Pandragon Dan

Pandragon Dan

Author/Reviewer/Blogger

Pandragon Disney Death Match! Tangled Versus The Huncback of Notre Dame

Today we’re trying something a little different. A piece I like to call... (add dramatic voice and hardcore thrash metal music here)

 

PANDRAGONDAN’S DISNEY DEATHMATCH!!!

 

Ahem, ok... it’s not going to be QUITE as bloody as the title makes it out to be, but... I couldn’t think of a witty title! XD

 

This is similar to a previous idea I had called Animated Musical Showdown – which I decided to stop in favour of this. For those new to this, don’t worry, you aren’t missing anything.

 

As many of you guys know, I love Disney – whether old school or new school. Having purchased a bundle of Disney films with works vouchers over the last few months, it got me thinking – what do I consider the best Disney films of all time? And this is where this comes in! In this blog, I will pit two Disney films against each other to try and determine which film is better (at least in my opinion). I’ll try and pick films with similar themes and ideas to try and keep it as fair as possible.

 

In each battle, there will be five “rounds”, of which I will talk about what I like, don’t like, etc, then award a point accordingly. Whoever has the most points at the end wins. Simple as that! And I’m keeping it to five so that there is no chance of a tie happening.

 

And just so you guys are aware, elements such as animation and awards/recognition won will NOT factor into my choices – only the categories mentioned in each one will matter.

 

Just a warning, this blog may contain spoilers for each story, so consider yourself warned. All opinions/conclusions reached are my own.

 

So with that being said, for my first Deathmatch, I’m putting up one of my favourite films of all time, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, against a modern reimagining of a famous fairytale, Tangled. Both are unique twists on classic stories – but which one holds up the most? Let’s find out.

 

 

 

 

FIGHT!!!

 

 

ROUND 1 – Protagonists

 

 

 

 

Here I look at the protagonists of each film – Rapunzel for Tangled and Quasimodo for Hunchback – and decide which one of them is a more sympathetic and likeable character.

 

In many ways, both are very much alike and have similar back stories. Both are locked away from the outside world by their respective antagonist, who in turn pretends to be a “guardian” for them. Both of them wish to be outside amongst the people, but are warned the world is cruel and will reject them. And both of them have a love interested that is “killed” by the villain. But each character has differences that sets them apart from the other.

 

In Rapunzel’s case, she was born with the ability to heal through her hair, granted by a magic flower was fed to her mother at birth. Kidnapped by Mother Gothel as a child, who wished to use her healing powers to stop herself from aging, Rapunzel was locked away, never knowing who her real parents were. Every year, the castle would release lights into the sky in memory of the princess (and their parents hoping it would bring Rapunzel back to them) and Rapunzel was drawn to them, never knowing their true meaning. That’s a pretty tragic back story – and quite sad as she was torn away from loving parents, without ever knowing much of where she came from or the truth behind her being held. She was a prisoner without even realising it.

 

Quasimodo’s story is equally as tragic. His mother was a gypsy that was murdered by Frollo when he was a baby and Frollo was going to drown him – until the Archdeacon forced Frollo to keep him in penance for his sin. Forced to hide in the belltower, Frollo locked him away from the people of the world, telling him that his visage would frightened them and he would be persecuted. In many ways he has it a little harder than Rapunzel, because even with her long hair, at least she could fit in with the people of the world. Quasimodo is deformed and, unfortunately, people tend to be afraid of anyone who are “different”. It makes him just that little more tragic in my eyes as his appearance makes him a monster to everyone.

 

In terms of character, Rapunzel is loveable Princess. Though slightly naive (she was locked away for years so we can forgive her for that), she is capable to an extent and can look after herself. She did knock out Flynn with a frying pan after all and she even managed to stop a whole gang of thugs from killing Flynn. Not to mention her hair is just badass! It’s so long that she can use it to lift people up, use it as a rope or a swing. It can even heal people – that is pretty cool! However, she is a little bit of a damsel in distress (which I never really liked), but to be fair to her, she DOES save Flynn’s life in the end. It would have been nice if she was a little more proactive and maybe a bit tougher, but I did grow to love her and totally bought into her story.

 

Quasimodo is also a loveable character and equally as naive as Rapunzel (if not more so), but I have a bit of a soft side for the guy. He’s deformed and looks like a monster, however he is anything but. He’s artistic, has a beautiful singing voice and also very trusting – maybe a little too trusting. He was fooled by Frollo for many years and, when Esmerelda shows him kindness, he mistakes it for love – then becomes heartbroken when she goes for Captain Phoebus. Though easily frightened and manipulated, Quasimodo does possess superhuman strength (he was shown ripping off chains that were holding him, albeit with some effort) so he can fight for himself, but due to his shyness and low self-esteem he rarely fights back. But in the end, the people do come to accept him after they see he is not such a monster after all – after Frollo tries to burn down Paris.

 

It’s hard to choose between the two of them, as they both have tragic back stories and both are loveable. But, I’ll give the point to Quasimodo purely on the basis that his tragedy was based on his deformity, whereas Rapunzel was held capture for her magic hair. So, as much as I love Rapunzel, the point goes to Hunchback.

 

 

 

0-1

 

 

ROUND 2 – Antagonists

 

 

 

A hero is only as good as their villain – and both Tangled and Hunchback have some pretty nasty villains to boot. For Tangled we have Mother Gothel and for Hunchback we have Judge Claude Frollo. But which of them do I love to hate the most?

 

Firstly, I’d like to say that both these characters are somewhat unique amongst your typical Disney villains like Maleficent, Jafa and Ursula (to name a few) in that they don’t rely on magic to perform their deeds, which I think makes them more believable. Also, both these villains lock the main character away from the rest of the world and both of them also die by falling.

