Thursday, December 30, 2010

Movie Review: The King's Speech

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The last Friday in 2010 and there wasn't a single new release to any of the theaters in my area. There are the carry over films from Christmas but why not take the weekend when lots of people have time off to release something? Anything new would probably have claimed the top spot for the box office. So instead of a major release I went back looking for some of those more cinematic/art films that released in December to meet the deadline requirements for Oscar consideration. This will also keep them fresh in people's minds before the nominations to be announced bright and early on January 25, 2011. So since there were no Friday releases, I decided to go on Thursday hoping to avoid the altered bus holiday schedule AND get the extra Regal Theater bonus points for a Thursday viewing. BINGO! Movie plus bonus points pushed me over for a free movie ticket! Plus I'll get an extra 5 points down the road for seeing a cinema art film! Made more bonus points on this film than the regular points. Whoo Hoo!

My choice was The King's Speech. The movie released back on December 10. When I walked in for a 2pm show on a Thursday, there were already ten people in the theater. When the movie started it had gotten to the point where it was that uncomfortable time looking for seats because you know that either you'd have to ask someone to move or there wouldn't be that buffer seat between you and your neighbor and you'd have to share the armrest. Granted, it was one of the smaller theaters out of the 18 where I usually go but that says something about the quality of the film.

Colin Firth played Albert Frederick Arthur George, the second in the line of ascension to the throne of England. Being a royal he's caught between a rock and a hard place. The House of Windsor has duties and responsibilities to the people of England that "Bertie" as he is known must fulfill. The challenge is that he has an awful stammer which severely impedes him from those duties and responsibilities.

His wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) seeks out help for Bertie from an Australian, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) a speech therapist. The meeting of the royalty and the commoner is a highlight throughout the movie. Here is a man who could be king receiving assistance from an everyman. Lionel sets the rules and many times Bertie objects. Lionel has to balance what he needs to accomplish while trying at the same time to respect, but not be swayed by the man in front of him. Rush presents a gentleman, a father, a husband someone who cares, a somewhat different picture from what we've been seeing him as on the big screen for the past few years as Captain Barbosa.

Firth really stands out in the title role. Portraying a man who is torn because he loves his country, his wife and family but has a giant wall placed in front of him because his mouth can't get the words out the way that he wants. You can see it in his eyes, you can see it in the body. As an actor, to be able to have the words flow is part of your craft and yet here Firth has to not only hold back the words but have the body respond to the those blocks.

After Bertie ascends to the throne of the King of England as George VI, England enters into World War II. It's up to Bertie to speak words of wisdom, authority and comfort to his countrymen and women. In the movie title, the word speech has a double meaning, not only communication by word of mouth, but the act of delivering a formal spoken communication to an audience. This is the moment that the movie hinges on.

I found myself laughing at the right times and at times with a lump in my throat, that's how compelling this movie turned out to be. The movie runs 118 minutes and has an R rating. I totally understand the need for the R as there were two scenes where Logue pushes Bertie to get him mad and have him start swearing to see where the the issues of the stammer may be occurring or to run an exercise to get the words out. The use of the F and the S words happen about two dozen times but they are not uttered against people just as vocal exercises. If it wasn't for that the movie probably would have received a G rating. Well, maybe not G since they were smoking cigarettes throughout.

There is a lot of buzz on this film for the Oscars. Suggestions for best picture, best actor (Firth) and supporting actor and actress (Rush and Bonham Carter) have been put forth. They are worthy of the nominations for Oscar and have already received a slew of nominations for the Golden Globes. I would also suggest that it is worthy of a viewing if playing at your neighborhood cinema.

The Movie Monkey

To subscribe to the audio podcast of the reviews via iTunes click here. Audio versions are released the following Wednesday.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Movie Review: Little Fockers

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It has been ten years since we originally met male nurse Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) when he wanted to marry Pam Byrnes(Teri Polo) and had to get past the meeting of the families in 2000's Meet the Parents and 2004's Meet the Fockers. At this time we're on good grounds of knowing who the characters are and their relationships. With a name for the latest installment of Little Fockers you'd think that the focus of the story would be the children of Greg and Pam, but you'd be wrong. The focus is still on the relationship between Greg and his nosey ex-CIA agent and head strong father-in-law Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro).

Little Fockers movie poster
Part of the humor of the series has been just how controlling and tightly wound Jack is. Putting a future son-in-law on a lie detector or trying to help raise a grand son by wearing devices allowing a normal situation that should take place between a mother and son is over the top. Now approximately six years into Greg and Pam's marriage and family rearing, Jack has become worried about who will run the Byrnes clan once his time is up and he gets deactivated from the big CIA operative list in the sky.

Another ingredient in the series humor recipe is the reaction and relationships between the hodge-podge of adult family members. Pam shows her love for her mom Dina (Blythe Danner) who somehow has managed to find the right balance between raising the family and keeping Jack on keel. Or what about the more hippyish, free love and very free spirit Focker,s Rozalin and Bernie (Barbara Streisand and Dustin Hoffman), coming up against the straight laced Byrnes. Throw in the dash of craziness added by one of Pam's former boy friends Kevin (Owen Wilson) to keep situations interesting and people on their toes.

But when you come down to it, the vast majority of the humor comes from the embarrassment of Greg Focker. If it wasn't for the positions that Greg finds himself, sometimes of his own doing, sometimes not, there wouldn't be much humor in the series. Misunderstandings, miscommunications, missed cues or botched actions provide the type of laughter that generates the PG-13 rating for mature sexual humor throughout, language and some drug content. While the scenarios aren't meant to be malicious, many are cringe worthy. Inside you think, "just tell them the truth, don't hide it! If you do that you'll save yourself in the long run!" But then again, if that actually happened, you wouldn't have a comedy movie now would you?

Greg seems to have struck a balance with Jack. But with Jack considering his own mortality the balance is thrown out of whack. Putting extra pressure on Greg ends up being a germination point which sprouts forth with the aforementioned cringe moments. Having some money issues due to remodeling a home leads Greg to become a paid advocate for Sustengo, the equivalent of a little blue pill but is safe for heart patients. The company rep is Andi Garcia played by Jessica Alba. So of course, what writer could pass up the opportunity to play around with erectile dysfunction medication and the looks of Jessica Alba? Obviously, not returning series writer John Hamburg.

The film is produced by Tribeca Productions, a company that is partially owned by De Niro. You look at this and wonder why they would produce something like this? At the heart of the film, it's about family love. Even with as ludicrous as events become between the parties involved, each in their own crazy mixed up way tries to show what love for one another is about. All 98 minutes showcase that love as awkward and unbalanced as it can sometimes get.

When the movie is over, don't leave right away. There is some added levity and a huge missed opportunity during the credits. Once the credits take up the full width of the screen you can leave without a gnawing feeling that there will be more funny to be delivered. Where they missed out is during the last laughs of the movie Jack goes online to do research. Instead of creating the actual material so that you and I at home could Google and get the same search results, they let the results languish as just props created for the movie. It could have been so much fun to see the result on our own computer! They made it for the film, it wouldn't have taken a whole lot more to move it onto the internet!

The Movie Monkey

To subscribe to the audio podcast of the reviews via iTunes click here. Audio versions are released the following Wednesday.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Movie Review: TRON: Legacy

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When the original TRON released in 1982, it wasn't a huge box office hit but it made its money. More importantly is that it managed to work its way into tech boys hearts as a film that put an idea into their head of what the digital realm of the inside of the computer would be like if they could live there, to live on The Grid. The effects used in the movie were eye popping. Now, 28 plus years later director Joseph Kosinski brings us back to The Grid with effects that are just as eye popping. The real world has evolved and so has The Grid in TRON: Legacy.

Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner reprise their roles as Kevin Flynn and Alan Bradley in the real world and CLU and TRON on The Grid. Not much is done in the way of showing detailed close ups of TRON, but CLU is shown. With the computer technology available today Bridges 60 year old face was recreated as a 30 year old for CLU as a program inside a computer wouldn't age. Bridges has to play against himself as both the good and the bad guy. This is not a walk in the park mind you, but it didn't seem for him that it was hard to do.

Flynn's son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) has been missing his dad for twenty years. At that time, the elder Flynn told his young son that they'll go play video games on the following Saturday but the older Flynn disappears. No one knows what happened to him. When Bradley informs the younger but now grown Flynn that he received a page from his dad's old arcade, Sam checks it out. He finds out what happened to dad as he does like father, like son and gets digitized and placed on The Grid. When Sam is almost derezzed meaning digitally destroyed, he is rescued by Quorra (Olivia Wilde who was Thirteen on Fox's House TV show) a friend and student of his dad's. It's up to both Flynns and Quorra to prevent CLU from taking complete control of not only The Grid, but the real world as well.

