Movie Review – The Book of Life

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The Book of Life

Starring: Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube, Kate del Castillo, Hector Elizondo, Danny Trejo, Carlos Alazraqui, Emil-Bastien Bouffard, Elias Garza, Genesis Ochoa, Grey DeLisle, and more.
Directed by: Jorge R. Gutierrez Screenplay by: Jorge R. Gutierrez and Douglas Langdale Art Direction by: Paul Sullivan Music by: Gustavo Santaolalla
Premise: Some school delinquents on a trip to the museum get taken to a little known part of place by their tour guide, one dedicated to Mexico. There the kids learn about the Book of Life and the Day of the Dead as their guide spins a tale about a bet between the beautiful La Muerte and Xibalba for control of different parts of the underworld. The bet concerns two boys and a girl and which of the two of them she will choose when she becomes old enough to marry. (Rated PG)
Review:
1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: A really nice mashup of talent was used to fill the cast of characters for the film. Diego Luna and Channing Tatum made for fun friends and rival suitors. Zoe Saldana was spicy and entertaining as always. Ice Cube was quite amusing as the Candle Maker. Emil, Elias, and Genesis were adorable as the voices for the three children. Ron Perlman and Kate del Castillo as Xiblaba and La Muerte were also a ton of fun. Grey DeLisle as Manolo’s grandmother added some lovely touches of fun as well.
2) Artwork/Animation – Total Thumbs Up: Reel FX Animation Studios (from Dallas!) does some amazing work in the film. The ‘real world’ is done in a realistic CGI art style. The story of the bet is told using wooden dolls, so when it unfolds and comes to life on the screen, all the characters are wooden dolls. The dead too are wooden, yet at the same time have a totally different texture and look to them. Xibalba (based on Mayan lore) and the Candle Maker were different from all of the above.
And with the thrown in Mexican folklore and flavor, and Reel FX delivers something entirely unique that stands on its own.
The film gives lots to keep your senses entertained. Xibalba’s eyes’s red skull pupils were utterly fascinating! Loved how they used then in different facings depending on what he was thinking or feeling. The weird green glowing goo and tar like skin, plus the green flamed candles on his shoulders made him a great treat. La Muerte, too, was dazzling in her red dress and painted face, and her gorgeous glowing eyes.
Make sure to look closely at the center of the universe – loved the juxtaposition of the guitar, the skull, and the mustache. Tons of lovely little touches everywhere. And wait till you see what they do with the skeletal bulls!
3) Plot/Story – Total Thumbs Up:  The best stories are those with multiple levels and themes – and this one had plenty. From the pressures and expectations of family and duty, to parents realizing what they think “best” for their children might not be the case, there were plenty of lessons to be learned by all involved.
While some of the direction the plot takes is expected, there were plenty of other places where it will surprise you. Lots of fun!
4) Music – Total Thumbs Up: The music department likes to play! While layered with a lot of traditional Mexican styles of music, pay close attention to the lyrics of what the characters are singing. If you do, you’ll find several of the songs sounding eerily familiar. In a couple of spots, that recognition will make the hijinx going on even more of a treat!
Conclusion: “The Book of Life” if a color filled, multi layered adventure with fun for everyone. The medium is unique, and the music/lyrics an extra layer of fun.
Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission to See Again)

Picture Kaleidoscope 10/22/14 – The Fan Days 2014 Edition

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Morning!

Took a ton of pics over the weekend while at Fan Days 2014. Lots of super awesome costumes!

The daughter and I have a new banner, one big enough to compete with all the artists in the artist alley section. Help us stick out a little more. Heh heh

The calm before the storm.

A furry, not only dressed up as a character from Attack From Titan but doing the actual salute! Floored me. lol.

The CDC and Military were also in attendance. Playing the Happy song.

Terri was a bad boy.

Hah! Forgot I did this more than once.

Chill Dude, you make it!

Friend Jackie selling her cool hats and drink cozies. The R2D2 cozy is so cool!

Ladies of fantasy

The Three Faces of Cobra Commander! Decisive

Torn

Whimsical? lol

All sorts of heroes came on by!

Wizards too!

Don’t they look awesome?

Zoom in on the two fairies. Weirdest hairdos ever. I should have a better pic farther down.

The costume behind the shield was even more awesome!

School girl demons?

Spy vs. Spy with accessories. heh heh.

Everything is awesome!

Deep sea diver of DOOM. Didn’t get a shot of his giant drill. Darn

Aha, here’s the two funky fairies!

Captain American better watch out.

You have to zoom in to see the awesomeness of this unusual costume. She has mimicked the old fashioned art style with her own body. Too cool!

And she had a buddy!

Green Goblin and a Storm/Thor mashup!

The Kree came to visit. RUN!

This year’s awesome Dalek mashup – The Baroness Dalek by Taylor Lymberry. Sweet!

I thought this one was fantastic! Looked beyond awesome!

Red Skull is in the house!

You’ll need to see the bigger pic to see the super cool dots and makeup on her face. Too awesome.

A balloon, dancing TARDIS. Even had sound effects. lol

Davros the creator of the Daleks. He looked fantastic!

Vulcans and tribbles, oh my!

The Captain and friend? :)

And I probably only saw a small percentage of the awesome costumes. Dang!

Mind Sieve 10/20/14

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Spent the weekend at the Dallas Comic Con Dan Days 2014 so this will be a quick one. :)

In the Heart of the Sea Official Teaser Trailer – Moby Dick! Booyah! This looks GOOD!

Get Santa Trailer – this looks too cute!

Dying of the Light Official Trailer #1 – Looks good and messy. Should be exciting. :)

Have fun!

Picture Kaleidoscope 10/15/14

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Morning!

This was a total surprise. lol. But looks great! Make sure to look at it with the bigger pic. Perfect for this time of year. lol.

This year has been great for sky shots. :)

Look at that gold!

Isn’t he purty?

The sun being shy.

Love the different cloud layers.

Almost looks like a UFO. :P

Hm, wonder if this is what they mean by a “Tequila Sunrise”?

Like layered colors.

Have a great Wednesday!

Mind Sieve 10/13/14

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MindSieve

Fan Fun

Tomorrowland Teaser Trailer – Ooooh this looks awesome!

Focus official trailer #1 – this could be fun. Looks very slick. :)

My daughter has bit into the latest streaming craze which is playing games and talking to people while doing it. She’s doing the game “The Binding of Issac”. Here’s Episode 5.

Big Hero 6 Official US Trailer 2 – Oh this is going to be so much FUN!

Author Platform/Social Media

5 Ways to Benefit From Twitter Ads by Antonio Calero at The Social Media Examiner. Probably too high end for us authors, but it’s nice to know the options.

10 Ways to Improve Your Social Media Marketing by Cindy King at the Social Media Examiner. If I only had the time to look at all this stuff!!!!!

Writing Advice

Frustrated With Slow Progress? Join the Crowd by Jami Gold. Realistic and unrealistic expectations for authors.

Dearest Writer: Nobody Owes You Shit by Chuck (NSFW) Wendig – more reality for us writerly types. :)

Have an awesome week all!

Virtual Tourist – TERA 10/12/14

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Morning all!

TERA

Eldritch Academy

Isn’t this just an awesome sight?

Ack, hate those giant spider things!

More cuteness!

Down in the cellar.

The reason for all this

Cool machine too!

Poporia (Yep, finally found the names!)

Aren’t they CUTE?!?!?!

I so love all the detail. :)

Different angle

Back on the Pegasus

Love these things!

Aurum Road 

Pegasus shots.

So arid!

Central town for the section

Some definitely cool rock formations~!

Local bad guys.

Nifty looking ruins.

And that always awesome sky!

Have a great day!

Movie Review – Dracula Untold

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Dracula Untold

Starring: Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Art Parkinson, Charles Dance, Diarmaid Murtagh, Paul Kaye, William Houston, Noah Huntley, Ronan Vibert, and more.

Directed by: Gary Shore Written by: Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless Based on Characters Created by: Bram Stoker Cinematography by: John Schwartzman Music by: Ramin Djawadi

Premise: When the Turks demand Vlad adds a thousand children, as well as his son, to their yearly tribute, Vlad Tepes decides it is too dear a price to pay. Killing several Turks, he turns to Broken Tooth Mountain where he’d glimpsed something evil and very powerful. It is this power he hopes to gain to allow him to save his people. Yet the power has a cost. (Rated PG-13)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Luke Evans was perfect for the role – waxing from stern, to concerned, to loving husband and father, to hungry predator with ease. Charles Dance brought great presence to the Master Vampire. Sarah Gadon as Vlad’s lovely and perceptive wife, made for a nice foil and wove in well into the themes of light and dark.

2) Special Effects – Thumbs Up: The film had a lot of nice effects. The different ways bats were used were very cool – both in the giant waves and the more personal combat moments. Some neat uses of dark and light as seen through vampiric eyes. The first vaporizing sunlight effect was fantastic. Some of the others weren’t as well done, but still looked very good.

There’s a nice scene done almost exclusively through the reflections of a sword. What I loved more was the POV being kept on the man holding the sword till his end. A very nice touch.

The art in the priest’s book was fantastic! The detail was superb.

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Down: Is this film in any way historically accurate? Not much. But the fact the supernatural would be involved does give a clue this would be the way of it, so it didn’t hinder my interest. Bad writing, however, is a whole other matter.

Aside from Vlad, his wife, and son, there was no development of any of the other characters. The Turks were all cardboard villains. Those around Vlad about the same. And for one or two of them, if you blink while watching the film, you’d miss the only clue to their personalities that you were given.

There was nothing whatsoever to support the request for a thousand children. (If you have an army of over a hundred thousand strong sitting around, what difference would an extra thousand untrained soldiers make?) The fact Vlad and the Turkish ruler had been close friends made the whole thing that much harder to swallow.

Vlad has fought countless wars, created strategies, killed thousands before ever taking on supernatural powers – yet not once were any real tactics or thought, for that matter, ever presented by him. After the slaying of the first group of soldiers once he gained his powers, why didn’t he fly straight to the main encampment and kill the ruler in his sleep? The main problem would be gone, his army and people thrown into disarray at the death of their leader, and if they didn’t get the hint, he could have come back and slayed the lot without a single fellow countryman ever placed near the danger. I have more on this issue, but will stop here.

The next major affront was the ruler knowing how to combat supernatural Vlad. Since seemingly no one in the country of Transylvania knew about vampires except one priest, how the heck would the Turkish ruler have a clue? The Turks killed everyone they got a hold of. They didn’t question or take any prisoners. The one they did take wouldn’t hold told them, and didn’t know all that much in the first place. And sadder still, they took a being with his incredible power, put him in a place that made him weak, and instead of having him step outside, pick up a spear, and using his magnified senses and superhuman strength to torpedo it through the cloth and into the chest of his enemy, you have him stay inside and “fight” it out. (Yes, they did do some cool things with visuals during that fight, but still…)

And last, but not least, why the heck would Turkish scouts go to the most desolate mountain to scout for a possible invasion anyway? Now, if they’d mentioned the Turkish ruler having heard rumors of who was trapped there and wanted it investigated to see if he could give himself power, that could have been a fun angle. But, alas, no…

No real surprises or plot twists other than the delectable bit at the end. (Though I realized later that shot was all in sublight – so…huh????)

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: Lots of fancy and destructive stunts by real people and CGI. Integration of both were pretty flawless, making for lots of combat fun. There is some shaky cam action, which always feels like a cheap tactic to me, but most of it wasn’t, so that was good.

5) Locations/Cinematography – Thumbs Up: Lots of lovely sweeping views from above or panning shots over open fields in the day and the night. It all plays beautifully with the CGI bats. The land looks mostly unspoiled by people, making for lovely terrain shots and closeups.

My one complaint was the lack of Transylvanian/Wallachian style to the castle or monastery. Wallachia and other Carpathian locations have their own look and local flavor. Yet none of that really came across in the film. They just seemed typical, generic. Too bad.

Conclusion: If you turn of your logic circuits and possibly a couple of others, “Dracula – Untold” is an entertaining film. Some cool special effects and fight scenes as well as some great acting on the part of Lucas Evans, Sarah Gadon, and Charles Dance.

Rating: 3 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price To See Again.)

Picture Kaleidoscope 10/8/14

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Morning!

Trying to stay on schedule this week!

Found this at a shop at the mall. Just like the one in the painting. And it actually is a working clock! Isn’t it awesome?!

Side view. So cool!

Sheep in the sky!

I was trying for something with this, just have no idea what! lol.

Cool striations, no?

The light was bouncing beautifully in the back.

Giant eyeball peeking in out direction

The clouds seemed like poured liquid.

Clouds!

Sweevil actually not terrorizing Mythril. You can see her behind and to the side. Heh.

Have a great Wednesday!

Mind Sieve 10/6/14

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I need to do something to get back on track.

RL work has really messed up all my usual schedules. Bah!

Fan Fun

Batman Evolution by the Piano Guys. 50 Years of melded Batman music. Sweet!

Inside Out Teaser Trailer – should be cute!

Blackhat Trailer 1 – could be interesting!

Jupiter Ascending Trailer 3 – I am PUMPED! Looks great!

Author Platform/Social Media

 

Facebook Relaunches Atlas: This Week in Social Media by Cindy King at the Social MEdia Examiner.

10 Tips to Organizing a Kick Ass Online Book Event by Angela Ackerman at Kristen Lamb’s blog.

 

 

Writing Advice

 

Writing Struggles: Waiting For News from Jami Gold. I’ve always said the biggest skill one has to have for writing is patience. But sometimes it is so very,very hard to wait!

Who I am and Why I Write This Blog by Chuck (NSFW) Wendig. I’m honestly amazed anyone would think he fakes this stuff. lol.

 

Hah! An actual complete post for once! Hah! (Been so long!)

Virtual Tourist – TERA 10/5/14

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Good morning!

TERA

For whatever reason I can’t find the names of the places I’ve been the last couple of weeks. :( Nooo!

A gorgeous horse owned by a player

He looks hungry, doesn’t he?

Beautiful, no?

Entrance to a the grounds of a witches school.

The front of the school.

Main entry room. And yes, they use pumpkins in ALL their decorating. lo.

The magnificent ceiling of the main room.

One of the young witches.

One of the grand hallways

More see through ceiling.

The grand clock in the main entry room

Signs of magic!

Look at the awesome tile flooring!

Killer pumpkins!

One of the library rooms. So cool!

One of the dormitories

Looking down into the main entry room

One of the student area.

Have an awesome day!

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