Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Addendum)

Long time readers will recall that, last april, I wrote an article about the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the prequel to the Harry Potter movie series. In that, I wrote about how the ending was handled completely wrong, and outlined several reasons why, as well as giving a suggestion for how it could have been handled differently.

And seeing as I wrote about Harry Potter last time, I figured I’d stick with the theme and revisit this movie.

The reason, as you can probably tell by the title and the fact that it includes the word “Addendum“, is that when I wrote that article, I made a mistake. And while I don’t enjoy having to rectify mistakes I’ve made, it’s a bit extra embarrassing this time since, in my own opinion, my article about Fantastic Beasts was one I was very proud of.

But as I’ve said previously (here, here and here), I am a big enough man to openly admit when I clearly fuck up. If I knowingly lie in my writing, what use am I to you?

So, since it’s my goal to be as truthful as I possibly in my writing, I’ve decided to explain what I got wrong, and try to rectify it.

You see, I went on a great rant about how, in the movie, Newt Scamander has the Swooping Evil swing out and turn into a constrictive web-work around Grindelwalds arms, and I got very annoyed at how this ability came out of nowhere, and was never highlighted previously as something the Swooping Evil could do, and was just introduced for the sake of plot convenience.

The thing is… I thought I looked closely at the scene, but as it turns out, I got it wrong. Looking at the scene again, it’s not the swooping evil that ties up Grindelwald. What actually happened was, Scamander let out the swooping evil which, true to it’s name, swooped over Grindelwalds head, distracting him. Scamander then restrains him, and while it’s not easy to tell definitively, it would seem, looking at the scene in detail, that Scamander uses his wand to constrain him.

I can only apologize for the mistake, but I know for a fact I wasn’t the only one who thought that it was the swooping evil. I think the reason for the confusion was because the swooping evil is shown to have an elastic tail which Scamander has been shown to hold onto, not unlike the vine-like spell he uses uses, as well as the fact it had been brought into the scene moments before, whereas that vine spell had never been seen before. In addition the swooping evil vanishes as soon as the vine spell appears.

But those are just excuses. In the end, I made a mistake, honest though it was, and I apologize.

However…

This doesn’t take away from all the other reasons the scene doesn’t really work. Scamander still had no reason to suspect Graves was wearing a disguise. They still have no reason NOT to execute him and, most important of all, Grindelwald had absolutely no reason to maintain the disguise after the Obscurial was gone, or to keep using Graves’ wand instead of his own.

But that brings me neatly to another reason the scene is stupid, a reason I didn’t realize until just recently.

You see, last time I made a big deal about how, during this time, we KNOW that Grindelwald was the master of the Elder Wand, and that using Graves’ wand wasn’t a good idea when he could be using the most powerful wand in existence.

And in this ending, we have him being restrained, captured and (crucially) DISARMED by Newt and Porpentina.

I’ll repeat that, in case you missed it.

Newt and Porpentina defeated and disarmed Gellert Grindelwald, the MASTER OF THE ELDER WAND!

In other words, one of them is its new master, most likely Porpentina, since she was the one who took Grindelwalds wand away!

Remember, the Elder Wand is far more fickle than any other wand, and it goes to where the power lies. Grindelwald was defeated, therefore he was too weak to deserve the wands power. Even if he didn’t actually wield it at the time, the Elder Wand doesn’t need to be wielded to shift allegiance. After all, Draco Malfoy never even touched the Elder Wand, yet its allegiance shifted when Harry took his wand.

This is another reason why they should have had Grindelwald escape! Because with this ending, they’ve taken away his mastery of the Elder Wand! This ending creates a damn time paradox!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the whole deal with Grindelwald that he was nigh-unstoppable? That only Dumbledore had the skill to defeat him? That even WITH the elder wand, Dumbledore was just that little bit more skilled?

Again, the duel between Dumbledore and Grindelwald went down in wizard legend in how astounding it was! It highlighted how great a wizard Dumbledore was, that even with the Elder Wand, Grindelwald lost to him.

But now? Grindelwald was defeated by a zoologist with a magic bat and lost the allegiance of his greatest weapon to a disgraced auror. Again, it really doesn’t paint Grindelwald in a very good light, I feel.

Now, it’s true that, maybe, this will turn out to be a plot point in later movies. That is a distinct possibility. But since the scene is stupid for so many other reasons, I doubt it was really worth it. Sabotaging one of the most dangerous black magic users in the canon, just to add some plot stuff for later movies seems like a bad move to me.

Even worse, if they DON’T make it a plot point, then they have created a massive time paradox, with the elder wand not behaving in a way that was CRUCIAL for the original book series, instead remaining with Grindelwald.

And in that case, the only, possible saving grace, bad as it may be, would vanish from the ending of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

The end result of both the canonical ending and my suggested alternative would be the same: Grindelwald still on the loose, causing havoc. But at least in my version, he still has his full power, is still a threatening villain (because not even all of MACUSA could do better than fight him to a standstill) and we wouldn’t get a nonsensical scooby-doo ending and him not facing execution for no adequately explained reason.

And if I’m brutally honest? Missing a blink-and-you-miss-it detail in the ending doesn’t seem quite as bad in comparison.

So while I admit that I was wrong about one detail, the overall issue remains. Not only is the scene stupid, but it’s stupid in ways I didn’t even notice the first time around.

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Harry Potter (Pt. 2)

I feel like it’s about time I talked about Harry Potter again. Ordinarily, I would be really worried about some idiotic fan theory, but with Dave still on a forced vacation, I think we’re safe.

And unlike last time I talked about Harry Potter outside of fan theories, this won’t be about something absolutely horrible. Instead, I just want to talk about an aesthetic decision made for the movies, and the in-universe implications surrounding it.

In other words, something in the movies don’t completely make sense to me and I want to rant a bit about it.

Now, the thing that caught my attention are the wands. In the movie adaptations, all wands are personalized for their users. Nothing really wrong about that in and of itself, of course. And it’s not really an issue in the cases of Harry, Ron, Snape and many others.

But there are a few designs that kind of confuse me. And they’re all invariably used by Lord Voldemort and his Death Eater entourage.

See, I have to wonder… How come, in-universe, their wands look so evil?

The way I see it, there are three possibilities.

  1. The wands have always looked like that.

  2. The wands begin looking identical, but change appearance over time.

  3. The wizards change the appearance of their wands.

It should be noted, of course, that in the first two movies, the wands DIDN’T have unique designs. But this is something I’ll get back to shortly. For now, let’s look at the first option.

If the wands have always looked a certain way, that means that Tom Riddle Jr. walked into the shop of Mr. Olivander to buy a wand, they went through the rigmarole of finding a wand for him…

And THIS is the wand he ended up with?!

riddle.png

Not only did he end up with a wand that, despite being explicitly described as being made from yew wood, looks like a piece of bone with a small hook on it… But Mr. Olivander had that lying around in his shop, and it selected a random child, and he didn’t think “Hmm… that’s curious…

And furthermore, you have all the other future death eaters who stroll in and pick out wands, and leave with wands that look like this Wands

and at NO POINT did Olivander call the Ministry of Magic and tell them they might want to keep an eye on those kids, just in case?

Maybe he just sat down, start filing on a wand, and when it was finished, he looked on the white skull he had shaped out of wood and thought “Whoever you choose is gonna be a right bastard, aren’t they”?

But wait, it gets worse! Think of it the other way! You’re 11 years old, you’ve gotten your letter to Hogwarts, you’re running around Diagon Alley and looking at all the shops, getting your school uniform tailored, you pick out a pet to bring with you, and you walk into Olivanders shop, and you go through box after box of wands…

And finally, the wand that chooses you looks like a skull vomiting out a snake! That’d freak you out, wouldn’t it?

The second possibility is, like I said, that the wands change how they look. And going back to what I said earlier, the movies would seem to imply this is the case, with the shift between the second and third movie.

But then, let’s look at that closer. Because that means that one day, you wake up, and your wand has changed. One of your friends get a seashell-pommel thing, another gets covered in swirls… and yours is a snake with a skeleton holding it up.

Do you just decide then and there “Ok, guess I’m evil now”. Because while not all evil wizards and witches have evil-looking wands, all evil-looking wands are wielded by evil wizards and witches.

Or, it’s the third option, that the owners change the appearance themselves. But this is also slightly problematic. See, once again going back to the wands change between the second and third movie, this would mean that Harry, Ron and Hermione changed their wands. Just to remind you, they were 13 at the time.

Call me a bit pedantic (because let’s face it, I really am) but I’m pretty damn sure changing your wand is a fairly tricky procedure. After all, if you do it wrong, don’t you run the risk of ruining the wand?

Also, how DO you actually change your wand? Because that’s the kind of magic that you need a wand for… as in, the thing you’re trying to change. That sounds like a clap-with-one-hand type of dilemma to me. I suppose you could ask someone else, but then, who helped Harry and Hermione? Neither of them live with wizards outside of school, after all.

And of course, there’s another reason it doesn’t really seem to add up to me. Suppose the owner changes the appearance of the wand. Its look and design is limited only to the imagination of the owner.

So how absolutely abysmally crap would your imagination be, if this design is all you can come up with!?

Scabior
Poor Scabior…

Again, I’m not really against unique, personalized wands for wizards. I’m just puzzled about some of the wands looking so obviously evil.

I could be forgetting some details (it’s rare, but it happens) but Death Eaters, fundamentally, believe that what they’re doing is right and that the people they harm aren’t worth as much as they are. They believe in pure-blooded superiority. They’re horribly cruel, intolerant and vicious… but they’re still sane. By which I mean, they don’t consider THEMSELVES evil, do they?

So really, all I can think of about all of this, is that Mitchell and Webb sketch.

I just imagine two death eaters, sitting in a mansion (that still somehow manages to look like a dungeon for some reason), and one of them turning to his buddy and going:

-Cassius, have you looked at our wands lately?
-What? No. Why?
-They’ve got skulls on them.
-What?
-Our wands. They have tiny skulls on them.
-Oh…
-Cassius….Are we the baddies…?

Coco

Seeing as I don’t really enjoy nitpicking Disney movies, and since I already talked about Tangled last time, I figured I may as well get this one over with as soon as possible. With that in mind, let’s talk a bit about Coco.

I’m going to be brutally honest with you. I didn’t really care for Coco. I’m not going to say it’s bad, only that it is a bit weaker than other Pixar movies. And I figure it’s only fair to say that, if you happened to like the movie, you most likely won’t enjoy reading this. But just in case, I will try to be brief. And if you haven’t seen it, beware of spoilers ahead.

To start with, one of the most fundamental things that bug me about this movie is that I don’t really get the title.

I admit, I might be a bit stupid and missing something painfully obvious, but why is the movie called “Coco”?

The only Coco in the movie is the main character Miguel’s great grandmother. But I’m not so sure that is really enough to justify the movie being named after her. She barely has any lines in the movie, and really, she’s more of a plot element than a character, in that she is related to the deuteragonist Héctor. She’s not really a focus of the main story until towards the end.

The movie, fundamentally, isn’t about her, so why is the movie named after her?

In my opinion, it would make more sense if Miguel was nicknamed Coco, perhaps given the name in the land of the dead. After all, he was trying to hide from his family, so a fake name would come in handy, and this way, the name carries over. An artist name, keeping with his desire to be a musician, maybe? Or maybe call it “Remember Me”, the song Héctor wrote for his daughter, later appropriated by Ernesto, and with memory being a recurring theme in the movie?

But anyway, let’s move onto something more substantial. The big problem with this movie, to me, is that more than any other Pixar movie I’ve seen, this is incredibly formulaic.

I got the feeling that they were just ticking off a checklist for how to make a kids movie. Main character is unusual, and doesn’t quite fit into his surroundings and wants more out of life than the path decided for him.

Now, one scene that actually really annoyed me was Miguel showing off his skill as a musician and a guitar he built, to convince his family to let him be a musician. And his grandmother, enraged at this, takes his guitar and smashes it to pieces, fracturing his relationship with his family. This is what kicks the main plot in motion, with him running away.

The reason this scene annoys me so much, is because I’ve seen Pixar pull this exact thing once before. In Brave, Queen Elinor is enraged at Merida refusing to behave like a proper princess, and during the following argument, Merida ruins a tapestry. Elinor in turn takes Merida’s bow and throws it on the fire. This fractures their relationship, leading to Merida running away and kicking the plot into motion.

But in Brave, we also got the very powerful scene, immediately after Merida leaves, with Elinor realizing what she just did. This scene is powerful enough on its own, but we also had the build-up, where we got to know Elinor and understand her personality, and that she does genuinely care for her daughter and want what’s best for her.

But in doing so, she took Merida’s most beloved, treasured possession, a gift she has had and kept and cared for most of her life, something her daughter LOVED…. and destroyed it. And she tries desperately to save the bow, because she KNOWS how much it meant for her daughter, and she begins to cry when she realizes she’s destroyed it.

