Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming (Comic Action 2017)

So I'm not totally sure why peeps felt the need to make yet another Spider-Man movie. I mean they've already gone through 2-3 series', x number of actors, and of course for this one they picked that super annoying kid from Civil War and decided to make a whole film around his crackly Malcolm in the Middle voice.

Iron Man was in it a few times but it 100% seemed like what it was. Downey Jr. got called in to do a handful of scenes and back on the plane he went. There was no character engagement from his side at all. Super artificial.

As a movie it was only fair. The plot went too fast and there wasn't enough time to develop anything. Some of the comedic lines were OK but not enough to save the movie. I don't like this new Spider-Man...he seems like a Millennial douche who talks too much.
Rating - C

War for the Planet of the Apes (Action Drama 2017)

For some reason I thought that this movie would suck more than it did. Maybe because in this series, civilization is already pretty screwed so it's only a matter of time before the Statue of Liberty gets tore up.

But yeah this one wasn't half bad. It still had the same cast of characters, same CG, the plot wasn't the best but it worked, and the ending was OK as well. It would've been a good movie to watch towards the end of the summer.

Woody Harrelson was a good baddie, although his screen time was lacking all things considered. I liked it but I'm sure I'll forget all about the plot in no time; same thing happened with the other films.
Rating - B

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Burgled!

Remember this happy face from your childhood? Well unfortunately all that has been ruined now after I actually got burgled in real life. I got to say, from a broader perspective, it has been a very interesting past few years living down here and having experienced so many odd things that goes in the folder of 'life experiences that you don't ever want to go through again' but damn...it sure does change your outlook on things.

The last time I was robbed was when I was a kid on a summer "activity" camp in Cali and some fucker stole $14 or so out of my glass jar. I recall I was a dumbass and marketed the fact that I was ballin' but still...my money.

In real life I've lived in many places...some shady...others less so, but a few weeks ago the front door to my house got kicked in and the interior was burglarized. I live in a newer, supposedly good neighborhood that has 24/7 wandering security, so WTF? I never got jacked in Tucson and that was fucking Tucson...near Stone...remember that street? Fucking Vegas man...nothing makes sense here. Anyway, the following are some lessons learned. I'm still not sure what to make of everything, but hopefully some of this information will help someone out.
  • So the baddie's entry way was the main front door. Did you know how flimsy an average door is? Seriously...it's not directly connected to some huge-ass piece of wood like I would've thought. It's actually connected to a thing called a "door jam" which is a friggin' sliver of wood, not a 4x4. All it really takes is a few strong kicks and it's game over, even with the deadbolt.
  • Next, did you know that they don't use huge-ass screws for normal house builds on the door? In order to reinforce your door you should get this door armor contraption which is a $70 device from Home Depot or Amazon. It's various long pieces of metal that connects to the side of the doorway and is then screwed in using like 5 inch honkers. These screws will actually go into the real wood part and make it super harder to get through. Not sure why all doors aren't built like this.
  • Bad peeps can break into your house anytime, anywhere, so like a paranoid person would say, you're always vulnerable. The fucktard who did me in came through when we were at work. So really...all it would've taken was me taking a sick day or me having to do some errand and stopping by the house and I would've been face to face with some intruder in my hallway. What would I have done then? I'm going to re-plan on repurchasing an arsenal that's what. Hell, I'll probably get a wakizashi and a buckler while I'm at it.
  • Cops don't give a fuck. After it happened we just sat at home not touching anything because we thought they were going to call in the cavalry with a CSI van to take fingerprints and pictures. I was picturing a team of 3-5 peeps with gloves, lots of gear, a blacklight, sniffing doggy, and everything. No, that not what they sent. After three "Where is the police?" calls to 311 and 6 hours later, a rookie popo appeared, took out his little notebook, and started writing down details of what happened. Then he took some pics of the doorframe with an iPad, gave me a printout copy, and told me to go down to HQ to get an official report in a few days for my records. He said I probably wouldn't be contacted again because it's too low of a priority and I would never get my shit back.
  • So right here was a life-changing moment. Some fucker decides to break into my house and take my shit and the cops don't do anything...no investigation, no asking questions, nothing. Someone else gets richer from stealing my goods and nothing happens to him/her. WTF. I know that the world and life in general is not fair, but really...I'm sure if I was home and I maimed the intruder, I would somehow be responsible and 'then' a cop would probably show up to give me shit for it. All that makes no sense, but really, you should know that you're really on your own when push comes to shove. Cops have priorities and if you need help, they may not come. What would happen if we were home and we scared away some intruder? Would they still give us the same runaround? "You know you can just go down to HQ and fill out a police report and say it was a home invasion." Do they only care when someone gets injured or whacked? I really wonder where the priorities of law enforcement are. To me it's seems like lazy investigation...this is important shit!
  • Neighbors don't give a fuck. So after it happened I wandered around to do my own investigation. I tried to see if anyone else had cameras and a few actually did. One neighbor has a doorbell camera that should've recorded stuff as long as they had that area labeled for motion. It took a few days to get a hold of the guy, but then when I inquired about the video when I was face-to-face, he just nonchalantly said there wasn't anything. WTF! Give me something...anything and I'll peruse through the data like a cartoon sluth dog with a monocle. Ironically I bought a similar "Ring" doorbell camera the next day and man, that thing records clips like crazy. Either his camera model sucks, he has very bad motion areas specified, or he was lazy and didn't want help. Either way, I had no data that just pisses me off even more because I know there is information out there...
  • Insurance. I'm still working with my homeowner's insurance company to get things sorted, but my initial payment was fair. We'll see if they come through with the replacement costs. In a nutshell I would recommend everyone to review their policy with a person on the phone to answer any questions. We got jacked on the jewelry and I'm sure they have other subcategories that have maximums like firearms or computer/electronic equipment. Now my rates will go up for like 5 years, so yeah that will blow.
  • Get a dog, alarms, and a camera system. I've been madly shopping for 2 of the 3. No woggy for me sadly :-( But yeah more reviews will be incoming after I get various systems in place. The cameras are for piece of mind (Cell phone push alerts) and the alarm is to make an annoying noise to hopefully scare off any intruders vs them taking their sweet time wandering around the house. The alarm systems can call the cops, and all but again, look above on my thoughts on that. Fucking 6-hour response time...
  • In terms of what was lost, just know that you should secure what can't be replaced or would be super hard to. Yeah I went and got a grandma-era safe deposit box the very next day. In order to rebuild your identity you need your birth certificate, passport, SS card, other special documents, and all your digital files/passwords. Because of this I would recommend everyone Bitlocker your primary C drive on your computer/laptop. This way if it ever gets nabbed, the HDD is totally locked down. No stripping it out to access...your data is protected.
So yeah that has been my wonderful last month. Ironically the day it happened I got my teeth cleaned at the dentist and ya know what? Ever since then my jaw has hurt on one side and I think I've been grinding my teeth a lot more. I'm sure the experience inadvertently jacked with my psyche in some invisible way. People suck, Vegas sucks, and an unknown construction worker who was teamed in building the house across from mine also sucks since I'm sure it was one of them. The timing of having my house cased, them working on the house every morning and afternoon for the last 3 months, then the opposing house being finished just weeks ago was way too fishy to be a timing coincidence.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Lost City of Z (Drama 2016)

