Friday, November 30, 2012

Movie Review - Red Dawn

Red Dawn

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, Connor Cruise, Edwin Hodge, Brett Cullen, Alyssa Diaz, Julian Alcaraz, Will Yun Lee, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and more.

Directed by: Dan Bradley Screenplay by: Carl Ellsworth and Jeremy Passmore Based on the 1984 film "Red Dawn" Original Music by: Ramin Djawadi Cinematography by: Mitchell Amudsen

Premise: While home on leave, Jed Eckert witnesses the crippling of his hometown by a massive blackout. The next morning, he wakes to find it being invaded by North Koreans. Banding together an unlikely set of fighters, Jed decides the invaders will not be taking over his home without a fight. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Thumbs Up: Chris Hemsworth and Josh Peck did a good job showing the audience their family's strained relations without ever actually talking much about it. Josh Hutcherson showed his usual flare.  Connor Cruise had several poignant moments and he carried them off beautifully.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: Bullets flew everywhere and there were explosions galore. The scene when Jed and Matt look up into the sky and see the invaders dropping down was quite affecting and well done. Sadly, some of the efforts of the special effects department were diluted or downright sabotaged by the use of shaky cam on several of the scenes.

3) Plot/Story - Neutral: I'll be honest, I didn't pick to see "Red Dawn" because I expected it to have depth or a convoluted plot. And it was a good thing I didn't. This film is best watched without thinking too hard. As difficult as the premise was to believe in 1984, it is ten times more so in 2012. With the amount of technology now at our disposal, a campaign of this magnitude could not have been arranged without word getting out. A secret pulse weapon is mentioned purely to set up the premise and nothing more is learned about it at all.

I saw the original back in the day, but don't remember much. My husband said the remake followed most of the main points of the original. The brothers are at odds due to the death of a loved one years before, and their issues clash during different parts of the film, but eventually they reach some resolution.

Sadly one of the more satisfying moments in the film was marred by the fact the item and location hadn't been shown previously, so ended up being a point of bad story telling. Still, they did try to give some quick filler to substantiate their survival, so some things were well thought out. Killing didn't come naturally to all of them and the hard decisions some had to make were hard, and the audience was able to see that.

4) Stunts - Thumbs Up: With bullets and explosions, we always get stunts. The gags were solid and worked well, except those that were made blurry by shaky cam. Still, enough flying bodies and some hand-to-hand fights were present to fulfill our action quota.

5) Locations/Cinematography - Thumbs Up: There were many nice sweeping shots of the different locations and they gave the audience a good feel of the town and the thick woods our heroes hide in. The fall colors in the forests made for a nice backdrop. It also helped create a starker contrast after Captain Cho's attempt to destroy their hiding place changes the terrain.

Conclusion: "Red Dawn" was fast paced and fun. A nice diversion as long as you don't look at it too closely. Hubby felt the original film was better.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Better For Matinee)

Movie Review - Rise of the Guardians

Rise of the Guardians

Starring: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher, Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Khamani Griffin, Kamil McFadden, Georgie Grieve, Jacob Bertrand, Dominique Grund, Rich Dietl, and more.

Directed by: Peter Ramsey Screenplay by: David Lindsay-Abaire Based on the book The Guardians of Childhood by: William Joyce and Based on the short film the Man in The Moon by: Joyce and Reel FX. Original Music by: Alexandre Desplat Art Direction by: Max Boas.

Premise: Jack Frost knows nothing of where he comes from or of his past. Unlike most of the other supernatural beings he knows about, he's the only one not visible to people. Yet this has never stopped him from having fun. But when he's dragged up to the North Pole without being asked, he's told an old evil is on the rise again. This evil is threatening the world's children and must be stopped by the Guardians. And the Man in the Moon has chosen Jack to be one of them. But Jack wants nothing to do with that. (Rated PG)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Great performances all around. Alec Baldwin was a lot of fun as North. Hugh Jackman as the Bunny was hilarious. Chris Pine made Jack Frost a very sympathetic character, who wants to belong despite what he says.

2) Animation - Total Thumbs Up: Dreamworks once again delivers some amazing animation in their newest film. From the very beginning the detail and the beauty of what is being presented shines through. The snowflakes and patterns of frost were gorgeous. I loved the added detail of frost on Jack's pullover shirt. They do some amazing things with the Sandman's (Sandy's) sleeping sand and Pitch's nightmare ones.

A lot of fun visual gags are interspersed throughout the film - the Yeti with the bad color timing, the helper elves that are usually not so much help as hindrance, the Eater Island guard stone eggs with turning expressions. There's a lot to see and take in.

Each of the legends' homes are fun and unique - I especially adored Bunny's place, which was somewhat reminiscent of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." The walking eggs were too cute! And Sophie was utterly adorable.

