Monday, December 28, 2009

AVATAR Will Blow Your Mind

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It generally takes a lot to blow my mind, but AVATAR did it... many times over.

I went into the experience expecting a lot, considering the rave reviews I had heard from family, friends, and critics throughout the past week, but because I didn't read up much on the movie, I didn't know exactly what to expect, and that is just how I like to go into a movie watching experience.

Showtimes were sold out all day at Dallas's only true IMAX (size-wise), so I got tickets to the fake IMAX at the AMC down the street, and let me tell you, I was not at all disappointed by the smaller screen. Even calling it "smaller" is stupid because it's still huge. And because AVATAR's aspect ratio when shown on IMAX nearly fills the entire screen, it was well worth the extra dollar for the IMAX upgrade.

Now, on to the movie: it was incredible.

Without getting into storyline (because I don't do spoilers, even though it wouldn't really even matter with this film), I will just say the visual effects employed in this film are unmatchable. They make the dragon fight scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire look like I made it on my home computer.

The 3D added amazing depth and sensation to every scene whether stationed in a military bunker or flying through the floating Hallelujah Mountains. The image was, however, overwhelming at times, due to my vulnerability to motion sickness, but I just removed the glasses during a few indoor scenes when the 3D was less necessary in order to relieve the overwhelmingness.
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James Cameron has been developing AVATAR ever since Titanic was finished in 1997. But he said he waited to make the movie until technology caught up with his vision for it. And thank God he did.

As my dad said, "It made Star Wars look like kindergarten."
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I also loved the casting of the movie. Relative newcomer Sam Worthington was great as lead character/avatar Jake Sully, and Zoe Saldana (Star Trek) was perfect as Neytiri.Photobucket
It was very interesting to read about the new motion capture technology used to create the avatars and Navi. Particularly that they were able to view the CGI characters on monitors in real time as the actors played them. Crazy stuff you can read more about on the Avatar Wikipedia page.
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Also liked that Ana-Lucia from LOST came back from the dead for the movie and that Phoebe Buffay's brother Frank is still getting work.Photobucket
Moral of the story is: go see AVATAR in IMAX (big or small).

It'll blow your mind and then some.

I can't wait to see the influence it has on movie making in the future, including the two sequels already planned by Cameron "if the movie is successful." But seeing as it already has the highest opening of any original non-franchise, non-sequel film in history, those sequels are already a done deal.

PS: the night after I saw the movie I had crazy cool dreams I was flying through mountains and rain forests. That alone was worth the $13 ticket price.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Princess and the Frog "Blue skies and sunshine!"

Disney's "The Princess and the Frog," was finally released this weekend, returning the studio to the 2D hand-drawn animation that Walt Disney made famous. The last attempt Disney made at a hand drawn feature was 2004's mega flop, "Home On the Range." No wonder it took so long to bring it back.

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Princess and the Frog was a visually stunning tale of Tiana, a New Orleans native who dreams of one day running her own restaurant. I liked that we got to see Tiana from a young age as well as when she was older. It definitely added a more personal connection to the story.
PhotobucketThe story uses the classic tale "The Frog Prince" as the basis for its fairy tale adventure when Naveen, a prince visiting New Orleans, is turned into a frog by the local voodoo practitioner.

The artists went above and beyond on the colors and detail throughout the movie. They were even able to make the dark, swampy, mossy setting a beautiful sight to be seen.

The voices in the movie were great, too. Tiana, voiced by Anika Noni Rose (From Justin To Kelly, Dreamgirls), is fantastic speaking and singing. Her mother, voiced by Oprah Winfrey is... Oprah Winfrey. And Disney mainstay Jim Cummings (voices Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Pete...) was great as Ray the firefly.
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The music by Randy Newman (Toy Story) was better than I had expected and perfectly fit the jazzy New Orleans setting.

My favorite song by far was "Dig a Little Deeper," sung by Jenifer Lewis (Meet the Browns) as Mama Odie. Lewis performed for a period as Motormouth Maybelle in the Broadway production of Hairspray, so she's no stranger to rousing musical numbers.

Ray and Louis, the sidekick firefly and alligator, were hilarious sidekicks to Tiana and Naveen and even struck an emotional, tear-filled chord in more than one audience member...

I don't like movie spoilers so in this review they are none.

Just go see the movie for yourself, and enjoy this great addition to the Disney animated family.

Leave your thoughts in the comments or send them to me on Twitter!

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Fajitas Were a Success!

If you know me or follow me on Twitter, it should not come as surprise that I rarely cook. The food service industry has been very kind to me over the years (well, except for the short while I worked as a waiter at the Olive Garden, but that's a different story.)

Last night, though, I thought I would take advantage of my non-existent schedule and cook up one of my favorite meals, fajitas. Though it's rare that I cook, I picked one of the most non-mess-up-able meals you could choose.
Fajita Beef
I went to Central Market to get a good cut of marinated fajita beef, onions, jalapeños, and limes for the occasion. After speaking extensively over the phone with my brother-in-law, I felt prepared enough to take on this Tex-Mexican tradition.
Onions
The first step in preparation was to sprinkle the skillet with the juice of a lime then set the lime halves in the skillet to cook along with the rest of the food, infusing the flavor.

Well, no less than 14 seconds after I did this, the overwhelming steam/smoke from the limes engulfed the apartment and set off our rather sensitive smoke detectors... So my friends and I opened the doors, turned on the fans, threw the skillet on the patio, and tried to diffuse the cloud before it set off the alarms and sprinklers in the complex, ruining not only my dinner, but everyone else's lives.
Fajitas Cooking
The limes were simply removed from the pan, and the crisis was averted. But it was close... I should have known better; after all, the lime sprinkling is the trick restaurants use to make the fajitas appear sizzling hot as they bring them to your table.

In the end, the fajitas turned out great, along with the addition of black beans, guacamole, and Glee, which is what we watched while we ate.
Fajitas
¡Olé!

PS: what did you think of Glee? I enjoyed this episode more than most, but I'm still waiting for the pizzaz from the pilot episode. Maybe they're saving that for regionals?

Who knows. I guess we'll find out in April.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What's with all the TINY food?

OK so I'll admit: at one point or another, I too thought the tiny burgers were cute (as my selection from Ruby Tuesday above presents), but what is with the rampant overtaking of our nation's food supply with miniature versions of our favorite foods?

Not only has the mini burger/sandwich craze trickled down to even the fast food restaurants, like Jack in the Box, but now they're making other foods that were already small enough even smaller!

Chili's just announced their new mini TACOS.
Though they may appear to be somewhat normal-sized in the picture, don't be fooled by the camera's trickery. Just compare them to the slice of lime in the photo, and you'll see that they're not much bigger, and I GUARANTEE you they don't come loaded with that much meat.

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like "mini" is code word for "small" and "rip-off."

It all reminds me of that tiny cell phone Will Ferrell skit from SNL.

How small is small enough?

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Love My Little Cousins

Since school's basically out (I only have one more final and a presentation next week) I decided a day trip to Houston to see my little cousins would be fun!

So I sprung myself upon them, and luckily everyone was able to make it to dinner at Texas Roadhouse (delicious).
Ruthie, my birthday buddy, and Ki.

Rachael, Isaiah, and Aunt Jane.

Jena!

Rachael being too cool for pictures.

I had a great time seeing everybody... I wish I would have gotten a picture WITH all of you!

Congrats to cousin Jana for getting a job before she even graduated!

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Christmas Party in the USA

Watch my latest video for RuckitUp.com featuring footage from my first Christmas party of the year!

My eccentric friend Allison, Hannah Montana, and my big ego are all there!

Enjoy.

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Faith and Positivity in Tough Times

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CLICK HERE to watch a video from Matt Chandler, the pastor at The Village Church in Dallas a day before surgery to remove a brain tumor. Matt only found out about the tumor a little more than a week ago on Thanksgiving, yet still is full of hope.

Great message!


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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I called the Nick Jonas solo act a long time ago... The Administration goes on tour

The most talented Jonas Brother, Nick announced yesterday via his newly established Twitter account, @nickjonas that he and his band, "The Administration" would be embarking on a mini US tour this January promoting Nick Jonas and the Administration's first CD, "Who I Am."

While this may leave some Jonas Brothers fans shocked and confused, I'd just like to point out that I called this Jonas breakaway last July, via my Twitter account (@adamrucker):It didn't take a genius (though I often consider myself to be one) to see this coming. The signs were all there: Kevin getting engaged, Joe not being very good anyway, and Nick clearly taking center stage on the Jonas Brothers World Tour this summer.

The tour will cover 14 cities in the US and begins January 2 in Dallas.

January 2 Dallas, TX House of Blues - On sale 12/5 at 10 AM
January 4 Nashville, TN Ryman Auditorium - On sale 12/5 at 10 AM
January 6 Washington, DC Warner Theater - On sale 12/5 at 10 AM
January 7 New York, NY Beacon Theater - On sale 12/5 at 11 AM
January 9 Philadelphia, PA Tower Theater - On sale 12/12 at 10 AM
January 12 Boston, MA Orpheum Theater - On sale 12/12 at 10 AM
January 16 Detroit, MI Fox Theater - On sale 12/12 at 10 AM
January 17 Chicago, IL Rosemont Theater - On sale 12/5 at 12 PM
January 19 St. Louis, MO The Pageant - On sale 12/12 at 11 AM
January 20 Milwaukee, WI Eagles Ballroom - On sale 12/12 at 10 AM
January 21 Minneapolis, MN State Theater - On sale 12/11 at 12 PM
January 23 Denver, CO Paramount Theatre - On sale 12/12 at 10 AM
January 26 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern - On sale 12/12 at 10 AM
January 30 Berkeley, CA Zellerbach Auditorium - On sale 12/12 at 12 PM

Ticket presale begins today (Dec. 1) for fan club members and are on sale to the general public this Saturday (Dec. 5).

Watch a video wrapup of the entire kickoff show of the Jonas Brothers World Tour this summer at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium:

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