The last few weeks haven’t been too action packed, thankfully, which probably explains how I was able to get so much done! The weekend after my last blog we didn’t really do much, but the weekend after my wife had an overnight at one of our friends’ house for a girls night thing. It was great, James and I just played video games, and once he was in bed I watched the hockey game and then played even more games! As for this past weekend the weather suddenly got really warm, like sunny and low 20s, it was amazing! I took the opportunity to clean up the yard a bit, raked the leaves that came down after the snow arrived in the fall, and finally managed to buy a pair of those really long tree trimmers/clippers. I pruned the trees all along the side of the house to hopefully prevent the animals getting up there so easily, and also along the side of the pool to hopefully help get more sun on the water this summer. The wife and I are continuing to practice for our run at the end of the month, and to help that along I’ve changed a lot of my bad habits. I eat nothing but fruit and veggies for lunch now, barely drink any pop, don’t stuff myself at dinner, and don’t snack at night either. It’s all helping me shed weight and sleep better, so hopefully over time I should really see some good results. It hasn’t been that hard, it’s just a matter of making it all part of my routine, and then I’ll be set. As for James his golf lessons are now over, although he is starting more in May. On the last day the kids got to teach the parents what they learned, it was pretty funny seeing us all up there whacking the balls! His swimming lessons are also done and he passed those easily, plus he also started a new art class called Oodles of Doodles. Unfortunately the Leafs shit the bed in the closing weeks of the regular season and played themselves out of an NHL playoff spot, so I’m pretty fucking angry over that. But, with the warmer weather (although it’s supposed to snow tonight apparently) on the way it means I’ll hopefully be back on my bike soon, so that should help ease the pain. Anyways, here is all that we got done this time around . . .
1) My play on Lego Harry Potter: years 5-7 has been sporadic of late, but this time around I buckled down and undertook a massive mop up effort, even taking James along for part of it as my second player! With just having beat the game the last time I blogged about it, my final task was to go back and grab all the stuff I wasn’t able to on my first time through. To kick off play I decided to purchase a bunch of characters to aid me in this effort, and those characters included Tom Riddle, Mundungus Fletcher, Narcissa Malfoy, McGonagall (Black), Rufus Scrimgeour, Rita Skeeter, Fleur Delacour, Professor Grubbly-Plank, Lily (Young Casual), George (Winter), Fred (Winter), Albert Runcorn, Dirk Cresswell, Mary Cattermole, Michael Corner, Hestia Jones, Hannah Abbott, Ernie Prang, Zacharias Smith, Reg Cattermole, Mrs. Figg, Lavender Brown, Argus Filch, Charity Burbage, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Penelope Clearwater, Parvati Patil, Padma Patil, Madam Malkin, Mafalda Hopkirk, Dudley’s Gang Member, Dragomir Despard, Muggle Orphan & Dedalus Diggle. It was then time to re-embark on the first chapter of the game, the “Order of the Phoenix” story. There I replayed all six levels, which went as such: “Dark Times” (unlocked the Elphias Doge & Arthur (Suit) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found all 4 Crest Pieces), “Dumbledore’s Army” (earned True Wizard status, unlocked the Neville (Winter), Hermione (Scarf) & Cho (Winter) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found all 4 Crest Pieces), “Focus!” (unlocked the Molly (Apron) & Snape (Underwear) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 3 remaining Crest Pieces), “Kreacher Discomforts” (earned True Wizard status, unlocked the Kreacher & Sirius Black characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 3 remaining Crest Pieces), “A Giant Virtuoso” (unlocked the Professor Umbridge, Emmeline Vance & Neville Longbottom characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found all 4 Crest Pieces) & “A Veiled Threat” (earned True Wizard status, unlocked the Hermione (Jumper) & Lucius (Death Eater) characters, and