Expectation levels for The Force Awakens are reaching critical mass

This past week we’ve seen some brick-shitting new stuff in the way of trailers and fresh looks at The Force Awakens.

After the official final trailer dropped here in the US, a slightly different version dropped overseas (which is usually the case) and offered folks even more new footage.

Now a new 30 second TV spot has dropped and we’ve got even more nerdgasm-ing to do.

I have to say I’m supremely impressed that Disney has managed to create so many trailers and peaks and the movie without giving very much away (seemingly).

All I know is that we’re in the home stretch now, and they keep giving us new bits. It’s getting harder and harder to keep waiting. Expectation levels are basically going through the roof at this point.

Watch the new TV spot, and the Japanese trailer below.

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I have been, and always shall be…your depressing Christmas tree decoration

LEGO Ghostbusters Headquarters coming in January 2016!!

My inner child is squealing with glee!

LEGO Ultimate Collector’s Series: SLAVE I

So with a whole weekend’s worth of hurricane rain keeping me inside and away from yardwork I decided what better time to finally sit down and put together this monster. It took me two afternoons and about a season of M*A*S*H on Netflix. But, let’s be honest, I wasn’t totally concentrating on putting the bricks together. A dedicated builder could easily assemble this over the course of a full afternoon and evening. So here’s a quick look at the building process and the final result
IMG_2317 IMG_2320 IMG_2321 IMG_2322 IMG_2323Despite the complexity of the build, the directions were pretty easy to follow. The interior workings of the ship are simply something to marvel at. I don’t know how these guys come up with the different ways to connect pieces to make it look like the real damn thing – but they are damn good at their jobs!

There are many, many tiny pieces in the build, so be careful when you’re pouring them out.
IMG_2325I neglected to take a photo of it, but the ‘minifig’ of Han Solo frozen in Carbonite is tucked away up inside of the ship at the top of the loading ramp. It’s a small detail that you really never see but you love it because you know it’s there.IMG_2326 IMG_2327The way the stabilizers are connected to the main body is tenuous at best, which is probably why this is more for show than for play. A nice detail is they change position on their own depending on the orientation of the ship. When you lift it to its vertical traveling position, they flop down, but tuck up horizontally when the ship is in landing mode (as you can see).IMG_2328 IMG_2329The cockpit starts to take shape and the overall shape of the ship begins to become apparent.
IMG_2330 IMG_2331The nose of the ship comes together in multiple pieces that are attached via the sticks through the holes. It works well enough and provides enough solidity.IMG_2332 IMG_2333 IMG_2334Another fabulous detail is the cockpit seat itself. It turns 90 degrees to match the flight mode of the ship (as seen in the movies).It doesn’t flop around freely, which is for the best. But once again the computer panels and overall display of the cockpit experience is top notch for being made of tiny little plastic pieces.
IMG_2335The side panels can be touchy since they are so skinny, but once they are on they’re OK.IMG_2340 Pulling the missile doors out is hard because there isn’t a handle, and when you do it pulls on the whole side panel which is only attached at the front of the ship – there is no connection to the big red drive section of the ship. So use caution.IMG_2341 And finally – finished! You can see both Boba Fett in the cockpit, and another one of the included minifigs for scale. This thing is large and in charge, and it’s fabulous. Nothing but the best for the galaxy’s most badass bounty hunter!IMG_2347 IMG_2349

The stand for this ship is better than the stand for the UCS Red 5 X-Wing – at least in my opinion. I didn’t like how that one leaned back but still gave you the option of keep it straight up and down…….if you fought with it long enough. So here’s a pic of it on the stand – again with the minifigs for scale.IMG_2351 The back side of the ship is equally as impressive. The bottom section is covered up by the stand in this photo – sorry!IMG_2352Overall, this was a great build. Sometimes the larger builds can get sort of tedious but I had a good time doing this – especially spread over two afternoons. One thing that was a little annoying was having to repeat build something reversed because of the symmetry of the ship. So instead of building a new piece – its the same thing you just built – only backwards. But, it is what it is. It looks badass though. The colors are pretty accurate, and the overall look is pretty true to the movies.

My only negative comments would be a) the gun turret nose of the ship hangs low and covers the name/info plate, and b) stickers. Goddamn stickers. LEGO, get your shit together and start printing the images specially on the bricks. There is nothing more frustrating than having this gorgeous build that is completely ruined because you didn’t quite get a sticker on straight. It drives people mad for the rest of their existence! Also, the info plate is one giant sticker that is so nerve wracking trying to put on straight I had to get up and take a walk after. Seriously; stickers are terrible.

LEGO Star Wars UCS Slave I: A+
Build time: B
Build difficulty: B
Price: C+ ($199.99)

[Review] LEGO Star Wars Republic Gunship (75021)

This is the third Republic Gunship LEGO has released, but I think it’s also probably their best. There are two features missing that would have made it perfect, but I’ll get to those later. Overall, the build is very impressive. I’m glad I’m at a point where I can build the larger sets that make incredible decorative pieces. This one turned out to be a little larger than I was expecting – but I’m OK with that. Being able to have a good sized model of something you love, and have that model made of LEGO, is just really frickin’ cool.

I had a lot more fun putting this set together than the Parisian Restaurant – obviously because it was much less tedious. It was also much less of an undertaking which has its merits. All of the bags are numbered in an increasing order, with each bag building a different section of them ship. I was most fascinated with how the separate sections built on to each other and snapped together to form a mostly solid and coherent shape. I know it’s not new, but I love the numbered bags because it allows you to only have the pieces on the table you need at that moment, instead of dumping out 1,000 pieces and wading through them to find what you need.
IMG_0562There are a total of 9 individual bags, mostly about the same medium size, and the instruction booklets are easy to follow and let you know what bags you need to be working with.

IMG_0563The set comes with 5 minifigs (which I didn’t take photos of), and a few are pretty unique. I didn’t do any real research (because honestly I really don’t care) but from what I’ve read the Padme included is rare. It’s the terrible cropped shirt with claw slashes from the pit on Geonosis in Episode II (which let’s just put out there is one of the stupidest parts of any movie ever – oh hell that whole movie is just painful). The Obi-Wan figure is sporting some crazy hair, and Anakin is probably whining somewhere. Plus there are two clone troopers. Oh, and there are also two droids I threw in the trash because they are without a doubt LEGO’s weakest “minifig” to date, and I already have some.
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IMG_0566Overall, I think the set is pretty sturdy, save for the wings. Don’t get me wrong they are on there pretty good but they’re definitely the weak point. The rest of the skeleton of the ship is pretty solid. As you go through the bags, more and more gets added onto the top building out the structure making it more stable. The cockpit doesn’t have many secure points, but the way it lays makes it alright I think. The sliding doors are pretty awesome, and easy to work back and forth. However this is one the negatives I mentioned earlier – the doors do not close all the way like they do in the movie/Clone Wars TV series – they only close about half way (as you’ll see the pics to follow).

My other gripe is the ball turrets in the wings should be a full sphere, while these are only half. I’m sure it has something to do with how to fasten the smooth sided pieces into the wing, but hey, those LEGO folks are geniuses or something, aren’t they? Figure it out!

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So that’s about it. There isn’t much else to say about the set. It took about 3 hours to assemble – again, while I was watching TV, so a less distracted person could easily do it in 2 I bet. It looks fantastic and is a pretty spitting image of the gunships in the movie and the show. It’s definitely playable, but as I said it also makes a great decorative piece of memorabilia on the shelf. Currently, mine is sitting on top of the bookshelf in my office. Looks great.

The set is kind of old and I think it’s probably nearing the end of its life cycle so I’d hop on it soon if you can. Here’s the rest of the pics of the completed product.

IMG_0570 IMG_0578 IMG_0573 IMG_0572 IMG_0575 IMG_0574 IMG_0571 IMG_0577 IMG_0576

 

Republic Gunship:
Overall Look: 5/5
Detail: 3/5
Clarity of instructions: 5/5
Fun to build: 5/5
Price: 3/5
Time required: 5/5

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens first teaser trailer is here! AND IT IS AWESOME.

It’s safe to say I’m aroused.

The cut scene of the X-Wings and the Falcon required me to change pants.

 

[Movie Review] Big Hero 6, & Interstellar

Both of these have been out for quite a while now, so I’m sure you’ve read your fair share of reviews, so I don’t have much to say here except both of these movies are fantastic. Though, obviously for different reasons…

[Big Hero 6] 
d8ed22ee860790f58ad96cf0266b861457b9c7edDisney hit a solid home-run with this animated feature. It’s got a ton of laughs, and a pretty decent amount of heart, too. The trailer for the movie is pretty misleading, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Baymax, the lovable, huggable, Michelin-Man-esque robot provides audiences with much the same awww-inspiring personality that Wall*E brought into our lives those years ago. (Fun fact: to this day, WALL*E remains my favorite animated movie ever.) Much like Pixar’s Up, the movie’s characters, and audiences, are dealt a pretty devastation blow early in the film. Though here it takes a bit more of a sinister turn than it did with Mr. Fredrickson.

Despite some of the dark undertones the film follows, it takes a surprising turn and ends up being a pretty great ride with tons of laughs – some of which are very reminiscent of WALL*E, as it’s one of the only other recent films with a robot as a protagonist where the film makers effectively relayed emotion through non-human characters. The animation is fabulous, too, which is another perk. If you haven’t seen it, take the kids and go have some laughs.

Oh, and make sure you stay until the end of the credits 🙂

Big Hero 6: A 


[Interstellar]

If you have an IMAX theater in your town that is showing this movie in the 70mm IMAX film, see it. If you’ve got to settle for regular IMAX, see it. Don’t have an IMAX, see it.

So, I don’t want to spoil too much of this movie for those who haven’t seen it because in this case it really takes away from the whole point of the film. (See it.) But suffice to say, it’s a very stressful movie in many respects. The peril. The tugging of heartstrings. The unbelievably epic space-scapes. This movie is big, in every respect. Much like Inception, and The Dark Knight, director Christopher Nolan uses the musical score as more than an accompaniment to the film – it’s a character in the film. Yes, it’s supposed to be loud and overpowering. The music is supposed to be as deafening as the silence and grandeur of space.
interstellar.black_.hole_While the story is pretty straightforward, it’s very engaging. But it’s the science behind the movie that interests me the most. Because science is awesome. What’s so mind blowing about much of the science in the movie is that it’s as accurate as possible, and everything else, while creatively inventive, still is based on theories. The picture above is a shot from the movie showing a black hole. The most amazing thing about it, aside from how freakin’ awesome it looks, is that it’s mathematically accurate, and the most accurate depiction of what light swirling around the event horizon of a black hole would look like. Let’s not even get into time dilation because that’s a whole other breed of mind-fuck.

I was as fascinated by the science as I was by the film itself. It’s a thinker, for sure. We’re all used to our usual three dimensions; but Interstellar goes beyond to the fourth (time), and toys with the idea of gravity as a fifth dimension. It weaves a very complex web of events and story that will definitely have you leaving the theater pondering the universe in ways you probably haven’t before.

The movie is also not without its faults though – some pretty cliche dialogue, and a little deus ex machina toward the end, but I was willing to look past it all to enjoy the overall scope of the movie. You should too. Go see it.

Interstellar: A+

[ Movie Review ] The Giver

-e275c57b-49c1-49cb-bc0a-d87bfa624a12If you’re roughly the same age as I am, and went to high school in the mid-to-late 90’s, you probably read The Giver, by Lois Lowry, in school – and loved it. In fact, you’re anything like me – it was the only book you were forced to read that you actually liked. Yup, before there were Maze Runners, Hunger Games, and Divergent-y young adult dystopian novels, there was The Giver. And it was fantastic.

I won’t regale you with a review of the novel or its plot. Those interested should read it. Unfortunately, in today’s dystopian-flooded market, new readers probably won’t think much of it because it’s a much different book than those listed above. Nevertheless, it will always hold a place in my list of favorite books – as I’m sure it does for most folks my age.

But this review is about the movie and we all know how often adaptions of novels usually don’t get things quite right (i.e.: Ender’s Game). After seeing the first few trailers months ago I was already worried. It kind-of looked like it should but there were these extra things that didn’t belong. I was nervous. Still excited though.

I wasn’t able to see it the opening weekend, but one of my best friends did. We share a passion for the book. When I finally was able to see it this past weekend I took his advice and went in trying to distance myself from the book, knowing it wasn’t going to live up to it, and things were going to be different and to just view the movie as a singular entity based on the premise of the novel. In the end it was a toss up. I liked it. I didn’t like it.

First a little background; Jeff Bridges has been trying to get this movie made for the better part of two decades, and wanted to be a part of it. In fact he wanted his father, Lloyd Bridges, to play the eponymous character. Of course, when Lloyd died in 1998 that idea fell by the wayside. Of course I don’t know what goes on behind the closed doors of Hollywood’s decision makers but I’m going to assume Jeff finally found some traction getting the project going because of the success of the recent batch of books and movies (Hunger Games, Divergent, etc). It seems like fate that Jeff Bridges was now able to play the key character in the book/movie.

INTRO_2_WaldenMedia_TheGiver_Giver2014

So the premise of the book/movie is pretty straight forward: after some unknown world-changing event, this group of people have formed a community where everyone conforms to this idea of “sameness.” There are no emotions or feelings, no lying, no memories of the past, everyone is assigned jobs based on their strengths, and for the most part people don’t know any better. The movie begins in black & white – as it should. Because it’s not until you’re well into the book you discover the book started in black & white too – the members of the community do not see any color. Because color = emotions = not sameness!

Enter: Jonas. (Oh, did I mention they don’t have last names, either?) And of course we all know how the formula goes – you can almost hear the movie trailer voice-over guy; “one man, one world, one decision will change everything…” blah blah blah. Anyway, when all the boys & girls come of age they go to a big fun ceremony where they get assigned their jobs. By the way I should also mention that much like the Ender’s Game, and Percy Jackson adaptations, Jonas has been up-aged from his book equivalent to be a hormonal teenager. Because apparently the movie going public cannot suspend disbelief enough to agree that younger characters are capable of, you know, anything. So Jonas gets the honor of becoming The Receiver of Memory. He’s all like, WTF? His friends got to be nurses, and baby mommas, and drone pilots. Wait, drones in The Giver? Ugh, thanks Obama. The Receiver of Memory does pretty much what it sounds like: receives memories. But it’s more than just memories. It’s emotions. Fears. Colors. Ideas. The past. Bridges’ character, whom does not actually have a name aside from The Giver, is the only person in the community having any knowledge of the past and, well, anything and everything. And his job is to pass those memories, the wisdom, on to the next Receiver so that he or she may advise the Elders in matters. Of course, Jonas cannot tell his friends, or family, or anyone, any of this. He must keep it secret. Of course once Jonas learns how all of life’s best things are being repressed there must be a revolution. Naturally. That’s the basic plot of the movie. I’ll leave further details to be watched.

I found the pace of the film rushed. While the book is barely a couple hundred pages, the movie clocks in at about an hour and a half. It didn’t need to be a 2 and THE GIVERa 1/2 hour epic or anything, but there was definitely something missing in the middle. The best part of the book is the interactions between The Giver and Jonas. These were few in the movie. I’ll again draw a comparison to Ender’s Game – where nearly 2/3 of the book takes place in the Battle School, and is the bulk of the plot and pretty much the entire point of the book – but the movie fast forwards through it.

The novel is not a whizz-bang action romp. It’s a quiet, thoughtful story with a lot of exposition and internal dialogue. But that’s also what makes it so interesting. It’s Jonas’ slow exploration of what he is being given, how it unravels in front of him and he begins to discover and understand the world around him and what is missing. That is what makes The Giver such a great book. I think it also is much more poignant with a character of 12 years old, and not a good looking teenage boy who wouldn’t have a problem channeling a whiny Luke Skywalker. But here in the movie Jonas is learning a lot – very quickly. Yes, it’s alluded to that time is passing and it’s more than just a few days, but time skips ahead in huge leaps leaving out the interactions with The Giver. And then of course once Jonas makes the realization he alone must change the way things have been for generations. Yeah! Meryl Streep is a bad, bad lady and she must be stopped! You get the idea.

As far as building the world of the novel, and portraying the rest of the society, I thought this was done well. Yeah the bikes were stupid but the overall look and feel of the world, and the mannerisms of its inhabitants were well done. SPOILER: the whole barrier thing was…well…wtf.

THE GIVERNone of the actors stood out as amazing, everyone did an equally good job. It should be noted however that Katie Holmes plays a stone cold bitch like a champ. Yikes. I thought Bridges did well with what he was given but there should have been so much more of him. So much more. He does such a good job portraying what probably a lot of us envision The Giver to be that it’s disappointing we don’t hear him impart some wisdom of his own to Jonas. Not to mention watching Bridges get that voice out of the awkward movement of his mouth was a spectacle all on its own. Oh, and Taylor Swift is in it and plays a piano. Weird.

Overall it was enjoyable, but even though I attempted to distance myself from the book – I couldn’t, fully. It’s a book that’s too important to my childhood and I couldn’t help but draw the comparisons. Despite the flaws I found the movie adequate.

The biggest hurdle for the movie I see is the current crop of Hunger Games loving YA readers not understanding the point of the movie, and leaving the theater with the impression it was mostly boring. Either way, I hope Bridges is happy with the result. I am…mostly. Go see it if you haven’t already. It’s worth seeing. But please, read the book. It’s so much more.

The Giver C+