Star Wars: The Force Awakens — Movie Review

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There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, possibly one of the most anticipated movies of all time, has finally come at last. But does this new film, the one that shall relaunch the entire franchise for not only a new generation but ones that have grown up with the story, all what it has been hyped up to be? I loved Star Wars for a very long time. I remember being about eight-years-old going to rent a movie when my mom said to me,”It’s about time you watched these.” And picked up the original Star Wars trilogy for me. From that moment on, I was in love. My obsession only increased when Episode 1, 2, and 3 came out. I, unlike most of the world, didn’t hate Phantom Menace when I first watched it. Granted, I was young. Now though–let’s just say it’s not a movie I pop in to watch when I find some down time. Attack of the Clones was alright. I actually liked Revenge of the Sith, partially because I love the concept of good characters going rogue and well, you should already know what happens here. The original three: A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi is, in my opinion, flawless. I have to say that cast was just perfect. Han Solo, Luke, Leia, Chewie, R2D2, and C-3PO  were just too awesome which made the prequels without them a hard one to compete with. That said, with the original cast joining forces to return to a galaxy far, far away, how could anyone not be excited?

Aaron and I watched Star Wars: Force Awakens the morning after opening night. I was so excited I could hardly sleep. X-Wing flights, soaring Millennium Falcon, and lightsaber duels filled my dreams, making it unbearable to even try to sleep. I’m telling you, I couldn’t wait. I was going to pee my pants until I saw the yellow text drifting through the starry galaxy, but finally it came at last.

I wanted to give it a couple days before I posted this review to give time for people to see the movie, but I couldn’t wait anymore. So without further ado, here is our review on Star Wars: Force Awakens.

——-SPOLIER ALERT——

 

Overall, the movie was incredible. I thought it was a great way to kick off the new series. We got to experience something really amazing by bringing in the old cast. It really felt real to see our beloved characters back on the screen, aged naturally after nearly 40 years. And the fact that they had all these years to age really made you feel like the time passed(which it did). However, if the films were filmed right after that we probably would have seen Harrison Ford wearing a ton of makeup to have him look older. I thought the introduction to BB8 was on point.He was such a cute little droid that I simply feel in love with. He’s a great addition to our already lovable droids. The new cast held their own, filled with their own  character and mystery. I really like that this time we have a female lead (Rey, played by actress Daisy Ridley) who is sort of taking on the Luke Skywalker role. She’s also an amazing pilot so I think she’ll have some traits of both Luke and Han. This makes me think she’s related in some form–possibly Luke’s daughter? In the original comic I believe Leia and Han had twins and Luke had a boy, but they seem to be straying from this. I also really liked the idea of Finn (played by actor John Boyega). He is a stormtropper who wants to be good. I thought that was a nice twist to the story. I’m not even going to tell you how amazing it felt to see Han and Chewbacca reunited. It was like no time passed. I have to say though, I was not expecting Han’s death. I was shocked. I couldn’t even enjoy the rest of the movie because I was dwelling on what just happened. I couldn’t believe it. My mouth stayed open for about ten minutes after the scene. Aaron had to even ask me if I was alright. I understand why they did it, I just didn’t think they would do it so fast. I mean, the original cast never even got to be reunited together. I swear it was like when Dumbledore died. I was in mourning.

Like I said, overall, the movie was fantastic. There was much more I thought did well than otherwise. However, there was a few things that did bother me about the film.

They made this movie really safe. You could tell that they were scared to have another “Phantom Menace.” The movie mirrors “A New Hope” so much it was a little ridiculous. Let’s look at the similarities between the two films.

  1. A lovable droid is giving a message(map) that the enemy is after.
  2. Our main hero is from a deserted planet.
  3. Our main character finds the droid with the message (map) and makes friends with someone who can help them escape the deserted planet.
  4. Travels through space on the Millennium Falcon–no complaints there. The Millennium Falcon is AWESOME.
  5. Main character received Anakin  Skywalker’s original lightsaber by a character who has been protecting it.
  6. Planets are destroyed by enemy.
  7. Death Star (Starkiller Base)
  8. A fleet of X-Wing fighters destroy enemy base.
  9. Main character watches mentor die in front of them by lightsaber.
  10. Darth Vader (Luke’s father) Kylo Ren (Luke’s nephew).

There was a lot of similarities between both films. To me, all I saw was a fancy remake of the original. However, in no means am I bashing this film. I really enjoyed it and I can’t wait to see it again. I just hope that Episode 8 doesn’t mirror “Empire Strikes Back.” So long as they keep the next film fresh, I’ll be a happy camper.

Jessica Lange Returning to American Horror Story: Hotel?

While checking out our friends reviews on the American Horror Story series(https://vinnieh.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/american-horror-story-coven/), we stumbled upon an article about Jessica Lange hinting that she just might return to the show. Keyword—MIGHT. Personally, I don’t think Jessica would have mentioned it at all if it wasn’t an option she was carefully considering. After all, this would just upset fans of the show. Scratch that. Upset isn’t the appropriate word. Let’s try outrage the fans of the show, most of them wanting nothing more than to see her back. Let’s face it, American Horror Story won’t be the same without her. She was the star! An amazing one at that. So, will Jessica Lange return? We can only hope.

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I have some theories on the matter. First, I think Jessica does need a break. The show was designed to be unique, each season a standalone, yet subtly connected in a giant, intricate web. The writers are a talented bunch, having to foresee every twist and turn and how they intertwine with each other. It’s simply amazing. However, Jessica Lange has become a fan favorite. Although her roles have changed a bit, she still is the “ringleader” of it all. This could be too repetitive and I do think they need to spice it up a bit. With this said, I have a feeling that if Lange doesn’t check in to Hotel, we will definitely see her back for season 6. Imagine the ratings? It’s a great marketing strategy, thinking ahead in the future like this.

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If Lange does return for Hotel, I have a feeling she will play (not a new character) but reprise her roles as one of four characters: Constance Langton, Sister Jude Martin, Fiona Goode, or Elsa Mars. I’m leaning on Constance and I would love to see that storyline continue(even if it is a sort of prequel on the character). After all, show runner Ryan Murphy is taking us back to Los Angeles, CA so it does seem likely. One can only hope pray. Lange also mentioned in a recent interview that she would definitely return to the series if Murphy came up with a smaller role for her that she liked. On American Horror Story: Freak Show, actress Lily Rabe reprised her role as Sister Mary Eunice McKee for a few minutes on(what I thought) was the best episode of the season. Perhaps, Murphy has something similar up his sleeve for our wonderfully talented Jessica Lange.

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I haven’t been too upset over Lange’s retirement, solely because I don’t believe Freak Show was the last time we will see her. How does everyone else feel about it? Do we have any other American Horror Story fans lurking on the web?

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Book Review – Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague

#jonathanlferrara #husband&husband #bookreview #fablehaven #gripoftheshadowplague #brandonmull

5/5

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Alright! We’ve gotten to the halfway point. I give this one the thumbs up!! Again, author Brandon Mull has expanded his world of Fablehaven, creeping you closer to the finale. The basic concept of Grip of the Shadow Plague is that someone has unleashed a plague into Fablehaven, turning beings of light into beings of dark. The reason for this is to destroy Fablehaven exactly how other magical preserves have by the Society of the Evening Star. Also, a few characters go off to Lost Mesa in Arizona which was fun to see a different preserve rather than the wonderful one we know and love. Lost Mesa was interesting. (They’re zombies here!). Something that has bothered me so far through the series is Mull’s concept of “demons.” They live amongst magical creatures, some of which, in Fablehaven. However, I want to know more about them. Are demons just magical creatures that turn evil? I’m not sure. Don’t worry though. It doesn’t stray the focus, it just leaves you speculating.

Like I’ve said about the first two books in the series, Grip of the Shadow Plague is a really fun, enjoyable book and can capture an audience of both children and adults, male or female. For anyone who loves fantasy/adventure, this is for you.

Synopsis: 

Danger lurks everywhere at Fablehaven, where someone has released a plague that transforms beings of light into creatures of darkness. In dire need of help, the Sorensons question where to turn, now that long trusted allies have been revealed as potential foes. Kendra embarks on a special mission that only she can attempt because of her new abilities as fairykind, while Seth stays behind and discovers an incredible new talent of his own. The siblings are put to the test as the threat grows both abroad and home at the Fablehaven preserve, and Brandon Mull spins his richest and most thrilling fantasy tale yet in this third title of the popular fantasy series.

About the Author: 

Brandon Mull no longer lives on the side of a mountain above a prison. He now resides in a happy little valley near the mouth of a canyon with his wife and three children. Since the arrival of his new daughter, he is more the golem of the household than ever, following whatever orders trickle down the chain of command. Brandon is the author of the New York Times bestselling Fablehaven books and The Candy Shop War.

