The Perfect Sequel: FINDING DORY

The first film I ever saw at the cinema was Finding Nemo back in 2003 and now, 13 years later, I went back to the exact same cinema to see the film’s sequel. It’s a feeling of nostalgia that I’ve only ever experienced from seeing Toy Story 3 and Monsters University before, but this film was something different to those altogether. Unlike both of them, this film wasn’t the third instalment in
the series and it wasn’t just a really modernised prequel to the original. Instead, this managed to be both a prequel and a sequel that was so close to the original film, at the same time as managing to feel unique.

Without giving away any spoilers, the plot of the story is actually a lot more interesting than I had anticipated. We follow Dory, Marlin and Nemo a year after the events of the first movie as Dory slowly begins to remember that she spent almost every moment of her life up to when she bumped into Marlin on his search for Nemo, trying to find her parents. The rest of the film follows Dory remembering things about her family through the means of flashbacks as well as making new friends and facing loads of different obstacles along the way. I thought the story would be like a carbon copy of the first movie, but it really wasn’t and was actually a much more gripping and dynamic tale to be compelled by and to be absorbed into.

Marlin and Nemo ask Fluke and Rudder with some help finding Dory

The visuals in the film were stunning, too. I watched Finding Nemo once again a few nights before going to see the movie and it’s incredible how different the two films look side by side. Obviously, animation has come on leaps and bounds since the first film was released in 2003, but it’s still amazing how much more beautiful this new movie is. With a film like Finding Dory, where you’re exploring a world that exists but we just don’t get to see, like under the sea, it’s breathtaking when the animators show you what they can do by making the ocean look so gorgeous. It’s a task that I can imagine is incredibly complicated, but it’s an effort which is greatly appreciated.

The music of the movie is stunning as well; Thomas Newman really has done a fantastic job in composing the very moving incidental music that makes up this score which I have gone back to and listened to on Spotify over and over again since seeing the film. It’s only really in animated movies that I realise the importance of underscored music in film and in a movie like this one – when done right – it really, really works. The voice cast were also spectacular with my total favourite being Sloane Murray who voiced Baby Dory. Every single time that cute bundle of blue appeared on the screen, my heart melted at the sound of her adorable voice.

Hank and Dory try to escape in Finding Dory

Whether you want to see this movie because you loved the original, or just because you want to experience the fantastic Disney short Piper which plays before the movie, you’re going to leave the pictures feeling extremely happy. It’s one of those movies that sticks in your heart for a long time after you’ve left the cinema and if you’re on-par with some of the jokes as well, you might still find yourself laughing at Sigourney Weaver’s random cameo days later…

Why Jon Favreau’s ‘THE JUNGLE BOOK’ is better than the original Disney classic

It’s no secret that I love Disney with all my heart and it’s also no secret that animation is an art form that continues to fascinate me as more and more advancements are made with it, so Jon Favreau’s latest blockbuster – the live action remake of Disney’s The Jungle Book – is the perfect fit for what my film-watching soul craves. Not only is this remake a fantastic reworking of the original classic that beats the 1967 movie’s script for sure, but it’s also a visual masterpiece in its design and feel; apart from Neel Sethi who plays Mowgli, every inch of the movie is computer animated to look as realistic as it possibly can. It’s not only a breathtaking idea but it’s equally as stunning when seen for yourself.

My main issue with Disney’s original animated movie was the serious lack of female characters. Gender-heavy movies have never played all too well with me and maybe it’s because I go to a mix-gendered school and keep mix-gendered friends, but I always fail to be convinced by an all-single gender cast no matter what I’m watching. Obviously, this isn’t necesarilly Disney’s fault as The Jungle Book originates from the original novel by Rudyard Kipling, but an effort to fix the problem would’ve been appreciated. This new incarnation however does add in a few more female characters with Scarlett Johannson voicing the originally-male snake Kaa, alongside Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha and Brighton Rose as Gray. It’s not too many women but in a movie that originally only had one female voice (as an Elephant that passed by – shoutout to Verna Felton), it’s a move in the right direction.

World-building in movies is another big love of mine and considering the original movie was set in the jungle, the world that they were in felt decidedly small. Perhaps it’s the contrast between the quite quiet backgrounds in the original movie and the busy, vibrant ones in the 2016 remake, but the jungle in this movie felt just as large as it was intended to feel; when we got to the edge of the jungle, I felt like we were actually at the edge of this wide and expansive jungle and we’d been going around this vast space for a very long time. Much like their adaptation of Into The Woods from 2014, Disney live action movies are getting good at creating believable worlds – especially when trees are involved.

It was also nice to see some music from the original film be used in this movie, despite the additions feeling slightly odd after a while. The full scale musical number of Bare Necessities didn’t feel like a strange addition to the piece as the song itself is sang within the context of the story, but when Christopher Walken’s King Louis starts singing I Wanna Be Like You, I started to get confused: why was this film suddenly bordering on a musical, when it hasn’t been at any other point in the movie so far? It was odd and kind of out of place, but I love musicals (of course) so it wasn’t all too hard to stomach. The film’s script was gorgeous though with much more heart than the original movie in my opinion; the new mother-son relationship between Gray and Mowgli made for a much more touching tale and the context of why Mowgli was in the jungle in the first place being explained at the start of the film made for an easier-to-understand movie, too.

Jon Favreau and the entire team on this film have managed to turn a well-loved but kind of poor movie into a cinematic masterpiece. Through its well-written storytelling, beautiful hands-on direction, and fantastic special effects throughout, the Disney live-action fairytale has never been more glorious.

The Surprise Success: Disney’s ZOOTROPOLIS

I won’t lie to you: when I first heard about Disney’s Zootopia (called ‘Zootropolis’ in Europe due to a popular zoo in Denmark called Zootopia refusing to let Disney use the title in Europe), I truly thought that it was going to be terrible. Despite them being something that you think are somewhat iconic, in my opinion, Disney movies centered around animals always fall short of the mark; it’s a field that I think Disney Pixar can wander through with success, but Disney Animation really haven’t hit the nail on the head with it for a very long time. Now I don’t know if it’s because my reservations were so negative or not, but the film exceeded my expectations by such a long shot that it took me by surprise even more than the shock plot twist at the end of the film did. Yes, this might well be one of the best non-Princess Disney movies since the likes of Tarzan in the 1990s.

The premise of the story and the moral behind it is what makes this such a successful and beautiful movie overall. We start by meeting a young rabbit named Judy Hopps who lives in her small town of bunny rabbits. After we discover her burning desire to become the first rabbit on the police force in the big city of Zootropolis, we see that she is constantly ridiculed for having such a wildly fanciful dream for a rabbit; a subtle nod to the affects of both racism and sexism. Flash forward many years and we learn that she put everything she could into making that dream a reality and when she says goodbye to Bunny Burrow to hop (pun was not intended!) on the train to the big city, I welled up. Shakira’s song Try Everything begins to play as we are greeted with the gorgeous visual of this vibrant and vast city of all different types of animals.

Upon arrival, it’s warming to know that this isn’t where the happiness for Judy Hopps begins. Keeping on with the theme of racism – and definitely with the theme of sexism as Hopps is the only police attendant that we get to see who is female – she is put on “traffic duty” instead of being allowed to fight crime. While on her duty, she teams up with super sleuth fox Nick Wilde after successfully stopping a serious crime and then inadvertently taking on a new and important job all for herself. Even when that task is finished, the story still doesn’t have a happy ending and it’s the fact that the main event of the film are these two outcasts of society (due to their species) succeeding despite the odds that shows you what this movie is truly about. It’s a movie about celebrating diversity and learning that nothing can stop a person from achieving their dreams. The undertones of combatting both racism and sexism are delightful throughout, with my favourite moment being when Nick Wilde calls Judy Hopps “cute” to which she responds with (and I paraphrase): “you can’t just call me cute. Only rabbits can call other rabbits cute… it’s weird otherwise” – Disney just managed to reference the use of the N-word in a kids movie! Genius!

Zootropolis really is a beautifully acted and well executed portrayl of how the world around us is on a day to day basis and how it can be if we open our minds and change for the better. It’s a movie about acceptance and succeeding despite the odds and perhaps one of the only Disney movies in recent years to genuinely inspire you to do some actual good, with a message that isn’t in any way superficial or fanciful. In a period of time where the Oscars are white washed and Hollywood is looking more discriminatory by the day, it’s enlightening to see a glimmer of hope in a landscape of prejudice: a kids movie that unapologetically celebrates diversity made by one of the largest companies on the Globe. If you get the chance, go and see Zootropolis in cinemas this Easter break. No matter if you’re 5, 25 or 55, it’s a movie that everyone could benefit by seeing. Let’s just hope that Disney takes on its own messages this time and starts making movies in a more diverse and appropriate way to shift a change in this overly white Hollywood landscape.

Golden Age Disney Princesses: Snow White, Cinderella & Sleeping Beauty

Disney is one of my biggest loves in life so it baffles me that it’s taken such a long time for me to blog about it. I was looking across my Disney shelf the other day (part of it you can see pictured above) and an idea came to me for what to start talking about: Disney Princesses through the ages. I love Disney Princesses a-lot-a-lot, especially because I have a younger sister, so it seemed like a pretty good idea. And instead of just reviewing the films for how much I like them, how about a short piece on the films’ historical legacies as well?..
We all know that the first animated feature-length film of all time was Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs released in 1937. The story tells the tale of the lonely princess Snow White who was forced to become a scullery maid under her wicked stepmother’s orders as well as Snow’s ways of finding love with The Prince, while meeting seven men in the forest along the way. The famous princess was voiced by Adriana Caselotti – a newbie to the world of Hollywood – who, after the film, was banned from ever lending her voice to another character by Walt Disney himself; it was written into her contract that she could only ever use her acting voice for Snow White so in the rest of her career, her only other credit was a single line in The Wizard of Oz, which came out a couple of years after Snow White. The soundtrack to the movie was also made available at the time of the film’s release, which was the first time a movie had ever been accompanied by a soundtrack album. Since this was Disney’s first movie though, the music was owned by Bourne Co. Music Producers as opposed to Disney’s own record label and has continued to cause a problem with copyright ever since. By the end of its original box office release, Snow White was the highest grossing speaking-movie of all time, before Gone With The Wind took over a year later in 1940. The film was a critical success and has inspired Disneyland rides and video games years after its release. DisneyToons planned a prequel series called The Seven Dwarfs in the early Noughties but it was cancelled, and a little-known musical adaptation of the film was produced by Disney at The Muny in 1969 and made it to New York at Radio City Music Hall in both 1979 and 1980; a recording of this stage show was made available on VHS for a limited time and is now on YouTube.
After Snow White came Cinderella, Disney’s 12th animated feature film overall. Released in 1950, the story follows a young girl who is made to do all of the housework by her evil stepmother (sounds familiar?), who falls in love with a Prince and dreams of going to the ball to escape her wicked family. Voiced by Ilene Woods, Cinderella is to this day the most successful Disney Princess from a marketing perspective and with the Kenneth Branagh-directed live action remake that was released last year, it continues to be this way. Interesting facts about this movie include the fact that Disney *have* created a short, stage adaptation for children to perform but have never produced it on stage themselves; the fact that Ilene Woods sued Disney in late 1990 for royalties regarding her performance in the film which was being released on VHS; the film’s song Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo, which mainly comprises of made-up words, was nominated for an Academy Award; the film has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and it was the first major box office hit that Disney had since Snow White back in 1937. The movie also inspired a lot of work at the Disney Parks with the castle at Magic Kingdom in Florida’s Walt Disney World being a replica of Cinderella’s Castle as well as two direct-to-video sequels in the past decade or so.
Perhaps the best Disney Princess movie ever made though was Sleeping Beauty, which is known for being the quintessential and most iconic film adaptation of the story. Released in 1959 and with music taken from the uber-famous Tchaikovsky ballet, the story is based on another Charles Perrault story (like Cinderella), about a young girl who is forced to hide from her royal family so she isn’t harmed by the wicked Maleficent, but it turns out that she falls under her sleeping spell anyway. When it was first released, the film was incredibly unsuccessful due to the different style of animation amongst many other things. As a result of this, Disney didn’t return to the fairy tale-inspired films or Disney Princess movies until The Little Mermaid in 1980. Years later, the film is seen as one of the most iconic fairy tale movie adaptations of all time, as well as one of the most iconic animated movies in history due to its very advanced use of animation and storytelling. It was the first animated movie to ever be made in Technirama widescreen – a decision that was made part of the way into the process meaning a lot of storyboards and pictures had to be redrawn –  and the landscapes drawn were inspired by the picturesque beauty of Disney’s third animated classic, Fantasia. Helene Stanley was used as the live action reference model for Aurora (meaning she moved as the character so the animators could see how Aurora would move), a job that Stanley also did for Cinderella. Eleanor Audley voiced Maleficent in the movie after having voiced Lady Tremaine in Cinderella and she served as the live action reference model for both characters. The fantastic score lost at he Grammy’s and the Academy Awards to the film adaptation of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, but still charted successfully. Like Cinderella again, there is also a Disney Kids stage show version with rights available for it to be performed in schools and Aurora’s castle is used at the Disney parks: a replica version is used in the original Disneyland park in California as Sleeping Beauty was being produced at the same time as the park, and a similar version called ‘Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant’ is at Disneyland Paris (a replica version to the original Disneyland castle is also used at Disneyland in Hong Kong). There was also once a spooky walk-through experience at Disneyland Park in the castle but following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, the experience was shut off to the public in fear of something bad happening in the dark and unmonitored corridors. Seven years later, the experience was refurbished and reopened – a virtual experience of this walk-through can be played as a bonus features on the Platinum Edition DVD (I have it and it’s genuinely so much fun!)
Do you find the history of Disney Princesses interesting, and which Princess is your favourite? Tweet me @shaunycat to let me know!

My SPOILER-FREE Review of STAR WARS Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Since I’m writing this as I’m on my way home, let’s consider this to be a spoiler-free first impressions on the film as opposed to a full review (I will post a full review with spoilers on my YouTube channel on Saturday afternoon after I’ve seen the film again). My first impression though? I liked it, I really, really liked it – this film really feels like the old Star Wars but for a modern age. It’s not a carbon copy of the originals and it’s most certainly not anything at all like the prequels; it’s brand new and it really feels like an updated version of the originals. It was a very pleasant watch and it felt very good indeed.

How did I feel about the overall affect leaving the theatre though? I sat there in silence and walked out in silence actually. I felt shocked, moved and touched and it was nice to see the movie be able to do that to me. I won’t lie to you and nor will I spoil anything for you, but some parts happen that I actually hated at first and now as I write this, I’m coming to appreciate their decisions to take such bold steps and I’m content with it. It really is a film that is stunning in every sense of the word and it really does take you a while to gather your thoughts; I’m looking forward to seeing it again on Friday to hopefully come to terms with the film and appreciate it fully.

Casting-wise, I was very impressed with every character. I absolutely love Rey and she is 100% my new favourite Star Wars character, not only for her wisdom and intelligence, but for her ability to take this story and really make it her own; both Finn and BB8 are amazing as well, so amazing in fact that I question whether or not I like them even more than some of the stories’ original characters in fact. Poe Dameron is another character I loved seeing and his charming presence was thoroughly enjoyable, and Han and Leia were truly charming sights to see whenever they were on screen; It was so nice to see these characters back in the franchise in such a well planned out way. Kylo Ren was also absolutely amazing despite the fact that I didn’t think I would like him. Arguably, Adam Driver (who I only know from watching Girls) was a bad casting choice, but I’d actually argue that he manages to capture the sinister yet humane aura surrounding Kylo Ren very well indeed and it made his character a really interesting villain to follow. The powers that he has were seriously bad ass and there’s something strangely sexy about the character’s youth that really made me feel like he was a truly cool villain, in comparison to Darth Vader who was just powerful and ruthless (I do like Vader, but his villainous qualities are most definitely dated, so it was nice to see Kylo Ren put a much more modern spin on things).

As far as keeping things spoiler free, that’s all I can really say so make sure to catch my spoiler filled review on Saturday afternoon but I’ll leave you with this: you will not be a disappointed Star Wars fan after seeing this film. You might feel uncomfortable when leaving the cinema just like I did, sure, but Star Wars is most definitely back as it once was.

Edit: You can now watch my full, spoiler-filled review on my YouTube channel, here.

My Thoughts: Is THE GOOD DINOSAUR the new Jungle Book?

When I first heard word of the fact Disney Pixar were going to salvage the old mess that once was ‘The Untitled Pixar Movie About Dinosaurs’ and make its cinematic release the same year as Inside Out, I was skeptical. Granted I was never the most excited person on the planet about the concept in the first place, but I was equally as unexcited to see two movies being released in the same year – competition in the same company is a tricky business, especially when it comes to advertising two for Christmas and that one will clearly be  regarded as weaker. When Inside Out came out this summer, I fell in love and we know everyone else did as well as it’s firmly one of our favourite Pixar films ever, so how well was The Good Dinosaur received in comparison?
To put it simply, The Good Dinosaur is okay. It’s nothing revolutionary when it comes to storytelling (more on that in a moment), but it is certainly something when it comes to the absolutely stunning animation and score that accompanies it. I was actually lucky enough to get myself down to a panel with director Peter Sohn and producer Denise Ream at the Apple Store in Covent Garden on Monday evening where they shared clips of the film and an explanation of how the film came together; they spoke about the creative process behind the animation which was what intrigued me the most. They talked about how they played around with making the entire film look as realistic as they possibly could and it just didn’t work; they worked around with making the dinosaurs much more comic-book-style like they are in the final movie but with an entirely adult cast (including people like Neil Patrick Harris) and that just didn’t work either. Finally, they came to the decision of making the caricatured characters younger and on a very realistic looking background which is what we see in the final movie and a combination that works so well and would only work so well with a film like this. The film is a Western in its truest form and with the opportunity to display such vast and picturesque backgrounds behind what is mostly only ever two characters throughout the film, it works very well. There are opening shots to scenes with rain falling on leaves and other similar things that I hear took animators three months to create (that’s pretty much a month dedicated to just a second in the movie) and the end result is beautiful. This paired with the absolutely stunning score by Mychael and Jeff Danna is a gorgeous blend of something incredibly cinematic and vast, as well as something that can be very intimate and touching at other moments. The music isn’t as beautiful and memorable as the music from Inside Out is in my eyes, but it is still a gorgeous score that works fantastically with the movie.
Now onto what I consider to be the weakest part of the movie: the story. I went into the movie actually having no idea as to what the story was going to be about and I was dissatisfied to see that the film exclusively follows one story throughout. With a lack of a subplot, I started to feel a little bit bored and I soon realised that this is a fantastic film for much younger children, but something that is perhaps too simple to analyse with an adult movie-going taste. Spoilers ahead!… The film is set millions of years after the asteriod doesn’t collide with Earth and kill the dinosaurs (something that is, if you ignore the fact a human is in this film, 100% irrelevant). We are introduced to Arlo’s parents and watch him and his siblings hatch from eggs and start life together on the farm that they run. One day, the children are introduced to the idea of ‘leaving their mark’ on the family’s food storage system with a muddy footprint and Arlo’s two siblings manage to succeed in earning their right to put their stamps on the rockery. Arlo is asked by his parents to stop fearing other creatures in order to earn his mark, but he fails and his father tries to ‘punish him’ by taking him up the local mountain in true Brother Bear-style with the music and the intensity. A series of extremely Lion King-esque events occur and Arlo’s father ends up drowning and days later, after spotting a small human stealing from their food supply and chasing him, Arlo falls into the same river as his father and the same thing happens to him… but Arlo manages to survive? Alongside the only human in the film (reminding anyone of The Jungle Book here?) and a series of male dinosaurs and characters bar one woman (once again, anyone thinking The Jungle Book here?), Arlo and Spot try to get back home. Unfortunately though, when the story comes to an end, we say goodbye to one of the leading characters in a way that is, funnily, very reminiscent of… The Jungle Book! Hmm…
I like The Jungle Book a lot, don’t get me wrong, but this film seriously exudes a story that is a perfect blend of Brother Bear, The Lion King and The Jungle Book that it almost makes me wonder why they even thought it was the best idea to salvage this story. Sure it’s beautifully made and the message of overcoming bravery (that seems a bit lost by the end of the film if you ask me) is very nice to see and it makes for a good Pixar film, but I just couldn’t help feeling like I was watching the same thing for the millionth time that is instead being targeted exclusively at an age group much younger than mine. Pixar’s worst? Not at all because Cars 2 takes that slot (!), but it is unfortunately in no way the next Finding Nemo… wait, that film has the same concept as this movie, too!?

Worth The Hype? Bond #24: SPECTRE Review

I really bloody like Bond films and the Daniel Craig films of recent years are undeniably some of the best Bond films to have ever been released (followed by Pierce Brosnan’s movies in my opinion, which is a very controversial opinion indeed). Naturally, I got myself down to the local cinema as soon as I could after the film’s release almost a fortnight ago with my Grandma, because we always Bond-it-up together, and it’s taken me until now to sit down and turn the notes I made into a full review.
The main question is if this film is worth the massive hype that surrounds it and undeniably, the answer is yes, but is this the best Bond flick ever made? No, not at all, because Skyfall is forever going to be one of the best alongside Casino Royale, but it was bloody good to say the least. It’s hard to make a Bond film stand out as being superior though in comparison to the others when every film in the franchise is essentially based on the magical Bond formula that is used almost every time; the only reason these films continue to be so successful is because the action gets bigger and better each time, and because there’s something so enjoyable about a film that tries to be as realistic as possible now it’s back in another renaissance era, yet is so unbelievably predictable and convenient in its consequences.
The main thing that distracted me in this Bond movie funnily enough was Daniel Craig and how I really think it might be time for him to hang up his hat with this franchise and move on. It feels like Craig is slowly turning into less of a slick and sexy Bond and more into a silver fox trying his best to do the job – I know that Daniel Craig is only 47, but the vast majority of Sean Connery’s Bond films were filmed during his 30s. Having said this, rumours are flying around suggesting that my wishes will be granted, but Craig is contracted to do a fifth Bond film so I guess we’re going to have to see. The rest of the cast are sublime though and I especially love the addition of Ralph Fiennes as M now that Judi Dench has left the franchise and how both Noamie Harris and Ben Whishaw (as Miss Moneypenny and Q respectively) have stepped up in terms of the presence of their characters and they played much bigger roles in this movie.
For those who are interested in the story: Bond has been kicked out of the 007 programme after Max Denbigh from the British government decides to terminate the programme in favour of a new and more modern process of spy work. Bond works against this by fulfilling Judi Dench’s M’s wishes from beyond the grave ultimately tackling the evil works of Spectre once again (a Bond villain team that we haven’t seen in a Bond film since 1971’s ‘Diamonds Are Forever’). Bond must save the girl, himself and the future of the secret service by taking Blofeld out ‘one final time’. It’s a fine story and actually wraps up all four of the Daniel Craig Bond films really nicely, but is obviously predictable like they always are.
Do I think it’s worth you taking a trip to see this film? I really do actually and I think Bond films have this ability to be universally appropriate to people who are both ongoing fans of the franchise, who have only seen the odd movie, or have never been to see a Bond flick before. It’s a fantastic addition to the Bond movie lineup and isn’t a bad film by any means, but in my opinion, there was a certain sense of genuine thrill and suspense that the movie was slightly lacking.

SUPERGIRL: Best & Worst Moments of the Pilot

My mum has always loved superheros and with that has come my inherent liking of them; I guess it also comes hand-in-hand with my love for science fiction, because I really like massive action scenes that end with a satisfyingly cliche success in the hands of the main hero of the show. In this case, I was super excited to see Supergirl come to the screen and was even happier to see it start-up in the form of a television series – I recently got into The Flash and love that, so it’s nice to see the same idea of superheros on TV be used again for this franchise. Filled with excitement, I watched the episode for myself very shortly after its American television debut on Monday evening and to celebrate the show’s UK debut on Sky 1 tonight at 8pm, I thought I’d share with you the best and worst moments of the Pilot (in my opinion).
I think it’s blindingly obvious that the casting of Melissa Benoist as Supergirl/Cara is absolutely fantastic. Benoist played Marley ‘The New Rachel’ Rose on Glee in the show’s fourth and fifth seasons and she has this fantastic ability to play the relatable and down-to-Earth girl, as well as having the desirably cool and kooky quality as well. It makes her extremely likable, which is seriously important for an out-there female superhero at the centre of a major television drama. With her likeable aura comes her likeable approach to battling foes in the show and it was nice to see the character find her feet in this superhero world that she’d totally forgotten about with such full-force. Supergirl starts her missions by saving a crashing plane, much like her cousin Superman does at the start of his career, and she really makes the big action sequences and successfully made me root for Supergirl to succeed.
I also love the way the rest of the season is planned to go following the opening episode. The trailer for the rest of the season that was shown at the end of the episode suggests that a different villain will be offered to Supergirl each week and she’ll need to find a way to battle them, all while working around a typical love triangle and trying to keep her identity a secret. I suppose in a way this is cliched and I’m not a big fan of cliches, but it’s a cliche that works and it makes for easy watching and that is exactly what I’m looking for when it comes to this show. I do have a problem with the story though and I guess it’s because it’s a television show; there really is only so much you can pack into 45 minutes worth of a TV episode. This was pretty obvious when it came to setting up a back story for the history of Supergirl. It’s a story you’d know if you even knew the slightest bit of information about her, but it was hard for the show to be able to balance the repercussions of her backstory with a solid story to make the pilot episode worthwhile. They did it well in that they managed to cover enough ground, but it did feel like some corners were cut when doing this: it’s pretty unbelievable that she wouldn’t have used her superpowers in over twenty years, but would suddenly be able to fly on demand at a moment’s notice… hmm.
Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode of this series and will definitely be tuning in for the rest. It seems like a fantastic story packed with solid action, humour and drama will be sliced up every week for the next few months. I’m excited and you should be too. Supergirl makes its UK premiere tonight at 8pm on Sky1 and will continue to show at that time from this week onwards – I’ll be watching!

Book/Film Review: STRUCK BY LIGHTNING by Chris Colfer

It’s been a stupidly long time since I last wrote about a book on Shaunyland and it’s actually been a while since I last sat down and truly enjoyed a book; I’ve been too busy to dedicate time to it every evening like I used to. To remedy this, I’m gonna try and review a book on Shaunyland every week or so to get me reading as much as I used to and to keep those inspired creative juices flowing. To kick it off while I start my first book in this marathon, I thought I’d talk to you about one of my favourite books of all time and the book’s film adaptation: Chris Colfer’s Struck by Lightning.
I kind of forgot this book and film existed until I went looking for a book to talk about today, I won’t lie to you. I obviously bought this book because Glee’s Chris Colfer is its author and I actually pre-ordered it for when it was first released. It’s funny in how it works: I really thought it would feel like a book written by a celebrity, but it’s so refreshing to see a book written by a celebrity that can actually write. I felt like I was reading a book by any other author of a teen novel and it was a pretty dandy feeling. The film is really well written as well (the screenplay is also written by Chris Colfer). Obviously they are both near identical because they’re both written by the exact same person, so it was cool to see the vision I had of the story in my head being replicated on the screen with almost word-for-word similarities as well as being performed by a stellar cast including Rebel Wilson and Allison Janney.
The story of Struck by Lightning is a cliche with a really unique twist. The story follows Carson Phillips (Colfer in the film) as he fights his way up from the bottom of the food chain as an aspiring journalist. The nice part about his lack of popularity is that it’s not because he’s disliked for being a loser, on the contrary no one really cares or knows much about him. He’s a confident character with a great sense of what he wants and what he cares about and is as much of a developed and normal teenager as the other more popular students around him, but it’s just that no one really pays attention to him. Carson soon realises that he needs to start a school magazine in order to get himself enough credit to get into the college of his choice and to escape the mundane town he lives in and after only one volunteer shows up (Malerie, who is played by Rebel Wilson), he takes matters into his own hands. To make the paper more popular around the school, Carson and Malerie blackmail people into helping him create and promote the magazine. Reluctantly, a lot of people agree and the story continues from there with a massive plot twist at the very end. It’s witty, intelligent and enjoyable to watch and I constantly find myself reaching for the DVD on a Sunday afternoon when I’m in that “I’m a bit tired and need some inspiration” kind of mood. 
The book makes me feel a pretty similar way to the film and if anything, I find the book even more touching. It’s written from Carson’s personal perspective and the idea is that it’s his journal where he documents what’s been happening at school each day. It’s interesting to see the difference between watching the story simply happen with some narration over the top which is what the film provides, to then refer back to the book and see the story exclusively from Carson’s personal perspective. 
If you’re looking for a book or a film that’s filled with heart, strong-willed characters, humour and great wit then Struck by Lightning is what you’ve been looking for. I’d highly recommend this to anyone because of how much I enjoy re-reading or re-watching the story – a solid A grade from me.