found the 3 remaining Crest Pieces). Also, every time I earned True Wizard status, helped a Student in Peril, or completed a house crest I earned a Gold Brick. So with all I accomplished in these levels I also came away with 14 more Gold Bricks! In the midst of this action, before the fifth level, I had to go back obtain a certain character to proceed properly. While looking for this character in the hub of the game I managed to unlock the Thorfinn Rowle, Dolohov (Workman), Mrs. Cole & Ministry Guard characters, plus I also found both a Gold Brick and a Red Brick (the Score X4 extra). Afterwards I purchased the Red Brick as well as the Mrs. Cole character, as she was the individual I was after. Before starting the next chapter of the game I unlocked the Pius Thicknesse and Mrs. Black characters, helped 2 Students in Peril, found 2 Gold Bricks, and found 1 Red Brick (the Hogwarts Crest Detector extra) in the game hub. I then purchased said Red Brick as well as the Arthur Weasley, Arthur (Suit) & Arthur (Torn Suit) characters. The time then came to start out on the “Half-Blood Prince” story, once again I completed all six levels, as follows: “Out of Retirement” (earned True Wizard status, unlocked the Milk Man, Slughorn (Pajamas) & Dumbledore (Cursed) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found all 4 Crest Pieces), “Just Desserts” (unlocked the Cormac (Suit), Madam Rosmerta & Harry (Christmas) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 3 remaining Crest Pieces), “A Not So Merry Christmas” (unlocked the Bill Weasley (Wedding) & Molly Weasley characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 3 remaining Crest Pieces), “Love Hurts” (unlocked the Professor Slughorn, Ginny Weasley & Draco (Suit) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found all 4 Crest Pieces), “Felix Felicis” (unlocked the Hagrid & Fang characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 3 remaining Crest Pieces) & “The Horcrux and the Hand” (unlocked the Professor Dumbledore, Tom Riddle (Orphanage) & Hagrid (Wedding) characters, helped 1 Student in Peril, and found the 3 remaining Crest Pieces). All of this also netted me 13 more Gold Bricks. In exploring the game hub after this last bit of action I managed to unlock the Marietta Edgecombe, James Potter (Young), Slughorn (Young), Arthur (Cardigan), Professor Binns, Crabbe (Jumper), Bellatrix (Azkaban), Katie Bell, Ron (Quidditch), Nymphadora Tonks & Madam Hooch characters, helped 6 Students in Peril, found 8 Gold Bricks, and found 5 Red Bricks (the Red Brick Detector, Score X6, Score X8, Score X10 & Regenerate Hearts extras)! Afterwards I purchased the first two Red Bricks. We’re almost there!!
2) I managed to play the next series of my season on MLB 2K11, hosting the Tampa Bay Rays. Here is how that went: won vs. Tampa 3-1, won vs. Tampa 2-1 & won vs. Tampa 5-4. I bumped the difficulty level up to “Pro” to give myself more of a challenge and the games are a lot tighter now. Shibby!
3) As for Lego: Battles, I made massive amounts of progress there, the end is nearly in sight! Next up was to partake in the “Wizard Story”. Starting with “Act 1” as usual, I completed all six levels, which were titled “Pieced Together”, “The Foundation”, “The Uninvited”, “Momentum”, “Underfoot” & “Swarm”. In each level I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, the Minikit, and in the second level I found the Red Brick. For completing the act I unlocked the Troll character. Next up was “Act 2”, the five levels there included “Convenient Alliance”, “Strength in Numbers”, “A Devious Machine”, “Shrouded Garrison” & “Battle Royal”. In each level I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, the Minikit, and in the fourth level I found the lone Red Brick. For completing the act I unlocked the Troll Blimp. “Act 3” was next, I completed all four levels, including “High and Dry”, “Bring It Down”, “Shoot The Messenger” & “Homecoming”. In each level I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, the Minikit, and in the final level a Red Brick. For completing the act I unlocked the Sorceress, Troll King & Ghost characters. With all of the helpful Red Bricks I had unlocked up to this point, I was then able to go back and resume the “King Story”, which was the very first story of the game. However, I ran in to trouble on it during the second act and couldn’t proceed, so I had to move on to other stories. But I now had a lot more resources and extras at my disposal, so it was easy peasy! Picking up on “Act 2” I had to play the last four levels of the six in total, and they were called “Stand Fast”, “Knowledge of The Ancients”, “Forgotten Passage” & “The Barren Wasteland” respectively. In each level I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, the Minikit, and in the final level a Red Brick. For finally completing the act I unlocked the Dwarf Glider. I then moved on to “Act 3”, the levels that fell to yours truly were “The Maze”, “Grave Mission”, “Perilous Journey” & “Confrontation”. In each level I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, the Minikit, and in the final level a Red Brick. For completing the act I unlocked the Queen, Dwarf King & Forestman characters. At this point I decided to spend some (as in all!) of the blue Lego studs I had collected on the various items I’ve unlocked. I purchased the Queen, Dwarf King, Wizard Sorceress, Builder, Skeleton, Crossbowman, Skeleknight, Troll Giant, Troll King, Troll, Captain Brickbeard, Lady Pirate, Builder, Oarsman, Gunman, Horseman, King Kahuka, Islander, Tiki Golem, Governor Broadside, Builder, Swordsman, Rifleman, Cavalry, Biff, Gemma, Builder, Trooper, Commando, Gripley, Space Police Captain, Space Police, Alien Commander, Builder, Drone, Laser Trooper, Grav Runner, Forestman, Ghost, Conquistador & Classic Space characters. Some of them sound like repeats (aka the Builders) but they are not, as the characters are specific to each type of story in the game. I also purchased some vehicles/weaponry, including the Dwarf Glider, Siege Tower, Wizard’s Dragon, Transport Ship, Troll Blimp, Barracuda, Battleship, Brickbeard’s Bounty, Transport Ship, Clipper, Battleship, Flagship, Transport Ship, Claw Tank, Starfighter, Starship 1, Transport Ship, Space Police Cruiser, Alien Attack Ship, Alien Strike Ship, Alien Assault Ship & Transport Ship. Next was to purchase the various maps for the alternate mode of the game, and I got them all, which included The Junction, Outbreak, Crossover, Tri-Star, Dark Waters, Pulsar, Devil’s Horn, Kahuka’s Strait, Crossed Island, Proving Grounds, The Dead Marsh & Ruthless. Last of all I purchased some concept art, including images 1 through 40. Since I was on such a roll at this point I decided to start out on the next story, which was the “Soldier Story”. So far I’ve completed “Act 1” only, the five levels that fell were “Royal Commission”, “The Canary”, “Raiding Party”, “Sabotage” & “Precious Cargo”. On each level I collected 20/20 blue Lego studs, the Minikit, and on the fourth level a Red Brick. For completing the act I unlocked the Ninja character. Phew, so close . . . to completion . . .
4) The only game to be completed on this round of play was Lego Chima: Laval’s Journey . . . boy did I clean this one up in a big way! I managed to complete the game in full the last time I blogged, but there was a mop up operation that needed to happen, in order to go back and get everything I couldn’t manage to the first time through. I went back through all of the game levels in the following order: “Spiral Mountain” (unlocked the Bladvic & Dom de la Woosh characters), “Eagle Town” (earned True Legend status, unlocked the Eglor, Elida, Eagle Scholar, Ewald & Eagle Veteran characters, and found the other Treasure Token), “Eagle Library” (earned True Legend status, unlocked the Equila & Eagle Librarian characters, and found both Treasure Tokens), “Sanctuary Forest” (unlocked the G’loona, Rawzom & Bungey characters, and found both Treasure Tokens), “Gorilla Village” (unlocked the Razar, Grumlo, Gorilla Dudette, Gorilla Dude & Gorilla Elder characters, and found both Treasure Tokens), “Rhino Canyon” (unlocked the Rukus & Lion Veteran characters, and found the other Treasure Token), “Rhino Caves” (earned True Legend status, unlocked the Grizzam character, and found the other Treasure Token), “Croc Swamp” (earned True Legend status, unlocked the Furtivo & Crawley characters, and found both Treasure Tokens), “Croc Fort” (unlocked the Crug, Croc Hunter & King Crominus characters, and found the other Treasure Token) & “Wolf