Damn this movie was slow AF. If you've ever watched The Thin Red Line, then you're in the same ballpark. Odd, artsy, and slow.

I expected more from the film since the legend of Col. Fawcett is something I researched at one point in my life. Interesting treasure-hunting story, somewhat like the Money Pit, but even more old school going back to the days of the Conquistadors.

This film was straight up boring. Not sure what else they could've done but maybe they could've had a different angle to the plot or something. No bueno.
Rating - D

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Ghost in the Shell (Sci-Fi Action 2017)

Not saying Scarlett Johansson is a bad actress or nothin', but she really does only play one role in all of her films. Even if you re-watch Lost in Translation and take a look at all of the scenes with her in it, all she does is sit there with that "staring at nothing" face and when she talks she tries to be all serious. It's just like her Black Widow character in the Avengers and now it's much akin to her role as Major in this movie.

The Anime for this one was much better as I recall, but I did watch it when I was much younger. I still can't get over how easy it would've been to find some random Asian chick to play the primary for this film. It would've made a ton more sense considering the setting. There were barely any speaking parts for the main female role and the rest of the movie was just CG and action.

As a movie it was fair, but it wasn't memorable. Just your average Sci-Fi with regular robots, guns, and holograms.
Rating - C

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Excalibur Show

So ever since I was a kid I always heard of this show that had horses, knights, and jousting down in Vegas. Of course I never got to go since my parents weren't into that sort of thing...entertaining kids and all...but yeah. I researched this a while ago and these days the show is called Tournament of Kings. Since I now live Vegas, I thought it would be a nice evening to see if this show was any good.

To quickly summarize it, if I were 10 or so, I would've been super impressed with the show, but now since I'm way older, not so much. It had a juvenile story and was quite bland, but the reason is probably because I'm like most middle-aged folks in the world and, "I've already seen way too much shit in my day". I would rather see a musical theater production because that's kinda like watching a movie. This was just an odd form of entertainment and for the kiddies of course. Anyway, you can't really blame the production or anything as it was fine; just not my cup of tea.

I think the most memorable part of the whole thing was when I was making my ticket reservations.

Me: "So what's for dinner on the menu? I heard it's a big-ass chicken with some soup and bread but no utensils"?
Rep: "Yeah you get some of that stuff, but about that chicken, it's more the size of a cornish hen".
Me: "Ah...a cornish hen...that's much smaller than a regular chicken...is it an actual cornish hen then"?
Rep: "Yeah, it's a cornish hen".

And a dry, non-seasoned plain-ass cornish hen it was. All of the food actually tasted horrible and artificial, sorta like airplane food. How they pulled that off in a Vegas casino is baffling, but I'm sure they weren't looking to give the customers casino buffet quality food...sigh.