3) Story - Total Thumbs Up: Though the main story line is what you'd expect from the previews, there are other stories happening simultaneously, which gave the film a lot of emotional depth. Even better, though the characters at first glance appear to be ones we know - Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy - it becomes evident quite quickly that these well known supernatural icons are not as you'd expect. That alone brought half the fun of the film. A Santa Claus with tattoos who's more than willing to get into fights, an Easter Bunny who is lean and tough, Yetis making toys instead of elves - a re-imagining of all those things which we are familiar into something different yet still very much the same.

Like the animation, the story too brings with it all manner of little surprises that add a lot to the experience - Tooth and her fairies and their fan girl sighs over Jack's teeth; Cupcake, a hefty girl others fear but who's real love is for cute, lacy things. There were a lot of ying and yang type comparisons throughout as well - between Sandy and Pitch, Jack and Pitch, what's inside versus the outside wrappings.

Conclusion: "Rise of the Guardians" is a fun film for both kids and adults. Make sure to sit through part of the credits, too! A super cute extra section is tucked away in there. And if you've ever had the slightest inclination of crying at a film, make sure to take a least one set of tissues with you. You might just need them.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Picture Kaleidoscope 11/28/12

Time just keeps getting away from me. Need to tie that sucker down! :P had a bunch of awesome shots this week. This is Red Pyramid by Mirko Vecernik 

Soylent Green anyone? Picture Desk Live - photo by Abir Abdullah.

Humor: Photographs Of Cars With Their Namesakes from PetaPixel. Photos by Ray Gordon.

Till next time!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Virtual Tourist - Dishonored and Star Wars The Old Republic 11/25/12

Good morning! You'd think I'd gotten tons of time to play during a holiday weekend...but...


Dr Galvani's Home. He's doing rat experimentation to figure out how the plague got here. From what I can tell from his research it was induced and not a natural problem. Not good.

Love this old Grandfather Clock~!

Star Wars The Old Republic
Jedi Consular

Oh, and I should mention - if my swtor pics have given you a hankering of any kind to play, they just adopted the popular free to play model! As a subscriber you get a lot of perks, but you can still do the main story lines and whatnot for FREE! (Hubbins and I are sticking with our subscription.)

Super cool Gormak canon. The thing was huge. Looks like I forgot to get a distance shot. Doh!

Loved the energy arcing on this sucker as it powered up.

Here's a better view of the firing tip. Made me think of the Wave Motion Gun in Yamato. 

Some old funky tents and buildings in the now occupied Gormak area.

Those boxes looked way cool.

Current Gormak leader. Has super boosted their tech and turns out to also be a Mystic. The xenophobic Voss are in for a shock.

Super neat ceiling. Loved the mood.

That's a pic of the Party Jawa pet you get for sticking with subscriptions now that the game is Free To Play. Confetti blows out from the micro engine in the back. Circles around you for 5 minutes with music. Totally bizarre. lol.

This guy is a yellow and white star. Not going anywhere near him!

Close to the Nightmare forest. Something around here is driving people wacko.

Also making them create these weird energy shrines that are not helping matter. For a people that gets predicting visions, they've not been doing a good job. Hmmm. 

Have an awesome Sunday!

P.S. Got me some cool software to play with. Check out my covers on the side. I don't have them on perpetual loop, as that would drive people crazy, but I added some extra bling to the covers. Heh heh heh.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Movie Review - Lincoln


Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Hal Holbrook, John Hawkes, Jackie Earl Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Black Sheldon, Joseph Cross, Jared Harris, and many more.

Directed by: Steven Spielberg Screenplay by: Tony Kushner Based partially on the book by: Doris Kearns Goodwin Original Music by: John Williams Cinematography by: Janusz Kaminski

Premise: After four brutal years civil of war, the end might be near. Yet previously having been unable to pass the 13th Amendment, Lincoln must hurry and do all he can to get it passed before peace comes, or the measure will most likely be killed once the country is unified again. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: There are so many familiar and loved faces starring in this film it took my breath away. Daniel Day-Lewis gave an outstanding performance as Abraham Lincoln. Sally Field did a marvelous job of portraying the migraine riddled, possibly bi-polar, yet intelligent and intuitive Mary Todd Lincoln. James Spader totally surprised me as the comedic relief, a task he performed excellently. There were no bad performances here.  

2) Plot/Story - Total Thumbs Up: Lincoln is portrayed as a real person, good habits and bad. The story shows him in all environments, as president, as husband, as father, as human. He has his quirks and fallacies just like any other man, giving even more weight to the choices and steps he makes through this time.

