Friday, 22 March 2013

Tea and Text's Guide to Surviving the Calgary Comic Expo Part 1

Survival Guide Part 1: Calgary Comic Expo 2013

So last year was my first time EVER going to any kind of conventions or expo. It was an impulse decision literally weeks before the convention was set to start. Needless to say I was excited at the prospect of meeting all these amazingly talented stars and artists but terrified at the same time. So I'm just going to impart what that experience has taught me in hopes that it'll help you plan.

The Logistics:

  • April 26 from 12 pm - 8 pm
  • April 27 from 10 am - 7 pm
  • April 28 from 10 am - 5 pm
Hint: If you're travelling TO Calgary, I recommend arriving a day earlier than when the Expo starts just so you can be rested and refreshed for the day of April 26 instead of being tired and cranky from travel. Same goes for leaving - leave the day after the Expo ends (this mostly goes for if you're driving). This also gives you some time to check out some great shopping, the zoo and if you're driving - the Dinosaur museum at Drumheller. 

  • BMO Center
    20 Roundup Way SE
    Calgary, AB
  • Bring a GPS/Smartphone to map locations that you may want to see around the city. The information for getting to the Stampede Park can be found: HERE
Now to drive or to take public transit?

If you Drive Yourself:
  • You can leave your coat (you really don't need it no matter how cold it is outside, it's SCORCHING HOT inside) or drop off any bags you don't need.
  • There's lots of public parking (check the map below), last year it costed $7 for all day (it's likely gone up this year) per car. 
  • For people in costumes you don't have to worry about getting your wings ripped off in a slamming train door, or being denied transport for plastic (but pointy) weapons.
  • BUT: 
    • You need to get there early to get a parking spot, it fills up FAST
If you take Public Transit:
  • You don't need to worry about parking or the extra costs associated
  • To plan your trip try: HERE
  • Save the environment! 

  • The BMO center houses all the exhibitors/vendors/autograph area/photo ops and the Palomino Halls A-E where some panels will be held
  • The Boyce Theatre and Stampede Corral is where a lot of the big panels will be held


First thing's first if you're planning on going (especially if you're travelling to Calgary): GET THE TICKETS EARLY and you're GUARANTEED ENTRY.
Don't make the mistake of waiting until you get there. Last year with the Star Trek reunion people waited until the last minute to get their tickets and they were sorely disappointed when they spent all day waiting in line to buy tickets and then finding out weren't allowed in due to the facility reaching capacity and then some (it got scary dangerous). 

All the information you need to buy your tickets can be found: HERE

Hint: If you can (I missed out by seconds) get a VIP pass (they're sold out now but for future reference). The price may seem steep, but it's worth it to save the hours upon hours of waiting in line because you get to go right to the front, you also get prime panel seating (especially in the Corral, it's where the questions for the celebrities are drawn from) - plus in Boyce theatre there's limited seating and if it's a popular panel there's a cut off for how many people they can fit into the room so you may not get into the panel at all and there's a neat swag bag. 

Where to Stay:
The Calgary Expo website recommends hotels that they're partnered with, this also means that they're a bit higher in the price range ($109-149 CAD) but they're generally closer to the Stampede grounds. All Hotel information they recommend can be found: HERE

Where we stayed last time was the Econolodge Inn & Suites University for about $80-98 a night. It's clean, has free parking, internet is included, comes with a free basic continental breakfast (cereal, breads, coffee etc) and a pool/gym/laundry area. We got a room with a kitchen suite so we got groceries and just cooked for ourselves and it's only about a 15 minute drive from the Stampede grounds with an LRT public transit station right across the street if you want. But basically we just used this room to sleep in and spent minimal time in there so it worked perfectly for us. 

Now that I've got you started on how to get there, check back for Part 2: Convention Etiquette (yes it exists!).

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Movie Review: Oz the Great and Powerful

From Con Man to King: Oz the Great and Powerful

Released: March 8, 2013
Director: Sam Raimi
Writers: Mitchell Kapner, David Lindsay-Abaire & L. Frank Baum
Rating: PG
James Franco as Oz
Mila Kunis as Theodora
Rachel Weisz as Evanora
Michelle Williams as Annie/Glinda
Zach Braff as Frank/Finley
Joey King as Girl in Wheelchair/China Girl

Full Cast and Crew HERE

     Oscar Diggs (Oz) is a small time magician in a traveling circus with a penchant for weaving intricate tales with gadgets to seduce and amaze. Oz just wants to make it big like Houdini but while running from one of his schemes gone awry he gets caught up in a twister that transports him to the magical land of Oz where he finds fortune and fame within his grasp. The only catch is he has to defeat the wicked witch and save the land from darkness. An easy task for the Great Wizard of Oz right?


     Having loved The Wizard of Oz as a kid growing up I was a bit hesitant on what the result of a prequel to the classic would be. However, I was completely surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how great of an homage it was to the original! 

     Starting out in the classic small framed black and white resolution the audience gets a glimpse into the clever and slightly sleazy mind of Oz as he prepares for his show. If you recall in The Wizard of Oz, it became very evident that he wasn't a Wizard of the magical kind - but a man that relied on his smarts. It was a great introduction to the character of Oz and his backstory that would lead him to the Emerald City. James Franco with his goofy smile, high cheekbones and perfectly jelled hair pulled off the lies, contraptions and womanizing with a dash of conscience perfectly! He has no shortage of 'magical' skills and in combination with a smooth talking tongue he can sell you anything while leaving a trail of broken hearts behind.

     Mila Kunis as Theodora - is the first witch that Oz meets upon his arrival in the colorful land of Oz. Upon initially meeting her I wasn't too impressed. Mila was doing what she always does - the pretty face full of innocence. Soon Theodora develops a fast and hard attraction to Oz. As soon as that happened this was all I could think of:

     But by halfway through the movie, my initial judgement was completely turned on its head with the evolution of Theodora. Mila was freaking fantastic and maniacal! 

     I loved Rachel Weisz as Evanora - she was equal parts regal and clever; right up there with Michelle Williams as Glinda who was true to her gentle but firm leadership role. 

      Zach Braff was probably my favorite though. Being clever and goofy is his thing, but it was even better with his voice coming from the face of a monkey. 
     The land of Oz is breath taking in its beauty and horror. This has probably been one of the more effective uses of 3D technology that I've seen in awhile. Instead of the 3D being passive with cheap images popping once in awhile it was completely immersive. It had my heart going as we took a thrilling ride over waterfalls and I was full of awe at all the vibrant bugs and birds popping from the screen (a lot of the kids in the theater were trying to catch them). 

     Throughout the movie we watch Oz walking a fine line between what's right and wrong - I was never really sure what he'd do. It's filled with cheesy jokes, magic and a moral story for the kids. But there's definitely some adult innuendo, pop scares, a side plot to tug at the heart strings and nods to the original Wizard of Oz that will entertain and please supervising adults.  

 Overall: 4/5 Hot Cups of Tea!
Disney sure knows how to make a family friendly movie without completely ruining a classic. It's not a complex story, and most adults will know where it's all headed. But it is a visual feast, and will keep the kids entertained. Although you might want to save this for older kids, there were a few scares that had the kids in my theater screaming. This is definitely one worth seeing in theaters and probably owning to watch repeatedly!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Movie Review: Jack the Giant Slayer

Magic Beans Solve All Your Problems: Jack the Giant Slayer

Released: March 1, 2013
Director: Bryan Singer
Writers: Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie
Rating: PG
Eleanor Tomlinson as Isabelle
Ewan McGregor as Elmont
Stanley Tucci as Roderick
Ewen Bremner as Wicke
Ian McShane as King Brahmwell

Full Cast and Crew HERE

     Jack, a simple farmboy sent on an errand ends up in the middle of a plot full of intrigue and desperation when a bag of magic beans ends up in his hands and sends him on a whirlwind adventure up a beanstalk to face creatures that had faded into legend...


     In continuing with the popular theme of re-vamping classic children's tales with a darker twist (like Snow White and the Huntsman or Hansel and Gretel); Jack the Giant Slayer seems to have gotten confused somewhere in its production. It wanted to be that violent movie with giants crushing puny humans left and right, but then it remembered it was originally a children's tale and so they tamed it down. So what we got was an oddly mixed movie stuck in the middle.

     It starts with some background of this world and the legend of the giants. With a slightly religious explanation behind how humans and giants met, this short story reaches a pretty epic conclusion and sets the scene for their descendants as the giants fade back into myth. 

     Jack was equal parts simple farmboy and an all around good guy. He does his best and is stupidly brave. His character is clever and a quick thinker, but I feel like any success he has was driven by sheer dumb luck. 

     Isabelle - the rebellious princess of the realm wants to experience the world and really get to know the people in order to be a "good ruler". In theory it's a great idea and something to commend her for. But in execution it becomes a train wreck. With little to no life skills she becomes a damsel in distress very quickly. 

     Then we've got the valiant loyal knight Elmont, the devious plotting Roderick and his irritating sidekick Wicke. Wicke ended up sticking out most in my mind, purely because his character was that henchman that's constantly hovering over the shoulder and a bumbling idiot that you just want to be quiet already! 

     The actors themselves all did a good job. The characters were pretty standard good guy/bad guy so there wasn't anything new there. I happen to really love Ewan McGregor but that aside he was snarky and perfect as Elmont. The giants were reduced to emaciated brutes that looked like they could have used some vit. C to cure that scurvy. They were the basis for a few cheap booger jokes and some yelling and thrashing. Because it's rated PG, it has to be reasonably family friendly so a lot of the Giant related deaths are off screen, or you just see the blurry fast results of falling great heights. 

     There were so many plot holes and inconsistencies! My boyfriend and I spent the drive home asking each other questions like "What about female giants?" (The original Jack and the Beanstalk story that this move loosely takes from involved the Giant's wife), or what happened to his uncle? Or the nonsensical and awkward size of a certain crown that apparently fits two fingers (why not just make it one finger?!) of a giant, but perfectly on the head of a human. 

     The romance is the classic "oh you saved me, my hero!" kind of love and for a princess that wanted to take charge of her life, she sure didn't mind letting the men lead. 

     So invariably in these medieval fantasy stories everyone speaks in an English accent (it's like everyone Roman does too >.>), but it was for a good reason and apparently the directors were trying to tie to the mythos in original Jack the Giant Killer story - but when it happened it felt so left field that it just takes you out of the magic of the story.

Overall: 3/5 Drinkable Cups of Tea.
It's entertaining, but the 3D aspect really did nothing to add to it (but to fluff up the movie price). The epic battle at the end fell really flat - I never felt like it got to that critical moment where you question if they're going to make it or not before the savior sweeps in. You should definitely wait until it comes out on DVD if you really want to see it.

Background Labs