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Why I Often Like the Movies More than the Books

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“The books are always better than the movies,” say everyone, but me. Of course, if I have neither read the book nor seen the movie, I would not have a say. But at least with, “Harry Potter”, “Lord of the Flies”, “Aladdin”, and “The Little Mermaid”, I like the movies a lot more.

Now all these opinions are my own, so everyone can still prefer the books over the movies. A lot of people get disappointed when something they liked in a book was cut from the film adaptation or changed. I totally understand that. With me, though, there are sometimes moments in books that I didn’t like, and if removed or altered, I appreciated. The “Harry Potter” franchise is actually one of the biggest of these. You can read that on another post, though.

“Lord of the Flies” was a required book when I attended high school. I found it boring, but the movie engaging. “Aladdin” and “The Little Mermaid”, like many other Disney movies, were based off fairytales. And the original stories were pretty R-rated. I don’t know if they were all told to children, but, of course, Disney had to drastically clean them up to make them appropriate for all ages. There are several moments from Disney classics that would not be acceptable today (i.e. a damsel-in-distress or a guy kissing a strange unconscious girl to wake her up). There are also several moments that aren’t historically accurate, and if they were, the movies would not have been rated G or PG.

Films usually have a time-limit to their productions as well as budgets. So that is why many exciting content, unfortunately, has to be cut. I actually am trying to get myself to read more. I enjoyed reading fiction for fun until fourth grade. I would only read fiction if forced to. Then right before eighth grade, I read the “Harry Potter” books. I would only read for fun if it was a “Harry Potter” novel.

Anyway, I tend to view book-to-film adaptations differently. There actually are rare occasions when I like something in the books more than the films. But, generally, the opposite is more like me.

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Oh Monster’s University, My Critique Sings for Thee

Warning: Contains spoilers***

I saw the first “Monster’s Inc.” film in the movie theatre when it first came out in 2001. I was 20 days away from turning 8. I liked it then.

And then came the prequel, “Monster’s University” in 2013. With a better understanding of films and storytelling, I comprehended the story and elements. I have studied writing and storytelling, so I have viewed the movie from a writer’s POV. I identified the plot points, characterizations, conflict, twists, and more.

Here are the elements I thought were done well:

1: The Plot Twists

Mike was desperate become a scarer. He wrote out a plan for the rest of his college career and when he made it to the real world. Regardless of what others told him, Mike was still determined to convince others that he could scare easily. When he was kicked out of the scaring program in the middle of the film, he still wouldn’t give up. After so much hard work, Mike “won” the final competition. Sully had cheated to make Mike win. Disgusted, Mike broke into the door lab and actually tried to scare, only to discover that everyone was right all along. He couldn’t scare a single child. Sully finds him, and the two return to the monster world. They get expelled, but find work in the mailing room of Monster’s Incorporated.

I appreciated how the story was not too predictable. When Mike thought he’d won the final scaring part, I was surprised to find out that he didn’t. More twists and turns occurred, and although Mike didn’t achieve his goal, the ending was still satisfying.

2: The characters’ origins before “Monster’s Inc.”

Mike dreamed of becoming a scarer. Sully bragged about being the son of a famous scarer. Randall was Mike’s first roommate and wanted to fit in with the cool kids. Their motivations evolved what they eventually became when the events of “Monster’s Inc.” began.

I knew beforehand that Mike and Sully started out as foes. I didn’t expect Randall (or Randy, as he preferred to be called) to start out as Mike’s roommate and be friendly. I felt the biggest moment for setting up the characterizations in “Monster’s Inc.” was when Mike tried to sign up for the scare games. Randy turning down Mike’s scare team hinted at how he was going to go bad. Sully offering to join, even though Mike didn’t want him, gave a clue that the two would form friendships after being enemies. These things all matter.

3: Every line of dialogue was super-important to the story

This may sound obvious to some, but every line of dialogue in any form of written or visual media needs significance to the plot. Each line represented the characters’ motivations and moved the story forward very well. I find this has done better than in some other movies.

Now onto what I didn’t exactly agree with:

1: Monsters being discriminated for not looking frightening

Although this is crucial to the plot, I found to be the equivalent to human racism. Mike was kicked out of the scaring program just because he wasn’t scary. That was discriminatory.

In fact, I am pretty sure that in real life, Mike would actually be a little scary. I don’t know about most people, but if I saw something that looked like him walking around, I would certainly freak out, because I wouldn’t expect something like him to exist.

Of course, it is not okay to fear people because of their looks. But that is my one criticism of “Monster’s University”.

I would rate this film 5 out of 5 stars. It is one of those movies I can easily watch over and over again.

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Real, Real Cool… Review of “Sleepover” (2004)

Despite the unpopularity of the film at the time of its’ release, I actually liked the movie. Many famous actors star in it, such as Alexa Vega, Jane Lynch, and Steve Carrell.

It’s the end of eighth grade. Julie (Alexa Vega) is hosting a sleepover. Her mom’s (Jane Lynch) biggest rule is no leaving the house. However, the popular crew and Julie’s best friend, Hannah make a deal to go on a scavenger hunt. Whoever loses sits at the worst table in the high school. Julie has to sneak out of the house and make it back without getting in trouble.

While I found the movie engaging, I also spotted out a lot of unbelievable scenes. For example, when the movie opens, Julie’s locker is still filled and decorated. Why hasn’t she cleaned it out long before? In real life, secondary school students are required to clean out their lockers before finals begin. Also, was there no moving-up ceremony?

I also found it odd that the characters were able to avoid being noticed and good at fooling others just for plot convenience. Folks, please don’t try this.

What I liked about the film was the silliness, regardless of what I said before. The themes of friendship and young teen drama were done well, too. The romance between Julie and Steve was sweet. All in all, I would give movie 4 out of 5 stars.

 

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Spectacular Spiral Cookies

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It’s chocolate and vanilla dough rolled together. When you slice it, you should get spirals. Of course, not all the cookies will have perfect spirals, or even anything resembling a swirl. As you can see in the picture, there are no cookies with whirls. This was just a portion of a picture from my college graduation party.

I find them irresistible. When I choose to bake them, I make a lot and I eat many. My family doesn’t really enjoy them. But I love them.  

These are not very well-known cookies. I discovered these in a cooking class from high school. But they are super-delicious. You can go online and find a recipe to make them. You can choose from hard or soft-baked.

Be aware, though, that these are not instant from mixing ingredients to going straight into the oven. You need to refrigerate the vanilla and chocolate doughs separately for at least two hours. Otherwise, you may not receive satisfying results.

The wait is worth it, though. Many love the best of both chocolate and vanilla.

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Feel “The Jungle Book” Rhythm: The 1967 and 2003 Cartoon Comparisons

Warning: Contains spoilers***

 

“The Jungle Book” was the first animated Disney feature since Walt Disney had died a year before in 1966. I did not watch recent live-action remake, so it will not be part of this comparison.

I actually saw the sequel from 2003 first. I didn’t see it in the movie theater, but I did watch it regularly after it came on DVD. The opening starts off with Mowgli using shadow puppets to narrate the story of the first movie. It then starts its own plot. Mowgli is forbidden to go into the jungle because his authority figures consider it dangerous. But Mowgli just misses the jungle. Baloo misses Mowgli and rebels against Bagheera’s demand to not take Mowgli back. After Mowgli is punished for leading the other children from the village to the jungle, Baloo finds him and takes Mowgli back into the jungle. However, Shere Khan is still out to hurt Mowgli.

I haven’t seen “The Jungle Book 2” in years. However, I did see the main feature from 1967. It gave me a better understanding of the sequel. As an infant, Mowgli is raised by wolves. Years later, Bagheera forces him into the village, but Mowgli keeps resisting and wants to stay in the jungle. He meets and befriends Baloo, gets kidnapped by monkeys but trusts them, runs away after Baloo tells him to go to the village, and faces the dangerous Shere Khan.

Now onto my opinions: I found the first film to be less engaging than the sequel. The sequel was more modernized and had a new cast of voices. I also appreciated how Shanti becomes a more major character and is not whiny or too reliable on males. Her name is not said when she is first introduced at the end of the first installment. She also has no speaking lines; just a song and a giggle. Despite how she becomes essential in the second movie, I felt that having her in the first movie was just a quick and cheap way to get Mowgli to go to the village. There were no hints to Shanti, except at the beginning credits with her voice actress’s name. But she was just referred to as “the girl.”

Also, in the main movie, why did Baloo deliberately fake his death, other than for plot convenience? It seems common for there to be sad moments before the happy endings in Disney movies. But rather than having someone save Baloo more believably, he just surprisingly turned out to be alive.

I still enjoyed the first film enough to rate it 4 out of 5 stars. However, I favor the sequel more, even though I haven’t seen it in several years. The film wrapped up more believably and there was no forced content just for plot convenience.

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Let the Review Get Written Down… In the Most Honest Way: “Mary Poppins” (1964)

Warning: Contains spoilers***

 

The live-action Disney classic, “Mary Poppins” is beloved by many. Julie Andrews had an amazing voice. Dick Van Dyke had his sense of humor. The songs were, for the most part, good.

I loved watching “Mary Poppins” as a child. It was one of those Disney films I owned on video cassette as well “The Little Mermaid”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Cinderella”, and “Aladdin”. And just within the past year, I watched “Mary Poppins” for the first time in several years.

The most recent time I viewed it, though, it didn’t please me as much as before. Although it engaged me, much of the content was just too wacky. For instance, Mary Poppins is first introduced doing her makeup on a cloud. Why a cloud? That doesn’t sound like a very practical way to live. Also, clouds are water vapor, and the air in the sky is thinner. But that is another topic. I am not enunciating on science here.

In the scene where Mary, Bert, Jane, and Michael, are in the animated world, they ride the carousel horses through the fields. Mary had cheated to “win” the race, and still got praised for it. What?

When Mr. Banks went to the bank right before the end, I felt that the change he’d experienced with his children around Mary Poppins was too rushed and forced. And lastly, during the “Spoonful of Sugar” number, the mirror Marry Poppins was just freaky, especially when she started singing on her own.

There are some positive moments. I was amused by the bank scene where Michael screamed, demanding his money back, and the whole bank erupted into chaos. The “Step in Time” number was also amazing.

Overall, though, I would rate “Mary Poppins” 3 stars. Were the books very different? Obviously, they didn’t have musical numbers. But maybe I would like the book more, although I tend to be the opposite with book vs. movie adaptations. That is for another post.

If you enjoyed “Mary Poppins”, good for you. I wanted to enjoy it more than I did. But sometimes, in life, you tend to lose patience for certain things you didn’t mind when you were little. Many of you probably feel that way.

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We’re Off to Start the Critique… The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (R-rated YouTube Parody vs. 1939 film)

Warning: contains spoilers of both versions***

 

While browsing through YouTube, I came across something called “R-rated Wizard of Oz”. It is an animated parody of the 1939 movie. There, Dorothy is fierce, tough, and slays threats.

I will not put a link here for copyright reasons. However, you can go to YouTube and search for “R-rated Wizard of Oz”. Then you can watch it.

What I discovered about that version was that I liked the tough and fierce Dorothy more than in the actual film from 1939. The slaying might have been a little much, though. However, after seeing the parody, it made me find the 1939 movie-Dorothy a lot less likable.

Now I am not trying to put down the character or act overly feminist (since feminism is not one of my specialized topics for my blog posts), but I will admit that now I find the 1939 film version of Dorothy too whiny and closer to being a damsel-in-distress.

Yes, it was the 1930’s, when standards for females differed from today, and whininess and damsels-in-distress were accepted, and possibly expected. However, growing up in a time where females want equality and to prove they are not weak or dependent on males, I am among many others who frown upon female characters as whiny damsels-in-distress. Today’s standards of female characters being fierce, strong, brave, and not very whiny, would have been shocking and maybe against standards in the 1930’s. “The Wizard of Oz” was a huge success and remains a popular classic today. However, if it had come out today, or if Dorothy were fierce and tough in the movie back in 1939, would either one have been a flop? Would “The Wizard of Oz” not have become a big classic today? Would people today have complained about Dorothy being too whiny and damsel-in-distress like, therefore, not liking her as a character?

In the film, Dorothy kept whining about wanting to go home and would cry if she didn’t get what she wanted in Oz, such as when the Wizard refused to see her. In the scene where the wicked witch locks her in a room after Toto escapes, Dorothy just sits and cries. Rather than trying to figure out a way to escape by herself, she waits for the other three (male) companions to rescue her. Dorothy was rarely angry without whining or crying.

In the R-rated parody, Dorothy is somewhat dark, but tough, fierce, and brave. She showed less fear when defeating the wicked witch at the end as well as when she overthrew the flying monkeys. While the killing was not as necessary, the clip demonstrates what is expected for females in any creative work today, regardless of setting.

I liked “The Wizard of Oz” when I was a child. But if there is ever a remake (not counting the Muppets version from the mid-2000’s), I think updating Dorothy’s character to being fiercer and less whiny would make both the character and the adaptation more successful.

 

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Double Chocolate-Chip Cookies: Dairy-Free & Delicious

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They were chewy, sweet, and chocolaty. They had vegan butter and coconut oil as well as dairy-free chocolate chips. And they were not only delicious, but they were also irresistible.

My family could taste the coconut, although I could not. They did not enjoy the cookies as much as I did. But I could not stop eating them. In fact, I think I was the only one who loved them.

The recipe they came from was not designated as dairy-free. I substituted the regular butter with what I’d listed together. The texture came out like a cross between a brownie and a cookie.

If you cannot have dairy or anything else, sometimes you can grab a recipe and substitute the ingredient with something you can eat. Sometimes that method works. However, there are moments when they do not, whether it’s taste or texture. Still, it doesn’t hurt to experiment.