40 Things I Love About Star Wars

In honor of the major milestone on May 25, 2017 of the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope, I decided this week to run down a list of 40 things I love about the Star Wars franchise.

Note: these are in a random order pretty much off the top of my head as they occurred to me aside from the final number one choice!

 

  1. Kylo Ren’s temper tantrums – EPIC, but duck!

 

  1. Darth Maul – such a bold colorful character created randomly in the middle of the prequel chaos. He was the Boba Fett of the prequel trilogy and I still wish we had seen him more in films.

 

  1. Poe Dameron / Cassian Andor – I would like to take this time to personally thank the casting directors for giving us Oscar Isaac and Diego Luna. That is all.

 

  1. General Leia – for all the girls who grew up wanting to be Princess Leia… and then became the women who want to grow up to be General Leia, Carrie Fisher is owed a great debt of gratitude.

 

  1. Getting to see actors from the prequel series and the original series in the sequel series and standalones. Yay for continuity!

 

  1. Wicket. Yes, the space teddy bears were probably not the best idea in retrospect. But still… cuddly Wicket.

 

  1. Getting to make your own custom Star Wars action figure with your own face on it at various Disney Star Wars events via D-Tech Me. Everything. REALLY hoping this comes to the new Star Wars Lands as a regular offering.

 

  1. And along with that – the “Build Your Own” stops at both Disneyland Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios where you can build your own light saber, droid (ala R2-D2) and newly introduced protocol droids (ala C-3PO).

 

  1. The dearly missed Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. No, I never went to one, but I always enjoyed reading about them and would have loved to attend even once.

 

  1. Hugging Chewbacca at the Launch Bay at either Disneyland Park or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you have not been hugged by a Wookiee, your life is incomplete. Sorry.  Continue reading

Mousertainment Music: Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and the Mission: BREAKOUT! Soundtracks

I’m not going to see the new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 movie until tomorrow, but I know that one major thing I’m looking forward to is seeing how the soundtrack will integrate into the story. And I have complete faith in director James Gunn and Marvel to make musical and cinematic magic once again!

I think it’s safe to say that the original “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” soundtrack was at least half the reason that the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie was such a hit. Baby Groot dancing may have been the other half of its success – which is no doubt why he seems to be front and center in the advertising for the sequel!

Taking a look back to the first soundtrack, I can scan this list and off the top of my head sing or hum most of them:

            Awesome Mix Vol. 1:

  1. “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede
  2. “Go All the Way” by The Raspberries
  3. “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum
  4. “Moonage Daydream” by David Bowie
  5. “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” by Elvin Bishop
  6. “I’m Not in Love” by 10cc
  7. “I Want You Back” by Jackson 5
  8. “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone
  9. “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways
  10. “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes
  11. “O-O-H Child” by The Five Stairsteps
  12. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

The second soundtrack isn’t quite as obvious for me – although there are several songs on there I do love. However, I expect to recognize most of them when I hear them playing during the movie: Continue reading

Mousertainment Movies: What’s Worth Watching in 2017?

Today I look ahead to the films being released in 2017 and make my best guesses as to which ones will be worth watching in theaters (for me at least!), although a few may wait for home entertainment releases.

There are a good amount of big tentpole films that are must-see for me in the coming year, but there are also a few smaller films on my radar as well.

Here is my list in order of how much I’m anticipating seeing them!

10) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Drax
  • Baby Groot
  • Kurt Russell as Ego
  • Chris Pratt as Star-Lord
  • Continuation of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) storyline

9) Cars 3 (Jun 16)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Pixar
  • Another visit with the wonderful Cars characters
  • Really hoping it’s better than Cars 2

8) Stephen King’s It (Sep 8)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Love the original source material
  • Love the original mini-series – it’s absolutely perfect and this will have a lot to live up to but I’m strangely rather optimistic about it.
  • Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise – nobody can compare to Tim Curry in his defining take on this role, but it looks like they’re going for a different style here and I am a big fan of all of the Skarsgards – Bill was terrific in the wonderful Netflix series Hemlock Grove. He can definitely do menacing and creepy.

7) Kong: Skull Island (Mar 10)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Tom Hiddleston
  • I’ve yet to see a King Kong movie I really like but I am intrigued by the concept and origins of the character.
  • I miss the amazing banana-breath audio-animatronic version of King Kong at Universal Studios Hollywood.  Not sure anything digital will ever top anything practical, however.

6) Murder on the Orient Express (Nov 22)

Reasons I want to see it:

  • Director Kenneth Branagh
  • Agatha Christie stories are always fun
  • Stellar cast

Continue reading

Mousertainment Movies: What Was Worth Watching in 2016?

Today I will look back to my predictions at this time last year to see if I guessed correctly as to what films were worth watching and therefore brought me out to see them in theaters in 2016 (marked with an *) and which films I opted to wait to see as home entertainment releases.

Below were my picks in January 2016 in their original order of my interest in seeing them. At the end of the feature, I’ll put them in the order in which I actually liked them best!

Here was what I was looking forward to a year ago:

10) Finding Dory *

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Pixar
  • Ellen Degeneres as Dory

Reasons to go see it:

  • Baby Dory
  • Otters and Sea Lions
  • Ellen Degeneres as Dory

9) Zootopia *

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Disney animation
  • Ginnifer Goodwin as Judy Hopps
  • Humor looks cute

Reasons to go see it:

  • Flash
  • Probably the most entertaining story of the three Disney and Pixar releases this year
  • Appealing original world and characters

8) Gambit

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Continuation of X-Men Universe storyline
  • Channing Tatum reportedly really wanted the role – let’s see what he does with it!

Reasons I didn’t go see it:

  • A few weeks after this list was originally posted, this film was pushed back to a future production date. It has not yet been released.

7) X-Men: Apocalypse

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Continuation of X-Men Universe storyline
  • Finally getting to see a proper-looking Professor X in the prequel timeline!
  • Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy

Reasons I didn’t go see it:

  • Waiting for home entertainment release

6) Moana *

Reasons I wanted to see it:

  • Disney animation
  • Dwayne Johnson as Maui
  • But let’s not forget Lilo & Stitch did a Hawaiian-set film first!

Reasons to go see it:

  • Terrific soundtrack
  • Dwayne Johnson as Maui
  • But Lilo & Stitch is still a way better film 

Continue reading

Mad Hatter Day is Just My Cup of Tea

Mad Hatter pin

Mad Hatter pin

For some time, October 6th or “10/6” has been celebrated as “Mad Hatter Day” since 10/6 is part of the inscription on the sales tag tucked into the character’s hat in many traditional depictions and illustrations of this character from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The original meaning of “In This Style 10/6” was literally an advertisement of the cost of a hat of that design made by a hat-maker – ten shillings and sixpence.

So in honor of this mad occasion, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite performances of the Mad Hatter!

5) Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, 2010)

  • This version inherits Johnny Depp’s special brand of madness, being another in a string of Tim Burton’s lost, lonely, longing boys (including Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Ichabod Crane, Sweeney Todd, and Barnabas Collins). They’re all variations on a theme, made appealing by Depp’s projected vulnerability. While the shtick didn’t work quite as well in the sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass, his sweet, innocent, mad sorrow still charms in the first film under the direction of Depp’s artistic soulmate, Burton.

4) Mad Hatter (Ed Wynn – voice character, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, 1951)

  • Don’t let’s be silly! One of Walt Disney’s favorite actors to work with provided not just the voice of the Mad Hatter, but also the visual reference for the animators, as well as some improvised dialogue. His comic instincts and the actor’s lisp helped define the resulting character onscreen. Charming, delightful and of course, mad as a hatter, he was the one I wanted to dance around a tea party table with as a child. But I would not trust him to fix my watch! Continue reading

The Animation Courtyard – A Magical Retreat at Disney California Adventure

Inside the Animation Courtyard.

Inside the Animation Courtyard.

There is a hidden gem inside the Disney Animation Building in Disney California Adventure’s Hollywood Land: the Animation Courtyard.

This is not only a central location to lead you to other attractions such as the Animation Academy (to be spotlighted tomorrow!) and Turtle Talk with Crush, along with the Meet & Greet area for Anna and Elsa. But it is a destination unto itself – a wonderful respite from the hustle and bustle of the parks.

It functions both as a place to get out of the rain or sun and just rest for a bit, as well as a wonderful showcase for Disney and PIXAR animation and musical history.

I love going in here and just sitting (either on one of the couches here or even on the floor) and watching and listening – whether for a few moments or the full half-hour-ish loop of songs, animation and drawings projected in 360 degrees all around you!

So many films are represented here – from classics like Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty artwork.

Sleeping Beauty artwork.

Through the renaissance of Disney animation like Aladdin and The Lion King

The Lion King animation.

The Lion King animation.

To modern showstoppers like Frozen. I’ve yet to see “Let it Go” play here in the Courtyard without many guests breaking out into the chorus along with Elsa! Continue reading

Mousertainment Movies: Top 5 Favorite PIXAR Films and Top 5 Favorite PIXAR Shorts

Right off the top I’ll explain why I’m splitting this list into five and five rather than just doing a Top 10 PIXAR favorites list: there are shorts that I like as much or better than the PIXAR feature films, so while my features list really likely would’ve been closer to “Top 7”, I thought that was silly, so I’m splitting it in half this way.

Now it may seem like film fan blasphemy to only have seven beloved PIXAR films, but the truth is, while I like several more, there are only my main grouping that I truly love and would and do re-watch regularly.

So here is that features list:

5) Monsters, Inc.

  • A far more satisfying buddy film for me than the Toy Story films (nothing against them, it’s just that the Monsters films engaged me more). I loved the universe of the monsters, the friendship between Mike and Sulley, the villainy of Randall, the bureaucracy of Roz and the adorableness of Boo. Not to mention the great visuals of the door factory. I thought this was a fun world to experience and I was happy to return to it in the prequel!

4) Ratatouille

  • This movie is not what you think it is. It is not about a rat who wants to cook. It’s about dreaming and achieving and not cowering to others’ perceptions of your limitations. The core message of the film is not just “Anyone Can Cook”, but “Anyone Can Do Anything They Dream”. And it’s a foodie film, too. Get beyond your distaste of rats (and critics!) to find your taste for Ratatouille!

3) WALL-E

  • If my top two weren’t so beloved, this could also easily have topped my list. A love story as classic and eternal as Lady & The Tramp or Beauty & The Beast, if you don’t get teary as WALL-E courts EVE, then you may be more of a robot than he is! At its center, yes, it’s about a PC that falls in love with a Mac. Well, okay, no, that’s just the visual of it! But really, it’s a terribly romantic film, wrapped up in an eco-warning that if we don’t clean up after ourselves and stay healthy, we can lose both the planet and our independence. But really, just watch it for one of those beautiful perfect moments in a film – WALL-E’s “dance” with EVE and a fire extinguisher in outer space. Continue reading