha frees the people of Westview from Wanda’s control so they can gang up on her. When they do, various people confess to Wanda the horrible things she’s been putting them through. It’s also revealed that while Wanda was maintaining the spell over them, she didn’t know how it was affecting them. She thought she was making them happier, or at least wasn’t affecting them in any harmful way, but instead she was projecting her grief into them and causing them pain. She also didn’t realize that they weren’t able to contact the family members Wanda hadn’t written into her storylines because those family members, such as their children, were stuck in their rooms. After being horrified by this information, she undid the barrier of the Hex to let them all escape before putting it back up once again to prevent Vision and her children from disappearing.

Wanda’s fight with Agatha was interesting. We got to see her use her mind manipulation powers mid-fight, the ones we haven’t seen since ‘Age of Ultron’. We also saw her outsmart Agatha by putting up runes within the hex, nullifying Agatha’s powers. She then turned into the Scarlet Witch, with a beautiful new costume to match that is not over-sexualized. By the end of all of it she turned Agatha back into Agnes, intending to keep her in Westview as the “nosy neighbor” until she’s needed again. With all of that out of the way, she finally got to the acceptance stage of her grief. She said a very difficult goodbye to Vision and her children, completely undid the Hex, and left to seclude herself. But not before cementing Monica Rambeau as a new friend. In an end credits scene we saw Wanda reading the Darkhold, the book Agatha possessed that had informed her of Wanda’s powers. She was also reading it in her astral form, so we already get to see some magic overlap between her and Doctor Strange that will help her fit in nicely to the next Doctor Strange movie. While reading, she could hear the voices of her sons calling for help. This could mean a few things. It could mean that the Darkhold, or whatever being created it, is tempting Wanda into darkness with her kids as bait. It could just mean that Wanda is simply planning to get them back at some point. We don’t know. Overall I think the exploration of Wanda’s grief was done beautifully in this series. I know more about her as a character than I ever did before, and I want to keep seeing her grow as a person.

Vision: We, once again, have two Vision’s to talk about. Westview Vision was absolutely endearing throughout this entire series, but never more than he has been in this episode. He was eager to jump to Wanda’s side every time she was threatened and he was very attentive of his sons anytime they were fighting. Despite the suspicions he’s had of Wanda before this episode, he showed obvious care for his family. He even forgave Wanda for everything she had done and helped her come to the conclusion that the Hex should be done away with permanently. His final moments were heartbreaking, but he left Wanda with the hope that they would meet again soon. For Wanda’s sake, I hope she doesn’t have to wait too long.

White Vision was fascinating in this episode. He spent the first half of it trying to kill Westview Vision, but Westview Vision brought up the Ship of Theseus. The argument here was, ‘is the ship the same if every piece of it is replaced?’ The conclusion White Vision came to was yes and no. It appears the same but no longer contains any piece of what it once was. With this logic, Westview Vision helped him see that both of them, and neither of them, are the true Vision. White Vision because he is made up of the old Vision but contains none of his memories, and Westview Vision because he contains many of Vision’s original traits without being made up of the original Vision at all. After this conversation, Westview Vision revealed that White Vision’s suppressed memories could be returned. He gave all of the original Vision’s memories back to White Vision, who left in a hurry immediately after they were returned to him. With his memories back, many are hopeful that White Vision will become, at least partially, the Vision we know and love once again. However, it’s worth pointing out that White Vision does have Vision’s memories in the comics. He simply can’t feel emotion. We could be dealing with the same problem here. If we are, I hope it’s a solvable one. I can’t say emotionless characters are very compelling.

Monica Rambeau and her team: Monica was locked up in a room for the first half of this episode, but when she emerged, she definitely kicked some ass. She saved Wanda’s children from some SWORD agents and helped them take out all the other SWORD agents. We even got to see her turn into pure energy which was a cool effect. She formed a very adorable bond with Wanda’ children during the battle. She also formed a friendship with Wanda. She expressed appreciation for everything Wanda had to let go of to fully free Westview and even confessed that, given the chance to bring her mother back to life, she would have done the same thing Wanda did. Which anyone who has experienced that kind of loss can agree with. In an end credits scene a Skrull revealed herself to Monica in the hopes of recruiting Monica to whatever project Nick Fury’s been working on. Monica has proved herself to be an extremely likable character and I’m excited to see Marvel already laying down plans for her involvement in the MCU in the future. Monica’s team didn’t get much screen time, but I still enjoyed seeing them. Jimmy Woo was awesome in this episode. He threw out some confident threats to Hayward, got out of a pair of handcuffs, and started leading a new group of SWORD agents by the end of it all. Darcy, to her credit, drove the giant truck she’s been in for two episodes right into Hayward’s car and successfully arranged his arrest. I wish I could have seen more of these two, but I was happy to see them all the same.

What I Didn’t Like:

Ralph Bohner: Let’s be honest, no one liked this reveal. I was one of those people who thought that Evan Peters’ involvement didn’t necessarily mean he was an X-Men tie-in, but I definitely hoped he was. Turns out he was just a set up for a bad dick joke. You can’t help but feel that Marvel did everyone a bit dirty with this reveal. They got all of the fans excited with the casting of Evan Peters only to ultimately troll all of us in the end. I understand that casting him allowed audiences to trust him and be suspicious of his presence at the same time, but they couldn’t have been oblivious to the fact that using Evan Peters meant that, if he was playing anyone else other than X-Men’s Quicksilver, fans weren’t going to be happy. This was just a bad move overall.

Agatha Harkness: This is a major character to put in the dislike section, but I really didn’t like what they did with this character. Kathryn Hahn made this character fun to watch, but the writing made her entirely uninteresting. The MCU is notorious for having many villains with no motivation other than to be evil. Agatha Harkness joins this list. Her motivations were simply to become more powerful by absorbing Wanda’s power, though why she wants this power is unclear. All we got for her backstory was her killing her coven and her mother by absorbing their powers, and being pretty ok with it all afterwards. She also didn’t serve the plot at all. As I said before “Agatha all along” was a bit of stretch. She mainly caused inconveniences. The most evil thing she did was kill a dog, which is messed up but not very plot relevant. Otherwise, Wanda was behind everything and Agatha was only there to lead Wanda through flashback sequences. In the comics Agatha Harkness isn’t even a villain. She’s Wanda’s mentor. Reducing her to what she was in the show is frustrating.

