Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Frozen, Starring Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, Turns Stereotypes on Their Heads

I love how this Disney princess movie turns stereotypes on their heads. Anna, second princess of Arendelle, falls in love with a handsome prince and plans to marry him. But Elsa, first princess of Arendelle, forbids their sudden marriage, unleashes her frozen power on the kingdom, then flees. Anna leaves Arendelle to find her sister with the help of Kristoff, an ice seller, who falls in love with Anna.

When Elsa accidentally strikes Anna in the heart with her frozen power, the only way Anna can be saved from death is by an act of true love. Thinking she must be kissed by her handsome prince, Anna pleads for him to kiss her. But he refuses, and turns out (spoiler alert) to be evil, bent on taking over the kingdom. He charges her sister Elsa with treason for Anna's impending death.

Then Anna realizes Kristoff truly loves her. She sets off across a fjord to find him. At the same time, Hans chases Elsa onto the same fjord, intent on killing her. Anna reaches Kristoff, but sees Hans is about to kill Elsa. She throws herself between the two and freezes solid, blocking the blow. As Elsa grieves the loss of her sister, Anna begins to thaw. Her sacrifice for her sister constitutes an act of true love.

It surprised me how the handsome prince turned out to be evil, breaking a stereotype. The screenwriters thought of a great twist in making sisterly love the key to saving Anna and subsequently Elsa instead of the love of a man, as it usually is in Disney princess movies. Frozen is my favorite movie of 2014 so far.

Noah, Starring Russell Crowe, directed by Darren Aronofsky

I saw this movie with a group of Christian and non-Christian friends. All agreed that Noah was entertaining.  From a screenwriter’s point of view, the writers had to expand the traditional Biblical story to fit three-act structure and give Noah and other cast members character arcs. Conflicts had to arise on the ark or else it would be a boring trip. While some ridicule the use of “rock people,” I thought they made the story more realistic. How else could Noah and two grown sons have built the huge ark in such a short time? (In the Biblical account, it took about twenty years for four grown men to do it, but screenplays usually condense timelines).

As a Christian, I have no problem with the writers adding or changing elements of the original story to elucidate the meaning of the story. How many times have preachers implored their listeners to “use their imaginations” to fill in what Bible characters could have been thinking or saying during their conflicts? Hopefully, viewers will be drawn to look into the original source of the story in Genesis chapters 5-10 and spiritual conversations can be started.

While the story carries an environmental message, it also conveys one of hope and restoration. Mankind was given a second chance to “do things right.” Wouldn’t most of us take advantage of a second chance to avoid mistakes of the past?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dream High, Starring Suzy Bae and Kim Soo Hyun

I really loved this show. The music was awesome, the characters well-rounded, the plot well-told. It didn't end the way I thought it would, which is good, because I like to be surprised. I even enjoyed the adults' stories.

I liked the fact that the main character was a girl jerk and the two boys nice guys, different from the usual nice girl falls for the jerk guy. So you don't know who she's going to end up with.

The joy and passion these young people have for their music is inspiring. Dream High is not only for young people, but for old people with dreams too.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Linsanity the Movie--An Inspiring Asian American Success Story about Jeremy Lin

A week and a half ago, I watched Linsanity the Movie about NBA basketball player Jeremy Lin. In February of 2012, he shocked the sports world with a five-game winning streak for the New York Knicks.

More shocking was the fact that he seemed to come out of nowhere. Undrafted and unwanted by the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets, he ended up with the Knicks and fully expected to be sent home. Then several New York players became injured or sick and Lin got his last chance to show what he could do. He amazed his teammates, opponents, fans, and the sports world by sinking baskets left and right, tearing up the court.

Sports commentators didn't know how to describe him. Unfortunately, some ugly racial stereotypes came out that actually started a dialogue on how Asians have been ignored or misrepresented. But the movie doesn't dwell on this. Lin credits his parents and his Christian faith for seeing him through good times and bad. His God gave him strength to do what he needed to when he needed to.

This inspiring movie gives hope to anyone the world has written off. No matter what your skin color or others' perception of you is, your dreams still can come true.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Creating Destiny, Starring Yoo-Jin and Tae-young Ki

This drama was hard to get into. It seemed to move slow and some parts were hard to understand the logic. Why would the protagonist agree to travel to Korea to become betrothed when she already had a boyfriend? The bloodline excuse the mom gave was not fully explained. Was she afraid of hereditary diseases, unwanted character traits passed down the family line, inherited debt? And Sang Eun's biological mother's name was never mentioned. Nobody in either family bothered to ask her it or what she or her family did for a living.

I did enjoy seeing the romance grow between the two main characters. The second storyline with Yeo Joon's sister was interesting, yet in the end, we still don't know if she was really in love with the father of her child. The other romances were kind of unbelievable. And why was Yeo Joon's uncle even in the drama? He didn't really contribute much.

Maybe some things were lost in the translation. In fact, whole lines were missing from some scenes. Maybe because the drama was translated by volunteers.

I really wanted to like this drama more. I like the actors and actresses. I wish more of the scenes could have been shot outdoors or in places other than restaurants and coffee shops.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Shining Inheritance, Starring Han Hyo Joo and Lee Seung Ki

After the first episode, I had decided not to finish it because when they introduced all the characters at once, it was very confusing. I finally took it up again after watching several more other dramas. The first half went by slowly and I wasn't that excited. But after about halfway, the plot sped up and I began really enjoying it. The characters were well-developed. The jerk gradually changed his attitude in a natural way. The heroine had her faults and wasn't all goody-two-shoes. The antagonist was definitely shrewd and calculating and really made it difficult for the heroine. But she was motivated by love for her daughter as well as her love of money and was a complex character. The heroine had many helpers including the nice guy, whom I felt sorry for because (spoiler alert) the heroine rejected him. Even the secondary characters had complete arcs that resolved in the last episode.

All in all, I really liked this drama, despite it's confusing and slow beginning. I felt for the characters and really wanted the good guys to win.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Great Queen Seondeok, Starring Yo Won Lee, Ko Hyeon-jeong, Park Ye-Jin, Uhm Tae Woong, and Nam-kil Kang

This very long, intricate story is worth seeing to the end. At first, they introduced so many characters, it was confusing. And when some of the characters aged, others didn't, which also led to confusion. But don't let that stop you. I really enjoyed the setting, costumes and pageantry of the beginning. The character arcs and plot were so interesting, one weekend, I watched ten episodes! The last third of the series I didn't enjoy as much as the first two-thirds, but it was still engrossing. This makes me want to find out the real story of Queen Seondeok.