I did enjoy the rowdy-ass Irish folks from Ireland who were really getting into the show and talking mad shit, but perhaps they were just overly patriotic...or just overly drunk which they were.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Out with the Prius

So after around 4 years of ownership, we bid adieu to the Priusmobile. It was an interesting ride through hybrid territory, but we're going to be joining the statistic that goes back to ICE cars after owning a hybrid. The reason for most people will depend on 2 variables and how important they are when compared to one another: the yearning for power/fun vs economics.

Pros
  • I think one of the main questions a person will have is the reliability of both a hybrid car and the Prius itself. I can say that it's impeccable; both as a Toyota and with a hybrid drive train. Nothing major ever happened and all I ever did was change the oil, filters, tires, battery, wiper blades, and ATF fluid. After being in the Vegas heat, various small plastic pieces like the overhead light covers seemed to break, but these were cheap replacement parts. The car was highly reliable and could easily run for thousands of more miles.
  • The MPG was good compared to an ICE car, but it did deteriorate over time. The max I ever got was 53MPG, but that was when I first purchased the car and across a very flat surface. After that, daily life in a temperate environment/traffic was around 48MPG. After moving to crazy Vegas, it went down to 43MPG. All of these numbers are much better than any average car, but still, compared to the marketing of what a Prius could do, it fell short.
  • Space was good as well. The largest thing we ever fit in it was a huge elliptical machine box from Sports Authority. I still can't believe it fit in there; I wish I took a pic.
  • Initial acceleration from 0 is good since it's using both the gas and electric engine to give it a torque boost.
Cons
  • Slow as fuck. If you're just doing city traffic driving it's not bad, but when you need to accelerate to get out of trouble or get onto the freeway, that is when you notice that it's super lacking in power. If you've ever driven an econobox and were literally flooring it, this is the same feeling.
  • Agility of a boat. The car handles like a large boat. The ass of the car is an anchor and it waddles through turns...totally not a fun experience having a torsion beam for the rear suspension.
  • Smells. The car's fake leather started to smell pretty bad in the heat. It was an odd chemical stench that couldn't be covered up or cleaned up. Add this to the HVAC moldy smell that I tried to address before and all you get is a weird-odoriferous car.
  • In the 115+ degree heat, the electric engine started to not turn on upon initial ignition. It felt as though it was in a safe mode until the cooling fans of the engine kicked in and could circulate the coolant. This was super annoying and assisted in the MPG to plummet in the car. The good thing is that it was predictable with regards to when it happened and how long you had to drive before the car started operating normally again, but still annoying.
So the Prius was a solid car, but it did have its deficencies. For a boring person, an old person, or a thrifty person, the Prius is a no-brainer car. It's much better than any other econobox like a Yaris or Versa, but it really does lack balls and the 'fun' of driving. If I wanted to maximize my wallet I would've kept it and just dealt with it until it broke down at 300K or so, but life is too short to be driving something so plain and mediocre. The hybrid aspect of any car is a cool concept as it really does help fuel economy at lights, stop signs, and stop/go traffic, but the extra cost, smaller gas engine, and overall reduction in power isn't really worth it. When prices for full-electrics go down after they reach 200 miles between charges, it'll be a no-brainer of what direction folks will be going towards. But a hybrid was a good in-between technology to help the general population along.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Mummy (Action 2017)

So the main trailer made it seem like this film could've been been a hit/miss, but like with most fantasy-like films, this one fell right on its ass. In the beginning it tried to be be campy and funny, much like the real, original Mummy movie, but it didn't quite fit in with the characters. As the story progressed it seemed like every single expensive action sequence was already revealed in the trailer. This was super lame and it was totally true.

That literally sums it up so no use writing about it anymore. The movie wasn't really good and it didn't add anything to the fantasy genre. It had some big-named actors but it had a horrible story and wasn't worth the time to watch it.
Rating - D

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Blink XT Camera System

I always wanted a camera system for the house, but I never had a chance to pull it off until now. The main player you see at Costco is the Netgear Arlo Pro but holy shit is that expensive for a wireless setup.

Instead my thrifty-ass got this Blink system since it had 3 cameras and was cheaper. I think the product started out as a Kickstarter and then it developed from there, but I'm not sure if they'll last since their product is lacking... I'm game for supporting the little guy vs a larger company but when a company does have funding, things like hardware, development, and programming come into play for the win. We'll see what happens to Blink, but from my vantage point they are not ready for prime time yet.

The system is OK but there are definitely a few flaws. The first is that you can't have it run for 24/7 streaming and just watch it to see what's going on. You can initiate a manual live feed, but it will only run for like 15 sec or so (never looked up the actual number but it's short), and then it will stop, lag, and you'll need to push the button for a live feed again. Next there is no way to specify tracking areas so if you're pointing one of the cameras towards the street, every car will trigger an alert; that's just lazy. Next, the mounting bracket is very flimsy and the more you take the camera on/off, the greater the chances of it breaking. Next, it having a 2 year lithium battery is cool but there is definitely a downside to remote cameras like this because they are always in a power-saving 'standby mode' and have to be woken up. Usually recordings will either be too short, too late, last too long, or will start at the wrong times.

Yeah if you've tinkered with other home security camera systems you'll know what I'm talking about...you'll begin to notice that there are things that are important and not important but not many products have all the features you want so a lot more research is needed.

For me I want a camera system to record everything to a local SD card in a loop and then copy that data to the cloud. Next, it should send a push notification when there is movement in a specific quadrant, have the ability for 2-way communication, and have night/day capabilities.  Finally nobody wants to run wires so someone has to think of something here...there has to be another way may that be a solar/battery config or a wireless charging/power config. That really sums it up though...is it that hard to pull this off? Evidently it sorta is. Oh and it can't be expensive lol.

Anyway this product seems to have some loftly goals from their website and I have no faith that any drastic changes can be made because of the design. One thing I've learned from my time in IT is that any vendor that doesn't have a feature RFN will probably not pump it out for a long time, so don't buy something based on a future promise.

The search continues!

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Dunkirk (Military Drama 2017)

It's been a while since a real war flick has been this good, but luckily we have Christopher Nolan who is a beast when it comes to quality flicks. This movie was slow. I'll pre-warn you just in case you're looking for a fast-pace flick. It was slow, methodical, and jumped all over the place with regards to scenes and time. You do have to use your brain to put things together but it's all worth it.

The non-liner method of storytelling is a very different strategy, but it really does get the plot across in a good way. I guess it turns into a fulfilling journey to go through for the viewer.

The film is all about the British and some allies trying to flee France after the Germans were finalizing the takeover of the mainland during the start of WWII. This movie followed around several folks during the event and told a pretty solid story. The music was nuts though...very realistic and it totally drew you in; some musical queues were similar to the ones in Interstellar where the sound was odd, but in a good way.

I straight up recommend this movie. Solid film.
Rating - A

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Eye in the Sky (Military Drama 2015)

Well this was a frustrating movie that invoked some pretty intense emotions. It was about all of the red tape that went along with a military operation that crossed countries. Not sure if this type of stuff really happens in the military (I can't imagine it does to this extent) but holy shit. Everyone kept on pushing major decisions up the chain and it took forever and a day to come all the way back down.

I know that the film tried to play with the whole emotions of morality and rules of engagement and stuff, but in all honesty, common sense and collateral damage should be something that can be calculated pretty quickly in a situation like the one shown in this movie.

I see this type of BS all the time in the business world and it's so damn annoying. People need to grow some balls and just make a damn decision and roll with it. If you can't deal with the consequences or what it takes to get results, then you don't need to be in said leadership position. Anyhoo, this is a great movie that shows what red tape is and how much it slows down productivity. All the emotional stuff is valid too but damn...talk about not getting things done. It's like a corporate meeting.
Rating - B

Sunday, July 09, 2017

A Hologram for the King (Drama 2016)

This movie was fair, but it's totally one of those forgettable ones. I wasn't quite sure if it was supposed to be a regular drama film or an existential view of the character's self-evaluation of his life. But either way the movie totally seemed to drag ass. There was a likable taxi driver character but that was about it as well...most everyone else was fairly boring and the plot took forever to get anywhere.
Rating - C

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (Comedic Drama 2016)

You know I thought this movie would be a lot worse than it turned out to be, but it wasn't too bad. The film was a direct mix of comedy and drama but it was subtle and not 'in your face'. The plot is exactly what the trailer shows so just watch that and you'll know the general gist of the story. Yeah not a bunch of content but good enough right?
Rating - C

Sunday, June 25, 2017

2014 BMW 320i

I never thought I would ever have a BMW on the payroll, but here we are. We ended up getting this with the FR-S funds because at the time it was hard to make a good decision on any car and I wanted more time to figure things out. Long story short, we got the cheapest CPO BMW with a White/Tan color scheme.

Pros
  • The car isn't as fast as the Volvo, but it does have a much smaller engine in comparison. With that being said it's still pretty peppy and gets 29 MPG mixed, which is pretty darn good considering.
  • The ride is silky smooth; it seriously feels like a Mag-lev train at times, so good job on the suspension and handling.
  • There are no stability issues the faster you go which is much different from other cars I've driven. Usually you will 'know' when you're going near 85 MPH on a decline or something, but in this BMW, the car still has such a solid feel with the road that you don't even notice it.
  • I dunno if it's standard or an add-on, but at night time the door handles have a downward pointing LED on all doors and the inside doors have a hidden, amber LED string that subtlety illuminate the cabin. These are very functional and convenient perks.
  • CPO is cool since you get more years of supported warranty, but the dealership does try to up-sell/scare you will pre-paid maintenance and a tire replacement deal. I'll get to this later.
Cons
  • Everything about this car is expensive. We had to get a tire replaced recently and found out why RFTs (Run Flat Tires) suck ass. Essentially these tires are designed to be resilient-enough to be totally flat and still ride-on for 50 miles at 50 MPH. Bad thing is that they aren't fixable/patchable and can only be replaced. Then you actually have to find a tire shop that is cool with replacing it with non-run flats since some shops have differing policies regarding this matter.
  • We opted out of the pre-paid maintenance and tire package, but I'm guessing it's gonna be hella expensive for even an oil change.
  • The steering-wheel controls for the infotainment suck so much ass. How hard is it to have a 'next' and 'back' button? You instead have this wheel contraption that you rotate around and then you have to press in to select. WTF? So in order to change a radio station or skip to a next song, you have to do 2 steps instead of one. It really isn't intuitive.
  • And lastly we get to the reliability. We've had the car less than a year and we've already had to go into the shop a few times to get things looked at. I'll continue to have a running tally on this page and update it when we bring it in since I'll be interested in a few years what the total will look like after we get finished with this car and eventually move on.
Ongoing Maintenance/Service
  1. Out of nowhere the rear brake light unit broke off of one plastic hinge and was pseudo dangling down. We had to take it in and the dealership replaced it under warranty and said it was a manufacture defect.
  2. An alert came up on the dash saying that the parking light failed. I think this was a bulb that went out somewhere.
  3. An alert came up on the dash saying that we had low tire pressure. I pumped up all tires to the recommended spec and continued on. 1 week later the alert came back up and we went to the tire shop for them to look at. This is where we were schooled on the terrible RFTs. Luckily Big-O was cool with replacing it with a normal tire. AND they didn't try to be punks and sell us 2 tires, just one. I have a feeling that the other 3 tires will get nails in them as time goes on...
Overall
I for one know what a BMW is...my better half may not share the same concerns though. I'd never really get one of these cars if it was only up to me. Renting one temporarily is OK but long-term? Hell no. This car just reeks with the smell of an expensive upkeep.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Bone Conduction Headphones

I came across these headphones while searching for a regular pair and became intrigued at the technology. Bone conducting...does something like this really work well? I bought a pair late last year and have been using them off/on in various locations, so I think now I can accurately report back on their performance.

To get it out of the way, yes, the tech does indeed work. You can put foamies in your ears, put this on, and you'll be able to hear music, Youtube videos, have phone conversations, etc. The unfortunate part is that even though you can hear, what comes out does seem "odd" and muffled. I guess that goes along with the whole biological, evolutionary development of one's real ears and how they function vs. this newfangled tech.

The main positive for this device is that you can hear stuff through the headphone, albeit with only 70% clarity, while fully hearing the rest of your environment with no problem. So if you're in an office environment, you'll be able to listen to music but still hear the phone ring or if a co-worker comes around and starts chatting. Additionally if you're outside and it's not too noisy, you'll be able to be situationally aware.

The main negative is two-fold. First, as I already mentioned, the clarity of the sound leaves a lot to be desired, so if you're a picky music listener and care about quality and clarity, these aren't the headphones for you. Secondly, if there is any sort of background noise you're screwed. Some examples of these noisy environments are airplanes, cars (especially at freeway speeds), outdoors with a lot of people, outdoors with any yard machinery, outdoors with wind, etc. Your first instinct when you can't hear the music through these headphones is to turn up the volume to try to make the vibrations greater to offset the real noise entering in through your ears, but then your ears will start hurting and that whole process seems unhealthy.

So yeah there you go. Unless you have a very specific use case for this device, I'd vote to pass on it. It's good that it exists, but I personally want to listen to good quality music when I'm in the mood vs having mediocre sounds come through.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Mass Effect: Andromeda (3rd Person Shooter PC Game 2017)

Maybe it's just the old age talking, but my fondness of games has totally dwindled over this past decade. Where the hell did the fun games go? I suppose some experiences here and there are still enjoyable, but for the most part I find myself bored to death almost immediately after starting a new one.

This 4th iteration in the Mass Effect series sure didn't help that despondent outlook regarding games...sucks how this one was the worst out of the bunch.

A lot of the reviews were correct...something felt really off about this game. It was sorta like Bioware wasn't involved anymore or perhaps it had something to do with EA and their BS that has been tanking many IPs over the past half-decade or so.

The game was poorly written, the combat had a crappier feel, and the story and all the characters were super uninteresting. It did feel like a copy-paste with regards to locations, baddies, guns, and boss battles. The old school Mass Effect games all had an excellent story, good characters, good 'pals' to adventure with, and an overall immersive universe. It wasn't about what you were doing but more about the experience, just like playing in a movie. Andromeda felt like a boring-ass cardboard game. I mean how can you make all of the NPC characters so uninteresting? Who approved that? Why wasn't there any good voice acting to try to backup the terrible animations? Yeah, it really was that bad. After I was probably half-way through the game, I got so frustrated that I just rolled through the main quests and finished the whole thing. Very anticlimactic and short.

I'm pondering selling off my 1060 GTX Video Card in protest because there is nothing fun worth playing on the horizon and this was such a disappointment. They should really stop making more Mass Effect games if this new direction is going to stick. Papa wants his money back.
Rating - Low

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Wonder Woman (Action 2017)

So this movie was definitely not a Marvel one. It felt more like Man of Steel in that there was a whole introduction to the main character and gradual build-up to the end. But just like in that movie, the final battle scene was super over the top and no longer entertaining. It just became a silly mess of special effects and I wanted to get out of there.

I'm glad they went with a new character and all, and it was nice to have the whole character building in the beginning, but the movie felt soulless. Not sure how else to describe it, but I didn't find it too enjoyable for the long-term. It was also too long, so that may have contributed to the negative feel.
Rating - C

Monday, June 05, 2017

The Girl with All the Gifts (Action 2016)

Here's a random zombie flick that doesn't suck. It's been a while since World War Z was pretty disappointing vs what I was hoping for from the book. This story takes a different twist but at least there is more of a plot and character development. It's not your average zombie movie so if you got an evening to blow, it's not too bad of an option.
Rating - B

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Action 2017)

Yeah they should really just stop with this series. The first one was good of course but every movie since then has gotten worse and worse. This latest summer iteration is no different. Just a bunch of action, crap story, and overall an uninteresting mess that wasn't even funny.

Disney is really milking it with no originality, but lots of special effects and loud music.
Rating - D

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Alien: Covenant (Sci-Fi 2017)

Gotta enjoy your neighborhood Alien movie whenever you can get some. It is very hard to live up to the 1980s Ripley though. This one was the pseudo-continuation of Prometheus and unfortunately for Covenant, the latter was a better film. I liked the whole mystery and unanswered questions from Prometheus, and although this one had its fair share of unanswered stuff or information that could've been elaborated upon, the main core plot was too simple and I just didn't like it.

But for a summer film this was OK. I wanted it to be better but it is what it is and that's still fine. I've seen much worse in my day.
Rating - B

Sicario (Crime Drama 2015)

This was one of those slower crime drama films but this time set in AZ/Mexico. Think of old school Heat and that's the pace we're talking about with character and plot development. I think this movie was overall an OK flick, but it lacked the excitement that I'm used to. If you watch this when you're even remotely sleepy, you'll probably pass out because there are plenty of slow parts. Acting was solid and it didn't have any real flaws other than its pace.
Rating - B

Monday, May 08, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Action 2017)

I think this movie was better than the first one. I certainly enjoyed the banter much more than the original. The movie was just more of the same but that 'more' can be seen as a good, mindless fun. This is totally one of those films where you turn off your brain and just watch for some humor and silliness. The story itself probably wasn't as good as the first but the situational dialog made up for it.
Rating - B

Friday, April 28, 2017

Battle for Sevastopol (War Drama 2015)

So I started watching some Amazon Prime flicks lately and this one popped up as something that looked interesting. It's a Russian/Ukrainian war drama about a female sniper back in WWII. I've seen a few films from this era from the Russian side of the war and I'd say it was about average compared to all of the others.

One thing Russian filmmakers haven't gotten down, much like Chinese filmmakers, is how to make good transitions and how not to make it look like they are obviously trying to shove more plot within a very limited amount of time. When directors do this, movies seem to be rushed, choppy, and don't flow well.

As a story it was OK, but it had its downsides all over the place. I think with a different screenplay and director it could've been much better.
Rating - C

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Beauty and the Beast (Disney Musical 2017)

So this remake was OK. I liked how they added some scenes to add to the basis of the story, but the songs were better in the cartoon so it's a toss up as to which one was overall batter. I'm a nostalgic person so I'm still leaning towards the cartoon.

I suppose it's worth watching once but it's more of a airplane movie as there was nothing that really stood out. CG is nice but yeah it lacked a lot of spirit and character; too artificial I guess.
Rating - C

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Kong: Skull Island (Action 2017)

Eh, it was OK for a monster flick I suppose, but nothing really out of the ordinary. A lot of the characters were utterly worthless and were just filler, but the primaries sorta made it happen. Samuel L. Jackson seems to play the same crazy main character in all of his films, so it's hard to separate out movies from the actor. There was this crazy scene with a tree spider and yeah, no thanks, but that was well done.

Overall not really worth a theater watch, but I did so anyways.
Rating - C

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Collateral Beauty (Drama 2016)

This movie was fair but very predictable. The acting was top-notch as you can probably tell from the cast, but I think the story itself was lacking and didn't flow too well. The movie is a great candidate for one that would be shown on an airplane; that was the feel I got from it while watching it.

The pace was slow and a bit boring, but it wasn't a bad film. It could've been better if they did more to it, but I think the director wanted it to resonate in a specific way. Anyway it's renter if you're interested.
Rating - C

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Magnificent Seven (Action 2016)

This movie was entertaining enough for a Western action flick. I can always watch anything set in the West for some reason...dunno why. I don't like six shooters or horses or wearing dirty hats but yeah it's one of those things.