Camp” (unlocked the Wilhurt character, and found both Treasure Tokens). While accomplishing all of the above I had to traipse in and out of the various game hubs, and in doing so I unlocked a lot of additional stuff. Said stuff included character bios for the Wolf, Gorilla, Bear & Eagle tribes, location bio for Sanctuary Forest & Gorilla Village, the Gorilla Brawler, Gorilla Warrior, Rhino Fighter & Rhino Warrior characters, and 9 Red Bricks (which included the Stud Magnet, X2 Stud Multiplier, Character Token Detector, X6 Stud Multiplier, Helium Voices, X10 Stud Multiplier, Triple CHI Power, X8 Stud Multiplier & Invincibility extras). I also managed to find the Gorilla Tribe Wheel and the Lion Tribe Wheel artifacts. Early on in my game play this time around I purchased the Skinnet character, as he gave me access to a lot of areas I couldn’t reach previously. As the rest of the action unfolded I also purchased all of the various Red Bricks I collected, as the bonuses they provided were too good to be ignored!! To finish things off I purchased all of the remaining characters I’d unlocked throughout the game, which included Lennox, Longtooth, Leonidas, Lion Guard, Lion Elder, Lion Veteran, Ewald, Equila, Ewar, Eglor, Elida, Eagle Scholar, Eagle Librarian, Eagle Elder, Eagle Veteran, Grumlo, G’loona, Grizzam, Gorilla Dudette, Gorilla Dude, Gorilla Elder, Gorilla Brawler, Gorilla Warrior, Chi Armor Worriz, Wakz, Wilhurt, Windra, Winzar, Wolf Veteran, Wolf Huntress, Wolf Hunter, Rukus, Runk, Rhino Brawler, Rhino Fighter, Rhino Veteran, Rhino Warrior, Chi Armor Cragger, Crooler, Crawley, Crug, King Crominus, Croc Sister, Croc Brother, Croc Veteran, Croc Huntress, Croc Hunter, Bladvic, Balkar, Bungey, Razar, Rawzom, Razcal, Rizzo, Raven Veteran, Raven Bomber, Furtivo & Dom de la Woosh. In ended play with a 91% completion status, thanks to some of the stuff you have to do online, unlocking some bonus items and what not. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Great game though!!
5) As for my adventures with James, we’ve primarily been concentrating on Donkey Kong Country Returns and it’s gone really well! Picking up from where we left off last time we moved on to the second world, called “Beach”. We completed the first eight levels there, which included “Poppin’ Planks” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Sloppy Sands” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/7 puzzle pieces), “Peaceful Pier” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 2/5 puzzle pieces), “Cannon Cluster” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/7 puzzle pieces), “Stormy Shore” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 4/5 puzzle pieces), “Blowhole Bound” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Tidal Terror” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces) & “Pinchin’ Pirates” (defeated boss). Next up was the third world, called “Ruins”, and we beat the first seven levels there. Said levels were “Wonky Waterway” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Button Bash” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Mast Blast” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Damp Dungeon” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 9/9 puzzle pieces), “Itty Bitty Biters” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 7/7 puzzle pieces), “Temple Topple” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces) & “Ruined Roost (defeated boss). The fourth world, “Cave”, is the last we’ve been able to get at so far. We’ve completed the first six levels there, which were “Rickety Rails” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Grip & Trip” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Bombs Away” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Mole Patrol” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces), “Crowded Cavern” (collected all four K-O-N-G letters, and found 5/5 puzzle pieces) & “The Mole Train” (defeated boss). As we played through these worlds we sporadically went back and retrieved all of the missing puzzle pieces from the first two worlds that we weren’t able to get on our first attempts. So as of now we are all caught up in terms of collecting the necessary items for the first four worlds of the game. So much fun!!
