The Great Studio Ghibli Hunt: A Review!

 

If it’s not plainly obvious at this point, I love Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s work. There’s a sense of adventure and excitement in the stories they produce, and even when it’s a dark story, the animation is always colorful and fun.

After watching Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Yes, I know, not Ghibli, but made by many of the same people, so it counts), Laputa: Castle in the Sky, and Howl’s Moving Castle to the point of memorization, and enjoying Kiki’s Delivery Service with my kids, I decided I wanted to branch out and bring some of the lesser known Ghibli movies into my house for my family to enjoy. Hense I started the Great Studio Ghibli Hunt. During this time, I will be buying one movie a month, and I will review it here for you.

This doesn’t mean they’re all getting a review. I already own about 10 of them and IMHO, they are the more well-known ones that really need no review.

So today I’m going to start off with a family favorite… one that my wife and kids absolutely love, but honestly… is fairly low on my list of beloved Studio Ghibli movies.

Ponyo:

Yes, I know… while technically not one of the lesser known Ghibli movies, I did kind of want to address this one as a way to start off.

So the story is basically about a little boy who lives near the ocean with his mom in Japan. The boy loves playing down by the water and one day stumbles across a tiny fish with an almost human face. This fish is Brinhylda, a daughter of… what I can only describe as an underwater alchemist. He keeps her safe in his lab, but eventually, she finds a way to escape and finds her way to the little boy.

Eventually, her father locates her and steals her back. However, she gets into his potions, sets off… some kind of a chain reaction that’s never well-explained, and throws nature out of balance.

At this point, Ponyo’s mother shows up. It’s revealed that… I guess she’s the Goddess of the Ocean. Apparently, the only way for the balance of nature to be restored is for the little boy to agree to love and care for Ponyo as she lives between to worlds. At the end, she transforms permanently into a human and… everything is back to normal.

Scratching your head yet? I’d be surprised if you weren’t. The major problem with Ponyo is the story telling. It’s definitely the weakest of the Ghibli movies thus far. Too little is explained and as a result, not a whole lot makes sense. It can be a little tough to follow and… well… let’s address the Elephant in the room.

It’s the Little Mermaid!!!

Pretty much. It’s a modern re-telling of the Little Mermaid. Honestly, that’s not a bad thing. I actually prefer this version to the bastardization of the original as told by Disney.

Let me just be clear on this, I don’t dislike this movie at all. I think it’s a great movie, but a great movie placed with legends. In essence, it’s so far the least great of a library of amazing movies.

Up Next will be When Marnie Was There.

The list of movies to recieve reviews are as follows:

Grave of the Fireflies
Only Yesterday
Porco Rosso
Pom Poko
Whisper of the Heart
My Neighbors the Yamadas
The Cat Returns
Tales from Earthsea
From Up on Poppy Hill
The Wind Rises
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
When Marnie Was There
Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter
Ocean Waves

I’ve already ordered When Marnie Was There and plan on watching it in short order. So if there’s one in particular you’d like to see out of the above list next month, let me know. I was planning on doing Porco Rosso, but I can change that! 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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A2Z Challenge: U is for Unicorn — Our Literary Journey

Nice to see other people who love a Fantastic species as much as I love elves!

I am reluctant to attempt to write anything about these beautiful, almost sadly mythological creatures. However, I know some people who read this blog are expecting (perhaps demanding) them for the letter U. They have told me so. There are two reasons for my insecurity. One reason is that I am pretty sure they do […]

via A2Z Challenge: U is for Unicorn — Our Literary Journey

Top 10 Horror Movies

Hello everyone and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

While I usually do some writing advice that often surrounds the Holidays, I couldn’t really find anything in the usual writer request mailbox. So instead, I thought I’d offer my top 10 favorite horror movies of all time list. Keep in mind, I’m not saying that these are the scariest movies, but they are horror films that I thoroughly enjoy. So be prepared to disagree with me on whether these are actually scary… even if you are completely wrong.

10. Let Me In

I honestly debated even putting this one on the list. Because despite being on my top-5 favorite movies of all times list, this… really isn’t that scary. I saw that because it’s really a love story first and a horror movie second. It has it’s fair share of jump scares, but that’s really not where the meat of the movie is. Oh and before anyone goes nuts, yes I am aware that it is a remake, and yes I’m fully aware that most people consider the original the superior film, but I consider them completely separate as the original source material is barely recognizable here. So it has it’s moments, but if you’re looking for a deeper scare, this isn’t the movie for you.

9. Paranormal Activity

This movie… okay most of it I find to be kind of slow and not all that scary. However by the time you get to the end, you realize that it was all building up to one single solitary scene:

Oh God… this scene had chills flowing down my back after the screaming stopped. All you hear is slow footsteps on the stares and all you can do is wonder what’s coming up to reveal itself. In this case, it’s not what you see… its what you don’t see that is the most freaky. In the end, this movie turned out to be incredibly well done.

8. The Unborn

Yes… there’s nothing scarier than trying to sit through a horror movie on Netflix that no one has head about, hoping that its good. However this one is actually very well done and extremely enjoyable. The Holocaust backstory and Jewish mysticism actually helped make this one good. I’m also a huge fan of Gary Oldman.

7. Evil Dead (2013)

I’ll be honest, I don’t really consider the original one a horror movie. It was WAY too campy for that. This one however delivers the gore, blood, and demonology. There really isn’t anything else to really say about it. It is the original… on steroids.

6. Pulse (US Version) 

Want to kick your electronics addiction? This movie will do it. It’s got unseen scares, jump scares, a dark story, and all kinds of effects that just add to the darkness of the plot. This movie had me going from beginning to end and really keeps you on the edge of your seat. It basically tells the story of how the dead have found a way back into our world… through the internet and wireless communication. How the right code was cracked that allowed communication between the two worlds and now humanity is forced to either live behind closed doors in red-taped rooms, or head to dead zones where the dead can’t go.

5. Drag Me to Hell. 

Not going to lie, I found this movie quite silly at first. However as it went on, the movie became darker and darker… only to become silly again when the monster possessed a goat. However yet again… this movie was saved by a very dark twist of an ending…

 

4. The Last Exorcism

This is pretty much the opposite of the other movies, while the suspense, build up, and scary scenes were great, I want to know what happened to the born-again exorcist who marched out towards the bonfire right at the end. The sequel doesn’t do anything to help answer any of these questions.

3. The Exorcist 3

In my opinion, the only true sequel to the original Exorcist is this movie right here. It follows the story of the detective from the first movie and even has a major reveal about Father Karras from the first film. It can be silly at times, however it also has a really good twist and an amazing performance from Brad Douriff.

2. The Exorcist

Yeah it’s not really a horror movie list without this one at the top. This is still considered by most to be the scariest movie out there. It is said that people went running from the theaters back when this was first released. Not helping matters was when the church confirmed that yes, things like this can happen.

Whether or not you find it scary, it’s still a dark story that can give even the most desensitized minds pause.

1. The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Yeah I think everyone is seeing a pattern by this point. I love exorcism movies. I admit that this one had me freaked out when I saw it and you might be surprised by what scenes. The exorcism didn’t really bother me, nor did the scenes where Emily is shown being possessed. What freaked me out were the two scenes with Dr. Cartright. I can’t find clips for these scenes, but essentially he appears at a low point in the trial offering his help. The entire time the camera is on him, he is glancing off into the sky or behind the lawyer that he’s talking to. It’s never revealed what’s scaring him, but the most chilly lines in the movie were uttered at this point.

Dr. Cartright: That girl was not schizophrenic, she was not narcoleptic, or any combination of the two… I’ve seen people with those afflictions, they can be horrible of course… but they don’t scare me…

Erin: But what you saw there… did?

Dr. Cartright: God… if I’d known, I never would have been there!

Just the way he says it and the fact that this meeting is before the reveal of the exorcism, makes this movie for me.

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Prequelitis

I think I can speak for everyone here when I say that we’re all pretty tired of prequels am I right?

Earlier in the week I heard through the grapevine that Game of Thrones was going to have a couple of spinoff series dealing with events that happened before the events we all know and love.

The response I’ve heard; A collective groan.

Of course, we’re all excited to see a new series coming out in the same universe… but did it have to be a prequel?

Star Trek Discovery is set to be a prequel and all I hear on their facebook page is how upset the fans are. Per Midnight’s Edge  Netflix is actually furious because they paid for Discovery, thinking they were getting a cutting edge, new series, and what they got was an unwanted prequel.

So why are we, the viewing audience as a whole, suffering from prequelitis, and why isn’t Hollywood and many literary writers picking up on that? Well that’s a loaded question. Let’s go through the subjects one at a time.

Fans are tired of prequels, why? Well there are several reasons… First, there are no real surprises. We all know what’s going to happen. I remember seeing The Phantom Menace when it was in theaters and just sat there looking at the main cast like, “Let’s see main cast… that guy’s dead by A New Hope, that guy dies in A New Hope, dead by A New Hope, Dead by A New Hope, he’s the emperor, he’s Darth Vader…”

I mean when you’re doing a prequel, unless you’re going to take a radical departure from the established story, you’re really limited by what you can offer. The few times people have taken a radical departure from the established story, the backlash from fans is relentless, again Star Trek Discovery being the current example.

Well can’t you just say its an alternate universe???

Shut… the hell… up!!!

A second problem with prequels is that they have a tendency to poison the original story. If there is a piece that doesn’t make sense, it really turns the fans off when the studio has to retcon the inconsistency off-screen. In addition, something may happen in the prequel that will then sour fans to the sequel in other ways. Consider Anakin Skywalker’s fall. After watching Episode III, I couldn’t help but shake my head when Obi Wan gave Luke his father’s lightsaber… you know, the saber that slaughtered innocent children… on more than one occasion!?

But I digress…

So with that in mind, why do writers and movie makers keep doing this, knowing how prequels are quickly becoming box office poison? Well I think the phenomenon is now slowing going away in favor of another Hollywood travesty; the reboot/remake… which is arguably worse. However to answer the question as to why this still happens… it’s because it is safe. These days, new stories and original scripts are really seen as box office poison in their own right. Prequels showing the titles of a beloved work is sure to attract the original crowds thus making money, even if the movie is royally bad.

So why don’t they just make sequels? You know, continue the stories!

They did… sequelitis was a thing once too, don’t forget. The result was the market being awash in disposable dollar-bin movies that didn’t respect… or went so far as to ruin the original stories. (Blues Brothers 2000 or Love Never Dies, much?)

Okay, then what is your answer? 

Well… I mean there isn’t really one. Prequels, sequels, and remakes are always going to draw a crowd, even if people in general don’t like them. So like it or not, they’re still getting made. I’ve got news for all of you, the Back to the Future remake is coming. It may not be today or tomorrow, but it will happen. It is an inevitability.

However I actually already did answer this question once when I myself was confronted with the ‘no sequel, no publishing’ problem; write a concurrent story. Yes set your new story in the same universe with all new characters and send those characters on an adventure that was sparked by the events of the first one. Allow characters from the first story to make brief appearances and cameos, but make them side characters with one or two scenes, tops. There is so much potential, so many options, and so many ways to expand your current world. Sadly, I don’t think anyone in Hollywood reads my blog so…

So what, stop going to movies? Avoid the box office and just watch the movies we know and love?

I’m dubious to say no, but that’s more because Hollywood is home to one of the biggest child sex trafficking rings on the planet and they deserve jail cells, not the mansions they get.
However… no. Do not do that. As I said in a previous post, Hollywood isn’t out of new ideas. There are movies with original scripts coming out all the time. You know the movies that are at the box office, but you’ve never heard of them? There’s no advertising and only a few screenings? Those are your original scripts. They don’t get much in the way of ads nor do they get a ton of funding, but they are out there. I’d encourage everyone to vote with their wallets. Go see those movies or read the non-prequel/sequel books. There are plenty out there.


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Lion King Remake

Okay… I’m told that we’re going into a movie topic today. Let’s see what are we dealing with…

The Lion King (2019)

“CG-animated re-imagining of the 1994 Walt Disney classic The Lion King”

… … …

I quit.

I’m sorry guys, I’m done. To all my readers and followers, thanks for your support throughout all this time.

I’d especially like to thank my family and friends for being so loving and supportive… but this is it, I’m done. I would also like to retract my previous statements about Hollywood originality. 

Thanks friends… and farewell!

(Disclaimer: I’m not actually quitting, this was just my attempt to voice my utter disdain for this move by Disney, if it wasn’t painfully obvious.)



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Wonder Woman: A Fitting Tribute

So I just saw Wonder Woman…

All right, let me start of by saying that I did not have high hopes for this movie…

1491990205555-1

Hear me out!

The initial reviews of this movie that I saw came from Salon and The Mary Sue…

You know… these yellow journalists:

Back off, men—they’re scientists: New “Ghostbusters” trailer gets slimed by sexist trolls
The Ghostbusters Trailer Backlash Shows Men Believe in the Power of Representation (But Only When It Applies to Them)

Yeah… anything that they give a good review to usually has to be taken with a grain of salt, especially after the a for mentioned Ghostbusters reboot. Critics really can’t be taken all that seriously anymore.

Given all the controversy surrounding it, I was expecting this movie to be completely overrun with identity politics and social justice hypocrisy.

Then why did you go see it?

Well… because it’s Wonder Woman, she’s friggin’ boss! That’s why.

So what did I think of it? OH MY GOD, IT WAS AWESOME!!! The fighting was extremely well done, the history was very spot on, and the scenery was absolutely incredible.

The movie starts off in the mythical land of Themyscira, where Diana… is lives with the other Amazonian women in secret. She is trained to fight from a young age and  becomes the best warrior in all of the land. Her mother seriously wants to keep a secret from her, which we don’t find out about. Apparently the amazons were created to help herald peace and love, but as usual, humanity messes it up.

A pilot in a WW1 plane… rather randomly happens upon the island, crashing into the nearby water. He’s chased by… I believe a German destroyer and several boats. The amazons fight off the troops…

(Jury is still out on what happened to the destroyer… it kind of just vanished… It was listing pretty badly but… I dunno)

… and take the pilot prisoner. He eventually reveals that Germany is creating a new weapon to win the war before the armistice is signed. Diana sets sail with him, against her mother’s wishes, to aid in the fight. She absolutely believes that if she kills Aries, the war will end.