Right now if you're trying to find a copy of the original, good luck! Disney has allegedly pulled all copies for purchase and current rentals. Maybe if you have a friend who purchased the DVD or VHS tape or scour eBay or Craig's List you might be able to see it. The prevailing theory is that Disney didn't want people to see what by today's standards might seem like a poor movie but for the time that it released was state of the art. For three years starting at Comic-Con 2008 this film has received huge promotion even following the foot steps of Avatar by releasing a 23 minute advanced preview during TRON night to drive buzz about the new film. I went to Tron Night here in Honolulu and was surprised that most of the theater was empty. With so many empty seats, it might seem that there wasn't interest. Apparently Disney didn't follow the rule that when you offer something for free, you must oversell the event in order to fill all the seats. When people came out of the theater there was excitement.

The digital world of The Grid is familiar if you had seen the original TRON but evolved and changed. The suits worn on The Grid are similar but developed. The special effects necessary to bring The Grid to this new life are impressive. The world as defined within the evolution of The Grid between the input and influence of Kevin and CLU will wow the senses. As a note here, I saw the 2D version of the movie. But the effects alone don't carry a movie, there has to be a great story that makes us want to boo the bad guy and cheer for the heroes. From Pixar Studios, Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt, and The Incredibles director Brad Bird were brought in to help tighten up the screenplay. What we got was not a great story, but it was a good story. Most of the points of the film moved the plot forward. There were a couple of times I was scratching my head because I seemed to miss point B on the way to connect points A and C.

The film had a PG rating for sequences of sci-fi action violence and brief mild language and ran 127 minutes long. I didn't find myself looking at my watch and there were no easter eggs at the film end. Of special note is the score done by Daft Punk. The music went hand in glove with the imagery and tone of the film and the duo even got parts in the film as masked DJs at the End of the Line club.

There was a lot of visual imagery to take in for this film and I'll probably make the effort to see it a second time to absorb those details.

The Movie Monkey

To subscribe to the audio podcast of the reviews via iTunes click here. Audio versions are released the following Wednesday.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Movie Review: The Tourist

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This week's movie selection is The Tourist staring Johnny Depp and Angelia Jolie. These two are some of the most beautiful people in the world. Director and writer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck hoped that by putting these two in a film together they would produce a beautiful offspring in this spy action thriller intrigue film. Maybe if you put in the beautiful mind coming from Paul Bettany and add the gravitas of a former actor with a license to kill Timothy Dalton you'd have one kick butt movie. Well, sort of.

The action picks up in one of the most beautiful cities in the world: Paris, France. Elise Ward (Jolie) is under surveillance by the French police under the direction of British Financial Crimes division's Inspector John Acheson (Bettany) who reports to Chief Inspector Jones (Dalton). Ward is not the mark, Alexander Pearce is. He has money they are trying to get back. She is the link that they need to get to Pearce. They trail her from Paris to Venice where along the way she meets Frank Tupelo (Depp), a math teacher, on the train. Elise befriends Frank and as a result the police confuse him for the real target as does a Russian mobster. Pearce stole money from the mobster and he too wants it back. Things get complicated when there are sparks between Elise and Frank, but are they real or fake?

Jolie looks absolutely stunning throughout the entire movie. She had a high class wardrobe with designer ware, shoes, jewelry, make-up and hair. The camera loves it and so do we. For a spy movie, this was the lady who played Lara Croft, Mrs Smith and Evelyn Salt so who could be jumping around and kicking the opponents butt better than her, right? Not in this film. She didn't get a single sweat stain on any piece of clothing. The most action was, hmmmm...what was it? She engaged in what was a waltz but then again she didn't dance the whole song. Oh, wait, it was when she picked a set of handcuffs? NO, it was when she was in a boat and pushed it to full throttle! You get the idea. Not much in the way of butt kicking! Speaking of butt, I don't think von Donnersmarck missed a single opportunity to focus on Ms Jolie's curvaceous backside as she either turned or walked away from the camera. That's not a complaint mind you, just an observation.

For Depp, he didn't have the chance to show off for the camera the same way that Ms Jolie did. Frank was from Wisconsin and pulled out a full set of men's pajamas and at one point was running around the tiled roof tops of Venice trying to get away from the Russian thugs in said pajamas. It was good to see him act without guyliner or pancake makeup. Although there were a couple of times where he said lines and smiled that reminded me of Captain Jack. In this movie he provided the action on screen that we didn't get from Jolie.

The story moved at a fair pace over the 102 minute running time, but it never got extremely tight. Showing off Paris and Venice were nice eye candy. We were left wanting for the relationship to get a bit more heated and steamy as well as the action to really get cranked up. At no time was I biting my nails with either of the protagonists getting into a tough spot that looked completely hopeless without a miracle intervention of some sort. With the meh level of action and romance, the movie has a PG-13 rating for violence and brief strong language. If they could have gotten the action and romance up to the beauty level of the stars, it would have been a much better movie.

Going back to Ms Jolie's backside for a moment. I think it would make a funny video if when the movie is released to Blu-ray and DVD someone made a single video of all the times they showed off her curves. Put to the right music it just might be the right recipe for a viral video. I just might have a project to put on my calendar come the late spring/early summer time frame next year!

The Movie Monkey

To subscribe to the audio podcast of the reviews via iTunes click here. Audio versions are released the following Wednesday.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

That time of year!

It's coming up on the second Sunday in December so that can only mean one thing! No, not just two weeks left in Christmas shopping, but the annual running of the Honolulu Marathon!

This will be my fifth sign up and fourth running. Missing the race in 2007 was a good thing with the bad weather and the timing chip problem that plagued the event that year. Helping at the starting line in 2008 gave me a different perspective on the race.

This year I'm excited in that with the help of Nike+, I've been keeping tabs on my running over the past year and seen improvements. While I don't expect to run the full course, I have done up some longer runs. Something amazing happened, at least amazing in my book, once I hit the 250 mile total run distance I noticed that I wasn't gasping for breath. I would loose energy but not have a heaving chest gasping to try to make up for the shortage of O2 entering my system. The clothing should be better with the socks and running shoes. The coconut hat will rock the course again this year!

Today I picked up my runner's packet at the Honolulu Marathon Expo. Disney was there promoting their Walt Disney World and Disneyland marathons. Had a good conversation Katie who was working the booth. I dropped the hit that since they are launching Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa next summer that it would be really cool if they would be one of the race sponsors. Hopefully they'll be on the sponsor list next year.

My bib number is 3282. On Marathon day, December 12, if you'd like to follow me, and my exploits, that number put into the web site will give you my times as I pass main check points along the course. The starting time is 5am so that would be 10am east coast and 7am west coast time.

To the people who have made comments on my different social networking sites with words of encouragement, Mahalo! I'll try to post pictures and updates along the course so keep an eye out. Afterwards I'll give an update. The main goal this year is to beat 7:51, my best time to date but I would really like to make it under 7 hours. We'll see!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Remembering Pearl Harbor

I remember the 50th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor when President Bill Clinton came to O'ahu to be part of the recognition ceremonies. I had the TV turned on to watch the event unfold. I heard and then saw fighter jets streak by outside my window. The sound outside the windows disappeared but a few seconds later the roar appeared on the TV as the cameras caught the fighters as they made their fly over with the missing man formation at Pearl Harbor about ten miles away as the crow flies from the Apt in Paradise. It was a total chicken skin moment.

Today I did something that I've thought about doing ever since I moved to Hawaii. It was the 69th anniversary of the attack that happened at Pearl Harbor. I visited the USS Arizona Memorial on the anniversary date of the surprise attack that forced the US to enter into World War II. I wasn't fully prepared for the days events.

I know they have a remembrance in the morning with emphasis around 7:55am, the time of the first bomb drop at the harbor which began the attack of the US Pacific Fleet. I figured that it was probably for the survivors and special guests. I arrived at 8:45am and found that the ceremony was still going on. It turned out that I got the every end of the ceremony that was culminated with the dedication of the new visitor center.

In my location at the back of the crowd there were lots of uniformed military personnel. After the ceremony concluded many of the survivors and their families started to move about the facility. It hit me that with the 69 years since the attack and on the lowest side, these men and women were 18, that makes Pearl Harbor Survivors around the 90 years old. Unfortunately it won't be long before there will be no more first hand accounts on a one on one level.

The last time I was at the memorial was about three years ago when I visited with a friend from the mainland. The place looks so much better now with the new buildings and expansion. It's not cramped like before. I was exploring one of the new galleries and saw their videos from survivors telling their stories from both the American and Japanese perspective as well as military and civilian. For artifacts there was one blood stained uniform on display. In another a picture shows a dead person whose lower extremities were severely burned and charred to the boe due to a fire from a vehicle they were laying near. While it may have been tough to look at, it helped to bring out the horror and humanity of what happened that December morning.

It then got interesting as park and security staff started to push people back and close the galleries. Apparently someone had left a package unattended. This disrupted the day, but they kept the shuttle running over to the memorial. They were having survivors, families and organizations go over to the memorial for presentations.

The schedule got off. My 12:15 time approached and past. Luckily it wasn't too much after that when they reopened the secured area. I got to see the film about 20 or so minutes late. The new film is good, but I'll never forget the one that opened with underwater shots of the decaying hull of the USS Arizona. In the background you hear these faint whispers saying the names of people who had died. The voices disappear and the narrator outlining a scene comes on. It then goes back to an underwater shot and the whispering of names. Another one of those chicken skin moments. The film uses real footage of the attack and includes the explosion that sunk the USS Arizona. After the film we proceeded onto the shuttle boat to the memorial.

On board the memorial there were wreaths everywhere. In one area there was a basket filled with names and ranks of people who perished that day along with orchid blossoms. You were encouraged to take the single bloom and a card and to think about that person and release the flower onto the water above the remains of the battleship. The ship that became the tomb for the men of the USS Arizona.

You board the memorial on one side and on the other side is a room with a wall that is inscribed with the names of the 1177 people that perished on the ship that morning. A survivor from another ship was pushed up to the front line of wreaths in his wheelchair. He sat there for a moment. I don't know what he was contemplating or remembering. When he was turned around one lady in the crowd said "Thank You" and the crowd broke into applause. Even before the clapping started the man had tears in his eyes.

A number of times from when I arrived until I left I too had tears. Looking at the people and having a small glimpse into what they endured that Sunday morning. These former soldiers and seamen and airmen have made it back to a place that changed their lives forever. Some of them standing on their own, but many of them with support of others or using canes, walkers or wheelchairs and they came. It was worth their time, effort and money to come back to remember even when some of them looked very frail. That brought tears to my eyes.

I have a Flickr set called Pearl Harbor Remembrance 2010 where you can see more photos from the day.

Old Location of the USS Arizona anchor

New Location of the USS Arizona Anchor

Friday, December 3, 2010

Movie Review: The Warrior Way

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The life of a warrior is always a lonely life. They train by themselves or are trained by a mentor for that one moment in time. They travel down a road forsaking everything else geared for the event that they are destined to fulfill. Sometimes they know the specific event and often times they don't. They just know when the time is right their head and heart will come into alignment to complete the solitary task presented to them. But life couldn't be that simple, could it? An obstacle appears and a decision based on new information or tug of the inner voice will present itself: accomplish the task or divert from the road they've been following to go onto a path who's outcome will play an ever greater significance in their life or destiny. Such is The Warrior Way.

First time writer Sngmoo Lee gives us the tale of Yang (South Korean actor Jang Dong Gun) who is seeking to become the greatest swordsman in the world. He must wipe out his enemy but comes the decision to kill the last member of the rival clan or show mercy and compassion. Of course, without some sort of conflict there would be no movie, right? So Yang shows mercy and compassion with the result being that he must flee Asia because he has betrayed his own clan. He knows he'll be chased so he goes to America because he has a friend there.

In the opening sequence I feel like I'm watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Wire work, tall bamboos, mega slashings and accentuated sword work fill the screen. Once Yang arrives in America to the town of Lode it starts to look like a Terry Gilliam film containing this imaginative western town that has a circus with its performers and a ginormous unfinished ferris wheel at the end of main street of this run down town out in the middle of this wide open plain. Yang is welcomed into town where he attempts to start a fresh new life.

The town has its own issues as its ambassador, a little person ring master, Eight Ball (Tony Cox) tells Yang of the story of Lynne (Kate Bosworth) and her encounter with their own merciless bad guy The Colonel (Danny Huston). She survived his unwelcome advances many years earlier only to loose her family in the process. She wants revenge and eventually wants to learn from the greatest swordsman in the world how to use knives to extract her retribution.

Her past and his past collide at the same time. The Colonel and his men show up in town at the same time as the ninjas who have tracked down Yang. The battle scenes were over the top with the amount of blood spatter or mist earning the film an R rating for strong bloody violence. It was fun to watch wire work and computer graphics tied into your standard middle of the dusty main street gun fight. They weren't totally cliche as I didn't see any tumbleweeds cross the street while waiting for guns or swords to be drawn. Next year Cowboys & Aliens comes out and they will have a similar type of battle. We'll have to compare which battle is better in the old west, aliens or ninjas.

In the hundred minute running length you'll be thrown a gambit of visuals and emotions. The visuals will be strong, the emotions not so strong. Bosworth does a respectable job of a women out for revenge. Geoffrey Rush as the town drunk Ron gets top billing but I don't know why as it was Yang's story not his personal story although he did narrate. This was my first seeing Dong Gun in a movie. Physically he captured the ninja swordsmen well, but he didn't have all that many lines. Most of the other people were telling his story while he did the action part.

Was it a great movie? No. Was it a bad movie? No. If you're into either ninjas or westerns, you'll probably find this movie interesting. In case you're wondering, there were no easter eggs. As a little piece of trivia, there was a South Korean actor battling Japanese ninjas in the old American West town filmed on a sound stage in New Zealand. Pretty good way to represent the Asia-Pacific Rim!

The Movie Monkey

To subscribe to the audio podcast of the reviews via iTunes click here. Audio versions are released the following Wednesday.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Preparing Hawaii for the coming wave of Disney

As I write this it's nine months until Aulani a Disney Resort and Spa is due to open in Kapolei at the Ko Olina Resort. To the best of my knowledge I'm the only Disney podcaster living on island and have been following the resort from the announcement back in the fall of 2007. This week I attended a presentation at Leeward Community College sponsored by their Job Prep Services people. So far just about everything that I've seen about the resort has been given by Disney management that's been from the mainland. Katie Mock from the College Program and Lianne Maeda the Aulani Recruitment Manager headed up the session. Lianne is a local and it was good to hear from and talk to her in person rather than just seeing a recorded face on a video screen.

One point that Katie and Lianne wanted to impart to the audience is Aulani will not be a theme park, but a luxury hotel that will be right up there in quality with the Contemporary, Polynesian or Grand Floridian at the Walt Disney World resort or the Grand Californian at the Disneyland Resort. This is reflected in the fact that the price point for a room will start at $399 per night. The 21 acre property will have 359 regular hotel rooms and 481 Disney Vacation Club villas. As they gave specifics to the resort, I was getting more excited. Many of the details for the resort are in place, but there is still some of the experience that needs to be ironed out.

The story of the resort starts as you come in off of Alii Nui Drive. The Kanaka Maoli, the indigenous Hawaiians, tell in the creation chant the story of how kalo (taro) came to be and how it has sustained them from the dawn of civilization. Kalo will be right there at the entrance in a lohi to begin the story of your stay. The main lobby will show Hawaii and Hawaiians via artwork created by local artists. Running water will be on each side of the lobby. The name of the lobby is meant to symbolize what they hope the guests will do: Maka'ala, eyes wide open, eyes to absorb the beauty and tales on display for all to see including a time line that will go from ancient to modern times.

The resort is laid out to represent the division of land given out in ancient times called an ahuapua'a. These divisions contained swaths of land from the mountains running down to the ocean that allowed the residents to live and thrive on what the natural resources provided to them. The rooms are laid out like the ridges on the side of the mountain extending mauka (mountain) to makai (sea) with the valley in between. Disney has named the valley Waikolohe meaning rascally waters. This relates to the lazy river and and other water activities within including a rainbow reef water diving experience where people can dive in and interact with live salt water animals. Seven acres will be devoted to the valley.

They stressed another area called Aunty's Beach House. Aunty's will be a place where kids can go to play. Who knows, maybe Stitch will show up there! Two weeks ago for the taping of a The Travel Channel's Bert the Conqueror at Wet'n'Wild Hawaii I met a person who had been hired by Disney for a Youth Activities Counselor role. He is going to head over to Florida in January to spend four or five months on a Disney cruise ship to get trained. I'm hoping he'll get to go on the new Disney Dream which is to have its inaugural cruise on January 26, 2011. Lianne pointed out how important these counselor roles will be.

Several food locations will be available for the guest to experience during their stay: Makahiki and 'Ama'ama. Makahiki is the time of the new year from the old harvest to the new planting. This restaurant will represent the bounty of the harvest time. 'Ama'ama is a type of mullet fish. This restaurant will be like an old fishing house that was found and renovated to bring in guests. The last location is called 'Olelo meaning language. During the session it was said that the style of the location could be changing but the idea of having items labeled in their Hawaiian terms will be accentuated to help guests with learning.

As part of the name people looking for a spa experience will not be disappointed. Guests could get a spa treatment in one of fifteen rooms or the outdoor hydrotherapy within the 18,000 square feet of the spa facility. The selection of services is still to be finalized. Something unique to this area of the resort will be the reflecting pool with water dripping into it from the ceiling reflecting the light off the surface of the water onto the walls and ceiling for visual excitement.

Something on my wish list which I hope they can put into the resort, especially since Imagineering Creative Senior Vice President Joe Rohde is involved with the project is an Adventurers Club like setting. To have a club where guests can interact with club members of a South Pacific adventuring society would be incredible. When the original Adventurers Club closed in 2008 it left a big hole in the heart of many in the Disney fan community. The devoted would come to Hawai'i to experience it again! Local talent could very well provide the improvisation and musical skills necessary to put together a great time for prospective club members. Having a South Pacific Adventurers Club here with Samoans yelling "chee whoo" and drinks being toasted with "okole maluna" would be a welcome addition to Aulani!

Integrated into the resort will be technology some of which has been talked about for the new Disney Dream cruise ship and the Fantasyland expansion at the Magic Kingdom in Lake Beuna Vista, Florida. Between the Mahakiki restaurant converting looks between lunch and dinner service to the use of specialized "windows" that will change to create an immersive experience, it will be unlike any other resort on the island of O'ahu.

Of course you'll find Mickey and Minnie with some of their friends. But keep in mind that they too will be enjoying their vacation time in Hawai'i. Aloha shirts and muumuus will probably be standard dress. I wonder if Mickey will be able to shed his shoes and wear rubbah slippahs around the resort?

For myself, I've heard from both locals and fellow Disney fans asking lots of questions about the property. One of the major concerns has been regarding what sort of vibe the resort will have. More so for the locals is will Aulani be like the Polynesian Resort or The Enchanted Tiki Room. The attraction and resort are based off of Polynesia as a whole, not focusing on one particular culture. The Enchanted Tiki Room when it was developed came at a time when the trend of Polynesian Pop was in vogue. Looking at the designs, seeing the videos and talking to Lianne in person it is very apparent that Disney is really looking to take the resort experience to a new level while showcasing the Hawaiian culture. I hope by my descriptions you can see the extreme distinctions between Aulani and anything that came prior.

To make this experience come fully alive, Disney is going to need people who embody the Aloha Spirit. The main purpose of the presentation was to talk to the two dozen people in attendance both about the resort and spa and what they are looking for in people that apply and at the same time pointing out some of the more unique positions that will be available. If you work for Disney you are not called an employee, but a cast member since you are part of a show. Ever since Disneyland opened in Anaheim in 1955 this has been the case.

Disney has been hiring management staff now for some time. According to Lianne, come January 2011 they will be at the Job Quest job fair. At that time they will start to accept resumes for hourly positions and general talking to people. Interviews, including web based interviews, will start in May and June with people starting in July and August with test runs on the resort and spa in August with the opening date of August 29, 2011 for phase one. Lianne talked about the hiring process and to make sure that you let them know more about yourself than just the work history. Let them know about your interests and hobbies. This goes against what you're normally told to do when you apply, those topics are usually reserved for the interview and when asked.

Both Lianne and Katie pointed out that because Aulani is not your typical resort, people with all sorts of varied skills and trades will be necessary for the resort to run properly. They will need entertainment people, seamstresses, youth counselors, marine scientists and water specialists in addition to your standard housekeepers, front desk, clerical and back office staff. Disney is looking to draw upon the local talent pool to fill these positions putting multiple hundreds of people to work. Eventually the resort will have an area dedicated for weddings and convention space in addition to the rooms and restaurants.

To see what jobs are currently available go to the Disney Careers website.

Walt Disney once said "You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality." That is true of any Disney property anywhere on the globe but I think especially true here in Hawaii because of the intricate details and distinct location with language and culture to be embodied in and through Aulani.

Check out Aulani construction update photos here.