Movie Musings: Do The Terminator and Titanic share similar story DNA?

James Cameron is a good example of how a filmmaker can come from anywhere. Originally working as a truck driver, his viewing of a film called Star Wars, inspired him to pursue a new career path.

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Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, and James Cameron, on the set of The Terminator.

After quitting his job and working on several films for Roger Corman, James eventually crafted his first original film, as a writer/director. The Terminator debuted in 1984, and quickly garnered praise for it’s effects-work, and gritty science-fiction scenario.

In the 30 years since the film’s debut, Cameron’s name not only became elevated in science fiction circles, but at the global box-office, where his last two films took off like gangbusters in 1997, and 2009.

In 1997, Titanic was released, and took off in a way that hadn’t been seen since the days of the early 80’s box-office hits!

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Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, and James Cameron, on the set of Titanic.

The film was truly a phenomenon that could not be quantified: a $200 million film whose release was pushed back 5 months to the Winter of 1997 due to editing and effects issues. The numerous delays, made many feel that Cameron’s “Romeo and Juliet on the Titanic” story, would surely sink his career.

Of course, as we know now, the rest is history. Titanic managed to ‘stay afloat’ in theaters almost 8 months after it’s debut, and broke attendance and ticket records in almost every country it was released in!

While it isn’t my favorite Cameron film (that distinction still belongs to Terminator 2: Judgment Day), I still can’t help but admire the man’s big-budget attempts to bring his fascination with the ship to life. Willing to build a 90% scale recreation to film on, as well as the mixture of practical and visual effects, to put us aboard the doomed luxury liner, and make us feel for the plight of it’s 2,200 souls.

Watching films over the years, I would sometimes look through most filmmakers’ works, looking for similarities, or reasons why certain subjects would fascinate them. As I was looking through Cameron’s films, I was surprised to note that when thinking through the story of Titanic, I found several story elements, that seemed to borrow from the structure Cameron used on The Terminator.

And so, I thought I’d share some of my findings with the internet.

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A Stranger in a Strange Land

When it comes to the male leads for both Terminator and Titanic, one can see that both Kyle Reese and Jack Dawson, are ‘anomalies’ in the worlds they find themselves in (Kyle in the year 1984, and Jack aboard the Titanic).

Cameron-4The future world Kyle has come from, is one devoid of the luxuries that the average person living in 1984 takes for granted. As a soldier, Reese got by on his wits, struggling to just survive each day, in a world ravaged by the machines. When he gets to 1984 Los Angeles, Michael Biehn portrays him as a man out-of-time, determined to save Sarah Connor, while also dealing with post-traumatic stress, from his time as a soldier.

Jack on the other hand, has lived his life going from place-to-place, with a very bohemian lifestyle. An artist by trade, he does what he can to get by, but still is willing to keep to a basic set of principles.

Both men are also unique, in that they encounter their leading ladies in the midst of life-or-death situations (Sarah about to be killed by a Terminator, and Rose threatening to commit suicide).

Throughout the course of the films, both Kyle and Jack act as cheerleaders to Sarah and Rose, claiming they are more than what they seem. We see both women at one point claim that these men are mistaken, but as the story goes on, we see them breaking out, and even saving their men in several instances.

It is also notable, that both of these men sacrifice themselves so the leading lady can live, and are ‘lost to time’ as the films go on.

Cameron-5In Terminator, Kyle Reese did not exist until after Judgment Day. When the LAPD catch him, there is no record of him on file. During the final battle, Kyle sacrifices his life to try and destroy the T-800. After his body is recovered after the event, he is sealed up in a body bag, and is never heard of again.

In Jack’s case, he came aboard the Titanic along with his friend Fabrizio, with tickets not to their names (both were won in a poker game). After the ship sinks, Jack has Rose get aboard a piece of the ship, so she’ll be out of the freezing waters. However, in his attempt to save her, Jack succumbs to hypothermia.

When Rose let go of his hands, and he sank into the abyss, that was the last anyone saw of Jack Dawson. The only thing that physically exists that proves his existence, is the drawing he did of Rose (that was found in Cal’s safe). Rose even mentions that she has no picture of Jack, whose face only now exists in her memories (of course, the irony is that there actually was a person on the Titanic named Jack Dawson, just not the one that Cameron had Leo portraying).

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Technology will be Your Doom (if you let it)

Most of Cameron’s films have an underlying theme regarding technology, and whether Man can control it, or if that technology may end up destroying it’s creator.

Though there is a definite technological difference between Skynet’s T-800 Terminator, and The White Star Line’s Titanic, they both represent the hubris of man.

Skynet was a fully-automated system integrated into the US Military, as a deterrent to human error, and to safeguard against enemy attacks. However, the artificial intelligence soon deemed all humans to be a threat. The system triggered an attack that lead to a nuclear war, that became known as Judgment Day.

Though the Titanic was not a living entity, her creation could almost be seen in a similar light.

At the time of her creation in the early 20th century, the Titanic was touted by her creators as one of the largest, most luxurious ships of all time, and…she was considered to be unsinkable, at least, according to the press and media (word was the White Star Line never claimed such hubris).

Her double-bottom hull and multiple water-tight compartments were seen as a deterrent to death, their advanced technological breakthroughs deemed a way to keep her passengers safe.

Of course, the claims of how this early 20th century technological marvel was going to revolutionize travel and pretty much plow through whatever Mother Nature threw at her, were rendered moot after she struck an iceberg, and sank on April 14th, 1912.

Both Skynet and the Titanic, were creations meant to show how far mankind had come…and in ways that most could not comprehend, they ended up defying their creators.

Skynet was touted as a program that would not suffer from the errors of humanity, like fatigue or emotions. However, once those in charge soon realized what they had done, it was too late to change course.

The Titanic was touted in a number of publications of the time, as being ‘unsinkable,’ a vessel to stand against God and nature. The push for luxury over safety, also overruled the added safety deterrent, of giving the ship enough lifeboats to handle her massive human capacity, leading to the tragic loss of over 2/3’s of her passengers.

It is also notable that in both films, Skynet and Titanic, are shown within alien-like worlds, ravaged by time.

In Terminator, the world of 2029 is shown torn asunder by nuclear annihilation, and the neverending threat of Skynet’s many war machines, to wipe out the last of mankind.

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In Titanic, we see what became of the great ship’s own Judgement Day, some 85 years after she sank to the bottom of the Atlantic. Just like the future world of Terminator, we see once normal imagery made ‘alien’ before our eyes, bathed in a faint blue glow. The ocean, the sinking, and a number of other factors, have twisted the remains of the once-great ship, into something other-worldly, far away from the normalcy of her heyday, in 1912.

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You are more, than what you think you are

Though many decades separate their life-changing stories, Sarah Connor and Rose Dawson have story arcs that are very similar.

When we first meet them, both seem to be stuck in a certain place, seemingly trapped.

Cameron-6Sarah is working as a waitress, and looks to be heading towards a normal suburban lifestyle, that will eventually lead to marriage, and children.

Rose’s family name and fortune have allowed her to become the fiance to a young businessman, in a society and world where her choices seem limited.

Both women find themselves in a precarious situation, when strange men from another world (Jack from the world of Bohemia, Kyle from a war-torn future), end up ‘saving’ their lives, and attempt to make them believe that they can be more than what they think they are.

Kyle tells Sarah of what he was told by John, regarding how she trained him to be a warrior, and was a source of great strength.

Jack’s pep talk is moreso based on what he’s observed regarding Rose. Jack has noticed that Rose seems to have a fire within her, much more than those around her. The upper-class world she is in won’t allow for such ‘outbursts,’ and she’s in danger of that fire burning out.

By the end of their films, both Kyle and Jack have died, and in the wake of their deaths, it is up to the women they championed, to decide if they want to die, or live.

Cameron-7In Terminator, the T-800 is still alive after Kyle is killed. It is up to Sarah to finish the job (and decide if she wants to live or die). Sarah manages to lead the Terminator into a metal press, where it is crushed.

In Titanic, a lifeboat returns to the ship’s debris field, looking for survivors. Upon realizing Jack has died due to hypothermia, Rose almost gives up, but then remembers her promise to Jack. She manages to get the attention of the lifeboat’s crew, and is saved.

In the final minutes of each film, we get a small glimpse of how these encounters changed both of their lives.

Sarah is last seen driving off into an uncertain future, though more confident, and starting a new life, to prepare her unborn son for what is to come.

In the final moments of Titanic, we see Rose asleep(?), with a number of pictures by her bedside. Each of them in a matter of minutes, shows that she seems to have tried to live life to it’s fullest…a life she probably would never have had, if she hadn’t encountered Jack Dawson.

While I have mentioned Terminator as sharing some DNA with Titanic, there is a little of Terminator 2 in the film as well…albeit in a deleted ending.

In his original ending for T2, once the T-800 had been destroyed, the film would cut to 30 years in the future, to a park in Washington D.C. Sarah, now a Grandmother, explains how Judgment Day didn’t happen. The disaster was averted, and John Connor is now a Senator.

In the audio commentary for T2, Cameron claimed that he became fascinated with the idea of seeing a person, at two different stages of their life. However, he felt that the sudden appearance of Hamilton playing Sarah at age 64, was too much of a shock to the system.

In re-evaluating what went wrong, he felt that if he were to sell the illusion of a character at different stages of her life, the character would need to be introduced at their older age, to help ease the viewer into their younger ‘identity.’

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Left: Linda Hamilton, from the alternate ending to Terminator 2; Right: Gloria Stuart as “old Rose,” from Titanic.

Cameron was determined to use this storytelling device post-T2, and made it work 5 years later on Titanic.  While Kate Winslet portrays the younger Rose character and is the film’s ‘lead,’ it is Gloria Stuart who bookends the film, as ‘old Rose’ leads us into her past, and back to the present day.

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While both films do not line up exactly in comparison, it is notable at what I’ve seen in regards to both films, and I have been surprised noone else has really written such a comparison piece. But then, I’m one of those people that is weird enough to do so.

I came back to finish this post, after seeing Titanic’s 20th anniversary release last weekend. The audience was rather small, but seeing it in an HDR setting with an incredible sound system, took me back to those halcyon days of my senior year in high school, sitting in my hometown theater for the first matinee of the film (minus it breaking 15 minutes before the end!).

That re-visit of the film on the big-screen got my mind going, and soon made me think of a few other comparisons one could make regarding Terminator, and Titanic:

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Picture Perfect

I was surprised to realize how in each of the films, an image of Sarah and Rose, are vital to the journey several people undertake in these films.

In The Terminator, it was a picture of Sarah Connor, that pushed Kyle to accept the mission, to go back and protect her.

In Titanic, it is Jack’s drawing of Rose, that brings ‘old Rose’ to the attention of Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton), as the image shows her wearing The Heart of the Ocean necklace, the treasure he is seeking within the remains of the ship.

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Search and Destroy

One scene that is most memorable to those who saw The Terminator, is when Arnold’s T-800 massacres a whole police station, in his search for Sarah Connor.

Surprisingly, a similar cat-and-mouse situation (minus the multiple guns and dead bodies) was shot for Titanic, but ended up on the cutting room floor.

After Cal (Billy Zane) chases Jack and Rose down to the flooded First Class Dining Hall, he gives up the chase, due to the rising waters and a lack of bullets in his gun…only to realize that Rose’s coat still has the necklace in it’s pocket!

In the deleted scene, Cal tells Lovejoy (David Warner) that he can have the necklace if he can get it, and the bodyguard reloads his gun, and skulks into the dining hall.

 

While the cat-and-mouse game in The Terminator helped with the suspense, the same scenario happening amidst the sinking dining hall just didn’t work.

Cameron had hoped the scene would excite the audience, as Jack gets some comeuppance upon Lovejoy. However, while the sight of the familiar setting being eerily submerged charmed Cameron, the added tension just seemed to be too much for the audience, who were already full ensconced by the more pressing matters of the ship sinking.

After a few test-screenings, Cameron removed the dining hall fight altogether, and with it, went any negative comments about the moment!

In the final film, Jack and Rose merely rush through the dining hall, and the audience is left to assume that Cal and Lovejoy returned to the upper-decks, to try and get on a lifeboat.

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I will admit the two films aren’t perfectly similar in their narratives, but as one can glean from the article, it seems that James Cameron likes to reuse some things, if he can find a place for them.

Of course, I do wonder if any other story scenarios will show up in the upcoming Avatar sequels. Cameron’s fascination with deep-sea diving, is said to be a part of the upcoming sequel. I doubt we’ll get any interstellar submersibles, but I’m sure he’ll work on trying to give us some fascinating underwater creations, beneath the waves on Pandora.

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Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 3, Episode 13) Monster Bash

And so, we’ve finally come to the episode, that is classified as the halfway-mark for season 3 of Star vs the Forces of Evil.

The last 12 episodes for Star vs the Forces of Evil, have definitely felt like the most thorough line of continuity we’ve had during a season so far. So much has happened, that when one sits back and thinks of what we’ve seen, it’s really quite startling!

So, let’s delve into Monster Bash, and see what we got.

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Thanks to the generosity of Rich Pigeon, Star is able to throw a party for the young monsters and mewmans in her kingdom! Also in attendance, are Marco (helping set up the party), and Tom (trying to get Star to just calm down and enjoy the festivities).

Things seem to be going well once the guests start talking, but some unexpected visitors may possibly derail Star’s perfect little party.

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One of the themes that has come to the forefront of season 3, is the treatment of monsters in the kingdom of Mewni. We’ve seen Star take small strides to try and understand more, and here, she attempts to try and fix things in her own way.

The party setup feels pretty simple, and it is nice to see some monsters we haven’t seen since season 2 (such as the more peaceful ‘alternative monsters’), but the writing for their attitudes feels a little ‘pedestrian’ at times.

We also see some mild interactions between Star and Tom. Even though they are unofficially ‘together,’ we’ve seen relatively little to support that rekindling of a relationship so far this season, (with only a few scenes in recent episodes, to back this up). It’s notable that Tom claimed a few episodes ago that he wanted to ‘better’ himself, but rather than help Star with her current project, he chooses to just ‘mope’ around at times.

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Marco on the other hand, once again shows his skills with trying to keep things ‘neat and orderly,’ as he tries to take care of some behind-the-scenes work at the party. Of course, nothing can stay perfect for very long, and we see both him and Star, having to deal with a few ‘problems.’

Things (surprisingly) begin to get interesting, when we encounter Ms Heinous again! I was afraid this was going to turn into another of her quick in-and-out appearances, but if there is anything that saves this episode from being average, it is the revelations regarding her character (revelations many of us have been waiting for since season 1!). Some questions have been answered, but now, new ones regarding Heinous, have been unleashed!

