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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rath's Review: The Lion King 3D

Throughout the history of cinema, there are movies that become instant classics; films that will be remembered far after their time. Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Casa Blanca, The Godfather, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc, Titanic, and The Dark Knight are all examples of movies that decades from now will still be cherished by society. It is without a shadow of a doubt that I say that The Lion King is an instant classic. Not including the Pixar movies that Disney has been so successful with of late, The Lion King is their masterpiece. Sure there is Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Bambi, etc., but The Lion King was so inspired, so thought-out, that if Disney ever ends (ha, yeah right), this will be one of the top movies that they are remembered for.

Now, if you aren't up with the times, you may be shouting at your computer screen, "Jordan! Why are you reviewing an old movie?! Why arent you reviewing Abduction with Taylor Lautner that just came out this week?!"

a) The Lion King was recently re-released in Disney Digital 3D across the world to great success (it has gotten #1 in the U.S. box office two weekends in a row now).

b) Why on earth would I see Abduction? Taylor Lautner cannot act. At all. The Lion King owns Taylor Lautner.

I chuckled when I saw these, so I thought I should include them

As if lions could look any cooler
It is a funny thing; seeing a movie that you saw so long ago as a child (and was obsessed with in my case) and then watching it again as an adult. It is like an entirely new movie. All the scenes that I remember are still there, but the emotions that I experience during these scenes are often very different. I dont remember The Lion King being so moving, but between the stampede scene, "Remember Who You Are", and the final fight/claim to the throne, I was finding myself completely engrossed in this G-rated movie. I imagine that when this film originally came out 17 years ago in 1994 (my God that makes me feel old), it was a landmark film, and far ahead of its time.

Hakuna Matata!
The movie is nearly perfect. The only flaws I noticed was some cheesy dialogue, and the film was much shorter than I remember. But then I remember it is a kids film and at that age I might as well have had ADD, so anything longer than 90 minutes would bore me. I also think there is a completely unnecessary song in there: the "Be Prepared" song delivered by Scar and the hyenas is a low point in a film with fantastic music. Which brings me to my next point. I believe that along with Titanic, Gladiator, Tron Legacy, and Inception; The Lion King has one of the best soundtracks of all time. Interestingly enough, other than Titanic, all of those movies have soundtracks that are created or overseen by Hans Zimmer. The man is truly a genius. But it's not just the background music in The Lion King that is amazing, it is the songs themselves. Seriously, who doesnt remember these songs: "The Circle of Life", "I Just Cant Wait to Be King", "Can You Feel the Love Tonight", and the unforgettable "Hakuna Matata". As I write this, I am downloading the soundtrack, and in the movie theater my foot was tapping on its own. They are just that good.

I also think that the movie's biggest strength, along with the originality and the music, is the characters. The names Mufasa, Simba, Scar, Timon, and Pumba are known worldwide...there are very few films that nearly the entire cast is etched into history. Mufasa, voiced perfectly by James Earl Jones (who also has the iconic character of Darth Vader under his belt), is possibly the wisest on-screen father ever created. Every line he delivers is important and demands attention.

"Remember Who You Are" cue tears...

Simba is voiced well both at a young age and as an adult, although I must admit I was kind of taken aback when I recognized Matthew Broderick's coming out of his mouth. But Simba is a character that we become attached to and we all cheer for, especially once he returns to the Pride Lands to take it back from Scar. And then of course, there is Scar. I now remember why he was my favorite villain when I was little (most likely worrying my parents that I liked the villain at such a young age). He comes across as a weak brother to Mufasa, but there are two particular instances in the film that solidify his place in the Hall of Villains.

To Mufasa as he clings on for his life,
"Long. Live. The. King!"

and whispering in Simba's ear as he dangles from Pride Rock
"I killed Muuufasssa."

Just rethinking of those lines sends chills down my spine. Jeremy Irons, the actor who voiced Scar must have practiced those two lines a hundred times, or either he did not know how iconic they would become.

"Long Live the King" touche Scar, touche
An epic, epic final fight scene
Finally, the film's production values are outstanding. The 3D is really well done, giving the film good depth and not being gimmicky with it. It's certainly not mind-blowing like Tron Legacy was in IMAX 3D, but it is a welcomed addition. The animations are most likely good for their time, keep in mind this was before Pixar, and the landscape and color pallet is perfect.

Clearly, the movie is, as I said before, an instant classic. It was ahead of its time and will be marked as Disney's masterpiece. Both children and adults alike fell in love with the movie, and based on the box office results, they are still in love with it. So really, all that is left to say is:

LONG LIVE THE LION KING


Pros:

  • Where to start? Fantastic characters, most of which are permanently etched in cinema history
  • Great animation and scenery throughout. Very colorful
  • A simple, but yet powerful story that evokes emotion from both young and old
  • The music. There is a reason that a musical was made based on the movie
  • So many memorable scenes: Rafiki's baptism, the stampede, hakuna matata, "Remember Who You Are", final fight scene, Simba roaring at the top of Pride Rock...the whole movie is memorable
Cons:

  • Some cheesy dialogue, but come on. Its a kid's film. You have to be literal
  • "Be Prepared" song with Scar and the hyenas is weak compared to the rest of the songs
  • I am scared that with the success of this re-release that Disney is going to start re-releasing all of its classics. And honestly, out of all of them, the only other one that I would pay to go see is Aladdin

Rath's Review Score: 10/10 -- Instant Classic

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Falling...Falling...Still Falling...




Skydiving...

Im not sure quite how to explain it...

Thrilling?
Adventuresome?
Terrifying? 

All of the above describe skydiving well enough, but they dont hit the nail quite right on the head. If I had to pick one statement, one term, to describe skydiving it would have to be the following:

LIFE EXPERIENCE

Nothing in the world can match it. The plummeting through the sky above a tear-inducing, beautiful landscape. The feeling of weightlessness. The sensation that you are falling, but never really approaching the ground. It is all part of an event which is indescribable with mere words. 

In the plane ride up
Throughout our trip, our tour guide, Chappy, would "encourage" us when doing the really extreme stuff (bungee, skydive, etc.) by telling us,

"See the great thing about skydiving is that no one ever gets injured." Dramatic pause, "You just die." Realistically, this is true I guess, but to be honest I was never really scared of skydiving. I was far more scared while bungee jumping. Skydiving has always seemed very safe to me (especially with a company that has a 100% safety rating), and honestly if you die skydiving...it is probably just your time to go.

Once you are suited up and you have that SEXY flight cap on (see above picture), you get in a small plane, and you start climbing at a pretty fast rate. And you just keep climbing. And climbing. And climbing. I remember looking out the window thinking we were pretty close to our limit and my tandem instructor leans over and points to his wrist which indicates that we are at 7,000 feet -- not even half of the 15,000 feet that we were jumping. It was at that point where I just accepted fate and relaxed. And just for those of you who havent grasped 15,000 feet yet, let me put it into perspective:

-15000 feet is equal to 50 football fields
-It is approximately 52% of Mount Everest's height
-It is 2.841 miles
-Equal to 5.52 Burj Khalifas (tallest building in the world located in the UAE) stacked end to end

Thats pretty %#$*-ing high! But anyways, as I said, I was relaxed. Sure I was about to jump out of a plane, but by this point on the trip my conscience had taken a hike...sick of trying and failing probably. And then the door opened. The noise of rushing air filled the cabin, instructors were yelling orders, and suddenly skydiving became very very real. The only instant where I ever felt fear during the whole thing was scooting over to the edge of the open door, with my legs dangling over the edge, realizing that I was about to jump out of a damn plane.



Next came a sway forward, a sway back, a second sway forward, a second sway back, and then a strong sway forward. My world was upside down, sideways, inside out, just any which way (I told you that words cant describe it!). I was tumbling through the air, my inner bearings completely obliterated. And for that split second of falling out of the plane and tumbling? Complete silence. Its funny how when you are doing something that you will never forget, your brain eliminates one of your senses. I didnt hear a thing, not even air rushing past, until we were stable and falling in the air.


And then, as the title of this post suggests, we were falling...and falling...and still falling. We were in complete free fall for a total of 1 minute and 5 seconds. I would like everyone reading this right now to sit patiently and count out, or stopwatch, or whatever, 1 minute and 5 seconds. Come back to me once you have done this...

Back? Good. A lot longer than it seems isn't it? And while you are skydiving it seems to take forever. After the fact, it seems like a split second. Looking back as I write this, my free fall time seems like it was a 10 second event. But when you are actually falling, you just feel like you are flying. There is really no perspective as to whether or not you are actually gaining speed or going in any particular direction, you are just weightless in time. Weightless and surrounded by deep valleys, steep, snow-capped mountains, blue sky, white clouds...I wont even try to describe the scenery because that was easily the most breath taking part of the whole thing. Landscape etches a whole new sense of beauty in your mind when you are looking down on it. As corny as it sounds, I have never felt more connected with nature as I was when I was just falling through the air, looking around, and admiring.

You never really approach the ground. It sounds weird, but it feels like you are stationary almost, the concept that you are falling doesnt hit you. That is until you look at someone who is higher than you, they look like they are dropping like a rock. And thats most likely because we were falling at a speed of 200 kph which, for all of you U.S. unit users, is 124.3 mph. Im pretty sure that my Pontiac Grand Am can't even go that fast. Thats more than 20mph greater than some of the fastest baseball pitches...just crazy to think about when I realize that is the speed that I was falling at. But when you look at the pictures of my crazy, distorted face being nature-slammed into a huge smile I guess its not that hard to believe. Now trust me, I was having butt-loads of fun, but that smile? I have tried to recreate it and I cant even get it half as big as the ones in the pictures...I felt like Woody from the original Toy Story when his cheeks are flapping from going so fast on the RC car.


Despite the look of the pictures, my eyes are actually open. The speed of the wind rushing past is just making them look Asian.


Sexy right?




Another fun aspect of skydiving that many people seem to overlook is the parachute ride down, which is actually the bulk of the ride. Since we were so high, our parachute ride was about 7 minutes, just gliding down into the valley between the awe-inspiring mountain ranges. It was very peaceful (despite the harness feeling like it was slicing into a certain area...but hey I guess that means it's tight right?) and was a good way to calm down after the sensory overload from skydiving. It was really exciting when the instructor would pull hard to either direction and we would pretty much go sideways in the air as we turned...I could see paragliding being a fun activity to try as it is pretty much the same thing.


Obviously, since I am writing this, we made a safe and effortless landing. And as soon as we got back to the lodge in the afternoon, I crashed. Despite the fact that you are just falling, and not really exerting your body in any way, skydiving drains you. I think its honestly just the fact that you are in shock after it happens, its such a surreal activity that your body and mind doesnt really know what it just did.

So after writing this, what words could I use to describe skydiving to you?

-LIFE EXPERIENCE
-SENSORY OVERLOAD
-SURREAL
-INSTANT MEMORY


I hope you enjoyed this post, and just like bungee jumping, if you are even contemplating skydiving, you must do it! I only have one more blog about New Zealand left :-(  but it is just as good as the others...albeit in a different way. Let's just say Im thinking of contacting Apple and selling them some of the pictures I got with my iPhone. Anyway, adios!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rath's Reviews: The Change-Up

Have you ever seen a movie where it is just too over the top? One where it seems that every other word is a curse word, specifically the F-word, and really for no particular reason? One where it is unnecessarily crude, vulgar, and frankly...gross? Well I have, and it is called The Change-Up. Starring Ryan Reynolds as Mitch and Jason Bateman as Dave, this movie is easily one of the most R-rated movies I have ever seen. Usually that would not be a problem for me (i.e. Piranha 3D), but this movie just doesnt have the reasoning to be as crude and gross as it is, and to be completely honest I am pretty disappointed. I really thought that with the director of Wedding Crashers and the writers of The Hangover (easily two of the funniest movies in the last 10 years), not to mention two great comedic actors in Reynolds and Bateman, that this movie would soar. I had hopes that it would be the funniest movie of the summer, it definitely had the potential to. But ultimately it comes off as a movie that would rather push the limits and see how offensive it can get, rather than make you laugh.

Ryan Reynolds cursing at children...not all that funny
For starters, the characters Dave and Mitch are too extreme. Mitch is a huge tool, and almost immediately unlikable, while Dave is a workoholic, top-of-his class, lawyer. Remind me why these two are friends again? And once the switch happens, then I started to hate Mitch in Dave's body and Dave in Mitch's body was just as annoying as before. To me, that shows the acting talent of Reynolds and Bateman in that they can act like each other pretty fantastically, and switch my emotions towards each character with a matter of a couple lines of dialogue. Which reminds me, the script is pretty bad. Filled left and right with curse words, some of which are directed towards the twin babies and said in front of children, the film just tries too hard to cuss. I have always been a supporter of cursing in comedy. It can be an absolutely hilarious tool when used at the proper moment and in the proper context (see The Hangover and Step Brothers). But when it is tossed around like a joint at a Boulder 4/20 celebration, it becomes useless and tiresome. The same can be said for "gross-out" moments. I usually dont have a problem with them, they can be funny when used appropriately, but when they just keep happening, it gets old. Off the top of my head I can think of three major gross out moments in The Change-Up with other smaller ones scattered in, and quite honestly, they dont mesh with the story, and are not necessary.

Workaholic Dave. *Note: no children were harmed in the making of this film. Or at least I dont think so.*
"You just said the F-word! OMG!"

However, the movie does have its bright spots that shine on through the cussing, grossness, and disappointment. There are definitely some funny parts, my favorite of which is a Mitch-In-Dave's-Body office chair scene where I was nearly crying as he tried to adjust it to the right height. The switching bodies plot is well done (the basic premise of the movie is that Mitch and Dave wish they had each other's lives and mysteriously it comes true...if you have seen Freaky Friday you can figure out the rest) and I liked the way that the two men realize that they need to switch back...which brings me to the highlight of the movie. There are certain scenes where the vulgarity dials down, cussing is put somewhat on the backburner, and the moral of the story comes through. When Dave is enjoying a stress-free life for a few days, Mitch is learning to be a man, Dave's date with Sabrina, and finally the moment where Mitch is being awarded the lawyer partnership while Dave is having a sexual encounter with Sabrina (keep in mind I am referring to who is inside the bodies, not whose physical bodies they are. Confusing I know). In all of these moments, it was clear that there was a GREAT movie lying underneath all the crap. These are the moments where we learn about the characters, and we are presented with the morals of the story: appreciate what you have, take time to focus on what is important in life, and changing yourself is not always a bad thing. The lessons learned resonate strongly, and even somewhat emotionally once they are presented, but then are quickly undercut by more cussing or gross activity.

Lastly, I have to take the time to congratulate Olivia Wilde for directly threatening Blake Lively's position as my "Angel #0". She has never looked more gorgeous than she does in this movie, not to mention she acts her part well, and very convincingly too. It makes me wonder if she is somewhat like her character, Sabrina, in real life, which, if you see the movie, would be a dream come true. Seriously, how does someone look this good? It makes my heart hurt...



To sum it all up, The Change-Up was disappointing. In a summer with some great R-rated comedies, I thought The Change-Up had a chance to be the best or certainly near the top. But due to an over abundance of crude language, lewd situations, and just a whole bunch of "unnecessary" mixed in there, it ends up losing the switcharoo-genre game to Freaky Friday.

And when you are losing that game to Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis, you ought to know that its time for a change-up.

Pros:

  • Olivia Wilde and her direct challenge to Blake Lively as hottie-of-the-summer
  • Some funny parts -- hilarious office chair scene
  • I learned some new curse words combinations that aren't from my brother and the firestation
  • Well made movie from a production standpoint
  • Has underlying hints of greatness with great lessons to teach coupled with some emotionally packed scenes
  • Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman save the movie, everyone else's acting is great as well.
  • Olivia Wilde again
Cons:
  • Too vulgar
  • Too much cussing
  • Too many gross-out scenes
  • All of the above are mostly unnecessary
  • Movie reeks of disappointment

Rath's Review Score: 6/10

Monday, September 19, 2011

A.A.: Adrenaline Addicted

I approached the edge and looked down. The only thing I saw were pine trees, sharp boulders and cliffs, and the hard, unforgiving ground 154.2 feet below me. Vision became a secondary priority as my mind tried to talk me out of what I was about to do,

"Smile for the camera" the man next to me said as he pointed upward. Without even knowing it, I mustered up a smile while my mind screamed at me to focus.


My 20/20 eyesight was focused into two narrow tunnels, with everything else being blurred,

"Alright mate, back up behind the line" he continued to give me instructions and somehow my distracted body was responding. Instantly remembering how high up I was, my limbs received a surge of warmth as the adrenaline was released inside me. Stepping backwards seemed to take forever; the line felt like it was 5 miles away. Finally my toes passed a red tape line and I was in position. My mind finally decided that I was going to do this and compensated by gathering all of my extra adrenaline and rapidly injecting it into my psyche. Each heartbeat felt as if I had something inside my chest trying to escape. Whatever it was, it did not want to go along for the ride,

"On three...ONE!"

BOOM! My chest had to be visibly rising from this insane heartbeat,

"TWO!"

BOOM! BOOM! The rate quickened,

"THREE!"

Complete silence. I cant even hear my footsteps as my feet shoot forward at a sprint. I was not telling them to do anything, they were acting on their own. One foot places itself hard on the platform and the muscles in my leg flex as if their life depends on it. I remember I am supposed to do a certain pose as my body leaves the opening to the platform and exits into pure air and nature.



For a split second my mind is clear. I am flying...I am level with the mountains and not moving. My full vision returns and the air cools my body. My ankles are in my hands as I successfully finish my pose and hold. 

Then the world around me blurs again, not because of my vision, but because the earth is falling. Or am I falling? My sound returns, but the only thing I hear is the rushing noise of falling ripping past my eardrums. Still facing forward at the mountain range, I admire its beauty for what feels like an eternity as I plummet to what my mind has me convinced is my doom. More and more trees pass by me, more and more cliff faces, as I am just...falling. 




The sight of the ground quickly greets me and just at the point of thinking there will be no return, I am saved by something. I shoot backwards and up, as if a presence has hand-picked me for saving. Quickly, my mind and its critical reasoning skills come back to me as I revel in the joy of just having done my first bungee jump. As I bounce up and down with the bungee cord I come to a startling and mother-terrifying conclusion. I am addicted to adrenaline. The obnoxious heart pounding that I received before the jump, and the incredible sensation of jumping off of a very high place -- that feeling of falling, cannot be matched. It is both a terrifying and freeing experience to force your body to do something that it damn well knows it shouldn't. Just talking about it gets me excited and pumped up, and clearly I enjoyed it; this face doesnt lie:

Bungee jumping was by far the scariest experience of my New Zealand trip. It defies everything that your body thinks is correct...to be honest, I really think that my mind thought I was jumping to my death. But the company I bungeed with wouldnt be very good at their jobs if they had people dying would they? In fact, they had a 100% safety rating and I was really impressed with the amount of precautions that they took for their customers and employees. 

I hope that you enjoyed my play-by-play description of bungee jumping, for some of you, I know it may be the closest you ever come to strapping in and jumping off something. For anyone else willing to try it? You absolutely must do it. It is more than just "fun", it is sensational in every meaning of the word. Your senses change behavior, your body moves without input from your brain, and when it comes down to it, its just you. Jumping. From. A. Really. High. Place. If you have ever seen a James Bond or Mission Impossible (and trust me, I felt like I could have introduced myself as "Rath, Jordan Rath" for the rest of the day) and wanted to get a glimpse of what those stunts feel like, then bungee jumping is something that should be on your bucket list...along with skydiving, but that's not until next post ;-)

Enjoy the video of my jump! (Not sure how good the quality is so if it is bad, check out a better HD version of it on my Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=2272548486710 )

video

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rath's Reviews: One Day

So...clearly this is not a review of an action movie, superhero movie, or a comedy. In fact this is the first romantic movie that I have gone to see in theaters, or at least to my memory it is. Im no expert in this genre, but having been called "The Dr. Phil of Our Generation" on several occasions, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on love, what it is, and how it affects people.

For me, it is hard to grade One Day. It seems like it had the potential to be a classic love story. Based off a well-known romance novel that women have cried gallons of tears over? Check. Two attractive leads with surprisingly good chemistry? Check. An interesting premise where the characters interact with each other every July 15th for 20 years straight? Check. But somehow, it just doesnt all come together and make you really feel for Emma (Anne Hathaway sporting a ridiculous amount of different haircuts) and Dex (Jim Sturgess who honestly I had never heard of before this movie, but does really well here).

To start off, the movie is very cute. It has witty dialogue and was far funnier than I thought it would be. I have to give the writers credit here because truly, their script makes the movie better than it should have been. Also, I dont really know why, but I love the fact that it doesnt take place in the U.S. It takes place in Europe, mainly London, and it felt like that added a bit of credibility to the movie as far as maturity is concerned. The two leads also share a good chemistry, which earlier I commented on it being surprising. To me, it was surprising because frankly, I would have never matched these two actors together out of a crowd...by appearance they just dont gel. But thanks to the script and acting prowess of Hathaway and Sturgess, the relationship is pulled off really well.

Sturgess and Hathaway

Tears = chemistry!
But where the movie excels in chemistry, script, and location, it falters largely in pacing. Based on a book where the characters meet, and suffer through life's little complexities that seem to keep them apart forever, the movie just cant seem to cram it all in at once. Some side characters get hardly any development, and I found myself questioning what happened in the last year as the movie transitioned into the next year. For example, at one point, Dex is suddenly a large media mogul in London, hosting his own TV show, and the audience is left to assume that this transition happened all within the last year. And specifically, the year 2002 is left out of the movie, which, once you watch the movie, you come to find it is extremely important to the story line. In other words, the movie should have been another hour longer in order to incorporate everything, but another hour also would not have been kind to audiences, so it gets stuck somewhere in the middle.

Not the actual lines:
"I've loved you for 20 years"
"I know, sorry, but I was on the toilet."


Additionally, the movie is remarkably predictable, and keep in mind I have hardly seen any of these types of movies. Without giving anything away, I saw the "Oh My God" moment coming from a mile away, and the rest of the movie followed the typical romance pattern. In fact, it was almost a bit annoying because these characters are clearly in love, but stay "just friends" for such a long time. By the time they finally come around to each other, I kind of didnt care because Im not so sure that would happen in real life. I feel like in real life, they would have made it work a long time ago, or forgotten about each other by now and moved on.

Overall, the movie is hard to place in one category. It is a cute date movie for most of it, but quickly turns dark near the end, making for a not-so-great date movie. It is funny but it isnt a comedy, and the romance is there, it just takes forever to come to fruition. If you are a romance movie enthusiast and you cry at the slightest hiccup in these types of movies, then go see it, you will love it. If you are like me, where you have only been emotionally affected by a small number of movies in your life (damn you Titanic!), this movie will come across as amazingly average to you.

I would really like to see Hollywood produce a romance film that is not cliche and that I am completely gripped by the relationship from beginning to end. One Day I suppose...One Day.

Pros:

  • Witty and funny writing keeps the audience involved in the characters
  • Good chemistry between Hathaway and Sturgess
  • European setting seems "fresh"
  • The darker tone underlying the movie adds some emotion to the character's lives
Cons:
  • Pacing is erratic, characters evolve without us knowing, and years are skipped
  • Cliche...cliche...cliche, especially the "Oh My God" moment. I mean really? How many times have we seen that?
  • Other interesting characters are put on the backburner for the sake of time
  • I dont understand the format of the ending. It includes flashbacks that are pieced together oddly with the present
  • Predictable from beginning to end
  • The little girl at the end is strikingly rude to her father...I would have grounded her

Rath's Review Score: 5.5/10

Ice Ice Baby

On my trip to New Zealand, one of the first activities that our group participated in was easily one of the most unique things I have ever done. Our first "extreme" activity (other than the 5.0 earthquake) was hiking up to Fox Glacier, and then hiking on the glacier. And for all the Ahhmurricans out there, glacier is not pronounced "glay-sher". We were quickly corrected and it should sound like "glay-see-er" which is much more romantic dont you think?

The hike was kind of cold, but being from Colorado, it didnt phase me as much as the others I think, not to mention the sun eventually came out. The scenery around us was enough to keep me warm anyway. It was very odd to see these steep cliffs that have been carved out from the glacier over hundreds and thousands of years, rich with vegetation. The landscape was basically rainforest which transitioned into rock which transitioned into a frozen, moving, ice pack. The climate around the area supports both extremes of the environment, and the result is a truly breathtaking assault of landscape beauty. Here are some pictures of the glacier and the surrounding area:

On our way up to the glacier. Just a few years ago, the glacier was here, which is why the vegetation is minimal.

Fox Glacier


Panoramic of Fox Glacier
A crevice (say "creh-voss")
 

Is it just me or does this look like a howling wolf?

Looking at the surrounding area. Notice the ridge in the middle on the left? The glacier used to fill this valley and was as tall as that ridge.

Contrary to popular belief, this glacier is not very affected by "global warming". Just a few years ago it actually grew several hundred meters -- it is always changing, morphing, and moving.

The valley were we approached the glacier...from on top of the glacier

One of the enormous cliffs on the way to the glacier. Seriously, this picture does no justice to how tall it really is.
Once we finished our hike up to the glacier, we were all instructed to tie our boots tightly and grab two ice picks each. Our guide then instructed us to take turns practicing our thrusts of the ice picks into the ice pack while standing up and told us that we needed to stretch our quads, calves, and hammies before we jumped onto the glacier. Oh did I forget to mention that? In order to get onto the glacier we had to take a running jump over a 20ft gap, catch ourselves in the ice with our dual ice picks, and pull ourselves up. Luckily we only lost one person from our group to the mystical Fox Glacier...rest in peace Jose...rest in peace.

Man is it just me or is it getting deep in here? Someone better get a shovel.

Clearly Im joking. In fact, the glacier was strongly connected to the ridge that we were hiking on, just a few yards from were vegetation was. But before we went onto the glacier (seriously this time) we put on "clamp-ons" and were given a spiked walking stick to help traverse the slippery ice.

Putting on the spikes

Vicious!


Once we were all strapped up, we walked on the glacier for a good hour and a half and it was incredible. Just seeing all the formations from the always-moving object was astounding. It does not have mercy for anything or anyone. It crushes rock with ease, gathers up water inside and explodes it out the front, and owns the valley that it is in. Some of the highlights of the hike were learning how the wind and melting water affect the shapes seen within the ice, travelling down into a crevice, and actually going under the glacier, into a small tunnel where we had to slide out.

Travelling into the crevice

This wave-like shape is seen all around the glacier and it is from melting water, being blown by wind, across the glacier . Very cool.

So blue

Yeah Im pretty much a professional BAMF. Take note of all the ice chunks flying around me. 

I figure I should put this picture on my resume from now on. I mean that wouldnt be creepy would it?

Looking down on a large crevice

In the glacier tunnel

Our tour guide looking down on us in the tunnel

Emerging from the glacier tunnel, this is what I was greeted with
I hope you enjoyed New Zealand post 2 of 5. Still to come is bungee jumping, skydiving, and Milford Sound; each of which was a key point in my trip. As of today, everything is up on Facebook: 4 new photo albums (All Black, All Black II, Where Angels Go, and Dropping Like Its Hot) and a few new videos, including me bungee jumping. Check them out and let me know what you think! Dont be afraid to post on my Facebook wall or comment on this blog (you must have a gmail account to do so), I swear I dont bite!

Talk to you soon!