Friday, April 18, 2014

Movie Review: Transcendence

Transcendence movie review Johnny Depp

Transcendence may not make the most sense at times, but it's definitely a wild ride of a movie that people who like sci-fi films should check out. I was able to see it in IMAX, as well, which helped contribute to the larger-than-life feel of the film; especially during the second half when a string of events start to occur.

Will Caster (Johnny Depp) and his wife, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), are scientists who have spent a great deal of time working on AI (Artificial Intelligence). Along with colleague Joseph (Morgan Freeman), they run PINN, which is an AI robot of sorts that can recognize people, faces, and information. There's an anti-AI group who wants to see their research shut down, however, and after a speech one day, Will gets shot by one of these rebels; he's rushed to the hospital, and it seems like he's going to make it, until they find out that the bullet was laced with poison. He has only a few weeks to live, and he and Evelyn decide to "upload his consciousness" so that he may live on after he dies; their friend and colleague Max (Paul Bettany) is vehemently opposed to this, as it's only been successfully attempted a few times, and always with monkeys. The anti-AI group, led by Bree (Kate Mara), is also opposed, and once they figure out what Evelyn is trying to do, they attack Evelyn's compound - only to find that Will's consciousness has already been set free online.

Movie Review: Bears (Disneynature)

Disneynature Bears movie review

I rarely review documentaries, and I think this might actually be the first Disneynature movie I have seen, although next year's Monkey Kingdom looks adorable. My parents love the Disneynature movies, however, so we all went to see Bears this past week at a screening.

The film follows a mama bear and her two cubs, Scout and Amber, during the cubs' first year of the feeding season. Sky, their mother, must find enough food for herself so that her milk won't dry up during the winter - if it does, it could potentially starve Scout and Amber. There are a few threats to the cubs in the wild, too, such as a coyote and a few other larger, male bears (who apparently won't think twice of snacking on some tiny bears for dinner when they're that hungry), and Sky must protect the cubs from these and others.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Movie Review: Heaven Is for Real

Heaven Is for Real movie review 2014

Heaven Is for Real is based off a true story in which a 4-year-old child almost dies and later says he went to Heaven. The subject matter was definitely interesting, and I knew going in that the movie would have religious themes, but later I felt a bit cheated, because the trailer makes the film seem Hollywood-esque, and instead, the movie was no better than a Lifetime made-for-TV movie.

Todd Burpo (Greg Kinnear) is a pastor, a volunteer firefighter, and has his own business. He and his wife, Sonja (Kelly Reilly), are also raising their two children, Colton and Cassie (Connor Corum and Lane Styles), and they lead a busy life together. One weekend, both children get very sick; Cassie is fine within a few days, but Colton continues to suffer high fevers, and Todd and Sonja bring him to the emergency room, where it's found that he has a ruptured appendix. The staff there is able to save him, but it's after the surgery that things start to get interesting.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer reveal + prize pack GIVEAWAY, ends 4/23

*Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising): Many thanks to Propeller, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is in theaters on May 2nd, and I'm definitely looking forward to it - I very much enjoyed the first Spider-Man in 2012. Recently I was able to check out the trailer and also read a family discussion guide about the film.

First, check out the trailer:

The discussion guide I received would be great for families to go over with their children after seeing the movie - questions about life, morals, choices, and destiny. Here's a sampling of some of the questions:

The guide takes some of the core themes in Spider-Man 2 and poses them as questions that could be discussed with your young ones.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Movie Review: Rio 2

Rio 2 movie review

The first Rio came out in 2011 and I gave it a Yes review. I remember really liking the film, but sequels are usually "hit or miss," especially for animated movies. This sequel, however, was just as good as the first film - if not better - and I enjoyed it yet again.

In this installment, the blue macaws (Blu and Jewel, voiced by Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway) head from Rio to the Amazon when they find out that there might be more of their species there - Linda (Leslie Mann), Blu's previous owner, has found a flock. Blu and Jewel gather up their three kids, along with some Rio friends from the first movie, and they travel the 2,000 miles to the Amazon, where they find Jewel's father, Eduardo (Andy Garcia) alive and well; Jewel had thought he and her family had passed away in a fire. Jewel and the kids love the Amazon but Blu, who is more "domesticated," has trouble adjusting, and Eduardo doesn't take a liking to him either, at first.

To complicate matters, the villain from the original movie, Nigel (Jermaine Clement), is stalking Blu and Jewel, because he wants to exact revenge for what Blu did to him. He's accompanied by a poisonous tree frog, Gabi (Kristin Chenoweth), who secretly loves him but knows that they can never be together because of her poison.

Movie Review: Draft Day

Draft Day movie review

Kevin Costner has certainly been busy this year - between Jack Ryan, 3 Days to Kill, and now Draft Day, his face has been all over movie posters lately. This movie started off rather poorly, but then, weirdly enough, became better throughout, so that by the end the story was intriguing. There's a small twist at the end too which was rather genius, so the film does get "points" from me for that.

Sonny Weaver Jr. (Costner) is dealing with the death of his father from the week before, and now is heading into draft day. He's the GM of the Cleveland Browns, and he already had his pick chosen until the Seahawks' GM (Patrick St. Espirit) throws a wrench into his plans: they offer him their #1 choice slot, which would have been Bo Callahan (Josh Pence), in exchange for the Browns' #1 picks for the next three years. Needless to say, Weaver's staff is not happy that he has accepted this, and at the same time Weaver starts digging into Callahan's past, to make sure he's made the right decision. At the same time, Weaver is dealing with the news of his girlfriend's pregnancy (Jennifer Garner), who is also his assistant at the office, and his mother (Ellen Burstyn) randomly showing up with his ex-wife and his father's ashes, since his father - whom he used to work with - wanted to be left on his football field.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Restaurant Review + Giveaway: Blaze Pizza, ends 4/16 (4 pizzas!) #HowDoYouBlaze

The whole group - I am third from the right, in the purple shirt. Via: Metro Detroit Mommy

I had the great pleasure of being able to sample the menu at Blaze Pizza Royal Oak two days ago, thanks to a blogger meet-up that Amber at Metro Detroit Mommy put together. I have had Blaze Pizza before, at the Novi location - Blaze has a tradition of doing a Free Pizza Day every time a new location opens - but had not yet tried out the Royal Oak location.

The first thing you should know about Blaze is that they are very fast. It would indeed be possible to come here on your work lunch break and be in and out within an hour or less. The ovens are crazy hot, and because of this, your pizza is ready after only 180 seconds - yes, three minutes - in the oven.