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We also have the return of Mina Loveberry, whom some may fondly recall from her season 2 segment, titled Starstruck. Sadly, it doesn’t really feel like her character is good for much of anything, except expounding a few lines of exposition, and just showing how totally off-her-rocker she is. It felt like there might have been some hope for the former warrior at the end of Starstruck, but it seems the writers just want to keep her as ‘the loose cannon,’ wandering around the kingdom at random.

These full-length episodes are often looked forward to by myself and many fans of the series, as they have the chance to give over more time, and tell a larger story. Monster Bash I feel, could have been a much stronger story with it’s many layers, but it feels a little too ‘loosey-goosey’ in some places to truly become a great episode.

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The revelations regarding Heinous are indeed serious, but one has to wonder if Star will take the initiative and reveal this to her mother (or maybe, Eclipsa?). Last season, she tried to hide the fact that she had lost her family’s spellbook and Glossaryck of Terms, before tearfully confessing her shortcomings. Seeing as this season she’s trying to become ‘a better princess,’ I would assume being truthful in matters like this, might be a wise (if shocking) decision, but we’ll have to wait and see what comes next.

Star’s efforts to also bridge the disconnect across multiple species in her kingdom felt like a good way to go, but could have been stronger. The final scene definitely raises some questions regarding her efforts, and how far she still has to go towards unity and acceptance, after generations of animosity towards monsters.

Final Grade: B

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Best line from episode (said by Star Butterfly): “Oh my dear sweet angel-lady, I thought I’d lost you!”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Rich Pigeon): “Legs heal Marco, but grudges last…forever!”

In the end, Monster Bash feels a bit like the halfway-mark episode from Season 2, titled Bon Bon the Birthday Clown. Fortunately, this episode’s title makes a little more sense regarding it’s storyline, but struggles a little more to keep itself together.

There are definitely some good ideas to be had here, but it feels like it wasn’t given as strong of a focus as it could have had.

The revelations regarding Ms Heinous are still strong in my mind, though the use of Mina Loveberry in the story, felt like a ‘distracting letdown’ to really making the story much more memorable overall. There could have also been a stronger plotline regarding Star’s trying to bring mewmans and monsters together. The potential is there in a few scenes, but it never seems to rise above little more than ‘set decoration’ in some areas.

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And with that, two weeks worth of Star episodes came to an end. But, there are a few more coming before the end of the year, and they happen to be full-length episodes.

Next up is the episode called Stump Day, which seems to be about Mewni’s version of Christmas. While the previews have shown plenty of ‘festive fun,’ I’m curious if some of the revelations from Monster Bash will make an appearance in the storyline. See you back here soon, to talk about where the next half of season 3 will (or may) take us!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 3, Episode 12) – Night Life / Deep Dive

 

In the last episode of Star vs the Forces of Evil, a few more doors were opened to the neighboring kingdoms in the world of Mewni.

This episode returns to focus on our main characters, and and a few issues that are affecting their lives.

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– Night Life –

Wanting to do something else with his time on Mewni, Marco begins secretly hanging out with Hekapoo. With dimensional portals popping up unexpectedly, she needs all the help she can get to close them, and Marco feels like he’s well-suited for the job.

Last season, I found Hekapoo to be one of the more interesting new characters we were introduced to. The forger of all dimensional scissors, she has a rather abrasive wit about her, that plays much better than that of Pony Head. Plus, most of her humorous moments just hit better!

We also get some great references back to the segment Running with Scissors from season 2, and find out a little more information about the dimension she lives in.

Marco seems to be trying to branch out and do things that don’t concern Star (seeing as how she seems to trying to deal with some of her own problems), making it feel like this story ties into a few revelations at the end of the segment, Lava Lake Beach.

We do get some friction between both Star and Marco, notably in how Marco claims he wants to help Star, but isn’t there for her a few times. Plus, it feels like there may be a some straining on their friendship, and…a tiny hint of jealousy, perhaps?

The storytelling on display here, is the kind that I really enjoy. We get a sense that something is going on, and while we don’t get all the answers, we get enough information to feel like the time and effort put forth was adequately used to not only entertain us, but push the overall story forward!

There is a subplot about secrets and lies, and it manages to weave it’s way through the segment in a very enjoyable way. One revelation proved to be a bit ‘heartbreaking,’ but still, this is definitely a segment I’ll come back to in the future for repeat viewings!

Final Grade: B+

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Best line from episode (said by Hekapoo): “Ugh, you know I can’t resist your ‘adult voice!’”

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– Deep Dive –

At night, Star is still finding herself transforming into her 6-armed, ‘golden butterfly’ form, once she falls asleep. However, it seems that there is a pattern to her nightly activities.

Wanting to figure out more about what is going on, she enlists Marco’s help, and brings her friend Janna from Earth, to monitor her.

It was quite a surprise to see this segment tie into the previous one in several ways. Rarely do we have that ‘one-two punch’ of storytelling happen in this series. Plus, the information from that last segment is still fresh in our minds, as this one takes off.

I kept wondering if Janna would come to Mewni (given her appearance in the new season 3 opening animation), and it looks like this segment finally allowed it to happen. One could see this story focusing moreso on Star and Marco, but it feels like Janna was brought in as a ‘buffer’ regarding where their paths go during the story. Plus, Star probably feels that since Janna is used to the ‘strange and unusual,’ she might be able to help figure out what is happening to her.

This turns out to be another story whose roots seem planted in the events of The Battle for Mewni. We’re introduced to some new characters, places, and concepts, that have sprung up since that event. This also raises a few new questions regarding what Star went through at the end of the ‘battle,’ as well as leaving us to wonder if there may be more to ponder about what we glimpse here.

We also get some brief, but startling revelations regarding Marco, who does something that I don’t think any of us could have foreseen…and consequences that are now making us ask, ‘what just happened there?’

The mood and mystery of this story really sticks in my head, but even with it being entertaining, it feels a few steps shy of reaching the levels of enjoyment that permeated through the previous segment. It’s not without it’s charm, but just needed a little extra ‘oomph’ to have reached the levels of enjoyment I had with Night Life.

Final Grade: B

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Best line from episode (said by Star Butterfly): “Oh Marco…that was incredibly stupid of you.”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Janna, in Deep Dive): “Chicken butt.”

And that, is how you do an enjoyable 1-2-punch of a 2-segment episode!

Night Life shows us Marco trying to do things on his own away from Star, but finding out that that might not be so easy to do. This story was also a welcome return to see Hekapoo in action, as well as learn a bit more about her character, and the way the dimensions in this universe seem to function.

Deep Dive provides a nice complimentary segment, as Marco and Janna are tasked with figuring out what is going on with Star when she falls asleep. There’s a bit more mystery here, but we are introduced to some new, and intriguing questions. Plus, there’s some new information about Marco that will surely have many fans eager for answers in future storylines!

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And that concludes the dual-segment episodes for now. Next up for review, is a full-episode, titled Monster Ball. Star decides to go forward with holding a party for all young monsters and creatures she knows. Of course, no party can just go off without a hitch. What happens? Well, we’ll see you next time to find out more!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 3, Episode 11) – Death Peck / Ponymonium

Over the last few episodes, we’ve been given more information about some of the different kingdoms and species that populate Mewni.

In this episode, we get a little more information about one we were introduced to in the first season, and a new one that recently came to light.

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– Death Peck –

Wanting to bring unity among the different creatures and kingdoms on Mewni, Star, Marco, and Pony Head, journey to the Pigeon Kingdom. It is here, they hope to get Rich Pigeon, to join their cause.

This is another precarious situation for our trio, though it quickly turns into one of the most action-packed segments we’ve seen yet. Sugarcube studios definitely shows they have the skills to do action scenes right, though the segment feels like it’s a bit too full on filler, and less on the reason for Star’s being there.

We do get some more information about the Pigeon Kingdom, let alone learn more about the recently-introduced Rich Pigeon, and his family’s legacy. When he was first introduced during the Silver Bell Ball, I just figured he was going to be a one-off character, but given what we are shown here, he might have more to offer coming up this season.

While Death Peck accomplishes some stuff in the course of it’s storytelling, it just mostly feels like ‘action-movie filler’ for most of it’s run-time, with only a few well-placed gags here or there.

Final Grade: B-

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Best line from episode (said by Pony Head): “Yeah, Marco’s right. Whoa, did I just say that out loud?”

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– Ponymonium –

Pony Head invites Star to her family’s castle for dinner. However, Star finds that her best friend’s family, may be a bit more dysfunctional than she imagined.

Star and Marco’s Guide to Mastering Every Dimension actually had a section about Pony Head’s sisters, and we finally get to see some of them in action. However, with so many different sisters, there are only a select-few that we focus on, and the others are just treated as background fodder. Plus, it feels like when it comes to the birth-order of the sisters, one has to have the Guide to figure this out (sorry, newcomers).

Most surprising about the storyline, is how Star almost acts as our ‘innocent’ avatar to what is going on. She enters this dinner knowing very little about her best friend’s homelife, and we’re along for the ride with her, trying to figure out just what is going on.

It felt like out of all the recent storylines that have dealt with Pony Head so far this season, this seemed to shuffle her all the way back to her first season’s appearance, where she’s downright ‘abrasive’ for the entire length of the segment. I guess we can hope that when we see her again outside of her home, she’ll be a bit more palatable.

We also get a minor cameo from King Pony Head, who also gets in one of the funniest lines of the segment. Of course, it may lead some to wonder just where Queen Pony Head is (maybe she just had enough of the girls, and left?).

This episode is kind of like digging through dirt to find some gold. There are some moments that manage to save the storyline, but it feels like the storytellers missed the chance to really give us a memorable first impression of the Pony Head Kingdom.

