Friday, June 24, 2022

Final Fantasy VII 25th Anniversary Celebration Recap

 

It’s hard to believe that 25 years have passed since I first visited Midgar and became smitten with not only the game but the entire series as well. I have a lot to thank the seventh “numbered” entry in the series for, not the least of which is my marriage haha. I kid you not… My now brother-in-law set me up on the blind date that led to my forever gal all because he remembered seeing my rant about how excited I was for the Final Fantasy VII Remake. This was back in 2015 mind you, FIVE WHOLE YEARS before the game would actually come out… Anyway, Square Enix held a “Life Stream” (bad pun… I know) err– live stream on June 16th to announce the 25th anniversary celebration for this genre-defining classic. You can catch the full presentation on YouTube. While some of the items announced definitely made me more excited than others, I wanted to give a quick recap of what FFVII fans have to look forward to



First up on the menu, Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade was announced for Steam. That’s right folks, if you’ve been wanting to play the remake and have not acquired a PS4 or PS5, you can now purchase it on Steam. Side note: it has already been available in the Epic Game Store since last December, but this with the Steam release comes the ability to play handheld on the steam deck as well! Personally, I have yet to finish the game. I know… How can I call myself a true FFVII fan if I still haven’t beaten the first installment? I blame my energetic toddlers haha. I will say however that I am grateful for the modernization that allows players to save anywhere instead of having to either return to the world map or scour the area for a save point. #NineteenNinetiesGamingProbsSomeYoungersWontUnderstand



Next up a bunch of new shiny pieces of jewelry, action figures, musical arrangements, and even a digital Buster Sword clock were announced. Most of these items cost a pretty penny, but I think Square did an excellent job in procuring high quality products. I love the idea of sporting a Shinra Bangle ring complete with a personal choice on colored gemstones to represent the different types of Materia! Will I buy one? Probably not. But would I love it and wear it pretty much every day if I did? You bet your bottom Gil that I would.



Season 3 for Final Fantasy VII The First Soldier is now underway. I haven’t tried this mobile Battle Royale yet, but if you’re into games like PUBG and the like and you’re an FFVII fan, give it a try. New goodies this season include: the new Midgar Plateside map, a Serpent Launcher, Water Materia, and the Machinist style.



A new mobile game called Final Fantasy VII Ever Crisis will be entering Closed Beta sometime this year. I haven’t been able to glean too many details beyond what was shown in the trailer, but it looks to be a hybrid graphical style of the OG FFVII and Remake. Apparently the game will include other parts of the overarching FFVII storyline from Crisis Core (originally available on the PSP). If my memory serves me well, a lot of the settings seen in the trailer seem to be not just high-def ports of the original scenery renders, but actual recreations of the same framing with much better graphics.


Speaking of which, we will be seeing the remake Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion this Winter coming to all major consoles. Having never owned a PSP I wasn’t able to set my hands on the game. I of course know who Zach is (I’m trying to avoid spoilers for those who are still hoping to play the OG), but it will be fun to actually get to experience his back story first-hand.



Last but not least, the announcement I was most excited for was for Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. I am curious to see how the storyline changes will play out. In the trailer we see Cloud and Sephiroth approaching the Great Northern Crater, something I don’t remember happening in the OG. Whether the platinum-haired villain is actually there or just a figment in Cloud’s head has yet to be revealed.


Originally we were told that the remake project would span multiple games. At the time, I wondered if Square-Enix would try and keep it to three parts: one for each of the discs in the original multi-disc version. Sure enough the three-part structure was confirmed by Executive Producer Yoshinori Kitase, with Rebirth set to come out Winter 2023. Beyond that, we do not have a title for the final installment, nor a release date. This does however give me ample time to finish Part I and enjoy the other projects set to come out before then. Looks like I have plenty of catching up to do!


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

For the Love of Cosplay

Mario at Dallas Fan Expo 2022

I was privileged to attend Dallas Fan Expo last week with a few of my friends. I’m a little short on cash (thanks to repaying student loans) so my celebrity meet-and-greet budget was basically nothing. That’s okay though, because my favorite part of a Con isn’t the celebrities (though I loved the Michael Rooker and Ming Na Wen panels). Rather, my favorite part of any convention is the cosplayers.