Overall, this finale was really good. I sobbed when Westview Vision died. I was fully satisfied with Wanda’s character arc. The show surprised me with how well they were able to keep one of their major female superheroes a hero and keep Vision alive, while still alerting us that changes have been made. I’m now very excited to see where they take the characters of Wanda and Monica next. I’m also very ready for the next Doctor Strange film, which is a bit of an issue because it won’t be out until next year. I guess it gives me an excuse to binge this series next year before the Doctor Strange movie is released! I’m sad that this series won’t be coming out every week anymore, but I’m equally eager to see the other Marvel shows Disney+ has cued up! I will absolutely keep reviewing those in the future!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Theme Parks: Efteling

Image of the entrance to Efteling Park in the Netherlands. Copyright goes to Efteling.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Being stuck inside has made me think about all of the places I would like to go to more than ever. If you’ve been on this blog for a while, you’ll know that my sister and I have talked about Disney theme parks before. But, obviously, Disney is not the be-all-end-all of theme parks. This image is of Efteling park in the Netherlands. An independent fantasy park that I am absolutely dying to go to. Not just because it’s a theme park, but because of how beautiful it is not just in theming but with nature as well. The creator of Efteling park was pretty passionate about keeping the nature inside the park, so actually did very little to clear the trees and instead planned the entire park around the nature the area already had. This only serves to make this fantasy park even more immersive. Here are all the reasons you also probably want to go to Efteling without realizing that you do… and some reasons why you may not want to go.

Fairytale Forest:

The fairytale forest is one of the most advertised parts of the park, and rightly so. This is what started out the park and is what the park has since expanded on. The fairytale forest contains several portrayals of original fairytales using adorable cottages planted within the greenery. Here you’ll find everything from Snow White to Rapunzel to Pinocchio with several other fairytales that you might also not be familiar with. But when I say original fairytales, I really mean original. I’m talking about the version of Cinderella where people’s eyes get pecked out and her step sisters cut off parts of their feet. Or the version of the Little Mermaid where she turns to seafoam at the end. Do not expect these fairytales to be all happy like Disney. But still, the fairytale forest has a magic to it and also has much to explore. Many people say that it’s impossible to see it all in one day and it’s almost like a hike within the park. They really do go for that immersion factor here.

Dream Flight:

Dream Flight is almost like ‘It’s a Small World’ in the way that they’re showcasing different animatronics. But if it was a thousand times better with less creepy animatronics, no annoying song, and if you were flying through it. The line is just as gorgeous as the ride itself and the ride depicts several different fairies doing different activities. It seriously reminds me of the work of Brian Froud if you’re familiar with him. Brian Froud is most known for working with Jim Henson specifically on the movie ‘Labyrinth’ starring David Bowie. So much in this park has Brian Froud vibes, but this is the one thing in the park in particular that is overflowing with them. This is like being flown into a little fantasy world that you get to observe from above. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Baron 1898:

This is actually one of the more recent additions to the park and one that I will never be able to get over. Baron 1898 is a steampunk themed dive coaster with it’s own backstory. You can even find themed story videos that Efteling created for the roller coaster online, though they are in Dutch. This coaster follows the story of Gustave Hooghmoed, a baron who discovered a nearby cave contained gold. Before he could disturb the cave he was visited by a spirit who warned him that if he disturbed the gold he would be cursed for the rest of his life. Of course, he doesn’t listen. As you are about to go down into the mine to retrieve some treasure for Gustave, you are attacked by vengeful spirits known as the White Ladies. Basically they are terrifying screaming spirits of women. These spirits are actually known for being like sirens, so they’re also most known for they’re beautiful singing. Singing that becomes more horrifying than beautiful as your ride the coaster. But still gorgeous; I listen to the soundtrack for this ride so much. Of course, it is a dive coaster so it’s known for it’s steep drop.

Symbolica:

Just because Disney doesn’t have a ride inside their castle doesn’t mean that a different park wouldn’t realize how badass that could be. Symbolica follows the jester mascot of Efteling as he uses his magic to send guests on a journey through the castle. This includes magically separating stairwells that you walk through before you even get on the ride, an observatory that looks like it’s straight out of ‘The Dark Crystal’ (welcome back Mr. Froud), and several other magical effects along the way. One of the best parts about this ride is that it’s interactive. First you get to choose if you want to take the music tour, the hero’s tour, or the treasure tour. Throughout the ride the screen in front of you may light up where you can choose glowing orbs to prompt things around you in the ride to happen. This ride is also trackless, which makes the experience smoother and even more mystical feeling.

Racism Controversy:

As I am covering the amazing parts of this park, I also should mention that there’s one blatant blemish in the park. Racist statues. Many of the racist statues have been removed since the original opening of the park. These were there depicting very old sentiments in a carnival setting. It’s still seriously wrong and removing them isn’t any excuse for them having been there in the first place. Though all of them have been taken down, one of the most racist parts of the park still remains intact. This is a ride called Monsieur Cannibale, a ride depicting a children’s story in the form of a song. The ride has a large racist statue in the middle of this teacups style ride, depicting a racist caricature as the cannibal. And that isn’t all. The song is in French, but it is not a song or story for kids as the story is actually very sexual in nature. Why the park is refusing to take this ride out is beyond me, but I can’t in good conscience recommend this park without noting something so harmful.

Efteling is an absolutely gorgeous immersive park with an amazing art style. I didn’t even mention all of the rides and attractions; like a haunted house, an optical illusion ride, a water show, and a medieval style show with knights and sword fighting. The fact that the creator of Efteling was an environmentalist and kept much of the nature intact is also admirable. But I, once again, have to talk about the immersion factor. Not many theme parks other than Disney related ones work to keep their guests fully immersed in an entirely different world no matter where they go in the park. That includes the lines being amazing and fun to walk through and greenery hiding the outside world. Efteling is the best park that I’ve seen that does this other than Disneyland. I would claim it is close to a perfect park, but it will never be that until they remove that massive blemish. It makes me want to vomit just thinking about it. But hopefully they’ll listen to others and do away with their racist imagery soon. If you want more information, I highly recommend Mo Mo O Brien’s video on this park on Youtube. It is absolute perfection.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Marvel: Female Characters Moving Forward

Screenshot of Danai Gurira as Okoye in ‘Black Panther’. Copyright goes to Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios.

Hey! Hallie here!

With the last episode of ‘WandaVision’ only hours away, there’s a lot riding on the future of Wanda Maximoff. Her characterization has been great, one of the best portrayals of women that I’ve seen come from Marvel, but it’s important that the finale keeps up with her strong characterization. Mainly because, as of now, it seems that Marvel is going to shift one of their only main female heroes into a villain, or, at least, an anti-hero. We know there are more women slated to make their entrances in the MCU, but these should be met with a level of skepticism. Marvel hasn’t really had the best track record when it comes to their writing of female characters so far. So with one of the best female-led projects coming to a close, let’s look at some of the other main female characters we’ve been introduced to in the MCU and their possible futures.

Black Widow: Well, she’s dead. But Natasha Romanoff’s solo movie has still not been released, so there’s no doubt we’ll be seeing her again. I don’t have high hopes for the writing of her character in the Black Widow movie. Natasha has never been written well. From her hyper-sexualization in ‘Iron Man 2’, to comparing herself to a monster because she’s infertile in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, to her getting fridged in ‘Avengers: Endgame’. If you’re unfamiliar with the term fridging, it describes a female character, whether developed or not, who dies without reason to affect the male character’s storyline. Natasha died in ‘Endgame’ as a quick replacement for Hawkeye, who would have been the more obvious person to die in that situation. She’s probably the worst female character in the MCU right now and I’m not sad her story will be coming to a close soon. There’s another character, played by Florence Pugh, who might join the ranks of the MCU after the Black Widow movie. But we haven’t been introduced to her yet, so I don’t have any speculations about her character.

Captain Marvel: Carol Danvers hasn’t gotten off to a great start so far, but she’s at least better than Natasha. Carol hasn’t been over sexualized or done anything specifically sexist. She has been written like a male character, though. The issue with Carol is that she’s written to be strong, somewhat silent, and prone to suppressing her emotions. These things all fall under the ‘strong-silent type’ trope we often see in male characters. Not only does it make her personality hard to discern, it cuts out any relation women might have to the character. She’s based on a male trope and she doesn’t face the sexist issues the movie promised she would face. She isn’t accused of being too feminine, or not feminine enough, because the movie tiptoes around her femininity by making her primarily masculine. She isn’t accused of being too emotional, like many women are accused of, because she doesn’t emote. She’s simply not relatable and I don’t even know what her personality is at this point.

Gamora: Oof. Gamora actually wasn’t too bad for a good while there. I still don’t know how she ended up attracted to Peter Quill, who is basically a large child, but it didn’t take away from her character. She wasn’t overly sexualized, she was the most emotionally intelligent member of the Guardians of the Galaxy and tied with Rocket as the most intelligent member of the team in general, and her backstory was amazing. Seeing her grow from an abused anti-hero into a strong hero willing to accept a family again, including her estranged sister Nebula, was satisfying. And then they killed her in ‘Infinity War’. This was almost fridging. There was literally no reason for this death. They, once again, killed off one of their only female characters with a plethora of male characters to choose instead, and none of it even made sense. The writers tried to explain that Thanos killed her because she meant so much to him, but their relationship hadn’t even been explored at that point. Gamora simply died to further Thanos’ story and attempt to make him sympathetic. Without succeeding. However, they undid this by bringing her back to life…by bringing in an alternate version of the character from before the events of the first Guardians of the Galaxy film. So, essentially, they did kill her character. Because all her character development is dead. I will never not be mad about this.

Shuri: Shuri’s been a great character so far. She’s fun, sarcastic, badass, and probably the most intelligent character in the MCU right now. She’s a prodigy with technology and she’s kicked ass on the battlefield multiple times now. She’s also a possible option to take over the Black Panther title. But I wouldn’t be so sure. Letitia Wright has posted some anti-vax messages about the COVID-19 vaccination on her social media. Not only is this deplorable, but the firing of Gina Carano shows that Disney doesn’t have much tolerance when it comes to these issues. We might have to look elsewhere if someone is going to step into the Black Panther shoes.

Okoye: I am in no position to suggest who the next Black Panther should be, nor is my opinion important on this matter. But I wouldn’t be mad if it was Okoye. Okoye is tied with Wanda for my favorite female character currently in the MCU. She’s the general of the Dora Milaje and she’s one of the best fighters in the MCU. All without superpowers or an advanced suit. She’s sarcastic, unafraid to stand up for herself, and she commands the respect she deserves. She’s incredibly loyal to her country, even sometimes to a fault, but her care for those she trusts is commendable. And, once again, she hasn’t been oversexualized or made primarily masculine. She’s the definition of a strong female character and I have high hopes for her in the future. I hope to see her in many MCU projects to come.

I haven’t addressed characters like Nebula, Valkyrie, or Jane Foster, but I might continue this with another post. There are a fair amount of female characters in the MCU as of now. But the amount of male characters outnumber them by far. Also, many of the women in the MCU have been written poorly. After ‘WandaVision’ it seems like there might be hope for the women joining the MCU. But I don’t want to get my hopes up. At this point, I’ll enjoy what has been done well and remain skeptical in the future.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop and K-Dramas: Everglow as a Rookie Group

Promotional image of Everglow for ‘Bon Bon Chocolat’ featuring (from left) Kim Sihyeon (Sihyeon), Jo Serim (Onda), Park Jiwon (EU), Wang Yiren (Yiren), Han Eunji (Mia), and Heo Yoorim (Aisha). Copyright goes to YeHua Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I apologize for all of the K-pop posts, but I guess you have a better idea of how I’ve been spending my time. As those of you who follow this blog probably know, I currently consider myself a stan for four groups. Those groups being BTS, ATEEZ, Everglow, and Rolling Quartz. While my attention isn’t completely divided between these groups (I consume WAY more content for BTS than any other group), I still keep up to date on all the news concerning these groups. I’ve seen a lot of people praise ATEEZ for being one of the most powerful rookie groups, but they aren’t really a rookie group anymore. Everglow, however, is definitely still a rookie group. Because of this, they are often compared to other groups like ITZY or even sometimes TXT. While I’m not a huge fan of pitting groups against each other in this way, these conversations have made me think of all the things Everglow is doing amazingly and some of the things they still need to work on. So, I’m going to go through some of my opinions about this group in as un-biased of a way possible. I can’t be completely without bias, but I’ll try to look at this objectively. Let’s go!

Vocals:

Everglow often performs with a track and lip syncs. I’ve seen a lot of people trying to argue that they’re bad because of this. A lot of dance heavy groups do this when they want to focus on performance, so I’m not going to judge them for this. They also sing live almost just as much, so it’s not like they haven’t shown that they can actually sing live. For this section I’m mostly going to talk about Mia and Sihyeon as they are the main vocalists for the group. Mia is the actual main vocalist and has a really strong and dynamic voice. Sihyeon also has a very pleasant voice to listen to because she has a very sweet tone. I personally love both of their vocals, but I definitely think they have room to improve. That goes for most rookie groups. I’ve seen everything from them being the best rookie group when it comes to vocals to them being extremely weak vocalists. People especially seem to target Mia because of the amount of lines she gets, which I won’t cover here because I talked all about that in a previous post. There’s a video of Sihyeon playing guitar while she and Mia sing acapella and I think that video was enough to prove their singing talent to me. I definitely think they have some pretty stable vocals performing live, which isn’t necessarily true of all rookie groups. But again, they have a bit of a way to go. This is absolutely excellent for being rookies though! I do have to mention here though, that Onda and Yiren are meant to be vocalists and the company themselves has talked about wanting to work on their vocals. They both have potential though and they might be great with a little practice!

Rap:

I think one of the major agreements everyone can come to concerning Everglow is that EU is an excellent rapper for this being a rookie group. Aisha is also pretty good in her rapper position, but EU is already great. She already seems to have a style that fits her well and she can handle a wide variety of genres with her rap. She even writes some of her own. There is absolutely no denying that EU is good at what she does.

Dance:

This is one that confuses me and seems to confuse a lot of people in general. The choreography for Everglow is pretty good, but they don’t look exactly cohesive as a group yet. This is something that definitely needs improvement for the group being so dance heavy. But I also have to raise an eyebrow at the status of Yiren and Onda when it comes to dancing in the group. If you watch some of the solo work that Onda has done, it’s pretty clear that she’s one of the best hip-hop dancers in the group. Yiren on the other hand is one of the most trained dancers in the group, if not the most, but she was trained for traditional Chinese style dancing. Her position as the most promoted dancer in the group as the center doesn’t quite make sense because that doesn’t necessarily translate perfectly to hip-hop. Mia and EU were also the only ones who debuted with dance videos and they are both excellent dancers so it makes sense that they’re mains. I just don’t understand what exactly is happening with Yiren and why they push Onda to the back so often when it comes to dance. These are just small hiccups in the long run, but I can see why people are confused. But you have to admit that them being a girl group to follow the popular guy group style dancing is pretty badass.

Music:

Everglow is definitely one of the rookie groups that is the most consistent with their music. If you listen to their full mini-albums you’ll probably like all of their songs to some degree. Their songs don’t feel like they’re there just to fill space and they all get stuck in your head at some point or other. The quality of their songs also means that you can listen to them for a longer amount of time. I am unfortunate enough to be plagued with on and off headaches, and sometimes certain beats or repeated parts of a song can trigger one. I don’t have this problem with Everglow. But all in all, it can be difficult to find a rookie group with such good b-sides. Oh my god, ‘Moon’ is so good!

Visuals:

I know this can be a large part of K-pop groups. Generally a couple people in a group are declared the main visuals, in this case it’s Sihyeon and Yiren. I am personally not going to comment on this. I think all of the girls in this group are equally gorgeous and I think beauty standards are always changing and never something to take too seriously.

Theming:

Their theming is ‘girl crush’, which is a pretty standard girl power type of theme. I’ve seen a lot of people call them unoriginal because of this, but I still think they put their own unique spin on it. Whether it was the brighter colored and sweeter ‘Bon Bon Chocolat’ or the black and white cyberpunk ‘La Di Da’, they don’t stick to one aesthetic or do something that is too done before. I also like how specific the messages in their music is; like leaving someone for making you feel small like in ‘Adios’ or not listening to negativity like in ‘La Di Da’. They still need to find their footing in creating something that feels authentically Everglow, but I like that they’re trying a lot of different aesthetics.

Performance:

I’ve heard a lot of people say that they feel a bit stiff live. Again, this is something that will definitely be addressed and improved on over time. Mia has the strongest stage presence right now, but as they all improve and change that also may change. For example, every single member of BTS has a giant stage presence, but this is after years of being in the limelight. A lot of people specifically point to EU for not emoting much, but she doesn’t look nearly as bad performing as people make her out to be. She just look serious, and I’m sure this will all become more varied over time.

Leader:

A lot of rookie groups, and especially ITZY, have been slammed for having the ‘wrong leader’. I generally think this is a bit ridiculous because we don’t get to see what happens behind the scenes. Namjoon is a very obvious leader of BTS, but again that is after years of experience and everyone has different leading styles. EU hasn’t really been questioned as the leader for the most part. Though she goofs off she has also shown the ability to handle difficult press questions several times to an ability that is amazing as a rookie leader. But again, every leader has a different style.

Everglow is an amazing rookie group! Sure they have a bit to go, but I think they’re doing really well. The music that they’ve come out with is an amazing quality and their performances are fun to watch. I can’t even imagine how amazing they’ll be when they have more experience. But for now, I’ll appreciate all the amazingness that they’re already giving us.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Twins in Media: Finals

Screenshot of Lindsay Lohan in the 1998 version of ‘The Parent Trap’. Copyright goes to Walt Disney Pictures.

Hey! Hallie here!

We’re finally at the last pair up for Twins in Media. Our two finalists are Hallie and Annie from ‘The Parent Trap’ and Dipper and Mabel Pines from ‘Gravity Falls’. As my sister and I based this blog off of ‘The Parent Trap’, I will keep my biases in check while discussing these two. I’d also like to point out that, at this point, we’ve discussed every aspect of these twins that both regular audiences, and twins such as ourselves, will notice. In previous posts we’ve talked about how these characters are developed as individual characters, the tropes they suffer from, what their writers got right and wrong, how the plot serves them, and various other topics that have helped us analyze these characters. If you’re interested in hearing about these things, be sure to check some of our previous posts in this series! As for this finale, I’ll be comparing my favorite and least favorite aspects of each set of twins to declare a winner. Let’s get into this!

Favorite:

Hallie and Annie: For one, these two are the best same-sex twins I’ve seen in media thus far. It’s much more common to see twins of two separate genders get individual personalities and plots. It’s much rarer, and therefore much more commendable, when twin characters of the same sex receive this treatment. These two get very different personalities, and they spend half of the movie away from each other. This allows their characters to grow and develop without presenting them as a unit. However, these two are never portrayed as opposites. When same sex characters are portrayed differently, it’s very common to see the Opposites trope get used. This trope perpetuates the idea that twin characters must be abnormally different in order for others to recognize them as separate people. This is completely unrealistic considering most twins grow up in the same environment and, just like any humans, are bound to have some commonalities. This movie gives these characters similar interests, like fencing and playing poker, while still maintaining that their skill levels are different. They even eat their Oreos the same way. But they have large differences that force them to have to teach each other how to pretend to be one another so that they can switch places. These characters are well balanced, and are just as strong apart as they are together.

Dipper and Mabel: These characters are written primarily by an actual twin who took major influences from his relationship with his actual twin sister. And it shows. These characters have very separate personalities with separate interests. Dipper loves investigating and Mable loves stickers and animals. However, like Hallie and Annie above, they have many of the same passions. They both have almost a reckless love of adventure. What I love about these two in particular, however, is how well they know each other. They don’t have to spend any time getting to know one another because they grew up together. They have a long history of supporting one another. Dipper took his school photo with Mabel when she got gum in her hair and Mabel gave Dipper a massive valentine when he received none on Valentines Day. Dipper knows when Mabel is scared. Mabel is very aware of, and even teases Dipper for, his crush on Wendy. They have secret handshakes and awkward sibling hugs that show just how much they understand one another. They’re comfortable with each other, they understand each other’s sarcasm, and they remain best friend even after they argue. It’s an extremely realistic and healthy twin dynamic that you almost never see in media.

Least Favorite:

Hallie and Annie: The Separated at Birth trope is very often used when writers want twin characters to be different. If twin characters grow up in different environments, they’re bound to be different. However, this trope is kind of harmful. It fails to realize the major differences between twins who grow up together, regardless of the fact that they grew up in the same place at the same time. Twins are different as all siblings and humans are. You don’t need such a dramatic trope to demonstrate that. I understand this is necessary to make the rest of the movie work, but it’s worth mentioning that the entire movie is a giant trope. Namely, the Mischievous Twins trope. This trope often sees two twins switching places in order to trick people. Twins very often would rather you learn how to tell them apart than attempt to trick you. Just like anyone else, we want to be seen as individual people, and it’s hard to do that when you’re pretending to be your sister. In other words, twins aren’t likely to switch places, it’s simply the media that makes this seem common. Another major issue I have with these two is the fact that they’re played by the same actress. All twins look different. Especially to twins, it’s absolutely noticeable when you use the same actress to play two different characters. By using the same actress for two roles, it perpetuates the idea that both characters, and by extension, twins, are the same. Seriously. Stop that.

Dipper and Mabel: They’re opposite-sex twins, which does bother me to an extent. As I said above, same-sex twins are far less likely to be portrayed as separate characters. Opposite-sex twin characters are often devoid of tropes because they aren’t the same gender and it’s therefore easier for the audience to see the differences. Meanwhile, the same-sex twin characters are more often given tropes to differentiate them to an outrageous amount, or demonstrate the same personality. It does frustrate me that we haven’t seen a same-sex set of twins written like Dipper and Mabel. But that isn’t the writers fault. In fact, the lead writer knew not to use tropes because he’s a twin, himself. Because of that lack of tropes, I don’t have much to complain about. I can, however, complain about the fandom. Because the amount of people who decided to create content for an incestuous ship between Dipper and Mabel is disgusting. Somehow, many people think incest is more okay if twins are part of the disgusting relationship. It isn’t. Twins are regular siblings. Twincest is never okay to perpetuate and it disturbs me that I even have to address it. But, once again, this isn’t the shows fault. Within the show, Dipper and Mabel are almost flawless.

Winner: Dipper and Mabel win. I know, I know. That’s blasphemy considering the theming of the blog. It’s just further proof that the best writers for any group of people are the people from the group itself. Dipper and Mabel win because they act like actual twins more than any other twins I’ve ever seen in media. And It’s because of the influences of Alex and Ariel Hirsch, the real Dipper and Mabel. We have our winner! We’ll continue talking about the twins we see in media in the future, but it might be more sparse. We did just exhaust the majority of twins we’ve seen throughout out relationship with movies and television. For now, know that Dipper and Mabel aren’t likely to be topped by any other set of twins. With luck, we’ll get more twin characters written by twins to challenge their crown at some point.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop and K-Dramas: ATEEZ FEVER Part. 2

Promotional image for FEVER Part. 2 of (from left) Choi San, Choi Jongho, Jeong Yunho, Jung Wooyoung, Kim Hongjoong, Kang Yeosang, and Park Seonghwa. Copyright goes to KQ Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Late last night in the United States, ATEEZ released their long awaited album, FEVER Part. 2. And yes, they absolutely slayed me. We’ve been waiting for this release for months and it did not disappoint. Between the seven tracks (five plus a different version of two songs) and the one music video we got, not only did we get so much good content but we got some of my favorite stuff they’ve ever done. I already had high hopes from the promotional photos and the teaser for their music video, but somehow all of it still came out better than I thought. I’m only going to talk about the five tracks and not the different versions, though those are amazing too! So let’s get into everything that ATEEZ so generously released to ATiny and the world last night!

Fireworks (I’m The One):

When I first started listening to the song, I really can’t say that I was sold. For all of the verses the vocalists switch off between being heavily autotuned and not really autotuned at all. For example, it was difficult to not notice that Seonghwa and Yunho were autotuned for their verse parts, where no one else was. I know they did it for effect, but the autotune was a lot for me and I wish I could have heard Seonghwa and Yunho’s unfiltered voices in their verses. But the minute San started singing I got into it. San has been getting more and more and he’s really good, so as a San bias I was really happy with this release. Obviously, Jongho’s vocals are always impeccable. When the chorus dropped I was absolutely in love. This song has been stuck in my head since I first heard it and I haven’t been able to get it out. But I really don’t mind because it’s such a good song. ATEEZ is the best group that has ever been when it comes to songs that really hype you up. You listen to their songs and you want to get up and tackle the world. This song is easily added to their long list of songs of that nature. Also of note: it was nice to hear Mingi’s voice and Hongjoong obviously always slays his rap parts. Yunho and Wooyoung got so much of the chorus and they slayed that too! These boys are just talented.

Fireworks (I’m The One) MV:

So we can’t move on to talk about the other tracks until we talk about this music video. The concept was amazing. I loved the way the music video was shot, it felt real but almost like a fantasy world at the same time. I almost want them to create a video game within the world of the music video. But more than that, the boys looked absolutely great. Yunho’s black leather and lip ring made the usual puppy dog persona he has change completely into the most badass looking guy in the entire MV. Seriously, the more I think about this comeback the more I can’t help but realize how much Yunho was a stand out here between his look and his contributions to the chorus. Also, it was amazing to see him drive knowing that he just got his license. So, as a San stan, I have to talk about San’s crop top. Men wearing crop tops is a fairly new concept that I wish would have happened years ago. Crop tops are amazing on anyone and San absolutely killed it in his. This music video loved San between his vocals and his screen time. San is such a good dancer and you can’t take your eyes off of him performing. Obviously, everyone looked amazing though. Mingi recorded his piece for the song, but he wasn’t there to film the music video. I loved how they didn’t try to cover up his absence and had them all sitting around a radio listening to him rap. I miss him so much! But, who was that weird faceless guy at the end of the MV? Because if it was Mingi I may just lose my shit.

The Leaders:

Everyone seemed to be freaking out about this one when the album first dropped. It’s not my favorite song on the album, but all of these songs are great anyways. The whispered chorus really gets me though. There’s so much badass about it. The more I listen to this song, the more I completely fall for that whispered chorus. And I had absolutely no idea that the adorable Wooyoung was the one doing that whispered chorus. He would have been one of the last people I would have pinned for that and I absolutely love him more knowing that it’s him. Also, this song is mostly rapped, which means that all of them are rapping. Obviously, Mingi, Seonghwa, and Hongjoong already are amazing rappers and that just shows again here. But the other members are rapping here and they are also excellent. These boys are continuously showing us that they’re good at everything. I’m also going to single out Yunho again for some of the rapping, because he could seriously be a main rapper if he wanted to just based off this song. But really any of them could.

Time of Love:

This was such a cute and lighthearted song for this album. Musically it had an old video game sort of feel that I loved. I was not expecting Yunho to hit those high notes, but he did it perfectly each and every time. Yunho later hit a note so deep that I could not help but marvel at his range. I keep mentioning Yunho (I swear I’m a San stan!), but he stood out so much in this comeback. The message of this song was one of my favorites too. This one was completely about loving each other and understanding each other, which is a very much needed message right now. It specifically focused on remembering that no one is perfect. I also loved how well Mingi’s raps were placed here. Did I mention that I really miss Mingi?

Take Me Home:

This was probably my favorite b-side from this album. There’s just so much heart in the vocals here. San starts out the song beautifully, but I was not expecting Seonghwa to have the beginning of that chorus. His voice was beautiful there. Obviously, Jongho completes that chorus will his vocals that you can’t hear anywhere else. His voice is amazing and unique just to him. The standouts in this one would have to be San, Seonghwa, and Jongho. Their vocals are the ones that caught me here completely. But those high notes from Jongho and Seonghwa were not something I was expecting. The song has a longing to it that I think they really brought the emotion to vocally. I also have to talk about the saxophone at the end because it was completely unexpected and one of my favorite parts of the song.

Celebrate:

San’s vocals were so deep in this song and I loved it! He really went for it and it sounded so good in the end. I do have to say though, this song was still great but it probably was my least favorite on the album. This was still a really cute song with the lyrics talking about celebrating your own existence. Yeosang’s call in response here was something that was done so well too and it was so adorable.

I don’t think ATEEZ will ever come out with a bad song. All of their songs have such important messages and leave you feeling really good in some way or other. You either feel happy after listening to them or like you can take over the world and really there’s no in between. I absolutely love listening to them and this comeback is probably one of my favorites that I’ve seen. But I don’t think ATEEZ will ever have a bad comeback either. If you haven’t checked out this album, I strongly recommend it! It was so worth staying up until almost two in the morning to listen to it all the way through.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

K-Pop and K-Dramas: Crazy K-Pop Week

Photo of Jung Hoseok (J-Hope), Min Yoongi (Suga), Kim Taehyung (V), Park Jimin, Kim Seokjin, Jeon Jungkook, and Kim Namjoon (RM) from a performance of “Dynamite”. Copyright goes to BigHit Entertainment and BTS.

Hey! Hallie here!

Last week, and even the start of this week, has been very…eventful for the K-Pop community. Unfortunately, none of what I’ll be talking about today will be positive. There’s also a lot of specific cases that I won’t be able to talk about simply because there are so many. Still there’s a lot to go into, and a lot of things to talk about regarding racism that absolutely can’t be ignored right now. So let’s get into this.

Bullying Allegations:

Last week a major search service in Korea, ‘NAVER’, announced that they would be getting rid of a regular function on their website. This function was the ‘most searched’ function, and it ranked search words and articles related to them like a ‘trending’ page. Many people used it to keep up with news. Without it, many Koreans feared that celebrities would be able to sweep problematic behavior under the rug. So, with that in mind, many self-proclaimed victims decided to share their stories of being bullied in school by certain idols before the feature could be removed. Bullying is a major issue in South Korea, so much so that the government has gotten involved on multiple occasions, and often describes the harsher examples of bullying international fans are used to. This ranges anywhere from physical violence to verbal abuse. There were many cases that were released in regards to both actors and idols, most denied, some proved untrue, and some still without response. In regards to K-Pop, Soojin from (G)I-DLE was targeted for reportedly harassing a student while walking to school, instigating violence, and stealing from students. Her company denied some, but not all, of the behavior she was accused of. Soojin herself denied all of the allegations and a reported classmate of hers also came out to defend Soojin. Mingyu from SEVENTEEN was accused of laughing at a victim being bullied and threatening them to get him enough money for a practice room for his auditions. This accusation was deleted soon after it was posted, and a classmate came out to defend him as well. His company did a full investigation and reported these accusations to be false.

Hyunjin from Stray Kids is the most popular of these accusations, however. He was accused of mostly verbal abuse, including verbal sexual harassment. A former classmate and his company, JYP Entertainment, defended him, but soon afterwards a second allegation was released, this time of physical abuse. Hyunjin apologized, seemingly confirming the accusations, and the company announced that he would be on indefinite hiatus. Many believe JYP Entertainment forced him to apologize and is purposely throwing him under the bus, especially after they had claimed to find the previous accusation completely false, but whether or not that’s true remains unclear. Among others who were accused are Kihyun from MONSTA X, Aisha from EVERGLOW, and artist HyunA. In all of these cases, much like the cases above, their companies have come out in support of these artists and threatened to take legal action. To clarify, we have no idea whether or not any of these accusations are true. But, in many but not all cases, we have no idea if these accusations are false, either. If anything, this is a reminder not to put your favorite idols up on a pedestal and recognize that they are human. You should not only recognize that they make mistakes, but you should also recognize that you don’t know who any of them truly are off-screen or off-stage. You may feel that your favorite idols are kind, and you might be right, but you could also be wrong. Be cautious and courteous to both fans defending them, and potential victims sharing their stories.

