Beauty and the Beast Review

Tale as old as time, true as it can be . . .

Last Friday, Disney released their highly anticipated live-action remake of the seminal classic Beauty and the Beast. Millions of people rushed to the theaters to check out the beloved fairy tale, myself included.

It’s safe to say there has been a lot of controversy surrounding it. Many people have actually been debating whether it’s worth seeing at all. In the movie review, I’ll be discussing the movie and whether all the controversy is really worth the hub bub.

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Beauty and the Beast tells the story of Belle (Emma Watson) a bright young woman who doesn’t fit in with her townsfolk. Her life is fairly boring, filled with the usual things like cleaning her laundry and gardening. Belle is an inventor though so she makes a washing machine so that she can have more time for her favorite thing: reading. After dodging a marriage proposal from the arrogant war veteran Gaston (Luke Evans,) Belle gets swept up into a fairy tale like no other when she comes face to face with her father’s captor, the Beast (Dan Stevens.)

The movie sticks pretty close to the 1991 animated film. A lot of the scenes, including the first song “Belle,” are identical to their animated counterparts. Other scenes are slightly different but maintain the charm and excitement as the original. Classic songs like “Be Our Guest,” “Gaston” and “Beauty and the Beast” are stunning scenes, both exciting and well-done. Several new songs were added but only one stood out to me. It’s called Evermore and the Beast sings it shortly after Belle leaves to find her father. Not only was it a good song in general, it fit in with the story and the other music.

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As far as singing goes, everyone was alright. Emma Watson had a lovely voice. It was a little weak, which isn’t terrible for a movie. If this was a stage production of the story, she would not be the best fit, but she did fine for the movie. Luke Evans and Josh Gad, who plays Lefou, were simply wonderful. Both are very strong vocalists, which really isn’t a surprise due to the fact both of them have their background in theatre. However, I enjoyed Luke Evans more in the second half of the movie. During the first half of the film, his Gaston was a little too mopey for my taste.  He did start to make his Gaston a little crueler during the final parts of the movie. Dan Stevens did a good job as well, but certainly did not have the same level of vocal training that his co-stars did. It was mostly that his voice didn’t sound as perfect or well-trained, which was nice. The Beast is a rough character and an angelic voice wouldn’t have suited the character. Emma Thompson, who played Mrs. Potts, sounded wonderful singing the movie’s iconic “Beauty and the Beast.”  Lumiere was played by Ewan McGregor, who is a wonderful singer. I particularly love listening to him in the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. Of course he delivered for the most part during “Be Our Guest.” His French accent, though, was not very good at certain points. At some parts, it sounded more Mexican than French. The scene is gorgeous though, so it makes up for any error on Ewan’s part.

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The movie is about two hours long, which makes it longer than the animated film. Some people were saying that time was not well-spent, and in a way it wasn’t. Some of the scenes they added were great. They gave Belle and the Beast more time to get to know each other . . . They did more than throw a couple of snow balls at each other. We see them discussing books. They debate over which one of Shakespeare’s plays is the best. Belle also catches him reading King Arthur and they talk about that for a little bit. They even talk about Belle’s mother. Her father refused to tell her what happened to her mother and Belle talks to the Beast about it. I really liked that they added those scenes because it makes their romance plausible. Let’s be real, guys . . . It would take a lot more than chasing birds in a garden to fall in love.  Aside from that, there was a scene though that I felt was a little unnecessary, but it didn’t take up too much time.

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A lot of people have been wondering about Belle’s character. Emma Watson is a strong Feminist, who only agreed to do the film if Belle’s character was slightly altered. Belle is a lot more practical, switching out her ballet for boots. She also is an inventor, a role which belonged to her father in the original film. She certainly is a lot more active than she was in the original, attempting to fight Gaston for a brief second in the final battle. She is certainly a strong character who knows what she wants. In the beginning, she tells Gaston she doesn’t want to get married at all. The fact that she is a more “feminist” character doesn’t take away from the romance though. It’s just as sweeping and touching as the first one. Belle isn’t a man hater, and isn’t always confident. She even tells a character that she doesn’t know what she wants at one point. Belle is flawed but strong . . . She doesn’t have her life pulled together perfectly and she doesn’t block out the support of other people. In fact, I think the changes made her more of a role model for girls who sometimes confuse being a feminist with being a man hater who is always self-reliant.

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Of course, the biggest controversy surrounding the film was when the director, Bill Condon, announced to the world that Lefou was gay. Actor Josh Gad supported this claim. I went into the film looking for the gay scene promised by the director and was a little surprised. There is hardly any evidence suggesting that his character is gay, and the parts that could possibly support it could also go as a guy who simply doesn’t want to lose his friend to a girl. The only reason those scenes could come off as gay was because we have been told so. A young child going in to see the movie would hardly notice it. I think the whole issue was over blown and people were freaking out over something that is hardly there.

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Beauty and the Beast was a fun film. It’s a tale as old as time and will give nostalgic audience member a little taste of a story that they have grown to love. The film is extravagant and romantic and a brilliant way to reintroduce the story to a younger generation.

I am giving the film a B+ rating. It was fun, romantic, and filled with beautiful music. Luke Evans small failure of providing a more boisterous Gaston and a couple of unnecessary scenes took off a few points. Overall, it’s a great movie to go see, especially with the family.

Much Love!

BELLE SIGNATURE

 

 

Valentine’s Day Music

 

Hey Guys,

Oh my word! It’s been so long! I am so sorry I haven’t posted anything on here since . . . October? Wow! All I can say is that I was really busy and had to take care of a lot of stuff on my plate. Luckily, I have the time to post something on here unto I can write something with a little more content.

Last year (or was it the year before that?) I did a summer songs playlist and it was really popular. I had you guys send in suggestions and I made something for you guys to listen to. Since I wanted to post this as soon as possible,  I am just going to pick some I like. If you want to send in suggestions, please leave them in the comments! 🙂

Alright! Let’s get started.

All of Me ~ John Legend: Okay, this song is the ultimate love song. He wrote it for his wife and sang it for her on their wedding day, which is seriously the cutest thing ever. The lyrics are heartfelt and sweet. This song deserves a place on your playlist!

 

Only Us ~ Dear Evan Hansen: This song is from a new musical on Broadway and I’m obsessed. The musical tells the story of a teenager who has to cope with some difficult circumstances in his life. This sweet love song really touches my heart and I hope it does the same for you.

 

Can’t Help Falling In Love With You ~ Elvis Presley: I’d be surprised if you hadn’t heard this song. Not only is it beautiful, it’s simple and basically captures what it’s like to fall in love with someone. It was originally sung by Elvis Presley, but many people have covered it. Click here to see one of my favorite covers.

 

I’ll Wait For You ~ Moriah Peters and Joel Smallbone: I am obsessed with this song, guys. What  makes it even better is that Moriah and Joel are actually married in real life! It talks about their love story and how they had to wait for each other and true love. It’s kinda mushy but hey! I love mushy!

 

Make You Feel My Love ~ Adele: This song doesn’t need an explanation. It speaks for itself.

 

Tear In My Heart ~ Twenty One Pilots: I am not the Biggest Twenty One Pilots fan in the world, but I found it interesting that out of all the songs they’ve ever released, this is the only love song. It was penned by Tyler Joseph, the lead singer, for his wife, who is featured in the music video. Although the song isn’t a conventional love song, it really grows on you.

 

In Your Eyes ~ Peter Gabriel: This song is a major throwback, yet is one of my favorite songs on this list. I love Peter Gabriel’s voice as well as the lyrics he wrote.

 

Helpless ~ Hamilton: You thought I wasn’t going to throw in a Hamilton song, huh? This song tells the story of how Eliza Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton met, fell in love and got married. It’s catchy and sweet, and it possibly one of my favorite songs from the hit musical.

 

All I Ask of You ~ Phantom of the Opera: This is the last song from a musical on this list, and it is quite possibly one of the most beautiful showtunes ever written. Most theatre fans have this one memorized, but even if you don’t like theatre, you should enjoy listening to this one.

 

I Love You Too Much ~ The Book of Life: Although this song is from a kids movie, I absolutely love it. It’s so sweet and romantic. Diego Luna, from Rogue One, sings it.

 

Faithfully ~ Journey: If you told me I had to pick one song from my list to be my favorite,  it would be this one. I can listen to this song over and over again without getting tired of it. It talks about how being in a relationship while touring on the road is difficult, but how he is willing to stand by her side no matter what.

 

That’s it!

I hope you guys enjoy some of these songs, whether you’re single or in a relationship this Valentine’s Day.

Much Love,

Isabelle

 

 

 

 

Why I Love Jane Eyre

Life doesn’t always turn out as expected and Jane Eyre’s is a living testament to it (or fictional testament. Whatever.)

Most of you have probably have at least heard of Jane Eyre. And if you haven’t. . . Uh, how do you tell someone that something is wrong with them in the nicest way possible?

Anyhow, today I am going to be talking about why I love Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte’s famous gothic novel about love, morals and finding out who you are. Here’s a brief recap of the story.

Jane was orphaned at very young age, and ended up living with her Aunt, who hated her. She then got shipped off to Lowood School, where she was mistreated by almost everyone, except her best friend Helen. Several years later, Jane is going to accept a new job at a mysterious manor called Thornfield, where she will be tutoring the master’s ward.  The house is gorgeous, but something about it just off . . . Weird, ghoulish things keep happening, and to make matters more complicated, she’s become very good friends with Mr. Rochester, her employer/master. As things turn romantic, Jane must come to terms with Rochester’s ugly past, her own beliefs and principles, as well deciding what she wants to do after everything seems to fall apart.

Now, let’s get into the good stuff . . . Why do I love Jane and her story?

For starters, I think she is the perfect role-model. Her life has been hard, and even though it comes back to haunt her at some points, she manages to stay strong and to hold onto her pride. She also knows what she believes, and is completely unwilling to compromise, even when the temptation is so strong.

She’s also not perfect or cliché. A lot of heroines are all the same . . . gorgeous but doesn’t realize it . . . different in a way that’s ordinary. Jane isn’t like that though. Author Charlotte Bronte makes it clear that she’s not particularly pretty and that’s she’s not really talented. She doesn’t possess extraordinary abilities . . . She’s normal. Her normality is what is makes her so special to me.

Another reason I love Jane Eyre is the actual text. Charlotte Bronte is such a graceful writer. Her words are beautiful, making me laugh and cry. You guys have possibly heard some quotes from Jane Eyre for the book has some of the most famous from victorian age literature.

Here are some of my favorites:

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Jane Eyre is not only a book. It has been adapted into multiple movies and television specials, as well as a YouTube web series. Below, I’ll tell you a couple of my favorites.

Jane Eyre BBC miniseries (2006):

This is probably my favorite adaption of the story. For the most part, it stays close to the book. My favorite part of this adaption is the talented actors they have. Ruth Wilson plays Jane Eyre, and she’s literally perfect for the role. She’s passionate and delivers her lines perfectly. Her chemistry with the actor who plays Mr. Rochester, Toby Stephens. Ah! They’re so amazing together! I feel like a lot of the actors that play the duo are slightly bland, so these two actors are my favorites to play the parts ever.

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The Autobiography of Jane Eyre (2013 – 2014):

Remember when The Lizzie Bennet Diaries set off a wave of modern literary web series? Well, I do. The Autobiography of Jane Eyre was one of the many web series that came out of the trend, and it’s one of the better ones. Jane Eyre is set in the modern era, and tells her story to a camera, featuring guest appearances of all the classic characters. Although it’s not perfect, the actors and dialogue are strong. The only issue I have with it is that the ending is a little off. Yes, it matches the original story, but it’s not exactly the romantic, dramatic conclusion I expected. Check it out!  It’s pretty cool!

Jane Eyre: The Musical:

Yes! There is a musical! It went to Broadway back in 2000, and although it did well critically, it didn’t do so well financially. The score, composed by Frank Wildhorn, is gorgeous though and deserves so much more recognition. I recommend that all my fellow theatre buff check out the soundtrack. For the playlist, click here.

So, anyhoo! Thank you all for reading. I hope that you check out the book, or possibly one of the adaptations I suggested. Jane Eyre holds a very special place in my heart, and I want everyone to love her and her story just as much as I do!

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Art Work by WhitePhoenix11 on from Deviant Art.

Much Love,

BELLE SIGNATURE

 

 

Miss. Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children Movie Review

Jacob is a normal kid, and he’s kind of tired of it. He’s stuck living in a small town in Florida, stocking the shelves in a grocery store. The only bit of excitement he ever got was when his Grandfather, Abe, used to tell him stories about how he used to fight monsters and his friends, a strange bunch of kids living at a children’s home for people with powers. Jacob is sixteen now, and he doesn’t believe the whimsical tales anymore. Grandpa Abe is disappointed, but continues to have an undying faith in his grandson. However, Jacob’s life takes a crazy turn when his Grandpa gets hurt by a mysterious presence, which he claims to be a monster. What does dying Grandpa Abe do? Request that Jacob goes to the home he told him about. Things get even weirder when Jacob sees something looming in the woods behind him in his Grandpa. Of course, he must be crazy right? The monsters from the stories don’t exist! Don’t they?

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Miss. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a strange story. Based on the book by author Ransom Riggs, it tells the edgy and slightly creepy story of a bunch of children that can do the most incredible things. I wrote a review on the book a few months ago, and if you’d like to read it, click here.

The movie was directed by the visionary Tim Burton, the king of peculiar and funky movies. You might recognize the titles of some of his other films like Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and the recent Alice in Wonderland series. When I first heard the wacky director was going to be steering the Miss. Peregrine film, I was happy. He was the perfect fit for the story. Still, part of me was worried. Most people can agree that Tim Burton’s latest endeavors haven’t been the best, so I was fearful that they’d ruin the story that I love so much. Lucky for, he didn’t.

 

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Left to right: Finlay Macmillion as Enoch, Ella Purnell as Emma, Asa Butterfield as Jacob, Milo Parker as Hugh, Pixie Davies as Brownwyn, Rafiella Chapman as Claire, Joseph Odwell as the twins, Georgia Pemberton as Fiona, Hayden Keeler-Stone as Horace, Lauren McCrostie as Olive and Cameron King as Millard.

 

The storyline in the movie was similar to the book. Jacob bands up with the peculiar kids to save the day, but how Tim approached it was different. He made some of the kids older in the book, most noticeably Enoch. I loved Enoch in the book, and I loved his power (or peculiarity as the movie calls them.) When they first introduced him, I was like “noooooo” but as the film progressed, I decided it was a very tasteful decision on Tim Burton’s part. Olive got older, and she switched her powers with Emma. Emma could float, making Olive have pyrokinetic abilities. The first half of the film was exactly like the book, except for the changes mentioned above. However, the second half went completely off track. It wasn’t bad. It was interesting and the changes made sense . . . It was just different from the book.

As far as the acting goes, it was pretty good. Eva Greene played Miss. Peregrine, the wicked cool and crazy Mary Poppins like figure with a crossbow. Yeah, she was awesome. Asa Butterfield played Jacob, and he was okay. Asa is generally a good actor, but I have seen stronger performances on his part. Ella Purnell was a sweetheart, and I loved her as  Emma. The biggest qualm I have acting-wise concerns the main villain (whose name I shall not spoil!) who was played by Samuel L. Jackson. I’m pretty sure we can all agree that Samuel L. Jackson is awesome, but he wasn’t right for the part. They needed an actor that could have channeled more creepiness, someone like Johnny Depp.

 

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Eva Greene as Miss. Peregrine

 

Should you go see Miss. Peregrine? I think so! Personally, I like creepy and strange movies that Tim Burton creates, but not everyone does. I wouldn’t take a younger kid because some scenes can be scary due to the inherent strangeness of the story. If you don’t like Tim Burton style stuff, maybe it isn’t for you . . . Still, I’d check it out, but maybe that’s because I loved the book.

Critics are saying that if this movie saga continues, it could be the next big teen franchise out there, following others like Harry Potter  and the Hunger Games (though I think there is a slim chance that it’ll be as commercially successful as Harry Potter.)

Anyhoo, check it out one rainy Saturday (we’ve been having a lot of those in MA lately.)

