Friday, February 28, 2014

Movie Review - The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu)

The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu)

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Martin Short, Stanley Tucci, Mandy Patinkin, Mae Whitman, Zach Callison, Jennifer Gray, and more.

Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki Screenplay and comic by: Hayao Miyazaki Music by: Joe Hisaishi

Premise: As a boy, Jiro always dreamed of planes and flying. But Jiro is nearsighted and will never fly. Yet in his dreams, Giovanni Caproni, the famous Italian aeronautical engineer, encourages him not to worry about flying, and instead to ride the wind and create beautiful flying machines instead. Having found his calling, Jiro strives toward his goal while also living through several major moments in Japan's history. He even finds love along the way.  (Rated PG-13)

(This review is of the dubbed version of the film. Depending on your area, you can find "The Wind Rises" playing in the original Japanese with subtitles at the local art theaters.)

1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Walt Disney picked a great cast for the dubbed version of the Studio Ghibli film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was very convincing as the voice of Jiro Horikoshi, very reserved yet deeply passionate in both his dreams and his goals. Emily Blunt brought some nice depth to Jiro's love Nahoko. By far, however, the character that will make the most impact is Mr. Kurokawa, played by Martin Short. Between the visuals of the man and Martin Short's portrayal of Jiro's boss, the character was a lot of fun.

2) Artwork/Animation - Total Thumbs Up: Studio Ghibli was in top form with this film. With Miyazaki directing it, it couldn't be otherwise. Strangely though, the longer the film went, the more beautiful it became. The characters themselves are in Miyazaki's signature style. The watercolor backdrops were gorgeous. The rooms, clothing, and machinery were all rendered in amazing detail.

Where the animation truly shines is in the sequences where reality and fantasy merge. As we head toward the climax it isn't the dream anymore showing the world, but the world being swept up by the dreams. As the film's title denotes, wind plays a metaphorical and physical part in events. The theme of wind even stems from the early days of Japan when a 'divine wind' saved the Japanese people from the invading fleets of Mongols. More ironic is the fact that the 'divine winds' or 'kamikaze' also played a part with the very planes Horikoshi developed for the Japanese navy.

3) Plot/Story - Total Thumbs Up: While this is a heavily fictionalized biography of the life of Jiro Horikoshi, Miyazaki imbued it with a lot of passion. It's also a great way to experience the lives of the Japanese during the years between World War I and World War II.

Miyazaki incorporated subtle touches of Japanese mythology into the work as well. The Great Kanto Earthquake and several other moments in the film had what can only be described as the sounds of the spirits which inhibit the land of Japan. These sounds added an extra layer to the world, and made it all the richer for it.

"The Wind Rises" is an adult film, one that builds over time, so there won't be much there for the younger viewers. The guys will love all the planes (Italian, German, and Japanese) as well as the engineering, while the gals will enjoy the beautiful vistas as well as the love story woven around it. (I heavily encourage taking tissues to this one.)

There are a lot of themes in the film, many of which are quite subtle - sacrifice, invention, looking to the future, living in the moment, the power of dreams.

Conclusion: "The Wind Rises" is another great film by Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki. Beautiful and intriguing, it is a film for adults rather than children. The film is rather sedentary, so don't expect a lot of action. But definitely bring some tissues...just in case.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Picture Kaleidoscope 2/26/14

Howdy all!

Ladybugs by Marko Zamurovik - at Earthshots'org wow that's a ton of ladybugs. In the bigger pic the red just kind of goes "BAM". :) His website is filled with all manner of pics. 

Sunrise at the Pier by Michael A Blanchette at Almost looks like a pastel painting, doesn't it?

Michael A Blanchette has a lot of lovely pics at his site. Love the angle and the sun coming through the far end. Nice work!

A Dad's Labor of Love: Beautiful Wedding Photos of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head - article by Gannon Burgett at PetaPixel. Photography by Chris Thornton. Cool stuff - so imaginative. From his website it looks like he really does do a lot of weddings. Heh heh

Convicts Share Words of Wisdom With Their Younger Selves in Powerful Photo Series - article by Gannon Burgett at Petapixel. Photography by Trent Bell. The article is fascinating and a little scary in a way. Trent has architectural and interior photos at his website that were fun to look at as well.

Have fun looking at everything! Till next time. :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mind Sieve 2/24/14

Argh! Best laid plans and all that.
Had a blast at ConDFW at least. Heh heh

Guardians of the Galaxy Trailer - Oh this is going to be fun!

Ack! It won't let me share the Fencon X Flight Safety video. This is a total hoot, especially if you've ever attended any conventions. Heh heh.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Virtual Tourist - Neverwinter 2/23/14

Morning, all!

Trying to be on the ball this week.

Pirates Skyhold

Lots of lovely and weird greenery in this zone.

Bunches of small floating islands strung together with rope bridges.

And some interesting decorating!

The lizard men who live here have a huge agro range, so this is about the only way I could try and take a pic. lol.

View of another cluster of floating rocks/islands

An old building with flowering ivy. Pretty!

And no place could rightly be called an island of pirates without a skull mountain! Booyah! Looks awesome. 

Suspicious grate. Might have something to do with how the islands are kept aloft?

More of the lovely ivy.

Look at the size of this sucker! 

Ooo talk about unsafe looking steps! Eek!

See ya, Monday!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Movie Review - RoboCop


Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Jackie Earle Haley, Michael K Williams, K C Collins, Samuel L Jackson, Marianna Jean-Baptiste, Aimee Garcia, John Paul Ruttan, Zach Grenier, Patrick Garrow, Jennifer Ehle, Jay Baruchel, and more.

Directed by: José Padilha Screenplay by: Joshua Zetumer Based on the Original 1987 Screenplay by: Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner Cinematography by: Lula Carvalho Music by: Pedro Bromfman

Premise: Getting too close to criminal Antoine Vallon and the cops covering up his crimes, Alex Murphy inadvertently puts himself in the line of fire and is almost killed by a bomb. Omni Corp is trying to find a product that will appeal to the American public and help them bypass the current laws forbidding the sale of robots to law enforment, so they decide to try to make a cyborg, so all parties will get what they want. All they need is a worthy candidate, and Alex Murphy is the perfect candidate for their project. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: There were so many unexpected but wonderful actors in this film. Joel Kinnaman was well cast as Alex Murphy/RoboCop; he showed great range in his emotions as Alex struggled to reconcile himself to his new way of life. Abbie Cornish did some marvelous work as Clara Murphy. Her distress, sorrow, and anger as she attempts to deal with what has happened to her husband were palpable. Gary Oldman as Dr. Dennett Norton was fun to watch as the philanthropist got dragged down the moral ladder due to pride. Michael Keaton was a blast as Raymond Sellars. (I especially enjoyed the in-joke reference to Batman with his preference of black.)

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: The special effects work on the film was great. And they stayed faithful to the 1987 film giving homage throughout. The first time Murphy gets up and does the signature turn with the matching sound effects, I almost squealed in delight. Even keeping the big OCP ED 209 robots and making them look close to the originals. Yet it's the image of Alex Murphy when they strip away all the parts of his exoskeleton that will stay with you - a horrifying and yet totally fascinating sight. The little touches with the lungs but especially the throat make it very believable.

3) Plot/Story - Total Thumbs Up: Based on the original script of the 1987 film, in many ways they definitely improved it, but in others they didn't do as well. A lot of what made the first film were the little things in the background, the advertisements, the news commentary--they more than anything spoke of the decline of society and the type of world Murphy lived in. Not a lot of this is seen in the remake, though they did use the character of Pat Novak to get a lot of the same ideas across, even using it to poke at some of what we see right now in our own lives.

Plot wise though, there were many improvements. The seduction of Dr. Norton to the 'dark side' was one of them. Letting us see more of what Clara and David went through was another. Watching Sellars and his dream team wiggle around putting out fires or coming up with ideas was fun, too. The only cheap shot on the plot was the way they set up to have to drop Alex's humanity. Who in their right mind would decide it's a good idea to dump terabytes of information and video into someones brain five minutes before a televised conference? Especially since it's never been done before? But aside from that, I very enjoyed how they changed the script.

I also give them extra kuddos for daring to have someone change their minds and yet not stupidly say so to the bad guy's face and thus avoid painting a giant target on their chest.

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: I'm not a fan of shaky cam, but at least they kept its use to a minimum. I'm happy to say it never became an issue. The stunt work looked good regardless, which is always a plus.

5) Music - Total Thumbs Up: Special thanks to the music department and Pedro Bromfman for using the original RoboCop theme and weaving it in and out of the film's score. Just as eclectic as the original soundtrack, this one has a lot to love about it.

Conclusion: RoboCop is worth watching by both fans of the original films and those new to the franchise. Plenty of nostalgia is sprinkled throughout the film for those who saw the 1987 version. Lots of good mental fodder to ponder afterwards. Also check out Omni Corp's website. Loved the Keynote.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Picture Kaleidoscope 2/19/14

You'll all be shocked! I'm running late! hah!

Snowstorm by Bartosz Dubiel at Like the beginning of a quest or movie. :)

He's got more cool photography at his blog

Secret Rapids by Matt Anderson. So surreal looking! Love it! He's also got some truly vibrant fall pictures too. 

This Contest Winner Looks Like A Movie Poster (And That's Good) by Allen Murabayashi at PetaPixel. Photograph by john Stanmeyer. What's even funnier is what the article says this is a picture of. lol. 


Monday, February 17, 2014

Mind Sieve 2/17/14


Chaos ruled the weekend so I missed blogging on Sunday.
Not sure it will be much better today, but who knows!

Hopefully you had a great Valentine's Day! 

Mine could have been better...Sunday made up for a lot though. Heh heh.

Before I forget...Inner Demons currently has book give aways through 2/21/14. I tried them out once before for a month and while many people signed up to try to get one, there was little follow through later. I'm hoping 1 week will entice enough yet not be so long they forget they had an interest. Who knows! Luck is a fickle mistress.

Anyway, here they are in case you want to throw your name in. All I ask is if you win, please post a review (even if just stars) when you read it. (Sooner being better than later, since I'm trying to get some reviews for people to see.) :P

Sadly, the trade paperback on Amazon still hasn't worked in getting the book cover up. Makes this look a little sad, doesn't it?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Inner Demons by Gloria Oliver

Inner Demons

by Gloria Oliver

Giveaway ends February 21, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

At Librarything the giveaway list is here. Then just do a Control+F and type Inner Demons to get you to the right line. I do believe you have to have sign up to get giveaways for theirs.

Fan Fun

Joe Trailer - Looks like a darned if you do, darned if you don't film. lol.

Enemy Trailer - Creepy!

Okay, I think that's it. Yeppers, lame.... :P

Friday, February 14, 2014

Movie Review - The Lego Movie

Lego Movie

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Alison Brie, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, Nick Offerman, Keith Ferguson, Will Forte, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, and more.

Directed by: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller Story by: Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Phil Lord, and Christopher Miller Screenplay by: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller Cinematography by: Barry Peterson and Pablo Plaisted Music by: Mark Mothersbaugh

Premise: Lord Business steals the world's greatest weapon from its guardian Vitruvius. Vitruvius warns Lord Business of a prophecy in which a very special person will discover an artifact, and with it bring him to ruin. Eight and a half years later, the one who was prophesied finally appears. Yet he's not exactly what anyone expected. (Rated PG)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: The film had a totally fun cast. Chris Pratt as the empty headed Emmet was fun. Elizabeth Banks made Wildstyle both tough and secretly insecure. But it was Batman, voiced by Will Arnett, who stole the show. His dry delivery of Batman's lines was perfect. Liam Neeson wasn't far behind with his rendition of Bad Cop/Good Cop. Recording for this film must have been a blast.

2) Artwork/Animation - Total Thumbs Up: Using Legos as a film medium was a stroke of genius. Between the versatility of all the things you can make with them and all the great colors, they made the imagination flow. Especially as we move from the seemingly normal city, to the other worlds also present in the Lego realm, but which had been cut off from each other by Lord Business and his mechanical minions. We're even teased with glimpses of even more amazing and different worlds than the ones we're eventually shown. (That was a Mark 5 I saw flash by, right?)

The Wild West area with it's canyons and Death Valley feel was great. Cloud Cuckooland was even more amazing and full of chaos. (I saw Ducky Momo!) The turbulent sea scene was awe inspiring not just in execution but in the amount of work that must have gone into creating that scene alone.

The animation itself moved smoothly and there's so much going on you can't keep track of it all. I aodred that even the usual intro slides on who made the film were done in Lego. Visual in-jokes and pop culture references from the 80's to modern times abounded. The range on the facial expressions was excellent and utterly complimented the voice acting.

3) Story - Total Thumbs Up: While the plot appears simple at first glance, it has a lot more going on than is immediately apparent. Emmet is also not the only one with things to learn about himself during the journey. And while several plot point resolutions are totally expected, others will catch the audience totally by surprise. I would say more, but I don't want to spoil it.

There are plenty of comedic moments, as well as in-jokes and pop culture references in the script. Long time followers of DC super heroes will find much to be amused by. Batman pretty much steals the show. (As he should.) He even wrote a song. Yes, Batman sings.

The old battle of a thousand wars is here as well - Chaos vs. Order. And in a world made with Legos, what could be more awesome?

Conclusion: "The Lego Movie" is a lot of fun. There's plenty there to keep the kids occupied and the adults amused. Yes, like it or not, you'll probably be singing the Awesome song by the time you go home. (You can pick from the Awesome, the Remix, Saloon, or the Unplugged versions!) Just to see all the amazing things they do with the Legos made the film worth going to see.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Picture Kaleidoscope 2/12/14 - The SciFi Expo 2014 Edition

Yeppers, last weekend was SciFi Expo!
I didn't see any of the stars (wah) but there were some really great costumes. And I probably only saw 10% of them.

Isn't that cool? He made it himself.

Super cool Green Hornet. :)

My daughter made several unique creations during the show. :)

Luke was well dressed for the shindig. It was super cold outside and the inside stayed that way most of Saturday. Eek!

Dead Spock from DuggGraves. Even has the ears. Heh heh

Doesn't the griffin just look fabulous?!

Scarecrow and the Joker. His mask was awesome!

This one is fantastic too. And the attitude totally sold it. Medusa!

Judge Dredd is in the house!

From the Princess Bride - the looked great! He even said "As you wish." But no threats from Indigo Montoya. Guess I didn't look like the guy who killed his father. Heh heh

Super blast from the past - She-ra!

Kiki from Kiki's delivery service. I spotted her with a broom earlier too. 

Best part of this costume was how she sold it with attitude. So cute!

The Riddler - he was fabulous! Even hit us with a riddle. 

Best Donna Noble look alike ever! 

Our 4th Dalek mesh from Taylor Lymbery. Isn't she awesome? Meet Chief Cher Dalek. Hee!

More ChibiChains creations

These I loved so much, I stole them for myself. Bwahahahaha!

Here they are in bronze and red. 

Another chainmailer definitely knew how to think outside the box. Aren't these adorable?

Chainmail dragons too! How cute!

With this great costume turnout at SciFi Expo, I can't wait to see what happens during Dallas ComicCon in May! (Stan Lee, William Shatner, and Nathan Fillion will be at this one!) Woot!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mind Sieve 2/10/14

Time got away from me and SciFi Expo was this past weekend, so this one will be shorter than usual.
Hope to get back on track for next week. :)

Spider-man 2 Enemies Unite Sizzle - Multiple villains? That has NEVER worked for films. Guess we'll see. (I don't understand why they keep doing it if it doesn't work!!!!)

Veronica Mars Theatrical Trailer - I've not seen the series. But after seeing this preview, I went and watched 2 episodes last night. lol. Should be fun!

Winter's Tale Official Trailer 2 - this should be fun.

Have a great day!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Virtual Tourist - Dishonored 2/9/14

Morning! Running off in a bit to the last day of SciFi Expo!
Pics on Wednesday. Heh heh

Master Assassin
Mission 2

They've hid some of the power stones in sneaky places. 

Dark and dreary

Railroaded prisoner

Why the mask? No idea. But boy does he want revenge against the lawyer. Heh heh

Some good ol' graffiti

This bust looks so smug. No?

Wind is howling and the clouds moving at a brisk pace.

Another altar to the Other. My compatriot is rather curious, wondering if she might hear him. I'm getting a rather strange suspicion about my companion.

He is pleased with how I took care of the previous dude, but is still saying I'm doomed.

Loved the detail on the cloth.

Closer view of the altar.

Found another power stone in Delilah's work room. Here's a statue of her.

And it talks! And moves! She's telling me to not get in her way. But killing the lawyer is okay. Hah!

Dome of her painting work. I like it! 

Ornate fireplace. Room for the lawyers mother. He kept her from getting treatments so he could keep her in his thrall. What a nice guy!

And he's in the room with the white arrow. Need to figure out how to swipe some papers. Not going to be easy! Wheee!

Till next time!
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