As you can tell, it is one of my favourite moments in the movie.

And then I see something that is eerily familiar to that done here, but it doesn’t have the same build-up, nor does it have the aftermath. It felt like that plot point was just another tick on the checklist, done because “let’s have another powerful moment like that”, but with none of the crucial events before or after that MADE it powerful.

My next issue concerns the villain of the movie. Disney/Pixar movies lately seem to like the idea of the twist villain. Zootopia had Bellwether, Wreck-It Ralph had King Candy, Frozen had Hans… and Coco had Ernesto De La Cruz.

And I think now, we’ve reached the point where the twist doesn’t work anymore. It’s been done too often, so the big surprising reveal isn’t surprising anymore. People are now expecting the twist. And that is, of course, one of the issues I have with Coco.

See, we’re lead to believe that Ernesto De La Cruz is Miguel’s great great grandfather… which of course means he WON’T be, and we know immediatly that he’s the villain, because we’ve become wary of the twist.

And since we’re also presented with Héctor, who is desperately trying to get back to his family, and says he used to know Ernesto…

Suffice to say, it’s not really hard to spot the clues, and of course he turns out to be the real ancestor, and Ernesto killed him.

Unsurprisingly, that reveal loses a bit of its impact, when everyone in the audience figured this out 20 minutes earlier.

On top of that, the way Ernesto is revealed as the villain is really, REALLY forced. We find out that Héctor began regretting leaving his family, and wanted to return home. Ernesto, desperate in his quest for fame and glory, and unable to convince Héctor to stay, murdered him by poisoning his drink, stealing his song book and his guitar, and went on to become a famed musician, actor and overall national treasure.

And the way this is discovered is because a scene in one of his movies is taken, almost ad verbatim, from that incident.

In other words, for some insane, ludicrous reason, Ernesto decided to put that moment in one of his movies!

Why!? Why would he ever do that? Keep in mind, movies tend to already have… you know, writers and scripts and plots…

In other words, this was an active decision on the part of Ernesto, to put that in a movie, interfering with the work of all these professionals, just so he could re-enact a murder he committed, but with himself in Héctor’s place.

That makes no sense! The only way it might make sense is if this is just another act of theft, trying to not only take away Héctor’s happiness and his afterlife but also his death. And while that’s possible, I don’t think it really added much to the movie, and it just comes off as contrived.

As for Ernesto himself, he’s not really BAD as a villain, but there just isn’t any meat to him. Then again, I suppose that’s fitting, considering he’s a skeleton.

…OK, that was a terribly joke. I apologize…

But my point is, there isn’t anything explicitly wrong about him, but he’s not very interesting as a villain. Even ignoring the twist being overused, we don’t get to know him long enough for the villain reveal to really hit home, like it did with, for example, Hans or King Candy. Again, he just feels like another tick off the checklist. Friendly, charming character, later revealed as villain.

On top of that, his ultimate defeat is a bit of a letdown, with him being thrown out of the arena he is performing in, hitting a bell, which then crashes down on him. Of course I see what they were going for, with it being an ironic repeat of his death, shown earlier in the movie. But it just seems a bit forced that there just happened to be a bell tower there, that has never been referenced or brought up before, just to give him that ironic death.

Another plot point in the movie is that Héctor is desperate to see his family, and they introduce the concept of the “Final Death”, i.e. that once nobody remains to remember you, you cease to be in the land of the dead. Coco is slowly forgetting Héctor, which adds a ticking clock element to the story.

And it just feels odd to me that just when he is risking to fall victim to the Final Death, he just so happens to come across Miguel, who is pretty much the only one that can help him. And not to mention that, in all of the land of the dead, there is apparently only one person who is in Hectors situation. The one person who tries to fake his way through the gate, on the day of the dead, just so happens to be Miguel’s great great grandfather? That’s some insane amount of luck he’s got there.

As for Miguel’s living relatives, they don’t really stand out as characters, and the vast majority of them don’t really impact the plot. Certainly not in comparison to the dead relatives, whom the movie dedicates a lot more focus on. The only ones that do affect the plot is Abuelita who, like I said, smashes Miguel’s home-made guitar, and Coco, who becomes a plot element for Héctor’s part of the story.

Speaking of Coco, I think the movie kind of gave her the shaft in the ending. See, the closing scene takes place one year later, and Coco has passed away in the intervening time. Her portrait is placed on the Ofrenda, joining her dead family members in the land of the dead, and we see her in the afterlife, reunited with her mother and father. It’s quite touching. There’s only one problem.

She’s old.

For some reason, she is shown as being an old woman, when the other relatives are shown as relatively young. The only exception is Julio, who appears to also be pretty old. But Imelda, the twins, Victoria, Rosita… They’re all shown as pretty young, mirroring their pictures on the Ofrenda.

So does that mean the age you appear in the afterlife is determined by how old you are in your portrait? If so, surely there had to be a picture of Coco when she was younger?

The alternative is that they appear the age they were when they died. But there aren’t that many old people in the land of the dead, so does that mean practically nobody lived to a ripe old age? Coco is that one in a million that lived past 50 in all of Mexico?

Not impossible, I suppose, but again, it seems a bit strange to me.

Now, I should really clarify that the movie isn’t without its good parts, and I can see why people do like it. The acting is excellent, as are the visuals. There are several genuinely funny moments, and like I said earlier, Héctor and the other dead relatives are a lot of fun.

Overall it’s not a bad movie, but it is certainly one of the weaker entries.

Tangled

Well, it’s been a long time since I went against my fundamental principles, and nitpicked a Disney movie. Not counting fan theories, the last time I wrote about a Disney movie was The Hunchback of Notre Dame, way back in november, and that was more defense than nitpicking.

So today, I’ve decided to write about Tangled.

Now, I understand there is something akin to a rift among Disney fans, between this and Frozen. If that applies to you, I should make it clear I won’t get bogged down in an argument about which is better. If you prefer one over the other, you are entitled to your opinion. It’s just a matter of preference.

As for my preference of the two, I think it’s a ridiculous comparison, because they’re so very different in style. Perhaps most notably, Tangled is far more comedic than Frozen, to the point where people draw comparisons to Dreamworks style.

But again, this is just a matter of opinion. There are some things in Frozen I liked better than in Tangled, and vice versa. It’s comparing apples and oranges.

But I recently re-watched Tangled, and there were a few things I thought would be worth writing about.

Before I get to the nitpicking, however, I’d like to talk briefly about my favourite part of the movie: Mother Gothel.

Mother Gothel is manipulative, selfish, cruel and vicious, subtly abusing Rapunzel emotionally, while putting up a facade of love and care. In other words, she is very reminiscent of Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

And while Scar might be the bad guy in my favourite movie, Frollo is definitely my favourite Disney villain of all time. Both Gothel and Frollo are callous, manipulative liars, locking away the protagonist in a tall tower, telling them how evil the world outside is. In fact, Frollo’s part in the song ”Out There” is more than a little similar to Gothels ”Mother Knows Best”.

They’re not identical, of course. Gothel’s goals are exclusively self-serving and egotistical, yearning for youth and beauty, whereas Frollo considers himself righteous and justified in his actions, as in his mind he is serving a higher purpose. Any evil act he commits is either the will of God, or the fault of evil forces. As the movie puts it:

And he saw corruption everywhere except within.

In essence, Frollo is a fanatic, while Gothel is a psychopath. They have much in common, while simultaneosly being different enough that I don’t just think Gothel is an imitation of a more succesful villain. They’re both very cunning, resourceful and duplicitous, and they are both very enjoyable, well done villains.

But don’t mistake this as just being gushing for its own sake about how great Gothel is. My nitpicks are actually centered around what, sadly, is a bit of a flaw in her portrayal and, by extension, the movie in general.

The crucial flaw with this movie for me is that it’s filled with plot-contrivances.

The first is simply that a drop of sunlight falls from the sky, which creates a flower that can heal the sick and restore youth.

That, in itself, I can rationalize. That’s Disney magic. What bugs me is that it’s a very specific song that makes the flower heal you. Never mind that Gothel somehow was in the exact right place, at the exact right time to see the flower. But how the fuck did she learn the song?!

How did she know the flower could heal people in the first place? Why wouldn’t she just pick the flower, rather than start randomly singing to it? None of this is ever explained.

From there, we jump forward to when Flynn/Eugene finds the tower Rapunzel lives in and Rapunzel convinces Gothel to go on a long journey.

This, by right, should have distracted her long enough for most of the plot to resolve itself. Rapunzel goes to the castle, sees the lanterns, goes home, has the epiphany that she is the lost princess, goes back to the castle, reunites with her parents, everyone’s happy.

But wouldn’t you know it, Gothel happens across Maximus, who is hunting Eugene, who coincidentally is being hunted for stealing the crown. And she wrongly assumes that Maximus’ lack of a rider means the guards have found the tower. Which they haven’t.

In other words, it’s just a massive coincidence she found out about Rapunzel leaving the tower.

And in the tower, she finds the crown and a wanted poster that Eugene stuffed in his satchel, and somehow worked out that Eugene stole the crown, and has taken Rapunzel. So she decides to head for the Snuggly Duckling. Because obviously, Eugene would take the lost princess to a bar full of criminals and bandits. And miraculously, she is right.

And she manages to arrive while they’re all caught up in a musical number.

Eugene and Rapunzel escape through a tunnel, and Gothel finds out where it leads by threatening one of the patrons. She goes to the tunnel exit and waits. And who exits the tunnel? The bunch of guards that also entered the tunnel? You would think that, with the entire canyon destroyed by the water, the tunnel would be blocked and she could wait there until the cows came home. But not only does someone come out, but rather than the castle guard, it’s the two people who just so happens to have it in for Eugene for stabbing them in the back and who would be willing to work with her.

Neither of these two knows where Rapunzel and Eugene went after the flooding. In fact, there is little to no reason for them not to just assume they died. But despite there being no possible way for the twins or Gothel to know that Eugene and Rapunzel got caught in a small cave, managed to find their way out of a blocked mine entrance and set up camp in a random spot in the woods…

Despite all of that, Gothel manages to find Rapunzel and have a chat with her, sowing seeds of doubt in her, as part of her plan.

And this plan is hinging not only on Rapunzel not, at any point, being recognized by anyone in the castle on the day where she is on everyone’s minds, OR working out the truth herself…

It also hinges on her and Eugene watching the lanterns on a boat on the river, rather than in the city itself, where all the festivities are presumably taking place.

And THEN, that Eugene would see the twins, who he KNOWS are greedy and duplicitous and want him dead… and decide to follow them, and not telling Rapunzel about it. If any part of this very specific course of events didn’t fall in place exactly right, the whole plan would fail!

And wouldn’t you know it! Somehow, against all possible odds, her plan works!

And later, she stages an ambush for Eugene, in order to silence him. This despite the fact that she HAD NO WAY OF KNOWING EUGENE HAD ESCAPED!

She even said, not five minutes before, that he would be hanged for his crimes.

(Because apparently, stealing a crown is punishable by death…)

So she set up an ambush for a person that, as far as she knew, was about to be hanged, and who she had no reason what so ever to expect would come to the tower, instead of getting the hell out of there!

And it is this that ends up killing her. Because if she had just gotten out of there, kept Rapunzel chained up and done her own fucking singing, SHE WOULD HAVE WON!

If I may draw a comparison to Frozen, You have Hans, who isn’t revealed as a villain until towards the end. Gothel is certainly more entertaining and intriguing as a villain, because WE know she’s lying, just like we know that Frollo is lying to Quasimodo. We see how they lie and undermine their respective “children”, making them doubt themselves and fear the world around them. We get the full scope of their calculated type of evil.

And it is true that Hans also has a degree of luck on his side, with Anna being emotionally starved enough for him to seduce her, and then Elsa accidentally freezing Anna’s heart. All these developments end up working in his favour.

But in his case, it’s more that he adapts to situations, rather than situations twisting themselves in his favour. And in the end, he fails, because of things outside of his control, namely Anna stepping between him and Elsa, shattering his sword, and then Elsa discovering how to control her powers and restoring Arendelle.

Bottom line, I love this movie, and I love Gothel, but it’s so frustrating when her duplicity, her greed and cunning, all those traits that make her a great villain, end up being overshadowed by her incredible, insane luck, and her undoing being due to her making an incredibly stupid choice, for absolutely no good reason.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

With Marvel currently dominating the public consciousness with the release of Avengers: Infinity War, I think I should take the opportunity to write about a movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

And don’t worry. Much like when I wrote about Star Wars a while back, I have no intention of spoiling Infinity War. But I will give spoilers to Spider-Man: Homecoming, on account of that being the movie I’m going to write about. I will assume, if you’re reading this, that you’ve seen the movie.

If not, consider yourself warned.

Now, while I intend to nitpick this movie, as I am wont to do, I don’t mean to imply that it’s bad. Far from it. While not all movies in this franchise really clicked with me, I don’t regret watching any of them. I wouldn’t call any of them bad, by any stretch of the imagination.

But of course, while the movie was good, it wasn’t perfect, and it had a few moments that made me tilt my head slightly. Hence why you’re currently reading this.

So, my issues with this movie can be summed very simply:

Tony Stark is an asshole in this movie.

Don’t get me wrong, part of his character is that he’s occasionally arrogant, cocky, snarky and a bit of a dick to most people around him, intentionally or unintentionally.

But in this movie, I got the feeling it’s not only worse than usual, but also coupled with some actively idiotic moments on his part.

The first instance is that he ropes Peter into that whole Civil War thing. While this is somewhat questionable, my problem isn’t with Tony dragging a kid into a massive conflict between superheroes.

No, it’s more that he brings a kid, who is comparably small time, mostly dealing with street crime like purse snatchers and bike-thieves, into a fight between big name heroes, the majority of whom have been directly involved in threats to the entire planet…

And then pretty much COMPLETELY IGNORES HIM when it’s all over. No consideration for what that might do to someone, opening up this amazing world to him.

By including him, Tony is saying “You are needed here. We need you to deal with these things. You are one of us now”.

And then, not a peep. Hell, he gives Peter a liason, in the form of Happy Hogan, a man who we see is actively displeased with his new position, considering it on par with baby-sitting. Neither Happy or Tony seem at all interested in Peter, when TONY was the one who approached PETER!

Later, Peter starts looking into the whole black market weapon thing, and gets pounced by the Vulture, and ends up being rescued by Tony Stark.

So Peter has just uncovered a huge gun running operation, dealing in overpowered weapons, and tried to follow up on this.

Tonys reaction? To scold him, asking him “What were you thinking!?” and berating him for trying to actually help. And then when Peter insists he has to take the vulture down, Tony all but laughs in his face at the very IDEA!

Tony: Take him down now, huh? Steady, crockett, there are people who handle this sort of thing.
Peter: The Avengers?
Tony: No, no, no. This is a little below their paygrade.

And to top off this particular ‘You aren’t important enough for this‘ speech, he reveals that he didn’t actually come to save Peter in person. He just connected via Wi-Fi and flew a suit remotely to save him.

Which is really impressive… And also a massively condescending dick move. Out of all the ways he could have responded to Peter telling him he didn’t have to come and help, Tony went with the one that basically says “Saving you was an inconvenience, nothing more”. Followed by more scolding, of course.

All this, of course, is really rich, coming from Tony Stark.

Firstly, Peter didn’t know about the Vulture until he was in the air, so it’s not like Peter saw the vulture and decided to tail him. He saw some people, selling weapons that previously almost demolished a street corner, and set out to stop them. And when that happened, there were four of them, and Peter managed to at least keep them from robbing the ATM.

And Tony Stark should probably KNOW that, since he has trackers on that suit.

But secondly, and far more importantly, the reason Peter needed saving? He was tangled up in the parachute he didn’t know he had, which deployed on its own, because the suit COULDN’T TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LOSING AND GAINING ALTITUDE!

In other words, he needed saving BECAUSE OF THE SUIT!

The next occasion is when Peters friend hacks the suit and deactivates the “Training Wheels Protocol” along with the tracking device. First off, shouldn’t Tony Stark, Mr. Genius-Playboy-Billionaire-Iron-Man NOTICE if the tracker in the suit goes offline!? That’s not something that raises a red flag or something?

You mean to tell me that I get woken up at 2 fucking AM, because I get a newsletter on my phone from a webstore I shopped at once three years ago…

And Tony doesn’t get so much as a message on his smartwatch that “Hey, small FYI. This weapon you’ve got strapped to a 15-yearold in New York? Yeah, it’s been fully unlocked and then we lost the signal”.

And yes, I said weapon. That’s the second part here. Because after Peter deactivates the training wheels protocol, the suit reveals something a bit fucking interesting.

It has an INSTANT KILL MODE!

I repeat! Tony Stark put an instant kill mode… on a suit he gave to a 15-yearold!

True, he locked down part of the suits functions, but that software is still present in the suit! This is the kind of stuff you should upload at a later point, rather than just have dormant. The same could probably be said about most of the suits functions, to be honest.

That suit is a technological marvel, made by one of the smartest people on the planet, a man who, need I remind you, managed to build a miniature arc reactor, while at the brink of death.

To quote Obadiah Stane:

Tony Stark was able to build this in a cave! With a box of SCRAPS!

And yet, he didn’t put a fucking USB port on that suit, so he could upload additional software?! His plan A was to just put the powers in the suit, and then lock them away behind a password?

He gave the suit to Peter, KNOWING it had the ability to actively kill people, somewhere inside it. Not just by shooting web down their throat by accident or knocking them over a ledge. INSTANT KILL!

Now, I know that Tony does use lethal weapons on his suits on occasion. He uses a missile to blow up a tank in the first movie, and the second movie, when he fights a bunch of robots, he uses a special laser cutting thing.

But I remind you: Spider-Man is usually fighting STREET CRIMINALS! Call me a bit soft-hearted, but I don’t think there are any street crimes Spider-Man will fight that necessitate lethal force, when non-lethal will do just as well!

And this wasn’t some final, last stance thing. As soon as he activated “Enhanced Combat Mode”, it defaulted to instant kill! Imagine what the movie would have been like if Peter decided he LIKED the idea of instant kill? After all, if Tony wasn’t ok with the thought, why would he put it in there?

Now, it’s suggested that “Instant Kill” doesn’t mean what it sounds like, but in that case, why is it called instant kill!?

And finally, it all ties together with the last issue, when Tony, berates Peter for getting involved with the business with the ferry. He chews him out for, once again, going after the Vulture, and telling him how he put people in danger and went against Tonys orders.

Peter says that none of it would have happened if Tony had just listened. And Tony responds that he did listen, and that it was he that called the FBI that appeared on the ferry. He then proceeds to tell Peter that he failed and people almost died because of him getting involved.

Now, this is just a crazy idea of mine, maybe I’m just missing something but couldn’t this all have been avoided if Tony had, oh I don’t know… TOLD PETER FUCKING ANYTHING!?

It’s not like he was busy! This man can hack a television screen remotely in about 17 seconds flat, but calling Peter and telling him “Hey, I looked into that weapon thing. We’ve got it under control, and the FBI is on the scene. And should things go badly, don’t worry, because I will be there as well”.

