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Star Wars Rogue One: A War Drama-Heist Hybrid


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Star Wars is back, and for the first time, with a one-time spinoff that falls outside the 3 movie trilogies (Disney promises more one-time spinoffs, btw). Rogue One is set just before Episode IV and in the film, the rebels seek to steal the Death Star plans in an attempt to destroy the behemoth battle station before it’s able to inflict maximum damage.

Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso, the female lead who comes from a hardened and untrustworthy background, yet is recruited by the Rebellion in an attempt to thwart the Empire’s plans to rule the galaxy with an iron fist of terror. From there, she’s joined by a somewhat ragtag team that ultimately comes together to feature quite a bit of onscreen chemistry and charm.

Highlights from the backing cast include characters such as Cassian Andor, a devoted yet very serious Alliance captain played by Diego Luna, Chirrup Imwe, a force-strong blind warrior played by Donnie Yen who provides some comic relief, and K-2SO, a comedically sarcastic and lovable droid voiced by Alan Tudyk.

The film’s main villain is Orson Krennic, an Imperial officer who heads the Empire’s Advanced Weapons Research division. With all the ambition in the galaxy, Krennic is intent upon seeing that he’s recognized by his superiors for his work on the Death Star, albeit he uses Jyn Erso’s father, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), to make the most technological advances behind the super weapon possible.

Rogue One neither seems to be a heist movie, nor a full-blown epic war drama, yet appears to represent somewhat of a hybrid between the two genres. It features stunning visual effects, nonstop action (especially during the film’s latter half), and plenty of easter eggs that will delight old school fans who worship the original trilogy.

The acting is great, but due to the fact that the film is a one-off, it may leave some viewers wanting to see even more character development that will likely never happen. The beginning of the film also kicks in with quite a bit of planet hopping that seems a little excessive, and the rebel alliance leaders seem a bit colder and dispirited than is probably warranted. Otherwise, there’s a lot to love and numerous parts of the film that will perhaps pull at your heartstrings. 4/5.

The Monthly Roundup: What Made April Tick


SETI Telescopes Shut Down:  In news that is bad for proponents of the search for extraterrestrial life in the universe, funding has been cut for SETI (The Search for Extraterrestrial Life Institute).

The project consists of 42 telescopes spread across 300 miles of land north of San Francisco. The 42 telescopes form the center of the Institute’s research arm. Meanwhile, the institute hopes to raise enough money to put the telescopes back online.

PlayStation NOTwork: Sony took the popular gaming network offline when they discovered that an external threat had occured. Sony is said to be rebuilding the network to ensure that such intrusions don’t occur again.

Power Play or Foot in Mouth? Real estate mogul and potential 2012 presidential candidate Donald Trump continued his criticism of President Obama for not releasing his full form birth certificate. The controversy escalated and concluded with the president releasing the original. Interesting Note: The more basic live birth certificate Obama released in 2008 is the current legal standard in Hawaii.

NFL Draft Class of 2011: The 2011 NFL draft kicked off in late April with the 2011 Heisman trophy winner from Auburn Cam Newton  being selected #1 by the Carolina Panthers. The draft took place amid the continuing labor dispute between the NFL and the former players union.

iPhone = iSpy? Apple faced criticism after users claimed the popular iOS based devices tracked their locations. Apple has described it as a misunderstanding. Although the issue was first brought up last year, it didn’t seem to become that big of a story until recently.

Tornados in Alabama: Tornadoes and storms have devastated the Tuscaloosa area of Alabama, causing over 300 fatalities.

March: The Monthly Roundup


As March is coming to a close, it’s been a pretty newsworthy month.  So, here’s a look back at some of the biggest headlines.

Japan Earthquake:  An 8.9 Earthquake caused chaos in Japan.  It resulted in a tsunami and left the world’s third largest economy with its biggest crisis since the bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The quake also resulted in a Japanese nuclear crisis.  Casualties amount to over 10,000.

Libya: Revolts in Libya caused Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi to move against Libyan rebels.  The United States, along with France and the United Kingdom have partaken in limited military operations to stop Gadhafi from spreading violence.  While the U.S. and its allies would love to see Ghadafi ousted, the end result still remains unclear.

iPad 2: Apple revealed the design for its latest venture: The iPad 2. 

Loss of a Hollywood Legend: Famed Hollywood actress Elizabeth Taylor passed away from congestive heart failure.  The two time academy award winning actress starred in such films including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, Cleopatra, and Butterfield 8.  She was considered by many to be the most attractive woman in the world during the 1950’s and is remembered for her effortless fight against AIDS.

