Disney: Why the Live Action Remakes Don’t Work

Screenshot of Pinocchio as voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth and Tom Hanks as Geppetto from ‘Pinocchio’. Copyright goes to Walt Disney Pictures.

Hey! Hallie here!

Disney has been relentless with their live action remakes. It seems like every animated classic is, at this point, destined for a needless remake. And most of them are indeed needless. Why remake an already beloved movie if there isn’t much to add to the story? Not many Disney fans can answer that question, nor is Disney doing a good job of justifying the existence of any of their live action projects by answering the question themselves. In other words, these movies are clear cash grabs with no value. But why are they so bad? Why does something that could be so harmless rub so many people the wrong way? Let’s talk about where these movies fall flat and why they feel so awful. Before I jump into this, note this post is more a dig at ‘Pinocchio’ than ‘The Little Mermaid’. ‘The Little Mermaid’ already holds importance due to Black representation, and for that I’m rooting for it.

Retelling the Same Stories:

Not all Disney live action projects fall into this category, but a good majority of them do. The recent ‘Pinocchio’ is an excellent example of this, as are ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Aladdin’, and ‘The Lion King’. These movies don’t do anything at all to differentiate themselves from their original movies aside from a few song changes and new actors stepping into the roles. Which makes them all completely redundant. What’s especially painful about ‘Beauty and the Beast’ or ‘The Lion King’ though, is that they’re Renaissance Disney films. In other words, their live action counterparts are remakes of films that Disney made in their prime. When they first showed mastery of deep characters, meaty storylines, and Broadway-style plot progression. So they already got as much out of the characters and the story as they could have when they released the first films. There isn’t anywhere else to go with them unless you were to completely change the plot, which sometimes does work but is very clearly not what any of these films are attempting. Add to that the fact that ‘The Lion King’ isn’t technically live action anyways because it’s all CGI, or the fact that the majority of the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ cast had to be autotuned because they couldn’t sing the songs well enough, and you have a long list of bad decisions to add to these already uninspired films. This category has an exception, however. ‘Cinderella’ gets a pass for actually expanding on the characters in the film. They draw out the romance between Cinderella and Charming enough to make it stand out, and because it’s a remake of a really early Disney film, it allows for deeper-feeling characters.

Missing the Point:

Some of the live action remakes we see take enough liberties with the story that it doesn’t feel like I could turn on the original and get the same, if not better, experience. But that doesn’t make these remakes good, necessarily. Enter movies like ‘Mulan’ or ‘Dumbo’. While these movies follow a similar plot as the original, they have aspects to them that feel completely new. Except these aspects undermine the entire storyline of the movie. In ‘Mulan’ this manifests as a further exploration of Mulan’s femininity and strength. But her strength comes from “chi” rather than from her own abilities as they do in the original film. And the effort to focus on her femininity ends in many conversations about how men treat Mulan, bringing the conversation back to the men, instead of a focus on how Mulan’s femininity empowers her. I mean, we all know at this point that the movie failed the Bechdel test despite very clear efforts to pass it. Then there’s ‘Dumbo’, which manages to bury a heartwarming story about an elephant who is treated as an outcast learning to find his confidence, behind a family drama starring two little kids. At some point Dumbo doesn’t even feel like the main character anymore. A notable exception to this category is ‘The Jungle Book’, which, like the above movies, tells the story of the original movie with enough exceptions to feel different. These exceptions are extremely good, though, expanding on all of the characters and the lore to the point that it feels more epic in scale than the original.

Leaving the Original Too Far Behind:

This is actually my favorite category of Disney’s live action movies. Movies like ‘Maleficent’, ‘Cruella’, and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ all feel completely unique. In fact, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Maleficent’ started the trend of Disney making as many live action remakes as possible, and I didn’t hate it when it began. These films aren’t perfect, however. ‘Maleficent’ and ‘Cruella’ both suffer from overly-simplistic plots that take up too much effort to explain how these characters became known as villains. ‘Cruella’s examples are the most fun to pick on because they’re the most ridiculous. I mean, Dalmatians kill her mother? Really? That’s how we’re going to justify her skinning puppies? There’s also the strange reveal that Cruella gifted Pongo and Perdita to Roger and Anita, which just doesn’t make any sense. On the other hand, ‘Maleficent’ does everything it can to prove our title character isn’t the villain and isn’t responsible for the majority of the things we saw in the original movie, which is clever at parts but reaching at others. ‘Alice in Wonderland’ is a completely different beast entirely. It fleshes out Wonderland lore with more content from the original book, ages up all the characters, and presents a giant war between kingdoms that ends in the beheading of a large beast. It’s probably the least kid-friendly movie here and does attempt a bit too much. But it’s hard not to get caught up in the whimsy presented in it. As I said, these movies feel more justified and more enjoyable. Just not perfect. No exceptions in this section. These movies all have their pros and cons.

And that’s it! I left out a few movies from this post, but I don’t regret ignoring the more forgettable ones. There’s one giant exception to this entire post, though. That would be ‘Christopher Robin’, a movie that’s technically considered to be a Disney live action remake but doesn’t quite operate that way. It doesn’t really match up to Disney’s ‘The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh’, its storyline is more unique than any of the movies I mentioned, and it’s by far the best movie I’ve mentioned in this post. If you watch nothing else from what I’ve discussed, watch ‘Christopher Robin’. But that’s the thing. ‘Christopher Robin’ is worth watching because it has its own identity. The other movies on this list can’t say the same. Because of that I and many other Disney fans are tired of seeing live action remakes. I really hope ‘The Little Mermaid’ does its best to set itself apart because I very much want it to do well, but I can’t help but be exhausted by these constant, blatant examples of a lack of creativity.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

BTS: Happy Birthday Kim Namjoon!(SEXY NUKIM)

Promotional photo of Kim Namjoon, otherwise known as RM. Copyright goes to Namjoon and HYBE Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

It is, once again, my favorite holiday. Or at least it should be. Happy Birthday to my forever ult bias and the amazing leader of the group BTS! Namjoon only gets more wise as the years go on and I am always so incredibly happy to have discovered him and to have his presence in my life, even if I haven’t actually met him. This man has gotten me through my worst times, has given advice that I now use daily, and has echoed my own feelings so that I’ve felt heard on too many occasions to count. I am continuously enchanted by this man not only because of how distractingly handsome he is (World’s Most Handsome Man to all of us no matter what!) but mainly because of his work and how amazingly human he is. His lyrics capture the human experience more than any other lyricist I’ve ever seen and he’s continually so open and honest about his mental health that it really does make it feel ok for those who are struggling, like me, to be more open and honest ourselves. (Seriously, watch me cry while I type this.) I will never forget my first time watching them live in concert at PTD LA, sitting there after the concert after my bias had just become Namjoon, staring at his face on the large poster on the screen and uncontrollably crying because I was so happy and I felt so heard. Since then I have freaked out over noticing Namjoon was reading a book I recently finished in ‘In the SOOP’ and watched his Vlives to feel less alone on nights where I’ve had insomnia. I will forever owe this man so much and all my posts for his birthday are just a start. But one thing I’m definitely covering here, is all the recent news because all of his endeavors deserve to be pushed without any further delay! So here’s to one of my favorite people on the planet on his birthday.

“SEXY NUKIM”:

For those of you who regularly follow this blog, you were probably wondering why I didn’t talk about this single when it first came out. The answer is pretty much because I was waiting for Namjoon’s birthday to talk about it. And I’m glad that we’ve finally gotten here because I’ve had way too many thoughts to keep to myself. When I first heard this song, I admittedly didn’t love it. I didn’t dislike it at all either though! I loved Namjoon’s verse from the moment I heard it; I’ve always had a soft spot for his rap style. He always has this presence about him that screams for everyone to listen to him. From the cadence of his voice, to his rap style, to his actual physical presence. I wouldn’t say that it’s exactly that he’s intimidating (though he is slightly in the best way), it’s more that he has the cool candor of someone who you just feel that it’s important that you pay attention to what they say. But I will say that I am now completely obsessed with every bit of the song. It was one of those ones for me where the more I heard it, the more I absolutely adored it. It has a catchy hook that will doubtlessly get stuck in your head all day and every rapper in the song has an absolutely addicting verse that was obviously well thought out. Now if you’re one of those people looking for more clarification about the subject matter of the song, just look at the title. I’ve seen these pretty hilarious back and forth conversations on the internet about what this song is about, which is pretty clear. Or if Namjoon’s verse is cleaner than the rest of the song (it’s not). The song is literally called “SEXY NUKIM”; I think the answers to all of these questions are pretty clear. And just because BTS is an internationally loved group doesn’t mean they don’t or suddenly can’t use more mature themes. They’re all adults. But that conversation aside, this is an amazingly addictive song and I’ve probably listened to it far too many times for it to be acceptable anymore, but I don’t care!

Namjoon and Art:

One of my favorite things about Namjoon is how he’s used this time to do what he’s passionate about whether or not that went along with what people seem to expect from him. Namjoon has gone on art related podcasts and even done interviews with art related newspapers and magazines to share his love of things like modern art. He revealed his dream to one day open a gallery of his favorite pieces and has now talked extensively about the pieces that he’s collected personally over the years. Namjoon has always been vocal about how he uses his own interests such as going out into nature, reading and buying books, riding his bike, and visiting art museums to keep his sanity in his hectic life. Doing any one of those things has now been lovingly nicknamed ‘Namjooning’ by ARMY. While this was initially dismissed by many as him just listing out his hobbies; Namjoon has made it clear multiple times that he believes that life dreams and goals don’t necessarily have to have anything to do with your career. Your career is just one part of the many parts of your life. Not only has Namjoon inspired ARMY of all ages to take part in his hobbies, he’s also revealed that his hobbies are a part of his dreams. Let me break down how much this absolutely means. As someone who is currently looking into going into a profession that involves a lot of reading, writing, and knowledge of English and creative influences; him inspiring people to read is something that is insanely important to me. He’s also inspired people to look more seriously at things like hobbies and view them with a similar regard to career. I am also a person where my dreams lie mostly with my hobby plans than with my career plans. Namjoon helped me realize, and helped the public realize, that this is completely ok and a perfectly valid way to live your life. I have personally attended several more art museums than I had before I fell in love with BTS and I absolutely love having those experiences! And hearing Namjoon talk so passionately about a dream he has, not caring if it fits in with his career or what people perceive his career should be like, inspires me so much with my own dreams. I have been reading every art interview and listening to every podcast he’s put out and it only makes me happier and more inspired every time.

Leader and Human:

I really wanted to close out all of this by talking about a couple of Namjoon moments that I feel like don’t get talked about enough and have left a huge impact on me. I think the first one I want to point to is the performance of “Dionysus” at the 2019 ‘MMA’s. For those of you who have been following the blog for a while, you’ll know that Namjoon was my bias wrecker for quite a while before he became my bias. One of the things that really struck me about Namjoon in that performance, was his entrance. I think we all agree that BTS looked like Greek gods in their performance, which definitely makes sense for the theming of the song. But one of my favorite parts of this performance was that it began with individual performances from each of the boys as they each showed off a talent that really did feel like them. After each mini-performance a light would come down, symbolizing their role in the group and pointing out that BTS is a group of seven incredibly talented individuals who work together. No other group has been quite as good at pointing out the individuality of all the members in their group. Namjoon was the last, as the leader, and his part of the performance saw him walking epically onto the stage to smash a staff to the ground. While many would say this was minimalistic, I’ve cried several times while watching it and it solidified his place on my bias list. Because I don’t think any other performance moment has really screamed “that’s our leader”, like that one. On the other end of that spectrum, many ARMY are also aware that Namjoon is the member probably the most likely to talk to himself. Not only in that distracted way that I’m certain we all do, but he often does it to comfort himself. He’ll encourage himself, or tell himself to calm down, often calling himself by name. Seeing him do this has inspired me to do this a little in my own life. It’s one of the most obvious examples of positive talk that I’ve seen anyone do and it always reminds me that Namjoon is human and him also practicing positive self talk lets me know that I’m not alone. It’s also always adorable to see him do it too!

I have probably rambled for long enough about Namjoon. And admittedly, I also did cry several times while writing this. But I can’t help myself. Namjoon has been part of my bias list for a long time with BTS and he only became my bias after I saw BTS live. He’s been my bias rather than my bias wrecker for almost a year now, but this is my first birthday post after I finally realized that Namjoon is my bias. I thought I would be totally cool while writing this, but now that I’m here and doing it I realized that I’m an emotional wreck. Namjoon just means so much to me and I know he means so much to all of us. I often say that Namjoon is my comfort person, and reflecting on his birthday only makes that statement feel that much more true. I recently rewatched PTD LA with my sister because the filmed version came to Disney+. I was floored by the end of it because I was suddenly hit by a blast of feelings that I felt at the end of the concert, most of them Namjoon related, and I felt so incredibly happy. I don’t think I will ever be able to fully put into words how much Namjoon means to me. Happy Birthday Namjoon!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Sci-Fi/Superheroes: D23 Announcements

Screenshot of Pedro Pascal as Din Djarin in ‘The Mandalorian’. Copyright goes to Walt Disney Studios and Lucasfilm

Hey! Hallie here!

The huge Disney convention, D23, is currently happening and just today we got news from their largest panel concerning the future of a majority of their live action franchises. To most fans, the most exciting news here has to do with Disney’s biggest money-makers: Marvel and Star Wars. There’s a lot of news from both parts of the panel dedicated to these two franchises, but not as much as we expected. And there’s also reason to be just as skeptical as we are excited considering D23 is known for announcements that later get shelved before making it to the screen. Still, there’s plenty to talk about and a lot of which I have very strong opinions about. So going into this, know that all the opinions here are my own and you can feel free to disagree with them if you wish. Let’s get into the news!

Marvel:

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ and ‘Ironheart’: Those at the convention got a sneak peak of ‘Wakanda Forever’, but we who didn’t attend won’t be able to see much of anything until the movie releases. This isn’t really surprising considering the release date is just around the corner. They also didn’t reveal much of anything new, which is also unsurprising. The only new information we got is that the movie will focus on Wakanda now that other countries are trying to take advantage of their resources. We also learned that director Ryan Coogler has stepped up as Executive Producer for ‘Ironheart’, which makes sense after the confirmation that Riri Williams will make her MCU debut in ‘Wakanda Forever’. Though we didn’t learn much about ‘Wakanda Forever’ or ‘Ironheart’, I’m extremely excited for both. Specifically ‘Wakanda Forever’. Even for someone like me who’s been experiencing Marvel fatigue, ‘Black Panther’ is a movie I return to often and the trailer for this movie looks so good. I seriously can’t wait.

‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’: We already knew that Kang the Conqueror was going to be the villain for this one, but evidently this movie is also going to be direct set-up for the next ‘Avengers’ installment. Kang is already the confirmed villain for this phase of the MCU, but knowing this movie will directly tie into that final plot line makes ‘Quantumania’ feel infinitely more important. Apparently in this film, Kang will kidnap Cassie in order to force Scott to go on a heist. And Jimmy Woo is coming back! Aside from my interest in Kang and my adoration for Paul Rudd, I’m not all that interested in this movie. ‘Ant-Man’ movies sit firmly in the “Meh” category amongst MCU films for me. I don’t see this one being any different.

‘Werewolf By Night’: I’m going to be honest here, I know little to nothing about all of the characters in this MCU project. All I know is that various characters we’ve seen little to nothing about in the MCU are gathered together to figure out which one of them is a werewolf. That said, the trailer was released to the public and it’s very intriguing. It’s completely black-and-white, has a fitting over-the-top feel that makes it come across as retro, and blends both horror and mystery together in a really fun way. It’s also directed by Michael Giacchino who’s an excellent composer. I’m absolutely willing to give this a shot.

‘Secret Invasion’ and ‘Armor Wars’: This one is another project with a publicly released trailer! While the concept of ‘Secret Invasion’ has never really appealed to me, the trailer looks exciting. Samuel L. Jackson is at the top of his game here and feels very intimidating throughout the entire trailer. We get to see some of Maria Hill, Rhodey, and Talos who all look like they’re going to play substantial roles in the series. It looks like it’s going to be an intense spy thriller, which is interesting. Honestly, I feel like this could either be very good or kind of okay. Samuel L. Jackson starring feels like a good sign, though. The series is set to lead into a Rhodey-centric series called ‘Armor Wars’. We don’t know much about this one but I’ve never been the biggest fan of Rhodey, so I’m not as optimistic for this project. Especially because it feels like it’s in really early development right now which means it might not be as solidly in the roster of future projects as it appears.

‘Loki’ and ‘Fantastic Four’: There isn’t much to talk about for either of these. They gave fans at D23 some footage of Kang in ‘Loki’, but they’re clearly not ready to release anything to the public yet. Ke Huy Quan will be joining the cast, though! The director of ‘WandaVision’ is officially going to direct ‘Fantastic Four’ which is cool. But we don’t even have casting for this one so don’t go getting too excited yet.

‘Echo’ and ‘Daredevil: Born Again’: ‘Echo’ was an amazing character in ‘Hawkeye’ so I’m happy to see her series got some love at D23, even if it wasn’t much. We do know that Kingpin will return in the series with an eyepatch, which pretty much every Marvel fan expected. He’s also going to show up alongside Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock in the new ‘Daredevil’ series, but we don’t know much about it aside from the fact that the new season will be eighteen episodes long. Much longer than other series we’ve gotten so far. I don’t really follow the more mature Marvel shows because they aren’t really my thing, but I hear a lot of good things about ‘Daredevil’ and I hope the new season will be everything Marvel fans hope for!

‘Captain America: New World Order’: This one is pretty far off, which is disappointing because it’s my most anticipated Marvel project after ‘Wakanda Forever’. Apparently it’s going to be a thriller, which is certainly an interesting move. The Leader is set to be the villain for this, which is hilarious because he was set up in the ‘Incredible Hulk’ movie they’ve been trying to retcon for years now and have only started to acknowledge. My favorite news about this project is that Carl Lumbly is returning as Isaiah Bradley! Carl Lumbly is an acting legend who many know best as the voice of the Martian Manhunter in the ‘Justice League’ cartoons. He was seen in ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ as the older man who was given the super soldier serum. We still don’t have a ton of information overall for this film, but I’m excited!

‘Thunderbolts’: I have so many mixed feelings about this. We’ve heard rumors about the cast for this, but now we have confirmation. The team will be controlled by Val, who we saw at the end of ‘Black Widow’ and the end of ‘The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’ recruiting potential candidates. The actual team will consist of Ghost from ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’, Red Guardian from ‘Black Widow’, John Walker from ‘The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’, Taskmaster from ‘Black Widow’, Bucky Barnes, and Yelena Belova. Yelena and Bucky are confirmed to be the leads for this film. That bit of news is what gets me most interested for this movie. Bucky and Yelena have been some of my favorite characters recently and I’m so pumped to see a movie focus on these two. I’m also excited to see David Harbour return to the MCU, even though Red Guardian isn’t necessarily a character I’m excited about. My biggest concerns here are Taskmaster and John Walker. Taskmaster just isn’t interesting. I suppose this could be their opportunity to make her interesting, but until they do I don’t see anything to get excited about. John Walker is a character I really hated by the end of his show. I didn’t buy his small scene of redemption in the slightest. And I don’t like that this white dude who was definitely a symbol of racism in his show gets a redemption by joining a team of majority white characters. It sits strangely with me. Still, I’m white so my opinion isn’t the most important here.

‘The Marvels’: Once again, we don’t have many new things to talk about. We know that the film will star Carol Danvers, Kamala Khan, and Monica Rambeau. We now know that the movie will be about these three trying to figure out why they keep switching places with one another every time they use their powers. This plot seems kind of ridiculous to me, but it could just be that we’re hearing it without much context for the rest of the film.

Star Wars:

‘Andor’: We have a new trailer for ‘Andor’ out and it looks about as bleak as everything else we’ve seen for this. I’m not the biggest ‘Rogue One’ fan, but I’ve been liking the Disney+ ‘Star Wars’ content quite a bit so I’m willing to give this one a try! I’m particularly excited to see Bix Caleen because of how much I like Adria Arjona. We get a three episode premiere for this one so there will be plenty to talk about once the series drops.

‘Tales of the Jedi’: This is a series of shorts we’re getting next month. The trailer, which was also fully released, gives us some interesting footage of Ahsoka, Anakin, Yoda, Obi-Wan, Mace Windu, Captain Rex, and most interestingly, a young Count Dooku with his padawan Qui-Gon Jinn. I’m excited to see where these go even though they’ll only be shorts.

‘Skeleton Crew’: We still don’t know much about this other than Jude Law stars in it, Jon Watts of ‘Spider-Man’ fame is directing, and it takes place during the New Republic. Think after the original trilogy but before the sequel trilogy. I like Jude Law but there really isn’t anything to judge here yet.

‘Ahsoka’: Before this panel even happened we got the news that Ewan Esfandi was going to play Ezra Bridger, joining Natasha Liu Bordizzo, our Sabine Wren, as our first live-action look at ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ characters. For this showcase we got to see a rendering of the last shot in ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ of Sabine looking at the mural of her team. Which indicates that we are, as we all expected, picking up from where the last episode of ‘Rebels’ left off. Aside from this we know that Dave Filoni basically considers this series to be his greatest work and we’ll see lots of lightsaber battles. I’m not certain how I feel about this. I really love almost all of the characters we’re promised to see here, but I’m not a huge fan of Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka as we’ve seen her so far. She’s too much of a generic Jedi and too little of the spunky, hilarious, badass we got to see in ‘Clone Wars’. I really want to like this series, though.

‘The Mandalorian’: Last but certainly not least, we got a trailer for season three of ‘The Mandalorian’! It looks amazing. First off, we’re getting so much more of Bo-Katan Kryze, who I love with my entire heart and will never get enough of. She also seems to be actively recruiting Mando to join her in continuing to rebuild the Mandalorians, referring to the group that just cast him out for taking off his helmet as a “cult” that “fractured” their people. I’m inclined to believe her knowing what I know from ‘Clone Wars’. Then again, I might be biased. We also have characters officially referring to Mando as Grogu’s dad! And we have more cute moments of Mando and Grogu helping each other out in dangerous situations! I’m actively melting into a puddle as I type. On top of these things we also get brief shots of Pell Motto, who is always a joy to watch, and the adorable Babu Frik! I can’t wait until this comes out!

And that’s it! I’m definitely looking forward to the Star Wars content the most, but Marvel caught my eye with a few announcements. There’s just so many projects Marvel’s working on that I have a hard time believing all of them will make it to completion. I’m crossing my fingers for some good content, though!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop: ‘ATEEZ’ Haunted Houses

Promotional photo of (from left) Choi Jongho, Song Mingi, Choi San, Jeong Yunho, Kim Hongjoong, Kang Yeosang, Jung Wooyoung, and Park Seonghwa. Copyright goes to ATEEZ and KQ Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I talked very briefly about ‘WANTEEZ’ in my last post, and I swear each episode gets better and better. The most recent episode from this week is probably my favorite of all of them so far. I don’t know what it is, but KQ loves to send ATEEZ into haunted houses and I absolutely love it every time despite being scared to go into haunted houses myself. This most recent episode of ‘WANTEEZ’ saw the boys going into a zombie infested school and having to figure out how to leave alive while they were all paired up in groups of two. The surprise in this being that one of them was secretly a zombie and they had to figure out who it was before they left. I was absolutely shocked at who the zombie was, especially with how they each have been proven to act in a haunted house. Which got me thinking, which members would be best to go into a haunted house with and which ones would be the worst? So entirely in the spirit of fun (and my desperation for it to already be Halloween), I’m going to go through all the members in order of who I think would be the best to go into a haunted house with for me personally. It’s kind of hilarious that I’m doing this considering most of the members of ATEEZ hate horror.

8. San

I love San. I absolutely love him. But I am absolutely just as scared of horror as San is and I want to go into haunted houses probably just as much as he does. What I’m saying here, is we probably wouldn’t even make it through the door. Who knows? Maybe that’s actually a good thing considering I’ve pretty much sworn off haunted houses! We might have a really nice day blowing off the haunted house and going to do something else! But San is always what I picture myself to be when he goes into a haunted house with the other members. He’s always hiding behind someone, jumping at every small sound, and half crying the next time he goes into a room because he really doesn’t want to. And I do not blame him because I would be exactly the same way. Hiding behind people is important because I don’t think I would be the best person to hide behind. San and I would stand for a while at the doorway, probably both complaining that we didn’t want to go in the entire time. And that would be it. I guess the only reason he’s at the bottom of this list is because we wouldn’t be going in at all.

7. Mingi

This is another one where I’m not sure we’d actually make it in. Maybe we’d get through the door, scream, and then run out the same way we came in. Mingi is another type to try and hide behind other people, though usually the only one he can manage to hide behind is Yunho. In the most recent ‘WANTEEZ’, Mingi kept getting stranded behind doors after running away from the group causing the editors to refer to him as Princess Mingi, and I honestly don’t think I could handle the possibility of losing the person I went into the haunted house with. That is, if we even made it far enough into the house for me to possibly lose Mingi. I’m also way too small for Mingi to hide behind, but I doubt I’d be able to hide behind him either. Mingi is constantly the type of person to jump or run away from a situation, while I’m more the type to freeze if I’m scared. So I can see getting lost very easily. Though I don’t think we’d make it very far, I at least think we might be able to psyche ourselves up enough to get in the door. I don’t think we’d get farther than that though.

6. Wooyoung

Another person who is absolutely afraid and may or may not be hiding behind another person. Again, it absolutely wouldn’t be me because I am not the person to hide behind. I would probably have to be led through the haunted house as fast as possible while I held one hand over my eyes. So Wooyoung wouldn’t be the choice for that. I think Wooyoung would get up the bravery to actually enter the house though, which is more than I can say for some of the others. Wooyoung after a while would probably be more focused on getting through it, but at the beginning of going into any sort of haunted house, Wooyoung is usually at the back behind someone. Which I can relate to. Wooyoung also is one of the most jumpy of everyone which would probably just make me also jump more. The only thing with Wooyoung is that I don’t think we’d be separated. Wooyoung seems like he’s probably more likely to freeze up and go on the offense than run away, so at least the two of us would be completely frozen together. Not that we’d have a great time. I think with Wooyoung it would be more like a quick sprint through a haunted house, which might be merciful.

5. Yeosang

I think there would be a careful discussion about the merits of us even going in there in the first place, but eventually we probably would. Yeosang is usually just as scared as everyone else, but he’s more quiet about it. He also can become more task oriented once he’s actually inside of a haunted house and often jokes away his feelings with sarcasm, which definitely would make me feel a little bit better. Some lighthearted humor always defuses the tension, but I’ll also say that Yeosang always seems to be up to something when he’s inside of a haunted house. He’s been known to be pretty cunning and I don’t doubt he’d trick me in some way. Maybe he’d disappear around a corner and then rejoin me in the next room. But then again, he’d probably be too scared to be alone. Either way, I’ve seen a cunning Yeosang take adavantage of the others also being scared in a haunted house one too many times. But I don’t think he’d be an overall bad partner to go into a haunted house with. Though considering he would also be very scared, he wouldn’t be the best for me either.

4. Seonghwa

I can already hear other Atiny asking why he made it so far on this list. The real answer to that question is because of a quick thing that happened on the latest episode of ‘WANTEEZ’. When all the other members (except for Yunho and Jongho) were afraid of the turned zombie in the chair at the beginning of the episode, Seonghwa stepped in front of all of them to protect them from the zombie. This is probably the most brave thing I’ve ever seen Seonghwa do in a haunted house situation, but most of them aren’t brave at all in haunted house situations so I’ll take it! Which again, I can’t blame them for because I can’t even watch a horror film. Seonghwa would be just as terrified as I would be, and once again it would be a difficult time trying to psyche ourselves up to go in. At least I know that I could hide behind him and he wouldn’t mind. I see a lot of screaming and sprinting, much like Wooyoung, but at least I wouldn’t have to see as much of it behind someone else’s back. I also feel like there would be a lot of half-frightened out of our minds laughing. Which is at least laughter of some kind!

3. Hongjoong

Finally we are to the last person in ATEEZ who also hates horror and, like me, would do very poorly in a haunted house. This is a group after my own heart, and I love it even more that they embrace haunted theming despite not liking horror. Because I’m often the same way! Hongjoong is the master villain of ATEEZ’s haunted themes and the leader of the demon line. But he’s also terrified in a haunted house to the point of being the type to fall on the floor. There would probably be some hauling him up at times. But, when he wants to get out of a place, he will become very determined to get out of that place. He’d psyche himself enough to walk in and has the head on his shoulders to make sure that he and whoever he went in with would get out as soon as possible. Maybe he’d fall down at a couple of jump scares, but I feel like helping him back up might help cut some of the tension. Though he probably wouldn’t be the person to hide behind the entire time, I think he occasionally would let you. Definitely the type to grab someone’s hand and run the hell out of there. And I think all of these things together might be a great pair for me, who would just want to get out of there.

2. Jongho

I know a lot of Atiny would be surprised that he isn’t first on this list. I think we all know that Jongho is the bravest in any haunted house situation and is the most ok with horror and horror themes. He has always let other members hide behind him when they wanted to and is never fazed by anything. He doesn’t even jump. He would absolutely go into that haunted house and he would absolutely be your human shield if you wanted one. The only reason why I place Jongho second is, like Yeosang, I wouldn’t completely trust him inside a haunted house. Jongho has been shown to find the others getting scared pretty funny. He would absolutely be the type to suddenly disappear only to reappear in the next room to jump scare you himself just by standing in the corner. But if he really knew how afraid you were, he probably wouldn’t. Most likely. Otherwise Jongho is the perfect person to go into a hunted house with if you’re scared. His bravery would probably inspire at least some bravery in myself. But overall, I don’t think he’d be the first person I’d trust to go into a haunted house with me. There’s only one person who I think would be better than Jongho at protecting me in a haunted house.

1. Yunho

Yunho is the only other person in ATEEZ who is unfazed by horror. Though he isn’t as completely stone faced as Jongho, the others always rely on Yunho when they’re part of his group. Yunho has the ultimate tall stature to hide behind and is absolutely the soft hearted puppy who would jump in front of you and protect you. He has no complaints when other members grab the back of his shirt and he’s slowed down by them walking so slowly while having a grip on him. So I feel like he would be absolutely ok if I decided that I had to close my eyes and be led out of the rest of the haunted house. Yunho isn’t really the type to pull pranks or anything else and is absolutely the type to just be the hand to hold if you need it. Yunho is usually the one standing in front of the group or leading when anyone else is scared. His reaction to being scared is either emotionless or laughing and I feel like his tendency to laugh at things would make going through a haunted house feel a little more lighthearted. I would absolutely trust Yunho the most if I were to choose someone to go through a haunted house with. Though I may be just a bit biased because he’s my bias.

As I said, I’ve pretty much sworn off going into any haunted houses at all ever. I think one of the only things that might make me break that rule would be the impossible situation where I was somehow offered the chance to go through one with ATEEZ. But since it’s not going to happen, it’s fun to imagine! While this is my list of who I think would be the best going through with my type of fear in a haunted house, I’m sure everyone is different. If you’re the type who likes to be scared, you might want to go with someone like Wooyoung who would be scared with you. Or someone like Jongho who also seems to thoroughly enjoy it, even if he’s not the type to be scared. But this is just my list as someone who is an absolute and complete scaredy cat. I’d love to know who you think would be the best ATEEZ partner to walk through a haunted house with!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Comfort Entertainment: ‘The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power’ Episodes 1-2 Review

Screenshot of Megan Richards and Markella Kavenagh as Poppy and Nori in ‘The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power’. Copyright goes to Amazon Studios, Harper Collins Publishers, and New Line Cinema.

Hey! Hallie here!

We haven’t talked about ‘Lord of the Rings’ much on this blog, which is unfortunate because both my sister and I absolutely love it. I even finally got through the Silmarillion in order to prepare for anything ‘Rings of Power’ might throw at us. Though it definitely has a lot to live up to given how beloved the Peter Jackson trilogy is, the fact that it’s covering completely different content and filling in a period of time we’ve never seen before gives it a serious advantage. And so far, I think it’s doing a great job of taking advantage of the opportunity it has to both use characters we know and tread new ground. Before I get started though, know that I do not and will not tolerate any negative comments about this show on the basis of the people of color in the cast. Tolkien’s ideas on race don’t matter. What matters is that everyone gets an opportunity to see themselves in the media they consume, and the world of Middle Earth is fictional with nothing ever saying anywhere that people of color are barred from existing in it. Now that I’ve made that clear, let’s get to the review! SPOILER WARNING!

Galadriel:

This series is separated into four storylines at the moment, so I’m going to take some time to review each so far. Galadriel’s storyline was probably the most advertised of all of them. I was actually under the impression we’d end up spending more time with her than the other characters. I was surprised to see how well balanced all of the stories are. Galadriel feels more like one piece of a large ensemble cast rather than a main character, which I have no objections to. As far as her story itself, there’s some interesting elements. So far all of the epic fight scenes have gone to Galadriel, as they should. She’s badass and the fight scenes, especially the ones in episode two that take place on and in the water, are gorgeous to watch. I also like how accurate-feeling Galadriel’s characterization is here. Galadriel is established to be a warrior first and foremost in the Silmarillion. She’s one of the elves who supposedly took part in the Kinslaying, the battle where elves turned against each other in pursuit of the first main villain Morgoth, and her loyalty to both her family and the oath to defeat Morgoth makes her feel dangerous. We see all of that here. A woman who spent so much time fighting that she doesn’t know how to live a life without it, and a woman who’s so good at it that no one can compare. I especially loved that some of her motivations are tied to her brother Finrod, who is probably my favorite of the elven kings, because it further emphasizes her loyalty to her family and makes her a really empathetic figure. That said, I hope we get more characterization for her soon. Aside from being a badass, we don’t know all that much about her personality at this point and it makes it difficult to fully get behind her. But we’re only two episodes in so I’m confident we’ll get more character moments as the series goes on.

Nori:

This is one of my favorite storylines so far. The Harfoots are so easily likable that the day after the first two episodes of ‘Rings of Power’ started streaming, they completely covered most of my social media timelines. First of all, they’re precursors to Hobbits. Who doesn’t like Hobbits? And just like the Hobbits we’ve grown to know and love, their close-knit community and peaceful relationship with nature make them feel comforting. Nori is especially likable. Unlike some of the others in her community who are content to stay within the confines of their village, she loves to explore. She’s fearless and curious, making her an ideal character to follow. She’s also incredibly compassionate. When the man dubbed The Stranger falls from the sky and lights the ground on fire, she doesn’t hesitate to run over and see if he’s ok. She takes him in and comforts him. And when her curiosity for The Stranger takes her away from her father she shows genuine remorse for it. She’s such a fun, strong character already and I can’t wait to see where she goes next. As for The Stranger, I have a few theories about who he may be just like everyone else. Given his demonstrations of irregular powers, he has to be one of the characters in Middle Earth that’s gifted with magic. That would likely mean either one of the wizards sent to Middle Earth, or Sauron. I’m currently leaning towards Gandalf. I think it’s most likely the show set up all this build up for a large payoff, rather than The Stranger winding up being an unknown wizard, and I think his apparent relationship with bugs, his uttering of elvish that Gandalf uses in the Peter Jackson movies, and Gandalf’s relationship with Hobbits makes this my first choice. But we’ll have to wait and see!

Elrond:

This is the other of my favorite storylines so far. Elrond has always been one of my favorite ‘Lord of the Rings’ characters and he’s just so delightful here. The ways he attempts to encourage Galadriel are endearing, as is his excitement for the days to come. Although, knowing that Sauron’s power is on the rise and the rings of power are soon to be created, Elrond likely won’t be so optimistic for long. In fact, it’s Elrond’s storyline that’s introducing us to the beginning of the rings of power’s creation. For those who don’t know, Celebrimbor, the elf Elrond is currently trying to help, created three of the nine rings of power. Granted, these rings were the elven rings that were mostly kept away from Sauron. Celebrimbor notably stood against Sauron as well, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that the One Ring held power over these rings. In other words, this can only get worse for Elrond. That said, my favorite part of his story so far is Elrond’s friendship with Durin. Their relationship has given us a really good look at Elrond’s cunning and kindness, as well as the ways in which elves deal with their near-immortality. Our introduction to Elrond’s friendship with Durin is Durin showing animosity towards Elrond for missing the development of his kingdom, his wedding, and the birth of his children. At first Elrond is clearly confused by this, but as we see him spend time with Durin, and one of the best characters in the entire show Disa, we see his confusion turn into a somber acceptance. He missed everything because he hadn’t noticed how much time was going by. Would you if you lived as long as an elf? I really hope we get plenty more of Elrond, Durin, and Disa in future episodes.

Arondir and Bronwyn:

This is probably the slowest storyline for me at this point. I really like the idea of Arondir’s character. First off, his wooden chest plate? My favorite piece of costuming in the entire show. It looks so good. But beyond that, I really like the idea of an elf who’s been defending an area for so many generations that he doesn’t want to leave. And the fact that he fell in love with a human while doing his job is just the icing on the cake. But the relationship between Arondir and Bronwyn doesn’t really offer any intrigue yet. We know Arondir’s been pining for her for a while, and it seems like she might like him too, but we didn’t get to see how those feelings came to be and the two separated almost just as quickly as the story brought them together. Now the major intrigue for these two has to do with Orcs. We got to see our first Orc of the show when it showed up to kill Bronwyn and Theo, and Arondir followed the holes the Orcs left in the ground which may have lead to more Orcs or even to something worse. But other than the link to possible moves Sauron could be making, I’m not extremely interested in Orcs. Their storyline just isn’t pulling me in as much as the other ones are so far, possibly because of its slower pacing. I don’t dislike it, but I hope it picks up soon!

Those are my thoughts so far! The only thing I want to add is that this show looks absolutely gorgeous. The landscape shots alone are enough to get you hooked on ‘Rings of Power’. But everything so far is really promising! Some storylines are better than others, and some elements of the story have yet to interest me, but we only have two episodes so far! We only have six more episodes to go for a total of eight episodes, but even in that case the first two episodes don’t often cover a huge amount of ground. I’m not ready to give up on any character or story yet, and I’m really excited to continue watching this series!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop: ATEEZ Concerts and Shows

Social media photo of (from left) Park Seonghwa, Jung Wooyoung, Jeong Yunho, Kang Yeosang, Choi San, Kim Hongjoong, Choi Jongho, and Song Mingi. Copyright goes to ATEEZ and KQ Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I mentioned briefly in a past post that my sister and I actually managed to get pretty good tickets to see ATEEZ in November and I am absolutely ecstatic! I was there for their concert in LA in January and the day I was at happened to be the day that Hongjoong announced they would be back later this year. The concert was so important to me, and I remember standing there and promising myself that I’d get tickets when they were back. Some Atiny were wondering if that meant K-Con when they announced their appearance there (I was hoping not because getting tickets for K-Con proved impossible for my friends and I); but they actually did announce a concert. Everything surrounding this announcement and what happened afterwards was odd though, and that’s part of what I’m going to cover here. On top of that, ATEEZ has been releasing a lot of content recently that I wanted to talk about. I’ve been so happy with how much I’ve seen ATEEZ on my timeline recently. Opening my phone almost daily to see the smiling faces of all of the guys has been making my slightly stressful days so much better. So, I’m just going to get into it! I’m so excited to see them in November!

The Concert Debacle:

We were expecting a concert announcement not long after the album release, and we definitely got one! Actually pretty soon after the release! But there were a few oddities about the announcement. For one, the announcement wasn’t followed by any other news anytime soon after. Usually a tour announcement comes out with dates or is at least closely followed by tour dates and locations. But it was over a month before we heard anything else about the tour other than that there would be one. It is still unclear as to why they waited so long to release any information about the tour; but one theory is that they didn’t have any of the locations solidified. That theory feels like it might hold more weight once you start looking at the dates and locations that they did eventually release. This tour has about half the dates and locations than the last tour had. As dates started selling out, they did add on a couple dates to a couple locations. But they haven’t added on any other locations. They are playing bigger venues for the most part this time around though!

The weirdness of the concert already combined with the fiasco that became presale day made everything so much worse. The website was freezing all over the place for multiple locations, but I don’t think any location had it as bad as Anaheim. A glitch on the website made it so that everyone could only buy one ticket, even though the website clearly stated that the maximum was four. And every time you tried to press on a ticket, the website would bring up an error that you had left another seat stranded. I got in very early into the sale, but my sister was a bit later. I ended up having to wait for her to get in while we both attempted to find seats near each other. Not long into us doing this, masses of remaining seats started to blink out as the site corrected itself and they updated nobody on this revelation. I was only able to get tickets in the end by choosing any two seats in my desired spots that popped up after other people timed out and waiting for Ticketmaster to load. This ended up working for me, but I know that most Anaheim fans weren’t able to get ideal seats at all or weren’t able to sit with friends and family. As someone who has navigated a couple of BTS pre-sales at this point and gotten to see them twice, I have to say that this is by far the worst ticket sale experience I’ve ever had. I was sure for a while there that I wasn’t getting tickets, which thankfully only fed my stubborn persistence to try for them. There’s also a sense of pride when you actually nab tickets! This is actually the first time that I secured tickets for a K-Pop concert. Before I needed the help of family or friends. But that aside, I’m incredibly angry for all of the Atiny who ended up in nosebleeds or not getting tickets at all because of Ticketmaster. These glitches should have never happened and re-sale tickets for this concert are double the original price and more in some cases. Especially because ATEEZ is in higher demand than last tour for them having a shorter tour this time around.

Overworking:

A lot of people have said that the answer to the Ticketmaster fiasco, is ATEEZ adding more dates to the locations that suffered. And while that did happen for some locations, it didn’t happen for Anaheim. Probably because they mostly added dates to locations that only had one concert while Anaheim already had two. And I don’t think that adding more dates is the answer to this. The only reason why I say this, is that it’s no secret that the fourth generation K-Pop groups are being way overworked right now. This could account for the shorter tour too. Think about it; ATEEZ has had almost no breaks in about two years now. And their schedule has only seemed to become more packed. They had several concerts towards the beginning of the year, they practiced for release, they released a new album, they attended several K-Pop conventions and fan-signs, they are actually still traveling for fan-signs, and now in a couple months they’ll be traveling again for more concerts. Part of this universal K-Pop schedule packing for fourth gen groups is the K-Pop industry desperately trying to fill the BTS void. Though BTS is still active in some ways, most companies saw their break announcement as an opportunity for their groups to become the next global sensation. And I think this is a little ridiculous. Especially because BTS took a break to promote mental health and now K-Pop industries are treating their idols worse instead of also giving their idols breaks so that they don’t burn out too. I’m hoping that at least a shorter tour will let them get some rest. Several of the members have already hinted that they haven’t been getting much sleep at all. I hope they get to more countries and locations after some well deserved rest. If their company will let them have it.

‘WANTEEZ’:

Now that we’ve gotten through the chaos; I’m going to talk about the new ATEEZ series that’s been making my days brighter. This KQ-created variety show sends ATEEZ back to High School as transfer students and it has been so much fun. So far there are only three episodes, but each of them has been hilarious! The first episode saw them running with a bunch of non-transfer students to get to class on time. That was literally all the first episode was; but it was one of the best episodes of any variety show I’ve ever seen. They had them each react to this separately by having the person walk calmly in one way and then having the group of students run towards them from the other direction. I think my favorite moment was when Mingi ran with the group and after claimed that it was only because he felt the show would be boring if he didn’t. I was also shocked alongside Mingi when the teacher told him to do a punishment alongside a student on the ground and that student looked up and it was just Yunho. I also loved that they all were apart of the running group for the very last member to go through it, screaming alongside them. Each subsequent episode has been just as adorably hilarious! The most recent episode saw Yunho, Wooyoung, and Jongho protecting the other members while playing dodgeball against the other students. Their variety shows have been absolutely brilliant recently! I loved watching them in the haunted house where only Yunho and Jongho were brave and their most recent adventurous outings where they laughed hysterically on those car-boats while they all got soaked. They seem so carefree and happy in the shows and you can’t help but laugh along with them!

ATEEZ is quickly becoming a staple in my house. Definitely the favorite K-Pop group of most of my family now and they’re only becoming more and more important to me as each day passes. My day isn’t complete now without a Yunho smile on my Pinterest. And I am already counting the days until I get to see them again! I really hope all of you who wanted tickets got them and I hope that those who didn’t will still get to see them soon. This was a mess, that’s for sure. Hopefully the next concert will have a better ticketing system. I know Ticketmaster is at the top of ticket sales websites, but I’m really hoping another company takes over soon. Because Ticketmaster always has been and continues to be completely awful!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

BTS: Happy Birthday Jungkook!

Promotional photo of Jeon Jungkook for ‘Proof’. Copyright goes to the Hybe Corporation and BTS.

Hey! Hallie here!

We got so busy over here that we nearly let Jungkook’s birthday slide by! But we’ll never miss out on wishing one of the BTS boys a Happy Birthday! I have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to each member of BTS. BTS almost single-handedly got me through one of the toughest years of my life and each member played a huge role in that. But Jungkook turning 25 means he gets all the praise for this post. We’ve gone over some of our favorite Jungkook songs and moments in past posts, so today I’m going to focus on some of the things about Jungkook that I really appreciate about him. Whether it’s based on his performance or based on his personality, ARMYs have a lot to admire. So let’s get into this wholesome Jungkook post!

His Childlike Enthusiasm:

This is one of those things that pops up regardless of what Jungkook’s doing, but can most easily be seen on episodes of ‘Run BTS’. He always gives 110% to every task he’s given. Whether it’s small, like mimicking how his dogs greet him when he gets home, to a bigger task, like bungee jumping, Jungkook’s never reluctant to take on something challenging. He approaches any challenge with a fearlessness that’s enviable. But it isn’t just fearlessness that I admire. It’s his excitement. Jungkook embraces every new situation with both an open mind and a giant smile. The gleam in his eye before any obstacle course or even before swinging upside down in a canyon, feels so genuine. Even when he’s doing something ridiculous, like wearing an outfit Jin designed, he approaches it with confidence and enthusiasm. There’s something so infectious about how much fun Jungkook is constantly having. It’s really hard to be upset when you’re watching Jungkook roll with the punches with as much gleefulness as he does. It really makes me want to embrace the scary parts of life with just as much joy.

His Stage Presence:

Jungkook is widely regarded as one of the best centers in K-Pop and it isn’t hard to see why. First off, his voice is amazing. He’s given a lot of the most powerful vocal pieces in BTS songs and he always delivers and then some. Hearing his interlude in “On” gives me shivers every time, even more so when I get to hear it live. And the fact that he sang his solo song, “Euphoria”, live while swinging above the audience’s heads? He couldn’t be more impressive. His dancing skills are just as powerful. If they weren’t, he wouldn’t be a piece of the 3Js, or the three members of BTS who are known dancers: J-Hope, Jimin, and Jungkook. If you want to see him dancing solo though, I highly recommend the piece he did to “Save Me”. It was made even sweeter by the fact that it was done just before one of the most epic K-Pop performances ever seen (The 2019 MMA “Dionysus” performance is what I’m referring to here and should be considered essential viewing for any ARMY. It’s so good). Beyond these skills though, he’s really entertaining to watch. He brings a professional focus to more serious songs, but he also knows when to let it go and just have some fun. Jungkook is one of the members of BTS who likes to goof off the most and it’s so fun to watch onstage. Often times he’ll pair up with Jin to make the most chaos on stage, so it’s always worth keeping track of the proximity between these two whenever you watch a BTS concert. Jungkook is insanely talented, but beyond that, he’s a showman who feels authentic in everything he does. You can always feel how much he cares about his craft and about ARMYs fulfillment too.

His Confidence:

I talked a little bit about this earlier and I feel like there’s more to discuss here. Because there’s layers to Jungkook’s confidence. There’s the confidence he displays whenever he approaches something new, even if it’s an absolutely crazy outfit designed by Jin. But there’s also the confidence he displays in his work. On stage he knows his strengths and plays to them, especially when he’s given more free rein like in a solo performance. “My Time” is an excellent example, combining the confidence he has in his voice, dancing, self-image, and the message he’s trying to convey, to give a hypnotizing performance. This can also be seen in his solo photoshoots. We all were just blessed with a vampire Jungkook photoshoot that radiates the sort of dangerous seduction he seems to like to play with in recent photoshoots, along with a quiet confidence. Whether he’s embracing a bad-boy-biker look or a creature-of-the-night look, his confidence is what sells these darker concepts. And then there’s the confidence he goes into every task with. We all know he’s the Golden Maknae, but part of the reason why he’s so successful is because he doesn’t go into anything expecting failure. He always seems to believe he’s capable of doing whatever he needs to do, and he persists with the same amount of belief in himself even when he doesn’t get it right on his first try. This confidence isn’t ego. Jungkook himself has talked about how he struggles with believing he’s ever at his best. But he walks into everything with the confidence that he won’t have to give up on anything he tries. He knows he’ll succeed eventually, and it inspires me to push aside my fear of failure and believe the same of myself.

There’s so much more I could talk about here. I could talk about how much I adore his selflessness or his goofiness. I could talk about how much I love his openness with ARMY and the other members. But I’d rather talk about the things I don’t know here. Because the truth is, Jungkook might be open with ARMY, but we still don’t know everything about him. We still can’t really know what he’s like in person. And that might be something I appreciate about him the most. He’s a human being with even more facets than I’m aware of. He’s a complicated person who’s been through more than I could (Or should) know, and yet he’s still put himself out there as a beacon of light for all us ARMYs. He’s still dedicated so much of his time to bring joy to the members and the fans who take up so much of his life. I’m just grateful that I live in the same era as this amazing man, who somewhere around the world is living his own beautiful life and still takes the time to bring some joy to mine. Happy 25th Birthday, Jungkook. I know it’s a bit late but I could never express just how much I appreciate you.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Disney: Best (and Worst) Disney Couples

Screenshot of Belle and the Beast from ‘Beauty and the Beast’. Copyright goes to Disney and Disney Animation.

Hi! It’s Annie!

We’ve talked plenty on this blog about Disney Princesses and Princes, but I find it pretty surprising that I have yet to actually talk about my feelings on the romances. Especially since they take front and center in a lot of Disney films. Disney movies can carry so much hope. That even though things are unfair sometimes, it is possible for your dreams to come true or to find your true love. And by critiquing some of these couples, I don’t mean to take the magic out of it. But there are definitely some questionable decisions made by one or both characters involved. On the other hand, I am absolutely in love with some of these couples and the hope that comes from them. So I’m going to go over some of the major couples in Disney and why some of them are great and some of them are… not so great. Obviously, MAJOR SPOILERS for if you somehow haven’t seen these Disney movies. Which I hope is a very small bit of you!

Unhappily Ever After:

Snow White and Prince Florian- I think there are a lot of reasons that this one doesn’t quite work out. The primary reason being that Snow White is canonically fourteen at the time of this film. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to love about this movie. This is the movie that spurned the popularity in animation and made people truly believe that an audience would absolutely sit down for a full movie of cartoon animation. It’s a gorgeous movie, partly because it was literally hand painted, and has an amazing storyline. In many ways, this is the movie that started it all for Disney. But Florian kissing the corpse of someone he had barely met and also frightened on multiple occasions isn’t really convincing enough to make this a good couple. They didn’t spend any time together at all. There are really good versions of this couple. For example, I absolutely love David and Mary Margaret in ‘Once Upon A Time’. Not only is the chemistry amazing because they’re played by a real life couple who actually fell in love during the duration of the show. It’s also a much more complicated hate to love storyline that focuses on and grows both of the characters. But the original story didn’t really have the time or maturity for that quite yet.

Aurora and Prince Phillip- Another unconscious kiss and not a lot of time to get to know each other. Aurora gets a whopping fourteen minutes of screen time in the original movie. And while I do like Phillip, he actually isn’t the person who should get credit for slaying Maleficent and saving the day. The three fairies are the ones who enchanted the sword to deal the killing blow, released Phillip, and let Phillip know about the way to break the curse of the kingdom. Aurora agrees to marry Phillip after dancing with him once. And I have yet to find a version of this story that really fleshes this out. But once again, the movie is gorgeous. Probably one of my favorite designs for any Disney film that I’ve seen.

Cinderella and Prince Charming- It’s rather unfortunate that she wasn’t even wearing a mask and he didn’t remember what she looked like after spending the entire night with her. But, you know what? At least he spent the entire night with her. Which is more than some of the others can say. Still, while this is better, it isn’t great.

Ariel and Eric- This is probably going to be my most controversial opinion on this list. Ariel knew absolutely nothing about Eric when she first decided that she had a crush on him, other than the fact that he was from the human world. Which is probably one of the reasons why she had a crush on him in the first place. On the other hand, Eric scoffs at the idea of falling in love with a Princess he barely knows at the beginning of the film. But then spends the rest of it declaring that he will marry a woman just because of her voice when he barely even saw what she looked like, if at all. Plus, the fact that Eric fell in love with Ariel without ever having a conversation with her, something Ursula disturbingly predicts earlier in the film, is not something I’m thrilled with. Ariel could have wanted to go to the human world with or without Eric. Part of me wonders if Eric was even super necessary to the plot.

Happily Ever After:

Belle and the Beast- I know what you’re going to say. Stockholm Syndrome. I’ve made an entire post about why ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is definitely not Stockholm Syndrome. Belle never changes to accommodate the Beast, it’s the other way around, and Belle doesn’t fall in love with him until he lets her go. Though I still take a lot of issue with the kidnapping. But I really like this because it’s a great story about second chances and growth. The Beast is both adorable and amazingly expressive for this style of animation as well, which only makes his part in the romance more endearing. And using Belle to encourage young girls to read at the time, is a stroke of genius that impacted my life as a young girl as well as countless others. Both characters learn to completely accept the other for who they are. Both of them are othered and find comfort in each other. And they definitely spend a lot of time actually getting to know each other!

Tiana and Naveen- Speaking of growing together and spending a lot of time together. This is a pretty typical hate to love story, but it’s so gradual and adorable that I can’t help but fawn over it every time. And both of them have to grow in order to realize what’s between them. Naveen has to take on some responsibility and Tiana has to learn to let her hair down a little. Naveen offering to work two or three jobs to help get Tiana her restaurant has to be one of the best things any Prince ever does.

Rapunzel and Eugene- This is the relationship in all of Disney that feels the most natural to me. Rapunzel and Eugene don’t start out hating each other by any means; rather they are kind of wary of each other. They definitely become friends before they fall in love, and it’s interesting to see the slow progression of them realizing that they care for each other. They also have the time to grow together. Eugene learns to trust again, even giving Rapunzel the information of what his actual name is. Rapunzel, in turn, grows as a person and becomes less naive and more resourceful. The love between them is built out of knowledge and friendship; which is really what makes this seem so natural. There’s no insta-love here!

Mulan and Li Shang- Firstly, he fell in love with her before he even knew she was a girl. The love between them transcends views on gender and gives us a bisexual King. They also spend plenty of time fighting side by side as equals. There are far too few relationships like that in fairytale adaptations.

Anna and Kristoff- Also a very realistic seeming relationship! And probably the most adorable! Pair a golden retriever with another golden retriever and you’ve got them! I seriously love these two so much. You’ll never find as self sacrificing and supportive of a boyfriend as Kristoff or as caring of a girlfriend as Anna. They truly deserve each other in the absolute best way.

I didn’t want to mention couples that are very obviously bad and shouldn’t have been made; such as Pocahontas and John Smith. But I also want to say, that even the couples that I mentioned that I disliked hold some magic for me. Snow White and her Prince have had so many great adaptations and, as I said before, I am personally obsessed with their adaptation in ‘Once Upon A Time’. And I love most of the Disney classics. But while watching ‘The Little Mermaid’ today, I couldn’t help but notice how I wasn’t so thrilled with Ariel and Eric’s relationship. But even though some of my perceptions of the movies have changed; nothing will take the magic of these movies away. And the relationships these movies present have absolutely matured over time. Great, now I want to go to Disneyland!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Sci-Fi: Ways to Get Into ‘Star Trek’

Promotional image of Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Marina Sirtis, and LeVar Burton for ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’. Copyright goes to Paramount Productions and Roddenberry Entertainment.

Hey! Hallie here!

I’ve been talking about ‘Star Trek’ a lot recently and I’m not the only one. Since the release of some of the more recent shows, this franchise has started rising in popularity again. ‘Strange New Worlds’ in particular dominated streaming service viewership while season one was airing. But for many people, this ‘Star Trek’ can be daunting. This is the pinnacle of Sci-Fi, meaning while some episodes are more lighthearted and action-based, other episodes are slower and more philosophical. For some people that makes ‘Star Trek’ sound like a boring show, but as someone who had that exact same fear before jumping into it, I can confidently say that it isn’t boring at all. That said, there are definitely shows and media that are easier to get into than others. And while I have a lot of respect for ‘The Original Series’, it’s a bit of a rougher place to start than other series. So, if you’re looking to get into ‘Star Trek’, here’s a few less-daunting things to start with.

The J.J. Abrams Movies:

For a long time Trek fans would take offense to the suggestion that a new fan should start with these movies. But more recently fans have been reconsidering that stance. These movies are quite a bit different from any of the ‘Star Trek’ series you’ll watch. They’re not at all focused on deeper themes but instead focus on huge action sequences and space battles. But that doesn’t make these less valuable than the rest of ‘Star Trek’. Instead, it gives you a really fun action flick to watch while it introduces you to ‘Star Trek’ concepts. And it doesn’t skip out on any of the lore. We get full looks into Vulcan, Star Fleet Academy, and even Leonard Nimoy’s Spock. We get introductions and backstories for all of the characters, some of which deviate from ‘The Original Series’, but all that give new viewers an excellent idea of what the characters are like. The best part of these movies though, is that they keep intact one of the most valuable things about the franchise: The relationships between the characters. Each ‘Star Trek’ series is made up of a strong ensemble cast that gets to know each other as their respective series plays out. That’s definitely true of these movies too. We get to watch the characters slowly get to know one another and begin to see each other as family. These bonds endear you to the characters, make you want to route for them, and make them memorable long after the final movie ends. Not to mention the amazing cast that not only makes the characters likable, but has such good chemistry that you believe the friendships you see onscreen. These movies are by no means hard to get through and they’re excellent first steps into ‘Star Trek’.

‘Strange New Worlds’:

If you haven’t watched any ‘Star Trek’ shows, you might be wondering why the hell I’m suggesting the most recent addition to the franchise as an introduction. Lucky for you, ‘Strange New Worlds’ is a prequel to the majority of the ‘Star Trek’ franchise. It benefits from giving a new viewer canonical introductions to all of the characters, including characters that pop up frequently like Kirk and Spock, all with modern writing and storytelling. When I talk about modern writing, I’m specifically referring to the more modern practice of connecting episodes with a larger storyline and diving more deeply into the characters. While older series, like ‘Star Trek: The Original Series’, has less of these things (Which is one of the biggest reasons why newcomers struggle with it), ‘Strange New Worlds’ is full of deep character moments and overarching plots that make it a bit easier to get engaged with. While ‘Strange New Worlds’ does have some callbacks to other ‘Star Trek’ series for long-time fans, it doesn’t rely on any of them. In fact, it actually elaborates on some of the things found in other series, making ‘Strange New Worlds’ a more thorough introduction to things like the Gorn or characters like Uhura. It’s also a good mix of comedic, action-packed, and contemplative stories which gives new viewers a really good idea of what episodes for other series are like. And even better, there’s only one season so far. So if the length of a full series of ‘Star Trek’ contributes to your hesitations with this series, ‘Strange New Worlds’ won’t take you too long to watch through.

‘The Next Generation’ Starting With Season 2:

‘The Next Generation’ is probably the most popular ‘Star Trek’ series of all time. It has an excellent cast, some really good messages throughout its episodes, and some iconic villains. I mean, the captain is Sir Patrick Stewart. You can’t really go wrong with this one. The nice thing about starting with ‘The Next Generation’ is that it moves much quicker than ‘The Original Series’ right as it starts, so you don’t have to adapt to a slower pace right away. You also get a lot more of the plots and concepts fans constantly gush about, meaning you get to start your experience with this franchise with exactly what fans love about ‘Star Trek’. However, starting with ‘The Next Generation’ comes with some caveats. The main one is that you should skip season one. You can watch episode one of the season for context, but do yourself a favor and skip the rest. If you’re like me and you find that you really like the series after watching the rest, you can go back through some of the episodes you missed. But in the meantime, season one of ‘The Next Generation’ is known for having some really awful episodes that make new viewers want to abandon the series entirely. Even long time fans admit the season isn’t very good. In other words, don’t feel guilty about skipping it.

Look Up Episode Guides:

While you can start with any of the shows above, you can easily start with any series. All ‘Star Trek’ series are connected, but not strongly enough that you have to watch any of them in any particular order. They all stand alone pretty well. So if you’ve heard good things about ‘Voyager’ and want to start with a character like Janeway, go ahead and do that! If you heard fans like me talk about ‘Deep Space Nine’ and how that series’ storytelling drew us in as newcomers, start with ‘Deep Space Nine’! And if you want to start with where it all began, go ahead and jump over to ‘The Original Series’. But it’s true of all of these ‘Star Trek’ series that there are some episodes that might kill your motivation to continue on with this franchise, especially episodes in the first few seasons. That’s where episode guides come in. There are many, many, websites that will give you a run down of each episode and a ranking to go along with it. These rankings will save your life. If you see a low ranking, especially if it’s ranked low by more than one website, skip that episode for now. It’s much better to go back to it knowing you like the series than to watch it and find yourself unwilling to continue. There are even episodes that are so dated, you may never want to watch them. Many of the writers and actors would even thank you for moving past them. These episodes will never be the majority of the episodes in any series or season. But it’s good to know about them, especially if you’re trying to get a feel for ‘Star Trek’.

And that’s it! I had to try a few different things before I found something that pulled me into ‘Star Trek’, and that might be true for you too. You might have to try out a few episodes of a few different series before you find something that really works for you. But that’s the nice thing about ‘Star Trek’. There are many series with different moods, characters, and storylines to draw you in, and you don’t have to know all of the previous stuff to try out a series. For me personally, ‘Deep Space Nine’ was just the right amount of action, philosophy, and strong characters (In particular, strong female leads), to get me obsessed. I promise you, you’ll find a series that’ll grab your interest too! ‘Star Trek’ is such a rewarding franchise to follow and a beautiful look into our society. If you move past some of the slower moments, you’ll quickly realize why so many people consider this franchise to be so influential.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Disney: ‘Descendants’ Couples

Screenshot of Sofia Carson and Zachary Gibson in Disney’s ‘Descendants 2’. Copyright goes to Disney and the Disney Channel.

Hi! It’s Annie!

So I let it slip, I think early last year, that I actually kind of like ‘Descendants’. As someone who was into franchises such as ‘Monster High’ growing up, I was always into the sons and daughters of famous characters concept. I also, (as most of you who have been reading this blog know) have been really into the cheesy, lighthearted, and hopeful content recently. And nothing says that quite as much as a DCOM. Though I am a little hesitant to even call it that. This is by far the biggest budget that Disney has ever expended for a Disney Channel movie expect for maybe the later ‘High School Musical’ films. And while the general High School drama of those movies doesn’t appeal to me so much; I really like a really well integrated movie to the Disney characters and stories that I know and love so much. Because it also focuses so much on the villains in particular, my want for another holiday and cooler weather has made this the perfect pre-Halloween escape. But, of course, now that I’ve started talking about Disney Channel couples on this blog, that was all that I could think about when I was most recently rewatching these movies. So I’m going to go over the most popular ships from this franchise and give my personal opinions on them. This is your warning, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD FOR ALL THREE MOVIES!!! If you haven’t watched these yet, I would actually recommend them. You might end up liking them more than you think you will. Or at least the first two; the third one isn’t very good.

Mal and Ben:

I don’t think I could start anywhere else if I wanted to. This is the centerpiece couple for all three movies. Mal is the daughter of Maleficent and Ben is the son of Belle and the Beast; and we were all expecting this before the movie even begins. The main VK is going to end up with the Prince. Pretty obvious. But this relationship takes a bit of an unexpected route compared to other Disney Channel movies. Instead of naturally falling in love, for most of the first movie she actually gives him a love spell. Little does she realize that he was pretty much already in love with her. It’s cute in concept but a little questionable in execution considering, you know, consent. But Ben acts very sweet throughout and you at least know that Mal has a rough upbringing which makes it a very very slight bit more understandable. But, still. The second movie makes this relationship even rougher because Ben is willfully not understanding how much of a change Mal is struggling to go through for him while Mal attempts to literally modify his memory at one point. I’m not exactly sure how you trust somebody after that. Both of them were sweet to each other in the first movie at points, but it all falls apart here. And with all of the lying in the third movie, it just confirmed for me that this couple just doesn’t make any sense at all. They both have some bright points on their own, but each of their characters seem to suffer while together.

Evie and Doug:

One of the other cannon couples and probably my favorite overall. And yes, I am kind of biased because Evie is my favorite character. Evie is the daughter of the Evil Queen and Doug is the son of Dopey, which already sounds like a very cute match up. For Doug it’s more like love at first sight, while for Evie she has to come around to the idea because she’s been set on finding a Prince with a giant castle. Doug steps up to defend her often and helps her study; his caring nature and belief in her intelligence being the true thing to endear her to him in the end. And what I really like about these two is that you actually get to see them as a couple. You see how he supports and helps her out with her business and how their un-labelled friendship slowly grows into love. To the point where she’s unsure if he loves her in the third movie, but ends up waking him with true love’s kiss. The moment that they share afterwards is far too brief, but still says a lot. Evie gets angry at Doug when he very briefly pretends to still be asleep but they share a cute moment after that shows that they at least kind of acknowledge what just happened. I just wanted more of Evie and Doug! I loved that he was so devoted to her and so constantly supportive of everything she wanted to do. True boyfriend behavior. And she always seemed so confident around him because he never encouraged her to be anything but herself. This is what I really want my couples to look like in movies in general!

Carlos and Jane:

Carlos is the son of Cruella De Vil and Jane is the daughter of the Fairy Godmother and this couple doesn’t get time until the second movie. Carlos spends much of the movie trying to get the courage to ask her out and she spends most of the movie being oblivious and also annoyingly interrupting a bunch of conversations other characters are having. Jane is better in the third movie, but still doesn’t really have much to offer the plot at all. While this couple kind of works at surface level, there’s nothing that really seems to build up to these two being together. And when they are together, we don’t really see much of them as a couple. I feel like I can’t really make a judgement about them because we only see them as a couple in theory and not really all that much in practice. Overall, I really like Carlos and based on what we see of Jane, she’s not necessarily my favorite. So, my opinion on this is mostly negative and I’m also still a little bit confused.

Jay and Gil:

Jay is the son of Jafar and Gil is the son of Gaston. Ok, this might not necessarily be canon but I at least feel like some of it is. Are we all forgetting the third movie when Jay and Gil were excitedly finding things in common and planning trips together? No? Just me? I personally thought there was a lot of chemistry there and I would love to see Disney embracing a LGBTQ+ couple in one of their major new-ish franchises. Neither of these characters really get a whole lot of plot whatsoever, so it was nice to see them carve out a little bit of plot together.

Uma and Harry:

Uma is the daughter of Ursula and Harry is the son of Captain Hook. Uma and Harry seem to have a very close friendship. Seriously, they have some really cute moments when they’ve been apart and reunite after a while. It’s clear that these two have had each other’s backs for quite some time. But the end of the third movie confirms for me that I never really saw anything romantic between these two. It feels a bit more like the best friendship between Evie and Mal than anything romantic. And I love to see a good girl-boy friendship without it having to turn into something romantic.

Audrey and Chad:

Audrey is the daughter of Aurora and Chad is the son of Cinderella. Both of them are awful! I’m not the biggest fan of Audrey even in the third movie and Chad is the ultimate example of what women mean when they say that all men suck. Even the third movie had no respect for this couple. And I definitely think that neither of these characters should ever be in a relationship ever.

Uma and Ben:

Now we’re getting to the couples that are definitely not cannon; but they are at least widely discussed. This ship was fairly lively for a while, namely because of the conversation that Ben has with her where he finds the commonality that they are both leaders. Uma later puts a love spell on him, and I do find it funny that this action is considered to be almost unforgivable because Mal does the same thing to him in the first movie. And earlier in this movie, again, attempts to modify his memory. But the real villain move here is that Uma attempts to use this power over him to take down the barrier for good. Literally the exact same thing as Mal in the first movie. And this isn’t actually that bad of a thing considering that this is the actual good ending of the third film. Looking at it, there’s a lot more respect and honesty between Ben and Uma than Ben and Mal. Uma never hides or sugar coats what it’s like for the kids on the Isle. And Ben also acknowledges that she would be helpful to have on his side for navigating his dream to take down the barrier. Overall, I think they would work much better as a couple because they are so honest with each other. My only grievance here is that Ben can sometimes feel like a bit of a wet blanket and I feel like Uma is far too cool for him. As much as I would completely love for her to be Queen. But I don’t mind this pairing. Mainly because I want Uma to be Queen.

Mal and Harry:

Mal and Harry had so much chemistry in the second movie that Disney actually addressed this by making it canonical that Mal and Harry used to date. And I’m not saying after the movie released; they addressed it because they noticed the chemistry on set. The actors created a backstory and everything. And I can tell you why the chemistry was so noticeable to everyone right off the bat. The actors were actually dating at the time of filming! And honestly, I can see these two as a couple within the cannon of the show. Throwing Harry off with Audrey at the end made no sense, so I’m not even going to talk about that. Especially because Audrey should have been doing at least some time in some sort of prison. The instant forgiveness just because she was from Auradon was even pointed out by Hades! But I digress. Mal is usually pretty sneaky and very much wants to continue to practice her magic. Harry is a bit of a psycho but he’s shown to be very loyal and supportive where it counts. And both of them find it difficult fitting their personalities into any friend group whatsoever. Neither is really satisfied without being true to themselves and what they want and sometimes they even take that to a selfish degree. I think they would both understand each other and possibly even each other out. Mal would be able to talk Harry down and Harry would push Mal to stop conforming. I could actually see this one working out.

Jay and Lonnie:

Lonnie is Mulan’s daughter (I really hate her name). Neither of these two have much in the way of personality and the only reason why I mention this is because it kind of looks like they may have gone together to Cotillion in the second film. But it’s definitely not cannon and even though Jay helps her, there is absolutely no chemistry here at all. Not even a little bit.

Evie and Ben:

I only mention this because it’s become an even more popular ship as the years go by. I think especially the second movie when Evie attempts to help Ben find Mal made this prominent in some people’s minds. I personally never really saw chemistry between them. Their dynamic in the second movie, to me, felt like an older sister taking care of and nervously following around her naive and clueless little brother. There was definitely no romantic chemistry in this dynamic in my opinion. Though I think Evie would make a great Queen, I don’t think that is at all what Evie wants either. I love that Evie threw the idea of marrying a Prince away, started her own business, and bought her own starter castle in the third film. This is such a strong feminist arc that would be ruined, in my opinion, by her having ended up with Ben in any way. And that aside, I absolutely adore her with Doug! I definitely don’t need to see her with Ben. Ever.

I know that I have some controversial opinions up there, but I absolutely stand by them. I think that some of the pairings in the movies were adorable, but some of the characters would have been better off with different characters. Let me know what you think! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just be over here freaking out over the fact that I was actually able to get ATEEZ concert tickets.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie