movie

I’m Going to Review “Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian” from 2009 Right… Now!

Warning: contains spoilers***

The items at the Museum of Natural History in NYC are being packed away to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. Meanwhile, night guard, Larry Daley, is promoting something to a live audience.

Not long after, though, Larry is whisked away to Washington D.C. for the museum figures. The enchanted tablet brings the things in the Smithsonian to life, including a villainous Egyptian Pharoah named Ahkmenrah. Danger begins from there.

Like the first and third films, this movie had great humor. One of the funniest moments was when the other bad guys on Ahkmenrah’s side asked about his “dress,” which it wasn’t. It was a tunic. I laugh at when another person asked if he and everyone had to wear that, too. Lol. 

Another amazing aspect was when Oscar the grouch and Darth Vader tried to convince Ahkmenrah that they could be bad, but Ahkmenrah calmly turned them away. There was also a clever twist where Sacagawea made a point about how alerting the dark side about their attack could endanger them. So, when the time came, the good guys yelled, We are not going to attack right… now!”

Let’s not forget about the thinker and when he went “Fire power,” while developing strong feelings for a nearby female statue. Which brings me to the romance between Larry and Amelia Earhart. It wasn’t conventional at all. Amelia wanted leadership and helped Larry a lot. I found that to be fantastic since it was quite unique.

That being said, when Larry told his son, Nick, about her, his reaction was a little too casual. He asked in a neutral way, “You found Amelia Earhart?” 

Aside from that, though, everything else ruled. The Einstein figurines and their little song as well as their advanced knowledge cracked me up. I also appreciate the twist where Octavius encounters a squirrel on the white house property and then rides it.

The review ends here. I would rate this film 5 out of 5 stars.

fiction

Review of “A Horse to Love” by Marsha Hubler

I haven’t read this book in years. However, I do remember enough to review it. I must also admit that I loved horses as a child and still do. In fact, I used to ride regularly from ages 8 to about 14.

Anyway, let me get to the review.

Thirteen-year-old Skye Nicholson is in court for something. She is assigned to a foster mother named Mrs. Chambers, who makes Skye do farm work, go to church, and has many rules about her home facilities. On the bright side, Skye develops a passion for this horse called Champ.

This book has a lot of memorable moments. Aside from the strong and engaging writing, many scenes stand out to me, such as when Mrs. Chambers comforts Skye and when Skye and Morgan, a physically disabled girl, ride horses together. Another moment that I have strong feelings about is when Skye hurt another girl at school, ran away, and got punished by her foster parents, where she couldn’t use any of the facilities or see Champ the horse. This was obviously wrong for Skye to do.

There are also some parts that I felt were flawed. One is how Mrs. Chambers only allows Christian music and makes Skye go to church. What if Skye were another religion? I considered that insensitive of Mrs. Chambers. It would have been better if the music allowed was something else, such as clean music with no explicit lyrics. 

Another moment that stood out to me was when when Mrs. Chambers first met Skye and said, “You can call me Mrs. Chambers or Mrs. C, but never Eileen.” The third part felt unnecessary to me, especially when an adult talks to a thirteen-year-old. 

Speaking of which, Skye won’t join a teen club Morgan offers her since she still thinks she’s only a kid. But thirteen is a teenager. Plus, most thirteen-year-olds are excited to finally be teens and not younger children anymore.

Other than those issues, I really enjoyed the story and would rate it 4 out of 5 stars. 

movie

I’m Spelling Out This Evaluation of “Hocus Pocus” (1993)

Warning: contains spoilers***

There are so many aspects of this film that stand out to me. It begins where a boy named Thackary is looking for his younger sister, Emily. He finds her being cursed by three witches, Winifred, Mary, and Sarah. They turn Thackary into an immortal black cat, but are then executed by the community shortly after. Three hundred years have passed (which surprised me) and the focus is now on a teenage boy, named Max, in his history class at school. The Halloween adventure begins.

I found Max to be very believable, especially since he moved to a new town from Los Angeles and really missed his old home. The bullies who picked on him made me feel even more sorry for him. However, at some point, the bullies were in danger, and Max wouldn’t save them, which was irresponsible. Just because someone is not nice to you, that doesn’t mean you can leave them in peril.

That being said, Max was a good guy. Although he resisted taking his eight-year-old sister, Dani, out to trick-or-treat at first, and she even screamed about it at some point (which was also irresponsible and could have misled her parents into thinking she was getting hurt), he did it and showed loving care with her as the movie progressed. He also dressed as a “rapper.”

Speaking of loving care, it was so sweet how Dani developed strong feelings for Thackary in his cat form. She even held him while sleeping and fed him cat food. During the part where the curse got broken and the witches perished, unfortunately, Thackary passed on, too, and his last sound was a meow. However, he returned to Dani in his human form as a ghost and comforted her until he was reunited with his sister, who also came back as a spirit. This happened at the very end, and I was expecting Max, Dani, and Max’s love interest, Allison, to get in trouble with their parents eventually. Instead, the adults are partying somewhere, unaware of what the kids did to save the day.

Earlier, though, after the witches have been revived and are performing at the Halloween bash Max and Dani’s parents attend, Max, Allison, and Dani try to tell them that the witches have been resurrected and are dangerous. But the mom and dad won’t believe them, which I didn’t expect. In fact, everybody found the children crazy when they attempted to warn them about the witches. Even a bus driver acted casually with the sorceresses when encountering them.

Even though this is just a movie, I found it odd that the witches were able to function okay in modern times after being dead for centuries. They should have been confused like crazy. Another flaw is how they broke into Max’s school and no one caught them. Yes, it was 1993, when school security was likely more relaxed. But shouldn’t there have been surveillance cameras or even a guard?

When Max, Allison, and Dani celebrated the witches’ “deaths”, I figured that it was the midpoint and knew that they hadn’t really been defeated. This was based on how I studied story structure for years and past movie-viewing experiences.

A couple of moments that also shocked me were when Max was willing to sacrifice himself for Dani when the witches tried to jinx her with a potion and a clueless zombie who had no idea what to do. I have to admit, the zombie who didn’t know much felt more credible to me. It also satisfied me since it was a way to stray away from the traditional approach for zombies, where they’re scary and try to eat peoples’ brains.

I would rate “Hocus Pocus” 4 out of 5 stars.

movie

I Will Review This… I Can Go the Distance with Disney’s “Hercules” (1997)

Warning: Contains spoilers***

 

Seeing “Hercules” in the movie theater is one of my very earliest (and very faint) memories. I was 3 years old at the time. Then I saw it in 4th grade, during an indoor recess. I watched it again more recently—in March of this year.

In Ancient Greece, the muses start with an opening song. Then it goes to Mount Olympus, where Zeus, Hera, and the other gods are adoring the infant, Hercules. Hades, the god of the underworld, has a plan to harm Hercules. His assistants, Pain and Panic, kidnap Baby Hercules from Mount Olympus and feed him a potion that makes him mortal. They stop when a couple finds Hercules. There is one remaining drop. And Hercules still has his strength. However, since he has become mortal, he cannot return to Mount Olympus. The human couple takes Hercules and raises him.

Years have gone by and Hercules is now a young man going with his adoptive parents to Athens. He accidentally destroys the architecture with his involuntary strength. Hercules feels that something about him is unusual. His adoptive parents reveal to him that he was found and they still have the metal he wore when they found him. The metal has the symbol of the gods. Hercules goes to the temple of Zeus. In order to return to Mount Olympus as a god, Hercules has to prove himself a true hero. He gets help from the faun, Phil, but also falls in love with a young woman named Megara (Meg). Hercules struggles but pushes himself.

I found Hercules’s struggles to make him very believable. The way he acted toward people was done well. The midpoint, where Hercules becomes super famous and popular was great, even if it didn’t satisfy the Zeus statue.

The humor was not slapstick, but used appropriately, such as when Pain and Panic had those sandals with Hercules on them. Hades got mad and Pain and Panic defended themselves with the excuse of the Hercules being a different entity than the one they knew. There were also a lot of 90’s references, such as Air Hercs (like Air-Jordans), Grecian Express, and more. I grew up in the 2000’s, but I still got the references.

The plot points were also done well, especially the deal Hercules made with Hades. It went back and forth. Hercules lost his strength, gained it back, and acknowledged the deal again.

With Meg, I felt her role was only there for romantic element convenience, because hey— shouldn’t Disney movies with protagonists in their teens or over have romance. Not necessarily! I don’t know about the 90’s, but if you’ve seen 2016’s “Moana” or 2012’s “Brave”, neither main characters fell in love. And they were females.

Anyway, back to this film. Although Meg was just okay, I did appreciate how Hercules gave up his return to Mount Olympus at the end to rejoin Meg. I thought that was so sweet. This is one of those movies where the main character does not achieve his or her goal. Yet, the ending is still satisfying. Which leaves me wondering… what if Hercules never met Meg? Hmmm…

Anyhow, the movie is still a 5-star film for me. It isn’t one of the top Disney classics for me. But I still really enjoyed it.

***Update***

After re-watching the movie, I figured out why Meg is important. And that is related to how Hercules has to be a true her and the definition of it. It is not finding danger to defeat, but going out of your way to save someone you love.

 

TV show

Kim Possible: “Call Me, Beep Me, and Evaluate Me”

“So not the drama,” says Kim Possible… a lot.

And I agree. This show on Disney Channel was one of my favorites as a child—well, only when I was in fifth grade. I heard about it from a girl at camp the summer before. I checked it out and loved it.

Kim was a great character. She served as a secret agent while balancing her normal teenage life. I also found her wardrobe interesting. She often wore tops that no real school would allow. Well, it’s a cartoon.

Anyway, the other characters were memorable, as well. There was Ron Stoppable. I liked when he was the Middleton Mad dog in one episode. I also appreciated how he was (for the most part) just friends with Kim. You don’t often see girls being just friends with guys on TV or in movies, except if the boy is the main character (i.e. Danny Phantom). Ron may have become Kim’s love interest later, though. I’m not sure, entirely.

And I was surprised to discover that Wade is only 10 years old in the show. What? I always thought he was Kim’s age, maybe a year or two younger. But dang—he looks really old for a ten-year-old. He’s also very mature for that age.

Rufus the naked mole-rat was probably the most memorable of the series. He showed humor, a little speech (like when he got excited over banana cream), and had his own rap song, with his owner, Ron. So cute.

Kim’s family doesn’t often get as much screen time as Kim, Ron, Rufus, and Wade. But whatever. I do admire how Kim’s mom looks like an older version of Kim and her dad resembles Kim’s brothers, Jim and Tim.

Draken and Shego were great characters, too. I love when Draken fell in love with that woman, Amy in one episode. Shego even acted immaturely and teased him. Perhaps, this was my favorite episode.

The “Kim Possible” theme song has a great, upbeat tune. It’s perfect for the show’s premise.

Aside from the absence of a believable dress code (but, once again, it’s a cartoon), the high school Kim attends holds a lot of events real kids can relate to. There was a science fair, cheerleading, some drama, mean girls (Bonnie—I’m talking to you), and more.

The show no longer airs on Disney Channel. But the series was fantastic. I will admit that never got to the prom special. But I enjoyed a chunk of the episodes.

TV show

Codename: Kids Next Door: Operation E.V.A.L.U.A.T.I.O.N.

Warning: Contains spoilers***

The Cartoon Network program, Codename: Kids Next Door, premiered in 2002, when I started fourth grade. It consisted of 5 children who lived in a huge treehouse (there were other KND homes, as well) who would go on missions and fight against adults. I would recommend knowing, at least, the main and major characters before reading further.

The show ended in 2008. However, there was (and may still be) a petition going on for a reboot. The show had a lot of great moments, but also a lot of not-so-great moments. I will share my favorite moments first.

The episodes with the baby man running a TV production and the one after where Numbuhs 2 and 3 adopt a baby skunk, were probably my favorite ones. The baby man set off something where he would turn everyone in the world into babies so that nobody would call him a baby. I liked when the thing the baby man used turned a chair into a high chair as well as the evil robot that keeps kids from doing their homework. Those were clever and funny. The plot of saving a camp and Numbuhs 2 and 3 raising a baby skunk was amazing. The skunk would sound like a human baby.

The idea of rainbow monkeys was just silly and amusing. There was even a theme song for them, as well as an island.

The 5 main characters had great development and traits. Their rooms represented their personalities well (Numbuh 3’s room had big stuffed animals—one that she slept on), as did their physical appearances.

Now the TV show is not without its flaws. Sometimes, things would show up just for plot convenience. However, one of the pitfalls I just can’t agree with was constant disrespect and hatred toward those 13 and over because they were not kids (although in reality, you’re a kid until the age of 18, but you might not consider 13 to 17-year-olds little kids). I get that the KND didn’t like having to deal with authority or being bossed around. Still—is this really something you think kids should be learning? I guess it’s okay as long as they don’t imitate it themselves and respect the boundaries between what’s acceptable in cartoons, but not in real life.

One thing I was surprised by was that, at some point during the show, the creators decided to show the KND’s parents’ faces, except for Numbuh 5’s. Why did they change their minds? Why did they decide to continue to hide Numbuh 5’s parents’ faces, but show everyone else’s?

Also, the rainbow monkeys, as live-creatures, kind of looked the opposite of cute. Sharp teeth and drooling is not exactly the most appealing to me. The idea of how they changed colors, though, was cool.

So those are my thoughts of the TV show. Of course, no cartoon is perfect. But many have a lot of benefits and great ways to communicate humor. Codename: Kids Next Door is among many of them.

fiction, movie

Accio Evaluation! Harry Potter and My Thoughts on the Series

I’ve read all the books, seen all the movies (except for Deathly Hallows Part 1), and have learned more about the series online. However, I am not like many other Harry Potter fans for this reason: I like the movies more than the books. Why? Here are two reasons (feel free to disagree with me):

1: I find the characters and situations to be more believable in the movies than the books. There are so many instances where I was glad something from the books that I didn’t find credible were either cut out of the films or changed into being more believable, with the exceptions of bigger concepts, like no one reporting the Dursleys to social services or how owls know how to deliver letters to the right people. Here are a couple of examples of scenes I was glad were cut out of the movies:

-In Prisoner of Azkaban, there is one scene where Harry, Ron, and Hermione are at Hagrid’s hut. At first Hagrid thanks them, but then he suddenly explodes at them (“WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING, EH?”-written by J.K. Rowling). Unless Hagrid has some mysterious mood-swing disorder (which I’m sure he doesn’t), there is no way he would erupt out of anger from calmness. It just doesn’t feel believable.

-In Order of the Phoenix, when Harry punches Draco, he not only gets detention from McGonnagall, but Umbridge adds a life-long ban from Quiddich because of that. But I don’t think any instructor, even someone as horrible as Umbridge, would hand out such a severe punishment for an offense not harsh enough for that. Harry would have been banned from Quiddich for life if he were a professional Quiddich player and did something much worse over and over again. But for punching another student, he would have been, at most banned from the Hogwarts Quiddich team for the rest of his fifth year, maybe until after he graduated.

And here are a couple examples I was happy that the movie makers changed:

-In the Sorcerer’s Stone When Hagrid first meets Harry after ten years, he says something about tea (I don’t remember off the top of my head), but it didn’t sound natural. In the film, he actually apologized, and I liked that more.

-In the Goblet of Fire, when the champions are being selected, there were some unnecessary reactions. One was how some Beaubaxton students cried from not being selected. And the other was Ron shouting, “No!” when Cedric was selected the Hogwarts champion. I get that the movies need to cut out a lot of content (I’m also aware the Book 4 was originally going to be two movies, like Book 7), but I still liked this better than in the book.

2. I like how the characters are better at controlling their emotions in the films than in the novels.

-While everyone says Book Ginny is better than movie Ginny is better, I can see the reasons why… except in Book 1. Ginny was too immature for her age. If I had been old enough to read Sorcerer’s Stone before Chamber of Secrets had been released, I would have thought Ginny was 5 or 6 at most. No way would I have thought she was 10. I’m glad the movie makers matured her.

-In the Order of the Phoenix book, Sirius was not as friendly as in the movie. He had bad tempers, which didn’t really happen in the film. That was why I found movie Sirius more likable than book Sirius.

That being said…

-This may be the opposite that everyone complains about. In the Goblet of Fire book, after Harry is selected champion, Dumbledore asks calmly, “Did you put you name in the goblet of fire?” While in the movie, it’s aggressively. I laugh at that, because I thought the way it was done in the film was fine. Even though I discovered that it wasn’t like Dumbledore to talk like that, I still find it humorous.

And now here are some unanswered questions that have been wandering in my mind?

  1. What would have happened if someone reported the Dursleys to social services and the social services people took Harry away and placed him in foster care?

I find it hard to believe, even for a child who grew up in the 80’s, that nobody had been horrified by how the Dursleys have treated Harry and have done anything about it. Did the neighbors not ever have visitors who were new to Privet Drive? Or new residents moving there? I get that this is fiction. I also know that the wizarding world forces Harry to stay with his blood-relatives for protection, even though they treat him horribly. But I still find it odd that no outsider had been shocked and reported the Dursleys. I’m pretty sure in real life, long before Harry turned 11, somebody would have reported the Dursleys to Britain’s child protective services equivalent, and by the second chapter on Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry would have already been living in foster care for a while, with more responsible and legitimate foster parents. Maybe they would have been strict and/or overprotective with lots of unfair rules (maybe they would’ve been against the idea of Harry going off to Hogwarts), but they wouldn’t have been nearly as bad as the Dursleys.

2. What would the magical world have done if someone had reported the Dursleys to social services and Harry was taken away and placed in a foster home (and Harry wasn’t involved in any of those decisions)?

This will probably never be answered. But I still wonder what the ministry of magic would have done. Would they have been able to move the protection to the foster home? Would they have asked social services to take Harry back to the Dursleys? Would they have done nothing? Who knows?

That’s really it. Regardless of all these things, I still enjoy the series and learning more about it.