Back in high school and my early college days, I thought I had to be too cool for dressing up. Dressing up was for little kids in elementary school. Just like trick-or-treating and Disney cartoons. To be a grownup and to be mature meant putting away childish things like costumes (see my previous post about Digimon Kizuna). Thankfully, in the years that followed, I matured properly; I stopped trying to be grown up for other people. and started being myself. So Halloween 2012, my best friend and I did our first team cosplay for a ward activity. We showed up as Mario and Luigi and I was hooked on cosplay.

Halloween 2012: Super Mario Bros

Cosplay is more than just dressing up for me. I’ve never felt like a particularly creative person, but when I get into cosplay, it flows. I can see the colors and the parts. I can see which substitutes are appropriate or not. It gives me a chance to express myself in a way that reaches deep down into the characters I’ve loved over the years. Spending an afternoon dressed as Mario, Newt, or Russell gives me a chance to honor and experience these characters and stories that have shaped who I am today. For a moment, I get to play dress up again and join the carefree world of a child. I see my daughter playing and enjoying whatever world she’s created. When I put on my costumes, I can enjoy a little piece of that childlike spirit that I’ve lost over the years.

If you’re interested in cosplaying, just try it out. If you need help, I’ve included some tips on doing budget cosplays.

Check out some of my favorite cosplays from Dallas Fan Expo 2022:









Monday, June 20, 2022

The Thing I Love About Stranger Things

It's about time we talked about the Netflix hit. 

Okay, so I am a Stranger Things fan, but even things I love can't escape my critical eye or general orneriness. So before I get into the thing I truly love about Stranger Things I want to hit some of the parts I'm not really the biggest fan of, and in theory emphasize my love through contrast. 

So spoiler warning ahead. 

Also complaining warning. 

I complain a lot. 

It's Not The Kids...

First thing I'm not a fan of are the kids in the show. While they did a great job accurately portraying how preteens-and now teens- act, especially when they're not with their parents, my issue is that it doesn't make them any less obnoxious. Their precocious shenanigans appeal to some people because they like to project themselves into the Goonies but all it makes me want to do is scream out "Get off my lawn!"

The teenagers aren't much better, since most of their motivation is the usual TV teenage "Do they like me" storylines. As our main kids have grown up over the seasons they've gone from precocious to obnoxiously love struck. Season 4 has been pushing the whole Steve/Nancy/Jonathan love triangle and frankly the "Who will Nancy choose" plot line is boring because it's been done a thousand other times. 

Note that Eleven is exempt from all of my above complaining. Her story arc is one I love watching in characters. The outsider to humanity trying to become part of is one of my favorite tropes, with others including Star Trek: The Next Generation's Data, DC Comic's Conner Kent/Superboy and the MCU's Vision. 

Also I love the adults. Hopper is my cop dad and I've missed Winona Ryder. I hope she does more after the series is over. 

... And it's not the 80's...

Despite being born in the 80's I'm a 90's kid, so I don't have a lot of nostalgia for the 80's. I think the effort the show has gone through is admirable, but whenever they pause the story for a cute 80's joke, like Lucas drinking a New Coke, I just want to move on. My least favorite part of every season is the first couple episodes when the 80's nonsense is at its highest. The same is true for other 80's nostalgia bait, like when they did it in Wonder Woman 1984. You can wear all the neon triangles and bad hair you want, I'm just not that interested. 

...And it's Definitely Not the Dungeons and Dragons.

This may be surprising to hear from the guy who is writing a series going over every 5th edition class and how they can be better played, but the D&D stuff in Stranger Things just does not do it for me. First, it gets old explaining to non-players why mind flayers aren't 30 foot tall spider monsters. That's a minor niggle, since narratively I get it and I do find it mildly endearing, but I just get annoyed. Second, I hate the once again portrayal of Dungeons and Dragons players as outsiders and nerds. This portrayal once again pigeonholes us into the role of the outsiders, the ones on the fringes of society who are out of touch with the real world. This is better in season 4 where the outsider issue ignites paranoia against the Hellfire Club (Cool name for a D&D club) as they are suspected for being murderers. The use of the true to life satanic panic that happened at the time but with the main characters victims of the paranoia is an interesting concept, and I will withdraw this complaint if the second half of season 4 explores it further. 