 

Mother Gothel is an aging hag of a woman that found a magic flower that she used every now and then to stop herself aging – the film hints at her being well over 400 years old. But when this flower was taken to use on the sick Queen, Rapunzel was born and the magic was held in her hair. Mother Gothel stole Rapunzel (in fairness to her, she did only intend to take just a lock of her hair – but realised that when her hair was cut, the magic was lost) and kept her locked in a tower, where she periodically visited her to use her magic to keep her young, keeping her locked away from the outside world. Geez, what a bitch!

 

Judge Claude Frollo is a fundamentalist xenophobe that seeks to have all the gypsies (who he considered sinful) cleansed from Paris. A devout man that sees himself doing the Lord’s work, he is willing to torture and murder people to achieve his goals. In his case, he never WANTED to keep Quasimodo alive – in fact he murdered Quasimodo’s mother and tried to drown him as a baby, but the archdeacon forced him to stop. Since then he’s kept Quasimodo away from the world, pretending that he is doing it for his own good.

 

In terms of character, Mother Gothel is the more “lighthearted” of the two, to an extent anyway. Most of the time she is sarcastic to Rapunzel, often putting her down and making fun of her like the mean girl she is. She talks down to Rapunzel with a condescending “mother knows best” tone – but man can she turn nasty when she wants to! She was even prepared to murder Rapunzel’s love interest and lock her away in darkness to keep her away from the rest of the world. Mother of the year she is not! But despite her wicked nature, she does occasionally get a few funny lines in now and then.

 

Frollo, by contrast, is much darker and takes himself a bit more seriously. In fact, one could argue that he is the darkest of all Disney villains. He murders and tortures, lusts over Esmerelda and even burns Paris in his search for the gypsies. And yet, in his own mind, he believes that he is doing God’s work. He sees himself as a holy avenger, sent to cleanse the world of sin. Ironically, whilst Quasimodo is viewed as a monster because of how he looks, Frollo actually is a monster because of the evil deeds he does. And yet he justifies his actions by claiming to be a good Christian – although whether he believes this and whether he is just using this as an excuse is open for debate. As Clopin states in the film "who is the monster, and who is the man". All these factors make Frollo much more interesting as a villain as unlike Mother Gothel (who was motivated by her own vanity and desire to cheat death), Frollo is motivated by his religion and his desire to see sin cleansed.

 

All these factors (plus the fact that Frollo was voiced by the incredible Tony Jay, who’s baritone voice adds a sinister threatening tone to the character) make Frollo a much more rounded villain. So, not surprisingly, I’m giving the point to Hunchback for this one.

 

 

 

0-2

 

 

ROUND 3 – Supporting Characters

 

 

 

Here I look at the supporting characters in the film. For Tangled I’ll be looking at Flynn Rider (aka Eugene Fitzherbert), Maximus the Horse, Pascal the chameleon and the thugs. For Hunchback it’s Esmerelda, Captain Phoebus, the gargoyles and Clopin.

 

Let me just start off by saying that the characters in Tangled are some of the best I’ve seen in a Disney film. Flynn Rider is actually my favourite Disney hero out of all of them – he’s a dashing rogue that seeks nothing but fame and fortune and comes across as quite arrogant and full of himself. But then when he meets Rapunzel, that kinda changes for him and he finds something else worth fighting for. Learning that his real name was Eugene and that he got his name from a character in a book was a nice twist as well and actually makes him a lot more believable as a character. Maximus, the horse, was just funny as hell to watch. The scenes between him and Flynn as they try to outdo each other are just entertaining and crack me up every time. Pascal... I gotta be honest, he didn’t do much for me. But the thugs were also very funny. They look like some of the toughest people you will ever meet, but they are just so overly camp and silly that you can’t help but smile, despite their frightening looks.

 

Now onto Hunchback – and yes, I am just going to say this now. Esmerelda is the sexiest Disney heroine ever in my opinion! Whether it’s just that she looks beautiful, the outfits she wears, or maybe it’s the fact that she’s voiced by Demi Moore, Esmerelda is a great character. She is tough and streetwise, but also gentle and sincere, especially to Quasimodo, who in many ways she shares his plight as she’s an outcast because of who she is. Oh, and her goat Djali is also entertaining to watch, that little goat kicks ass! (pardon the pun). In fact, Esmerelda can also fight when needed, making her tougher than most Disney Princesses. Can’t blame Frollo for wanting a piece of her. Captain Phoebus, whilst on the antagonistic side, is more heroic than Frollo is. He is a soldier that tries to do the right thing and eventually sees through Frollo’s wicked action, becoming ally to Quasimodo and lover to Esmerelda. Nice guy, but pretty much your standard hero. The gargoyles are a source of a lot of the humour in Hunchback and are a lighthearted touch in an otherwise dark movie, which I think helped balance the story. Clopin, the leader of the gypsies as he acts as a kind of narrator for the film, explaining through performance Quasimodo’s backstory. He is entertaining to watch, but is willing to do some pretty dark things to protect his people.

 

Whilst I like the characters in Hunchback, I have to say that the scenes with Flynn and Maximus are entertaining as hell to watch. So this time, Tangled gets the point.

 

 

 

1-2

 

 

ROUND 4 – Music

 

 

 

Now let’s look at the music in each film. I’m quite lucky here because both films are scored by Alan Menken – who is a god amongst film composers in my eyes!

 

The music in Tangled is a little more modern than Hunchback, incorporating a lot of modern day pop elements and folk. Not surprising seeing as Rapunzel was voiced by pop singer Mandy Moore. Now some reviews say that the songs in Tangled aren’t that good, but I disagree. When Will My Life Begin is a catchy, upbeat number where Rapunzel wonders when she will leave the tower and begin her life. Mother Knows Best is a jazzy number by Mother Gothel with dark undertones and becomes really dark later on. I See The Light is a beautiful ballad to listen to and actually brought me to tears – not to mention the scene itself (with Flynn and Rapunzel on the boat at the lights are raised up) is just amazing to watch with all the flying lights. I would actually go so far to say that it has more heart and is more entertaining than Let It Go from Frozen (sorry guys). My favourite one though is I Got a Dream, sung by the thugs. It was a fun musical number and seeing all kinds of barbarians singing and dancing (including a scene where a thug with a hooked hand played piano) made me crack up no end. Overall, the music is brilliant, has a lot of heart and is pretty upbeat for the most part, but dark when it wants to be.

 

But no matter how dark the songs in Tangled they are nowhere near as dark as the songs on Hunchback. Incorporating a lot of themes from religion to xenophobia, the music in Hunchback is often foreboding, but also full of pathos. It has a couple of typically upbeat Disney showtunes such as A Guy Like You and Topsy Turvey, but the real power comes from songs like Out There, where Quasimodo laments his desire to be amongst the real people – and God Help The Outcasts, which is a heart moving song about Esmerelda praying for her people’s salvation, interjected with people praying to God for rather mundane and material means. These songs don’t hesitate to get the emotions riled and the tears flowing. And if that doesn’t do it for you, the end credits song Someday, sung by Eternal, will most definitely hit you in the feels.

 

However, there is ONE song in this film that I think, without question is the greatest Disney song ever made. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about – Hellfire! Man I can’t get enough of this song – it’s powerful, dark, twisted and has a lot of mature themes in it. I love how the song perfectly captures the many sides of Frollo, his zealous belief in his faith, his secret lust for Esmerelda, his growing insanity as he believes he is turning to sin – and then his final dark wish that he will burn everyone and everything to get what he desires (you know, for kids XD). It kinda foreshadows Frollo’s eventual fate in many ways as when he dies, there is fire like imagery, symbolising his fall to hell. Not to mention that Tony’s Jay’s vocals are just chilling to listen to. No matter how many times I listen to this song, I still get goosebumps! As I’ve said before on previous blogs, this song isn’t just better than Let It Go in my opinion – it eats it for breakfast! Menzel, take a hike!

 

 

Awww... why you gotta be so mean?

 

 

I’m sorry, Elsa. Do you want to build a snowman? That cheer you up?

 

 

Snowman? YAY!!!

 

 

Just promise me the snowman won’t be as annoying as Olaf.

 

Anyway. Moving on...

 

So with all that that being said, it should come as no surprise that I’m giving this point to Hunchback. Even though I love the songs in Tangled, I just can’t get over how powerful they are in Hunchback.

 

 

 

1-3

 

 

ROUND 5 – Story and overall theme

 

In this last section, I look at the story and overall themes of the film. What I think works and what doesn’t work.
Tangled is a really enjoyable fantasy romp, with colourful landscapes, vibrant characters and entertaining songs. It has plenty of heart with some really moving scenes – the love story between Rapunzel and Flynn I actually would say is the best of any Disney film. The idea of Rapunzel being held back by Mother Gothel is a symbol of breaking free and discovering your true potential, and not being bullied by abusive parents. I just wish that Rapunzel wasn’t so much of a damsel in distress and had a bit more strength to her, like Esmerelda. Sure, Esmerelda got captured as well, but at least she could fight and look after herself a lot better. But overall, I say Tangled had a strong plot and is easily accessible.

 

The Hunchback of Notre Dame may be a little harder to take for some people. It’s much darker than other Disney films with a lot of mature themes, but does have the usual Disney humour that makes it entertaining for younger audiences. For me though, I think Hunchback has a much stronger message. It’s a story about acceptance and finding your way in the world, regardless of race or appearance. It also highlights racism and the dangers of fundamentalism, but doesn’t completely say that religion is the enemy. It’s heart warming as much as it is heart wrenching and carried across by some brilliant characters and performances. It’s a story that I personally can relate to, often I feel isolated as I don’t seem to fit in with any particular trend or sub-culture.

 

So even though I do love Tangled, I have to go with what I think has the more meaningful story. And The Hunchback of Notre Dame just has more emotion and a stronger message for me. So therefore, the point goes to Hunchback.

 

 

 

1-4

 

 

And at the end of this battle, with 4-1, the outright winner is The Hunchback of Notre Dame!

 

 

 

WINNER!!!

 

 

So does this mean I don't like Tangled? Not at all. In fact, as I said in the blog, I love Tangled and think it's one of the best Disney films of all time. I just feel that The Hunchback of Notre Dame has more emotional appeal and a stronger moral. Both films are amazing in their own way - but there can only be one winner.

 

Agree with this? Disagree? Please comment below to let me know what you think. And please suggest any ideas for Disney films you’d like seen put together.

 

Next time on Pandragon Disney Deathmatch – the King of the Jungle goes up against the Queen of the Box Office.

 

Be prepared – to let it go.

 

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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All images use are owned by Disney. No copyright infringement is intended.

Reading VS Writing

 

 

One of the most given bits of advice I see from authors when they are asked “what does it take to be a writer”, more often than not it’s “Read a lot”. This seems like pretty good advice and in some ways a no brainer. After all, you need to read in order to learn your craft – because how can you be expected to write a book if you don’t know how to set out your story?

 

However, my problem with this advice is that some authors put across the idea that you need to be a hardcore reader to be a writer, that you need to eat sleep and breathe reading and read about a hundred books before you can even pick up a pen (or keyboard).

 

This I don’t agree with and I would actually contest this. In my opinion, you don’t NEED to be a reader to be a writer.

 

At least to a point.

 

I am sure some of my author friends reading this will be raising their eyebrows here – just hear me out. And remember, this is just my opinion.

 

Firstly, I agree that you need to read books to learn to write them – in fact that needs to be the first thing you should do. But, contrary to what some authors believe, you do not need to read a LOT of books to get started. My belief has always been that, to be a writer, you just need to have a basic grasp of grammar, spelling and, most importantly, an imagination. Books can obviously teach you this, but reading too much can also be counterproductive. Reason? If you spend all your time reading, when are you supposed to find the time to actually write?

 

The only way you’re ever going to learn writing – is by writing! Now I know that there are authors out there that can read five books a day and still find time to write their own books – but that doesn’t work for everyone. I know that there are authors that have wall to wall bookshelves of all the books they’ve collected over the years, but I also know some authors that only have read a few books in their time. You have to find a balance between reading and writing or else you'll never get your book finished.

 

Speaking for myself, believe it or not, I actually am NOT a heavy reader. Obviously, I do read books, and even review them on this very blog – hell I even read manga and comics where I can. However, I work a full time job, play guitar in a band and also have my own projects on the go, so I don’t often find myself sitting still very long to read a novel except on my lunch break – or when nature calls. Ahem.

 

But truthfully, I also find it very hard to get into new authors. Aside from George R R Martin, I haven’t really got into any big name authors. In fact, if I’m being honest, some of the best books I’ve read (and most of my favourite authors) are by Indie authors. In fact, if you were to ask me who I think the top five best authors are at the moment, they would all be Indie ones! But another reason I find it hard to get into new authors is that you just can’t beat Douglas Adams or H.P. Lovecraft in my opinion! XD

 

So... how many novels SHOULD you read before you become a writer? There’s no real “amount” as such, but I would definitely read a couple or more at least to get an idea for storytelling. In fact, pick an author that you admire and see how they write to get some ideas. Obviously don’t copy them, but give yourself an idea.

 

Reading is good and it will help you no end, but it can only teach you so much. The only way you’re ever going to be any good at writing is to write. It’s fair enough reading about a hundred novels to learn as much as you can, but if you spend TOO much time away from writing, then your will never get done. You need to find that perfect balance between reading and writing – of which I can’t advise you on that, you need to learn it for yourself. What? You don’t expect me to tell you EVERYTHING do you?

 

So in closing, if you ask any author for advice and they tell you that you need to read a lot, my view is to take it with a pinch of salt. It’s not necessarily a lie as such – just a half truth. I’d say read a few books to get an idea, learn to write and then start putting down some ideas. Reading is a great way to get started on your way to being a best selling author, but don’t be intimidated into thinking that you need to read a million books first hand. You only need to do one important thing to be an author. And that is WRITE!

 

But I’d also like to make one thing clear, as reading this back, it makes is look as though I’m saying you should rush things in your attempt to be a writer. That’s not true. Take your time. A story is finished when it’s finished. As I said earlier, you need to find a balance between writing and reading, but never rush your work. Great stories take a while to get through after all.

 

Thanks for reading – now go write that novel that you’ve been planning for ages!

 

Agree? Disagree? Please Facebook, tweet or message me or leave a comment with your thoughts.

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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Above image is copyright of its respective owner

Does Young Adult ALWAYS have to have Young Adult protagonists?

Phew! Well I’m back guys – and yes it is me this time! The Man in Shadow’s plan to take over my blog failed miserably as everyone saw through his lies! I’m kinda embarrassed that he let me get the drop on me to be honest. Turns out that he, one of my characters, had become self aware and he had become more powerful than I imagined! He was the one that had been trolling me for the last few days.

 

Thankfully, Zarracka stopped him and rescued me. I did have a whole fight scene planned but... well, I don’t have a Michael Bay budget. Basically, this is how the fight went!

 

 

 
 

Yeah... kinda anticlimactic I know. Oh well.

 

Anyhoo, moving on. Today’s post is something that I wanted to talk about because of something that happened recently – which got me thinking.

 

About a week or so ago, I completed a new Young Adult novel, and I found a publisher that I thought would be pretty good for it (I never published through a publisher before so I thought, why not?). Also, as this book had a Disney/Pixar influence, I hoped that would catch their attention. It did and they agreed to read the manuscript. A few days back, I got some feedback from them, saying that they didn’t consider it a Young Adult novel as the main protagonist was in her twenties.

 

My first initial reaction was – really? Ok, that’s not a bad comment at all, but it was a little strange. See, I may be totally showing my ignorance here, but I always thought that Young Adult (as well as New Adult, Adult, etc) was simply there to differentiate the age range of your target audience and the age of your protagonist shouldn’t determine that.

 

Well, after putting it across on Facebook to my friends, a few of which are authors themselves, the general consensus is that Young Adult novels are stories that have a protagonist that is between 13-18 years of age. This is apparently something that publishers adhere to quite strictly from what I hear (if anyone can confirm or deny this, please leave a comment below) and I suppose it makes sense. After all, if you have a target audience in mind, you obviously want to put a character in there that your audience can latch onto and follow the story. This is probably why Harry Potter was so popular as a character – not just that he did magic, but because he grew up like a real human with each passing story. So I don’t entirely blame the publishers for that.

 

However, to quote a conflicting argument from a FB friend – isn’t this “Somewhat flawed logic”, and mentioned a book called Room, which is apparently told from the POV of a 5 year old boy. By that logic, it could be considered a children’s book – but from what I’ve read of it, it’s anything but. Again, please correct me if I’m wrong on this. But I completely see his point on this, why does a Young Adult novel HAVE to have a Young Adult protagonist? What’s wrong with maybe have a slightly older protagonist that represents the values and morals that Young Adult is supposed to teach? You could argue that comics are aimed at a Young Adult market (although there are some mature storylines out there) and the superheroes/heroines in that are mostly adults, or aliens, or robots or mutants, or furries... um... I’ll stop there. My point is that these heroes may not be kids, but they do represent a moral and ethical code that they want their readers to follow – although there ARE teenage superheroes as well (Static Shock, Kid Flash and Speedy to name a few).

 

Another point raised by my friend was that isn’t it “rather patronising to the target audience that they'll only relate to characters of their own age”. Again, I totally agree with this statement. Although I don’t think that is the intent at all, but I do believe what he says. Again I refer to the above statement with the superheroes – what is so wrong about having an adult protagonist? Look at Doctor Who for instance – the main character in that isn’t a child (though he acts like one some of the time) and his companions are usually twenty something women (at least in the later series), but people of all ages – even children – can related to the characters and enjoy the stories. So why shouldn’t the same apply for novels?

 

Here is my view on Young Adult. I feel that a Young Adult novel doesn’t HAVE to include a Young Adult protagonist. It just needs to teach the target market a moral lesson, whether it be friendship, love, bravery – etc. Now that doesn’t mean that it CAN’T have a teenage hero (and if it does that’s cool), I just don’t think it needs to follow that convention. Especially if you look at Manga, where their Young Adult (Shonen) Mangas often have more adult characters rather than teenagers – although their demographics tend to be a little different to ours – so I’ve probably shot myself in the foot saying that! XD

 

But you know what, I’m probably just making a mountain out of a molehill. If my novel is classed as more New Adult than Young Adult, fair play. I just was somewhat surprised by this statement and wanted to put another opinion across.

 

What do you guys think? Please leave a comment below and let me know!

 

Thanks for reading guys!

 

 

 
 

What? You again?

 

Man in Shadow: Ha! You may have foiled my attempts to ruin you before. But I’ll be back. You haven’t seen the last of me! I’ll come back and troll your blog even more than I did before! You’ll never be rid of me! I’ll haunt your nightmares, disturb your every waking moment. I will make you suffer, I will burn you, I will...

 

Oh, piss off, Man in Shadow! No one cares what you think!

 

Man in Shadow: What? (sniff) How can you be so mean? That’s it! I’m gonna, I’m gonna... I’m gonna gather an army of the most evil minds in fiction and... I’m gonna come back and totally crush you!

 

(He disappears in a puff of smoke)

 

Pffff. Good luck with that!

 

 

 

--------------------------

PANDRAGON

 

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Top Five Indie Novels That Should Be Made Into Films/TV Shows

A lot of people like to say how they want their favourite book to be turned into a film and/or a TV series. Which I think is pretty cool – I mean, what can be better than your favourite story being shown on the big screen? However, you don’t see a lot of people talking about how they want their favourite indie book being put onto the big screen. So that’s the subject of today’s Top Five blog.

 

Now, for myself, I would LOVE it if my books were turned into an Anime series or film, done by either Bones animation studio (who did Full Metal Alchemist) or Production I.G – but this isn’t about me. This is about five indie novels that I’ve read that I think would benefit from having a film or TV show made of their story. For any indie authors reading this, if I didn’t name your book I’m sorry in advance. That doesn’t mean I think your book sucks, I just am only limited to just five!

 

Also bear in mind this is based on books I’ve read only. So here we go, in no particular order.

 

 

 

1. A Ranger’s Tale by Mysti Parker

 

(Note: This book has had a different cover since this blog, but I don't have the new front cover, so I'm posting the old one)

 

The book series that helped me appreciate Romance novels a lot more and made Mysti Parker one of my favourite authors. A Ranger’s Tale is the first book in the Tallenmere series and a brilliant Fantasy Romance. It tells the story of Caliphany (a great character), stuck between her own desires and the wills of her abusive father. She’s also stuck between a romance between Galadin and Jayden and has to make some tough choices along the way.

 

A Ranger’s Tale has such wonderfully crafted characters and a great story (that actually wouldn’t feel out of place if set in modern times) that I think it deserves to be made into a film so that others can be introduced to this great series. Also, given the rise in popularity of Game of Thrones, I think now would be a great time to introduce a Fantasy story that isn’t necessarily about epic quests and slaying monsters, but personal struggles as well.

 

Who could we get to direct this film? How about Sofia Coppola of Lost in Translation fame? I think she would do a great job with this film, given that there is a lot of great room for character development in this story. She could direct the film from the point of view of the characters (just like the book) so that we get the individual thoughts and feelings of the main heroes – leading it to an open ended story whereby we can let the viewer decide which of the characters they’d like to support. I think it would also be great for Sofia to show off her skills, taking on a high budget idea like this one.

 

Naturally, I think all of the Tallenmere series could make great films. But why not start with this one and see how it goes from there?

 

 

 

2. A Stiff Kiss by Avery Olive

 

This novel I think would make a VERY powerful drama. Seeing as it deals with the feeling of loss and regret (and in some ways, forbidden love), A Stiff Kiss is almost begging for a film adaptation of it. It’s a great teen drama that also has a lot of mature elements to it, making it a great coming of age story. If that doesn’t make for a great film then I don’t know what does.

 

Now, the obvious choice for a director, giving A Stiff Kiss is a supernatural teen drama, this would probably be Catherine Hardwicke, director of Twilight and Red Riding Hood, amongst others. However (and at the risk of upsetting some people) I have to say that I do NOT consider her a great director and her films (at least the ones I’ve seen) are just terrible! Red Riding Hood in particular I just couldn’t finish because it was so bland and uninspired. But, of course, that’s just my opinion.

 

No, I think a better choice would be Joss Whedon. I know he’s mainly known for doing comic book movies (and of course Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Firefly), but Joss Whedon is able to direct the characters in his movies with humanity and wit, so that even if they are super powered heroes, we never forget that they had emotions at heart. Also, he did direct a movie adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing in 2012, so he CAN do other things than superhero stuff. Also, he’s a great writer and director and I think he will have a lot of fun adapting this story.

 

Sorry if I upset any fans of Catherine Hardwicke with my earlier rant. I’m sure she’s a nice person, I just don’t personally rate her as a director. I also feel that A Stiff Kiss is such an emotional story that it deserves a director that will be able to bring out the emotional content in a way that it deserves.

 

 

3. The Plaza by Guillermo Paxton

 

Never have I been so moved by a novel than this one. The Plaza is a gritty, no holds barred story telling of how the city of Juarez, Mexico has been destroyed by the drug barons. It is a city where the drug lords rule and crime is rampant. Even the police, the ones dedicated to protecting the public interest are just as corrupt as the criminals they are supposed to capture. I even said at the time when I reviewed it that this show deserves to be made into a film or TV show if only to bring awareness to the problem.

 

I can think of no other writer/director that would have the job of bringing this story to life then David Simon, creator of The Wire and co-creator of Treme. Giving that The Wire alone shows have been praised for their gritty realism and honest portrayal of a city in peril, who better than to bring the harsh reality of Juarez onto the screen. It would be a very bleak series and not one that everyone could stomach – but you can’t really tip-toe around this subject and, personally, I think this would be one of those situations where the more violent and disturbing it is, the more people will come to appreciate the dangers that the people have to suffer.

 

Normally Simon does tend to film a lot of his stuff in real urban areas to get that realistic feel – but I don’t think he’d be able to do this in Juarez for real. The drug barons would probably not let that happen. But I do think that The Plaza does need to be made into a TV show to show everyone what a crisis the city is in. It may actually go some way to solving the problem. I hope.

 

 

 

4. Vaalbara: Visions and Shadows by Michelle Horst

 

I kinda gave this book a bit of a hard time in my review of it, considering that I was torn between the concepts and thought it was maybe a little too dark for a YA novel, given that it dealt with the destruction of humanity as we know it. But at the same time I also thought that it was a really good story, chronicling the rise of Alchera from a simple nobody, to the one responsible for saving some of the human race so that they can make way for a new perfect world. It kinda had mixed messages, but at its core it was a really great story and, again, another “coming of age” tale.

 

Needless to say, it would definitely make for an exciting, high budget action film that, as long as they keep the pathos and human spirit aspect, could end up being a great summer blockbuster. As such, my choices for bringing this film to life would either be Peter Jackson or Steven Spielberg. After all, when it comes to creating blockbusters that have heart, who better than those to? You only have to Google their names to see the list of classic films that they have done to know that they would be perfect for this choice. Admittedly, they would probably try to go for a less darker ending and maybe change the emphasis a little for the purpose of making it more of a “happy ending”, but for the most part I think they could do a good job.

 

I just really hope that Roland Emmerich doesn’t get his hands on this, as he’d just turn it into a high budget disaster movie for the sake of it with little storyline or anything. An adaptation of this deserves time and effort to make it into an enjoyable film that is both dramatic, yet poignant. But if done right, I think it will make an amazing film.

 

 

 

5. One Hundred Years of Vicissitude by Andrez Bergen

 

Being a huge fan of Studio Ghibli, I think this is one book that would make an amazing Anime film – especially if Hayao Miyazaki got his hands on it.

 

Why do I think that? Because One Hundred Years of Vicissitude is full of a lot of themes that Miyazaki is fond of. The story is full to the brim of Japanese mythology and history (which he often mixes in), but also intermixes it with the World War and Hiroshima bombings, and Miyazaki is strongly anti-war (so much so that, when Spirited Away won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, he refused to attend the ceremony because he "didn’t want to visit a country that was bombing Iraq") so I think he could do a lot with this.

 

Not only that, One Hundred Years of Vicissitude has a very strong and interesting female lead in the form of Kohana – and a lot of Miyazaki’s film’s have a strong female protagonist. But not only that, I think the dynamics between her and the character of Wolram would make for a lot of comedic effects.

 

But the main reason that I think this would work so well as a Miyazaki film is that One Hundred Years of Vicissitude is, for me, a story about personal growth – looking back over your life and learning from the mistakes. Even reading this book, the ending I imagined having music by Mamoru Fujisawa (who has worked on a LOT of Miyazaki films) play over the end to capture the raw emotion of the final scene. I always felt that Miyazaki's films have a lot of heart to them, so this would be perfect for him to direct.

 

Reading this, it’s almost like One Hundred Years of Vicissitude could have been specially written for Hayao Miyazaki. Therefore it makes sense that he could do a great job with this film.

 

 

Those are my choices for the Top Five indie books that could become films. What are your fav indie books that you would like to see as films? Please let me know by leaving a comment below.

 

Thanks for reading guys. Have a great day!

 

 

---------------------------

PANDRAGON

 

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Top Five Worst Heroes/Heroine in my opinion

Everyone loves a good hero. In fact, a hero is the basis of all great storytelling. Whether they are an underdog, a warrior, or just someone that wants to make something of their lives, a good hero/heroine will keep the audiences sympathies and keep them entertained throughout as they follow their journey from beginning to end, supporting them all the way.

 

But sometimes, just sometimes, you come across a hero or heroine that is just so unlikeable, you just want to punch them! Whether it’s because they are selfish, badly written, or just plan villainous in their actions, these are the type of characters who just want to make you sarcastically cry out “Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!” (apologies to Linkara)

 

And today, in this blog, I look at my personal Top Five of what I consider to be the worse heroes/heroines ever written. These are the Top Five characters that, for some reason or another, just p*** me off! And maybe they will to you to. So let’s get down to it.

 

A few things before I start, because I’ll probably open a hornets’ nest in this list. Firstly, I WILL mention some characters that are beloved by many, so please bear in mind that A) this is just MY opinion and B) this is not 100% serious and not intended to be taken entirely seriously. I will elaborate on why I think these characters are so unlikeable as heroes so as to justify their reason for being here. Hopefully I won’t get trolled too much for this!

 

Anyway, before we start, some honourable mentions.

 

 

Bella Swan from Twilight and Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars Prequels

 

Yeah, yeah, I know that EVERYONE and their mother has done blogs/videos about these characters and how they are so obnoxious, whinny and completely transparent (just to name a couple of examples, the Nostalgia Critic Listed Bella as number one in his Top 11 Dumbasses in Distress videos and the Distressed Watcher did a whole video on the Star Wars Prequels, listing how Anakin was a whinny little brat), and personally I don’t have anything more to add to that.

 

Besides, the examples I’m giving I fell are WORSE than Bella and Anakin put together! So let’s go on, shall we?

 

 

 

1. Duke Nukem of the Duke Nuken Games

 

Duke Nukem may have wow’d the video game world with his early games – but since Duke Nukem Forever he’s become somewhat of a pariah. Now I’ve played Duke Nukem Forever and it’s not really as bad as people say it is – but after about 12 years in development, you would have expected something a little better than this.

 

So, what don’t I like about Duke Nukem? Well, in many ways, he is pretty cool. His voice has a cool, Clint Eastwood type tone, he can kick alien ass while cracking jokes, and he just oozes machismo from everywhere – making him kinda like a cross between James Bond and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But honestly, I find him one of the most sexist characters in video game history.

 

Not that I’m trying to sound like a feminist, but I kinda have a problem with the fact that the only female characters in the game are scantily clad strippers, nude women who have been abducted, or just random chicks who want to get off with Duke. This isn’t the 40’s anymore, this kinda of attitude just doesn’t work in this day and age. Ok, so I may have written a few sexy females into my stories – but I do at least try and give them a personality to go along with it so that they aren’t just there for fan service.

 

Now, Duke Nukem does have a certain level of parody to it, so I wouldn’t really be worried about this too much – if not for the hive level in Duke Nukem Forever. In that level, he finds that women have been abducted and impregnated by aliens (there is even a scene where a couple of hookers from the beginning of the game explode with aliens from their belly and dying in a completely inappropriate way) and he has to kill them to stop the aliens coming forth. Does he show any remorse or sympathy for killing these poor women to save their pain? No, he just continues to crack jokes and doesn’t show any hint of sympathy for his actions. That is just despicable! And don’t even get me started on the “wall boobs” scene.

 

Overall, Duke’s type of humour just feels dated and few I think would actually find him funny. I get the odd chuckle from here there and now, but otherwise I just find Duke a really unlikeable hero – especially with his attitude towards women.

 

 

 

2. Light Yagami, AKA Kira from Death Note

 

Even thought I have an interest in Anime/Manga, Death Note is just one of those stories that I’m just not really into. Main reason – I think the main character is just a complete monster. Some people have praised the fact that Light (aka Kira) is a character that you can both love and hate, but honestly, I just can’t stand the guy. Even though I get his motivations, I just can’t support him.

 

For those who don’t know this series (adapted from a Manga and turned into an Anime and live action film), Death Note is about a boy that comes into possession of the Death Note, a book that kills anyone when someone’s name is written on it. Light uses this book to start killing the criminals of the world (along with a personification of Death), but eventually becomes corrupted by power and gains a god complex. The crux of the story features a team of investigators trying to track down Kira (as he has named himself), led by L – a highly intelligent young man determined to bring him down.

 

Now, I can understand Light’s motives to a certain level – he wants to bring justice in the world. But the problem I find is that he is willing to put innocent people – even members of his own family – in danger to do so! I’m sorry, but I can’t support anyone like that! If Light had some sort of redeeming qualities to his character (in the way that Tony Soprano did) then I would probably get behind him a little more. But because he is so focused on his goal and doesn’t care who he has to step on to do so, then I just wished he would get his comeuppance.

 

Luckily (SPOILERS AHEAD!) he does! Eventually he is caught and trapped. But Light, in his arrogance, summons the spirit of Death, telling him to write a name in the Death Note to show his power. Death writes in Light’s name, having grown tired of him, and finally Light gets a taste of his own medicine! Even though his death is kinda drawn out, it is satisfying to see the cocky little s*** beg for his life.

 

Light is quite possibly one of the worst heroes in Anime – possibly even in existence. I would say he is just as bad (if not worse than) King Joffery from A Game of Thrones, or A Song of Ice and Fire if you want to go by the book series. Sorry to any Death Note fans reading this, but I just really don’t like this character.

 

 

 

3. Napoleon Dynamite

 

I’m probably one of the few people that didn’t find Napoleon Dynamite the least bit funny – partly because I found the main character so unlikeable! How unlikeable?

 

Well, I’m gonna leave a link to a video by The Cinema Snob, from his The Worst Films of the Decade (done back in late 2009), in which he featured Napoleon Dynamite on there. Skip the video to around 14:32 and listen to what he says about the character of Napoleon Dynamite – because pretty much everything he says in that video is what I would say about the character and I would just be repeating him! (Contains some swearing).