6) Since I completed Lego Chima I decided to fire up a new game on the 3DS, making SpongeBob’s Atlantis SquarePantis my pick!! This is a game that takes place in the underwater realm of SpongeBob SquarePants, the premise being that he and Patrick accidentally stumble upon the missing piece of an ancient amulet that is rumoured to take it’s bearer to the fabled city of Atlantis! And what resides in Atlantis just so happens to be the world’s oldest bubble . . . so naturally SpongeBob is super pumped about going there. However, when the magic bus SpongeBob and his friends board to take them to Atlantis suffers from some technical difficulties, that is when the true adventure begins. Now, this game is just one long continuous journey interrupted by save points, it doesn’t have any levels per se, but I have broken it up in to levels for the sake of organization. So far I’ve managed to complete the first nine levels, and the action has unfolded as such: Level 1 (found 10 Atlantis artifact pieces and united them in to the amulet half, Squidward then told us the legend of Atlantis and our magic bus arrived), Level 2 (Mr. Krabs wouldn’t join us on our trip as his golden spatula was missing, so we found it for him), Level 3 (Sandy wouldn’t come with us as she had a karate lesson planned, so I beat her in a karate battle and she agreed to come), Level 4 (we got on the magic bus, which was powered by our singing, we asked Mr. Krabs what he expected to find in Atlantis and he said riches, so I then played a level where we had to throw bags of money at him while he floated on a magic carpet), Level 5 (the magic bus didn’t have enough singing juice to get us to Atlantis so we broke down on the Lost Continent of Mu, soon after we went out searching for riches in a nearby cave system and found a jewel that was a blue orb in appearance), Level 6 (this time we searched a nearby volcano area and found another jewel, this time a red orb), Level 7 (we then used the pair of orbs we found to open a door in to a cavern-y grotto and explored it, eventually finding an ancient piece of sheet music covered in grime), Level 8 (a trip to the top of a volcano came next, to obtain a rare fire flower, the only thing capable of safely cleaning the grime off of our newest artifact) & Level 9 (Squidward was set to play the sheet music on his clarinet, but the music was then stolen by a jellyfish). And that’s all for now!
7) Lastly, seeing as I finished NHL ’02 during my last blog period I began playing the next hockey game I had waiting in the wings, and that is NHL ’04. This one plays more realistically than ’02 and thus is a lot harder, but it’s a ton of fun! I began by creating a new season with the Toronto Maple Leafs and so far I’ve played the first four games of said season. The results were as such: lost vs. Montreal 5-3, won vs. Washington 9-2, won @ New Jersey 8-2 & won @ Montreal 10-4. Opening night loss . . . avenged!!!
“NNGRR” - The weekend after my last blog I got up to a whole bunch of stuff, the first being the Transformers: Prime; Beast Hunters movie, called Predacons Rising. This is a feature length production that is meant to finish off the storyline that developed over the three seasons that Transformers: Prime ran. To start off Optimus’ small team of Autobots are back on Cybertron and they have reawakened the ancient planet, pushing ahead with some efforts to begin to restore it to it’s former glory. In doing so they have awakened Primus, the massive bot at the heart of Cybertron, and the dormant Unicron feels the ripple effects. In a bid to eradicate Cybertron and all of it’s inhabitants the consciousness of Unicron inhabits the destroyed form of Megatron, warping him in to an even more twisted version of his previous self! Megatron then begins a long journey to Cybertron, to carry out his destructive mission. In the meantime Ultra Magnus and Smokescreen make a startling discovery when they find two new Predacons foraging in some back alleys. During the ensuing battle Ultra Magnus is wounded, but the Autobots soon have more pressing matters to worry about when Megatron finally arrives. After Megs awakens the remains of hundreds of destroyed Predacons, creating an unstoppable army, the Autobots, Decepticons and Predacons realize they must join forces to stop a common enemy. With Megatron and his army on the march to poison the Well of Allsparks and destroy Cybertron, Optimus Prime must make the hard choice . . . a choice he won’t likely survive. But if all goes well he will at least ensure future generations of Transformers a safe home, something him and his Autobots haven’t enjoyed in many generations. This was a really cool movie, lots of action, a couple of new characters, and I loved that the action mostly took place on Cybertron. The Transformers’ home world is still such a mystery, every chance I get to learn more about it I accept with vigor!! I really liked the ending too, it gave quite a bit of closure, and it honestly wasn’t what I was expecting. Well done, and a great series overall!
Next I convinced the wife to watch This is the End with me, and although it wasn’t her favourite I laughed my bag off the entire time! This unique story features a great number of real life actors who actually star as themselves in the film. The two main characters are Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel. Jay flies in to L.A. for the weekend to spend some time with Seth, and the two proceed to get blitzed out of their mind, with the weed and the beers and what not. When Seth tells Jay he wants to take him to a party at James Franco’s new place, Jay is less than pleased. For Jay abhors the L.A. Hollywood lifestyle, and it is an issue that has been driving a wedge in their relationship. However, Jay relents and he quickly finds himself as uncomfortable as ever around all of Seth’s friends. The list of people at Franco’s party is extensive, including Mindy Kaling, Paul Rudd, Aziz Ansari, Jason Segel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Channing Tatum, Michael Cera, and Emma Watson (and probably some others that I may have forgotten). However, the main cast that the movie focuses around are Seth and Jay, as well as Jonah Hill, Craig T. Robinson, Danny McBride, and of course James Franco. Anyhoo, Jay finally convinces Seth to go to the store with him to get cigarettes, and that’s when shit starts getting weird. In the store beams of blue light rip through the place and suck people up in to the sky. Upon making a hasty exit they find no safe haven as the hills of Hollywood are literally ablaze! Racing back to Franco’s house they find the party inside virtually undisturbed, and nobody believes the wild claims Jay is making. That doesn’t last long though, for when a giant sinkhole appears right out in the front yard, people begin to realize something very bad is happening. In the panic that ensues many are lost, and our main cast ends up reconvening in the safety of Franco’s house. As events unfold it appears as though there is more going on than just a mere earthquake. Jay has a theory, believing that it is the apocalypse, backing up his theory with quotes from the bible. The others scoff at him, but as their fight to survive takes many unusual twists and turns, they are forced to concede that perhaps there is more truth to what Jay is saying than they first realized. In the end their only option may be salvation, but are these six characters capable of it? That’s debatable!! J This was such a cool movie. An awesome premise, and featuring many of the best actors of this current generation, which might I add contains a fair amount of Canadian content! The effects were pretty cool too, which I wasn’t quite expecting. The raunchy laughs were my favourite part though, when poor Jonah gets . . . worked over by a demon, I just about pissed my pants!! So good . . .
The final thing we did that weekend is finish watching season one of Happy Endings on Netflix. This cool little show follows the lives of six friends who live in Chicago, it’s actually kind of like Friends now that I think about it, but a little more gritty and wacky. The series opens up at the wedding of two of these friends, Dave and Alex . . . but it doesn’t go so well. Alex leaves Dave at the altar and goes on their honeymoon alone. The next dozen episodes chronicle the adventures of this group as they all try to coexist with each other despite what happened between the two former love birds. But it’s not just Dave and Alex who contribute to the craziness that seems to follow this bunch, couple Jane and Brad (her Alex’s sister and a crazed control freak, him a smooth talking businessman), Max (the anti-big-brother gay guy who doesn’t seem like a gay guy) and Penny (the zany femme who is afraid of growing in to an old spinster) all contribute in their own ways, and the end result is hilarity. With Dave forced to move in with Max as well as many other changes in store, will the bonds that hold them together stay secure, or will it all unravel? This show is way underrated and met an early demise because of it, which is unfortunate. I started watching it because of Elisha Cuthbert (Alex) as she is number one on my “list”, but when I found out it also starred a Wayans it was a big bonus! Add in the other four actors (of which the two other girls are also quite hot), who are all amazing as well, and this is a surprisingly great show. I highly recommend!
The following weekend I finished reading the sixth and penultimate book in the Septimus Heap series, called Darke. This story picks up quite a number of months after the previous book, Syren, as Septimus and Jenna’s 14 birthdays approach. Because of his coming of age Septimus is quite distracted, for it means his Darke week is about to begin, a time in an ExtraOrdinary Apprentice’s training when they have to go on a quest that dabbles in the less savory side of Magyk. Jenna also has her hands full as it means she is now set to take over the Palace, for the princess has also come of age. She is not distracted enough to ignore the eerie darkness that has taken up residence at the top of the castle’s attic staircase though! After unsuccessfully trying to get Septimus to check it out, she asks Beetle to help her out instead. At the top of said stairs Beetle encounters a Darke Domain, a dangerous Darke cloud instigated by Merrin Meredith, formerly known as the original Septimus Heap and current owner of DomDaniel’s powerful two faced ring. Beetle rushes to tell the ExtraOrdinary Wizard about what he’s found, but by the time they are able to get around to doing anything about Merrin, Beetle and Marcia are too late. Merrin’s Darke Domain is spreading, and anybody who succumbs to it within the castle walls faces an uncertain fate. At the last minute Marcia puts a quarantine and a safe shield in place around the castle, but there are too many forces working against them. With the Darke Domain soon running unchecked over the kingdom it’s up to a small, though highly capable band of friends to put things back to rights. It all ends in a fantastic dragon duel high above the castle grounds, but are Septimus and Spit Fyre ready for what awaits them up there? This is a great book, it all took place within the castle walls over the course of just a few days, but it was pretty tense as a lot of crazy stuff happens in those few days! It seals off a lot of storylines, at least it appears so, so I’m really interested to see what the final book will be about. We’ll find out soon enough!
Last weekend we took James to see Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which I was actually really looking forward to seeing. This is the story of Mr. Peabody, a dog that is no ordinary canine . . . for he is a Nobel prize winning genius! Also, he has adopted a young orphan named Sherman. Not wanting Sherman to end up like himself, the dog nobody wanted to take home, he cares for this boy as a real father would. Also, since he is a genius, Mr. Peabody has invented a time machine he calls the WABAC. Instead of merely teaching Sherman about history, Mr. Peabody helps Sherman to experience it first hand, by actually living it! After their latest adventure to witness the French Revolution in gay Paris, Sherman goes on his next adventure . . . his very first day of school. However, it doesn’t go well, for when a jealous classmate named Penny taunts Sherman about having a dog for a father, they get in a fight and he ends up biting her! With child services called in to action over the incident Mr. Peabody plans a dinner party to win over not only Penny’s parents, but the liaison from child services, Mrs. Grunion. In an effort to win Penny over (for he secretly likes her), Sherman does the one thing he is told not to during their visit, he tells her about the WABAC. Before he knows it the two of them have traveled back to Ancient Egypt and Penny stays there, planning to marry King Tut. Heading back to the present to consult Mr. Peabody on the matter, this trip kicks off a chain of zany and often dangerous events that sees the threesome visit Florence during the Renaissance, as well as the battle of Troy, before making it back to their own time. However, in order to do so (thinking that Mr. Peabody perished during the Battle of Troy) Sherman and Penny have to go back in to the not so distant past, which causes a tear in the space time continuum. In a last ditch effort to stop the chaos that is now reigning down on the city of New York, Sherman comes up with an idea that may just save their bacon . . . and win him the girl in the process. Does this dynamic duo have it in them to complete one last epic journey? This movie did not disappoint. I remember Mr. Peabody and Sherman fondly from my childhood, when they were on the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, and seeing as how Ancient Egypt and Greek Mythology are two of my most favourite historic pursuits, this movie was kind of a no brainer for me! It had a great sentimental story behind it, but spiced it up with a ton of cool action. Plus it had some great voice actors in Ty Burrell, Ariel Winter, Leslie Mann and Patrick Warburton, among others. A great family flick!!
Finally, just last night I watched the second movie in what I assume will be the Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire. After defying President Snow and the games makers in the 74th Hunger Games, both Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark of District 12 survive and find themselves living in much more comfortable surroundings in the victor’s village. However, their trials are not over as they must embark on the traditional victory tour to each of the other districts. Before heading out though, President Snow threatens Katniss with harm against those she loves. He says she needs to make her and Peeta’s manufactured love story convincing, and to praise the Capitol and all they do for the people while on tour, as her and Peeta’s actions at the games have become the catalyst for an uprising that is spreading like wildfire through the districts. When the tour doesn’t go as well as he had hoped it would, President Snow gets an idea. For the 75th games, a special quarter quell edition, he invokes a rule that the participants can only be culled from the pool of each district’s previous winners . . . this means Katniss and Peeta are going back in the arena! Seeing as it’s such a special edition of the Hunger Games, the arena is a real doozy to boot. Immediately Katniss and Peeta gain allies in their fight for survival, but the tribulations that put them all to the test seem increasingly insurmountable. However, their mentor Haymitch and the recently reinstated head games maker, Plutarch Heavensbee, might just have something up their sleeve that could turn the game, and all those in the Capitol, right on their collective ears. Has President Snow finally lost control? This was easily my favourite book of the three stories that make up the Hunger Games, and I believe it will probably hold up as my favourite movie too. I love the arena in this story, it is so nifty, plus I also really like a lot of the new characters Katniss and Peeta meet up with in the games. The action is pretty awesome, and I really enjoyed how they pretty much filmed the movie exactly as how events went down in the book. No weird additions, and no strange cuts, that’s the way it should be! They had Jennifer Lawrence looking so hot with all of her different styles and outfits in this film, I swear she becomes infinitely more attractive each time I lay eyes on her . . .