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This is a hard movie to review without diving much too deeply into social and political issues that for the most part aren't mine to comment on. Even in the barest summary, alarm bells start ringing: medieval European travelers to China arrive at a critical point in a cyclic invasion of ravening monster hordes to help win a decisive victory.

I was dithering between a fairly cursory review and an in-depth analysis, but fortunately Emily Asher-Perrin at Tor.com has covered almost everything I would have said in the latter. So I'll just mention a few things in addition. (Uh...go read Emily's review. Because otherwise this is going to sound really random.)

This is not an actual blog entry. This is an attempt to troubleshoot the display and feed of blog entries which has gone completely bonkers. Today's blog should be a movie review of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. If you miss it, it's unimportant. (That goes for both the review and the movie.)

I'm fairly picky about which animated movies I see because there are some common tropes that grate on me. And Disney movies that "trespass in someone else's garden" (to use the Alpennian saying) face a high hurdle. I'd seen enough advance discussion and critical evaluation of this movie from people with roots in Polynesian culture to have confidence that, although not without flaws, Moana took cultural representation issues seriously and had worked to have creative staff and consultants from within the culture.

Well, I saw it. Lots of fabulous effects, especially in creating the creatures. But also lots of unanalyzed tropes that felt worse than lazy. The ditzy blonde with the heart of gold. The callously predatory mentor of a teenage boy where the relationship involved enough physical affection to cross the line (for me) into evoking pedophilia. The message that you can be an endearingly dorky guy and still be a hero, but if you're a tormented broken outsider, you have to die.

Lauri asked me to save this movie to see with her in NYC, which wasn't hard given the distractions of the last couple weeks. (My book release. Of course I'm talking about my book release.)

I should have known better. I mean, I know that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that abusive partner who always comes back promising that this time it will be better. And you hold out. You promise yourself not to get taken again. But you think, maybe it will be different this time. You think, this is a different type of story. Dr. Strange wasn't one of those punch-your-way-out superheros. He was intellectual. Philosophical. He used magic, not his fists. And think of the effects! It'll be different this time.

[Note: This was not originally part of my "Died / Recanted / Unhappy / Came Out" movie review series, but in migrating it over to the Alpennia blog, I'm including it in the overall index for that series.]

As part of my new blogging schedule, I've designated Friday as "review day". I don't necessarily have enough new material (books, movies, etc.) to post something new every week, but I thought I'd reprise and continue a series I started quite some time ago on lesbian-themed movies (and mini-series). I've collected enough of these in video format that if I were a more socially ept person it would be fun to hold regular movie nights, supplemented by popcorn and thematic analysis.

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