Final Grade: B-

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Best line from episode (said by King Pony Head): “Take me with you.”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Star Butterfly, in Ponymonium): “Okay, thanks for having me…because I definitely, feel like I’ve been ‘had.'”

This episode managed to open up the world of Mewni a little more, but felt like we were only allowed a taste, before being thrown into a crazy set of events, before we get some closure at the end.

Death Peck takes us to the Pigeon Kingdom, and manages to show us that there’s more to Rich Pigeon than it seems. However, much of the segment is taken over by an action sequences, which keeps it from feeling like a more fully-formed story.

Star attempts to guide us through the craziness that is Ponymonium, but it seems to be a way to distract from the rather blase story going down regarding Pony Head and her sisters. This was a segment that had potential, but felt like it just…happened.

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Next episode, it looks like the return of our favorite fiery redhead, when Marco and Hekapoo team up in the segment, Night Life. Then, we get a little more introspection into Star’s late-night journeys, with Deep Dive. See you soon!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 3, Episode 10) – Sweet Dreams / Lava Lake Beach

Well, it’s two days in a row where we seem to have a segment for Star, and one for Marco!

Last episode dealt with Marco having to deal with telling ‘the truth,’ and Star trying to heal a rift between the inhabitants of her kingdom.

Today, their stories become a bit more…difficult.

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– Sweet Dreams –

Star is surprised to learn that after falling asleep, she ends up flying off to other dimensions (without using dimensional scissors to travel!), but doesn’t know the meaning behind it.

Not wishing to worry her parents, Star asks Marco to help her figure out what is going on, which leads to some rather unexpected surprises.

Sweet Dreams feels like one of those ‘first step’ storylines, where what we see, could possibly lead to further information down the line. It strings along a number of gags, though some of them end up feeling a little ridiculous.

There isn’t a whole lot explained in this story, and it feels like it just coasts by on it’s visuals for much of the storyline, leaving me wishing we could have gotten some stronger story moments in certain places. Even so, the story does give us some rather ‘freaky’ imagery, that almost feels on par with what was seen in the segment, Rest in Pudding.

Probably the one place where the segment seemed to get really intriguing, was with the brief appearance of Eclipsa. We also get some surprising information about part of Star’s room, that has had some people asking questions since season 1.

Final Grade: C+

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Best line from episode (said by Eclipsa): “Oh, are you afraid I’ll get my ‘evil cooties’ on you?”

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– Lava Lake Beach –

Star, Marco, their friend Kelly, and Tom decide to go down to the beach in the Lucitor kingdom (where Tom lives), to watch the ‘soul rise.’ However, as the group tries to enjoy the rather abrasive atmosphere, Marco notes that something seems to be on Kelly’s mind.

We were given a little bit of information about the kingdom Tom lives in, in the book Star and Marco’s Guide to Mastering Every Dimension. However, we are only shown what seems to be a small portion of the ‘underworld’ dimension here (and Tom seems perfectly fine just being a regular demon on the beach).

This segment is notable, as we get a little more information on Kelly, and see her having relationship issues with her boyfriend, Tad. However, it seems that she may finally be tiring of the constant cycle of breaking up and getting back together with him.

The story revolving around Kelly, feels like the high-point of the segment, as Marco goes to talk to Tad, and gets probably the biggest emotional slap-to-the-face one could get!

This episode pretty much becomes for Marco, what Just Friends last season was for Star (seriously, I could hear Love Sentence’s song Too Little, Too Late in my head during a moment in this segment!). Sadly, it feels like the story’s attempts to help drive this realization home, get a bit ‘hokey,’ and one scene that probably could have been as emotional as Star seeing Marco kiss Jackie Lynn Thomas in Just Friendsdoesn’t ‘hit hard enough’ in my opinion.

The interactions between Marco and Kelly here, is what keeps the story from just falling flat. Marco is the kind of guy who wants to help others, and we see that on display here in full-force. Plus, we see that while Kelly can be a bit weird at times, she’s just as understanding when it looks like Marco needs someone to perk him up.

Final Grade: B-

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Best line from episode (said by Kelly): “Um, I actually licked all these.”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Dorby, in Lava Lake Beach): “EXISTENTIAL WAR CRY!!”

This episode had some decent information/revelations folded into it’s stories. However, they didn’t hold up so well in the long-run.

Sweet Dreams shows Star going through changes in her life, but decides to keep the vagueness of the new mystery open. It does salvage itself at the end with a revelation courtesy of Eclipsa, but it doesn’t go far enough in my opinion to become a really good story.

Lava Lake Beach is a storyline, that deals with coming to terms with something you maybe didn’t want to consider. It plays well off of both Marco and Kelly dealing with relationship issues, but the filler bits with the beach’s fight-obsessed inhabitants in the Lucitor kingdom, felt a little too ridiculous for my tastes.

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Next episode,  it looks like we’ll look at a few of the other kingdoms on Mewni. Death Peck sends Star to the Pigeon kingdom, while Ponymonium takes us to the Ponyhead kingdom. See you back here soon, to see how these two storylines play out!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 3, Episode 9) – Princess Turdina / Starfari

Another week, another 4 days of Star vs the Forces of Evil!

The last four episodes brought us back to the worlds of Star Butterfly and Marco Diaz, and how the early events of the season have sent their lives off in directions, some of us never fathomed.

But enough chit-chat, let’s get onto the reviews!

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– Princess Turdina –

After he helped liberate St Olga’s Reform School for Wayward Princesses, Marco’s princess persona has become a beacon of hope for dimensional princesses everywhere! The girls who have taken over the old school, wish to honor Princess Marco Turdina for inspiring them, but Star thinks that Marco should tell the truth, and reveal who he truly is.

Ever since Marco donned a dress in the season 1 episode about St Olga’s, there has been numerous fanart (and theories) about him, let alone some very interesting sub-stories (and perks) that have resulted from his time in a dress.

The segment’s storyline is a bit rickety at times, as Marco strives to not let down the princesses that he’s inspired, and also struggles with his own feelings and thoughts about the truth. While he did strive to tell the girls to rebel against the school’s conforming ways, it feels like some may have taken his words a little too far out of context.

Like a few episodes in the last week, I did like how Star strives to act as Marco’s ‘conscience’ in this segment, while Pony Head seems to be perfectly fine with him trying not to tell the truth.

We even get a surprise return from Miss Heinous and her assistant, Gemini. Of course, they happen to drop in at a most inopportune time, and as is customary with authority figures, simply want a return to their old normalcy, with no concessions given to the student body.

The writers actually choose to end the story in a way I didn’t expect. However, it just continues to raise more questions about Heinous, while trying to make her predicament humorous, courtesy of her assistant.

There is a good message in Princess Turdina, but it just feels like the writers chose to focus their attention in a few areas, that could have been scaled back for a stronger story here.

Final Grade: B-

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Best line from episode (said by Marco Diaz): “*gasp* How’d you know about ‘Rodrigo!?'”

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– Starfari –

While out shopping with Tom, Star is taken aback by the way monsters are treated in the kingdom of Mewni. When she finds out that her kingdom has a Royal Monster Expert, she inquires if something can be done about the current situation, and meets Dr Jelly Goodwell (voiced by the very funny Carol Kane!). It turns out that the doctor has been studying monsters for some time, and invites Star to observe them with her.

When first hearing about this segment, I grew excited, hoping that this would be a very introspective and progressive storyline. However, Starfarchooses to dwell a bit too much in comedy, and therein lies my biggest issue with it.

The segment had a real chance to delve deeper into the rift between mewmans and monsters, but instead, chooses to try and milk comedy out of Dr Goodwell’s ideas and studies (I could see the writers trying their best to make her amusing and funny). However, as the story went on, I got a very chilly vibe, like I was seeing a rehash of last season’s story, Starstruck.

Goodwell reminded me so much of Mina Loveberry with her rather twisted view on things, that I felt we had wasted another good character opportunity here. It’s easy to see that her name is derived from famed primatologist Jane Goodall, but maybe this character concept could have been used better elsewhere. Then again, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen a Goodall-inspired character depicted as ‘a looney’ in a cartoon.

The highlight of the story, was seeing a brief return of Buff Frog and his family (along with a monster or two from Ludo’s gang, that I had thought to be long gone). Personally, I couldn’t help but wonder why we couldn’t have had a more thorough story about monster/mewman relationships, with more of Buff Frog in it!

When it comes to episodes this season, I’ve been hoping to see Star and her mother invite him and his family to the castle to try and go over some things (though Star’s monster-hating father might prove an interesting foil to those plans).

Final Grade: C+

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Best line from episode (said by Buff Frog): “Oh, you must be ‘crazy dirty lady’ that watches us through trees!”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Star Butterfly, in Princess Turdina): “Oooo, I just got her…right in the face!”

Going over the stories, it felt like Star vs the Forces of Evil’s 9th episode this season, got a bit political with it’s storylines. Sadly, they never seemed to rise up to the challenge of taking those stories in exciting directions, and came off a bit muddled and…dare I say it, ‘mediocre.’

Princess Turdina focuses on Marco having to deal with telling the truth, but afraid as to what that will mean to his alter-ego’s fans. The message about ‘truth’ in this storyline could have been stronger, but gets worn down by a number of gags, let alone what seems a very quick cameo and ‘tease’ for the future.

Starfari had a great concept about trying to understand more about monster/mewman relationships, but sadly chose to focus more on comedy, than something that could have been a bit more heartfelt and genuine. Even a minor cameo by Buff Frog and his family, couldn’t save the rather mediocre plotline of this story.

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Next episode,  we deal with Sweet Dreams, in which Star may have some rather questionable night time sleeping habits, that warrant a second opinion. We also have Lava Lake Beach, where Marco hangs out with Star, Tom, and their friend Kelly…who may be having some relationship problems of her own to deal with. See you back here real soon for the next review!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 3, Episode 8) – Lint Catcher / Trial By Squire

Well, after the last episode, it looks like the rest of Star vs the Forces of Evil’s 3rd season is going to be focused away from the Earth dimension.

That seems to be the case with the stories for this episode, that give us more of Marco Diaz and Star Butterfly, dealing with some weird and wild situations.

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– Lint Catcher –

Marco Diaz returns to the Kingdom of Mewni, but is surprised when it turns out King River’s offer of becoming a knight if he ever came back, was little more than some ‘kind praise.’ Star attempts to help out her friend, and decides to make him the squire of Sir Lavabo, who manages the royal wash. Naturally, Marco is not very pleased at this arrangement.

Going into this story, I wasn’t prepared for what it would entail. However, as it goes along, The Lint Catcher becomes like a present, that gets more intriguing as it’s further unwrapped!

Most notable, is seeing Star a little surprised that Marco has decided to stay on Mewni…and, it is also possible that her and her ex-boyfriend Tom’s relationship, may be growing beyond ‘just friends.’ The awkwardness between Star and Marco, is most notable in a scene, where the two catch up on what each has been doing since the Battle of Mewni.

Plus, we also get to see them taking on a creature, making me wonder when the last time it was, that we saw them do this (I think near the end of season 2?)

A fun cameo was to be had, when Eclipsa reappeared, and Star just unloads her feelings about Marco’s surprise reappearance on her. This is another questionable scene, as Eclipsa seems to be somewhat intrigued by Star’s emotional ‘spill,’ making one wonder if she’s storing that information away for a later time (plus, it seems that Eclipsa knows something about Star now, that even her own parents don’t).

This is one of those segments that toes the line between character development, and a bit of a throwaway storyline. Even so, it’s bits with Marco and Star, proves that it may very well be a key story for season 3’s development.

Final Grade: B

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Best line from episode (said by Eclipsa): “So…what’s his name?”

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– Trial By Squire –

Marco and Star find themselves at Quest Buy, for the annual Squire Blowout Sale. There are also a number of other knights and squires from Mewni also taking part in the sale of some limited-quantity items, but it soon becomes apparent that “all is fair, in blowout sales.”

We get to meet a number of other Mewnian knights and their squires, with particular attention paid on a young squire named Higgs (voiced by Lauren Lapkus). At times, her attitude towards Marco reminded me of how Pony Head acted around him, in season 1’s Party with a Pony episode. On one hand, it feels like she could just be giving him guff because he’s a ‘newbie,’ but on the other hand, Marco’s becoming a squire for the royal family, was beyond the normal approach (hence, a feeling that he is getting preferential treatment, may be getting under Higgs’ skin).

While there are some fun moments between Star and Marco here, a highlight is seeing Marco’s ‘laser-guided focus’ getting to be a little too much, and Star having to calm him down at times. I was surprised in one scene, where Marco seems to have gone too far, and Star takes some initiative to say, “ok, this has to stop.” We’ve been hearing of Star in this season, striving to be ‘a better princess,’ and it feels like she is sticking to it at times. Of course, this doesn’t mean she is totally giving up on her playful nature.

Since the segments are only 10 minutes long, it truncates a lot of the blowout sale and going through Quest Buy. Then again, this could be the equivalent of a Black Friday ‘doorbuster’ sale, where the deals they are looking for, only last a few hours.

There isn’t as much character-building going on here as in The Lint Catcher, but this is our first story this season, where we have Marco and Star working together throughout a segment. Plus, I just know that squire Higgs, with her shiny green eyes and freckly face, is probably already being paired up with Marco for numerous fanships out there (but not from me…I’m still in mourning).

It also feels like the segment may have been ‘economized,’ as we only see a select-few knights and squires trying to get in on the specials. I could have imagined this being a larger animated tour-de-force, with Star and Marco trying to get through dozens of other knights from Mewni and other dimensions (might have been fun to see some non-normal knights charging down the aisles).

Final Grade: B-

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Best line from episode (said by Marco Diaz): “MOUNT THE CART!!”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Sir Stabby, in Trial by Squire): “Are you calling my squire…a liar!?”

Overall, the stories for this episode, were pretty good.

Lint Catcher brings us back to the Marco and Star as friends dynamic, while also plunging Marco into some new challenges, and Star having to wrestle with her own feelings.  It’s notable that we get some return appearances from some other side-characters, but the highlight for many fans, will be the little moments between our two lead characters (and possibly, the brief scene with Eclipsa!).

Trial by Squire brings our dynamic duo back together, trying to stock up on supplies. While it is a great way to show the characters playing off of each other, in the end, it’s overall concept feels somewhat futile, when some information is revealed near the end of the story.

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Next episode, we start with the story of Princess Turdina, which was Pony Head’s nickname for Marco when he was in a princess dress…meaning a possible return of Princess Marco (and maybe, Miss Heinous)? Then we’ll have Starfari, where Star tries to understand more about the rift between mewmans and monsters in her kingdom. Both sound very interesting, and I hope to see you back here soon for the next review!