Tag Archives: Disney Princesses

Spotlight: The Lion Guard – Kion

Image result for kion

Yes, I watch Disney’s The Lion Guard. So what? I am not as big a fan of it as some are, but with my other choices being The Walking Dead or Beavis and Butthead, I have made do with what I have. (For those of you wondering how I can skip out on such a compelling show as The Walking Dead, please remember that I have stated that I do not like horror stories, the genre which includes zombies.) I will take talking lions and cheetahs and baboons – oh, my! – over the undead and stupid caricatures at every opportunity.

The Lion Guard focuses on Simba’s heretofore unknown son, Kion. The second born cub of Simba and Nala, and Kiara’s younger brother, Kion is given the responsibility of protecting the Pridelands and the “Circle of Life” by leading a team known as the Lion Guard. Their mission is to defend the Pridelands from invasion, as well as the imbalance due to the greed of the creatures that live in and around the territory controlled by Simba and his pride.

Other than his royal heritage, what gives Kion this right and responsibility? He has inherited the power of the “Roar of the Elders.” When Kion roars, the great lions of the Pridelands’ past roar with him. This gives his own roar quite a big boost, allowing him to knock down and scatter the enemies that continue to trouble the Pridelands and threaten the Circle of Life. Turns out, Scar had this roar, too, when he was a cub. But he got to like wielding it too much and thought he could use it to get Mufasa out of the way and make himself king.

Well, when he asked or demanded that his Lion Guard – made up of lions from the pride – help him overthrow Mufasa, they refused. Enraged, Scar used the roar on his own Lion Guard. This presumably killed them, and the fact that Scar used the roar for evil cost him his ability to use it. It also made him the skinny, unhealthy looking lion we saw in the first Lion King film.

Image result for the lion guard

Now there has been a big to-do over Kion’s Lion Guard. This Guard is supposed to show “diversity” in that the only lion in the Guard is Kion. The rest of the animals in the Guard are Bunga, a honey badger; Ono, an egret; Beshte, a hippopotamous, and Fuli, a cheetah.

It is more than slightly laughable to think that this mixed bag of animals is a good representation of “diversity” for children. Eventually, the children will grow up to learn that animals in the wild do not mix like this. Egrets, honey badgers, and hippos all do their own things, while cheetahs will get up and leave a kill when a lion starts walking toward it and them. Because lions are bigger than cheetahs, the smaller cats have very, very little to do with them, mostly because they do not want to be the lion’s side dish at the dinner table.

You can see that I give the “diversity” aim of The Lion Guard the respect it deserves. Why, then, do I continue to watch the show – even to avoid a series like Beavis and Butthead? I watch the show because the lead character and his male friends are actually allowed to be smart, chivalrous boys.

Allow me to explain: if you watch Sofia the First or Elena of Avalor with your daughters/nieces/sisters/whichever, you have seen the girls lead the boys in everything. They are braver, smarter, more compassionate, and completely better in every way than the men in their lives. Although the main male characters in these shows might not be bumbling, fumbling fools ninety percent of the time, the side male characters often are.

Now, admittedly, The Lion Guard has a character that falls into this category ninety percent of the time. This would be the honey badger, Bunga, Kion’s best friend and the adopted nephew of Timon and Pumba. Bunga’s position in the Guard is the bravest – he is so brave he “[borders] on stupid,” to quote Kiara. Most fans find him annoying and want him dead.

Image result for the lion guard

I think that last part is a little harsh. I agree that Bunga is irritating, but this is a children’s show, people. And Bunga’s voice actor should get a chance to pay for his college education, too, so I do not want his character dead. If he could be a little less stupid and a little more observant, I would not say no to that; dead, I will not accept.

Bunga is the only member of the team to act in a consistently dense manner. The other two male members of the Guard – Beshte and Ono – are far from unintelligent. Beshte is the hippo and the strongest in the Pridelands. He is therefore the quintessential gentle giant, and there is nothing wrong with that. Andre the Giant was a gentle giant; gentle giants are good characters. And Beshte also has a temper that will flare up occasionally, so he has a little spice mixed in with the sweetness.

Ono leans toward the studious know-it-all trope. The keenest of sight in the Pridelands, Ono acts as the Guard’s eyes, looking for trouble and yelling it out to the Guard. While Ono has many of the nose-in-a-book stereotypical trappings, the difference is that he will fight without too much hesitation. He has mixed it up with vultures, hawks, and land animals, no mean feat for a bird that is not a raptor. It usually makes up for his skittish or know-it-all failings.

Kion is, by far, the one who breaks the mold of the modern formulaic boy. He is polite, friendly, calm, fierce, and quick-thinking. Even Avengers Assemble struggled with portraying the male heroes in this fashion, as you will find if you read the posts about the series here on my blog. The male Avengers – especially Hawkeye – were portrayed as fools in most of the episodes at the series’ start. This is due to the fact that the writers began telling the story of Assemble through a liberal-ified lens in the first season and kept it going through the second (and they seem to be reverting to that form with a vengeance for season four).

Image result for sofia the first

If you drop by the Disney channels, even for the advertisements alone, you will find them to be mostly girl-centered. This is not just with shows like Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, and Elena of Avalor. Disney has a whole series of ads called “Dream Big, Princess” to inspire girls to be anything they want to be. They also have advertisements for Lab Rats, Descendants, and other shows which make boys look like brainless idiots and girls look like uber women in training.

This is not only unrealistic and disheartening, it is dangerous. What is your son/nephew/brother or the boy next door supposed to achieve with these caricatures as his models? Disney has no “Dream Big, Prince” television ads encouraging boys to be great men like Prince Phillip, Prince Eric, or even Kristoff in their last big film, Frozen. Instead they push the popular narrative that boys are mini-barbarians or mini-buffoons in training who will someday grow up to be Big Barbarians or Big Buffoons.

If I had to bet, this is one of the reasons why The Lion Guard has taken off. Throughout the series so far, Kion has rarely failed to be a good little boy. In the first episode of the series, Kion ends up in the Outlands after chasing some marauding hyenas out of the Pridelands. While on the other side of the border, he bumps into a female hyena named Jasiri.

Image result for the lion guard jasiri

At first, Kion is suspicious of Jasiri, referring to her as “hyena” and being snappish when he speaks to her. But when Jasiri proves to be totally unlike the other hyenas, Kion starts treating her better. He proves that his earlier conduct toward her was a lapse in judgement and a jump to a conclusion when he comes back to defend Jasiri from the same marauding hyenas at the end of the episode. Though Jasiri proves to be a capable fighter, there is never a hint that Kion should apologize for coming to help her or defer to her as some fighting goddess he should worship.

In fact, at one point during the battle, he thrusts Jasiri to the ground in order to headbutt a hyena she has not seen coming. Not only does the move show fast thinking, it proves that Kion’s earlier behavior was a mistake he has since recognized and corrected.

And so far in the series, when fighting alongside a girl, Kion does not leave his manly concern for her at the edge of the battlefield but keeps it with him at all times. Jasiri even thanks Kion for his help in this show, a rare thing in modern media. (Just look up Avengers Assemble’s “Captain Marvel” episode from season three to see why I say this.)

This is not the last time that Kion behaves in a chivalrous manner toward a girl, either. Although they have the regular spats any pair of siblings would, Kion treats Kiara with a respect that is the exact opposite of simpering worship. It also has overtones of a greater reverence than most boys in modern media show their sisters. It is an esteem which comes from a healthy dose of – *gasp* – chivalry!

Yes, I just said that the lead character in The Lion Guard possesses chivalry. Kiara is still a poor fighter in the series; this is to presrve the timeline for the story. We saw Kovu point out twice in The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride that Kiara’s fighting tactics were less than stellar, and the television show did not change this fact. In The Lion Guard, Kion had to come to his sister’s direct defense in “Can’t Wait to Be Queen.” He also showed a fair bit of attachment to, and concern for, her in “The Rise of Scar.” Kion also demonstrates a chivalrous deference and love for his mother, Nala, in the episode “Never Roar Again.”

But the best episode to show Kion’s sense of chivalry so far was “The Search for Utamu” because it was his most obvious display of the virtue. It also added a healthy dose of chilvalry to the other Guard members’ characters as well.

Image result for the lion guard fuli

In this episode the lone female member of the Guard, Fuli the cheetah, overexerts herself while she is supposed to be resting. Cheetahs can only keep their amazing speed going for a few minutes. After that, it can take them up to half an hour to get their breath back. Once a cheetah makes a kill, it has to sit beside the animal for at least that long to get its breath and then it can eat.

This is why it will get up and walk away when it sees a lion coming to check out the kill. Not only is the cheetah smaller and weaker than the lion but, when out of breath, it cannot outpace the lion.

