Posters and Trailers and Sneak Peeks, Oh My!

It has been a big couple of weeks for movie trailers and teasers. If you haven’t absolutely gushed and squee’d over at least one of them, you might want to check yourself for a pulse, because there are some amazing movies being released this year. And with each peak we get, the anticipation grows. Personally, this is the first time in a long time that I’m eager to see new releases.

I was so excited about, well, all of them, that I thought they deserved their own post, to point out what I saw and liked.

CAPTAIN AMERICA (MAY 6)

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe is something that I’ve started to delve into more. And with the most recent sneak peek we got, I’m even more ready for the latest movie. I’m not a comic book reader; I will admit that first and foremost. But I love the stories. So I’ve been doing my best to learn the history, to understand where the characters came from and where they’re going.

My favorite thing about this sneak peek was seeing more of the Wanda and Sam in action. At the end of Ultron, we were left with Steve and Natasha walking into the first training session with the New Avengers. I’m not sure how much time has passed since then, or where in the Civil War timeline the scene is, but you can definitely see that they’re a team. I don’t know what you could have a teacher than Steve Rogers, Captain America himself, and you can see that when he tells Wanda to move him “just like they had practiced.” While I know that the majority of the focus is going to be on Steve, Bucky, and Tony, I’m becoming a big fan of Wanda/Scarlet Witch and I hope we get to see more of her in this movie.

One thing I only just realized is that Civil War is not about two sides fractioned, battling it out over who is right and who is wrong. It’s about one side, The Avengers, faced with a new future full of inexplicable changes and unseen odds. It’s about a family being forced to pick sides. And when families are divided in such a way the natural instinct is to try and resolve the issue is the best way they know how. And for this family, it’s a battle; after all, they are the Avengers, they are the warriors of the 21st century.

United we stand, divided we fall.

What will the outcome be? I have my own idea, but I’m looking forward seeing it finally play out on the big screen. Only a few more weeks!

SUICIDE SQUAD (AUGUST 5)

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My interest in the Suicide Squad is purely based on the unique set of characters and the antihero story. The two trailers we’ve seen so far have been epic. The background songs have been perfect and draw you in, the edits are fantastic, and the one-liners leave you wanting more. I’m not really a huge DC fan but I’m not anti-DC. And for me, so far, it’s all about Harley.

And holy Harley Quinn! Seriously. I kind of a little love the crazy, maniacal adorable, hilariously deadpanned Harley Quinn that we are seeing in the trailers for the Suicide Squad. From what I can see, Margot Robbie is absolutely killing it with this updated portrayal of the beloved DC character. She is strong and badass and sexy and funny. If it weren’t for the insane supervillain part, she would be one hell of an archetype. Or an excellent case study, at the very least.

In the latest trailer, we get quick glance of the squad getting together for the first time, learning what is going on and suiting up. During this, Rick Flag gives them the business. When Harley goes, “I’m known to be quite vexing. I’m just forewarning you,” I completely lost it. Because in my mind I was like oh my god Harley Quinn is the physical embodiment of the female psyche. Whether we admit it or not (and I do, without question), we can turn from demure to a little crazy in the snap of your fingers, we can go from girl next door pretty to badass sexy with some lipstick and the right outfit. Women are multifaceted and those facets can range over the entire spectrum, calling them forth for whatever the situation demands. It’s one of our greatest attributes, in my opinion. And no one does it better than Harley.

I’m ready to get to know the squad more, to see them kick ass while causing some trouble, and who knows, maybe even go some good. I’m ready to watch them do their thing!

 DOCTOR STRANGE (NOVEMBER 4)

Cf2rTqAW4AAXyc4Doctor Strange is a Marvel character I know little about. I knew the movie was coming out this year, yes, but my interest wasn’t picked until last week. After that, I couldn’t help but do a few quick searches to find out more!

Last week we got to see the first official movie poster. My initial impression was that it was gorgeous. You definitely get the impression that there is more fantasy in the world of Doctor Strange compared to most of the other Marvel stories we know.

And then the trailer dropped. And what a visual wonder! The special effects in this movie are going to be out of this world. We get to see flashes of Stephen Vincent in his journey from a doctor of medicine to a doctor mystical forces; I get the feeling it’s going to be a hell of an interesting ride. While I know there is some criticism on a particular casting within the movie, this post is not intended for that discussion. I have the least to say about this trailer because I know the least about it, so all I can say is that I’m really looking forward to Benedict Cumberbatch (be still my heart!) bring to life this intriguing character.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (NOVEMBER 18)

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Ok. Ok. I think I’m better. Let me start off by saying that when Hedwig’s Theme starts playing in the trailer, I start to have heart palpitations and I want to tear up a little bit. Never in a million years did I think we’d be blessed with another movie set within the wizarding world, regardless of the era it takes place. And it’s actually happening!

Not only did we get a new trailer but we also got over a minute of movie footage. The morning after it was released (because I’m lame and was asleep instead of watching the MTV Movie Awards) I was glued to my computer screen at work absorbing every detail I could. There was so much to take in, I had to watch it a few times to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I’m not normally one to dissect a movie trailer but its Newt Scamander and his Fantastic Beasts! How could I not?

What was trying to claw its way out of Newt’s briefcase. Why did he get expelled? Why is Dumbledore so fond of him? His briefcase obviously has some type of undetectable extension charm on it, but what’s down the staircase? What got lose from the briefcase? What magical New York like? So many questions! And I don’t know how I’m supposed to wait until November to get my answers.

I love, I mean really love, everything that we are seeing: the locations/set, the costumes, the glimpses of magic. I think that Eddie Redmayne has the perfect combination of cleverness, eccentricity, and youthful charm and innocence to give life to Newt Scamander, adding him to the long list of beloved characters created by J.K. Rowling.

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (DECEMBER 16)

imagesWF1IABG3I rebel.

That one line will surely be synonymous with what this movie is about.

Even though it’s only been a few months since the excitement for and staggering success of The Force Awakens, we are ready to sink out teeth into anything and everything offered up to us.

Felicity Jones looks to be one hell of an underdog heroine as Jyn Erso. Anytime we’re able to delve further into the history of a fictional universe, it’s like getting a little piece of geek heaven. And I don’t think this is going to be any different.

Like Marvel, Star Wars is something that I’m working to learn in more detail. I had seen all the movies before TFA was released but it definitely awaken a new appreciation for the franchise. And Rogue One is just another thrilling addition.

Just a few quick thoughts from an overexcited fangirl. I’ll leave it to the professionals to go into more details and expound everything possible from the amazing trailers we’ve recently seen. All that is left to do now is hope we get more trailers, sneak peeks, and exclusive footage as we try to while away the time until we get to feast our eyes upon their magnificence.

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I’m just so freakin excited!

Making It All Happen

I have a dilemma. I’m torn between paying to attend the Chicago Comic Con in August versus saving to take a dream vacation sometime in the hopefully near future.

Between now and August, I’ll be able to afford adding the comic con trip. But by doing so, I will be severely depleting the account that I regularly contribute to in order to pay for trips.

But it also goes deeper than that. Last year was my first time attending a comic con and I also attended by myself, both of which were milestones. It may have started out a little rocky (meaning I was nervous and had no idea what I was doing) but I eventually found my stride and ended up having an absolute blast.

I met Nathan Fillion, I saw some amazing panels, and I was surrounded by thousands of geeks and nerds. While that last part was a little overwhelming at times, it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. And I loved every second of it. That Sunday, as I drove back home, I told myself that I was definitely coming back next year. Not only did I want to do it all again because of the incredible time I’d had, but I’ve made it a goal of mine to actually interact with people (online and IRL) and expand my network of connections and friends. That was something I struggled to do while there and there is some regret in missing out on the opportunity.

You see, for the last five years or so, and especially the last two, it’s been my philosophy and mission to fully embrace myself and the things I love, to not care what other people think, and to work hard so I can experience as many things as I can and do the things that make me happy. As much as I hate the saying, you do only live once, and I plan on getting as much out of this life as I can. I want to go through my remaining years adding to and telling stories of the things I’ve done and learned. I want to pass into the next life saying hot damn that was one hell of a ride!

And here comes the dilemma. You see, I can be an instant gratification type of person, especially when it comes to shopping. If I want something and it’s within reason, I buy it. I know how to say no, and I do, but it’s hard sometimes. That means that right now, I’m having a hard time passing up Comic Con tickets in order to save for some not yet planned trip that could or could not actually happen.

I’m torn: have another great time at a comic con or be able to pay for a dream trip in a quicker timeframe. It’s seriously been weighing on my mind.

But through all of the back and forth that has been going on in my head, there is one solution that keeps coming around, one that makes sense and will achieve both goals. This solution is easy in theory but it will also be the hardest to stay on track with.

The easiest way for me to go for Comic Con and still save for my trip is to stop shopping and start skimping and saving in whatever ways I can. I know that I spend too much money on clothes, accessories, and other things that I don’t actually need or can get on without. I know that there are periods of time that I eat out for lunch and dinner more than is healthy or needed. All these things add up; they add up quick and they add up to a lot.

I guess it’s not so much that I need help deciding what to do. That much is clear. But writing it all helps me fortify my decision.

The time has come so that in order to go to the places I want to see and do the things I want to experience, I have to be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to accomplish just that. I’m not an irresponsible person, but there is no argument that I need to be responsible with my money and spending habits. So here I go. Adieu unnecessary online shopping! Auf wiedersehen random trips to the mall! Hello to more experiences and dream trips!

I can do this!!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

This past week I got to experience something I’ve been waiting for for over five years. As a massive and lifelong Potterhead, it’s the next best thing to traveling across the Atlantic to London. I FINALLY visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.

When it originally opened in 2010, I was in Florida on vacation a month earlier. I was so disappointed about missing the opening by such a short window that I had a really hard time getting over it. And by a hard time I mean I would bring it up randomly in conversation when it was called for and didn’t let it go until I finally went.

And it was all worth it. It was every bit as wonderful and incredible as I had imagined it would be.

To start, let me say that I completely recommend booking your trip directly through Universal. The process was so simple and we were able to add on so many extras that would end up making the trip even better and more memorable. We stayed at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, a newer yet retro-inspired hotel; it’s also one of the cheaper (if not cheapest) options on-site at Universal. The staff was very friendly and helpful, the rooms were standard size but nice, and the beds were very comfortable. There was plenty to do with two pools, a lazy river, a bowling alley, and arcade. The one of the best things about staying on-site was the bus shuttles to take you to and from the park; it was also only a 15 minute walk from the hotel to the park (through a very prettily landscaped walkway), which wasn’t too bad considering Cabana Bay is on the outskirts of the Universal property.

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We had three day park to park tickets with early access (granted only when staying onsite). The early access is a must and was good for the Harry Potter parts of the park, getting you in an hour before the park officially opens. There’s still a bit of a crowd but for a few precious moments you can walk around with minimal difficulty or ride the rides with little to no wait.

But enough about the technical stuff, let’s get to the good parts!

Bright and early on day one, our first stop was Hogsmeade, located in the Islands of Adventure. It didn’t matter that I was dead tired, I was so excited that morning that waiting for the rest of my family to get ready was agony; unlike myself, there are not morning people. But finally we were on our way, through the gates and into the park.

 Hogsmeade is located at the back of the park, and as you get closer you can start to see the turret tops of Hogwarts followed by the snow-topped roofs of the village.

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Honeydukes, Zonko’s, The Hog’s Head, Madam Puddifoot’s, Dervish and Banges, Gladrags, Ollivanders, The Three Broomsticks. Almost everything that is mentioned in the book is there in some shape or form, be it an actual shop you can go into or a fully dressed window display.

One of the first steps, obviously, was Ollivanders. Whether you’re with children or adults only, visiting to Ollivanders is non-negotiable. It’s an interactive show where one person is chosen by the shopkeeper to go through the wand choosing experience. You’re not able to record or take pictures during this, but the shop is just as peculiar and amazing as you would have imagined! Unfortunately for me they only choose children, but the next best thing happened and one of my nephews was chosen! For the soon-to-be 14 year old who was being your typical unexcitable and anti-morning teenager, he was very enthusiastic about buying the wand that had chosen him.

If you are not chosen for the experience, you still have the chance to go next door into the actual shop. Here you have two options, you can purchase a replica character wand or an interactive wand of your own liking.  This is what myself and my other nephew did. I’ll be honest, it was a little overwhelming because as discerning geeks, we had to go through every wand until we found the one, which wasn’t the easiest thing within the little space of the shop.

I got mine as a souvenir (willow, if you’re wondering) and while it was interactive I myself did not use it in that way. But the interactive wands, while a bit more expensive, are so delightful. You get a map showing all the interactive displays as well as the spells to use; it was so fun seeing the next generation of Potterheads bounding about with their wands in hand.

20160331_075403The main attraction in Hogsmeade is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. It’s a motion-based dark ride, so if you have problems with motion sickness it may not sit well with you, but even then I thought this aspect was a bit milder compared to some of the other simulator/3D rides at Universal. The line moves pretty quickly but this ride has one of the longest wait times as the day goes on, so if you want to avoid standing in line, going early in the morning or waiting until later in the evening are going to be your best chances.

It took me two tries before I was finally able to ride but it was worth it. When I exited the ride, I was all smiles from just how great it was. Not only was the ride itself fun, but walking through the halls of Hogwarts is an absolute dream. Depending on which way you go (which can vary depending on the length of the line and if you’re a single rider or not), you can see the griffin guarding the stairway to Dumbledore’s office, seeing the moving pictures, and listen to the Sorting Hat. Who hasn’t wanted to do that ever since reading the Sorcerer’s Stone??