Book Review – FABLEHAVEN: The Rise of the Evening Star

fablehaven

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The most dangerous evil had infinite subtlety and patience…

Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star is a great sequel that not only lives up to it’s New York Times Best selling status, but in my opinion, surpasses it. First of all, there are three new characters: Tanu (a Potion Master), Coulter (a magical Relics Collector), and Vanessa (A Catcher of magical creatures). What I loved most overall about these three new characters is that they enrich and expanded Brandon Mull’s world. I loved them! I really enjoyed watching Kendra and Seth return to Fablehaven and were taken under these three new character’s wings.

Kendra and her brother Seth meet the Sphinx and Kendra is told that she is fairykind (connecting to the ending of the first book). This means, Kendra has some new found ability such as seeing magical creatures without drinking the milk, or recharging magical objects. The plot thickens when the Sphinx announces that there are five mysterious artifacts, each hidden in its own magical preserve (Fablehaven is included). This is the main reason why Tanu, Coulter, and Vanessa have come —- they are searching for the one hidden on Fablehaven’s property. The main plot is pretty much about the Society of the Evening Star (hence the title), who are an ancient organization with the wicked agenda to take control of all the magical preserves in the world (Fablehaven included). The society actually made me think of a sort of PG version of the Illuminati, which I thought was really well done.

I thought this was a great book. Again, Brandon Mull captures audiences of all ages, as well as both males and females. I wish I had a book like this when I was growing up. I would have been obsessed… Well, I guess I did have Harry Potter and yes, I was obsessed. If I was an Elementary to Middle School teacher, I would definitely want this one in my classroom. For anyone who loves middle-grade, fantasy, adventure, this is the book for you. I noticed some of the reviews on goodreads.com saying Mull’s world-building was weak, but I don’t see that at all. A couple reviews I saw were 1 star, yet the reviewer continued to read the entire series. If the book has captured your interest that much where you are going to invest in the time to read an installment of five books, then I think that deserves more than a lousy 1 star… just saying. Haters are gonna hate!

Book Synopsis:

At the end of the school year, Kendra and her brother Seth find themselves racing back to Fablehaven, a refuge for mythical and magical creatures. Grandpa Sorenson, the caretaker, invites three specialists — a potion master, a magical relics collector, and a mystical creature trapper — to help protect the property from the Society of the Evening Star, an ancient organization determined to infiltrate the preserve and steal a hidden artifact of great power. Time is running out. The Evening Star is storming the gates. If the artifact falls into the wrong hands, it could mean the downfall of other preserves and possibly the world. Will Kendra learn to use her fairy gifts in time? Will Seth stay out of trouble?

About the Author:

Brandon Mull is the author of the New York TimesUSA TODAY, and Wall Street Journal bestselling Beyonders and Fablehaven series, as well as the bestselling Five Kingdoms and Candy Shop Wars series. He resides in Utah, in a happy little valley near the mouth of a canyon with his wife and four children. Brandon’s greatest regret is that he has but one life to give for Gondor.

Brandon Dorman is the illustrator of Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face and The Wizard, both by Jack Prelutsky; and The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck. He received a degree in fine arts from Brigham Young University—Idaho and lives in Puyallup, Washington, with his family.

Lost Boys Academy Book One ~ 5 star review from GMR

Conversion Therapy

There has been much talk in the LGBT community lately about conversion therapy.

I won’t sit here and type out all of the things that I find wrong about conversion therapy…that would take me a lifetime :p

Besides, this issue is the focus of my new gay fiction series – Lost Boys Academy. I began writing Lost Boys Academy late last year. The story focuses on five male gay students who are sent to a conversion camp their first year of college. The story focuses mostly on the relationships and actions of the school. My message is pretty clear and I love giving these characters the chance to show that these types of places are ridiculous and only do the exact opposite in the end.

Now that I’ve made my peace with that, I am happy to share this amazing review from Paul over at GMR!

Super ecstatic to see that there are people as stoked about this series as much as I am! I love writing these characters and watching them grow, and cannot wait to share the rest of the series!

Have a look at the review at http://gaymediareviews.weebly.com/blog/lost-boys-academy-book-1-by-aaron-ferrara-5-star-review-except-and-giveaway

And if you’d like to check out the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TV16STG

Take Care!

❤ Aaron