To Watch List – Summer Blockbusters

Posting on a non-Saturday because May starts off Summer Blockbuster season. The following is a list of the movies I WANT to see this summer. I can plan for a list of summer blockbusters I actually saw in movies, but don’t count on it. This list is kind of long so I’ll explain why I want to see each movie in three sentences or less.

Iron Man 3 (May 3)
Tony Stark copes with a terrorist after the events in New York City with The Avengers. Major hints on the introduction of Rescue.

The Great Gatsby (May 10)
The book of the same name done in the film style of Moulin Rouge. I cannot tell you how right that feels.

Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17)
A mysterious foe threatens the Federation and Captain Kirk of the Enterprise is the only one who can stop it. Benedict Cumberbatch may or may not be Khan.

Epic (May 17)
A young girl discovers a tiny people in the forest surrounding her father’s home. From the creators of Rio.

After Earth (May 31)
A father and son crash land on Earth and must survive a planet that has adapted to kill humans. Starring Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith.

Now You See Me (May 31)
A group of magicians pull off impossible bank heists during performances. The trailer made it sound epic.

Man of Steel (June 14)
The origin story of Superman written by Christoner Nolan of The Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception fame. Featuring Amy Adams as Lois Lane.

This is the End (June 14)
Celebrities making fun of themselves during the apocalypse. Sounds hilarious.

Monsters University (June 21)
How Mike and Sulley met in college. Part of Pixar’s attempt to follow its audience as they grow. Nathan Fillion stars as a jock.

World War Z (June 21)
Based on the book which is a government agent’s documented account of his involvement in the zombie apocalypse. I guess the movie itself is less about the zombies.

The Lone Ranger (July 5)
Johnny Depp gets to be in another odd character in a Jerry Bruckheimer/Disney movie. Vaguely steampunk-y. Possibly racist.

Pacific Rim (July 12)
Giant robots fight deep-sea monsters without attempting to look like a Japanese movie. Paraphrasing a former co-worker “Hollywood is making a movie of my childhood.”

The Wolverine (July 26)
Wolverine goes to Japan and muddles the X-Men movie mythos more than it already is.

Elysium (August 9)
The director of District 9 returns with another awesome sci-fi movie that provides another social commentary, this time on economic class.

The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones (August 23)
Based on the book of the same name featuring Shadowhunters, angels, demons, and other paranormal characters. My main concern is whether Clary keeps her fiery red locks and how stiff the dialogue seems.

The World’s End (August 23)
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost make another movie that may or may not reference Shaun of the Dead while simultaneously saving the world.


Defining Yourself with Penelope

Released in 2006 by Summit Entertainment

Penelope (2006, USA) was produced by Summit Entertainment and directed by Mark Palansky. It tells the story of a young woman named Penelope of blue blood descent who is cursed with the nose and ears of a pig,. To break the curse, Penelope (Christina Ricci) must find someone who can accept her as she is ’til death do they part. Her mother has been the driving force behind finding Penelope a husband, hiring a matchmaker and inviting blue blooded sons to speak with Penelope before seeing her. Penelope, meanwhile, is growing tired of the life and doesn’t develop the courage to try something different until she meets Max Campion (James McAvoy)–the only young man who didn’t run at the sight of her face.

Penelope is a story about growing out of the legacy given to you and finding your own person. Your name and your appearance don’t define who you are; you do. This theme of defining yourself outside your name and appearance is embodied in the characters of Penelope and Max/Johnny.

(spoilers ahead)

For Penelope, her lesson comes through growing out of her appearance and learning to like herself for who she is–a lesson that everyone who watches this movie should walk away with. At the start, Penelope relies on others to bring the power to break the curse. After several interactions with Max/Johnny, she gets the courage to take charge of her own life and venture around the city she lives in but has never seen. In the end, she defies the wishes of her mother, declares that she likes the way she is, and breaks the curse herself. During the resolution, Penelope leaves home, not to find herself again, but to grow into the person she’s been all along.

Meanwhile, for Max/Johnny, the lesson isn’t about liking yourself, it’s about you staying the same no matter your name. When we first meet Max/Johnny, we believe he is Max Campion, a blue blood who has previously gambled away the family fortune. Towards the end of the movie, we learn his real name is actually Johnny Martin, not a blue blood but still struggles with a gambling problem. Penelope inspires him to stop gambling and start leading an honest life again, even if it means starting from the bottom. Even though the audience believes his name is Max for most of the movie, Johnny doesn’t change his persona to fit into a fake name. He’s still remains a man with a gambling problem either way.

To bring gender issues into the mix, it would make sense that Penelope, the young woman, would be the one to embody the lesson of liking who you are. With impressionable young girls seeing contorted images of beauty all over visual media, learning to like yourself for who you are despite appearances is a powerful lesson. No matter what you look like–tall, short, broad-shoulders, awkward nose, small toes, huge hands, impressive chin hair–you should like yourself. There’s power in liking yourself.

Penelope also faces the demands of others attempting to impose their impression on her. For starters, we have Edward. At first, he’s convinced Penelope will attack him solely based on her ungainly appearance. Over the course of the movie, he does not grow out of that. He’s unable to look Penelope in the face on their wedding, and he openly admits to gagging at the thought of kissing her. Penelope leaves him at the alter. Then we have Penelope’s mother, shrilly pushing Penelope into what is not necessarily best for her. Even when her daughter has a normal nose, she has something to say about Penelope’s appearance. Penelope deals with this by moving out.

Penelope is a timeless movie with a modern-day lesson. Recommended for children and adults aged 8 and up.

The Blue Spirit of Avatar: The Last Airbender

Blue_Spirit_Zuko by Unodu via DeviantArt

Avatar: The Last Airbender aired on Nickelodeon from February 2005 to July 2008. The story follows the return of the Avatar, a young airbender named Aang, and his year-long quest to master all four elements before the Fire Nation’s final invasion of the world. He teams up with Katara, a waterbender of the Southern Water Tribe, her older brother and warrior Sokka, and the blind earthbender Toph. Along the way, he is pursued by Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation and later Zuko’s younger sister Azula.

In my humble opinion, one of the more notable characters in Avatar: the Last Airbender is  Zuko. Zuko’s arc is the most interesting because he starts as a spoiled exiled prince, becomes a wanted prince in hiding, and is finally a traitor of his home country, all the while dealing with some serious inner conflict regarding his issues with his family. His journey includes an alter ego known as the Blue Spirit, a masked ninja that appears whenever it is convenient. I have come to the conclusion that the Blue Spirit is more than just Zuko’s alter ego–it is a symbol. A symbol of what, though? So I took a look at some of the Blue Spirit’s more notable appearances to see what I can discover.

***spoilers ahead.***  Continue reading