Hogsmeade is the smaller of the two Wizarding Worlds. So on day two, bright and early yet again, we made our way to Universal Studios and Diagon Alley. For me, this is where it was at.

The cool thing about Universal Studios is that each part is a replica of city. And downtown London did 20160331_124224not disappointment. From King’s Cross Station to Grimmauld Place, it was a wonder to take in. Along the street you find phone box that you could dial into the Ministry of Magic from; you’ll also see the Knight Bus and be able to chat with Stan Shunpike and the Shrunken Head. And wouldn’t you know, this was one of the actual Knight Bus props used in the movies!

As you’re taking it all in, be careful, because if you’re not looking close enough, you’ll miss Diagon Alley complete, which is something you do not want to do.

Turning that corner, my breath was taken away and there was a little flutter in my heart. As geeky as it sounds, I was momentarily transported to another world, imagining that this is how Harry felt when he first went to Diagon Alley with Hagrid. It was…wait for it..magical.

Just like Hogsmeade, it’s all there. The Leaky Cauldron, Quality Quidditch Supplies, Weasley Wizarding Wheezes, Gringotts, Ollivanders, Knockturn Alley. The list goes on-;there was just so much to look at! I could have spent all day there. Make sure you give yourself enough time to explore all the nooks and see all the details. It can get crowded fast (I mean, you are in an alleyway of sorts after all!), making it hard in some areas to take your time in looking at everything around you.

We had breakfast reservations at The Leaky Cauldron and it was fantastic. We had also eaten at The 20160330_084237 (2)Three Broomsticks the day before, and while the food was average in both places, the atmosphere in The Leaky Cauldron was definitely better; the long benches and tables, the stairs leading up to the guest rooms, the only thing that was missing was Tom. One of my favorite things was this little plaque next to the doors; it’s just another example of the small yet wonderful details you can miss if you’re not paying attention. While I wasn’t able to eat lunch at either place, you could smell the fish and chips and it smelled delicious.

Keeping on that subject, there are two delectable treats that you’re only able to get in Diagon Alley. Ice cream from Fortescue’s (which I had at 9:00am, because it was vacation and why not!?) and frozen Butterbeer. I tried Butterbeer both ways and I preferred it frozen. It was so creamy and delicious. For a few more dollars, you can get it in a cute little souvenir cup. I’m all about the memories, so you know I got one.

I don’t know what it says about me, but one of my favorite places was Knockturn Alley. It’s chilly and dark and marvelously Victorian. Down there is where you’ll find Borgin and Burkes. The first time I went I was greeted by a costumed clerk who was so wonderfully in character that I greeted him back with a haughty head tilt and a “good day”. I had to laugh at myself afterwards but like the saying goes, when in Rome!

Savings the best for last, there is one thing you cannot miss from the moment you walk into the Alley. And that would be the giant dragon atop of Gringotts! It is a sight to behold, no matter the angle you are looking from. From almost anywhere in the Alley, you can hear the unmistakable grumblings of a dragon about to come to life. While the dragon is most striking to look at from the front, the best angle to get a picture or recording is from the side. But don’t stand too close, when he finally lets loose and breathes fire, its hot! We were standing down the side a bit and could still feel the heatwave.

The one last thing you have to do is take the Hogwarts Express between the parks. We took it from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley on our third day. If you have park to park passes, it’s included with you pass but you can also buy tickets at the King’s Cross Station or the Hogsmeade Station. It’s a short trip but I think I smiled the entire time, completely enjoying the experience of riding in the quaint and comfy carriage compartment.

One thing I kept saying again and again throughout the trip was the amazing attention to detail. It’s astounding when you notice all the little nuances and touches. It really does make you appreciate the work that was put into the design, it makes all the difference for the experience. I just couldn’t get enough of it. I talk to my mom every day and during vacation it’s no different. So when I would talk to her each evening, it was a 30 minute conversation of me gushing over everything we had done and seen. My sister would later tell me that she was laughing to herself at me because our mom virtually had no idea what I was talking about. I didn’t care, I had to tell her because it was so awesome!

I have a laundry list of things that I want to do and see; it’s a big financial commitment that I’ve worked hard to able to achieve. This last year has been filled with finally being able to get out from behind the computer and experience some of the fantastic geek things of the world. And the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was another tick (albeit a big one at the top of list).

While of course I would like to go back, or even visit the new park at Universal Hollywood, I know that it may not happen. For a few days, I was able to immerse myself in a physical manifestation of the fictional world I love so much. That is a dream come true for every nerd, geek, and fangirl! I take nothing for granted; I will never forget this trip and I will forever cherish the memories. And for anyone who is wants to or is willing to listen, I will tell you all about it in excruciating detail!