Movie Review: Mars Needs Moms

Wanting to add some variety to my SciFi movies this year, I decided to include some kid friendly movies because why should scifi be restricted to adults only. A quick internet search led me to a long list of kid friendly SciFi movies and my biggest problem then became picking which ones to watch. Among these many movies listed, I spotted Mars Needs Mom and thought what the heck, why not start with this one.

I honestly had no idea what to expect. I remember seeing it advertised a few years ago when it first came out, but back then I didn’t really have any interest in seeing it. So I went into this one only knowing that it involved aliens from Mars kidnapping moms from Earth. It seemed like a pretty straight forward idea.

To be perfectly honest, I figured this would be a silly movie, as so many kids movies tend to be regardless of genre, but to my surprise I really enjoyed this one.

The overall story as a whole was an interesting one. I was curious as to why exactly the martians were stealing moms. I mean, obviously it was because the needed moms, as the title of the movie states. But why? How could an entire alien society need moms? Were there no alien moms? And if so, why as that? So many questions to be answered and the movie does a great job of explaining all of it. It takes a little while to get to this answer, but if it happened too quickly then there wouldn’t be enough left to show to have a full length movie.

I thought the animation in this movie was pretty good. Motion capture is definitely one of those great animation tools that I don’t feel is used often enough, though I realize plenty of movies do take advantage of it. Getting to see the actors in their motion capture suits acting out certain scenes was a nice bonus at the end of the movie.

I found it interesting to have mars aliens living underground and thus the rovers never find evidence of their existence.

There is plenty of humor scattered throughout the movie, especially whenever Gribble was involved.I found myself laughing at several points and it just made the whole experience that much more enjoyable. But it wasn’t all humor, as there were a number of serious moments as well.

 

I did have a couple of issues with this movie. First was the many scenes where Milo, and one occasion Gribble, end up falling a really long way down and then land in a pile that basically consists of metal and not a single injury was seen. No scratches, bumps or bruises. Even with the lesser gravity on mars, there should still have been some negative repercussion from these drops, especially since they happened a number of times.

Secondly, I had a slight issue with the whole alien falls in love with a human thing. I felt it was completely unnecessary to the movie. I didn’t care that Gribble decided to return to mars, but why did it have to be because he’s in love with Key, the female rebel of the aliens.

Overall a great little movie that would be perfect to watch as a family, as kids and adults are sure to enjoy it.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week is the Top Ten Books I Want My Child to Read.

Now that my son is finally starting to find his love of reading, I am busy filling his bookshelf with books I read and loved as a kid, along with books that he has shown interest in. So here are the books I want my son to read.

  1. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. This is one of my favorite books that I read in public school and I’m really excited to see him read it. He has it on his shelf and says he will read it soon.
  2. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry. This and the rest of her books were my favorite book growing up and I read them so much as a kid that the books fell apart. A couple years ago I bought them all again and now I’m ready to have my son read them.
  3. The Black Stallion Series by Walter Farley. Another series that was a big part of my childhood and I want to share that with my son and see what he thinks of them.
  4. Roald Dahl’s books. The boy has read some of these books already, but I want him to read them all, and he wants to read them all as well. We have the box set of all of Dahl’s books, so it’s just a matter of time before he gets to all of them.
  5. Goosebumps by R.L. Stine. We own about 40 of these books, mostly the older ones, and recently added them to the boys bookshelves, they were too full previous to put them there, but now that he has cleared space he is eager to read them.
  6. The Borrowers Series by Mary Norton. I don’t remember reading these as a kid, though I probably did, but I want my son to read them and it was the main reason I bought the box set a couple years ago.
  7. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. This is a must read, though I’m sure he will read it in school, I definitely want him to read the entire series. Then we can watch the original movies and the remakes.
  8. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. A children’s classic that is a must read. I know he has seen the old cartoon movie as well as the newer live action movie, but I want him to read the book to see the story that inspired those movies.

Alright, so I didn’t quite make it to ten, but it’s close. I know there are other books I want him to read, but I just can’t think of them at this moment. What books would you recommend for him to read? And no, I didn’t forget to put Harry Potter on the list, to be honest he has zero interest in that series.

Book Series Review: Bird & Squirrel

                                                                        

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Back in January, my son got Bird & Squirrel On The Edge from one of his friends on his birthday. My son is not a reader, so seeing the excitement over the book told me this was something special. Then the fact that he read this book as soon as we got home from the party, instead of playing with the toys he got, I knew this was a great book. That same day we went online and ordered the other three books. A week later, we had the full series and my son eagerly started reading them as soon as he got home from school. Then as soon as he was down he brought them to me and asked if I wanted to read them. Seeing how much he loved these books, I knew I had to, plus I was curious about the books.

I read all four in one sitting. They were fast, fun reads. I can certainly see why my son enjoyed them so much. I have to say that between the friend heavy story line and the artwork, this was a wonderful collection of books. I won’t go into too much detail, but I will say that I think these are excellent books for kids, that show the value of friendship and the joys of adventuring with that friend, even if it is very unexpected.

Like my son, I do hope that there are more books coming out in this series, because it would be great to continue to see the friendship of Bird and Squirrel evolve with each book.

Book Review: The BFG

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the newer releases and read an old book, especially when that book is one that you read and loved as a child. I read all of Roald Dahl’s books growing up and I loved them all, though admittedly The Witches is my favorite.

I have been wanting to reread all of his books lately, but what spurred me into reading The BFG was the new movie coming out. I had planned to read it before the movie, but that didn’t work out, so I got to enjoy it after seeing the movie.

This story is great. I think the reason why I enjoyed it so much as a kid was seeing the giant struggle with his words, which all kids have similar experiences at some point in their lives. Heck even now my words get all jumbly  and squiggly in my head – as the giant would say. But it also shows that even thought you don’t know the correct words, you can still get your point across.

The journey that Sophie and the BFG make together is quite fantastic as well. They form an unlikely friendship and work well together to see not only the BFG is able to capture and sent out the dreams that he does each night, but also to free the giant from the other giants.

Speaking of the other giants, I always got a kick out of their names. Fleshlumpeater, Bonecruncher and Bloodbottler are just a few of the aptly named giants. These giants are not only a menace to the BFG but to mankind as well.

Some parts of the story are a little unbelievable, especially when reading the book as an adult, such as the Queen of England getting involved and accepting the giant with open arms with the help fo a dream and a few words from Sophie. Although the part where they all have breakfast together, and they partake in a bit of frobscottle and then all the whizzpopping happens. That scene is especially entertaining in the movie.

While I enjoyed the book more when I was younger, it was certainly great to visit the story once again. Dahl certainly had a way of bringing a story to like and making it appealing to both kids and adults. If you haven’t read any of his books, I could suggest you make time to do so, as they are quick and fun reads, and if you have read them before, then go ahead and read them again.

Book Review: Starfire

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I don’t often read middle grade books, but every now and then I’ll see one among my browsing and I will make the time to read it. Starfire was one of these books. I saw it randomly while looking at other books and of course the cover caught my eye. Guaranteed if a book has a horse or horse-like creature on the cover I will pick it up. After reading the description I figured it would be worthwhile reading, so it was added to my list of books to get one day and once I finally got a copy I was ready to read it.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect out of this book, after all I am a lot older than the target audience, but I dove in and gave it a try. The story had a good flow to it and I found myself easily breezing through the chapters. Not only did the pace keep my attention, but the mix of characters that were introduced as well as the storyline itself was certainly entertaining. I liked the different herds and how they varied in color that often matched with where they lived. Each herd also had different ways of thinking and living, and not just about what to do with the black foal but about other facets of life.

Star’s character certainly has a lot of growth throughout the book. He has some tough decisions to make and the path to get there is not easy. Morningleaf, who is Star’s best friend was a great counterbalance for Star. She could look past the colts faults and potential for disaster to see who he truly was underneath. Silvercloud, who is Morningleaf’s mother and Star’s adoptive mother, was the overall level-headed one in the book, which was a compliment to her mate, Thunderwing, more stern side. I could go on about the other characters in this book, but I won’t, they all have different aspects about them that added to the story and depending on who they were around they could bring peace or conflict.

Now one of the things I noticed in this book, both from reading it and looking at reviews, was the amount of violence. Now some people, the children reading this book and their parents, may have an issue with the violence, while others will be okay with it. If you do not want your child to be exposed to violence then I would recommend that they not read this book, as it contains bloody fights, bullying and all out war that results in many violent deaths.

Overall, I must say that this was a quick and enjoyable read. Obviously I would have enjoyed it more had I been younger but I can still see the appeal to this book. While this book may not be for everyone, mostly because of the violence, it does have some good lessons in it, especially when it comes to Star overcoming the bullying in his early life and proving to others he can bring good to the world when they all expect evil from him. I look forward to continuing on with this series and seeing where it leads Starfire and the other Pegasus.

They Made It Into A Movie: Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone

We all love our books, and there are times we wish they could come to life on the big screen. Sometimes our wish comes true and those beloved stories soon hit theaters. Yet as excited as we are for the movie version to come to be they are not always good experiences. Perhaps a character is portrayed incorrectly, important scenes are left out or changed completely, or that wonderful story has been reduced to something with no plot but amazing CG effects. And then there are times when the movie is absolutely stunning and you are left with such an amazing feeling after watching it. They Made It Into A Movie is a monthly feature, posted on the last Friday of each month, which explores one books and it’s movie adaptation counterpart.

How I First Encountered Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

I missed the initial Harry Potter craze by a few years. In fact I didn’t really find out about it until after the first movie was made, and it was probably a year or so after that that I even watched the movie, and I only got around to reading the first book in the series this year.

The Book

Oh dear, what can I say about the book? I hated it. That’s what I can say about it.

I’m sorry to all those Harry Potter fans out there, but I found this book to be so boring. With each page I just wished that Harry would get killed in some horribly gruesome way. But obviously that would never happen because the series continues on for many more books.

I could say more about the book but I don’t feel like typing up all the reasons I didn’t like it. Needless to say I really don’t see me reading any others in the series.

The Movie

Well, the movie was okay. I have only seen it twice. The first time was a year or so after it came out, and it really didn’t appeal to me all that much then, but I could appreciate it for what it was. The second time was when I watched it this year to reacquaint myself with it after reading the book. Both times I thought it to be an okay movie, but really didn’t see the huge appeal to it, or why there was such an enormous fan base. I guess that could be blamed on being a few years too old when Harry Potter first came out.

There were some things I liked about the movie, and I can see how it may become more appealing with each movie in the series (I have only ever seen the first three movies, so can’t really say whether it does indeed get better or not). The acting was pretty good, the casting seems to be good as well. But once again I hated Harry’s character. Don’t know if it was the actor or just the role but boy does that kid get under my skin.

It’s a series of movies where I do not feel compelled to continue on with it.

How They Compare To Each Other

Well I have to say that the book and movie are pretty similar. There are obviously differences and changes but that is to be expected. The movie was certainly better in my opinion, but I can’t say that I was blown away by it, it just was simply more enjoyable than reading the story.

Book Review: Star Wars Jedi Academy

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

So about a year ago I saw this book at the book store. I thought, hey I enjoyed the short little picture books, Darth Vader and Son & Vader’s Little Princess, so surely I will like this one as well. Now while I didn’t buy the book at that time I did purchase it a few months later for my son as part of him monthly book order. It wasn’t until recently that I got around to reading this book with him.

The book was okay. I can’t even say that it was good and really saying that a Star Wars book was simply okay is hard for me. I love Star Wars and have only found a small number of books amid the hundreds out there that just didn’t impress me. I think the biggest problem I had with it is the similarities to the Star Wars movies. Farm boy from Tatooine gets to go to Jedi Academy but goes later than most kids would have and struggles to learn the ways of the Jedi and yet is clearly one of the most skills students there. Yup that sounds an awful lot like some other kid from Tatooine getting a late chance at becoming a Jedi.

While I understand this is written to appeal to kids even my son didn’t care for the book. When I asked him what he thought about it when we were done reading it he said “Eh, I didn’t really like it.” So that’s two big Star Wars fans that didn’t enjoy this book.

The other thing that stood out to me about this book is that some of the stuff that happens in it I just don’t see happening or being allowed to happen repeatedly if they were truly at the Jedi Academy. The one specific thing that comes to mind is the bullying from Cronah & Cyrus. Yeah pretty sure Yoda or any of the other teachers would have be aware of that and stopped it right away. Bullies do not belong in the Jedi academy.

I’m sure there are people who will enjoy this book but to me it felt more like reading an awkward Star Wars fanfic where the author didn’t quite know what they wanted to do with the story and was winging it for most of the book. Sorry Jeffrey Brown, but this one just wasn’t your greatest book.