Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tropic Thunder (Comedy 2008)

lol well this movie was certainly a hoot. It might even make it into the same cult stardom realm of Zoolander just because its humor was right along the same lines.

Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. both had a nice stream of funny lines while Jack Black only had one memorable one. The comedy was pretty crude and not PC at all, but that's what it takes to be funny these days.
Rating - B

Fred Claus (Comedy 2007)

Yeah considering that it took this long for the movie to come out on DVD, one would think that it would be a better chunk of the year's harvest, but no.

The movie was not very funny. It reminded me of another "not funny" Christmas movie called Elf. Yeah Vince Vaughn played Santa's older brother as he worked in the North Pole to get some money. It wasn't entertaining or humorous, but maybe that's because there have been so many North Pole films that it feels like you've already been there a bunch of times.
Vince Vaughn seems to only be funny in crude comedies with a lot of cussing, but certainly not a children's movie. I guess people have to try to expand their acting resume, but sometimes it's just a bad move.
Rating - C

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Plant 0 / Me 1

So what looks funny about this plant? I'll tell you; it's dying. So a few months back I was at my parents' house looking at this exact same bamboo plant. It was very green, thriving, and looking pretty happy considering that it spent its whole life indoors. I made a comment about how it would look like a nice centerpiece in my dining room, so ma and pa gave it to me, right around the end of summer.

One afternoon I was looking at the plant and figured that some fresh air would do it some good, so I took it outside and placed in on the balcony. Mind-you there is no dirt in that vase, just water. Later that evening I took it back inside. The plant looked fine, but the vase was really hot and the water in it was pretty hot too. I shrugged it off and continued with my week. Everytime I walked by the plant it seemed to be dying. Leaves were falling off, and it started to brown. I think I made a mistake by boiling it outside. I changed the water and waited to see if things would improve. After a few months, it did get back to its green self.

A few weeks ago I decided to be pro-active again and give it some Miracle-Gro. My parents had some lying around so I put around a teaspoon-sized amount into the water. Two weeks later the first plant had partially turned brown while the second plant was fully brown. My logic as to why I added the Miracle-Gro was that 1) There was no soil, thus no nutrients. 2) Photosynthesis would not work well if there was only water and sunlight to work with.

So yeah evidently my ignorance in the field of botony has had a detrimental effect on my little plant. I've rinsed it out and have put plain, room temperature tap water back into the vase. Hopefully the little guy recovers.

So what is there to be learned about this experience?
  1. Soil is some sort of insulator/heat absorber. Without it, water gets hella hot.
  2. Something is definitely fishy with Miracle-Gro. Perhaps it's a highly concentrated substance that is harmful if not mixed with soil or otherwise diluted.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Action 2008)

As expected this movie was kinda crappy. I think it's Guillermo del Toro though. His movies just suck, but not in a normal "I know it will suck" way. His films give off this odd feeling as if he's actually trying to make a good movie, and that's damn scary.

The action was old news, the multiple pseudo-romance stories interwoven into the plot were unconvincing, and the special effects didn't produce a rise. Overall it was lacking everywhere. If it wasn't for the fancy spear & sword moves from the Elf Prince character, I might've fallen asleep. Oh well, low expectations with low results.
Rating - D

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Transsiberian (Thriller 2008)

Do you remember the first time you saw Brokedown Palace and what your reactions were to the hella stupid decisions that the two chicks in that movie made? Well this film was very similar.

Emily Mortimer played a dumb, overly-emoting bitch, while Woody Harrelson played a guy that reminds me of my brother-in-law. Way too yappy and overly trusting. I could totally see him in the same situation as the two main characters in this film because of his lack of restraint when interacting with strangers.

I find it hard to watch something where people are just too impressionable and foolish. It was probably an average film for your everyday reviewer, but I have a special dislike for it.
Rating - D

Fallout 3 (FPS/RPG PC Game 2008)

The game started out pretty good. The story was told through a few 1st person cutscenes of you as a baby. The subsequent tutorial was handled in the same manner. It was a nice change considering that most FPS-like games are all about putting you through basic training/boot camp.

