All posts by Annlyel James

I'm a young woman who loves cool things like movies, travel, games, sports, food, books, beauty products, clothes, and the occasional gorgeous blue bird I come across. This blog is where I share everything that I love and I hope you enjoy.

My Ten Favorite Movie Heroines

I love movies because they’re very fun to watch. I love seeing stories play out onscreen, I love watching actors portray different characters that I will either love or despise, I love action films, but most importantly, I love a movie with an off-the-chain heroine. There are hundreds of great films with male heroes but when a woman can come into the fold and kick butt alongside the men that’s when a movie, for me, gets really awesome and lately that’s become a regular occurrence.

Last year Wonder Woman finally got her own blockbuster film after being around for decades and there have been a bunch of critically acclaimed indie films and television shows led by women in the past year. The last three Star Wars films have been led by women and have made billions of dollars, an idea that at one time would seem preposterous to the Hollywood elite. And last year’s highest grossing films were all female-led, Beauty and the BeastWonder Woman, and The Last Jedi.

So, because women are clearly awesome, I’m going to share with you the ten movie heroines that I have come to love the most, at least, so far. Enjoy!

10. Dorothy

The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies of all time. I remember seeing this film as a child and it was one of the most magical films I have ever seen still to this day. To think that this movie was made in 1939! is beyond incredible and in the center of this epic tale is Dorothy.

Dorothy is a special character. She has those ruby slippers, she sings like an angel, she has the cutest dog ever, Toto, and she’s so sweet. She’s a regular farm girl trying to run away from home because a mean old lady wants her dog to be taken away who just so happened to end up embarking on an incredible journey in a magical world unlike any other. She faces flying monkeys, an evil witch, and many other obstacles but at the end of it all she survives the adventure and helps save the Land of Oz while never refraining from being herself. If you really think about it, Dorothy is a very brave girl. To face all of that strange stuff; a talking scarecrow, a talking lion, a tin man, munchkins, witches, etc. without utterly freaking out is very impressive.

Without Dorothy The Wizard of Oz would not be the same magical movie that it has been for almost a century and that’s why she is one of my favorite heroines.

9. Murph Cooper

Jessica Chastain in Interstellar (2014)

Interstellar is another one of my favorite movies because, well, it’s very, very good. The story is well written, the creativity is out of this world amazing, every actor’s performance is exceptional, the music is ridiculously imaginative and helps elevate the film in chill-inducing ways, and at there are some incredible women in this movie.

Through the marketing of this film it seemed like the movie was about Matthew McConaughey’s Cooper who supposedly was going to save the world but in actuality the movie was really about his daughter, Murph. No she might not have participated in an adventure that consisted of falling in black holes or surviving a planet that had nothing but water but back on Earth she was being a hero in her own right as she tried to find a way to save the people on Earth from extinction.

When her mentor, Professor Brand, died did she go sit herself in a corner and weep until the world came to an end? No. She continued striving to find the solution that would save humanity even though she was mostly alone, with the exception of her friend, the Doctor, a grueling task that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to handle. The fact that she, at the end of the day, was the one to save everyone is not only amazing but makes her one of my favorite heroines.

8. Valkyrie

Valkyrie is so cool. She’s rude, she’s unapologetic for her attitude, she’s tough, and beyond all of that, she’s really powerful. No, she might not be able to summon lightning like Thor but besides that she has the exact same skill set as him and that’s why I am an absolute fan of hers. And did I mention she was cool? 🙂

7. Shuri

Letitia Wright in Black Panther (2018)

Shuri is awesome, pure and simple. Not only is she a Wakandan princess but she’s also the lead scientist of the technologically advanced African nation (and she’s just a teenager by the way) and she’s a superhero! She’s basically the female version of Tony Stark, except smarter and cooler. 🙂

Black Panther is representing black women in the most beautiful ways and to know that young girls will be able to see a character this amazing and self-confident is not only a great thing but it is an inspiring realization. Hopefully Shuri will be around for many years to come.

6. Black Widow

I love Black Widow. She’s beautiful, deadly, intelligent, and she can kick some serious butt. You would think, because she’s an assassin, that she wouldn’t be able to hold her own against the terrible forces that The Avengers have to fight every now and then but she can. That makes her more than just an assassin, she truly is an Avenger as well.

She’s also complex too. The brief hints at her back story helped reveal a darker side of her that had never been seen before and will hopefully be explored in her standalone film.

I’m so glad she’s finally getting her own movie. It’s about time. I mean, she’s one of the most loved and earliest Avengers and yet she still, in every movie that she’s been in, has been a co-star. I am beyond excited to see her finally shine in her own movie.

5. Ripley

I had no idea why Sigourney Weaver was a movie icon…until I watched Alien. In 1979 there weren’t a lot of delightfully strong heroines displayed in movies but Ripley was undoubtedly one of them. In the movie she isn’t used as a love interest or a damsel in distress, she is portrayed as just another astronaut alongside the predominantly male astronaut crew she’s in. When things start getting crazy she’s the only crew member who didn’t absolutely freak out and that is stunning.

Alien is a disturbingly frightening movie and undoubtedly the scariest sci-fi film I have ever watched but at least there was Ripley to make you feel a little less horrified. Now, of course, she was scared because how can you not be scared? Think about being trapped on a ship with an alien that wants to kill you. That’s beyond terrifying but she handled herself remarkably well in that horrendous situation. Her strength in the movie is astoundingly brilliant and it’s why she’s still an icon to this day.

4. Princess/General Leia

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Star Wars wouldn’t be Star Wars today if you didn’t have Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia. They were the foundation that made the movie resonate with millions of people and Leia was a huge part of that foundation. When she first appeared in A New Hope she was a princess, yes, but she wasn’t your typical princess. She wasn’t like Cinderella or Rapunzel or Sleeping Beauty or Snow White. She was a Star Wars princess and that entails not a damsel in distress but rather a feisty, intelligent woman who is willing to die for the cause she believed in.

Throughout the films she has been a politician, a warrior, a lover, a wife, a mother, a sister, a general, and she has been unwaveringly powerful. When she spoke every one listened. When she commanded people to do something they did it.

She helped inspire girls around the world that we as women can be strong and beautiful without compromising our integrity and our goals. Princess Leia is a heroine in many people’s lives and as the story of Star Wars finally continues without her the impact she left in this franchise will be felt for a long, long time.

3. Okoye

Danai Gurira in Black Panther (2018)

Okoye is off the chain! Oh my goodness, I love her so much. She’s such a strong woman in Black Panther because, well, she’s the general of Wakanda. And she is quite the general too. She’s not the smily type. If she doesn’t like or trust you she will let you know with the way she looks at you. She immediately authoritizes herself over everyone, except for the royal family, and you can sense that. She is second to no one and that’s why I love her so much.

I also love her belief in the beautiful and natural ways of Wakanda women. One of my favorite scenes with her in Black Panther is when she comments on the wig she has to wear as a disguise during a certain sequence of the movie. I’m a black woman with natural hair and so it was so relatable seeing her despise the wig. She got rid of that wig at the first chance she got too. Brilliant. 🙂

I also love how incredible of a fighter she is. In Marvel there are a lot of powerful superheroes but there aren’t any like her. She has this spear and she knows how to use it too. It’s amazing. The first time I saw her in action my jaw dropped a little. Like I said before, Okoye is off the chain!!! I can’t wait to see her kick some alien butt in Avengers: Infinity War.

2. Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman (2017)

I mean come on, it’s Wonder Woman. How can you not love Wonder Woman?! She’s gorgeous, powerful, benevolent, she’s frankly, in my opinion, the leader of the Justice League, she’s got that incredible Lasso of Truth (I love the lasso) and she’s simply awesome. Yeah, I might not have liked the way they treated her origin story (it could’ve been MUCH better) but she’s still one of the greatest heroines ever!

Gal Gadot did a marvelous job portraying the iconic heroine and I can’t wait to see her again in future DC movies. Hopefully those films will be better than the last few. *shrug*

1. Rey

Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017)

This, frankly, isn’t a surprise. I mean, I love me some Rey! Ever since the first time I saw her in that eensy weensy teaser for The Force Awakens (at the time I thought she was Leia’s daughter) four years ago I was immediately intrigued. Then I watched the movie in 2015 and when I discovered that she was the new Jedi of this trilogy it was beyond amazing. I totally freaked out, in a good way. For so long I had been wanting a major female Jedi but there had never been one…until now. Thank you Disney for making my dreams come true.

And then after The Last Jedi my love for her only increased. Now did she have any groundbreaking moments like she did in The Force Awakens? No, not really, but she stayed on the level of coolness that made me such a Rey fan in the first place.

The casting for Rey was also perfect as well. Daisy Ridley was the perfect woman to play her because first of all, she was a widely unknown actress so she could make Rey her own and I didn’t have to say, “Oh, that’s such and such.” Secondly, she can act! The way she can just summon tears at will is very impressive. Third, she just looks awesome. She’s beautiful, vulnerable, tough, strong, smart, and kind all at the same time and she portrays that so well simply with her face.

I love Rey a lot and the thought that Daisy Ridley’s last appearance as Rey will be in Episode IX is kind of saddening to think about because I wish her story could go on and on. Unfortunately, it can’t, and so I’m going to treasure watching her in The Last Jedi and then one day, in the future, in Episode IX.

Well, these are my ten favorite heroines. I thank you for reading and I hope you have a glorious day.

The Blu-Ray Special Features for ‘The Last Jedi’ Are Awesome!

The Last Jedi has come and gone. There are no more secrets surrounding the film, there is no more reasoning for theorizing what’s going to happen in every scene, what’s going to transpire for every character in The Last Jedi, and how the movie will probably play out as a whole, and the mystery surrounding Luke Skywalker has finally been resolved.

Now I all I have to do is wait for the Blu-Ray to become available which will be happening sooner rather than later. A couple of days ago it was announced that The Last Jedi will be available on Digital on March 13 (yes I said it, March 13th!!!) and then on Blu-Ray two weeks later on March 27. It’s a dream come true! For the past two years the Blu-Ray has been available around mid-April but thanks to Solo: A Star Wars Story coming out in May this time the Blu-Ray will ready for purchase at the end of March. And let me tell you, the bonus features for The Last Jedi are beyond amazing. Here are all of them.

  • The Director and the Jedi – Go deep behind the scenes with writer-director Rian Johnson on an intimate and personal journey through the production of the movie—and experience what it’s like to helm a global franchise and cultural phenomenon.
  • Balance of the Force – Explore the mythology of the Force and why Rian Johnson chose to interpret its role in such a unique way.
  • Scene Breakdowns
    • Lighting the Spark: Creating the Space Battle – Get a close-up look at the epic space battle, from the sounds that help propel the action, through the practical and visual effects, to the characters who bring it all to life.
    • Snoke and Mirrors – Motion capture and Star Wars collide as the filmmakers take us through the detailed process of creating the movie’s malevolent master villain.
    • Showdown on Crait – Break down everything that went into creating the stunning world seen in the movie’s final confrontation, including the interplay between real-word locations and visual effects, reimagining the walkers, designing the crystal foxes, and much more.
  • Andy Serkis Live! (One Night Only) – Writer-director Rian Johnson presents two exclusive sequences from the movie featuring Andy Serkis’ riveting, raw on-set performance before his digital makeover into Snoke.
  • Deleted Scenes – With an introduction and optional commentary by writer-director Rian Johnson.
  • Audio Commentary – View the movie with in-depth feature audio commentary by writer-director Rian Johnson.

Oh. MY. GOODNESS!!!!!! Do you see all of this fascinatingly interesting content we’ll be able to enjoy thanks to LucasFilm and Rian Johnson being so nice to us avid Star Wars fans. And here’s the thing. Not only is it over two hours of bonus footage but…wait for it, wait for it.

*drum roll*

There’s also FOURTEEN deleted scenes. That is insane! I have never seen a movie have so many deleted scenes in my life. It shows how massive Rian Johnson’s vision for The Last Jedi truly was and, due to timing, they had to condense the movie to a slightly modest two hours and thirty-two minutes compared to having The Last Jedi become a Star Wars film that would end up being close to three hours long. I am so excited to see these deleted scenes. I mean, what could they be?

I think I have an idea, thanks to reading Star Wars news, of what two of the deleted scenes will entail. One is supposedly going to show Rey participate in a third lesson from Luke on Ach-To which sounds like a deleted scene that I’m going to enjoy thoroughly. And then another deleted scene is going to include Finn and Phasma aboard The Supremacy after DJ betrays him and Rose. That’s just two out of fourteen! deleted scenes though, that’s how amazing that is.

I’ve seen some amazing movie bonus features in my time. The movies’ behind-the-scenes featurettes I’ve enjoyed the most was for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (amazing bonus features by the way) and The Force AwakensRogue One had a disappointing bonus feature package that didn’t even span an hour and didn’t include any deleted scenes. Judging from all of this content, however, The Last Jedi is probably going to join my list of favorite special features packages for a movie.

I thank you for reading and I hope this made you as excited as me because I am ecstatic. Have a gorgeous day and May the Force Be With You.

A New King Has Been Crowned…and His Name Isn’t T’Challa

Black Panther has been out for six days and it has broken box-office records left and right and is the best rated superhero film of all time at a stunning 97% Rotten Tomatoes score which isn’t surprising. The movie is good!!! When I came out of that movie theater five days ago I had embarked on a cinematic journey that I never thought I would ever experience and it is still impacting me to this day. There are great movies and then there are perfect movies. Black Panther was practically perfect and one of the reasons why it was such a fantastically enjoyable film is because of its villain, Erik Killmonger.

Minor Spoilers Ahead! If you haven’t seen this movie yet and you would rather go into the movie clean of any details of the film I suggest you read no further. I thank you for heeding this warning and I hope you enjoy the rest of the post.

Continue reading A New King Has Been Crowned…and His Name Isn’t T’Challa

The Incredibles Are Back!

I’m going to tell you right now, I am a HUGE Incredibles fan. I was six when The Incredibles came out and I think I watched this movie nearly every day for about a year and a half straight, that’s how much I loved The Incredibles. It was the best superhero movie I had ever seen as a child and it continuously made me happy. As I grew older and continued watching The Incredibles I began asking myself as I watched the end over and over again if there would be a sequel or not. It was so obvious that there should be one but as the years crawled by and the hope of an Incredibles sequel grew less and less likely I began to give up hope.

I think the last time I watched The Incredibles was, I’d say, in 2011 and after that final viewing of the Pixar superhero flick I thought I would never see The Incredibles again. And then…that hope for an Incredibles sequel that I had buried away because it seemed so unlikely was reawakened with a bang as Disney announced that sequel that I had been longing for for years was going to be made. I jumped up and down with joy.

The Incredibles was my favorite children’s movie just ahead of the cute children’s film, Stuart Little, and the thought of a sequel was beyond a dream come true for me. Last week during the Winter Olympics a sneak peek for Incredibles 2 was released and, after finally seeing it today, I’m here to share it with you.

After seeing the sneak peek I’m still excited about the movie but I don’t know if it has that same pizzazz, that same special sauce that made it so enjoyable fourteen years ago. I think because The Incredibles set such a high bar Disney is possibly trying too hard to top it and that could be a problem. I mean I like the plot.

Elastigirl has been hired by an agency to bring superheroes back into the limelight while Mr. Incredible has to become a stay-at-home dad and take care of the kids which shows how the creators have evolved the story since last time we saw them. And while the sneak peek was enjoyable it also felt, I hate to admit it, a little boring. Some of the jokes didn’t land properly, seeing Edna Mode in the teaser felt like a nostalgic callback to the previous Incredibles rather than a necessity, and there wasn’t exactly anything that excited me from this trailer. One thing that did interest me about this sneak peek, however, is the fact that there was no sign of the villain. That means there’s quite a bit of content in this movie that hasn’t been shared and that’s always exciting to see.

I’m hoping Incredibles 2 will be just as enjoyable as its predecessor but I’ll have to wait and see. Judging from this sneak peek though it’ll fall just short of The Incredibles’ former glory and it’ll try too hard to be like the previous film rather than embracing it and moving the story forward in an equally enjoyable manner. I hope I’m wrong about this but my gut instinct is usually never wrong.

I thank you for reading and I hope you have an incredible day.

The Women of ‘Black Panther’

Marvel hasn’t been known for incorporating a lot of female superheroes in their movies (until recently.) For a while Black Widow was the only female superhero in the superhero franchise until 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy introduced assassin sisters Gamora and Nebula into the fold. Since then the female superheroes have appeared at an increasing rate. Avengers: Age of Ultron debuted Scarlet Witch. Doctor Strange had The Ancient One. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 brought forth a new heroine, Mantis. Thor: Ragnarok unleashed the fiery Valkyrie into the MCU as well as the franchise’s first female villain, Hela. And now Black Panther.

Out of all seventeen previous films there have been only eight female superheroes, and four of them appeared in the last two years! This has been a male-dominated franchise for a long time but that’s slowly being cut into and the arrival of Black Panther helps that immensely as it introduced the most women we’ve seen in a Marvel film to date. Not only were their four major heroines in the film but there were plenty of strong, powerful women surrounding them as well and it was a marvel (see what I did there?) to see. And more importantly, they were black!

We, as black women, rarely see ourselves represented in such an epic fashion onscreen and to see so many of us, at one time, portrayed as strong, beautiful, intelligent, and downright awesome was and still is one of the best experiences of my life. So today I’m going to celebrate the arrival of these powerful women and I hope you enjoy. 🙂

Continue reading The Women of ‘Black Panther’

My Top Three Favorite ‘Harry Potter’ Films

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was one of the first films I saw as a child and it dazzled me. The Baselisk, Voldemort, the Quidditch match, it was a fantasy world unlike anything I’d ever seen before. And the main characters were children, something you don’t see a lot in movies as good as Harry Potter! In fact, for a while, I loved the Harry Potter franchise more than Star Wars, until I got a little older and Star Wars became better and better while the Harry Potter films started becoming a little boring in comparison. Recently I’ve watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, a movie I’ve seen over a dozen times (I highly enjoyed it) and so today I would like to share with you my three favorite Harry Potter films. Enjoy!

1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This is the Harry Potter movie I’ve watched the most (because I owned it as a child) and it always made me so happy every time I watched it. The flying car took my imagination to other places, I loved the screaming plant thingies (I forgot what they’re called,) the ghost girl used to always make me laugh because she was so perfectly weird, and who doesn’t love the scene with all of the spiders? Brilliant. This movie will always have a special place in my heart because it was one of the first films I was introduced to as a baby girl.

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

I’ve only seen this movie, I’d say, four of five times and while it isn’t one of the Harry Potter films I most familiar with this is hands down the scariest installment of them all because it’s the movie where Voldemort comes back. *shudder* I really don’t like Voldemort. He’s so scary.

It’s also a very good movie as well. I love the tournament, I love the dragons and the frightening mermaids, and like I said before, the end of the film puts the icing on the cake as Voldemort is brought back to life.

3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

This is my favorite installment of the franchise and, as a child, was the scariest installment as well. I remember being taken to the movies at six-years-old to go see this film. It was definitely a frightening experience. I’m going to tell you right now, I’m a huge scaredy-cat. I do not like scary movies, especially when I was little, and the third Harry Potter was part fantasy/horror film for me at that young age. I still remember covering my eyes several times as I watched it in the movie theaters and can you blame me? This movie’s got a scary (but no so scary) black dog/Sirius Black, Dementors, the most horrifying creation ever, and werewolves! I was terrified.

Now as an adult I can watch it without a hint of fear but I still remember the horror I felt watching this movie as a baby. It’s one of the reasons, however, that I like the movie so much. Part of the reason why the Harry Potter franchise is so enjoyable is that horror factor but the movies are really good as well.

My favorite part of the third Harry Potter is when Harry and Hermione have to go back in time to save Sirius Black from a terrible fate. It’s such an incredible portion of the film and it really makes the movie enjoyable. It’s also something I’ve never seen since then in a movie, making it extra special. This film has so many incredible layers and at a whopping two hours and twenty-two minutes this movie definitely provides plenty of entertainment.

Well, these are the three Harry Potter films that have always made me either happy or terrified (in a good way) and helped turn me into a Harry Potter fan. And with John Williams (Star Wars) making the iconic musical theme I’m not surprised I love these movies so much. He is truly a legendary composer and I’m so glad he’s still alive so he can continue creating fabulous music.

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a magical day.

 

The Proof That Poe Was Regarded As a Villain in ‘The Last Jedi’

Over three weeks ago I wrote a post about who I felt was the true villain in The Last Jedi and at the end of the article I felt that, due to the movie’s events, Poe Dameron was the true antagonist of the movie and for several reasons. One of the biggest reasons why however is that Poe got hundreds of Resistance fighters killed due to his reckless actions. He wanted to be a hero several times and every time he thought he was doing something great he only made things much, much worse. Of course Kylo Ren is the main villain of the trilogy but for the majority of The Last Jedi he was treated as a partial-protagonist rather than the villain that he was in The Force Awakens. And now I have legitimate proof that Poe was regarded as one of the antagonists of the film. Look at this poster.

Anthony Daniels, Neal Scanlan, Brian Herring, Jimmy Vee, Dave Chapman, Kelly Marie Tran, and Joonas Suotamo in Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017)

If you see where all of the major characters are placed where is Poe? On the villain side of the poster! When I first saw this poster I wondered why Poe was on the bad side but I figured it was simply designed this way so he’d be perfectly parallel with Finn but after watching the film I now understand the reasoning behind his placing on the poster.

I find this very interesting and it highlights how different The Last Jedi is compared to its predecessor. I mean when you’ve got Poe, one of the most heroic characters in The Force Awakens, considered as a villain in its sequel it shows how wildly different the movie’s tone was going to be. And it was.

That’s why I love Star Wars. There’s always something new to discover. I’m sure when I watch this movie again I’ll find many more hidden references and Easter eggs that I’ve missed before. I mean I still watch The Force Awakens and see new things. Well, that’s my latest discovery from The Last Jedi.

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a beautiful day. May the Force Be With You.