Fuli is still a cub, and as of this episode she did not believe that she had any limits. Her inevitable exhaustion after her lone escapade leaves Fuli vulnerable to an attack from a group of vultures. When the male Guard members learn about her danger, they all rush to their female friend’s defense. Kion especially shows anger at the vultures when he blasts them into the distance with the Roar of the Elders (which is probably why we did not see them for some time after this episode).

So while Fuli and Jasiri are both female characters who can manage their own affairs – and who often say they can look after themselves without interference from “foolish males” – they have both landed in situations where they needed Kion and the other boys’ aid. And while Kion respects the abilities and competence of his two female friends, he also treats them with the special regard that they deserve as girls.

This does not diminish the girls’ fighting and survival abilities and, amazingly, it does not make the boys’ desire to protect them when they cannot defend themselves appear silly. This showing of chivalry is a great thing, as it spotlights a virtue which male characters have been denied in similar series – created by Disney and other companies – for far too long.

Image result for the lion guard tiifu and zuri

Another way our male lead demonstrates his chivalry is by his dealings with Kiara’s airheaded “friends,” the lioness cubs Tiifu and Zuri. While the Guard has Bunga, the typical “boys drool” character, Kiara is saddled with two lioness cubs who are more concerned with their looks and social status than with anything even vaguely important.

Kion treats both these fluff-brained characters in general with a respect they have never earned, only rolling his eyes once when talking to them in “The Rise of Scar” and telling them off, rightly, when they allowed Kiara to go to a meeting with a known enemy on her own in “Can’t Wait to Be Queen.” The only explanation for his willingness to consider these two girls as anything remotely resembling “family” is the fact that they are girls – and oh, yeah, they happen to hang out with his sister.

As I have already mentioned, Kion continually shows quick-thinking during the series. Unlike Star Trek: The Next Generation’s unending roundtable discussions in the midst of calm and battle, most of the Guard’s tactics and strategies are actually made by Kion, either on the spur of the moment or through hours of training between patrols. The other members of the Guard follow his orders and decisions, though not always without question or input. In comparison to other male leads (in the modern Disney brand and other franchises), Kion is far more intelligent than the talking heads would have children believe boys can be.

It is also refreshing to see that, even when Kion must trust his friends to come up with a plan, he does not effusively kowtow to them after this. He accepts their advice and praises his friends’ plans without being a sycophant, congratulating them on their quick-thinking before turning back to the task at hand. Or paw, in his case.

Related image

Something else to note about The Lion Guard is Kion’s fighting prowess. The four leading male characters in the show are good fighters, but Kion is the best of the bunch. Where the girl often comes to the boy’s rescue in current children’s television shows, Kion is rarely in need of such a save. And when he does need the help of a female character, such as in “Never Judge a Hyena by Its’ Spots,” Kion shows by his dialogue that he thinks just as deeply and quickly in such situations as those where he is supposedly “in control” of the circumstances.

Thus far, The Lion Guard has proven to be a better series than I had anticipated. It is a show with a male protagonist who is chivalrous, competent, and smart. Though I take issue with some of the show’s themes, one thing which I really appreciate and cheer on is Kion’s quiet, unabashed, and completely proper masculinity.

Hopefully, this is the beginning of a trend. Shows which focus on female leads are wonderful inspirations for girls, certainly. But boys need television shows with male characters who are not only unafraid to be boys, but who have a sense of chivalry, along with smarts and fighting ability. They have been denied this for a long time, readers, and The Lion Guard is a more than welcome anticipation of a change in the fads. From what I have seen so far, we need more shows like this one. So, ‘til the Pridelands end –

Lion Guard defend!

Advertisements

Brave-ly Done (More Disney Music)

Every child is influenced by the entertainment they are shown. I am fortunate in that I saw many Disney movies as a child. I do not like every Disney movie out there, but most of them are hard to dislike. After all, Walt Disney was not in the habit of writing trash. He was one of those rare entertainers who earned money as a reward for telling a good story, not telling any old story just to make a dollar. *Sigh.* We could use a few more storytellers like that these days!

Anyway, readers, here are some more Disney songs which I would like to share with you. I hope you enjoy them! After all, it’s…

“A Whole New World!”

The Mithril Guardian

Brave

Touch the Sky

Aladdin

Arabian Nights

One Jump Ahead

Friend Like Me

Prince Ali

A Whole New World

 

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

I’m Wishing

A Smile and a Song

Whistle While You Work

Heigh-Ho!

