The Kissing Booth 2 (2020)

Originally released on Netflix on July 24, 2020

Welcome back, everyone! As always, if you haven’t seen the film yet, this is your warning that there are spoilers in this review. 

Last week I reviewed Midsommar (2019) and I am almost relieved that this week’s topic is a lot lighter. The Kissing Booth 2 (2020) picks up where we left off in the last film, with Elle Evans (Joey King) explaining how the last few months had gone for her and Noah (Jacob Elordi) after finishing the school year. They spent the summer at Noah’s parents’ beach house, until it was time that he left for Harvard. Elle made the choice that they were probably going to end because of the distance, so she didn’t want to be that girlfriend that didn’t give him any space, so she focused on hanging out with Lee (Joel Courtney) and his girlfriend Rachel (Meganne Young).

Senior year begins with Elle paying tribute to her junior year start, with the lack of needing the back ups to her back ups. Upon their arrival to school, everyone is staring at Elle as though something terrible has happened to her, and she finds out it is because they all just assumed that her relationship with Noah was over because he moved away. Now it wouldn’t be a teen rom-com without possible new love interests coming into the picture. On Noah’s end, it is Chloe Winthrop (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) and for Elle it is Marco V. Peña (Taylor Zakhar Perez), and suddenly the stage is set for one of the main arcs of the storyline to form. Another important point to note, is that Lee and Elle have planned to go to UC Berkeley since they were kids, but Noah convinces Elle to apply to Harvard, so that they could be closer to each other again and suddenly we as the audience are left to wonder whether Elle learned her lesson about keeping secrets in the last film. 

Elle visits Noah in Boston, and all is well until she meets Chloe and her own insecurities flair up, this met with the fact she finds a stray earring under Noah’s bed while she is packing to return home, plant the seeds of their relationship turmoil for the remainder of the movie. Here lies the issue: Elle doesn’t tell Noah right away that she found the earring, and when she does, and he swears nothing is happening, she chooses to believe him instead of talking to him about where the earring could have come from. Noah, knowing she’s already feeling insecure, begins to lie to her about his friendship with Chloe in the hopes of not arguing about it anymore, but the lack of communication on both of their ends was a recipe for disaster from the very beginning. On the other side of the storyline is that Elle needs money to go to college, so she and Lee join this Dance Dance Revolution contest, which begins taking up all of their time, causing more of a strain on Lee and Rachel’s relationship because Rachel doesn’t want Elle there all the time. Lee, instead of talking to Elle about this, pretends to hurt his ankle and gets her to team up with the new student, Marco, who just so happens to be really good at the game as well. Then obviously, Marco and Elle grow closer right before our very eyes, there’s even a montage of Noah and Elle growing closer to their prospective love interests. 

Rachel explodes on Elle at the Halloween dance, believing that Elle was told by Lee to give them space but chose not to. Thanksgiving rolls around, and everything seemingly falls apart. Elle and Marco participate in the competition, and they even up kissing on stage, in front of Noah, who Elle wasn’t aware showed up to support her. Lee found Elle’s application to Harvard, and grows angry that she kept it from him. Rachel still isn’t speaking to Elle, and to make matters far worse, Noah brings Chloe home with him, and they are all sitting at the table at Thanksgiving together. Heated words are exchanged, Noah realizes what conclusion Elle came to when finding the earring and finding out that it belonged to Chloe, and how it must have looked to her, but he doesn’t try and explain to her what the truth was. Chloe is actually the voice of reason for him, and explains things to him from the perspective of Elle. In the end, Elle has a conversation with Marco at the kissing booth, about how she loves Noah and she leaves to go find him. Unfortunately, he also left to go find her and they end up in different places. Chloe and Elle share a heart to heart, and Noah and Elle reconcile at the gazebo from the first film. Months pass, and Lee, Rachel and Elle are graduating, and it is after the ceremony that Lee and Noah ask Elle if she received her application decisions. As Marco is watching her from afar, admitting that he still believes she is worth it, she tells them that she was waitlisted to both universities, but we the audience learn afterwards that she was accepted into both, and the sequel film has been laid out for us. Will Elle go to Berkeley with Lee, or will she go to Harvard with Noah? 

The movie’s plot was pretty transparent from the very beginning, though at one point I thought that Chloe’s character was going to fit the stereotype that she was the reason an earring was found, because she wanted to sabotage the relationship between Elle and Noah. It was nice to see that Chloe and Noah were only just friends, but on that same train of thought, if they were just friends, I do think that all the little looks we as the audience watch Chloe make throughout the film, definitely did not scream platonic. That could have easily just been to throw us off course, and it worked since I wasn’t expecting them to have a relationship that could be parallel to Lee and Elle (without the years of history between them.) Another plot twist was when we find out that Elle was actually accepted into the both; the moment we learn this fact, I knew there was going to be another film. 

One thing that stuck out to me during my rewatch of both films, is the striking lack of diversity. Apart from Chloe, Marco and one of the football players, I did not see many people of color given any screen time. In this film however, there was a gay couple that we saw coming together throughout the film, which I could appreciate because the school’s acceptance of them was heartwarming, and that particular storyline, no matter how small, wasn’t treated as a punchline. I think the producers and casting directors could do better. It reminded me far too much of P.S. I Still Love You (2020) where the new love interest is shown to have a lot more personality than the original, only to be tossed aside for the original. Though, side note, I do see bits of Noah in Marco, due to the fact he can be seen being impulsive and rash at the homecoming game when he chose to talk to Noah. Do I still like Noah and Elle? Of course, but I also really liked the dynamic between Elle and Marco, it didn’t seem like she had to change anything about herself. I’m interested to see where the story goes because I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Marco, and of course I want to know where Elle decides to go. Personally, I’m hoping for Berkeley because it would be easier on her dad financially, and because it has always been her dream. 

Have any of you seen the film? What are your thoughts? 

Midsommar (2019)

First and foremost, I’d like to welcome everyone back! It’s been a while since I wrote anything that was longer than a couple of sentences, but I am happy to announce that Stardust & Silver Linings is officially up and running once again. I hope everyone is staying safe and doing everything they can to look out for one another during this trying time. There is a long list of posts coming up, but we will be starting back up with Midsommar, the 2019 folk horror film that seemed to take everyone by surprise. 

If you have not watched the film, and are still planning on it, the following review does contain plenty of spoilers, so keep that in consideration if you decide to continue reading. 

Centered around Dani Ardor (Florence Pugh), a psychology student who is dealt a great amount of trauma within the first 10 minutes of the film. Her sister Terri kills herself and their parents by filling their home with carbon monoxide after leaving a rather bleak email. The email in question is what led Dani to call her boyfriend Christian Hughes (Jack Reynor) whom she is shown to emotionally lean on, but he is distant and rather cold. While she is concerned that she is leaning on him far too much and is going to be the reason he ends up leaving her, he is talking to his friends to whom he has been apparently ranting to about her for the past year. As it turns out, Christian, and his group of friends comprised of Mark (Will Poulter) and Josh (William Jackson Harper) have been invited back to Pelle’s (Vilhelm Blomgren) home, the Hårga, in Hälsingland to celebrate midsummer. From the jump, the movie’s plot is practically screaming “Cult!” to me, and this feeling only gets stronger when we finally arrive at the Hårga, and it’s picturesque surroundings only add to my suspicions. Upon their arrival, they meet Simon (Archie Madekwe) and Connie (Ellora Torchia), who were brought to the commune by Ingemar (Hampus Hallberg). The group witness a disturbing scene that revolves around two of the commune elders, who have presumably met the age of 72, commiting suicide by jumping off a cliff; as is the custom among the commune. It’s rightfully, a traumatizing experience that prompts Connie and Simon to make a plan to leave the commune. 

When Connie meets Dani to say her goodbyes, she is told by a member of the commune that Simon has gone ahead of her due to their only being two spots in the truck, but that he will be waiting for her at the train station. Outraged, she walks off and we don’t see her again. Mark, who is coined as the group jerk, makes the mistake of peeing on the ancestral tree, and during the following meal, he is escorted away by a beautiful woman and we don’t see him again either. It was Josh who wanted to come on this trip in the first place, due to wanting to write his thesis on midsummer, which he ends up narrowing down to the Hårga specifically. He is given access to look at their sacred text, as long as he does not take any photos of the pages—he agrees and all is well. That is, until he sneaks into the building and proceeds to take pictures of the text, only to be killed by someone wearing Mark’s face. Pelle has been making the moves on Dani, asking her whether she felt loved by Christian, and this seems to break something loose within her because she makes a jab at Christian later. 

Dani chooses to participate in a dance competition to find out who the May Queen would be, and she wins and is given the opportunity to sit at the head of the table at the next feast. She is led away to bless the crops and the harvest, and we witness as Christian goes to meet Maja (Isabelle Grill) after being given more drugs, and the two end up having sex. The sex in itself is a disturbing idea, because the sole purpose is to impregnate Maja, but what made the scene all the more uncomfortable to watch was that it all takes place in a room filled with a dozen naked women varying in age, as they mimic the sounds that are being made. Dani finds him, and he later comes to his senses and tries to make a run for it, only to discover Josh’s leg planted in a flowerbed, and Simon’s body in a barn. He is then paralyzed by one of the elders. 

Everything really comes to a boil when it is explained to Dani that in order to purge the commune of evil, they decide to offer up nine humans as sacrifice. The first four victims being Simon, Connie, Mark and Josh. While the next four victims are all from the commune, the two elders from earlier, as well as two volunteers; Ingemar and Ulf (Henrik Norlén). As May Queen, it is Dani’s responsibility to choose the final sacrifice, and she can choose between Christian or a local villager, and in the end, she chooses Christian. He is then stuffed into a disemboweled brown bear’s body and placed in a wooden temple alongside the other sacrifices. The temple is set on fire and we watch as flames engulf him and the others, all the while the other commune members are celebrating by mimicking the screams. The camera pans to Dani, and we watch as her face morphs from horror into a smile, accompanied by a distant look in her eyes. She feels purged of her sins. 

I knew that this movie was going to leave me uncomfortable, given the myriad of people who claimed as much last year when it came out. It reminded me of Mother! (2017) due to the shock value that came with it, as well as the abundance of realistic-looking gore. Florence Pugh was phenomenal from the beginning, with a heart-wrenching scene where she is shown sobbing as a result of hearing the news of her family. Her performance, as well as the performance of Reynor really stood out to me, because they had to do a lot of the heavy lifting. The two of them, both united and in separate scenes, are dealing with a lot of intense themes and they both handle this responsibility really well. There is no denying that the movie is about a cult, but what made it interesting to me is that we don’t see Dani ever warm up to the idea of what the Hårga is, until the end when it seems she goes through her own version of an enlightenment. Throughout the film, she is repulsed at practically all of the customs, but in the end, she is shown to be smiling, as though relieved. The reason for this could be that Christian was a burden on her, and she freed herself of him, thus this idea of purging. 

Another actor that I thought did really well was Blomgren, because he does a really good job of portraying Pelle as the well-natured friend who is simply enthusiastic about sharing his culture. Even in the end, we don’t see him at the forefront of the movie anymore, showing that he isn’t a leader by any means, he was doing what he felt was his right and his responsibility. It would have been interesting to see him talk to Dani after she chooses Christian, but I think ending the film by focusing on Dani’s face was far more impactful. The movie left me just as disturbed as Mother! did, with the main difference being that I actually understood what was happening during Midsommar. It was really well done, and definitely deserved all the recognition it has received in the past year. As far as I know, this is the only folk horror film that I’ve ever seen, but if any of you have any recommendations for other films in this category, do let me know! 

Have you guys watched the film? What did you think of it? Let me know down below! As always, don’t be afraid to leave movie or show recommendations down below in the comments. 

You Season 2 (2019)

If you haven’t watched the season 2 of You, then you may not like reading this considering all of the spoilers.

Last season ended with a moment between Candace (Ambyr Childers) and Joe (Penn Badgley) where she tells him that they had some unfinished business to attend to, leaving a confused and slightly alarmed Joe. This season, we learn that he actually thought she was dead, having left her buried in the dirt somewhere after she tried to leave him. This means that Beck (Elizabeth Lail) wasn’t the first love interest of his that he killed, and while we already knew that he was a deranged killer, we can now definitively say that while he believes he is acting out of love, the moment the object of his desire goes bad in his eyes, they are also not safe.

Candace’s goal this season was to get Joe to see that he is evil, that he is the bad guy, and actually feel remorse for his actions. She doesn’t want to just send him to jail, or to kill him, she wants to break the very fragment that his sanity depends on. She wants to force him to see himself for what he really is, a damaged man who has done horrible deeds.

This season, Joe has moved to Los Angeles and after kidnapping the real Will Bettelheim (Robin Lord Taylor), a guy who can create fake i.ds, and new lives for people, Joe takes his name and keeps him in his own glass cage. This time though, Joe doesn’t want to kill Will. He wants to know that he can trust him, and strangely enough, despite knowing who Joe is, Will wants to be his friend and even after he has been set free and is living in the Philippines with his wife, he still lets Joe contact him. He sees the good in Joe, and believes that Joe is capable of making good choices and refraining from killing people.

Joe’s attention is drawn to Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti), and while in the beginning, he doesn’t want this to turn into his obsession with Beck but when Love pursues him, he finds himself unable to deny her. Now, without delving into every single detail in this season, I want to point out that Joe really met his match in Love, because even when she finds out what he has done, who he is, instead of turning away from him in disgust, she kills for him– to protect him. As it turns out, she has killed before. When she was younger, she killed the au pair, Sofia, (Brooke Johnson) who Forty, her brother (James Scully), was with. In the end, Forty finds out who Joe really is, and what he is capable of, and turns against him in hopes of saving his sister but when his sister defends the man she loves, Forty tells her that she is crazy and aims a gun at Joe’s head. In a twist of fate, Officer Fincher (Danny Vasquez) shoots Forty, believing him to be the bad guy.

Let’s turn out attention to Love for a moment. As it turns out, she did what Joe usually does, she worked to make him fall in love with her, claiming that she saw who he really was almost immediately. She points out that while she was really looking at him, he only saw what he wanted to see, a perfect girl that he could protect and take care of. I liked Love’s character, even though she’s obviously crazy too, but I found her to be really interesting. Despite the fact that Candace didn’t survive to see the fruits of her labor, Joe did come to realize he was the bad guy. He had to confront himself in Love, and the way her actions made him feel. But Love is pregnant, and with that, Joe wants to make things work with her, for their child.

The season ends with Joe and Love living in a house somewhere amidst the suburbia, where Joe is spying on the neighbor next door, addressing her in a way that tells us that she will be the one he pursues in the coming season. My theory? Love won’t like that one bit and will either kill the woman, or try and kill Joe. I also believe that Joe will come across another child that he feels needs his protection, because that seems to be his go-to as well. However, I would like to see the kids of the previous season somehow make it to Joe, just because I want to see what comes of them.

I believe I said this about last season, but I enjoy this show because all of the characters are not simply one-dimensional. They are multi-faceted, with flaws mixing into the positive characteristics. While my opinion of Joe and Love is clear, that they are murderers who have found each other, there are still moments in which they are characters that people can find moments of themselves in; their sentiments, their need to protect and care for the people that they love. While most people wouldn’t go about this need the way that the two lovebirds do, it’s a need that can be understood to a certain extent.

