Formidable Courage

Christian, Writer, Farm-girl, Fangirl. The rest, as they say, is history.

Triple Movie Review: Of Spies, Snow White, and the Coast Guard

A recent trip to the library yielded some amazing movie finds, starring my three favorite modern-day actors! I’ll try to keep these blurbs short and sweet, but cookies and hot chocolate for anyone who sticks with me through the end, haha.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.


IMDB summary: In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.

I found out about this movie during that period in my life when my face turned into the heart-eyes emoji every time I saw Henry Cavill, but I’ve never found the opportunity to see it. On my best friend’s eager and repeated suggestion, I finally checked it out at the library and popped it into my computer as soon as I got home.

This movie is just pure, unadulterated fun. Napoleon Solo isn’t exactly a model citizen, and Illya Kuryakin is a physically intimidating Soviet desperate to prove he isn’t a traitor like his father. Order them to unite in a common cause, and you’ve got a fascinating (and hilarious) combo on your hands. Throw in the fierce, diminuitive Gaby (Alicia Vikander), and you’re really in business. Oh, and get this: NO LOVE TRIANGLE, because Napoleon ships Illya and Gaby so hard.

There are two mildly inappropriate scenes, so check the IMDB Parents Guide before you view this one. They’re very brief, though, and the language was minimal. If you like the Mission Impossible movies, you should enjoy this one. Watch for A+ sass, a light-hearted Cold War thriller, and the best American and Russian accents on the block.

(And yes, I know all about the TV show. And that one episode with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. I know. Believe me, I know… 😉 )

Snow White and the Huntsman


IMDB summary: Snow White, the imprisoned daughter of the late king, escapes after the Magic Mirror declares she is the source of her evil stepmother’s immortality. The Queen sends her men, led by a local huntsman, to bring her back. But upon her capture, the huntsman finds he’s being played and turns against the Queen’s men, saving Snow White in the process. 

The live-action Cinderella was pure Disney magic. This retelling of an old fairytale, on the other hand, takes a grittier, “Tolkienized” approach–and guess what? It works!

I liked this film way more than I expected. I’ve always been a bit leery of Kristen Stewart–her facial expression never varies, plus there’s the Twilight stigma (sorry, Twihards)–so I was pleasantly surprised by her performance as Snow White. I never liked the old cartoon because I always thought Snow White was way too featherbrained. Kristen Stewart, however, portrayed a kind, intelligent princess who didn’t mind putting on a full suit of armor by the end of the movie and leading her people into battle, Joan of Arc style.

Yes, there are dwarfs, but the focus is on Snow’s relationship with the cynical, ax-wielding Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth). Just like watching Superman (AKA Henry Cavill) play a completely different role in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., it was fun watching Thor play someone so grumpy, haha! Also, Hemsworth is the king of accents. I’ve heard him with a very proper English accent (Thor), a New England sailor’s accent (In the Heart of the Sea), an American accent (Star Trek and Red Dawn), and now a Scottish brogue.

The Queen and her witchcraft were the most disturbing parts, so I would not recommend it for younger audiences at all. But Christian overtones, great character development for the Huntsman, and a new and needed take on Snow White herself have me thinking that these live-action fairytales are the next big thing.

The Finest Hours


IMDB summary: In February of 1952, one of the worst storms to ever hit the East Coast strikes New England, damaging an oil tanker off the coast of Cape Cod and literally ripping it in half. On a small lifeboat faced with frigid temperatures and 70-foot high waves, four members of the Coast Guard set out to rescue the more than 30 stranded sailors trapped aboard the rapidly-sinking vessel.

Of the three films featured in this post, this was my favorite. It’s a true story, with real-life heroes. On the one hand, you’ve got Bernie Webber (Chris Pine), the shy, awkward Coast Guard patrolman who ventures out into hurricane-force winds even though he knows he and his tiny crew might not even survive long enough to reach the sinking Pendleton. On the other hand, you’ve got Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck), basically the first officer of the Pendleton who takes command after the captain is killed. Nobody likes him, yet he wins his crew’s respect by persevering and working with the beleaguered ship he knows so well.

That’s what I found the most interesting: both men knew their ships. One had a tiny Coast Guard boat, the other a seriously-damaged oil tanker, yet both knew what those ships were capable of. And because of that, they were able to do unbelievable things that no one else would dare to try.

Chris Pine was amazing. I know, I know, call me biased–but this movie made me realize just what a great actor he is. Bernie Webber is as adorably soft-spoken as Jim Kirk is boisterous, and his quiet simplicity is so endearing. All the poor boy wants in life is to settle down and marry his outgoing, super-cute girlfriend…but he also wants to save as many lives at sea as he can. Because he remains fairly reserved throughout the film, his feelings mostly come out in shaking hands, exhausted smiles, and gritted teeth. He was just good.

