Beauty and the Beast Review; or, an incredibly fangirly ramble

If you know me, you know how much I love Beauty and the Beast. Belle is my favorite Disney princess, the 1991 animated film is my favorite Disney film, my internet handle is inspired by it (@enchtdrose) as is the title of my blog, which you can read all about in a previous post. Obviously I was quite excited for the live action film, especially since the cast includes actors from some of other beloved franchises (Harry Potter, Lord of the RingsDownton Abbey) as well as beloved Broadway talents. Basically I was set up to love this movie from the very start.

And I did. I loved it despite some small critiques I have with the film. I haven’t done a film adaptation review in a while, so I’m totally counting this as an adaptation (of the original animated version as well as the original fairy tale). I just got back from seeing it a second time, so here it is! Be warned: it contains spoilers. And it’s long.

Beauty and the Beast poster

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“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” Review

I foresee writing about this several more times as I continue to watch/read/think about the film/screenplay and chat with other fans on the internet about the series. At this point, I have only seen the movie once. I’ve just started reading the screenplay (I’m only like 10 pages in), and I plan to finish the screenplay soon and see it a few more times before it’s out of theaters. I’ve watched several YouTubers’ reviews of the film and have generally thought about it, but I haven’t yet dived too deeply into things, so this post will be more about general thoughts than anything specific. I’ll get to that in later posts. I also expect my opinions will evolve slightly after I watch it more.


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The Magicians on Syfy


The Magicians is a new show on the Syfy channel based on Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy. I read the trilogy recently (you can read my reviews here, here, and here, including a bit about meeting the author!) so I was interested to hear it was being adapted into a TV show. But I was skeptical because it was being done by Syfy, and, well…Syfy. (Aside: my low opinion of Syfy is completely unfounded…I’ve never actually watched it in my entire life).

Sadly, I’m too cheap to have anything other than the bare basic cable service, so I do not get the Syfy channel. Happily, the first 4 episodes of the show are available to stream for free on Syfy’s website (and  the remaining 2 episodes are On Demand for those who have the service – I do not, so I’ll only be discussing episodes 1-4).

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On Mockingjay Part 2


I saw the big finale to the “Hunger Games” film franchise last night and pretty much left the theater feeling the way I expected to feel: emotionally drained. I’m no film critic, so I’m not going to “review” the film, but I want to talk about it and the series as a whole, both as books and films.

I enjoyed the final film in the series, but my opinion ever since they announced the split of the third installment into two movies was that it was a bad idea. I adore the first two films (you can read my post about Catching Fire here). I was pretty confident that the last two would be on par with the first two, excepting that they would have been better as one film. After now seeing the final installment, I still believe that the split did more harm than good. The third film in the series is just a drawn-out exposition of the fourth film, which has all the action. But I still very much like the film series as a whole because of the way it captures my emotions.

I get pretty emotional over these movies; I think the actors have a lot to do with that because they are so damn good – I mean, when J-Law cries, I cry. But I also think there is something more effective about watching the story play out as an outsider than getting the story from Katniss’s perspective, like in the books. I get more attached the the characters because I am free to have my own thoughts about them. Not that I’m not free to have my own thoughts about them in the books, but it’s limiting to see everything through Katniss’s narration. I feel more for her in the film because I’m an empathetic, outside viewer; in first-person narration, I’m stuck inside her head, reading it as her.

But what I really love about The Hunger Games as a series (books or films) is that it is a true allegorical dystopia of our time. I look at the giant surge of dystonian novels in recent years, and I think this one does the best job of being an actual comment on today’s society. Granted, the only other series in the dystopia explosion I’ve read is the Divergent series, I just don’t think the others come as close to being a symbolic take on the terrors in our world. (Note that I’m only talking YA here, not adult dystopia of late). I mean, the society in Divergent is all about genetic cleansing, but how close are we actually to having that become a reality? It’s more like science fiction. What makes The Hunger Games so poignant is its depiction of actual real-world problems in an exaggerated context. Hunger, poverty, social and economic injustice and inequality, oppressive governments, systematic killings, police brutality, overbearing and manipulative media, etc., etc., etc. It’s all there, and it’s all real.

I think is this what ultimately makes the series stand out. I’m hoping that as the years pass, this series remains a classic of its time. It’s hard to say whether or not that will happen; the same can be said about many books of YA fiction, and there is no telling how the recent YA Renaissance is going to be remembered in literary history and what books will be its representatives in the canon. But I hope The Hunger Games makes it. The best dytopian novels are not those that present a possible future, but those that represent our actual present.

This post is partially inspired by The Harry Potter Alliance’s “Odds in Our Favor” campaign, which you should check out. (The HPA is a non-profit that fights all sorts of real-world battles in the name of different fictional stories).

Beasts I want to see in “Fantastic Beasts”

As you know, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is being made into a movie trilogy written by J.K. herself. The first images of the film were released today, so I thought I’d do a post about it. (Also, the movie comes out on my birthday! Which is not the first time that’s happened with an HP movie. Thanks, Warner Bros.!) The movie is set in New York in the year 1926. Knowing that, most of the beasts on my list probably won’t be in the film due to where they live, but I wanted to make this list anyway, cause how cool would it be to see these on film? Of the 75 in the book, here are 9 beasts I want to see on film:

  1. Augurey – also known as the Irish Phoenix, this is a greenish-black bird resembling an underfed vulture whose cries are said to be a harbinger of death (but are actually just a harbinger of rain). I’m a sucker for darkly misunderstood creatures.
  2. Billywig – basically a bright blue Australian top. It has wings which make it spin so fast that it is almost invisible. If you get stung by one, you will suffer from “giddiness and levitation.”
  3. Crup – this is a dog for wizards. It’s a Jack Russell Terrier with a forked tail that loves wizards and hates Muggles No-Majs (Also, NO-MAJ? REALLY!?). Magical man’s best friend!
  4. Erkling – a German elfish creature that attacks children. I’m imagining something straight out of the Brothers Grimm.
  5. Fwooper – an African bird with crazy colorful plumage whose song will literally drive people insane.
  6. Jarvey – an overgrown ferret. Who can talk.
  7. Jobberknoll – a tiny blue bird who is silent until the moment of its death, when it screams out every sound it has ever heard, backwards.
  8. Mooncalf – I have to quote this one directly in order to describe it properly: “Its body is smooth and pale grey, it has bulging round eyes on top of its head, and four spindly legs with enormous flat feet.” It also dances at the full moon, which is apparently quite the sight to see.
  9. Nundu – said to be the most dangerous of beasts. A giant leopard who moves silently and whose breath wipes out entire villages. Bad. Ass.
If you marvel at J.K. Rowling’s creativity in the Harry Potter series, pick up a copy of “Fantastic Beasts” and you’ll be reminded all over again just how crazy amazing she is. All hail the queen!

Cheers to TFIOS

So I saw “The Fault in Our Stars” at 9PM on June 5th, along with a theater full of screaming teenage girls. I’m not blogging about the film itself. As an adaptation, the film was wonderful. As a film, it was also wonderful. I really have no desire to talk about the quality of the film – I almost feel that it would be unnecessary to do so, cause, well, it’s TFIOS.

But I still need to talk about the experience because I had a strange, uncomfortable feeling seeing the film at a “midnight” release with a theater full of screaming teenage girls. Of course I was going to go to the release. I wanted to see “The Night Before Our Stars,” but unfortunately that didn’t work out, so I settled for the 9PM, which was the next best thing. But this was the first time I actually felt extremely out of place at a “midnight” release. It must have been partly because of my age. I am now a college graduate and have student taught young adults the age of those in the theater, and am about to teach more of those same young adults for an indefinite amount of years to come. But this wasn’t the only reason I felt uncomfortable.

It was the screaming.

Let’s think back. What was the last midnight release I attended? “Catching Fire.” Teenage girls, check. Screaming, check. But no discomfort. It makes sense that people would scream for “Catching Fire.” It’s a sequel. It’s a fantasy. It’s an action movie. It’s got Liam Hemsworth. I’d scream for Liam Hemsworth.

At the TFIOS release, it was the theater full of screaming teenage girls with decorated tissue boxes, prepared and aware of what was to come, that disturbed me. The theater was going crazy at every checkpoint leading up to the actual film. The previews-before-the-previews ended. Cheers. The real previews ended. Cheers. The film title appeared. Cheers. I’m sure this was a similar experience in theaters across the country. And it weirded me out.

This is a film about one of the most real and heart-wrenching things in the world: young people having cancer. And there are teenage girls screaming like it’s The British Invasion or something. Did this make anyone else feel uncomfortable??

I gave this a fair bit of thought afterward because it was seriously troubling me. But it wasn’t until I sat down to write about it did I realize that I was missing the whole point. I know the whole point of the book/film is that it’s not about young people having cancer. Well, it is, but it’s not. It’s about (like many other YA novels) how young people are way wiser than they are given credit for. It’s about love. It’s about sacrifice. It’s about living; it’s not about dying. And that’s why the young people cheer. They cheer for heroes that understand them, whether that be a malnourished girl fighting literal and metaphorical evils in an arena, or a girl who has trouble making friends and fighting against the illness inside her.

I may not have cheered, and I still won’t literally cheer. Maybe that’s because I’m older now and my younger self would have cheered. Or maybe it’s because I really can’t see beyond the heartbreak enough to cheer literally for the movie. But I’m cheering now, metaphorically. For John Green, and for Hazel, and for Esther, and for everyone whose lives are affected by cancer and still keep on keeping on. Cheers.

Catching Fire

Next on the release list (well not really next, I’m skipping “The Book Thief” for now cause I just don’t have the money to spend on all these movie tickets) is “Catching Fire.”

I have…nothing. I have nothing to say. This will be a very boring blog post. This is what I am thinking:

“Oh my god. OH MY GOD. Oh my god!

I can’t – that was – WHAT!?”

Basically I wanted to cry for about 2/3 of film, and I did cry for about 2/3 of that 2/3. That’s like, 4/9 of the entire film spent crying.

But enough fractions. I was careful not to set my hopes too high for this film, simply because I thought “The Hunger Games” film was perfection, and I was doubtful that they could repeat that triumph in round 2. But they did. They really did. I can find no fault in “Catching Fire.” Both it and its predecessor were everything I could have possibly wanted in an adaptation of these books. Maybe when I watch it again after the excitement of the premiere I will find fault, but I doubt it. Even though I knew what was going to happen the entire time, I was still a nervous wreck watching it. That’s good film-making.

Sorry this is such an uncritical post. I loved it. I want to watch it again. Right now.

In light of not having anything interesting to say about this matter, I’m just going to go ahead and post this video which has been going around. I think it really captures what’s most important about the series. And I am so glad that someone finally is on my side of this ship, ahem, important issue: