Saturday, July 21, 2012

Movie Review: The Amazing Spiderman

I have to first start off this review by admitting that I am NOT a comic book geek. I may be geeky in many respects, but I was never a huge comic book reader. Before seeing The Amazing Spiderman, I did some Wikipedia to get a bit of background on secondary characters (Gwen Stacy, Dr. Curtis Connors, etc). Interesting (and heartbreaking!) stuffs!

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.
Anyway, spending the weekend with my sis, and we decided to see this movie, starring the adorkable Andrew Garfield (Never Let Me Go, Dr. Who), the quirky Emma Stone (Easy A, The Help) and Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1). I saw the last three Spidey movies, and I wasn't really a fan. I'm not a huge fan of Kirsten Dunst or James Franco, so all it had going for it was Tobey Maguire. I never thought there was much chemistry between Maguire and Dunst, either.

That said, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone had OODLES of chemistry! Reading interviews with them, Garfield said that when they did their first reading together, she walked in and it was electric. You could just tell that they really liked each other, they enjoyed each other's company and it wasn't JUST acting for them.

Seriously, hot. 
Synopsis time!

Peter Parker finds a clue that might help him understand why his parents disappeared when he was young. His path puts him on a collision course with Dr. Curt Connors, his father's former partner.

I really enjoyed this movie. We saw it in 3-D (without the intention to), and I feel like it definitely added to the world the ironically named director, Marc Webb was trying to build. There was a scene, before Peter was bitten, where he is looking at this area where they keep the radioactive spiders, and they're in this incubator-type thing, each spider making its own web, and Peter's just watching them all carefully. I kept thinking "I would NEVER get that close to so many spiders!" 

I wasn't familiar with Dr. Connors, or The Lizard Man (Like I said, I didn't read the comics), but I felt more bad for him than anything. Here was a man who had spent his life working with mixing the DNA of animals to create a superior being. He'd also lost his arm (if they explained it, I was in the bathroom, so I don't know, honestly), somehow, and wanted more than anything to regrow his limb like some lizards were able to do. When Norman Osborn's flunkie said they were going to cancel his research, and he got a little crazy. Took the concoction that they'd only tested on mice for himself, and slowly became the Lizard Man. He was a good man who let bad circumstances get the better of him.

Maybe this is why I wasn't a science girl?
I also loved that Gwen Stacy wasn't just a pretty wallflower. She was really smart. She was a scientist, and knew exactly what was at stake and what needed to be done. She did what was necessary to save her city, ignoring Peter and her father to get the job done. She was badass. Mary Jane Watson was not. She had to be rescued. A LOT.

Andrew Garfield was a witty, sarcastic Spidey. He was just nerdy enough, but with a hint of hipster that all geeks seem to have these days. There have been several memes on Pinterest and Tumblr going on and on about Garfield's hair in this movie. While he does have some good hair, I have to laugh at how much of a fan club it's gotten. He's always pretty awkward, which he does well. He seems to be caught in a state of wanting to be a kid and wanting to prove how grown up he is (Just saw in in the Doctor Who episode "Daleks in New York," and also in the Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, he does the same thing). I think he's got a lot of growing up to do, but he's definitely coming into his own. 

I hope he'll always have that great hair.
I enjoyed this movie. My uncle didn't because he's a comic book snob. Apparently, they changed the origin story. They changed the origin story of Star Trek a few years ago, too. It's making way for a new audience, it's creating an alternate universe, which most comic books (from what I understand) take part in, so I don't see a problem with it. Though, I suppose if someone tried to tell ME that Jane Bennett ends up with Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice, I'd scoff at that, too.


I forgot about Lost in Austen. That DID happen. And it DID upset me.

Ah well. To each their own. I loved this movie and am looking forward to the sequels. Hopefully Garfield and Stone continue with them.

Theatre in the Park: "Urinetown"

I'm in Kansas City this weekend! Spending a little quality time with my sis, Kiri, and aunt, uncle and cousins. So far, it's been very low key. Yesterday, after Kiri got off work, we went to Red Lobster for a late lunch. I haven't been to Red Lobster since I was a kid, so probably twenty or so years. For the record, Cheddar biscuits are amazing, and I'm over my aversion to shellfish (I haven't been able to stomach it since I saw "Drop Dead Gorgeous" when I was in high school (Bad shellfish, LOTS of upchucking. Blah). But, I had pasta with lobster and shrimp and lived to eat another day.

After returning to their house for a two-hour nap (It's really hot here, and add that to a carb-heavy lunch. READY for sleep!), we drove down 435 to Shawnee, Kansas to visit my friend, Actress and Singer, Danielle Gibbs, and we saw the show, "Urinetown" at Theatre in the Park.

Yes, that is a giant toilet. Fitting, no?
I wish I'd taken more pictures, and gotten pictures of Danielle and I, but we got there when the show was about to start, so no dice. :-(

For those who aren't aware, here's the basic plot of "Urinetown," which is a musical dramedy.

Urinetown tells the story of Assistant Urinal Custodian Bobby Strong. The show opens with a grim welcome from Officer Lockstock, a policeman, assisted by the street urchin Little Sally. ("Too Much Exposition").[6] According to Lockstock and Little Sally, a twenty-year drought has caused a terrible water shortage, making private toilets unthinkable. All restroom activities are done in public toilets controlled by a megacorporation[7] called "Urine Good Company" (or UGC). To control water consumption, people have to pay to use the amenities. There are harsh laws ensuring that people pay to pee, and if they are broken, the offender is sent to a penal colony called "Urinetown", never to return.

The Cast singing "Too Much Exposition"
 It was a fun show, but definitely NOT an upper. When I was in college, our theater department did it, so I kept comparing it to the show my friends did back in 2007. I might be biased, but I think my school did it better. I loved the location of the theater, though. It was in a park. They've been doing shows here for 34 years. It was a beautiful evening. Being in the grass definitely cooled things down a bit, and at intermission, there were Italian Ices to be had (I had rainbow, which was lemon, lime and blueberry. Danielle and Kiri both had Bomb Pop). Good stuffs.

That is day one of my weekend. Now we're off to go see the "Amazing Spiderman." Excited!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

EdenEden by Keary Taylor
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wanted to like this book. I really REALLY did. It fits the type of book that I'm interested in now, the plot sounded fantastic and interesting, and it started that way. However. It slowly went downhill because of the so-called "love" triangle.

I don't mind love triangles. When they're done well, I think they're fantastic. I find it's usually best in a story like this when the love-triangle takes a backseat. For three-fourths of this book, it is the main storyline. I didn't feel anything for Eve and Avian. I didn't think he was really in love with her until he told her, and even then, I feel like it was only because West came in and stepped over Avian's "territory." I just didn't feel it.

A lot of the story dragged because Eve was teetering back and forth between West and Avian. She was such a tease! If she had any respect for them at all, she wouldn't have led them on as much as she did. While I was wondering what was happening at the forefront of the battle, Eve was pandering between who she loved the most.

What I was most disappointed in was how throw-away Sarah seemed. I don't know why or how, but I feel like her demise should have warranted a better send-off than she got. She was Eve's conscience, basically, but at the same time, she didn't seem to care that Eve was playing with Avian's feelings.

I also thought a lot of the action was coincidental. Running into the doctor that had a hand in what happened to Eve when she was a child? Talking about it, and in he walks? Seriously?

I commend Keary Taylor for attempting to build a strange new world, but I would have loved more description. More backstory. More of anything and less of that love triangle. I think West got the shaft, and he didn't deserve to go down like that. I might read more of Taylor's work in the future, but I don't think I'll ever read this one again.

Written by Rebekah Martin, author of Sugar and Spies

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hollywood Scandals  (A Hollywood Headlines Mystery #1)Hollywood Scandals by Gemma Halliday
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book cracked me up. I mean, seriously, abs-hurting, snorting, pain because I have to be silent while giggling cracked up. I loved Tina Bender and found I could somehow relate to her. I loved her crazy fashion-sense and purple hair. She had attitude, but was also very caring of her elderly aunts, who were pretty funny because they were all out insane. With age comes Daffy, I guess. I pretty much knew who her penpal was throughout the entire book, but that's okay. I love Halliday's descriptions and dialogue and especially Bender's inner-dialogue. Reminds me of my own half the time. A fun book to break from real life.
Written by Rebekah Martin, author of Sugar and Spies