NFL Season in Jeopardy: The NFL Players Association filed for decertification after negotiations with the NFL for a new labor agreements failed to lead any productive result.

Loss of a Political Trailblazer: Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to stand for the office of U.S. Vice President on a major party ticket passes away from blood cancer.


The Monthly Roundup: A Few Things That Made The Second Month of 2011 TICK


February 2011:

Credit: (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

 

Super Bowl XLV. The Packers have defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, which was held in Dallas, Texas on February 6.  Packers QB Aaron Rodger’s performance was incredible as he completed 24/39 pass attempts for 304 yard and 3 TD’s, thus becoming MVP of Super Bowl XLV.

Protests Spread. Anti-government protests continue to spread to other nations after the Cairo protests eventually settled down following former Egyptian President Mubarik’s resignation.  Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is now feeling that same pressure, if not more.  The Libyan leader, who has been in power since 1969 has a worse relationship with western nations who would love to see him go.

Expansion of the iPhone. The iPhone 4 was released for Verizon Wireless users on February 10th.

Cosmic Census. NASA releases its first cosmic census of the universe, estimating that at least 50 billion planets exist in the Milky Way Galaxy

Final Flight of a Legend.  Space shuttle Discovery launches for its final mission.  The shuttle is carrying equipment to the International Space Station.

Oscars. The King’s Speech wins best picture at the 83rd Academy Awards.

The Monthly Roundup: A Few Things That Made The First Month of 2011 TICK


Chaos In Cairo: Although Egypt hasn’t been ruled by pharaohs in over 2000 years, common Egyptians perhaps saw too much of one in the nearly 30 year rule of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarik as they took the the streets of Cairo in late January to protest what they saw as too much corruption, lack of free speech and free elections.

Tragedy in Tuscon: United States Representative Gabrielle Giffords was the target of an assassination plot by 22 year old Jared Loughner.  Although shot in the head, Giffords has survived and continues to make remarkable progress.  However, 6 people perished in the shooting.  The event also triggered a debate in the U.S. media as to whether political speech had grown too insensitive and had played a factor in inspiring the plot.

Republicans Return to The Hill In the Majority: For the first time in nearly 4 years, Republicans lead by newly elected House Speaker John Boehner returned to the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Birds Drop From the Sky: Over 5000 redwinged blackbirds fell dead from the sky on New Years Eve.  By the first day of January, thousands of birds littered the streets of Beebe, Arkansas.  Scientists are still examining the reason for the mass bird deaths.  Although shocking, the event is not necessarily unprecedented.

The Packers and Steelers Win Their Conferences to Meet in the Super Bowl: 2 classic NFL powerhouses won their conferences and are set to meet in Super Bowl XLV which will be played February 6th in Dallas, Texas.

A look back at some of the rides of Disney that are gone but not forgotten


Have you ever been to a theme park then returned a number of years later to find that your favorite ride has been replaced by something newer, more technologically advanced, and something that’s supposedly better?  Well, you’re not the only one.  As time has gone by, sure, many classic rides have stood the test of time, say for example, the classic Disney Ride, It’s A Small World. But there are some unfortunate rides that get renovated into something entirely different if not taken down all together.  So here’s a countdown of some of the coolest Disney rides that may be gone but not forgotten.

1.) The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, Tomorrow Land, Magic Kingdom            June 20,1995-October 12, 2003

The first one on the list is Disney’s ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, a live theatre experience with built in moving chairs, booming sounds, and special effects.  The ride’s premise is simple: a captured alien escapes and visitors are left strapped in their chairs in the dark as it prowls throughout the room.  The ride was closed in 2003 to make way for the more kid friendly Lilo’s Great Escape.

For a video of this former attraction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2XkRn_pAQI

2.)Body Wars, Epcot, Disney World, October 19, 1989-June 2001

Body Wars was a simulator ride at the Wonders of Life Pavilion in Epcot.  Visitors would be “shrunk” to the size of tiny molecules in order to journey through the inside of the human body in order to stop an evil splinter that had penetrated the skin.  An interesting fact is that this ride was directed by Leonard Nimoy(aka Spock from Star Trek)

For a video of this former attraction:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpm5luDr17o

3.)Adventure Thru Inner Space, Tomorrowland, Disneyland, 1967-1985

This one is a bit older of an attraction.  It first opened in 1967 and like Body Wars it also “shrunk” it’s visitors, but this time so they could explore the atom.  This ride used atommobiles to take visitors on the ride through the atom and the ride’s narration was voiced by Paul Frees who’s voice can still be heard on Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride.  It was closed in 1985 to make way for Star Wars ride, Star Tours.

