Incredibles 2 Poster Looks Like A Marvel Film

I was looking at the poster for the upcoming Incredibles 2 film, and noticed that it looked awfully familiar. And not just because I saw and enjoyed the first Incredibles film in 2004, but because the poster seemed…exactly like a Marvel film. Specifically, one in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, AKA, the MCU.

Here’s the poster for Incredibles 2:

Notice the shape, the look, the radial bi-symmetry of the thing, the arms reaching out, the circles on circles.

Now compare that with the current MCU blockbuster…..

 

 

 

Avengers: Infinity War. See the background circle, the hands stretching out, the DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man of the thing?

This is the new look in the last few years for action and superhero movies. I’ll go back a few more MCU films to point this out:

 

 

Black Panther‘s got the circles, the big head at the top, similar character groupings.

 

 

 



Thor: Ragnarok really has the thickly layered Vitruvian Man thing going on, lots of circles, the bilateral symmetry. We can clearly see there’s some branding going on.

 

But wait…another Marvel property followed the look:

Deadpool 2 can get away with this, because a) it’s a Marvel superhero  film (not in the MCU, but still), and b) it’s a parody film that sees no harm in poking fun at the “Avengers thing”.

 

 

Where it gets a little weird is seeing this imagery pop up in non-Marvel, non-superhero films, like Solo: A Star Wars Story.

It’s not exactly the same, but someone definitely got the memo about the symmetry, the circles, and the layered character arrangement. Here the circles actually make sense, in-story, because we’re obviously looking through the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. But the similarities are still there. We know that Star Wars is now owned by Disney, who owns Marvel, and also owns Pixar, which is how we get right back around to Incredibles 2, a Pixar film.

Disney’s probably doing some branding, and us good little audience goers now recognize this poster imagery as a form of code: Adventure Ahead. Universal Studios is, by contrast, not doing this little movie shorthand on their posters. Look at Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom for reference:

 

See? There ARE other ways to make an adventure poster. We’ve just gotten used to Disney’s featured look. We’ve been “branded”.

My guess is we will keep seeing this kind of poster until a certain level of saturation sets in. And then Disney will come up with a new stylized code for their big blockbuster properties.

 

Back to Incredibles 2 – this is, like Deadpool 2, a superhero parody that also plays the story straight. (Incredibles is a reworked version of the Fantastic Four, just done right.)

There’s no big meaning to these kinds of things, but it’s still interesting to see how we relate to movie poster images. And the callback to the Vitruvian Man is surely one of the oldest memes. Someone on Disney’s team grabbed that ancient archetype and ran with it.

 

I look forward to what happens when a non-Disney poster unthinkingly follows suit and uses this look. Like maybe when the next DC superhero film comes out. Disney will probably freak and file a lawsuit, but last I heard, DaVinci’s art is royalty-free, and circles are even older.

Movie Review – Adrift

Adrift is both more and less than I expected. I expected long, languid scenes of a sailboat floating aimlessly at sea; I expected storms; I expected frequent stretches where Tami (Shailene Woodley) learns to sail. Those bits were in there. What I didn’t expect: the absence of any kind of compelling narrative in what should have been a gripping tale of survival, guts, and grit.

I’m not putting it down lightly. It looked like a fantastic movie from the trailers. I personally like  disaster stories, and will hang in there for extended stretches of silence if the action, plot, or characterization is good enough.

Or even if the scenery is good enough.

Making ocean scenes pretty should be an easy task, but everything in Adrift was fraught with glare. That might have been a creative choice to impart a sense of peril, but I feel it’s just a missed opportunity. Instead of offering a great cinematic experience, it comes across like a documentary. Worse, a cheap one.

I wondered previously if Woodley was seasoned enough to carry an entire movie — and in fact almost an entirely silent one — on her back. The answer shown here is: no, she can’t, at least not yet. Emily Blunt would have knocked it out of the park. (In fact, in the recently fantastic  A Quiet Place, Blunt did just that — with less dialog.)

I think the non-linear storytelling device hampers any attempt to build tension, stamping the movie with the cardinal sin of being boring. Adrift should have been told in a straightforward manner, starting with Tami meeting Richard, getting to know him, talking about their journey, and setting off towards disaster. Instead, we start in the immediate aftermath of the event. From then on, the story shuffles between three different timelines. Every time things start to build any emotional resonance, the direction cuts to somewhere else.

I’m not saying every movie has to follow a linear narrative, but what Adrift attempted to do didn’t work. If you are going for an artsy route, you need the right directorial experience, with high-caliber actors to pull it off.

In any case, it made finding Peetimes pretty easy: there really was only one scene where you can’t hop out to the bathroom.

This film is apparently based on a true story, and maybe there just wasn’t enough meat in the sandwich…but you know you’re in trouble when a short movie like this still feels too long.

Movie Grade: C-

SPOILER TO FOLLOW:

 

 

I think the choice of having there be a surprise twist felt cheap. I expected the character of Richard to be a co-starring role, not an almost silent phantom. All their lines together were probably in the trailers, leading me to think that they would work together to get out of their mess – him via talking her through it, her by learning from his commands. Instead, we have a sort of Life of Pi/Fight Club/The 6th Sense scenario going on. Those movies are top notch and earned their endings. This one just sort of…happened. Since I had no investment in anything onscreen by then, the big reveal felt pointless.

———-

Here are links to the true-life book Adrift was based on, plus A Quiet Place, which we can’t say enough good things about: 

RunPee Review of A Quiet Place (with Spoilers)

RunPee Review of A Quiet Place, No Spoilers

Sand: A Star Wars Story (Darth Vader Hates This Song)

When I first heard this song about Star Wars and Sand, I played it a few times and realized it was way too catchy — impossible to tune out. But it’s so darn cute I don’t mind having the Force bouncing around in my skull for a spell.

The funny thing, in the wake of my post-bliss big-screen experience with Solo: A Star Wars Story, I decided to do an entire chronological re-watch of the entire Star Wars saga (excluding the animated movie and series for now). So two nights ago I saw Phantom Menace again (I’m more forgiving of it every time), then listened to the song. Huh. Really does fit in there.

Last night I watched Attack of the Clones, and then listened to the song a few more times, which really cracked me up. It’s so cringe-inducing listening to Anakin try to flirt with Padme by telling her his problem with sand getting everywhere. Not a romantic image. If your mind mentally replaces the original commonly used words in the prequels with SAND, it’s a bit of awesome.

Tonite I’ll finish the prequels with Revenge of the Sith, and I expect the song to reach the highest heights of meme humor. Inserting the dread word SAND with almost any line by Anakin improves the experience immeasurably. We finally see why Anakin Force-choked his pregnant wife, fought Obi-Won, and turned the keeping of his soul over to the foul Emperor Palpatine (it was all because of Sand). Remember, in the words of young Ani, “Sand is very, very dangerous.”

And how does his son Luke beat him in Return of the Jedi? He had more Sand.

BTW, if you’re one of the Sandpeople on Tatooine, watch your back: Anakin will bust up your Sandy ways. Why? Because Sand is course, and rough, and irritating, and it gets everywhere. (Clearly, there’s no better reason to become a genocidal psychopath.) I think he only loved Padme for being soft and smooth. (Until she fell in love with the Sand.)

These lines are no more strange than the awkward ones Lucas gave us, so go with it. Where’s a sandworm when you need one?

Deadpool MCU Crossover Moments

It’s established that Deadpool swims in his own little eddy in the great Marvel River. Marvel is a pretty big entertainment property,  spanning The X-Men (including  Deadpool as their R-rated step-child), the MCU, the comics, and a whole host of related TV shows falling under the franchise’s umbrella.

It’s not a free-for-all, though it seems like one. The MCU stands alone, keeping the heroes in its galaxy firmly to themselves. And Deadpool is definitely set within  the X-Men lineup (little as they seem to want anything to do with him — they find Deadpool even less of a team player than Woverine and far more annoying).

Here are the little hints that Deadpool might be straddling both ends of the Marvel worlds.

WARNING: Spoilery spoilers below… 

Wade Wilson/Deadpool cracks a lot of jokes about things a fictional character shouldn’t know. He’s aware of himself as a comic book anti-hero and of his own movie actor, Ryan Reynolds (whom he shoots in DP2, mid-credits, to Canada’s “everlasting gratitude”).

He knows about the multiple X-Men timelines, the continuity breaks, and how different actors are currently playing the same roles (“McAvoy or Stewart? I can never keep these timelines straight”).

He knows pop culture and the difference between the Marvel and DC worlds. And while the powers that be try to contain him within that R-rated eddy of the X-Men river, we see hints that the Avengers are also in his universe,  peripherally.

As I watched the Deadpool double feature last week, I made  some notes hinting that Wade Wilson might live a little in the same cinematic universe at the MCU. I’m sure there are other clues that I missed, and we’re not even going to mention the asides about mothers named Martha and how dark the DCU is: 

That Big Old S.H.E.I.L.D. Helicarrier:

At the end of the first movie, the climactic set piece is aboard one of the Avenger’s flying aircraft carriers. It’s a derelict, presumably on the scrap docks after the Battle of New York, but still clearly marked as one of Nick Fury’s own. Keep an eye out for the sign behind Francis and Wade as they tussle. You can catch bits of the words here and there, warning people to “beware of jet blast, propellers and rotors” (see minute 0.05).  Then, the wide shots show most clearly what this hunk of junk really is. It’s very recognizable to MCU fans.

Nick Fury:

In the stinger after DP1’s credits, Deadpool chides us all to go home, before releasing the bomb that Cable will be in the next movie (played perhaps by Keira Knightly)…and that there could be a Samuel Jackson cameo, with an eyepatch, if they are lucky. Fury, as we know, assembled the Avengers in the first place.

Hawkeye In Deadpool 2:

When Deadpool gets his control collar on, he loses his powers. Ever ready to poke fun at the Avengers, he says something like, “Now I’m only as strong as Haweye!” Dis! But also, yeah: Hawkeye shoots a mean bow, but so did Katniss. So Hawkeye’s a now a male Katniss. Why he’s even on the Avengers core team is a story for another day.

Clips from DP2 are not released yet, but here is a little comic book scene establishing their psuedo-frenemy-partnership:

Stan Lee appears in both DP films, in one way or another. We can’t actually count this as just an MCU thing — Stan Lee appears in everything he’s laid a finger on. Stan Lee is like a demi-god in the Marvel worlds (and we recently discovered his overarching “Watcher Informant” role to the Marvel’s intergalactic mightiest). Here Stan Lee makes another delightful cameo in this early teaser for the Deadpool 2 film:

And then we have this delightful letter, with Deadpool trying to join the Avengers. Tony Stark is brutally clear: “No. Absolutely not. Go bother Professor X. No.”

I know I missed more references. And you bet I will hunt them down and pin them to this page like a live bug.

———–

Here’s someone else’s hard work about how DP is secretly an MCU member:

Or tell me what I missed in the comments and I’ll give the credit to you.  Enjoy, maybe over a nice chimichanga.

Amd remember, Deadpool can say chimichanga in seven languages. Can you?

 

 

Solo: A Star Wars Party in San Diego

Last night Solo: A Star Wars Story splashed across screens in the US, to much excitement and fanfare. Everyone loves Harrison Ford’s Han, so people were excited and curious to see a different actor’s take on the iconic character.

Geek that I am, I looked around for a party full of fellow fans to share the anticipation with before the movie premiered. The best option in San Diego was a downtown shindig hosted by the Fleet Planetarium, with a 21+ pre-movie party full of activities, and a special screening of Solo at the Horton Plaza Regal Cinema. We met at a venue called The Sandbox. Here are the party details.

The party started at 6:30, and while it was a little more low-key than I’d hoped, it was a good time. I got to hang out with Darth Vader (I could not stop calling him My Master, which is just weird, but it felt necessary). There were Storm Troopers, Emperor’s Guards,  Kylo Ren, R2D2 (roaming via remote control), and Princess Leia, in full side-buns. Vader even had a voice breathing box — it was uncanny and great fun.

You could interact with the characters and take photos with them, have a few Star Wars themed adult beverages, watch some Star Wars featurettes in a little cinema corner, and do science experiments, courtesy of the Fleet Planetarium.

Some of the experiments were really stretching it to ‘fit’ into the Star War universe: the “Invisibility Cloak”, for example. Last I checked, that was a thing from Harry Potter. Or at least Star Trek, with their cloaking shields. So maybe it didn’t fit, but the experiment was somewhat cool. To wit: if you place a clear glass teardrop into a cup of baby oil, you can’t see it. Really.

Some other activities made more sense — we got to use prisms and 3-D glasses to see light being excited by sodium, potassium, argon and such…relating, of course, to the color of one’s lightsaber.

The worst exhibit showcased gravity acting on a set of plastic beads. Apparently, if you move a string of beads out of a cup a little at a time, eventually gravity takes over and pulls the rest of the beads out. Ohh…kay? I was so flobbered by this demonstration of gravity that all I could say to the nice gent showing off his trick was, “Yes, that would be how gravity works, thank you.”

The shrinky dinks station was the most  fun. There were a variety of blacked-out line drawings to trace onto plastic, which were baked in toaster ovens, resulting in little keychain charms. I made three.

 

There was a nice photo booth with a professional giving out photos for free, so I got to goof around with Princess Leia a bit. Who knew the Princess could lighten up and have a spot of fun?

 

 

Star Wars at Disneyland

From May the 4th through the opening weekend for Solo: A Star Wars Story, Disneyland’s Tomorrowland has a makeover hailing from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. In other words, The Force has taken over.

With Star Wars now a Disney property, Disney is the upcoming go-to place for immersive SW experiences — and next year, with an entire Star Wars “Land” opening, it should be as exciting as Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. While Star Tours (A Star Wars motion-car ride) has been at Disneyland since 1987, that was essentially it for interesting intergalactic mayhem, for a long stretch of time.

Nowadays, fans can buy tickets for exclusive  “May the 4th” night-time parties (this year’s $99 event sold out in mere hours, prompting Disney to open a second evening’s events), a $130 intergalactic shindig on May 27th (celebrating the opening weekend of the young Han Solo movie), and a temporary re-do of several older areas of the now scruffy-looking Tomorrowland.

Tomorrowland desperately needs an upgrade. It may have seemed very futuristic when it opened in 1955, but now just looks like a joke. It’s dated almost beyond repair. For a while that ‘land’ limped along as a sort of nostalgic look back on what the future would bring, but that stopped being relevant when the baby boomers started aging out of attendance. Star Tours went through several different story iterations, and became the only attraction worth seeing in that entire section of the park. Call this area a sci-fi money pit.

Here’s a somewhat exhaustive list of the new attractions and shows to be seen during Tomorrowland’s temporary Star Wars makeover

  • Hyperspace Mountain

For one thing, Space Mountain was getting tired. This ride-in-the-dark roller coaster was amazing for decades, but slowly became a second-tier attraction, like Thunder Mountain Railway and Matterhorn Bobsleds. This month, it’s been glitzed up with a snazzy Star Wars theme, and the signage has been overlaid as Hyperspace

Mountain. The outdoors section of the line is still awful (only grey concrete to look at for however many hours you wait to get inside). Once the line gets inside the building, lots of Star Wars stuff appears. The best part is a video mini-movie featuring Admiral “It’s a Trap” Ackbar, describing your new mission, and a hope that the Force will be with you.

The ride itself seemed more fun than I recall. I think it’s darker inside, which makes the roller coaster part more fun. You don’t know which way the coaster will go next — up, down, sideways, zig zag, etc — and it’s a lot more exciting. And now the coaster starts off with a Star Wars send-off, and a brief passage through the shooting lights of hyperspace.

If they keep the Star Wars elements intact after this month, the ride is again worth doing.

  • Star Tours

The line for this attraction is amazing. It’s almost better than the ride itself – no small feat. Once you get inside the “Spaceport Terminal,” every detail is seen to in a wacky, unbridled creative sense of joy. C3PO and Artoo are in there, as well as Number Five, from 1986 movie Short Circuit, apparently in charge of baggage.  This is how you manage crowds! And the motion-car attraction is a nice experience.

It’s upgraded to cover the sequel trilogy with Kylo Ren, and your shuttlecraft is still piloted by those old counterpart ‘droids. They’ve added 3D glasses to the experience. I’m pretty sure this attraction used to be occupied by Captain Eo (Michael Jackson himself) way, way back in the day. Anyone remember that?

As you leave Star Tours, you transit a huge store full of SW merchandise. If you like Star Wars, drop your cash here for some mighty cool swag.

You can also enter the store without entering Star Tours.

  • March of the First Order 

This little show occurs several times over the course of the day, featuring Captain Phasma and her crack First Order troops marching to fanfare throughout Tomorrowland. Phasma barks out commands, and the troops scan the audience at phaser-point, looking for Resistance spies. I recommend standing in front of, and facing, the Star Wars Launch Bay for the best viewing. If you’re lucky, you’ll get singled out as a spy. It’s a short show, but fun.

  • Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple

This show is mostly for the kiddies, who get to put on Padawan robes and learn lightsaber techniques onstage. It’s got showings all day long, and has a bit of story to it. Fun viewing for every age.

  • Star Wars Launch Bay

This area used to be a cafeteria, if I recall correctly. How…inspiring? I’m glad they turned it into a Star Wars Museum. And it’s the kind of museum that’s immersive – props are treated as actual relics and archival pieces, with fantastic signage, costumes, movie featurettes, and lots of room for more Star Wars additions as new movies roll out. Best thing – there’s no line, and barely anyone was even in there when I visited. It’s a cool and dark refuge for hot days. I really liked this space, and took only a bazillion photos (so I could read the “museum signs” at my leisure).

There’s a section in the Launch Bay that sells some extremely exclusive merch. Like a full-sized Storm Trooper, retailing for $6,000. Or you can get a copy of Rey’s Last Jedi shirt for only around $100.

  • Character Meetings: Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, Chewbacca, and Rey

These characters are available all day for photo opps, located in their own private chambers within the Star Wars Launch Bay. Wait times were only 5-15 minutes while I was there. The costumed cast members act in character for you, making it a super cool experience. Plus, you get to hug Chewbacca. He gives great hugs. Seriously, ALWAYS take the time to hug Chewie.

  • Galaxy’s Edge

Scheduled to open in 2019, Disney will open Galaxy’s Edge, an ENTIRE LAND devoted to Star Wars. I assume they will move the Tomorrowland’s SW attractions there…leaving…exactly what in Tomorrowland? There won’t be anything left that’s worth doing. I say they should raze Tomorrowland to the ground and come up with a new and more cutting edge property. (What Disney franchise hasn’t been tapped yet? Pixar is covered already. Personally, I’d love to seeAliens, Star Trek, or Titanic themed areas, but those aren’t Disney owned.

Avatar would be great! Disney World already uses Avatar at their Animal Kingdom Party…so maybe they will import some of that here and revamp an erstwhile Tomorrowland into Pandora. James Cameron’s new Avatar movies are coming along soon, we hear.

The Marvel stuff is all in Disney’s California Adventure Park already – and the are demolishing A Bug’s Land to do their Marvel area right (Story for another time…

Read our easy, no waiting, no-lines tips to viewing the tall and otherworldly spires of Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. (From now til the land opens in the summer of 2019)

(Images above owned by RunPee.com)

 

The 5 Movies You Need To Watch Before Infinity War

At this time, there are exactly 19 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ant Man & The Wasp is coming soon (to make an even 20) but that tale will probably be a self-contained story: a palette cleanser after the lingering after-effects of mighty number 19, the Avengers Infinity War.

You probably already know Infinity War is the culmination of 10 years of cinematic storytelling, with a cast of literally dozens of named characters. To catch up to this point, one would have to sit through several days of non-stop movie-going… starting with Iron Man 1, the film that kickstarted it all. A lot of fans converged in New York City for 31 hours of Marvel goodness, and I hope they brought their Peetimes. (Note: the NYC screening only played 12 films for their marathon, so you’ll have to do the math yourself for a grand pre-Infinity War hours-long total of all 18.)

But, what if you don’t have time for a full re-watch before IW leaves the theaters? Or — Ragnarok forbid! — maybe you’re kind of an MCU newb. (Clue: if you don’t know what MCU stands for, you might be a rookie.)

RunPee is here to help. If you had to, you could get by with a five-film preview and be more or less up to speed. Here are those five, plus a few extra honorary mentions if you have some extra time/inclination. This slim five movie line-up means you’ll miss a few important origin stories, but for the ones I skip, things can be summed up in one or two lines. You’ll see.

Five Must-See Films, with No Spoilers

  1. Iron Man 1 – Iron Man started it all and changed how we saw superhero films. It’s easy to forget how amazing this was when it first hit the screens. Understanding the complex character of Tony Stark is so important to understanding the series, and it’s hard to adequately explain why. Cap is simple — he’s a super soldier and a natural leader. Thor is simple — he’s the Norse God of Thunder. Hulk…is Hulk (I assume you know about the Hulk). But you have to walk a while with Stark to see his importance to the entire universe, and why so much of IW centers on him. If you have to skip any of these five films though, this is the one to overlook.
  2. Avengers 1 – You don’t really need the origin stories of Cap, Hulk, or Thor to understand Infinity War. Avengers 1 preps things so nicely for the original set of superheroes, and lays the groundwork for EVERYTHING ELSE to come. Do not miss.
  3. Captain America: Civil War – If you skip this one, you may as well not bother with Infinity War. This ensemble piece covers several new origin stories, brings together a huge cast in preparation for an upcoming even  larger cast, and paves the way towards understanding what happened to “break-up” the original team. MUST SEE.
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 1 – Another film that you cannot skip. A lot of IW is devoted to the Guardians. If you don’t know who these beings are, IW won’t hit the emotional beats it sustains for everyone else. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun.
  5. Thor 3: Ragnarok – This film most immediately leads into Infinity War. As in, it ends literally moments before IW begins.  Thor 3 brings a lot of disparate story points together, explains why Thor is so broken when we see him next, continues the storylines of both Loki and The Hulk, and sets the stage for everything to come. If you miss this one, a major part of the IW resolution just won’t make sense. And also, like GotG, this one is super fun.

———————–

Six Honorary Mentions (If you have the time), and what you need to know if you skip them (with spoilers to get you caught up — be warned): 

  1. Avengers 2: Age of Ultron – The second Avengers ensemble piece explains who The Vision and Scarlet Witch are. What you need to know: The Vision is an artificial intelligence being with an infinity stone implanted in his forehead, created by Ultron (and Stark, and Banner – it’s complicated, but not important). Scarlet Witch is infused with the same powers of the stone. All this is referenced in both Captain America: Civil War, and in Infinity War itself, so missing the Ultron bit won’t hurt you.
  2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Bucky was Cap’s best friend in the World War II days, he’s been injected with super soldier serum (just like Cap), has a Vibranium arm (instead of a shield), and was brainwashed into being a bad guy (unlike Cap). This information is more or less re-tread in Civil War, so you’ll be okay without this one. Skippable for our purposes.
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 – This is a direct continuation of the first GotG film, with a few character additions — Baby Groot replaces Original Groot (which we see at the end of Volume 1), Mantis is a new Guardian (and has the power to make you sleep or wake up)…and Star Lord kills his father (for very good reasons). Oh, and Nebula comes to terms with her sister Gamora. It’s all about ‘family’. Now you’re good to go. Of the six movies listed here, this one has the most plot points you’d appreciate knowing for IW. 
  4. Dr. Strange – All you REALLY need to know is that Strange is a Wizard and wears the Time Stone. Infinity War does a great job rehashing those two points in the first few scenes. Bonus: there’s also a brief but fun Strange introduction in Thor: Ragnarok. So, yeah, unless you are a huge Cumberbatch fan, you can safely skip this to prep for IW.
  5. Spiderman: Homecoming – I hated leaving this affable and fun entry off the main list, but since we get a very nice introduction to Spidey in Civil War, you can safely pass on his stand-alone film.
  6. Black Panther – Like Spiderman above,  leaving out the story of Wakanda kind of hurts. The thing is: Civil War does a fantastic job introducing T’Challa’s Black Panther and the idea of the Vibranium-tech-based nation itself, and why the Winter Soldier can be found there. Cool as this movie is, you’ll be fine without it. You’ll understand why a large portion of IW occurs in Wakanda, because a main character tells you outright.

