NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

The Incredibles 2

I’ve been looking forward to this movie for a long time. I just re-watched the first movie and boy is it good. There are so many subtle references to our own culture and the little things families face everyday, and there are so many laugh-out-loud moments and amazing quotes that I still use today like Dash saying “I love our family” or Edna telling Elastigirl to “Pull yourself together!” or Frozen arguing with his wife about his Supersuit.

So boy was I excited to walk into the theater and finally watch the sequel. I love the little shorts they play before every Pixar movie and this one was good too, it made me cry and was so sweet. And then the Incredibles started, picking up right where we’d left off in the first movie with our super family fighting the Underminer. It was full of great action and comedy. I loved seeing the family having to work together and so eager to help each other.

I don’t want to give away the entire plot, but I can say that this movie was very enjoyable to watch. I especially liked seeing how the family had to adjust to Jack Jack’s new powers and Edna Mode’s reappearance. I also really appreciated the struggle the Parr family went through of trying to do what they know is right while still respecting the authorities that deemed their actions illegal. It’s been something that society and the church has had to deal with over and over. How to submit to authority but still influence culture for good? When to obey and when to stand up and say this is wrong? It’s something we’ve been discussing in my church recently and one of the things my pastor said was that Christians should be the best citizens and work with the government and help them with their God-given responsibility, so that if there’s ever a time when Christians have to go against what the government is doing, it’s seen as abnormal.

Anyway, back to the movie. One of the sweetest moments was seeing Bob Parr trying to connect with his daughter and apologize for his mistakes. It was a good reminder that no one is a perfect parent and admitting your faults can go a long way towards forgiveness and closeness in relationships.

It was a little easy to see the plot twist coming in this movie, but it was still a lot of fun to watch and I would gladly see it again.

I probably won’t get to write another blog for awhile. I’m heading to London with my church this week. I’m excited to get to share what God does when I get back but that won’t be till July. So until then, I hope y’all have a good summer and maybe get a chance to see The Incredibles 2.

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Coco versus The Book of Life

I got to see Coco over the weekend and I really enjoyed it but it couldn’t help but remind me of the Book of Life. Since these two movies have so much in common, I thought it would be fun to compare them. So in case you haven’t seen these films and want some context, here are two previews:

So let’s start off with their similarities. In both films, the Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead and remembering your ancestors is a big part of the story. And both films show dead relatives coming back to visit on the Day of the Dead and involve the protagonist getting to see the dead’s world and then coming back to the real one. There is also a large emphasis on music and our protagonist in both films wants to be a musician even though his family is against it. These movies are also both geared towards younger audiences because they are family films and are animated.

Now let’s look at some of their differences. First off, the animation style is very different. Most of the Book of Life is told as if the characters are puppets and so their proportions reflect this and they can look a little goofy. It works in the story, but I tend to enjoy the more realistic style of Pixar’s animation in Coco. Pixar has a way of just making beautiful scenes in their movies and this happens again in Coco.

Speaking of breathtaking scenery, the scene where Coco first sees the Land of the Dead is quite breathtaking. But these two films, though based on the same mythology, take a bit of a different twist on what this afterlife is like. In Book of Life, the Land of the Remembered is where people go when they are remembered and it is a colorful place ruled by the benevolent La Muerte. Whereas the Land of the Forgotten is ruled by the less lovable Xibalba. However these rulers are not mentioned at all in Coco, and it’s world seems more based on reality with many similarities to our own world. Also, when someone is forgotten, they simply disappear from the land of the dead. It is even suggested that everyone will eventually be forgotten which is heartbreaking.

There is also a big difference in how these two stories play out. Book of Life revolves around a romance and a love triangle which makes sense with our older main character Manolo. In the end he proves to his family and Xibulba that he doesn’t have to kill the bull to win but instead he can use his music to win and show love. In essence he is proving his family wrong. I love the story, but I really like how Coco takes this a step further.

Miguel in Coco is much younger than Manolo and is not interested in romantic love. Instead he wants to pursue his passion for music and become a musician. But his family has a deep hate of music and he ends up running away to pursue his dream. Miguel does get to prove his family wrong in the plot, and show that music is not bad and as his family, they should support him. But he also learns a lesson; that family is more important than music, and chasing after a dream at the cost of family is not worth it. I really like that everyone learns a lesson in this film and I think it brings more depth to the movie.

The music in both of these movies is very good. Book of Life uses a lot more popular music with a Mexican twist in addition to a couple of original songs while Coco has exclusively new music written for it’s story. I don’t know if I could choose one soundtrack over the other, but it is fun to hear new songs from Coco.

And the last thing I’ll say, is that while both movies have their twists and turns, and both have well written stories, I think Coco is more surprising than Book of Life. It’s pretty easy to guess where the love triangle is headed in Book of Life’s story and even though there are obstacles along the way, it’s easy to guess the ultimate outcome. Coco, however, has several unexpected twists that I don’t want to ruin for anyone who hasn’t seen the film yet. So I’ll just say I think Coco did a better job at doing the unexpected. But since Book of Life came out first, they might win on originality.

In any case, both of these movies are very enjoyable and I hope you get to see them sometime soon. Though I don’t believe in this version of the afterlife and I’m glad that my happiness is not dependent on someone else remembering me, I did enjoy the stories these two films tell.

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Worth Waiting For Cars 3

If you read my blog posts you know I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of Cars 3. If you do decide to read this, be aware that I will share some of the story plot points. So if you don’t want to be spoiled on anything, you can wait till after you’ve seen the movie to read my review. But if you don’t mind a general overview, go ahead and read.

Before I get to the review, though, I want to share something else. You see this past weekend, when Cars 3 came out, my church had organized a youth retreat for our students. I was helping teach at the retreat and our focus was on God’s Kingdom and living for it instead of yourself. I found my desire to see Cars 3 as a perfect illustration at the retreat, so I thought I’d share it here as well.

Although I love movies and get excited to see ones I’ve been waiting for, living for them is not fulfilling. At the end of the day, a movie is just a movie. Two hours and it’s over, maybe you liked it, maybe you didn’t, but it’s not as important as other things in life. When I committed to teaching at this retreat, I was showing by my actions that I value the Kingdom of God more than getting what I want. Even though I would have loved to see Cars 3 on opening night, living for God and His kingdom is so much more important to me and more valuable in the long run. His Kingdom doesn’t end, like movies do, and He satisfies us with His presence, love, peace and truth in a way that nothing else can.

So anyway, I just wanted to share that before I give my review. I think putting things into perspective helped me enjoy this movie more. I wasn’t looking for a perfect movie to satisfy all of my desires, but instead got to just enjoy it for what it is. Plus I got to see it with two of my closest friends and laugh with them during the whole thing, which makes any movie experience ten times better.

If you couldn’t tell from the above comments, I loved this movie. It was just what the original story needed as it’s sequel. There were tons of funny parts. I especially liked seeing McQueen’s interactions with his fellow racers and then with the new character Cruz. One of my favorite scenes was when Cruz tells Lightning he has to name all of his tires and he responds with the most sarcastic and hilarious response: “Lefty, Righty, Backy and Backy Jr.” It’s fun to see them learning from each other and although I was hoping for Lightning to have a big comeback, seeing him become a mentor to Cruz was ultimately much more satisfying.

All of our favorite characters are back, even Chick Hicks, and their interactions match their personalities perfectly. This film stays true to the original Cars feel, and shows the value of community and relationships over just winning. And it also dives deeper into the background for Doc’s character and shows how much Lightning changed him as well.

All in all this is a very heartwarming story and it was well worth the wait. So good job with the sequel Pixar! I hope you do this with all future sequels.

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Why I’m excited for Cars 3

As many of you know, I love kids movies. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good adult film, there are many that I do. But honestly, I love the kids movies. They’re funny, heartwarming, and I don’t have to worry about crude language or inappropriate scenes. Plus, I’ve found that many kids movies have compelling stories and characters that I just fall in love with.

One of my favorite movies from when I was growing up is Cars. I know there are some out there who didn’t like it, or thought it was not as original as other movies. But I loved it: the music, the animation, the plot. I especially loved seeing how the main character Lightning McQueen matured through the movie, made real friends, and started to care more for others than himself. And I was shocked, but in a good way, when he didn’t win the big Piston Cup at the end of the movie but chose to help an injured car finish the race instead. That scene really highlighted how much Lightning had changed.

Cars 2 was a bit of a disappointment to me. It revolved more around Mater than Lightning and the story just wasn’t as compelling or interesting. And what do you know, we still don’t get to see Lightning win a big race. It’s canceled due to espionage.

But now Cars 3 is about to come out and I’m so excited. From the previews this story clearly revolves around Lightning once again. Only now, he is the older car, like Doc was in the first film. And even though he’s racing against faster and younger cars, he is determined to win one last race. I’m hoping that finally, we’ll get to see Lightning win a race at the end of this movie and learn more good lessons along the way.

Pixar hasn’t been afraid to deal with tragedy in the past, such as Ellie dying in Up or Coral dying in Finding Nemo. So I’m excited to see how they will treat this crash that Lightning will experience.

So if you’re not excited yet, here’s a preview. And I hope we all get the Cars sequel we’ve been waiting 10 years for.

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Inside Out

If you read my last post, you know that I was very excited to see the new Pixar movie Inside Out. And I can say with confidence I was not disappointed, and if I ever make an updated list of my five favorite Pixar films, this one will be on it. Sometimes I set the bar too high for movies and end of leaving disappointed, but Pixar has done it again. They surpassed my expectations and left me wanting to see this movie again.

So before I get into the details of the movie, if you haven’t seen it, I’d say go ahead and watch it first. I’d hate to spoil anything for you. And if you still need some info before you see it, here’s a preview.

Alright, onto the review. This movie combines outstanding characters with an epic story. As only Pixar can do, the cast of this movie leaves the audience laughing at every turn. There were multiple times when I watched this movie that the audience or myself was laughing so hard, that I missed what a character said right after the funny moment. (This is one of the reasons I want to see it again).

One scene in particular that I found hilarious, was the dream sequence which began with the average dreams that pretty much everyone has experienced (reliving a bad memory, losing your teeth, and not wearing any pants) but the film pokes fun at these stereotypes by having Fear (played by Bill Hader) comment on the predictability of these scenes. Then as other characters, namely Joy (played by Amy Poehler) and Sadness (played by Phyliss Smith) try to change the dream, Fear is left wondering what in the world is going on, saying such things as “What the?” and “Stick with a plotline people.”

And this I think is one of the things Pixar does best, starting with Toy Story they have had groups of characters that feel so real, but say and do things that are just hilarious. I still remember Mr Potato Head saying “Look I’m Picasso,” and “What are you looking at, you Hockey Puck?” Inside Out has the same quality of one liners that leave you laughing. But just as Toy Story, and almost every Pixar film has funny characters, it also has an emotion filled story line.

I can honestly say, this movie made me cry… multiple times. It just knows how to tug on your heart strings, and take you from laughing to crying so fluently. Ironic right, since it’s a movie about emotions. But this is something that Pixar has perfected, even managing to make a 5 minute love story between two people that is heart wrenching in their movie UP.

One last thing I want to mention that I really enjoyed from this movie is how loss is handled. In the movie, Joy is always looking on the bright side and being optimistic and trying to make everyone around her, even Sadness, happy. But at one point she in confronted with a character who is heartbroken. Something they loved, that was really important to them was lost, and they’ll never get it back. (It reminded me of a person losing a friend or a loved one). Joy responds as she always had before, trying to put a positive spin on things, and distracting the character from the loss. And that can be such a typical response that we can give to someone else’s tragedy. But in contrast, Sadness listens to the character’s story and lets him mourn. She enters into his pain and lets him feel that it is alright to be upset. And that ends up being so much better for him, and for anyone dealing with grief.

I’ve been learning a lot about that in my own life now, with so many people around me and in my city experiencing tragedy. I want to remember to not try to fix everything or make someone feel happy, but let them be sad, validate their sense of loss and even cry with them.

So, I hope you enjoyed this movie too, and if you haven’t watched it and went ahead and read this, I hope I didn’t give away too much and you’ll still enjoy seeing it for yourself.

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My Favorite Pixar Movies

In honor of the new Pixar movie coming out this Friday: Inside Out, I thought I’d do a list of my Top 5 Pixar movies. Now I’ve grown up on Pixar movies and I have to say all of them are good, so it’s really hard to narrow them down to the best ones. But I’ll try my best.

Before I start, I need to give a shout out to Finding Nemo. It would have made it on this list except that it was my favorite movie when I was younger. So I watched it so many times that I got tired of it. It’s a great movie with a great story, memorable characters and great music, but unfortunately it will always be hard for me to watch because it was seen too often. Maybe Finding Dory will fix this for me, but for now, it doesn’t make it in the top 5.

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So on to Number 5: Ratatouille
When I first saw this movie, I didn’t love it, but after multiple viewings it’s gotten better and better. I love Linguini’s antics and the fact that Remy does not speak English but is in fact a rat. There are so many quotes I love from this movie, that I use everyday such as “Let’s do this thing!”

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Number 4 is: Wall-E
I wasn’t sure about this movie when I first saw it, since there is very little dialogue but I’ve found it’s one I can watch again and again. The love story between Wall-E and Eve is so cute and the constant playing of old musical music gives it a joyful quality that is endearing.

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Number 3 is: Cars
Cars has been one of my favorites since it came into theaters. I love the music and still play Life is a Highway on every road trip I go on. Not only is the music amazing but the story is so beautiful. I love the message of taking life slow and actually building relationships with other people (or in this case cars).

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Number 2 is: The Incredibles
I think the Incredibles passes up other Pixar movies for me, simply because it reminds me of my own family. I love how real the relationships are in this movie, how the little arguments and discussions perfectly reflect real life issues in real families. But in the end, even with all the craziness I can say along with Dash “I love our family.”

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And finally number 1 is: Toy Story 2
I love all the Toy Story movies but #2 is my favorite because it came out during the right time in my life. The first Toy Story was a bit scary to me when I saw it for the first time, and even though I loved Toy Story 3, there’s something special to me about the second movie. I saw it three times in theaters alone and again and again since. I love the storyline of Woody being kidnapped or toynapped and all of the other characters going on a rescue mission. Plus any of the Toy Story movies have countless jokes that keep me laughing. The addition of Jessie and Bullseye probably helped too. It was also the first time I’d seen animated movies create a blooper real, that I found hilarious as a kid.

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So there’s my list. It probably differs form yours, and it may change for me in the future. Especially with Inside Out coming out this week and Amy Poehler, one of my favorite comedians, playing a large role, this list may change before the week it done.

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