Scrub in the Tub

The Dance in the Dwarfs’ Cottage

 

Robin Hood

Ooo De Lally

Love Goes On

A Pox on that Phony King of England

Not In Nottingham

 

 

The Jungle Book

Elephant Patrol

Bare Necessities

I Want to Be Like You

That’s What Friends Are For

 

Mulan

You’ll Bring Honor to Us All

Reflection

I’ll Make a Man Out of You

A Girl Worth Fighting For

True to Your Heart

 

 

The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride

We Are One

Upendi

Not One of Us

Love Will Find A Way

 

(I know it’s not technically a Disney movie, but they are the ones who translated it into English, so….)

The Secret World of Arietty

Tangled Cuts and Happily Ever After

Tangled is one of the best films that Disney has ever made.  But for some odd reason, they have decided to turn it into a television series.

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the idea – I thought the movie ended things perfectly and, as a viewer, I was quite willing to leave it there.  But Disney has decided to make it a television series and at this point, there is no use arguing with them about it.

It’s not all bad news, though.  The series comes with some cute perks, especially its Tangled: Short Cuts.  These short episodes fill in time between the series’ events and they have been a hoot so far.  More are sure to come, but here are the ones that I have seen and enjoyed.  As a bonus, the short Tangled Ever After is included at the bottom of the post.

Enjoy!

Prison Bake 

 

Make Me Smile

 

Check Mate

 

Tangled Ever After

Book Review: The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn

One of this blogger’s worst fears about Lucasfilm’s decision to dump the now “Legends” timeline is that I was afraid they would throw author Timothy Zahn out with the bathwater. However, this is not the case. If you have kept up with the news for Disney’s TV series Star Wars Rebels, you may have heard a lot of fuss about a new character named Grand Admiral Thrawn. Well, Thrawn is not actually a new character. He is from the Expanded Universe novels and the creation of one Timothy Zahn.

With Thrawn’s reintroduction to the new Star Wars timeline, the bosses at Lucasfilm/Disney decided they needed a book explaining where this Chiss tactical genius came from. And who better to write that book than the man who created Thrawn in the first place? Timothy Zahn’s new Star Wars novel, titled Thrawn, comes out in 2017.

It is sooo good to know my favorite sci-fi writer of the current era is back in the Star Wars business! I thought he was going to be shut out completely, but happily the people running the Star Wars franchise seem to have heard Gibbs’ rule about “wasting good.” Timothy Zahn is back, people!

This brings us, rather neatly, to today’s subject. This is Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy, which he wrote for Lucasbooks in the 1990s. This trilogy consists of Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command. Despite Lucasfilm’s decision to scrap the first Star Wars Expanded Universe timeline, Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars novels are still astounding pieces of literary work. Hopefully they will not go out of print, but I have no idea what plans Lucasbooks has for them.

Before The Force Awakens was even thought of, many Star Wars fans considered Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy to be the last three episodes of the original Star Wars saga. They were so in-depth, so well written, and they answered so many lingering questions that the fans could not help falling head-over-heels in love with them.

And now Star Wars Rebels is picking up on this esteem. While it remains to be seen how much Thrawn in the cartoon will resemble Zahn’s characterization, the fact that he will be in the series at all is exciting. For one thing, it gives us Mara Jade Skywalker fans hope that she will somehow make it into the new timeline!!! Oooh, cross your fingers and hope for the best, readers…!

Okay, fan rant over. Now we go back to the books.

In Heir to the Empire we see Grand Admiral Thrawn, one of the alien Chiss and the only alien in the entire Imperial Fleet, sending TIEs and other Imperial ships out to do reconnaissance on the “Rebels.” They are not really Rebels anymore, in our view, having re-established the Republic. But it is not like the Empire cares about that, right?

Captain Pellaeon, the commander of the Star Destroyer Chimera, is Thrawn’s second-in-command onboard the vessel. While he has his doubts about the Admiral’s ability, Pellaeon knows there is no one else in the military the Empire can turn to at the moment. The Empire’s territory has been drastically reduced and the “Rebel scum” are “taking” that territory through alliances with the local planetary governments. The only powerful leader the Galactic Empire has left is Thrawn.

And he soon proves he is as fearsome, in his own way, as were Vader or the Emperor.

Meanwhile, on the capital world of the New Republic, Luke Skywalker awakens from a dream. In the dream, Obi-Wan Kenobi tells him it is time for him to pass on. Luke feels in his waking mind that this truly makes him the last of the Jedi. But Ben’s kindly old voice remonstrates gently: “Not the last of the old Jedi, Luke. The first of the new.

Feeling melancholy, Luke goes onto the balcony attached to his room with a mug of hot chocolate and city gazes for a while. He then notices that Leia has become aware of his mood through the Force, made plain when C-3PO arrives with a message from her. Luke kindly tells the droid he is fine and sends him off with a message to Leia, reminding her that in her condition, she should be asleep.

What is Leia’s condition, some of you ask? She is expecting twins! That is her “condition”!

Leia is also missing Han, who is away trying to convince his old smuggler buddies to run legit freight for the New Republic. He even has Wedge Antilles and some Rogue Squadron guys helping him on the mission. But other than the camaraderie from the Rogues, Han has not gotten much out of the jaunt. None of the smugglers are interested in doing “respectable” runs because they figure it is bait to get them captured by the New Republic. And since they do illegal runs into Imperial territory, they do not want to be known for hauling “Rebel” freight.

It is not long after this that Thrawn’s great campaign against the New Republic begins. The Empire’s forces become even more formidable when Thrawn recruits the Dark Jedi Joruus C’baoth to his cause. Through the Force, C’baoth can keep the Imperial fleet officers and crewmen focused and on the alert. Thrawn contends that this was the secret of the Emperor’s power, back when he was alive; something Pellaeon wants to deny – and in fact does deny – but which he knows is actually the truth.

The problem in getting C’baoth’s help is that the guy is a lunatic. A raving madman, he makes the Red Skull seem just this side of good-naturedly goofy. Insane Force-users are dangerous, of course, but this man takes the cake!

And, in his private office, smuggler Talon Karrde is waiting to spring a surprise on one of his crewmen over dinner. The door to his office opens and in walks Mara Jade, eying Karrde as he finishes cutting the main course and starts doling it out. Not long after they have begun eating, he tells her that he wants to start grooming her as his second-in-command for the organization.

Mara is surprised by the offer, seeing how it would benefit Karrde and herself. For the first time in five years, she has a purpose and a home. It is nothing compared to her old life, true… but it is better than scrounging to survive in the dregs of the galaxy, as she has for the previous four and a half years since the Empire died.

Or, more accurately, since the Emperor died.

The Thrawn trilogy is a spectacular adventure, readers. I highly recommend it! If you do not love either Star Wars or Mara Jade and maybe even Thrawn by the end of book one, then I guess nothing about Zahn’s works will satisfy you. If you are already a fan of Star Wars, this trilogy should appeal to you on one level or another. I still love it, and I have reread it many times over the years!

May the Force be with you, readers!

The Mtihril Guardian

A City with Rhythm (And Other Disney Favorites)

Those who have not seen at least one Disney movie in their lives are deprived people. Some probably do not even realize this fact! (Yes, Mr. Kilmeade, I am talking about you!)

So, for those who are deprived and for those of you who are old fans, here are some Disney songs to make you smile. They are a mixture of old and new; you will find Peter Pan and Elsa rubbing elbows below, whilst Rapunzel joins the other princesses for tea. And do not be surprised if a few Dalmatians and lions show up. This is Disney, after all! Anything is possible! 😉

Spit-spot!

The Mithril Guardian

 

Oliver & Co.

Why Should I Worry

Streets of Gold

You and Me

Why Should We Worry

 

Peter Pan

What Made the Red Man Red?

You Can Fly!

Following the Leader

 

Frozen

Vuelie

Frozen Heart

Let It Go

Troll Song

 

The Lion King

The Circle of Life

I Just Can’t Wait to Be King

Hakuna Matata

Can You Feel the Love Tonight?

 

 

The Little Mermaid

Fathoms Below

Someday I’ll Be (Part of Your World)

Kiss the Girl

Under the Sea

 

Sleeping Beauty

Once Upon A Dream

 

Cinderella

We Can Do It (Song of the Mice)

So This Is Love

 

Tangled

When Will My Life Begin?

I’ve Got a Dream

I See the Light

Something That I Want

 

101 Dalmatians

Cruella Deville

 

Beauty and the Beast

Be Our Guest

Gaston’s song

Song as Old as Time

 

The Aristocats

Everybody Wants to Be a Cat

Thomas O’Malley, the Alley Cat

Scales and Arpeggios The Aristocats

Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Atlantis, The Lost Empire

Hellooo, DiNozzo!

(Trumpets flourish in the background.)  Today is officially day six of Torture Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo Week!

Are you ready, DiNozzo?

Then DIVE, DIVE!  We are going to Atlantis: The Lost Empire!

