Friday, November 30, 2012

Rise of the Guardians Movie Review

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I first found out about Dreamworks Rise of the Guardians through my brother Steven.  Several months ago he was quite excited when he saw the trailer online, so he had me watch it, but I wasn't feeling the great interest he was.  It seemed to be just another Holiday Christmas movie.  "What is it exactly?"  I asked him, and he proceeded to tell me that the Sandman, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Clause are all apart of a group that protect kids, and they're out to fight against the boogeyman.  Somewhere Jack Frost fits in.  "So it's like the Avangers, only with childhood figures?" I asked, and he agreed that it was.

In a society that loves Comic Books and Mythologies, we have all these great myths and stories tied to our favorite characters.  We don't believe in them, but they're still real to us because of what we do know.  What's sad is that I know more about Superman, Batman, Iron man, some other superhero with a "man" at the end of their name, and Thor then I do about Santa Clause and the Tooth Fiary.  And yet, as a kid, I actually believed in Santa Clause!  I believe I somehow managed to make it to the 1st grade believing in him (that's probably because I'm the oldest of four, my youngest brother caught on much sooner then I.)  Not much is known about those we believed in as children, and Jack Frost I knew least of all.

That's Jack Frost's problem.  He exist.  He knows he exists, and it's the Man in the Moon who told him his name, but Jack Frost has no idea why he is who he is.  He just knows that he has the power to frost things and enjoys causing mischief in the process.  But no one believes in him, so he's invisible, and there's something very lonely in that.  The Guardians can be seen, because they are believed in, and there is power in that.

This is where the Boogeyman comes in.  He's no longer believed in and is invisible, craving the power he once had during the Middle ages when everything was dark and depressing.  And thus we have our conflict.

The character animation and interpritations in this film is brilliant.  Santa Clause, who is called "North" and is voiced by Alec Baldwin, is a burly man touting a giant tattoo that reads "Naughty," and yet he's in touch with his playful inner child.  The Tooth Fairy, who goes by "Tooth" and is voiced by Isla Fisher, has a league of tiny fairies called "baby teeth," and they all have hummingbird like traits.  The Easter Bunny, called E.Aster Bunnymund and is voiced by Hugh Jackman, has an Australian accent and is big like a kangaroo.  Then there's the Sandman, called Sandy, who doesn't have a voice actor because he communicates through pictures by using gold dust.  I honestly found that brilliant.  The boogeyman, called "Pitch" Black and is voiced by Jude Law, is a tall, intimidating fellow.  And then Jack Frost, voiced by Chris Pine, is a kid with a joyful nature, but is internally conflicted.

I really enjoyed this movie, and like my brothers I found myself relating to the main character, who is Jack Frost.  How often do we go through life wondering what our purpose is?  Who we are?  And somewhere in there we feel invisible, even when we scream.

And the Man in the Moon is a delightful character.  He is up in the sky watching, communicating through inspiration, and setting things in motion, yet he doesn't get involved beyond that, letting those in the story find their own ways by making choices, even when the choices could be wrong.

This is a fun family film that I highly recommend.

MPAA: PG for thematic elements and mildly scary action.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I've Now Entered the Twitterverse!!

It's happened.  It's finally happened.  I've now joined the masses and have a twitter account.  Then again I haven't joined My Space yet, and don't plan on doing so any time soon . . . 

When twitter first became popular I vowed this would be one social media platform I'd never enter.  All I ever heard about was how many follows this celebrity had vs that celebrity, as if it was a competition, and how obsessed people were with over sharing.  (It's cliche now, but I really don't need to know when someone is using the restroom.)  The site seemed like a kinda joke, and Facebook is where all my friends hang out anyway.  It's still where they all hang out.

Then there is the overwhelming factor on how to understand tweets.  They're like another language!  All those # and @ running amok every which way.  There's no making sense of it.  It's like a special code, one of which I found daunting, so I generally stayed away.

With the help of some friends and a couple websites twitter-speak is making a little more sense.  

My decision to start a twitter account stemmed to my experience with running the Cerulean Jade fan page, which I need to do a better job with, and feeling limited with what I can share there.  With Twitter I can share what I'm working on with Cerulean Jade and Talea Studios, but then also share things that I find interesting, or currently like, or just overall geeking out over.

So if you're interested, you can check out my twitter page at:

As a note, I tried to get the twitter name SarahStufflebeam, but it was too long and ended up SarahStufflebea, and I just know people were going to look at that and think "bean."  Couldn't let that happen!  Stuffles is pretty cute.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2, Movie Review

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Breaking Dawn Part 2 takes off right where Part 1 ended with Bella coping with being a newborn vampire.  Insanity ensues as she tries to control her blood lust!  Will she drink the blood of a random, grazing deer, or go after that mountain climber who has slipped and has a blood gushing wound?  Then there is the issue of Bella and Edwards unnatural child.  What is she?  A tantrum throwing, reckless immortal child who kills entire villages when crying rages escalate?  Or something a whole lot more tame . . . though not as exciting? And is there, or isn't there, going to be an epic battle scene at the end of the film?  The series has been prepping for one after all. These are some of the important questions this movie sets out to answer.

I like Wikipedia's plot outline of this second Breaking Dawn movie: "After the birth of Renesmee, the Cullens gather other vampire covens in order to protect their child from a false allegation that puts the family in front of the Volturi." Pretty much sums it up.

The movie that came before this, Breaking Dawn Part 1 (both movies are based on the last book in Stephenie Meyers Twilight saga), would have been rated a 0.5 half-star out of 5 stars.  Why?  Because I'm nice.  Many parts of that movie had me thinking, "if I did drugs, this is probably what it would feel like."  

Then there is the issue of that CGI baby.  Spoiler, the baby in the beginning of the movie isn't real . . . and it creeped me out.

Honestly, there were aspects of this film I did like.  This last movie had to introduce a lot of characters in a short time, and we then had to care about them.  The Cullen's travel the world gathering witnesses in hopes of proving to the Volturi that Renesmee is not to be feared.  And so we get to see how Vampires live in other parts of the world (if you like house hunters international you'll love this segment).  The film was successful in the introduction of these new characters, and I quickly grew to like many of these new vampires more then the ones we've been getting to know these last 4 movies. 

Would I recommend this movie? Only if you're a fan of the series, or have been watching the movies and want to see how it ends.  I was curious, my curiosity was satisfied, and now I will never see another Twilight movie again.

. . . CGI baby . . .

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sensuality and partial nudity.  It should be noted, and (Spoiler) there is a final fight scene, that my Mom and I looked at each other and were amazed by what is getting a PG-13 rating these days.  She felt the movie honestly should have gotten an R rating for the style of deaths used (Vampires die via decapitation).  When director Bill Condon showed the MPAA board scenes from the movie 6 months before release, they actually gave the film a provisional R rating.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Time is Here

My Christmas tree is now up.  Simple is best :0). And it's not commercial, so Charlie Brown would be proud.

This is also my first time posting a blog post with my phone.  I'm not sure yet how I feel about the blogger app.  We'll see.  It wont let me control where the picture goes.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Midnight Visitors

On the way home from California we stayed at the Virgin River hotel in Mesquite Nevada.  It's very affordable, and located around the midway point on the long 12-13 hour drive to California or back.  This time around we got some visitors in our hotel room: Crickets.  I've never seen one before, but the chirping sound this little guy was making brought us easily to his location, which was next to the door.  Another cricket ended up in our room that night, but thankfully it chirped very little.  The sound of crickets at night is quite romantic, but boy they are ugly.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


 (Sunset in Ventura California)
"Always forgive your enemies - 
nothing annoys them so much"

~Oscar Wilde

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Life of Pi, Movie Review

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Life of Pi  is one of those rare movies that delights the eyes and warms the spirit at the same time.  Is it the same "visual miracle" akin to Avatar as Time claims?  The two can't be compared; though I marveled at Avatar, my heart was carried away by Pi.

the Life of Pi is based off of a book by Canadian author Yann Martel, and follows the life of Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel.  His name is based off of a pool in France, and yes, he got teased terribly as a child.  Besides the childhood teasing, his childhood was that of enchantment as his family owned a zoo, and he had the opportunity to grow close to the animals.  Then circumstance strikes and the family is forced to sell the zoo and travel to Canada.  Then real life begins when a tragic storm strikes and Pi is forced to survive on a lifeboat for months with a Tiger.

The story becomes one of understanding, survival and acceptance as Pi struggles to live on hardly anything while he tries to battle the beast he suddenly finds himself living with.  There is a connection there, and the Tiger helps Pi to fight for life and not lose hope.

Beautiful in every way, the film is full of wonderful music and cinematography.  Having gone into this movie with high hopes, I was not disappointed in the least.  The movie became a symbol of life, and now I want to go back for a second viewing and get more out of it.  One viewing isn't enough, and even this morning when I woke Life of Pi was on my mind.

It's not often I go to the movies and the audience claps afterwards, and I wanted to applaud right with them, but I was so moved I just sat there taking it all in.

Something interesting I read on the sites wikipedia page.  Tobey Maguire was original cast as a reporter, but in September director Ang Lee announced Tobey's scenes were cut and re shot with English actor Rafe Spall.  The director stated that Tobey's presence was too jarring, being as recognizable as he is, to the rest of the cast and wanted to go international in the casting.  

MPAA PG: For emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Surviving Black Friday

When I woke up this morning I was determined not to have anything to do with Black Friday.  It's this crazy thing we have here in the States, and it takes place the day after Thanksgiving.  It represents the start of the Christmas buying season, and all these stores offer crazy deals and sales.

Yesterday my Mom, brothers and I got back from our trip in California, and our Dad prepared an amazing Thanksgiving feast.  It was incredible, but after a long trip, and a long drive home, going out shopping wasn't appealing to say the least.  Then my Mom and I had to return the rental van, and on the way home my Mom decided that she wanted to get into the black Friday spirit.  That was around 9:00 am this morning, 11:00 pm and we just got back!

It was super fun, to say the least, and it's cool being surrounded by the hustle and bustle of shopping frenzies.  We started out at Target, where we got a free bag of samples and coupons, then went to the movies with my brothers to the the Life of Pi (review coming tomorrow).  Then off to Costco we went where they were handing out cookbooks.  The Mall was the last place we went, and it was crowded.  Somehow two-hours disappeared at Bath and Body works.  I'm still trying to figure out how that happened.  Weird.  I smell good, though. 

Crazy day!  Glad it's over.  Hope your black Fridays were fun and eventful.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Movies I can't Wait to See

If you've been following this blog, then you know how much I love going to the movies.  For fun I thought I'd link up trailers of movies I'm looking forward to seeing.

This Movie, The Life of Pi, is coming out today.  It's based on a book by Yann Martel.  I've never read the book, but the movies trailer looks amazing, and the fact that the movie currently has a 92% fresh tomato rating isn't half bad.

Next is The Hobbit, Part 1!  (There are three parts . . . don't get me started on the fact that this book has become three movies.  I don't see it working very well) But besides that tangent, The Hobbit has always been my favorite J.R.R. Tolkien book, and when I found out the Lord of the Rings was being turned into a movie, and not The Hobbit, I was quite disappointed.  Now the movie is almost here, and it looks dazzling.  The Hobbit comes out Dec. 14.

Les Miserables.  I have been waiting for this movie for a very long time.  There was a movie version that came out in 1998 staring Liam Nelson, but it wasn't tied to the musical at all, and completely left out Eponine.  How can you leave her out of it?  Bad choice.  

When I was in middle school we studied this musical in 8th grade English, and then the traveling Broadway show came to Bakersfield.  Our whole class went, and I was mesmerized.  Then in High School I got to see another touring company perform the musical in Fresno.  Each time spectacular, and each time I wished to see the musical version on the big screen.

They did something revolutionary with the music for this film, something I hope continues with other musical movies.  While the actors were performing, they had a keyboardist playing the music off to the side, and the actors performed live, the orchestration being laid over in post-production.  That sounds exciting, and I hope it turns out well.

I just hope the movie's awesome.  The movie comes out Christmas Day.  Below is the International Trailer, which shows some more songs then the previous trailer day.

Oz the Great and Powerful comes out March 8th, 2013.  It's the pre Wizard of Oz story, but is different then the musical Wicked, and is not based on any of L. Frank Baum's writings, from what I've read.  Still, the movie looks fantastic and imaginative, and if anything the graphics and art will be a feast for the eyes.  I love good cinematography.  The new trailer, the latest, shows the four witches of Oz.

 And finally The Host, coming out March 29, 2013, is the science-fiction young adult novel by Stephenie Meyer.  I've never read her Twilight books, nor will I ever, but The Host is intriguing, and the movie looks interesting.  Take a look below at the latest trailer.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The World of Namco

My brothers found a small arcade, and Robbie decided to play retro style with Galaga.

Quite a few Christmas's back I got my Dad one of those joy-stick TV plugins that come with games programmed in.  I got him the Namco version that has Ms. Pac-Man, a classic, and Galaga.  They're fun, but the game also came with Mappy, which originally came out in 1983.  Ah, man!  I got so addicted to it.  Modern games are fun, but the classics never get old.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Inside the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas

I love the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.  It's an indoor Venice Italy.  There is this little canal that runs throughout the shops with gondolas, and those piloting the gondolas sing classic Italian Opera, so throughout the building 
you can hear sweet strains of music.

You can't go to the Venetian and not get gelato, it's like a sin or something.

 Above is a living statue.  It amazes me that this man can stay so still. 
How does he do it?

Sunday, November 18, 2012


(Looking Through Lava Rock at Cove Fort UT)

“It is difficult, when faced with a situation you cannot control, to admit you can do nothing.” 

~ Lemony Snicket

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sampling Orange Juice and T.V. Pilots

(Sampling Juice Product Testing)

While in Las Vegas my Mom and I wandered into the Miracle Mile Shops in Las Vegas.  It was there we were approached and asked if we wanted to see a TV Pilot, and that we would get paid about $10 for it.  What the show was about had to be kept from us, so it was a risk.

April is pilot season in Hollywood, where every star or would be star compete for the chance to be in the Fall's next big show.  But first comes the pilot, and after the pilot is filmed it's sent out to test audience, where studios gauge whether a show has future potential or audience.

The room was full when we got to the back room, so we waited for the next slot and tried orange juices (observing the juices color and taste), and earned a Barnes & Nobles gift card in the process.

Then we got to watch the show.  The working title of the pilot was Happy Valley, and stared Freddie Prince Jr, Sarah Wright, and Joanna Kerns.  Happy Valley has nothing to do with Utah County, where I live is nicknamed Happy Valley, but a pharmaceutical company that tests drugs, and the ongoing meanderings inside . . . and the shrink loony bin where workers who are stressed talk about their problems and pet kittens.

It was bad, an insult to my intelligence, and very vulgar, which is not funny, but degrading.  My opinions were all written down, and I kept my dial around the zero mark almost the entire episode.  Last I heard the show was not picked up by NBC, and I'm quite glad for that.

What's happened to good quality TV?  There's Once Upon a Time, but good, quality shows are scarce, and overrun by reality television.  At least the classics are on DVD and Netfilcks.

Anyway, it seems all the good shows are being produced in British Columbia; I wonder if it's because it's more affordable. 


Friday, November 16, 2012

Inside the Bellagio Part 3 World's Largest Chocolate Fountain

The Jean Philippe Patisserie at the Bellagio in Las Vegas has the world's largest chocolate fountain in the World, certified by the Guinness World Records.

Yeah, it's just one of those things you stare and marvel at, and then buy chocolate, because not buying chocolate equates to immediate insanity.

The Fountain has Dark, Milk, and White Chocolate, and stands 27 feet tall.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Inside the Bellagio Part 2 The Indoor Garden

The Gardens inside the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.  This little nook is what I like to check out every time I visit.  Each season they change it up.  Below is the beautiful display they had for the Spring season.  It was a picturesque Holland theme. 

When I was in the 5th grade I had the good fortune of visiting the Netherlands and got a pair of wooden shows just like this.  Must be a popular style :0)

I hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Inside the Bellagio Part 1

The Bellagio Las Vegas hotel is known for being high class and chic. It's not the kind of place I can afford to stay, but it's fun to look around. 

There are a lot of high end retail stores.  Above is a Louise Vuitton store display.

Chanel is so elegant.

I've never been in these stores, but I've been to the Bellagio many times and window shop.  Being around $1000 dresses is weird to me, so I look from the outside in.  But one of these days I'm going to walk inside and get a closer look.

There are beautiful glass sculptures all over the Bellagio, created by world artisan Dale Chihuly.  They are magnificent in person.

And of course the Bellagio water show!  It's fun in the day, but I recommend watching the water dance all lit up at night.  There are shows about every 15 minutes and are choreographed to the classics.