‘Disenchanted’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Fairytales have always been an important part of pop culture, especially when we were children. The idea that anyone can break into a song and express their true feelings is what makes them magical. The characters have always been virtuous, loving, and empathetic towards others to have kindness overpower any form of hatred. There is just something special and heartwarming about fairytales that other romances do not have. Disney princesses have always been a staple in everyone’s lives, and Gisele (Amy Adams) from Andalasia certainly made her mark. Ingrid Werner who makes her acting debut in Disenchanted has her own reasons as to why fairytales can resonate with everyone,

“I enjoy them because while it’s like very fantastical storylines, I enjoy being taken out of reality for a moment in time, and kind of escape a little bit. It also grounded in real morals and stories, and when you peel away the fantastical elements, it’s all there to teach us something or make us realize something about ourselves or even society.”

Ingrid Werner, Disenchanted

Fairytales can come in all forms and it’s bold to make some changes to their structure. Uprooting an animated princess in a fairytale world and placing her in one of the rudest cities known to man was a choice. Adams was an absolute delight as the excitable and ever-so-loving Gisele, who wanted to spread all the love and kindness wherever she went. Here, Gisele learned from the people around her and made a grumpy middle-aged man into someone warm and kind. 

Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

The sequel Disenchanted offers a different take on a fairytale. Gisele has now built a family with Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey) and Morgan Philip (Gabriella Baldacchino) but she still feels something is missing. The magic in her life has turned into something different with her newborn child, and she misses the fairytale world that she came from. One could consider this a midlife crisis for a princess, which seems attractive at first. However, as the story goes on, it changes from a fairytale into a nightmare for Gisele. There’s a comment made by Morgan after moving to a new part of town that felt homier for Gisele, and she calls her, “stepmother”. After being with her since she was born, Gisele was hurt by this comment. She finds this magical wand with some help and she makes one wish to make her life more of a fairytale. Since she had Morgan’s comment in mind, her fairytale slowly turns wicked. After waiting over a decade to see our cheerful Gisele back on screen, it was a bit disheartening to see her go in a darker direction.

There is no issue with Amy Adams’s performance, as she completely nailed the descent into the wicked stepmother, but it felt like we didn’t get enough time with Gisele. The film of course is extravagant and the wonderful music by Alan Menken made the musical numbers worthwhile, but it just felt a bit empty because the attachment to Gisele was lost in the fold. Sure, it felt nostalgic and the development of the mother/daughter storyline with Gisele and Morgan was touching in the end, but it felt disjointed. The songs were not as memorable as the one’s in the first and it feels like a disservice to the wonderful character of Gisele. It’s hard to enjoy a sequel that is so focused on changing the lead character to make it a bit more interesting so it’s not a repeat of the first instalment. The cast is lovely and Maya Rudolph had some strong moments, the song “Badder” is probably one of the best moments between her and Adams. It sadly felt like a sequel with no clear direction in where they wanted Gisele to go. Of course, it was wonderful to see Adams in the role again, but it didn’t do anything for the character. 

(L-R): Amy Adams as Giselle and Maya Rudolph as Malvina Monroe in Disney’s live-action DISENCHANTED, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Jonathan Hession. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

When asked about the change in storytelling over the years in Disney films, Werner expressed that the films have changed drastically and it’s because we as an audience don’t buy into the magic of the storylines anymore. The world has changed our perception of everything and we are no longer looking at it through rose-coloured glasses,

“I’m of the generation where we all bought into the fairytale and you find your happily ever after. Right? Now, there are a lot more inclusive storylines, and I love the new princesses that came out in the last 10 years. It’s just really interesting stories and I love that they keep finding new things to create. But also the stories have a bit more dark elements to them, but I feel like now they’re dealing with real world problems, but in a fairy tale perspective.”

– Ingrid Werner, Disenchanted

Disenchanted may look and feel extravagant because of the production design, costuming, and musical numbers, but at its core, it feels a bit hollow. There just wasn’t the same magic that was there in the first instalment. It’s sometimes hard to recapture the same feeling in sequels, especially those that come a decade after their predecessor. Adams plays the dual role incredibly well, and she proves again that she is one of the best actresses of our generation. It comes down to the writing and the direction they decided to take the story. Just because it looks magical, doesn’t mean the story matches that level. There are small moments that creep through that work, but it takes a while to get into the story and when that happens, it’s too late. The expectations were high for this sequel, especially because Gisele is one of Adams’s best characters. It is the one that put her on the map and made people recognize how much talent she has. The film is now streaming on Disney Plus and is still worth watching if you’re a fan of the first one.

Hillbilly Elegy Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Hillbilly Elegy is a film about generational differences, family dysfunction and psychological trauma that all stems from childhood. The film is adapted from the memoir Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. There is a different way of life in Middletown, Ohio and the memoir explored how he was personally affected by his family. Ron Howard pulls career best performances from Amy Adams and Glenn Close but it just falls short as a whole.

The screenplay, which was adapted by Vanessa Taylor, seemed promising at the beginning of the film. There was a voiceover from a young J.D. Vance (Gabriel Basso) explaining how life was for him, living with his family and what category they fit into in the grand scale of America. The film does dive into childhood psychological trauma and how each generation has somehow damaged the next.

It does not matter how it’s delivered, it can be any form of abuse, no matter how miniscule, children are most definitely affected. It felt like an endless cycle of trauma and misguided hatred within the family unit and that is what made certain scenes rather upsetting. The decisions made by generations before, somehow affects the lineage and all it takes is one family member to break the cycle and in this case, it was J.D. Vance.

Courtesy of Netflix Film
(left) Glenn Close and Amy Adams

My dear Amy Adams – an actress who has always gone above and beyond the script- has never had a bad performance, she was transformed as Bev and had incredibly strong, emotional moments. Watching her go toe-to-toe with a heavyweight like Glenn Close, was something I didn’t know I needed. Both have been underappreciated by the Academy for many, many years and if this film is what it takes, then so be it. The film simply does not work without the two of them.

Hillbilly Elegy had some strong moments but the editing made everything feel disjointed and episodic, rather than a fluid structure as a whole. The flashbacks were filled with traumatic emotional moments, that seemed to cut through J.D.’s peace in trying to get a summer internship. It is a film that does its job in blatantly showing real social issues, while allowing its stars to put on an acting clinic to carry the film to the end.

For Glenn Close and Amy Adams, make sure you check out Hillbilly Elegy on Netflix November 24th.

A Love Letter to DCEU Fans: We Did It!


By: Amanda Guarragi 

To my fellow DC fans, I salute you, because we did it. The #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement is a massive success and in 2021, on HBO Max, we will finally see our beloved Justice League come together as it was intended. Zack Snyder hosted a Man of Steel watch party today on the platform Vero, which he uses quite often. In his commentary, he discussed the choices he made in each scene in a very detailed manner and it showed how dedicated he was to bringing fans the best version of Superman. It was so much fun to watch because he gave his audience important information and pointed out a couple of easter eggs.

Zack Snyder has always created beautiful films that are deeply rooted in the source material. Most importantly, he has fun on set because he loves the material so much. Zack Snyder is a great director because he is also a fan of the content. When he was describing Superman’s first flight and showing his storyboards, you could feel how much love went into those scenes. Today was a very special day because towards the end of the film, Henry Cavill made an appearance and talked about how he felt putting on the suit. It was a great moment, considering we haven’t really seen Henry Cavill, let alone him speaking about the Snyder Cut, but I always knew there was a plan in place.

After 4 long years of being extremely vocal about Warner Brothers releasing the Snyder Cut of Justice League, it was finally confirmed from the man himself. At the end of the livestream, Zack and Deborah Snyder had a couple of fans join their Zoom call with Henry. This also proved that Zack has a very close relationship with his fanbase and loves having discussions with them. He answered all their questions, including the one in regards to the Snyder Cut. At first Henry, Zack and Deborah laughed. Zack awkwardly said, “It’s out of my control. It’s not up to me.” then he started talking about a tiny flash drive, that he left in a bathroom stall somewhere, to try and divert the question.

At that point, I thought we were duped. I thought there would be no announcement because he was diverting the question, but Henry came to the rescue. It fell silent for a moment and then Henry said, “You know what, I think I’d like to see it.” and Zack answered, “Oh, really? Well I can’t just show it but I can do this.” Zack then turns the camera to his big screen, where he was watching Man of Steel on, and this showed up.

JL official

courtesy of HBO Max

Beautiful right? The moment we’ve been waiting for and he announced it in the most Zack Snyder way. Everything started with Man of Steel and Zack’s version of Superman. It all started with Henry Cavill. Superman hasn’t risen yet because Zack Snyder’s Justice League hasn’t been released. It was only fitting that Henry, Zack and Deborah would all join together to make this announcement. The internet pretty much exploded today and all DC fans are beyond happy. My Twitter timeline took me back to a time where we were gearing up for Justice League and it gave me that same feeling today. All the friends I have made in the DC community and the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement has truly been amazing. We went up to bat for our director and now his vision will finally be complete.

It is a very emotional day for so many people. This community has been through so many bad moments but our love for these characters and these films helped us push through. We have constantly been under fire and we have had to defend these films for the past 4 years. It has been a very long journey but it was definitely worth it because today, today we made history. To everyone that used the hashtag, to everyone who defended these films and these actors, this couldn’t have been possible without you guys. We have been a team since SDCC in 2015, ever since we saw the footage for Batman v Superman. We went through all the criticism and the hatred together, but we stuck to our guns and made the impossible happen. Today is for all of you.

To Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller, on behalf of the whole fanbase, thank you a million times over for your love and dedication to these characters. The DCEU would not be the same without you guys. You have all made comic book films that deeply resonate with so many people around the world and with characters that have been iconic throughout history. You have all built the foundation for the future of the DCEU and we truly can’t wait to see what comes next.

Whether Zack Snyder’s Justice League, is a six episode television series, or a three hour epic released on HBO Max, we will all be there on the very first day it is released, watching it because it’s going to be a big moment. Hope is what got all of us here and that’s why today is overwhelming, especially by watching Man of Steel. It’s not an “S”, on Kal’s planet, it means hope. The definition of hope, the feeling of it and having it payoff, is what today is.