Thursday, May 26, 2016

Terror or Terrible Ideas?

"You unlock this door with the key of imagination, behind it is another dimension. A dimension of commercialism. A dimension of carelessness. A dimension of disappointment. You are moving into a land that lacks taste and substance of things and ideas, you've just crossed over into the Disneyland Resort!"

    Recently, many rumors have circulated regarding the ever-popular Tower of Terror at Disneyland. Apparently, being a renowned attraction (one with plenty of thought and taste put into it, not to mention its major following) isn't enough anymore as Disney supposedly plans to change the attraction into a Guardians of the Galaxy-themed ride. I'd read several articles on this proposed plan before visiting Disneyland last week where I bought this little goody, in honor of the potential end of the Tower. Another rumor circulating is that Disney will be filming another Tower of Terror movie soon too (What? Steven Guttenburg isn't good enough for you?), so I don't know what would make them think it's a good idea to get rid of it now, of all times!

    While there however, I was disappointed once more with another change: the entire Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree, Big Thunder Ranch Petting Zoo, Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue, and (as far as I could tell) Miss Chris' Cabin as well - that whole end of what was Frontierland - is dust. Pure dust. All for the upcoming Star Wars land. 

   Although I knew this was happening, this one hit close to home. As I was once as Disneyland cast member (not to mention one who spent most of her time at the Jamboree), I'm well aware that things change and change often at the resort. However, it's what is changing lately that really breaks my heart. I can't help but feel concerned for all the other parts of Disneyland that are iconic and loved by all, because if the decision makers behind these plans are in charge (and they are) let's not be surprised if they just decide to demolish the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, or even the castle itself. After all why wouldn't they? Can't you just see them making Pirates into something Captain America-themed? Or the Mansion into a Thor ride, or how about the Castle as Tony Stark's lab? (They couldn't just turn ToonTown into dust? No one likes ToonTown!) What I'm getting at here, is that I'm simply tired of a trend that doesn't seem to want to die - and this is because it more than a trend now, it is a change in the entire film industry, a change that is worsening things all together, in my opinion. 

   Honestly, there's nothing wrong with making a superhero movie. Comics have been around for ages and we are a culture that loves them. As a film student, one of my favorite courses was adaptation screenwriting, so I do have a strong appreciation for it. That being said, there is a level of integrity that shouldn't be forgotten when it comes to story-telling, film making, and screenwriting. That integrity comes with originality, whether it be from original pieces of work (something we rarely see in theaters these days) or just original ways of re-telling an existing story/entity that becomes a film adaptation. Unfortunately, the mass trend of these on-going superhero movies (Marvel, DC, etc.), even the mass commercialism and expansion of Star Wars, is constantly diminishing this integrity, and Disney, along with other studios, is also at fault for making them into what they are: essentially piles of CGI.

   Think about it, when you go to the movies today, you're not watching films. In fact, you haven't been watching "film" for years as digital has become the standard, but now more than ever, you're not watching a movie. You're kind of watching a video game, because these mass produced "movies" - and I use quotations because we're dealing with projects that are all-form-and-no-content, highly lacking originality - are so packed with CGI that the CGI isn't even for special effects, it is literally for everything you see on screen. It's a wonder there are make up artists and prop artists still. Again, I want to reiterate that I'm not against comic book movies, and not against CGI as a whole - I just think too much of anything is a terrible thing. Just like too much sugar and junk food will make you fat - superheroes and CGI are making a film industry with no opportunity for anything but movies like these.  

   Take the newer Alice and Wonderland films, for example. Alice in Wonderland is one of those insane stories that can be adapted in so many terrible ways or so many great ways. When Tim Burton took on the iconic tale, we were genuinely excited, expecting him to leave his great stamp of original style on this story, as he has with many adaptations before. What we got instead was another CGI filled mash-up of wackiness. I like to think Disney took most of the control of these films and just used his name on the poster. I also like to think of what he could have done: imagine a real and true Tim Burton style Alice in Wonderland, imagine if he used stop-animation like he used to, imagine it being similar to Jan Svankmajer's Alice, but with the old-school, dark Tim Burton twist. I notice that I now like to imagine many poorly done adaptations done well, with just the right amount of CGI. 

   So what does all this CGI/superhero trend talk have to do with the Tower of Terror? It has to do with the fact that we are most likely saying goodbye an incredibly designed, well-thought out ride with a story and theme all its own, and welcoming another Marvel movie attraction. For whatever reason, it cannot seem to just stand alongside Guardians of the Galaxy (but Bugsland can?!) instead Marvel wins again - as they, and others like them, always do, even if it's over an iconic ride/story/film, apparently anything at Disney is replaceable. The same, of course, can be said about the loss of Big Thunder Ranch as a whole - again, Star Wars wins. 

   Generally, it'd be great if filmmakers and studio heads could appreciate the integrity that comes with originality and explore that. But it seems they won't. It's cheaper to make movies out of comic books people already like than it is to be risky and write something new. It's apparently cheaper to make the same movie just over and over again like Spider Man... All in all, now that I have vented, it is time to put these thoughts to rest. I shall stop complaining - and start writing (since no one else seems to be)!

Here are a few shots of some characters and me at the ever-fun Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Who's The Baddest Witch In Town?

What better way to celebrate Friday the 13th than adopting a Halloween-colored kitten?! Meet Fiona. Fiona Goode, of course. My little Supreme. 

    For months my mother and I have been missing our cat, Trouble, who passed away just days before last Halloween. We grieved for months, but soon felt the urge to give the love we had in hearts to a new kitty (or two). As I now live with my parents for the time being, I felt it was important for us to at least have one sweet kitty about the house, but my mom brought up the idea of the two of us each adopting our own, that way when I move out I'll have a kitty I can take with me. So last Friday, we brought home these two precious little beings: Fiona and Cocoa. 

     When we went into PetSmart the other night (great adoption program, with all rescue cats), I had originally planned on adopting this adorable black cat I'd had my eye on for weeks. However, the night we arrived, she had already been adopted. Although I was devastated, my mother encouraged me to give the other cats a chance, and I'm beyond grateful I did. First, my mother was drawn to Cocoa, a sweet, loving, and cuddly gray and white kitten of five months - shy at first, but a fun and joyful sweetheart as soon as she gets comfortable with you. Then, when I came in to meet the cats, I  met Cocoa's best friend (who she had been fostered with and loved dearly), my soon-to-be Fiona. The first interaction I had with her, she licked my hand, and sat on my lap purring - right then, I knew she was mine! 

     At first I struggled to name her. I wanted to call her Salem - my all-time favorite name. Sure, it's the name of Sabrina's cat, and the town of the Salem Witch Trials (which I'm obviously obsessed with), but it's also a beautiful name that means peace and love - so, let's be honest, I'll probably use the name for one of my future children. In which case, I didn't want to overuse it. Soon, I got to understand my little Halloween-colored Torti cat and the extent of her personality and attitude - and boy is there one! She's a complete badass with a mind of her own - much like my favorite AHS character, Fiona Goode. Once I realized how much she reminded me of a tough and fearless Fiona Goode, filled with character, the name just stuck. Overall, I'm so in love with Fiona and Cocoa and all the joy they are experiencing in their new home! 

(Clearly irritated I interrupted nap time...)