It's the Cosmic Horror

What I do love about Stranger Things is that it portrays my favorite horror subgenre brilliantly: Cosmic horror. Also known as Lovecraftian horror this type of horror pits people against the great unknowable, powers so unfathomable that the only hope is to get out of their way. The Upside-Down is a perfect example of this, being an alien world with unknown motivations and mechanisms at work. We do get the idea from season 4 that One, the first child to be experimented on in the Hawkins Labs has more to do with it, and my own theories aside, this doesn't take away from the sense of overwhelming helplessness in the face of his power. Even Eleven, at arguably full power, could only banish One to the Upside-Down, not truly defeating him but sealing him away from our reality, which is straight out of the pages of H.P. Lovecraft. 

The individual parts I complained about earlier all add to the cosmic horror setting, even if individually I don't particularly care for them. The ordinary kids are an extreme juxtaposition to the powers and monsters of the Upside-Down, establishing clear differences in power between the two. The 80's setting is a familiar setting, not just for those who lived it but because of the numerous popular movies and TV shows that take place in the era that give us a general sense of what the era was like, so the familiar normality comes clashing directly against the horrors pouring out of portals. The D&D/satanic panic is analogous to the real satanic panic, where the problems of society were blamed on a simple game instead of addressing the real issues, in the show being monsters and in real life being... Well name a problem in society. 

I love Stranger Things as the sum of its parts, and because I know that for every "get off my lawn" moment, nostalgia bait moment, and cringy D&D reference, there's going to be something truly terrifying that will make it all worthwhile. 

-JOE

Friday, June 17, 2022

Disney Dads

As Father’s Day approaches, I have noticed that there has been a lot of Father’s Day memes involving Darth Vader. I will admit some of them are funny but do you have to cut off your child arm to become father of the year? If anything, it says a lot about Luke forgiving him and helping him to become a Jedi again. In this post we will look at different Disney fathers that should be recognized more than Darth Vader as this holiday approaches.

Pacha: Emperor’s New Groove

When I think of excellent fatherly characters Pacha comes to mind. He goes out to meet the emperor, Kuzco, to change his mind to keep his family home as well as his villager’s home from being destroyed. Pacha is a hard worker with his duties of being a father, a llama herder, and the leader of his village. Pacha is best described as a family man, his wife and kids love him and his isn’t a dumb dad like most dads portrayed in media in the 2000's. When Pacha met Kuzco he felt that he was a spoiled brat. But when Kuzco became a llama, instead of taking the easy way out and abandoning Kuzco and having Yzma rule, he helped him--- hoping that the emperor’s attitude would change like a father would with a wayward son.

George Banks: Mary Poppins

George Banks loves his kids throughout the movie, but it never registered to his children because of how he showed his love. He wanted his children to become successful so they wouldn’t have financial problems when they become adults, which is what all parents want but his approach was not the best. He wanted them to become so successful that they could not enjoy being children. However, as George's professional life turns upside-down, he realizes the ultimate value of his family and makes real changes in his life. As he walks to his job, in one of the most beautiful scenes in cinema, you see the fear he has about the future but, as his ties to his job are finally cut, we also see the resolve develop within him to make some real changes in his life.

Mufasa: Lion King

Instead of celebrating Darth Vader on Father’s Day how about focusing on another role that James Earl Jones had where he was a sacrificing father, like Mufasa. Mufasa was king of Pride Rock. He had a good work and home life balance teaching his son and being king. He taught Simba to respect all creatures, but also having fun playing games on Zazu. He sets boundaries to protect his son, but also encourages him to explore. When his son disobeyed he reprehends him, but also forgives him. The most notable quality Mufasa has is he sacrificed himself so his son could live.

Mando: The Mandalorian

I get it--- you're probably a Star Wars fan and love all the memes that have been generated over the years. Father’s Day is another Star Wars day for you. Well thankfully Disney has created a new unorthodox father in Star Wars, Mando. After he captures and delivers Grogu to his client he goes against the code for bounty hunters and rescues Grogu and essentially adopts him until he finds a Jedi to teach him. When they finally find Luke, it was a sad departure for them because of their relationship as father and son, but Mando wanted what was best for Grogu and lets him leave. Of course, he wouldn’t stop being a father and tries to visit Grogu bringing gifts.

Goofy: Disney

Speaking of unorthodox parents, we couldn’t ignore Goofy: a single father. Goofy may be silly but he is also a wonderful role model for a father. With a teenager going through angst, he manages to show kindness and compassion making him aspirational for fathers. He works a demanding job, so they are financially stable. When his son, Max, is struggling he plans a father-and-son trip to lift his spirits because he cares about Max’s emotional health. He lets his son be an individual and takes interests in Max’s hobbies. He trusts his son completely, he allows Max to choose stops along their road trip. Even when Goofy suspects that Max is changing their road trip destination, he gives Max the responsibility of being the navigator because of that trust. Finally, he pays attention to his son’s feelings and gives him space. If you don’t believe me watch “A Goofy Movie”.

Scott Lang: Ant-Man

When divorce happens it hard for a father to be fully invested in their children. In Ant-Man we see Scott Lang doing his best to be a father while respecting his former wife's boundaries. After being released from jail he wants to be part of his daughter’s life and tries to be law-abiding by working at Baskin Robbins even though he has an engineering degree. He wants to make his daughter proud and be a good example for her. He becomes Ant-Man at first because of his thieving skills, but transitions to being selfless. He helps Captain America and saves Janet Van Dyne from the quantum realm. In Avenger’s Endgame we see Scott come out of the quantum realm to find his daughter aged by five years. We see the depression on his face when he realized how much of his daughter’s life he has missed.

Agustín and Félix: Encanto

This one is cheating a bit because I couldn’t choose which of these fathers to talk about. They are both good examples of being part of their children’s life. Agustín is sympathetic and understands how it feels not belong in the family and tries to comfort his daughter Mirabel when she obtains no magical gift. We see in the movie that he pays attention to all his daughters’ feelings. For example, when Luisa loses her strength and runs away saddened, he chases after her. We don’t know much about Félix, but he is also present with his children and supportive to his wife, presenting a positive attitude even when it rains.

Mr. Incredible: Incredibles

We couldn’t end the list without the most recognized superhero father, Mr. Incredible. After the first movie Mr. Incredible, Bob Parr, learned to keep his selfish interests in check and become involved with his children more. Instead of giving up on helping his son, Dash, on his homework, he learns how the new approach and helps Dash. He also cares about his children’s feeling by helping his daughter, Violet, talk to her crush by taking the family to the diner where he works. It turned out horribly, but he does the most honorable thing a father can do, apologize to his daughter for making things worse.

These are just eight honorable Dads we decided to mentioned in this post, but Disney has produced more decent fathers. Here is a list of honorable mentions.

  • Marlin: Finding Nemo
  • Pongo: 101 Dalmatians
  • James: The Princess and the Frog
  • Carl: Up
  • Geppetto: Pinocchio
  • Héctor: Coco
  • Mr. Potatohead: Toy Story
  • Vision: Avengers
  • T’Chaka: Black Panther

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Ruby and the Well: A Show for the Whole Family

(Guest post by Stephen)

Few shows these days teach wholesome values while also being entertaining. BYUtv’s new offering, Ruby and the Well, delivers on both counts.

Ruby is a teenager who recently moved with her dad to a small town named Emerald, taking over an apple orchard they inherited. Shortly after moving to the town, Ruby discovers a wishing well on their land which shows her wishes that other people in the town make. Each episode follows Ruby as she tries to help fulfill the wishes.

Ruby navigates difficulties understanding some wishes, frequently making mistakes along the way. In various episodes, she works through arguments with friends, difficulties being open with her dad, being misunderstood, and many other experiences common to adolescence. The series demonstrates how Ruby successfully, though not without angst and difficulty, navigates these problems. It is one of the few shows out there where the teenagers have a strong moral compass.