How hard is that!? How tricky is that to do? It’d put Peter at ease, make him feel useful and almost guarantee he stayed out of it. Tony shows that he has a DIRECT LINE TO THE SUIT and can call it at any time!

But no, it all comes down to Tony Stark seemingly not giving two craps about Peter here. And then he has the vibranium balls to say how he was the only one to believe in Peter!

Yeah, great deal of belief you’ve shown, Tony! I really liked the part where you didn’t trust Peter with any information about the weapons that DESTROYED A PART OF HIS NEIGHBORHOOD, or where you didn’t find it important to check up on him at any point, or how you locked away most of the stuff his suit could do behind a training wheel protocol, with seemingly no plans to… you know… give him some training so he might one day be able to USE it!

You stroll into his life, bring him into the company of Earths Mightiest, give him a high-tech suit and tell him to go be a hero… and then you scold him for TRYING TO BE A HERO!

If Peter hadn’t gotten involved in following that van, would Tony know about those superweapons? He seemingly didn’t know before that point, so I’m guessing not.

Peters only other option was to call Happy Hogan. As in the man who, the first time he tried, told him he didn’t care. So when Tony asked Peter “What were you thinking”, he effectively chewed him out for not doing the thing that DEMONSTRABLY DOESN’T FUCKING WORK!

Overall, that whole part of the movie seemed poorly executed. It just seemed they exaggerated the negative parts of Tonys character, in order to further the plot. Thing is, you can still have those moments, but for them to actually ring true, you have to make it be Peter that makes mistakes.

For example, if he had seen The Vulture and decided to go after him despite the obvious danger and getting knocked out, rather than the suit screwing up, then Tony berating him would work.

Or with the ferry, if Peter knew about the FBI operation, and decided he would get involved anyway, to prove himself to Tony? The aftermath would be justified then.

And those could make sense, since Peter is a kid! He can be shown as enthusiastic and brash and impulsive, and these could be things to overcome! Then you’d have a character arc for the movie! Instead, I’m just getting angry at Tony Stark for being a prick to Peter, a character turn which comes seemingly from nowhere.

Now, since, again, I do like this movie, I don’t want to leave people with a bad impression of it. So I will share an observation that I really, really like about this iteration of Spider-Man.

I like that Aunt May isn’t in her 70’s anymore. After all, she is Peters aunt, not his grandmother. May was married to Ben Parker, the older brother of Richard, who in turn was Peter father.

So how old were Richard and his wife Mary, when they had Peter? Because either they had Peter in their 50’s, or Ben and May was at least 20 years older than both of them. Not impossible, but a bit strange, I feel.

Here, she is shown to be in her late 40’s-early 50’s, which is much more reasonable. So that is a change that I wholeheartedly approve of.

So that’s all I’ve got for Spider-Man: Homecoming. Overall, a good movie. I just wish that the mentor figure wasn’t quite as much of a dick.

The Hobbit (Pt. 3)

We return, once again, to the subject of The Hobbit trilogy.

I have already gushed about this trilogy at lenght, and presented my reasons for liking it. Because of that, I won’t bore you with the details, especially when you can read those details here and here.

Instead, I will jump straight to the point with this article, namely to make an observation about Saruman in this trilogy.

I recently saw an Q&A with Christopher Lee, regarding his role as Saruman. I’ll paraphrase the specific quote.

Saruman the White was, at one time, a very noble, fine, decent, honorable man […] I’m happy to say I’ve done [the Hobbit….] when he IS a good man.

He goes on to say that, to the best of his knowledge, Tolkien never explains exactly how Saruman turned from Saruman the White to, as he termed him, Saruman the Black.

Now, the problem is that, like most people who saw the Hobbit, my main knowledge about Saruman comes from the adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. In other words, I was used to seeing Saruman as a duplicitous villain. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that a lot of us watched An Unexpected Journey, and when Saruman appeared, we thought “Oh, crap, secondary villain!”. Because, again, that is how we are used to seeing him.

But then I saw that Q&A, and this changed the way I saw his character. Once I watched the movies with the understanding that Saruman isn’t a villain, I realized that his actions not only aren’t villanous, but they’re not even unreasonable or foolish.

What I thought as subversion was just caution. What I saw as manipulation was really just reasonable observation. What I saw as contempt for Radagast was…. OK, that’s pretty much there no matter what, but still, it’s not becaue he’s evil, but because he simply doesn’t respect Radagast.

Let’s consider the context here. Gandalf appears in Rivendell with a bunch of dwarves, on a mission to Erebor. Saruman has heard of this and meets up with Gandalf to get an explanation why, exactly, he thinks it’s a good idea to mess with a creature known as the “Chiefest and Greatest Calamity of Our Age”. Gandalfs response is to suggest Smaug might side with Sauron.

As in, the dark lord that was defeated and vanquished THREE MILLENIA ago.

Gandalf goes on to question what became of the last of the dwarf rings, worn by Thrain. Thrain who, to the best of everyones knowledge, fell in battle along with his father at Moria, and his body was never recovered, possibly taken by the orcs when they retreated.

And Saruman notes that, even IF by some miracle what remains of Sauron claimed the dwarf rings, they are useless to him if he doesn’t have the One Ring, which was lost in the Anduin and swept off to sea. (Something that also happened literal millenia ago).

Gandalf then points to the fact that three trolls have destroyed a farm, and a pack of warg riders attacked him and his comrades. As Elrond notes, it’s hardly a prelude to war.

When Gandalf points out that something is wrong with the Greenwood, and that the woodsmen speak of a necromancer in Dol Guldur, Saruman dismisses this as absurd, and that it’s likely they’re just scared of a petty conjuror “dabbling in black magic”. Gandalf then tries to bring up Radagast and his visit to the fortress.

In other words, he’s presenting the testimony of someone who Saruman considers a mentally unstable fool, and an embarrassment to his order, as a defence. It’s not exactly a great argument to bring up the ravings of the local shroomhead when pleading your case.

When Gandalf presents the Morgul Blade, Saruman asks what evidence there is that it comes from the tomb of the Witchking of Angmar.

Gandalf: I have none.

Saruman: Because there IS none! Let us examine what we know. A single orc pack has dared to cross the Bruinen, a dagger from a bygone age has been found, and a human sorcerer who calls himself “The Necromancer” has taken up residence in a ruined fortress. It’s not so very much, after all.

Put bluntly: When Saruman meets with Gandalf at Rivendell, he basically pulls a WTFAW! He treats Gandalfs like I treat Dave on a regular basis, except with less swearing, insults and threats of violence.

Gandalf takes what Saruman concludes to be minor coincidences, and presents them as proof that the second worst enemy in the history of Middle-Earth has somehow resurfaced.

Granted, Gandalf’s theory is correct, but its hard to blame Saruman for his reasoning. It all comes down to context. Either Gandalf is a bit of a worrywart and these minor events happening at once are just a coincidence, or Sauron, who was OBLITERATED 3000 years ago is back and threatening their long fought-for peace. What sounds more likely?

And the actual, important evidence, like the bounty on Thorins head? Gandalf doesn’t say a peep about that! What is Saruman supposed to think, when the evidence he’s offered is so weak?

And it’s very important to note that, when Gandalf is captured in Dol Guldur, and Radagast brings his message to Galadriel, what does Saruman do? Does he dismiss the message as unimportant? Does he think Gandalf has screwed up and leave him to sort out his own mess?

No, he does not. Gandalf might “look for trouble where none exists”, but he is still a member of the Istari. He is a member of Sarumans order, and while they have their disagreements, they are kin. Is Saruman the White going to let Gandalf just die? Fuck that!

He goes to Dol Guldur, along with Galadriel and Elrond. There, he’s faced with the Nazgûl, the nine undead servants of the Dark Lord Sauron, risen from the dead, armed and ready to destroy him. And Saruman promptly gets down to the business of KICKING THE EVER UNLIVING SHIT OUT OF THEM! He even trades blows with the Witchking himself!

And THIS is a crucial moment of Sarumans character in the movies.

What happens once they’ve won and saved Gandalf?

They are faced with Sauron himself.

And here, we see something very interesting. Saruman, who didn’t flinch when faced with the Nazgûl, is suddenly TREMBLING IN ABJECT TERROR!

And who can blame him? Sauron has returned, and even without the One Ring, he has gained this much power, so much so that he can casually reanimate the Nine without any effort. He can’t take on physical form, but he clearly doesn’t need to, to fight them!

This is something Saruman the Wise had never considered: that the Dark Lord, even weakened, should dwarf their power this much.

And the only reason they survived was because one of the most powerful elves in Middle-Earth sacrificed a lot of her power just to drive Sauron away, before retreating to Lothlorien.

Remember that Q&A, when Christopher Lee said that Tolkien never explained how Saruman fell? I put it to you, that within the continuity of the movies, THIS is the moment Saruman broke. He was presented with something that, as far as he was concerned, wasn’t just unlikely. It was fucking IMPOSSIBLE for Sauron to have returned, and yet HERE HE IS! It’s enough to cause Saruman to not just lose his way. He lost his mind!

It explains why he doesn’t follow the books in that he wants to usurp Sauron, but instead means to join and serve him. As he puts it.

Against the power of Mordor, there can be no victory.

He has seen the power of Sauron first hand and he knows that, since then, that power has only GROWN! To his mind, the wizards have no choice. Either they will join Sauron, or they will die.

Now, this is all well and good, but there is actually a point I want to present with all this.

Like I said earlier, Sarumans character in the Hobbit has this great depth to it, but it suffers from the fact that we, as the audience, know Saruman only as a villain, and we therefore mistrust anything he says, or at least are unsure what his motives are. So, how could they have prevented that?

And this lead me to an idea. And of course, it’s meaningless in the grand scheme of things, since it’s obviously too late to change it now. But it’s just an idea I had, with the benefit of hindsight, not unlike what I did with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

And the idea is this: They should have given Saruman a different staff.

See, Sarumans staff is made to resemble the tower of Orthanc, which does kind of make sense, since that’s where he lives.

But this always struck me as strange, since he hasn’t always lived there. He arrived in Middle-Earth and wandered it for centuries, before taking up residence in Isengard. So, logically, he must have had another staff in that time, and one can assume it wasn’t made to look like Orthanc.

Suppose that, when we see him in An Unexpected Journey, he instead carried a WHITE staff. Not identical, but similar to that carried by Gandalf the White, who describes himself as “Saruman as he SHOULD have been”, and this is his original staff.

That would have been a very good indicator that here, Saruman is not evil. It’d make the audience go “Hang on, why is Sarumans staff different? It’s white now, when it was black in the other films!

(While I’m at it, they could also have given him a cleaner white robe and a manicure, but I think the staff might be the detail most people would notice.)

From there, I don’t think it’s a great leap of logic to suppose that Saruman isn’t evil here. Proud, a bit condescending, but ultimately a force of good. Hell, as an added nod, perhaps when Sauron appears, Sarumans staff shatters, echoing Gandalfs meeting with the Witchking in the third LOTR movie. Only here, because of Sarumans pride, and the fact that he isn’t as wise as Gandalf, the shock contributed to his change to, as it were, Saruman the Black.

And the next time Gandalf sees him, Saruman has crafted a new staff, this time a polished black, modeled after the black tower he resides in.

Now, like I said, this observation is kind of meaningless. I’m just musing on what could have been, in a movie series which I really enjoy anyway. And I understand that, due to the issues behind the scenes and the somewhat impromptu production, it’s hard to blame them for not thinking about such a minor detail. It’s just a small thing that, to me, would have made the trilogy that little bit better.

But it DOES beg the question why Saruman, even as the noble head of the Istari, decided to go with such an ominous looking staff…

Then again, this IS the same guy who, in the books, decided to wear a robe that sparkles like a rainbow, and still expects people to take him seriously, so maybe he just has lousy taste.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Those of your who have paid attention will know that the last few articles have been covering movies by Tim Burton. Writing one more such article today, the day after Halloween, is really a no brainer.

I mean, only a massive fool would miss such an obvious opportunity.

And to quote Gomez Addams:

With God as my witness, I am that fool!

Which is why todays article is about the classic disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

But don’t worry. I love this movie dearly, and I consider it one of the best disney movies of all time. As such, my goal is one of defence, not nitpicking.

You see, a while back I came across some criticisms of the movie, which I found myself disagreeing with. Obviously, I’m all for people criticizing movies and games. I’d be a bit of a hypocrite otherwise.

I only ask that the criticisms be valid. And in this case, some of the criticisms were simply not.

Which is why I’m writing this article. I will adress four issues raised against the movie, that I don’t agree with.

So, let’s begin.

The first issue about the movie was how a romani woman and a romani man managed to have a son with red hair, light skin and blue eyes?

And at first glance, that is a good question. By all accounts, that shouldn’t be possible. And my response to that is simply: No, it isn’t.

I mean, there might be some genetic fluke involved, a one in a million chance…

But I think there is a more reasonable explanation, within the logic of the movie.

After all… Who said that the woman in the opening is Quasimodos mother?

Only twice, in the entire movie, is she referred to as his mother. And both times, it’s said by Frollo. Somehow, I don’t think he’s that trustworthy. He never really gave the woman a second thought, even after he smashed her skull open on the staircase, and simply assumed, much like the audience, that she held the baby, therefore it was probably her baby.

Yet as this observation actually makes clear, there is a very real possibility that Quasi wasn’t her child.

After all, they are only referred to, by Clopin, as “four frightened gypsies“.

Which brings us to the next issue. What’s up with Clopin?

How come he seems to have all this knowledge about the Archdeacon and Frollo, and how Quasimodo came to be in the belltower, and then doesn’t recognize him during the Feast of Fools or in the Court of Miracles?

To answer that, we just have to consider that, just because we don’t SEE him find out, doesn’t mean he COULDN’T find out.

After all, the story of how Quasi came to Notre Dame is told many many years after the fact. Clopin is the leader of the gypsies. Even if Quasimodo himself isn’t a gypsie, he was taken care of by one, and reasonably, Clopin could have found out. After all, a baby with a hunchback and a misalligned face? That’s somewhat hard to forget.

Then, the deformed baby is taken away by three gypsies. Two of them end up imprisoned, and the third is found dead near Notre Dame.

The Archdeacon clearly has no issue with the gypsies, so what’s stopping Clopin from just asking for some details?

And then stories start to spread about a deformed bellringer who can be seen occasionally climbing the cathedral. You can piece together a lot from that.

And as for why Clopin doesn’t recognize Quasi later, I’ll get back to that.

In the meantime, let’s move on. The next issue is why the Archdeacon didn’t raise Quasimodo?

This one is pretty easy to explain, given the information presented in the movie. Frollo murdered a woman on the steps of Notre Dame itself. He then attempts to murder an innocent infant in a well. The Archdeacon intervenes and declares that Frollo has commited a deadly sin, murdering an innocent woman.

You can lie to yourself and your minions/
You can claim that you haven’t a qualm/
But you never can run from/
nor hide what you’ve done from the eyes/
The very eyes of Notre Dame

He then tasks Frollo to raise the child, as pennance for his sin. Had the Archdeacon raised Quasimodo himself, he would literally be letting Frollo get away with murder. After all, Frollo is, from what we see, the highest authority in the paris justice system. He’s the main authority on the laws of man. But he does respect divine authority, at least to a point.

By forcing him to raise a child, the Archdeacon perhaps hoped Frollo would learn from the experience and become a better human being. He just didn’t expect Frollo to be pure evil behind a mask of selfrighteousness.

And finally, we reach the final issue. What’s the deal with the Court of Miracles? When Quasimodo and Phoebus reaches the Court of Miracles, they’re immediately captured and put on a mock trial, sentencing them to death for being “totally innocent“.

At first glance, this is a valid point. The Gypsies, who Frollo has demonized into vicious, evil people, turn out to be perfectly willing to execute two people who did nothing wrong. Surely this cannot add up, right?

Here’s the thing, though….

Earlier, I mentioned the issue that Clopin somehow has this amazing knowledge, which seems to vanish later. But that argument is assuming the options are either “knows nothing” or “knows everything“.

So, let’s go over what Clopin is shown to actually know. He refers to Quasimodo by name twice, once in the opening song and once during the Feast of Fools. Watch it again, and you notice that nobody refers to Quasimodo by name before Clopin mentions it. So he knows Quasi by name and he knows he was raised by Frollo.

And THAT is a crucial detail. Clopin knows Quasimodos name, but he doesn’t actually know him.

He doesn’t know Quasimodo as a person. He just knows that this is someone who was raised by a man WHO HATES ALL GYPSIES. Frollo has been attempting to find the Court of Miracles, and has imprisoned (and possibly killed) god knows how many gypsies in his search.

So what reason, exactly, does Clopin have for believing Quasimodo is a friend?

Answer: Absolutely nothing!

Watch the Feast of Fools scene, and you notice that Clopin is targeting Quasimodo. Then, when Quasimodo is crowned, and subsequently tied down and pelted with vegetables?

Suddenly, Clopin is nowhere to be seen. None of the gypsies, besides Esmeralda, raise a finger to help him. But as soon as Esmeralda is in trouble, they come back and start helping out again.

It’s almost like they deliberately refused to help Quasimodo!

And later, when Phoebus and Quasimodo enter the Court of Miracles, it’s true the gypsies put them on trial.

Which is cruel… but makes sense when you take into account what Clopin and his entourage has to go on.

The Court of Miracles is a safe haven for them. Maintaining it’s secrecy is crucial for their continued survival. And now, the guy who was raised by the very man who wishes to find this place and kill them all is found in the catacombs. Not only that, but he brought along the captain of the guards. The captain of the guards who they all saw next to Frollo during the Feast of Fools. The captain of the people who are, at this very moment, in the process of burning the city to cinders. Yes, that was on Frollos direct orders, rather than Phoebus’. But the gypsies DON’T FUCKING KNOW THAT!

To them, this is not just two random strangers. It’s two out of the three people they ABSOLUTELY DON’T WANT TO FIND THEM!

Sentencing them to death isn’t because “gypsies were evil all along“. It’s because they cannot afford to let these two live to tell Frollo about them!

And yes, they charge Phoebus and Quasi with the crime of being “totally innocent“.

But maybe this is just me, but I always interpreted that as a critique of the current justice system, which as we see is horribly corrupt. After all, the two guards who harrassed Esmeralda attempted to take her money, claiming she stole it, when in reality she earned it by dancing.

Clopin is doing a dark mockery of the justice system that is targeting his people. A justice system wherein being innocent is “the worst crime of all”.

Do you really think that if a gypsie was put on trial by Frollo, being innocent would save them from being sentenced to whatever cruel punishment he could think up?

Considering this is the same man who, in the first four minutes of the movie, had already imprisoned two gypsies, killed a third and was going to drown a toddler?

No, I don’t think such a trivial detail would matter that much to him.

So that’s four issues raised against the movie, which I simply do not agree with. Does this automatically mean all criticisms against it are invalid? No, of course not. It’s not a perfect movie, and I’m sure that if I put my mind to it, I could find things to nitpick.

It’s just that these issues do not quite hold up to me. And if I can make just one more person like this movie as much as I do, I would consider this entire endeavour worthwhile.