Overall, I really enjoy watching this show and I like that the seasons are bite-size with only 10 episodes. Just enough to give us a good chunk of the overall story, but short enough that it doesn’t feel as though any of the points are being dragged on.

What did you guys think of the second season? Better than the first? The same as the first? Tell me down below! Also, if you haven’t had the chance yet, you can find my on instagram at @stardustandsilverlinings

You Season 1 (2018)

Originally aired in 2018

If you haven’t watched season 1, this review will be filled to the brim with spoilers.

Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) meets Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) during a chance meeting at Mooney’s Bookstore, where he is the manager. After this meeting, he begins stalking her, rationalizing it as his way to make sure she won’t break his heart like his last girlfriend did. Soon, he finds out that she is in a messy on-and-off again relationship with a guy named Benji (Lou Taylor Pucci), whom he subsequently kills after keeping him hostage in a glass cage underneath the bookstore. This is the first of many kills this season, and he rationalizes all of it in the beginning by claiming that he was doing everything for the well-being of Beck.

In this season he kills:

-Peach Salinger (Shay Mitchell); Beck’s wealthy best friend that Joe learns is also obsessed with Beck, and during a confrontation, he shoots and kills her and proceeds to frame it as a suicide.
-Elijah (Esteban Benito); We see in a flashback that he kills Elijah for sleeping with Candace, Joe’s then-girlfriend. Though Elijah explained that he had no idea that Candace was with someone.
-Ron (Daniel Cosgrove); He’s the abusive boyfriend of Joe’s neighbor Claudia (Victoria Cartagena), whom Joe kills when he comes home to find that Paco (Luca Padovan) has attacked him with a bat and is now in danger of the repercussion.
-Beck; When she finds out that he is a murderer, he keeps her in the same cage he kept Benji, hoping she will come to see that he did everything for her. She doesn’t, and he kills her and uses her manuscript that explains everything that happened–including the murders, to frame Dr. Nicky (John Stamos) for everything.

I was hooked from the first episode, there is undoubtedly something unnerving about Joe’s character. Fun fact, I work in a library, specifically in archives, so I enjoyed whenever he talked about the process of preserving books. He is a serial killer, but what makes him even scarier is the way that he sees it all as necessary for his end goal. That end goal originally being to win Beck’s affection, only to shift to his survival by killing Beck and framing Dr. Nicky. We learn about his upbringing, and how he got to be the manager of the bookstore, by showing how Mooney (Mark Blum) used to lock him in the glass cage when he did something that was deemed wrong. These scenes can cause us to feel sympathetic, but at the end of the day, he’s still a murderer.

This show also highlights the role of social media in how effective it can be as a tool in stalking people. Joe was able to find out about Beck, what her interests were, and more specifically, where she was. He takes this a step farther by stealing her phone and using it to read her conversations in order to stay up to date with what Beck was up to and what she thought of him.

Let’s talk about Beck for a moment. By no means, did she deserve to be killed but she wasn’t free of flaws herself. None that reached the extent of Joe’s flaws, but she did gaslight him when he accused her of cheating with her therapist even though she was. When they broke up and he started dating Karen Minty (Natalie Paul), Joe was actually happy and without the urges to commit homicide but Beck grows to miss him and subsequently works to come between their relationship. It takes two to have an affair but she definitely played a part in initiating it. I didn’t like Beck all that much, but I felt for her the entire time because she was so blissfully unaware of Joe’s true nature.

This show grips the audiences’ attention and keeps it, and manages to show the main character as more than just a serial killer, he is a broken human that never got the psychological help that he needed to deal with the cards that life has dealt him. Though, this doesn’t excuse his actions. I really want to emphasize that; just because he himself was mistreated, does not mean we should disregard the fact he has killed people.

What did you guys think of season 1? Have you guys watched season 2? That’s next on my list.

Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (2020)

Originally released on February 7th 2020

If you haven’t had the chance to watch this one, you may not want to read this one since it will be containing a plethora of spoilers.

Originally named Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emanicipation of One Harley Quinn), the title was changed to Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. Taking place some time after the events of Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is narrating what has brought her to the present. The Joker kicked her out, which caused her to have a break down, cutting her hair and even adopting a spotted hyena. When she hears her friends talking about how Harley will get back with the Joker or anyone who comes along because she can’t stand on her own, she makes a dangerous statement. By blowing up Ace Chemicals, she tells all of Gotham that she and the Joker broke up, subsequently becoming fair game for anyone to try and settle scores.

One person who wants to kill her, ends up being Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) also known as Black Mask, a man with the affinity for peeling faces off of live victims. He is after the Bertinelli Diamond, a gem with account numbers embedded into it’s structure. Unfortunately, that gem ends up in the intestinal tract of Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), a pick-pocket who Harley gets a soft spot for. They form a bond that is endearing, but when too many people with too many offers pay a visit to Doc (Dana Lee), the grandpa-like figure that took in Harley when she needed a place to stay, ends up selling her out, she is hurt and in turn–plans to betray Cassandra in order to save herself.

As all of this is happening, we learn about Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the sole survivor of the Bertinelli massacre. She returns to Gotham, calling herself Huntress while everyone else calls her Crossbow Killer, and begins picking off the people responsible for the death of her entire family. Then there’s Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), a cop whose entire career has been overshadowed by the men in the force taking the credit for her achievements. This movie also featured one of my favorite characters in the DC universe, Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) also known as the Black Canary, is a singer at Sionis’ night club, until he realizes she can also fight, then she becomes his personal driver. However, she cannot stand by when they go after Cassandra.

In the end, the women all team up unwillingly because Sionis goes after all of them, and not just Cassandra. They end up being a really good team, with the fighting scenes being really well done, and entertaining to watch. It is a job well done when I cringe at the scenes because bones are breaking due to the usage of brutal force.

I’d like to highlight Margot Robbie’s performance in this film. There are scenes where we are able to see the nuances in her emotions–the first one coming to mind being the scene where she cuts her hair after her break up with the Joker. You’re able to see her go through the different emotions–from determination, to sadness, to anger. Another scene that comes to mind is when she realizes that Doc has sold her out. The changes in her facial expression are a lot more subtle, but we can still see her go from shock, to sadness, to resignation.

Overall, I love the expansion of the character Harley Quinn, into so much more than simply Joker’s girlfriend. We get more of her history, how she was raised by nuns that didn’t seem to have bedside manners, but despite this still became academically successful as she became a psychiatrist. We know this is how she ends up meeting the Joker.

With a majority female-only cast, this movie is important. Just as with Wonder Woman, these movies change the mold of comic book movies by not being centered on male characters. While I enjoyed this movie immensely, I know that there needs to be more movies like this one for the majority of fans to start to take them seriously. To show the audiences that women can star in movies without giving up dramatic stunts and action sequences.

Have you guys seen this one? What did you think of it?

Fuller House Season 5 Pt. 1

SPOILER WARNING: If you haven’t watched Fuller House at all, or haven’t caught up, this is your warning that this review will be filled with spoilers.

The Tanner children are all grown up and following the template that was laid out for them when they were little. DJ (Candace Cameron Bure), Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), and Kimmy (Andrea Barber) are living in one house raising kids together. The previous season ends with the birth of Stephanie and Jimmy’s (Adam Hagenbuch) child, with Kimmy acting as surrogate. Now, in the first part of the finale season, Stephanie is a new mother and with being a new mother comes a whole new set of responsibilities. Not to mention that Steve (Scott Weinger), Jimmy and Fernando (Juan Pablo Di Pace) all go into a business venture together having bought out Uncle Monty’s sandwich shop.

In this season, we see a lot of familiar faces. We get Danny Tanner (Bob Saget), Uncle Jessie (John Stamos), Uncle Joey (Dave Coulier), as well as Matt (John Brotherton) and his WIFE Gia (Marla Sokoloff). As for the children, we see Ramona (Soni Bringas) and her new love interest Ethan (Noah Alexander Gerry), we get Jackson (Michael Campion) get back together with Rocki (Landry Bender) and Max (Elias Harger) being Max. They’ve all grown a lot since season 1, and while this first part of the season focused on the adults more, the children had their own interesting storylines.

Jackson, has shown a lot of maturity in this season so far, even helping Max understand that while Stephanie’s time isn’t as free, it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t still love her nephews. He’s also growing up which means that he isn’t always comfortable talking to his mom about his feelings, so when DJ works to get closer to him, she accidentally becomes his video game partner in a competition and they bond while also respecting the new boundaries and having a better understanding of their constantly evolving relationship.

Times That the Show Got Very Meta

  • Kirk Cameron, Candace Cameron Bure’s brother, guest starred as himself, and the entire time he did, they made jokes about how he was Jason Bateman, with DJ even calling him so at one point. There was another moment where she says something along the lines of “I never understood what was the big deal about Kirk Cameron.”
  • Matt, when dealing with the influence of a tranquilizer, begins singing the theme song and when asked by DJ what he is singing, he says “I don’t know, but it makes me feel happy inside.”
  • Jackson, Ramona and Max are in the attic looking for a baby naming dress when they start rifling through all the different items up there. Max, goes on to explain what different things are and informing the others that the family had eight years of meticulously curated home videos, i.e the original show Full House.
  • In the final episode of this first part, Danny Tanner looks at Kimmy, DJ, and Stephanie and says “It feels so good to have three daughters again.” This isn’t the first time that the show has not-so-subtly addressed the absence of the youngest Tanner child; Michelle (Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen).

While these references can be seen as fodder, meant to be nothing more than fan service, I ask, what is wrong with that? It’s the shows final season and with no sight of a sequel happening, I just see it as the writers keeping the new story lines active, while also giving nods to the past and what led them to even being able to do this show in the first place. I enjoyed this season so far, having even shed a few tears when Steve finally proposed to DJ because c’mon, this has been a long time coming to finally see this couple get engaged, it was a lot to take in. Granted, I should have seen the proposal coming because there was no way that the last episode of this first part was going to be focused on Kimmy and Fernando getting engaged, AGAIN.

It’s a cute show, that while it misses the mark that Full House hit when it comes to showing various life lessons throughout the episodes, hits the mark of being sentimental and feel good. The final end of this season will come some time this year, and I am looking forward to it. Even if it seems like it will have a chaotic journey considering there is going to be a wedding for three couples involved.

