Archive | March 2017

An Animated Dissection: My Top 5 Least-Favorite Star vs The Forces of Evil, Season 2 Segments

Ok fans of Star vs the Forces of Evil, it’s time I delivered some good news, and bad news. After a show’s season concludes, most reviewers decide to make…some lists.

Given that we had 22 episodes for Season 2 (comprised of three 22-minute segments, and thirty-eight 11-minute segments), I thought I would do like last season, and do some lists regarding the 11-minute story segments.

First up: let’s just get those least-favorite segments out of the way, with this Top 5 list.

*Note: Keep in mind this list only covers the segments that run 11 minutes, not full-length episodes. Given how much extra time is given in full-length episodes to tell a story, this list judges the shorter segments on their merits, and faults.*

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5. Crystal Clear

This season, saw the introduction of many new characters to the show, several of which seemed to be connected to some very important roles, within the show’s multiverse.

Crystal Clear attempts to give us a little backstory on Rhombulus, and Chancellor Lekmet, who are members of the Magic High Commission.

Rhombulus ends up bringing Star and Marco before Lekmet, claiming that Star is somehow responsible for the draining of magic in the universe. However, as the segment goes on, it just feels like a loud, noisy, and meandering romp.

Each member of the Magic High Commission was given a segment, to show a bit more about themselves, and who they are. However, out of all of them, Rhombulus’ storyline feels the weakest for all members of the MHC.

Rhombulus himself seems to be the ‘muscle’ of the group,  acting on his gut first, and asking questions later. In small doses this works fine, but with this story, it feels like director Giancarlo Volpe, was asked to stretch out a concept, that just didn’t feel like it could hold together entertainingly, for 11 minutes.

Star Butterfly shines a bit here, given that she becomes the voice-of-reason to Rhombulus’ little tirades, but even that isn’t enough to make this story appealing. We even get some hints of things that I assume will be paid off in the future…but as some stories have shown, there aren’t any guarantees if that will happen or not.

Maybe Season 3 will redeem this story, but for now, it made my list.

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4. Wand to Wand

This story plays out as a tag-team storyline of sorts.

We see Ludo running across some rats on Mewni, along with him finding out that he can coax power from his newly-acquired wand, usually when he finds himself getting upset.

On Earth, Star attempts to get out of doing chores, and summons a creature named Cloudy to do her work. However, he ends up making a mess, and Star’s attempts to fix his attitude, don’t go over so well.

After watching more of Season 2, it feels like this story was not meant to give us any easy answers, and to maybe draw our own conclusions about what is happening, let alone how emotions affect the power of the wand.

Ludo’s storyline is the more interesting of the two, but when put together, it feels like a slog as each storyline, goes from one incident to the next. It’s one of the first examples we get of Star’s magic going green instead of pink, showing how her emotions can affect her wand’s magic, but I almost wish it could have been done a bit better.

I like a good puzzle, but this storyline just felt like things got a bit too vague at times.

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3. Girls Day Out

This is one of those stories that feels like they had a decent concept, but then when it came to building it up…it just ended up becoming ‘filler’ for the season.

After freeing her classroom’s pet hamster Marisol out of sheer boredom, Star is put in detention, and Marco is tasked with getting Marisol back.

Star being thrown into detention, and then working with Janna to help their fellow classmates endure their time, feels like it just attempts to be a wacky adventure, with very little substance. I couldn’t help but imagine a story where Star and Janna go on an inter-dimensional adventure might have been more entertaining, or if the story became a more group-oriented piece, where Star and the detention gang all make it out and run amuck (the story at one point seems to make it like this could be an option, but then just sidesteps it).

Marco’s subplot feels pretty unnecessary, almost like it was a last-ditch effort to somehow include him in Star’s story.

Personally, the title made it sound like a weekend adventure was in store for Star and a couple of her girl friends (like the more entertaining segment, Sleepover). I also feel the story should have had a different title: Coup D’etention.

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2. All Belts are Off

For Season 2, very little has been mentioned in regards to Marco’s karate training, with just two stories (Red Belt, and All Belts Are Off), focusing on the relationship between Marco Diaz, and his strip mall dojo’s Sensei. While both seemed to meander, All Belts felt like the weaker of the two.

We get a much larger role for Marco’s arch-enemy, the rich little punk named Jeremy Birnbaum, who is chosen by Sensei to represent the dojo.

The underlying message of “you don’t need to be awarded to be considered a good person,” just feels shuffled away til’ the last few minutes, along with a heart-to-heart between Sensei and Marco, that I wish could have been better expanded upon.

Trying to get us to focus on how much of a jerk Jeremy is, and trying to make it funny, is where the story just falls off a cliff for me. Some of the season’s stories can really push my buttons when it comes to humor, but the attempts to make Jeremy’s escapades seem funny, just felt like a lost cause.

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1. Starstruck

I think any fan of the series will have to admit: this segment just felt like a huge letdown!

Following early imagery of warrior-girl Mina Loveberry, many of us were expecting big things from this woman whom Star seemed to look up to. Unfortunately Mina just came across as another ‘looney from Mewni.’

The story is meant to show how sometimes you should follow your own judgement, but it just gets bogged down in Mina doing something weird or strange, every other time she’s on screen.

Marco largely is on the sidelines, making this a story where Star is forced to draw her own conclusions, but sadly, it just feels like a lesser variation on that ‘good girl gets drawn in by the wrong crowd’ afternoon special like I’d see on TV when I was younger.

There’s also some minor stuff about government, that feels shoehorned in in a rather throwaway moment in the last few minutes, and Mina’s reaction to Star’s resistance, feels like a shoehorned concept that could have been better handled with more time.

What’s weird is in the last 5 seconds, there’s a strange little emotional moment, that almost attempts to make us forget Mina’s crazy shenanigans. Sadly, by this point, the damage has been done,  and those 5 seconds cannot salvage the story.

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Keep in mind that these are just my opinions, and I’m not saying you have to go along with them.

There were a few other 11-minute segments in this season that I did consider putting on this list, but in the end, each of the ones listed here, were stories that I just kept having issues with, when I would go over them after they premiered.

If you liked what you read, leave a comment, and tell me if you have any agreements or disagreements. Or, maybe there’s an 11-minute segment that you felt was deserving of being in this list. Always up to hear what others in the fandom think (other than the constant fanship wars that never seem to end!).

Next time we discuss “Star vs the Forces of Evil,” we’ll talk about something a bit more positive: My Top 10 favorite 11-minute segments, from Season 2! Hope to see you soon in a few weeks for that post!

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The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art – Third Time’s the Charm?

Some days, it seems you just can’t get a museum built. That seems to be the case for George Lucas in recent years.

As he entered his 70’s, the famed (and much-loathed) director, began to consider his retirement from the world of filmmaking.

Along with selling his company Lucasfilm (as well as it’s big name titles like Star Wars and Indiana Jones) to The Walt Disney Company in 2012, Lucas also had plans for his personal art collection, which contained a number of illustrations, filmmaking materials (not just from Star Wars), and paintings (most notably, a number of them by Norman Rockwell!).

Over the years, Lucas has been known for donating to the arts and education, and had now decided to invest over a billion dollars of his own money, to ‘gift’ his art collection to the public, placed in a museum he’d fund out of his own pockets.

But first, he needed a city.

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Proposed design for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, for the Presidio site, in San Francisco, CA.

His first attempt to make his museum a reality, hinged on obtaining a parcel of land near San Francisco’s Presidio, located in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. However, after 2 years of trying to work with the Presidio’s board, he was unable to secure the area he had hoped for.

When the plans fell through at the Presidio site, a number of other cities came calling. Out of all of them, it was the invitation of Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel, that caught George’s eye.

His wife Mellody Hobson hearkened from the city, and Lucas himself had been known to visit there as well. What was being offered with the museum, was definitely something different than the other art-based museums within the supposedly world-class city.

Of the different sites that were shown to Lucas, the one he gravitated towards, was a parcel of land, between the city’s Soldier Field stadium, and McCormick Place East convention center facilities. Currently the site of an overflow parking lot for Chicago Bears football games, architectural renderings by the MAD Architects firm, showed a return to a more natural environment, though many were agog at the unusual ‘naturalistic’ art style of the museum being proposed.

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Revised design proposal, for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, for the Chicago, IL site.

However, the efforts were soon hindered by a non-profit group called Friends of the Parks, who claimed that the deal undermined the city’s Burnham Plan. The plan claimed that the city’s lakefront property was not for sale, and was to remain “open, free, and clear,” for the citizens of the city.

Lucas and the Mayor’s office attempted to come to a compromise with the group, but after 2 years of neither side willing to budge, plans fell through in early May of 2016.

With the Windy City behind him as an option, Lucas returned to the west, where a number of cities once again attempted to gain his favor.

It was in the Summer of of 2016, that Lucas made a change from his usual decision-making process. Instead of singling out one city, he gave two the option of vying for his museum: Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Both cities were given time to submit proposals, and once Lucas selected a site he deemed worthy, the MAD Architect firm went to work. Instead of just transplanting the Chicago site design to the west coast, the architects worked around the environments, to give each a unique design.

Finally, in the fall of 2016, the proposals and designs were unveiled to the public.

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San Francisco

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Proposed design for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, for the Treasure Island location, in San Francisco, CA.

For San Francisco, the location chosen was on a stretch of landfill, known as Treasure Island. The site of a decommissioned naval base, the city had long been looking to revitalize it, for residential and commercial development.

5 years ago, Lucas’ first pitch to have his museum placed in the Bay Area, did not go over well. His request for a bayside spot for his museum, was denied by the Presidio Board, causing him to seek out a new location.

When the Chicago deal started to fall apart a few years later, San Francisco did call upon George, claiming they were willing to welcome him back (though not at the original location he requested).

As he returned to the west coast for ‘attempt #3,’ Lucas kept designer Ma Yansong along for the ride.

The designs Ma came up with for the Treasure Island location, reflects on the more open space that was being considered, compared to the rather confined parcel of land in Chicago.

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Three-quarter view, showing more of the proposed ‘footprint’ of the museum, amid some rough building concepts.

The organic architecture has a better chance to ‘breathe,’ and ‘opens’ up in a more horizontal fashion. Windows are more abundant than in the Chicago design, allowing more natural light in, and views towards San Francisco, and the Pacific Ocean.

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-Los Angeles-

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Proposed design for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, for the Exposition Park location, in Los Angeles, CA.

Back when I posted my article about the aftermath of Chicago losing it’s bid for the museum, there was little information as to where the museum might go if Los Angeles was chosen.

Unlike San Francisco with it’s famous Bay Area waterways, Los Angeles is land-locked, leaving many to wonder where Lucas would consider placing his museum.

When word came that Exposition Park was chosen, I was a little surprised…at first.

Located near Lucas’ alma mater (The University of Southern California), the site for the Los Angeles proposal, didn’t boast any bodies of water close by. However, the area seemed oddly reminiscent of the Chicago location Lucas had wanted: within walking distance of a nearby stadium (in this case, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum), a number of local museums, and…the proposed structure would be built atop two areas that were currently serving as parking lots for the park!

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Three-quarter view, showing the museum’s layout, ‘hovering’ near the west side of Exposition Park.

Ma Yansong’s design for this proposed area, seemed to ‘elevate’ the museum experience, compared to his previous designs.

While the last two designs by MAD had taken up considerable ground space, the bulk of his Los Angeles design, made it look like the museum was ‘hovering’ over the area, with several structural ‘bases’to support it. Landscaping and greenery were also included among the upper tiers, giving the structure a melding sleek curves, intermingled with the organic.

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Unlike Chicago’s very public land ‘battle,’ the two cities where Lucas was considering to put his museum this time, brought forth proposals and land selection choices, with minimal public outcry. Both cities seemed to welcome George Lucas and Melody Hobbson with open arms, eager to make the third time the charm, wherever he might consider.

Checking social media, I scanned tweets and some other postings, but found very little online dissent, like the kind that exploded out of Chicago (thanks to Friends of the Parks painting Lucas as an out-of-control billionaire, looking to cheat the good citizens of the city out of lakefront property).

The only dissent I saw, was from the head of Salesforce in San Francisco. The head of the company, felt that for being generous with his ‘gift,’ Lucas should also channel some funds into the city’s infrastructure as well, if they were to accept his museum.

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Originally, word was that around the beginning of 2017, there would be a decision by the museum’ s board, on the chosen location.

Early word pegged a January 6th announcement, but the day came-and-went, and news out of California, was that the announcements would be postponed until the end of the month.

However, on January 10th, 2017, around 3pm Pacific Standard Time, an official press release appeared on the museum’s Facebook page.

A decision had been made, and the lucky city was: Los Angeles!

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I will admit, when the announcement came, I was surprised!

This decision seemed counter from the Presidio and Chicago lakefront locations: a landlocked space in the heart of Los Angeles, with what seemed the most minimal of natural space. Even the Chicago Tribune’s architecture critic Blair Kamin took a jab at the museum’s placement in a snide tweet (then again, almost all of his tweets had been condescending towards the museum), wondering why Lucas did not choose the water view like some assumed.

On further observation, I soon began to consider why  George had chosen Los Angeles’ Exposition Park.

Going back over the location on Treasure Island in San Francisco, I could definitely see it’s positives. The museum would be allowed to have a much larger ‘footprint’ on the land being provided. Plus, San Francisco sees Lucas as one of it’s more famous citizens, and, it’s location across from San Francisco’s famous Embarcadero, seemed a decent setting. One could imagine looking across the waters, and seeing the structure’s stark-white exterior rising up from the surroundings, also possibly lit up as evening set in over the Bay Area.

Unfortunately, while the location would have been picturesque, I believe the decision to not build on Treasure Island, came down to two factors.

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The first factor, is access.

Currently, the only way to access Treasure Island, is by using Interstate 80, heading east out of San Francisco. The access route onto the island, leads one through the smaller Yerba Buena Island that connects to the landfill.

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Yerba Buena Island. The I-80 highway is the only way to reach Treasure Island by car or bus.

The city’s plans to turn the island area into a new place for development, could mean that new construction projects would be lined up in the future. However, with current infrastructure changes happening on I-80, it could have been seen by Lucas as a possibly hindrance regarding ‘easy access’ to the location.

There had been some thoughts, that much like the ferries to Alcatraz Island, a ferry service could also be utilized to transport people back and forth, beetween the Embarcadero, and Treasure Island. There was talk that the amount of money to help construct a service, would have been folded into the museum’s plans. It is possible, that Lucas may have drawn the line on just how far he was willing to stretch his ‘gift.’

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The second factor, is isolation.

Both the Presidio and Chicago locations, had a setup that seemed to be picturesque to Lucas: a location close to easy access for families and tourists, while also near the shores of a major body of water, sandwiching his museum between the natural elements on one side, and man-made elements on the other.

When it came to his choices for the third go-round, he had to make some tough decisions.

San Francisco would give him a chance to have a picturesque view near water, but he would be isolated, ‘adrift’ on an island, with limited access for visitors.

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Site for the Lucas Museum in Exposition Park, along with other city museums close by.

Los Angeles would give him the yang to San Francisco’s yin. While it would be land-locked, the location in Exposition Park, would mirror his thoughts to keep his museum close to other tourist spots, and like the Chicago location, allowed easy access to other museums that families and tourists could also visit.

I like to imagine that Lucas’ wife Mellody had a hand in steering him towards this decision. Word was she was sad when her hometown of Chicago failed to secure the museum, and I could imagine her reminding George, that while he might favor picturesque, his museum was also seen as a learning center. Families in large cities may like to go to museums, but there would be considerable effort to get to the museum, if it was on Treasure Island.

Los Angeles is known for not being easy to get around in, but unlike Treasure Island, there are also other ways to get to Exposition Park. Several bus routes border it, and the city has a Metro Rail line, that services both USC, and the park.

Also like Chicago, it’s museum campus contains three museums currently: The California African-American Museum, The California Science Center, and The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Most notable, is the park’s Science Center, which made headlines in the last few years, when NASA allowed the Space Shuttle Endeavor, to be transported to the facility, as it’s final home.

The Center is also planning a major expansion, that would place the shuttle vertically, with it’s booster rockets and external tank attached, making it the only space shuttle to be displayed in this configuration, in the world.

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From my perspective, it looks like smooth sailing from here on out for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts. In the time since the announcement, I haven’t heard word of any preservation groups in Los Angeles, raising a ruckus like the Friends of the Parks group in Chicago did.

The most dissent I read, was mainly from those wondering if Lucas was so wealthy, why didn’t he use some of his money for other purposes? But then again, it seemed no different than articles in Chicago that claimed Lucas trying to build his museum here, was a waste of time and money.

As it stands now, word is that the project will probably take 5 years, with groundbreaking sometime this year, and an estimated completion date, sometime in the year 2022.

Hopefully, Lucas’ struggles have come to an end, and he can get to work overseeing the construction of one of his final projects, within our galaxy.

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

‘Rated PG for some action violence, peril and frightening images

Of all the animated features that were released during my youth, Beauty and the Beast is one of those that is at the top, when it comes to animated features that made me consider pursuing a career in animation.

I was enthralled by Glen Keane’s designs for the Beast, the wonderful songs and lyrics of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, and a story that delivered on a satisfyingly emotional level, that I hadn’t yet encountered in animated films at that time.

Of course, when it comes to turning animated features into live-action movies, I approached the studio’s recent take on Beauty and the Beast with some trepidation. I had been intrigued by what Kenneth Branagh brought to Cinderella in 2015, but felt little need to see Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book adaptation last year.

Of course, being the glutton for punishment that I am, I bought the ticket, and decided to ride the ride, to see what a live-action version of this “tale as old as time” had in store for audiences.

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In the small provincial town of Villeneuve, resides Belle (Emma Watson), and her artistically-inclined father, Maurice (Kevin Kline). Of those living in the village, Belle is seen as an anomaly amongst the townspeople, though entrances a former army captain named Gaston (Luke Evans), who wishes to make her his wife.

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The Beast (Dan Stevens)

One day on a trip, Maurice stumbles upon a snow-shrouded castle, and plucks a rose for his daughter, enraging the castle’s Beastly owner (Dan Stevens). Belle willingly trades her life for her father’s, and soon meets the castle’s enchanted servants (played by Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellan, Emma Thompson, and many more), who hope she can break the spell they are under.

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From the early word and trailer imagery, Disney made few attempts to hide that they were attempting to translate the 1991 film (and some of it’s successful Broadway stage adaptation) to the big-screen.

The live-action film doesn’t stray far from it’s roots, and like any adaptation these days, attempts to fill in the blanks, and embellish the story we know so well.

Did you ever wonder just where Belle and Maurice came from? How about what led the Beast to be such a pompous jerk in the first place? We get those answers here, as well as some vague motivations surrounding the Enchantress who cursed the Beast and his servants.

Composer Alan Menken returns to the world he helped create, but has brought on Tim Rice (whom he worked with on Aladdin), to make a few alterations to the film’s music. Some lines are changed from previous works, and a few songs add in bits from the original demo tracks of the animated feature (which were co-written by Menken’s former collaborator, the late Howard Ashman). The Beast even get his own solo (much like in the Broadway production), but none of the newer musical pieces seemed to enthrall me. We even get Celine Dion back, singing a song at the end, that feels more like an afterthought.

When it comes to behind-the-scenes names, Director Bill Condon should be familiar to many when it comes to musicals-on-film. He wrote the adapted screenplay for Chicago, and directed the film adaptation of Dreamgirls back in 2006.

One would assume his pedigree with adapted musicals would be a slam-dunk for this production. Unfortunately, BatB seems to suffer from some ‘speed issues’ when it comes to holding it all together.

I haven’t seen enough of Condon’s filmography to pass proper judgement, but with this film, he really seems to step on the gas-pedal, when the film has to shift into it’s musical numbers, or require a lot of visual effects. Some of the numbers fly by so fast, I was struggling to figure out where my eye was supposed to be focused on (this was most problematic during the Be Our Guest number, which felt like he was trying to ape Baz Luhrmann’s manic Moulin Rouge numbers).

It isn’t until the halfway mark, that the film seems to finally catch it’s breath. In those moments, Condon shows that when he slows down, he can really get to work on making us focus on the characters and their development.

Deep down, I feel that if the film had been more like 2015’s Cinderella, and been less of an adaptation of the animated feature, it would have been more palatable, and stronger in it’s emotional resonance.

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Belle (Emma Watson)

The ‘palette’ of the film, seems to derive itself from 19th century French landscapes. I will admit during the early bits in the village, as we see the landscape surrounding it, I found myself making note of the soft color palette of the backgrounds, almost as if the filmmakers were attempting to make it look like the characters had stepped into a painting.

The film also attempts to pay some small homages to it’s roots. The village is named after the original author of the tale, and, Maurice attempts to bring Belle a rose from the Beast’s garden, which was part of the original story.

However, much  like the story here, the characters can be rather give-and-take as well.

Sadly, Emma Watson did not enthrall me with her singing voice, but she can deliver in certain moments when it comes to emotions. There is an added character point, that Belle is a forward-thinking young woman in the eyes of her rather mundane village, but it just feels like an afterthought as the story goes on.

Dan Stevens as the Beast, has the task of working through motion-capture, that works ‘most’ of the time. The live-action Beast is a bit like the early concept of a ‘man with a beast head,’ rather than the more animalistic creation of master animator Glen Keane. The concept works some of the time, but mostly in the quieter moments.

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Gaston (Luke Evans), and LeFou (Josh Gad)

Luke Evans’ take on Gaston is different from the muscle-bound lothario we all know. A war veteran who seems to satiate his lust for war by hunting, this take on the character is a bit less hunky, and more mental in several of his decisions…though not by much.

One of the highlights of the film regarding comedy, is Josh Gad as LeFou. Every other word out of his mouth just made me and the audience chuckle, and unlike his animated counterpart, he’s given a bit of character growth. I have a feeling many will find Gad just as entertaining here, as he was as Olaf in Frozen.

When it comes to the enchanted objects of the castle, I was hoping they would enthrall me as much as their animated counterparts did, but that was not the case here.

There are no cartoonish features, or large white eyes to draw one’s attention. Instead, the designers try to take an object’s parts and decoration, and make them into faces (or in the case of Lumiere, just make a miniature man holding candles, with another atop his head!). This may look good in close-ups or when a character is being still, but once they start moving around, I found it maddening, trying to keep track of where an eye or a nose is!

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Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth (Ian McKellan), and Maestro Cadenza (Stanley Tucci)

A prime example, is Maestro Cadenza, who has been turned into a harpsichord (and played by Stanley Tucci). His keys and music stand are meant to stand in for his mouth and facial features, but I found myself struggling to figure out where his eyes were, let alone his nose and moustache when the camera focused on him ‘talking.’

There is a sliver of an attempt to give the enchanted objects a bit more characterization, but many of the group scenes feel rather poorly staged, and some that involve dozens of other CG-created objects moving about, feel too busy with motion, for us to figure on where to focus our attention.

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Almost 25 years ago, at a swap meet in San Diego, CA, I picked up a book that would change my life forever: The Art of Animation: From Mickey Mouse to Beauty and the Beast.

The book has been a part of my life since then, and has been in the hands of (and signed by!) several persons associated with the animated Beauty and the Beast.

At the end of the book, the final pages tell how the next generation of Disney animators (in 1991), screened the film for their predecessors (several of whom had worked with Walt Disney himself). After the screening, instead of high praise, word was the new generation was met with: “Eh, it’s kind of like what we did.”

That line was in my head tonight. As the film went on, a number of names I had memorized from that making-of book, popped into my head. Looking at some scenes, I was thinking things like, “Glen Keane did that better,” or “Nik Ranieri made that characterization read so much clearer!”

The film definitely doesn’t skimp on the effort, but it sadly feels like another adapted production, that could have been much more solid, had it not been tied so closely to it’s animated counterpart.

The film seems to try and fly by moreso with it’s visuals and putting Emma Watson front-and-center, when what it needed more of in my opinion, was a story that could be just as emotionally involving today, as the animated feature was to me and millions of others, once upon a time.

Final Grade: B-

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Book Review: Star and Marco’s Guide to Mastering Every Dimension

When I was younger,the way in which books were connected to visual media, was definitely different.

Some shows like The Care BearsTransformers, and even Sesame Street, would often have books released, that would feature original story ideas, or stories taken from a television series, and condensed down into book form.

However, in this day-and-age, many companies in the entertainment business, have advanced well beyond this simplicity, and we’ve seen print media tie-ins, take on a whole new life of their own.

Want to know more about the story behind the latest Transformers movie? There’s probably a prequel comic mini-series, to explain where some of the new characters came from.

Just how did The First Order and The Resistance come to be the new Empire and Rebellion of Star Wars: The Force Awakens? There’s several hardcover novels to fill in those blanks.

Of course, there are also other methods of reaching out to the viewers of a series, via the printed page.

DisneyXD’s series Gravity Falls, is one such example. The last couple years have seen book tie-ins for Falls, including a ‘choose your own adventure’ storybook, and a real-world representation of the show’s third journal, that Dipper Pines carried around with him through both seasons of the show!

When it comes to the DisneyXD series Star vs the Forces of Evil, we’ve had some of the episodes collected into Cinestory comic books, and seen the expansion of the show, through the currently-running, 8-part original comic series, by Joe Books.

Though in regards to a tie-in that aims to have some fun with it’s fans, that seems to be what has been created, with Star and Marco’s Guide to Mastering Every Dimension.

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The book is structured in a scrapbook-style format, with Star Butterfly being the main commentator, along with some additional  information from her best friends Marco Diaz, and Flying Princess Pony Head.

The concept is that one day, out of sheer boredom, the three decide to put together the book, to chronicle a number of things in regards to the show’s multiverse, as well as what Star has learned while living on Earth.

Each character uses their own pen for writing, with their own specific ink color (though how Pony Head can write so well without hands, is left to our imagination!).

I will admit that in some later chapters of the book, I got a little confused, when Star Butterfly would take over writing but use rainbow-colored inks, which made me wonder if maybe Marco was contributing to the items. Maybe this was the writers trying to make the book as wacky and wild as the show, but I can’t say for certain.

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Example of Star Butterfly, Marco Diaz, and Princess Pony Head’s writing within the book.

For those who are fans of the show, you’ll find plenty of additional information about certain dimensions, and…the last names and distinctions of several characters. This to me, is where most of the fun in the book lies, as a few doors are thrown open with this additional information.

We also get our trio of writers, interviewing their friends (and friend-enemies?), to get their advice on a few things, as well as some commentary on how they feel about some people they know.

Like the title says, we also get to learn more about  various dimensions, including just where Star’s ex-boyfriend Tom, and Pony Head reside. Personally, I had hoped maybe we’d get some more dimensions than most of what we’ve seen, but at least we get an identification for a few dimensions that had no names in the television series.

Also of note, is additional information on Pony Head’s family tree (she is one of 13 sisters!), as well as more information about The Grandma Room, glimpsed briefly in the Season 2 segment, Into the Wand. There’s definitely some revelations to be had, but probably not enough to totally blow the doors off our curiosity (minor spoiler: we’re still no closer to knowing more about Queen Eclipsa!).

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One of several tapestries shown in the guide, that gives information on past Queens of Mewni.

One section I was really eager to get through, was one that delved into some pages of Star’s magic instruction book, with notes by Glossaryck of Terms.

Unfortunately, my hopes to finally understand the ancient language we’ve seen in the book, failed to yield anything concrete.

However, we get a small understanding regarding spells, how some can be altered, and how Star comes up with several of the ones she recites in the series.

I will admit that when it comes to the writing, I found the style of characterization for Pony Head, to be a bit too contrasted from her Season 2 role.

Sure, she’s been somewhat abrasive in Season 2, but it feels like the writers of the show toned her down (we’ve even seen that Marco after awhile, is better able to put up with her!). The writers try to create some back-and-forth banter with Pony Head claiming she is Star’s ‘bestie,’ but it just feel a little ‘flat’ to me.

There are also some activity pages, including a cut-out diagram to design your own pair of dimensional scissors, and a page to draw what dimension the reader wold like to visit.

A tri-fold poster is also included in the back of the book. One side of it has the opening character shot from the second season’s intro, AND, if you flip it over, you get a map of the Kingdom of Mewni!

And, for those with wicked culinary skills, there is a recipe for how to make “Marco’s Super Awesome Nachos!” I’m not much good in the kitchen, but I have considered trying to follow Marco’s recipe and see if I can pull this off.

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A portion of the map of the Kingdom of Mewni, that is contained in the book!

This book was originally set to be released in early January, but was pushed back by two months.

Going over it’s contents, I could see why it happened. Several chapters actually acknowledge some episodes and storylines, that hadn’t been released yet (maybe the ‘Starbomb’ of episodes in February, was a way to get them all out before the book release?). Plus, I believe the writers have included a few small tidbits, about what happened after the conclusion of Season 2 (sorry folks, no spoilers!).

What I’ve really enjoyed about some of the expanded universe material for Star vs the Forces of Evil, is that almost all original,  ancillary story materials, has had involvement by people who have also worked on the show! I really like that kind of dynamic, and it makes me pretty sure that those working on these materials, have a good idea of the show’s continuity, as well as how certain things are to be portrayed.

It should also be noted, that a few of the listed persons who worked on this book, also had illustration duties on the Svtfoe comic series that is currently out!

Overall, Star and Marco’s Guide to Mastering Every Dimension, is a fun book that has been made by the show’s crew, for the fans, as well as any who are weird or crazy enough to pick it up, and want to find out more a bout this show! Definitely recommended reading material for all fans of the series.

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An Animated Dissection: Is Glossaryck of Terms the ‘Dr Manhattan’ of “Star vs the Forces of Evil,” and other observations about the little blue man

Oh good! You survived that freaky image of Glossaryck of Terms’ diamond-shaped eyes, staring into your soul.

Now that the second season of the animated series Star vs the Forces of Evil has come to an end, it’s time to let loose with some thoughts of my own, regarding what I’ve observed.

I often find my animation-addled brain, teeming with thoughts and anecdotes, that most of the time, tend to fly over the heads of most of the show’s fans (who, if social media is any indication, are addicted to ranting and raving over which of their fanships will win out in the end).

I rather enjoy being one of the more mature viewers in the fandom: watching the series, and searching for story/plot/character threads, that most of the young’uns, may not quite comprehend.

I got a whole mess of stuff to discuss about what the last 22 episodes have wrought, but first, I thought I’d compare one little blue man from the show, and how he reminded me of a (rather) big blue man, from a graphic novel I once read.

*Note: This article is written with the knowledge that the reader, is familiar with the first two seasons of the show, “Star vs the Forces of Evil.” If you do not wish to be spoiled, please turn back now.*

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In the first few episodes of season 1 of Star vs the Forces of Evil, viewers were treated to the image of a strange, floating little blue man, who appeared without acknowledgement.

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It wasn’t until the 6th episode’s segment, titled Mewberty, that we were formally introduced to Glossaryck of Terms (voiced by Jeffrey Tambor), whom Marco Diaz attempted to seek advice from, as Star Butterfly began to go through…mewberty!

Glossaryck revealed that he was a fixture of Star’s magic instruction book, which contained spells that she could use with her family’s wand. At first refusing to help, Glossaryck changed his tune, when Marco fulfilled his request to get him some pudding.

This led to Marco feeding the little man, who seemed to just give out riddles about how to help Star, with no concrete answers…or so it seemed.

Many things that Glossaryck has done over the course of the last two seasons, seem incredibly ridiculous, and oftentimes, make no sense whatsoever.

Most of the time, despite the way he acts, Glossaryck seems to know what to do, but the big question is…how?

And then, in remembering a scene from the graphic novel Watchmen, I came upon my theory: What if Glossaryck is like Jon Osterman, aka Dr Manhattan, in Watchmen?

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In the Alan Moore-written graphic novel, Osterman is a scientist, who is seemingly disintegrated, when he ends up locked in a test chamber, and has his “intrinsic field” removed.

However, Jon is far from dead.

Glossaryck6A number of strange things are seen around the labs over the next few months as Jon’s consciousness attempts to re-form him., One day, Jon is successful, and materializes before a stunned crowd of his peers. However, his appearance is different from his original form.

Though taking on a humanoid form, Osterman’s skin is blue, and more attuned to that of a perfect male physique.

As time goes on, Jon becomes less and less human, and soon takes up the moniker of Dr Manhattan. He is able to manipulate matter, and seems to be able to see through time and space.

This ability to see and know all however, leaves him incredibly disconnected from humanity, frustrating several persons he attempted to have relationships with. His pupil-less eyes, often seem encased in a face, whose expressions seem placidly calm most of the time.

One could almost see the same in regards to Glossaryck at times.

Of course, there’s been no proof that Glossaryck of Terms was once a normal ‘Mewman’ who became a magically-enhanced little blue man, but several of the things I recalled from the Watchmen graphic novel, popped into my head when thinking of him.

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Much like Dr Manhattan, Glossaryck at times, can be frustratingly vague, as if he knows something is going to happen, but never tells just what will happen.

A prime example is in the segment titled By the Book, wherein he refuses to come out of a box of donuts, and is almost crushed by a garbage truck! However, in the end, he does several things that end up saving the day, and getting Star to perform a specific spell.

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The first time I saw this story, and ran what Glossaryck said through my brain a few times, it made zero sense. However, as Season 2 carried onward, I revisited By the Book, and was surprised how it seemed a little less ridiculous!

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Another notable comparison from Watchmen, is how Dr Manhattan would wear a rather placid, almost expressionless look on his face, even when something should strike a person as emotional, or shocking. Because of his ability to see the universe as it is (pre-determined, with little chance of alteration), Manhattan often appeared apathetic.

We see Glossaryck wear such an expression, in the story, Raid the Cave.

Using the all-seeing eye spell (from Queen Eclipsa’s forbidden chapter about Dark Magic!), Star is able to find Glossaryck and the book of spells, but strangely enough, he is not at all downtrodden over being captured, nor gives her clear remarks on just where he is (“I’m in a cave. On the ground!”)

He does make a few allusions to the spying spell she’s using, and is only slightly surprised, when Star somehow, manages to alter it, and is able to reach through it! The spell is only meant to allow one to see things, but somehow, with her own magic, Star manages to break through, and reach out to Glossaryck…who shows no propensity to do the same! He even claims that he and the book, are now Ludo’s property!

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“Glossaryck, don’t you want to come with me?” pleads Star. “I thought we were, friends.”

“…friends?” he quizzically asks. “Now that’s such a simple concept.”

This admission seems to ‘hurt’ Star emotionally, and the connection begins to collapse!

Star tries a few more times to get Glossaryck to come with her, but he refuses to budge.

“But, I need you!” she cries.

“Maybe, ‘this’ is what you need,” he says, as the portal closes!

The results of what happened, finally allows Star to do something she has feared to do: tell her parents that she lost the book, and Glossaryck! Thinking they are going to yell at her for messing up, Star is surprised when instead, they tell her how they will keep her secret safe, and to “sit tight.”

However, in the wake of this, Star actually does something proactive. Taking a notebook, she begins to make her own spellbook, cataloging the magic spells that she’s made up on her own.

This is a reaction that seems a bit ‘deeper’ than what we experienced in the story, By the Book. When one looks at the end result of Glossaryck not coming back with Star, it feels that he has set things in motion, that may not be comprehensible to Star and her parents at this time.

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Unlike some shows that will just give a character a backstory via memory-dump, it seems the Star vs the Forces of Evil writers are wont to make information about Glossaryck so readily available. Instead, it becomes a scavenger hunt, and if one were to go back over Season 2, you can find all sorts of little story hints, sometimes buried deep within a story.

Notable is in the segment Page Turner, where Glossaryck is forcibly pulled away from Star, who is examining a forbidden chapter, on Queen Eclipsa.

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“Eclipsa Queen of Mewni, to a Mewmen King was wed, but took a Monster for her love, and away from Mewni fled.”

This ordeal seems to be one of the few times that we really see Glossaryck being annoyed in a rather primadonna fashion. At first, it’s in regards to the ridiculous security measures he has to go through to reach the Magic High Commission, but then his irritation transfers to Star’s mother, who has called the meeting, to request Glossaryck speed up Star’s magical training.

He then explains that this seems to be common in almost every single Queen he’s trained: sooner or later, they can’t just leave him alone, and make demands on how he should train future successors to the throne.

Of all the Princesses and Queens he’s trained, Glossaryck claims that Queen Eclipsa, was the only one who just left him alone. Of course, this just builds on more questions as to what Eclipsa’s reign on Mewni was like. It seems she is the black sheep of the royal line, and there may be something associated with her past, that could come to light next season.

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Of course, some beings in the show’s multiverse, are pretty irked at the little blue man. While we have had Star’s father River give his opinion (“Little guy always creeped me out!”), one who has shown some malice towards Glossaryck, is a member of the Magic High Commission, named Rhombulus.

This was followed up in discussion he had with Star Butterfly, in the segment, Crystal Clear.

Rhombulus explained that some of his frustrations, came from being unable to win an argument with Glossaryck, along with him seeming to be “an all-knowing jerk.”

Someone did point out a rather intriguing thing, in the episode, Bon Bon the Birthday Clown, which might back this up.

Glossaryck ends up going along with Star and Janna to Bon Bon’s seance. During the course of the evening, we see a number of rats scurrying about the cemetery.

As the evening gets colder, Glossaryck nonchalantly asks Star if she intends to use a spell in the book, that has a “little drawing of a rat.”

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Star doesn’t care about the page, and in a rather surprising move, Glossaryck sets it aflame, and warms himself!

It is possible, that Glossaryck was anticipating Ludo taking him and the book that evening, and knowing of Ludo’s rat minions, probably felt the spell on that page, might be dangerous later on (it’s never made clear just what the spell would do).

Of course, this is largely speculation, but given the amount of rats we see, it could be possible.

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One of the last segments in Season 2, to feature Glossaryck as part of a main storyline, is titled The Hard Way.

Ludo has instructed his bird and spider minions to try and break Glossaryck’s spirit, but in a surprising move, Glossaryck claims he is willing to help Ludo reach his “full potential.”

Unlike Star who possesses an imagination (the “Narwhal Blast” she uses, is a spell of her own invention),  Ludo seems devoid of any creativity. This leads to Glossaryck showing him a simple levitation spell from the book, and through positive reinforcement, Ludo seemed excited that he had learned how to gain some control over his wand.

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After a positive first day of learning, Glossaryck (much to his annoyance), puts Ludo to bed, but is later awakened when Ludo claims ‘his wand’ mentioned that Glossaryck had shown a certain spell to Star.

At the little bird-creature’s insistence, Glossaryck opens the forbidden chapter, and Ludo is blasted into the air, suspended in the center of a swirling vortex!

Suddenly, Ludo’s eyes go green, and from his mouth, issues forth the voice of Toffee, a lizard-creature, that was supposed to have been destroyed at the end of Season 1!

“Give it up, old man,” says Toffee. “You’ll never get him (aka Ludo) on your side.”

“But I don’t have, a side,” counters Glossaryck.

“You don’t, do you?” asks Toffee, before smiling fiendishly. “…perfect.”

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That conversation, was the last we’ve seen of Glossaryck of Terms this season.

When Moon Butterfly and the Magic High Commission infiltrated Ludo’s castle and confronted him, he mentioned that Glossaryck was gone, and he had no idea where he was.

The MHC’s High Chancellor named Lekmet, also thought he had found the spellbook, only to find it was blank, leading the council to believe that what they found, was a fake.

So, that beg’s the question…where are Glossaryck and the book of spells?

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My opinion is…they’re now inside the wand that Ludo/Toffee wields!

An earlier Season 2 segment titled Into the Wand, had Glossaryck explaining to Star, that things could be stored within the wand, which is an extension of the wielder’s memories.

Much like Toffee’s finger that was found hidden inside Star’s wand, I am of the persuasion, that Glossaryck and the book, have suffered the same fate, under Ludo/Toffee’s wielding of the wand, and are trapped for the time being!

Of course, there also is the question, of what happens to Ludo when Toffee takes over.

By the end of Season 2, it looks like Toffee may be in total control of Ludo’s body, leading me to assume that Ludo’s soul, is also trapped within the wand.

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If that is the case, and Ludo and Glossaryck are stuck in the wand, I could see their story arcs for Season 3, maybe showing the two working through some personal issues Ludo has.

We’ve seen this season, that Ludo is actually little more than a child, the ‘runt’ son of Lord and Lady Avarius (as seen in the episode, Face the Music). The family was extra-hard on Ludo, hoping to toughen him up…which led to him taking over the family castle with a gang of monsters, and changing the locks (which explains Ludo’s castle and minions, that we saw in Season 1!).

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As annoying and childish as Ludo can be, I can see Glossaryck trying to help turn him ‘good,’ or clear up his anger issues with his family. It may be a key element to Ludo regaining control of his body from Toffee, let alone possibly destroying the disembodied lizard-creature, who seems to somehow be linked to the magical energy in the universe!

Of course, if the inside of Star’s wand creates a world based around the mind of it’s user…one wonders what horrors are inside Ludo/Toffee’s wand.  The big question is, will we see inside it next Season?

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This was one of those blog articles, that just struck like lightning!

Oftentimes, it can be the more enigmatic characters in a show or film, that cause the wheels in my head to turn.

A prime example, is my analysis of the character No Face (aka Kaonashi), from Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. That analysis, is one of my most-viewed dissections, and is still going strong after almost 5 years!

I will confess that I have been sitting on a dissection of the character Toffee since the end of Season 1, but given how much more enigmatic Glossaryck of Terms has been this season, my brain seemed to just expel all of these thoughts in a matter of hours!

As we close out this little Animated Dissection, I thought I’d make one more reference to Watchmen.

The following quotes happen, after Laurie Juspeczyk is told by Dr Manhattan, that even though he knows what will happen, he still gives the expected responses, as they are meant to be played out. I can’t help but feel that it could very well speak to how Glossaryck fits, into the world of Star vs the Forces of Evil:

Laurie Juspeczyk: “The most powerful thing in the universe, and you’re just a puppet following a script?”

Dr Manhattan: “We’re all puppets, Laurie. I’m  just the puppet who can see the strings.”

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Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 22) – Starcrushed

And here it is. The big one. The final episode, of a season that changed the rules of the game, for the series known as Star vs the Forces of Evil.

Well, enough with the cute quips. Onto the review!

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-Starcrushed-

After the events at the end of Face the Music, in which Mewnian songstrel Ruberiot publicly declared that Star Butterfly likes Marco Diaz, things have been a little odd between the two friends.

It also doesn’t help that Marco’s parents are throwing an end-of-school-year party, and Jackie Lynn Thomas is cozying up to Marco, every chance she gets.

Star’s girl friends decide to take her out, as a way to get her mind off her problems. At another end-of-the-school-year party across town, Star bumps into Oskar Greason (whom she claimed to have a crush on), and the two quickly strike up a conversation.

Meanwhile, Moon Butterfly, and the rest of the Magic High Commission (composed of Hekapoo, Omnitraxus Prime, Rhombulus, and Lekmet), break into Ludo’s castle and confront him…only to have a familiar presence, materialize before their very eyes!

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When it comes to final episodes in a season, I think many of us have certain expectations.

In the case of Starcrushed however, much like most of the storytelling this season, the writers of the show weren’t willing to just bow down, and spill all their secrets.

In a perfect world, this episode would have tied up a number of loose ends that we’ve seen so far this season (and carried over from Season 1). As it is, much like Storm the Castle last season, Starcrushed leaves even more loose threads open for us to wonder about!

This could be both a good and a bad thing. On one hand, you have those people that are frothing at the mouth for closure, while there are those, in our current ‘mystery box’ era of visual storytelling, who welcome the chance to keep speculating as we go forward.

Star’s storyline here, is a bit stronger than in Face the Music. Storylines about her emotional state have been a part of several stories this season (including one of my favorites, Mr Candle Cares), but here, it meanders a bit too often, as we try to bring to light her uneasiness, being around Marco and Jackie, as well as trying to socialize at the other party across town.

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Returning for probably his biggest role since the story Star on Wheels, Oskar Greason (voiced once again by Napoleon Dynamite’s John Heder), acts as a counterpoint to Marco, in Star’s portion of the story.

While the writers do try to give him a bigger presence, his appearance feels more forced than natural. While Marco pursued Jackie Lynn Thomas over the course of these two seasons, Star’s liking of Oskar seemed a bit more of a visual infatuation (I guess it has to do with his eyes?). Of course, Oskar did figure into Star’s Mewberty storyline back in Season 1, but it was never made clear just ‘how.’

We also get a number of cameos from several of Star’s inter-dimensional girl friends, and it was neat to see how she has friends across multiple dimensions, who are there for her when she needs them.

Marco Diaz also has a slightly more significant role in Star’s story as well. Also reeling a bit from what happened last episode, he is also feeling a little uneasy, ping-ponging throughout the episode between Star and Jackie, whom we see several times, trying to get him to unwind.

I can imagine some people wondering why the characters are reacting as they do, but I think these reactions were written by those on the writing team, who may have had real-world experience. I have heard of some people feeling a bit uneasy, when they find out someone they called a friend, may want to be more than that…and as illustrated in Starcrushed, it can be a situation that is not easily remedied.

Much like the structure of Face the Music, this episode focuses on parallel storylines, and just like in that episode, Moon Butterfly’s storyline proved to be the more intriguing of the two.

Most notable, is the chance to see the Magic High Commission in action, though it doesn’t last nearly as long as I wish it could have (plus, Hekapoo’s use of dimensional scissors here, is probably going to earn her even more fan-followers online!).

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To me, the highlight of the episode comes when Moon and the High Commission find themselves in a fierce battle, that is probably one of the most intense so far in this series!

Let’s just say that stuff happens, that had me wide-eyed for a number of minutes…and wondering what the ramifications will be, going beyond this episode.

We also get some additional character development for Ludo in this piece. It feels very brief, but the information we’ve gleaned from this episode and the previous one about him, feels like it could lead to something important later on.

Much like the previous episode, this one has a rather somber/serious tone throughout. Even when the show staff attempt to inject comedy into Starcrushed, I rarely found myself laughing. There’s a lot being thrown at us emotionally, and I found myself really trying to process the more serious stuff, rather than the funny stuff.

As the episode comes to an end, it’s final moments seem to pass by in a blur, as events force a number of things to happen in seconds, leading to an even bigger cliffhanger than the previous Season!

Let’s just say, I wasn’t quite prepared for what happened, and found myself rewatching the final scenes, multiple times.

Given where it ends, Starcrushed feels like we’re now caught in the middle of a much larger story. That fast-paced, 8-bit sounding intro that originally brought many of us into the series, feels like a far cry from where we are now. Have we truly moved beyond simply talking about rainbows, and puppies?

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Best line from episode (said by Mr Diaz): “What could be weird? Two teenagers, sharing a home. One boy, one girl. Oh…oh no…”

Final Grade: B+

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Princess Pony Head): “So, yeah, those are basically all of the reasons why I would be the most reliable, non-flaky girlfriend ever-I gotta go, sorry.”

Starcrushed ends a 22-episode season, that took Star vs the Forces of Evil, down a much different path than it’s 1st season offered us. It played with story structure, secrets, and challenging our perceptions when it came to characters and their personalities. While it wasn’t perfect, the experimentation that went on following the exploits of Star Butterfly and Marco Diaz, still kept me intrigued over the past 7 months.

