Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Simple Favor (Drama 2018)

So this movie was an odd one, but entertaining nonetheless. It first started off normal, except for the fact that Anna Kendrick's character was a bit stupid and naive. Towards the middle it got a bit more interesting, and everything at the latter sections turned into absolute bedlam.

This movie was crazy and the whole ending was more of a dark comedy vs anything else. I don't know what to fully make of it, but yeah I wasn't expecting the tone of the film to turn so silly and dark. I don't be watching it again, but at least I wasn't bored.
Rating - B

Saturday, December 01, 2018

2018 BMW 330e

This review is a long time coming, but I think I've gathered up all the data needed to make an accurate evaluation. This BMW is a 330e which means it's a plug-in hybrid 3-series. It has the same body as a regular 3-series, smaller gas tank, smallish battery, can be charged at home, and can be driven in several modes: hybrid charging, hybrid not-charging, and pure-electric. If the middle one seems weird, I know, I shall explain later. I got this car because I still seem to be confused at what I really want out of a car. First world problems, right? Too bad I can't be like Homer in that Simpsons episode and design something from scratch because only then could I make a badass car that everyone like me would enjoy :-)

I didn't really want another BMW in the fleet, but since we were looking for leases and experimenting on the whole concept, this brand stuck out because what else would you really lease? I very much missed having a hybrid powertrain after being in the Lexus for a year, so it was the next logical step considering the current range of pure-electric cars. The pure-electrics are still not there with their total battery sizes, but I'm sure that will change in the next 2-3 years, right when the lease will end.

So the car does get a combined 75MPG. No joke. This number only goes up IF you are able to charge it wherever you are and get free electricity. Unfortunately the US doesn't have a robust infrastructure so I've discovered how inconvenient it is to find a charger while out and about. Good thing is that I have a L2 EVSE at home, so at least I can guarantee that I can leave the house with a full charge every day. Eventually, when every Target, mall, restaurant, airport, or movie theater has a charger, things will be much different.

My home electricity bill has gone up around $20-30 per month, so although having this car is saving money by using electricity vs needing to go to the pump, we're not talking about a dramatic difference per month.

I have discovered that charging in public is totally hit or miss. Sometimes you get ICEd which means some regular car is parked in the designated electric car parking place, sometimes another electric car is using the plug, and sometimes a hybrid driver thinks he's special and screws you over. Again, it's very frustrating when all you want is to take advantage of the free electricity and you get hosed. I know that some chargers out there are not free and fuck a bunch of that. For plug-in hybrid drivers, it's not worth the time to charge for a price since you will go through the electricity in the battery super fast, but for pure-electric drivers I think they wouldn't have much of a choice depending how far they are from home.

The max speed that you can go in pure-electric mode is 80MPH. And if you're in one of the other hybrid modes and want to switch to pure-electric, you have to be under 75MPH or else the car won't let you switch. Driving fast on the freeway totally drains the battery faster than if you were just tooling around residential streets. I always wondered how the freeway-calculation would go, but all I know is that it's a lot. Your battery will plummet the faster you go. That's why you may see other electric cars like the Nissan Leaf tooling around at exactly 65MPG.

So the experience of driving this car is interesting. If you're in pure electric mode, off the line you're pretty quick, but you lose torque fairly quickly as well. Essentially the faster you go, the slower your rate of acceleration. This means that if you floor it at 40, good luck since you'll definitely notice the lack of acceleration. I would NOT recommend driving in pure electric if you're anticipating needing to accelerate, i.e. merging onto the freeway or passing. I did this on the first morning after getting this car and I almost got whacked by the guys coming up from behind...super embarrassing and a bit scary. I don't know how pure-electric cars behave regarding their rate of acceleration, but I hope it's better than how this car is designed.

If you're in Auto-mode, the car behaves like a swift hybrid car. It switches to electric when it can and then uses gas when it needs to. One thing to realize is that while in Auto-mode, the car will never charge back up, minus regenerative breaking, which is nothing when you compare it to what the battery can hold.

The third driving mode is called "Save" which is a weird one. This means that it uses gas, but it does allow for the main battery to be charged all the way up to 91%. The car also shuts off at a stoplight.

So what does this all mean? It's weird depending on what type of driver you are. If you don't care about efficiency and MPG you can just drive in Auto mode and charge up or gas up whenever you want. If you do this you will probably get around 40-50MPG. If you're like me and enjoy playing the game, you will toggle from pure-electric whenever you're driving under 75MPH and then switch to Save mode whenever you're on the freeway to charge the battery back up. Essentially any time the car wants to use the gas you need to manually change it to Save mode. BMW designers should've made it so that anytime the gas turned on, the battery would charge. It makes no sense why they didn't do that. At first I thought that there may have been a secondary generator that is activated during Save vs Auto mode, which would thus affect the performance of the car, but I haven't noticed any difference whatsoever, which means that there is no downside from driving in Save vs Auto.

One big negative is the range of the car. On a full tank and full charge you're only going to get around 300 miles. I'm not sure how much more you can eek out if driving like I do on the freeway, but I haven't driven long distances yet.

