Mar 27, 2015

[Movies] Monsters University (2013)

Apart from Toy Story and Cars, Monsters, Inc. is the only other Pixar property that has had a direct movie sequel released thus far. Sure, there's talk of future work related to stuff for Finding Nemo and even The Incredibles, but we can't really count them until they actually get released. We're getting there, Pixar. We're getting there.

Monsters University isn't actually a sequel but is instead a prequel, which is the sort of thing that makes a lot of movie-goers groan a bit. I mean seriously, there are very few prequels that have done well and more often than not we regret the results.

And while the Pixar folks didn't quite hit a home run with me with the Cars movies, the Monsters. Inc. franchise has always had more success that most. Even their bad movies are still fairly decent, it may just become more a question of preference and such. And this movie isn't too bad as a prequel despite my earlier complaints of such efforts to expand a franchise. It has some choice moments and certainly makes for some fun times.

Mar 26, 2015

[Theater] La Cage Aux Folles (9 Works Theatrical)

Once upon a time, I watched a Repertory Philippines play called Gay Birds, which was a localized adaptation of the classic play La Cage aux Folles. The whole thing had been translated into this strange Martial Law piece that was funny at moments but it struggled as well. But the writing felt clunky and it wasn't at all as funny as it could have been.

So when I heard that 9 Works Theatrical was staging run of the original La Cage aux Folles musical, I don't think you can blame me for not being all that excited initially. It wasn't until I checked in to find that the lead stars were Michael de Mesa and Audie Gemora that I sort of gave it a second consideration.

In the end, Tobie and I took the plunge and secured tickets for last Sunday's show and we juggled our schedule around to make time for it. And much to my surprise, I loved almost every minute of the production and I was laughing during most of the show and I really felt like I got my money's worth, if you want to look at things from that sort of a level.

[TV] How to Get Away with Murder: Season 1

So I wanted to be really excited about this show when people started talking about it since the premise did seem pretty interesting. Plus there's the fact that it had gotten a lot of great social media buzz from day one so it was one of those shows that was just too difficult to ignore. And so we tuned in and eventually stayed involved enough to finish the whole season.

How to Get Away with Murder certainly has a compelling narrative involved and a sort of clever mystery at the heart of the story, but I think the characters needed work and the directing choices were just annoying. I'll get into why I feel this way at length in this review since it'll take a while.

But we still finished the show and I think I'm still open to watch the second season once it comes around. I'm not necessarily excited to do so and admittedly it took us a while before we finally finished watching the first season some time after the season finale aired. It may just be a matter of personal preference or maybe we're just not part of the core target demographic for this show.

Mar 25, 2015

[Games] Carcassonne: Traders & Builders

The ridiculous number of Carcassonne expansions that we own means that I'll spend a lot of time writing blog reviews for the various sets. I could lump them together in sets or something silly like that, but to I firmly believe each pf the larger expansions deserves its time in the spotlight. Smaller ones might get gathered together in one review easily enough, but these full expansions are a different animal entirely.

Carcassonne: Traders & Builders really added great new ways to score in the game and I still feel it stands out compared to other expansions in the series. Where most sets add scoring tweaks on top of the basic rules, this expansion adds an entirely different way to score points that doesn't necessarily tie directly to the traditional scoring methods.

Plus this game adds the rather clever game mechanic of the Builder. It seems simple enough but it's one of the few expansion tweaks that provide players with multiple turns in succession. But more on that in a bit.

Mar 24, 2015

[Books] Alien: The Official Movie Novelization

As much as many books have become movies, many movies have also become books. Thus we come to the interesting world of official movie novelizations, which admittedly I don't really dig into all that often. I guess it's because that a lot of movie novelizations seem a little pointless to me since the measure of the movie is the movie itself. But then that's a rather unfair and narrow view of things and novelizations do contribute a lot to providing new perspectives of various characters in such movies and further develop scenes in a way that a movie could never fully encapsulate.

Alien: The Official Movie Novelization was not a book that I would normally go out of my way to read, but then I got a notification via BookBub that it was on sale, so I took the plunge. And given how much we've been playing Legendary Encounters with friends, the desire to read the book became  bit more of an imperative than initially expected.

And on the whole, I was really surprised by this book and how well it re-told the story that had long since traumatized many as a movie. Often times it was written in a manner that almost felt like prose given its imagery and colorful language. And that all just contributed to the positive nature of the reading experience.

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