Ruby and the Well follows a strong tradition of dramas at BYUtv that deal with real people and real problems in a wholesome, soul and community building way. It’s worth taking some time to watch it as a family.

Monday, June 13, 2022

25 Years of Harry Potter


This month we celebrate 25 years since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was officially born. In honor of a quarter century of magic, I asked my friends to share their thoughts about Harry Potter and why the franchise has meant so much to us as fans over the past decades.

“One of my biggest takeaways from Harry Potter is the importance of healthy, solid friendships. Throughout the series, Ron and Hermione are there with Harry, throwing themselves into the path of danger and helping him however they can. They don't judge, the offer support and alternative ideas, and, when needed, a kind voice of reason. Without those solid friendships, are wouldn't have even made it through his first year at Hogwarts. Or, if he did, he'd have been friends with Draco... but that is another story altogether!” (David B)

“Like most fans, I love the world that JK Rowling built—the characters, the story, etc. I love the lessons and/or symbolism that she employed. I think what I liked about it in particular was the new idea of a wizarding school. That was something I’d never really considered. Because of the age of the main characters, it was easier (and enjoyable!) to insert myself into the fantasy world she created. I also loved having that story be a way of connecting with other fans as well, looking forward to the books and/movies together with the Harry Potter community.” (Becca J)

“I love that it has given us a shared cultural experience that sparked a huge reinterest in meaningful escapist literature during often dark times.” (Ken K)


“My dad brought the first two books home after getting a gift certificate to a bookstore and a recommendation about the books. We started reading them as a family in the evenings and it brought my family together as a common interest as we read and enjoyed them together. As a book lover, I loved watching my family share my love of books through experiencing the world of Harry Potter together.” (Juliana C)

“I grew into adulthood along with Harry Potter. I experienced loss, trauma, joy, acceptance, friendship, hardship, love, awkwardness, war, justice, and much more vicariously through the pages. The world was complex, yet relatable and with every challenge, there was hope. Good and evil existed.  Characters made mistakes and became through them. Adults were complex, with their own emotions and frailties that the characters could exploit or learn from. I learned that I had to be brave enough to face things alone. And yet, we never are truly alone and help is always just around the corner. Harry Potter was my escape from reality to a world of magical proportions. And even then, I was taught that just because it happened in your head, doesn't mean it isn't real.” (Eric B)

“I think one of my favorite things about Harry Potter is the fan-made content. The Harry Potter Puppet Pals, the band Harry and the Potters, a Very Potter Musical, it goes on and on. It's a universe that keeps expanding with every piece of fan-made content.” (Garrett W)


“The level of details, history, lore, and background that swirls through the books and other media are my favorite parts. It’s also an overall great story with intriguing character development. All while being easily digestible for the average reader.” (Benji P)

“To me, Harry Potter is not simply a story you read once. It grows with you. Every time I have reread it, I have been in a different stage of life and it has taught me something new. Especially about what it means to be a caring mother.“ (Lindsey T)

“I absolutely love Harry Potter. It was the first real book I read as a 9 year old and I remember the excitement of each book coming out! I love how people would camp out overnight to get the books!! I have some incredible memories of Harry Potter!” (Alex C)

“Harry Potter was one of those series that I couldn’t get enough of. I still remember getting the latest book and reading through it as quickly as possible (I’ve literally read some of the books in 48 hours). Getting lost in the story was an incredible escape for my middle school self, and I couldn’t wait for the next opportunity to be transported back to Hogwarts.” (Patrick H)

I’m grateful for all the friends and strangers I’ve been able to connect with because of Harry Potter. Harry, Hermione, and Ron were friends to me when I felt alone in high school. In a way, I think Harry has been a friend to all of us over the years. Wherever life takes me, it’s nice to know that those friends will always be there whenever I open the book and read those magic words: “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much…”

Friday, June 10, 2022

Ben Kenobi's PTSD

 (Guest Post by Ben)

Obi-Wan Kenobi has been a fan favorite since, well, forever. The first words we hear out of his mouth in A New Hope are, “Hello there!” and, truth be told, we seem to forget that Obi-Wan has always been sassy Jedi we’ve come to know and love through the prequels and Clone Wars TV series. But there’s a side to him we don’t get to see much of in the original trilogy, and are only now beginning to understand through the Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+. This is the cast-away, beat-down, exhausted, and haunted man that the galaxy owes its thanks. If he’s such a lovable, upbeat, and powerful warrior, then what’s up with this guy we’re seeing in the TV series? Where is our fearless leader from the prequels and Clone Wars?