This movie is very family-friendly. I could count on one hand the number of bad words, and there aren’t any inappropriate scenes, either! I give The Finest Hours the highest recommendation possible.


(*inserts adorable GIF here because Bernie and Miriam are worth it*)


(*inserts one more because i’m absolutely sappy*)

Have y’all seen any of these movies? Let me know in the comments!

currently: fall

Hi, peeps! Time for a Currently Post because “I’m running out of time I’m running out of time and my time’s UP, rise UP, eyes UP!” And no, that reference does NOT mean I’m about to duel Aaron Burr–but time seems to be slipping out of my fingers these days and a “Currently Post” is all I can afford at the moment.

So…what am I up to?

Reading: Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay. This is actually a re-read but I’m enjoying the epistolary form after reading a long string of novels and biographies. The main character, Sam(antha), can be a bit irritating at times, but she gets better as the story moves forward. And the authoress did a great job of “showing” Sam even though 99% of the novel is nothing but letters.

Watching: Blue Bloods and NCIS!!!!!!! Y’all, I’m obsessed with cop/investigation shows right now. Blue Bloods is all about a family of cops, detectives, and attorneys in New York City. You’ve got your police commissioner dad, Frank Reagan (played by the amazing Tom Selleck), his oldest son Detective Danny, his daughter Attorney Erin, and his baby sunshine child Officer Jamie. Throw in all kinds of police/legal/political/family drama and Sunday dinners in every single episode, and you’ve got the closest thing to perfection on modern television.


But then there’s NCIS too. I’m only on the first season but Gibbs is my TV Dad (after Frank Reagan and Dr. McCoy) and Abby is my smol happy little goth daughter and Tony is mah trash son and Kate is my style icon. Oh, and Ducky…I knew Ducky looked familiar. It all made sense when I found out he was the original Ilya Kuriyakin in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.


Absolutely love this old NCIS poster from the first season.

Practicing: Handbells! One of the ladies in our church’s handbells group had to bow out, so I officially took her place back in August. I have the bass clef G, G Flat/A Sharp, and A bells, so whenever those notes are in a measure, I get to ring them. In their proper place and rhythm, of course. The hardest thing about handbells is that you have to count the beats to make sure you come in at the right time, and if the rhythms are complicated, it’s easy to get lost. They’re heavy, too. But it’s fun: I enjoy all the sightreading, the music is beautiful, and I’m just so happy to be involved with my church in a very practical way. (I just really love my church, guys.)

Enjoying: the fall weather! Which, for us down here in Louisiana, means that our daytime temperatures are in the 80’s and our nighttime temps in the 60’s. This is heavenly. And it’ll only get better.

Applying: for some freelance jobs in editing and proofreading! We’ll see where it goes. It would be a nice way to build my writing profile.


Building: a new Pinterest account. My other one got way too big and unorganized, and my stream was too cluttered and also rather boring. This new account is geared towards my writing: my novels, my fanfiction, and story prompts that might inspire both. I’ve also built a couple of aesthetic boards: one for Jacqueline Kennedy, and another for Lieutenant Uhura. I’m really proud of those.

By the way, if the board has “M:” as part of its name, then it goes with Metamorphosis. Which leads me to the next thing I’m up to…

Writing: Metamorphosis.

I haven’t talked about it on this blog at all; in fact, I haven’t talked about it anywhere or to anyone except for a few select, trusted individuals. I’ve been working on it all year, though, and while I’m still keeping the nitty-gritty details to myself, the short version is that this novel will be a science fiction retelling of Cinderella. 


It’s odd, though, and I’m not complaining…but when my novel is happy, my fanfics are happy. In the resulting flurry of creativity and confidence, I recently published “I Am Not Afraid,” an epilogue to the Star Trek episode “Plato’s Stepchildren.” You know, the one where Kirk and Uhura kiss. And that’s all anybody remembers about this bizarre episode, for it was groundbreaking and it was scandalous simply because (*gaaaaaaasp*) a white man kissed a black woman in nineteen-sixty-niiiiiine OH. THE. HORROR.



By the way, I suspect that if I were alive in 1969 I would’ve been screaming in delight and doing cartwheels because I’m such a rebel and I don’t just ship those two–I “luxury cruise” them.  






What have y’all been up to these first few days of autumn? Let me know in the comments!

Still Boldly Going: my Star Trek 50th Anniversary Post

“Captain’s log: Stardate 1513.1. Our position: orbiting Planet M-113. On board the Enterprise, Mr. Spock, temporarily in command. On the planet: the ruins of an ancient and long-dead civilization. Ship’s surgeon McCoy and myself are now beaming down to the planet’s surface…”

And thus began, on this day 50 years ago, the first episode of the revolutionary television show, Star Trek. “The Man Trap” introduced the young captain of the starship Enterprise, his half-alien first officer, and his ship’s surgeon…and the world and pop culture have never been quite the same.


First time you see these two dorks on an adventure together. #historyishappenin

While “The Man Trap” is an enjoyable episode, I doubt that anyone watching it on September 8, 1966 would’ve expected Star Trek to become such a phenomenon. When I compare it to the first episodes of my other favorite TV shows (Blue Bloods, NCIS, and Call the Midwife), it is an unusual way to jumpstart a series about a bunch of interplanetary misfits travelers. You aren’t given a detailed introduction to any of the main characters; rather, you get thrown head-first into a murder-mystery and just get to know everybody along the way. The story isn’t particularly shocking; anyone who’s seen Loki in action knows how crafty those shapeshifters can be. And when Kirk, Spock, and McCoy fight the salt monster, it’s easy to smirk and say, “I’ve seen worse in the Mines of Moria.”

But honestly, the part where the monster attacks Kirk is still one of the freakiest scenes in the whole show. The shapeshifting drives you crazy because YOU KNOW THAT PERSON RIGHT THERE IS THE MONSTER AND NOBDOY ELSE DOES! And you realize, quite suddenly, that you’ve gotten to know a whole lot about a certain character just by the way he or she reacts to a situation–and you didn’t need bagoodles of backstory to tell you all you needed to know. Not yet, anyway.


Dramatic poses whilst investigating a murder-mystery? All part of a day’s work.

Of course, this is the first episode of the first season: the actors and the writers are still trying to “get in the groove.” Captain Kirk, for example, is even more boyish and playful than he is in later episodes. Dr. McCoy’s sense of humor isn’t nearly as acerbic and he doesn’t backtalk Kirk very much at all. Spock is much more animated and expressive. Interestingly, so is Uhura, making you wonder if the writers originally intended to make her more of a prominent character. These dynamics make this episode and “The Naked Time” the most similar in character structure to the reboot films.


“Shall we pick some flowers, Doctor? When a man visits an old girlfriend she usually expects something like that.”

You also learn, though, that Kirk is intensely protective of his crew and that the burden of command weighs heavy on him. In a highly-advanced technological age, McCoy remains stubbornly old-fashioned and even spiritually conservative. Spock looks at everything from a logical angle–and yet when Uhura challenges him on whether or not he cares about Kirk’s safety, he gets downright touchy. Uhura herself is cheerful and self-confident, the only one besides Kirk who can be openly playful with Spock and get away with it.

These things never changed, even as the Triumvirate actors settled into their roles and Uhura (sadly) moved more into the background.


“Why don’t you tell me I’m an attractive young lady, or ask me if I’ve ever been in love?”

According to Memory Alpha’s article on the episode, the producers had to decide between several episodes for Star Trek‘s television premiere: “The Corbomite Maneuver,” “Charlie X,” “Mudd’s Women,” “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” “The Naked Time,” and “The Man Trap.” They chose the latter because “its straightforward action plot was not considered too exotic, it had the advantage of a monster to thrill the viewers, and it fulfilled the series’ ‘strange new worlds’ concept.”

Fair enough. I would’ve preferred “The Naked Time” because it does an even better job of developing the characters, and it includes Scotty and Christine Chapel. Nobody asked for my opinion, of course…haha. But “The Man Trap” still has all the things that make Star Trek so enjoyable, in spite of its over-arching humanistic worldview. The characters are believable, relatable, lovable. The good, honest, principled guys and girls always triumph in the end.  Racial divisions are completely demolished by the inclusion of an Asian man and an African woman in the main cast–a big deal back in the 60’s. And if you can learn anything from this story and the ones that followed it, it’s that overcoming our differences and working not just as a team, but as a family, is more important than personal agendas and prejudices.


The Triumvirate in the third and final season.

Even though it was cancelled after only three seasons, reruns in the 70’s made Star Trek an international, cultural phenomenon. By the time the first movie was released, girls were writing fanfiction in their college dorms (three cheers for our fandom foremothers!), people were actually attending Star Trek conventions (like, we probably wouldn’t have Comic-Con if it wasn’t for those people, okay?)…and poor William Shatner was having to accept the fact that he was going to be Captain Kirk for a long, long time.

And now it’s been 50 years since “The Man Trap” first aired. We’re still writing fanfics and people are still attending conventions–and not only that, but we have four (soon to be five) other series and something like thirteen movies! We even have technology directly inspired by Star Trek. The only thing that’s really changed is that William Shatner is okay with being Captain Kirk forever. All’s well that ends well 😉


And as for me? Well, I’ve been a Trekkie a little over a year, and in spite of my issues with its worldview, it’s still my happy place. There’s nothing better than settling down with an episode after a long day of work and writing. I love being able to have inside jokes with my Trekkie friends and family. I love knowing that Kirk and Spock and McCoy and all the rest of them are always going to be there to make me laugh and cry and look up at the stars and whisper, “Space…the final frontier.”


Oh…happy birthday you big silly wonderful old show. I love you to Vulcan and back.

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