Friday, May 27, 2016

Alice Through the Bento Glass!

Image copyright Disney 2016, used with permission
My girls had seen a few previews for Disney's new Alice Through the Looking Glass movie and were excited. The visuals and costumes alone are stunning, and add in a few adorably fuzzy creatures and my 7-year-old is smitten! Plus they happen to be doing a version of Alice Through the Looking Glass for her classroom's annual school play! So when I was offered free tickets to an advance screening for the movie earlier this week, I knew we had to go!
[I received 4 tickets, no strings attached. I was not compensated in any other way, other than some free promotional items that were offered to anyone attending. All opinions are my own.]

Image copyright Disney 2016, used with permission
Once again the star-studded live-action and CGI cast joins together for an amazing adventure through Underland - this time with Alice on a quest through Time himself to try and save the Mad Hatter! [So many fun time jokes and puns in this movie!]
Image copyright Disney 2016, used with permission
Sasha Baron Cohen does an amazing job as the personification of Time, with a fun blend of human and elemental traits, and makes a great addition to the world of Underland. There were a lot of subtle undertones to his character that added a depth and richness that I enjoyed a lot. The "fallen soldier" line when he meets Alice for the first time had me in tears, once I realized what he was talking about.
Image copyright Disney 2016, used with permission
My girls both agree that their favorite parts of the movie involved the Cheshire Cat, mostly because they are huge cat lovers! But when Alice travels back to the Hatter's childhood, the Cheshire Kitten was definitely their favorite scene! Alice learns a valuable lesson while travelling through time - that while you may not be able to change the past, you can learn from it! A great lesson for anyone!

I was going to celebrate the film's release with some fun themed lunches, but I don't think I can ever top my "Curiouser and Curiouser" lunch from a few years ago... My creative juices haven't been so juicy lately, now that I have two kids to pack for, and not enough time to play Candy Crush pack in the mornings. But not to worry! I've found tons of great ideas for lunches and treats to share with you below!

Bento Ninja has some great and easy Wonderland bento ideas - my favorite one is the talking flowers, but her Mad Hatter lunch is a good fit for this new movie! Her Red Queen ones are a great fit too!

Check out a "full deck" of other Wonderland lunch ideas shared at the Through the Looking Glass linky party over at Bent On Better Lunches!

Need some fun Wonderland party ideas? 
Check out these fun Mad Hatter marshmallow treat hats from What's For Lunch At Our House? A fun and easy-looking treat that would fit in a lunchbox!

These Cheshire Cat Cupcakes are perfect (and look easy!)... and disappear just as quickly!

Don't these character macarons look amazing! Check out the video here!

If you have the Time [see what I did there?] be sure and check out these cool clockwork gear cookies!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Divided We Fall - Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

Image copyright Marvel 2016, used with permission
I was invited to an advance screening of the new Marvel Captain America: Civil War movie and given two tickets in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” finds Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.
Get ready to pick a side and join the nonstop action playing out on two fronts when Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” opens in U.S. theaters on May 6, 2016.

Let me start out with some advice - if you haven't seen Captain America: Winter Soldier or Avengers: Age of Ultron, you'll be missing a lot of important back story. Out of all the Marvel movies, guess which two I haven't seen yet? Sigh. I was totally lost. "S.H.I.E.L.D. did what now?" "Who the what?" It was very difficult to sit still and watch quietly and not pester my husband the whole time to fill in the back story!
You'll probably want to have seen the other previous Captain America and Avengers movies as well, which means that seeing the other Avengers-characters' (Thor, Iron Man, Hulk) movies, for important back-story too.. And while Ant-Man isn't required viewing before seeing him appear here, it's fun to know more about him! (They've rebooted the Spider-Man storyline for this movie, so other than watching the previous movies for fun, they won't apply here.) So if you haven't seen them yet, have a movie marathon weekend! Worth it!
Image copyright Marvel 2016, used with permission
I've always had difficulty with the "good guy vs good guy" scenarios in comics and the corresponding movies, because they've all had pretty weak premises to me. It takes a lot for friends to turn on one another so violently. They seem scripted - like the dispute is there because the writers wrote it that way, and not because it is what those characters would actually have chosen to do. Sure, they come up with "reasons." But they feel very manufactured to me.
So I went into the theater expecting to be annoyed with this here too, but I must say, they did a great job making the sides and choices fairly believable in this movie! I thought Tony Stark was a little more pig-headed and close-minded than I felt was appropriate, but it was needed to keep the dispute going. That was really the only weakness for me. But I hear that a lot of his motivations are based off events in Age of Ultron, so it might all make more sense to me after watching that!
I felt that the views and actions of Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Natasha Romanova (Black Widow) were very believable, and I could follow their logic the whole time. The other characters seemed to take sides more based on who they chose to follow rather than which side they felt was "right." It was clear the writers chose to break up pairings (like Hawkeye and Black Widow, or Vision and Wanda) for the sake of drama, but it was believable enough for me.
Image copyright Marvel 2016, used with permission
Captain America: Civil War was full of truly epic action sequences, some really beautiful battle shots, and lots of great staging and special effects. I got to see it in 3D IMAX, and to me, CGI often starts to really stand out as being fake because you can see it so intensely in this format. But ILM did a fabulous job blending everything together, and there were only a few moments where I was distracted by noticing that a character didn't move like a real person. Mostly I was impressed with all the "pew-pew" and "POW!" Hahaha!

The only thing that really bothered me, and they got it over with quickly so I was able to move on, was the argument behind forming the government oversight. Basically (you see it in the preview above,) this guy goes, "Look at all the collateral damage and deaths you caused..." and left out the "...saving us from the horrible [aliens/villains] who were going to cause even more death and destruction..." Um. So accidentally killing a few people to save hundreds is a bad thing? I completely understood the world's governments' desire to regulate people with super-human abilities or really cool technology that makes them, well, super. But to approach it from a "some people died because of you" angle using examples of events where masses more of other people were saved because of them was pretty weaksauce. But not enough to ruin the premise behind the division of those wanting government oversight to assuage guilt or to try and work within the system versus those worried about being used and controlled to further an agenda.

If you like the Marvel Universe, this movie is a must-see. If you like superhero or action movies, but aren't up-to-date on the Marvel Universe, it's still a great movie, but be prepared to have a huge portion of the plot and character motivations not make any sense without the back story. Go with someone who can tell you what's happening! Lots of great new characters, lots of Marvel's trademark interwoven humor and deep moral themes, and lots of the famous characters you came to see in action once again!

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CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR opens in theatres everywhere on May 6th!