Review: Into The Jungle

Review: Into The Jungle

Hi, everyone!

So, tonight I’m going to be reviewing Disney’s newest rendition of “The Jungle Book,” which I just finished watching on Netflix (because I’m too cheap to keep going to a theater. LOL.). As an overall Disney fan, I loved it. The scenery and screenplay was awesome, and the little tidbits they added to make the story more interesting was both fascinating and mostly beneficial.

The filmmakers did an amazing job of choosing the setting, and how they shot the film. The cameras were in all the right places at all the right times; you felt as if, at times, you were actually Mowgli– whether it was tumbling down a wet, mud-slicked ravine to get away from Shere Khan, darting past trees, gazing into Kaa’s ominously mesmerizing eyes, or staring down Shere Khan.

Speaking of Kaa, I’m right glad that she (?) made only one appearance. (I totally called when she was going to make her (?) cue, even before the snakeskin discovery.), although I was genuinely surprised they decided to switch his gender to female. I suppose it was an effort to give Kaa a more seductive, more alluring sort of feel, with her (?) being all mesmerizing and “I’m-gonna-swallow-you-alive-and-whole,” sorta business. Still, the fact that hypnotism overall mortally terrifies me, and that I generally don’t like or trust snakes (the animals or the people) made me relieved that she (?) only made one appearance, rather than 2-3, as the original film portrayed.

The actor who played Mowgli did marvelous. Not only did he look like the original, but he acted like the original. I like how the directors played into Mowgli’s creativity even more at the end; this led to one of the few differences between the endings of the original Disney film and the live-action: Khan actually perishes in the fire, in the latter.

The story was excellent, as well, with a few tweaks. Aside from Khan’s death and Kaa making only one appearance (thank goodness), we have the watering hole truce (a nice story play-off, if I do say so myself), the monkeys kidnapping Mowgli at a slightly different time, King Louie being a Gigantopithecus (instead of an orangutan– most likely to emphasize his kingship, power and influence), Baloo using Mowgli to get down honeycomb rather than bananas, Khan trying to sway wolf pups to his side rather than their mother’s, the cut-out of Mowgli with the vultures when he’s down, the alteration of when Mowgli tries to join the elephants (he instead shows them a deep respect by bowing at different points in the story, and at one point uses an invention– rope– to help rescue a little elephant), and the fact that ultimately, Mowgli decides to stay in the jungle with his friends, since the threat of Khan has been eliminated. There is now no need for the man village, for the young girl to make her flirtatious entrance into Mowgli’s  life. This, above all else, was one of the major storyline differences– and one of the few I’m not entirely sure I actually agree with. After all, if the man village is introduced, then forgotten, it is simply a red herring– a “rabbit trail” to make us go down with hope that it might, just might, be like the original film. There is no real point to having introduced it into the story if they are not going to do anything with it, unless they wanted to reference both Kipling’s book and the original, or wanted to use it as reference to Mowgli’s past. That aside, it serves no real purpose, since Mowgli remains in the jungle at the end, Bagheera content, and the main antagonist thwarted (but…. KAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

On to antagonists other than Kaa, Shere Khan was pure malignity. Note, not motiveless malignity, but malignity. He had motive– he was burned and scarred for life by his arch-nemesis’s dad. He had a goal– eliminate any human in the jungle, regardless of gender or age. He was not even a Machiavellian villain, but at the same time that was something that kind of worked in favor of making you love to hate him more– he not only wanted to kill Mowgli personally, but wanted to propagate the rest of the jungle into believing HIM– starting with the wolf pups Mowgli had grown up with. When he opened his mouth, I somehow expected a different voice from him, however– something more, I don’t know, suave, cool and yet deadly. The actor’s voice almost sounded a bit too upbeat for the job, IMO, but I guess it’s a challenge to voice a character like him.

One of my favorite characters was Bagheera. His no-nonsensical way of looking at life, dedication and loyalty to his friends, as well as his subtly dry sense of humor, reminded me immensely of Obi-Wan. ….Apologies, “Star Wars” fangirl in me just kicked in.

Anyways, I overall rate this film a 4.5 out of 5 stars, and would recommend any Disney, or even non-Disney, fans to watch it. You won’t be let down, and you can count on the “bare necessities” of the film to leave you on the edge of your seat, hankering for more.

 

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Image Credit: http://www.readthespirit.com/visual-parables/the-jungle-book-2016/

Try EVERYTHING?

Try EVERYTHING?

Hello, yes, I am “back from the dead”… of homework and classes, that is. (Hey, being a college kid is tougher than it looks!)

First off, don’t get me wrong on this post: I really like Disney’s “Zootopia”. I love the breathtaking scenery, the beautiful animation, the lively and engaging characters, and the at least fairly decent story. It draws you in, calls to you… (“The Call of the Wild…” )

But one thing that worries me, I mean, really worries me, is the subtle, subliminal messages and themes the story line makers may be sending both to us and to future, younger generations of Disney-magnets. Some themes are fine and perfectly acceptable, and should in fact be encouraged: racial prejudice is wrong, you shouldn’t give up on your dreams (provided said dreams don’t interfere with God’s plans for you or for others), etc. But others can be damaging emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and even physically.

In one scene, one of the protagonists, a hopeful new bunny cop named Judy Hopps, sees an incident between another protag, Nick the fox, accompanied by his underhanded companion Finnick, and some elephant owners of an ice cream parlor; the clerk refuses to sell ice cream to Nick or Finnick because they are foxes (Finnick is technically a Fennec fox.). While this is clearly stating a kind of racial prejudice theme, an even more deadly underlying theme is displayed when Nick explains that Finnick, his “kid”, wants to become an elephant someday (something clearly genetically impossible to do, although secular society continually tells us otherwise), even dressing up as an elephant to try and do so. Judy, naively believing that in Zootopia, anyone CAN truly be ANYTHING, steps up and argues their case, essentially almost threatening to close them for “discrimination.”

While I do agree with being against racial prejudice, the movie walks between that and a terribly fine line of transgenderism. Judy even says, after Finnick succeeds in getting his elephant-sized Popsicle, that if he wants to be an elephant, he can– because anything’s possible. Not only does this remind me of that, but it also reminds me of numerous cases and lawsuits that people in the LGBT community and pro-choicers have made against Christian businesses who will not, for instance, sell a gay “couple” a wedding cake, or provide abortion-inducing drugs for their employees, allow grown men to change/ relieve themselves in the same area as our sisters, girlfriends, wives, daughters, you (if you’re a girl), and myself. And in that context, the theme of “Try everything, be anything you want,” is truly terrifying. These businesses are not out to “discriminate,” as many claim; in fact, many owners of Christian-owned bakeries have directed gay “couples” to a different bakery, to state one instance of many. It is, if anything, discriminatory against US, as Christians, not just the racial thing.

I’ve lately been reading John Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” which discusses partly from Satan’s own point of view what happened shortly after he got kicked outta heaven, and decided, as his ultimate revenge on God, to corrupt mankind, to dig that spear a little deeper into His side. What did Satan try? He tried pride. Arrogance. He had it nice; why want anything else? But, alas, in short, he basically thought, “You know what? I’m better than y’all, even You, God.” He knew he lived the good life in heaven; God literally gave him everything and was really, really good to him– Satan got nearly everything he wanted. Save for the thing he coveted, and wanted to “try” out the most– God’s throne seat. So he very selfishly tried rebellion. Tried and succeeded in corrupting a third of heaven to go down with him, all through usage of manipulative rhetoric and charismatic scheming. Tried to overthrow God (an epic fail), and plummeted down into the depths of hell. Schemed some more, then tried a different approach:

If he couldn’t get at God directly, he would try to jab at Him through His most beloved Creation: Mankind, the earth, and all that roamed in it– but specifically mankind.

According to Milton, he tried lust. Got Eve to try it too, after she had tried the deviously delectable fruit, as well as rebellion, corruption, and even vanity.

All this from trying EVERYTHING. Not just the good in life God WANTS us to experience, but all the sin, all the evil and corruption. The sin that comes from questioning the goodness of God and His laws, the natural ordinances He put into play. All the rebellion you get from disobeying Him. The irony is, Satan tries to accuse God of being the monarchical tyrant, when he himself sits squarely on hell’s throne seat, playing king (no joke, he is literally called the “sultan” of hell), causing havoc, and basically making everyone but himself miserable(OK, scratch that– if he isn’t making himself miserable in one way, shape, or form by now, he will be when Judgement Day comes… or at least, his choices in literally “trying everything” but God’s grace will be.).

If the song and the movie had simply encouraged the characters not to give up in their goals of finding the bad guy and solving the mystery, I wouldn’t have had a problem with it; or if it had proclaimed trying everything good, I wouldn’t have bothered to write a post like this, only if in praise of the movie.

So no, ” Zootopia” producers, I will NOT be trying EVERYTHING, no matter how tempting it might be. I know the effects that sin, corruption, rebellion and chaos has had in both my  life and in others’ as well. I prefer to stick to my guns– and my God– even if it kills me.

Some of you may roll your eyes, or even chuckle a bit. “You’re one writer, and that’s just your opinion,” some of you may be saying. Others, “You’re reading into that movie waaaayyyy too much. It’s just a kid’s movie, not a conspiracy-theory political agenda. Geez, you religious fanatics…”

You may think that now, and while I respect your right to have opinions different from my own, I do still disagree, and implore you to at least consider the possibility, and not to “try EVERYTHING,” least of all stray from God.

After all, what would YOU do if they (meaning Disney, bowing to public, politically correct pressure) gave Elsa a “girlfriend”?

” “I have the right to do anything,” you say– but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but I will not be mastered by anything.”

1 Corinthians 6:12, NIV

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Image Credit: http://redcarpetrefs.com/disney-zootopia-shakira-try-everything-music-video/

Naruto–My Take On One Popular Anime

Naruto–My Take On One Popular Anime

When I was a kid, I used to watch bits and pieces of Naruto– not the whole thing, understand, just whatever happened to be on Cartoon Network at the time. Today, I’m right glad that I didn’t stick with it, because… cough… Orochimaru…. cough… would’ve freaked me out and given me nightmares for sure, as a kid (trust me, I almost had nightmares about bloodbending after seeing that “Puppetmaster” ep of ATLA. ). But a couple of my closest, anime-nutty friends recently got hooked on the series, and I decided, why not do the same, since most or all of Season 1 was on Netflix? So I restarted watching, and boy, did the memories come rolling back to me (I specifically remember Gaara when he was a mega-Creep and had the basic serial killer mindset, him transforming and threatening to suffocate Sakura, and also the sparring match between Hinata– love that name, BTW– and Neji Hyuga.). I noticed a lot of things I don’t think I would’ve easily picked up on as a child, as far as the series goes:

  1. The Music. “Naruto” is special in the fact that it conveys a large range of different themes for different scenes. There’s training music, the ever determined, “I can do it!” music, the laid-back and chill music, the creepy music (usually used with bad guy scenes, or with something/someone creepy. Made with wind chimes and a few other instruments.), and the villain’s (Orochimaru’s) personal theme (which is a creepily played organ, somewhat similar to the music in “Revenge of the Sith,” when Yoda and Darth Hideous– sorry, Sideous– are battling in the Senate room.). It is impressive and gives you all the right vibes.
  2. The Characters. These characters are all portrayed realistically, personality-wise (aside from all that junk about Chakra, powers, etc.). There is genuine character growth, and while some confrontations are shiver-inducing or nail-biting, others make me literally LOL, or, in the cases of Sakura and Sasuke, or Shikamaru and Temari, squeal softly, “I ship it!”
  3. Me Talking aloud to characters on-screen. No, I am not crazy. It takes a lot for me to become like one of my kid brothers, talking, yapping, scolding, and squealing at the screen. “Naruto” is one of the rarities that has actually succeeded in getting me to do it. I cheer characters on when they fight opponents/baddies, softly yell and want to wring their sorry necks when they do something really stupid (‘I’m sorry, Sasuke, I really, really don’t think it’s a good idea to go looking for the same sadistically evil snake guy who tried killing you and your teammates, who now vampirized you in a way and wants to take over your body. ‘*Sasuke goes anyways* ‘Annnnndddd, he’s officially lost it, ladies and gents.’), get slightly choked up if something really, really sad happens, squeal if there’s an obvious shipping scene, and, the rarest reaction of them all, the “I CALLED IT!” reaction (when you knew something good/important was gonna happen, i.e., Sakura feeling like a burden because she’s not a good fighter, so she seeks to become a medical ninja instead. Totally called it.).
  4. The Villians. Other than yelping, “CREEPER ALERT!” when Orochimaru, the primary antagonist, enters the scene, I recently noticed something about him(aside from the fact that he’s genuinely very creepy, likes mocking and using people, and generally should be avoided at all costs.). He has a lot– I mean a LOT– in common with both Voldemort from “Harry Potter” and Satan himself: They all have some kind of fondness/connection to snakes; all mark their followers with some sinister mark; both Voldemort and Orochimaru are white-skinned and have snake-like eyes; both Voldemort and Orochimaru go by “lord” in their inner circles (Satan probably does too, BUT since his henchgoons are also selfish, some of em probably use it somewhat sarcastically. LOL); the list goes on. They are all very fond of just using people for their own devious, nefarious purposes, even if that means lying with a persuasive tongue, and think nothing of killing of letting their most loyal followers be killed if it means fruition of their goals or if said followers become a “hindrance” somehow; Orochimaru and Satan openly applaud the latter behavior in others as well, in fact. Also, I learned how much it really, really gets on my nerves if a villain calls a female protagonist, “honey,” sweetie,” “sweetheart,” or any other “pet names”. Especially “my dear” (which, might I add, Orochimaru said to Sakura openly not once but thrice in the dub, while mocking her and talking about his right-hand man “putting her out of her misery”– ironically, when she told him to wait as he turned to go– so she could ask about Sasuke– he got that LOOK in his eye, the same look that he had when Sasuke came to call, the look that goes like, “Oh goody, we may just have a volunteer for a new baddie.” *gags and shivers simultaneously*). I am not YOUR anything, ya creep, and if you so much as come within a 200 mile radius of me, I will kick your sorry heinie so fast you’ll think you were in a time warp!!!! (Thank you, “Calvin and Hobbes”) …. It might be worth mentioning that pet names by random, real-life strangers also creep me out, and should be avoided at all costs. You are not my boyfriend. Deal with it.
  5. A Too-Neat Blend of Godly Virtues and Morals, and Less Than Godly Virtues. They’re sometimes a bit subtle, but if you pay attention, you’ll know which ones don’t “feel” right, the ones God would probably stamp an “X” on. An example would be Rock Lee trying to achieve it all simply through hard work, which breaks my heart. Of course, I keep in mind that it’s a secular anime, but still. Hard work, without God, can only get you so far, as Lee realizes repeatedly (while he’s very powerful, he often ends up looking to friends for additional help, or gets his rear badly whooped.). On the other hand, it also emphasizes some Godly virtues, such as loving others and befriending/looking out for those who have no one(“Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.” Exodus 22:22-23, NIV.), as well as going all-out to save your friends, even at the risk of your own life (“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13, NIV.). Shikamaru even states, at the beginning of their Sasuke Retrieval Mission, that although he didn’t really care for Sasuke as a person, he is still a comrade, nonetheless, and Shikmaru will gladly lay his life down for him– another Biblical virtue. However, the anime still carelessly approaches topics such as fate, predestination, free will, etc, and I personally feel Christians should not turn their brains completely off while watching animes like this, and should use good discernment while viewing.

All this being said, if you can withstand some parts (Jiraiya’s “research,” some blood and violence, ungodly virtues, technical demon possession– keep in mind to the makers of “Naruto” and other animes that the term, “demon” is different from our definition, unfortunately; to them it’s more like “spirit”–and creepy bad guys with persuasive tongues) and use good judgement, I think it’s a very good anime. I can’t wait to see Naruto and Hinata’s, Sakura and Sasuke’s, and even Orochimaru’s kids in a future season (ironically, I’m told from the Naruto Wiki that Mitsuki, Orochimaru’s “kid” and Boruto, Naruto and Hinata’s kid, are BFFs How’s that for a paradox?).

Have you watched “Naruto” yet? What did you make of it? 

 

Image credit: http://www.somethingtostream.com

Put Off To the Side

Put Off To the Side

Who doesn’t love the Disney-Pixar trilogy of Toy Story? Whether it’s dramatic rescues, subtle slips of adult humor, friendships and bonding (not to mention occasional budding romances between some of the characters– I totally ship Buzz-Jessie, and Woody-Bo), it’s near-impossible NOT to love it.

One thing that has stood out to many in the audience, including myself, is how uniquely the story’s told, from the viewpoint of TOYS. You get to see what they’re up to when you’re not around (admit it– you too have been tempted to fix a cam recorder to your room’s ceiling so you could try to catch yours in the act, too), get to see what it’s like to be played with (whether roughly or gently), get to see what it’s like when toys get envious over that brand-new toy’s arrival from Toys R Us (or Al’s Toy Barn).

You also get to see a recurring, very prevalent fear of theirs, featured in not just one but ALL three films: A fear of getting thrown out, tossed to the side.

In Toy Story 3, this very nearly becomes their reality at several points in the plotline… boxing up the toys and spending years not even getting them out, let alone playing with them, almost getting trashed–literally– twice, and at one point Ham the piggybank flat-out says to the others, “All right, let’s see how much we’re going for on eBay.”

That got me thinking, though… on a spiritual level. A more serious level. Sure, Toy Story is great, but it’s fiction, and toys, sadly, do not actually come to life. However, God is very much, in some ways, like those toys. He rescues us when we’re in peril. He gets genuinely angry when we place a higher value on another thing or person other than Him (which, unlike the T.S. plot, is a good thing!). And although He doesn’t fear abandonment, He is still often left out. Forgotten.

Out of curiosity, let me ask you… have YOU had a one-on-one with Him today, outside of Church? A heart-to-heart about your life, fears, dreams, and thanks for all He’s done for you? For giving His Own Life for you?

I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t discount the One Who made you, and Who loves you very, very deeply. Don’t shove Him into that old box/Church building when you think you’re done with Him. Don’t stuff Him in a musty old attic; you cannot confine Him.He is everywhere, sees everything, yet, like those toys, longs for our interaction, affection, and, unlike the toys, our worship.

If we give Him that much, our entire devotion, He is infinitely MORE than willing to reciprocate that… TEN FOLD!

So what are you waiting for? Make a “playdate” with Him… today.

 

Divergent

Divergent

Bravery. Kindness. Intelligence. Honesty. Selflessness.

These are the elements that make up the factions, or sections, of post-Chicago in now-famous Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. Everyone is supposed to fit into a neat little category; they can only be one of the listed above traits. Any more than that, and, in the first book, you’re considered abnormal. A fish swimming against the current of “normalcy”. A threat, even.

You’re considered Divergent.

While I think the series in some senses is a bit over-hyped (especially Dauntless, with only a little attention given to the other, “lesser” factions), I think Ms. Roth was right about some things. She was right about, for instance, “normal” people being terrified of what they don’t understand, the extraordinary. As a Christian, I find this both comforting and disturbing, simultaneously. People don’t like what they don’t get, so they try to cover it up, or worse, eliminate it, as we see the ever-cunning yet ever twisted Jeanine Matthews doing in the first book. It makes her squirm that she has no control whatsoever over the Divergents, so after trying to dissect the main character, Tris the Divergent (to figure out how she ticks), she promptly attempts to dispose of her. It reminds me of how this world has very little, if any, control over us as believers in Christ. As Christians, though we are indeed called to at least peacefully live with others while IN the world, we are certainly not called to be OF the world, or LIKE the world, and guess what? It utterly terrifies people. It terrifies them that they can’t control what God’s doing through us, through circumstance, through EVERYTHING. They may not say it. They may rather confess to being more puzzled or even annoyed/angry with us, rather than terrified. But deep, deep down there’s that part that’s scared. That wonders if God’s right, if Jesus is right.

What might be scarier still is that Jesus is pure, 100% Divergent. They couldn’t control Him back then (The authorities tried and failed. Miserably. Trust me on that.), and they certainly can’t control Him and His Spirit now. And, if you really, truly think on it, His personality flawlessly fits all the faction’s silly little categories (whereas Tris only fits into three):

Jesus is remarkably intelligent and wise– Erudite. This is confirmed from even as a child, asking the teachers of the law hard questions and testing their knowledge. He was able to answer the most important questions in the most meaningful fashion, and evaded the Pharisees’ political and religious trap questions numerous times.

Jesus is deeply, deeply compassionate. He didn’t say a peep when  He felt an argument was unnecessary, didn’t fight back when He was near whipped to death. He saw the faces of God’s people, of the people He made, and LOVED them. He genuinely felt sorry they were stuck in their miserable rut of sin, and extended an invitation of help, love, and support (not supporting the sin, mind, supporting them in resisting sin, recanting sin and in turning to Him.). He loved them enough to DIE for them. That’s what I call ultimate Love– and kindness and love is what Amity is all about.

Jesus is incredibly brave. It takes serious, SERIOUS guts to go against the crowd, to get the governor and all the leading religious leaders in a knot, to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven and Himself at the Head of the said Kingdom, to go before the kangaroo court and take beatings without caving. In His day, many would have thought Him a “radical” (quote on quote); in fact, His own family was initially embarrassed of His actions. Guess what? He didn’t care. He knew the end result would be worth it, no matter the cost. (note: Dauntless are also considered “reckless” and “radical” by other factions, just sayin.)

Jesus IS The Truth. When it comes to Candor the Honest Faction, Jesus would be considered top-notch.

Jesus is perfectly selfless in every single way. He came to serve, not to be served, as illustrated at the Last Supper, performing a servant’s job of washing the disciples stinky, sweaty, smelly feet. He’s all about God and all about others, helping others, and helping others reconnect with God, which is a beautiful, wonderful thing. Lastly, He VERY selflessly sacrificed Himself for us on that cross, when it was really us that should have been up there, dying that death. Jesus is the Ultimate Abnegation.

So what does all this mean for us as believers and devoted followers of Christ?

It means He’s called us to be very, very different from this world. Set apart. In, but not of. Brave, intelligent, honest, and most of all, loving selflessly. Divergent.

Holy. Just as God is holy.

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him,  and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him, But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God.” John 1:10-13

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine so before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

 

 

Howl’s Moving Castle Review

Howl’s Moving Castle Review

OK, since a couple of my besties have been pestering me for a while to read or at least watch, “Howl’s Moving Castle,” and since my college’s Media Center (our miniature version of “Family Video,” to the uninformed laymen, LOL) just so happened to have it right where I would find it (near the cache of “Harry Potter” DVDs… curse the alphabetized sorting system!!!); so, upon seeing it, figured, what the heck, I’ll give it a shot.

After viewing it for quite some time, I was confused, story/plot-wise, at several twists and turns (probably the reason I should’ve read the book first), but I must say I think the whole thing was rather decent. Not my favorite, by far, but something I might watch again, by all means (but then, I’ve a penchant for action-adventure stories, with some “fantasy-magic” thrown in, soooo….). Here are my conclusions after watching, good and bad:

Cons:

  1. In the movie, “Howl’s Moving Castle” doesn’t really seem to have any plot goals. The biggest goals, in all I could make out anyways, were Sophie and Howl falling in love, and the war eventually ending (which, they still don’t really state how exactly the latter was accomplished, to my frustration.). Every story needs to have at least one goal, such as to defeat a villain, get the guy/girl of their dreams, complete a quest, etc., and all must state HOW it’s accomplished, not just write it off and let it hang for the viewers to guess what’s happened.
  2. Who exactly was the ACTUAL villainess??  I’ll be honest, I never would’ve guessed the king’s right-hand magician; I thought it was the Witch of the Waste. But by the end the two are kinda dimmed outta their evilness, leaving us without a REAL foe, a GENUINE enemy, worthy to face off against the H.M.C. crew… unless, of course, the real enemy was actually SELF, which would in some ways make more sense. But I’m not sure they were expecting the viewers to pick up on that. Readers of the book, definitely, but viewers? Not always.
  3. Howl’s vanity, and, to use the words of my one bestie, “slightly bipolar”-ness. OK, I’ll admit that, upon the movie starting, I was pretty set-off (or at least, very uncomfortable with) by Sophie being flirted with two guards, who’re then marched off literally by Howl’s magic ring, and Howl in turn also proceeds to flirt with her (anyone else kinda iffy ’bout that?); Howl seems to have a very high opinion of himself, especially concerning his looks, and at one point stating, in a fit of pure moodiness and depression (when Sophie accidentally changed his hair bright orange), he doesn’t see the point of living if he can’t be good-looking, which frustrates both Sophie and myself; fortunately, she manages to talk some sense into him, and gets him to see a bit beyond that, but it still got on my nerves a good bit. Not to mention the frantic bipolar episode was extremely out-of-character for someone as cool, collected, and casual-natured as Howl. Unless he really is slightly bipolar, or has multiple personality disorder (no offense meant to any who have those disorders, BTW), I have a bit of a hard time believing that that’s, well, him.

Pros:

  1. Howl’s… dare I say it… “hotness,” and the rest of his character. I’ll be honest, when Sophie and Howl first met on-screen, I was really, REALLY creeped out (like, “STRANGER DANGER! STRANGER DANGER! CREEPER ALERT! NO BETTER THAN THE GUARDS!!”), but after figuring out he WAS actually Howl, and after he started showing more of his true character, I was all, “Oooo…. he’s kinda cute…” (hence why his blonde pic is the chosen pic of this article). In terms of looks, at the risk of sounding somewhat shallow, I think I prefer him blonde to darker haired, but I will say he’s very handsome either way….(and yes, I do have this weird thing for cute anime dudes with long-ish hair. Deal with it.) He isn’t the bravest or most selfless person on planet earth, I’ll grant him, BUT  he is highly intelligent (by use of his castle and skills) and compassionate, and as Sophie put it, tries to genuinely be a good person. And I like that in terms of us as humans in general– flawed beings who very honestly try our very best to BE good, though we often miss the marker (no, this isn’t gonna turn into another sermon.. that’s another story for another day…).
  2. Everything about Sophie. Her being just an “ordinary girl” plucked literally from the streets because of extraordinary circumstances. Her relationships with the other characters (especially Markl, Howl, and Calcifer). Her spunk and her guts to stand up for what’s right, and to put her foot down when she’s finally had enough. But above all, I liked the switch between her ages. At first, I didn’t, because of looks and voice difference, but once you get over that, you get a feel that she’s truly the same person– as evidenced by her gumption and bravery in everything she does. I think plenty of people (though not too many) discount the elderly because they “weren’t what they once were.” “Howl’s Moving Castle” makes the notion utterly ludicrous; in fact, it mocks it. Elderly people are still themselves, like they were when they were our ages, just have a tougher time getting around, and more wisdom (or at least, more experience), stored up. And I actually think that’s a key theme in the movie, the essential antithesis to Howl’s vanity: you may change in appearances, but you CAN always be beautiful on the inside, if you just have faith.
  3. Turnip-Head and Markl. Just because they try to act all serious and helpful, but end up also be super cute in the process. Oh, and Calcifer can be comical too, at times. 🙂
  4. The Castle’s insanely cool ability to change where it’s at physically, simply by the switch of a simple enchanted color-wheel near the door. Enough said.
  5. The fact that Howl can turn into a gigantic bird-thing and back. OK, so he’s still at risk for permanently becoming the bird-thing, but let’s be honest: HE CAN FLY. Heck, he can even fly WITHOUT becoming bird-thing, which is pretty cool. #jealous

Well, that’s all I got for now. Be sure to check out “Howl’s Moving Castle,” and let me know what you think of it… until next time, LivGirl out!

“Robots”– The Fixer

“Robots”– The Fixer

This seems to happen often to me.

If I can’t relate something/someone to Pokemon, I can relate it to God, or His Word.

In the movie Robots, for instance, I realized it was almost a perfect Gospel allegory, in almost every way. Rodney, very much like Jesus, becomes unwelcome in his own hometown when all he’s doing is trying to help others with his calling of being an inventor– similar to Jesus being kicked out of Nazareth because of His miracles He performed to help others. Rodney then sets out for Robot City, just like Jesus, Who traversed much of His ministry to try to reach others.

Like Jesus was rejected from the one synagogue and by the Pharisees and teachers of the law, we see Rodney get unceremoniously rejected from the front desk of Bigwield Industries; it is later revealed that one of the main antagonists (and current owner of the company), Rachet, deliberately changed and manipulated the company’s philosophy, just as the Pharisees and teachers of the law did, to try and manipulate the people of Israel. In addition, Rachet is greatly influenced by his “mother,” Madame Gasket, to destroy Rodney, the primary, behind-the-scenes antagonist, as Jesus’s enemies were influenced by Satan to kill Him. Rachet also tries to sell “upgrades” that will supposedly make the other robots’ lives “better,” though this is revealed as a cover-up manipulation scheme, just like the the Pharisees and Sadducees tried to look good by ritual and tradition, and keep the people in line with “God’s” laws. While the primary difference between the Gospel and Robots  is that Rodney never died to save his friends (they were all in it together; not to say that Rodney’s not a caring and selfless guy, though), Madame Gasket got hurled into a blazing furnace, just as Jesus will have Satan thrown into that brutal, fiery lake.

These aren’t the only parallels to the Good Book.

The main part that stuck out to me was Rodney, and his ability to both invent and fix. He made a little robot companion, Wonder-bot, all by himself, just as Jesus is a part of the Holy Trinity that created everything, including us. Rodney, after being rejected by Rachet and co., took matters into his own hands: gathering a rag-tag (literally) team of friends, he started FIXING robots who were broken down, literally falling apart. And, like Jesus performing miracles and healing (“fixing” ) people, this also got Rodney in trouble with the authorities, since his fixing abilities got him so well-known (and Rachet laughed at ). Jesus did that, and is doing that, too. He continues to work in our lives, even if we can’t actually SEE Him, fixing us up and making us whole once more. Any robot, no matter how bad a shape they were in, were each given a choice: to get fixed and support Rodney, or to be stubborn, and left to being dilapidated and rusty. In the movie, there were lines and lines of robots, just waiting to get fixed, just like there were massive crowds following Jesus, begging for Him to heal them or their loved ones.

But here’s the thing: Even though Jesus offers the same healing, both physical and spiritual, not everyone takes it. Don’t ask me why someone in a life-threatening condition would refuse either physical or spiritual medical attention, but people still do– and Jesus’s –and my– heart aches for them. They have eyes, but cannot see the truth so plainly in front of them, as broad as daylight; they have ears, and yet are deaf to the sweet music of Jesus’s voice. But Jesus’s offer still stands to this day, and all that turn over a new leaf and decide, yes…. I want healed. I want away from this horrible, rotting, perilous condition, will be granted not only healing but new life… Because Jesus’s power to heal is God’s. And God is the Ultimate Healer.

“See a need, fill a need.”– Robots

“And Jesus went all about Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Great multitudes followed Him– from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.” Matthew 4: 23-25, NKJV