While reading this review, you may have seen my constant references to the previous episode, Face the Music. It feels like both that episode and Starcrushed, are linked in a way, where one cannot function without the other.

This episode also has a theme running underneath the main action. It seems to be how some of us wish for things to go back to what they once were…but sometimes, we find that life can’t be so simple.

The attempts to deal with Star’s emotions, let alone the growing threat to the universe, has built the show’s story arc up in a big way. This does make me wonder if going into Season 3 (when it finally does come out), if it can appease or satisfy many of us, who surely know that serious ramifications and consequences, may be on the horizon for Star, her parents, and the Kingdom of Mewni.

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And, that’s it!…for now, anyways.

It was recently announced that Star vs the Force of Evil has been renewed for a fourth season, and that Season 3 will start up sometime this year (either in the summer, or fall).

In the meantime, I hope to do some more Animated Dissection articles on Season 2, some of the show’s characters, and much more. There’s plenty to discuss regarding this season, plus, I’ve been sitting on an analysis piece for the character Toffee, for over a year now.

Speaking of much more, the Star vs the Forces of Evil comic book series is still in production, and I intend to review issues 5-8, once they are released.

Plus, next week sees the release of Star and Marco’s Guide to Mastering Every Dimension. At over 160 pages long, I am already making plans to pick it up, and let you fine readers out there know what it has to say.

I just hope the book can shed a little more light on the world of Mewni, as well as some dimensions, we’ve only had a fleeting glance of.

Farewell for now, for we shall meet again soon.

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 21) – Face the Music

The dual-segment episodes are over…now, nothing ahead (for the rest of the season), except full-length episodes!

With Season 2 of Star vs the Forces of Evil winding down, many of us are eager to see if a number of loose ends that we’ve been privy to, will be neatly tied up by the end of episode 22.

But, that episode’s review is for another day. For now, let’s dive into episode 21, the second-to-last Season 2 episode!

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-Face The Music-

At the behest of her Mother, Moon Butterfly, Star allows Mewni’s official songstrel to compose a song about her, for the upcoming Song Day celebration on Mewni. However, upon meeting him, Star has a few opinions about this royal tradition.

Meanwhile, Moon undertakes a small quest of her own, to find and retrieve the Butterfly Family’s spellbook, and Glossaryck of Terms. Her journey leads her to Lord and Lady Avarius (aka Ludo’s parents!), and some additional information about Ludo himself.

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The structure of both Star and Moon’s stories, almost feels like they could have been two separate story segments. However, within the episode, director Giancarlo Volpe chooses to intercut between the stories of Mother and Daughter, while giving them time together at the beginning, and the end of the episode.

For Star’s portion of the story, we find her trying to get out of her Song Day obligations, by giving the run-around to a new songstrel, named Ruberiot (voiced by Patrick Stump).

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Like most things that hint at her destiny as the future Queen of Mewni, Star tries to buck her obligations to work with Ruberiot on the song. Fortunately, the shirking of her duties, manages to not overstay it’s welcome in the overall structure of the story.

Ruberiot, for the small amount of screentime he has, manages to not be as much of a throwaway character as I had originally thought. Though he seems to be another in a long line of songstrels from Mewni, he soon shows that his views are of a newer generation, yearning to do things a little differently…leading to some interesting choices later on in the episode.

Marco does figure into the story, but unfortunately, he seems like set-dressing for most of it. I had hoped there would be a bit more for him to do, but I guess the writers may have been constrained by time.

To me, the highlight of the episode, is Moon’s journey into The Forest of Certain Death on Mewni, where she meets with Lord and Lady Avarius. We’ve seen evidence that Moon has been less-than-regal in her past, and to see her throw off her regal accoutrements and let her hair down (literally), is something that I and many others have longed to see for awhile now.

There were a few scenes in Season 1, that had me wondering about Ludo’s real age. He often seemed like a petulant child, given how he would whine and yell out loud, in his mad quest to get the royal magic wand.

Of course, given what transpired at the end of the first season, my first question is why Moon and River didn’t try to assist the Avariuses previously. However, in considering the affairs of Mewnians and Monsters, my guess is there is still a social divide between their factions, and Mewmans don’t meddle in the affairs of Monsters on Mewni.

The makeup of the Avarius family, reminded me a bit of the Gaunt household, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Though luckily, Lord Bludo seemed less likely to lay a wing on most who come to call at his door (though as some have pointed out, there may be an abuse issue that Lady Avarius may be trying to ignore, as seen by her right eye in the picture below).

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One of the more intriguing characters we are introduced to, is Ludo’s younger brother, Dennis. Of all the siblings that Lady Avarius names, Dennis feels like an important figure, that I am hoping to see more of once Season 3 comes around.

The overall theme of Face the Music, seems to be about telling the truth, and getting past the sugar-coating of certain elements.

The writing of the Princess Song, is a minor item in the story, that follows this train of thought. The songs for Mewni’s Princesses, are not meant to be anything more but ‘happy fluff,’ filling people’s heads with good vibes, but tiptoeing around more important things that the people of Mewni should know about their ruler.

Composer Brian H Kim, fresh off his music work on the segment Just Friends, brings forth a musical piece that attempts to be traditional, yet energizing for the younger citizens of the kingdom. However, given some of the content that Ruberiot sings about, I think I found myself cringing just as much as some of the characters in the show. This is not a knock on Kim’s music skills, but moreso the content of what is contained within Star’s Princess Song.

By the end of the episode, a lot has come tumbling out, and there is a tumult of emotions swirling around both Star, and Moon! It seems both Mother and Daughter, have dealt with secrets they felt they could handle, but unfortunately, the final minutes show turmoil engulfing both of the Butterfly women.

Final Grade: B+

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Best line from episode (said by Ruberiot): “Why did I drop out of lawstrel school? Goodbye, aspirations. Hello, flipping cornburgers.”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Star Butterfly): “Hugs!…he’s uh, he’s staring at us, isn’t he?”

Face the Music is the first full-length episode we’ve had since Bon Bon the Birthday Clown.

Moon Butterfly’s quest into The Forest of Certain Death, along with additional information about Ludo’s family, proved to be the highlight of the episode. I hope we’ll be able to get more information about them in future episodes.

Star’s Song Day storyline, feels a bit trite when compared to the more important stuff Moon is doing. However, it does show that she is willing to compromise, if she can find common ground with some people.

By the end of the episode, don’t be surprised if you feel a little uneasy for both Star and Moon (as well as Marco).

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Even though episodes 21 and 22 appeared back-to-back recently, I felt, much like with Bon Bon the Birthday Clown, it would be better to give each full-length episode, it’s own review.

However, you won’t have long to wait for my review of episode 22, Starcrushed. See you in a few days, when I give my opinions, on the final episode that Season 2 of Star vs the Forces of Evil, went out on.