Troll Hunting

Even if I have a regular subscription to Netflix now, I try not to binge-watch and just pick a few enjoyable episodes/programs to relax after a long work day. The latest series that I finished is not a mainstream trending topic because, well, it’s in the children’s category. When I saw that DreamWorks and Guillermo del Toro had an animated series voiced by the late Anton Yelchin, I knew I had to watch it.

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I didn’t know of the books it was based on, but Trollhunters season one is a TV series for everyone, not just kids. If you need something light-hearted and funny, then have a go at it. The pacing and foundation of the mythology takes a while. There are no limits to streaming channels, anyways. By the end of the 26 episodes, though, you’ll feel like Jim, Toby, Claire, Blinky, and AAARRRGGHH!!! is your new squad. Because of repetition, you’ll also be able to memorize Jim’s lines when he whips out his amulet thingie:

For the glory of Merlin, daylight is mine to command!

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For a TV budget, the animation is very impressive. Del Toro was quoted to have been grateful to the team who really stretched the limits of imagination and went the extra mile to create something magical for the small screens. Of course, what brings the animation to life are the voices behind it and the late Anton Yelchin did a brilliant job in articulating the woes of teenage life while training to be a hero. Del Toro assures, however, that Yelchin is not going to “leave” the program despite his death because as it turns out, they have material to last until another season. Yep, they’ve just been renewed for season 2! Woohoo!

For comedic punchlines, I LOOOOVE Toby, voiced by Charlie Saxton. He’s super funny and chubby and cute, but so are Blinky, the wise and formal mentor of Jim and AAARRRGGHH!!!, Toby’s wingman and the group’s muscle guy/troll. The characters are voiced by Kelsey Grammer and Fred Tatasciore, respectively. Claire’s okay. I like the boys better.

Speaking of funny moments, the best laugh out loud moment for me was when Toby adopted a gnome and named it…

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GNOME CHOMPSKY

(I want their Funko Pops! AAAAAARGHHHH)

The first season ended on a cliffhanger and will be continued with 13 more episodes in the next installment. I’m now a fan and I’m even considering watching it again just for fun. I am glad I found this gem on Netflix and I can’t wait for next season!

Songs of a Beast

Caught at a very vulnerable moment (plus the hormonal time of the month), I burst into tears and a river flowed from my heart today when I listened to a new song from Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast soundtrack. The film will be out soon in my region, and Disney’s full throttle in promoting teasers and snippets and live social media schedules but THIS caught my interest the most.

Sung by the classical-pop crossover sensation Josh Groban, it expresses the emotional side of the tough but lonely Beast’s longing for Belle. In the animated movie, everybody except the cursed man had a feature song. Written by award-winning composers Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin) and Tim Rice (The Lion King), here’s Evermore.

Now I know she’ll never leave me

Even as she fades from view

She will still inspire

Be a part of everything I do

Wasting in my lonely tower

Waiting by an open door

I’ll fool myself, she’ll walk right in

And as the long, long nights begin

I’ll think of all that might have been

Waiting here for evermore.

It’s just so…SAD. Cursed human or not, it’s just a universal feeling of melancholy and helplessness when all you could hope is for the one you love to stay forever. The orchestration and arrangement are beautifully done, but fans have to wait how non-singer Dan Stevens, who plays the Beast in the film, does this justice. We’ve all seen and put on repeat how snippets of Emma Watson’s singing has become viral. Disney’s choices to cast non-singers in lead roles to perform is making me curious, and maybe Stevens will be a revelation. Josh Gad, Luke Evans, especially Audra McDonald, have the pipes. Behind-the-scenes footage reveals how great they were (McDonald’s singing a new track too which sounded lovely).

Groban’s rendition will be hard to top, but Stevens, like Watson, might pull it off with simplicity and earnestness that will still make longtime fans of this fairy tale moved (or cry like I did).