I told it you it would have something to do with Disney!

You’ve never heard of the film?  I’m not surprised.  The movie was a theater flop, so much so that Disney swept it under the rug and cancelled the television series which was supposed to follow it.

Why the movie didn’t do so well in the theater depends on who you ask, but most people seem to agree that the film’s action was too choppy.  The lack of standard Disney songs is also thought to be a part of the movie’s downfall.

I can’t say that I disagree with the action being a bit jumpy.  Scenes seem to cut off just before they’ve started or wear out their welcome in a matter of seconds.  All the same, though, the film does have its perks.

One of these is the hero of the story.   Milo James Thatch, the grandson of a famous (or infamous, in some circles) explorer, is trying to convince the board of directors of the Smithsonian Museum that the city of Atlantis actually existed.  But Milo fails to gain any support from the museum board for an expedition to the lost city.  Later that night an old friend of his grandfather’s offers him the chance he’s been fighting to get, and Milo takes the opportunity faster than greased lightning.

The journey to Atlantis is reminiscent of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, but in abbreviated form.  Once Milo and his team finally reach Atlantis, they’re met with a huge surprise.  There are Atlanteans still inhabiting the ruins!

In Atlantis Milo quickly makes friends with, and falls for, one particular Atlantean woman:  the Princess Kida.

There’s a lot more to the plot but I’ll leave you with these bare basics because I want to make a special mention about Milo.   When Milo is called on by his grandfather’s old friend, Mr. Whitmore, he doesn’t come to see Milo at his apartment in D.C.  Whitmore is a millionaire, so he can afford to have Milo come to him.

The way he chooses to do this is by sending a very pretty young woman to pick him up.

Thing is, Milo doesn’t bite at this woman’s (Helga Sinclair) beauty.  Part of that may have been because his apartment was empty and he had no electricity, but that still doesn’t quite explain why she didn’t leave him speechless.

Oh, there’s no way she’d have left you speechless, DiNozzo.  At least not until she started talking; Helga Sinclair does not bandy words when her prey is in her grasp.

You are so dense!  A beautiful woman waiting for you in your dark, empty, cold apartment and you don’t smell trouble right then and there?

No, of course you don’t.

Anyway, the fact is that Milo doesn’t fall for her.  This is a good thing, but you’ll have to watch the film to find out why.

Now Kida, I will have you know, is no slouch in the beauty department.  Nor is she a damsel in distress.  Well, not in the physical sense; this princess can look after herself if necessary.  This makes her something of a contrast to Milo, who is your stereotypical bookworm.  He’s skinny as a rake, has a hard time getting to know his teammates (who at first largely look down on him), and he wouldn’t win any contests for strongman.

Besides the obvious physical differences, the two have what appears to be opposite personalities.  Kida is outgoing, enthusiastic, and often takes things from Milo without asking (such as his glasses) in her eagerness to find out how something works.  This is probably because she’s a princess and is used to getting her way without having to ask.  That and what was considered politeness in Atlantis thousands of years ago isn’t what is considered polite in 1914.

In contrast to Kida, Milo is reserved, polite, and often fails to observe his surroundings.  Part of what makes it hard for Milo to connect with the members of the expedition is his penchant for going off on a tangent in a conversation.  Once, while marveling over a pillar that stands in the expedition’s path, Milo is so wrapped up in his archeological diatribe about it that he fails to realize that the demolition’s expert for the group is laying charges around its base.  If he hadn’t been pulled back by the demolition’s expert, Vinny, he’d have ended up joining the pillar he found so fascinating.

So what do you think ties him and Kida together?

The search for knowledge.  In the thousands of years since Atlantis was sunk (why else would they have to make a Journey to the Center of the Earth-style expedition to find it, Tony?) Atlantean culture has all but crumbled away.

Kida has witnessed this firsthand.  Her father is too old to leave his throne room, and so he has not seen it.  Kida, though, has spent years leading her people on scavenger hunts into the tunnels that lead to Atlantis.  She has watched while the others fish in what remains of the city’s central harbor.  She has seen the city disintegrate with time, and the culture’s knowledge with it.

So when Milo shows her the book that guided him and his expedition to Atlantis, Kida is flabbergasted because no one in Atlantis can read anymore.  This is proved when Kida looks at the open pages of the book reverently but without understanding anything on them.

The other part of the search that pulls her and Milo together is that no one remembers why Atlantis sank.  Kida has a personal reason to want this knowledge, but I’ll let you see that for yourself.

On his end of the deal, Milo finds in Kida someone eager for the knowledge he has to offer.  Acting as a translator for the Atlantean writing Kida doesn’t understand, Milo is finally able to share the thrill of discovering new knowledge with someone who wants to learn as much as he does.  And she proceeds to help him straighten out his jerky pronunciation of the Atlantean tongue.  Kida describes his accent thus: “Boorish.  Provincial.  And you speak it through your nose.”

She’s probably the only one on the planet who could get away with giving him such a verdict on his pronunciation in that particular manner!

It is this thirst for learning that brings him and Kida together.  Physical beauty has no bearing on the inner beauty of a man or woman, something Milo knows by instinct if he cannot articulate it.

That is why Helga fails to lure Milo in and why Kida is able to catch him.  Helga is stunningly beautiful but she has no desire to learn anything more than what’s necessary for her to gain the life of luxury she wants.  Oddly enough Kida, the woman born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth, has the passion to learn and keep learning when as a princess she does not have to.

Animation and lack of typical Disney songs aside, the movie scores in the way it brings evil crashing to the ground and restores good to the throne.

My one big quibble with Disney over the film is that they have never bothered to count Kida in their roster of princesses.  They probably didn’t do this for two reasons.  First, the movie flopped at the box office.  Second, by the end of the movie Kida is queen of Atlantis and no longer its princess.  (No, I am not telling you why!!!)

But when Disney is counting its film heroine Mulan among the ranks of the franchise’s fictional royalty (Mulan is NOT royalty in any way, shape, or form), it feels a little bit like a slight to the fans.  The argument can also be made that certain other Disney characters deserve billing with the more popular royalty: Giselle from Enchanted; Simba’s daughter Kiara; and Ariel’s daughter Melody are also not included with Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, etc.  So at least Kida is in good company.  She’d be in better company if Disney listed her with its more popular princesses, but beggars can’t be choosers, right?

On that note, then, I leave you until tomorrow, my tortured DiNozzo!

Later,

Mithril

A ‘Brave’ Thing to Do

Brave

Hey, DiNozzo!

I’ll take that Klondike bar, thank you very much!  Now, for your punishment, you have to listen to me talk about Disney’s Brave.

Hah!  I knew you hadn’t heard of it.  Ooh, this is going to be fun!

Well for me it is, Tony.  You’re making up for that nasty joke about books, so it’s not supposed to be too much fun for you

Stop rolling your eyes, or I’ll hit you with what’s left of this Klondike bar!

Good.  Now, to business!  Brave is an animated movie set in – tenth century Scotland, I believe.  May want to recommend it to Ducky, now that I think of it.  The protagonist is headstrong, fierce Princess Merida.  A teenager with her sights set on adventure, Merida is a great horsewoman and, through practice from childhood, an amazing archer.  She has this trail in the forest near the castle that she rides with her Clydesdale, Angus, from time to time.  As she rides, she fires arrows at preset targets, hitting the center every time.

Actually, no, she doesn’t get to ride this trail every day.  I was under the impression she rode it about every weekend or something. 

Yes, she’s not allowed to do this more than once a week or so.  But it’s not because her father won’t let her.

Her mother does not like Merida running off to fire arrows at the trees.  It’s quite unladylike in Queen Eleanor’s opinion, and a proper princess should behave more like a lady than like a warrior.

Yup, you guessed it.  Merida and Eleanor don’t see eye to eye, at least not during most of the film.

This problem arose over time, with Eleanor trying to make Merida into a lady while Merida found every possible way to avoid fitting into the mold her mother had sized for her.  This constant fighting has reached the point that both women, when they speak to each other, never hear what the other has to say because they’re too busy listening to their own voices.  In short, neither is willing to admit the other has a point.  It is their way or the highway.

The trouble comes to a head when Merida is to be betrothed.  Each suitor, the oldest boy in his family, has to compete for Merida’s hand in a tournament.  The interesting thing is that Merida gets to choose what feat of arms they must accomplish to win her hand.

Right on again, Tony.  She picks archery.

So the three suitors from opposing clans each fire at the target.  The first two miss but the third – a midget with a vacant expression for most of his part in the movie – is startled into hitting the target dead center.

You think Merida’s in trouble?

Well, you’re half right.  But she has no intention of marrying this dopey boy – or either of the others.  One final contestant, hidden beneath a cloak, approaches the target.  When the figure lifts the hood, it’s revealed to be Merida!

As the oldest in her family, Merida says that she will “be shooting for my own hand!”

And she does, splitting the winning suitor’s arrow down the middle.  But Eleanor is right behind her, and boy does the fur fly when the two return to the castle.

Eleanor is distraught not only that her daughter has broken custom with this unladylike act, but she has also put a treaty among all four clans in grave danger of being broken.  Merida, however, does not care about this.  All she wants is her freedom to do what she enjoys: being a tomboy.  The argument hits fever pitch when Merida takes an axe and cuts a tapestry of her family (which her mother was embroidering) down the middle. 

In thoughtless retaliation, Eleanor throws Merida’s beloved bow into a nearby hearth fire, stating that she will marry her betrothed the next day.  Merida hardly hears this because the sight of her bow being eaten by the fire chases her out of the room.  So she’s not around when Eleanor, realizing what she’s done, frantically retrieves the scorched bow and puts the fire out, breaking down into tears when it becomes obvious the bow won’t be firing anymore arrows ever again.

Leaving the castle in tears, Merida ends up meeting a witch hiding in the forest some distance outside the castle.  The woman’s more than a little batty, but Merida manages to get her to sell her a spell to “change my mother.”

Yes, you got it; this is where things take a bad turn.  The witch cooks up the spell right enough, but instead of changing Eleanor’s mind concerning her decisions about Merida’s future, it changes her – into a huge bear!

Now, living somewhere outside the castle is a ‘demon’ bear called Mor’du.  Merida’s father, King Fergus, has a vendetta with this creature since it took his leg when Merida was a child.  So Merida’s big problem is that, if her father finds her mother in this altered state, he’ll hunt her down and kill her.

Thankfully, Merida and Eleanor (an anthropomorphic bear who can no longer speak) escape before her father sees what’s happened.  Merida goes back to the witch’s cottage with her mother in tow, hoping that she can change her back into a woman.  But the witch has gone and won’t be back for months; the only clue she leaves to Merida to help her get her mother back to normal is that they have to “mend the bond torn by pride.”

This isn’t easy as neither woman is willing to admit she’s wrong; but by and by, they sort it out and Merida’s mother is changed back.

No, I’m not going to tell you how it ends beyond that!  Firstly, I’d spoil the movie.  Secondly, the next part of your punishment is that you have to watch it for yourself.

Why did I write you if that was the point?  Because this is a really good film that breaks a long, long pattern in most films of the last several years.  I realize I’ve lost you, DiNozzo, sit still and let me clarify.   

Thank you.  Now listen to these titles and tell me what happens in each movie with the daughter in it: The Little Mermaid, The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride, Taken, The Lord of the Rings, and Aladdin.

Yes, all have headstrong daughters rebelling, but against their fathers.  Ariel loves the human Eric against the wishes of King Triton; Kiara falls for Outlander Kovu although he is sent to kill her father, Simba; Liam Neeson’s character in Taken has a daughter who rebels against his protective instincts by hiding that she is travelling all over Europe and not just Paris, as she told him (and she pays the price later on); Arwen falls in love with and marries mortal Aragorn, becoming mortal herself and separating for all time from her father, Elrond; and in Aladdin, Jasmine refuses to marry any of her suitors.

In all these movies, it is daughter against father.  The last time I saw a story with daughter versus mother was in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, where Ariel’s ocean-loving daughter Melody leaves the safety of her parents’ kingdom to find answers about her heritage, a move she nearly comes to direly regret.  Freaky Friday is another similar story, but these are almost exceptions to the general trend.

This is why I like Brave so much.  It is far truer to a daughter’s nature than most of these other stories.  Fathers are protective and can make mistakes in regard to their daughters.  But when daughter and mother are both sure that the other is wrong and that they are right, oh boy, head for the hills.  We are talking about very serious, very ugly, cat fights that usually end in forgiveness – but sometimes don’t. 

And as Merida and Eleanor showed the audience, the ones who get hurt the most in these disputes tend to be mother and daughter.  So watch your step around the ladies, DiNozzo.  I’d prefer you didn’t get scratched – unless you earned it somehow.

I’m not saying you would, just that it’s a possibility.   Like that time you were undercover and met Jeanne’s mom?

Now you get it.

Well, time to go.  Thanks for the Klondike.  Next time we go back to The Hobbit.

What?  I told you, when I get in a groove, it takes me a while to get out of it.  Would you rather we talked about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Spongebob Squarepants?

I thought not.  Now get going, you’re making me angry. 😛

Later,

Mithril 

Picture 011