Gravity Falls Review: “Into the Bunker” (S02E02)

If you’re new to the blog or just want to revisit from the beginning, click HERE to read the review for “Tourist Trapped”.

Previously on Gravity Falls:
Immediately following the return of the Mystery Shack, Stan Pines (or Grunkle Stan to his grand-niece and nephew) used the enigmatic Journals to activate a portal, which attracted the attention of some government agents. Dipper tried to recruit the agents in his search for the unknown, but they didn’t believe him until he accidentally summoned some flesh-hungry zombies that ruined the Mystery Shack’s grand re-opening party. After fending them off, Grunkle Stan revealed to Dipper and Mabel that he knew about the supernatural happenings in town and he was trying to protect the kids from them by pretending they didn’t exist. Stan returned Dipper’s Journal on the grounds that they don’t use it to look for trouble. But on learning that there are hidden entries and details written in invisible ink, the sense of adventure is too strong for the Mystery Twins to resist…

Dipper is at Wendy’s house watching a old cheesy horror movie they both have fun giving the MST3K treatment. When Wendy is bombarded by texts from Robbie begging her to give him another chance, Dipper asks if she’s seeing anyone. To his relief, the answer’s no. He attempts to ask her on a date, but at the last second he chickens out and instead asks her to join him and Mabel on their next mystery adventure.

The following morning as Grunkle Stan goes over the damage wreaked on the Mystery Shack from the other night’s zombie attack, Soos, Wendy, Dipper and Mabel locate the tree where Dipper first found Journal #3. Mabel spots a branch that looks suspiciously like a lever and Wendy uses her boss lumberjacking skills that she learned from her dad (who’s Manly Dan, by the way) to reach it. The tree lowers to reveal a spiral staircase leading underground. Dipper makes everyone promise not to tell a soul about what they find. Wendy shows it by zipping her lips, just as she did in The Inconveniencing to show Dipper he can trust her (remember that now). Before they head down, Mabel pulls Dipper aside and points out how especially happy he is to have Wendy there. Dipper insists he’s over his crush on Wendy, but Mabel’s got her skeptic-les on.

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And the best part is you don’t need a prescription for these.

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Gravity Falls Review: “Scary-oke” (S02E01)

If you’re new to the blog or just want to revisit from the beginning, click HERE to read the review for “Tourist Trapped”.

Welcome to Season 2 of Gravity Falls! What began as one man’s ode to the perfect summer his childhood self envisioned for himself and his sister has evolved into something greater. And what better day to return to it than on Alex Hirsch’s birthday? Let’s find out if Season 2 lives up to the hype.

Previously on Gravity Falls:
After finally reclaiming the Mystery Shack from their arch-nemesis Lil’ Gideon, twelve year-old twins Dipper and Mabel Pines and their seemingly clueless Grunkle Stan have moved back in and are about to reopen Gravity Falls’ favorite tourist trap. Grunkle Stan has taken Dipper’s mysterious Journal for his own unclear purposes. Combining them with the two other Journals, one of which he had been hiding all along, he has used their knowledge to begin operating a mysterious portal deep within the bowels of the Mystery Shack.

That very night, as the inhabitants of Gravity Falls sleep, Stan activates the portal. As the power slowly begins to build, Stan reminds himself he has to keep playing it cool so nobody will suspect a thing. Sure that there’s no one who can put a dent in his plans, especially now that he’s come so close to his goals, he puts the machine into overdrive.

But Stan isn’t the only one awake.

Miles away a government facility picks up activity the likes of which they haven’t seen in thirty years. And it’s coming from the one place that’s been on their radar since then – Gravity Falls, Oregon.

…Intro time!

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June Review: Clash of the Titans (1981)

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material.)

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“As long as man shall walk earth and search the night sky in wonder, they will remember the courage of Perseus forever. Even if we the gods are abandoned and forgotten, the stars shall never fade.”
– Zeus

I can’t recall if I ever mentioned it before, but I’m big on fairy tales, folktales and myths. I’ve always been fascinated by how different cultures interpret familiar stories, or use them to relay well-worn morals or their take on how the world was formed. When I was a kid a friend of my parents gave me a copy of D’Auliere’s Greek Myths (which is a must-own for anyone who enjoys these classic stories) and I ate it up like the diminutive bookworm I was, but it wasn’t my first exposure to the pantheon of Greek legends. No, that was a film I saw when I was just seven years old, one that has left an indelible imprint on the collective subconscious of anyone exposed to it at a young age and has since become a cult classic for its take on one of the most famous Greek myths of all time.

