I could feel my brain have convulsions while watching Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

The last film I watched on the plane ride home from London was Pacific Rim: Uprising. Back in 2013, I enjoyed the original film a bunch. The science didn’t entirely make sense, but it was brought up minimally and I did my best to ignore how they could communicate so clearly from the bottom of the ocean, or how people in the “Shatterdome”  could miraculously see events transpire clearly while out of eyesight. 

We had giant robots fighting giant alien monsters. It was me on Saturday afternoons watching Godzilla movies all over again. 

I had planned to watch Pacific Rim: Uprising in the theaters, but I began to hear some rumbling about the quality of the plot. As always, I held off on judging. When the first reviews came out, they weren’t exactly glowing. I finally had the time to sit comfortably and watch the sequel this month, and no, I didn’t like it much all all.

Uprising takes place 10 years after the Battle of the Breach (the climax of the orginal film.) It’s now the year 2035,and there haven’t been any kaiju attacks. The mysterious alien precursors from another dimension (universe?) are still out there, plotting to take over and terraform our planet. You know they will soon send o out more giant monsters to conquer our world. 

Humans are stupid, but were smart enough to continue the Yaeger program. Humanity maintains many bases around the Pacific Rim with new Mark VI Yaegers. Gipsy Danger even has a follow-up model called Gipsy Avenger. In fact, there are many new Yaegers out there. The police have them and use them to apprehend rogue Yaegers being built and used by amateurs. We soon get introduced to a 15 year old girl who build her own working Jaeger. Uh, what? Shes a 15 year old whiz kid who built her own giant robot? We’re officially in fantasy land.

That’s it from me. I’m not describing this film any more. More things happen, they’re all various shades of unbelievable. How about when a rogue full-sized Jaeger shows up and attacks Sydney? They called it Obsidian Fury. Really? You immediately had to give it a “cool name”? Or let the 15 year old teenager with no experience into the Yaeger pilot program?

At many points while watching this film, I thought a teenager wrote it.

Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

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I, Tonya

The 2nd film I watched on the flight home was I, Tonya. This is a 2017 film starring Margot Robbie as the titular Tonya Harding. Based on the life of former competitive figure skater Tonya Harding,the film gives viewers a glimpse into Harding’s life leading up to her infamous involvement with the 1994 scandal that left her main competitor Nancy Kerrigan injured.

Craig Gillespie directed this film, which I thought was done very well. The acting in the film is phenomenal. Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, and Allison Janney brought these characters to life. Margot Robbie plays Tonya Harding in her adult life, and Allison Janney plays her cruel mother LaVona. Sebastian Stan (who has plays Bucky Barnes in the MCU) plays Jeff Gillooly, Tonya’s ex-husband. Special mention goes out to Paul Walter Hauser who played Tonya’s inept and moronic bodyguard. He was great. 

Listen, I’m sure there was some whitewashing of Tonya’s actual story for the purposes of making an entertaining Hollywood underdog story. I’m not saying the real life Tonya was a saint. I did appreciate the viewpoint that this real life person was like many of us. Hard life growing up, struggled through it, attempting to make some measure of success. That’s an interesting story to tell, even if they aren’t perfect. It reminds me that I should think twice before judging someone. The people around us every day, whether it’s our friends, family, or people on the street, are with us in the same struggle. 

A little understanding goes a long way. Except Donald Trump. I’m done with him and his supporters. 
I, Tonya (2018)

I, Tonya (2018)

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I watched A Quiet Place (2018) and it’s an excellent and suspenseful film

On the plane ride coming home from London, I had an opportunity for quality downtime and I watched three recent films – A Quiet Place, I, Tonya, and Pacific Rim: Uprising. Two of these films were good. The Pacific Rim sequel was horribly not.

A Quiet Place is a 2018 film starring John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, a husband and wife team-up. Krasinski also directed the film. In the near future, somehow blind alien creatures invade the Earth. Although they’re blind, they have excellent hearing and extremely vicious. Much of the human population appears to be gone, with the surviving population hiding in total silence.  Evelyn and Lee Abbott have three kids and they live out on a farm, and occasionally venture into town for medicine and other supplies. Everyone uses ASL sign language to communicate, no doors are opened or closed, everyone is barefoot, and they follow sand-covered walking paths to get around.

Made for only $17 million USD, with a small cast and limited locations, the film deals with the horror of life in this scenario where death is dangerously close, as well as loss. It’s a well-done film and I won’t ruin it with details. It’s not a long film either, so definitely watch it when you can. I’m not generally into suspenseful or scary films, so take that into consideration.

