Go, Go, Power Rangers!

MV5BNDg2NzI3Njk2OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDczODY2MTI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_I have been waiting for this film. Waiting and waiting and waiting. (Where have we read this before? Apparently, when I am passionate about films, these are my go-to phrases.) When it was announced, I am pretty sure I made some kind of unearthly squealing noise, and I decided right there and then that not only was I going to see it but I was going to love it.

The release date, coincidentally, was over the weekend of my birthday, so I feel like the great and terrible movie gods decided to give me a present. Power Rangers was my childhood, and the original film (with Ivan Ooze, that gloopy so-and-so) is something I watch regularly both out of nostalgia and genuine enjoyment. Nothing beats delayed whooshes and yells of ee-yah!

My tiny child heart was and is filled with glee at the thought of a new Power Rangers movie to sink my teeth into. I was determined to love it no matter whether it was terrible or not. I have a penchant for loving movies my friends think are terrible so I was confident that I would like it.

Luckily for me, it wasn’t terrible at all. It’s gotten some bad press but I think the people that gave it bad press are the people who wanted it to fail. One of the main problems people seem to have with it is the lack of morphing time but, dear reader, I put it to you that surely there wouldn’t be much morphing time in an origin movie. It’s not about the Rangers as Rangers, it’s about the Rangers becoming Rangers. Sure, they find the crystals but the film would end very quickly if that was all it took for them to fulfill their Ranger potential.  So, with that out of the way…

Power Rangers is such a diverse film. Of the five Power Rangers, only one of them is white, and the Blue Ranger (Billy Cranston) is not only black, but he’s on the spectrum and it’s not turned into an issue. Billy is Billy and the other characters love him and never try to belittle him.

Trini, the Yellow Ranger, is canon not-straight. She doesn’t give herself a label and the film doesn’t turn it into a coming out story, it is just who she is, it is normal. Power Rangers normalises the normal in a way that other films don’t. I can’t believe that in 2017 that’s still a phrase I have to use but it is, and Power Rangers is a step in the right direction. It is so refreshing to see.

As you may know, I haunt Tumblr often, and it’s so lovely to see the posts from people who can relate to these diverse, three-dimensional characters in a way that they may not have been able to before. As a white woman, I’ve never really had to dig and scrape for someone to relate to in pop culture, I recognise my privilege and while I’ve not really experienced a lack of representation myself, I do wish for a greater mirror in the world of literature and film for those that do. I’m heartened when I see the reflection growing, even if just a little.

The film is less centred on the Rangers aspect and more on the Rangers’ relationships with each other, how they go from being strangers, to being friends, to being Rangers. I love everything about it. What we do see of them in their suits and their zords is fabulous. There are little echoes from the show and while it is the same in spirit, the film is a different but related beast.

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It goes darker than the series, perhaps a sign of the time it has been created in. Rita is not the kitschy villain you might remember. She is a dark creature. She is one of my favourite things about the film. She is a villain, a real one.

All in all. I loved it. I knew I was going to love it but I didn’t know I was going to love it, you know? I want to see it again, right now.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer at 20

I remember the first time I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I came to it quite late (Season 6 was on TV by the time I managed to catch it). I was 9 or 10, I think, and one of my friends really wanted to show me the musical episode (her family made me a bacon sandwich, they slathered it with butter but I was too awkward to tell them that butter made me sick to my stomach so I muddled through). I remember her trying to get me to sing parts even though I had never seen it before (the result was not pretty) but from then I was hooked.

I would retreat up to my bedroom or my parents’ bedroom before I got a TV for all to myself to watch episodes as they came onto BBC 2. Shortly after I found myself falling in love with Season 6, BBC 2 started playing earlier episodes, I think on Sundays. Whenever I went out I would beg my mum to record the episodes I would be missing for me. (I think I still have my home-recorded versions of Becoming (parts 1 and 2) stashed on a shelf in my childhood bedroom. Eventually, getting fed up of having to record things for me all the time, my parents got me the video box sets for my birthdays and Christmases. I now need to get a DVD box set, as they changed the design when I was half-way through replacing my videos (the shame). It is from there that I found Charmed, and Dark Angel, and fell in love with supernatural fantasy and sci-fi dramas, and later paranormal fiction.

When I think back, so many of my interests now are directly related to discovering that show. Obviously, I couldn’t let the 20th anniversary pass me by without creating a post devoted to my favourite series. I couldn’t decide what to focus on so this will be a mixed bag of favourite episodes, favourite characters and anything else I haven’t yet thought of but will inevitably end up including. I hope you enjoy my lovey, gushy nostalgia.

Favourite Characters

There are so many great characters in Buffy but these three are characters that have always stuck out to me for one reason or another. That’s not to say I don’t love any of the others, I do, they all have their own little sections of my heart. I don’t think there’s a single character that I thought the show could have done without. Good job.

1. Willow Rosenberg

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There has never been a day when Willow was not my favourite. I adore Willow, from nerdy Willow to scary veiny Willow. I think Willow probably had the biggest journey of any character in the show, she is so different in the last episode from the shy, meek little girl we see in the first. She goes through addiction and comes out the other side, she learns to appreciate herself for herself rather than what others think of her, and she becomes so very powerful in the process. (Willow is also part of my two favourite relationships in the entire show so there’s that.)

2. Daniel “Oz” Osbourne

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How could Oz not be on this list? Everything that came out of his mouth was golden. I would love to have even an ounce of Oz’s chill. There is also the matter of Oz and Willow to consider, the amount of love and care he showed towards her, and the ‘Who is that girl?’ moments, before they were officially a thing, stole my tiny heart. Oz is possibly my favourite male character from any show ever. Possibly.

3. Spike

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Spike has made some bad decisions and done some incredibly questionable things (even when he was ‘good’) but I am a sucker for an only-sort-of-if-they-have-to hero. I am not ashamed to say that I have a drinking glass with Spike on it which I still use to this day. I do not condone most of his actions but that doesn’t make him a bad character – it just makes him a mostly bad person (with little hints of goodness here and there).

Drusilla deserves a special mention here because I adore her too. My mad little darling.

Favourite Monsters

I am not counting Big Bads in this section. Other than Dark Willow, I don’t actually have a favourite Big Bad, they were all enjoyable. Warren is arguably the most terrifying because he is real. He is a real thing, a real thing that happens on a regular basis. ThoughtCatalog have a really good article on this, you should read it.

But the little monsters? Yes, I definitely have favourites.

1. Gnarl (Same Time, Same Place – Season 7)

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Gnarl was creepy as hell, his childlike, sing-song way of speaking combined with the slow, painful death he inflicts on his victims (and later Willow, though luckily Buffy gets there and slays him before he can do any fatal damage) is possibly one of the most creepy things that happened in Buffy. It’s an episode I revisit quite a lot, though while Gnarl is incredibly creepy, he is also oddly compelling.

2. Gachnar (Fear, Itself – Season 4)

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In the words of Xander, who’s a little fear demon? Gachnar is ridiculous. The whole episode sets up for something that could be truly terrifying and we get Gachnar. That’s one of the things I love most about Buffy, so often Whedon makes you expect something and then throws something completely different at you – it was never predictable beyond its general premise.

3. Der Kindestod (Killed by Death – Season 2)

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This one freaked me out. It still freaks me out. It’s the face. THE FACE. I do love that he’s wearing a hat though, that’s a nice touch.

Special mention here goes to the Gentlemen from Hush. More on that later.

Favourite Episodes

This was incredibly difficult, as I was determined to stick to three (and a special mention) for every section. My choices are predictable, which only goes to show how good those episodes were. Imagine picking your favourite three puppies of 144 incredibly cute, wobbly little puppy faces – that’s what this decision was like… only scarier.

1. Hush (Season 4)

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Obvious answer number one. But come on? An almost word-less episode which still manages humour and is exceptionally creepy to boot? This episode still scares me.  Tall floating men who do nothing with their face but smile? Eek. Screaming without screaming? Not something I would ever want to happen. If I am screaming, I want people to know about it. It’s so different from every other episode and yet it fits into the narrative perfectly. It definitely showcases the often-forgotten score. I love scores so it was great for me to find an episode which really appreciated its background music (or would it be foreground music in this case?). It’s just an all-round fantastic piece of television.

2. The Body (Season 5)

Excuse me while my heart shatters into a million pieces. This episode was another bold decision from Whedon, no background music, moments with no speech, no monsters to speak of – only death. This episode stands out to me for many reasons but the main one is this:

It’s so heartbreaking and powerful and so apt. Joss Whedon, I tip my hat to you.

3. Once More With Feeling (Season 6)

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This is me, is there any chance I am not including the musical episode on this list? No. No, there is not. It was the first episode I ever watched so it has a special place in my heart for introducing me to the series but it also has singing. I love singing. Despite the revelation at the end, it’s a happy episode. I enjoy it, it gives me nice tummy feelings.

My last special mention goes to both Halloween (Season 2) and Fear, Itself (Season 4) – both Halloween episodes. Other than the three listed above, these are two of my most watched episodes (Becoming part 1 and 2 are also up there). Halloween themed episodes of anything are fab and Buffy is no exception. (Though, Season 6’s Halloween episode left a lot to be desired – it being the episode before Once More With Feeling only served to make the musical stand out more, so I can forgive it.)

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Happy Birthday, Buffy the Vampire Slayer – thank you for being one of the constants in my life. You are truly wonderful.

Did you ever watch Buffy? Did you love it? If you haven’t watched it, why not? I’m curious.

Harry Potter re-readathon: The Goblet of Fire

978-1408855928_309033 I have been putting this post off, as you might have guessed, and as I mentioned in my last post. However, I said it was to be my next post and so it is – even if it did take me months to pluck up the drive to write it. I have wanted to blog. I have wanted to post things but I haven’t wanted to write this particular post. So I avoided it. No more – three of my resolutions are linked to this blog (my next post will be about these – hooray for planning) and I would like to try my hardest not to fail them.

So here goes.

You might be asking yourself why I avoided this post even though I finished my re-readathon around this time last year, well, to answer that question we have to travel back in time. We have to go back to the year of Goblet of Fire‘s release, then the next, and the next, and the next…

My experience with the Goblet of Fire was a trying one for one simple reason: every time I reached page 362 of the original hardback, my brother would steal the book to read. Every. Single. Time. It was always that page. Eventually it got to the point where I couldn’t face reading those 362 pages again to get to page 363 and beyond. But I didn’t want to randomly begin reading on page 363 just in case I forgot any of the details. It was a horrible cycle, one which I never want to repeat with any other book. Luckily mine and my brother’s reading habits are no longer the same, and even if they were we live in different places so his access to my current read is pretty much nonexistent.

So that’s my confession. This is the last actual re-read, though I will still call the others re-reads for consistency. When I was a child, I never got past the fourth book and pretended I wasn’t that into the series as a cover. I lied. I love it wholeheartedly (especially now that I have a Ravenclaw jumper and hoodie to show off my pride, and a subscription to The Wizarding World crate from LootCrate, which I recommend). It’s a good thing that I have never really been bothered about spoilers.

The Goblet of Fire is my least favourite (tied, perhaps, with Chamber of Secrets), probably through no fault of its own. Part of me is glad I waited until I was an adult (and over the trauma of having to read the first 362 pages on a loop) to finish it. I feel like, even though it is my least favourite, I enjoy it a lot more now than I would have before. It is a book of change, and the book where everything gets a little more real. To re-purpose a line from later, the story opens at Goblet of Fire‘s close. From here on out, the novels are less stand-alone and it becomes clear that there really is a longer, deeper plot developing.

It also takes us somewhere a lot darker than the previous books, with the death of a loved character and the horrific manner of the spell which restores He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named to his former glory (well, sort of).

In comparison to the first three books, my nostalgia is less joyful but the real joy now comes from my appreciation of the series as an adult and for that, I am thankful.

Harry Potter re-readathon: The Prisoner of Azkaban

9781408855676_309040Be still my tiny-child heart. The memories. For a long time, as with most Harry Potter fans, The Prisoner of Azkaban was my favourite. It’s one of the more standalone-ish of the series, and it’s early enough in the series that, while it deals with difficult things, it is still quite lighthearted – the darkness of the later books seeps in over the edges of the pages, but not so much so that your hands come away blackened and your heart hurts.

For now, everything is going down the ‘happily-ever-after’ route. Everything has ended well so far. (Besides things which happened before the books started and Wormtail making his escape, of course, but even Wormtail escaping doesn’t seem too dire a thing at this point because he’s so pathetic and weedy. Feeble.) Things are looking up. Harry has friends, and family, and friends who are family. He has Hogwarts, which is potentially the best place anyone could ever be.

Of course, knowing, as I know, what happens in later books this makes me want to tell him to turn back and quit while he’s ahead; but I remember little-Emma being filled with a sense of wonder and possibility, I mean, what could possibly go wrong? Even the bad guys on the Wanted posters are turning out to be good after all!

Oh, little-Emma. How naive you were. Now you’re a seasoned Elou (of a ripe quarter of a century), you know that very little stays wondrous and new and happy and always ends well. That fact and lack of naivety makes me love this book more. This book is the last time we see Harry as a child, truly a child. Sure, he had to time travel, met a werewolf and was attacked by dementors but he’s only just touching on the horrors that await. He’s only just being pulled into the story-proper.

I can’t lie to you, reader, the nostalgia is strong with this one.

I re-read this book so many times. More than any of the other books in the series. I read it over, and over, and over, and was still thrilled when it ended well as if it was still my first read. Even though I knew exactly what was going to happen, it still felt exactly like the first time I was reading.

Our old copy is damaged, very damaged, from my and my brother’s constant re-reads. (It makes me cringe, I try to keep my books as nice and neat as possible now-a-days.)

I am pretty sure that there is no spot of that old copy which is not covered in my fingerprints.

Harry Potter re-readathon: The Chamber of Secrets

The Chamber of SecretsHoo boy, I was supposed to post these every week for seven weeks, since I read the whole series in about 14 days. But alas, life happened, as it often does, but I have resolved to be more regular in my blog updates and book reviews and various other things. So I am posting this from the past. Hooray for queued posts! Anyway…

The Chamber of Secrets was never my favourite. Possibly because it sits between the first book (much excitement because it’s the start of the series) and the third which, until recently, was always my favourite. It’s pretty hard, then, for the book between those two to be quite as exciting. That said, it does have the joy that is Gilderoy Lockhart and his failure at life. (Or perhaps it’s not a failure, not until the obliviate mishap anyway.)

Though it was never my favourite, Riddle and the diary always fascinated me. I loved the idea of having a book that could interact with me, and I mean really interact with me, not a choose your own adventure or an enhanced ebook type deal. A really real book, which really did talk to me and respond to my words and actions. Who doesn’t want a book that tailors itself to them and them alone?

I often ignored the fact that the diary was evil. Or rather, I didn’t care that it was evil, I just thought it was cool.

Now that I am older, wiser, and more dashing (the crowd sniggers), I see it in a different way, even though I would  still like a really real interactive book. I can see now how creepy and twisted the Riddle in the diary is, and how much that scarred Ginny (especially when it is mentioned in later books). There are all sorts of mental manipulation techniques in the Potterverse and arguably this is the worst. Especially when you consider the life-sucking part.

Shudder.

I can now see what little-me overlooked, the ever so subtle setting up of the latter half of the series, though if older me hadn’t already known about horcruxes, I never would have guessed what relevance the diary would have had to future events. At first the series was seemingly less connected, the first three books had clear openings and endings and most things were left resolved, excepting the looming threat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, but once you go through them again, you see that it isn’t quite as cut and dry as it at first seemed. I like that. I like that a lot.

Harry Potter re-readathon: The Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone  2For Christmas, along with (I presume) many thousands of other people, I received the beautiful complete box set of all of the Harry Potter books with lovely illustrated covers by Jonny Duddle. I can’t lie to you, at this point I want every single box set of Harry Potter books there is in existence because they are all glorious but that is another post entirely.

Since Christmas, on my daily commutes and when I have been walking past the often crowded lunch table at work, I have been seeing so many, many people reading Harry Potter. It is beautiful. Naturally, as I have now got all of the books with matching designs (if they don’t match, it’s very hard to concentrate), I’ve been reading them too!

There is something great about nostalgic re-reads, especially if you haven’t read a book since around the time it came out, like me. I think the last time I read The Philosopher’s Stone was the year that The Goblet of Fire was released. Almost sixteen years ago. When I was 9. Good lord. Since then I’ve watched the film countless times, it’s so easy to forget things that weren’t included in the film when you haven’t read the book since you were 9.

Like Professor Binns, who I forgot existed entirely, and the fact that Dumbledore is at one point seen sporting a bonnet. A bonnet. (This is an image I definitely plan to doodle.) And the entirety of what happens in the novel before Harry is dropped off outside the door of number 4 Privet Drive.

What I did remember, however, was my first experience with the world of Harry Potter, which I may have mentioned before. Read aloud by a wonderful primary school teacher with a wonderful name (Ms. Chodyniecki) who read each character using a different voice. Hagrid’s was my favourite. I am also pretty sure that the aforementioned teacher stuck a plastic Halloween witch’s finger to the end of a stick and used it to point at things on the board – excellent tactic.

I am now on book three of my re-read (blogs will appear for each book, hoorah!), I want to speed through them but I am forcing myself to take it slowly and give it the time it deserves – who knows what other memories it could unearth. Now, at a nearly ripe 25 years of age (just over a month until that milestone), I am enjoying the Harry Potter books more than ever and if any of you out there, in the great beyond of the internet, haven’t read them in a very long time, I would highly recommend you do so too!