Movie Review: Captain Marvel

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Marvel’s feminist flick is a decent, but deeply flawed, film.


Like many, I was rather apprehensive about this particular Marvel film. Captain Marvel is Marvel’s first female-lead superhero movie, and from the trailers and media coverage, it looked like it might be shaping up to be a rather heavy-handed feminist film. But while the female empowerment message is definitely there, I thought it was rather well done, and the film also focuses on a theme of compassion, so it’s not the only message in the movie. However, while I enjoyed Captain Marvel, it’s definitely not a perfect film, and some of its flaws make an otherwise fun and quirky movie feel rather… unsatisfying.

But first, here’s what I liked about the film. The plot in general was very good, with a really surprising twist that didn’t see coming. Captain Marvel is set in the 90s, before pretty much all of the other Marvel films, and the way it retroactively set up and connected a bunch of the earlier movies, the first Avengers movie especially, was extremely well done. The acting and characterization were also good, and Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, is just the right mix of spunky and stoic. You get the sense that she’s just a regular person, with layer of strength and power underneath. (I know a lot of people have criticized her performance, calling it ‘wooden’ and unemotional, but I really never noticed that while I was watching the movie.) Goose, the cat, was adorable, and absolutely epic (I won’t spoil it for you, but epic is definitely the right word), and the visual effects, while good in all Marvel films, seemed especially stunning in this one. The visualizations for Captain Marvel’s powers specifically, whether she was soaring through the atmosphere or firing bolts of photon energy at the baddies, were incredible to see.

Unfortunately, the movie is certainly not perfect. It really lacks internal conflict, and therefore emotional punch, leaving the film fun but ultimately unsatisfying. Carol has no character arc and no internal conflict; whatever she wants to do she just does without two thoughts about it, seemingly at the whim of the plot. The big plot twist, which I won’t spoil, is great and surprising, but it felt so flat when Carol just… immediately went along with things, even though they turned out to be the opposite of what she’d been told her whole life.  And I’m not just talking about the choices she makes in the film. Her powers, too, seemingly have no limit. Even the device implanted in her neck by the Kree aliens to control her power, if they see fit, doesn’t really stop her. It’s introduced in the beginning of the film, isn’t brought up again until the very end, and then she almost immediately destroys it without any consequences and becomes even more powerful.

One of the reasons I like Marvel films so much is that the characters are always so conflicted and human. Their powers aren’t magical cure-alls with no limits; they’re always limited, or they take a toll on the character, or the character must balance their powers with other aspects of their lives. Captain Marvel seems to have none of these things. There is literally a montage near the end of the film which shows Carol getting back up from all the times she’s been knocked down in her life; a kid who crashed her bike, a tween who crashed her go-kart, a pilot-in-training who failed a difficult training exercise in front of other recruits. In every scene, she gets back up without a problem. There is never a moment of struggle. There is never a moment of doubt. She always gets back up instantly, with no cost to herself, no change that allows her to attack the problem from a new angle. She can do whatever she wants.

I’m not sure entirely if this issue is caused by the fact that this is an openly feminist film, which has set out to empower women to chase their dreams, but that could certainly be one of the underlying issues. It’s an important and admirable message, of course, but the film falls flat in that it never shows Carol struggling. If you chase your dreams, you will struggle. There will be naysayers or actual problems and obstacles in your way that you will have difficulty overcoming. But the film’s “You can do anything!” message glosses over these struggles, to the point where it’s no longer empowering because Carol Danvers is not a real human; she’s a superhero who cannot lose, no matter what.

I don’t think that a story has to be ‘relateable’ to be good, and in fact I am very against that view. But, in my opinion, the best superhero movies are those that feature a protagonist with real struggles, whether those struggles are trying to hold to your ideals in the midst of a super-powered war, or juggling homework and a social life with your crime fighting escapades. Captain Marvel has nothing like this, and while the movie is fun and beautiful to look at in places, it ultimately lacks depth and substance, and fails to really say… anything.


Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“An okay film, but not good by Marvel standards.”


Hey, thanks for reading my (rather late) review of Captain Marvel! What did you think of the film? Did you think that Brie Larson’s performance was ‘wooden’, like so many people say it is? I’m actually really curious! I didn’t think anything like that when I was watching the film… Let’s chat in the comments below!

See you again soon.

🙂

Looking Back and Looking Forward (My 2018 Recap and 2019 Goals)

Oh, wait, what? It’s a whole new year.

