Posts Tagged ‘Reviews’

The Lone Ranger: A Review

Lone Ranger and Tonto

Who was that masked man?

And what’s with the bird?

Disney’s spin on The Lone Ranger opens tomorrow, and it is a wild, wild ride.

The film follows the transition of John Reid (Armie Hammer) from lawman to outlaw to hero—he’s the title character, you can’t miss him. However, despite the name of the film the real driving force in the story belongs to Reid’s frenemy, Tonto (Johnny Depp), and the dead bird on his head. Reid and Tonto are quickly bonded together by a thirst for vengeance and a flair for theatrics, then they ride all over the screen seeking justice and answers. Hilarity ensues.

The fact that the film is very funny was something of a surprise. Mind you, it isn’t funny in a spoof sort of way, although there are a few jokes at the expense of previous versions of the story, but rather honest laughs based on the situations at hand and the manner in which Reid and Tonto handle them. Also, Silver (best performance by a horse since Animal House).

Tonto and Silver

Even more surprising is the action. Obviously I expected a good amount of it, but it far exceeded my expectations in both quantity and quality. The Lone Ranger is a non-stop thrill ride and I enjoyed every minute.

Mind you, I didn’t think I would.

I had the same misgivings about the casting of Depp, whom I greatly respect, as the rest of the Internet, and I’m pretty sure I would remember someone named Armie Hammer had I heard of him before. I was somewhat apprehensive as I entered the press screening with a bucket of popcorn and lightly salted hopes.

But I have got to admit, it wowed me.

There are sure to be some naysayers that feel the film should have stayed true to the original backstory between Reid and Tonto, or that there are historical inaccuracies regarding railroads, desert hares, and physics, but that doesn’t matter. Their idea of fun is not having any, and who needs naysayers when you have a horse running on the roof of a moving train? That’s summer blockbuster stuff, people.

This is where I would normally put in a spoiler or two, and give you the same basic plot outlines as every other outlet, but I’m not going to waste your time—neither will The Lone Ranger. Go see it.

Parents: I must point out that The Lone Ranger does live up to its PG-13 rating and there is no shortage of death or gun violence. It’s the kind of film that I would let the boys (ages 7 and 10, respectively) watch at home where discussions can be had as needed, but not necessarily in the theater where violence is soaked up, justified, and quickly forgotten.  But that’s just me. I’m that guy.

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Meet My Master Builders

LEGO was kind enough to send us their LEGO Master Builder Academy Level One set, created by actual Master Builders! Master Builders are the people that create all of those awesome LEGO displays you see in LEGO stores, Downtown Disney, LEGOLAND, and so forth and so on.

I could tell you all about the fun we had building the LEGO set, but this video does a better job:

If you have a budding Master Builder then check out the Master Builder Series. It’s good LEGO fun.

Thank you, LEGO!

LEGO sent us the Master Builder Academy set for purpose of this review. Obviously the opinions are our own.

 

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Win The Muppets DVD/Blu-Ray/Soundtrack Combo Pack!

You started the music. You lit the lights. Some of you even dressed up right (I’m not judging). And now you want Muppets. I get it.

You came to the right place.

I’m giving away two (2) copies of The Muppets, the hit movie from Disney, in a fancy combo pack (the Wocka Wocka Value Pack) that has DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital copies, as well as the very awesome (not counting Jefferson Starship) soundtrack. All you have to do is enter (more on that below).

Disney sent me a copy for review, which became the centerpiece of our Friday Family Movie Night. The boys had seen the film, and loved it, so they were very excited to watch the Blu-ray. They really loved the special features (listed below) and we spent a very long time watching all of them.

The combo pack has a number of bonus features (depending on which copy you are using, Blu-ray has the most), including:

• Scratching The Surface: A Hasty Examination Of The Making Of The Muppets — A Surprisingly Shallow But Profoundly Absurd Look At Muppets And Humans Working Together To Make Cinematic History (this played automatically during one of our many paused bathroom breaks, which made the person running to the bathroom mad that they missed something — but I got over it)
• Deleted Scenes
• A Little Screen Test On The Way To The Read-Through
• Explaining Evil: The Full Tex Richman Song (now with backstory!)
• Unreleased Theatrical Spoof Trailers
• Audio Commentary — With Jason Segel, James Bobin, and Nicholas Stoller
• Disney Intermission — Pause The Movie And See What Happens! (see Scratching the Surface, above)
• The Longest Blooper Reel Ever Made (In Muppet History**) **We Think — My boys found this to be especially funny. We actually had to watch it twice.

Some of you may know that I really did meet the Muppets (below, I’m the one on the left), and yes, it was as cool as you think it is.

Here’s how you enter the contest: Leave a comment below stating which Muppet you would most like to meet and why (Note, this contest in no way suggests that such a meeting will ever occur, in fact, it probably won’t. Honea Express, crushing dreams since 2005!). Make sure to provide your email address in the box provided (NOT THE COMMENT BOX). Comments will close on Thursday, March 29, at 11:59 p.m. PST. I will draw two (2) winners at random from the comments left below. I will then email said winners instructing them to claim their prize (and asking for mailing addresses – no P.O. boxes). Winners will have 24 hours to respond to the email or their prize will become forfeit and another winner will be drawn. Open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only. The review combo pack described above and both of the prizes mentioned in this contest are courtesy of Disney, they’re cool like that.

Wocka, wocka!

CLOSED: Congrats to Cody & Erica. The movie is in the mail (or other delivery service)!

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The Brave Little Poster

Blogging hasn’t made me rich, unless you’re one of those saps that thinks friends make you rich, then sure, I’ve made a few bucks. But here’s the thing, friends don’t pay the rent, unless they are really great friends, which I’m sure some of them are. Call me!

What blogging has done, in addition to the many friends I’ve met (especially the great ones), is allow me opportunities that I never would have had with a regular job like a job. For instance, in the past year I’ve drank too much whiskey while talking to Bog Iger in Hawai’i, chatted with Steve Whitmire (Kermit the Frog) while hanging out at Jim Henson Studios (get The Muppets on DVD/Blu-ray tomorrow!), and watched my oldest son get his Jedi on at Skywalker Ranch. All of these experiences (and more!) have been incredible opportunities and I am thankful for them. Sure, they were the result of lots of hard work, and they themselves resulted in even more hard work, but every single one of them has been worth it. And then some.

Which leads me to my next great adventure: Next month I will be Disney’s guest at Pixar Studios in Emeryville, CA, and all will be right with the world. Well, my world anyway. I don’t know what you’re into.

I’m fully aware that you probably hate me a little bit right now, and I can say, with all honesty, I’m okay with that.

The trip includes a tour of Pixar Studios, a screening of Disneynature’s Chimpanzee (in theaters on Earth Day), a sneak peak of Pixar’s Brave and La Luna (the Oscar-nominated short to be shown before Brave), and a day at the wonderful Walt Disney Family Museum, which I just took my son to for his report on Walt Disney because I’m THE. BEST. DAD. EVER. True story.

You still hate me. I can feel it.

Here’s where you, the reader, come in. If you have any questions for Mark Andrews, the director of Brave, or any of the film’s animators, then please leave them in the comments below and I will ask them (unless your question sucks) during the interview process. It’s just like being there! Especially for me.

Hey kids, do you have the Facebook? Then you can “Like” Brave, Pixar, and Disneynature at your leisure. You can also like me. You can really like me. But I totally understand if you don’t.

Disclosure: This trip is on Disney’s very kind dime, but the opinions will be mine (something they know quite well).

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VTech’s InnoTab Learning Tablet is a Touching Gift

We’re a touchscreen family. My wife and I have smartphones, the oldest boy has an iPod Touch, and the youngest has… okay, three out of four isn’t bad. Unless you’re the fourth.

Luckily for our fourth, VTech came to the rescue with their new InnoTab. Now we’re four for four. Touchscreens for all the family!

Q: What’s an InnoTab?

A: The InnoTab Learning App Tablet by VTech is a cutting-edge educational toy that combines the technology of grown-up touchpad devices with the fun learning that kids love.

It’s a multi-media tablet with interactive reading, learning games and creative activities with a 5″ color touch screen and tilt-sensor. That means kids can tap, flick, drag, and curse at their touchpads just like Mom and Dad (not the cursing part, just making sure you’re paying attention). The InnoTab comes with on-board applications such as an MP3 Player, Video Player, Art Studio, Friends List, Calculator, and this thing which tells time.  Additional cartridges with kids’ favorite licensed characters are sold separately and teach essential skills in reading, logic, and creativity. Additional content such as e-books and learning games can easily be uploaded to the InnoTab through VTech’s Learning Lodge Navigator where parents can also see their child’s progress on a variety of educational milestones and lessons.

It includes four different media players: E-Book reader, MP3 music player, photo viewer and video player, 64MB onboard memory and a SD card slot for memory expansion.

Basically, it’s everything a kid needs in a touchpad without all of the worry and hassle of the internet.

The folks at VTech sent my family an InnoTab Learning App Tablet to review, and it immediately fell into the hands of the 5-year-old (it’s for ages 4-9). That’s not to say the 8-year-old doesn’t enjoy it, rather the younger one won’t let him play with it. This has also been a lesson in karma for the older brother.

If you’re looking for a last minute Christmas gift for that awesome kid in your life you can’t go wrong with the InnoTab Learning Tablet. It’s so much better than having them beg to play on your smartphone.

We give it a thumbs up!

Disclosure: As stated above, I received one InnoTab Learning Tablet from VTech for the purpose of this review. The opinions are my own. For more information on my review policy please see the appropriate page from the tabs above.

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