Thursday, February 15, 2018

From Winter to Spring

Slept so long this morning, I never got to the laundromat. I did get the Valentine's Day decorations down after breakfast. Ran a few episodes of The Backyardigans while I got the decoration bags sorted. "Robot Rampage" was the third and final hour-long episode. In this tale set around disco music, Austin is a robot repairman in a futuristic city with his Robot Roscoe. The robots in town never break...until one day when Tyrone, Uniqua, and Tasha's robots go haywire! Austin and Roscoe have to rescue the other kids, then stop the evil Dr. Pablo's bugs from taking over every robot in town.

"Catch that Train!" had Conductor Uniqua and devoted servant Pablo chasing after the train when it takes off with Czar Tyrone. They have to make sure it gets to the Winter Palace station intact...and that their ruler doesn't figure out what's going on.

It was past 1 when I finally headed out. The day was cloudy and cool, though not nearly as windy as yesterday. Cut through Newton Lake Park on my way to Westmont. The park was surprisingly busy for such a blah day, with several moms and their very young charges running around the playground and quite a few people out for a stroll.

Spent the next few hours at the Haddon Township Library. There wasn't a whole lot for me to do, volunteer-wise. They wanted to save the DVDs for a senior volunteer. I did organize the adult DVDs (the head librarian was right - they were in bad shape) and the CDs and shelved audio books.

Tried a couple of different movies this week. I enjoyed Cleopatra so much last week, I thought I'd try another lengthy historical epic, Reds. Returned to the cinema of the 60's and 70's with Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and Smokey and the Bandit. I remember seeing Dave when Dad rented it in the early 90's, but I haven't caught it since then; thought it might be fun for President's Day.

Also took out a couple of books for the first time in a while. Haddon Township finally got the visual guide for The Last Jedi in. Decided I was never going to get to the Hannah Swenson Christmas stories during the holidays and grabbed the first one, Sugar Cookie Murder. Found the last Amelia Peabody story Elizabeth Peters began before her death a few years ago, The Painted Queen. Cobalt Squadron tells the story of the lives of Rose Tico and her sister Paige before The Last Jedi begins. Continued with the Mercedes Lackey Elemental Masters fairy tale retellings with the Rapunzel story From a High Tower.

It was nearly 3:30 when I finally made it out. Stopped at Nick's Pizza for lunch. At that point, the only people there were the employees and a couple of teenagers on their way home from school looking for a snack. I had a grilled vegetable wrap with cheese and fries. The waitress forgot the cheese. The poor girl was so apologetic, but I wasn't mad at her. Accidents happen. I will admit, I was glad I held out for the provolone. The wrap tasted much better with the extra flavor.

By this point, the sun had come out, and it was much warmer. It was also 4 PM, too late to do much else. I dodged rush hour traffic on Cuthbert Road and the White Horse Pike and headed home.

Worked on writing for a few hours. Kylo Ren tells Rey that Luke is upstairs, in Snoke's room. He tells her he'll help her rescue Luke if she stays with him. She doesn't give him a direct answer, but gets him to take her upstairs instead. She hides under Snoke's bed again while Ren distracts Phasma and her troops. Rey does manage to free Luke from the sack Snoke had him in, but they're both caught before they can flee...

Broke for a very quick yogurt-and-fruit dinner at 6:30. Played a few rounds of Lego Star Wars while I ate. Moved to The Empire Strikes Back to do the Free Play on "Escape from Echo Base" and "Betrayal at Bespin." I did very well with both. Got more than half the pieces and almost got True Jedi on "Echo Base," all but one piece on "Betrayal" and the red brick in both.

Finished out the night with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It's 1957. Indy (Harrison Ford) is still searching for lost treasures, but now it's the Russians he's battling. Ukranian officer Irrina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) is determined to get Indy to help her find a crystal skull that could lead to a vast city where alien beings may dwell. Indy's turncoat friend Mac (Ray Winstone) is more interested in the gold the city holds. Indy is approached by a young man named Mutt (Shia LaBouf) to find his mom along with the skulls. He never dreams Mutt's mother would be his former flame Marion (Karen Allen), or that his friend Oxley (John Hurt) would be the key to Indy getting close to the boy...and finding out what the real "treasure" of the skulls is.

This isn't my favorite Indiana Jones movie, but I don't hate it like a lot of people do. The plot is creative, fun, and appropriate for the 50's Cold War setting. Indy and Marion's reunion was beautifully handled, and the two of them are just fun to watch. Cate Blanchett made a great evil Russian officer, too.

Other casting isn't as welcome. Shia LaBouf is totally out of place as a Marlon Brando-wannabe. Mac is given such little build-up, you don't really feel feel the supposed friendship between him and Indy. Some of the set pieces (like the monkeys and the man-eating ants) are over-the-top, even for this franchise. It also has the same problem with an over-reliance on then-cutting edge CGI as the later Star Wars prequels and many other action movies of the late 90's and 2000's.

If you're a fan of the series, this isn't anywhere near as bad as you might have heard. If you're new to Indy's swashbuckling world, back up and check out at least Raiders of the Lost Ark before coming here to get a better understanding of Indy and Marion's relationship and Indy's character.

No comments: