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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 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 7) – Demoncism / Sophomore Slump

With the last few episodes, Star vs the Forces of Evil have kept us pretty well grounded back in the world of Mewni. I recall during the first few seasons, that I hoped to learn a bit more about the strange dimension Star comes from, and it looks like this is becoming the modus operandi for season 3!

In the latest episode, we continue to see her adjusting to being back on her home world…while Marco Diaz, seems to be having some troubles returning to his old routine in the Earth dimension, following the Battle for Mewni.

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– Demonciscm –

When Star finds out that her ex-boyfriend Tom is going to have a demoncism (a painful procedure to extract the evil from within him!), she tries to find a way to stop it from happening.

The story acts as continuity to the last episode’s Club Snubbed storyline, where it seems Star is working on trying to mend old wounds with Tom (though purely ‘as friends’).

We also get a fun little gag with Pony Head talking about one of her ex-boyfriends, who also had a demoncism previously. This leads to a marginally funny scene, where we see what has become of her ex, and how the procedure changed his life.

Much like the tone of Rest in Pudding, the story goes from funny-to-serious pretty quickly at one point. We also get some new character designs for the demoncism leader and his followers.

Throughout the story, I liked the small banter between Star and Tom. We’ve been seeing Star take on a slightly more serious tone since the Battle of Mewni, and it seems that that may have inspired Tom to ‘grow up’ a little as well.

The lead-up to the ending is mildly entertaining, though it’s definitely a revelatory storyline, both regarding character interaction, and story points moving forward.

Overall, a decent episode!

Final Grade: B

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Best line from episode (said by Princess Pony Head): “Tom is getting a demonciscm and he told me you can’t know – *gasp* – oh no, I’m unreliable!”

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– Sophomore Slump –

After spending the majority of his summer on Mewni, Marco finds it difficult to readjust to life on Earth. As he prepares to become a high school sophomore, his attempts to hang out with his friends proves frustrating, let alone his constant need to wear the cape that King River gave him, before he returned to Earth.

While we usually see Marco can be pretty well-adjusted (he was often the voice of reason when Star would do her crazy things), he seems to have developed a bit of a superiority complex from being on Mewni. This is actually touched upon by his Mom, who gets only a few minutes of screen-time, but has one of the funniest bits in the episode.

Most surprising, is we get a minor return of Ferguson and Alfonso, Marco’s friends who were pretty much missing-in-action during season 2. Of course for me, the real interesting moments came once Marco met back up with Jackie Lynn Thomas again.

The writers have done a pretty good job of giving Jackie some character moments, but have never fully moved her beyond much of a supporting role in the series. With this story, she and Marco probably get some of the most intimate alone time, since the Bon Bon the Birthday Clown episode.

During their time together, I  was surprised to see Jackie run through a number of emotions, and a few reactions that reminded me eerily of a few times in my own life. I’m pretty sure that whomever came up with the moments that stood out for me, were writing based on their own experiences with relationships.

Watching the episode, also reminded me of one story from the anime series Urusei Yatsura, titled After You’ve Gone. That episode showed how the character of Lum, after leaving Ataru Moroboshi’s life, really affected him. That story of how something has changed your life in such a big way, is moreso the theme of Sophomore Slump.

Probably not since Running with Scissors, have we had such a ‘deep’ episode regarding Marco. Usually it’s Marco being the logical one, but here, he almost is in ‘Star-mode,’ being a bit more off-the-wall in a few instances. The final minutes and revelations, also were totally out of left-field for me.

Final Grade: B+

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Best line from episode (said by Marco Diaz): “You’re never gonna hear me say ‘cwoissant,’ again!”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Janna, in Sophomore Slump): “Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answer to.”

Since the Battle for Mewni storyline, this is the first episode that feels pretty well-adjusted (if a tad painful to watch at times!). Plus, both of the stories seem to compliment the other.

Demonciscm shows Star and Tom continuing to try and mend old wounds, but also taking into consideration a few things they hadn’t before. There is some minor character development going forward, and we get to learn a little more about Tom.

Sophomore Slump addresses Marco’s emotional rollercoaster, following his return to normalcy on Earth. Though he is a tad annoying in how he reacts at times in this story, it’s definitely a story that shows how his experiences with Star Butterfly and her world, have changed him.

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The next episode, appears to be quite interesting. Lint Catcher finds Marco attempting to try a new profession. And Trial by Squire, sends him and Star back to the store Quest Buy, to take advantage of a big sale. See you real soon, for another review!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 3, Episode 6) – Club Snubbed / Stranger Danger

The last episode of Star vs the Forces of Evil, returned us to the Kingdom (and dimension) of Mewni, where it seemed we were getting a bit deeper into Star Butterfly’s life.

Following the Battle for Mewni, it feels like a number of new challenges await the young princess, and this episode gives us a few more to look into.

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– Club Snubbed –

Star and her family attend the annual Silver Bell Ball, an event to show unity among the neighboring kingdoms. Everything seems to be going well, until it seems that Tom (Star’s ex-boyfriend, and prince of the Lucitor Kingdom), ‘club snubs’ her during the dance!

One item to note in the story, is Star trying to ‘play nice.’ Pony Head hopes that her ‘bestie’ will liven things up, but Star shows surprising maturity (though pouty-faced annoyance at times) as the ball goes on.

Like in the story Scent of a Hoodie, Pony Head seems to be here to add some banter with Star, though the writers seem to be having fun making her the more wild one of the two friends in this situation.

Tom and Star’s backstory has been hinted at in the past, and this story provides a few more details, though keeps it’s main focus on the ‘drama’ at hand. We also get some additional information regarding Tom and his family (we even get to see his parents!). At times, this story almost felt like a variation on the season 1 segment, that took place during the Blood Moon Ball.

There is some character development going on in this story, but it feels like it’s mostly shoved aside until the last few minutes, when it comes to Star and Tom.

I think that’s my main problem with the story: much like Scent of a Hoodie, we get stuff happening, but it’s a bit too ‘dry’ for the bulk of the run-time.

A fun little gag I did enjoy, was seeing the writers poke fun at politics, notably in how everyone in their different kingdoms is meant to be getting along. However, we see some animosity bubbling beneath the surface.

Final Grade: B-

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Best line from episode (said by Princess Pony Head): “The more you ignore somebody, the more they fall deeply in love with you-that’s like science, that’s like, ‘scientific’ or something like that.”

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– Stranger Danger –

After the events of Rest in Pudding, Glossaryck of Terms has returned to the land of the living, albeit on a very primitive level.

While attempting to ‘walk’ her former mentor, Star comes across a woman in the royal rose garden, whom she engages in conversation. When her Mom and the Magic High Commission suddenly show up, Star finds that she has been talking to Eclipsa, the former Queen of Mewni!

Following Star (somewhat) behaving herself in Club Snubbed, we get to see her be a bit more off-the-wall once back in her kingdom.

The highlight of this story for many, is surely going to be seeing Eclipsa out-and-about. It is intriguing to see her being so calm and collected, and rarely without a small smile on her face. Esme Bianco gives Eclipsa a tone that almost makes you want to trust her, but it feels like there’s something going on behind those half-lidded eyes of hers.

The episode milks some humor out of the Magic High Commission testing Star to make sure Eclipsa hasn’t turned her evil, though it does feel like ‘overkill’ after awhile.

It is nice to see Star and Moon have some mother/daughter discussions here too. Though while Moon was willing to accept another side to monsters upon meeting Buff Frog, she is not so easy to move beyond her thoughts of Eclipsa being evil. Star on the other hand, is shown still trying to draw her own conclusions by the end of the story.

Compared to Club Snubbed, this story moves at a pretty fast pace, though has a rather abrupt ending, which may be the writers hinting at more interactions between the two as the season progresses.

Final Grade: B

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Best line from episode (said by Star Butterfly): “Yes! Due pro-cess! Due pro-cess!”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Star Butterfly, in Stranger Danger): “How did you do that and teach it to me now.”

Much like the last episode, this one is kind of a mixed bag, but is marginally more entertaining.

Club Snubbed may be a bit over-my-head when it comes to the subject matter. While it is nice to see more of the world of Mewni, I feel the real heft of the piece gets saved too long til’ the end, when it started to really get interesting to me.

Stranger Danger ends up being the stronger of the two stories, with the return of Eclipsa, as well as showing Star’s thought processes, compared to her Mom and the Magic High Commission. A little more fun than Club Snubbed, but may have milked a few too many gags here-or-there.

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The next episode, looks to be quite intriguing. The first segment titled Demoncism, deals with Tom trying to expel the evil from within himself. Then, we have Sophomore Slump, featuring Marco Diaz, as he struggles to readjust to Earth-life, after his time on Mewni. See you real soon!