Princess Mononoke

Princess MononokeFor our 53rd episode we review the Studio Ghibli and Hayeo Miyazaki film, Princess Mononoke.  Princess Mononoke came out in 1997 and is still, in the opinion of this podcast, Studio Ghibli’s best film.  It is Miyazaki’s most adult film that explores deep and often unanswerable questions.  There are no easy answers in this film and the story takes great lengths to explore both sides of issues.  There are strong pro-environmental themes running through this film but it doesn’t disregard the reality.  Sometimes, destroying a forest is vital to someone’s life and livelihood.

We attempt a serious in depth discussion of the film in this episode.  I don’t know how well we succeed.  Neither of us are film scholars or are scholars in general.  However, we gave it our best and hopefully it’s still entertaining.

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Merlin Season 5

1000px-Series_5_Landscape_PosterAh, Merlin season five.  The season that takes all of the cumulative storylines, character development, and drama built over five years and… takes a giant dragon sized dump all over it.

Have you been anticipating an awesome magic duel between arch nemesis Morgana and Merlin?  Too bad. Been wondering what was going on with the white dragon?  Keep wondering.  Looking forward to the reveal that Merlin has magic and him finally stepping into his own as Arthur’s magic advisory? Sucks to be you.  Remember how Merlin has been serving Arthur all of this time because Arthur was destined to bring about a golden age where magic could exist peacefully? Yeah that doesn’t happen.

As you’ve probably already guessed, this episode is a gigantic (but deserved) bitch session. We might not have done a podcast on this season if we hadn’t already done all of the previous seasons and if this hadn’t been the final season.  We needed closure, even if the show didn’t provide it.

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Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman Movie PosterSnow White and the Huntsman is a 2012 fantasy film directed by newcomer Rupert Sanders.  The film stars Kristen Stewart, Cherlize Theron, and Chris Hemsworth.  There is defintily more style to the film then substance.  However, the film isn’t as shallow as it would first appear.  It does some very interesting things with the evil queen’s back story. Charlize Theron steals every scene she is in.  Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth do the best with what they’re given, but they’re largely archetypal compared to Kristen’s Stewart’s fascinatingly broken queen.

The film is worth watching alone for its imaginative portrayal of magic.  There’s a scene for instance, where the evil queen slowly drags herself from a pile of raven ichor until she slowly solidifies into a woman once again.   She doesn’t rise magically or form from a mist… She has to painfully drag her broken body from a pile of corpses.  Her magic is dirty, bloody, primal and comes at a drastic cost.

Overall, the film isn’t a study on the human condition, but it isn’t a shallow special effects fest either.  Want to hear more? Listen to the podcast below!

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Merlin Season 3 – 4

The Adventures of Merlin

Merlin, aka. The Adventures of Merlin, is a British television show that started in 2008. It stars Colin Morgan as a young Merlin who must hide his magical powers because Camelot has outlawed all magic on threat of death. He spends his time secretly protecting Arthur and Camelot in hopes that Arthur will someday grow into a great King.

This review is for season (or series) 3 and 4 of Merlin. If you have not seen season 1 and 2 I encouraged you to check out our season 1-2 review or simply go watch the show. This episode does not even attempt to describe the premise of Merlin and completely spoils all of season three and four. So beware! This is no holds barred magical Arthurian spoiler time!

This television series just keeps getting better! The show makes a steady incline in quality throughout season three until its a really great show in season four. Does that make up for some of the lack luster episodes in season one? Yes, actually. I think it does. Many aspects of Arthur’s character development are finally barring fruit in season four that had seeds planted way back in season one. Merlin himself still has lots of room to grow, but he’s shown some welcome steps into becoming more pro-active instead of reactive (and ignoring Gaius’s terrible advice). Hopefully, in season five we’ll finally see him become the warlock of legend.

The series does have some problems, mostly involving Morganna’s strange character development. In season three, they take some dramatic shortcuts in her development. While its certainly plausible, the show doesn’t bother explaining or even showing the path it took her to reach her new persona. Furthermore, she doesn’t appear to have any remnants of her old persona at all. There’s some weird slippery slope fallacies going on there and odd inconsistencies. I wonder if this was because the writers were so determined to follow the path of the actual Arthurian legends? Who knows, but she’s definitely the weakest link in season three and four.

We highly recommend you check out this series. Make sure to start from the beginning though! If you watched season one and two and are on the fence about watching more, we think you should reconsider. The series gets continually better and really rewards long time listeners.

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Legend

Legend Movie PosterLegend is a 1986 fantasy film directed by Ridley Scott of Blade Runner and Alien fame. It stars Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, and Tim Curry. The plot of the movie is that there’s an evil red demon dude who wants to destroy all goodness and light in the world because he’s evil and that’s what evil dudes do. He gets his chance when a young girl taints a unicorn by touching it, allowing darkness and his minions to kill one of the unicorns and plunge the world into eternal winter.

I’m surprised we haven’t done this movie yet. Its one of the quintessential eighties fantasy films alongside Black Crystal, Labyrinth, and the Neverending Story.   It’s a film that holds up pretty well as long as you watch the director’s cut.     Unlike most director’s cuts, the theatrical version and the director’s cut of legend are drastically different.   The latter even makes sense! If you’ve never seen this movie definitely check it out and if you’ve only ever seen the theatrical version, you should try the vastly improved director’s cut.

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Princess Bride

Princess Bride DVD CoverTalking about the film The Princess Bride is hard.

It’s not that it’s a particularly deep film with all of this hidden subtext.   In fact, it’s a pretty straight forward film of swash buckeling adventure where true love conquers all and the heroes ride off into the sunset at the end. This film isn’t good because it’s wrapped in a crunchy shell of childhood nostalgia.   It’s actually good.   And when films are  actually good, they’re very very hard to make fun of.

And here at the Fantasy Movie Podcast we’re all about making fun of things.

That’s the main reason why we put off podcasting about this movie.   We tried to make a go of it this episode, and I’m not sure how well we pulled it off.   How do you think we did listeners?

Thanks for requesting this film Sylvia!

If you want to request what fantasy movie we discuss, complain how we didn’t do this film justice, ask us to forward money to Nigeria, or make a general comment about the podcast, please comment below!

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