Thanks for reading! And stay peculiar! Being peculiar is something to be proud of. ❤

Much Love,

BELLE SIGNATURE

 

 

Book Review: Ketchup Clouds

I’ve noticed a trend amongst most of the young adult novels in the Media Center of my school.

Yes. Those books, stacked proudly near the door, practically begging to be made into mediocre summer flicks. You guys know what type of book I’m talking about, right? Basically, they go like this: guy and girl fall in love, but something tragically gets in the way and someone dies and another contracts cancer and they have to separate.

Let me list a few . . .

The Fault in Our Stars . . . Paper Towns . . . If I Stay . . .

Yeah, those books.

Anyhow, one day I was wandering through the Media Center and I pulled one of those types of books off the shelf. I had an hour until I had to go to Oliver rehearsals, so what better was there for me to do than speed read this book.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you . . . Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher, and to be honest, it wasn’t that bad.

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Ketchup Clouds tells the story of a girl, whose real name we don’t know. She goes by Zoe though, and she lives on 1 Fiction Road. To an outside person, Zoe seems like a normal girl, and in a way, she is. However, one thing about Zoe is different.

Zoe is a murderer.

And she tells her story to Stuart, a man on death row who she found on a pen pal site. He never responds, but she keeps writing, knowing that he’ll understand.

This all started when she gets invited to the school’s most popular boy named Max’s house for a party. At the party, she meets two guys . . . Aaron, a mysterious guy who really wants to travel the world, and the host of the party, Max, a sporty kid who is somewhat shallow. Zoe initially likes Aaron more, but when she sees him hugging a girl, she reluctantly starts dating Max. Still, her feelings for Aaron are always nagging her in the back of her brain.

When things get out of hand, Zoe falls into a world she never imagined existed, one that’s filled with guilt and crushed dreams.

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One of the reasons I enjoyed this book was because of the title. Ketchup Clouds are a metaphor. The ketchup, which is red, stands for blood and the clouds stand for innocence. Zoe grows up rapidly over the course of her story, and describes it in great detail to Stuart. She gets thrust into something that the average person would never have happen to them. She must juggle the guilt and the loneliness that one fatal action dumped onto her.

I feel bad for Zoe. I really do. Even though I have never killed someone (and I don’t plan on it,) I could sympathize with Zoe. What she had to do was difficult, and it broke her heart. In the end, the pain got doubled, and not just because she killed someone.

The thing that made the book as a whole stand out a little bit is the fact that Zoe’s family was very much involved in the book. Usually, the parents and siblings of these characters are mentioned, but are very aloof. They don’t show up a whole lot . . . They simply are not main characters. In Ketchup Clouds, The parents are main players that really push the story forward in several instances.

Here is my favorite quote from the story:

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Should you read Ketchup Clouds? Mmm . . . I think so. Even though it is just a young adult novel lost in the millions of titles out there, it was interesting and heartfelt.

It shouldn’t be on the absolute top of your must read list, but if you have the time some lazy Saturday, go pick it up. I think you’ll like it.

Much Love,

BELLE SIGNATURE

 

Summer Reading: Bully

Hello Everyone!

I am so sorry I haven’t posted in a while! Yes, life has been extremely busy. My family recently bought a house, and there are tons of renovations being done, so we are all sleeping out on mattresses in the living room. This Monday I’m leaving for camp, which really made me want to post at least once before I leave.

Today, I am reviewing a book that’s a little different from the other books I’ve talked about. Bully: A True Story of Highschool Revenge by Jim Schutze falls into the true crime genre. For those of you who don’t know what a true crime book is, it’s pretty self-explanatory  . . . The author tells the story of a true crime, delving into all the details of the victim, the killer (s), the history of the location, and the trial. Be wary though . . . accuracy isn’t always the author’s priority. Sometimes true crime books are extremely accurate (like the one I’m going to tell you about,)  but many others can elaborate, exaggerate, or minimize for drama’s sake.

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Now that you are familiar with true crime, let’s get started.

Lisa Connelly was unhappy with herself. She considered herself fat, unpopular and unlovable. However, when her friend Ali set her up on a date with the handsome bad-boy “stud” Marty Puccio, things seem to be looking up. Lisa and Marty fell in love, even though he physically abused her on occasion.

Lisa attributed this to Marty’s best friend, Bobby Kent. Bobby was even more violent than Marty, going to the point of hurting, bribing, and threatening him. Finally, the angry and insecure Lisa made a decision that Bobby Kent, the bully, must go.

However, Lisa and Marty weren’t the only people who wanted Bobby Kent dead . . .

What’s really fascinating about Bully: A True Story of Highschool Revenge is that actually happened. Yes, I totally can understand how it feels to be insecure and angry, but I cannot fathom someone resorting to murder because of the anger inside of them. However, people do feel like that’s their only way out, and even though it’s certainly not an excuse, but it’s still something to be sympathetic over. Still, they deserve whatever punishment that they got, and that’s what we’re going to talk about next.

Another thing about this story that fascinates me is the trial. Seven teenagers were involved in this murder, and got different degrees of punishment depending on their involvement with the crime. Most of the teenagers, including Marty Puccio and Lisa Connelly plead not guilty, resulting in life in prison sentences. I find it shocking that they plead not guilty, and their lawyer’s arguments were incredibly interesting.

 

It’s an intense book with lots of language and other somewhat mature elements. Basically, this is a book that’s interesting and takes a lot of thinking. The author does a beautiful job of portraying each of the characters as the evil people they are, but opens the window for a little bit of sympathy.

As far as accuracy, most of my research indicates it is. I’ve read several articles, and watched a documentary on the case because I found it so interesting.

The book asks and then answers several fascinating questions . . . What drives someone to believe that murder is the only way to relieve whatever’s bothering them? Why were they so reluctant to get help from somewhere else? What compels someone to stay in an abusive relationship and blame it on someone else?

Should you read Bully: A True Story of Highschool Revenge

Gosh, I don’t know. Like I said earlier, it’s an intense book with some mature elements. These kids that schemed to kill their friend weren’t nice little kids that had been taught to respect adults and be kind to others. These kids are well . . . bad, and bad kids do things that are very much wrong other than murder.

Bully: A True Story of Highschool Revenge fascinates me, and if you chose to pick it up, I think it’ll fascinate you too.

Much Love,

BELLE SIGNATURE

 

 

Finding Dory Review

Hello Everyone,

Today, I’m going to take a break from my Summer Reading series to do a little movie review!

I’m going to talk about a movie that has been receiving so much critical and commercial success. Yes, I’m talking about Finding Dory.


I’m going to shock you all…

This movie stunk.

Yeah, everyone else seems to adore it, but it failed to impress me. It’s not that I’m against animated films or Pixar films (Monsters Inc. and The Incredibles are some of my all-time favorite movies.) It’s simply that it wasn’t good.

The movie tells the story of the forgetful Dory (voiced by Ellen Degeneres) and her quest to find her parents, who she lost several years prior.

Of course, the animation was lovely…All the characters seemed super realistic. Also, the actors were very suiting for all their characters.


Now, let’s get into the good stuff…

Finding Dory was stereotypical. Everything about the story-line was cliché and predictable. At several points in the film, I figured out what was happening way before hand.

It also didn’t branch out from the first movie… There were several of the same plot points…The small fishes getting chased by a hungry, larger animal…A sarcastic side-kick that desperately wants to escape his current living situation…

Sounds familiar?

Another thing I want to talk about is the characters. Dory, who, in her own way, is now an icon proves super annoying in her movie. She’s no longer funny to watch, and her forgetful antics grow frustrating to watch.

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New characters were introduced…They didn’t stand out in any particularly way. They only one that was funny was Gerald the sea lion, and he was in it for only a minute.

 

 

In conclusion, I didn’t really like this film. Maybe I’m just really biased…I don’t know . . .

It can be hard to find movies for the whole family to see. A lot of the movies these days are riddled with language, gory violence, and sexual innuendos, so when a movie comes out that is free from most of the things, everyone rushes to go see it.

Would I recommend it?

Mmm…I guess. It’s fairly clean, so it’s good for the family.

Just don’t expect some great masterpiece.