A Quiet Place (2018)

A Quiet Place (2018)

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I watched Tomb Raider (2018) and Alicia Vikander is the best part of the film

During our flight to London, I watched Tomb Raider (2018), the latest attempt at bringing Lara Croft to life on the big screen. The film stars Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft from the new video game series beginning with 2013’s Tomb Raider video game. To give you an idea of how behind I am in my leisure video game playing life, I’m still playing through this 2013 game.

Based on what I know of the game, the film is loosely based on the 2013 game. Loosely. In the film, Lara goes on a mysterious quest to the island of Yamatai for clues about her own father’s secret research into Queen Himiko and her abilities. She charters a ship and captain to where the island of Yamatai may be, gets shipwrecked on the island, but she learns that there are many people on this seemingly deserted island. They’ve all been captured and working as slaves for another mysterious organization called Trinity. Trinity is looking for Yamatai as well, but want to use the secrets of Queen Himiko to use as a biological weapon.

There are a number of secrets, mysteries, etc, but I found that stuff a little ridiculous in the film. I felt the best part of the film was Alicia Vikander as the young Lara, and the action scenes. Otherwise, the plot is a little unbelievable. For example, there’s a villain on the island leading the expedition for Trinity (portrayed by Walter Goggins). He has supposedly been on the island for seven years now, and is not allowed to leave the island (or see his family) until he finds the secret of Himiko. Really? Can’t go home to see his two little girls? That’s not how any of this works.

I don’t understand how writers can come up with this stuff.

Tomb Raider (2018)

Tomb Raider (2018)

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New pantry shelves, people. What a time to be alive.

Ever since we had to rebuild our pantry, we’ve been cramped up for space. I don’t know, we never liked the original wire shelving, but the pantry never seemed to have much capacity. Nums finally found some additional shelving. They’re just for cans, but it frees up space for more stuff.

Yes, exciting times around here. 🙂

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The Ipes Go on a London Holiday – Saturday – Packing up, afternoon tea, and going home 

Our truly last day in London. We were busy spending Saturday morning packing our belongings, cleaning the suite, and grabbing last minute souvenir chocolates from the Tesco supermarket next door. We checked out officially, left our suitcases in the hotel lobby bell stand, then took the subway into London proper for our last big thing to do — British afternoon tea at the Ham Yard Hotel.

We had tried to get an authentic afternoon tea that whole week, but times didn’t work out, and it can be very expensive. Saturday was it, but we got lucky and found this fantastic tea at the Ham Yard for a reasonable price. Good tea, good food, nice place. And the kids like tea!

That was it for London. We rushed back to our hotel to change into travel clothes, but our driver was running 30 minutes late. Argh. We hung out for a bit, then finally got loaded up and on the road to Heathrow. No issues with check-in etc, and even got a small snack at the hotel.

The flight home was uneventful, and we watched lots of movies and shows during the six hour journey. I watched three movies – A Quiet Place, I, Tonya, and Pacific Rim: Uprising.

We found a Lyft driver, and made our way home around 11 PM. The cats were happy to see us. It was good to be home.

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The Ipes Go on a London Holiday – Friday – Our last night in London. Sadsies.

It was our last full day in London. No more London Pass, so we had a more relaxed day in mind. We promised the kids they could sleep in a little longer in the morning. We were up and out of the hotel around 11 AM, and we took the subway to Canary Wharf to meet some of my coworkers from the UK office for lunch at Chai Ki. Afterwards, we went back out into the core part of London to sightsee some more, and to check out the Forbidden Planet superstore on Shaftesbury Ave. Pretty interesting, but the comic book superstores in NY are much larger.

We had to get the kids some new nicer clothes for dinner, so we checked out Primark, and got them some new shirts.

It was our big last night in London, so we had dinner at the Darwin Brasserie at the top of the Skygarden. Very good food, and it gave us the opportunity to relax a bit and walk around the floor, taking in the sights. If you can’t get tickets to the floor via the open to the public method, you can make reservations at one of the restaurants up there, and get there that way. This is what Nums did for us the day before.

It was getting late, so we walked around a little bit to soak up a little more London. Our last stop was the famous Harrods store. We only had 20 minutes before they were to close, so we went straight to the food hall and bought some chocolates as souvenirs.

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The Ipes Go on a London Holiday – Thursday – Day 3 of the London Pass and we did everything we could

Thursday morning and our last day on the London Pass for sightseeing. Maximum sightseeing enabled. We were in good spirits, recharged after an early night and jet lag wearing off.

We took the bus out to Notting Hill Gate to catch a Hop On – Hop Off buses to go around town. We eventually got off at Westminster Abbey, and took a self-guided tour of this massive cathedral. It was extremely impressive. We had no idea that British kings and queens of old were buried within the church. We could have spent another hour or more inside, but we had to keep moving. We walked out and got some Sichuan style lunch.

Back on the bus, and toured more of London. We got out again near London Bridge. Nums went to try to get tickets to the Skygarden (open to the public), while I walked the kids across the bridge to visit the HMS Belfast. Fascinating ship.

Around 4 PM, we didn’t have a lot of time left, so we hit up our last location through the London Pass — the Churchill War Rooms. This is a self-guided tour through the basement rooms at Whitehall where Churchill and the British government ran the British front during WW II.

It was early evening, so we made our way to the West End for our last event for the evening. We grabbed dinner at a Five Guys, then walked over to Queen’s Theatre and saw Les Miserables. 2nd row seats, and it was a great show.

While the bars and clubs were packed at 10 PM, we promised the kids to get some dessert at Wafflemeister, then took the bus back home. Nums never had dinner, so she and I walked to the 24 hour Tesco supermarket next door to our hotel, picked up some dinner for her, and we watched some TV. Vegging out isn’t a bad thing.

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The Ipes Go on a London Holiday – Wednesday – Day 2 of the London Pass and I think we made up for Tuesday

It was our day to try again everything we missed on Tuesday. Take 2!

Up early on Wednesday, and we made it back out to the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre around 10 AM. Success! We got in, and it was a cool tour. The Globe Theater is a recreation of the original Globe from Shakespeare’s time, and it’s a working open air theater. It was pretty cool. We even got some souvenirs there.

After the theater, we got lunch at Borough Market, then went in for the London Bridge Experience and London Tombs. The London Bridge Experience is this history of the London Bridge led by actors acting rather dramatically through these small sets. The London Tombs is a mini haunted house experience where these actors now scare you as you walk through crowded spaces. It was fine. Everyone had a good time.

We walked across the Tower Bridge again, got admission into the Tower London (finally), and we walked around. It really reminded me of the locations in the first Naughty Dog Uncharted game. We also checked out the royal Crown Jewels on display within the Tower of London, and the various weapons and armor in use from back in the day. All interesting.

We could have spent much more time walking around, but we hoped to still make it to our final big destination for Wednesday – Kensington Palace. They were beautiful grounds, and much like Buckingham Palace, open to the public for the people to picnic and hang out in. Huge grounds, I’m telling you. Inside, we checked out a Lady Diana exhibit about her fashion, history, and her charity work. Back outside, we checked out the Sunken Garden and all the flora.

In the evening, we walked out of the palace grounds and grabbed dinner at The Ivy Inn Kensington Brasserie, which was nice. We were in the mood for gelato afterwards, so we grabbed a train to Notting Hill Gate to Amorino Notting Hill. Fancy gelato.

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The Ipes Go on a London Holiday – Tuesday – Day 1 of the London Pass and we were late to nearly late to everything 

Tuesday was our first full day in London to use the London Pass. We purchased the 3 day pass, which means we had to use it for a consecutive three days (no breaks.) We unfortunately got a late start. We took the Underground to near the Southwark Bridge, walked around, and made our way to our first stop at the Shakespeare’s Globe Theater after 11 AM, and they were no longer accepting walking tours. Okay, postponed to Wednesday. Sigh.

We checked out the Shard, and success!, we got tickets to our first use of the Pass, the View From the Shard. There are two viewing floors. While the first one on Level 69 is indoor and fully enclosed, you can walk up to the Level 72 Open Air Skydeck. I didn’t even know it was open air — it was so nice. We loved the sunlight coming through, and the fresh crisp air. We spent an hour up here.

We were pretty hungry, so we walked into the Southwark area, and ate tapas for lunch at Jose Tapas. We ate, we drank, we relaxed and took in the atmosphere. Oh, nice to relax.

We walked across the Tower Bridge, used our Pass again to get admission into the Tower Bridge itself to learn the history and walk above to look down below. You know, I always thought that the bridge with towers in London was the famous London Bridge. But no! London Bridge and Tower Bridge were two different bridges.

We moseyed over to the Tower of London, but we were too late (again) to get admission. So we had ice cream instead, checked out the gift shop. We tried to catch the next City Cruises boat ride, but we were (again!) late. We did hang around to catch the next and last cruise to Westminster Pier. It was a slow little boat ride east on the Thames river with a guide on a mic pointing out the visible sights.

It had been another long day of walking around, so we took a bus to visit the famous Hamleys store on Regent St. I think it was 6 or 7 floors of toys, so it was pretty cool. Josh and I were impressed with the huge Gen 1 Optimus Prime statue.

We weren’t up for a big dinner out, so we stopped by High Street in Kensington, and picked up some Japanese fast food from this place popular Wasabi chain restaurant. We grabbed a cab back to the hotel and ate back at our hotel.

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