Looking at the video’s comments made me remember that there was a Broadway staging of Beauty and the Beast with Alan Menken in charge of the musical too. I researched and found out that Groban also recorded an older Beast song titled If I Can’t Love Her. Same theme, choppier sentences, same soaring melody. The singer included this track in his Broadway covers album called Stages.

Evermore feels like an extended version of this one! I can’t wait to see the movie. Some reviews are in, but I usually just take it with a grain of salt not until I’ve seen it myself.

The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical

Yep, you read the title right! The author, Rick Riordan, promoted it himself on his social media accounts (despite him not seeing it himself) so I checked it out.

Heyyyy. Percy’s looking real gorgeous, ain’t he? *swoon* Well check him out singing. Lovely voice. The lyrics capture exactly what Percy’s life is all about in the beginning. I am curious how the rest of his life will play out though. Hmm.

I’m pretty much soaking up everything in the Rick Riordan-related fandom (except for Magnus Chase because for some unexplainable reason, I’m still having a hard time reading it). I’ll be supporting every adaptation that is made, and my musically-inclined self is pretty excited about this off-Broadway. Come to think of it, this could draw younger crowd to musical theater again. I saw Matilda on Broadway and the demography was composed of who you would see on a field trip, but it was fun.

For all of you in the U.S., it’s gonna start screening on March 23.

 

Emma Watson Sings!

You didn’t think the cast of the live movie adaptation would sing, would you?

 

Here’s a sample of Emma Watson’s take on “Something More”:

 

She doesn’t sound like a professional singer, but her sweet voice rings a lot of sincerity in it. Belle’s songs have been sung countless of times before, but could anyone ever replace Angela Lansbury’s “Beauty and the Beast”? Let’s wait and see.

 

Sometimes Guardians are Monsters

When I saw the trailer a few weeks back, I made a mental note that this film was a must watch. My two girl friends and I went to the cinema to watch it on the last day before the film switch for the week, and the movie did not disappoint. It also made us weep quite a lot!

Thoughts on the Film

The visual effects were spectacular. It was a delight that the three tales had its own kind of animation. Liam Neeson’s voice fits the low, gravelly sound of Papa Groot (sorry, can’t help it), and while there was a lot of authority and command, he/it sounded gentle and consoling enough for the troubled boy.

Its emotional appeal and tug at the heartstrings were beautifully executed in the narrative. It just had the right kind of nostalgia for Conor’s confusion with his attachment and detachment to his mother and her terminal illness. Felicity Jones had the perfect kind of tenderness for a (dying) mom. Despite little or limited screen exposure, she was very effective.

Somehow, when thinking of guardians of children facing life issues, I am reminded of The BFG and My Neighbor Totoro. But since we’re dealing with illness and death, the Hayao Miyazaki classic has similar elements here for the protagonist to survive difficult emotions.

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While Totoro and the sisters had secret adventures, Conor’s realizations were challenged by stories. These stories mostly dealt with themes of justice, prejudice, belief, and choices. In the end, he had to tell his own story: the truth.

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It was a nice closure for Conor to discover his mother’s artwork…and how, it seems, that the monster was the guardian that she had designated for him.

Thoughts on the Book

The title was out of stock in all branches of National Bookstore, so I went to Fully Booked to search for it. I was excited to read again about the three tales, and the book had a more menacing monster yet still fantastic illustration.

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The only major difference of the book from the movie adaptation was that there was no mention of Conor’s mom as an artist. Because the author, Patrick Ness, also wrote the film screenplay, I think it was a good move that the last few scenes had contextualized what was missing from the original text.

A minor omission from the book came in the form of Lily, Conor’s sort of female best friend. She fiercely protected him, and he was more vulnerable in that sense. It worked in the screenplay, though, that book character Lily was absent so that the focus would be on Conor’s solitude.

For a YA novel, the book on its own could be heavy material for anyone. My friend, who read the book first before watching the film, had to process herself after finishing the sad but inevitable end. Therefore, my recommendation would be to watch the visual form first before reading it.

This is definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen in 2016.