The film's plot was reminiscent of Seven Samurai which was a good old school flick, so you pretty much know what you're getting. 7 peeps helping out a town and taking out waves of baddies. Mindless shooting everywhere.
Rating - C

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Logan (Action Drama 2017)

Yeah this movie is not your run-of-the-mill X-Men film...it was raw, deep, and a bit depressing. The movie was a drama through and through although it had a lot of violence as well. It takes Wolverine and Xavier through a very focused timeline that I never read about; perhaps it was never in a comic...I'll research that later. It actually contained a lot of serious topics like immigration, science ethics, aging, and purpose. Hugh Jackman should get a friggin' award for his acting though; that man is Wolverine.

Anyhoo, not much else to say other than it was a really good movie, but I probably wouldn't want to see it a second time. Some deeper movies make it into this category; sorta like requiem.
Rating - A

Patriots Day (Drama 2016)

I'm not really sure why so many of these types of movies exist. They are merely dramatized versions of historical events of significance, but people seem to want to watch them? Do folks out there really need to watch a movie about an event in order to understand what happened? I think it would be more interesting to read the raw details vs watching a movie since it kinda goes into the area of entertainment, but evidently people do like the movie-version of things.

So this movie is just like Deepwater Horizon or United 93. I dunno how much pertaining to the characters is true, but yeah... Was it good for a movie? Sure it was ok, but the whole time I kept on thinking that I already watched it since I read about the whole thing when it happened.
Rating - C

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Moonlight (Drama 2016)

Best picture, really? Eh...I don't know about that. This movie was a slow one...very very slow. It followed around this kid through 3 major phases in his life and then the movie just ended.

The artistic style was there in terms of the storytelling but I didn't really feel it ya know? This kid had a hard time growing up and then he eventually became a man who was kinda damaged and closeted. OK that sucks. Anything else? No, here is an Oscar for you. Maybe I missed something but I don't think I did.

The film didn't invoke any emotions or deep conversation; it was just a drawn out story of a dude and his unfortunate life.
Rating - C

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Underworld: Blood Wars (Action 2016)

This one didn't feel like a real movie...it was just like how one would think of another Underworld film...fast, shiny, and barely any story. I remember the first one to be loads of fun but that was many years ago. I watched this a few weeks ago and yeah I can barely remember anything that happened.

They referenced the old movies, there was some Werewolf leader, some Vamp Council, and the cold North of Europe...that's pretty much about it. This is something that can play in the background while you're cleaning the house during the summer on the weekend; that's how much you don't need to be paying attention to it.

Sucks that Kate Beckinsale isn't getting better gigs.
Rating - D

Moana (Disney Animated 2016)

Well this Disney movie was OK. The animation was up to par and it still felt like a Disney flick so I'll give it that. I didn't like the moving tattoos on The Rock's character...too reminiscent of Disney animation back in the early 2000s when they sucked. The main character's nose was a little too pronounced as well..I don't think Pacific Islanders look like that. Music was OK but the main song won't catch on and sell well. Eh, not too impressed but still not that bad.
Rating - C

Monday, February 27, 2017

Hidden Figures (Drama 2016)

I got to get a TV or something since I didn't even know that this movie was a thing before hearing about it at work. This one followed the life of 3 NASA workers who so happened to be black women during the Civil Rights Era in the US. Interesting premise and base for a story...let's continue.

So everything you'd expect from a plot like this is exactly what you'll receive. Lots of racism, workplace issues, gender issues, etc. It does suck that peeps had to go through all of these hardships even though they were all educated and fairly smart in Math/Physics. The whole segregated bathroom thing would've drove me bonkers.

Although this movie was generally good, two scenes really stood out that sorta bothered me. In one scene Taraji P. Henson exploded to her super when questioned about her whereabouts. I thought this whole scene was poignant, yet way too overacted since a real person back in the day in this type of work environment wouldn't have done that and had gotten away with it. Hell nobody would get away with it these days even if the super was somehow in the wrong, so the fact that she did that and was able to keep her job was astounding and unbelievable.

The second scene was when another character was caught running jobs on a newly-installed IBM mainframe. This is a blatant breach of physical IT Security and I also don't think that would be tolerated in a government facility back in the day. I get how you gotta stretch a little to get things done, but no way should a person be rewarded for tinkering with, making punch cards, and running programs with Fortran without prior authorization. I get it...she would never have been given the chance to prove herself or display her skill because of the time/era and her race/gender, but still...it was the wrong move and would totally get you axed from a position in the real world.

I'm guessing those scenes can be categorized into Hollywood sensationalism in order to tell a story, but yeah I think they could've handled it a bit better and in a more believable fashion. Nevertheless, the movie was good and the end felt a bit like Apollo 13, minus the epic music.
Rating - B

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Passengers (Sci-Fi 2016)

You know, even though many reviews for this movie were less than stellar, I got to say that it really wasn't that bad. I actually liked it and I felt that it was fairly realistic with regards to the characters' emotions and actions in relation to the story.

I'm a sucker for Sci-Fi colonization films though, since there are so few of them as a genre, but and I'm glad it only had a handful of characters in it since you get more time to delve into the minds of primaries. The story wasn't deep though, it was kinda vanilla in what what did happen so nothing out of left field there. The special effects were good, but we've seen it all before for the past 15 years or so. The music and atmosphere were as expected, but yeah overall it was a fun film to watch.

I would totally pay money to have a room in my house that looked like one of the spaceship living quarters; the small, grey one not the fancy loft one...it looks so damn efficient and sterile. Anyway, I thought the movie was alright and it's worth a watch for any Sci-Fi fan.
Rating - B

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Great Wall (Fantasy Action 2016)

As anyone could've expected, this movie was super campy. The mobs reminded me of the baddies in Starship Troopers; numerous, uninteresting, and pure CG. The Chinese army part of the movie was what one could expect from anything coming from over there, think Hero. The sections with the three English speakers was as expected, but totally artificial as well. A weird combination to say the least.

The beginning of this movie (first 10 min) was kinda cool for an intro, setting up the characters, soldiers, and environment and such, but it quickly went downhill from there. It had almost zero character development, you didn't get to really know any of the primaries, Matt Damon had this weird accent that I still cannot place, and Pedro Pascal was just comic relief. It was totally like they wrote a Chinese movie, was later told that they had to integrate foreigners into it, then were told to cut down on the run-time, then decided to drop everything pertaining to development and redirect all remaining funds to CG.

When the film ended it wasn't as crappy as I thought it would be, but it still teetered on the lame end of things and was a 'not all that well' put together movie. One interesting fact is that this was the most expensive movie filmed over in China? Odd...I really don't know where all that money went since 90% was CG. Their workers can't get paid that well.
Rating - C

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Arrival (Sci-Fi Drama 2016)

So this movie was way more Contact-esque than your average Sci-Fi flick. It really tried to be deeper than I was expecting which is a good thing I suppose.

All the characters were pretty forgetful as was the story. I thought it was pretty plain for a plot, but it wasn't necessarily bad either. I just wasn't excited about what was happening and the ending was kinda a blur.
Rating - C

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Manchester by the Sea (Drama 2016)

This is one of those slower dramas that doesn't have too much plot, but instead it's all character based. That being said, I'm pretty impressed with this Casey Affleck person, as his acting stood out as being top-notch.

Besides that though the movie was slow...like something that you'd see on an airplane slow. Lots of long-shots, driving, waiting, silence, etc. You really have to be immersed in what's going on in order to fully enjoy it. Still a good movie though, but nothing super award winning. I think it got nominated for a few Oscars but yeah, besides the main actor one, it was just OK in the rest of the categories.
Rating - B

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Plantronics BackBeat Fit

So this Bluetooth headset is on sale at Costco right now. I think it was around $70, so I jumped on it since it seemed like a good deal. As you could've predicted, they've been returned.

So this is a run-of-the-mill Bluetooth headset. I didn't try the calling feature to test out the mic, but I did listen to music and work-out with them on. They're OK but nothing great. One side of the earbud things didn't fit too well and it only came with one size of nubs. After you take off the rubber piece you'll see the actual speaker and it seemed to be glued together haphazardly with no real quality in place. That pretty much did it for me right there. I'd rather get my money back. I did glance online that you can get different nubs for the ears and it will make for a better fit, but really, there are better quality brands out there if you spend a bit more scrilla. Who needs mediocre things if you can afford $20 more or so.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Huawei Honor 5x

So earlier this month I started having problems with my Galaxy S6 and incorrectly assumed that it was going bad. Long story short with that chestnut, there seems to be a pesky "Enhanced LTE Services" setting that appeared after a recent software update that will jack up regular calls and prevent you from hearing the other end. If you turn off the feature under "Mobile Data", all will go back to normal.

But anyways, I thought my phone was dying so I rush researched something cheap to get me by. I picked this Honor 5x since it had some good reviews online, but yeah...no bueno for me. I only owned the phone for 2 days before returning it but here are the things I noticed.

Pros
Cheap - For under $200 on Amazon it's a fairly good price, but after looking more, the newest OnePlus is only a bit more expensive and probably a lot faster.

Battery Life - During my use it did drain much slower than the S6. Still in the 70s-80s after a whole day at work.

Fingerprint Scanner - This was very quick and snappy, better than the S6.

Cons
Speed - If you're used to flagship phones and their speed, don't even bother. This phone is slow booting up and all the apps very slow; it's quite noticeable.

Push Notification - You have to turn "on" Push for some apps like Outlook under a totally different power-setting area since the software is dumb. The OS defaults to a power-saving setting which is almost unheard of.

Wifi Bands - It doesn't have the AC 5GHz wireless Wifi band, so you'll be stuck using the old school/slower connection.

Thoughts
The phone was OK but it was too putt putt for my tastes. It was also 5.5in and I discovered that I really didn't like the size. I'm a 5in screen type of guy. Not too big, not too small. I should just suck it up and pay for the extravagantly overpriced Pixel then switch over to Google Fi for service. But I still got a few more months left on my last AT&T contract. They're raising prices on the unlimited plan again as well so fuck 'em.