Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2

I took Bean to see Kung Fu Panda 2 today, and I have to say, this may be the rare case where the sequel is even better than the original. As Po would say, "It was AWESOME!!" I loved the story and that they finally revealed Po's past, and that, shockingly, he's adopted. The Furious Five have truly become a team and work very well together. This time they must save all of China from an evil Peacock, voiced by Gary Oldman. All of the original cast appears to have returned, so the voices sound the same, which is great. The movie was at times hilarious and sad, serious and silly. I won't give any spoilers because it's well worth watching and you'll want to discover every moment for yourself. All I can say is I really loved it. Bean asked me why we couldn't just take it home and watch it again, which she only does with movies she really likes. And keep an eye out during the opening credits. That's not the normal little boy on the moon that Dreamworks usually uses, it's Master Oogway from the first film, in a swirl of peach blossoms.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Beastly

I watched Beastly recently and I was surprised by how good it was. It was a fantastic, updated, retelling of a classic story. I haven't read the book it's based on, but my friend loved the book and when we talked about it, she said it sounded like they were very close to the same story, which is good. The acting in the movie was well done. You feel Kyle's pain and understand his transformation. Alex Pettyfer was the perfect choice for the beastly role: pretty, but with some depth. And Vanessa Hudgens makes a sweet and soulful beauty, Lindy. I always love Neil Patrick Harris and he's fantastic as Kyle's blind tutor Will, hired by Kyle's father so that no one will see the horror he's become. And the housekeeper Zola, played by Lisa Gay Hamilton, is wonderful at making Kyle see that life goes on, whether you want it to or not. And that you need to truly see the person you think you love and not just expect them to live up to your expectations. I also loved that it showed that you can't go through life alone, you need the help and support of your family, be they chosen by blood or mutual affection. I've always loved the Tale of Beauty and the Beast and find this new addition to be most welcome.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Muppet Movie Poster

Here's the new poster for the Muppet Movie debuting this fall. I love the Muppets!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Mortal Instruments

A friend loaned me the first three books of the Mortal Instruments series last week and I must say, I'm totally hooked! These books are fantastic! I love the story line and the characters are well written and believable. These books may become my new obsession. So far, I've completed reading the first two books and am nearly done with the third. The only problem with these books is that once you finish one book, you want to move on immediately to the next. I'm sad that there is only one more book to read at the moment. Cassandra Clare has two more books to write to complete the series. Fortunately, much like JK Rowling, she seems to know where she intends to go with the stories.

The stories follow the life of Clary Fray and how everything changes when she meets a certain boy, Jace Wayland. In meeting Jace, a chain of events is set in motion that will lead Clary to question everything she thought she knew about herself and the world around her. Jace, and the family that have taken him in, are Shadowhunters, a secret group of Demon fighters. The monsters humans think are merely fairy tales, are real. There are Demons, Vampires, Werewolves, Warlocks, and the Fey, or Fairies. Drawn into this world almost against her will, Clary must find her place among the Shadowhunters and aid them in their battle to save all of humanity.

I love these books and was excited to learn that they are currently casting for a movie based on the first book. The studio has only announced the casting of the two leads, but more should be released soon. Lily Collins, of the Blind Side, will play Clary. Jamie Campbell-Bower, of Sweeney Todd and the Twilight series, will play Jace. So far, it sounds alright, although I wished they'd picked Alex Pettyfer for Jace because as soon as I saw him in Beastly, I realized that's who I'd pictured. If you like supernatural, teen, romance/adventure books, The Mortal Instruments may be the series for you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

UP House

Carl and Ellie's house from UP is just a scene in a movie no more. An enterprising home builder in Herrimen, Utah has recreated the house, down to the last tiny detail. Bangerter Homes, in cooperation with the Salt Lake City Home Builders Association, built the life-size replica to bring visitors and buyers to their annual Parade of Homes. Disney & Pixar gave their blessing for the creation and sale of this fantastic house. The home features many recognizable features, such as the rolled garden hose and bright colors outside, and Ellie's paintings over the fireplace and in the baby's room. The home will be furnished for the Parade of Homes and will include specially created armchairs like Carl and Ellie's. The house, which has several bedrooms and a movie theater, is 2,800 square feet and is expected to list for $399,999. Personally, I love it!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Disneyland!

Disneyland opened its gates 56 years ago today. Although I haven't been to Disneyland in several years, I've always enjoyed the Happiest Place on Earth and hope that the magic continues for many years to come. I've always liked Walt's dedication speech, so I'm going to share it with you here.

“To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here, age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
 
Happy Birthday, Disneyland!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Star Wars at Williams-Sonoma

This weekend, I was in our local Williams-Sonoma and they had finally marked down the Star Wars cookie cutters-embossers, pancake molds, and sandwich cutters in the tin lunchbox. All of the sets look like spaceships from the Star Wars Universe and are on sale for $9.99. The cookie cutters, including the Death Star, Millennium Falcon, Vader's Tie Fighter, and X-Wing Fighter, and pancake molds, Millennium Falcon, Tie Fighter and X-Wing Fighter were originally $19.99 each. The tin lunchbox featuring are from the original Star Wars, episode IV, has two metal sandwich cutters, the Millennium Falcon and Darth Vader's Tie Fighter, and was originally $29.99. I thought that the sale price was fantastic, so I bought a set of each. The pancake molds are huge, but awesome. I can't wait to try them out. Bean was super excited too. We recently got her hooked on the old Star Wars films, and she thought eating spaceships would be awesome.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Winnie the Pooh

