Tag Archives: The Last Unicorn

Writing: Unicorns Need a Publicist

…Okay, stay with me on this one.

While I spent the last weekend sick, I had time to do some musing on my novel getting type-casted as being middle-grade, despite knowing my prose is at 9th grade reading level, my main characters are seventeen (if sometimes decidedly immature, but…teenagers), and while the goblins are ridiculous, the hobgoblin is a real threat. I also knew most of the elements I used in my query/first 10 appear in other YA and even adult fiction books, so it couldn’t be them. What did that leave me with?

Unicorns.

Now, I don’t know about all of you, but I grew up watching The Last Unicorn on repeat from the ages of 6 or 7 till…present. I love that movie. I can quote that movie from memory, and I’m due for a rewatch. And I can quote most of the Butterfly’s speech at that. Around 10, I found Bruce Coville’s A Glory of Unicorns and then his Unicorn Chronicles series. (I discovered The Unicorns of Balinor too young for it to click with me, the shortness started driving me nuts.) As a teenager, I kept hoping unicorns would feature more prominently in the Harry Potter series or in Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books since they keep getting name-dropped along with the werewolves. I read the Acorna series by McCaffery, but it wasn’t the best thing ever since it was very much sci-fi and that isn’t my cup of cocoa most of the time (plus I got bored about the time the lead got a girl and gave up).

And now as an adult writer who keeps getting told her YA book is too MG in sheer concept, I have to wonder. At one point was it decided that after the age of 12, we no longer like unicorns? That they are meant to be cutsey and wootsey and pretty, but we have to grow up and start liking “serious” books that talk about the world around us, or that if we must do fantasy, shouldn’t we read about dragons, who can be both good or bad or neither and be beasts or companion?*

When I googled unicorns, I didn’t pull up images of Amalthea. I didn’t pull up pictures of fantasy artwork featuring them, like the poster that was in my childhood bedroom up until my mother sold her house four years ago. I didn’t even pull up pictures from old medieval texts, where they were trying to hash together what a unicorn looked like, and boy, were those a mess.

I pulled up My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic characters. I pulled up cute, stout little chibi figures. I pulled up rainbow and glitter silhouettes. I even pull up a couple of collections of Unicornos, a collection of figurines big out of Asia with different crazy designs that reminds me of MLP in a lot of ways. Or I pull up the horn with a smile and big eyelashes underneath, which is the latest fad, particularly for these “unicorn” cakes. Worse, I pull up super cheap figurines and stuffed toys that are fine for those about age 9 and younger, but any older and you will get some funny looks.

This strikes me as odd. Now, I liked the first two seasons of MLP, but let me tell you, I’d have never admitted to that in high school. (Especially since the show got increasingly juvenile after Faust left.) And as for what I did have… Amalthea faced hardship, and had to change the fundamental core of what she was in order to save the others. Lightfoot and his people went to war, so people could continue to be happy, could continue to have art and music and joy to their lives, for without them, humans were a sad, miserable lot. I wasn’t embarrassed about enjoying those characters, because I knew that they could withstand the scrutiny. Yes, I was able to immerse myself in a fantasy about unicorns, about creatures called to young girls mostly, but they weren’t these one-dimensional ideas, they were actually people with personalities and flaws and growth.

So that now leaves me with a question. Has the world changed? Have teenagers decided they are too old for unicorns, that they don’t need the ideals but instead need the dark and the gritty reality of their world, or only knights and dragons? Or have we, the adults, just decided that they don’t need it anymore? That it’s just a security blanket of childhood, and that there is no depth to be found there?

I hope it’s the latter, and that we can change it. Because I don’t know about you all, but I still need unicorns. I still need to believe in something fundamentally good…even if some of them are jerks, like Moonshine, or a little too interested in fighting, like Sunny will grow up to be.

Advertisements

Top 10 Favorite Movies

I know, not a review, but it’s something. I’ve discovered I don’t have the second Shadow saga book, and refuse to buy it just for consistency. (Maybe with Christmas money next year.) I have a movie sitting around, waiting for me to watch and return it to its owner, and the Ginny-donation-box needs gone through so I know what I have. But for this week, I thought I would do a list of my favorite movies, spurned on by a conversation happening on the drive home from a medieval fair.

So with that, I give you my top favorite movies (err, sort of). There were a few exceptions made in the case of series where you like all the movies in it equally, it could count as one. I suspect because the guy who asked the question wanted to make sure people like me just didn’t start listing MCU movies…

10. How to Train Your Dragon

There’s a lot to love about this movie. On one hand, I have to knock it a bit because it is apparently way different from its source material, and as a writer, that irks me. But they took the concept and ran with it, which I thought was impressive. I love the fact that Hiccup is this plucky, skinny little kid that doesn’t have the brawl and doesn’t need it, instead just needing his smarts. I also love the fact that Astrid is a bit of a tomboy, yes, and is very much the fighter and athletic type, but she is still considered beautiful and feminine. And then the dialogue is perfect, and I love how cat-like the dragons are… It’s really just an amazing film.

9. Pitch Black/Chronicles of Riddick/Riddick

…Someone is going, “Wait, Rebecca, you can’t do horror, why are these on your favorite list…?” I know I can’t do horror, which is why it’s all the way down here at number 9. 😛 Yes, some elements of these movies gives me nightmares. But I love the way the anti-hero was shaped, even if I think we took a weird tangent in the second movie. I’ve done some slightly more in-depth thoughts on this franchise, and I stand by them. But I love them, and I look forward to seeing where it goes in oncoming films. (Plus, I really, really like Vin Diesel, okay?)

8. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

I am a sucker for this TV series, despite some of the weird/stupid episodes. I thought that this movie was a great way of showing Terry stepping into the mantle of the Batman, and it also helps answer the question of what happened to at least one of the Robins. It makes some nods towards the series that are great in context of it as a whole. I have to knock it a little, since if you don’t know some of what happened in at least the first season, some of the emotional bombs don’t hit as hard, and it’s not as obvious that Terry is not a genius like Bruce without that further evidence, so the ending is less of a comeuppance. But there are still moments that even a newbie to the concept can love if they watch it just as a stand-alone, and most of the history is general Batman history and thus easy enough to grab on to (or is explained).

7. Beauty and the Beast

My very first review on this blog was about this movie, though it was over the 3-D rendition and had some problems. I know there are some people who have severe issues with the plot of this movie, shouting Stockholm Syndrome and verbal abuse. I’m not saying they’re wrong, but I am saying that I think that is a pretty quick leap. Is the situation weird, yes. But this is a fantasy movie, weird situations are the norm. But I won’t get into an argument on this list. I love this idea of a brainy girl who doesn’t fit in with her surroundings and wants more out of life, falling in love with someone who similarly doesn’t belong, of finding love with each other. I love the idea of love helping you become a better person. The side characters also have their moments of glory, and I’ll admit it, I have deep issues with trusting the popular, pretty boy, and Gaston being the jerky villain is awesome.

6. Marvel Cinematic Universe

Okay, this is the first of the cheater choices. I just can’t pick a favorite, and they are so inter connected, it’s hard to separate them out. It doesn’t help matters that my favorite hero hasn’t had a solo movie and doesn’t look to be getting one either… (I’m such a Hawkeye fan girl.) There are questionable choices at times in the writing, and I don’t always like which of the Marvel universes they pull from, but everything is working well together, and they are pacing themselves well. You can tell, for example, that Iron Man is pulling back to be a more supportive role and his solo character arc is resolved and now it’s him in the group. My working theory is that Captain America is going to wrap up with this third, and Thor with is. They aren’t letting one character become more than the series as a whole, and that I think is what makes Avengers so amazing.

(…Don’t ask me about Agents of SHIELD. Just don’t. I have all sorts of mixed feels, because they are writing a really weird Bobbi…)

5. The Last Unicorn

Yeah, you should have timed this one appearing on this list. God, I loved this movie growing up. I don’t remember how many times I rented it, but it was an insane number of times. And what’s not to love? Schmedrick and Molly Grue are amazing characters, with deep character flaws but even bigger hearts. Amalthia starts out not necessarily flat but very much lacking in certain levels of human empathy. And when that starts to change, it breaks your heart. And the ending isn’t completely happy but honest and true to its world, which in fact keeps with the original source material…like this movie does amazingly well at, just cutting stuff for time reasons in ways that make sense. It’s an under appreciated classic that really deserves more attention.

4. Lord of the Rings Trilogy

And here’s the second cheater. But honestly, these three again are so wound together, it’s really hard to separate them. And while I may get more frustrated with the first two, that’s only because TNT and other channels marathon the dickens out of them but rarely show the third. I own the super long, box-set versions, so I don’t watch them as much as I like because really, who has that kind of time? But I appreciate them because there are all those extra little moments. (Okay, and because the Faramir/Eowyn moments were a lot more blatant in those versions). As someone who read the books too young, if I’m honest to myself, and got bogged down in Two Towers, these movies were well-done and helped me feel the same excitement that I know the books inspire in other people

3. Three Musketeers

Specifically, I mean the version that Disney put out with Tim Curry as the cardinal. It sticks the closest to the original story as far as screenplay/stage adaptations go according to other people’s research, not mine. And honestly, the characters make this story and the way the actors portray them. The plot is ridiculously straight-forward, there aren’t any surprise twists coming. But the characters, man… I can’t even pick a favorite, that’s how awesome they all are. And there are lots of comedic moments, but some of serious drama that can just break your heart. And it flows very well between the comedy and the drama so it doesn’t jar you out of the story. And they are all so relatable and human, down to their silliest of flaws. (Like Pathos being a pathological liar, since there is no Queen of America.) I highly recommend this movie (except…maybe not for the kids. It gets a bit too serious and gory.)

2. Twelve Angry Men

What is this, a black and white film that is in no way fantasy or scifi? Shut your mouth! …Okay, in all seriousness, I love this movie. You’ve probably seen nods to it elsewhere, since I knew some shows that are episodic rather than overarching plot have done versions of it. (Hey Arnold! and the pulling of the fire alarm, for example.) It doesn’t have your traditional, physical conflict. Everything is done through words and differences in personality. The twelve characters are all different from each other, though some are pretty similar so it can get confusing trying to explain it rather than watch it. It doesn’t help that they are known by juror numbers only. You get to the point where you don’t care who is what number or who they are, you recognize the character and know their motivation, and that’s what matters. And it all builds on top of each into an absolutely amazing climax. Even if old black and white movies aren’t your thing, you should totally check this one out.

1. Cats Don’t Dance

Despite my education and supposed grown-up status, I will always be a girl obsessed with animated movies and musicals. This movie is the best of both and is always going to be the best in my heart. I love Sawyer’s sassiness and the fact that, let’s face it, she’s a better performer than our male lead, she just needs a push to try again. And because of the type of cat design they went with for her, she actually comes across as being plump and curvy rather than a stick, which is a big thumb’s up in my book. Darla is an absolutely amazing villain, especially when combined with Max, to create an almost Pinky and the Brain dynamic. And I think the idea of a animal actors trying to make it big like the humans is just awesome. The music is catchy and actually has a jazz feel to it rather than the Broadway musical feeling that most movies end up going with. The animation is good Warner Bro. animation, which is just as good if not better than Disney at times, and the way they use color is just a great touch. Overall, I think it’s just an under-appreciated animated classic, and definitely deserves recognition.