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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy

Movie Review: Amélie (2001)

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Source: Wikipedia

Plot Summary (Taken from IMDB): Amelie, an innocent and naive girl in Paris, with her own sense of justice, decides to help those around her and along the way, discovers love.

My Review: One of the best things about this movie is the main character. Amelie is a young who has been isolated from the world so much that she has retreated into her imagination. This causes her to communicate very little to others. When she does communicate, it is in elaborate schemes that feature things like practical jokes and posters. A touching thing about her unusual method of communication is that almost all her schemes aim to help others.

Besides Amelie, the secondary characters are wonderful. Some of them are just as eccentric as Amelie, but some also have interesting quirks. For instance, a painter named Dufayel has withdrawn from others, but he is also very caring and helpful toward Amelie and one other character.

In addition to the characters, the fantasy aspect of the film was great. Literally bringing Amelie’s imagination to life lets the viewer inside Amelie’s head and provides an interesting perspective. It also and adds humor and depth to Amelie’s character and the overall storyline.

The only flaw in the film was the romance between Amelie’s character and her love interest. While the way Amelie attempts to communicate with him is amusing, the romance when they finally get together felt rushed.

Overall, this was an entertaining French film.  I’d recommend it to older teens and adults who like romance and fantasy, but not to families because it is sexually explicit.


Written by Serena Zola

February 10, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Movie Review: Frozen (2013)

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Frozen, disney film

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Plot Summary (Taken from IMDB): Fearless optimist Anna teams up with Kristoff in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, and a hilarious snowman named Olaf in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter.

My Review: One of the best things about this film is the music. “Vuelie”, the opening song of the movie, is beautiful. It’s reprise is also lovely and appropriate for the scene it is heard in. In addition,  the songs involving Elsa and Anna as kids and adult princesses are cute and emotional. Furthermore, Idina Menzel’s song “Let It Go” has terrific vocals.

Besides the music, the animation was amazing at times. It is at its best during scenes with lots of snow, water, and ice. It looks so real you could almost touch it!

In addition, there are a couple of twists in the film’s plot that saved it from being too cheesy.  One was unexpected and should be done a little more often and the other was noble and touching.

The only flaw in the film was the character of Elsa. She could have been developed a little more. Yes, she’s a person with ice powers who pushes others away, but what else?

Overall, the film is a nice and poignant work about the bond between sisters. I recommend it to families and any Disney fan.

Here is the song for “Do You Wanna Be a Snowman?” (it’s one of the best songs in the film and goes from little kid Anna to adult Anna singing to Elsa)

Written by Serena Zola

December 30, 2013 at 11:09 PM

Book Review: Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi

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Authoress Note: I’d like to thank Mr. Yatsuhashi for allowing me to review his book and for giving me an advanced reader’s copy.

Plot Summary: When eighteen-year-old Keiko Yamada’s father dies unexpectedly, he leaves behind a one way ticket to Japan, an unintelligible death poem about powerful Japanese spirits and their gigantic, beast-like Guardians, and the cryptic words: “Go to Japan in my place. Find the Gate. My camera will show you the way.” 

Alone and afraid, Keiko travels to Tokyo, determined to fulfill her father’s dying wish. There, beneath glittering neon signs, her father’s death poem comes to life. Ancient spirits spring from the shadows. Chaos envelops the city, and as Keiko flees its burning streets, her guide, the beautiful Yui Akiko, makes a stunning confession–that she, Yui, is one of a handful of spirits left behind to defend the world against the most powerful among them: a once noble spirit now insane. Keiko must decide if she will honor her father’s heritage and take her rightful place among the gods.

My Review: One of the most compelling things about this novel its plot. It is a fusion of the anime movie Spirited Away,  the monster movie Godzilla, and a hint of the novel The Phantom of the Opera. Also, it is mostly fast-paced, with plenty of action and adventure. There are times that it is disorienting, especially when characters are being introduced. However, the author slows it down at the right time so the reader can catch their breath.

Another intriguing aspect of the book are its characters. They are inspired by different aspects of Japan such as mythology, anime, and  history. The main character Keiko  is reminiscent of the character Chihiro from Spirited Away because she is unsure of herself when she is thrust into the world of spirits. Yet, Keiko is also wise, showing self-control and empathy during key moments. Furthermore, she is courageous.  However, an aspect of Keiko that is slightly disappointing is that she  is less of an offensive force when it comes to her special power.

As for the supporting characters, they were very well done. Yui is strong, brave, and driven. These qualities become very admirable during the climax of the book. When it comes to the spirits, they were memorable because they were more human than they appeared to be. They experience love, heartbreak, anguish, and grief in a way that is haunting. As the story unfolded, I was reminded of the Proxies from the anime series Ergo Proxy.

Finally, the themes of harmony and balance are poignant because they create a powerful moral using the characters and plot. When is it okay to have what you want, instead of what you need? Can you have harmony without suffering? To gain balance, what are you willing to sacrifice? These questions are answered within the novel and may stay with the reader long after they finish the book.

Overall, this was a riveting read. I recommend this book to any anime or fantasy-fiction fan.

Written by Serena Zola

May 20, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Movie Review: Brave (2012)

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Plot Summary (Taken from IMDB): Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.

One of the notable things about this film is that Merida is Pixar’s first female protagonist. She certainly isn’t a damsel in distress, because she can use a bow and arrow well and hold her own in the wild. Once the beastly curse shows up, Merida does her best to overcome it.

Another notable thing about the film is the soundtrack. Since the film’s setting is in Scotland, Celtic music was used to immerse the viewer into the land. It gave the film a magical ambiance that was enjoyable. Some notable songs include “Fate and Destiny”, “I Am Merida”, and “Noble Maiden Fair”.

Besides Merida and the soundtrack, the animation was beautifully done. According to a TIME magazine article, the animation system had been rewritten. It hadn’t been done in twenty-five years, but it worked. The most striking thing in the film is Merida’s long mane of curly hair, which looks so real you could touch it.

Despite the positive aspects of the film, the plot ruined my enjoyment of it. The film’s trailer did a good job not revealing it, showing  just enough to attract people’s interest. When the  plot was revealed in the film, my reaction was, “That’s it?”  Given Pixar’s reputation for great stories, I was expecting something more thought out and creative. Instead, the plot felt like a magical version of a certain 2003 Disney family film.

Simply put, this film could have been so much better. If you love animated fantasy films, then feel free to give this a shot. However, if you are a huge Pixar fan like me, then you might want to avoid this one.

Written by Serena Zola

May 5, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Book Review: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

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Bridge to Terabithia (novel)

Bridge to Terabithia (novel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jess is a young boy who loves to run and draw. While drawing makes him an outcast at school, running is his ticket to approval. He plans to be the world’s fastest runner, until Leslie shows up. Together they create their own world called Terabithia and change each other’s lives forever.

One of the best things about this book is the successful blending of reality and fantasy. For instance, likening a female bully to a troll to make her less of a threat in real life. Then, making her human again by giving her some depth. It was great characterization. Also, the bridge made a good metaphor for linking childhood and maturity.

Another thing that was well done was the use of death as a theme. Not only does it assist in the blending of reality and fantasy, it makes a good metaphor for change. Grief was described well enough so that is tangible and poignant.

The one flaw that was in the book was its description of Terabithia. It seemed dull somehow. It was hard to visualize a kingdom when all you have is a few lines about the forest and some creatures. If Terabithia were described like C.S. Lewis’s Narnia, then it would have been more believable.

All in all, this was a touching book. I recommend it to anyone who likes a mix of reality and fantasy.

Written by Serena Zola

April 28, 2013 at 10:30 AM

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