Coming to theaters this Friday is an all new, full length, Winnie the Pooh movie. Featuring all of the characters from the classic A.A. Milne stories, this new movie follows Pooh and his friends on an all new adventure. The story takes place over the course of one day, following Pooh's adventure from the moment he wakes up, hungry as usual, to the ensuing adventure to find hunny, with several detours along the way. When Pooh finds a note from Christopher Robin, he takes it to Owl to read it. Owl miss reads the simple note "Gone out. Busy. Back soon." and declares that Christopher Robin has been captured by a horrible creature called a "Backson." This leads the whole gang on an adventure to rescue Christopher Robin from the horrible monster and save the day. I loved the Winnie the Pooh cartoons as a child and hope that this new movie lives up to those classic stories. Disney has a website devoted to all things Pooh with games and printables for the family. Check it out.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

More Patriotic Movies

I realized yesterday that there were a few more Patriotic movies that I hadn't included. Since I think we should celebrate our freedom and this great country everyday (or at least the entire month of July), I thought I would add a few more here.

National Treasure - A fascinating, fictional look at the history that make our country great. Why shouldn't the Founding Fathers have left clues to a treasure of international importance in some of our most beloved national treasures? I love this movie and the brief glimpse into the time of the American Revolution it provides. It also contains one of the most interesting and important lines in the Declaration of Independence, "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such government and provide new Guards for their future security."

National Treasure 2 - Another fascinating look at history, this time from the era of the Civil War. With our country's apparent love of secrecy, it wouldn't be surprising to find that a second treasure had been hidden.

Glory - While definitely not for children, this Civil War movie is one of the best. An intriguing look at the first all-black volunteer company that fought for the Union. This movie is intense, but also a very interesting look at what these men had to overcome to fight for what they believed in.

Disney's American Legends - I grew up watching these films, with their simple retelling of stories that have become American Legends. From the story of Johnny Appleseed, to Paul Bunyan, and John Henry, these family friendly stories will help kids get a glimpse of American history.

Schoolhouse Rock: America - Educational with a fun twist, these shorts help introduce kids to interesting facts about our country with catchy songs and fun animation. I still remember watching the one about how a bill becomes a law.

Cinderella Man - This film is a look at the true story of one man's life during the Depression. A former boxer whose fallen on hard times, James Braddock, with the help and support of his family, overcomes the odds to become a champion and a national inspiration in the 1930s.

Forest Gump - While not obviously patriotic, this movie shows American society at its best and worst over several decades. It is the story of the American Dream, and the wisdom that the attainment of that dream isn't always what you expect.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Movies to celebrate the Fourth

I love to watch patriotic movies on the Fourth and I have several that I think are well worth watching. Here are a few of my favorites:

Stars and Stripes Forever - This is an older film, but it is finally available on DVD. It is the story of John Phillips Sousa and features the music that made him famous. It is a fantastic old musical and I used to watch it every year at my Grandma's. It is a great family film and definitely my favorite!

Independence Day - This wild invasion by aliens movie is a lot of fun. It has comedy, adventure, action, aliens, and a fantastic speech by the president that may be my favorite speech of all time.

The Patriot - This movie is an interesting look at one family's struggles during the American Revolution. It is intense, and in many ways, depressing, but it is a fascinating look at our fight for independence.

John Adams - This mini-series was incredible. It was an interesting look into the lives of John and Abigail Adams and how they each handled, both separately and together, the forging of a nation.

Liberty's Kids - This animated series was great for kids learning about the Revolutionary war. It followed three kids and their adventures with the Founding Fathers. They also have a fantastic website with games and information to help kids learn more.

Any of the American Girl movies: Felicity, Kit, Samantha, or Molly - each is a look at the times in which that girl lived. They are good for young girls to see how children used to live in our country and how they dealt with problems that occurred in America during their lives.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Twilight Books

I am a total fan of the Twilight series. I love the books and the movies. We recently go a new used bookstore here that is owned by the same company that owns Books a Million. It's called 2nd and Charles and I believe they only have two stores. The have a fantastic selection of used books and some new books as well as DVDs, Blu-rays, and Video Games.

A few months ago, I was looking for some books I need to fill out a few series that I like to read over and over and I noticed that they had several copies of the Twilight books. I already had some of them, but they were paperbacks, so I thought I'd look at the hardcovers. They had a hardcover, special edition of Breaking Dawn, in perfect condition, and it wasn't even expensive. I was ecstatic! Then yesterday, I went in to pick up some Jan Karon books for my Grandma, and I found a special edition copy of New Moon and it still had the tattoos in the back! Even better, it was only $6.80. And most amazing of all, it was actually an Autographed Copy!! I'm in total Twilight heaven! I love books!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

Well, Augusta got to celebrating the Fourth of July a little early this year. We live near Ft. Gordon, so for most of the last 7 years, we've gone to the celebration on Barton Field. It's a lot of fun with carnival type rides and food and lots of fun freebies. This year, they were giving away light up mini fans and those prismatic glasses that are fun to use while watching the fireworks. It's like looking at them through a kaleidoscope! They have a Jimmy Buffet tribute band and then the Army Band plays patriotic music until it's time for the fireworks. The final song before the fireworks is always the 1812 Overture. There's nothing like the 1812 Overture with Howitzers for emphasis! This year, they held the celebration early, on July 1, so that service members could spend the weekend with their families. The fireworks were a little shorter than usual, but were still fantastic. There's nothing like sitting on the grass watching fireworks and eating funnel cakes! I hope you all have a fantastic Fourth of July and a safe and fun holiday weekend.

Happy Fourth!