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Undercover in High Heels (A High Heels Mystery, #3)Undercover in High Heels by Gemma Halliday
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love how Hollywood likes to make fun of itself (just watch the Bones episode "The Suit on the Set"). Gemma Halliday knows this, and ran with it to make the LA in her High Heels novel.
"Undercover in High Heels" starts out with Maddie and Dana catching up on their "Desperate Housewives"-esque prime time soap. Setting the scene like that is always a good way to make the characters relatable. Who doeesn't watch TV with their friends.
After the Murder du Dour, Maddie and Dana get it into their heads to solve the mystery by working on the set. Dana does a really good job at convincing Maddie to get involved, even when she shouldn't. Maddie wants to be left alone. She doesn't want to go, but Dana is one persuasive chick. Which Ramirez probably hates. He also hates that Maddie associates with Felix. Ramirez is really protective to the point of obnoxious. I know why Maddie goes along with Dana's schemes. She's trying to get Ramirez to believe that she can take care of herself. Unfortunately, while she usually solves the crime, Ramirez doesn't think of her as an equal. Just a dumb blonde.
I enjoyed this book, but Ramirez is really starting to annoy me and Felix is looking better and better.

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Killer in High Heels (A High Heels Mystery #2)Killer in High Heels by Gemma Halliday
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've never been to Vegas. All I know about Vegas is what I've seen in movies, and I think Gemma Halliday did a great job of setting up this place I've never been.
Maddie Springer just can't seem to stay out of trouble. As soon as she solved the mystery from the last story, she gets a phone call from her estranged father, only to have him hang up before she can get any information. With the help of her friends, Dana and Marco, Maddie heads to Vegas to find the man she hadn't seen since she was a child, but things are not as she remembered, and Hot Cop, Jack Ramirez, on her trail.
Maddie has no problems getting herself into trouble, despite trying to keep out of it once she gets there (Marco and Dana are terrible influences), luckily she has Jack who always manages to bail her out. I did feel that Jack got REALLY condescending and chauvinistic in this installment. Now that he knows Maddy better, he's still acting like she's a little weak woman.
Felix was a fun addition, and I love the banter he shares with Maddie, and it was nice to uncover a bit more of Maddie's past by finding her father.

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Spying in High Heels (A High Heels Mystery, #1)Spying in High Heels by Gemma Halliday
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book when I had recently downloaded the Kindle App for my smartphone, and it was one of the first books I read on it. I haven't read much fiction since I graduated college, but I finished this book in about a day. I couldn't put it down. I thought it was fast-paced, exciting, and hilarious. I loved Maddie's crazy family and friends, and I think I could relate to the craziness, to a point.

As for the mystery, I feel like I SHOULD have realized who the murderer was, but when it all came out, I was thinking "What?!" I got this book for free, and once I finished, I realized I wanted to finish the series. It was enjoyable and I've enjoyed Gemma Halliday's writing.

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Movie Review: Rock of Ages

I had a good time last night. After a long weekend that, ironically, went too fast, I had a lot of fun.

For whatever reason, my best friend, Sam, and I don't get together nearly as often as we'd like. She works two jobs, I work two jobs, she has family commitments, I have family commitments. Etc, etc. She finally cut down her hours at one of her jobs, and doesn't work Sundays anymore. We decided to catch a movie once I got off work.

Now, about Sam. She is a rocker at heart. Might not look like it, but she knows her rock music. And she loves it. She saw Rock of Ages when it came out a few weeks ago and despite what everyone else said about it, she loved it. She was gracious enough to see it again with me, though she said I probably wouldn't like it. Since I'm not that into Rock music.

I like it a bit more than she realizes.

I knew most of the songs, which made it a great movie to sing along to, and the story was pretty good (though as much as I love her, I think Catherine Zeta-Jones' character, who wasn't in the original show, was superfluous, and came about because Hollywood, though they hate her, has an odd obsession with Sarah Palin).

We start with Sherrie (Julianne Hough) riding a Greyhound from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Hollywood to become a big star. Tale as old as time. She starts to sing, the rest of the bus sings with her. When she gets to Hollywood, she is promptly mugged of all of her precious Rock albums were in her suitcase, and she meets Drew (Diego Boneta), who works as a barback at the Bourbon Room, which is owned by Dennis (Alec Baldwin) and run by Lonny (Russell Brand).

What struck me as funny is that during the time the movie takes place, 1987, was Alec Baldwin's heyday, and here he is, playing a tired, frustrated Rock lover who isn't really a ladies man. Tom Cruise, too, before Scientology served him the Kool-Aid (though, around the time he was married to Mimi Rogers, who introduced him to the love of his life), was an up and comer at this time.

Anyway, the club is getting ready for the last concert by the rock band Arsenal, before they break up and their lead, Stacee Jaxx (Cruise) goes solo. Drew gets Sherrie a job as a waitress, and the two fall in love through classic 70's and 80's rock music.

Oh, and Catherine Zeta-Jones? She's the Mayor's wife, who wants to clean up the Strip in Hollywood, and remove the Burbon Room and Rock Music from existence. She gets her little church group to sing "Hit Me with Your Best Shot" when going up against The Bourbon Room. Kids, you want to know what Ironic means in the correct way? That's it, right there.

Now on to what I really wanted to discuss in this review. I made notes of, so here goes.

I hate when I like Tom Cruise in a movie. I really do. The man freaks me out on so many levels, but when he chooses to go full-throttle into something, he does a great job. Usually, his emotional wingspan is the widening of his eyes. Not the case with Rock. He became Stacee Jaxx, a Rock Star so out of it and disenchanted with his life (after reading an interview he did for Rolling Stone) that he didn't even know which direction was up.

Julianne Hough sounds like Britney Spears, and does better group work than solo. I love Julianne Hough as a dancer. She lit up the ballroom as one of the professionals on Dancing With the Stars, and like her brother, Derek (who had a cameo at the strip club Hough's character started working at. Awkward!), has this ability to turn even the most awkward of people into dancers. She doesn't have a bad singing voice, but I think she's more pop/country than Rock and Roll. She sounded best when singing in groups.

At least she didn't butcher "I Love Rock 'n Roll like Britney.

Russell Brand's hair looks like Joan Jett of The Runaways. Remember when Kristen Stewart (Twilight) chopped off her hair in a mullet for the Biopic, The Runaways last year? Hello, Inspiration.

Actually, this isn't much different from his usual hair

The only difference is a hairbrush and some facial hair.
Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand make a better couple than Alec Baldwin and anyone else. It all started with a bromance, I'm sure, but I think both men have better chemistry with each other than any costars and/or wives. It is what it is.

Russell borrowed props and wigs from then-wife, Katy Perry for this picture.

Paul Giamatti is one smarmy SOB when he wants to be, and can flash gold dollar signs in his eyes. If ever there was a man to play the sleazy Record Agent, it's him. Are they all like that? Also, the 80's can keep their leather loafers sans socks. *shudders* Mr. Giamatti wore several in this film.

Mustaches are just Smarmy!

Catherine Zeta-Jones can do no wrong. It's just such a shame that her part was so unnecessary. She wasn't in the musical, but there was a character she could have played named Regina, who was trying to save the Bourbon room from German Developers, and she ended up falling in love with one of them. THAT would have been a fine storyline to develop. As it was, I felt they were trying to hard with the tired Footloose anti-dance/rock and roll thing (Which Julianne Hough has already done). Love me some CZJ, but I just think her talents could have been used elsewhere. Once again, though, at least America's youth can finally learn what "Ironic" means. Use it wisely.

Ironic: When a bunch of Anti-Rock church ladies sing "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" to prove just how Anti-Rock they are.
Not that I would actually do it, but pole dancers DO have talent and muscles most people can't even fathom. Did I mention that Sherrie, after breaking up with Drew (BIG misunderstanding), quits her job and while walking around the rainy streets of LA, gets taken in by Mary J. Blige, who runs a "Gentleman's" (another handy definition of Ironic!) club called the Venus Club. The aerobics that these dancers do is amazing. I'd kill to be able to control my body like that. Personally, I'd never be a stripper, but I have to respect them for what they're able to do.

No Picture. Google tracks you, and I don't want "Pole Dancing" to come up on my ads. I'm sure you understand.

Boy bands are and forever will be stupid. Drew signs a contract thinking he'll be a rocker, but his agent (Paul Giamatti) has other ideas.

NKOTB. Outfits are just as dumb. Music not much better. *shrugs*

I actually adored this movie. I was singing Rock music all the way home, and I need to download the soundtrack and then go through and download the originals. I knew most of the songs, which surprised the heck out of Sam. I'm not a complete Philistine. I believe there is a place for Rock and Roll in Musical History. I might not like all music or know excessively about specific types of music, but I can appreciate it. I will ALWAYS Appreciate Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," though. The Stephens College Anthem, practically, and was played at every Midnight Breakfast.

I was only two when this movie takes place, but a lot of the songs were very familiar to me, and I love that. I think the music can resonate with anyone who lived through it. Great movie.