Keep in mind, I’m not listing which movies are the best in the MCU, nor saying that the rest are unimportant or uninteresting in their own right. This is just to get you to a place you can potentially watch Infinity War and not be totally,  hopelessly lost. Have fun, and let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments. Movie-watching is subjective. Which five would you say are crucial?

To help you get ready:

Club 33 – Disney’s Exclusive Hidden Door

On a recent journey to Disney to celebrate “Star Wars Month” (from “May the 4th” through the May 25th weekend release of “Solo: A Star Wars Story“), I looked for the mysterious, mostly unheard of, never advertised, and extremely expensive Club 33.  After much searching, I found the door.

What’s Club 33? I didn’t know it existed until this month. While visiting San Diego’s Intergalactic Brewery for their own May the 4th Star Wars celebration, I mentioned my upcoming Disney trip. The local bar-going geeks promptly told me to look for the “hidden door” to Club 33.

“What’s that?” I asked.  “An exclusive restaurant,” someone chimed in. “You can drink alcohol there,” the bartender helpfully added. I wanted to know more. Disneyland is so thoroughly family-friendly that beer and wine is banned in the park. So I did a little internet searching.

 

 

Online sources report Club 33 memberships charge $50k for an initiation fee, plus annual dues of around $30k. And then there’s the food and drink prices;  a hamburger reportedly costs $42 on the inexpensive, a la carte end. 

My guess is this is a celebrity haven. 

There’s actually a ten-year waiting list for this privileged experience. Because yes, there’s no other way to get alcohol in Disneyland. (Caveat. You CAN buy wine in adjacent Disney’s California Adventure Park.)

I had dinner that night at The Blue Bayou, a themed restaurant located inside the infamous Pirates of the Caribbean ride (another rare dining experience, although more affordable to mortal man) and it’s true, there’s no booze on the menu. Gumbo, yes — Chardonnay, no.

Which leads me back to Club 33. Pirates of the Caribbean is located in New Orleans Square, which was my only clue to locating the unsigned, mysterious  door. Finding that was on my Must-Do list for this trip, the only must-see besides checking out the Star Wars events. New Orleans Square isn’t very big, but it’s packed with the most restaurants and some of the very best rides. It took some time to locate. I’m not even going to tell you how to find it, because, quite frankly, I’ve given you enough clues. Most of the fun is in the seeking. Suffice to say that Club 33 does exist. I even got a quick peek inside when someone used their key card to enter: it looks like an art nouveau-style speakeasy.

I took a few pictures of the entrance to assist you in your quest. And if you manage to get in, let me know if it’s worth the price!

Hint. Look for this: 

 

(Images owned by RunPee.com)

Yep. That’s $500 for a lanyard of Club 33. I don’t understand this either:

Star Wars Last Shot – A Han and Lando Novel

With the arrival of Solo —the newest Star Wars Story set to splash on cinema screens — pretty much the entire galaxy is primed to learn more about Han Solo. Just how did he fall from expert Imperial pilot to a petty criminal in a seedy underworld? Lots of pre-canon material is out there in book form, detailing how he met and saved the faithful Chewie, how he won (or cheated?) the Millennium Falcon out from under Lando Calrissian …and how the frak the Kessel Run was made in less than 12 parsecs (which, as we know, is a unit of distance, not time).  These are things Solo is expected to show.

Now here’s the first completely canonized Han Solo book, to fill in the gaps the movies don’t cover. It’s called Star Wars: Last Shot (A Han and Lando Novel), written by Daniel José OlderApparently it delves into Han’s (and Lando’s) past and future. And like Han and Lando, the book is breezy, snarky, and funny.

What’s challenging, structure-wise, is how the novel will make a coherent story without rehashing or rewriting established moments from these men’s lives that we haven’t already seen — not in the original trilogy, the new Solo film, and the slowly growing bookshelf of canon novels. If Last Shot is going to be weaving four viewpoints around (young Han, young Lando, mature Han, and mature Lando), telling a credible, interesting tale with all new information sounds somewhat impossible. (But hey, never tell me the odds!)

According to Amazon reviewers, Last Shot manages all these things, and gives us plenty of insight to our two most-beloved galactic scoundrels. And, of course, Chewbacca.

Here’s a direct link to Star Wars – Last Shot on Amazon, so you can take a look for yourselves. The second link goes to the classic (now non-canon, but still awesome) Adventures of Han Solo trilogy. I still own the original books, in the first print of the first edition…and it’s time to get the first print of the new story!

 

Movie Review – Book Club

I thought this would be an inspiring movie about taking life by the balls (or in this case, the ovaries) in your golden years. The high-caliber cast of aging actresses is stellar; they did a fine job. I am  about 15-20 years younger than them, but feel like they have options I will never have. They are rich, live in their own lovely homes, have great careers, and enjoy close friendships with each other. They are basically Sex and the City: The Older Edition. It’s cute, it’s funny — and super depressing. I need to stick to Deadpool, Star Wars, and Avengers. Even the recent 50 Shades movie was better than this. This one….is simply full of unrealistic  mockery. It probably depends on what is happening in your life.

I personally feel cheated. In the ruins of my newly single life, I have no friends, live in a cinder-block closet in my mother’s basement, and have no future. I work out like a fiend, and look better than I did in my 20s. I have abs. And it doesn’t matter. The hoary, combed-over, wrinkled ex-husband featured in this film has a 25-year-old blonde hot bimbo for a new wife. So, what chance do I have? Do I have to find old men who think I am the young hot chick?

No, thank you.

Back to the movie. There are a lot of laughs. The entire room, playing up against Marvel’s ‘juggernaut’ Deadpool2 (that’s an in-joke, sorry), was PACKED. Mature ladies, elderly women, old couples, and the occasional young 50 Shades fan took up every single seat. That was unexpected. And the laughs were raucously loud for the first third of the film. I laughed with them too.

And suddenly, reality set in. Things stopped being fun. These four leading ladies looked amazing; they were also rich, and high-powered. (For example, one was a judge. One owned hotels. These were not normal women – they were senior superheroes.) The characters were NOT RELATABLE. A discontent seemed to seep into the entire theater: these women were not us. And the characters were lucky in a way that wasn’t aspirational.

Well, the actresses clearly enjoyed themselves. Good on them. But did the viewers walk out (and use walkers out, in many, many cases) feeling happy? I looked closely at the audience during the credits. And I have to say no: the older people seemed downcast. I myself was full of despair. These characters were clearly lucky. They didn’t work at bettering their lives. Book Club didn’t  encourage the audience to make changes in themselves, or even in their vaginas. One character bumped into an old beau. One character tripped over a hot younger pilot  (she fell into his lap <—– I need to learn this trick). And so on. Luck. Yeah.

So, how to grade this? I’d call it misleading advertising. I expected their book club to inspire changes we could all learn from and emulate. Instead, poor little rich-girl hottie (probably starving herself to keep her shape) Jane Fonda fears “real” love. Adorable Diane Keaton finds a sexy younger millionaire via a stereotypical meet-cute moment. What the heck IS THIS? I don’t eat either, to look good. But where are the men?

Well then. I suppose I’m getting too critical. I just wanted to laugh and let go of grief and regret for a couple of hours. Not happening in this film — things hit too close to home. I will say this:  if you have a really tight group of girlfriends who support you emotionally, and ply you with wine at the drop of a hat, a la Sex and the City (and yes, Book Club), hold onto them like the gold they are.

I feel like crying. Count me out.

Grade: C

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