How a snowman gave me new hope for Star Wars (FROZEN SPOILERS WITHIN)

AKA a pseudo review of Frozen (with SPOILERS) that lead me to writing this rant about the up and coming Star Wars films.

It took me a while to get out and see Frozen, and I admit it took some prompting before I gave it a chance. With the occasional exception, there have been some serious misses in the recent Disney playlist for me. I was raised in the Disney revival of the late 80’s and early 90’s where even after we had lost Walt himself, the touch of his “child in all of us” attitude was rekindled to a massive and impressive scale. Walt knew how to tell a story, and he knew how to find and encourage those like minded creators as well. He built an empire on it. And now, that empire owns another empire, Star Wars.

So where am I going with this? Right, FROZEN. So my friend Jimmy Burns, a fellow 501st member AND ‘Disneyphile’ posted his own review encouraging others to see the film:

I was really worried about Frozen going in. The Olaf character was just not hitting me well, seemed too JarJar for my taste. However, I’m ready to eat crow now, because the movie was very enjoyable and even Olaf was done really well.

I hadn’t even seen the movie, and yet I felt like I knew exactly what he was talking about. One of the biggest letdowns as a maturing person waiting for the continuing saga of Star Wars… was a Gungan. Although played by an extremely wonderful person, who is a joy to speak with and a fellow total fan if I might add, the character is almost painful to watch. When turning to Uncle George for an explanation, all we got was footage of him watching clips of Buster Keaton silently prat-falling into pseudo-disaster scenarios.


George Lucas wrote in detail the description of a sweeping war saga that was only hinted at before this, and put at the front line a bumbling buffoon. How does that have a place in Star Wars? In the originals, R2-D2 is cute but NOT dumb, and C3P0 is a great source for verbal comic relief but almost equally so to Han Solo’s quips and jabs. Why would he feel the need to include a character like this in the prequel?

Disney as a studio as done the same thing in their own storytelling on occasion. Animals that talk in inappropriate scenes, scripts with the potential to transport us to another world we’ve been waiting to see, and tearing us into reality because we’re watching something so absurd we can’t let go. But probably nothing as bad as HIM.

Which brings me back to Frozen (here be the spoilers). In trailers we have no context of the deep significance Olaf represents in the final film. Actually there’s an even deeper layer that’s not even acknowledged by the characters in the film, but your brain knew it was there. It hit me like a ton of bricks when he walked into frame. Olaf is literally the HEART of this film.

The royal sisters Elsa and Anna are story centric, but neither of them get to the final conclusion on their own. Both are guided by an unseen force, LOVE. And who describes that force in bittersweet and completely innocent agenda? Olaf!


Olaf is a thinking, BREATHING (carrot sneezes?), self sacrificing character that was conceived by the sisters when they were at their happiest, and then brought to life completely unknowingly by the Snow Queen Elsa when she embraces her powers. Actually he’s the first thing she creates! It’s so quick, but it’s there, she creates life when she embraces her own freedom. That is an incredible revelation in terms of character development. But when she realizes she has this power, when she’s scared and wants to be alone, she creates an ‘ice monster’ who fiercely protects her. The woman is practically a God who can create life itself, and NO ONE ACKNOWLEDGES IT except those who are scared of her and call her a monster. (By the way, that ‘ice monster’ has an equally deep revealing development in a delightful after credits scene, which breaks a few taboo barriers in my opinion, but I’ll leave that one to discover for yourselves.)

Just as a side track, I’d like to acknowledge the Hollywood process. These days, a good script gets treated over and over by so many writers, producers, directors, and anyone else who thinks they understand the imagination, that it’s truly a rare thing when the final product makes ‘perfect’ sense. I’m a jaded reviewer, it takes a LOT of good storytelling and production value for me to give something 5 stars. Actually I probably wouldn’t even give Frozen 5 stars. It doesn’t even slightly resemble the inspirational source material. It had some faults in terms utilizing the potential this story had, but the final product was in fact extremely heartfelt and entertaining.

So the creators of this final version of the Disney project really outdid themselves when they didn’t make a character that had the power to create life absolutely evil for what would have most likely been explained as ‘story purposes’. The Snow Queen is in fact just lonely, and finds companionship in her sister, and the very people she thought she was protecting by hiding her gifts. She could have created her own winterborn subjects and let the people possibly die. I could go on and on about the significance of the choices this script took, but ultimately that’s not my point.


My point is this: I was terrified when Disney bought Star Wars. An entire trilogy of Jarjar Binks filled my mind. Will we ever get a sweeping epic space opera again? The announcement of JJ Abrahms to the project didn’t really quell that for me either, even when it gave fans of the new Star Trek reboot hope. Star Wars doesn’t need a reboot, it needs love and life. We as fans never went away, we’re still warming ourselves by the fire of classic storytelling the original trilogy presented. We learned to embrace the prequels in many ways because they are in fact the product of a great creator, BUT… there’s that but again mentioned so many times in relation to this subject. But with all of the canon mapped out so well in the expanded universe, how do we go on from here with Disney at the helm instead?

We go up! (No, not Pixar/Disney’s UP!) If the powers that be at Disney can produce a piece of work about a lonely girl who becomes a God, then becomes a Queen, with a walking talking snowman to guide her there, then perhaps I can learn to accept that some things are meant to change, and some things, however unlikely, should be given a chance, so that they can give us hope.

Why do we love Star Wars? Because a man named George wanted to show us an exciting story that would transport us to a galaxy of a scale greater than our own. Why do we love Disney? Because a man named Walt wanted to show us the exciting and beautiful worlds we are capable of conceiving.

I have hope for George again, thanks Walt.



Star Wars Viewings

Everyone is putting their two cents in for what they expect in the new Star Wars films, and instead of piling up my opinion on the already dissected and really unimportant “what ifs” I’m instead going to share some of my favorite already existing Star Wars related videos of jokes, reviews, and commentaries. Enjoy!

Belated Media’s “What If Episode 1 Was Good”
Episode 2 and 3 versions are good too after this, but bottom line someone should give this guy a screenwriters job, stat! It’s always been said that one of the biggest problems with the prequels is no one but Lucas wrote and edited them, without anyone around to tell him what might have been a bad idea.

Red Letter Media’s Star Wars Prequels Reviews
Watching the entire series will take almost as much time as watching a full movie, but it’s so worth it. I’m a big fan of everything produced by RLM, even if I don’t agree with every opinion, the thorough break down of reality is honest and entertaining.

Red Letter Media predicting J.J. Abrams would make better Star Wars films and why, solely based on the success of the Star Trek reboot.

The People Vs George Lucas
If you haven’t watched this on Netflix yet, DO IT NOW! It’s an incredibly well made documentary with opinions from all sides of the “argument”, and caused me to rethink my words from now on before I talk down about the creator of my favorite fictional universe.

The Star Wars That I Used To Know
No further explanation needed.

Star Wars Filibuster
Just for fun, this is my favorite Episode 7 suggestion so far. The original one take rant put to animation, I think it should also be noted Patton Oswalt improvised this speech.

Episode 3 A Lost Hope
Almost a year before Revenge was released, a parody based on only the trailers and the previous 2 films was made available for download. It wasn’t too far from the final version in some ways, and better in others.

Star Wars Call Me Maybe
And finally a video that puts aside all differences and makes all 6 films come together in harmony.

Watch “Riddick – Debut Trailer” on YouTube

I loved Pitch Black and all the Riddick back story and lore, but I loved the Necromongers the most. And the lack of Necros in this story greatly dissapoints me. The story that should continue after Chronicles seems obvious to me, and yet they’re trying to recreate Pitch Black instead.

Adapting to Prometheus

Alien is one of the most important franchises in my long list of fandoms, mostly because of a love for HR Giger’s designs, and partly because of the long running canon that is so incredibly immersive. A simple yet unstoppable life cycle with a simple objective: adapt.

So when it was announced the Alien Prequel was going to happen, I was ecstatic! Ridley Scott coming back to the world he helped to create? I was so ready.

And then I saw the film, and I was in a bit of shock. I wanted to like it, I DID like it, but there was so much “missing” or different from what I was expecting, it was hard to put it into words.

Well enough time has passed, so I’d like to share some of my (and other people’s) thoughts on the subject.

I actually filmed myself crying at 2 am after coming home from this film’s midnight release. I won’t be posting it because it’s absolutely terrifying. I’m delirious and upset in it, barely comprehensible. I’ve had a chance to re-watch it and will try and translate my rambling. Basically there was so much I really REALLY wanted to like, but it wasn’t the prequel I felt we deserved. Number one as a Giger fan, and number two as a Xenomorph fan. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing film and a great ancient aliens themed story, but it’s NOT a suitable Alien prequel in my opinion. There is so much I wish would have been done differently, so much more I was expecting. And bottom line for me, it didn’t bring the Giger elements to life with the epic visuals and visceral realism they deserved. The biomechanical wasn’t alive, it was just limp and squishy. Sorry, but that’s what I got out of it.

I do have to say, the ancient alien theories, space jesus, and replicant/android stories were all great parts of the film for me. The film itself has a epic and grand scale WITH a comprehensible and intelligent script that is rare to see come out of Hollywood these days. BUT… there’s the but… it all falls short for me when trying to apply it to the Alien canon. Even if you never have the Queen life cycle, it still doesn’t fit. The space jockeys are humanoids in space suits? NO no no no! The jockey is fused to the chair, like he was grown into it. It’s not an unexplored idea (Farscape anyone?), and wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to elaborate on.

And the primordial black goo? Sure, it creates life from life. In terms of the Engineers, it takes the basics of them to create us, and the Xenomorph is the amplification of our truest nature and base instinct, to kill and multiply. To survive. It all works for me up to that point.

But then it takes a turn for the worse imo, when the timeline shifts, it’s a different ship, and different planet, and a different type of technology than I’ve always pictured Giger’s art working as.

As you can tell I’m ultimately conflicted. It is an absolutely amazing final product, but you have to understand I have dreams of how Giger’s imagery moves and works, and this film did not represent that. Lets go back. Ridley Scott captured this right away in the first film, and so simply too I might add. The egg feels alive with fiberglass and shadows of rubber gloves, the face hugger looks real with foam rubber and shellfish parts, the chest burster is puppeteers moving it’s arms and beating it’s heart as if it’s alive, and the Alien is an awkward and terrifying new life that wants to simply kill and create new life, played by an awkward and alien looking young man who was cast simply because of his presence (love you Bolaji Badejo, wherever you are). It brought to life Giger’s art in it’s most visceral form.

This movie is beautiful to look at, and completely immerses you in the story. And there’s all the concepts there to make it a great and direct Alien prequel. But then at some point in the process, like he’s done before with Blade Runner (if you haven’t watched the making of documentary on the most recent dvd set, you should), and rightly so since he’s the chosen director, he picked up the pieces and made something he thought would be better.

I can still be in love with production and creature design. The amazing sculptor Dayton Allen over at Sith_fire30 Creations found this gem, a montage of early concept designs by artist Carlos Huante from the early days of preproduction. It’s worth watching just to see what COULD have been.

Also, there’s plenty of resources out there to explain the making of this film, but this is one of my favorites. comicbookgirl19 is really great at explaining things in her vlog, it’s really worth watching;

In short, although this film isn’t what I wanted it to be, it still has me thinking about it as an epic cinematic event in my life. I’ll just keep over analyzing it while enjoying the scenery in my Giger themed bathroom.
self portrait at 19 yo
(self portrait of me at 19 with Giger art)

Game of Thrones Burlesque

Last year I wrote and performed a number inspired by my love of the series Game of Thrones and the books it’s based on A Song of Ice and Fire. I’d like to explain my concept, execution, and feelings about this number…

First of all, I’m a fan. No getting around that fact. So when my troupe decided to organize a TV themed show, I jumped on this number full force.
My original concept was based on the book’s style of POV chapters. I wanted to change characters throught the number since you can’t tell the story of A Song of Ice and Fire through just one character’s eyes. No. It actually started with Catelyn Stark, then went to Cersei Lannister, then ended with Daenerys Targaryen. Alas, having my hair colored as it is, that would have involved 3 wigs… which I did try, but could only fit one under another, not two… So I had to scrap a character. That became Cersei because although we all love the hate the Lannisters, we call love the Starks and Dany and want them both to win in some way… although the won’t I’m sure :( Really, reading these books is incredibly masochistic. They hurt all the time!
Sorry Cersei

The number starts with the Stark sigil, which is actually painted in Tully colors, mostly because silver/grey shows up better on blue than black. I used a spray on fabric puff paint so the color would show up against the crushed panne velvet then layered enamel spray paint on top of that.
2012-08-15 18.47.18

I came out in a Winterfell inspired coat and dress I actually made for a Lord of the Rings inspired costume, but converted for this number. In hindsight I wish I had made it blue to keep with the dark Stark theme. I ALSO realized after the fact it would have been much more fitting if I had portrayed Lyanna Stark instead, perhaps with a crown of blue roses… but show characters are much more recognizable. And I really REALLY love Lady St… well, no book spoilers here. READ them!

So then I dance a bit with a sword, cause Tully/Stark is badass like that! Strip, become vulnerable… then go back and reveal the next curtain. Thanks to my uncle Trader Scott and his amazing vinyl cutting skills we made stencils for these huge “tapestries”.
2012-08-15 18.37.511

Then the “big” reveal. Dany comes out in fiery belly dance inspired garb and hand sequined dragons for pasties and undergarments.

This wig was glued to my head so when I transitioned behind the curtain I could just fluff up my hair and be done with it. It worked flawlessly.

This has been officially the proudest moment of my Burlesque career so far. I could not be happier with the translation of “POV change” and the audience reaction. I didn’t try to “look” like these characters, I tried to portray them. I’ve been told by some that even without being familiar with the show/books it was still enjoyable, and that’s all I could ask for.

I’d like to shout out to my mentors in Salome Cabaret including Kisa von Teasa and Siren Santina, and Talloolah Love for putting on one hell of a show and allowing me to participate in it. I can’t thank you all enough!
Thanks to Stuart for grabbing a front row seat and capturing this moment for me with his phone! Enough talk, DANCE!

Star Wars Celebration 6 and Dragon*con

Now that I’ve had some time to decompressed, here’s some thoughts about the “epic con trip” we just partook:

On day 11 I decided that 10 days was my limit. By day 12 I was sick. If they ever schedule Star Wars Celebration that close to Dragoncon again, that will be the first year I skip Dragoncon OR at least go home between.

I say this every year, but next year I’m ONLY bringing one major costume. I mean it this time. I missed a lot of hang outs with some friends to wear other costumes that I didn’t even get decent pictures in.
Lady Loki

Jon and I got to participate a little in the greatest proposal of our friends Chris and Leah at the Rebel Legion group photo!
Chris and Leah

Celebration 6 was better than I remember C3 being, I will definitely be going back to Florida for C7!
Star Wars Celebration 6 Flagship Eclipse

Epic costuming is fun, even if people don’t remember the movie! The second day I went 6 hours in Charal from Ewok 2 Battle for Endor!

People REALLY like science fiction mash-ups, $15000 like (my husband made Epimetheus Fett):

As you wish helmet

Dragon*con burlesque is EPIC, performing it feels epic! A huge thank you to Talloolah Love!
Dany Burlesque

My photo collections:
As You Wish Helmet Project – Celebration 6
Star Wars Celebration Part 1
Star Wars Celebration Part 2
Rebel Legion Group Photo
dragoncon 2012

Tim Burton Fancy

Like many of my generation, we have been greatly influenced by Tim Burton in SO many ways. I started to type up a facebook status today:

“Ok, so Dark Shadows was beautiful but pointless, Abraham Lincoln VH fell short from the book form, and NO ONE seems to care about Frankenweenie as a Frankenweenie/Vincent combo but me. It’s all right Tim Burton, I still think you’ve got what counts. A beautiful eye, dry and morbid sense of humor, and an understanding of being an outcast. You keep on working sir!”

But it got me thinking, why this attachment? Why this sense of loyalty to someone who probably doesn’t care if he still has a single fan? So let’s take a look at some history from his story as interpreted by me…

Disney Influence
Who doesn’t like Disney?!? Tim Burton liked Disney, since he worked for them at first as an animator. It would be an on again off again relationship throughout his career, but more than that, the influences of live action films like Mary Poppins and animation like Snow White. They were his childhood memories, and he became ours.

Pee Wee
Dreams In Color
Tim Burton’s first live action film brought him into the world of family humor. Jokes that were appealing to BOTH children and adults, and a character/comedian we all admired, the perfect beginning for us to truly fall in love with him as a story-teller. It may not be entirely the Gothic Horror we now identify him with, but watch the first 2 min of the movie and tell me you don’t see the same style later in BIG FISH. A fantasy version of our own reality.

Beetlejuice to Nightmare Before Christmas
For 6 years Burton shelled out 5 films that built the fantasy world we came to believe he came from. Decaying stone towers, snow on green grass, skeletons that talk, clowns that kill. All with main characters that just DON’T fit in with everyone else. He put us into places we wanted to live with characters we, the social outcasts, could identify with. The feeling of being alone didn’t seem so lonely anymore when someone else was putting it on screen in such a beautiful context.

Ed Wood
Heroes Unappreciated
At this point the world loved Tim Burton, but I don’t think he knew why. He had unintentionally labeled himself as a Gothic Storyteller with darkness and shadows. With a sense of humor hardly anyone got at the time, he took his darkness one step further with the sarcastic tale of film maker Ed Wood. But Burton played a joke on all of us, he was telling us the truth. Ed Wood did two things in his life, he got to meet and honor his idol Bela Lugosi, and he got to make HIS films, even if no one quite understood them (or him). At this point, so had Tim Burton. He got to meet and honor one of his idols Vincent Price with one of the most heart wrenching scenes in his career, and he was making films based almost entirely on his visions. It sounds like this would be where the fairy tale would end, right? The film wasn’t appreciated at the time for what it was, wasn’t even understood by the public much like the film’s subject, and so begins the part of the story where we learn Burton is human just like the rest of us.

Mars Attacks
Science Fiction Satire Based On Bubblegum Cards
After a stint as Producer for Batman Forever and James and the Giant Peach, Burton got back in the conception and directors chair with Mars Attacks. I’m going to be candid here. IT’S A RIDICULOUS FILM! Just read the wikipedia description please.

Based on the cult trading card series of the same name, the film uses elements of black comedy, surreal humor, and political satire, and is a parody of science fiction B movies. Mars Attacks! stars an ensemble cast, which includes Jack Nicholson, Lukas Haas, Annette Bening, Jim Brown, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Glenn Close, Martin Short, Jack Black, Natalie Portman, Danny DeVito, and Christina Applegate.

Everything about that description is hilarious. So the public ate it up, made it a blockbuster. This film is 100% conceived by Burton. Think about it, if this movie had half the budget, half the star power, and a different writer/director, who the hell would watch a movie based on a now vintage trading card set? So really, he’s been trying this formula ever since, but for various reasons just hasn’t been the same.

Planet of the Apes
Two Outta Three Ain’t Bad
I’ll summarize this period as simply as I can. Sleepy Hollow took us back to that Gothic world we first fell in love with our hero in. Then Planet of the Apes took us somewhere we didn’t really want to be, but once again, this isn’t Burton’s fault. He’d had his versions of OZ (of the Wizard’s sort), Jurassic Park, Mary Reilly, Catwoman, and Superman all taken away from him after some very stupid studios got scared off by bottom lines. So when his version of Apes started getting the “rushed by the studio” treatment, he just accepted it. Then we end this part with Big Fish. I’ve actually read this book, I can’t get through it, I do not like it. But Tim Burton took what was good in it, the parts I couldn’t see, and made it an adult fairy tale in the world he showed us in Pee Wee, he made our back yard beautiful, and he made us fall in love with a fantasy again.

This point in his life also signaled a change that is really none of our business. I will NOT go into his personal life, I’ll just say that this period was the transition from having a muse in Lisa Marie, to a confidant and a colleague in Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp. Two people who would do anything for him, and will stand by him through the rest of his life.

Acceptance For The Things We Can Not Change
Two more Gothic musicals, two re-imaginings of almost forgotten but still beloved tales, and two producers credits with Timur Bekmambetov related films (giving a new visionary director the same chance he once had), as fans we’re left holding our love in our hands and wondering “what should we do with it?” It still feels like the world we love, but we somehow still feel a little lost. But isn’t that why we fell in love with our hero in the first place? Perhaps our expectations are too high, perhaps we’ve misunderstood his intentions as a story-teller? Or perhaps he’s still that visionary with an understanding of being an outcast that helps us feel a little less lonely.

It’s always been his world, but it’s our choice to live in it or not.