Thursday, April 24, 2014

DISNEY STORES CELEBRATING MAY THE FOURTH WITH SPECIAL STAR WARS EVENT


Disney retail locations around the country will be celebrating STAR WARS DAY (May the 4th ... be with you) with a special event to celebrate the launch of a new exclusive toy line.  On Sunday, May 4, 2014 the first 100 customers (3 years and older) at each Disney Store location will receive a limited edition collectible Star Wars pin.  Starting at 12:30pm children 3 and up will be able to participate in an interactive Star Wars presentation where they can learn about the "Ways of the Force":

  • Participating children will be provided an inflatable light saber (while supplies last) which they can use to master hands-on training during the presentation...pretty cool!


  • They'll discover the Jedi Mind Trick and learn how Obi-Wan Kenobi uses it to serve the greater good.


  • Help Luke Skywalker destroy the Death Star through an interactive Media Wall experience.


  • Plus participate in a Medal of Bravery Ceremony where they will receive a coloring sheet with their very own medal to decorate and cut out.

In addition to promoting attention to the upcoming Star Wars: Rebels animated television series coming this summer to Disney Channel & DisneyXD and the feature film, Episode VII coming in 2015, Disney Stores are utilizing the event to promote expanded Star War merchandise at the stores.  One of the new exclusive items that will be sold at Disney Stores starting May Fourth is a new toy line of Star Wars action figures.

The new Star Wars TALKING ACTION FIGURES toys will be 18" tall and feature the original voices and sounds of  the characters from the original trilogy of Star Wars movies.  The first wave of figures will each feature 15 phrases plus sound effects and light-up effects.  Darth Vader for example will have an illuminated light saber.  Stormtroopers, X-wing pilot Luke Skywalker, and smuggler Han Solo will have weapons with gun barrels that light up as if lasers are shooting from them. Boba Fett and Chewbacca will join Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo on store shelves later in the year.  These action figures will retail for $29.95 each.

I'm going to have to pick up a stormtrooper for my son and I to play with!


In addition to the MAY THE FOURTH special event and the debut of exclusive Star Wars merchandise at Disney Stores there will be one more thing to look out for in May.  Guests at Disney Stores throughout the month of May can pick up FREE collectible trading cards featuring characters from the classic films each week while supplies last.

To find the closest Disney Store to your home click on the STORE LOCATOR tab at the very top of the homepage at www.disneystore.com 

Monday, April 21, 2014

and the flavor of the month is .... THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN


The only ice cream that I was aware of named after a superhero was SUPERMAN.   As a kid, I loved going to the local ice cream parlor that carried the STROH'S brand and ordering two scoops of Superman in a waffle cone.  The blue, red and yellow colored scoops that burst with the flavor of Blue Moon, Red Pop and Lemon flavors was one of my favorite flavors growing up. Starting this month, Superman's not alone anymore when it comes to superhero inspired flavors at ice cream parlors.  The Amazing Spider-Main is swinging into your friendly neighborhood Baskin-Robbins.


For a limited time only, Baskin-Robbins is hosting a promotional tie-in with the feature film The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that will feature a special Spidey flavored ice cream.  The Amazing Spider-Man ice cream is red and blue vanilla flavored ice cream covered with a dark chocolate web and popping candies.  You can get your Spider-Sense tingling by enjoying several items with this new superhero themed ice cream:

  • The Amazing Spider-Man ice cream is available by the scoop in a cup or cone, and can also be taken home in fresh-packed pints and quarts.
  •  The Amazing Spider-Man Ice Cream Cake lets you bring the image of Spider-Man to any party.  You can use the Spidey flavored ice cream or customize it with your own favorite flavor of Baskin-Robbins selections.
  • Electro's Milkshake blends up The Amazing Spider-Man ice cream into a shockingly good treat.
 

A good time to try out Baskin-Robbin's Spider-Man inspired flavor of the month for April will be during the chain's Scoop Fest taking place from April 22 - 24 to kick off the summer movie and ice cream seasons.  Swing into your local Baskin-Robbins to take advantage of this special pricing:

$1 for a Single Scoop (2.5oz scoop)
$2 for a Double Scoop (4oz scoops)
$3 for a Triple Scoop (4oz scoops)


To find a Baskin-Robbins location near you CLICK HERE.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter Eggs aren't just for the Holiday

When you hear the term "Easter Egg" the first thing that probably comes to mind is a furry bunny hiding colored eggs for children to find.  There is another term for "easter egg" though which can allow you to have fun hunting for things throughout the year rather than just around the Easter holiday.  Originating from a hidden message in the 1979 Atari video game ADVENTURE, the term "Easter Egg" now refers to a concealed joke or message in a video game, television show, or movie.  As with any good Easter Egg hunt, finding these treasures are tough to find and lots of fun when you discover them.

Easter Eggs received a lot of public attention a few years ago when Director J.J. Abrams slipped in an appearance of the Star Wars character R2D2 into his 2009 Star Trek movie.


R2D2 made a repeat appearance in 2013's Star Trek: Into Darkness:


In fact, R2D2 has been a popular Easter Egg that has been slipped in movies ranging from Close Encounters of the Third Kind to Transformers.  Can you spot the droid from Star Wars in this scene from Close Encounters?


R2D2 was also carved into the wood of the pirate ship deck for the movies Goonies.  If you aren't looking you'd probably miss him.


Did you catch him in these scenes from the Transformers movies?


My favorite R2D2 Easter Egg though is the robot's appearance in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  The Egyptian hieroglyphs in some of the scenes contain images of R2D2 with famous golden sidekick C3PO.


Disney, which now owns the rights for the R2D2 character, is known for placing Easter Eggs in their films.  It will be interesting to see if they add some R2D2 appearances in their future productions.  While R2 didn't appear in Disney's most recent animated feature FROZEN, here are a few easter eggs they did add to the film.


In FROZEN, there is a Mickey Mouse toy sitting on the lower shelf of supplies at the Wandering Oaken's Trading Post & Sauna.


An inside joke with the film's production team, during Anna's big song "For the First Time in Forever" she leaps into the air mimicking the pose of the painting "The Swing."  This Rococo-era masterpiece by Jean-Honore Fragonard was credited by the artists who worked on the movie TANGLED as the inspiration for the visual look of their film.


Take a close look and you'll see that they imported the candy from the Land of Sugar Rush in the Disney movie WRECK IT RALPH for the treats at the royal coronation in FROZEN.



In another nod to TANGLED, Rapunzel and Flynn Rider are guests at Elsa's coronation in FROZEN. Some people have even suggest that this ties FROZEN to THE LITTLE MERMAID.  The theory is that Elsa & Anna's parents boat that sunk in FROZEN is the sunken ship in THE LITTLE MERMAID which went down in a storm on its way to the Return Celebration held for Rapunzel in TANGLED.  Rapunzel and Flynn Rider are attending the coronation out of respect for loss of Elsa & Anna's parents relating to their loss at sea.  "The Little Mermaid" was written by Hans Christian Andersen and is set in Denmark.  Andersen also wrote "The Snow Queen" which FROZEN is based on and takes place in Norway.  The story of "Rapunzel" is based in Germany so it appears transit along the path of these three stories would be feasible if they were featured in one combined fairy tale timeline.  Hmmm?


Another Disney acquisition that makes use of Easter Eggs in its films is Pixar.  The creative team is known for slipping "A113" into their movies which has appeared in every Pixar film since TOY STORY.  The inside joke is that this is the classroom number at California Institute of Arts where John Lasseter and his Pixar leadership team learned about animation.  Well in MONSTER'S UNIVERSITY this is the classroom where Mike & Sulley learn the art of scaring.


A Pizza Planet truck appears in almost every Pixar film and MONSTER'S UNIVERSITY is no exception.  The truck made famous in the TOY STORY movies is parked outside the JOX Fraternity house in this movie.


The ball featured in Pixar's first short film "Luxo Jr" has appeared as an Easter Egg in most of the studio's feature films.  In MONSTERS UNIVERSITY the Luxo Ball appears in graffiti on a wall in a scene during the Scare Games first challenge.



Pixar often plants Easter Eggs in its films that tie to an upcoming film.  In MONSTERS INC for example, Pixar teased FINDING NEMO by placing a Nemo doll in Boo's room.  In MONSTER'S UNIVERSITY, dinosaur toys are placed throughout the movie that look like the concept art for an upcoming Pixar movie titled THE GOOD DINOSAUR that was originally slated to hit theaters in 2014 and is now being released in 2015.  Could these be an Easter Egg for things to come?!



Once people are aware that these hidden images are included in movies, Easter Egg hunts can be a fun addition to the enjoyment of a film.  Not all movie related Easter Eggs are on the silver screen though.  Did you know there is a Darth Vader gargoyle included on the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.?


You need binoculars to see it...but Darth Vader is there!  Print out this PDF for more information on how to find him if you are taking a trip to the nation's Capital: www.nationalcathedral.org/pdfs/darth  It pays off to always be on the hunt for an Easter Egg! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Disney Publishing 4 New Star Wars Books to Introduce a New Generation to the Original Trilogy


Most children and young adults when they think of STAR WARS think of the prequel episodes I-III and the recent animated television show THE CLONE WARS.  Disney's new projects involving the franchise though will be more focused on being tied to the original trilogy of movies.  This fall a new animated television show titled Star Wars: Rebels that is set in a time period just before Star Wars Episode IV takes place will air on the DisneyXD cable channel and the new feature film Star Wars Episode VII is a spin off 30 years after Return of the Jedi and will reference many of the characters from the original trilogy.  It really appears Disney is focusing the Star Wars brand on the original trilogy and putting the prequels on the back burner at least for the near future.  So to acquaint today's youth with the foundation of the Star Wars universe that Disney is tying its future projects to they are publishing a new series of children's books to build interest and awareness on the original stories that started it all.

Disney Publishing Worldwide will release four new children's books tied to the original Star Wars movie trilogy beginning in October 2014 with The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight.  This will be a picture book encompassing all three films (A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) written by Tony DiTerlizzi (the author of The Spiderwick Chronicles) and illustrated with Ralph McQuarrie concept art.  McQuarrie, who passed away in 2012, is one of my favorite artists and is known for working with George Lucas in providing the visual concept for the development of the Star Wars movies.  Ralph McQuarrie's concept drawings used for the pre-production of the original three Star Wars films are also the basis for the visual look of the upcoming animated television series Star Wars: Rebels.

Following the release of The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight, Disney will release a book retelling the story of Star Wars: A New Hope written by R.J. Palacio (author of the children's novel WONDER that was #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List) in April 2015, Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back will come out in July 2015 written by Adam Gidwitz (author of A Tale Dark & Grimm) and in October 2015 Star Wars: Return of the Jedi written by Tom Angleberger (author of Origami Yoda) will be released.  These books will help kickoff the theatrical release of the next Star Wars film, Episode VII in December 2015.  The 3 children's book focusing on telling the tales of each individual movie will all  be illustrated by Ian McCaig, who was a concept artist for the prequel Star Wars movies Episodes I-III and specifically is credited as the designer behind the look of Darth Maul.

These will be some of the first Star Wars titles to be published in-house by Disney versus being printed and distributed by licensees.  The books will be available globally and in the United States will be published under the Disney-Lucasfilm Press imprint of the Disney Book Group.  Additionally, six new Star Wars titled books tied to the Star Wars: Rebels animated TV series on DisneyXD will be published by the Disney Book Group this August preceding the debut of the new show.  According to the press release announcing the new Star Wars books, Disney will engage in a combination of publishing Star Wars books through existing licencees, new licensees, and Disney-Lucasfilm Press.  It notes that in addition to the Star Wars: Rebels books published by Disney-Lucasfilm Press there will also be other titles from licensees DK, Bendon, Klutz and Scholastic.

One of my favorite books growing up as a child was The Illustrated Star Wars Universe which featured Ralph McQuarrie's artwork.  I still have a copy of the book in my library.  I'm going to be looking forward to taking a look at The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight to see how it compares to the original artwork book I own & to enjoy reading through it with my own children.  


A Geek Daddy Movie Review: WALKING WITH DINOSAURS

My son was really excited when a blu-ray of WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: THE MOVIE arrived in the mail courtesy of Fox Home Entertainment for our family to review.  The movie revolves around how Patchi, the runt of a group of Pachyrhinosaurus hatchlings, goes from being the smallest dinosaur to leader of their herd.  The film is an educational and entertaining look at the world of prehistoric dinosaurs who lived in what is now Alaska.

The movie starts out with a live action sequence that has Paleontologist Zack (played by Karl Urban) taking his niece and nephew, Ricky and Jade, on a fossil hunt.  They are going to a site where Uncle Zack had found a Gorgosaurus tooth to see if they can locate some more fossils.  While Jade is excited to join her uncle in the search for dinosaur bones her brother Ricky shows teenage angst and just wants to stay at the car and play his video games.  While Uncle Zack and Jade are off exploring, Ricky has an encounter with a talking crow who teases him about not joining in the fossil hunt.  The crow begins to discuss the relationship between birds and dinosaurs and morphs into Alex the Alexornis bird who transports the movie audience back in time 70 million years to the Cretaceous period of Earth's history and tells the story of Patchi the Pachyrhinosaurus.


While I understand the crow scene being used as a bridge between the times it is really lame, but my kids thought the segment was neat so younger kids will probably like it.  Alex the Alexornis (voiced by John Leguizamo) is meant to be the film's tour guide, primary narrator, and comedic relief.  My kids and I really didn't care for the character though finding him to be annoying and the worst part of the movie.  That being said, if you can disregard Alex the movie is pretty good.  While the crow scene is cheesy it does an excellent job of transition from the real world to the animated sequences of the movie.  The nice part of starting the move with live actors in a real wilderness location is that when the animated scenes begin you still get the feel as if you are still seeing live action footage.  This transition blurs the lines between special effects and real scenery which is impressive. The animation in the movie is really good giving viewers the impression the you really are walking with dinosaurs in their natural environment.

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS shows dinosaurs behaving that teaches children about both how they lived 70 million years ago and how animals live today.  Just before we watched this movie, my kids had been visiting over at my parents house and looked at pictures of the great crane migration from a vacation their grandparents had taken to Nebraska the previous year.  During the movie my daughter pointed out that the dinosaurs were migrating like the cranes in the pictures her grandmother had recently shown her.  A few days after we watched the movie, I took my kids on a trip to the zoo.  Two rhinos were jousting against each other smashing their horns together.  My son pointed out while we were watching the rhinos that the animals were competing to be the leader of the herd just like the Pachyrhinosaurus in the dinosaur movie.


WALKING WITH DINOSAURS is a family movie geared mostly for elementary school aged children. There are some violent scenes that may not be appropriate for younger viewers that include the carnivourous Gorgosaurus hunting the herbivore Pachyrhinosaurus, including a scene where Patchi's father is killed by these predators. The movie is rated PG.

The Gorgosaurus tooth Uncle Zack found ties in to Patchi's encounters with the owner of that tooth.  The film promotes a nice theme of every fossil has a story.  Patchi's story is tied to that fossil.  It can be hard to associate rocky fossils with breathing creatures living lives full of experiences.  This movie helps put a sense of reality onto the fossils you see at a museum.

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: THE MOVIE is now available to purchase on DVD and Blu-ray.  The Blu-ray has some nice special features attached to it:

"The Ultimate Dino Guide" that allows you to go on a journey to uncover the greatest secrets of your favorite dinos and learn about other Cretaceous creatures.  Check out this clip from the bonus feature:


"Match the Call" hear how Dinos communicated with friends and foes.  Do you have the skills to learn and identify the calls of specific dinos?

"Interactive Map" provides a tour of where dinos roamed the earth and comparing it to where people live today.

"Brainosaur Trivia Track" when turned on lets you become a dino expert as pop-up tips and trivia entertain and educate you while watching the movie.