For a video about the ride: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctQMV81NIiw

4.)World of Motion, Epcot, 1982-1996

This ride gave disney visitors a history of travel starting with cavemen inventing the wheel up through the modern era of cars.  The ride close in 1996 to make way for Test Track.

For a video of the ride: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUBxWlni1Dw

5.)Horizons, Epcot, 1983-1999

As visitors rode on Horizons they were shown visions of the future thus perceived from the era of science fiction writeer Jules Verne.  The ride was closed in 1999 to make way for Mission: SPACE.

For a video of the ride: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbuA4m4QZQY

6.)Submarine Voyage, Disneyland, 1959-1998

The submarine ride vehicles for this ride were designed to look like navy nuclear submarines.  There were, however in fact boats as visitors were seated at an area below sea level and were able to look out at different underwater displays and fish.  The ride really still lives on now as Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.

For a video of the ride: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gX91iV8iVZc

7.)Mission To Mars, Tomorrowland, Disneyland, 1975-1992

This attraction launched visitors into outer space and onward towards Mars.  It’s very similar to Disney’s Mission: SPACE.

For a video of the ride: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TE9n6owrMZ0

8.)If You Had Wings, Magic Kingdom, Disneyworld, 1972-1987

This dark ride took visitors to certain destinations throughout the Carribean and still lives on in the form of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.

For a video of the ride: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Vmfc8aVW-U

A look inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter


On June 18th Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure will open the much anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter and it will be no surprise to see fans of the popular book and movie series flock from all around to experience Harry Potter’s world in the most realistic way possible.  Universal Orlando announced the creation of the park in October of 2007.  The park features full scale replicas of Hogsmeade, the magical town often visited by Harry and his friends.  It also features Hogwarts, the legendary school of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  In addition to three large rides, the world will feature many other attractions as well.

The park has been a long time in the making and was first proposed and discussed nearly a decade ago.  J.K. Rowling, famed author of the Potter series originally wanted visitors of the park to gain access by tapping the right brick in the Leaky Cauldron Pub, thus leading to Diagon alley from where they’d catch a ride via the Hogwarts Express and on to the famed school itself.  While that might not be the exact way visitors will enter the park, Rowling will see many aspects of her world from the Potter series come true with the opening of the park itself.

Dragons, Hippogriffs, and Adventure

Walls inside of Hogwarts lined with portraits

The main attraction will be a ride giving visitors a tour of Hogwarts.  Titled Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, visitors will enter Hogwarts through the gates and journey onward through Hogwart’s hallways.  There they’ll see familiar sights from the books and movies.  Such sights include the headmaster’s office, classrooms, the Gryffindor Common room, and the Mirror of Erised.  After waiting in line visitors will board a magical bench(also known as a ride vehicle) where they’ll be given a special tour of Hogwarts by Harry.  Visitors will experience the castle firsthand, get to fly around, run into some dementors, and get caught up in a Quidditch match.  When exiting the ride visitors will be lead to Finch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods gift shop.

The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

The other two rides are both roller coasters.  Dragon Challenge offers visitors to choose either the Chinese Fireball or Hungarian Horntail.  While it’s the only inverted roller coaster in the world, the coaster itself was originally opened by the park in 1999 as Dueling Dragons.

Flight of the Hippogriff is a bit calmer of a ride.  Like Dragon Challenge, Flight of the Hippogriff is an older park ride originally titled Flying Unicorn that has been re-themed to fit into the world of Harry Potter.  While visitors wait in line for this much anticipated ride they’ll see a full scale replica of Hagrid’s hut.

Conceptual art of the Hogsmeade area of the park

Besides the three large rides included within the world, the park also includes dining and shopping.  Two of the restaurants include The Three Broomsticks, which offers pumpkin juice and butterbeer along with food included from the Potter universe.  The other restaurant and pub, Hog’s Head will offer visitors 21+ some refreshing alcoholic beverages.  Shops include the famed Ollivander’s where Harry got his wand.  It will also be an interactive experience where visitors are able to have their wand choose them.  Other shops that will also be featured include Honeydukes, a candy store, Owl Post, a post office selling stationary, and Dervish and Banges, a magic store.

Stars from the Harry Potter movies recently got a sneak peak of the park.  You can check out photos here at this link(thanks to yahoo):   http://movies.yahoo.com/photos/collections/gallery/2493/harry-potter-theme-park-revealed#photo0

For more information visit: http://www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter/