Posted in 1UP, Blog Posts, Star Wars

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, based off of Star Wars Episode 7, created by George Lucas: a Video Game Review

What are we playing:

Explore the planets you’ve heard of in Star Wars but now in LEGO form! Relive Episode 7 and explore extended worlds from planet to planet as you play through the film all the while destroying everything in sight!

This set of LEGO game walks through the worlds and planets of Star Wars Episode 7, in playable levels which you can go back after completing in Story Mode and play again to collect everything.

General Information:

-Genre: Collectathon

-Creator: Traveller’s Tales in partnership with LEGO and Lucasfilm

-Number of Levels:

-Collectables:

-Rating: E10+ (mild cartoon nudity, moderate violence but cartoony and in LEGO, several scenes in bars, smuggling)

-How to Play: local game stores (explore your area and support local!), used game stores, online or in box stores, or look for it at your local library (many libraries now have video games and even tabletop games for checkout)

-Page of Reference in RP1: 62-64

Review (contains spoilers):

Just like all other LEGO games these are your fairly standard collectathon style game and it is achievable to get a 100% completion, you just have to return after Story Mode to get everything.

I love a good LEGO game! And this one did not disappoint. It took a page out of the Lord of the Rings LEGO games and went with a more open world concept vs. the more enclosed worlds/levels in the previous games. I also love that the included some of the offshoot stories as side quests for you to discover as you explore all of the planets in Episode 7. It’s wonderful.

Like always LEGO games are some of my favorite games to play. Since the majority of the game is just beating everything in sight to actually figure out what has stuff in it and what doesn’t it makes for awesome stress relief and I absolutely love that you can’t really die. You just burst into bits…aka LEGO currency.

These are super fun and are great to play with kids but challenging enough for adult players to really enjoy.

Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central, Week of Love

Real Genius, created by Neal Israel and Pat Proft: a film Review

Synopsis:

The CIA is determined to create a new “peace time” weapon, codename Crossbow, that uses a high-powered laser to eliminate potential threats before they become terrorists.  To do so they recruit the help of a well-know college professor to create the laser needed to pull off this accomplishment.

Meanwhile, 15-year-old Mitch is accepted to the college for mid-winter term due to his insane intellect.  Rooming with genius and role model, Chris Knight, proves to be vastly different from the idea that Mitch builds up in his head.  Knight is a bit of a prankster and overall chill guy compared to tightly wound genius Mitch.

As the pair find their differences and turn them into strengths to help each other through the difficult final semester for Knight, they work to create an incredibly powerful laser that will be Knight’s ticket to graduation.

But when they are forced to see what possible uses someone would have for a laser that big and powerful they must come to terms with the fact that sometimes, as scientists, you need to think about the practical applications of your creations…and come to terms with the fact that they may not be used for the good and hopeful reasons you would want them to be…

General Information:

-Genre: Science Fiction Teen Comedy

-Creator: Neal Israel and Pat Proft

-Length: 106 minutes

-Rating: PG (for mild sex, nudity and sexual innuendo, mild profanity, mild partying)

-Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video (Buy/Rent), iTunes (Buy/Rent), STARZ (with subscription), HBO Go (with subscription), DVD, Blue-Ray, or look for it at your local library

-Main Cast: Val Kilmer, Gabe Jarret, Michelle Meyrink, William Atherton, Robert Prescott, Jon Gries

-Page of Reference in RP1: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

Such a great comedy and one of my top watched movies of all time.  It is a staple in my vocabulary to quote lines from this film.  And there are plenty of them that are quotable.

I love the story, the quirky characters and the fact that, though the science is incredibly above my head as I know nothing about optics, everything discussed is relatable.  It isn’t about the science.  You don’t have to know anything to love this film.

Witty and sarcastic this whole movie is an absolute gem of late ‘80s comedy.   From the child genius on a college campus (and in a dorm!) to the fact that the bad guy is someone in the faculty…its just an overall ridiculous film that is just as funny after the first watch as the 100th.  Plus, it has a great soundtrack.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central, Week of Love

Stardust, by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman, based off the novel by Neil Gaiman: a Film Review

Synopsis:

Tristan Thorn lives in the English town of Wall, named for the long wall that runs along the village separating it from the fantasy world that is said to be on the other side.  When he sets to win the heart of the local girl, Victoria, he cannot seem to do anything more than blunder every attempt to do so.  Suddenly he is struck with an idea to win her hand in marriage.  Cross the wall and retrieve a star the pair has seen fall from the sky…which may be easier said than done.

On the other side of the Wall lies the kingdom of Stormhold where a dying king’s seven sons are competing to decide who will reign after his death.  Unfortunately for them it is either the throne or death themselves…but when they cannot seem to defeat each other for the title the king sends out his ruby necklace to be restored by his one true surviving heir.  Which ends up knocking a star out of the sky and to earth.  The same star seen by Tristan and Victoria that fateful night.

But Tristan is not the only one who sees the star fall from the sky.  A trio of witches is also after her heart to make themselves young again and extend their life for another 400 years.

As Tristan crosses the wall in an effort to find the fallen star he meets a host of characters from a swashbuckling pirate, to the deadly prince Septimus, insane witches, and even the fallen star herself…what he could never imagine was the adventure that he would embark on…as soon as he can get past the old man that guards the hole in the Wall.

General Information:

-Genre: Romantic Fantasy Adventure

-Creator: Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman, based off the novel by Neil Gaiman

-Length: 128 minutes

-Rating: PG-13 (for mild implied sex and nudity, moderate violence and gore, mild profanity, mild use of alcohol, moderate intense scenes including fighting and magic elements)

-Where to Watch: Netflix (with subscription), Amazon Prime Video (Buy/Rent), iTunes (Buy/Rent), DVD, Blue-Ray, or look for it at your local library

-Main Cast: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Rickey Gervais, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Evertt, Peter O’Toole, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro

-Page of Reference in RP1:

Review (contains spoilers):

I really enjoy this film but be warned I have not read the book at the time of writing this review so I cannot compare the two. 

The story is quite unique to what I have seen in the past.  But that is to be expected from the mind of Neil Gaiman.  Between the adventures through the land of faerie, the cruel princes trying to gain their father’s throne, and witches trying to get ahold of a fallen star, the story is varied with the depth of a fully imagined world.

When I first heard of all of the different stories that go on during the course of the film, I thought it would be quite confusing to keep everything straight but the filmmakers did an exquisite job interweaving everything a way that makes it easy to follow and incredibly enjoyable.

The characters are bright and bold both in their portrayal and their writing.  The costuming is lovely… a perfect mix of historically accurate Victorian styles with fantasy elements. The settings are beautiful.  Just an incredibly done film. 

I love the world that Gaiman created and this film brought to life.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Read Me, Week of Love

The Princess Bride, by William Goldman: a Novel review

Synopsis:

From the back cover:

“As Florin and Gilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this dazzling adventure, she’ll meet Vizzini- the criminal philosopher who’ll so anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik- the gentle giant; Inigo- the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen-the evil mastermind behind it all.  Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup’s one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate.”

General Information:

-Genre: Romantic Fantasy Action

-Author: William Goldman

-Number of Pages:

-Main Characters: Westley, Buttercup, Humperdinck, The Six-Fingered Man, Vicinni, Fessik, Iniego Montoya

-Where to Read: support local booksellers (many can order items that may not be in stock) or look for it at your local library!

-Page of Reference in RP1: 38

Review (contains spoilers):

I read this book long after I had first seen the movie.  In fact I didn’t realize it was a book until many, many years after my introduction to the film.

I enjoyed the book overall, though I do enjoy the film more.  It seems to do better in a format with visuals more than in novel form.  But that isn’t to say that the book isn’t down right hilarious and I do appreciate the addition of the short story Buttercup’s Baby that is at the end of the novel.

The characters are about the same as they are in the movie, fleshed out and realistic.  Yet there is a beautiful film of fantasy woven throughout the whole thing.  The descriptions of the world are comprehensive yet not overly dry or longwinded as they are in some other fantasy novels (I’m looking at you Outlander).  The action is vibrant and the story is relatable…even though we don’t live in a medival time period with a stunning farm boy fighting his way across the high seas to rescue us.

A wonderful read that I highly recommend particularly to people who enjoy stories of action, intrique, wit and true love.

Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Posted in 8-Tracks, Blog Posts, Week of Love

Doctor Jones, by Aqua: a song review

General Information:

Band: Aqua

Album Title: Aquarium

Release Year: 1997

Song Length: 3:20

Genre: Pop

How to Listen: Spotify (free with ads or on paid subscription), Apple Music (buy), YouTube, iHeart Radio, or look for the album at your local library or used bookseller!

Page of Reference in RP1: 171

Lyrics:

Sometimes the feeling is right

You fall in love for the first time

Heartbeat, and kisses to sweet

Summertime love in the moonlight

Ah yippie yi yu

Ah yippie yi yeah

Ah yippie yi yu ah ah

Now that the summer is gone

You had to go back home

Please come and see me again

I’ve never felt more alone

(Baby I am missing you)

I want you by my side

(And I hope you’ll miss me too)

Come back and stay

(I think about you every day)

I really want you too

(You swept my feet right off the ground

You’re the love I found)

Doctor Jones, Jones

Calling Doctor Jones

Doctor Jones, Doctor Jones

Get up now

(Wake up now)

Doctor Jones, Jones

Calling Doctor Jones

Doctor Jones, Doctor Jones

Wake up now

(Wake up now)

Ah yippie yi yu

Ah yippie yi yeah

Ah yippie yi yu ah ah

Ah yippie yi yu

Ah yippie yi yeah

Ah yippie yi yu ah ah

All I think of is you,

And all of the things we had

Doctor, what can I do?

Why does he have to be like that?

(baby I am missing you)

I want you by my side

(and I hope you’ll miss me too)

Come back and stay

(I think about you every day)

I really want you too

(You swept my feet right off the ground

Youre the love I found)

Doctor Jones, Jones

Calling Doctor Jones

Doctor Jones, Doctor Jones

Get up now

(Wake up now)

Doctor Jones, Jones

Calling Doctor Jones

Doctor Jones, Doctor Jones

Wake up now

(Wake up now)

Ah yippie yi yu

Ah yippie yi yeah

Ah yippie yi yu ah ah

Ah yippie yi yu

Ah yippie yi yeah

Ah yippie yi yu ah ah

Please, please, cure me

Please, please, cure me

Please, please, cure me

Please, please, cure me

Doctor Jones, Jones

(Wake up now)

Doctor Jones, Jones

(Wake up now)

Doctor Jones, Jones

(Wake up now)

Doctor Jones, Jones

Wake up now

Ah yippie yi yu

Ah yippie yi yeah

Ah yippie yi yu ah ah

Ah yippie yi yu

Ah yippie yi yeah

Ah yippie yi yu ah ah

Doctor Jones, Jones

Calling Doctor Jones

Doctor Jones, Doctor Jones

Get up now

(Wake up now)

Doctor Jones, Jones

Calling Doctor Jones

Doctor Jones, Doctor Jones

Wake up now

(Wake up now)

Review:

I grew up with Aqua as a pop band I listened to during junior high and high school.  This song is quite nostalgic and is even on my personal “getting ready mix” for when I need to be psyched up to go outside.

Overall it is a solid pop song from the 1990s full of repetitive lyrics that occasionally don’t make sense but still is one of those that is super catchy and will get stuck in your head.  I absolutely love this song however to be objective it isn’t great… but I still LOVE it!

Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Be sure to check out the song through the link at the top of the post OR play our cultivated Valentine’s Day mix here:

We recommend listening to the list on shuffle. It is compiled of the top 10-20 love songs from the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s alogn with some of the most popular love songs in history and some of my personal favorites!

Posted in Blog Posts, LOTR, Read Me

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, by JRR Tolkien: a Book Review

Synopsis:

“One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in The Hobbit. In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.”

-lifted from the back cover synopsis

General Information:

-Genre: Epic Fantasy

-Author: JRR Tolkien

-Number of Pages: 423

-Main Characters: Bilbo Baggins, Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Merry , Pippin Took, Gandalf the Wizard, Strider, Gimli, Legolas, Boromir

-Where to Read: support local booksellers (many can order items that may not be in stock) or look for it at your local library!

-Page of Reference in RP1/RP2: 62/

Review (contains spoilers):

I have a love-hate relationship with this book. Honestly I have a love-hate relationship with a lot of adult epic fantasy books…and classics…and this is both.  Maybe I have too much baggage associated with it to truly enjoy the story anymore, even the older I get.

But that aside this is a solid story.  Essential Tolkien.  Long winded, overly detailed and with quite a bit of superfluous and frankly unnecessary details (why do you need a whole chapter of “begots”…do we really need to know who your great-to-the-millionth grandfather was… I mean unless you’re Aragorn it doesn’t really matter…does it?).

Other than that the character and world building is what so many authors aspire to today.  It has truly transcended the ages. So many new authors I do love were heavily influenced by these books… yet this is one of the few times that I really do think the visuals in the films captured the true essence of the story in a much better way than the actual books did…shoot me if you want.

Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Posted in Blog Posts, LOTR, Read Me

The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien: a Book Review

Synopsis:

Bilbo Baggins, of the Bag’s End Bagginses, is minding his own business when Gandalf the Grey comes to visit.  As a flustered Bilbo invites Gandalf to tea the plotting wizard marks his door with a symbol: “Burglar wants a good job, plenty of excitement and reasonable reward”.

Soon 13 dwarfs arrive at the house talking of their treasure hunting endeavor and crashing on Bilbo’s obligatory hospitality.  As the night wears on Gandalf pulls out a map and arranges the job on Bilbo’s (fairly) stunned behalf to help break the bad luck of the number 13. 

The goal: find the secret passage to the Lonely Mountian, send their thief in to assess and steal what he can, then go and kill Smaug the Dragon to steal the rest of the riches that he hoards in his lair.

After nearly missing the start of the journey Bilbo is off with the dwarfs on an epic adventure of danger, intrigue, treasure and, most of all, more excitement than any Hobbit could imagine in even their wildest dreams.

General Information:

-Genre: Epic Fantasy

-Author: JRR Tolkien

-Number of Pages: 310

-Main Characters: Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, Thorin Oakenshield, Gloin, Oin, Ori, Nori, Dori, Dwalin, Balin, Kili, Fili, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Smaug

-Where to Read: support local booksellers (many can order items that may not be in stock) or look for it at your local library!

-Page of Reference in RP1/RP2: 62/

Review (contains spoilers):

I have such very fond memories of this book, unlike the other books in the Lord of the Rings.  My dad used to read this, chapter by chapter, to my brother and I as a bedtime story.  Re-reading this book was just a delight.

This story was full of action and adventure…not nearly as much description of the world as his other books.  Tolkien was absolutely on his game with this one. 

I think this is a great book to share with your kids.  It has some violence and some slightly scary parts with attacks by orcs and of course the dragon. But overall, it’s a wonderful way to introduce your children into the fantasy genre.  Even though I didn’t go on to enjoy other epic adult fantasy…or the rest of the Lord of the Rings books… it did solidify my love of fantasy as a genre.

Review:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Posted in 8-Tracks, Blog Posts, Flick Central

Bohemian Rhapsody, the (slightly fictional) story of Freddy Mercury and Queen: a Film Review

Synopsis:

The story line basically follows the life of Freddy as he goes from working in London Heathrow Airport as a young man to his final days after leaving Queen for a solo career, and his subsequent return for the Live AID concert which would become the most well known Queen concert of all time.

Do note that some of this film is said to be slightly exaggerated, changed or inferred which is why it is not a true documentary but rather a biopic. The other members of Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor, did consult on the film and possibly filled some gaps or lesser known information about Mercury and his life.

General Information about the film:

-Genre: Slightly Fictional Biopic

-Creators: Brian Singer, Anthony McCarten, Graham King, and Queen manager Jim Beech. Brian May and Roger Taylor served as consultants.

-Length: 134 minutes

-Film Rating: PG-13

-Where to watch: Hulu (with HBO subscription), Amazon Prime Video (rent or purchase), HBO Go, DVD, Blue-Ray, or at your local library

-Main Cast: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joe Mazzello, Aiden Gillen, Tom Hollander, Allen Leech, Mike Myers

Review (contains spoilers):

Overall a thoroughly enjoyable film.

I can see how die hard Queen fans could get irritated by the fictionalizations within the film but that is neither here nor there for me. While I love the band I am also in the film and television profession and understand that sometimes adding a bit of drama, changing a bit of the story or even shining a better or worse light on part of a situation sometimes happens. Its one of the many issues that comes from telling the story of someone who has passed on.

Rami Malek did a stunning job capturing Freddie Mercury’s attitude, movement and singing ability. He truly channelled the entire situation with grace and compassion…even going so far as wanting to show more of the relationships that Freddie had throughout his life. Honestly I was quite sad that we got more of Freddie’s relationship with Paul (though they did a good job showing how controlling and abusive this relationship was) than his relationship with Jim, who was reported as being sweet and caring throughout the end of Freddie’s life.

The soundtrack was on point from the opening scene to the full LIVEAID concert. i took the time to watch the two side by side and applaud both the cast and crew for capturing not only the essence of the event but the entire personality and choreography and playlist for the band.

Casting was beautifully done and I loved that Brian, Roger and John all helped throughout the film. It always helps the authenticity to have the people the biopic is about involved. Sadly we couldn’t have Freddie’s input but the rest of the band seemed to do a wonderful job.

Though there are many issues with the film that have been argued about in length I did find the film a wonderful and artistic take on Freddie Mercury and Queen.

Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.