After watching WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: THE MOVIE with my own kids, I have to admit they probably were still a little too young for the movie being 5 year old preschoolers but I believe it really is an excellent movie for children probably 1st grade and up to watch with their parents as a family movie. The animated sequences are well done and it provides a nice story of best friends Patchi, Scowler and Juniper growing up from hatchlings to adults struggling to find their  place in the world.  It provides a nice visual of how the world was in Cretaceous times bringing the dinosaur bones from the museum to life.  This is a great example of a family movie that combines entertainment with educational elements.  As a parent you'll have to sit through some hokey scenes in this movie but your children will enjoy it and learn a little too so I recommend you pick up a copy for your video library.

If you watch WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: THE MOVIE, print out these two interactive sheets below to hold a dinosaur egg hunt of your own to enhance your viewing experience:




DISCLAIMER:  I received a complimentary blu-ray of WALKING WITH DINSOSAURS: THE MOVIE to review as part of my involvement with the FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT INSIDERS bloggers program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Ultimate Trophy for a Man Cave of Home Theater

Admit it, a big part of the allure of having a man cave or home theater room is to have the bragging rights to having the coolest room among your friends and family.  Big screens televisions, surround sound stereo, wet bars, sports memorabilia, foosball, pinball and video arcade games.  If you really want to have the coolest room on the block, I don't know if anyone else could trump this...a life-size Han Solo in Carbonite display. Yes you can now purchase Jabba's most sought after trophy for your own trophy shelf...just as if it had been transported off the movie screen from Empire Strikes Back.  How cool is that?!


Sideshow Collectibles is celebrating its 20th Anniversary by showing the quality that has made it a leader in movie memorabilia collectibles and toys in debuting this 7 foot replica of the movie prop from Empire Strikes Back.  The display is made from figerglass and other high quality materials for authenticity and sturdy construction.  It also features film-accurate light effects in the base, side panels and rear power canisters to provide a wow factor when people see it.  From the pictures it really gives the impression that you'll feel like you are looking at Han Solo in his carbonite prison.  It appears the rear power canisters also provide a sturdy base of support similar to the frames that hold up a big screen TV to make sure your prizes possession doesn't come tumbling down.


If you are interested in purchasing a life-size Carbonited Han Solo, Sideshow Collectibles is taking pre-orders now.  This item will only only set you back $6,999.00, which you can pay in a monthly payment plan of $629.90 installments.  Hey isn't having the coolest party room ever worth the price?!  The only thing more cool than this would be to have Darth Vader and Boba Fett flanking it observing their handy work....oh looks like Sideshow's can hook you up with that too!




For more information about the life-size Han Solo in Carbonite display from Sideshow Collectibles, visit: www.sideshowtoy.com/characters/han-solo


THE PROTON TRANSMOGRIFICATION

THE BIG BANG THEORY STAR WARS “MAY THE 4th” 
TV SPECIAL TO AIR ON MAY 1st 2014

A few years ago I was working 60 hour weeks and didn’t have time to watch much television.  My wife kept telling me about this show that she thought was a hoot because it reminded her of many of the funny geeky things in life she had been introduced to by marrying me.  One night my wife heard me laughing while watching television and asked me what I was watching.  “Oh it’s this great new show called The Big Bang Theory,” I told her. “That’s not new, I is  the show I’ve been telling you to watch for a few seasons now.”  As usual she was right, I love this show and have become a big fan.  We bought the DVDs for the first few seasons I’d missed that weekend and had a The Big Bang Theory viewing marathon.  I’ve been watching the show ever since.

The show follows the lives of Cal Tech scientist with a comedic focus on the scientific and geek culture aspects of their lives.  Over the last few years, the characters have appeared in shows with comic book and science fiction themes, sometimes even dressing in costumes associated with Star Trek or Super Heroes.


This season, The Big Bang Theory is going all out by creating an extensive replica of the Empire Strikes Back Dagobah swamp set for a special episode to celebrate  STAR WARS DAYMay the 4th”.  The Proton Transmogrification episode of The Big Bang Theory is an episode that any Star Wars fan isn’t going to want to miss.  It won’t be airing on May the 4th though, but rather on the Big Bang Theory’s regularly scheduled broadcast night of May 1, 2014.

For more information about MAY THE FOURTH, visit http://starwars.com/news/the-history-of-may-the-4th.html and if you don’t mind SPOILERS and want to know more about the upcoming Star Wars themed episode keep reading.

**SPOILERS** I haven’t seen the upcoming episode yet myself but have gathered the following information from several sources about its script. In “The Proton Transmogrification” , while planning Star Wars activities for May the Fourth two of the show’s main characters Sheldon and Leonard discover their childhood hero, PROFESSOR PROTON, has passed away.  Bob Newhart played the role of Professor Proton in an appearance last season which won him a Prime Time Emmy Award.  Professor Proton’s (aka Arthur Jeffries Ph.D.) funeral is going to be held on May the Fourth (be with you) Day.  Leonard decides to put off his Star Wars plans to attend the funeral while Sheldon says mourning for someone is a waste of time and refuses to go to the memorial service.

While Leonard is at Arthur Jeffries funeral, Sheldon is holding a Star Wars movie watching marathon with his friends Amy, Bernadette, Howard and Raj.  Sheldon becomes upset about Professor Proton’s death as they begin to watch the movies and storms to his room where he falls asleep.  In Sheldon’s dream he is transported to Dagobah where he encounters Professor Proton as Bob Newhart makes his third and possibly last guest appearance on the show.  I hear that The Big Bang Theory’s producers teamed up with  Disney’s LucasFilm division to go all out in recreating the original movie set.  Bob Newhart appears in normal clothes, but when questioned by Sheldon on whether he is supposed to be his mentor “like Obi Wan”, his clothes transform into Jedi robes.  A funny sketch comedy scene is supposed to follow involving Professor Proton and a light saber.  I was somewhat surprised with the Obi Wan outfit as with the Dagobah set and Bob Newhart involved I’d thought they would portray Dr. Proton as Yoda.  Maybe Newhart vetoed that idea as he didn’t want to be too silly in his appearance.   

Sheldon starts to talk with Professor Proton about death and how he lost his father.  Professor Proton tells Sheldon that people may leave us, but he should cherish and appreciate those who are still with us.  Sheldon says he does appreciate his friends, but the Professor questions him on whether that really is true.

When Leonard returns from the funeral, he wakes up his friend.  Sheldon gives Leonard a big hug.  They proceed to watch their Star Wars movie marathon.  The show wraps up with a final appearance by Bob Newhart giving Sheldon some Professor Proton sage words of advice.  With this episode ending the Bob Newhart Professor Proton story arc and including a Star Wars theme it looks to be one of the best shows yet.  The Big Bang Theory showrunner Steve Molaro seems to agree telling CNET that LucasFilm contacted the show about doing a May Fourth themed show and saying “We knew that Bob (Newhart) was coming back and LucasFilm called us, and we realized that this might be an opportunity to mix both stories and come up with something special.” Molaro added that  Lucasfilm’s own SFX company Industrial Light & Magic will be recreating the “Star Wars” swamp planet of Dagobah where Yoda hid from the clutches of Darth Vader and the evil Empire.  “Bob is going to be swinging a lightsaber around and they sent us a real one to use.  They’re going to help make it look and sound right.  It’s an amazing crossover for us.”


I’m going to be watching to see how closely the spoilers I found actually pan out and will also be on the look out to see what other future May 4th’s may hold for us.  With LucasFilm reaching out to promote the day with The Big Bang Theory and new Star Wars movies in the future it looks like May the Fourth may become a regular franchise promotional tool supported by Disney.  We’ll have to see if it eventually hosts annual events and promotions as interesting and fun as Free Comic Book Day has become. 

I really appreciate how The Big Bang Theory makes geek jokes and references without really making fun of geeks.  You can laugh at the geeky culture rather than degrade it which this comedy does a nice balancing act with.  I enjoy lots of things about the show, its comedy, references to comic book and science fiction, and that its theme song is sung by one of my favorite bands.  Did you know it was written and performed by The Bare Naked Ladies?  Check out this surprise performance of the theme song by the band at Comic Con a few years ago:




The Force is with us all too because a few weeks ago it was announced The Big Bang Theory was renewed for 3 more seasons.  The Big Bang Theory airs at 8pm EST Thursdays on CBS: http://www.cbs.com/shows/big_bang_theory  Enjoy May the Fourth my friends!