Before I dive right into this review, let me promise that I will not reveal any spoilers – even though I know Yahoo and Entertainment already let the cat out of the bag (YOU GUYS SUCK). I will assume that anyone who reads this has seen the previous Star Trek movie (if not, feel free to surf away now if you plan to see it and prefer to go in fresh). That said, let’s roll…
Much like Indiana Jones being pursued by natives after having stolen the golden idol, Star Trek Into Darkness opens with Kirk (Chris Pine) and Bones (Carl Urban) running away from a group of indigenous people who are on their tails after having stolen a sacred item of theirs. While this is happening, Spock (Zachary Quinto) is getting himself all hot and bothered inside the nearby volcano that is ready to blow and wipe out the inhabitants unless they do something about it. This scene taps so many plot points for Star Trek in general, I was surprised how much they hit: Prime Directives, moral dilemmas, romance, bromance, dealing with impending doom.
Back in London, a Starfleet officer (played by Noel Clarke, aka Mickey from Doctor Who) and his wife visit a hospital where their daughter is clearly dying. Seizing on their desperation, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) convinces the officer he can save her life. In exchange for a transfusion of Harrison’s blood, the officer must sabotage a Starfleet facility. The officer does so, but sends a message to Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) confessing what he has done just before carrying out Harrison’s plan.
This sets the movie into faster motion and boy does it MOVE. I was never bored or wondering how long the movie was. The movie found a great balance between the heavier, dramatic exchanges and action sequences. Visual effects were stunning, but rarely seemed overdone.
The relationship between Kirk and Spock continued to grow significantly in this film, almost to the detriment of Bones. Unlike the original series, there was little to none of Bones getting on Spock’s case about being an overly-logical Vulcan. To be honest, if the reason for the animosity between them was made known in TOS, I overlooked it (I’m not a TOS expert), but I don’t think that element was missed much in this movie. To be fair, Zachary Quinto was given a lot of room to flex Spock’s human side (rather than play the more stoic Vulcan) and I was in awe of it! More than once, Spock got to kick some MAJOR ass, and more than once his emotions got the better of him. But it still felt very much like “Spock”… Zachary Quinto is amazing.
Spock’s relationship with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) continued through to this movie, which was refreshing. So often, directors will toss out previous romantic attachments as though they had run their course so as to introduce new romances, but I was really pleased that this was not the case here. I found their relationship very sweet and did not feel out of place in the first movie. That’s not to say they didn’t have their bumps in the road, but their disagreements and tension felt real and understandable from both sides.
But the real scene-stealer was Benedict Cumberbatch. I don’t watch Sherlock (although I might have to start), and I knew he was voicing Smaug in the Hobbit films, but to be frank, I thought he was a little odd looking in his photographs. And for pete’s sake who names their child “Benedict Cumberbatch”! Sounds like you’re just setting the poor kid up for getting shoved into lockers and random wedgies. But he totally blew me away watching him on screen. His voice is undeniably sexy, his presence pushes well past the 2D screen, and his expressions are so emotive that you find yourself easily able to sympathize with a mass murderer. Apparently he also does a spot-on Alan Rickman impersonation that I am dying to hear.
Was this a perfect movie? Nope, there was a plot hole here or there, but really, that’s just getting too nitpicky. It was a highly entertaining film, it was incredibly enjoyable to watch these talented actors do their jobs, and I can’t wait to see it again.
I’m not a fan of Tom Cruise. Yes, he certainly got dealt the “good-looking for life” card, and he is a decent actor, but his personal antics tend to leave me rolling my eyes – or worse – creeping me out. So I wasn’t completely on board with watching Oblivion, but Morgan Freeman trumped my distaste of Cruise.
The first five minutes or so was Jack Harper (Cruise) explaining the history. Bad guys came to Earth, we ended up using nukes, bad guys were defeated, but Earth was decimated. Survivors headed to “Tet”, a way-station between Earth and Titan, the Saturn moon where humans re-settled. Jack is teamed with Victoria to help secure the remaining machines that are draining the last of Earth’s resources (water) to be transported to Titan and they are about 2 weeks away from leaving Earth and joining everyone else. The last of the invaders (“Skavs”) tend to put monkey-wrenches in their plans by sabotaging drones that help secure the water-suckers.
