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Feed Me This Critique of “Little Shop of Horrors” (1986)

Warning: contains spoilers***

One of the earliest movies to be rated PG-13, this story follows a young man, named Seymour, who is trying to please his boss with a plant business. One plant becomes incredibly popular and then gruesome.

I will stop there with the narration. Below are what I liked about this film and what I felt could’ve been better.

This post will only include information about the movie from 1986 and not the earlier movie from 1960 or the live musical.

So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on this film, starting with the strengths.

1: The Musical Numbers

The songs were great. In fact, they were done by the same people who did Disney-animated movies such as “The Little Mermaid”, “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin”. While the music doesn’t sound too similar, and obviously, the story is more mature, the structure of the film is similar to that of a Disney classic. Between the midpoint and the all-is-lost moment is a romantic number between Seymour and his love interest, Audrey.

2: The Twist Where the Plant Talks

Seymour called the plant an Audrey II to honor the lady he had strong feelings for. It started out as a normal plant. Then, when Seymour cut himself, he fed the blood to the plant. It would make smacking sounds when it was hungry. When it grew bigger, it surprisingly could talk. It would tell Seymour to keep feeding it. I loved when Seymour said to the plant at some point, “Don’t think you’re getting dessert.” Lol.

3: Seymour’s Character Development

While Seymour was nicer to Audrey than her abusive boyfriend, the dentist, was, he wasn’t without his flaws. Although the dentist had already died from the laughing gas, Seymour’s boss thought Seymour was killing the dentist. Seymour feared trouble with the cops, turned down journalists and people in the publicity business when they wanted to advertise his plant and offer him money, and even brought something to defeat the dentist before he perished from the laughing gas. Of course, Seymour is still a good guy who’s had a tough life. He was orphaned at a young age and his boss raised him, but not in a pleasing way.

Now onto the parts I felt could’ve been better.

1: Audrey’s Ideal Life Explained in the Number, “Somewhere that’s Green”

I first discovered this song in “Family Guy”, when Herbert imagines a life with Chris. The lyrics there and in “Little Shop of Horrors” are mostly the same. Audrey imagines a life with Seymour where he rakes and trims the grass and Audrey is a happy wife into cleaning and cooking. Some of her other dreams included TV dinners and a 9:15 bedtime. I know this story was written and is probably set in the late 50’s or early 60’s, when standards for women were different. But seeing this in 2019, I found those ideas too bizarre and unappealing. Most women probably wouldn’t dream of a life like Audrey does during that moment.

2: A Dentist that Scares and Hurts People Still Succeeds in his Job

I know this is a past decade, but why would anyone want to go to a scary dentist? He causes pain the wrong way and harms people physically at times. Why doesn’t anyone report him? Or at least not come back? He should’ve lost patients due to his bad practicing.

Last, but not least, onto an idea that I’m unsure about.

A Happy or Sad Ending

Originally, the film was going to end where Audrey dies, Seymour feeds her body to his plant, and then the plant eats Seymour after. That was in the director’s cut, which you can get on the DVD. However, the theatrical release showed a happy ending, where Seymour defeats the plant and he and Audrey get married, living happily ever after. While I’ve always preferred happier endings to stories, I find that the sad ending fits the tone and premise more. At the same time, I was more satisfied with the happily-ever-after ending. I guess both are equally fine.

I would rate this film 4 out of 5 stars.

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Lights…Camera…Action…and Ratings

In the film industry, there are 5 ratings: G – all ages admitted, PG – parental guidance suggested, PG-13 – Parents strongly cautioned for children under 13, R – Restricted and anyone under 17 needs to be accompanied by an adult, and lastly, NC-17, where no one under 18 is admitted, whatsoever.

Back in the day, the ratings were different. For instance, PG-13 didn’t exist until 1984. So, many mature movies before were rated PG. Nowadays, PG is pretty much the same as G. Most family-friendly movies are rated PG. In fact, when I was little, I thought PG meant it was for all ages.

Some people, however, still see PG as inappropriate and only allow their children to watch movies that are rated G. In fact, back in the 00’s, my youngest brother’s 1st grade class was only allowed to watch G-rated movies. PG was forbidden, including those geared toward kids, such as “Shrek 2”. Seriously—they couldn’t watch “Shrek 2” because it was rated PG. Crazy, huh? My dad actually supported the teacher restricting to just G. Yeah, back in the 70’s, it would’ve made sense as PG-rated movies then were usually for adults, such as “Jaws” or “Airplanes”. I would understand not allowing little kids to watch PG-rated films when it comes to those like “Jaws”. But “Shrek 2”? That’s ridiculous. That’s like not allowing kids to feed themselves or wash their hands by themselves.

Anyway, while PG doesn’t really mean anything these days, I want to focus on the other ratings, too. G is not as common these days. One movie I feel is too dark to be rated G is “Muppets Treasure Island”. At nine years old, I was a bit scared at times when watching that film. PG probably would’ve been more appropriate.

Anyway, fewer movies these days are rated G. NC-17 seems to be the least common rating and is usually used for the most extreme. However, it can also be if there are at least 400 curse words. That was the case with 1999’s “South Park Movie”. It was originally going to be NC-17 due to a ton of fowl language. In fact, only one swear word was removed so that it could be rated R instead. Honestly, there are plenty of dirty words that could’ve been removed from that film. But not enough to lower the rating to PG-13.

Anyway, I am glad that the rating for “South Park Movie” was lowered to R. To me, the film is waayy to mild for the NC-17 rating. There are PG-13 movies scarier and more intense than that. Also, many “South Park” fans are underage, so it would’ve been unfair to them had they stuck with rating it NC-17.

Sometimes, PG-13-rated movies are so scary or intense, their ratings are raised to R. There was talk for raising the PG-13 rating to R for “The Hobbit: Part 3” film due to a ton of battle violence.

So, those are my thoughts on film ratings. There’s also a video on YouTube called “Does PG Really Mean Anything” that you can search for. I’m not the only person who noticed certain details and movies and their ratings.

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You Ain’t Never Read a Critique Like This…For Disney’s “Aladdin” Live-Action Remake (2019)

This year is a huge year for Disney, especially with live-action remakes. I went with some friends to see the live-action remake of “Aladdin”. I liked it.

From the trailer, I could easily see that it was going to differ a lot from the cartoon. Unlike my other movie critiques, this will not have spoilers that occur toward the end of the film. However, there will be some minor revelations. So, if you don’t want to know, I’d suggest you see the movie first. But if you do, or you already saw the film, proceed.

Anyway, let me start off with the strengths.

1: Giving Princess Jasmine a girl BFF

Unlike other Disney princesses, Jasmine has no female companions in the animated version of “Aladdin” (as well as doesn’t have the lead role). I noticed that in recent years and thought about how it would’ve been nice if she had a female companion, like a girl BFF. Coincidentally, it happened. Not long after I realized that Jasmine only had males in her life did I come across an article that announced that she would have a female friend in the 2019 reboot. Yay! More female presence—not counting the extras.

2: The song “Speechless”

This was added in the live-action reboot. It was given to Jasmine and as a single solo. It added character development and more backstory to Jasmine.

3: Will Smith’s portrayal of the genie

While no one will truly beat Robin Williams’ portrayal of the “Aladdin” cartoon in 1992, Will Smith still did a good job. He still executed jokes and humor successfully. I especially admired a realistic approach of the genie’s look and why (I won’t say—see the movie to find out).

Now here are the aspects that could’ve been better.

1: The characterization of Iago and the sultan

Okay, I get it. The creators didn’t want it to be a copy of the cartoon. They also had to make changes for new characters, like Jasmine’s friend, Dahlia. However, I was quite bummed with the sultan and Iago’s developments.

The sultan was dull, conservative, and had little screen time, compared to the cartoon. He was also not nearly as enthusiastic and positive. And he didn’t play with toys. Bummer! I understand that the younger characters need to make their own choices, but cartoon sultan is far better.

And Iago. Oh my God—he was so one-dimensional. He flew around to check on things for Jafar, would repeat phrases, and would state when someone was doing something wrong, such as lying or hiding something. Where was his personality? His complexity? I comprehend how the crew couldn’t re-cast the original cast to reprise their roles. But I still wish Iago was more developed. Like cartoon sultan, animated Iago is far superior.

2: The romance between Aladdin and Jasmine was weaker

In the cartoon version, Aladdin and Jasmine fell in love and stayed that way. However, in the live-action remake, Aladdin has trouble getting Jasmine to love or even trust him. Remember when Jasmine tried to free Aladdin from the guards and revealed her true identity for it in the animated version? That didn’t happen in the live-action remake. Also, while some musical numbers were a bit stronger than in the cartoon, the scene with the song, “A Whole New World” did not convey nearly enough emotion for the audience as in the cartoon.

That being said, I would rate this film 4.5 out of 5 stars. While I liked certain versions of story adaptations equally as much (such as the cartoon and live-action “Beauty and the Beast” movies), this one was almost as good as the cartoon. My main issue was the characterization of Iago and the sultan. I know they aren’t major characters. But still—even if they were just a little different from the animated movie, I would have appreciated that.

Nevertheless, I would still recommend this movie.

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Be Happy With this “Inside Out” Critique (2015)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

This film must have been so hard to produce. And that is what makes it so enjoyable. It probably involved a lot of studies behind the mind and emotions.

There were actually going to be more emotions than the five the film created for Riley. But that didn’t work out.

Enough said on the introduction. Let’s get down to the critique.

First, the strengths:

1: The mind and emotion constructions

The mind is an abstract place. The creators made everything so literal, and that must’ve been very difficult. There was the train of thought, the core memories, islands representing Riley’s different interests and life essentials, and, of course, the emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear.

The emotions matured as Riley aged over time. When Riley was a toddler, the emotions would react strongly to broccoli and no dessert if she didn’t finish her dinner (which had no protein, by the way. But that’s another topic).

By the time Riley was eleven, the emotions have matured even more. I appreciated how Joy could feel grief and pain as she was unable to make Riley happy throughout much of the film. She even cried in the “all is lost” moment. However, there is also a special feature of Riley without her internal emotions being shown. And I heard the viewer can understand why Riley can’t be happy.

2: Bing-Bong

Who doesn’t love Bing Bong? Or that cute little song Riley made up as a toddler? He was such an imaginative character as well as a fun one. I loved when he barged into Riley’s dream. But it was very sad when he died as Joy had to continue her way back to headquarters.

3: The “Triple Dent Gum” song

Why was that song so annoying to Riley and even the bus driver in the end credits? I found it amazing and funny. It was a great way to incorporate humor.

4: The boy’s emotions at the end

“Girl, girl, girl.” The emotions panic like crazy in his head. It was so hilarious. It is also realistic for boys if girls like them. Many have been nervous about impressing girls. The animals’ emotions were funny too.

Which brings me to the flaws…

1: Why do Riley’s parents have all male or female emotions while Riley has both?

This plot hole has been wondered so much by the general public. However, the creators revealed that it was just for humor. I guess that’ll work.

2: Why do the Andersons move?

When things go well, of course conflict has to happen. However, why did Mr. and Mrs. Anderson sell the house? Why did they move to a less-appealing building, both unattractive on the outside and the inside? Were they unable to afford the house in Minnesota? Did one of the parents get offered a new job in San Francisco?

It makes sense for Riley to be unhappy with the move. At the end, one of her parents says that they missed Minnesota (but they were the one who chose to leave). Is it supposed to remain a mystery?

3: Would a pizzeria really only serve broccoli pizza?

It’s believable for a pizzeria to only to plain cheese pizza. But just broccoli pizza, only for plot convenience? I can’t imagine so. Also, couldn’t Riley have just removed the broccoli from her pizza?

4: “Child runs away from home and parents comfort them after” cliché

I don’t know why the media keeps portraying this. It’s not really credible, let alone allowing an eleven-year-old to walk to school unsupervised in the 2010s (which would get you in trouble with CPS). Riley also stole her mom’s credit card to pay for a bus ticket back to Minnesota. Add that to running away, Riley would’ve gotten the beating of her life and been severely punished for months if this were believable. But the parents had to feel sorry just for plot convenience. Kids, don’t try this in real life. You will most definitely get the beating of your life as well as be grounded for several months—at least.

5: Toddler Riley has no nipples

Okay, this might be a bit much, although they show topless Toddler Riley. And she has no nipples. When I saw this in the movie theater, I found it strange and was thinking “Maggie Simpson has nipples”.

And that’s all. I would rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars. It must’ve been one of the hardest films for Pixar and Disney to create. I always found productions that look so challenging to make more enjoyable than those that look to easy to create.

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It’s Time We Try the “Lilo & Stitch” Critique (2002)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

I saw this movie with camp when I was eight. It was one of Disney’s few successful features in the early 2000’s. It had a few sequels and even a TV series on Disney Channel.

The story centers around an alien and a little girl from Hawaii desperate for a friend. Stitch is blasted off a planet. At that point, he is dangerous and his identity is Experiment 626. The POV switches to Lilo, a small girl late for her luau class after feeding Pudge the fish his peanut-butter sandwich. Lilo and the other girls break out into a fight and then she runs away unsupervised. Her older sister, Nani, gets in trouble with CPS as a consequence for the escape. After an arguement between the two, Nani forgives Lilo. The two go to adopt a dog. Lilo chooses Stitch, thinking he is a dog. Their time begins from there.

Now here are the strengths of this film.

1: The plot

In some ways, it reminds me a lot of “Beauty and the Beast”. The structure of scenes, the characterizations and actions of both Stitch and Lilo, and how they go from an unhealthy to heartwarming bond. Does that ring a bell? I can’t imagine this was intentional, but it was well-executed.

2: The Elvis music

Not often do you hear pop music in a Disney movie. Although “Lilo & Stitch” is sometimes treated like classics such as “The Little Mermaid” or “Pinocchio”, it sometimes is not. None of the characters sing. But the scenes where Stitch plays the guitar dressed as Elvis and where “Hound Dog” and “Burning Love” play are great.

3: The way this film was promoted (lol)

As a way to promote the movie, Stitch barged into classics, such as “The Little Mermaid”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Aladdin” and “The Lion King”. I love this line from the others, “Get your own movie” (Belle really is a funny girl). I will admit, however, that the picture quality wasn’t the strongest.

Which brings me to moments that could’ve been improved or explained better…

1: How does Stitch learn to speak?

The alien somehow goes from monstrous feral beast to knowing how to use developed speech like a human. Yet, it is never explained why or how (correct me if it gets revealed in the series or one of the sequels). I was surprised to hear that there is talk on making a live-action “Lilo and Stitch” remake. I don’t know if this plothole will be resolved, though, depending on how many people are bugged by this. But it’d be nice if this question is answered.

2: Why was Cobra Bubbles there at Lilo’s birthday in that brief scene?

I get he was an important character, but doesn’t anyone find it a bit strange to invite someone from CPS to celebrate a child’s birthday? I wouldn’t do that.

That’s really it. I would rate “Lilo & Stitch” 5 out of 5 stars.

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Mini Art Show: Parrot at the Zoo

Who doesn’t love macaws, parrots, and other tropical birds? They have beautiful bright colors. Some can develop speech and mimic sounds. “Polly Wants an Art Show,” the bird above may say. Ha, ha.

So I was practicing my illustration skills. I decided to try a somewhat simplistic technique. See the solid colors and the simple designs of the “jungle”? Yup. You probably do.

Now why was jungle in quotation marks, you may ask? Because this was (pretty much) copied from a photo I took at the Central Park Zoo. The macaw was actually behind glass and behind it was a painted rainforest.

Except for the platform (I don’t know the word) and the bird, of course, pretty much everything else was official. I don’t even remember if the pink flower was real.

Some elements were distorted for ease and simplicity in the artistic style. The trees were, for instance, as were the leaves. Colors might’ve been changed too. But I am not totally sure. I might have the original photo I captured. Yet, I don’t know where it is.

The outlines may look a bit choppy. That’s because they were done in pencil and scanned into the computer, where I colored them in using Photoshop. And if you think lines need to be crisp and clean all the time in art or illustration? Think again. Many artists use rough outlines. Some use none at all because the style is intended to be outline-free. That is the case for some types of styles (like “South Park”) or realistic paintings (like the “Mona Lisa”).

Why dark green leaves, you might also wonder? I never knew why, but darker, bluer greens always felt more jungle-like to me while lighter, yellowish greens felt very grassy and sunny spring or summery, like a backyard. Of course, it varies per region. Rainforests in Central America looks quite different from those in, say, Africa. At least from the pictures I saw. Obviously, pictures aren’t enough for research.

All right, enough said. I hope you enjoyed this post.

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You Better Not Pout, Cause I’m Gonna Critique “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (1970)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

I first saw this film last year around the holidays. I can’t remember why. But I enjoyed it both then and this year. It’s about the legend of Santa and his early life, why he does certain things, and much more.

I’m not going to narrate the whole movie. But I am going to point out what I thought worked well and what could’ve been better.

 

First with the strengths.

 

1: The plot and reasons behind Santa’s life and choices

 

Using the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” as a guide, I must admit that this was done with lots of thought put into it. It was likely no easy task, let alone the stop-motion animation. You find out why Santa was called Kris Kringle in his early life, why he wears red, why he goes through the chimney to deliver toys, and a lot more.

 

2: The musical numbers

 

Every song in this film is fantastic. They have great tunes, lyrics, and emotional sensation.

 

3: The brief Rudolph cameo

 

When the children are naming Santa’s reindeer, one almost acknowledges Rudolph until the narrator stops them and says, “That’s a different story.” Even the character’s design in this film differed from the Rudolph in 1964’s “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”. Lol.

 

And now onto the parts that could’ve been improved.

 

1: Kris Kringle’s character design as a young man

 

As much as I enjoyed this movie, to be honest, I was never a fan of Kris Kringle’s youthful face with mature voice. I don’t know his age at the time, but still.

 

2: Why were the wizard and penguin still alive when Santa reached old age?

 

Unless the wizard was supposed to live longer with magic, even if he lost most of it (and this was made long before “Harry Potter”), shouldn’t he have died years before? Same with the penguin?

Yes, yes, I know. It’s a child-friendly movie. So death might be too mature. Even if it was never mentioned and the warlock and penguin disappeared without reason, it still would’ve raised questions to parents.

However, to young childless adults, like me, it feels strange and unrealistic. Oh well. It’s a cartoon.

 

3: The characters never really expressed strong emotions

 

Even in high-stressful situations, characters barely reacted. Their emotions seemed weak and neutral. It’s kind of hard to relate to them like that. In other child-friendly movies, characters will react more strongly, thus making them more believable.

 

That’s all. Despite some of the flaws, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is a great film, worthy of 5 out of 5 stars.

 

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Mini Art Show: Round Gingerbread Ornament

 

20170425_132228

It’s been a while since I’ve done a mini art show. But hey, we’re just in time for the holidays. I’m going to discuss this piece above. I did this painting in my senior year of college two years ago, part of my senior thesis.

I love gingerbread cookies, especially when they’re soft and/or decorated. I also like to show some holiday spirit at this time of year. There’s green and red dots, representing Christmas. There are also blue and white marks, acknowledging Hanukkah.

The white against the light and dark browns were meant to look like icing. Yum, lol. The green and red dots could be big sprinkles, chocolate candies, gumballs, or anything sweet, honestly.

Of course, they’re not meant to be eaten everyday. But at holiday season, or any occasion, they are delicious. Decorated cookies rule as do plain ones.

Anyway, my thesis was complex or unusual abstract art. And because this was done in December, I wanted to add a holiday-themed tone to it. Themes actually helped in my abstract drawings and paintings. Otherwise, I would’ve been stuck with no ideas or making random shapes that would’ve taken me nowhere. However, I’d distort the shapes to not make them obvious because, hey, that’s what abstract art is all about.

I’ve done a bunch of holiday artworks and crafts before, although I don’t remember all of them. I do, however, recall wanting to draw snowmen a certain way when I was little. But that’s another story.

Why is it round, you may ask? Because one student wanted me to create works in non-traditional shapes, besides squares and rectangles. And I agreed.

So happy holidays to all!

 

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Collage Comedy

In college, I took a 2D design course. One of the assignments was to make collages of scenes in different moods. There were a few choices, but the ones I remember, and the ones I chose, were content and melancholy. We has to make them humorous or somehow positive. We also couldn’t use words.

I like to apply humor to many of my creations. In high school, we did slideshows on endangered species and I was assigned some type of wild pig (I can’t remember the species, though) to present on. I had a man lifting a big dumbbell and drew a pig over his head to show the hog’s strength. To reveal its lifespan, I used a picture of Pumbaa from “The Lion King” and drew a beard on him.

Of course, this isn’t a science post. I don’t specialize in science here on my blog. Anyway, let me show you the collages I made and why I used the specific scenes.

collage 1

This was the collage with the content theme. I always admired the idea of non-native species in certain areas of the world. I especially liked the idea of a non-native creature in Italy, such as the lion above in the gondola with a singing-man.

Obviously, lions don’t live in Italy. And no, I didn’t use the ancient Roman animal fights as an inspiration. Honestly, I don’t remember how I came up with using a lion. It’s been a few years.

And onto the next collage:

collage 2

Above is a dingo eating a baby as the assignment for melancholy. This is actually based off a true event. In the late 90’s, a dingo actually ate a baby. That is, of course, really sad.

However, at some point, people used that event as a way to express humor. It was a tragedy turned into a comedy. That was why I used this scene. It was the first thing that came into my mind.

Collages can be used as scrapbooking style, like random information about you. I’m assuming many people had to make them in school when they were kids. I most certainly did. They can also be used artistically to make images. I’ve actually done that in high school in an advanced art class. I don’t have them here on this post. In fact, I don’t know if I have them anymore.

But I found these after searching all over my room. I made them 3 years ago. They are still great to admire now.

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Mini Art Show: A Simple Banquet Room

Banquet Room Drawing

This is one section of a made-up banquet hall room I illustrated myself. I used a few reference images for design and points-of-view.

The color scheme was done through research on what colors are often used in catering hall rooms. Having a natural eye for color-combos, I was inspired by having vibrant tones (like the purple) go with muted or achromatic gray (neither warm nor cool–just purely black and white mixed together).

Many banquet room carpets have detailed designs or patterns. However, I decided to simplify my catering room’s floor design. I drew this in Photoshop, and although you can make patterns look neat and professional there, for this POV, it ended up looking the opposite. So I chose to use stripes instead.

I am also more fond of modern design than old-fashioned design. It was even easier to create simple bulbs with light rather than chandeliers. The walls also don’t have relief textures or fancy wallpaper.

About the dancefloor? It was added since many catering events have dancing. I elected not to do anything unusual to it so that it would appear believable. Of course, not all dancefloors are created equally. But I saw no reason to do something over-the-top to it.

Below is a continuation of this room.

Banquet room opposite POV w stuff

This here is the opposite side of the picture at the top. I added tables to test layouts for this room. There are doors and an exit sign above it.

Of course, not being an architect, I have no plans to submit these to be designed. This was just to test my illustration skills and see what else I could do.