That’s about as much as I’m going to tell you about the plot… So let’s look at the gritty details:

Setting: This movie takes place in WW1 Europe, this is not a modern story, though the entire movie is a flashback thanks to a picture that Batman has delivered to Diana Prince. Very happy about this! Everything appears very accurate surrounding the war. The uniforms aren’t perfect and in some aspects look closer to WW2, but everything is in the right place. So no issue.

However… There are critics who rightly say that the movie should have taken place during WW2 as this is where the original story takes place. However I consider this a re-telling and if they want to start off in WW1, I’ll let that slide.

Casting: I love Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. I know a lot of people didn’t like the idea of her having an accent, but if you think about it… Wonder Woman is amazonian, not American (at least not at first). Thus making her a little more exotic isn’t uncalled for.

Steve Trevor was also well-cast and the character is portrayed very well. It was nice to see that the people who wrote the movie really did their homework with many of the characters.

Story: What can I say, it’s awesome and there are definitely some twists and turns that are unexpected.

History:

Like I said, it’s portrayed pretty well. I a couple of articles  that talk about the accuracy of the women’s armor. The costumes for WW1 weren’t perfect, as I said, but they were close enough.

One other piece that I would like to mention… Dr. Maru’s face:

1491990205555-1.jpg

I’ve heard some people complain about this and frankly, I don’t understand why. It may look cheap and kind of dumb… but again, it’s historically accurate. People who had severely disfiguring facial injuries did actually have coverings made for them:

So again, bravo to the movie. They got that one right.

The Villain: Aries, the God of War is the primary villain here. Wonder Woman believes that if she kills him, it’ll end the war, all war. However in a very well-written twist, Aries reveals that he isn’t starting the wars. He is simply putting the tools into humanities hands, helping them create new weapons. He may put the gun in their hands, but in the end, they’re the one pulling the trigger. This draws up the ethical question of just how responsible is Aries for all of the war and suffering?

So anything wrong with the movie that you want to point out?

Yes… as I said, I was worried about the insertion of identity politics into the movie, and I will grant you that there is some of that. The line ‘I wanted to be an actor, but I’m the wrong color’ feels kind of forced. The second line came from ‘the chief’ when he said that Steve Trevor’s people took everything from him. This one was a little bit more underplayed, but I think a little bit more explaining might have been in order.

That being said, it was two lines. I can live with that.

But Jim, what about the line where Diana says that men are good for procreation, but not so much for pleasure?

Meh. There’s an old saying that goes ‘no one loves you as much as your left hand.’ Put that into context, and Diana’s statement could go either way. So I chalk that up as a non-issue.

My only other issue is with the movie’s portrayal of the armistice. It’s really played up as a positive thing and the best chance that everyone has for peace… this is horribly inaccurate.

The armistice led to the Treaty of Versailles, which when placed into the context of the Franco-Prussian War and WW2, was little more than payback for the embarrassment that France suffered at the hands of Germany during the Franco Prussian War, and would be a prelude to WW2. The armistice, nigh the very end of WW1, was little more than a prelude to the reckoning that was soon to come.

Final Thoughts…

The movie was fantastic and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone who has not yet seen it.

In addition to that, Wonder Woman has, by virtue of existence, shown just how cancerous the far right and left political ideologues really are.

On the right, people complained about Gal Gadot’s casting, why?

  1. Because she was Israeli, not American-born.
  2. Because she was of Jewish descent.

Pretty bad right? However, the left didn’t treat her any better. In addition to body-shaming Wonder Woman out of the UN, the left objected to Gal Gadot’s casting because…

  1. She was too thin…
  2. She was cleanly shaven.

In addition, they complained about her outfit… despite being more conservative than other incarnations.

Finally, some theaters set up women-only viewings of the movie and people on the left mocked those who took issue with it… despite the fact that it was a violation of Constitution Civil Rights, something the Social Justice Left claims to fight for.

So without even really doing anything, Wonder Woman patriotically showed us how cancerous the right wing extremists, the religious fundamentalists, the regressive left, and the Social Justice Warriors actually are.

That alone makes her a hero in my book.

So in summation… forget the idiocy, forget the politics, go see the movie and have a good time. Wonder Woman is a hero for the ages and is someone both men and women of all walks of life and enjoy… and it was a major thrill to introduce my son to her!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

You May Not Know…

Kylo Ren and Poe Dameron have met before… in the movie Inside Llewyn Davis, we see them along side Justin Timberlake singing a song that… ironically seems a little anti-space-travel. I haven’t seen this movie, so I don’t understand the context of the song though…

Also is it just me or does it look like Kylo Ren is the only one having any fun in this video? 🙂



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim