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Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (2007) Movie Review

Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (2007)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Series: Cinderella #3
Starring: Jennifer Hale, Susanne Blakeslee, Tress MacNeille, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Russi Taylor
Director: Frank Nissen
Release Date: 6 February 2007
Language: English
Length: 70 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: DVD
My Rating: image_thumb83_thumb1_thumb

Synopsis:

Cinderella and Prince Charming are celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary when disaster strikes – Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother gets her hands on the Fairy Godmother’s wand!  Cinderella’s Stepmother wastes no time turning back the clock to the Grand Duke’s visit and magically makes the glass slipper fit Anastasia’s foot.  Now Prince Charming thinks he is in love with Anastasia!  Will Cinderella be able to find her happily ever after with Prince Charming now that the past has changed?

Review:

Most Disney sequels suffer when compared to the original film that inspired them and Cinderella III is no exception.  However, if you have a princess at home who loves the original, this sequel is solid and an entertaining movie in its own right.  The storyline is actually creative and original.  Instead of trying to continue with Cinderella’s life in the Wicked Stepmother and the Fairy Godmother's Wandpalace, Disney took the story back in time and imagined what would have happened to Cinderella’s happily ever after if the Wicked Stepmother got her hands on the Fairy Godmother’s magic wand.  Now Lady Tremaine (voice by Susanne Blakeslee) has convinced Prince Charming (voice by Christopher Daniel Barnes) that he is in love with Anastasia (voice by Tress MacNeille).  This was genius as it opened up the door for a lot of humorous moments.  Anastasia and her sister, Drizilla (voice by Russi Taylor), are laugh-out-loud funny as they bicker in the palace.  Anastasia is trying to impress the prince and his father, the king, while Drizilla spends her time making catty comments and making things much more difficult.  Neither one of them have the manners of a lady and I couldn’t stop giggling at the antics of these two sisters, even though they are supposed to be the villains.

There are some really sweet messages that are contained in this movie, too.  One of them discusses how do we recognize love.  Is it by a look in their eyes or a touch of the hand?  What does love mean to you?  Anastasia has to think about these questions and other ones as she goes along with her mother’s scheme to get her married to the prince.  Ultimately, it is Anastasia who wants to be loved so badly that she is willing to pretend that the prince loves her, even though it is only due to a magical spell.  I loved getting to know Anastasia and Drizilla better in this movie and hope that Anastasia will one day find a happy ending of her own.

I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the music in Cinderella III: A Twist in Time.  The original songs in the movie are good and I even found myself singing along to a few of them.  “At the Ball” was by Mice Steal the Wandfar my favorite song and it is just adorable!  Jaq (voice by Rob Paulsen) and Gus (voice by Corey Burton), Cinderella’s mice friends, are trying to explain to Prince Charming what really happened the night of the ball and they have to act out the story while singing this cute little song.  This was my favorite scene in the movie and well worth watching the movie for!  “I Still Believe” is a sweet, romantic anthem about believing in love despite, or because of, what has happened in your life.  Even though I have never found love for myself, that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in it!  Cinderella (voice by Jennifer Hale) has a different perspective to the song as she knows what it is like to be in love and then had it cruelly ripped away from her.  Everyone will have a different feeling about this song, but that is what I loved about it.

If you enjoy the Cinderella story, you will want to watch this sequel.  The animation is quite good, aside from a serious issue with Cinderella’s nose that really bothered me, and the music is almost theatrical release quality.  The story is solid and there are some really fun little subplots that viewers of all ages will enjoy.  Make sure that you Anastasia Gets the Slipper to Fitwatch the credits, too!  There are some clever paintings that show the Cinderella characters in famous portraits and landscapes.  If you keep watching through to the end, you will get to see what happens to the Wicked Stepmother and her equally wicked daughter, Drizilla.  There is only one bonus feature and that is a music video of Hayden Panettiere performing “I Still Believe.”  Though the video is charming, I which was a bit disappointed that there were no other special features available.  Again, Cinderella III: A Twist in Time is not as magical as the original (and, really, what is?), but there is still a great deal to enjoy in this movie.  If you have little princesses at home, you will definitely want to add this movie to your DVD collection.

Content:

This movie contains some scenes of mild peril and violence.  There are scenes of verbal arguments and disagreements.  This movie is appropriate for viewers of all ages.  Recommended for ages 2 and up.

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Filed under Animated Movies, Children & Family Movies, Disney

Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde Book Review

Cloaked in Red

Book Review by Debbie Winkler

Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde

Author: Vivian Vande Velde
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish (October 2010)
ISBN: 9780761457930
Page Count: 127 pages
Format: hardcover

Target Age Group: children ages 9 and up
My Rating: image_thumb83_thumb1_thumb

Synopsis:

We all know the story of “Little Red Riding Hood.”  A little girl in a red cloak goes through the dark forest to deliver a basket of food to her sick grandmother. Along the way, she meets a wolf, who rushes ahead to her grandmother’s cottage to ambush and eat the little girl when she arrives.  The woodcutter arrives just in time to rescue Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother and kill the wolf and they all live happily ever after, right?  Well, Vivian Vande Velde has reimagined this timeless classic into eight different versions.  Be prepared to read the story of “Little Red Riding Hood” in ways that you never expected!

Review:

I always enjoy reading books by Vivian Vande Velde and Cloaked in Red was no exception.  If you read this book, make sure that you take Little Red Riding Hoodthe time to read the author’s forward as it is hilarious!  I never really thought about it before, but Vivian Vande Velde asks a few pertinent questions about this children’s tale.  Why on earth did Little Red Riding Hood’s mother send her off into the woods by herself when she knew it wasn’t safe?  Why warn the little girl about not talking to strangers, but neglect to advise her to stay away from wolves and other dangerous animals?  Why didn’t the grandmother’s call out a warning if she was hiding in the wardrobe when Little Red Riding Hood arrived?  And why on earth is the little girl named after an article of clothing?  The author’s questions had me laughing and thinking about this classic story in a totally different way so I was ready to read some new and interesting versions of the tale.

There are eight different versions of “Little Red Riding Hood” in this slim volume and they are all pretty short.  I am not saying that they are all bedtime story material, as most of these stories deal with some Little Red Riding Hood #2grown-up subject matter, but I found the book a quick and easy read.  As with all short story collections, I enjoyed some of the tales more than others, but I was impressed with Vivian Vande Velde’s creativity in all of them.  The stories all feature the main characters of the fairy tale: Little Red Riding Hood, Little Red’s mother, the wolf, the grandmother and the woodcutter.  The author uses a bit of artistic license in some of the stories so you have to hunt a bit more to identify the characters, but they are always there.  For example, the wolf is a handsome, dangerous young man in one tale.  In another, an elderly man, graciously called the woodcutter (even though you are not allowed to chop wood and are more accurately referred to as a wood collector) collects wood as he travels through many fairy tales, including “The Gingerbread Man,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “The Three Little Pigs.”  All of the stories are told from a variety of perspectives and each character gets a chance to be the protagonist in the stories, including a memorable one by the red cloak itself!  Expect the unexpected and you will not be disappointed.  Well-written and interesting, Cloaked in Red will be sure to appeal to readers who enjoy reading mixed-up fairy tales.

Content:

This book contains scenes with mild sensuality and peril.  A wolf eats people and/or threatens to eat people in many versions.  Fantasy violence, magic and talking animals are featured.  Recommended for ages 12 and up.

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Filed under Children's Books, Fantasy Books, Young Adult Books

Build-a-Lot Fairy Tales Game Review

Build-a-lot Fairy Tales

Game Review by Debbie Winkler

Series: a Build-a-Lot Game
Creator: Hipsoft
# of Players: 1
Target Age Group: 8 and up
Language: English
Average Game Play: 3 – 12 hours
Type of Game: Time Management
View Format: DVD
My Rating: image_thumb84_thumb1_thumb

Synopsis:

Help the Nutcracker Prince, the Big Bad Wolf, the Wicked Witch, the Frog Prince and other mayors beautify and build towns in this fun-filled time-management game.  Work your way through swamps, forests and mountains to perfect the land of fairy tales!  Build factories, a variety of houses and special buildings in each different landscape.  You will need to work quickly and strategically to achieve the goals on each level and earn the blue ribbon on each level.  Build-a-lot Fairy Tales will appeal to the whole family and provide hours of fun for everyone!

Review:

Build-a-lot Fairy Tales is the same as all of the other Build-a-Lot games, but the setting was really different.  I haven’t played one of these games in a long time, Build a Lot Fairy Tales Levelsbut everything came back to me quickly when I started playing so I skipped the tutorial and dove right in.  The creators of this game assume that you have played one of the other Build-a-Lot games before this so be prepared to pick things up as you go, regardless of whether you play the tutorial or not.  The rules are not that complicated.  Simply look at the list of achievements on each level and figure out the quickest and cheapest way to execute them and you will be an expert in no time!  One of the tips that I have for those who have not played Build-a-Lot games previously is to click on your magic toadstool (your work center for all of your fairy workers) and spend $7,500 to speed up your fairies.  This doubles their speed and helps you achieve your goals much more rapidly.

Goals on each level differ, but they usually include goals regarding houses, money and/or reputation.  On the beginning levels, what you see is what you get.  They will tell you all of the goals for the level and you just have to finish them.  After you have played through the first several levels, they will start surprising you with an additional goal or two after you complete the initial list.  It can be challenging to achieve the blue ribbon until you know what all of the goals are so don’t be afraid to restart a level after you get the complete list so you can plan ahead!  There are several different types of houses including dens, cottages, manors, gingerbread houses, tree houses and towers.  Each house requires a different combination of fairies or workers and materials to build.  Dens are quick and easy to build, but they are also cheap housing and will not bring in a lot of rent.  Towers require a lot of materials and workers, but they are worth a lot more money when you are renting them and/or selling them.  Structures include a magic toadstool, a witch cauldron and a dwarf foundry.  The magic toadstool houses your workers.  After you build it, additional workers can be purchased at half price, are trained more rapidly so they enter your workforce Build a Lot Fairy Tales Purplemore quickly and you can speed up your workers for a fee.  You can also protect your houses from dragons so you don’t have to repair them and decorate them so you can earn additional rent.  The witch cauldron allows you to enchant buildings, which raises their reputation +5, and gild buildings, which means that their value is fixed.  Whenever you sell a gilded building, it will sell for full value regardless of how many other homes are currently for sale.  If three different cottages are on sale when you put your cottage up for sale, you will have to sell your cottage for quite a bit less as there are more homes available for sale.  If you gild your cottage, you will get full value all the time every time.  Both gilding and enchanting buildings will raise your rent, as well. The dwarf foundry will allow you to purchase materials at half price and speed up material deliveries.  All three structures are useful, but they cost materials and workers so use them wisely.  Also, remember that all three structures will lower your reputation levels so houses built near them will be worth less and the city as a whole will have a lower reputation.  You may need to destroy your structures to achieve the reputation level that you need to achieve your goals.  In addition to structures, there are some special buildings that will be available to you in certain settings.  You will build a special airship for the Nutcracker Prince and a pink castle for the Wicked Witch, as well as restaurants for the Frog Prince.  You can also boost your reputation by building special buildings that do not provide rent, but do boost the reputation of the buildings on either side of them by as much as +20.  These buildings are fixed based on the setting and you will not have the option to build more than one type per level.

For those of you who have not played a Build-a-Lot game before, this is a great one to play.  It is fun and I love the fantasy setting!  Dragons light your buildings on fire and you have to extinguish them before you can collect more rent.  Magic mirrors, pipe organs and other fun items are included in building upgrades. Goals for different settings are story appropriate and fun to work through.  For example, the Frog Prince is trying to find a fair maiden to kiss him so he wants to build gazebos and restaurants so he has somewhere romantic to take his dates.  The troll wants to gather a lot of gold together so people will like him better.  The creators really had a lot of fun with this game and I loved the fresh new settings and little tweaks they made to this game to make it unique and different, yet familiar!

Some of the levels were really challenging, while others were pretty easy. There are 30 regular levels, 9 expert levels and free play available to you on this game. The expert levels will really push your knowledge of the game so play them after you have played the other 30 levels and achieve a blue ribbon on each level.  I have played quite a few of the Build-a-Lot games so I can share some general tips and tricks with you if you are new.  Don’t be afraid to demolish low-cost buildings to make something bigger and better.  Dens do not bring in a lot of money so I almost always demolish them so I can build a more expensive house and get more rent money.  Demolish any building that is not helping you achieve Build a Lot Fairy Tales Mayor Letteryour goals and you will find that you progress much more rapidly.  Sell your houses strategically.  When you begin a level, evaluate how much money and how many workers you have.  Do you have enough to achieve your goals?  If you need to build tree houses, you will need 7 workers and 1,200 materials.  If you are starting the level out with only 3 workers and 500 materials, you need a way to generate some money quickly so you can get going on building and finishing your goals.  One of the best ways to do this is to sell a home that you already own.  Sell the house first thing when you start the level as no other homes will be for sale and you can get full list price.  Use the cash to hire more workers and/or to purchase materials and get going on your goals.  You can always buy the building back later!  Build-a-lot Fairy Tales also includes a forest option.  Each setting offers a different reward for the forested lots, but they offer free money or material when you clear them.  You can reforest and harvest the forests multiple times so take advantage of this.  You can get double the money back from a forest lot or quite a bit of materials for a little effort.  Remember, it is critical to upgrade your homes.  A basic tower only provides $2,500 in rent, but, if fully upgraded, it can provide over 3x that!  It costs you money and materials, but then you can just sit on that tower and let it generate cash for you.  Just remember to be fearless – you don’t have to keep anything and you don’t have to wait to collect rent to achieve your goals.  Try different methods and you will be sure to find one that works best for you.

I found that Build-a-lot Fairy Tales was my favorite in the Build-a-Lot series.  I was so happy to not have to worry about being green!  This version of the game took me back to the first couple of incarnations and I found myself having fun again.  Yes, you do need to strategize to achieve your goals, but you can make a few mistakes and still beat the deadline if you can think quick on your feet.  I also loved the fairy tale themes and found myself much more willing to achieve silly goals, like tearing down homes and reforesting all of the lots so that the pigs had a place to hide from the Big Bad Wolf’s tower.  The goals usually make sense if you think about it from a fairy tale perspective and I really appreciated that extra touch.  If you enjoy time-management games with building themes, the Build-a-Lot franchise is the biggest and the best!  You will definitely want to play Build-a-lot Fairy Tales and you just might get your kids addicted to them, too!

Content:

You will need to read the storyline, hints and goals in English.  You do not need to read the storyline to play the game, but it does enhance your enjoyment.  Hints are provided on each level that can be critical to your success so be sure that you read through those and don’t just click through them unless you are replaying the level.  The goals you need to achieve are written on the top and bottom of your screen for easy reference.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.

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Filed under Building/Construction, Time Management

The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories #1) by Chris Colfer

The Wishing Spell

Book Review by Debbie Winkler

Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

Series: The Land of Stories #1
Author: Chris Colfer; Illustrator: Brandon Dorman
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (July 2012)
ISBN: 9780316201575
Page Count: 438 pages
Format: hardcover

Target Age Group: children ages 9  – 12
My Rating:image_thumb84_thumb1

 

Synopsis:

After the death of their father, twins Alex and Connor Bailey find it difficult to pretend that life is normal.  Their mother is working all the time, Connor is struggling in school and Alex doesn’t have any friends besides Connor.  When their grandmother arrives to help them celebrate their twelfth birthday, she gives them The Land of Stories, a treasured fairy-tale book.  But this is no ordinary book of stories, it contains the tales of real-life people who live in a magical land.  When the book starts humming and glowing, Alex and Connor get sucked into it and find themselves on an adventure of a lifetime as they travel through their favorite fairy tales to locate the eight ingredients needed to create the wishing spell, which might be their only chance to go home.

Review:

This was a fun children’s book that fairy-tale lovers of all ages will appreciate and enjoy.  The Land of Stories is made up of several separate kingdoms.  The Land of Stories MapFairy Kingdom is the home of the fairies, including the Fairy Council, which helps govern and rule the entire Land of Stories.  Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and Mother Goose are the most powerful members, but other fairies of all shapes and sizes also help rule.  The Dwarf Forests is the home of the seven dwarves who helped Snow White, along with their other brethren.  It is also the home of Froggy, a giant frog the size and shape of a man; the wolf pack, led by the son of the wolf who ate Little Red Riding Hood; the Book Starts to Glow - Book Illustration from Chapter 4witch’s gingerbread house from Hansel and Gretel; Goldilocks, a felon wanted throughout all the kingdoms for her various crimes, starting with the Three Bears; and a host of other characters who prefer to live in darkness.  The Corner Kingdom is where Rapunzel’s tower can be found.  The Charming Kingdom is the home of Cinderella and her Prince Charming, the oldest of four Charming brothers.  Cinderella is expecting their first child at any time and the whole kingdom is thrilled.  Mermaid Bay houses the foam remains of The Little Sleeping BeautyMermaid and her mermaid sisters.  The Sleeping Kingdom is ruled over by Sleeping Beauty and her Prince Charming.  Their kingdom is still struggling to recover from Sleeping Beauty’s 100 years of slumber and people don’t get much done there.  The Red Riding Hood Kingdom is surrounded by a very tall wall to keep the wolves out.  Queen Red Riding Hood lives there, but she leaves all of the boring duties of a Queen to her grandmother.  She is in love with Jack, famous for climbing the beanstalk, which can still be found in this kingdom, but Jack only has eyes for Goldilocks.  The Old Woman Evil QueenWho Lived in a Shoe, Little Bo-Peep and Humpty Dumpty (or his wall, which is all that remains) can also be found there.  The Northern Kingdom is the home of Snow White and her Prince Charming.  Snow White is still struggling to understand what could drive her stepmother, the Evil Queen, to try to kill her so many times.  A Hidden Place is where the Evil Queen is hiding out, plotting to find the eight components of the wishing spell before the twins and The Troll and Goblin Territory imprisons the goblins and trolls who are always trying to enslave humans.  The twins will have to travel to all of these territories to gather the eight magical items that they need to cast the wishing spell and return home.

I loved the setting of this book and really enjoyed meeting my favorite fairy tale creatures.  Chris Colfer also cleverly inserts some additional, original fairy tales Cinderellasuch as “The Twisted Tree” and “The Walking Fish,” which the twins’ father told them when they were younger.  It wasn’t difficult to figure out who the twins’ father really was or who Froggy true identity, but that did not prevent me from enjoying this book.  What I did not enjoy about this book was the twins.  Alex really bothered me.  She is very book-smart, but people stupid and she made a lot of bad decisions in this book.  Alex is more interested in meeting her favorite fairy-tale people than in getting home and doesn’t seem to be that worried about how their mother might be feeling. Fairy Tale Woods Alex forces Connor to kiss a troll princess, then punches him for saving her life when he drags her over a cliff to jump into the ocean.  She can’t read the map that they have to get where they need to go, but finds a way to blame Connor for them getting lost.  Alex was very grating and not likeable at all.  She seems to focus on completely the wrong thing and, while she created more drama in the book, I could have done without her and been completely happy.  Connor, on the other hand, is not a book-smart boy, but at least I liked him!  He manages to find the courage to stand up to some very powerful people and say Little Red Riding Hoodwhat needs to be said.  Connor also has a fun, fresh take on life and I loved hearing his different perspectives of what fairy tales really mean.  He was a lot more adventurous and focused so that they could go home.  I am glad that they were together because, if Alex was the only hero in the story, I might have given up!

The book is well written and fast-paced.  There is a new adventure or fairy-tale creature around every corner and I loved that!  I also enjoyed the backstory that Chris Colfer created for the Evil Queen.  She became a real person instead of one-dimensional villain.  There are so many more villains out there – I can’t wait to see which one Chris Colfer tackles next!  In the end of the book, we learn that the twins truly do belong in the Land of Stories, but they also belong in the real world.  I am sure that they will be spending time in both and will have many more adventures together!

Content:

This book contains some scenes of mild peril and magical violence.  Some characters die by falling to their death, being shot with arrows, stabbed or eaten by wolves.  Some humans are enslaved by trolls and goblins.  Recommended for ages 7 and up.

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Filed under Children's Books, Fantasy Books

Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) Movie Review

Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane
Director: Bryan Singer
Release Date: 1 March 2013
Language: English
Length: 114 minutes
Movie Rating: PG-13
View Format: Movie theatre
My Rating: image_thumb83_thumb1_thumb

Synopsis:

When Jack (Nicholas Hoult) tries to sell his uncle’s horse and cart in town, he accidentally trades a monk for a small pouch of magic beans.  Later that evening, one of the beans gets wet and a gigantic beanstalk immediately carries Jack’s house to the land of the giants – with the Princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) inside!  Determined to rescue her, a brave band of adventurers travel up the beanstalk, only to be betrayed by Roderick (Stanley Tucci) who allies with the giants to destroy the land of men. Now the giants are returning to the lands of men once more.

Review:

I was really excited to see this movie, but I must confess that I found the execution a little lacking.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but Jack the Giant Slayer is just missing something.  I loved the way that they reinvented the Jack Climbing the Beanstalkand the Beanstalk story.  They created a whole backstory and a unique way to defeat the giants that made the story more cohesive and interesting.  The movie begins with this new retelling and, while I did not care for the blocky, cheap-looking animation that they used to illustrate the story, it did allow the viewers to dive right into the story.  Strangely, the movie was lacking where I felt it would be the strongest.  All of the human characters were set up and ready to go and then they ascend the beanstalk – where nothing happens.  I hate to say it, but this middle section was kind of Escaping the Giantsboring.  Granted, giants are not the types of creatures that can sneak up on you, but I was expecting to see more magic, more giant objects, more giants!  Yes, there are some clever moments, like meeting the giants named Fee, Fie, Foe and Fum, but where was the magic harp?  Jack walks right past it and they show it on screen, but they don’t do anything with it.  In fact, aside from the giant-controlling crown and the beans themselves, there is no magic in the movie at all.  What a disappointment!

My favorite part of the movie was Ewan McGregor.  He is just as handsome as ever and it was worth paying admission just to get a look at his hair!  Not every Ewan McGregor as Elmontguy can pull off the upswept locks that Ewan McGregor was sporting in this movie, but I really liked it.  Ewan McGregor plays Elmont, captain of the king’s exclusive guard, and was a joy to watch.  Most of the humor in the movie comes from Elmont and it was Ewan McGregor’s dry wit and straight-faced delivery that kept the story feeling light-hearted for me.  Stanley Tucci also does a fine job as the villain, Roderick.  He provides plenty of small laughs and little witticisms that made me smile.  Granted, he was a bit of a fool and I have no idea how he managed to keep his plans to take over the kingdom a secret, but that is why it is dangerous to place so much power in a single man’s hands.  Ewen Bremner plays Wicke, Roderick’s dimwitted henchman and he was hilarious!  He has some great one-liners that were kind of mean and inappropriate, yet funny Jack the Giant Slayer - Ian McShaneat the same time!  I was absolutely delighted to see Ian McShane as King Brahwell.  I am accustomed to seeing Ian McShane in darker, more villainous roles so it was a lot of fun to see him mocking his role as king and the monarchy in general in this film.  Everything he wears is over the top, exaggerated and extremely shiny.  It doesn’t hurt that Ian McShane has a wonderful voice to listen to, as well!  When I heard the two-headed giant leader speaking in the General Fallon and His Gangmovie, I immediately thought – it is Davy Jones versus Blackbeard (in the Pirates of the Caribbean series), who is going to win?!  Bill Nighy plays the voice of General Fallon and he is simply wonderful!  Bill Nighy has such a distinctive voice.  Well-modulated, carefully enunciated with every word bit off like a projectile weapon, his voice sent shivers down my spine as soon as his character came on scene.  Loved it!

Now, unfortunately, the weakest characters in the movie are the leads.  Nicholas Hoult plays Jack, a farm boy who just happens to be in the right place at the right time to save the princess.  I confess that I did not recognize him, but I looked him up afterwards and can see that he is slowly gaining momentum in his career.  When you look at his pictures online, you can tell that Nicholas Hoult is a handsome guy, but he really doesn’t look too great in this movie.  I am not sure if it Nicholas Hoult as Jackwas the camera angles or the haircut, but he was not so attractive.  This was especially noticeable because Ewan McGregor looks great during the entire film and he is getting kicked around, dragged through mud and dirt and even baked in a pie so he should look just as bad as Nicholas Hoult, but he doesn’t.  I don’t know what it is about fantasy films, but they can turn an actors into a gorgeous creature or a normal/borderline-unattractive guy with little middle ground.  Nicholas Hoult may need to work on his camera angles or push a bit more for better styling in his next movie.  Nicholas Hoult was solid, if a bit uninspired with his acting.  Was he believable as a farm boy, yes.  Did I see any JACK THE GIANT SLAYERreason why a princess would fall in love with him?  Not really.  Eleanor Tomlinson plays Princess Isabelle.  She wants to have adventures and spend time amongst her subjects, but her father wants to keep her confined to the palace where she is safe.  Eleanor Tomlinson is pretty enough and sweet, but I didn’t get that great feeling of adventure and spunk that I was waiting for.  She still runs like a girl and somehow manages to stay clean throughout all of the time in the giant realm.  There wasn’t really a spark between these two young actors, but I think that their characters (as written in the story) would have made a good pairing.  I felt like the supporting cast overshadowed these two and carried the film, which was a shame as Jack and Isabelle are in almost every scene.

The CGI and action sequences in Jack the Giant Slayer are stunning.  There are some gorgeous vistas in the giant’s world and the scenes showing the beanstalks growing are simply stunning.  The giants felt real and moved organically.  I Jack-the-Giant-Slayer-imageloved the creative use of extra heads, bone ornaments, crazy hairstyles and variety in head shapes to make the giants more distinctive and individualistic.  The names were clever and the giants were a bit smarter than I gave them credit for.  What they didn’t have was a really interesting living space or any kind of magic.  The music enhanced the action and helped me jump higher in my chair during the startling moments. The music really suited the movie and matched the story and the action very well.  If you enjoy the soundtrack, as I did, stay and listen at the end while the credits roll, but don’t expect any bonuses at the end as there is nothing that plays after the credits finish.

I am worried that Jack the Giant Slayer will struggle to find the right audience, Shiny Shiny Armorwhich is a shame as it is a well-crafted, fun movie to go see.  However, it is a little bit too scary for children, who will be most familiar with the fairy tale and most likely to want to see it, and a bit too uncool for teens to go see because it is a fairy tale.  I found it to be an attractive blend of action, humor and a wonderful fantasy backdrop and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy films, Ewan McGregor or CGI done well.

Content:

This movie contains scenes of death and violence.  The giants eat some humans and you hear the crunching sounds and the body going up to their mouths, but they do not show the actual bite taking place or the inevitable blood gushing that would follow (there is no blood shown, which was really nice!).  Humans are stabbed and fall to their deaths.  Both humans and giants fall off the beanstalk and their crumpled bodies are shown on the ground.  There is a big fight sequence between the giants and the humans at the end and both sides take a lot of damage.  Giants are burned, shot with arrows and stabbed.  Humans are crushed, burned, and thrown to their deaths.  There are some suspenseful scenes that will make you jump as you wait for the action to take place.  There are references towards drunkenness, the plague and marrying a much older man.  Recommended for ages 12 and up.

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Filed under Adventure Movies, Fantasy Movies

Belle’s Magical World (1998) Movie Review

Belle’s Magical World (1998)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Series: Beauty and the Beast #3
Starring: Robby Benson, Paige O’Hara, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Anne Rogers
Director: Cullen Blaine, Dale Case, Daniel de la Vega, Barbara Dourmashkin, Bob Kline, Burt Medall, Mitch Rochon
Release Date: 17 February 1998
Language: English
Length: 92 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: DVD
My Rating: image_thumb83_thumb1_thumb[4]

Synopsis:

Did you ever wonder what happened while Beauty was living in the Beast’s castle before they fell in love?  What kind of adventures did the animated objects in the Castle have with Belle and the Beast?  Join your favorite Beauty and the Beast characters including Belle, the Beast, Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, Chip and a whole cast of brand new characters on four special adventures!  Laugh and learn with friends old and new in Belle’s Magical World .

Review:

This is a direct-to-DVD “sequel” that Disney released a few years ago so much expectations were very low.  Imagine my surprise when I found some cute, funny adventures set in the Beast’s Castle!  There are four stories on this DVD including:

“The Perfect Word” – The Beast (voice by Robby Benson) is trying hard to win Perfect WordBelle’s (voice by Paige O’Har) heart so he invites her to a lovely dinner.  Everything is going well until the Beast puts his comfort above everyone else’s and he and Belle have a huge argument.  Neither one wants to be the first to apologize and both refuse to speak to the other.  Webster, a dictionary (voice by Jim Cummings), Crane, a quill (voice by Jeff Bennett), and friends create a letter for the Beast, but the plan backfires when the Beast discovers the forgery!  This episode will teach children about forgiveness and humility.

“Fifi’s Folly” – Fifi, a feather duster (voice by Kimmy Robertson), is certain that Lumiere, a candlestick (voice by Jerry Orbach), has something special planned Fifi's Follyfor the fifth anniversary of their first date, but she has no idea that Lumiere has completely forgotten!  Belle tries to help Lumiere come up with the perfect experience for the two lovers, but the plan backfires when Fifi believes that Belle is trying to steal her beloved Lumiere away and sabotages all of the plans!  This episode will teach children that things are not always what they seem.

“Mrs. Potts’ Party” – Mrs. Potts, a tea pot (voice by Anne Rogers), isn’t feeling like herself due to the winter weather – she even forgets to put tea in the hot Mrs. Potts's Partywater!  To cheer her up, Belle decides to throw Mrs. Potts a surprise party and enlists the help of everyone to help.  Unfortunately, no one can agree as to what Mrs. Potts’ favorites are  – angel food cake or devil’s food cake, a French composition or an original musical piece composed by Cogsworth, a clock (voice by David Ogden Stiers), lilies or roses?  This cartoon teaches children that it is important to learn how to compromise and to get along with others – especially when you are doing something fun like planning a party!

“Broken Wing” – The Beast is furious when Belle forgets a lunch date with him to tend to an injured bird.  First, the Beast banishes the bird, but then he hears the Broken Wingbird’s beautiful song and decides to keep him in a cage.  Now the bird no longer sings, despite all of the Beast’s coaxing.  Meanwhile, Cogsworth is having a difficult time getting his fellow servants to respect his commands and to obey him.  Can the Beast and Cogsworth learn that it is not what you ask, but how you ask that matters?  This episode will teach children to ask nicely for things and to respect others.

After watching these episodes, I grew to love Cogsworth and Lumiere even more than I did from the original Beauty and the Beast movie!  They are considered secondary characters in the original movie, but they really steal the spotlight in “Fifi’s Folly” (Lumiere) and “Broken Wing” (Cogsworth)!  Lumiere is all about having fun and adding romance to every situation.  Cogsworth is organized, punctual and pretty rigid in his world view.  When you pair these two together, Lumiere & Cogsworthsparks really fly as they don’t see eye-to-eye on anything!  They argue pretty spectacularly in “Mrs. Potts’ Party,” making it my favorite episode on the DVD.  One of my favorite lines comes from Cogsworth in response to Lumiere’s claim that he has real talent.  Cogsworth immediately replies “Keep it, I would want to take what little you have.”  There are a lot of little comments and statements made in the cartoons that I felt were geared solely towards older viewers, which I greatly appreciated.  The vocal talent is spot on in this animated film and all of the actors are perfectly chosen and wonderful in their roles. I found myself smiling and laughing along with the antics of these animated objects and really enjoyed meeting new characters in each cartoon.

As much as I enjoyed this DVD, I will warn you that the quality of the animation and song writing is not up to par with the theatrical releases that Disney puts out.  The animation is more blocky and does not have any of the subtle shading that I am accustomed to seeing in the theatres.  Items are blocked with solid colors and are drawn much more simply.  This did not detract from the animated objects or the Beast, oddly enough, but Belle sometimes looks weird.  Her facial Beastexpressions and movements looked strange at times and it was kind of off-putting at first.  You get used to it, but she is the only human in the movie and so it is kind of obvious that the animation was more cheaply done.  The other thing that I did not enjoy was the original songs on the DVD.  I enjoyed the instrumental music that played during the stories, but I did not like the songs that Belle sings in between the different cartoons.  The mini-episodes are already a little too preachy for adults as they try to express some good behavioral concepts for younger viewers and the music added to it was just too much.  The songs are really wordy and all about conveying a certain lesson and message and I just did not enjoy them.

I found myself enjoying this DVD so much more than I thought I would and definitely need to rethink my opinion on the direct-to-DVD releases that Disney Belle's Magical World Beauty & the Beasthas been putting out over the years.  While this one cannot stand up to the original Beauty and the Beast in terms of quality and longevity, there is a lot to enjoy in this “sequel” (even though it takes place in the middle of the Beauty and the Beast story, they call it a sequel).  If you are a Disney fan and/or have some children at home who enjoy Beauty and the Beast, Belle’s Magical World is a definite purchase to add to your viewing rotation.

Content:

There are some verbal arguments in the movie and the Beast roars and gets kind of loud a few times, but there is nothing too scary.  Recommended for viewers of all ages.

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Filed under Animated Movies, Children & Family Movies, Disney, Fantasy Movies, Romance Movies

Wisdom’s Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock Book Review

Wisdom’s Kiss

Book Review by Debbie Winkler

Wisdom's Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (September 2011)
ISBN: 0547566875, EAN: B00AF3QFOC
Page Count: 304 pages
Format: hardcover

Target Age Group: teens ages 12 and up
My Rating: image_thumb82_thumb1

 

Synopsis:

Princess Wisdom, known as Dizzy, longs for a life of romance and adventure, but she is on her way to marry her staid fiancé to make a political alliance while her older sister inherits the throne and the kingdom.  Tips, a miller’s son, seizes his chance to leave his small village and make his fortune as a performer, but Puss in Bootskeeps his profession a secret.  Fortitude, known as Trudy, is an orphaned barmaid with the gift of foresight who lives for Tips’ letters home and cannot wait until he returns to marry her.  Combine these three questing souls with a rather unusual cat, a regal dowager queen grandmother, an evil mother-in-law with a brilliant plan and you have a unique spin on the classic fairy tale, Puss in Boots.

Review:

I wanted to enjoy this book so much more than I actually did.  It was my own fault, however, as I did not read the last paragraph in the book description which lets you know that the story is told through diaries, letters, an encyclopedia, and a play.  I found this a rather clever ploy on the author’s part to create a full-length book out of a few bits and pieces, but it left me feeling unfulfilled at the end of the book.  The reader has access to encyclopedic information on A Magical Talelocations in the magical kingdom where the book takes place, Tips’ letters home to Trudy (including corrections he makes for spelling and edits for content so that she doesn’t know he isn’t really a soldier), Dizzy’s diary (otherwise known as Princess Wisdom of Montagne), the letters of the Queen Mother of Montagne that she sends home to her other granddaughter, Benevolence, the diary of Wilhelmina, the Duchess of Farina (Dizzy is engaged to her son, Roger) and the memoirs of The Booted Maestro, who runs the grand Circus Primus that tours with the Emperor.  While it was rather fun to see what people are thinking and feeling in the moment (as so infrequently seen in books with a normal narrative thread), I felt that I was just getting odds and ends and not really able to enjoy the characters.  Still, I thought it was a fresh, original approach and it has a lot of potential that was not fully realized here.

Trudy is the most sympathetic and dominant character in the book.  She is a cropped-bridge-scotlandbarmaid at the Duke’s Arms, orphaned as a child.  Trudy’s ability to see glimpses into the future have been both a curse and a blessing in her life.  The foresight she possesses cannot be commanded or steered, she just reacts in the moment when she meets someone or is placed in a particular situation.  Trudy and Tips were rather inseparable as children and it seemed, according to Tips’ letters, that their affection was destined to bring them together as husband and wife one day.  ***Spoiler Alert***  So, of course, I was devastated along with Trudy when, not only does she realize that Tips is not a soldier as he told her, but that he is in love with another – but that he still loves Trudy, just in a different way.  This would not have been so bad if Trudy used his fickle nature to push forward and do something other than slump into a heap and cry about her lost love.  While this would be tempting, naturally, I expect my heroines to show a bit more spunk.  Trudy ultimately goes on to lead a wonderful life, but so do Tips and Dizzy.  ***Spoiler Ends***

While I found Trudy a bit disappointing as a heroine, I discovered that I just didn’t care for Dizzy at all.  Dizzy is supposed to be the plucky princess who is determined to find some happiness in her life no matter what it takes and who Dowager Duchessshe mows over on the way.  Tips was not a fully fleshed out character in my mind.  He fills the handsome hero slot, but doesn’t have a lot of personality.  The Queen Mother of Montagne and the Duchess of Farina where actually the most interesting characters.  Both of these great ladies are waging war in the throne room with their children as their generals, their pets as spies and everyone else at court cannon fodder.  I enjoyed reading their letters and diaries more than any of the others as they both kept trying to stay one step ahead of the other and “win” the day.  The Booted Maestro was entertaining as only a professional entertainer can be.  He has a way of telling the story in such a way that he is the most important aspect of it, regardless of whether he was even present or not.

I ultimately found this book disappointing, but I did find that I enjoyed it as time went by.  Catherine Gilbert Murdock was clever, though shallow, with the way that she presented the story so, as a reader, I did not feel sated or content with Tips and Princess Running Away Togetherthe book and the ending when I was finished reading.  I think what I missed most was a character I could identify with and root for.  Instead, I found the characters rather unlikable or too weak to really want to cheer for.  Still, the book is well written and there are a few brief glimpses that will enable the reader to identify this book as a Puss in Boots fairy tale reinvented.  If you enjoy reinvented fairy tales presented in an unusual way, you might want to give this book a try.  It was not to my personal taste, but I know that there are many young girls who will gobble it up and enjoy the love triangle.  The book is well written and imaginative with a touch of magic, though I personally would have enjoyed a lot more magic woven into the storyline.

Content:

This book contains references to fighting, lying, and vomiting.  Everything is written in the third person so nothing seems too violent or upsetting (the vomiting and lying can actually be pretty funny!).  Recommended for readers ages 10 and up.

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Filed under Fantasy Books, Young Adult Books

Hans Christian Andersen (1952) Movie Review

Hans Christian Andersen

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Danny Kaye, Farley Granger, Zizi Jeanmaire, Joseph Walsh, Philip Tonge
Director: Charles Vidor
Release Date: 25 November 1952
Language: English
Length: 110 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating:   image_thumb85_thumb1_thumb

Synopsis:

“Once upon a time there lived in Denmark a great storyteller named Hans Christian Andersen. This is not the story of his life, but a fairy tale about the great spinner of fairy tales.”  Danny Kaye stars as famed storyteller Hans Christian Andersen in this charming fictionalized biopic that blends music, romance, comedy and fantasy to trace the life of Denmark’s literary hero; a small-town shoemaker with a knack for spinning yarns.” — Netflix.com

Review:

I love Danny Kaye.  He is so funny and so charming in his movies that it is impossible not to fall in love with him and his characters on screen.  I can remember watching Hans Christian Andersen as a little girl and laughing at the songs and being spellbound by the ballets. This movie is Danny Kaye Singing About the Emperor's New Clothesan old-fashioned musical that creates a new fairy tale about Hans Christian Andersen, who wrote so many of the fairy tales we know and love today.  “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “Thumbelina” and “The Ugly Duckling” all have enchanting songs that help tell the story in this movie.  Everyone will be sure to laugh at the king who finds himself “in the altogether” and find their self-esteem boosted as they sing the song about the Ugly Duckling.  “The Little Mermaid” is turned into a ballet and is shown in a fairly long sequence towards the end as one ofHans Christian Andersen’s most popular stories.  There are a few new stories created for this movie that are shared with us in pieces including a clock whose two hands were in love with the third and a chalk and chalkboard arguing about who was most important.  Alas, these stories were not fully written so we still don’t know what happened!

The movie is filmed in a kind of fairy-tale world.  Some of the colors are ultra-bright and all of the sets are a bit fantastical.  The costumes are quite lovely and the dancers show quite a few numbers with multiple Hans Christians Andersen's Fairy Tale Feelcostumes.  Naturally, everyone breaks into song and dance on a whim and you can be sure that an ensemble number is right around the corner!  The music is lovely and the acting is quite good, but there were some aspects of the plot that I did not care for.  The ballerina (Zizi Jeanmaire) and her husband, (Farley Granger), are a gorgeous artistic couple.  She is the prima ballerina and he is the choreographer and ballet Hans, the Ballerina & Her Husbandmaster.  Sparks fly on and off the stage.  The couple is clearly in love, but they also fight all the time.  This includes physical slapping, pushing, and violent verbal arguments, which always jolted me out of the fairy-tale quality of the story.  I also felt sorry for Hans Christian Andersen (Danny Kaye) who fell in love with the ballerina and was naive enough to think that she returned his love.  Poor Peter (Joseph Walsh) did his best to help Hans see the world as it really was, but Hans really did live in a world of his own.

Though this movie is old, it has retained much of its charm and still looks and sounds great.  Even though I have seen it multiple times, I still cannot help but laugh with the children as Hans tells his tales, sway along with “Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen” (you can hear this song on the video above) and get swept up in the imaginary romance between Hans and the ballerina.  If you enjoy musicals, be sure not to miss out on Hans Christian Andersen!

Content:

This movie shows some scenes of physical and emotional abuse between spouses.  They slap each other and call each other names, push and shove each other around, etc.  It is portrayed as part of a feisty, artistic temperament, but can be disturbing for some viewers as no one in the movie acts like it is wrong.  Other than that, the movie is clean and appropriate for viewers of all ages.  Recommended for ages 5 and up.

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Filed under Children & Family Movies, Classic Movies, Musicals

Awakening: Moonfell Wood (Awakening #2) Game Review

Awakening: Moonfell Wood

Game Review by Debbie Winkler

Series: Awakening #2
# of Players: 1
Target Age Group: 8 and up
Language: English
Average Game Play: 2 – 8 hours
Type of Game: Adventure, Hidden Object
My Rating: image_thumb84_thumb1_thumb

Synopsis:

Princess Sophia has escaped the castle where she lay slumbering for 100 years, but she still cannot find any other humans!  Sophia ventures into the magical Moonfell Woods to continue her search for her family and encounters the Guardians, who have been waiting for Sophia’s awakening and return.  Solve puzzles, search the scenes and follow the clues to the Witch of the Woods, who holds the key to the location of Sophia’s family.

Review:

This is the second game in the Awakening series  and I enjoyed it just as much as the first one(Awakening: The Dreamless Castle), if not a little bit more.  These games belong more in the adventure genre than in the hidden object genre, in my opinion, but that is definitely a good thing as I am always on the lookout for another great adventure game!  This game picks up where the first one left off, awakening-moonfell-wood-introbut there is a little recap at the beginning for those who did not play the first game.  The story line is simple and is fantasy-based.  Princess Sophia was cursed by a dark figure to sleep for 100 years.  Now Princess Sophia has finally awoken and is looking for her family.  As she travels through the Moonfell Wood, she will uncover clues as to where her family has gone and the true story as to what happened to cause her to sleep for so long.  The story keeps me coming back for more in this game franchise and the graphics make me want to keep playing.  The graphics are beautifully done and seem almost like a fairy tale storybook.

This game is not what I consider challenging (though I did get stuck a few times!), but it is still interesting and engrossing.  Most websites refer to this game as a hidden object game, but there are only a few scenes that are traditional hidden object games.  Throughout the game, you will stumble across a location Awakening-Moonfell-Wood-EN2-awakening-moonfell-wood-2that will give you a list of 12 items that you need to locate within the scene and then you will keep one of the items as a tool to use in your inventory.  Later on in the game, they will show you the shape of the item you need to find (sets of four, another one will appear when you find one) instead of giving you a list.  There are seven magical tarot-like cards that you will need to find 12 awakening-moonfell-wood_screen2hidden objects on each, but you are finding 1 object 12 times (12 jewels, 12 moons, etc.).  I feel that most of the game is spent solving puzzles – and not logic puzzles, though there are some of those – but solving actual puzzle puzzles.  They are not traditional jigsaw puzzles, but there are a lot of items to reassemble and different types of puzzle pieces to put together.  Half of the puzzles have you swapping tiles and rotating pieces to create the picture.  These can be a bit frustrating as you use the same mouse button to rotate the pieces as you do to swap the pieces.  I would be rotating a piece and then accidentally click on a piece near it and it would swap the pieces.  Once you get Awakening Moonfell Wood Square Puzzleused to this, it is not so bad, but it was a minor frustration for me.  The puzzles are mainly squares with square tiles, but there are also some hexagons and triangles.  The other puzzles come in the form of assembling objects with the broken pieces.  A teapot, statues, flowers and other items will need to be put together before you can use them.  The outline of the item is clearly shown and you simply rotate and place the pieces where they belong within the outline.  The best part about the puzzles is that the pieces lock into place when they are placed correctly.  This is true of almost all of the mini games in Awakening: Moonfell Wood.

If you do not like putting puzzles together, than this is not the right game for you.  Almost all of the locations have some sort of puzzle attached to continue to progress.  There are some unique puzzle/logic games that require referring to different charts and maps to assemble and win.  Most of the puzzles are solvable Awakening Moonfell Wood Puzzlewith a bit of time and a willingness to click around until you hit upon the correct sequence.  The key is finding the hint contained in the game to enable you to solve the puzzle you are working on.  If you do not look at a specific item or get a piece of paper with a solution on it, you will not be able to solve the puzzle.  If you have the instructions to beat the puzzle and still are not able to solve it, there is a skip button at the bottom of each puzzle that you can click on after you try to solve the puzzle for a while.  There is no penalty for skipping the puzzles so you can simply play and enjoy the game if you don’t want to deal with these mini games.

To help you play your way through the game, you have a little fairy friend and a journal.  The fairy can give you hints as to where hidden objects are found within the mini games and general directions as to what you need to do to proceed in the game and meet your objectives.  Some of these directions are helpful, others are not.  Keep in mind that the fairy’s advice will vary depending awakening-moonfell-wood-hd-full--screenshot-1on which scene you are standing in.  You may not be able to perform the task that the fairy is giving you hints because you are missing an object or don’t understand the hint.  Try to follow the hint she gives you and, if that doesn’t work, wait for her to recharge and then ask for a hint on another scene to see if it changes.  I found the journal more helpful than the fairy.  The journal has two sections.  One section gives you a list of objectives that you need to perform to beat the game.  These are sometimes really specific (get firewood, feed the bird, etc.) and others are more vague (find the witch, free the guardian, etc.), but they can help give you direction as you progress through the game. awakening-moonfell-wood-3The other portion of the journal will take personal notes as Sophia explores. She will create copies of maps, pictures, and portions of conversations that are helpful.  This was a huge help as the first game made you write down all of the clues you found and now the game keeps track of everything you need for you.  I found myself referring to the journal time and time again, particularly when I was playing mini games and trying to place objects in the correct order or to find the correct glyphs to unlock an item.  Your journal will open up and sparkle when there is new information to be found inside so you can refer to it as often or as infrequently as you wish.

The game is beautifully designed and it was a delight to explore each new location.  There are not very many scenes that you will play through in this game as the designers were quite clever in reusing locations.  Within Moonfell Woods, there are two different sections with a limited number of scenes within Awakening Moonfell Wood Moonlighteach section.  You spend the bulk of your time in the first section of the wood as you figure out what you are doing and try to gather the equipment you need by playing mini games or stumbling across it in your exploring.  Certain tasks can only be performed in the daylight or the moonlight so you will travel through a portal that will take you through day and night.  You interact differently with the scene depending on the sun and the moon.  For example, you can only fish during the day and you can only grow certain flowers in the moonlight.  By having fewer scenes, I felt like the game designers were able to focus on making beautiful details instead of pushing for huge quantities of scenes.  The other nice feature was that the fairy kept you from wasting your time in inactive sections. Once you finish a section, she will pop up and tell you that you don’t need to return and to focus on moving forward.  This was really helpful as I usually spend most of my time wandering aimlessly when I am Awakening Moonfell Woods Sunriseplaying adventure games when I am not sure what to do or where to go.  My only complaint with the game design was the super-picky clicking required. It took me a while to figure out that I was doing the correct thing, but I was clicking just a little too far to the side or below the interactive object.  Basically keep trying if you are sure you are doing the correct thing as you probably are.  There is no penalty for random clicking so you can keep trying all of your inventory items until you hit upon what you need to do.  Also, do not be afraid to click around on the scenes as there are lots of items that you need to pick up that do Awakening Moonfell Wood Waterfallnot seem interactive.  These include pine cones, mushrooms, and more.  Once you pick up one, your inventory will show you how many more you need to find (1 of 8, 1 of 12, etc.) and then you will be on the lookout for them, but it is difficult to find that first item you need.  If you notice that there is more than one of anything on the screen, try clicking on it to see if you can pick it up as you probably can.

If you are looking for a fun adventure-style hidden object game, this is a great series to check out.  It is friendly and relatively forgiving to beginners, but is a fun, laid-back game to play for more experienced gamers.  I love the theme of the game and that the screen is not dark and scary like a lot of the hidden object games out there.  I also loved my little dragon friend!  It was so wonderful to have a reliable heat and light source that I did not need to look for each time – thank you for giving us some permanently helpful items!  I think the quality and the creativity is there in these games and look forward to playing more of them!

Content:

This game is appropriate for viewers of all ages.  There are a few scenes that are a bit gloomy or portraying pictures of  the dark fighting the light, but I do not think that anyone would consider them scary.  This game requires quite a bit of reading to find things, read the objectives and to follow the storyline.  There is no talking during the game so you have to be able to read the conversations to know what is going on and to figure out what you need to do.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.

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Filed under Adventure, Hidden Object, Puzzle/Jigsaw