Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Modern Warfare 2 (FPS PC Game 2009)

So yeah after a short 6 hour stint, I've completed this game. I'd say that the gameplay was as good as the first but the story was a little all over the place. I never replayed MW1 and I doubt I will replay this game for the same reason.

Like MW1, this game was just like playing a character in a movie...many twists, turns, action, and some drama. The end was very anticlimactic though.

One thing that pissed me off to high hell was the fact that you had to register the game with Steam for DRM purposes. Fuck that! All that means is that now I can't sell the game unless I sell my whole account which is not going to happen. I totally could've sold off this game and purchased Mass Effect 2 when it comes out in a bit...but no....now I am stuck with my Christmas present until the day Steam fades or when I die...sigh. It's like an STD lol.

Anyhoo, I don't play games for their multiplayer capabilities so I can't comment on that. The single-player story and action were good and pretty much on par with the first. It was fun and that's what it's all about.
Rating - High

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Avatar (Sci-Fi Action Drama 2009)

I think it has been close to a year since I last saw a movie in a theater, but I'm glad it was this movie that welcomed me back into it. I also took advantage of the new digital 3D showing so that was also a new experience. Suffice to say, I had a great evening that left me quite happy.

The 3D showing was pretty neat...from the get-go everything looks good and not with the old school Red & Blue glasses. It did the job in showing the film in a different light but my highly sensitive eyes ended up hurting for 2 days afterwards. So for me personally, I probably won't be paying extra for the 3D experience anytime soon, but for others that may not be the case.

Let's get to the film though....excellent. The visuals were of course stunning. The newfangled approach that James Cameron took has set the precedence for another leap in technical utilization for movie-making...much like how Spielberg did Jurassic Park back in 1993. It was weird because it was so hard to believe that most of the film was computer-generated. Everything was so real, even all of the parts that had real actors using UI holographic monitors or the HUDs within aircraft...fucking nutty good.

The story was also very well-written. The drama occurring among the main actors was highly believable, mainly due to the facial expressions of the actors being directly placed onto their CG characters...again, very nutty and very well done. Because of this there seemed to be real emotion behind the CG models and that made all the difference.

Even though James Horner did the audio, I'd have to say that Titanic's music integration was still much better. The score was good as in very well-suited for the spacey theme along with its nature-like core, but it was not great in comparison. Important, dramatic scenes could've been so much better if the music was integrated better.

In the end, the average music did not sour the rest of the film enough to downrate it. The movie was excellent and I felt for the characters within it. This feat, along with the story, acting, visuals, and emotion all created a magnificent work that can only be appreciated and applauded.
Rating - A

Monday, December 21, 2009

Law Abiding Citizen (Crime Thriller 2009)

Damn! This movie could've had it...you know to be the first to actually have the balls to pull of humanistic realism? Of course an ending having Gerard Butler rigging up the cello wouldn't have been very PC but damn, the movie would've definitely gotten a top prize from me.

Everything about this film was kickass up until the ending where...yeah I'll spoil it for you...the good guy wins. Fuck a whole bunch of that. Why not make a movie where the "bad" guy wins? And he is bad only if you see it from a specific point of view...

I'm sure there would've been a bunch of controversy if the film would've ended the way I envisioned for it, but isn't that what it's all about; taking risks and stretching the limit? Oh well...this movie gets a B for lacking in balls needed to get an A.
Rating - B

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day by Day Armageddon by J. L. Bourne (Book 2009)

This was probably the fastest I've ever finished a book, but it wasn't as long as I would've wanted it to be. In a one-liner, the book was great. It had an engrossing story, a solid main character, and enough realistic events happen to make you think that it all could've been written from a real account. The ending was a tad sudden but that's because there will be a second book released in due time. Yay.

The story followed around one survivor of a zombie apocalypse as he went on trying to stay alive and to find others who were in the same boat. It was formatted as journal entries so that made it a tad more interesting...like reading through a person's diary. I hope the next book will be a tad longer though...
Rating - High

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Surrogates (Action 2009)

This movie wasn't written very well, so even though Bruce Willis was in it, that fact alone didn't save the film. Parts of the movie reminded me a lot of I, Robot, while many others just reminded me of what a bad movie is all about. I'm trying hard to think of some redeeming quality but there just isn't one.

Society, I don't think, would ever fully assimilate into the world of surrogate bodies. It just can't be healthy to stay at home all day not utilizing one's body. Doesn't it seem much too easy to atrophy away? I sure do. Perhaps it is that unbelievable quality that makes the film sour...

Either way, it wasn't very good and was definitely not worth a watch.
Rating - C

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Snow

So Reno recently had a bunch of snowstorms, the same ones that have been traversing the US. The Fitmobile failed to move after I got it out of my driveway so I had to depend on the crappy Impreza to get me to work. I have learned that I should've gotten snow tires put on the car a bit earlier. I'll be doing that this week sometime but yeah...who would've thought that the Fit would actually get "stuck"? Yeah since I've been driving the Impreza more, the more I detest its MPG...but to give it some credit, I can plow through the snow with no real problems at all. What a trade-off, right?

Bait and Switch By Barbara Ehrenreich (Book 2006)

So I just finished this book and I'd rather have by $3 back. Yeah it was in the heavily discounted area of Borders so I thought I would give it a go. But maybe there was a specific reason it was in that section...

The main beef of the book was kinda stupid. You had this writer spruce up a resume and try to enter the workforce as a PR person. She went about applying to the best of her abilities on various job boards and actaully bit into the whole sham of networking events, church-oriented job-search groups, career coaches, resume coaches, and even those lame sales job postings for Enterprise-Rent-A-Car and Mary Kay.

Most of the activities were predictable. Coaches are usually emphatic public speakers who know shit because they've been "consulting" for so many years and give no helpful advice, similar to a shrink who will ask you billions of questions but tell you nothing in return. Networking events are BS events where some guy talks for an hour or so and tries to sell you into an expensive "boot camp" to get you ready for employment. Resume coaches are themselves unemployed and make small changes here and there to make your resume seem better than it is. Career coaches try to talk you into changing your actions, responses, and approaches as if you were in an interview. Church peeps are just trying to convert you, and sales job are exactly that....no bennies sales jobs based solely on commission.

The main thing that people who take advantage of these services don't get are that these things are meant to help you out after you've gotten a phone call for an interview...but what usually happens on a job hunt is that you never get called back.

Yeah take it from me who has been unemployed many-a-times and have done everything right in terms of education, experience, internships, etc... Job Hunting Sucks. You start out optimistic, applying to what you think you're qualified for. A while later you start applying to everything in your field just to see what happens, which is actually nothing. After a while longer you start pondering other avenues like applying to jobs that are not located in your own city. Next you apply for everything....even throwaway jobs at the local mall or a Best Buy. At this point you are in the depths of depression and you really feel like ending it all.

One life-changing event is to be unemployed after going through your "normal" education path...the fall is all the harder to take if you have an advanced or professional degree...it's a pride issue but definitely not something that should be overlooked. People who have never been unemployed like this usually have no idea what you're talking about or are unable to empathize appropriately. They just have no idea because it really is that bad. One second you are entrenched in the middle class, paying bills, buying stuff, going to work, etc. The next second you are living off savings and panicking, and the last second you are almost out of money and will have to beg family to assist or you can take yourself out. $X per year to $-0 is very hard to take...it changes your life in an instant and there is no way to avoid it other than having a job that is in high demand. Going back to school is another fallback choice but the older you get, the harder it is. So here are some bits of advice that this author did not cover well enough:
  1. If a service is looking for money, fuck'em...they are catering to the desperate and you, as the job searcher, are desperate. Anything they provide won't help you because #1 If you can't write a descent resume, you shouldn't be applying anyways. #2 If you can't handle yourself accordingly in an interview it probably means that it won't be a good fit for you. #3 I doubt they are that "connected", like a headhunting group or some other similar operation.
  2. Don't waste time updating an online profile unless you are sure the employer will look at it (i.e. government jobs). No employer is going to "search" for your resume...they get hundreds of them a day so it is not like there is a lack of resumes to fish through.
  3. Use websites like Monster.com or Dice.com or Careerbuilder.com to get the name of a company. Apply directly from a company's website instead of going through the service site.
  4. All of the jobs I've ever gotten were from applying directly through the company website or using the career services website through whatever University I graduated from or was enrolled in. Those alumni career sites have actual postings that real people actually look through.
  5. If nothing appears within your area, act as if you were in another city and look there...staying in one place is pointless if there are no jobs there....the city of Detroit is a perfect example of this. Also, remember that everyone in America (excluding Indians) originated from somewhere else. If there were a ton of jobs and opportunities in Europe or Asia or Mexico, would our x great grandparents have come over here? Yeah moving sucks but really...8 months of applying in one city and having no interviews? That's sketchy...
  6. Actually move to that new city. A person looking at a resume from a person living in another city is usually going to ignore it unless 1) You have a great amount of experience that they specifically need. 2) You are applying for a C-level or other high-up position.
  7. Join the military. I don't know why so many people are against this but seriously...if you can run and follow orders what is a neg of this? They pay for everything, it's a job, you can chill in it until you retire, and you get to learn new shit. The negative sides are that hopefully you don't have a family and you lose your right of "choice".
  8. Go teach English in a foreign country. Some money is better than no money...and from that other country you can either wait out the horrific US economy, maybe get contacts for a better job in that country, or just get a better perspective on things in your life.
  9. Go back to school while realizing if you seriously can or cannot do the job. Ask yourself, are you actually able to sit through all of those boring pre-req courses to become a nurse? If you can't, don't waste your time. Do you have a fear of blood and bodily fluids? Maybe healthcare isn't right for you. Are you smart enough to actually pass classes that you'll be taking with fresh, enthusiastic 18 year olds? Did you do well in science before? Competition is nutty these days and yeah unless you go to some no-name community college, chances are that you won't get a coveted "spot" unless you're one of the smarter of the bunch.
  10. But if all else fails all you can do is keep applying. Apply to everything and spend more time finding different sites that will link you to more postings...that's all you can do. Yes you will feel like a total loser if you don't "do" anything like going out and networking and stuff like that but really...if you had a job and you met some random person who was looking for a job, would you really recommend this person to your employer or HR person? Fuck no. You will not put your rep on the line so someone else "might" have a chance at a job. That's the reality of "networking"...bullshit. The only real networking that may work is through your friends...people who trust you enough to be recommended by them. But for everyone else, it's bullshit.
So yeah, sure it might feel like you aren't doing anything by sitting in front of your computer applying to a bunch of jobs, but it's much better than being ripped off by various schemes that are trying to "help" you. Again...if they want money, your desperation is what brings them their income.

So yeah back to the book review though...the author's style kinda sucks and it didn't bring much to light in terms of educating me on the subject. The most obvious, logical reasons for something is usually the correct one. And in the case of the author and her quest to try to enter into the corporate world, it was getting ripped off by various career coaches or buying into services that didn't really help you any.
Rating - Low

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pandorum (Sci-Fi Horror 2009)

This movie was kinda different. I'd say it's a mix of Sunshine, Event Horizon, and Serenity. It took parts of all of these movies and kinda squished it into one, but at least the story was original.

The plot was interesting at first but then slowly and surely plot holes started appearing everywhere until you turned into a passenger on a ride instead of trying to understand what was happening. Many important parts of the plot were not explained and I just hate that. Leaving people guessing and not explaining everything is either bad writing or a way of foreshadowing a sequel. I hope they don't go that route though...

Overall it wasn't a scary movie...a lot of action and a bit of gore though.
Rating - C

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dragon Age: Origins (3rd Person RPG PC Game 2009)

I've been waiting for this game all year and it finally came through...not like Starcraft II all lagging behind and such. This was the next "big" real RPG game that has come out since Baldar's Gate II back in 2000. Wow, it has indeed been a long time. I'm much older but my gaming maturity-level is still about the same, haha.

I can report that the long wait has been well worth it though. The game was super fun...everything from character properties, leveling, and story were all top-notch. The character interaction was excellent and the various relationships that could occur was interesting to say the least. Real-life dialog sounded great and all of the visuals were impressive as well. Too bad my laptop barely met the mark.

Two things I can report on are the DLCs that can be purchased and buying electronically through Steam. The good thing is that the electronic purchasing was flawless. I didn't have to leave my chair and the game magically appeared on my computer. The bad is that I am still me and after I play a game I have no further use for it and would like to sell it; now I can't. So yeah even though there is a benefit of getting integrated patches and such, my personality has not changed and I'd rather have some money back instead of owning the game forever....but now I know.

The 2 DLCs that came with the digital edition were funish but they were both way too short. Definitely not worth the $7 and $15. This is, of course, just another way of milking money out of the consumer. It's a good business model for the developer but kinda ass for the gamer. Oh well, live and learn.

Overall the game was a great experience. It was just like reading one of the books except now you have a first hand knowledge of the capabilities of some of the baddies that they had in the books. But even though it was a good experience, I still want some money back.
Rating - High

Sunday, December 06, 2009

2012 (Action Drama 2009)

Well this movie was an anticipated disappointment. It kinda reminded me of Independence Day and how that was supposed to be epic in terms of special effects, but then the story was what dropped a turd on the whole thing.

This film indeed had a bunch of CG that was pretty impressive but Chiwetel Ejiofor, the same character from Serenity, was such a damn goody-goody humanitarian it just made me sick.

There was a scene in the end of the movie that had all heads of state from all of the major powers putting a vote to letting additional random refugees onto these ark boats that were supposed to save civilization... Yeah they all voted yes. Yup, bullshit. In real life, people with money don't give a fuck about other people. They would see an increase in population on the boat as less resources for themselves and would've said no. On top of that all of the rich peeps had to pay a billion per head to get a ticket...I'm sure many of them would've called foul. This goes for the wealthy and to all politicians...none of them care about normal people...none of them!

I'm pretty sure that's why this movie didn't get rated very well...if they would've taken a more realistic approach to the situation, at least people would've seen this movie as just another disaster epic, but instead they decided to craptify the story to a point that even the youngest viewer could call bullshit.

But other than that degenerative character flaw from one of the primaries and that God-awful last scene, it was still a fair movie overall.
Rating - C

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Inglourious Basterds (War Drama 2009)

This movie was pretty enjoyable, and for a Tarantino flick it was actually mellow in the blood and violence arena. It was a fictional story about a group of Jewish Americans who, as a part of the US Army, were sent into France to try to blow up a movie showing where a bunch of high-up Nazis were in attendance including Hitler. That one-sentence plot summary sums up the whole movie. Some parts were funny, others were suspenseful, and others were just plain silly. I liked it as a one-time watch though. Christoph Waltz gets points for his acting work; a very good bad guy. This was also the first movie where I've seen Diane Kruger speak in her native German tongue...hot.
Rating - B