Oh, he’s still there, but he’s got a lot to work through. As far as the timeline is concerned leading up to the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, our stalwart Jedi knight has seen it all. His master (Qui-Gon Jinn) was killed by the frightening Dathomirian, Darth Maul; his love—Dutchess Satine of Mandalore—is killed by that same Dathomirian monster; and his padawan, his brother not just in arms but as close as a friend as one can get, turns his back on the Jedi order and Obi-Wan is forced to kill him on Mustafar. As far as Kenobi knew, up until this TV series, Anakin Skywalker was dead. And these are just a few of the things Kenobi went through since joining the Jedi. And so it is that, when the Jedi are hunted for being representatives of truth, justice, and virtue, Obi-Wan retreats to a sedentary life on Tatooine, working a regular job and watching over the child Anakin doesn’t know exists.

And then he learns that Anakin not only survived, but is hunting him—along with all the other Jedi.

In Return of the Jedi, when Darth Vader learns that he has not just one child, but two, he  comments that Obi-Wan’s failure is complete. While Vader mentions the failure off hand, we know that it goes a lot deeper in Obi-Wan’s mind. As viewers, we can only see the surface of what Obi-Wan thinks of himself. Everything he fought for—and loved—was destroyed, and, despite trying his hardest, he was unable to put a stop to it. Qui-Gon. Satine. Anakain himself. These and more are the thoughts swirling around Obi-Wan’s mind when we see him in the TV series. He considers himself a failure. He considers himself less than dross. And, to add insult to injury, he has seen more than the human mind should be able to process with any form of sanity. Like Job in the Bible, it seems that he has lost everything and that there is no hope for restitution. And in his state, we can assume that Kenobi doesn’t believe he even deserves restitution of any amount. He is about as low as a person can get.


Obi-Wan Kenobi’s PTSD is wildly evident throughout the first three episodes. Owen, Luke’s uncle, is a constant reminder to him of his failure to protect Anakin. We see later that Kenobi had buried his weapons of war deep in the desert sand, a symbol of his refusal to take up the mantle of hero once more. This burial shows the viewer that Obi-Wan is finished with his role of guardian of peace and justice, and his reluctance to return to action is evidenced in the scene where he retrieves the lightsabers. 

Perhaps the most obvious case for PTSD is seen when Darth Vader knows Obi-Wan is spying on him and begins terrorizing the citizens of wherever it is they are. These are innocent people, yet the Sith lord shows Obi-Wan just how powerful he is—and just how little he cares about human life—by inflicting death and destruction on those around him. Obi-Wan thought he had already killed Anakin once; seeing this display of terror, it all comes back to him in sweeping flashbacks that effectively paralyze him for a time. When the time comes to confront Vader, Obi-Wan is visibly shaken and unable to fight. Vader claims it is his time away from the war that has made him rusty, but perhaps it’s more than that. Perhaps it’s seeing his friend—his brother—still alive after thinking for a decade that he had killed him. Perhaps it is seeing this brother of his leave death in his wake that solidifies the trauma he’s been holding in for the last ten years. Perhaps it’s the thoughts of all his failures coming back to haunt him, at how useless he’s been at protecting those he loves, that makes him run away rather than fight.


We are not in his head, so we can’t judge. We don’t know what he’s going through, but there’s obviously something deeper happening inside him than we are allowed to see on screen. This mental breakdown of one of the strongest and most-loved heroes in Star Wars shows us that anyone can break. As viewers, we have the luxury of knowing how it ends for Obi-Wan—on his own terms, coming back when he is needed most to once again save who he can. For him, in this series, Obi-Wan has a lot to reconcile, and as far as he’s concerned, he’s not ready for any of it.

Fortunately, Leia has been there to snoop around, finding cracks in the Jedi’s defenses that has kept him from completely breaking down since he left Anakin on the slopes of Mustafar. Whether either of them knows it or not, Leia is one of the last people Obi-Wan cares about, and he will do anything to help her. He still has that soft spot that makes him the best of heroes, and as the series continues, we can only hope for more interactions between the young princess and the aging Jedi. Leia has a way of tenderizing hardened hearts, and if anyone could use a little pick-me-up, it’s our man Kenobi.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

3 Idiots: A Must Watch

I have never seen a Bollywood movie, and this past weekend I experienced my first. 3 Idiots available on Netflix is a coming-of-age comedy made in 2009. The movie focuses on three students (Farthan, Raju, and Rancho) getting educated in engineering at a prestigious college. Each character is relatable. Farthan is a passionate photographer but is getting a degree in engineering to appease his father; while Raju likes engineering, but has anxiety because if he fails he wouldn’t be able to support his family, therefore he lacks self-confidence; and Rancho is passionate about engineering and approaches the subject in a different way. Initially I thought this movie would be Bollywood version of three stooges, but I was wrong. This is its own movie, and everything was executed perfectly. I just wish I knew some information before I watched this movie.

The first thing I wish I knew is that the audio was in English and Hindi, meaning that they switch between both languages. Unless you know Hindi fluently subtitles is a must. I didn't have any problem having subtitles on, I usually have it on no matter what the movie because I retain more dialogue. 

The next aspect I wish I knew was the movie's runtime was close to 3 hours, and half way through the movie I thought it was close to the ending. I was so glad that I was wrong. It could have ended early, but the second half of the movie made it a must watch. up to the half way point we see the main trio develop and have gone through some climax, but there is no rule of thumb that fictional characters can go through one and only one climax. I am so happy how long the movie is and I wouldn't cut anything out of it.

Last note that I wished I knew before watching is most of the movie takes place in a flash back, sometimes a flashback of a flashback. I thought that the first half of the movie would be a flashback, while the later would take place in the present, but I was wrong. majority of the movie takes place in a flashback, while the trio were in college. With all that being said lets transition and discuss the art of the movie.

Chekhov’s gun is a dramatic principle that states if a play shows a gun in the first act, then it must be used during the second act. "One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn't going to go off. It's wrong to make promises you don't mean to keep." Chekhov, letter to Aleksandr Semenovich Lazarev. Recently, we have been seeing this violation occur in movies such as the new trilogy of Star Wars. In episode seven we are teased that snoke is the powerful adversary, but then he is easily killed off in the following movie, diminishing him being a threat, misleading the audience. There are more sins from the newest Star Wars movie, but this isn’t about Star Wars. In 3 Idiots Chekhov’s gun was beautifully done. There were so many nuggets that were brought up in the beginning and fulfilled later. What amazed me was I thought some of these guns were character development and and wasn't expected it to be brought up again, but when they did it was a delightful surprise.

It's wouldn't be a Bollywood movie is there wasn’t a musical number during the movie. This movie had two musicals both upbeat and chessy in the best way possible. The first one is called “Aal Izz Well” (all is well) and the other was “Zoobi Doobi”. Out of the two musicals Aal Izz Well is may favorite. I think I related to this one more since I am still a student, and it was catchy. The meaning of the song is to not discourage us when we are going through hard times because even when its hard all is well. “Zoobi Doobi” is a love song about falling in love for the first time and how crazy it is.

Even though this is a comedy it doesn’t stray from discussing difficult topics, such as suicide. On three (technically four) occasions suicide was brought up. I won’t mention what happens because of spoilers, but the messages were clear. Suicide is not an answer. There will be people that miss you, need you, love you. A life is more important than the reason you feel like you can’t live no more. Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God (D&C 18:10-11). I think that suicide is a heavy subject to discuss and they did not joke about it or lighten it.

One of my favorite scenes of the movie is when the 3 idiots are hungry (poor college students having a bad day) and couldn’t find or afford any food, so they sneak into a wedding they walked by, pretending to belong, and loaded so much food onto the most unrealistic massive plates and got caught by none other than the antagonist of the movie, the director of the college, Virus. By some chance they crashed his daughter’s wedding, and he mercilessly reprehends them in a comedic way.

If you haven't seen a Bollywood movie, give 3 idiots a try. You will laugh, Aal Izz Well will get stuck in your head, you will enjoy the overall message, and you will relate to the characters. Don't miss out on trying something different. I regret that it has taken me this long to see my first Indian film.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Thor Binge List


Another month, another Marvel countdown. This time we’re looking forward to the fourth Thor movie: Love and Thunder. If you haven’t watched them recently, I recommend looking back through some of the major movies leading up to Thor’s new adventure

Thor

Though some scenes from Loki might dispute this, the first Thor movie was our hero’s first adventure to Midgard. It’s definitely the first time he met Jane Foster and SHIELD. And thus began his association with humans as a superhero during his banishment to Earth. Unfortunately this association was cut short when he was forced to destroy the rainbow bridge. 

The Avengers 

As Loki schemed his way to Earth during the Thor credits scene and into the beginning of this movie, Thor had to find a way back to Earth to stop his adopted brother. After a brief skirmish with the fledgling Avengers, Thor teamed up with our heroes to save New York (and Earth) from Loki and the Chitauri. And with that, Thor returned to Asgard with Loki in custody. 


Thor: The Dark World 

This might be the Marvel movie that gets the most flack. That being said, I still enjoy Dark World. And, as we’re being reintroduced to Jane Foster next month, we should look at her last appearance (her cameo in Endgame doesn’t count). We left Jane Foster locking lips with Thor after defeating the Dark Elves. We thought we’d see more of Jane and Thor’s relationship, but that was not to be.

Guardians of the Galaxy 1-2 

Since the Guardians are set to appear in Love and Thunder, we’ve gotta revisit their beginnings in these two movies. As a hodge-podge group of fugitives just out to get some cash, we ended up seeing these heroes-to-be join forces to save Xandar from Ronin and the Power Stone. Being exonerated for their heroics, the Guardians of the Galaxy basically became heroes for hire. After getting into some trouble with the Sovereigns, they were rescued by Ego, Star-Lord’s father… only to end up fighting him as well. That’s just par for the course with them. 


Avengers: Age of Ultron

Back on Earth to help the Avengers (and probably to visit Jane), Thor raided a Hydra base (thanks for that intel, Agents of SHIELD) and, as they celebrated, Tony created Ultron. Facepalm. But it is what it is. In the process of fighting Ultron, Thor gets inadvertently sent chasing after Infinity Stones. Which leads us to the next movie…

Thor: Ragnarok

A complete change in tone compared to the first two Thor movies, but we got the God of Thunder teaming up with his brother, Bruce Banner/Hulk, and Valkyrie to escape a gladiator planet and save Asgard from Hela, Thor’s long lost sister and Goddess of Death. But instead of saving Asgard, Thor evacuated his people and destroyed his home. So all was good… until Thanos’s ship showed up.


Avengers: Infinity War

With the Asgardians’ ship half massacred, Bruce Banner was sent back to Earth to prepare the Avengers for Thanos’s arrival. Meanwhile Thor was found by the Guardians of the Galaxy. As both groups tried to beat Thanos to the Infinity Stones, battles occurred on multiple fronts. Unfortunately, even as Thor, Rocket, and Groot joined the fray in Wakanda, the Avengers on Earth and on Titan were unable to stop Thanos. And there went half the universe…

Avengers: Endgame

With Thor depressed and drunk most of the missing five years, it was a struggle dragging him out of retirement (if you can call it that) to help undo the Snap. Having found some closure with his mother’s death during the Time Heist, Thor was one of the leading forces as the Avengers took down the Mad Titan. Later, after Tony’s funeral, Thor left Valkyrie in charge of New Asgard. And off he went with the Guardians of the Galaxy.


And with the finale of Phase 3, you’re caught up for Love and Thunder. If you want further viewing, maybe check out Lady Sif’s other appearances in Agents of SHIELD (episodes 1x15 and 2x12) and Loki (episode 4). There have also been rumors about Loki 2.0 showing up, so now could be a good time to rewatch Loki on Disney Plus.

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