Princess Jasmine steals spotlight in Aladdin

Disney’s latest female protagonist Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) is a modern-day powerhouse as she enters a whole new world in Guy Ritchie’s live-action remake of Aladdin.

The Princess of Agrabah returns to the big screen alongside Aladdin (Mena Massoud) to bring Disney’s animated classic to life with a freshness that fits the times.

Unlike the original 1992 film, the updated version gives the Arab princess a role as significant as her love interest and the movie’s title character.

The audience first meets Jasmine disguised as a commoner in the marketplace before Aladdin’s quick wits save her from being prosecuted from stealing.

On face value, she is a ‘damsel in distress’ rescued by a man, but upon her return to the palace, her true colours are shown when she is courted by yet another prince (Billy Magnussen) wanting to marry her.

She is strong-willed and bold, believing in her own ability to rule the kingdom without another by her side.

Disney’s princess culture has been criticised for being harmful towards young girls and promoting gender stereotypes.

But Jasmine is a great role model; she is ambitious in her hopes for herself and does not stop fighting for the freedom of choice in a place where the odds are against her.

She is respectful even when she disagrees with the Sultan, and empathetic and compassionate to the subjects of her kingdom.

The princess’ wardrobe in the film is vibrant, beautiful and includes her iconic blue-green two-piece, which is given a more modest makeover in the film negating views from the original movie that she is oversexualised.

Image: Disney

Princess Jasmine has an admirable depth to her and a character arc that is an enhanced reminiscent version of the character we already know and if you did not already, fall in love with.

Naomi Scott embodies Jasmine’s beauty inside and out. 

A pivotal moment is when she sings original song and feminist anthem, ‘Speechless’, about not staying silent and instead, speaking out against injustices regardless of the obstacles thrown your way.

Genie mentions early in the film, “The more wishes you have, the more you want.” 

Aladdin shows everyone young and old how there is more to life than power and fortune.

The film reminds its audience there is magic in friendship and staying true to yourself.  

The classic remake features original characters Genie (Will Smith), Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), Abu and Rajah, as well as its hit musical numbers like Friend Like Me, Prince Ali, and favourite A Whole New World.

Disney’s live-action Aladdin is in cinemas now.

Crazy Rich Asians From A Crazy Not-So-Rich Asian Perspective

Picture this.

You’re 5 years old: Your dream job is a princess but if that doesn’t work out, you’ll be an actress/singer instead. The world is yours and you don’t see yourself different from any of your friends. You love yourself and everyone else for who they are. Your biggest problem is deciding whether to colour in crayon or texter.

At 12: Still blasting Hannah Montana and the soundtrack of a very popular Disney Channel movie with a lead who looked kind of like you… But claimed for years she was Mexican/Hispanic… but you know for sure she’s half Asian hmm. You’re obsessed with The Twilight Saga and at lunch you and your friends role play but you can’t be Bella, or Alice, or Rosalie – you can be Leah (the Native American supporting character). Btw, bringing a home cooked lunch to school, especially if it involves rice is ‘different’, and not in a good way but your mama’s cooking is delicious so you let the haters hate. But the thought does creep in – sometimes you wish you were white.

At 15: Writing and telling stories is your favourite thing and you are still so in love with performing. You’re geared with dance, singing and acting training and experience. Sushi is now very cool and trendy. Your classmates make racist jokes because they ‘forget’ you’re a person of colour or because ‘you’re not like the others’. You audition for the lead of your school musical – that Disney one that you so dearly love that meant to display diversity. You lose out on the supporting lead to a stereotype white girl. You are an advocate for the most talented and therefore appropriate person doing the job… The lead cast is 100% white. Your favourite movies/TV shows consist of a Caucasian cast, if there was an Asian – they played a minor role, you don’t remember the character let alone the actor. When people hear you want to be involved in showbiz they give you a look (oooh, acting is tough, there’s not a lot of roles for…). You take a look at available jobs and they’re looking for white girls – blonde and blue eyes, brunette and big eyes etc. You want to be so proud of your cultural identity but still can’t help occasionally but imagine how convenient it would be to be white or at the very least, a natural blonde. You think they’re right. Maybe you’re not profitable as a lead. You think back to when there was an Asian lead character and besides London Tipton and Lucy Liu in Charlie’s Angels #badass, nothing really stands out. All the other roles seem to be martial arts, restaurant owner related or a friend to the lead.

You’re now 20: Up until this point, you became increasingly disappointed with Hollywood and their casting choices that made Asian actors second class, casting white actresses in roles that should’ve gone to equally talented Asian actors. You first watch this movie with your best friend. The final scene plays out and by this point you have both cried from laughter (Awkwafina & Ken Jeong are gold wow) and gotten emotional (the wedding oh my), you are now crying tears of joy with the perfect ending to a wholly marvellous movie. We exit the theatre and she says “That was amazing, I forgot they were Asian.” We have become so accustomed to white people telling stories on screen, many people in the industry saw a movie such as this one high-risk but if you can imagine, on a world population scale, being Asian is the majority so it’s astounding the last American made movie with an Asian cast was The Joy Luck Club (1993) – 25 YEARS AGO?!?? You get home and begin to cry again, you cannot believe you just witnessed a beautiful love story for mainstream viewing loaded with a crazy talented fully Asian cast with an obviously incredible production crew. You watch it for a second time but now with your family. Your parents say they could watch this film over and over again.

You are so proud to be Asian, worthy of being represented as intelligent and eloquent, as beautiful and elegant, as sexy and well-dressed, as relatable and multidimensional, and just as a human with a great story. You hope everyone sees this movie. You never want a young girl who looks like you or the cast of Crazy Rich Asians to doubt her dreams are achievable because of a dry spell of representation. You are so much more than your race and to have a movie that displays that but happens to show the cultural side of being Asian is so important. You are so proud.

This is the movie you needed more than you knew.

With love and light always, M ♥️

 

Where’s Dory?

The 4 beautiful new Finding Dory posters were released and if this doesn’t get you excited for the Finding Nemo sequel, well sorry, we can no longer be friends. I’m kidding… Mostly…

I was 5 when I watched Finding Nemo (2003) and remember crying and laughing and occasionally holding my breath and pretending I was swimming with the characters – the same case scenario for any cute/magical movies set in the sea *cough* The Little Mermaid *cough*. Where was I going with this? Right! 

Finding Dory focuses on our amnesiac blue tang friend, played by everyone’s favourite TV Show host, Ellen DeGeneres, as she recalls memories of her home and family. Dory remembers something other than ‘P.Sherman 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney’? MIND BLOWING!

The 4 new posters double as a game which the kids or your inner child will love! It’s not too difficult since Dory probably finds it more of a challenge to find herself than we do:

  
     

 You can bet I’ll be going to an advanced screening! I cannot wait for June!  In the meantime, we can listen to Robbie Williams’ smooth smooth voice and imagine somewhere beyond the sea 😉

Images via: Finding Dory (Disney)

Watch: In ‘Me Before You’ Daenerys and Finnick Find Love

 

The first trailer for “Me Before You” based on the best-selling novel by Jojo Moyes was released and fans everywhere are already crazy for the movie directed by Thea Sharrock. The film starring Emilia Clarke (Louisa ‘Lou’ Clark) and Sam Claflin (Will Traynor) is the story of a young lady who knows many things except what the future holds and a young man who knows since his accident his world will continue to be bland black and white but doesn’t know that his world’s about to pop with colour. Little do they know the impact they will have on the other.

The evolution of the couple’s relationship in this trailer is enough to well up my eyes. Forget the tissues, give me a towel!

Me Before You is set to be released June, 2016

A Feministic Take On A Classic Fairy Tale

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I can’t believe it’s nearly 2016! So, before the year ends, I want to share with you a couple of my favourite moments.  In March, I was fortunate enough to be offered to watch a special screening of Cinderella and write on how feminism fits in with the story and Disney princesses.  Anyone who knows me knows I may have a little obsession with all things Disney, so I leaped at the chance! 😀  This was originally written then published by my city newspaper in March when the movie released but as it’s definitely one of my favourite pieces this year, I wanted to share it with you.

“A dream is a wish your heart makes.” ❤ 

The world’s favourite fairy tale classic, Cinderella, returns to the big screen once again, but with Lily James as Cinderella and Richard Madden as Prince Charming.

When we think of fairy tales, we think of princesses, fairy godmothers, cute animals and ‘happily ever after’s.  Did you ever think that Cinderella and some of your other beloved princesses are actually feminists?

Feminism isn’t about thinking, acting and working like a man.  It’s about having equality amoung the sexes.  The women’s movements during the 60s and 70s was not for girls and women to turn into boys and men but for females to have the choice and the chance to choose our own destinies.

Yes, Cinderella obeyed her stepmother, was mistreated by her and was basically a maid for her and her stepsisters.  She could’ve run away or stood up to her stepmother but she chose to follow her, but that didn’t stop her from dreaming and using her imagination.

If that doesn’t convince you, though she may or may not be your favourite character, the evil stepmother, Lady Tremaine, shows her authority around the house, ordering Cinderella what to do all the time. Set in the 50s, men would tell their wives and children what to do, but Cinderella’s father doesn’t have much say in the story.  The power stays with Lady Tremaine, her stepmother, which shows that Cinderella portrayed a woman as a strong and powerful character.

Disney’s earlier princesses (Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora) may not have been as courageous and feisty as some of the later girls (Mulan, Rapunzel, Merida and Elsa), but they were not just pretty faces.  They were always kind and hard working which are positive values, making them great role models.  The message of being true to yourself and following your dreams is written all over the story of Cinderella.  This is what feminism strives for – girls reaching for their dreams and making decisions in their own free will.  Just a reminder: It’s okay to dream, in fact, some of your greatest ideas will happen in a dream.  Use your imagination, that’s how new inventions and creations, came to be.  And always be kind, a beautiful heart is priceless and gets better with age. 

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Images: Disney

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

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Rated: M

J.R.R Tolkeins cinematic adventures have finally come to a close with the final Hobbit movie. Originally titled There And Back Again and renamed by director Peter Jackson as the Battle of The Five Armies was the nail-biting close for The Hobbit franchise.

I hate to say it but I didn’t leave the theatre thrilled. The first two Hobbit movies were definitely waaaayy better than this. I was so engrossed by the first 2 films and there was heaps to love! The actors gave wonderful performances again this time, but unlike the actors, their characters had very little character development throughout the movie. Besides Thorin who overcomes dragon’s sickness, all the characters are kind of just existing.

I know many fans were disappointed in the romance between elf Tauriel and dwarf Kìli as it wasn’t originally in the book, but I didn’t mind it and thought it added some substance to the story and the feels got real. I did think that significant deaths were rushed… SPOILER ALERT! Fìli was next in line for the throne after Thorin and his death was portrayed like a squashed bug’s: minimum sadness and importance. Both Fìli and Kìli were two of the favourite characters in the trilogy and I don’t think enough significance was placed on their characters role in the film and subsequently their deaths, which was the result of fighting for their uncle.

The intensity was high throughout the entire film. The movie showed off priorities, bravery, courage, loyalty, love, and friendship tremendously which I liked a lot. I was satisfied and enjoyed the happy ending amongst all the tragedy and grief.

Rating:

***

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

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Rated: M

Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Philip Seymour Hoffman are back for the third instalment of The Hunger Games with Julianne Moore as President Coin of District 13.

Katniss Everdeen is in District 13, after she literally shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage.

After being removed from the games by anti-government forces at the end of Catching Fire, Katniss Everdeen finds herself reluctantly agreeing to be the poster girl for the rebellion – styled and manipulated by the underground in the same way that the Capitol once dolled her up for TV dismemberment. Dressed in all black and ready for combat with some pretty awesome arrows or as Effie puts it, “the best dressed rebel in history,” Katniss is directed to do sets of propaganda videos – or “propos” – to inspire the people of Panem to join the fight against the Capitol.

Katniss has to witness Peeta supposedly on President Snow’s side, (Donald Sutherland) as he begs for the districts to quit fighting. Through this, she’s endlessly supported by Gale, who even through all the heartache and pain still wants to be more than friends.

“If we burn, you burn with us.”

I liked this one, not as much as Catching Fire but it was still really good and I enjoyed it. I do understand how some people found Mockingjay: Part 1 sort of a drab – the lack of extravagant and colourful costumes and settings like at the Capitol and just an absence of visual variety compared to what we’ve seen in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire like during the actual games. In most of this movie, Katniss kind of just mopes around and looks aghast, she is still recovering from PTSD, so she’s forgiven. Don’t get me wrong, Jennifer Lawrence’s acting is superb and her emotions pour out so we feel what Katniss feels, she gave me chills during a visit in District 8! Philip Seymour Hoffman who plays Plutarch Heavensbee was fantastic, still a perfect fit for his character! Although the cast playing the lead roles are practically perfect, I’m also a big fan of the supporting characters, in particular Cressida (Natalie Dormer).

On a side note – Katniss as a character is very important and I think the media misunderstands that we aren’t in it for the boys, we’re in it for Katniss. Thousands of young girls and boys were introduced to a protagonist who’s an introverted, angry girl born into poverty and watched her become the saviour of the world and the media doesn’t seem to understand that she as a character, is important to us, especially us females. Not who she dates, but her and her values.

Rating:

***

What did you think of the latest Hunger Games franchise? Love it or loathe it?