Which means it’s time to look back at all the goals I set (and forgot about) at the beginning of 2018, and set some shiny new goals for 2019. Here goes nothing…

2019 goals


2018 Goal Recap:

  • Publish Esmeralda’s StoryApparently 2018 was so long that I completely forgot this novelette even existed by the end of it, but you can purchase a Kindle copy of Empty Little Heart: Esmeralda’s Story on Amazon! That’s one goal to strike of my list, at least.
  • Write and revise at least one book: Yeah… this didn’t work out. I did do little bits of work here and there on some of my background projects (and also came up with about a hundred other project ideas, some of which would involve massive amounts of work. Yay!) but I never got even close to finishing one of my many first drafts. :/
  • Get my driver’s licence: This… actually happened. It still doesn’t seem real that I’m legally allowed to just go out and drive a car around by myself, but it happened.
  • Read more: This is kind of a vague goal, but I did ramp up my 2017 Goodreads Challenge Goal of 60 books, which I completed, to 70 books for 2018. Unfortunately, I only ended up reading 67 books out of those 70, so I don’t think I can really give myself full credit for this one.
  • Make more artistic stuff: Another really vague goal which I can’t really measure. I posted only one piece of artwork to Instagram this year, but that’s not really a good reflection of the amount of art I’ve done, since I almost never post pictures of my artwork. I did branch out into soap- and candle-making near the end of the year, which I guess could kind of count as ‘artistic stuff’? But I definitely wasn’t creating as consistently as I would like.
  • Embrace my emo side: I kind of randomly threw this ‘goal’ in for laughs, and then never actually did anything to realize it, besides occasionally wearing my assortment of chokers, my silver cross necklace, and enormous dangly chain earrings, and acquiring one or two new pieces of black clothing for my wardrobe. I dyed my hair at the beginning of 2018, and it hasn’t been redone since, and however much I dream of getting a fancy purple ombre, I’m really not sure when (or if) that’s going to happen.
  • Procrastinate less: This once again unmeasurable goal ended up completely backfiring, and I think I spent more of 2018 procrastinating than doing anything else. If you read my post Vicious Cycles, you’ll know all about the cycle of laziness and always taking the easy way out that I was stuck in. The new year seems to have cleared the air, at least a little bit, and I’m hoping that maybe I can power through it and create new habits of mindfulness and actually doing things before the cycle sets in again.
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise: Like most of my goals in 2018, this started out very well at the beginning, and kind of just sputtered out somewhere in the middle of the year. I’m trying to ease myself back into quick Pilates routines and long walks in the outside air, and I’ve even started going to the gym with my dad and brother now and then. Hopefully I can keep up the momentum this time.
  • Write more blog posts: I wanted to be posting weekly. I was even doing monthly wrap up posts with updates and plans for the next month. But in 2018 I only wrote 36 blog posts, a far cry from the 70 that were posted in 2017. Going back and looking at my 2017 Best Of/Wrap Up post, it’s hard for me to not notice the enthusiasm, the sheer excitement for what I had accomplished, and what the new year might hold in store. I could say that I feel like I’ve lost that, and that I’m disheartened and cynical and don’t know how to  recapture that lost flame, but… that wouldn’t be quite true, actually . There’s a flicker of that excitement inside me now, because I can see where I’ve failed, and I can see ways to fix it. I want to lean into that, to make better goals this year, and accomplish more of them. So here we go…

My 2019 Goals:

Criteria: These goals must be inherently measurable, specific, and able to be accomplished in the next 12 months.