Spotify:

This morning we received the very unfortunate news that a good half of K-Pop artists have had some, if not all of their songs, taken off of Spotify. Korean company Kakao M, who is responsible for distributing the works of many K-Pop artists, is currently at odds with Spotify. Reportedly all songs released by Kakao M will disappear on March 1st due to the expiration of the global licensing agreement between Spotify and Kakao M. According to Spotify, this is because they haven’t been able to come to an agreement with Kakao M. It’s unclear who is at fault, although Spotify has been placing blame on Kakao M. Regardless, the fans and artists will be suffering. Among the artists leaving Spotify are The Boyz, Cherry Bullet, Dreamcatcher, MONSTA X, LUCY, and Epik High. Artists who will have some to most of their songs removed, but not all, are (G)I-DLE, Seventeen, and NU’EST among others. This is incredibly frustrating. For those who primarily listen to their favorite artists via Spotify, it’s awful. Hopefully this will be solved soon.

Racist Radio Comments Made About BTS:

I’m sure many of you know this story already. A German radio host named Matthias Matuschik decided to precede a criticism of BTS’s cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You” by saying he didn’t have anything against South Korea because he has a Korean car. Already a very bad start. Afterwards he said that BTS deserved a “vacation” in North Korea for their cover. He then said BTS was a disease like COVID-19. Obviously, in the time of people still calling COVID the Chinese virus, these comments were incredibly racist. If that wasn’t bad enough, the radio station came out in defense of the host by simply stating that his wording was an unpleasant accident. With Asian hate crimes on the rise because of horrible people who still believe ridiculous claims that Asian people are responsible for COVID, this radio host and station only reveal themselves to be part of the problem. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Several people, including BTS collaborators like Halsey, MAX, and Steve Aoki, came out in defense of BTS, condemning the statements of the radio host. All of them were quick to point out how racist the comments were and how hard BTS has worked to get where they are. While many people are quick to defend BTS right now, It’s important to be aware of the bigger picture. Asian hate crimes are on the rise and it’s infuriating how many people are willing to avoid the topic. They deserve to go outside without fear and to be treated with kindness, as everyone should be. Any ARMY and K-Pop fans, especially white ones like myself, should recognize their privileges and stand with the Asian community at this time. We shouldn’t only be coming to their defense when our favorite idols are threatened.

This has been a very long week for K-Pop fans. Hopefully we get some good news on one, two, or in the best case, all of these issues. We also have new K-Pop content to look forward to, like A-TEEZ’s new album coming out on the first of March. But we should also be aware of the people suffering far more than we are right now. The Asian community has had a much worse time recently, and even before the media started covering Asian hate crimes more frequently. We can hope for better for our favorite K-Pop idols, but we can actually work towards ending racism towards Asian people.

Edit: For those who want to help, here’s an article from Rolling Stone that lays out different ways to help the Asian Community at this time: https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/asian-american-racism-violence-1127876/

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Books: ‘Harry Potter’ Characters That Deserved More From The Movies

Screenshot of Clemence Poesy and Domnhall Gleeson from ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1’. Copyright goes to Warner Brothers.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I recently watched the first couple Harry Potter movies, which was different for me. After the giant controversy that recently happened, I was kind of boycotting everything Harry Potter. Really, the only thing that got me to re-look at these movies that I still love was Daniel Radcliffe. He is an excellent human being. And it also made me think about all of the people who put so much hard work into the movies that I shouldn’t overlook. So while I may not be going back to the books anytime soon, the movies feel a little safe to me again. But this also made me think about the things that I wish were in the movies now that I’m not going back to the books. Especially character wise. There are characters who seriously got jipped of large character moments or barely have any personality whatsoever in the movies. So, don’t expect to see any of the main characters or main side characters on this list. I’m mainly going to go over characters that people didn’t pay as much attention to, which is probably why the movies left out a lot about them.

Bill Weasley:

I am not exaggerating in the least bit when I say that Bill is quite possibly my favorite Weasley in the books. When Harry first meets Bill he can’t describe him as anything other than ‘cool’. Bill is not the well put together, tweed jacket wearing, responsible man that we see in the movies. Yes, Bill was still top of the class in his Hogwarts days, but he seems to be significantly different from Percy despite his parents comparing Percy to him. Bill, in the books, has long hair that he puts up in a ponytail, fang earrings, and wears black leather. Harry describes him as looking as though he just returned from a rock concert. It is such a shame that we don’t see any of this from the barely used Bill in the films. They didn’t even keep the aesthetic of the character. Bill is also known to goof off with Fred and George but also shows responsibility in how willing he is to help. His kindness is proven in the fourth book when the families of the champions show up for moral support and Molly and Bill show up to support Harry because he doesn’t have much family of his own. Bill is amazingly badass and kind and I wish we would have gotten more of him.

Fleur Delacour:

In a similar vein, my favorite moments of Fleur’s were also cut off from the films. Bill and Fleur get together, much to the chagrin of the Weasley family, and soon afterwards Bill is scratched by a werewolf. Fleur immediately scolds Molly when Molly implies that Bill’s marred features will result in Fleur leaving him. Fleur is a complete badass throughout the tri-wizard tournament despite everything. A fact that is reasonably overlooked by the movies considering the biggest events she is given in the books are being removed from two of the three tasks before any of the male competitors. Yay girl power? Seriously, that one wasn’t the fault of the movies.

Luna Lovegood:

Ok, ok. Luna is not a more obscure side character, but much of her character development was removed from the movies entirely. Luna was actually the last person standing with Harry at the battle of the Department of Mysteries, a fact that is often overlooked. When Luna’s room in the last book is discovered, her friends realize that Luna has painted a giant mural of all of them on the ceiling. Later, when they find her being held captive with Ollivander, it is revealed that Luna has been giving up some of her food to keep Ollivander well. All of these incredibly selfless and strong acts are never portrayed in the movies and are barely even hinted at.

Viktor Krum:

Viktor Krum is dealt such a bad hand in the movies. In the books it takes an incredible amount of both strength and intelligence for someone to be chosen by the Tri-wizard tournament. All of the comments that refer to Krum as just being a dumb jock are not present in the books. It’s almost like they wanted to give Viktor a reason to be dislikable so that the audience would root for the couple of Ron and Hermione instead. Viktor is always nice to Hermione and they actually talk with each other a lot at the Yule Ball. He doesn’t just stare at her all the time.

Charlie Weasley:

Other than a photo in one of the movies, Charlie was cut entirely from the films. Though, to an extent, I understand this decision. Charlie barely shows up in the books either. But it would have been nice to at least see him once. Charlie, like Bill, was very cool but for a different reason. Because he worked with dragons in Romania, he had scratches and burns all down his arms. Charlie was also very much married to his work and never interested in being married himself. He’s probably the most laid-back Weasley and it would have been nice to see at least a cameo from him when the dragons came in for the first challenge in the fourth movie.

Dean Thomas:

We needed more Dean Thomas in both the books and the movies. Dean Thomas is probably the person Harry is closest to at Hogwarts other than the main characters. That’s probably because originally the trio was going to be four and Dean would have been part of the main group. Which would have been nice considering that Dean is one of the only Black characters in Harry Potter as a whole. The movies do even worse with him and you just can’t help but wonder what would have happened if he had been given more. Dean’s friendship with Luna at Shell Cottage, which is both hilarious and adorable, is also skipped over.

Oliver Wood:

A lot of quidditch is skipped over, but they couldn’t have at least showed them all finally winning the Quidditch cup? Oliver Wood really did deserve better and it would have been amazing to see his insane planning and strategies in the movies too.

Angelina Johnson:

Angelina Johnson was a badass and I would have loved to legitimately see her as the next captain of the Quidditch team after Oliver. Unfortunately, the movies barely ever focus on her at all or even give her any screen time. But at least they didn’t do the Fred and George storyline with her that was released after the books. You know, the one where she marries George after Fred dies because she was dating Fred. Because that is messed up in every way it possibly could be and it always has been. What an awful way to say that Fred was replaceable to you.

There you have it! There are plenty more that I just didn’t get to, but I had to talk about these ones. There’s just so much that I wish was in the movies, but there’s also a lot that I’m glad they left out of the movies. Like the house elf storyline for example. So, even though I am disappointed at some of the things they left out (they could have at least given Bill that earring!), I’m kind of content with the storyline being simplified. Especially after everything that’s happened.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Marvel: ‘WandaVision’ Episode 8 Review

Screenshot of Elizabeth Olsen and Kathryn Hahn is episode 8 of ‘WandaVision’. Copyright goes to Marvel Studios and Disney.

Hey! Hallie here!

We’re nearly to the season finale and, as usual, that means more reveals! This episode was by far the most emotional episode so far. It also finally gave us Wanda’s full backstory and her version of recent events. We know so much and I still have so many more questions. As usual I’m going to cut this short by jumping right into SPOILER territory. Be warned.

What I Liked:

Wanda: Here she is in her usual spot. We have so much to talk about for this episode. First off, Elizabeth Olsen did an incredible job. Seeing Wanda break down as she revisited her past was heartbreaking. But we did receive some essential information. One is that Wanda was a witch even before HYDRA got involved. She protected herself and Pietro with her powers when their house was bombed. We also saw that, when she was exposed to the mind stone by HYDRA, the mind stone reveled to her the image of the Scarlet Witch. We know from Agatha Harkness that the Scarlet Witch is a powerful witch from legend and that Wanda’s insane amount of power confirms that Wanda is that Scarlet Witch. Whether she inherited that title from a long line of witches, like she did in the comics, remains to be seen. Additionally, the footage of Wanda stealing Vision’s body was altered. I suspected that Wanda took Vision’s body because of the evil intent of SWORD, but not that Wanda didn’t steal the body at all. Wanda did become enraged when she saw SWORD was dismantling and experimenting on Vision’s body. But after a heartbreaking moment where she confirmed she couldn’t feel Vision’s presence, she left without the body. She then drove to Westview where we discovered, in yet another devastating scene, that Vision bought property there for himself and Wanda. Upon seeing the property Wanda completely broke down, uncontrollably creating the Hex and a different version of Vision. While Wanda creating the Hex and holding hostage the people of Westview was an accident, she wasn’t exactly eager to undo it. Especially with how much grief she was going through. Once again Wanda has been proven to be a tragic character who’s villainous actions are completely understandable. I hope she receives her happy ending, but I doubt this story will end well for her.

Vision: We have two Visions to talk about this time around. The first is the real Vision. We got a few more insights into Vision and Wanda’s relationship this episode, and I don’t think I can love Vision anymore than I do now. We were given Vision attempting to comfort Wanda after she lost Pietro. This included watching a sitcom with her and attempting to understand why she found it funny. It also included the wise observation that grief was love persisting after death. This coupled with the land he bought himself and Wanda reveals just how thoughtful of a man he was. However, the second Vision we have to talk about won’t quite be so thoughtful. In an end credit scene it was revealed that SWORD used the real corpse of Vision to recreate him as White Vision. For those who don’t know, in the comics there was a point where Vision died and was brought back to life as White Vision. White Vision couldn’t feel emotions and eventually had to tell Wanda and his children that he didn’t love them. In this series, it seems like White Vision will be sent to kill Wanda in order to stop the Hex. It also seems like the ultimate goal for SWORD is combining White Vision with the better-functioning Vision Wanda created. None of this bodes well.

What I Have Questions About:

Why is Agatha Interested in Wanda?: At this point I’m completely confused by Agatha’s presence over all. We got the revelation that “It was Agatha all along” last episode, which I was skeptical of, but this episode revealed none of it was Agatha. In fact, it further doubled down on the fact that Wanda was the one who caused everything. Agatha did a few messed up things like use a fake Pietro to spy on Wanda, egg on Vision when he was attempting to leave, and kill a dog. But she wasn’t responsible for any of the major things that have occurred so far. So why is she here? What is she attempting to accomplish? We know that she was interested in how Wanda created the Hex, but we don’t know why. We also don’t know how Agatha managed to appear right when the Hex was created. Was she already tailing Wanda at the time? Was she in the area when Wanda lost control? Or did she tunnel in underneath the Hex in record time? Agatha in general confuses me.

Who is Pietro?: We received information that Agatha basically brainwashed someone so she could have them act as Pietro and use them as her spy. So who is the guy she’s brainwashing? Is he X-Men’s Quicksilver? Or is he just some random guy?

What will happen to Wiccan and Speed?: Knowing that Vision almost died when attempting to escape the Hex because Wanda is his creator, does that mean that Wiccan and Speed won’t be able to leave, either? They are also her creations, so it would makes sense. But I do want to see them turn into the fully fledged superheroes we see in the comics.

I’m so interested to see what the finale will look like. There are so many loose ends they still have to tie up before it ends. Including the series’ bridge into the next Doctor Strange movie. Will Stephen Strange show up? Will Vision merge with White Vision? Will he die or survive past the series? Will Wanda be a villain after all this, or will she be at least partially absolved of some of the events that have happened? Will Wanda be the creator of the multiverse? I’m excited to see what direction the finale will go!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie