movie

I Solemnly Swear I am Up to Good Details…for the “Harry Potter” Movies

Unlike many fans, I found the “Harry Potter” films better than the books. I often have either liked the changes or cuts better in the movies, or, at least, didn’t mind them.

There is another post that includes content in the novels. But this post will only focus on the film franchise. It will include details that I noticed in the movies.

1: In “Chamber of Secrets”, there were mostly younger kids as extras

Did anyone else notice that most scenes with Hogwarts student extras had few to no older students (like 5th year and up)? Most looked like 1st and 2nd years, maybe a few 3rd and 4th years. Did the filmmakers have a different vision in mind that maybe most of the older students in the previous movie, “The Sorcerer’s Stone”, were 7th years and there were a lot more 1st years in “The Chamber of Secrets”? If so, that’s surprising (and probably not accurate), especially since they broke child labor laws at least once. In film, anyone under 18 has a mandatory limit of 4 hours on a film set. That’s why many times, teen characters are played by adults in their 20s, sometimes even 30’s (which I think is way too old), but rarely actual teenagers. That’s a different topic, though.

2: From “Prisoner of Azkaban” and on, the students have new uniforms, wear street clothes more often, and the Hogwarts campus looks totally different

Unlike the previous observation above, this reason has been revealed. The scenery looks different, because the filming location was changed from Scotland to New Zealand. I believe it was because they wanted a more fantastic-looking environment. Students are often shown in street clothes when they’re not in classes, because the director wanted to make the kids show more of their personalities instead of just wearing robes the whole time. Speaking of which, the reason the uniform look changed was never explained—I don’t think so.

3: Characters control their emotions far more than in the books

Many people dislike this. In “Order of the Phoenix”, when Harry is talking to Dumbledore shortly after Sirius’s death scene, he is calm in the movie while he is angry and out of control in the book. Most people were disappointed by that and liked his extreme rage in the novel. I, however, thought the film’s portrayal was completely fine. In fact, I’ve always found the characters being calmer in the films than in the books a lot better (no offense, just my personal opinion). I don’t know why. Maybe I feel it makes them stronger?

4: Speaking of controlling emotions, Hagrid and Sirius are calmer in the films than in the books

Well, maybe not Sirius in “Prisoner of Azkaban”, but definitely in “Order of the Phoenix”. I already say why in my other “Harry Potter” post that focused on a lot of the books. If I had thought of this then, I would’ve said that I like movie Hagrid better than book Hagrid. I understand book Ginny being better than movie Ginny if she’s better developed in the novels, but movie Hagrid is far more likable to me than book Hagrid. Why? Because he controls his anger and emotions a lot more in the film franchise. I saw the first four movies before I read the books. I noticed that Hagrid had explosive tempers a lot in the novels, and it didn’t please me. I was often glad when those extreme anger outbursts were cut out of the movies or changed to much calmer episodes. Yes, it’s a significant trait for giants and half-giants. But I’ve always preferred calmer, patient people more. Not just in fiction, but also in real life. Movie Hagrid was closer to my envision. Hagrid may be friendly in the novels, but it’s more emphasized in the movies.

5: Music classes at Hogwarts exist in the movies

Fans constantly point out the lack of core education classes at Hogwarts, such as math, English, science, and social studies. Even though the film franchise doesn’t include liberal arts courses, they do have music classes, such as choir, like that scene in “Prisoner of Azkaban” where the school chorus performs in the great hall, or in “Order of the Phoenix”, where Flitwick is having them rehearse their voices, and in “Half-Blood Prince”, where Flitwick mentions having to teach choir practice. There is also an orchestra in “Goblet of Fire” in the Yule Ball scene and a band playing at the third task in the same movie. I don’t remember any music courses in the novels. But I’m pretty sure there weren’t any.

6: The actors playing Lily and James Potter were much older than their characters

Yet, the crew did not bother to make the characters older in the movies. The actress who played Lily was in her 30’s when they filmed the first movie. The actor who played James was in his 40’s when they filmed the first installment. J.K. Rowling was actually offered the part of Lily, but I think she turned it down. That being said, she could’ve told them that they were only 21 when they died. Unless she wasn’t allowed to, or she forgot, and when she finally remembered, it was too late. Clearly, the casting person had a very different vision of Lily and James. They probably pictured them much older. Once the 7th book was released, readers discovered that Lily and James were much younger than how the films portrayed them. In fact, it’s apparently still a common misconception that they died in their 30’s. The filmmakers had every right to make those characters at least 10 years older than in the books, even if J.K. Rowling demanded that they didn’t. Authors usually don’t get to have any creative control over their book’s film adaptations. J.K. Rowling was one of the few exceptions and it was only because she was an incredibly big-name author.

Anyway, the filmmakers could’ve cast younger actors from the start or when they found out Lily and James’s real ages (which probably wouldn’t have been an option, though), or put youthful makeup on them to look younger, or—just simply made them older in the movies. Nothing would have been messed up as a lot of elements were already cut and changed. Plus, it is common for characters to be made older in the films than in their original sources. This happened with Disney’s “Pocahontas” (and many other adaptations of the same person), 2002’s “Tuck Everlasting”, “The Crucible”, “Percy Jackson” movies, and “The Giver”. The crewmembers probably thought the movies would succeed more and have wider appeals if the main characters were made older than in their original books. Oh well.

So, those are all the observations I had for the “Harry Potter” movies.

Writing

Publishing When You Think You’re Ready, But Really Aren’t

I’ve had such a bad habit of publishing when I thought I was ready, but really wasn’t. Now I have a bunch of books on Amazon that are unavailable, but sadly, still listed because hardcopies stay on retail sites forever. Now I have given myself a rule to not publish paperbacks unless my reviews are great, not just good or decent. But that’s another post.

Before publishing my books, I have pre-tested them to see if they received satisfying reactions. They have. But after I published them, while many reviews were good, the overall ratings were not amazing.

That’s what you want when you publish fantastic, wonderful reactions. I’m not exaggerating. I’ve experienced receiving just good enough reviews. And believe me, they aren’t as satisfying as they sound.

So, now I have a second version of one book published and a third version of that story’s sequel on pre-order. It took me seven years to find my writing voice and for it to mature. I’ve had a habit of wanting to share my stuff with the world, even if it was no good. Now I’ve learned to hone and make my works the best they can be before letting anyone see them, unless it’s for editing or critique.

So, before you get excited about letting the world see what you’ve made, pre-test it with others, and see if the feedback is excellent. I mean that. If it’s only okay, you’ll regret your decision later. So, take your time with your ideas.

travel

Can Vacations Spoil You?

Image from Pixabay

My family doesn’t travel that much anymore. However, we’ve traveled so much that I have memorized all the airplane safety guidelines. I don’t pay attention to the demos when they’re live because I already know the rules.

Anyway, sometimes my brain has “rotted” a bit when I was out of town. One time, I couldn’t complete a social studies take-home-quiz in high school while I was in Florida, I believe. My mind was in vacation-mode. That wasn’t good.

Family trips have also spoiled me with luxury hotels and resorts, first-class seats in flights, and fun activities. That rarely happens these days. It has been years since I stayed in a fancy place. Now my family usually does cheaper hotels or sometimes apartment-like suites.

But when we did stay in luxurious places, they made me let-down by hostel-like buildings and quick sandwich and salad cafes instead of fine dining restaurants. That was with Girl Scouts when we stayed at a hostel in London and would’ve eaten at a quick café instead of a bistro on a trip that ended up being canceled. It turned out that many of the other girls didn’t have the amount of money my family had. So, in the later Girl Scout days, I was kind of the “spoiled rich kid”. Not terribly, though. But I didn’t like when the others said that hotels were too expensive.

So, can vacations spoil you? It depends on various circumstances. If you barely travel, then probably not. It’s how you handle certain aspects of the trips.

fiction

All About Aliens: A Flash Fiction Piece

The school warning bell rang and I hurried to my science class. Today was the last day of classes for my senior year of high school.

After studying science for many years, I realized that how films portray aliens isn’t exactly the most realistic. I know—it’s fiction. But I’ve come up with a theory on what aliens would be like if they actually existed.

Well, first off, they would not fly spaceships. They also wouldn’t speak, not even their own language—I don’t think so. They might not be able to even breathe on Earth.

Just like we earthlings couldn’t travel to other planets safely, I don’t believe aliens could travel to our planet easily, either. Yes, there are studies that suggest that there may be life on other planets, such as Mars. But still—can we be a hundred percent certain, as of now?

I entered the classroom and sat at my desk. My crush, Daxea, sat near me.

“Pssst…Henry, we’re watching a movie,” Daxea said.

“Oh, wow,” I said. “What movie?”

“Class, we are watching The Sad, Little Aliens,” said my science teacher, Mr. Pinkett. “So, please relax, and enjoy the movie.” He inserted the DVD.

I watched the film, my eyes tearing up as some tiny aliens cried. It seemed that they were babies and their parents had died.

A memory flashed into my mind. My dad died when I was ten…in a motorcycle crash.

I covered my face, tears streaming down my cheeks.

Daxea touched my shoulder. “Henry, are you all right?”

“Leave me alone,” I whispered.

I left the classroom and went into the bathroom, where I washed my face. When I returned to the room, there was a scene where a young boy carried the baby aliens into his house.

“Mom, Dad, look what I found,” said the child.

The parents stared.

“Gabriel, what are those things?” asked the father.

“I…uh…don’t know,” Gabriel said.

“Put them back where you found them,” the mother said. “They don’t belong in the house.”

“But their parents are gone,” said Gabriel.

“Listen to your mother,” the dad said.

“Please, please can I take care of them?” asked Gabriel.

“Absolutely not,” the mom said.

Gabriel paused. “I’ll do anything for you if you let me care for these things. I promise.”

The parents hesitated.

“If you promise,” the father said.

“Thanks, Dad,” Gabriel said.

I smiled.

Writing

Why You Should Wait to Publish a Hardcopy of Your Book

Image from Pixabay

I know, I know. Many people prefer hardcopies over eBooks. Many writers and publishers will say you should have a hardcopy or paperback available with your eBook.

I agree…if you’re satisfied with your reviews. I realized this recently. I’ve published too many premature books that got just okay reviews but not super-satisfying ones. So, I removed them from the market. However, only the eBooks are gone forever. Sadly, the print books will be there for the rest of time. Amazon and other retailers list print versions for third-parties to sell copies, even if the author removed them from the market. And if the paperbacks and hardcovers are listed permanently, the reviews will be there forever.

Now I have a bunch of books on Amazon that aren’t available anymore (except maybe from third-party sellers) but will never be taken down. I hope it doesn’t ruin my reputation as an author.

That’s when I started to give myself a new rule: no print copies may be published unless I have at least a few reviews that are very satisfying—not just so-so. That way, if I’m not happy with the reviews, I can remove the eBook and the listing shouldn’t stay up.

If you’re traditionally publishing, this might not work as the publisher will have the rights. But if you’re self-publishing, then I would highly recommend this, even if you send out pre-publication copies and they’re all satisfying. That excludes people you know personally.

I have an eBook on pre-order and it’s the third time publishing a particular story that has only okay feedback the first time and even the second time, despite the drastic changes I made. I revised and removed even more material in this third edition. I am still nervous about the reactions, both before and after publication.

Hopefully, the reviews will be more pleasing than ever. But if they’re not, I will know what to do.

movie

Ranking of Disney Princess’s Fathers

While mothers rarely exist in Disney films, fathers often do. Some are likable, and others aren’t.

I know I said I would rank the Disney princess’s dads. However, I am not going to do all of them. Some don’t have paternal figures in their movies, such as Snow White and Cinderella—they have evil stepmothers. Anyway, the princess’s fathers I will rank will include King Triton, Ariel’s father, Maurice, Belle’s dad, the sultan, Jasmine’s dad, and Powhattan, Pocahontas’s father.

Note that these are only my personal opinions with the ranking from least to most likable. Also, be warned that there are spoilers below.

4: King Triton

I find King Triton to be one of the least likable fathers in Disney films. He has a terrible prejudice toward humans (even though he and the other merfolk are all half humans as well as half fish), a very hot temper, especially with Ariel, and doesn’t seem to suffer consequences for his actions, such as destroying the things in Ariel’s grotto. That moment made him so evil, I hated him more than Ursula. No wonder some YouTube video considered King Triton a good character who was actually a villain.

If Atlantica had CPS, and they penalized King Triton for the destruction of Ariel’s grotto as well as his other major flaws, and took all his daughters away, including those (possibly) over 18, I would have supported that. We all should be responsible with our actions and if we can’t, we suffer consequences.

Destroying your child’s huge collection out of anger is the equivalent to setting someone’s house on fire. Not only did I find it disappointing that King Triton never apologized to Ariel for the destruction of her stuff as well as either re-created it with his rake or provided her new items, but also never paying the price for that. That doesn’t include him trading places with Ariel to be Ursula’s polyp prisoner or when his seahorse messenger told him that he couldn’t find Ariel, Flounder, or Sebastian.

On the bright side, King Triton does advocate for Ariel when Ursula tries to hurt her after she went from being a human back to a mermaid, and allows Ariel to become a person with legs again to rejoin Eric. At least he changes his views on humans.

3: The Sultan

While not nearly as hot-tempered as King Triton (if anything, the opposite), he neglects Jasmine’s access outside the palace. The “Aladdin” live-action remake states that the sultan forbids Jasmine to leave the palace because her mother was killed out there. However, in the animated version, it’s only because she’s a princess. Couldn’t he just require Jasmine to be escorted by bodyguards instead? That’s how it is in real life for the royals, president and his family, as well as other highly elite people. Secret service bodyguards are mandatory for them.

Another flaw is that he forces Jasmine to get married by a certain year in her life (either her 15th or 16th) within a few days from when she first appears in the animated movie. And the guys who come to the palace and try to ask for her blessing are all old enough to be her dad, except Aladdin when he is disguised as Prince Ali. The sultan seemed to acknowledge him as the first young male to come as a suiter for Jasmine.

Since Jasmine is a minor, this whole situation is actually forced child marriage. I know it’s an ancient time period and a female getting married at no younger than 18 would probably be the equivalent of a woman getting married for the first time at age 50 today. Still, there are dangers to forced child marriage. Having a minor forced into marriage could be insensitive to those were forced to get married before the age of consent. There are still countries where that happens.

While the sultan is drastically more likable than King Triton, he still could do for some improvement (not counting the end of “Aladdin”, when he changes the law and lets the princess marry whomever she wants, even if he is not royal).

2: Powhattan

Powhattan allows Pocahontas the freedom to explore and wander, except during dangerous times. While he doesn’t have a temper and is usually patient with his daughter, he does have prejudice toward the English settlers. Luckily, that changes.

1: Maurice

Maurice is patient, sweet, and tolerates all types of people, including those who don’t understand him and consider him crazy. His relation to his daughter, Belle, is very heartwarming. Belle loves her father enough that she is willing to take his place as the beast’s prisoner. Out of all the fathers on this list, Maurice is the only one I feel sorry for. The villagers think he is so insane, he and Belle are almost taken to an asylum.

So, there you have it.

movie

Let’s Get Down to Business…to Analyze “Mulan” (1998)

Warning: contains spoilers***

I was 11 when I first saw “Mulan”. I also wrote an essay about the use of femininity in the film when attending college.

Speaking of which—I didn’t find the attitude toward females in the movie to be offensive when I was 11. In fact, I saw it as historically accurate. I was well-aware of how girls and women weren’t allowed the same rights as boys and men. So, it came up as no surprise to me that Mulan couldn’t go to war as a female.

When her dad is called to the battle against the Huns, Mulan disguises herself as a male by cutting her hair and then putting it up, faking a manly voice, and having to behave like a male. It only lasted so long.

Coincidentally, there was a true story of a lady who pretended to be a man to fight. That was Joan of Arc. Anyway, I think Mulan identified herself as not-very feminine. She fails the bridal test at the beginning. But she befriends the other soldiers, all of whom are male.

Also, she is considered an official Disney Princess, even though she’s not a princess at all. She wasn’t born into royalty, nor does she marry a royal (unless Shang, whom Mulan marries in the sequel, has some mysterious connection to royalty that nobody is aware of). I heard that she was only added to the Disney Princess line because Disney wanted an Asian character (I guess Jasmine doesn’t count, even though Arabia is in Asia).

Nevertheless, I consider Mulan to be a good role model for girls. She is one of the few Disney females to be a warrior. I’ve always wondered how the film, “Mulan” would’ve been handled if it’d come out in the 1930’s. Would it have been banned for improper female character portrayal? I don’t think 1937’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” would be released today, as is.

While Mulan is a memorable and likable character, her dragon mentor, Mushu, appeals to me too. He is voiced by Eddie Murphy, who also voiced Donkey in the “Shrek” movies. And what’s funny is that Mushu’s characterization is very similar to Donkey in “Shrek”. However, “Mulan” was released three years before the first “Shrek” film. But I saw the first two “Shrek” movies before watching “Mulan”.

Like other Disney films before “Mulan” beginning with “The Little Mermaid”, I would rate “Mulan” 5 out of 5 stars.