Thursday, January 28, 2016
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
the world is a wonderful place to be."
Lets never lose our ability to dream.
Lets never lose our ability to wonder.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
It's been over a month since Star Wars: The Force Awakens came to theaters. It's safe to fully talk about it, right? Without spoiling something for somebody? If not, too bad. I've waited long enough. And if you haven't seen Star Wars yet, what are you doing with your life, anyway? I don't mean to judge, but seriously.
Right after I saw the movie the first time I did a short spoiler free movie review, so I won't repeat any of that here. I'm just going to get right down to it.
The very first thought I had when the credits first started to roll was, "This is the third time I've seen this movie," thinking about The Phantom Menace and A New Hope. A lot of people I've talked to mentioned all the A New Hope similarities (there's so many), but there were a crazy amount of similarities between A New Hope and The Phantom Menace as well.
My family was split after the first showing. My Mom and brother Robbie loved it for what The Force Awakens is. My brother Michael, Steven, and Dad were like, "it's okay, but we've seen it all before." I've heard some say it's because it's Star Wars. A Force Awakens is very Star Wars. And all I can think after hearing those arguments is this: Is it really good storytelling when you have seven movies that are all remakes of each other? Referring to episodes I-III being slight mirrors of IV-VI. George Lucas said, talking about episodes I-III, "You see the echos of where it all's going to go, it's like poetry, it's sorta, they rhyme." And there's a good video on YouTube that shows some of this poetry, entitled Star Wars Poetry: by Mca Free.
Just some of the similarities between A New Hope and The Force Awakens: droid carrying sensitive materials, a force sensitive desert dweller, a bigger death star, father figure dies, etc.
And JJ Abrams has responded to the "rip off" claim. From THR’s Awards Chatter:
Rey is a really likable character. I am bothered by how perfect she is at everything. I'm not claiming she's a Mary Sue, that's a staple of fan fiction where the author inserts an idealized version of themselves in a well established universe, or as example when Eugene Wesley "Gene" Roddenberry created Wesley Crusher for Star Trek TNG, a classic Gary Stu. She's just good at so many things. If it wasn't for her fear of abandonment, what would be her flaws? She's a quick learner when piloting the Millennium Falcon, picks up the force super quick, a skilled fighter, incredible knack at fixing things, speaks all these languages including Wookie!, and if you've read Star Wars: Ray's Survival Guide (a really fun and interesting book), she's really good at drawing, too.
But even though I wish she had some flaws or struggles beyond environmental/circumstantial, she is still a really interesting and likable character. And I like newcomer Daisy Ridley's portrayal. She's got that no-nonsense strong thing going on, and admirable traits, such as when she wouldn't sell BB-8 for food rations. She's the perfect foil to Adam Driver's Kylo Ren.
And of course the whole "who are her relatives" debate is quite enjoyable. The obvious choice would be her being the long lost daughter of Luke Skywalker. It would make the "poetry" of episode I, IV, and VII complete, where each trilogy starts with a force sensitive Skywalker desert dweller. The balance would make sense.
Or she could simply by the new "chosen one." Succeeding where Darth Vader failed in bringing balance to the force. Kylo Ren wants to finish what Darth Vader started, but maybe he's simply mistook what it was Darth Vader was suppose to complete. Kylo, aka Ben Solo, is emulating the wrong side of Anakin Skywalker, and Rey has the opportunity to truly finish what the Chosen One was suppose to accomplish. In this way Rey really would be Kylo Ren's true foil. So is she descended from Anakin Skywalker? She looks an awful lot like Shmi Skywalker. Or maybe she is also of a virgin birth, making her family connection even more complicated. So then the question would be, are the Star Wars Trilogies a Skywalker arch? Or a Chosen One arch? A fulfillment of the Chosen One prophesy: Mace Windu said, "You refer to the prophecy of the one who will bring balance to the Force. You believe it's this…boy?" Maybe it's not "the boy." Maybe it's Rey.
Rey's new friend is Finn, FN-2187, played by John Boyega. He's the most relatable of the new characters. (He doesn't speak Wookie!) And I like his humor. Though why, if he's a character with morals, did it take for him to finally crack after his stormtrooper friend die? Maybe it's all that time spent in sanitation. Why would the New Order send a group of sanitation workers to retrieve important information? Is this his first mission? And if not, why now? Plot device, but seriously.
And did Poe Dameron kill Finn's stormtrooper friend??!! The one who's bloody fingers streaked Finn's stormtrooper helmet. Seriously, that's what I noticed the third time I saw the film, and I'm not sure I saw that correctly. But if Poe did, what would happen if Finn found out? Especially after their quick friendship. Maybe they'll never realize.
The third new character Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac, is the Resistance top X-Wing pilot. His opening scene with Kylo Ren is an immediate breath of fresh air. A quick verbal jab at the start of the film, in the middle of conflict, that The Force Awakens is going to be fun, have humor, and clever writing. Another great character.
Maz Kanata, the 1000+ year old force sensitive bar owner, played by Lupita Nyong'o, is like the extroverted untrained version of Yoda. Wise and bold. And I heard there's a deleted scene where she drops the roof on a couple of stormtroopers. That would have been fun to watch in the film. I'm not a huge fan of CGI characters, but she's very well done, and I never thought once "she's not real." She feels very real.
BB-8. When all the BB-8 merchandise started coming out I was a little dubious. They're trying to replace R2-D2!! But I love BB-8. He's cute. And the scene with Finn, where BB suspects Finn isn't apart of the Resistance, and they do the "thumbs up," was really charming.
And last, but not least, Kylo Ren, aka Ben Solo, the disappointing offspring of Han Solo And Princess Leia, the immature man-child with a crazy Darth Vader obsession. There is something quite terrifying with a man who has crazy power, but no self discipline. A spoiled brat who loses it whenever he doesn't get his way. It's unpredictable. It's uncontrollable. His lack of discipline makes him dangerous. He's been indulged. Instead of calm, quiet strength, he's reckless. He's no Darth Vader, which enrages him all the more. He's not suppose to be Darth Vader. His quest would be complete if he was.
With repeated viewings I'm growing to like Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
As annoyed as I was at first with there being ANOTHER Death Star, it makes sense when you realize Kylo is trying to walk in his Grandfathers footsteps. If only he learned from Vader's mistake and didn't make it so easy to destroy. The folly of imitation? I did like how it was called the Starkiller Base, a homage to Luke Skywalker's original name, Luke Starkiller. Also, Luke Skywalker was, in early drafts of A New Hope, a female protagonist, so Rey fills that roll.
I'm still perturbed by the whole Map to Luke Skywalker plot line. It makes no sense in my mind how R2-D2 has a part of the map, and a floating hard drive of sorts has the missing piece. Why would there be two parts of a map for a man that doesn't want to be found. This plot element is the weakest part of The Force Awakens.
All in all, though I've dealt with early disappointment with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the movie is growing on me. I enjoyed it yesterday far more my third time seeing the film then my first. I love the humor, the banter, and the cast chemistry. There are some really great moments. I love the return to practical effects with less dependency on CGI, which is what made episodes IV-VI pure magic.
And I'm glad The Force Awakens didn't end with an awards ceremony!! Thank you for not having an awards ceremony.
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence.
Friday, January 22, 2016
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Friday, January 15, 2016
I love how the Provo Towne Centre Mall has Palm trees running down the center of the lower floor walkway, seeming to float on the second floor at eye level, at least where I'm currently standing right now.
For a moment I can pretend I'm in California, and that there isn't snow outside, with more snow scheduled for tomorrow.
There's 65 days till Spring, in case you need something to look forward to.
Thursday, January 14, 2016
I didn't realize my 1001 days were up!! March 4, 2013 through November 27, 2015. Wow, how time flies. So how did I do? I only accomplished 13 of them, but that's still 13! Not zero!! 13 out of 101 = 13%, if you round up: 13/101 = 0.1287. And some of the goals I accomplished are filled with incredible memories which I wouldn't have at all if I didn't set these goals.
1. Enter a Music Writing Contest
2. Get An Original Music Video Online
4. Do a Ropes Course
5. Ride the Lift at Sundance and Go on a Hike
6. Send a postcard to myself each month for a year
7. Receive my 100th Postcard through Postcrossing
8. Get a passport
9. Visit Another Country
10. Visit Yellowstone
11. Visit Mesa Verde
12: Have a Game Night
13. Ride the Heber Valley Railroad
And those are the 13 goals I accomplished! Now I need to plan out another 101 goals, including many I didn't accomplish last time. If I start the next set of goals on Saturday January 16th, 2015, then it would end on October 13, 2018. These next few years are going to be crazy. Got to have some good things to look forward to :0)
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
It seems tradition now, every few years around Christmas time, that I see the latest Chipmunk movie with my Dad. My Mom doesn't have much interest. So for the first, second, and third movie it was just the two of of. This time around, for the 4th movie Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, we took my 4 and 5 year old nieces. It's always good to see a family movie with the kiddies; they will find amusement in places adults may not, making the movie even more enjoyable, and testing rather a movie is truly a family film or not.
My nieces were quite excited. The first Chipmunk movie I showed them was The Chipmunk Adventure (1987)--Off To See the World is an incredible song--which they both loved. And I've shown them the 2007's Alvin and the Chipmunks, and 2009's Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, which are both good. I never showed them Chipwrecked because I never bought it, because I didn't care for it.
So as we drove to the theater my nieces had the biggest smiles on their faces. My 4 year old niece had the biggest grin, and I asked if she was excited, and she said, "Yeah," still grinning, and then explained how she calls them chicks, because they're chickmunks. I didn't correct her. She'll figure it out eventually, in the same way she no longer says Winnie-The-Poop, but Winnie-the-Pooh.
In The Road Chip the gang is back, except once again the chipmunks find themselves separated from David Seville, which is a recurring theme. He's working with a new musical artist while romancing his girlfriend in Miami. The chipmunks are left at home in LA with their potential future step-brother. The Chipettes are barely in the movie due to judging American Idol. And somewhere in there the Chipmunks with potential step-brother in tow decide to "road chip" across America to Miami.
Chaos ensues, naturally. And there's a new villain who's an air marshal. Oh, and all the random flash mobs whenever the Chipmunks sing.
The plot, unfortunately, was sloppy. Some slap-stick scenes were a little too off the wall for my tastes. But this is a family flick for kids and the movie plays well to that audience. (I did grow quickly annoyed with this movie's villain, and found myself rolling my eyes whenever he was on.) I missed the chipettes, but it was nice having the chipmunks be the focus. And it was nice seeing them in humble circumstances.
Overall the movie had cute moments and fun music. I was smiling throughout and "LOLed" on quite a few occasions.
My nieces loved it. They sat through the whole thing, and watched it intensely, enjoying the songs and humor. I didn't get to see the very end because my little niece needed a potty break, and we got back just in time for the credits. Ah well, my Dad explained what happened, and I'll have to see it again later to see the movie in its completeness.
MPAA:Rated PG for some mild rude humor.
Sunday, January 10, 2016
Friday, January 8, 2016
Happy 2016!! Can you believe we've been in 2016 for a week now? I keep writing 2015 instead of 2016, so a part of me is still trapped in the past.
Last week, while perusing around Costco for New Years stuff, I stumbled upon this giant crate of Martinelli's sparkling Cider. I don't think I've seen this much Martinelli in one place, and my first thought was, "Only in Utah." This drink is definitely the special occasion drink of choice around these parts.
And then memories of visiting Costco many times in Visalia and Oxnard CA came to mind. Since moving to Utah over a decade ago, and adjusting to life in this new state--and it is an adjustment, even though I'm LDS aka Mormon--I seem now to always forget Costco has wine aisles in other states. They don't here. You can't by wine or alcohol at all, and at typical grocery stores it's nearly the same. The alcohol is found in the soda section.
The same startled remembrance would also happen all those times I would shop at Albertsons and Vons in Ventura while visiting my grandpa before he sold his home. (Man, I'm kinda going through withdrawals. I miss those visits. Totally took it all for granted.) But it was always weird walking around California grocery stores and coming upon the wine section. The things we forget.
You know what's weird!!!??? This Summer I will have lived in Utah for 15 years. It doesn't seem possible. I lived in Porterville for 14 years, Kindergarten through my first year at College (PC & COS), and before then Southern California, totaling 19 years in the state.
So Happy New Years everyone!
I hope you haven't given up on any New Years Resolutions. I'm only just starting mine. Last night Highland dance stated again, and I have three classes next week. And this weekend I'm revamping my "diet," and I put the quotations around diet because I need a way of life, not a temporary system. So this weekend I'm going to clean out the fridge, evaluate the extended pantry, look through cookbooks, and go grocery shopping. It will be quite the project, but it will be good.
Here's to a great year! It will be interesting.