Have you guys watched Fuller House? A better question being, have you guys watched the original Full House? What did you guys think of this installment so far? What is your opinion on fan service? Let me know down below!

Naruto (2002-2007)

Naruto aired from 2002 to 2007

Overview

Since I will be giving my opinion on the entirety of the show, I will be giving a brief explanation for those who may not be familiar. However, I will still be leaving out a lot of the individual details for the sake of not making this three thousand pages long. Before doing this however, I will take a moment to explain some basic terms so no one gets confused.

  • Shinobi: a ninja, there are various types but they are all shinobi.
  • Jutsu: special skills that every ninja can use, also having various types.
  • Kage: A rank reserved to the leader of one of the five great hidden villages.
  • Sensei: teacher, mentor

Naruto is a young boy who has been ostracized his entire life up until this point and he didn’t know why. As the story goes, when he just a newborn, the leaf village was under attack by a powerful nine-tailed fox demon and the fourth hokage performed a ritual to seal the spirit of the demon into Naruto. This cost the fourth hokage his life, and the third hokage came out of retirement in order to lead the village once again. Returning to the present, the series begins with Naruto being tricked into stealing a valuable scroll from his own village, having been told that if he stole the scroll and then managed to learn one of the jutsus within it, he would be able to become a shinobi and leave the academy. Of course, this is all a lie and he ends up having to save his sensei Iruka. Thus began the adventures told in Naruto.

The rest of the series is seemingly one battle after another as he and his fellow shinobi face various opponents throughout the course of a little more than a year. Through the course of the show he grows a lot as an individual and acts as a true protagonist, leaving an imprint on everyone he helps and comes across. The show ends with him leaving with his Master Jiraiya in order to train to become a formidable shinobi, ready to deal with his next enemy; the akatsuki clan.

In the following section you will find my unfiltered thoughts concerning the show as a whole, so if you do not wish to be spoiled about anything, here’s your warning.

My thoughts

I haven’t watched an anime in a long time, but I have only ever heard such great things about this one that I finally caved and watched it. I have to say, I really enjoyed it. The battles were always really entertaining to watch, albeit some of the earlier ones felt as though they went on forever. Along the way we meet a lot of characters, villains, heroes, and those right in the middle. I came to learn how to understand what brings some individuals to do bad deeds, while there were others that I saw no humanity in them. The main trio for a while was that of Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura. Naruto and Sasuke seem to always be at odds, because Naruto is considerably a lot more jovial while Sasuka is in a constant state of contemplation and brooding.

When Sasuke chooses to leave the leaf village, I felt for Naruto because I knew that he doesn’t give up easily, especially on those he cares about but you cannot help someone who does not wish to be helped. As Sasuke said, he is on his own journey that no one can follow him on, but that didn’t mean that Sakura and Naruto weren’t going to try. There were moments throughout this show that I did feel my heart strings get tugged on, and there were parts that successfully creeped me out. I know a major complaint of this first installment of the series is how many filler episodes there are, but for me personally,I never truly mind fillers. They usually act as a good reprieve from the tension that the ongoing plot is providing, plus they add to the overall world of a show.

Characters I Adored & Characters I Didn’t

  • (+) Shikamaru: When we first are introduced to him, he doesn’t seem to be anything more than just some lazy kid but throughout this series I really came to enjoy his character. Especially his strategy skills and his loyalty to his friends. He is the only one of the group to move onto the next ranking due to his skills and I think that was well-suited to his character. He’s easily one of my favorites.
  • (-) Ino: Don’t get me wrong, she grows on me but it really isn’t until the end that I come to like her, when she chooses she wants to train and become a medical ninja. Other than that, I think she’s a very cliche character that is shown on more than one occasion to be self-absorbed and shallow. While I know that there is a lot more to her, since she is shown to be smart and thoughtful at times, I think her growth is overshadowed by her attitude.
  • (+) Kakashi: I was really disappointed when we didn’t see much of him towards the ending of the show, even in the end, he only showed up in the last ten minutes which was disappointing to me. He is another character that at first glance, he doesn’t seem to be all that much. There’s an air of mystery to him because we don’t know what he looks like fully due to his face mask, but other than that he looks pretty normal. Only to find out that he is super powerful and skilled and is known around the villages due to this.
  • (-/+) Sakura: In the beginning, I couldn’t stand her. She was made into being this annoying, dependent, needy girl that didn’t have anything particularly useful to offer during battle apart from her chakra control and ability to see through certain types of jutsus. However, I was very happy when the writers began giving her depth, having her become a medical ninja out of a want to be do more for those she goes on missions with. I really came to enjoy her character.
  • (+) Naruto: I don’t know, there’s something about him that keeps him charming the entire time. Perhaps it is his ability to go from rambling on about ramen, to protecting his friends with a ferocity that is unmatched. I understood pretty quickly why he was the hero of this story.
  • Some honorable mentions would be; Kiba, Temari, Gaara. I enjoyed their characters a lot, with Gaara intriguing me the most out of these three. Also, Jiraiya reminded me a lot of Miroku of Inuyasha and I’m sure you can all guess why.

Have any of you watched this show? Did you continue on to watch the next installments? I plan on continuing and watching Naruto: Shippūden, but that will definitely take some time considering how long the show is. Let me know in the comments if you are a fan of anime, and if so, which ones?

Arrow (2012-2020)

If you haven’t watched the latest and final season of the CW’s Arrow, this review will be filled with spoilers.

After 8 years, the finale of Arrow has come and gone. In this finale episode, we see a lot of faces we haven’t in awhile because as it turns out, Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) sacrifice during the crisis meant that those he loved would return, as though they had never died at all. These characters include; Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), Tommy Merlin (Colin Donnell), and Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne). Thea Queen (Willa Holland) asks why Oliver’s death didn’t bring back their father, and Moira gives a good explanation. He only brought back the people that wouldn’t change who he was and if his father hadn’t sacrificed himself for Oliver’s survival, there never would have been a Green Arrow.

It’s a tear-jerking episode filled with reunions. Mia Smoak (Katherine McNamara) was shown in the previous episode being reminded of everything she endured throughout this season by the appearance of Dinah (Julianna Harkavy) and Earth-2 Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy). After being reminded of her capabilities, she takes on the mantle of being the Green Arrow. Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) returns because William (Jack Moore) is kidnapped, and we get to watch her reactions to Oliver’s death. It’s gut-wrenching to say the least. Felicity brought something out of Oliver that no other character really could. While her character hasn’t always been likable, no one could argue that she became memorable. There’s something really strong about Oliver and Felicity, and to have watched this relationship grow from the very beginning, made it hurt even more watching her be sad about his death. It also made their reunion in the afterlife mean all that much more.

John Diggle (David Ramsey) is struggling to accept Oliver’s death, having been with him on this journey for the longest, followed closely by Felicity herself. They were brothers, and while they have dealt with their fair share of bumps in the road, their bond always recovered and remained strong. He is dealt a curve ball in this finale, presumably receiving a ring that glows green while he is in the process of moving to Metropolis. This could really only mean that he will become the Green Lantern, and I’m excited to see if anything comes out of this.

What Oliver Leaves Behind

He leaves behind children that we know grow up to become heroes themselves,a team that continue wanting to make changes in the world and continue to be heroes, and he leaves behind a city that is presumably safe. Though, on that note, it doesn’t seem like it will stay like that considering in 2040, there is now a new reality where Mia is engaged to Deathstroke, but she is unaware that he has just received his memories back. This will make things interesting for the sequel show that will be coming. What Oliver the character leaves behind? He leaves behind a series of shows that are all in the same universe, with heroes like the Flash, Supergirl, the Legends, etc. What has become known as the Arrowverse will live on thanks to the foundation that Arrow built. (Granted, there were superhero shows before this, like Smallville, but I digress.)

All in all, I think Arrow ended on a strong note, with a happy-ish ending. I say this because while everything seems golden now, we know that the future isn’t certain, and the safety of Star City can come into question. Felicity and Oliver reunite in the afterlife, Thea and Roy (Colton Haynes) are going to get married, Rene (Rick Gonzalez) is going to be mayor, and Felicity will not keep William and Mia apart so that they can grow up together. Who did we also get to see in this episode? Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law). We can recall that she and Oliver were married in the eyes of the League, and while she erased that marriage, she and Oliver came to lean on each other and trust each other. I really loved her character, the entire time.

That’s a wrap on Arrow, and it will always be a show that I hold fondly in my heart. There’s so much to talk about, not just about this final episode, but the show in it’s entirety but I don’t want this review to be five pages long. If you want to read my review on the previous season, here’s a link.

What did you guys think of the show, and more specifically, what did you guys think of the finale?

The Good Place (2016-2020)

If you have not watched the series finale to The Good Place, this is my warning to you. This review has a bunch of spoilers.

After four seasons, NBC’s The Good Place has ended. What makes this ending special, is that it was on the show’s terms. They were not cancelled, they did not reach a deadline–they chose to end the show after four seasons, believing the story had been told.

In the beginning, we were focusing on Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), a flawed human from Phoenix, Arizona who is told that she has made it into The Good Place due to her exemplary life back on Earth. It becomes increasingly clear to her, that there has been a mistake because she shouldn’t be here. She gets Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper) to help her become a better person, all the while Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto) is pretending to be a Tawainese monk who took a vow of silence, along with Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil) a wealthy philanthropist who actually believed that she was in the right place. The show becomes known for their plot twists, because the first season ends with us finding out that they are in fact, in The Bad Place being tortured by none other than Michael (Ted Danson), the architect they had come to trust.

In the end, the point system that was designed to determine where a human went after their life on Earth, is deemed broken and while the Judge (Maya Rudolph) has no qualms erasing all of humanity and simply starting over, the gang want to fix it. Revolutionizing the system, they fix it so that humans after they die, are able to be put through a series of tests all catered to their own personal flaws, and are given the opportunity to become better and earn their way to The Good Place. Once the five humans and Michael end up in the real Good Place, they discover that everyone there is mindlessly bored with paradise so they devise a new plan. Once in the Good Place, you are free to stay as long as you’d like, but if the day came that you wished to leave, and effectively end your journey all together, you could so by walking through a door. Their essence would be returned to the universe and they would cease to exist.