Much like Oblivion, this game was all about having a bunch of random areas to explore, items to get, and mobs to kill. A few of the areas were unique in that they all had their own unique story. I liked that a lot, but at the same time there were also a ton of places which were merely copies of other areas, only with different mobs inside.

Story
Main storyline was very very short. You could probably finish the whole game in half an evening if you avoided all side quests and only stuck with the main one. As other reviewers have pointed out, there comes a time in the main scenario where you will be unable to "go back", and the game will promptly end after you complete the last task. So for those who are exploring junkies, I would recommend playing through the main quest until you get your power armor, and then start exploring. The power armor is the badass-looking helmet on the cover of the game. The overall plot was kinda weak, only because it was so damn short, but I think the developers hoped that the gameplay would make up for it.

Gameplay
One of the main gameplay features that was supposed to be the shit was the V.A.T.S. system. This system would essentially freeze time so that you could zoom in on one target and try to specifically hit a portion of their body, may that be the chest, head, legs, or arms. Good thing was that it was fairly realistic in that if you shot a guy in the arm, he would sometimes drop his gun and then run to try to retrieve it. The same went for legs and the movement speed of the mob after a leg got badly shot up or injured. The crappy side of the V.A.T.S. system was that sometimes it was just too unrealistic. The problem stems from the fact that the game was a RPG/FPS hybrid of sorts. If you wanted it to be turn-based, you would use the V.A.T.S. system all the time, but if you wanted to play it more like a FPS, that was possible too. In a FPS, accuracy with the crosshair is how you score better hits, while in an RPG, there is always a mathematical calculation factoring in skills and ability, and producing a percentage of likeliness to hit a mob. With these constraints in place, it really bothered me when I had a sniper rifle, aimed at the head of a mob, fired, and watched the bullet fly way off course. WTF. There is an expectation of hitting a mob if the player aims correctly, but this often just didn't happen. Also, there was a lot of unbalancing that went on with guns and accuracy. In this game, with all gun skills maxed out, a SMG was more accurate than an AK-47 at medium to long range. Wrong. In real life this is hella false. Yeah there was nothing that pissed me off more than standing 2 feet away from a mob, firing, and then 100% missing them. No way is that realistic. They should've had the aiming be wobbly or a calculation be made to reduce damage if one's skills were not high enough rather than having everything be factored into your gunshot hitting or missing.

Ambiance
Art design was that from the 50s era, and it was very well done. Everything from posters on the wall to the in-game "radio" all did a great job in placing you in the correct timeframe. The atmosphere, music, and NPC personalities were all well done. The slowmotion gore was an added bonus, but having the legs, arms, and head all separate from the body from one, well-placed arm shot is a bit too unrealistic.

Bugs
There were a good number of bugs in the PC release. Every time you exited the game, the main .exe would crash, many saved games would not load, mobs would be trapped inside of rocks, or other odd visual anomalies would appear. The first patch fixed the .exe problem but some others still went unfixed.

Overall
This was an O.K. game. I still think Oblivion was better, but that's just me. If you're a gamer who loves to explore, then this game should occupy you for a good chunk of time. But if you're an impatient gamer who only wants to get their fill and move on, the game is still worth getting to see what all the hype is about. Just be prepared to sell it in under 2 weeks though.
Rating - High

Monday, November 03, 2008

$39!

Since when did a simple oil change start costing $39? Fuck, I'm sure I got ripped cuz I was too lazy to ask the guy the price before he started doing the change. Note too everyone that Xpress Lube sucks. Who knows if Jiffy Lube or any of those other chain places charge as much too. The labor charge was $12 for 6 minutes of work...bastards. I'm sure that a car dealer's service department can even beat that price. I distinctly remember an oil change costing $15 back in 1996. Has inflation really boosted the price up that high?

Also, if you're ever itching to play a newly released video game, don't be cheap by ordering it online. You'll end up thinking about how you could've been playing it all weekend instead of reading some textbook. The savings of $2-3 is definitely not worth the wait.

Other than that, nothing new to report. I'm pondering another drastic career change, but I'm too fucking old to be putting up with this shit again. I hate Reno.