His days are spent leaving the security of his home to patch up the drones while Victoria keeps an eye on things from the home office, assisted by mission control from the Tet. While out on patrol or patching up drones, Jack finds remnants of the Earth that was, and has flashbacks to a life he’s not sure he actually lived. In his reality, his mind was erased years before as a “security measure” so if Skavs ever captured him, he could not reveal vital information. Of course, things begin to unravel, and Jack must figure out the truth while there’s still time.
Overall I really liked the environment, the story idea, the acting. I loved the technology they were using (I can absolutely see this coming), the vehicles and clothing styles were different enough without leaving me feeling bludgeoned by “HEY LOOK we’re in the FUTURRRRE!!!” My biggest problem was how the story unfolded on screen. For instance, the initial voice-over setup of the world as it is was repeated again for a character later in the film – I thought skipping the first voice-over and just allowing us to hear it when explained later would have saved us some time. Some reveals meant to evoke shocking surprise from the viewers fell a bit flat, while other reveals that weren’t so obvious could have been treated with a better setup for a more effective jolt. Often I felt like things were just being drawn out unnecessarily, and I thought the 126 minute film could have been tightened up to an hour and fifty minutes without losing the story.
Even something very basic to me seemed off… it was clear that Sally was pushing Jack and Victoria to do their jobs effectively and constantly monitored progress from the Tet. Victoria, feeling the pressure from Sally, was the middleman who sometimes shielded her sometimes-rogue partner’s antics from the boss (coddling his interest in old Earth relics, but never allowing herself to be sucked into it) and often pushed him to stay on task. At one point, Jack tells her he’s going to patrol in an area where the reception is bad and he’ll be radio silent. I expected him to get away with about 10-15 minutes before Victoria or Sally start getting antsy, but where he goes it is clear he’s been there before many times, and he has enough time to take a freakin’ nap without getting much flak for it.
The action scenes sometimes fall flat as well. I never felt much anxiety during them, never felt completely drawn in. Often I drew parallels to other movies. Morgan Freeman was, of course, the effective Morpheus in this story, allowing Jack to unfold the truth at his own pace, but I felt some interactions should have been heavier, weightier where others were too dramatic.
Go the the theater if you enjoy sweeping landscapes, watch it at home if you just like a decent movie on a Saturday night. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer:
When I left my house yesterday to go to an appointment, I had no idea that the hour and a half would present itself with two very fun things.
The first occurred on my way to the appointment. As a traveled down the highway, I looked over and saw a shark.
I don’t often see that kind of thing while driving down the highway, but for the rest of my drive I had the JAWS theme in my head and kept flashing back to the “I’m a SHAAARK!” meme.
The second fun thing was that while I was in the waiting room, I struck up a conversation with a woman named Isabella. Isabella was an absolute character, one of those people that you would love to talk to all day long because within 15 minutes we’d become best friends. Here’s what I learned about Ms. Isabella:
- She’d lost her husband about 8 years ago
- Her husband was in construction, and had worked on the Twin Towers as well as many other famous buildings all over the US
- She had worked as a seamstress for several TV series, specifically Dallas
- Most of the stars were very nice people and she was always happy to help them… Except Victoria Principal, who was a total snoot, so whenever Ms. Principal asked her for alterations, Ms. Isabella put her at the back of the line
- She speaks at least three languages and is of Italian decent
- When she asked what my background was, I mentioned my father being born in France, and my grandmother being from Belgium. She then asked me if I spoke French, I fumbled through my best “Je ne parle Francais” which made us giggle, and made me want to pick up lessons again
- She’s traveled all over the world and when I asked her what her favorite city was, she mentioned several, including Brussels, but seemed to be very infatuated with Paris
- She does not visit spas very often, but we completely agree that DePasquale’s is the best around here
I love these kinds of encounters, it just totally made my day
I just posted my review of the DailyHiit 30 Day Challenge earlier today – what a journey that was! So check it out if you are looking for a great total body fitness program that you can get done in 15-30 minutes a day.
One of the pieces of equipment they use frequently is the Ugi Ball. It is a weighted, squishy ball that you can use like a sandbag, or to balance on when doing exercises. It has enough firmness to offer support, but is unsteady enough to make you use muscles to keep your balance better. They are really nice looking, and generally the reviews are extremely positive, but for the price, I just couldn’t bring myself to purchase one (of course if anyone wants to send me one to review, just send me a message ).
So I poked around the intarwebs a bit and discovered this gentleman’s homemade version, which is dubbed the Ugly Ball. Having been around a sewing machine enough that I didn’t feel too intimidated, I printed out his pattern and set out to find material.
My local craft stores did not offer what I needed, but having a business that sells massage therapy equipment means I have contacts with manufacturers, and one of my representatives was kind enough to find some material they use to upholster massage tables and chairs with. It’s perfect for this project, because I know it is soft but very durable. I picked up some foam, some quilting batting, matching color thread and a 14″ zipper and set to work.
It took about 30 minutes to cut the pattern out so I ended up with 12 individual pieces, and an additional 2 hours or so to do the sewing. My version is rather lumpy, I stuffed it with old t-shirts as well to help fill it in a little more. I weighed it, it comes to just under 5 pounds, and it’s easy enough to shove a bag of bolts from the hardware store in the middle if I need to add a little more to the weight later on. Here’s the finished product:
Can’t wait to be able to use it!
In the past few months I have made small changes to my overall diet and exercise routines. I’m trying to eat more simply – less processed foods, more fresh stuff, and have been trying out HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts to see what kind of results I get.
I discovered the BodyRock/DailyHiit people, who have HUNDREDS of videos up on YouTube (their channel is here). They began a 30 Day Challenge back in January, but I wasn’t able to start it at the time. I was glad I waited, because someone created a 30 day calendar with all the names of the videos in order, so I printed it out and have been working from that (CLICK HERE for the calendar PDF) – I am happy to credit whomever made it, but when I tried to find where I got it, I just couldn’t locate it again. While the DailyHiit website is chock full of information, the organization is still lacking in some areas (Facebook comments are ripe with “where do I start!?!” and “how do I find XYZ?!?”).
Not sure if HIIT is right for you? I know I was a little nervous about something that was “high intensity”, but I found that there are a lot of modifications that can be done to stay at your level and you can work up to the harder stuff as you gain strength and muscle. Besides, just look at LisaMarie, one of the hosts of the videos… she’s lean and strong, and they love to post pictures from people who have transformed themselves. Plenty of people that look like me have gotten a lot out of it, so why not try it out!
I figured if anyone wants the challenge in order, you can also come back here to go day by day. Since this will be a very long post, I will break it up into pages so it doesn’t crit you with a wall of text. Also, I noted what pieces of equipment they used each day. The majority of exercises can be modified to not using equipment, although there are some that you will just need to substitute another exercise in. By the end of the challenge, I already had or purchased a yoga mat, a sandbag, and a set of Equalizers. They also use a set of these PowerBlock SportBlock hand weights, a weighted jump rope, and I noticed that they also use these grip pads. You can read my review of the Equalizers from the link. I did not purchase the same sandbag they use, and the only real difference is that the one I have does not have a center handle for doing evenly-weighted swinging. Aside from that I love the sandbag, I think it’s my favorite piece of gear. I love the design of the hand weights they use, but at $160 for the set, I am going to have to make do with something else for now. I never got the jump rope, I simply do not have the space in the room I exercise in to use one without taking out light fixtures. I will likely pick up a pair of the grip pads, however, I have found times when those would come in handy for sure. Now on to the 30 day review…
I’ve been deeply entrenched in a 30 day fitness challenge put together by the DailyHiit folks, and they have several pieces of equipment that they use regularly in their videos. One they use for a lot of their exercises is a set of the Lebert Equalizers, simply two metal stands that can be used in many configurations to help aid your workout.
They aren’t cheap, I did find mine through Power Systems and while deciding whether or not to take the plunge on actually purchasing them I saw advertisements encouraging me to return and complete my order with a free shipping code. I did see that some people had been able to manufacture their own, but ultimately I wasn’t confident I could do that myself so I bought them.
First, the pros: the Equalizers are definitely helpful in doing exercises you may not otherwise be able to do. There are plenty of items around the house you might be able to modify or use to do similar exercises, but I found there were a few I just could not do without them. Many people use chairs or coffee tables to take the place of an Equalizer and get just as effective of a workout. With my limited space, and household items, I just couldn’t do much substitution so that’s why I decided to go forward with them. They have a smaller footprint and can be stored fairly easily without being too in the way. They weigh about 8 pounds each so they can double as extra weights for some exercises. They also feel very solid – I do not feel like there is a weakness to them, even at the places where the bases screw into the top frame. They are cool looking enough that my daughter gravitated toward them and wanted to do all the exercises on their poster. In addition to the poster of exercises, they also give you a DVD full of Beginner and Intermediate exercises you can do with them.
Now the cons: Upon opening the box they arrived in I was hit with an overpowering chemical smell. I have smelled this before (particularly with sporting equipment, go figure), it’s a pungent odor that my nose equates with burnt rubber. I hoped that being out of the box and bubble wrapping would allow it to “de-gas”, but my husband walked into the room I exercise in about 24 hours after I got them and immediately asked who was smoking cigarettes in there! We are a smoke-free household, and when I entered I could still smell the original odor. I currently have an Airwick plug in wide open to try and mask the smell. There are two other complaints I have with the Equalizers, one is that the end-caps on the feet are plastic, NOT rubber as I would expect. With hardwood floors, these can slide easily and I must try and position them on my yoga mat for safety. Doing this sometimes forces me to modify exercises or take longer than normal to move from one exercise to another, which I find a but irritating and throws off my rhythm. The last complaint I have is that Equalizers are a One Size Fits All product, when clearly, they need to make them adjustable or make other sizes for people of different heights. I think this is perfect for someone around 5’7″. I am 5’11″ and when standing next to it, my fingernails JUST brush the hand grip. I think for someone of my height, it needs to be at least 3″ taller.
I am not unhappy I purchased them, but nor can I give them a top score. I am hoping the smell will eventually dissipate, and will just have to get used to crouching down further to adjust for the height. Not sure what I will do about the caps, perhaps try and wrap them in something to help give them some stick, or only use them up against the wall so they don’t slide.
(Photos from Lebert Fitness)
I have purchased many a water bottle in my lifetime with the best of intentions. It’s obvious that the waste produced by bottled water you can purchase in the store is overwhelming, and I’ve tried to do my part to cut down on it, but sometimes the water from my tap is not the best tasting.
First, the packaging it comes in is simple and recyclable, so they are minimizing waste already, but the bottle itself is really… cool! Each bottle comes with a cork stopper and a charcoal stick. Rinse the stick to remove loose charcoal dust and pop it in the bottle. To secure it, simply squeeze the bottle and allow the stick to roll so it “wedges” into this little notch in the lower part of the bottle. Fill it with water at night, leave it in the fridge overnight, and in the morning you will have clean, crisp, cold water ready to go! A small metal loop swings over the cork top, so you can grab it and go without worrying about spills.
The charcoal is rechargable as well. About every three months of everyday use, pop it out of the bottle and place it in boiling water for 10 minutes. Allow it to dry, and it’s ready for use again. I have not used it every day, but I have had it long enough to recharge it once. After two recharges, they recommend replacing the charcoal with a new one, but feel free to recycle the old one rather than throwing it out – break it up and sprinkle in houseplants for extra nutrients, or in the cat box to help neutralize odors.
The taste is great, too. I definitely taste the difference from tap water, and consider this… Let’s say you purchase a pack of 24 bottled waters at the store for about $4.00 (I’ve seen them cheaper AND more expensive, but that’s about average). That means each 20 ounce bottle is $.17. That’s not too bad, but you are also left with 24 bottles to recycle as well as the carton and plastic they were wrapped in. An Eau Good water bottle with the first carbon is about $20 and lasts at least 6 months with daily use, which means $.11 a bottle (which is 27 ounces). After that, you will want to purchase a replacement charcoal. Through the Black + Blum website, you can get the replacement charcoal for $13 (product plus shipping) – personally I hope they switch to USPS shipping for the states because they could ship it for less than $3 as opposed to $8 through UPS, which would make the price a LOT more attractive. But even at $13, that means every bottle drops in cost to $.07.
So, not only are you cutting waste, you are saving money! Over a full year, you are cutting your bottled water costs in half. How could you not like it?
Oh, and do you have multiple people in your household? NO PROBLEM. They have different colored tabs so you can assign each member their own color. Drink more than 27 ounces of water in a day? Get more Eau Goods and rotate through them, you are still saving money and cutting down on waste. Really, there is no reason not to own these!
I usually go for blockbusters if I am going to see something in the theater. Let’s face it, going to the movies is expensive. I usually go for the sure thing, something I am certain will entertain me.
Warm Bodies is Romeo & Juliet of the zombie world. So much so, that characters were created and named based off of Shakespeare’s play.
R (“Romeo”, Nicholas Hoult) is a very slacker zombie who can barely form a single word, but has an extensive internal dialogue. He’s extremely self-aware, feels guilt and sadness, and clings to what he imagines his “alive” life was probably like. He has an affection for music on vinyl, collects memorabilia, and tries desperately to be smooth in front of girls. He even has a friend, M (“Mercutio”, Rob Corddry) he often exchanges moans and grunts with. When he meets Julie (“Juliet”, Teresa Palmer), there is an obvious shift in his world. Rather than wanting to eat her brain, he has the unusual urge to save and protect her. Julie is terrified and confused by this turn of events, but by the time she is able to return to the area where unaffected humans are (and her friend Nora, “Juliet’s ‘Nurse’, Analeigh Tipton), she finds she has grown fond of R.
The rules in this zombie apocalypse universe are slightly different than previous versions, but are still close enough to take the leap and be entertained. This is not a heavy, dark movie, despite the theme, but rather a comedic story of hopeful redemption and love. I found a few weak points in the film, and sadly John Malkovich was one of them. His part was cliche and rather dull for an actor of his caliber. But overall the movie was entertaining and worthy of at least a couple of more viewings.
Anyone else get a chance to see it yet?
I’m far behind in my upkeep with the blog, so many things I want to do but I am finding less and less time to do it in. When I write these posts, I do try to put in a lot of effort to make them entertaining AND informative (rather than just entertaining because I can’t form a coherent sentence), and will sometimes spend HOURS putting a post together. I’m not finding those blocks readily available, and starting one and going back to it really breaks up my trains of thought.
I have a review of the Eau Good Water Bottle from Black + Blum (spoiler alert: I freakin’ love this thing and am using it right now), movie reviews of Warm Bodies and Video Game High School, a review of the BodyRock/DailyHiit 30 day challenge (although I will need to complete it to give the best review of it, link goes to a fan’s site where they put everything in order better than on dailyhiit.com).
Oh dear, it’s already nearly noon, which means I am already behind schedule for the day. Keep an eye out for the reviews, I will get them up as soon as I can!
I can’t recall the last time I watched a non-mainstream movie. It’s not that I dislike them, I just don’t tend to watch a lot of movies in general, so when I do I tend to lean towards the blockbusters.
But we were there on Saturday night, having a few drinks, and decided to scroll through Amazon’s selection when we happened upon this trailer:
Something about just said “WATCH THIS!”
Darius: I have no funk. I’m totally funkless.
Darius (Aubrey Plaza) is an intern at a magazine who volunteers to help staff writer Jeff (Jake Johnson) investigate a bizarre classified ad looking for a partner to time travel with. Something about the ad breaks through her generally cloudy demeanor and off she road trips with Jeff and fellow intern Arnau (Karan Soni). They quickly discover that the classified ad writer is a 35-ish grocery store worker named Kenneth (Mark Duplass), and Jeff clumsily tries to buddy up to him. Kenneth pegs Jeff for the tool he is, so Jeff sends Darius in, hoping she’ll have better luck.
Jeff: There’s something off about this guy, okay? So you gotta go slow, like you’re trapping a skiddish animal. You lure him. Play coy. Girls know how to do that shit.
Darius: You’re dangling my vagina out there like bait. What if this guy’s a murderer? What if he cuts me up to little pieces and eats me?
Jeff: Then the story is even better.
She’s got enough mystery to intrigue Kenneth, and he begins slowly involving her in the time travel event he’s planning. Unexpected truths, heartfelt discussions, witty dialogue and great chemistry pull this group of actors together in this low budget film billed as a romantic comedy. I don’t see this as anything like a standard RomCom, however. Yes, there’s romantic parts, and yes there’s comedy, but both are understated. I found myself drawn in to the story and the question as to whether Kenneth was insane or not.
Darius: [referring to Kenneth] What makes you think there’s something wrong with him?
Jeff: Because he thinks he can go back in time.
Darius: Was there something wrong with Einstein or David Bowie?
The side stories with Jeff and Arnau were more predictable and I wanted the film to return to Darius and Kenneth, but overall I found the film to contain enough surprises to feel like I hadn’t seen this before. All too often, even if I like a movie, I am left thinking how it borrowed from this or that other movie, and Safety Not Guaranteed kept me guessing about Kenneth’s mental state up until almost the last moments of the film, which was really refreshing.
It’s not a perfect movie, and there were some questions I was left with, but in the end I highly recommend this quirky flick!
Four and a half lasers!