Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

What can I say about Star Wars: The Last Jedi without spoiling it for anyone? Let’s see, well for one it’s Star Wars. Second it’s the second movie of a trilogy, so don’t expect loose ends to be tied up just yet. Third, Porgs are Porgs and that is enough. Lastly, for those of you questioning if you should take your young children, the answer is yes. If you’re children have seen any Star Wars movies, especially Revenge of the Sith and Empire Strikes Back, then they will be perfectly fine watching The Last Jedi. J saw it with me last night, and he was in cosplay!

Now if you haven’t seen The Last Jedi, the next few paragraphs may tip toe the line of spoilers, so you may want to click that “_” in the corner and hide this until you’ve seen the movie.

Are you there? Hello?

Here we go. So The Last Jedi starts off strong. We see that Leia is leading a diminished resistance due to loses that took place in The Force Awakens. The First Order is doing what they can to finish off the resistance once and for all.

We see a different relationship between Kylo and Snoke, that is very similar to that of Sidious and Dooku. As the movie goes on, we see that conflict growing between light and dark inside of Ren, because of the disconnect between Master and apprentice.

We see Rey trying to convince Luke to train her but to no avail, much like when Luke sought out Yoda in Empire. The difference here is the reasoning behind not wanting to train Rey. It’s not that Luke doesn’t think she’s ready to take down the first order, he’s afraid to train her because of what happened with his nephew, Ben Solo.

There is so much to unpack from The Last Jedi for me to really go any further without major spoilers, so all I will say is that J and I loved The Last Jedi. When I asked J what he thought, he said, “it’s funny, sad, amazing, and cool,” and that he can’t wait to watch it again. Of course the film is not perfect and as a fan I wanted to see somethings happen differently, but overall it was great. I will definitely be seeing The Last Jedi multiple times. This is a film that I would recommend multiple viewings of, not because I want Star Wars to make so much money that they never stop making movie, but I feel like you can’t grasp everything in one viewing.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence. It was written and directed by Rian Johnson and has a 152 minute run time.

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Coco

From the opening Disney title screen to the end, Disney/Pixar’s Coco had me running the gauntlet of emotions. The movie opened with a mariachi rendition of the Disney classic “When You Wish Upon a Star” and I was immediately hooked, and the movie held J and I all the way through the message telling people to learn more about Dia de Los Muertos.

Coco follows Miguel Rivera (voiced by the talented Anthony Gonzales) as he embarks on a journey to become a famous musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. The catch to this tale is that Miguel’s family of shoe makers are not very fond of music or musicians. Miguel’s family wants him to continue the family legacy as a shoe maker, and his abuela tells him that his family will show him how when they visit from the land of the dead on Dia de los Muertos. How will Miguel live his dreams? I guess you’ll have to get your tickets and find out.

Coco is a beautiful film directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina that Disney/Pixar fans of all ages will love. The design of the land of the dead is beautiful and the music (composed by Michael Giacchino) was excellent. The casting department did such an amazing job with this cast. With Benjamin Bratt, Gael García Bernal, Edward James Olmos, Cheech Marin, Jaime Camil, Renee Victor, Alanna Ubach, John Ratzenberger (it is a Pixar), and more, this almost fully Latino cast brought the metaphorical house down. That being said my favorite voice actor had to be Ana Ofelia Murguía. The way she voiced her character brought a lot of emotions up in me. Mainly because she reminded me of my abuela who suffered from Alzheimer’s.

The story is fantastic, and is one that people of all ages will love. Coco felt like home. There were so many comparisons I was making between the film and my own life. Many of the characters in Coco that reminded me of my own family, especially Miguel’s chancla throwing abuela. The family shoe business reminded me of my grandma’s breakfast burrito/tamale delivery business. Seeing Miguel’s abuela’s tamales reminded me of all the hours that my brothers and I spent tying little strands of husk around tamales that would be devoured in seconds. Hearing Miguel’s abuela say, “you’ll feel better after you eat,” brought back even more memories.

Even though Coco has heavy themes surrounding family, I feel that the biggest theme is about remembering. With the track “Remember Me” being everyone in the town’s favorite song and with the movie focusing so much on the land of the dead, it’s hard not to notice it. It can feel like the theme is being hammered into your brain, but I feel like this is a theme that needs to do that every now and then.

Do not forget that this is a Pixar film, and that usually means you will need a Costco size box of tissues to make it all the way through Coco. There are so many happy and sad moments in Coco that I can’t really explain without spoiling the film, so I’ll just say that you need to be prepared to cry.

While there is Spanish dropped here and there, you don’t need to know the language to fully enjoy Coco as context will help you understand. I loved that the writers sprinkled Spanish in the script. I felt like it made some of the scenes pop more than if they just used the English equivalent. While the movie is based around traditions of Dia de los Muertos, Coco is not an educational film. It is meant to get people who may not know the customs interested, hence the disclaimer at the end of the credits.

My one negative comment actually has nothing to do with Coco, but with the Olaf short film in front of Coco. It was way too long and it seemed like Disney put it in front of Coco to get the white audience interested in seeing Coco. Just don’t leave after the Olaf feature. Stay for Coco. I promise that you will enjoy it.

Coco is Rated PG for thematic elements. Coco was written by Matthew Aldrich and Adrian Molina, and was directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina.

Disney on Ice: Dream Big

This is a sponsored post. I was provided tickets by The Summit Group in exchange for my thoughts on the show. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Unlock your imagination and enter a world of magic and wonder as Disney on Ice presents their latest show, Dream Big. Be whisked away on a journey through some adaptations of your favorite Disney movies like, Aladdin, Snow White, Cinderella, The Princess and the Frog, Frozen, and more. Disney on Ice brings the magic of Disneyland and Disney World to a town near you with it’s amazingly fantastic show.

Disney on Ice “Dream Big” has everything you and your kids could want in a Disney style production. With audio tracks straight from the movies and some of the most magical skating you will see this year, Disney on Ice “Dream Big” will have you and your children at the edge of your seats. Release your inner child and join your children in singing along to some of your favorite songs like “One Jump”, “Part of Your World”, “Let it Go”, “Summer”, and more.

Overall, we loved the show. J got all dressed up in his best Aladdin costume, we sang all our favorite songs and got some souvenirs to take home. The performers were outstanding, I couldn’t believe some of the stunts they were able to pull off. This is a show we would definitely recommend to children of all ages. The show is just about an hour and a half in length with a 15 minute intermission about an hour into the performance, so plan your bathroom and snack breaks accordingly. There are some points of complete darkness and some pyrotechnics that might give frighten some younger children, but over all this show is really an all ages show, so pick up your tickets today!

Disney on Ice “Dream Big” will be at the Vivint SmartHome Arena until November 19, 2017 with a 7pm show on the 17th, 3 shows on the 18th (11am, 3pm, 7pm), and 2 shows on the 19th (1pm, 5pm). Ticket prices range from $15 – $50 and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com.

“Spoiler-Free” Justice League Review

DC fans rejoice, the team up movie we’ve been waiting for has finally come. Well, rejoice might be a strong word. It’s no secret that I am not s Zac Snyder fan. I think his movies have an interesting look, but the editing is always choppy and the movies tend to be longer than they need to be. While Justice League suffers from some of the same choppiness as Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, one of things the movie doesn’t suffer from is its length. At just under 2 hours, Justice League is a movie you can sit through without worrying about having to take a few bathroom breaks throughout. Justice League has some pacing issues, but I felt that the story was more solid than anything Snyder did with Man of Steel or Batman v Superman.

The cast was great. I was worried that the studio would make Flash a darker character in order to fit him more into this cinematic universe that DC and Warner Bros have created. Luckily, they chose to have a closer to comic version of Barry Allen. Ezra Miller did a fantastic job as the scarlet speedster. Batfleck did a great job and still holds his spot close to the top of my favorite Batman portrayals. Ray Fisher was a good choice for the cinematic version of Cyborg, I was hoping for more of a Khary Payton “Teen Titans” Cyborg, but that would not have fit this universe. Gal Gadot did a fantastic job reprising her role as Wonder Woman, although I wish Patty Jenkins would have directed Gal Gadot’s scenes. Then there was Aquaman. What can I say about Jason Momoa’s Aquaman? It was a fresh take on the King of Atlantis, and I loved it! Because of Momoa’s performance, I have a new found respect for Aquaman.

I think all that I can say without getting into spoiler territory is that Justice League is a good movie that people should see in theaters at least one time. If you were a fan of Snyder’s previous DC films, you will love Justice League. For everyone else, I think that Justice League is enjoyable. If you are thinking about taking your kids, just know that there are scenes that might scare the young ones. There are also long scenes that might bore younger children. If your kids were able to sit through Man of Steel or Batman v Superman, they should be able to sit through and enjoy Justice League.

Keep your eyes peeled, there are quite a few easter eggs that will make all the DC fans smile from ear to ear. Be prepared to sit through the credits because you get a mid credit and an end credit scene that you do not want to miss. Because of the choppiness of film, I would say Justice League sits at a “B-” from me. There were scenes that I personally thought could have been shorter and some that even seemed unnecessary.

Let me know what you think about Justice League. Comment here or on any of our social media pages.

Justice League is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action.

Character, Not Race

I don’t speak for all Latinos, nor do I speak for the entirety of PoC worldwide. This is a statement that I think needs to be understood when getting into “Facebook debates” surrounding cultural appropriation and Halloween, and this is a statement that I am making before I get into the meat of this post.

It is a debate that happens every year and getting tagged in these debates because I am “the brown friend” is getting old. The most recent debate started over an article titled “Why You Shouldn’t Dress Your Kids Up As Moana This Halloween” and it’s blown up my newsfeed. I felt like instead of addressing each and every post that people shared, I would write up a small response to everyone on my own personal thoughts.

First and foremost, I want to say that I think it’s fine if kids want to wear costumes of characters whom they don’t share the same skin tone. I think seeing kids of color as predominantly white characters is adorable and white kids dressing up as Moana and Tiana are just as adorable. Sorry, the people in the PoC community don’t have a lot of mainstream characters that people want to dress up as in Pop Culture. My biggest problem is when parents try to darken or lighten their children’s skin in order to make the costume “look better”. Changing your skin tone is never ok and will never be okay. Black face, brown face, yellow face, etc have been used to demean and disrespect other cultures for years and those wounds have not healed, so don’t do it.

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© Ohio State University

It’s not just painting skin that can be problematic, but doing anything that can be seen as highlighting race over character. There recently was a debacle down at Brigham Young University when their comedy troupe “Divine Comedy” decided to do a Moana parody. The parody itself was meant to take an outdated problematic LDS “classic Johnny Lingo and mash it with Moana and apparently it was supposed to be funny. When they released the poster for the event however, the characters were white actors in what could be deemed as brown face. The actor portraying Maui was a white male wearing a brown long sleeve shirt with Maui-esque tattoos, and the worst wig known to costuming. It’s important to note that things like hairstyle, clothing, or even symbolic tattoos can be seen as mockery towards another’s culture.

©2017 Brigham Young University

If you’re reading this and you are thinking to yourself, “I want to honor those other cultures by having my children dress as those amazing characters.” Great! Fantastic! Wonderful! Honor them. Help your children learn more about the cultures they are wanting to honor. Sit them down and read the history of Maui and why the Moana story can be so important to the Polynesian community. The same goes for trying to portray characters of any culture. It’s not on people in these communities to teach people outside of their culture why something is offensive, it is on the people to educate themselves.

Now that we’ve touched on the costume issue, let’s move on to the subject I get tagged in most frequently. Sugar Skulls and Dia de los Muertos are two of the biggest subjects I get asked about around this time of year. We’ve never done a big celebration for that holiday, but growing up my grandparents would tell us why it was important to them and it’s something that we are going to start celebrating from here on out. I’ve never had a problem with sugar skulls for Halloween, but I know quite a few people who do, so because I am still learning about this Celebration, I defer to those more in the know.

©2017 Disney/Pixar

The point I am trying to make is that if you are going to dress as characters from other cultures, or send your kids dressed as those characters, to do it with respect and understanding. Also, realize that your choice will be seen as problematic in the eyes of some, and those people have every right to be upset, so don’t just brush it off as “it’s Halloween, relax!!” Be willing to ask questions and learn, and to those who are going to be upset, be willing to teach those with legitimate questions.

DIY Green Brick Ninja Boxtume

***Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. We have teamed up with Amazon and we are being compensated by the Mom It Forward Influencer Network and for our participation in this campaign.***

When you do a lot of shopping on Amazon.com, you sometimes have a plethora of unused cardboard boxes in the house. You could easily just throw them in the recycling, never to be seen again, or you can get some scissors, hot glue, and paint, and you can throw together a Halloween Boxtume for your kiddos. In this post, I will show you how we made our Boxtume, the Green Brick Ninja.

Amazon Prime Smile Boxes

What you will need:

Creating the Helmet:

Step #1: Measure the circumference of your child’s head from the middle of their forehead wrapping around the the middle of the back of their head.

Step#2: Measure from the center of the forehead to the center of the back of the head.

Step #3: Cut 1 inch tall strips to the length of the two measurements.

Step #4: Glue pieces together.

Step #5: Cut out triangular shapes and glue to the two strips to create the dome shape of the helmet.

Cardboard Helmet

Step #6: Measure the back of your child’s head from temple to temple.

Step#7: Cut out a 2-inch tall piece to the length measured.

Step #8: Glue to the dome

Finished Helmet

Step #9: Measure a piece an inch longer than the circumference of the dome. Start with 1 inch tall and round it up to 3 inches in the center to mimic a headband look.

Cardboard Headband

Step #10: Repeat step 9, but make the center a little wider to create the mask.

Cardboard Mask

The finished head piece should look like this. Hold off painting and gluing until the very end, just in case you need to make adjustments.

Head piece

Building the Bottom Half:

Step #1: Using your child’s shoe to measure the feet, trace width and length giving about ½-inch space on the front, back, and top of cardboard to make sure your child can slide their feet into the cardboard.

Step #2: Cut out the pieces you just traced.

Step #3: Glue pieces together to make the feet.

Step #4: Measure your child’s leg from the top of the foot to their knee.

Step #5: Draw and cut out leg pieces

Step #6: Glue leg pieces to the feet.

Step #7: Measure your child’s waist and from their belly button to the small of their back.

Step #8: Cut out two 2-inch tall pieces to the measurements you just took.

Step #9: Glue the two pieces together

The bottom portion of the boxtume should look like this. Again, hold off on painting until the end, just in case you need to make adjustments.

Bottom Half

 

Building the Upper Body:

Step #1: Measure your child’s upper body from the shoulders to their belly button.

Step #2: Find a box that will fit those measurements, or one that you can cut down a bit.

Step #3: Cut the smaller flaps that connect the box, leaving about an inch of flap on both sides.

Step #4: Draw circles big enough for your child’s arms and head to fit through

Upper Body

Step #5: Glue the long flaps to the remaining inch of the smaller flaps.

Step #6: Once the glue has dried, cut out the arms and head circles.

At this point, you are ready for paint. your boxtume should be looking like this.

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Painting:

When painting this boxtume, the only things that should not be painted black are the mask and the headband. You will need about two coats of black paint and should be fine with one coat of the green. Follow the instructions on the spray paint to ensure the best paint job possible. I would also recommend using a primer, just in case.

Once the paint has dried, you are ready to glue the headband and mask onto the dome. Put a line of glue around the bottom of the dome about 1/2 inch at a time. Do the same for the mask to ensure the best stick with the glue. Your Green Brick Ninja boxtume should now look like this.

IMG_9546

Now that the boxtume is all painted, you are ready for the detailed paint. Grab your paint brush and get ready to have some fun! For some strange reason I chose to do a lot of the detailed work freehand. You can do this as well, or you can draw it out with a pen before painting.  

Once the paint has dried, you can take a black Sharpie to add a little more detail to the boxtume.

Detail Work

Unless you need to make some alterations (like I had to) your Green Box Ninja Boxtume should be finished!

Finished Boxtume

Remember when I posted about making sure that you don’t paint until everything is measured. Well here is the point of the post where I tell you that I did not do. After doing all the detail painting, we noticed that the thigh pieces were a lot lower than I originally thought. So we had to do some slight modifications to the boxtume to help its look.

We took the X-acto knife and cut around the bottom of the thigh to separate the knee and the foot. I then gave a two finger space from the back of the cardboard to the back of the leg, creating a “new” back of the leg. This helps the thigh piece stay in place as your child is walking around in the boxtume. For more support, you can cut holes in the thigh piece and thread some elastic through or you can tie the thigh piece to your child. Here’s an example of what this should look like.  

Altered Knee Piece

Throw on a green undershirt, some gloves, and some black pants to complete this boxtume.

Child in Boxtume

When your child is done wearing their Green Brick Ninja boxtume, use the body of the boxtume for quick and easy storage!

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Now that you have seen how easy it can be to make a boxtume with boxes from Amazon.com, go and get your boxes and start building. Make sure you use #Boxtumes and #AmazonPrime so everyone can see the amazing work that you and your family can do.

 

Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes Recap

***This is post is sponsored by Feld Entertainment and The Summit Group. We were provided tickets for the show in exchange for our thoughts about the show. All thoughts in this post are our own.***

Two of the biggest teams in the Marvel Universe join forces to take down Loki and his band of villains as they are on the hunt for the mystical Wand of Watoomb. The hunt starts aboard Yondu’s ship, the Eclector, as he and his team of Ravagers have recently recovered the wand for The Collector. Nebula is sent by Loki to retrieve the wand from Yondu with an army of Chitauri soldiers by her side.  A fight ensues and just as Nebula is about to retrieve the wand, Star-Lord drops in along with the other Guardians of the Galaxy to retrieve the wand and take it back to the Nova Corp. After a lengthy battle, Nebula grabs the wand and vanishes from the battle. The Guardians must now travel to Knowhere to use another mystical artifact to find Nebula and the wand.

Cut to New York, the Green Goblin has conducted one of his biggest heists along side Black Cat, Rhino, Electro, and Lizard. It’s up to Spider-Man to battle this team of villains with his Spidey wit and skills. While in the midst of battle, Green Goblin shoots some explosive pumpkins toward Spider-Man but they are not normal explosive pumpkins. These pumpkins contain a poisonous nerve gas that overpowers the web slinger. Just before Green Goblin takes down his arch-nemesis, Captain America, Black Widow, Wasp, Black Panther, Iron Man and Thor come to Spidey’s aid. The villains are no match for the likes of the Avengers and the battle is easily won by our heroes. After the battle, Doctor Strange appears and asks for the help of the Avengers in recovering the Wand of Watoomb. With the help of Bruce Banner, they calculate where Nebula will appear next. The Avengers split into two teams and head off to K’un-Lun and to the Savage Land. Will the heroes be able to track down Nebula and stop Loki from achieving his master plan of Universal domination? You have to see the show to find out.

Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes is a spectacle not to be missed. If you are a fan of the comics, movies, and cartoons, you will enjoy this all-new original story that brings together some of our favorite Marvel heroes and villains. While the show is action packed with explosions, fighting, and motor cycle stunts, it is also beautiful in that it integrates aerial silk dancing, fire spinning, and more. Be on the lookout while the Guardians are in The Collector’s museum. You might see some familiar faces in the collection. The performs play to a soundtrack and the voices of the characters are voices of the actors from the Disney XD Marvel cartoons. J (6) absolutely loved the show and wishes we could see every performance that is happening in SLC. My wife and I (both in our 30s) also loved the show. There was cheering from all age groups in the audience. Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes truly has something that everyone will enjoy.

We had the opportunity to talk to some of the people behind the scenes of Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes and those interviews will be up on the Geek Parenting Podcast very soon. Tickets for Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes start at $20 and go up to $75, the SLC leg of the show goes from now until October 1, so click here to get your tickets today, and join the world of wonder and magic that only the Marvel Universe can bring.

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Avengers Assemble, Guardians Come Together!