Another negative is this whole leasing thing. Leasing, I thought, would just be renting the car for a certain period of time and for x number of miles per year. Although this is basically the case, I didn't know that if you get any sort of scratch or dent over x inches, you'll get heavily charged for the section repair. WTF, to me that's wear and tear. Not sure if this is a BMW thing or for all leases but that's just bullshit. On top of this, the tires have to have x amount of tread left. So for these expensive-ass RFT, that's no bueno. Anyway though, those things are merely annoyances that I'll have to deal with but they're still manageable. I think the worst part is that you're straight-up trapped with the lease until it's done or if you want to jump through a bunch of hoops to swap-a-lease. For me I'm not comfortable with it long-term. Next time around I'll just stick with financing or buying a much cheaper car outright.

Pros
  • In Auto mode the car is both quiet and fast. Very smooth, performing ride.
  • Having the option of charging when available is nice to have, especially when you're at home.
  • Being able to make short trips on pure-electric in a great novelty; it's like driving for free even though it isn't. Being able to charge at work is free :-) (Assuming the chargers work and none of your other 7 co-workers with plug-in cars aren't claiming the damn last 2 chargers that do work)
  • Being able to use the BMW Connect App to control things like climate and look at stats is pretty neato. Usually this is a paid feature after the car is a few years old but that is one benefit for leases.
Cons
  • The limited range with the smaller gas tank sucks.
  • Unpredictable activity of other drivers at charging stations (Can't necessarily blame the car for this one though.)
  • Cost. The retail price on the car was super expensive...I think we got a reasonable monthly leasing rate, but the car is totally overpriced.
  • Rate of charge. This is dependent on the charger that is built-into the car itself. Mine is the slower one, 3.7kW which can charge a smaller battery up in 2 hours or so, but if I had a better charger, like what the BMW i3 has (7kW), it would only take half the time.
In the end would I recommend this car or any plug-in hybrid for that matter? No, and for similar reasons. When you own the car all you wish for is to have a bigger battery so that it can run for longer in battery mode. And when you're trying to switch between modes to get the most out of your battery and the two engines, all you want is a hybrid so that you don't need to think about it and just drive. I don't know if the Prius Prime (another plug-in hybrid) behaves the same way, but yeah on this BMW it's annoying even for a tinkerer like myself. I could only imagine what it would be like for a real BMW driver...they wouldn't put up with that shit. This further supports the reason why these cars don't sell too well. I've only seen one other 3-series and one other 5-series plug-in hybrids in the wild and I drive past many BMWs on a daily basis.

My advice to anyone interested would be to calculate where the furthest point you may travel in a day is, then multiple it by 2, then add a buffer of 20 miles. If you can find an electric car for under this calculated number then go for it. If you can't just get a hybrid. But I don't see plug-in hybrids sticking around for the long haul; they just seem to be more of a hassle and you really start asking yourself if the $$ is worth it vs the ownership of a simple hybrid car.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Alpha (Drama 2018)

So this movie reminded me of those specials that they used to have on the Discovery channel. If you cut out Morgan Freeman's narration, you pretty much get Alpha.

The story in this one existed, but it was weak and undeveloped. With the right director and screenplay it could've been a lot deeper, but they only kept on top of the very superficial relationship stuff with the Wolf/Dog. And I use this slash term this because if you look on the Internet for real sizes of wolves...holy shit their heads are gigantic. This movie didn't even try for some CG...it was a damn husky and everyone knew it. They should've had a scene where the main guy tries to train the husky to shake or roll over. Man I've been through that and I was still not successful after a few hundred attempts.

Anyway, the movie was blah, but it wasn't terrible either.
Rating - C

Deadpool 2 (Action 2018)

Man, I don't understand how this movie can get rated so high? I blame it on this newfangled generation that thinks life is all about creating crafty lines and swift comebacks.

The first Deadpool was better since that actually had a story. This movie felt like a bunch of random "scenes" sewed together to hopefully get some laughs. Like seriously there wasn't a story and all the "new characters" didn't make it; and I'm talking super fast...faster than Snoke if you catch the hint.

I did laugh a few times, but overall I knew I was sitting through some real genuine crap; evidently from the ratings I am not part of the majority.
Rating - D

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Outlaw King (Drama 2018)

Talk about marketing man... If you were anywhere near www.usatoday.com this week you would've run into a billion sum advertisements for this Netflix movie. It worked though; when I saw the picture for the movie I ended up clicking and seeing what the advertisements were all about.

The movie wasn't half bad but it was too fast and started scene jumping towards the end. I guess you can't really compare it to Braveheart and how long the story was in that, but there are times when a film just needs to marinate some more vs having a plot race through.

So yeah it was a good watch and all, but the end happened too suddenly and it didn't feel quite right.
Rating - C

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Beirut (Crime Drama 2018)

It's funny whenever I see Rosamund Pike in a movie, I can only remember her from the movie Gone Girl where she played that nutter of a wife lol. Good movie that one.

So this one was a crime spy drama based in the 70s. They sure have the fashion dress and sideburns down to a tee. Fairly fast moving film and decent plot. It's highly forgettable though, so I will not be remembering anything about the movie, but still OK.
Rating - B

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Ocean's Eight (Crime Comedy 2018)

This one was a pretty good movie for what it was. Very similar to Ocean's Eleven with regards to pace and twists. It's a fun movie that should be watched on a plane or on some relaxing Saturday evening. Besides the all-female cast it was no different from the status quo, but still enjoyable.
Rating - B