Magical Movies Tour: Big Hero Six

It’s funny what watching these movies all in a row have done for thinking about the context of what the studio was trying to do with the movies as the came out. If Frozen is the old formula coming back stronger than every, I feel like Big Hero Six is something they’d tried to get traction on ten years before finally working.

That is, if Frozen is the musical beginning of the Disney Renaissance coming back, Big Hero Six is the stuff thank tanked it finally coming back. It’s of a piece with Atlantis and Treasure Planet and even Meet The Robinsons in a way. It’s really interesting.

I also happen to just really love it. It’s a fun superhero origin, completely reinterpreting an obscure, and not particularly popular comic story line, and provide a diverse and fun team.

I’m also a big fan of stories where love besides romantic love is given weight, and we’re in the middle of three movies that highlight that very much. (Frozen, Big Hero Six and Zootopia) It’s a pretty cool trend they went for there. I wouldn’t mind another love story though, because I’m a sucker.

I feel like I’m being vague in talking about Big Hero Six itself, and it might be because it just didn’t make much of an impression on this particular watch. Perhaps it’s because I spent so much of the past six months in Superhero stuff. (Rewatching the Arrowverse, and lately diving back into Young Justice.) Big Hero Six does a great job with telling a straightforward super hero story, and also has a big cuddly robot.

I’m a fan, but there’s not a whole lot to dissect here. (also we’ve now hit the point where I was watching and reviewing these movies in the theater, crazy!) It’s a well made, fun bit of action movie, with a sweet heart and some killer voice acting. I really enjoyed it.

Next week we want to try everything, with Zootopia.

Magical Movies Tour: Frozen

There have been so many inches of digital ink already handed over to why Frozen managed to become a phenomenon, but why not spend a few more?

For my money it’s an odd combination of things, but most especially, it is a case of the formula clicking back into place. Adaptation of a fairy tale? CHECK. Songs Written By A Top Tier Broadway Talent that Broadway isn’t exactly sure what to do with? CHECK. Innovating and exciting animation sequences? CHECK. Memorable characters voiced by top tier talent? CHECKARONI!

Frozen managed to scratch an itch that a lot of people, especially the parents of young girls, and those young girls themselves, didn’t realize they had. I also happen to love it because it’s message of finding your place in the mess and sisterly love came around at a time that I really needed both of those things. Also it was the year I fell back in love with Disney World, so that didn’t hurt.

My own experience is so marginal though, because this movie belongs so thoroughly to the kids that fell in love with it on sight, the way people my age did with The Little Mermaid. There’s just something endearingly special about it, the kind of alchemy of right place and time that really creates something magical and special and of it’s moment.

I mean, it also doesn’t hurt to have a knock down, drag out show stopping musical number performed by a world class, unique talent. I am of course speaking of Jonathan Groff’s timeless rendition of “Reindeers Are Better Than People.”

I’m kidding, obviously, “Let It Go,” is an exceptional musical theater song performed by one of the all time greats, Idina Menzel. I’ve always been impressed by the way Robert and Kristen Lopez utilized her voice in the song, somehow managing to take the incredible range she showed in “Defying Gravity,” and the attitude in “Take Me Or Leave Me,” to create a signature song worthy of the title.

Frozen is just really special, it’s hard to quantify. It isn’t exactly perfect, the story is clumsy and jumps around. Anna and Elsa as duel protagonists are underserved and undeveloped a little bit. The Hans twist seems to come out of nowhere. What’s the deal with the trolls? And Olaf is juuuussst over the line into annoying. But it as shaggy as it all is, it manages to hold together and be just wonderful.

Up next, let me know if you’re satisfied with your care, when we talk about Big Hero 6.

Magical Movies Tour: Wreck-It Ralph

My God, this movie is chock full of creativity. The fact that they created three fully realized video game worlds that felt like they belonged, used well recognized IP without over-relying on it, and used one of the best deployed voice casts of the century is no small feat, and that’s just the trimmings on the greatness of Wreck-It Ralph.

Because what really makes it great is that this movie has a big beating soft heart. It’s a movie about misfits who want to fit in. Ralph and Vanellope are kind, determined and loveable, but they just can’t seem to get those around them to see it. This was smack dab in the middle of the “Pixar the cry factory” era, but Ralph sacrificing himself while reciting the “Villain Oath” is as tear jerking as Bing-Bongs disappearance from memory.

It also manages to bring about some truly fun new characters. King Candy is a wonderful villain and the twist is well set up and still surprising. I’m also just a huge fan of Vanellope. I think Sarah Silverman does a great job with her. She’s so endearing in that weird little kid way without slipping over into annoying and that’s as much a triumph of performance as it is of writing.

It also helps that I’m not much of a gamer, but the stuff I do love is arcade games. I love arcades and arcade games to this day. I do not live near a good barcade and it’s such a bummer to me. (I mean, not right now, because of the ‘Rona, but in precedented times.) So this movie, with it’s deep affection for that era and kind of gaming is just such a treat for me to go back to occasionally and spot things that I missed. It’s so much fun to watch.

Well, up next, y’all know what’s up next right? It’s time to Let It Go, and head off to Arrendelle and watch Frozen.


“Be Excellent To Each Other”

I had my doubts about Bill And Ted Face The Music. Late in the game sequels are rarely great, and comedy trilogies are very difficult to pull off. I’m not even much of a fan of Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey despite holding Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure as a low key fave.

That said, Bill And Ted Face The Music is lovely. Lowkey and bonkers, much more like the first movie than the second, (although there’s a brief interlude in Hell, and Death returns.) the movie details the now in their 40’s dudes, still searching for that perfect song that will unite humanity, and the way that quest has delayed and stunted their lives.

Helping along on the quest is their two daughters, Billie and Thea, who are wonderful, wonderful characters, breaths of fresh air. Bridget Lundie-Paul and Samara Weaving bring similar but not identical energy that Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter had in the original movie. goofy and kind and a little out of their depth.

There’s a basic lesson about life and love and connection, and being who you are instead of who you think you’re supposed to be. There’s also some pretty good old age makeup and Winter and Reeves both appear to be having a ball. It’s most certainly worth the rental, just a bit of summer fun and fluff to close out this season.

Party On Dude!



Also a first kiss.

The Marina Chronicle

It’s after dinner, which, I’ve learned is the best time to talk to Annalise. It’s about the only time she’s not trying to move. 

We’re working on embroidery, which neither of us excel at, but it’s bonding.

“So, tomorrow is market day,” Lisette says and looks at me. I nodded. “I have to go to market, I mean, I don’t have to, but I usually do, it’s the sort of thing that,”

“That the orphan ward of a Count would do,” I said. She nodded. “I don’t have a problem with it.” She glanced at Tristan. “He won’t either, just go while he’s running.” She laughed.

“Is there anything you want?” She asked. I raised my eyebrows. “To eat in the next week or so.”

“Oh, um, I like rabbit?” I tried. She cocked her head. “It’s silly, but when we were little we were at Resistance camp a lot…

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Book Review: If You Can Get It By Brendon Hodge

Disclosure: I was provided an early copy of If You Can Get It by the author. Also, his sister in law is my high school Youth Minister Gail, who is one of my top 10 favorite people I’ve ever known.

I have to admit I was both excited and nervous about reading If You Can Get It. It was the first time I was offered a preview read, and also, the book is published by Ignatian Press, which is a Catholic imprint. I have a pretty Unorthodox, if serious, relationship with Catholicism, and Catholic media tends to skew in a different expression of faith than what speaks to me.

What was fun about If You Can Get It, though, was that it felt more like a Hallmark romantic comedy than a faith based story. (That is a huge compliment. Those movies are deeply fun and comfortable in some seriously elemental ways. Our main character is Jen, a 35 year old woman who’s made a good career as a product manager in the tech sector. After a layoff and a catastrophic try out trip to China with a new job, she finds herself at a small family owned company in Illinois. Not to mention her somewhat lost younger sister Katie has moved in! They begin to rebuild their lives and Jen learns that maybe she was focusing on the wrong values.

There’s also a subplot about Katie and an ex seminary turned farmer/handyman (this is the Hallmark plot).

Hodge is a good writer, and I always appreciate when a male author manages to write two female leads who feel distinct from one another, and like real people. I’ve met both Jens and Katies, hell I was a Katie. I too was strained and lost after graduating college and managed to get myself together while imposing on patient relatives. There’s some very fun stuff about dealing with Chinese vendors, that rang pretty true as well, based on my limited experience.

It was definitely a fun read, and since I’m trying to take a breather from the fantasy for a minute, I was grateful for it.

If You Can Get It by Brandon Hodge is available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, link below.

She’s Inside Of It, She Can’t See

Happy Movie Season 2020!

I’m kidding of course. There is no Movie Season 2020, something I decided last year, using Endgame and The Rise Of Skywalker as excellent signs that both big budget cinema and my particular obsession around it were moving on.

Plus I wanted to be more free and thoughtful with what I was reviewing and when. I still planned to go to the movies a whole lot.

Then you know, “The whole situation” (as my repressed preppy family calls it) occurred and I was suddenly really grateful I’d decided not to because it would have been another thing I needed to mourn and get all anxious over.

BUT, this past week, a new comic book movie, The Old Guard dropped on Netflix, so I decided to take Thursday night (my usual movie night), and recreate a home based Movie Season Evening. I made a shrimp roll (recipe will go up on Tuesday) and some moscow mules, and ate them while watching Cracked After Hours (to simulate the pop culture conversations of Aless, Kristi and I at PJ Clarke’s) while I waited for it do get dark outside enough to watch the movie theater style.

The Old Guard is really special. The idea is that some outside force, God maybe? has blessed a group of warriors across time with immortality. The are lead by Andromeda Schythia, played by Charlize Theron with the exact silent badassary she always applies to these roles. Throughout time they’ve fought as mercenaries against injustice.

When they find a new immortal, they also realize their lives are in danger by an evil medical corporation that wants to harness their power. It ends on an excellent sequel set up and I don’t want to spoil too much, because that’s part of the fun. The movie is quieter and more contemplative than I expected, which isn’t to say that the action is fabulous because it is, each set piece is perfect and brutal.

The cast is great, plenty diverse and it was just a whole lot of fun to tune in to a new movie for a change. I’ve been rewatching a lot, and not watching many movies. I miss the movies, but I was able to get something resembling it. I’ve also been doing Drive-In, with the family, which has been a whole different kind of fun. But something new.


I’m a little obsessed with this chapter.

Aaron’s speech here is another thing I’ve been sitting on for almost 10 years. I’m happy to finally share it.

The Marina Chronicle

I was frustrated that The Viscount wanted to ride out with me. I don’t hate him anymore, now it’s more like a low humming annoyance. He’s still to flippant, and casual about Lisette, about the next step.

And I don’t like the way he flirts with me. But it’s his land and I couldn’t very well say he couldn’t come on this ride with me. We were rushing through the woods, when he stopped, I did too after a bit and tracked back to him.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“We shouldn’t go further,” he said and dismounted. I looked at him.

“Why?” I asked softly. “Are you going to tell me the woods are haunted, Viscount? That the tortured bride of one of your ancestors walks the woods?” He shook his head.

“Nothing that specific,” he said, “but we’re nearing where Brayton burned out the woods to find the King…

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Tea With The Mastero

So, you guys, this is the 100th post on The Marina (And Annalise And Athena) Chronicle

It’s kind of nuts that I’ve managed to do this for so long and I couldn’t have done it without the people I know are still reading. (Aless, Kristi, Mary, Juli! Y’all rule)

I’ve also made a Spotify playlist to go along with the series, and have created a specific page for it on the Marina Blog, explaining where each song fits. Enjoy it.

The Marina Chronicle

“You’re in here a lot,” I looked up from a book I was reading to see the Viscount in the doorway of the study.

“I like it in here,” I said simply and went back to my book. He walked in and sat down opposite me. “Can I help you, Your Grace.”

“Aaron,” he said, pointing to himself.

“If you say so,” I closed the book and met his eyes. They’re startlingly blue. “Can I help you,” he rolled his hand to prompt me, and I sighed, “Aaron?”

“Much better,” he smirked. “No, I was just sent to fetch you. The Mastero wishes to inspect you and your brother.”

Mastero?” I said and slammed the book shut. He nodded. “Why does he want to meet us?”

“Why wouldn’t he?” He shrugged. “He’s like you, thinks everyone is trying to kill her.” I rolled my eyes.

“I don’t think everyone 

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First Test

Two Things:
The idea of “The Study” training room at Pantona, which I finally show here is one of my earliest ideas from this world.

And, Annalise kicking Tristan’s ass was originally written from her perspective but I thought it fit better here. Enjoy!

The Marina Chronicle

“Athena,” Tristan said, shaking me awake. “Athena,” I groaned and pulled the covers over my head. “Come on, we have work to do.”

“No,” I said, “we just rode for seven days straight, and we know the manor is safe and I’m very sleepy.” He laughed and tugged on my foot.

“Hey,” he said, “I’m sorry about last night.” I sat up and rubbed my eyes. “It’s not your fault.”

“No, it isn’t,” I said. “You were never involved in the resistance leadership because you never asked to be Tristan, I didn’t block you out and neither did Martin.” He nodded and sat down.

“I know that,” he said, “I just, it was always easy between you two and it isn’t between me and him all the time.” She smiled. “So you know that they moved Marina from the capital too?”

“I do know that,” I said. “Are you relieved?”…

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