The finale itself caused many emotions to flood my system. We watched as each one of the humans eventually left The Good Place, choosing to walk through the door. Except for Tahani, who decided to become an architect. Michael was given the opportunity to go to Earth as a human and live out the rest of his mortal life, and eventually come through the system himself. Jason was the first one to be ready to go through the door, except in a slight twist, when Janet leaves him to walk through the door he ends up staying behind. Waiting for Janet to return, because he wanted to find the necklace he had made her. During the time that he was waiting, he ended up practically becoming Jianyu, the monk he was pretending to be in the beginning by using his time to think and consider the world around him.

Next came Tahani, who finally got the relationship with her parents that she always wanted, and when she believes she is ready to go through the door, she realizes instead that she wanted to be an architect. She is given this opportunity, and begins her training.

Chidi was the next human who was ready to go, and when Eleanor catches onto this, she takes him on a trip in the hopes of reminding him about things worth being excited over. He comes to decide to stay with her, so that she isn’t sad and at first, she is ecstatic about this but realizes that she was being selfish and that she owed it to him to let him go. William Jackson Harper would soon after give us a monologue that caused me to cry, that I recommend everyone watch the finale for this moment alone. Eleanor asks him for one last favor, and that is to be gone before she wakes up. He obliges, and he leaves a calendar behind that is him in various poses and outfits for the rest of time.

Eleanor continues searching for the one thing that will bring her that sense of calmness everyone was mentioning, and while she believes at first that it has to do with Mindy St. Claire (Maribeth Monroe) and persuading her to try and get into The Good Place. In the end, her last mission was to give Michael the chance to live as a human, considering his longtime fascination with them. When he is gone, she decides she is ready to go through the door–which leaves Janet being the only one left, and their final conversation made me laugh, while also cry.

The show ends with Eleanor walking through the door and her essence returning to the universe, we watch as a single speck from her essence floating through space until landing on a random human. We watched as he noticed something in his mail, and promptly throws it away. It is only when that speck lands on him does he decide to go through the trash and give the mail to the rightful owner, which turns out to be Michael. Then it’s over.

Overall, endings are never fun for me. They always leave me feeling achy and as though something is missing but as far as endings go, this one was really uplifting while also being sad. It was nice knowing that all of the characters got what they wanted in the end, to be with their loved ones and then to reach the point of being at peace, and while that can make the ones left behind (the audience) to feel rather sad, I thought it was fitting. This is how it feels when we lose loved ones, we are happy that they are at peace, and no longer dealing with anything negative, but we miss them so much. I will miss The Good Place but I am happy it ended before the story became repetitive.

What did you guys think of the series finale?

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Originally released on October 11th, 1974

Overview

As the story goes, a group of friends consisting of Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns), her brother Franklin (Paul A. Partain), Kirk (William Vail), Pam (Teri McMinn) and Jerry (Allen Danziger) are all traveling to check on Sally and Franklin’s grandfather’s grave to investigate reports of vandalism and grave robbing. They come upon a gas station that unfortunately had no gas, and they are forced to go to the grandfather’s house without refueling. Upon arrival, Pam and Kirk quickly venture off by themselves in search of a swimming hole, but inside they come upon a house that has a working generator–which leads them to want to ask the owner if they could buy some gasoline. This is where they meet Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) who wastes no time in killing the two of them, and butchering their bodies. Curious as to why their friends haven’t returned, Jerry follows their same path and inevitably meets their same demise.

Left alone, the two siblings Sally and Franklin argue about whether it is smarter to go and search for their friends or to try and find gasoline. Franklin, who is bound to a wheelchair, is all about trying to find gasoline until he realizes that they do not have the keys. Refusing to let Sally go by herself, he joins her and the two of them are subsequently caught by Leatherface, who kills Franklin first before chasing after Sally for what felt like forever. She ends up fleeing to the nearby gas station, only to find out that the owner, Drayton Sawyer (Jim Siedow) is actually apart of the same cannibalistic family as Leatherface, because he brings her back to the house where the hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) from earlier in the movie is also living. We find out that they all make up a family of insane cannibals. The last thirty minutes or so of this film is just Sally screaming and fighting for her life but she ends up escaping by climbing into the back of a pick up truck, leaving Leatherface to raise his chainsaw in anger as she gets away.

My thoughts

Even for a 70’s slasher flick, I think there was a lot of screaming. To the point that it was like nails on a chalkboard, it lasted so long. I’ve heard that this movie was terrifying, practically all of my life. To the point, that I put it aside for so long out of fear. When I finally chose to watch it, I had hyped it up so high that I gave myself no other choice than to end up disappointed. The parts where Leatherface is butchering the individuals were undeniably chilling, but they were no more scary than other movies. There lies my final conclusions about this film; what made The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) so scary wasn’t the chainsaw wielding cannibal, but in fact, the existence of his insane cannibalistic relatives. The hitchhiker being the creepiest one, Edwin Neal really did an amazing job making me uncomfortable anytime he was on the screen. He made it scary, with his unflinching portrayal of a deranged man who had no qualms about killing Sally, even mocking her the entire time she is understandably terrified.

It is undeniable that this film is a classic, and while on the surface it can seem like nothing more than your run of the mill slasher flick, I strongly believe that the horror lies in the family dynamics of the Sawyers.

What did you guys think of this one? Have you seen it, and if not, why?