The Balance of Day & Night…

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MUNE: GUARDIAN OF THE MOON


Directed By:
Benoît Philippon & Alexandre Heboyan
Written By: Jérôme Fansten & Benoît Philippon
Produced By: Dimitri Rassam, Aton Soumache, & Alexis Vonarb
Premiered On: October 14, 2015
Distribution By:
Paramount Pictures

In part because of the release of Pokemon Sun & Moon but mostly because this film has been a ginormous surprise for me that I actually took the time to carefully select choice screenshots… before promptly realizing that I had gone into the triple-digit range at any rate. Ladies and gentlemen, I present my review on the film aptly entitled as Mune: Guardian of the Moon a film that is, currently, under examination to be included in the list of nominees for Best Animated Feature for the upcoming 86th Academy Awards and has since already been nominated for four other awards and winning two, the Young People’s Jury Award from the TIFF Kids International Film Festival and the Best Film Award from the Tokyo Anime Award.

Mune: Guardian of the Moon, or Mune for short, originates from France but does not suffer from the usual dismal lip syncing that occurs in most foreign language films due mostly to the fact that the lip syncing matches up to the English language and not French. Whether this is a specific quality for the film itself, similar in fact to the Miraculous Tales of Ladybug & Chat Noir series, or to the version that I viewed, I cannot say.

What is especially noteworthy of this film’s production though is the sheer amount of diversity in its production team. This film has had people as Nicolas Marlet (of Kung Fu Panda & How To Train Your Dragon) as a character designer, Hidetaka Yosumi (of Tangled & Wreck-It Ralph) as character technical supervisor, Sebastian Bruneau (of Hotel Transylvania) as animation supervisor, Aurelian Predal (of A Monster in Paris) as art director, David Berthier (of Despicable Me) as a storyboard artist, and even Bruno Coulais (of Coraline, Song of the Sea, and who is commonly recognized as the Danny Elfman of France) as composer for this film.

Truth be told, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear that this film was the result of a secret cooperation between Disney, Dreamworks, & Illumination Entertainment. Though not blindingly so, there are elements that are unique to those studios that shine in this film. Other, more experienced, critics have even compared it to such films like Toy Story and Princess Mononoke, some even going so far as to say it stands on equal ground to those films.

As to the story of the film itself, it takes place on a world far different from our own, a world that had been trapped in an eternal darkness where no moon or sun shined and thus there was no such thing as night or day. That is, until two valiant souls sought to bring an end to the perpetual nothingness. One took a spear in his hand and harpooned a sun and dragged it down to the planet, bringing forth light and life galore. The other entered the perilous realm of dreams and nightmares and from the lone quarry of moonstone carved forth a crescent moon, bringing it and dreams alike into the night.

Of course, this is already ancient history and now, in the present, the mobile and living Temples of the Sun and Moon have gathered for a sacred ceremony of succession of the Guardians of the Sun and the Moon.

mune-guardian-of-the-moon_nov-14-2016-7-26-56-pmWhile the old Guardian of the Sun’s succession of his disciple, Sohone, goes without a hitch, for the most part, the same cannot be said for the Guardian of the Moon who, through the choice of the purest creature of the world and likely a living avatar to the Moon itself, disregards the Moon Guardian’s chosen disciple for Mune, a young faun-like creature who, by his own admittance, makes for a terrible Guardian.

This proves to be true insomuch that, due in no small part to the older Moon Guardian’s almost immediate passing, Mune has next to no idea in how to properly steer, let alone control, the living Temple of the Moon and ends up nearly losing the Moon entirely. Matters are made worse when Necross, a former Guardian of the Sun turned Lord of the Underworld, sees the succession as a perfect means of gaining the sun back for himself and destroying the balance between Night & Day forever.

If I may spare a few paragraphs on the main heroes, and top villain, of the film, because really there is so much that I love about them. From their designs to their personalities, to their abilities both plain and extraordinary…

MUNE

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Like the majority of beings in the film, Mune’s people are never given an outright name, just the eloquent description of being denizens of the night whose purpose seems to generally be focused towards maintaining and safeguarding bioluminescent forests and the various creatures therein.

Mune’s people vaguely resemble fauns, or satyrs whichever you prefer, insomuch that they’re nearly humanoid save for their distinctly deer-like facial features, ears, and legs. This in itself is not that surprising as deer, particularly does, are often associated with the moon in Greek and Roman mythologies.

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Unbeknownst to the elders of his people, including his own father, Mune is in possession of an extraordinary power likely bestowed upon him by the Moon since birth. By way of waving his arms, Mune can call forth shining motes of dream dust to put even the strongest of adversaries to sleep and can even turn the worst of nightmares into innocent dreams both in and out of the Dream World.

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Mune is a quiet and surprisingly quick to adapt to situations that can spring up on him. Almost immediately following the loss of the Moon, he conceived of a way to wrangle it back down to his grasp. He is also quite mischievous for one of his kin, who make it no secret that Mune is almost too childish to consider doing any meaningful tasks.

SOHONE

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Sohone, like many of his people from the Day, is a creature composed mostly of rock, tiger’s eye I’d wager, and rather unlike most of his rocky brethren whom resemble vaguely humanoid shapes, save for the elder Guardian of the Sun who resembles a cross between a toothy frog and a triangular shelled tortoise, Sohone has distinctly feline traits most notably in his facial features. While his stony skin would point him out as baring resemblance to tigers, particularly in connection to that one poem of them burning oh so bright within the fires of the night, there’s a distinctive lion quality to Sohone.

Particularly in his strength which was already great enough for him to utilize his own bare hands in his forge where he’s created a wide array of spears and assorted long-pole weapons. Upon receiving acknowledgement from the Sun though, Sohone’s strength has increased in several magnitudes and his body now radiates enough heat cause water to steam at the slightest touch.

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He’s brash, he’s arrogant, and by his own admittance hasn’t bother to read anything pertaining to being a Guardian of the Sun and focused everything he had on the physical applications of it, including mastering the art of javelin throwing. Despite this, he has a clear code of honor and conduct, showing that as much as he might be enraged by Mune’s initial antics as a Guardian of the Moon, he was quick to prioritize that saving the Sun, and by extension the Moon, was far more important than any beef that might exist between the two of them.

Of course, Glim might also have had a hand in changing his mind…

GLIM

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Glim, and by extension her father, is a unique being even in a world of talking rocks, plants, and animal-humanoid hybrids. Despite initial belief otherwise, Glim is not a denizen of Day or Night but of dawn and dusk as her people, though again we only ever see her and her father, are made up of a unique blend of wax. Heat from the day keeps their bodies warm and allows them to move about but if they are too close to something incredibly hot or stay too long in direct sunlight, they risk melting to death. Contrary wise, the coolness of the night immobilizes them to such an extreme degree that, for lack of a better comparison, they enter a state of suspended animation and can be caught in a dire situation if they don’t properly set themselves in place beforehand.

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Because of her father’s, rather sensible, protective nature, Glim has rarely, if ever, ventured into the outside world and so has amassed for herself a wide collection of books, maps, and scrolls. Glim is undeniably intelligent to a stunning degree as demonstrated when she calculated, with minimal tools and only a few maps, that the Temple of the Moon was off course. What really charmed her to me though was one thing that she did in particular, an almost nonchalant scene in her room wherein we see her writing not scientific facts, nor a romanticized retelling of her witnessing the succession ceremony of the Guardians.

Instead, we see her writing what is undoubtedly her Guardians of the Sun and Moon fanfiction.

I kid you not, I have watched that scene goodness knows how many times and that still brings a Cheshire Cat grin to my face everytime I see it. Do you know how rare it is for a studio, any studio, to acknowledge one of the most common aspects that result from its creations? Few and far between.

Being a… candle person for lack of a better name for her people, Glim has no extraordinary powers of any kind. That does not stop her from doing an undeniably extraordinary act of sacrifice by way of using her very breath to reignite the fires of the Sun, even when every puff causes more and more of her body to melt.

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Of the three heroes, I like Glim the best simply for how stunning her animation is both in the real and dream world scenes but most especially in those moments when her waxy body hardens and softens. Comparing the transition to the like of Disney’s Gargoyles, Glim does not just immediately harden into stone nor does she immediately wake up. It is a slow and seemingly annoying process where you see the hardening portions of her wax are subtly, or not so subtly, moving the softer portions just like how one would expected something made of candle wax would do.

NECROSS

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The primary antagonist of the film, I admit that when I first saw Necross I had thought him to be akin to the likes of Neltharion of Blizzard’s Warcraft games insomuch that he was a Guardian of the Sun turned to darkness and without any true repentance for him. Yet, as I watched the film, particularly the moments that featured Necross, I did not find myself making any such comparisons though the similarities are still there. Necross was a creature much like Sohone, being made up mostly of rock and some plant life with a cut above his heart from which water flowed. However, upon his corruption, he became a living pile of lava and what once was life-giving water became murderous magma.

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Yet, for all that I had presumed him to be the true force of Evil on Mune’s world, as he is the proclaimed lord of the Underworld though the passageway to him and his realm is… sort of safe-guarded by another, Necross is not the true force of evil. It is the creatures that I had presumed to be a result of his corruption or, at the very least, answered to his beck and call as he referred to them as his “precious ones.”

Sinister serpents that appear more like living illustrations that alone may turn one’s mind to darkness but can whose hissed words can be turned away, a whole score of them are beyond even a lone Guardian’s ability to ignore for long if they have no means of drowning out their voices.

This is precisely what nearly happens to Sohone who is slowly turned into a demonic incarnation of himself before he is rescued and restored by Phospho, the former Guardian of the Moon who in his cowardice failed to put an end to Necross’ terror all those centuries ago. The scene itself was rather unnerving to watch not for the transformation that Sohone was undergoing but how the words of the serpents were affecting him especially with how difficult it was to tell which serpent was speaking to him.

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Yesss… Such anger… Such HATRED…! You’re darker than Necrossss… DEMON!”

Brrr! Gives me the chills no matter how many times I hear it.

THE TEMPLES OF THE SUN & MOON

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Lastly, the Temples of the Sun and Moon are as I said, living creatures though how alive they are is never fully explored. Were it not for the denizens of the Day being mostly creatures of stone and plants, I’d have thought that the Temple of the Sun was merely that, a temple that was bestowed mobility through sorcery. What’s rather noteworthy though is that the Temple of the Sun has not one but several long iron chains that attaches itself to the Sun and that while it may move with the same slow gait as that of the Moon Temple, there seems to be far more effort put into its every motion. Heck, it is even shown that in order to steer the thing, Sohone must pull upon two massive chains whose links are almost the same size as his hands!

Contrary-wise the Temple of the Moon is a clearly living creature, a strange blend of deer and bird and whose camel-like hump reside the actual means of controlling its motions and the physical gateway to the Dream World. What’s especially noteworthy of this Temple is that it holds the Moon not with iron chain but with spider-silk which is renewed constantly by a small group of… for lack of a better name and because they bare way too close a resemblance to them, moon furbies who also create the harp-like strings that control the Temple’s movements. Contrary to the Temple of the Sun, which became entirely immobile when the Sun was stolen and its flames put out, the Moon Temple when on a monstrous rampage upon the loss of the Moon and was only calmed by Mune’s dream sand.

My final thoughts on this film… If many of you haven’t already guess by the monumental length of words I’ve already written and the sheer number of screenshots I meticulously provided, I consider this one of my personal top ten—nay top five favorite films of all time and give it a rounded 10 out of 10. While I do not doubt that the competition for the Academy Award will be a fierce one this year as always, I truly believe Mune: Guardian of the Moon to be a serious contender if not an outright winner.

You’re traveling through another dimension…

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TOWER OF TERROR


Directed & Written By:
D.J MacHale
Produced By: Iain Paterson
Premiered On: October 26, 1997
Distribution By:
ABC

The first Disney attraction to be put to film, though strictly for a straight-to-TV release, The Tower of Terror is a bit contrary to its real-world counterpart insomuch that any and all connections it has to the Twilight Zone are nonexistent in the film itself, which makes it kind of lacking in the overall spookiness I feel.

To be fair, I have never really sat down and watched more than the occasional episode of The Twilight Zone television series, the original that is, but what few I did see and recall have left more than a faint tingle of foreboding down my spine as a result. The ride itself is no different as Rod Serling, or at least a very good lookalike, hosts a majority of the ride as being a “lost” episode of the original series whose story is quite a tale.

It is Halloween night in 1939 and the glimmer glamour of the Hollywood Tower Hotel is in full swing as usual despite the severe thunderstorm occurring outside. That night, five people board one of the hotel’s elevators from the lobby, riding it up towards the thirteenth floor. Whilst inside the elevator, a bolt of lightning strikes the hotel causing an entire wing, and all the people inside, to vanish whilst the elevator itself comes crashing down to the lobby floor empty as a newly dug grave.

This is where the film separates itself from the ride as passengers of the maintenance elevator, the only functioning elevator in the hotel following this terrible night, are invited to try and uncover the mystery by Serling but really, there is no definitive answer given on the ride itself and the one provided in the film is extremely lackluster.

In the film, it is explained that the five passengers are as follows: Carolyn Crosson, a singer, her beau Gilbert London, rising child actress Sally “Sally Shine” Gregory, her nanny Emeline Partridge, and bellhop Dewey Todd and that a curse had been placed upon them, and the hotel, that Halloween night but the curse was not completed and can be reversed under the right circumstances.

This doesn’t really matter much to Buzzy Crocker, a former journalist turned tabloid writer when it was revealed that a news story he had written was faked. He’s initially in it for the money, going so far as to try and get fake pictures of the ghosts for the tabloid whereas his niece Anna is all for saving the ghosts.

While the blame was initially placed upon Nanny Partridge, the real culprit is revealed to be Abigail Gregory, Sally’s sister whom cast the curse because of her jealousy and the fact that it was quite apparent that her birthday, on Halloween no less, had been forgotten.

Let me be clear here, a girl who was perhaps all of thirteen years old, at best, cast a curse upon her slightly younger sister dooming her and four other innocent souls to a state of perpetual limbo for all time because of said sibling’s popularity but, most importantly, because her family forgot her birthday.

I’d make a joke about an overreaction but it gets better. The party that was occurring that night? That was Abigail’s party and no one apparently thought it worth mentioning to her ever because even all these decades later Abigail was set to try and finish the curse completely until her dearly departed sister revealed the truth.

I am all for suspending my sense of disbelief in films, particularly those that take on ghostly aspects that leave more than a few questions to run rampant in one’s head, but this? Oh man, where do I even begin? Where the heck did Abigail find a spell book that had such a curse and how in the heck was she, an untrained child, even capable of casting it? More to the point, I do not care whether or not her little sister forgave her, Abigail is not ascending to Heaven following the breaking of said curse that could have doomed five innocent souls to perpetual purgatory and outright killed an entire wing of guests and employees of the hotel.

Being a made for television film, the special effects are… decent at best especially considering this was made in a time when CGI and the like were all but nonexistent. In that fairness, I give the film three out five if only because it is one of the better Halloween themed films to come straight to television by Disney.

Surprisingly, there is a rumor circling that a possible remake is in the works for the Tower of Terror, one that will hopefully adhere more to the overall feel that comes with any story that takes residence in the Twilight Zone.

999 Happy Haunts…

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THE HAUNTED MANSION


Directed By:
Rob Minkoff
Produced By: Andrew Gunn & Don Hahn
Written By: David Berenbaum
Premiered On: November 26, 2003
Distribution By:
Buena Vista Pictures

While not being the first of the films made based on an attraction, that honor actually belongs to a film that was made several years before this one that I’ll be touching on later this week, this film in particular is… A film of its era as it were. The early 2000’s were a… odd time for films but as I am by no means an expert, nor an actual film historian or reviewer of great experience, I’ll just leave it at that.

In the case of The Haunted Mansion it was part of the “dying days” of a particular film actor’s career insomuch that this actor in particular had been staring in films that were of a rather… poor… quality compared to earlier works and where most, if not all, of the usual humor involved was either incredibly forced or just plain unfunny.

Thus we encounter the first true problem of this film. For whatever reason that I cannot grasp, a film based on an attraction that hosts 999 happy haunts inside a mansion that features a lot of macabre and grim works with dashes of comedy has been turned to a straight up comedy that takes virtually all of the scares out save for a few moments. Moments, not scenes.

The basic premise of the film goes that a young man was set to marry the love of this life despite that she was of a different class and, sad as it is to admit but this was a thing back in the time, different coloration than he. Unfortunately, on the day of her wedding the bride apparently committed suicide and, in his grief, so too did the master of the mansion and in the years following his death, he and all those whom resided and perished found their spirits trapped and confined to the property.

However, fortune seemed to smile in favor of these poor, unfortunate souls as an add for a married pair of real estate agents happens to finds its way through the gates and into the hands of the long dead master of the house.

Cue Eddie Murphy, the stereotypical workaholic father figure that I am so unbelievably sick of seeing in movies that I will literally get up and dance the Macarena if I happen across a film that showcases a workaholic mother. Don’t doubt me, I dang well came close to doing this for Storks when both the parents proved to be workaholics instead of just the one and the father was the first to succumb to actually being there for his kid.

Sorry, got off on a tangent there, where was I? Ah, yes, cue Eddie Murphy forgetting his anniversary and in trying to apologize to his wife, and two kids because goodness knows that’s the American ideal right there, he decides to take them out on a trip to the cabin by the lake. Whose route just so happens to go past Gracey Manor whose current owner just so happened to have called earlier about the possibility of selling said house well… Coincidences do happen.

Oi…

Anyway, a long film made short, Murphy finds out that the so-called owner of the mansion has not only been pushing up daisies in every literal sense of that phrase but the guy’s would-be-wife bares a remarkable resemblance to Murphy’s own. From there it’s a wild and oh so unnecessarily zany ride throughout the mansion to bring an end to the curse that keeps the dead trapped and bringing to justice a murderer and their victim of romantic tragedy several decades past.

If this film had been strictly about the murder mystery, having actual drama of making the still living cast, be they a family or simply the best of best buddies, fight for their freedom or suffer the penalty of being added to the already vast number of haunts in the mansion itself, I’d greatly enjoy this movie.

Instead… we get a movie that outright riffs itself at any available opportunity. From Murphy’s son quoting the popular, and freaking over-done, line of seeing dead people in a literal cemetery filled with celebrating phantasms and spooks, to the oh-so-original reveal that the murderer was the butler.

Yes. The butler did it. True story.

What makes the whole reveal more baffling than anything else is that after the guy reveals he did it to protect the “sanctity” of the Gracey family and to prevent his master from “falling to ruin” he proclaims that they can all go to Hell and… Well, to put it simply the freaking fireplace tears itself asunder revealing a literal pit leading straight to the infernal heart of Hell itself before a fiery demonic dragon snatches the guy up and proceeds to drag him down. The curse itself is broken when Master Gracey is at last reunited with his lost love and together they lead the ghastly precession up towards the long awaited Heaven.

That… oh man… I just… I get that love is a power unlike any other, the whole entire wars were born and brought low by love, but come on… What’s especially weird, and admittedly stupid, is that Madame Leota and the ghosts trapped within busts of themselves, otherwise known simply as the Singing Busts, are still in the mortal realm. More to the point, the Murphy family takes the ghosts with them on their vacation alongside other trinkets and knickknacks from the mansion.

I just… What, exactly, are they going to do with them? Keep them at their house? The kids, and Murphy, proclaim the ceaseless singing of the busts to be annoying and the children especially don’t care for Leota’s narrative expositions, so the only thing I can think of is that they’re planning on selling these trapped souls off to the nearest Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum. That or sell ‘em all on eBay.

Overall… this movie was trying to create a story for an attraction that… technically does not have one insomuch that the Haunted Mansion attractions located in Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom, and Tokyo Disneyland have stories for every individual ghost has a story behind their untimely demise, oftentimes a very darkly comedic tale at that.

There are common elements between them though such as the Master of the Mansion having hanged himself in the front foyer of the estate, Madame Leota and her conjuring of spectral powers in her chambers, a cabal of ghosts celebrating unawares of their demise, a black widow bride reciting her wedding vows as she weighs a bloody axe in her hand, and a trio of hitchhiking ghosts that want a ride out of dodge even if they have invisibly follow you to do it.

However, that’s just for those parks specifically. Hong Kong Disneyland holds the Mystic Manor, which, to be fair, is more of a manor wherein hundreds of mystical artifacts inadvertently go haywire and Paris Disneyland has the Phantom Manor and let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, there is no scarier and tragic a tale than that of the Bride of Phantom Manor and the titular Phantom himself who seeks dominion over her and all whom dare to enter the manor grounds even in death.

As I understand it, it was part of the bargain for the creation of Paris Disneyland that most of the attractions couldn’t be carbon copies of already existing Disney attractions and that they had to be wholly unique to the park itself and such was done for the Phantom Manor, indirectly tying it to the Parisian equivalent of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Out of the multitudes of the Haunted Mansion attraction, the Phantom Manor is one of the darkest and outright scariest of them all and I would love to see it be brought to film in the future. As it is, we must settle for this comedic interpretation of a ride that, quite frankly, deserved far more than this and has since gotten it in the form of a mini-series released by Marvel Comics.

A man looking at the world through a keyhole…

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Doctor Strange


Directed By: Scott Derrickson
Produced By: Kevin Feige
Screenplay By: Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill
Premiered On: November 4, 2016
Distribution By:
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

To be fair to those whom are, I have not, nor will I ever likely be, a fan of Doctor Strange. That’s not to say that I know nothing of his character just that those few comics I’ve read that had him in a prominent role it was, at best, a supporting one. I went into this film with only a cursory knowledge of Doctor Stephen Strange and was prepared to exit the theater either wowed or disappointed. I walked out thinking to myself first and foremost that while this was no tale of swords and sorcery, there was indeed magic to be seen and awed by.

It has been said primarily in the Thor films that what men call magic, other beings would call science when in truth they are one in the same. Can’t remember who said it precisely but there is also a rather popular theory that magic, as we know it in fiction, is simply a hereto undiscovered/inapplicable scientific method.

This film takes that route and yet, to my immense relief, does not dwell on it. In point of fact, it was surprisingly fast in delivering Strange from his disbelief into acceptance. Not too fast mind you but it was done in such a fashion that even the most diehard of skeptics would find no ground for their argument to stand on. Literally in some cases.

I cannot describe just how inspiring it was to see a film that featured magic wherein the individual who formerly did not know of, or believe in, the existence of magic readily accepts it at a speed that is believable and sensible. Most films the magic is accepted too easily and is severely limited in how it’s demonstrated.

“You’re a wizard,” might work for some people but not everyone.

Effects wise this film takes the entire bakery of cakes. The direct application of magic, such as the conjuring of “simplistic” shields and weapons, such as a war fan or a… hrm, I don’t actually know the proper name for this, a type of whip that’s incredibly short by comparison to others like that belonging to a Doctor Jones… Anyway, the more direct methods utilized appear little more than fancy, if not archaic, energy manipulations but then the rug is pulled veritably out from under your feet when we are introduced to the Mirror Dimension.

I… I cannot even begin to describe just how utterly amazing the scenes that involved this reflective world are. The sheer amount of work that was involved and the incredible amount of detail applied… It was amazing, simply amazing, but if a comparison needs to be made… The dream sequence scenes involved in the film Inception have nothing on those in Doctor Strange.

Plotwise, I shan’t spoil it beyond Strange’s origins, which is basic knowledge to even the tentative comic book nerd. Basically, Strange was a neurosurgeon of great skill and even greater renown until a dreadful accident leaves his hands damaged beyond the most basic of use and sometimes not even then.

Benedict Cumberbatch acts every bit the recovering victim and there is no detail that is missed in showing how badly damaged Strange’s hands are. Tiny tremors whenever he’s trying for specific motions, the sheer agony on his face when he attempts to punch a robber trying to steal his watch, and the near impossibility to write his own name… Double those props to the make-up department too for making some of the best scars I’ve ever seen on anyone, and that includes the likes of Deadpool.

Anyway, Strange ends up searching for the guidance, and tutelage of the Ancient One, a sorcerer who has lived for countless centuries and has served as Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme against any and all paranormal and mystical threats, including the likes of the dread entity Dormammu.

Strange’s development into attaining sorcery is not an easy journey and some of the lessons he is taught are akin to those in such tales like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice insomuch that he is… not quite forbidden to do certain things but being told that he is incapable of doing them, or should be, only drives him to prove his worth if only to himself. How he attains the Eye of Agamotto, and what he does with it, is ensnared with far too many spoilers to mention but I will say this of the Cloak of Levitation.

It’s Carpet. From Aladdin. Not in the full sentience to actually communicate on its own but it comes undeniably close. There are two moments that really sold the Cloak for me, the first being when it comes to Strange’s aid by attacking one of the big bad’s minions and does so in the most ridiculously over-the-top way that I was torn between laughing myself sick and actually being sick that the Cloak could be so violent in protecting its master.

Of course, that feeling went out the window when, following a rather heartfelt reunion between Strange and his former lover, the Cloak attempts to wipe away at his tears only to be chastised back into place by Strange.

… I never thought I’d ever actually say “Awww…” in reference to a cape before…

Lastly, yes, there are mid and post credit scenes and while I will not spoil them, I will say that they are plot relevant both to Doctor Strange himself and to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole, with a cameo that I had not actually expected to see.

Overall… I give Doctor Strange four out of five stars. It’s a great movie but it does take its time to really get to the magic but when it does, oh boy, do not blink and do not stop straining your ears because if you do you’ll either miss out on a hilarious bit of humor or a very plot relevant revelation.

Including one that leads another trail to a War that will stretch all the way to Infinity…

Winter is coming… But it’s not here yet.

If you’ll all pardon me a moment as I get up onto this here soapbox. Ahem… now, let me be perfectly clear here. I love Christmas. It is by far one of the best holidays to exist in our modern world and while receiving, and giving, presents is certainly a top selling point of the holiday that is not the sole reason that I enjoy it. Christmas is a time of being thankful, of being kind, and bringing a myriad of color to an otherwise bleak and white winter.

Likewise, I enjoy Halloween for the wide array of treats that are otherwise nonexistent throughout the rest of the year, the spooky comradery found in those who enjoy being scared and scaring others with delightfully frightful tricks and films. It is a time of celebrating death, history, and fantasy alike as people of all ages become what they most want to be no matter how fantastical or farfetched it can be.

That all being said however, I cannot STAND how quickly Halloween is shoved aside on the first of November. I kid you not, the radio at my local grocery store was set to the holiday channel for Halloween, to which I enjoyed many a classically spooky tune, and the following day freaking ROCKIN’ AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE was playing! Christmas music! Mere minutes after Halloween! The local WalMart even has a sign that states the number of days left until Christmas!

When… when did we become the Whos of Whoville? When did the autumn winds get shoved aside for wintry snow? When did the terror and frights of All Hallow’s Eve get buried beneath joy and cheer with nary a passing glance? Well I can tell you here and now, no longer! For the next several entries, including today, I will focus on Disney, or Disney affiliated, films that pertain to Halloween in some fashion or another because blast it, much as I enjoy The Nightmare Before Christmas I refuse to start acting like the literal Grinch!

Spirits arise this Hallowed Night…

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Due to some outside circumstances that occurred last week and primarily due to recent reveals in Pokémon Sun & Moon alongside the most recent (and frankly utterly terrifying/disconcerting) episode of Pokémon Generations… I shall review the one type of Pokémon that is possibly the most disconcerting of them all and raises far too many questions towards one’s sanity.

For this admittedly long winded review, I shall be focusing only on the various PokéDex entrys and gauge the… difficulty of training such a Pokémon from one being a most benign spiritual entity to five, an outright phantasmal Lovecraftian horror that no sensible trainer would approach let alone capture and attempt to train. While numerical order might be more sensible, I feel it best to begin by degree of typing and so let us start out with the first of the pure Ghost-type Pokémon…

Save for Spiritomb as I’ve said more than enough on that particular Pokémon…

PURE GHOST-TYPES


Misdreavus & Mismasgius

Misdreavus, the Screech Pokémon, is notorious for being a prankster by way of such mischievous tricks such as screaming, appearing suddenly in front of one’s face, and biting/yanking people’s hair from behind. It plays these tricks primarily in the middle of the night in order to gather human fear into its crimson spheres where it utilizes these energies as nutrition.

Its evolved form via a Dusk Stone is Mismagius the Magical Pokémon has a distinction cry that sounds more like magical incantations that it primarily utilizes as a means of self-defense by tormenting its foes with headaches and hallucinations. However, it is also said that a Mismagius can also alter its distinctive vocalizations to be imbued with a happiness-giving power.

From the start, I’d say that Misdreavus ranks at a one pushing slightly at a two. For all those whom don’t care for the jump scare, save perhaps those that care too much about a measly paycheck for five nights at a local and downright disheartening pizzeria, Misdreavus only enact such frights in order to feed itself. This means of gaining nutrition is easily one of the most benign of any Ghost-type Pokémon and its evolved form Mismagius does not appear to require the same source of sustenance and can, in point of fact, bestow happiness upon its trainers and close allies.


Shuppet & Banette

The Puppet Pokémon, Shuppet is lured by vengeful emotions such as feelings of vindictiveness and jealousy and grows in power by feeding on them. In homes where such strong feelings are in wicked abundance, whole swarms of these Pokémon will line up beneath the eaves of that person’s home.

The Marionette Pokémon, Banette is said to be born from a Shuppet that houses itself in an abandoned doll, thus evolving into this Pokémon. It generates vile energies to lay strong curses upon its foes and victims alike by sticking pins into its own body. Contrary to its pre-evolution which are said to dwell in the eaves of people’s homes or in nearby forests, Banette originate from garbage dumps and are active wanderers seeking out the child that had thrown them away. It is said that this cursed energy would escape from its body should it ever open its zipped up mouth though whether this would weaken or destroy this Pokémon is mere conjecture at this point. Given the appearance of its Mega Form, it is likely the former rather than the latter.

Admittedly, there is probably more than a few urban legends piled up on Banette, especially considering that it differentiates so much from its pre-evolved form. Still, I’d put this Pokémon at a solid two, perhaps even a three, as the main concern is as much for the individual as it is for the Pokémon itself. Shuppets and Banettes both are attracted by vengeful emotions and, in the case of Shuppets, feed on those emotions to grow stronger. Either one of these Pokémon are likely to abandon their trainer to find individuals who radiate these emotions and if its trainer happens to have such feelings already… Well, I worry for any trainer that finds themselves facing such a person.


Duskull, Dusclops, & Dusknoir

No matter how thick the walls may be, Duskull the Requiem Pokémon can pass through it in search of its chosen prey with only the break of dawn being any source of reprieve from its pursuit. In the deep darkness of the midnight hour, this Pokémon is said to make off with misbehaving children who have earned more than their fair share of scorn from their mothers. However, this has account is likely of a similar style to that of the Bogeyman or Krampus insomuch that while such tales are oft told to such children, Duskull only startles and frightens such children in order to make them cry, a sound which is like music to their nonexistent ears.

Dusclops the Beckon Pokémon is said to be a living black hole as its body is actually completely hollow with absolutely nothing inside and people are warned not to try and look within lest their spirit is absorbed into the abyss within Dusclop’s wrappings. It can absorb anything no matter how large the object may be and seems to particularly enjoy finding and devouring will-o’-the-wisps. By waving its hands in a decidedly macabre manner and bringing its gleaming red eye to the fore, it can hypnotize its foe to do its bidding.

The rather oddly categorized Gripper Pokémon, Dusknoir is theorized to receive transmissions from the afterlife that bid it to seek out and find any lost or wandering souls and take those souls into itself and guide them home. In order for a Dusclops to evolve into this Pokémon, it must be traded whilst carrying a Reaper Cloth.

Though a Duskull may sound as mischievous as a Misdreavus, much like that Pokémon I’d call it and all of its evolutions a truly benign, if not outright helpful, Ghost-type Pokémon. True, a Duskull may pursue its foes endlessly in the dark but that’s actually rather appropriate for any trainer attempting to chase a Pokémon, like the Legendary Beasts of Johto, down and it only ever terrorizes children who deserve such punishments in the first place. As for Dusclops it eats spirits that are, contrary to popular Disney belief, notorious for leading people astray and, oftentimes, to their doom whereas Dusknoir finds lost souls and returns them to their proper place in the afterlife. A truly helpful ghost if ever there was one.


Yamask & Cofagrigus

The Spirit Pokémon Yamask is one of the few Ghost-type Pokémon to be confirmed as having been previously human due, in thanks, to the mask it carries which bears the semblance of its former face, which it sometimes gazes upon and breaks down crying as a result as it remembers the life it once had with perfect clarity. What makes this Pokémon even more saddening to behold is the fact that there are arisen from those interred in the grave from past ages upwards of hundreds, if not several thousand, years ago.

The aptly categorized Coffin Pokémon, Cofagrigus has the richest diet of any Pokémon as it literally dines on gold nuggets, which in turn makes up most of its coffin-like form. It is a particularly touchy Pokémon who do not care for any close contact with people and will swallow them up and spit them out as mummies, particularly grave robbers who mistake them for real coffins.

As it has been proven that some species of Pokémon are as intelligent, or even more intelligent, than most humans the matter of sentiency can’t be argued but the fact that both of these Pokémon were once human… There are so many ethical questions that arise from capturing either of these Pokémon never mind using them for battle. It’s that very disturbing thought that puts Yamask in the mid-tier because of the many numerous ethical questions that arise from such a Pokémon whilst its evolved form Cofagrgius is bumped to a four since its mummifications can be avoided by staying well out of touching range. Funding its diet is another matter entirely though.

 

PRIMARY GHOST-TYPES


Gastly, Haunter, & Gengar
Subtype: Poison

The Gas Pokémon Gastly is almost invisible under even the best of lightning but considering that 95% of its body is made up of a thin, gas-like substance it’s not that surprising. Gastly attack their foes by enshrouding them with their bodies and puts them to sleep without ever noticing the presence of this gaseous Pokémon. A Gastly’s gases are powerful enough to topple an Indian elephant in two seconds. Thankfully, Gastly are inherently weak to strong gusts of wind, which causes its body to dwindle away. Much like Shuppet, Gastly will seek refuge under the eaves of houses to seek refuge from winds but does not discriminate as to which homes it’ll use though they are noted to nest in decrepit, deserted buildings.

Haunter, another Gas Pokémon, is notorious as one of the most dangerous of Ghost-type Pokémon and with good reason too. Its tongue, made up entirely of gas, can cause anyone that is licked by it to start shaking uncontrollably before eventually succumbing to death, thus feeding a Haunter with the fading energies of life. Even a Haunter’s touch is dangerous as it also induces endless shuddering but does not result in the victim’s death. Strangely, a Haunter’s favorite form of hunting prey is to actually beckon them towards it a method heavily warned in most regions that are haunted by Haunter.

The Shadow Pokémon Gengar are the result of trading a Haunter with another trainer and are quite contrary to their pre-evolved forms in that whereas Gastly and Haunter are made up most of gas, Gengar are said to be living shadows. Its preferred form of hunting is hiding in people’s shadows and absorbing their heat. They are especially active under the light of a full moon, moving shadows and laughing at people’s fright. Strangely, the only known people that are threatened by a Gengar are those lost in the mountains, and are “attacked” by a Gengar who delightfully casts curses whilst leering in the shadows.

No doubt both Gastly and Haunter are exceedingly dangerous Pokémon, ranking a solid four entirely to their poisonous and deadly nature. Behaviorally speaking, neither Gastly nor Haunter are outright malicious, seemingly delighting more in the scare than the actual death of their victims but that does not lessen the threat either of these Pokémon possess to the inexperienced or unprepared. Contrarily, Gengar appear to have little to no poisonous attributes and the only danger they bring to others, particularly their trainers, is the sudden chill that results in a Gengar dining on heat.


Drifloon & Drifblim
Subtype: Flying

Drifloon the Balloon Pokémon is said to result in the culmination of human and Pokémon spirits and is thought to be a “Signpost for Wandering Spirits” because of the way it drifts about aimlessly though they seem to favor regions that are abundant in damp, humid seasons. A popular old wives tale about this Pokémon is that if a child who mistakes Drifloon for an ordinary balloon will be stolen away and indeed children who catch ahold of a Drifloon do end up missing. For a time anyway because try as it might to escape their clutches, a Drifloon is always the one being pulled about by the child rather than the other way around.

The Blimp Pokémon Drifblim is a nocturnally active Ghost-type Pokémon that are quite drowsy in the daylight but will fly off in massive groups once the sun has set though they’ll turn invisible should they be spotted by anyone on the ground. It is strong enough to carry people and Pokémon when it flies but since it is carried aloft on the winds, Drifblim, and its passengers, can end up anywhere.

A solid one, pushing close to zero, both of these balloon-like Pokémon are so benign it’s almost a shame to consider them spectral entities at all. Drifloon may receive something of a bad reputation via that old wives tale but really the only danger this Pokémon possesses towards children is distracting them with all the fun and antics that can be had with a balloon.


Giratina
Subtype: Dragon

The aptly categorized Renegade Pokémon, Giratina is said to live a world on the reverse side of reality, a realm that has since been named the Distortion World. It was banished there by Arceus the Alpha Pokémon for its violent behavior and has remained there for countless millennia, silently watching… Silently waiting…

Contrary to its Creation siblings Palkia and Dialga, Giratina possesses two distinctive formes. Its “Origin Forme,” which is likely its original body and appears to be quite agile whence compared to its “Altered Forme,” which appears to be quite cumbersome but far more powerful physically. As this Pokémon represents the concept of “the Void” or anti-matter, Giratina technically breaks the ranking as far as how dangerous it is to people and the world. Its behavior, which was violent enough to incur divine retribution, is only icing on the cake with this dead god.


Litwick, Lampent, & Chandelure
Subtype: Fire

Litwick the Candle Pokémon uses the life energy of people and Pokémon for fuel to burn for the ethereal flame atop its head. A Litwick is a true Pokémon equivalent to the will-o’-the-wisp in that it pretends to guide people to where they want to go while all the while leeching the life force of any who dare to follow its path.

Whereas Haunter is feared in the eastern regions, in the far west of Unova, it is the Lamp Pokémon Lampent that holds such esteem and rightfully so. It wanders through the streets of cities, searching for the freshly deceased in order to steal the spirit from the body to use as fuel for its baleful fire. They are especially known to frequent hospitals, patiently waiting for that moment of death…

Via a Dusk Stone, a Lampent will evolve into a Chandelure the Luring Pokémon, which is several times more dangerous than any Lampent. A Chandelure utilizes the flames on its arms to put its prey into a hypnotic trance, thus allowing it to feed on the spirits of the living for fuel until only a soulless body is left behind. Such a soul, when fully burned up, is forever lost and doomed to wander the world forever unless such Pokémon like Dusknoir happen to find it and guide it home.

Without a doubt, these candlelit Pokémon are a solid five even at their most “benign.” Whereas a Litwick can only feed on those that follow it, and Lampent on the freshly departed, a Chandelure can and will actively feed on any living soul within range and save for the inherent weaknesses of their typing, there is no means of protecting one’s soul from these ghastly Pokémon.



Phantump & Trevenant
Subtype: Grass

Phantump the Stump Pokémon are created when spirits happen upon and possess rotten tree stumps and as such prefer to live in abandoned forests far from people. According to legend the spirits that make up these Pokémon are… children who died while lost in the woods?!

Ah… Okay… then uh… Trevenant the Elder Tree Pokémon evolve from a traded Phantump and uses its roots like a human nervous system to control trees at will. While it is quite kind to those Pokémon that reside within its branches, it will trap anyone, human or Pokémon, who dare to harm its forest.

I… did not think that there would be a Ghost-type with an origin worse than Yamask but Phantump proves me wrong… While it is speculated as mere legend and Trevenant’s behavior doesn’t quite point to any human origination, the very idea that Phantump are born from the souls of dead children… Hopefully that is merely legend and not actual fact since both of these possessed trees are a solid one on the good side of the spectral scale provided one is good to the trees.


Pumpkaboo & Gourgeist
Subtype: Grass

The Pumpkin Pokémon, Pumpkaboo is, quite literally, a pumpkin inhabited by a spirit trapped in the living world and are said that they are to find and carry wandering spirits to the place where they belong. While they appear as an ordinary pumpkin at first glance, their true nature comes to fruition when the sun starts to set and they grow increasingly restless and active.

Gourgeist, another Pumpkin Pokémon, is the result of trading a Pumpkaboo. They ensnare their prey in long, hairlike arms and have been observed as singing quite joyfully while it watches its prey suffer. They are known for wandering town streets on the night of a new moon, singing in an eerie chorus. Anyone who hears the song of a Gourgeist is cursed.

While Pumkaboo is quite benign, a solid one, Gourgeist is arguably a three if only because the type of curse is never fully explored. As seen in most fictions, and facts, curses very from the annoying to the outright murderous. Heck, one of the most deadly of curses sounds very much like a blessing.


Mimikyu
Subtype: Fairy

The Disguise(d) Pokémon, Mimikyu is a Pokémon whose true form is, as of yet, to be fully seen as it forever hides itself beneath its cloth. It is a popular old wives tale in the Alola region that looking underneath Mimikyu’s disguise will plague one with a mysterious illness. Whether this is true fact or popular myth, it does not matter as the true reason that Mimikyu covers itself is twofold. First and foremost, its health falls under the rays of the sun. The second, and more obvious, reasoning is that Mimikyu had taken notice of the rising popular of Pikachu-themed merchandise and so styled their disguise to appear like this Electric-type Pokémon to appeal to people. Mimikyu are dreadfully lonely Pokémon and so seek the love and affections of others by hiding itself beneath a cute disguise.

… Welp, never thought I’d hear tale of a ghost that would tug at my heartstrings but there you have it. The one and only truly negative number on the spectral scale of threatening, at least at the time of this post. After all, we have not seen for certain that there is more to Mimikyu and for all that we know, it may in fact evolve into something well and truly terrifying…


Sandygast & Palossand
Subtype: Ground

The Sand Mound Pokémon, Sandygast emerge when the grudges of living creatures, particularly Pokémon, soak into the sand after they fall in battle. While it is a living pile of sand, it cannot increase its own size without aid and so uses its power to manipulate children into gathering sand by way of its shovel, which puts people under Sandygast’s control. The tunnel-like mouth of a Sandygast suck the vitality out of living creatures and it’s a popular, if not slightly stupid, test of courage in the Alola region to put one’s hand in a Sandygast’s gaping maw.

Contrary to a Sandygast, the Sand Castle Pokémon Palossand can control adults and bid them to form its massive, castle shaped body, which it can restore on its own even without other sand present. The shovel atop Palossand’s head revolves and acts as some form of radar for hunting prey. It particularly enjoys the vitality of small Pokémon and will drag them down into a sandy vortex to their doom.

It is a popular belief that when you enter the ocean, you enter the food chain. The same can now be said of any beach anywhere in the world apparently. While a Sandygast is relatively easy to deal with and vanquish, a Palossand is far more difficult and seeing as it is rumored the Sandygast arise from cast off pieces of a Palossand… It should also be known that these category four Ghost-type Pokémon are the likely cause of the Raichu variation of becoming a Psychic subtype.

 

 

SECONDARY GHOST-TYPES


Shedinja
Primary Type: Bug

The Shed(ed) Pokémon, Shedinja is a Pokémon that mysteriously appears in an extra Poké Ball when a Nincada evolves into a Ninjask. By all accounts, Shedinja is a hollowed bug shell that has mysteriously come to life as its hard body doesn’t move nor give any indication of life such as breathing or a heartbeat. It is believed that looking into the hollow hole at this Pokémon’s back will allow this Pokémon to steal one’s spirit.

However, given that most trainers tend to stand behind this Pokémon during battle, this is more than likely another tall tale, putting this Pokémon as another benign spectral example. Honestly, save for the sheer creepiness of this Pokémon being a floating yet completely immobile bug shell and its sudden, and admittedly rather bizarre, appearance in an empty Poké Ball… Okay, it’s a whole new level of creepy but still, aside from that it’s a bug, and a rather harmless one at that as far as Ghost-types are concerned.



Sableye
Primary Type: Dark

The Darkness Pokémon, Sableye live quiet lives deep inside caverns but are unjustly feared by people due to the belief that they steal human souls when their jewel-like eyes glow in the darkness. Its diet however consists entirely of raw gems, which it digs up in the ground and devours with relish. These gems eventually crystalize and rise up along the surface of this Pokémon’s body, particularly the back.

Aside from a rather expensive diet of gemstones, Sableye are quiet nice as far as ghostly Pokémon go and are pretty versatile Pokémon due to their, somewhat, unique mixed typing. Really, of the secondary Ghost-types, Sableye is more akin to an actual living creature than any manner of spectral entity. One that I can’t imagine would be easy to look after in concerns to one’s wallet but still…


Froslass
Primary Type: Ice

The Snow Land Pokémon that bears a striking resemblance to the yuki-onna of Japanese lore, Froslass are a female-only species of Ghost-type Pokémon and as such are commonly believed to be the spirit of a woman lost on an icy mountain reborn. Its icy breath reaches nearly -60 degrees Fahrenheit and its body is actually hollow.

Aside from an otherwise possibly eerie origin, Froslass is another example of an otherwise harmless ghost. Admittedly, it is not a Pokémon I’d recommend for one that prefers warmer climates but for those that wouldn’t mind a cool gust of air every now and again? Froslass is your girl.


Rotom

Primary Type: Electric
Secondary Sub-Type: Variable

Aptly categorized as the Plasma Pokémon, a Rotom’s body is composed entirely of plasma and as such allows it to infiltrate electronic devices and unleash some major havoc. Research is continuing on this particular Pokémon as being a possible power source to a unique motor system, most notably the latest version of Professor Oak’s PokéDex.

On its own, a Rotom is a solid one, despite its electric-like body. In the presence of certain machinery however, and in the “wild” as it were, this Pokémon can cause all kinds of chaos with the slightest of ease thanks in part to its ability to change its sub-type based on whatever machinery it bases its form on and even gains a corresponding attack of that type as a result. Still, at best, this Pokémon ranks at a two, maybe a low three, as its actions are the result of playing mischief and are otherwise not intended to be malicious.


Frillish & Jellicent
Primary Type: Water

The Floating Pokémon Frillish paralyze their prey with poison before they drag them down to their lairs, which are located at a minimum depth of five miles below the ocean surface.

Jellicent, another Floating Pokémon, propel themselves by expelling seawater that it absorbs into its body and feed off life energy of others. Any ship that wanders into its territory are said to be sunken and the crew lost to the waves.

Frillish is… quite frankly a overpower jellyfish if nothing else whereas its evolved form of Jellicent possesses a true spectral quality in its preferred diet but is, otherwise, no different than any other “here be dragons” type of sea creature. Aside from their apparent ability to float above the water and their preference for several miles


Golett & Golurk
Primary Type: Ground

The Automaton Pokémon, Golett are presumed to have been created by the science of an ancient and mysterious civilization as the energy it burns for locomotion has yet to be identified. Though the composition of its body resembles clay, this Pokémon can remain active for thousands of years.

Though not much has been discovered about Golurk, it is a strong speculation that this Pokémon was ordered to protect the lives of people and Pokémon alike by the same ancients who made their pre-evolved form. Though primarily a Ground-type, Golurk are capable of flying across the sky at Mach speeds. The only way to truly destroy a Golurk, or at least render it inactive, is to destroy the seal on its chest, which causes its internal energy to go haywire.

Another negative numbered Ghost-type Pokémon, both of these Automaton Pokémon are not only beneficial towards humans and fellow Pokémon but actively go out of their way to protect them whenever and however they can, even from threats far beyond their capability of matching or defeating.


Honedge, Doublade, & Aegislash
Primary Type: Steel

Honedge the Sword Pokémon, and never before has there been a more aptly categorized Pokémon, is said to be born from a departed soul inhabits a sword. If someone were to try and grab its hilt, it will wrap its blue cloth around that person’s arm and drain them of their life energy.

Upon evolution, a Honedge separates into the paired Doublade who communicate with each other via telepathy and coordinate their attacks to turn their enemies to ribbons. A Doublade’s coordination and attack patterns are so complex that even swords masters, both human and Pokémon, find defeating one all impossible.

Through use of a Dusk Stone, a Doublade will evolve into the Royal Sword Pokémon, Aegislash. An Aegislash can detect the innate qualities of leadership in an individual and, according to legend, those whom it recognizes are destined to become king. Generations of royalty were attended by Aegislash, which used their powers to manipulate and control people and Pokémon alike.

While a Honedge’s spectral origins are mere conjecture at this point, their lethality is without doubt and yet not fully defined either. The specific wording goes if one were to grab a Honedge’s hilt that it would drain them of their life. However, it says nothing if one were to be granted said hilt by the Pokémon itself. As for Doublade, it can serve as a great teacher in the art of sword combats and fighting on two fronts as well. Aegislash however… While it is humbling to know that they recognize the qualities of good royalty in people it is a bit disconcerting that they can, and will gladly, utilize mental control to manipulate sentient beings to the whim of their anointed royal.


Hoopa
Primary Type: Psychic
Secondaru Sub-Type: Dark

Known as both the Mischief and Djinn Pokémon depending on whether it is in its Confined or Unbound forms, this rapscallion is infamous for sending anything and everything in its sights to faraway places via its rings which can warp the very fabrics of space and time to its bidding. It especially likes to do this for things that it likes and will store them away to a secret place that only Hoopa knows. In its true form, Hoopa loses its spectral energies and becomes a Dark sub-Type, possessing enough power and avarice that it once carried off an entire castle to gain the treasures hidden within, or so it is said.

Hoopa is… unique even amongst most Legendary Pokémon, never mind those now sub-categorized as being Mythical. It is one of the few Pokémon to change its Type upon altering its form and, supposedly mind you, drastically alters its mannerisms. A Confined Hoopa, while still quite mischievous, is little more than an exceedingly crafty thief on par with the likes of Carmen Sandiego. Unbound… it is this in order of several magnitudes and without any sense of humor.

Decidueye
Primary Type: Grass

Newly revealed for the upcoming Pokémon Sun & Moon, Decidueye is the evolved form of Rowlet and is incredibly adept at the art of archery. In a tenth of a second it can pluck an arrow quill from its wing and send it hurtling towards its target from over half a mile away. A skilled Decidueye can even boast acrobatic curved shots that should be outright impossible to achieve such as loosing a veritable storm of arrows that come crashing down from the sky like heavenly wrath.

Even less of a Ghost in appearance than Frillish & Jellicent, Decidueye is similar to them in that it is very much a living, breathing Pokémon and not one that is in any manner a spectral entity. However, it boasts abilities that are otherwise spiritual in nature, specifically in its signature move: Spirit Shackle. This move utilizes one of Decidueye’s quill arrows which does not pierce the opponent but the opponent’s shadow, making them unable to flee or be returned to their Poké Ball.

Frankly, that attack alone makes Decidueye worth several hundred times its weight in gold nuggets.

“Tomorrow can be a wonderful age…”

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While never said outright by him, it’s a popular belief that Tomorrowland was one of Walt Disney’s favorite lands insomuch that he was forever the futurist with his views on what we, as a society, could achieve if we really put our minds to it. In a rather sad twist of irony however, Tomorrowland has since become something of a struggle to maintain that visionary view of a not-so-far-off future. In Disneyland, it had been renovated no less than three times whilst the one located in the Magic Kingdom is now in its second generation with a possible third not too far away.

Heck, there was even a tongue-in-cheek nod towards the “age” of Tomorrowland in the film Meet the Robinsons where we see a brief view of a theme park aptly named “Todayland.”

Attraction-wise, Tomorrowland is… something of a mixed bag. There is excitement to be found for all ages and places to just sit back and chill as well. Some of these attractions though are admittedly quite dated in either their presentation or their actual age such as one of my personal favorites, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress.

As its name implies, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is a stage performance wherein the audience is rotated around four distinct acts which take place in four major parts of history featuring the, somewhat stereotypical, American family.

Act One takes place at the turn of the 20th century, specifically 1904, where the most advanced piece of technology is a pump for water in the kitchen and a telephone. Act Two takes in the 1920’s place when electricity became widespread and Charles Lindbergh would attempt his record flight. Act Three is in the 1940’s where dishwashers have since become a thing alongside household television sets which, let me tell you, were ridiculously big for how small the screen was. The final act takes place in the far future and is, admittedly, quite dated as of…

Gosh, I’d say half a decade now? While no date is said outright the technologies displayed by the family include, voice activated electronics such as the Christmas lights on a tree and an oven, virtual reality video game that uses hand and body motions to play instead of a joystick or buttons, and a self flushing toilet.

… Yeah, okay, that last one is probably a lot old than a decade but still, it’s kind of hilarious to see that the “far future” is pretty much today.

Next up, as far as age is concerned, is the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, or simply PeopleMover, for short. It is, quite literally, a small tour around Tomorrowland from a second story point of view and shows off some unique perspectives into the attraction Space Mountain and a few stores as well. The real breadwinner though is the original conception model of the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow, which would eventually become the theme park EPCOT.

The Astro Orbiter is another carousel ride that takes place in the air but contrary to its brethren in Adventureland and Fantasyland, this one takes place sixty feet off the ground and while it’s no more dangerous than its fellows, I sincerely don’t recommend this ride for those who have a slight fear of heights.

Speaking of old school rides to probably avoid, there’s the Tomorrowland Speedway, which does no live up to its name at all let me tell you. This ride is one wherein anyone of all ages can drive their own motorized vehicle but with several quid pro quo attached to it. First, there’s a track that the car must follow along and while you can turn anyway you want, you’ll still hit the bloody thing and it’ll jar ya something fierce. Second, the cars don’t go that fast and if you think regular rush hour traffic is bad wait until you’re stuck behind a kid too short to really reach the gas pedal. I’d go on but really, I’d rather not.

Space Mountain, ah yes, a full enclosed roller coaster that takes place within near total darkness and has, officially, no actual story behind it. There is a graphic novel adaptation of this ride but as far as I have heard, that’s all that there is to it. The ride itself doesn’t necessitate a story really, it’s a roller coaster based on rockets shooting through the stars, what more do you need? I do warn however that if you happen to be wearing a hat, I’d recommend keeping it in hand or giving it to those in your party that aren’t going on the ride. Believe me, you will lose it.

From the so-called relics of the past, we go to those of the future attractions. Ah, that is to say, those that are not more than a decade or so old. First up is a ride that is both incredibly entertaining and unbelievably aggravating, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.

This ride is a shooting ride wherein two riders are aboard a “Star Cruzer” and are tasked by Buzz Lightyear to combat and stop the forces of the Evil Emperor Zurg from stealing more batteries, ah, ahem, that is to say crystallic fusion cells. Each rider is given a laser gun, attached to the headboard of the vehicle, and must take aim at the specifically marked weaknesses of Zurg’s forces, which are shaped in a “Z.” The Cruzer takes tally of the points of the players and by the rides end they can see where they rank among their fellow cadets.

Sounds rather fun doesn’t it? Ah, but I haven’t touched upon the aggravating part now have I? The ride is called Space Ranger Spin for a reason and that reason is the shared joystick that causes the cruisers to spin around left or right and must be shared between the two riders. Let me tell you, there is no faster way to start a competition between friends and family than putting them in such a position as this.

Next up we have the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, a actual live stage performance featuring a wide cast of monsters. Well, wide in so much that three types of monsters show up though their names tend to differ. Each monster focuses on a specific type of humor and interacts with the audience to varying degrees. Trust me when I say that no two shows are ever the same and it’s extremely rare to leave it without having laughed yourself silly.

Last, but certainly not least, is Stitch’s Great Escape! wherein we the audience get to see a… slightly different take on how Stitch managed to escape Galactic Prison for the first time prior to his recapture in the original film. The ride itself consists of guests being seat, and strapped down, in a teleportation chamber wherein Stitch is teleported and quickly reeks merry havoc about the place with guests reacting to his motions and movements. A… small word of warning though, there’s a part wherein Stitch finds and devours someone’s chili dog and burps against the back of your neck. When that part comes up lean forward or that smell will stay with your for hours afterward.

Sadly, it would seem that Stitch’s time in Tomorrowland is drawing to a close as the ride has since become a seasonal operation ride in that it will be open depending on rate of attendance so likely the busiest times of the year. There are rumors circulating that the characters from Wreck-It Ralph may make a home in Tomorrowland but as of this post, there is no official confirmation from Disney Execs.

Shopping wise, Tomorrowland doesn’t offer much in the way of stores with only four in all. Merchant of Venus, Mickey’s StarTraders, Tomorrowland Power & Light, and Buzz’s Star Command. Admittedly, most of these shops are geared towards technology in that a lot of gear for smartphones and the like can be found here alongside products pertaining to the more “futuristic” Disney characters and franchises, most notably Star Wars.

As to food, there’s a few places of note with one shining star amidst them. There’s the Cool Ship and Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies which consists mostly of treats with the Cool Ship in particular serving one of the best fruit smoothies I’ve ever had. There’s the Tomorrowland Terrace Cafe which serves full meals but, like Stitch’s Great Escape!, is only opened seasonally. There’s the aptly named Lunching Pad at Rockettower Plaza, located just beneath the PeopleMover and Astro Orbiter, which serves the aforementioned hotdogs and the like.

The true shining star however is Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café which serves a wide range of food and features a live stage performance from a visiting alien named Sunny Eclipse who primarily sings altered renditions of popular Earth songs and offers a few comedic tales of his escapades through the cosmos.

As to the cast of characters that can be found in Tomorrowland, I warn that, much like Fantasyland and Frontierland, there is no set guarantee as to when, or whom, you might run into but as of today the sightings include Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, Lilo & Stitch from Lilo & Stitch, Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible (Elasti-Girl), Frozone from The Incredibles.

Not much I admit but hey, that’s in the present. Who knows who’ll arrive in the future?

 

Just around the corner is a…

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Fantasyland, one of the most recognized and by far most popular of the themed lands in the Magic Kingdom as well as the various Disneyland Parks. Easily the biggest of the lands and filled to the bursting with attractions, the only ones that would find Fantasyland lacking are those whom are thrill seekers as, sadly, the old attraction of The Scary Adventures of Snow White has long since been refurbished. Not that I mind that any for while the ride was in itself a retelling of Snow White’s adventures, the forest scene as well as those that featured the Wicked Queen, pre and post hag transformation, were nothing short of terrifying at any age.

As it has been some time since the recent expansion into “New” Fantasyland, I will divide this land into the three subsections that it has been quasi-officially been given. I say quasi because contrary to popular assumption, only one of these subsections has any actual signage of note and a clear divide between it and the rest of Fantasyland.

Starting off in the Castle Courtyard, which is located directly behind Cinderella Castle, there’s the most famous attraction in all of Disney history, or infamous depending on whom you ask. It’s a Small World is a water boat ride wherein the riders traverse across the globe and see a myriad of dolls from all corners of the earth singing to the titular song. It is a ride that is well and truly for extremely young audiences but does hold a bit of amusement for adults as well as, for a time at any rate, it also had some distinct Disney characters residing in their respected countries/locations. Much as people joke about the song and how much of an earworm it can become, I haven’t really found it to be so. It’s no golden record wonder by any means but it’s certainly not one to cover one’s ears against.

Peter Pan’s Flight is another ride retelling of the classic film but one that has undergone a few revisions over the years, most notable in the form of it attaining an interactive queue that I, rather unfortunately, cannot comment on as this ride, more frequently than any other ride in the entirety of the Magic Kingdom has a substantially long wait. On average, the wait time for Peter Pan’s Flight is anywhere between an hour to two depending on which day of the week and what time of day it is.  The ride itself though is quite fun as we go up on miniaturized renditions of Hook’s ship and soar over London and various portions of Neverland.

Mickey’s Philharmagic is a 3D CGI show that features Donald Duck trying to catch the sorcerer’s hat throughout popular, and classic, Disney musical moments from a small variety of films, most notably those of the Disney Renaissance era. Hands down this is my favorite attraction in the whole park and I generally make it a point to go on it more than once. Contrary to most 3D films shown in cinemas, there is no real “sweet spot” as it were to get the whole effect going. Frankly, there is too much happening across the screen, which in itself is I’d say a size-and-a-half wider than most theater screens, to focus on one spot in particular.

Prince Charming Regal Carousel, formerly known as Cinderella’s Golden Carousel, has a rather interesting history behind it’s name change. It was changed in the years leading up to the new expansion of the park and was done so to actually tell a bit more of Cinderella’s story, which can in turn be located verbatim at this LINK here.

The Carousel is honestly no different than any other of its kind save for some unique features. First and foremost, it is located directly center behind Cinderella Castle and believe me, Disney Executives, including Walt Disney’s own brother Roy, checked for this. Secondly, there is in fact one horse out of the many on the ride that is known by Cast Member’s as Cinderella’s Horse as it sports a golden bow upon its tail, a trait not shared by any other equine on the ride.

Off the corner of Fantasyland, and oftentimes unofficially recognized as its own land as far as merchandising is concerned, is Storybook Circus wherein the oft recognized aerial carousel rendition of Dumbo himself can be found. Much like the Carpets of Adventureland, Dumbo the Flying Elephant allows riders to go up and down as they please whilst doing a slow circle around.

Aside from this, there’s the Barnstormer, a junior roller coaster that was a former resident of the now forgone Toontown Fair. It’s not a bad ride for kids seeking thrills fitting to their size and adults who otherwise are uncomfortable with what the other coasters of the Magic Kingdom have to offer. There’s also a little area known as Casey Jr. Splash ‘n’ Soak Station, where the train from Dumbo can be found with elephants and giraffes ready and waiting to splash any who draw near with water.

Moving on from the Circus, we get to the truly expanded section of Fantasyland known simply as the Enchanted Forest. Here’s where any and all fans of the Disney Princesses will find two miniaturized replicas of the other Disney Princess castles, specifically the castles from Beauty & the Beast and The Little Mermaid. On that note (hah!) we’ve got the ride Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid which is sister to Peter Pan’s Flight though with far more advanced animatronics involved. No joke, Ursula is so realistic in appearance that younger, more impressionable, children may get a wee bit freaked out.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride is easily the most unique roller coaster I’ve ever been on as it incorporates its design of being a mine cart ride quite literally in that each car of the coaster actually rocks, though not by a terrifying margin, from side to side. The ride itself is second only to Peter Pan’s Flight for wait time and I again can’t help but blame the interactive, and quite addictive, games scattered throughout the queue.

For those whose heart lies in a familiar wood about a hundred acres or so in size, there’s the ride The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which, like Under the Sea and Peter Pan’s Flight is a retelling of the stories of Winnie the Pooh, though does so by featuring many iconic moments of the multitude of stories rather than just one in particular. It is also the only ride to have a literal playground attached to the waiting queue where really young kids can go wild while the rest of their party holds their place in line. The real trick though is getting them out from said playground.

Last, but certainly not least, is the iconic Mad Tea Party ride which is admittedly the most basic of basic rides that being a spinning teacup ride done to the songs and themes of Alice in Wonderland. It may not be a wholly unique ride nor one that is distinct amongst others  of its make or design but gosh-darn it, it’s a staple of any theme park worthy of the title and is, if nothing else, a piece of amusement park history. … And it’s based on my favorite of the Golden Age of Disney Animated Films, so there.

Virtually every ride in Fantasyland has its own themed store attached or is within range of one as well. In the case of the Storybook Circus, there is a little circus tent of a store that carries a wide range of products though none strictly unique to Fantasyland alone. If you’re looking for more character-themed products though, Fantasyland is your place with such stores as Hundred Acre Goods and Seven Dwarfs’ Mine.

As to the dining scene, there are eight places in all to find food and drink with most of them, such as the Cheshire Café or Friar’s Nook, being quick-served places for light meals and the like. The real trophy winners though are found in the two castles. Cinderella’s Royal Table is a character dining experience that is worth its weight in gold for food, experience, and the sights.

The food is not for casual diners however with some being a bit too… high and proper for most. It is also one of the few places to dine that requires a minimum of 180 days advanced reservation and that’s for a general date and not during the high tides of business for the park. Still worth it though because the dining area itself is truly fit for royalty, and I would bet my bottom dollar that a few such individuals have dined there themselves, but the desert… Oh man, just look at it.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Be Our Guest Restaurant located at the rendition of Beast’s Castle and let me tell you if Cinderella’s Royal Table is fit for nobility than this restaurant is for actual royals. While there is certainly no rule against it, I almost like there’s a suit and tie requirement to dine at this place with how exquisite it looks.

Contrary to its sister restaurant though, this one does not offer character visitation and while reservations in advanced are welcome, they’re with a near half-year minimum. Like its fellow though, the food is high end on the finer side of dining though I have heard, from Cast Members and patrons alike, that the gray stuff is not only available to all but also quite delicious.

Finally, we get to the characters that can be met and seen at Fantasyland… Alright, here we go in no particular order we got: Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Rabbit, and Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, Ariel and on occasion Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid, Alice, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts, and Tweedles Dee & Dum from Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Wendy Darling, Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, Tinkerbell and her fellow fairy friends from Peter Pan–

GASP!

–Cinderella, Prince Charming, Anastasia, Drizella, assortment of mice, and Lady Tremaine from Cinderella, Merlin from The Sword & the Stone, Snow White, any one of the Seven Dwarfs, the Prince, and the Wicked Queen (Queenly or Witchy) from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Belle, Gaston, and the Beast (Human or Beastly) from Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, Geppetto, Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio, Mary Poppins and Bert from Mary Poppins, Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, Prince John, the Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood, Aurora, the three Good Fairies, Prince Philip, and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, Merida from Brave, Elsa & Anna from Frozen, Rapunzel & Eugene from Tangled, Jasmine from Aladdin.

Whew… I… I think that’s all of them but, to be fair, these are all subject to change. To be fair, the only ones that can be seen with absolute certainty are the Disney Princesses as they have a few set areas for them, namely the Princess Fairytale Hall, which cycles through them so there’s no set guarantee as to who is and isn’t there, Ariel’s Grotto for Ariel, and Fairytale Garden for Merida. Others, like Alice, Pooh, and Peter Pan, generally make appearances near their respected rides but there’s never a set time for them though there is a specific space if one knows where to look.

The King Has Returned…

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SHIN GODZILLA


AKA:
Godzilla Resurgence
Directed By:
Hideaki Anno & Shinji Higuchi
Screenplay By: Hideaki Anno
American Distribution By: Funimation

I’ll admit, when I heard that Japan was going to bring Godzilla back to the silver screen, I was happy. When I learned that it would feature the collaboration of both Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, I’m fairly certain I made the likes of the foaming guy from Avatar: The Last Airbender look pale by comparison. For those of you who are unfamiliar with these two gentlemen, allow me to elucidate.

Hideaki Anno is an animator, film director, and actor most noted for his award winning anime series, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water and, most especially, the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime and film series. This is the man who all but rejuvenated the mecha-themed anime in the 90’s and whose most noted anime is still sitting at the top of its genre.

Shinji Higuchi is a storyboard artist, most commonly for anime, most notably of the recent Kill la Kill series, but is recognized more as one of Japan’s top special effects supervisors for his work in the Gamera film trilogy and the live action adaptations to Attack on Titan, the former of which brought a golden ending to the 90’s era of kaiju films in Japan and whose subsequent success helped spur the creation of the Millennium Era of Godzilla films. Well that and the flop that shall not be named but the point still stands, not one but two great directors of film and special effects were coming together to make a Godzilla film. I honestly thought it couldn’t get any better.

Then I had to go and find out that Shirō Sagisu, a music producer and composer whose career spans over thirty-five years, was going to be involved whilst a few key compositions from Akira Ifukube, who all but composed nearly every Godzilla film from the first one in 1954 to Godzilla’s “retirement” film Godzilla vs Destroyer in 1995. As to Shirō Sagisu, his claim to fame lies in such anime as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Bleach, and, most recently, the Attack on Titan live action adaptations.

However, the question remains, did Shin Godzilla, so named by Toho whom didn’t want anyone to confuse this film as a sequel for the Legendary Godzilla film, live up to the hype that it built in me? I want to say yes, I well and truly do but fact of the matter is I can’t.

Instead, I’ll type it out as such: YES!

Whilst I will refrain from spoilers to the actual plot, as several wikis and other sources across the net already have, I will say that this film is a product of its era to the letter. Whereas the first film was inspired, and subsequently alluding to, the threat of the nuclear bomb, Shin Godzilla takes a lot of inspiration from the more recent events that transpired in 2011. Specifically, the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami which swiftly led to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986 and shares with it the rank of Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

There is also something of a political satire in the film… Alright, a lot of satire aimed towards the Japanese government that is otherwise not really shown in these types of film. The film shows the amount of links there are in the chain of politics and how much time can be wasted by following them to such finite degrees. In the film, it takes the government two hours to decide what to do with the appearance of Godzilla and it is all but implied outright later that had they acted swifter, and with more assuredness, the threat would have been vanquished with far fewer consequences.

Godzilla himself… or rather “itself” is by far the most distinct interpretation by far. Though never stated with absolute certainty, it is assumed that Godzilla is a form of ancient microbial animal that had been exposed to nuclear waste and either entirely by that exposure, or by the machinations of one who held no love of nuclear energies or the Japanese government, became capable of rapid mutation/evolution. When Godzilla first appears, it is… to put it frankly the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen, appearing to be one part aquatic fish and three parts drowned dinosaur before it rapidly mutates/evolves into a more upright posture and disappearing into the ocean only to reappear in a far larger, and far more powerful, form.

Aesthetically speaking… I admit that I like where they went with this design but I could never call it my absolute favorite though it is definitely at the top when looked at under the “evil” Godzilla category instead of the “chaotic neutral/good” variants over the years. This is not a creature merely mutated by accident nor is it some manner of living destruction wrought by nature. This Godzilla is a malformed monstrosity whose likeness is the stuff of nuclear horrors, malignant agonies, and unrestrained destruction.

Godzilla is undeniably powerful in this incarnation as far as raw firepower is concerned and I mean that in the most literal sense of that word. His traditional nuclear heat ray is the most powerful I’ve seen yet and the way that it utilizes it is nothing short of absolutely terrifying. Thankfully, this incarnation of Godzilla is not without its own share of weaknesses and it is used with great effect to stop the monster just in the nick of time.

For while this creature is capable of asexual reproduction it is not done in the same vein as Zilla, but in a far more… frankly disturbing fashion. No joke, the film ends with the reveal of what was mere moments from happening had Godzilla not been stopped when it was and I can tell you all here and now, ladies and gentlemen, that I have never, not once, ever felt such a chill as I did watching a Godzilla film before…

Hear ye, hear ye…!

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Just off the corner of Frontierland lays a smidge of territory known simply as Liberty Square and is the only land unique to the Magic Kingdom with no other replica, or slight variation, to be found in any of the other Disneyland parks. Conceived as a representation of colonial America, Liberty Square hosts only two true attractions to its name though that’s not to say that points of interest can’t be found here for those whose interests lie in American history.

Aside from a pseudo-replica of the Liberty Tree, which had been grown on the same property as the original and carefully replanted, there is also a replication of the Liberty Bell, a replication that has had a long history of conspiracy to its name surprisingly. Contrary to those urban legends, this duplicate of the Liberty Bell was cast from a mold created in 1989 and is not one of two bells made from this cast as several more have since been made and is not the one supposedly intended for Pennsylvania as one of the fifty cast for the states back in 1976.

Of the lands, Liberty Square has the fewest of actual attractions, as one can argue that the riverboat ride is shared with Frontierland, but arguably has one of the most popular, if not internationally recognized, attraction in the entirety of Disney theme park history.

The Haunted Mansion, which, sadly, I must refrain from speaking of in too great detail for I do intend to give a more in-depth view of it this Hallow’s Eve. What I can say of the ride is that contrary to what I had assumed as a child, the ride, while a bit scary for those who hold no love for the macabre, ghosts, or any other variations of the departed, it is not an all-out terrifying ride. To date, I’ve seen audiences of all ages go upon the ride and enjoy it immensely and, if I were to be perfectly honest, the Hollywood Tower of Terror located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is far more frightening, but that’s a subject for a later date.

The other attraction, The Hall of Presidents, is one that is not strictly for everyone insomuch that while I’d say it’s worth a watch it can, at times, be a bit boring to the less historically inclined. That’s not to say that it isn’t an interesting show to behold as we, the audience, are treated to see every single president in America history on stage with a small speech or two delivered by Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln followed shortly by an actual recording made by the current President, Barack Obama. In point of fact, as of this post, the animatronics for these three Presidents are the most advanced and lifelike animatronics to be created by Disney Imagineers to date.

Another attraction that I’ve sadly missed and is, as of this post, only a few weeks old is a live performance of the greatest moments in American history as presented to us by none other than Kermit the Frog and his fellow muppets.

As to places to dine and shop, Liberty Square has a surprising amount of both though not in a way you’d expect. For restaurants, there are three in all the Columbia Harbour House that serves a slightly expensive lunch and dinner, the Liberty Tree Tavern that serves an expensive but undeniably filling lunch and inner, and Sleepy Hollow that serves small snacks and deserts. All three are worth their price in food but for the Liberty Tree Tavern, I sincerely recommend dining on an empty stomach or you’ll find yourself in need of a larger pair of pants as a result.

As to shops, there’s the Heritage House that, as its name implies, features items of American Heritage, the Liberty Square Portrait Gallery where one can get their portrait done, Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe whose items may be found in a few other Christmas themed stores in Walt Disney World but I wholeheartedly do not recommend entertaining that notion if there’s something that catches your eye.

And last, but certainly not least, the Memento Mori store that houses any and all things related to the Haunted Mansion, none of which can be found elsewhere in the park itself or on other Walt Disney World properties. From shirts, to statues, to illustrations, to even a recent comic book mini-series, this shop has it all and more besides. There’s even a uniquely ghastly photograph opportunity to be had where one’s picture shifts between the living and the dead, though how this is accomplished, I was far too scared to ask.

Unfortunately, of the lands in the Magic Kingdom, Liberty Square is severely lacking in any truly established characters. Oh yes, one may find some cast members dressed and attired for ye olden colonial America but that is thus far the extent of characters to be found currently. Previously, one could have met the likes of Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen from the film, The Princess and the Frog. Why these two were eventually… retired I suppose is the best word for it, I haven’t the foggiest but I would sincerely hope to see them make a return in the future.

However during holiday celebrations for both Halloween and Christmas, there are two other characters that can be found roaming around Liberty Square, particularly close to the Haunted Mansion. Sally and Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas.