Review: Inside Out

Spoiler Warning: None

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Image Description: Poster for Inside Out, Five cartoon characters, personifying fear (back left, a purple man in a sweater vest cowering from…something), joy (back center, a Disney Tinkerbell-esque figure with blue hair and fair skin), disgust (back right, a green woman with long eyelashes and a look of disgust), anger (front left, a short red man with a shirt and tie and his head on fire), and sadness (front right, a short, roundish blue woman with big glasses) stand in front of a background of colorful circles. At the bottom, the tag line “Meet the voices inside your head” and the date “June 19.” Image taken from IMDB, film by Disney Pixar.

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Archetypal Looking Glass: Disney’s Maleficent

Series: Archetypal Looking Glass

Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Maleficent. Basically just all of the spoilers for Maleficent.

Trigger Warning: While I do think Maleficent is potentially triggering for some people I don’t know how best to express the specific triggers. I think that some of the relationships and events in the movie could hit some very specific abuse related triggers, and I discuss some of those relationships and events in this post. I can imagine that the loss of Maleficent’s wings, which I do not discuss at length, could also be triggering.

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Image Description: A poster for Maleficent, taken from IMDB.com. Maleficent, played by Angelina Jolie, takes up most of the foreground. She wears a black cloak and has her horns wrapped in leather. Her lips are full and bright red, and her skin is white. Her cheekbones are high and enhanced, and there is a crow perched near her shoulder. Behind her is Aurora, who long blond hair and is wearing a light blue dress. The background shows a large kingdom with a castle on one side and a wall of thorns on the other.

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Why I Won’t be Watching Exodus: Gods and Kings

You’ve probably heard of the movie Exodus: Gods and Kings, which comes out on Friday.

I will not be reviewing this movie. I will not be watching this movie. I don’t need to do either of those things because the promotional photos and casting announcements tell me everything I need to know: The way the movie was made is fundamentally racist and erases both POC and Jews (and specifically Jews of color).

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Image Description: A small figure stands in front of a giant wave. “From the director of Gladiator/Exodus/Gods and Kings” is written across the top in all caps. “December 12” is written at the bottom, much smaller, also in all caps. Image from IMDB.com

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Lucy Review

Spoiler Warning: Lucy

Trigger Warning: Discussion of fictional racialized violence. I would add a pretty huge consent and body autonomy tw, too, if you watch the movie. I talk about it some here, but don’t go into much detail.

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Image: Lucy poster, from IMDB.com

When Lucy was first announced and the trailers started coming out, I heard a lot of different opinions from people. Some people were excited, even saw the fact that the protagonist is female, rather than male, as a wonderful move for feminism. Some were decrying it for racism. Some were just excited about Scarlet Johansen and the fact that this could lead to a Black Widow movie from Marvel.

And some pointed out that the movie has exactly zero basis in actual science.

As the release date drew near, I had to make a decision: should I go see it in theaters, and give money to a movie that I was pretty sure would be racist, in order to talk about its content, or should I avoid it. I decided to go for the first option, so that I could either recommend the movie or not.

I have a lot of things to say, but let me sum them up:

I didn’t like it. I can see how it would be a fun popcorn movie, but between the racism, sexism, and crappy science, I didn’t really enjoy it. It had a few entertaining lines, and some very pretty scenes, but to be honest I found the whole movie pretty terrible–even without the problematic content.

More depth (and spoilers) below:

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Disability in Animation: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Series: Disability in Children’s Animation

Spoiler Warnings: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Trigger/Content Warnings: Loss of limbs. Also, I won’t be talking about it here, but the movie deals with parental abandonment.

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Image Description: How to Train your Dragon theatrical poster. An ensemble shot of Hiccup and his friends, as well as their dragons.

Yesterday I went to see How to Train Your Dragon 2, which is currently in theaters.

I loved it. There were some things about the portrayal of female characters, good and bad, which I want to talk about, but I’m going to save that for a future post. There were also some race things (the villain had significantly darker skin), but again, future post, perhaps once the movie comes out on DVD.

For now, I’m going to talk a little bit about how this franchise has continued to handle disability. But first, a quick, spoiler-free review:

This movie is gorgeous. I am far from an expert on animation, but you could see the pores on people’s faces. They aged their characters beautifully, and the relationships, the romantic ones especially, feel very genuine. The story was interesting, but between the dragons, the people, and the environments, I was really blown away by the visuals. There are some really cool female characters, although they could definitely stand to have more to do. And of course, the protagonist is disabled. For the most part they handle disability well, although there is some ableism surrounding mental disability. The movie also had some problems with racism (the only dark-skinned character in the movie is a villain). Still, I highly recommend that you go see this movie, while it’s still in theaters if possible. Not only is it a great movie which looks amazing on the big screen, but you’ll be supporting one of the few franchises with a disabled protagonist.

Now, let’s look closer at the handling of disabilities (spoilers below):

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Disability in Animation: How to Train Your Dragon

Series: Disability in Children’s Animation

Spoiler Warnings: How to Train Your Dragon. Also some spoilers for the series, Dragons: Riders of Berk, though not specific episodes.

Trigger/Content Warnings: Loss of limbs. Also, I won’t be talking about it here, but if you watch the movie I would warn that things get pretty rough verbally between Hiccup and his Dad. It all works out in the end, but if abandonment is a trigger for you, be aware.

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Image Description: How to Train Your Dragon theatrical poster. Hiccup is reaching out to Toothless the Dragon.

How to Train Your Dragon came out from Dreamworks in 2010, a couple years before Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen. It was based (somewhat loosely) on a book by Cressida Crowell (which I haven’t read, so I can’t comment on it at this point). It had a budget of 165 million dollars and grossed about 494 million worldwide. Not as successful as Frozen, but successful none the less.

In fact, it was successful enough to spawn a series, which finished its second season in March, and a sequel (How to Train Your Dragon 2), which is currently in theaters. The sequel will be the subject of tomorrow’s post.

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Disability in Animation: Frozen

Series: Disability in Children’s Animation

Spoiler Warnings: Frozen

Trigger/Content Warnings: Discussion of depression symptoms and parental neglect

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Frozen. You may have heard of it. You’ve probably even heard one of its songs.

Like Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen is a Walt Disney Animation production. It was released in November of 2013. IMDB estimates its budget at 150 million dollars, with a US gross of 400 million and a total gross of over 1 billion dollars. We are talking about a movie that was successful and popular. Not just popular, but part of the Disney Princess line. These are movies that, with a few exceptions, become part of the cultural consciousness. These are movies that kids grow up with.

Because of this, diversity in these movies is especially important.

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