Though the film only covers the last four months of Lincoln's career, there are many inserted bits to recall previous matters and give a bigger historical picture. The carriage accident Mrs. Lincoln got hurt in, (which was believed to have been an assassination attempt on Lincoln, but who'd ended up not taking his usual ride), which aggravated and added several health issues for Mary Todd. The fact the White House had been in utter disrepair when handed over to the Lincolns (back then there was no budget for keeping the president's residence - all the previous presidents had been well off and had been expected to pay for the upkeep from their own pockets). They even mention the fact Mary had been investigated due to the fact she was a Southern Bell as there were those believing she was handing information to the enemy.

One factual matter not mentioned (though since I didn't see Seward in the death room, it looks to have been implied) were the two other assassinations planned to occur at the same time as Lincoln's. Those two, at least, did not entirely succeed.

The film moves well and quickly. Cute, poignant, and comedic moments are sprinkled throughout. Watching the machinations of the Democratic and Republican parties was absolutely fascinating. All sides and reasons were well represented and done in an impartial manner, which gave the film real depth.

3) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Gorgeous reconstruction of locals and superb attention to detail. The scene of current combat at the beginning was as amazing as it was brutal. Towards the end, the field of the dead was horrifying in its scope.

4) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: The costumes were fantastic. You could almost identify which state they represented by their clothing. One super subtle, yet very telling, clothing items were the shawls and inside coats Lincoln and Seward wore, hinting at heating issues and cost cutting at the White House.

Conclusion: A fabulous film well worth taking the time to see. A lot of awards deserve to be won by this one.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Totally Worth Full Price of Admission.)

If you find the film as fascinating as I did, I would very much recommend Barbara Hambly's The Emancipator's Wife - It is a fictional account of Mary Todd's life, but it's from a top-notch historical researcher, so she kept it as factual as possible. The books skirts past most of the story of Lincoln himself and focuses on Mary Todd and the culture the couple grew up in and the troubles that came along with being the wife of a non-wealthy president. Very enlightening and fantastically written.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Picture Kaleidoscope 11/21/12

Turkey Eve! Happy Turkey Eve! Heh heh

The First Hoax Photograph Ever Shot from Peta Pixel. Fascinating info!

Twisted Aspen Trees from Photo by Tad Bowman.

Breaths by Stefano Vita at

Burning Tower by Joerg Bonner at

Those Are Not Your Everyday Orbs! from DIY Photography. Photos by Andrew Hall

Andrew Hall also does Suspended Liquids - This is one from his "Morph" series.

Hope everyone has a terrific Thanksgiving Holiday! (For those not in the US - have a super fab day too!)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mind Sieve 11/19/12

Turkey day is coming! Turkey day is coming!

World War Z Trailer. This will make you say thanks during Thanksgiving. :P

Escape From Planet Earth Trailer. Looks like fun!

Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome - new webseries. I hated the bad science and character inconsistencies of the remake. But this hearkens more to the original - or so it seems. Worth a look! 

The Host Official Trailer 2 - this looks like it'll be fun!

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning Trailer - Looks like Van Damme is making a comeback. And as another bad guy! Both he and Lundgren are back for this one. The 1992 film was pretty good back in the day. :) (Might be an internet release only here though.)

From Social Media Examiner - 24 Must Have Social Media Marketing Tools. (Time sink!!!!) :P

Panty Prose - Why Settle for Your Reader's Wallets When You Can Get in Her Pants? From Kristen Lamb. (I want a commercial for this! ROFL!)

From Gene Lempp - Unearthing Merlin's Bones - the Merlin Archetype.

Ebook or Print: When Do You Buy One Over the Other? From Roni Loren. (Personally I've only bought ebooks sporadically. Though if my Christmas present is as awesome and light as I hope it is, the fight is on!) :P

The holidays are coming!  Run for your lives! (Neighbor already put out his Christmas lights. Noooo!)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Virtual Tourist - Dishonored and Angry Birds Star Wars 11/18/12

In a hurry this morning!  Zoom!


Old Granny. Once a beautiful woman who had power and influence. Now she's in the dilapidated part of the city and she's quite mad. She gives a couple of long side quests. 

An altar she has for The Outsider in her backyard. Spot of one of the whalebone runes that you use to get special powers. 

Dr. Galvani's house. He's been experimenting on the plague infested rats trying to discover trends and generations. This plague doesn't sound natural from the papers I read there.

View from his 3rd story balcony. Getting in was way easier than the 1st time I did this part. Bwahahaha! 

Argh! Totally thought I had some new swtor pics. I knew I should have held back some of the ones from last week! Doh! But I have something else to tease you with! Bwahahahahahaha! I downloaded the demo for:

Angry Birds Star Wars

They all do different things too! I've played with 4 so far. Luke is the usual red bird.

Obiwan uses the Force. It's tricky.

R2 shoots lightning bolts

3CPO blows up into pieces. Heh heh.

The storm trooper pigs even get weapons!

That's their laser canon fire at the top!

It's been really cute so far! Heh heh

Friday, November 16, 2012

Movie Review - The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz, Billy Burke, Nikki Reed, Mackenzie Foy, Maggie Grace, Christopher Heyerdahl, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, and many more.

Directed by: Bill Condon Screenplay by: Melissa Rosenberg Based on the novel by: Stephenie Meyer Original Music by: Carter Burwell Cinematography by: Guillermo Navarro

Premise: Following her transformation into a vampire, Bella tries to cope with the changes and learn the rules of being one of the undead. Finding it easier than expected, she then gets to meet her daughter Renesmee. All seems to be going well, until a mistake is made by their vampire cousin Irina, who when she sees Renesmee and jumps to an erroneous conclusion, she goes to the Volturi to bring their attention to it. This is the excuse to act Aro has been waiting for. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Thumbs Up: Everyone did well, though with such a large cast, many of the characters got seen, possibly heard, but never really known. The three principals showed the changes in their relationships very well.  Michael Sheen was fun as the greedy and opportunistic Volturi Aro. Dakota Fanning had some great facial expressions during the battle segment. Christopher Heyerdahl's one true line was priceless.

2) Special Effects - Thumbs Up: Werewolves looked great and were used to good effect. Benjamin's elemental powers were demonstrated beautifully by the special effects department. The water door he makes during his introduction was very cool. They also did good work on the vampires' supernatural speed and Alec's dark power.

The only criticism with the effects was Renesmee. A lot of CGI was used to make her face as a baby and during each growing spurt match characteristics of the hair and face of Mackensey Foy. Unfortunately, they might have been better served just using a real baby's face, because their manipulation of the faces was glaringly obvious and did not look well.

3) Plot/Story - Neutral: Years ago my daughter had read the books the "Twilight" films are based on. She'd been totally captured by the world, and couldn't read them fast enough, until she hit "Breaking Dawn". I'd listened to her complaints at the time, but had decided to reserve judgement. After seeing the treatment of the topic in question in "Breaking Dawn" part 1, I thought it'd been smoothed over in the film and the problems my daughter had raised been rendered minimal. But part 2 destroyed that belief. Jacob's glib explanation of why he thought he'd been interested in Bella and she in him as a friend or more than friends as well as how without it they would have never related in anyway, made me a little unhappy too. But perhaps it won't be a problem for other viewers.

Lots of funny moments were sprinkled throughout the film - when Bella finds out Jacob gave her daughter a nickname, when Bella takes on Emmett in an arm wrestling match, when one of them suggests to Edward to stop Bella's and Jacob's argument and he just smiles, and several others.

Yet I am not sure these lovely moments are enough to make up for the Jacob issue or the trick played on the audience with the combat segment of the film. It also bothered me that though a lot of power was available to Benjamin, it went unused for most of the combat, and when it was used, it was largely self defeating.

4) Stunts - Thumbs Up: I'm putting the combat scenes under stunts, since when CGI is involved, it can be very difficult to tell whether it was a stunt done by actors, stuntmen, computers or a combination of the three. However they were done, they were definitely entertaining. Heads got popped like champagne corks wherever you looked.

5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: The film contained some gorgeous shots. The Summit logo was even interwoven into the landscape in the sedate, yet lovely and themed opening sequence to the film. Panning shots of cliffs, the sea, the woods, and the snow capped mountains set up the mood perfectly for several scenes.

6) Costuming/Makeup - Thumbs Up: The place where the costuming and makeup departments really made a difference were on Bella. Her whole look was changed to fit her new vampiric/adult status, making her seem like a different person in many respects. They kept this going throughout, except for at the very end, were she went back to a more laid back dressing style. That in itself seemed a little awkward.

Conclusion: Overall it was an entertaining film. Fans of the movies and books present during the viewing seemed to really get into the spirit of it, cheering and booing, sometimes gasping, during the big combat scenes as it took its toll. It was a decent end to the movie series.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Paying Full Price To See It Again.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Picture Kaleidoscope 11/14/12


Such a shiny dragonfly! She Wore Gold by Koala-X

Koala-X has also done some cool ghosts and overexposure pics. 

These are mighty creepy - Split-Face Portraits Exploring What Drug Abuse Does To People from Peta Pixel. Photography by Roman Sakovich

Picture of the Day: Mount Kenya from the Guardian. Photo by Brent Stirton. I love that the guy is scratching it's belly! 

Namib Double Rainbow at Photo by Mark Dumbleton. Some gorgeous images at his website!

Effervescent Cityscape Photography on Trend Hunter. Photos by Chris Eayers

Half the week is passing us by!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...