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Now I wouldn’t call Hercules one of my top ten favorite Disney films, but its zany animation, fun characters and catchy music make for a fun viewing experience. Of course, being Disney, they left out all the family-unfriendly aspects of the original tale and reshaped it into what’s essentially a modern-Grecian take on the Superman/Moses story, but I’m not one to complain about that. You try making an animated film where the main character kills his wife and family in a bout of insanity brought on by his jealous stepmother and literally works himself to death trying to make up for it. Truth be told, about 90% of Greek myths involving heroes follow a similar plot – Zeus gets it on with a mortal, has a child out of wedlock, said mortal gets punished by Zeus’ wife Hera (because victim blaming really is a centuries-old practice), and the new demigod is gifted with special powers or weapons to fight tons of foes but still winds up with a fairly ironic and tragic demise. The one exception to this is the story of Perseus, which is the basis of the film we’ll be looking at today.

Now mythology is no stranger to the man behind Clash of the Titans, legendary stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen. His other notable Greek outing, Jason and the Argonauts, is considered one of the most thrilling sword and sandal epics to have held up for the past fifty years, and is worth seeing for the skeleton battle alone (it also happens to be the favorite film of Sheriff Woody himself, Tom Hanks). In addition he created and animated puppets for the original Mighty Joe Young, the Sinbad movies, One Million Years BC, and more. Though he never directed any of them, these movies are forever associated with the name Harryhausen. CGI would eventually come along to push new boundaries in the field of effects animation, but his work has left an indelible imprint on many a future filmmaker, with big names like Pixar and Tim Burton namedropping him in some their own films. For a time Steven Spielburg even considered bringing many of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park to life using stop-motion, clearly inspired by the dinosaurs that were featured in Harryhausen’s works.

Clash of the Titans was the last film Harryhausen made before he went into retirement, and it holds all his trademarks, both good and bad. So, did his career end on a high note, or does the movie fall to pieces like a poorly made Play-Doh sculpture? Let’s find out.

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Gravity Falls Shorts: Dipper’s Guide to the Unexplained

My last post on the Gravity Falls shorts produced during the series’ long hiatus focused about three disparate mini-series with only two shorts each. This one (and the next) had considerably more longevity with six shorts to their name. As much as I would have liked to have seen more of the previous ones, I understand that there’s only so many gags and short story ideas you can milk from a handful of secondary characters.

These shorts are framed as vlogs shot by Dipper chronicling some of the smaller unexplained mysteries of Gravity Falls. Also each one seems to end with a piece of a mysterious photo from the Journal…

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Your Movie Review for June Is…

Happy first day of June everyone! Apart from my crappy job, May was a lot of fun. I celebrated my birthday by being treated to the best homemade dulce de leche cake ever baked, started planning my next Disney World trip, and received some lovely feedback from longtime readers and followers. Thanks, guys!

Also, something interesting happened concerning the votes for this month’s review. Ties aren’t a common occurrence here but they have happened before, and now is another one of those times. Normally if there is one, I pick the winner from a hat. This time, however, the two movies in question are ones that would normally never get the spotlight when pit against most of the other films on the Shelf. Looking over both features I realized there’s so much I’d love to discuss, critique, and even joke around with that I couldn’t possibly decide between them. So, I’m making a bit of an unorthodox decision by reviewing one movie this month and the other in July. So this time around, we’re going to be voting for what’ll be reviewed in August. Everything still applies, one vote per person, perks with a charity donation, the whole shebang.

And now, your Movie Review for June is…
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Gravity Falls Shorts: Mabel’s Scrapbook, Fixin’ It With Soos, & Gravity Falls TV

I ended my last Gravity Falls review by pointing out a whole year passed between Season One’s finale and Season Two’s premiere. That gave plans plenty of time to form their own theories on the Falls’ biggest mysteries and lament the prolonged lack of new episodes. They weren’t completely starved for new content, however. During that long hiatus, Alex Hirsch and the Gravity Falls team produced a series of interstitial shorts for the Disney Channel and online. These vlog-style shorts provide equal doses of humor, mystery and charm in only a few short minutes. Also, keeping with Hirsch’s stellar continuity record, select things from the shorts either make appearances or play an integral role in future episodes. This is the reason why I’ll be looking at them in the weeks leading up to the return of full episode reviews. It won’t be your average in-depth review with call back and hilarity categories, just a minor retrospective with my thoughts. Let’s begin, shall we?

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May Review: Singin’ in the Rain

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material.)

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So…Singin’ in the Rain.

Considered by critics, historians and movie buffs alike to be the greatest musical ever made.

 

Go see it.

 

 

NOW.

 

 

 

 

Seriously, what are you still doing here reading my ramblings? You’re better off spending the next hour and forty-two minutes watching the film yourself.

 

 

…well, you came this far, didn’t you?

 

I’d hate to hype up this movie too much since it already has such a lofty reputation, but I can swear a solemn oath that its reputation is one that it has well and truly earned. I count my first viewing as one of those times where I looked at a classic film and said “Yeah, bring it on,” but minutes later was completely hooked.

It all began when Arthur Freed, famed musical producer for MGM, tasked songwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green to create a film using only well-established tunes from previous MGM musicals to show off their catalogue of hit songs.

In other words, the Greatest Movie Musical of All Time is in fact a jukebox musical.

So why is it that this movie gets all the praise (which it deserves, might I add) while films like Mamma Mia…don’t?¬†Well for one thing, they put time and effort into crafting the story and how the songs play into it. They don’t use the elaborate musical numbers as a distraction from a wafer-thin plot or characters like some other movies I could mention.

Second, all the songs featured have become standards for a reason. Each one is an ear worm from start to finish. Though they’ve been featured in other movies, how they’re utilized here all but eclipsed their previous incarnations.

Third, it is funny. And I mean laugh-out-loud, every-line-hits-its-mark, future-screenwriters-please-watch-this-to-learn-how-to-write-good-crack-up-dialogue funny.

Fourth, let’s talk about Gene Kelly.

I have…mixed feelings when it comes to Gene Kelly and his works. Have you ever seen a movie that blew you away so much that any in the same anthology or of a similar caliber simply, for whatever reason, failed to match the same experience you had before? I’ve had that happen to me twice – once when I tried to watch the other Mad Max movies after seeing Fury Road, and again with most of Kelly’s films after Singin’ in the Rain. Kelly was an incredible dancer and choreographer; some might even say he was to dance on film the way Walt Disney was to animation. Talent and praise can go to your head if left unchecked however, and Kelly LOVED to show off his moves, even at the expense of the story. If you ever decide to play a drinking game when watching one of his movies, don’t drink whenever he stops the film just so he can dance. You won’t make to the end credits. Don’t get me wrong, I adore musicals and a good dance break is always welcome if it’s entertaining enough, but Gene indulges himself one too many times even for me. Also, if you know anything about him behind the scenes, the horror stories are sadly true. The man wasn’t a perfectionist, he was a full-blown diva. Both cast and crew lived in fear of his tantrums should one step fall out of place. Singin’ in the Rain is no exception to either of these truths, but one, you couldn’t tell by the great chemistry on screen, and two, with the exception of one or two moments, the dancing is so well integrated in the narrative that to cut any of it would be a detriment to the film. There are moments that left me slackjawed at how fluid and lively the choreography is. I can’t recall any other musical that has left me the same way regarding to that aspect.

Well, enough of my buildup, let’s look at that silver screen classic, Singin’ in the Rain.

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Your May Review Is…

Hey everyone.

Pardon me if I’m not entirely enthusiastic today. Apparently someone thought it was a good idea to tweet my thoughts on the Indians from last month’s review of Peter Pan to Donald Trump, and now he’s been bugging me for the past few weeks to join his cabinet. As such, I’ve been lying low somewhere that neither a millenial or one of his supporters would think to tread.

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“I’m guessing either a library or a mosque.”

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“HA! FINALLY FOUND YOU!”

What the – how?!

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“Wherever Cynicism goes, we’re usually not far behind. That’s the power of the internet for you.”

And let me guess, you’re going to call me out on my opinions too?

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“No! We’re here to stop you from accepting the position! We don’t need any more vile self-serving racists in the government than we do now!”

I DON’T EVEN WANT THE STINKING JOB!!

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“But we’ve already circulated several petitions around the internet that are amassing signatures as we speak.”

Can’t you all just leave me in peace to announce this month’s review?

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“All right, but as long as it’s not something controversial.”

Thank you. And now, your review for the month of May is…

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