 

http://thecinemasnob.com/2009/12/29/the-worst-films-of-the-decade.aspx

 

Ok, that was a short one – moving on!

 

 

 

4. Benjamin Spooner Briggs from Limbo of the Lost

 

This one not many of you will probably know about – and for good reason. Limbo of the Lost is a point and click adventure that was released around 2008 for the PC – but was quickly halted and pulled from sale. Why? Because it was discovered that the backgrounds were ripped off from other games, Elder Scrolls, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Thief – even the opening sequence is directed ripped off from a scene in the Spawn movie! And that’s just SOME of the things they plagiarised. Nowadays, copies of the game are kinda hard to find and are somewhat of a collector’s item – but as a game it is just horrible! The animation is poor, the story makes no sense and the acting is just terrible!

 

But anyway, onto the character of Benjamin Spooner Briggs (who has a perfect English accent in this game, even though I’m pretty sure the original Captain Briggs was American – please correct me if I’m wrong). After the sailing of the Marie Celeste, Briggs was taken by two supernatural beings and forced into the land of Limbo, where he must try and find a way of escape and overcome his fears.

 

Pretty basic story, but the way Briggs has to do this usually revolves around people getting hurt in some way, shape or form. And does he show any remorse to it? Not a bit! He walks across a wooden board, causing dust to fall into someone eyes, causing them to be eaten by a wood insect – barely bats an eyelid. He has to look at a paper to get some information, so rather than just asking if he could have a look, he blinds the poor fellow! Not only that, but when he’s investigating several mysterious deaths by a mad cult, resulting in many more people dying in the process, does he show even the slightly hint of remorse? Nope! Not at all.

 

Ok, so compared to others on the list, he isn’t that bad a character – but he doesn’t seem to show any real emotion to the things going around him – nor does he really make any attempt to understand the characters around him and their plight. But mainly, he’s just a dull character and you can’t really get behind him because he has no personality.

 

But there is one thing I WILL show you – the ending to Limbo of the Lost. It is one of the most bat**** crazy things I’ve ever seen in my life! Normally I would give a spoiler warning, but because this game is so bad, and has no real story, I think I can get away with this.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URcvdDtnM_0

 

Ok, now onto number 5. Boy and I about to open Pandora’s Box on this one!

 

 

 

5. Padme Amidala from Star Wars Prequels

 

Remember how I said at the beginning that there were worse characters than Anakin Skywalker and Bella Swan? Well, here she is! Padme Amidala! Possibly the worst heroine in the history of Star Wars - and even fiction itself!

 

Now, I’ll admit, at first I found this character just mildly annoying. She was bland, didn’t do anything and her relationship with Anakin was just plain awkward and the dynamics between the two characters was non existant. Which is a shame as I think Natalie Portman is a fantastic actress (her roles in Leon and Black Swan were just amazing), so she was wasted here. But after reading a blog that appeared in my Triberr stream, going onto explain why Padme is one of the worst characters ever (I can’t remember the name of the blogger, nor remember the link, but if that person is reading this, then thank you for opening my eyes) I now have to say I totally 100% agree with everything she said and can’t believe that I missed it the first time.

 

Like I said, at first I thought Padme was just a bland character that served little than a plot device – but there are two instances which highlight her as both an unlikeable heroine and an idiot. Spoilers follow.

 

The first is from Attack of the Clones when Anakin admits to her that he slaughtered an entire village of Sand People, the ones who took his mother. He even admits to killing women and children and saying how much he hated them. How does Padme react to this? “Being angry is to be human!”

 

 

Ok, two things. Firstly, in The Phantom Menace, Yoda explained that anger is one of the powers of the Dark Side of the Force. So you do NOT say this to a Jedi – and being around Jedi’s for so long she should know this. Secondly, he just admitted that he committed mass genocide and her reaction was just “Meh, s*** happens.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Maybe Padme just has a thing for murdering maniacs – she and Kratos from God of War should hook up!

 

But the second thing, which is what the other blogger mentioned, is what cements her as the worst heroine ever. In Revenge of the Sith, after she is choked by Anakin, she is taken to a medical bay. The doctor says that she is dying, even though she is medically fine – she has just lost the will to live. Not only that, she is pregnant with twins (who we know will be Luke and Leia). But all she can think about is Anakin, the guy that tried to kill her.

 

So, let me get this straight – she’s about to die, about to leave her two children motherless, and all because she can’t stop thinking about a guy who tried to kill her. WHAT A COW!!! I mean seriously! How dumb is this b****?

 

Now some Star Wars fans have defended Padme, saying that she believes that she can turn him back to the side of good and be a pure source for him. Sadly, I don’t buy that for one second. I find it hard to believe that ANY woman, no matter how much she cared for a man, would want to associate herself with a murdering, needy freak like Anakin, unless she herself was not right in the head. To me, the whole Padme/Anakin thing seems to glorify abusive relationships and tell the audience that it’s ok to be in one. And that is just horrible!

 

It’s a shame, because Padme is really the only female character in the series (aside from a few female Jedi and some other minor characters), so the series is lacking a good, strong heroine. And the heroine that is in it is little more than a dumbass in distress. I never thought I’d say this, but Padme is so bad, she even makes Jar-Jar Binks tolerable!

 

 

Ok, so that’s my list. Hope you enjoyed it and please leave a comment below. Do you agree or disagree with me? Is there a hero/heroine that I missed out? Please let me know as I would love to hear it.

 

And just to finish off, Happy St Patricks Day everyone! Go out and, as Father Jack from Father Ted would say – DRINK!

 

 

 

----------------------------

PANDRAGON

 

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