  • Write and revise the script for my new Super Secret Project. That’s right, I said script. And this is not the same Super Secret Sci-Fi project from last year, which is so far on the back burner that it’s basically off the stove at this point. I won’t say too much about this project, as if it works out it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to complete, but it is there and it is humming along in the background, and I do want to put some work into it this year.
  • Complete Create This Book 2 by the end of 2019. Create This Book 2 is the second art-journal-type book from Moriah Elizabeth. I discovered her stuff late last year, and her Create This Book series really caught my eye. Create This Book 2 has 100 unique prompts to inspire all kinds of artwork, which you can create right on the pages of the book. I picked the second book because it has a more manageable number of prompts, and if I complete two prompts each week I can finish the book by the end of the year! I’m hoping that this consistent art creation will help me improve my skills, and that the book’s creative prompts will challenge me to try new mediums and techniques that I would have never picked up otherwise. I’m going to try to post at least some of my artwork on my Instagram, if you’re interested. 🙂
  • Read 50 books. Yes, 50 is a step down from my goal of 70 last year, but I’m heading into the home stretch of school, and things are getting more challenging and time consuming, so with that and my many other projects, I may not have as much time to read as in previous years. I think that 50 is a rather more manageable goal for me at the moment, and it would be much better to meet and surpass a smaller goal, as I did in 2017, then to fail a larger goal.
  • Review more books, movies, and videogames. This goal may sound vague, but I don’t want to set a specific threshold for reviews. I’m planning to at least review the big Marvel films of 2019 on this blog, as always, and continue posting short book reviews on my Goodreads profile. And yes, it has been nearly two years since my last videogame review, but I recently picked up some awesome indie titles with my Christmas money, so keep your eyes peeled for those reviews sometime soon!
  • Post what I want, when I want. Whether it’s poetry, random essays, movie, music, or film reviews, awesome quotes, or what have you, I don’t want to box myself into a set once-a-week-or-more posting schedule. I think giving myself the freedom to miss a week or two without worrying about disappointing people or not meeting my goals may actually help me to post more, but of course we’ll have to see. That being said, I would like to write at least 30 posts on the blog this year. Hopefully, that’s not too much to ask of myself.

And… that’s it! It may be fewer goals than I set for myself last year, but I think that’s a good thing. I can see my way clear to completing these goals in the next 12 months, and if it all works out maybe I’ll ramp it up for 2020. Who knows! I’m just excited to be a bit more inspired than usual, and I’m hoping that concrete goals and solid plans for implementing them will go the distance that my own sheer willpower, random inspiration, and zero planning skills has gotten me in the past.

Talk to me, friend! Tell me about your goals for 2019, and your plans for implementing them. Are you as surprised as I am that it’s already 2019?? Let’s chat in the comments below!

See you again soon!

🙂

Back to the Classics Challenge 2018 (Wrap Up Post)

Phew! It’s been… a while. Back at the beginning of this year, I signed up for the Back to the Classics Challenge, hosted by Karen of Books and Chocolate, and challenged myself to read 12 classics this year! Let’s take a look at how I actually did…

  • A 19th century classic: I had planned to read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens for the 19th century classic catagory. Well, I’ve only got about five hours hours left on the audiobook, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to finish it before the end of the year. I’ll certainly give it a shot though!
  • A 20th century classic: I actually finished The Great Gatsby, which was pretty much guaranteed, as it was scheduled for school. It was… a weird, rather tragic experience. You can check out my Goodreads review by clicking the link above.
  • A classic by a woman author: Frankenstein was another school read, and I finished it earlier this year. Obviously, it’s so ingrained into our culture that we hear way more about people’s interpretations of this classic than about the actual classic itself. I was surprised at how different it was from the stereotypical ‘mad-scientist’ story, and there is definitely much more depth and pathos to this tale than popular culture would have you believe.
  • A classic in translation: I was so excited to reread one of my favorite books for this challenge! I really needed an excuse to read The Mysterious Island again, so this was a great opportunity to revisit the fascinating world of Jules Verne. I enjoyed it just as much as I did when I was a kid planning my own excursions to imaginary uninhabited islands.
  • A children’s classic: I had A Little Princess read to me for school a very long time ago, so I only remembered little bits and pieces of this sweet story. Sometimes it’s nice to come back to something you haven’t read in ages with fresh eyes, and that was definitely my experience here!
  • A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction: Last year I was really into Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter Whimsy mystery stories, and earlier this year I read Strong Poison for this challenge. I definitely meant to continue on with this series, but somewhere along the way those intentions got sidetracked… :/
  • A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction: I was almost going to put down that I hadn’t read something in this category, as my plan to read The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain fell through, but then I remembered that I did read the very humorous and entertaining Three Men In A Boat while on my trip to England. It’s so hard to believe that happened this year! It feels like ages ago.
  • A classic with a single word title: I’d gotten almost half way through Christy and was really enjoying it… before I got sidetracked by other things. I definitely would like to finish it at some point, but I don’t think that will be before the end of the year, as there’s still a lot left.
  • A classic with a color in the title: I’d completely forgotten until now, but I did actually reread The Little White Horse earlier this year! As you might be able to tell, I was doing a lot better on this challenge earlier on in 2018, but as the year has gone on I’ve been swamped by work and procrastination and other books I’m reading, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to read all the books I wanted to.
  • A classic by an author that’s new to you: Until recently I never heard the title of Jane Eyre said aloud, and I always thought that her last name was pronounced  like ‘Eye-ree’ instead of ‘Air’. Oh well. Anyway, this was another classic I went into with some preconceived notions, and which on the whole turned out to be much deeper and more interesting than I expected. The character of Jane Eyre is also extremely well written, to the point that while reading the book I felt like I was reading a real person’s diary instead of a novel.
  • A classic that scares you: Frankenstien could have easily gone in this category, but it wasn’t actually that scary, so for this category I read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which didn’t turn out to be that scary either. Just… weird.
  • Re-read a favorite classic: I got to reread a few favorite classics for this challenge, and this was a golden opportunity to revisit my favorite L. M. Montgomery series, Emily of New Moon! I ended up rereading the whole series because it’s just soooo good! Dean Priest is definitely way creepier than I remembered though… 😅

And… that’s about it! Out of twelve categories, I completed ten, which means I get two entries into the drawing (yes, there’s a drawing for a Book Depository gift card if you complete at least half of the challenge!) Honestly, that’s way more than I thought I’d completed, as I forgot about a bunch of the books I read earlier this year. Still… I wish I could have finished all the books I wanted to. Hopefully I’ll be able to complete them soon, even if it isn’t in time for the challenge.


Hey, thanks for reading my Back to the Classics wrap up post! I know, I know, it’s been a while since I posted on the old blog, or even thought about this challenge for that matter. But I’m trying to get better at finishing what I started (ironic as that may sound when I’ve been unable to finish several of the books I was supposed to read for this challenge!) Anyway, as I’ve said many times, I really want to post more on here, so hopefully I’ll see you again soon! Thanks for sticking around.

🙂


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Wednesday With Words: Barometers of Society

I haven’t been reading a lot besides school books recently, but today’s quote is from a school book that I’m really enjoying. Total Truth by Nancy Pearcy is an absolutely wonderful, thorough look at how to build a complete Christian worldview and incorporate it into your entire life—not just on Sundays. She also has a lot to say about the arts and worldviews in media, and as someone who reviews movies, TV shows, and other media every so often, this quote really caught my eye. I thought I’d share it with you all today.

Nancy Pearcy


Thanks for reading today’s Wednesday with Words! I know I’ve been saying this a lot, but I want to continue posting on this blog, even if it doesn’t end up being super consistent. To everyone who’s still reading, thank you. I know I haven’t been around a lot, but thanks for sticking with me.

See you again soon!

🙂

Music Review: Trench by Twenty Øne Piløts

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It’s finally here…


Trench, the highly anticipated fifth album from musical duo Twenty Øne Piløts, was finally released to the public at 12:00 AM on October 5th, 2018. Despite the entire album being leaked by a fan just days before, Trench currently sits on top of charts all over the globe. I have to admit, I was a little bit apprehensive about this one. While the band’s previous hit LP Blurryface was in fact a concept album, you could listen to it and understand most of it without having to dig into the background ‘lore’ surrounding the Blurryface character. However, Trench, before its release, was shown to be even more concept heavy, with some of the singles, especially ‘Nico and the Niners’, rendered almost unintelligible unless you knew all of the background info. While the idea of a concept album sounds super cool, in practice I doubted that it would work well, either from a commercial or an artistic standpoint. Whatever meaning the album’s first three singles had was tied up tightly in a bundle of metaphors and lore, and remained totally obscure to many listeners.

I was delighted to find on listening to the album as a whole that, while you can interpret it through the lens of the concept, the majority of the songs stand on their own as gorgeous pieces of lyrical and musical art. Trench has a slower, heavier feel to it than previous albums, and while every song sounds totally different, they all act as a cohesive unit and bring a unique feel to the album as a whole. It is interesting to see how singer/pianist/bassist/ukulele player/songwriter Tyler Joseph writes from a place of worldwide fame. In fact, one of the major themes of this album is the immense pressure Tyler feels from becoming so famous, mostly pressure from his fans, the Skeleton Clique. This album seems to have been written very much with the Clique in mind, and the marketing for Trench has been very much structured around pandering to them as well. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, I do think it could isolate a lot of potential new listeners, and I certainly hope that this kind of pandering doesn’t become a feature of any future Tøp music.

As with all of Tøp’s records, Trench is multilayered and extremely complex. There are multiple different lenses through which you can view the songs and lyrics, and each song has at least two interpretations, depending on whether you’re listening for the Dema storyline or for Tyler’s own internal struggle, which are inextricably intertwined throughout the entire album. I could do a whole series of posts exploring in depth what each song means, but for now I’ll just do a quick look at the two heaviest, most hard-hitting songs off the album (why do I do this to myself???), and leave the rest to the lyric theorists out there.

‘Neon Gravestones’ is a piano ballad featuring Tyler’s signature poetic rap verses. Tyler uses this song to address several heavy issues, but a major theme is the fact that even though he supposedly ‘has everything’ (fame, fortune, a loving family and fanbase) he is still fighting with depression and suicidal thoughts. But he also uses the song to address the people who get the wrong impression from Twenty One Pilots’ music. Since their very first album, and even before, when Tyler was just writing and recording songs by himself, mental health and the struggle against mental illness has been a huge part of Twenty One Pilots’ lyrics and message. Some people have taken the songs out of context, or twisted the messages in them, to claim that the band glorifies or even encourages suicide and depression, which is simply not the case. Tyler digs deep into that issue in this song, and completely refutes it. It’s an extremely powerful message, and Tyler delivers it perfectly.

For some more in depth explanations, check out:

‘Leave The City’ is the final song on Trench. As with all Tøp albums, the final song is a bittersweet farewell, with this one leaning much more bitter than sweet. It’s extremely easy to look at this song as the band telling us they’re breaking up, and that’s what I thought at first. But Tyler himself has admitted that this is a song about struggling with, and loosing, faith. This is not new territory for Tyler’s songwriting. In the first song off Twenty One Pilots’ first album, an emotional piece called “Implicit Demand for Proof”,  Tyler wrestles with God and with his faith, trying to reconcile it with his depression, asking God if he will “rain down and destroy” him. It seems that Twenty One Pilots’ newfound fame has resonated through every part of Tyler’s life, including his faith, and right now he is struggling. He hasn’t lost hope, he hasn’t given up on believing in God, but he is definitely wrestling with doubt.

If you’re interested in hearing what Tyler himself has to say about this difficult song, please check out this interview from Alternative Press.


There is so much more I could say about Trench, but it would take far too long. I am definitely pleased with the album. It broke my expectations, but in a wonderful way. Twenty One Pilots may have swapped out their reggae influences for a more chill vibe, but at the core they’re still the same musical duo, and I can’t wait to see where their music takes them next.


Final Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“You know I had to do it.”


Thank you so much for reading this (late) review! I’ve been struggling with being consistent and intentional on social media recently, especially with blogging and reading /responding to other people’s blogs, and I’m definitely going to try to pick that up again and make it part of my life. I just need to sit down and make the time.

See you again soon!

🙂

Wednesday With Words: Boots for Birds

I am still gradually working my way through a massive brick-like book containing all of Emily Dickinson’s 1,700+ poems, and while they are all beautiful and very expressive, every once in a while I’ll come across one that really catches my eye. This particular selection has been languishing in my commonplace book for a while now, and I thought I’d finally get around to posting it today. It’s not super profound or thought provoking; it’s just an interesting little word picture that made me smile.

Boots for Birds


On my reading list this week:


Thanks for reading this week’s Wednesday with Words! Are you reading anything interesting this week? Have any book recommendations? Let’s chat in the comments!

See you again soon.

🙂

Wednesday With Words: Innovation

I’m not exactly sure where I first heard of the book, but Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins has been on my ‘to read’ list on Goodreads for over a year now. It’s only recently that I actually got a copy from the library and started reading it, but that seems like perfect timing, considering that I’ve been questioning whether or not I can actually look at my creative work as a viable option for making money someday, or if I need to scrap that and look for a different career. So far, the book is mostly about cultivating the creative mindset of a Thriving Artist, instead of wallowing in the self pity of a starving one. One of the things the Starving Artist worries about is being ‘original’, and Goins has devoted an entire chapter of the book to talking about how we as creators must learn to borrow from other creators and rearrange all the creative works that have come before us into something ‘new’. After all, there’s nothing really new under the sun, is there? (Apparently not, because a quote from Mary Shelley I shared earlier this year talked about this idea as well!)

Innovation


On my reading list this week:

  •  Pat of Silver Bush by L. M. Montgomery: This was on my Grandma’s bookshelf when I visited her recently, and she said I could borrow it! I love many of L. M. Montgomery’s books, so I’m always excited to find a new one I haven’t yet read.
  • Christy by Catherine Marshall: I’m supposed to be reading this for the Back to the Classics Challenge. Unfortunately, I’ve fallen a bit behind, and it’s quite a large book! Hopefully I’ll be able to finish it up before the end of the year.

Thanks so much for reading this week’s Wednesday with Words post! I know it’s been approximately 5,000 years since I’ve done one of these, but I’d love to get back in the habit. No promises, though! 😛

See you again soon!

🙂

Vicious Cycles: A Short Essay on Willful Self-Sabotage

Maybe you’ve been wondering where I’ve been for the past few weeks. Maybe you don’t actually care. Either way, I made a goal at the start of the year to write at least one blog post every week, to finally get back into the swing of things and start creating consistently again. Obviously, that didn’t happen. And it’s completely my fault.

This year started off well enough. I was blogging pretty consistently. I was doing pretty well mentally. I thought maybe I’d begun to shake some stuff and get back into the creative lane I’d been riding in 2017. I was exercising every day. I had the will power and the energy to tell myself what I needed to do and get it done. But that didn’t last. It started with staying up a little later to finish a post or get a few more words down. It ended with a garbage fire.

Somewhere along the way, I got tired. Physically, emotionally, mentally. It became easier and easier to watch YouTube instead of pounding out another blog post, easier to scroll through Instagram instead of working on a new book. As my energy levels flagged, I began to take the path of least resistance, the path that didn’t require thought or careful word choice or energy besides the minuscule amount required to thumb through my Twitter feed. It became easier to keep the lights on late rather than lie in bed and wrestle with insomnia. It became easier to say that I’d do it tomorrow, when I was less tired, and easier to wake up even tireder than I’d been the day before. It was easier to not try to fix it or do anything about it. It was easier to promise big things later, and sabotage myself now.

I came to with a shovel in my hands and dirt piled high behind me. I was digging myself into a rut, further and further in, further and further down. Consciously. Knowingly. Willfully. I knew (and I know) exactly how to dig myself out of that hole, but by this point it had become a vicious cycle, and it was easier to keep on digging myself deeper into that rut than to try and clamber out. I had already dug a grave for my creativity. It was easier to bury it than to try for resurrection.

But I know what I need to do, and I think maybe I can do it. It sounds easy; just put the phone down and turn off the lights and rest, but somehow it’s really, really hard. It’s hard to make things. Its hard to want to make things when you’re so tired you can hardly keep your eyes open. It’s hard to want to go to bed when it’s become so much easier to just not. But I think maybe it’s better to struggle against the cycle than to live your life with a need to make things and no ability to do so.


Vicious Cycles

One Week in London: Part 4 (The Finale)

One Week in London Part 4


Day 6: Wednesday (Castles and Cathedrals)

No trip to England would be complete without a tour of an ancient castle. On Wednesday morning we made our way to Victoria Station to catch a morning train to Arundel, a beautiful little town in the south of England boasting a medieval castle. When we got off the train, it was pouring rain. Umbrellas up, we made our way down town towards the castle, which was on a little rise above the town. By now, the wind was blowing so hard that it kept flipping up the top of the umbrellas, rendering them mostly useless. I managed to angle mine like a shield against the wind, which helped a little, but we were both nearly blown off the stone bridge that ran over the river Arun. Wet and hungry, we piled into a little restaurant, where we were able to get some delicious traditional English breakfast items… for lunch.

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I would normally turn up my nose at runny eggs, as I tend to have issues with certain textures in food, but I was trying to be a more adventurous eater on this trip, and found to my surprise that the eggs were actually really good! The bacon, while it looked nothing like what we Americans would call bacon, was also delicious.

After finishing our lunches, we made our way all the way up the main street of the town, only to discover that we’d missed the entrance to the castle, and had to back track a bit. Our train trip and trudge through the rain turned out to be well worth it, however, because the castle was absolutely stunning. It has two parts: the medieval keep and a more modern part inhabited (for part of the year) by the family of the Duke of Norfolk. We were able to visit both parts of the castle, including some areas used by the family when they stay there.

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Approaching the castle (in the rain)

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Part of the view from the medieval keep

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A real lion skin in the more ‘modern’ (still very old) part of the castle

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When we emerged from the depths of the castle, the gloomy clouds had rolled away, leaving a beautiful sunny day behind. We took a little walk around the castle’s extensive grounds, before hurrying back to catch our train home.

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Arundel Castle in the sun


We’d put off our visit to Westminster Abbey on Tuesday, so today was our last chance to explore it. The line to get in wasn’t too long, and the visiting hours were extended on Wednesday, so we got inside in plenty of time and had a nice stroll around the Abbey. There were plenty of monuments and mementos to famous people, and plenty of memorials to those who had actually been buried there. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside, but I did get a few shots of the outside of the beautiful building before we headed home for the day.

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Day 7: Thursday (Museums, the Magna Charta, and Camden Market)

Thursday was our final day in London, and we were planning to pack in a lot. As with our entire trip thus far, things didn’t turn out exactly as planned…

We started our morning by visiting some Egyptian statues and mummies in the British Museum, and getting a glimpse of the famous Rosetta Stone. Surprisingly enough, the Museum allows photography, but there was a large group of excited tourists gathered around the stone’s big glass case, and we couldn’t even get close enough to really see it, much less snap a photo.

We took a leisurely stroll through the museum, stopping to examine various Grecian urns and artifacts, including a massive pot that had, apparently, once been used for burying people in. We also paid a quick visit to the Anglo-Saxon and Viking exhibit, where there were plenty of shields and helmets and ancient weapons to look at.

Our next museum was a bit smaller, but just as interesting. We took a short bus ride and walked a little ways up a street until we reached the Dickens Museum, which was inside a house where Charles Dickens had lived for three years. It was surreal to see the table at which Dickens had dined, the steep staircases he’d climbed and descended everyday, the desk where he’d sat.

After exploring every floor of that tall, narrow house, we hurried over to the British Library to peruse its collection of ancient illuminated manuscripts, massive old Bibles, letters from the likes of Queen Elizabeth I, and… handwritten Beatles lyrics. Yes, there was an entire section of the displays dedicated to the Beatles. I haven’t listened to a lot of the Beatles songs —I promise I mean to; I just haven’t gotten around to it yet— but it was actually really cool to see the original, handwritten lyrics by some of the most famous musicians on earth.

One of the big draws of the British Library was that it had an original copy of the Magna Carta. While most of the other exhibits were in a big open room, the Magna Charta had its own little chamber off to one side, making it seem extremely impressive and important (as it certainly is), but it was really a little bit of an anti-climax to go inside and see only a single piece of old parchment on display in its own room; just one of many copies sent out to noblemen across England. But, then again, maybe it isn’t always the showy things that make the biggest impact on history.

And maybe I’m just being a picky tourist.

It just so happened that we were in London on the same weekend everyone’s favorite British comedy YouTubers, Dan and Phil, had set up a pop-up shop in Camden Market. My lovely blogger friend Hannah introduced me to these YouTubers back in late 2017, and I thought it would be nice to pop down to Camden Town and pick up a little surprise for her from the shop. My mom also wanted to pay a visit to a market, so it was decided that we should finish off the day with a trip to Camden.

In order to even reach Camden Town, we had to take the dreadful Northern Line. The Northern Line is a Tube line deep, deep underground, traveling a narrow tunnel that snakes beneath London’s streets. Unlike with most lines, where there are two trains in one tunnel, here there was one tunnel for south-bound trains, and one tunnel for north-bound trains. We were very far underground, which added to the sense of claustrophobia, and the trains were extremely loud, being enclosed in such a small space with nowhere else for the noise to go. Every time a train arrived at a station, it sent a massive gust of air through the tunnels, creating huge underground winds.

We emerged from Camden Town station, and immediately ran into trouble. We weren’t exactly sure where Camden Market was actually held. I was pretty sure that the address has been ‘the Old Art Gallery’, but without internet there was no way we could check and make sure, or even find out where the Old Art Gallery was located. So, we just started walking.

When we finally found the marketplace, we weren’t even sure if we were in the right location. We spent nearly 45 minutes wandering around Camden Market, in and out of endless tiny shops, searching for the one pop-up we’d come to find. Finally, when we’d just about given up, I spotted red neon lights across a courtyard. I’d been on the look out for red and white lights, as somewhere it had been stated that they would be part of the decor of the pop-up shop, and I was absolutely thrilled to find that we’d reached it at last. It was less thrilling to realize that if we’d just gone in the opposite direction when we’d first entered the market, we would have reached the shop in about sixty seconds.

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The neon lights lead me here.

After snooping around in the shop for a bit and purchasing some possibly overpriced merchandise, we stopped to have some delicious English fish-and-chips from a friendly food vendor in the market.

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It was getting late now; too late for a boat ride in Little Venice, which we’d planned on doing, but not too late to get tickets for Thames river cruise to close out our trip. After heading back to central London on the dreaded Northern Line, we grabbed our tickets, which were included with our London Passes, and got in line for the boat. It took a pretty long time for the boat to actually show up, but the cruise was definitely worth it, and the perfect way to finish a wonderful week in London.

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Thanks for sticking with me to the end of my adventures in London! It’s been almost two months since I actually went on the trip, but I’ve finally finished writing it all up, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my experiences. I know I haven’t been blogging regularly at all for the past two months, but now that this big project is over with I’m hoping I can get back in the groove again. Don’t hold your breath, though. 😛

See you again soon!

🙂

Movie Review: The Incredibles 2

Incredibles 2

Yet another animated sequel that fails to live up to the original.


Let me tell you a little secret: I’m really not a huge fan of sequels, especially for animated kids movies. Even Pixar sequels let me down. In my opinion, the only ones to get it completely right were the Toy Story sequels, which are even better than the original movie. But from the train wreck that was Cars 2 to the off-the-wall prequel Monster’s University to the honestly-kinda-boring-and-annoying Finding Dory, the best I’ve really been able to say about Pixar’s other sequels is that they’re not terrible. Maybe I’m nostalgic, or maybe I’m thinking to hard about films that are made and marketed for kids, but it really doesn’t seem like Pixar’s sequels have been living up to the quality of the original films.

I love The Incredibles. Even though it is now fourteen years old, it still holds up as a beautiful piece of animation, writing, and entertainment. It really didn’t need a sequel (and neither did Finding Nemo, for that matter. Or Cars. Or Monsters Inc.) It stood perfectly well on its own. It never felt forced to be funny or forced to be dramatic and intense. Even though it dealt with some dark ideas (there’s one particular scene where Elasta Girl tells her kids that these villains they’re dealing with aren’t like the ones on Saturday morning cartoons: they will shoot to kill) it’s still a kid’s movie, and a good kid’s movie. It never becomes goofy or dumbed down because ‘maybe the kids won’t get it’.

Unfortunately, a lot of the things the original Incredibles did right are done totally wrong by the sequel. I expected it to be set at least several years after the events of the first film, but it’s actually an immediate sequel that starts off about five minutes after the end of the first movie. This doesn’t automatically mean it’s bad, but it seemed like a very odd choice. There are so many stories that could be told with these awesome characters. Honestly, we didn’t need to see the outcome of the battle with the Underminer. While it wasn’t stated explicitly at the end of the first movie, it was definitely implied that the Incredibles were up to the task of defeating him, and it was a kind of boring way to start off a kind of boring movie.

While there are definitely laugh out loud moments in The Incredibles 2, that’s pretty much all there is. There was none of the seriousness or heart of the first film, just joke after joke after joke, to the point that it felt more like a Dreamworks sequel than a Pixar film. A lot of the conflict between characters was formulaic, to the point that I could predict which characters were going to have some kind of falling out with each other. The big reveal of the main villain is also very heavily foreshadowed and easy to predict. Figuring out who the villain is isn’t always a bad thing, but in this case the fact that I’d figured it out seemed more due to lazy writing than to any intelligence on my part. The whole thing felt disjointed, and character growth, while present, was stunted and choppy at best, and lazily written at worst.

The Incredibles 2 definitely failed to live up to its predecessor. While it’s not a bad movie, and all of the animation, voice work, and music is extremely well done, it lacks heart and fails to deliver any kind of emotional punch; just a few empty laughs with our old favorite characters, and a whole lot of formulaic, unnecessary conflict.


Final Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

“I’m kinda over sequels at this point.”


Thanks for reading my review of The Incredibles 2! Have you seen the film yet? Did you like it, or did you think it was another unnecessary Pixar sequel? Let’s chat in the comments!

See you again soon.

🙂