Movies

Movie Review: Over the Moon (Spoiler-Free)

Over the Moon (2020) - IMDb

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Intro

The trailer of this movie looked cute and fun enough that I was willing to wake up early on a Saturday to watch it.

Background

This movie is a 2020 Chinese-American musical that fits into the genre of Fantasy. It is a Netflix original family movie made in collaboration with Pearl Studio.

The movie stars Cathy Ang, Phillipa Soo, Ken Jeong, John Cho, Ruthie Ann Miles, Margaret Cho, and Sandra Oh.

Summary

A 12-year-old girl named Fei Fei has difficulty coping after the tragic death of her mother. When a new woman comes into her father’s life years later, Fei Fei is not ready to move on or accept this potential stepmother.

Fei Fei used to listen to her mother’s stories about Chang’e. Chang’e from the stories is a loyal woman who waits eternally on the moon for Houyi, her one true love. Fei Fei believes that if she can prove Chang’e is real, her father will remember how much he loved her mother and reject this new woman.

The story is one of a child grieving and moving on after loss.

Pros

  • Relatable characters with strong character arcs
  • Creative use of old Chinese story and some newly created myths
  • Deals realistically with serious topics such as death and grief
  • Unpredictable
  • Songs that add to the narrative and affect the mood
  • Intriguing setting
  • Bright color scheme likely to grab attention of children
  • The food looks appealing
  • Fun for a wide audience

Cons

  • Songs not catchy like Disney songs
  • Alice in Wonderland vibes may be over-the-top for some viewers
  • Transition to Lunaria a bit jarring

Review

Characters

Netflix's 'Over the Moon' is an animated musical from Glen Keane - Insider
Fei Fei

Fei Fei is a 12-year-old girl who loves stories, so much so that when her family disbelieves the story of Chang’e, she embarks on a journey to reach the moon to prove the story is true.

The realistic depiction of grief and the way it has hardened her heart against her potential stepmother and stepbrother gives her depth as a character.

Her development throughout the movie is believable and easy to sympathize or empathize with.

Over the Moon - Din Tai Fung
Chin

Chin is an 8-year-old boy who attempts to befriend Fei Fei. He has a pet frog and believes he has a superpower that lets him break through walls. He is amusing, likeable, and sweet.

Over the Moon' review: Netflix animated film overshoots - Los Angeles Times

Chang’e, when we meet her, is self-absorbed and manipulative. In the past, when she was with Houyi, she was known for her kindness. She is a singer who puts on performances and delights in costume changes.

Mythology

The Moon Goddess Chang E - Unidentified artist, after Tang Yin.jpg
The Moon Goddess Chang’e

The myth of Chang’e is tragic and the entire movie revolves around it. Fei Fei’s mother first tells the story of how Chang’e ascended to the moon after swallowing two pills that grant immortality, one which had been meant for her lover Houyi. There are various reasons given for her swallowing both, whether it was accidental or deliberate, necessary or unnecessary. The consequence is that she ascends to the moon without her lover, where she waits for him.

The movie adds to the myth by including the space dog, which takes a bite of the moon every night, and is said to be the reason the moon has phases. Additionally, in the movie, creatures called Lunettes are created by the tears of Chang’e.

Message

Audrey Wells Picture
Audrey Wells

The story was written by Audrey Wells, who wrote the story as a message to her family. Wells knew she would not live long enough to see the movie in its final form due to cancer, so the movie is about how to move on after the loss of a loved one.

Wells died on October 4, 2018.

Plot

The plot was not very predictable. I made numerous predictions during the movie, and most of them were completely wrong. I appreciate that the movie, even though its primary audience is children and families, was not cliché like many movies aimed at that audience.

The way that the story was told literally made my eyes tear up at parts, which is a testament to how well the message came across.

Songs

Video of the Day: Phillipa Soo's “Ultraluminary” from Netflix's “Over the  Moon” | Krypton Radio
Chang’e, the Moon Goddess

The songs were narrative in nature, helping to tell the story. They were not as catchy as Disney songs, but I still felt that they added depth and appeal to the movie. The best song was probably “Ultraluminary,” sung by Phillipa Soo.

Setting

Final 'Over the Moon' Trailer Enters Lunaria and Introduces a Diva Moon  Goddess | Animation Magazine
Lunaria

Keane’s inspiration from the city of Lunaria came from Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” album cover and the art of Joan Miró.

Pink Floyd - The Dark Side Of The Moon - Experience Version - Amazon.com  Music
The cover of “The Dark Side of the Moon”
“Horse, Pipe, and Red Flower” by Joan Miró

The bright color scheme is likely to appeal to children, and the creative atmosphere is likely to appeal to all ages. Lunaria has orbiting bodies that surround the city like the rings of Saturn. The randomness of the setting contributed to the Alice in Wonderland vibes and the jarring transition. Personally, I can barely stand Alice in Wonderland, but this movie still manages to be thoroughly enjoyable for me.

Food

Over the Moon cast on what an Asian-American animated movie means for them  - Polygon
Over the Moon - Din Tai Fung

The food looked so good during each meal, and the mooncakes were so delicious they made me want to make some myself. I have had mooncakes before at college, and while watching, the superb animation of the food brought back memories of the taste.

Conclusion

This movie will appeal to Disney fans, and is a charming musical for children and families. Even as a college student, I found it fun to watch with my roommate.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate movies, check out my rating system.

Links

Humor, Life

The Art of Bluffing (for Essay Questions)

person catching light bulb

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to be serious. Bluffing is a strategy that should only be used as a last resort, if you have no idea how to answer an essay question. Be sure to study hard for your exams and not wait until the last minute.

What is bluffing?

In this article, bluffing means writing an answer to an essay question as if you know what you are doing even when you have no idea what you are doing. This article will outline my top 5 tips for how to bluff an essay question effectively.

Tip #1: Show What You Know – “The Knowledge Dump”

File:The Battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July 3rd, 1863 MET DP831356.jpg -  Wikimedia Commons

With the blank page looming in front of you, it’s easy to focus on what you don’t know. Instead, take what little details you do know and emphasize those.

Maybe you don’t remember what happened in the Battle of Gettysburg. But you know what generally happens at battles–lots of casualties, bloodshed. And you know where it took place–Gettysburg, duh. Hopefully you remember it was a battle in the American Civil War, but even if you don’t, you could probably spin an answer worth a point or two.

If you do remember that it happened during the American Civil War, you could hazard a guess at which side won and what date. Give a date range when it may have happened if you’re not willing to take a chance.

For example:

The Battle of Gettysburg occurred in Gettysburg, PA around the 1860s (during the American Civil War). It was an occasion of great bloodshed and high numbers of casualties. It was a pivotal battle in the war, pitting the Union and Confederate soldiers against each other in what became a bloodbath.

Sure, it’s not long, but with bluffing you have to be satisfied with whatever you come up with.

Tip #2: Use Key Words – “Parrot the Teacher

close up of a yellow and blue macaw

Does your teacher have favorite words? Does the particular field you are studying have technical words or jargon you can fall back on? Maybe it’s an English class and you are given a vague prompt like “Compare and contrast Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.”

And oops, you happened to have only read the CliffsNotes. (Not that I advocate that in any way. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a masterpiece, and frankly, you are missing out if you haven’t read it.)

Instead of: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are different in many ways.

Try: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are foils, polar opposites who are nonetheless are attracted to each other. Their personalities are complementary yet differ greatly.

Tip #3: Feign Confidence – “Show No Fear”

text

Teachers can smell fear.

Nah, not really. But if you seem uncertain about your answers, they’ll be able to tell. Even if you have no idea what you are talking about, write it clearly and without hesitation.

Avoid saying that you believe or think something – if you write the sentence, it is already obvious that you believe it.

Avoid these words: slightly, maybe, seems, appears to, perhaps, may be, possibly, in my opinion, I think, I believe

Tip #4: Fill the Page – “Quantity, not Quality”

yellow rubber ducks

If you don’t know what to write, just write. Repeat the same idea in as many different ways as possible. Discuss how you feel about the topic, even if that does not seem relevant.

For example:

Evolution is built on the idea that changes in organisms and the development of species occurs through natural selection and chance. This, of course, means that the results could be described as accidental. If the results are accidental, this implies that there is no purpose behind design….

This example repeats itself multiple times with slight differences, filling as much space as possible with a single idea. It is not, however, completely obvious that this is what is happening.

Tip #5: Answer a Different Question – “Be Evasive!”

If you can’t answer the question given, answer a slightly different question you do think you could answer. This is not the easiest one to pull off, which is why it is number five. The reason is, most teachers realize you have neglected to answer the actual question.

Actual Question: Why does the author of the book we have just read make the curtains in the living room red?

Question you answer: What emotions are commonly associated with the color red?

Even though you will have evaded the question, it will sound like a thorough analysis of why the curtains were red.

Conclusion

Once again, this article is not meant to be serious. Bluffing is a strategy that should only be used as a last resort, if you have no idea how to answer an essay question. Be sure to study hard for your exams and not wait until the last minute.

If you’re a college student, good luck with finals!

Shows

Show Review: Sherlock Season 3 (Spoiler-Free)

Sherlock' and Its Woman - The Atlantic

Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

Intro

Season 1 and 2 were phenomenal, so watching Season 3 was a no-brainer.

As this is a spoiler-free review, I will limit how much I reveal of the plot.

This review contains no spoilers for Season 3, but it does contain spoilers for Season 1 and 2.

Background

Sherlock Season 3 aired in 2014 and was produced by BBC and Hartswood films. It is based off of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books, but instead of being placed in Victorian England, the show is set in modern-day London.

The show stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Mark Gatiss, Louise Brealey, Andrew Scott, and Amanda Abbington.

In addition to being nominated for various awards, Sherlock won in three categories in the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Summary

Last season, the villain Moriarty and Sherlock went head to head, which ended with Sherlock’s apparent suicide to save his friends. The final episode of Season 2 offered a glimpse of Sherlock alive–and fans had to wait until Season 3 for an explanation.

Season 3 basically establishes a plausible way Sherlock could have survived and inserts him back into Watson’s life. That doesn’t go as Sherlock planned, and he discovers there is someone new in Watson’s life–the witty Mary Morstan.

Pros

  • Phenomenal acting
  • Immersive setting highly relevant to a modern-day audience
  • Strong character development
  • Benefit of a familiar character with a new spin
  • Benefit of a new and intriguing characters
  • Realistic emotional reactions to Sherlock showing up again
  • Dynamic of Sherlock, Watson, and Mary
  • Villain who is easy to hate
  • Intelligent, occasionally comical, script
  • Engaging plot
  • Catchy theme song and music
  • Development of the concept of a mind palace
  • Satisfying answer to how Sherlock survived

Cons

  • Nothing that I could think of.

Review

Acting

The acting, especially by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, was incredible. They both played their parts well.

All of the fantastic and obnoxious qualities of Sherlock were brought out and emphasized. 

This season brings the talents of Amanda Abbington to the screen as Mary Morstan. The way that the actors for Sherlock, Watson and Mary interact shows great chemistry and skill.

Character Development

This season, we see Sherlock become increasingly more human as he spends more time with Watson and Mary. He shows actual affection for Watson in particular, but also Mary as he gets to know her. So much for “high-functioning sociopath.”

He is still his usual thoughtless self, however, which is shown in the way he springs the news of his survival to Watson like a joke. Like, haha, you grieved me and then moved on for two years, but I was alive the whole time! Hilarious, right?

I could have slapped him. That is a mark of a good story though–caring enough about the characters to be disappointed in them when they do wrong. Watson’s reaction was entirely realistic and understandable.

Watson develops as a person through his relationship with Mary. Unlike with his previous relationships, this one does not pull him away from Sherlock. Mary instead takes an active part in their lives and adds to their duo.

New Characters

Mary Watson (BBC series) | Heroes and Villains Wiki | Fandom

Mary Morstan is an incredible character with a lot of depth to her. She is the one person who can see through Sherlock’s lies.

Rather than being a hindrance to the team of Sherlock and Watson, she is an asset with a skill set of her own. Sherlock and Watson both appreciate her skills.

Charles Augustus Magnussen | Villains Wiki | Fandom

Magnussen is a new villain in Season 3. Even though Moriarty has his own issues with licking things, Magnussen is worse because he licked a person. Nonetheless, he is very intelligent. He is called “the Napoleon of blackmail.”

Script

The script is frequently witty and well-written. One of my favorite quotes in this season is said by Sherlock after Watson says he has moved on with his life:

What life? I’ve been away.”

Sherlock

This emphasizes Sherlock’s thoughtlessness while adding to the humor of the episode.

When it is suggested that Sherlock does not understand human nature, he replies:

Nature? No….

Human? No.”

Sherlock

Another quote I enjoy is by Mrs. Hudson. She is complaining about the small role that she has in Watson’s stories.

I’m your landlady, not a plot device.”

Mrs. Hudson

Sherlock Season 3 is chock-full of quotable material, demonstrating how witty and worthwhile the show is.

Music

The theme song of Sherlock is catchy enough to get stuck in my head. The show also uses music at critical moments to increase humor. One instance of that is when Watson tackles Sherlock, the musical sequence playing in the background is energetic and funny.

Conclusion

If you liked Season 1 and 2, Season 3 will not disappoint. If anything, the addition of Mary makes the story even more interesting and humorous.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

Links

Movies

Movie Review: What a Girl Wants (Spoiler-Free)

Whatagirlwants.jpg

Rating: 6.0 out of 10 stars

Intro

This is part of a series of reviews on my friend’s childhood favorite movies. My friends and I have decided to “share our childhoods” with each other. They insisted I watch this movie with them.

Below I hash out the pros and cons that earned this movie 6 stars.

Background

What a Girl Wants, released in 2003, is based on a play called The Reluctant Debutante by William Douglas-Home. It falls into the category of Comedy and was intended for a teen audience.

The movie stars Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth, and Kelly Preston.

Summary

17-year-old Daphne Reynolds, a New York City gal who grew up without her father, decides to go on a trip to England to meet him for the first time. Hilarity ensues.

Pros

  • Charming, innocent plot
  • Likable heroine
  • Catchy music suited to the theme
  • Humorous dialogue

Cons

  • No surprises
  • Very cheesy and cliché

Review

Plot

While the plot is predictable enough, it was enjoyable to watch.

It started out with a story about Daphne’s parents, Libby Reynolds and Henry Dashwood. They met in Northern Africa, when Libby fell and rolled down a hill before being unceremoniously caught by Henry when she had almost reached the bottom. Ouch! (Seriously, Henry, try saving the damsel-in-distress a little faster next time.)

Apparently impressed by his heroically sloth-like rescue attempt, Libby predictably falls in love. Then the two were married in a possibly legally illegitimate Bedoin wedding.

Henry brings Libby home to his family, who are less than thrilled, them being typical rich snobs while Libby is the hippie singer type. Due to a misunderstanding engineered by an advisor who is a pain (is that why he is called Mr. Payne?), Libby leaves England for the United States without Henry ever finding out she is pregnant.

Daphne wants to meet her father desperately, so she travels to England alone, a fact that her mother seems completely unconcerned about.

I feel like half of me is missing.”

Daphne Reynolds

She soon meets a boy I will call Mr. Obvious Love Interest and sees her father the same day.

What a Girl Wants (2003) - Rotten Tomatoes

From there, things are pretty cookie-cutter fairy tale. She is foiled in most of her plans by Ms. Potential Future Stepmother and the Snobby Potential Future Stepsister. And it all ends…exactly how anyone would expect.

It is like many early Disney movies–incredibly cheesy and fun anyway.

The Heroine

What a Girl Wants (2003) - IMDb

Daphne is sweet, spunky, naïve…actually, listen to “Mother Knows Best” from the movie Tangled. The way Mother Gothel describes Rapunzel pretty much sums up Daphne.

Nevertheless, it is fun to see her flaunting convention in every way possible just by being herself.

Music

The music complements the movie and includes some 80s and 90s music. It also fits Daphne’s personality and upbringing well.

Dialogue

The dialogue is refreshingly humorous and light-hearted. Below I share two of my favorite comments from the movie.

No hugging, dear. I’m British. We only show affection to dogs and horses.

Jocelyn Dashwood

I don’t give a flying fart in space what you think!”

Henry Dashwood

Conclusion

This movie was fun to watch once, but I would be unlikely to watch it again. Pretty much, if you like cheesy Disney movies, watch it. If you want something deeper, keep looking.

Rating System

If you want to know how I rate movies, check out my rating system.