Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dracula Untold (Fantasy 2014)

You know for a Dracula movie this one wasn't half bad. It was a tad too rushed and it didn't have any real development, but for an action-like flick it really wasn't horrible.

I've seen many-a-Dracula films in my day and none of them can hold a candle to Bram Stoker's....but this movie was one of the better ones, all things considered. It seemed like a short movie though so keep that in mind before you start spending any money.
Rating - B

The Lost Starship by Vaughn Heppner (Book 2014)

So this book was my monthly Prime rental pick. It had a decent enough story, but I plain old didn't like the main character, so thus it's hard to give it anything more.

The story followed around a futuristic spook as he went around recruiting military and scientific folk on a mission to save the world. Humanity is getting attacked by advanced, genetically modified humans, so one last ditch plan that the military has boiled up is to go far out into deep space to try to find a derelict alien space ship and get it back to Earth.

The setting, for the most part, is a smaller spaceship and a few planet locales. This would usually equate into an OK sci-fi story, but unfortunately all of the characters felt like cardboard real personalities at all. The main character went back and forth between being a stern, spec-ops type of a leader to a common chode macking on the ladies. Who wants to read about a chode?

Yeah I think the premise of the story was good but the author spent way too much time on the backstory of the uninteresting characters and too little time on the background of the creators of the lost starship. Like with many books, there was too much information at the beginning and it didn't leave enough for the ending.

The book wasn't a complete waste of time though. While reading it some parts were very engrossing while others were just lame or went by way too quick. There just wasn't enough development in the characters or story to make it a memorable read. The author's writing was decent with regards to sentence structure and grammar, but there wasn't any pull that convinced me to read more other than just wanting to finish the story.
Rating - Mid

Monday, December 22, 2014

This Is 40 (Comedy 2012)

This movie didn't get a lot of good reviews, but I actually liked it. I'm neither 40 nor do I have any kids, but I felt like I could relate. A lot of things change when you get into your 30s and nobody has made a movie within that age stratum, so this is the closest you get.

The movie deals with "life" in that stuff happens to you when you get old, and you just deal with it all, but deep inside you're still a 25 year old who is just winging it and hoping for the best. I thought that the two main characters, Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd, did a great job in portraying an average couple with average issues and insecurities. Their lifestyle was a bit unsustainable, but it is a movie...

The film had a good number of humorous parts and an equal number of stupid and unnecessary scenes, but the good outweighed the bad overall. Again, if you're 18 and watching this, I doubt any of it will resonate with you, but if you're in that middle area of 30+ to probably 43, then yeah it'll make a whole lot more sense.
Rating - B

22 Jump Street (Comedy 2014)

The first iteration of the series had some funny laughs, so I only assumed that they would've pulled it off again with round 2; I was wrong. Although this movie did have a few funny moments, it was overall way too unbelievable. And yes I could a film like this be realistic at all, but we're talking Ace Ventura unbelievable with a side of The Naked Gun.

I think there's always a limit with silly comedies where the plot is such hogwash and the characters just don't match up such that the whole thing turns into a ultra corny mess...and this is what happened here.

So I'll give it some props because some parts of the film were funny, but a lot of the jokes were predictable and in some scenes everyone was trying too hard because they knew the movie sucked.
Rating - C

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Drama 2014)

At first I didn't really want to see this movie because I thought that the whole thing was given away in the trailers. I was partially correct on that front, but the writers did integrate enough story with Caesar to keep it going.

In a nutshell the movie goes over what happened after the apes and humans meet again after a decade or so of living apart and after the ape civilization has flourished in the forest.

I didn't like the story all that much but it did work. The CG was great as per usual and the action was somewhat over the top. I didn't see one ape reload their assault rifles extra mags, pouches, nothin... So yeah there was definitely a lack of realism there but oh well.

The movie was better than your average flick, so I'll give it that, but I didn't quite feel it overall. Perhaps the downfall of humanity is not a feel-good thing to watch.
Rating - B

Friday, December 12, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Action 2014)

Whoever thought this was a good idea just needs to lose their job. This movie was fucking horrible. Absolutely horrible. The Secret of the Ooze was more memorable than this garbage and that's stretching by a LOT.

Yeah just like how shitty the last Transformers was, pretty much lays out the foundation of why this movie sucked as well. Way too many special effects, no story, forgettable characters, and terrible plot.

The writer butchered the storyline of the old school cartoon version and then made these new turtles into a whole different breed that are all roid'ed up. The way they talk is different too and that just adds to the weirdness.

This was definitely a no-go. Good thing it ate shit last summer.
Rating - F

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Update: LG Google Nexus 5

So after a year of ownership I have upgraded phones and have sold off my Nexus 5 Google Phone. The positives of the experience were that the Qi wireless charging was badass; all new phones should integrate this feature. In addition to this, the phone software was great with Android's frequent OTA updates. Never had any problems with any of the software. There was only one negative and that was the fact that if you held the phone horizontally, the mic would barely work. After reading through various forums it turns out that this was a common occurrence with this model and thus it becomes a hardware issue. I friggin' hate those because it's an unsolvable problem unless you upgrade.

I probably would've stayed with this phone until the OS updates stopped, much like I did with the Galaxy Nexus, but I discovered the OnePlus One Phone and figured that I could upgrade while only spending $120 and a bit of time to handle the sale of the old phone. Review incoming for that...

The Maze Runner (Action Drama 2014)

This movie was superficial. As expected of course, but I thought I would give it a try. Yeah this one is totally for teenagers. The plot is straightforward, the drama and special effects were in line with expectations, and it was kinda dull for all the "action" it tried to exude.

The movie was released around the same time that Divergent film was released as well and that one looked like it was totally meant for a younger demographic. I have ceased wasting my time on that jazz for obvious gain at all, even entertainment. So yeah this one is not worth a rent unless you're between the ages of 12 to 20.
Rating - C

Monday, December 08, 2014

Snowpiercer (Sci-Fi Action 2013)

This was a different type of Sci-Fi movie. The world has frozen over and the only peeps who are still alive are on a train that continuously goes around the world. Each section of the train represents a different social class and they each have a part to play in making the microcosm of society on the train work.

On the surface the movie may have seemed like some brainless action flick, but I'm pretty sure it was supposed to call attention to how societal changes occur. In this film the people in the back of the train, the poor peeps and low class, get fed up with taking shit and rebel, thus killing off the equivalent of law enforcement and military, but leaving the other people alone like the workers, professionals, tech peeps, and the like. In the end it tries to show that the rebelling low class will usurp the ruling class and take over as the new ruling class, but in order for the train to continue functioning, they still need low class people. This is similar to what happened in Communist countries like Russia (USSR) and China.

Anyhoo, the movie was different, but there were many parts of it that were silly and B-quality. I don't think it's worth a watch if you have anything better on the list.
Rating - C

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Chef (Drama 2014)

Not sure why IMDB calls this move a comedy because it really wasn't even though it was very lighthearted in its delivery.

I liked this movie. It would be perfect to watch on an airplane...nothing too extreme and fairly mellow. It was about this chef who wasn't allowed to cook what he wanted to at a restaurant so he ended up quitting and setting up a food truck. I've eaten at a few food trucks in my day and none of them have been special at all, so I was more interested in somehow virtually tasting this guy's Cubanos Sandwiches through the screen. Haha, now I'm kinda hungry. Anyhoo pretty good movie about food and this dude discovering what really matters in his life.
Rating - B

Friday, December 05, 2014

Autómata (Sci-Fi 2014)

Whoa, I think I was just snukered by the trailer...this was actually a low-budget robot movie. Do you know what Antonio Banderas has been doing with his career? Volunteering to star in dog shit like this to make ends meet.

Yeah this movie was pretty friggin' bad. It was supposed to be about robots gaining self-awareness and breaking through some barrier with programming protocols, but they tried to do it with absolutely no story. I mean I Robot was an enjoyable film, but they actually put effort into trying to make a damn movie. This one was a college film school attempt at best. Don't these losers know that a movie isn't about spending your whole budget on one car chase scene? You can totally make it work with good dialog and not crappy acting.

The failed to make a believable backstory, they only had one real character, and they replicated a bunch of futuristic stuff from the aforementioned I Robot, A.I., and Judge Dredd. Super lame. And to top everything off, Mr. Antonio's English is getting worse and worse...I could barely understand him at all. He should've just done it in Spanish and had subtitles. What a waste of a few hours.
Rating - D

Monday, December 01, 2014

It's a Disaster (Dark Comedy 2012)

So this is one of those dark comedies where the characters are fucking crazy and the situations they put themselves into are screwy as well. I personally don't like these types of films, but I didn't know what I was getting into when I first loaded it up via Amazon Prime.

The movie followed around a groups of friends as they got together for a couple's brunch. Everyone was a nutter in their own way and this just got expounded upon as the story went on. I will admit that the beginning was awkward and sorta funny as different characters reacted differently to a friend's new date. It's what happens when you have a close group of friends who already know each other and then you insert a newbie. I remember being in that situation once in my life...fairly uncomfortable.

Anyway, after a certain disaster strikes the city, the peeps are stuck in the house and that's where the whole film falls apart. All the characters devolve into idiots as their personalities aren't even eccentric anymore as they become just plain stupid. The way ending was horribly bad as they brought in some religious BS to top off the cake. I didn't like this movie at all and I really didn't see the purpose of it.
Rating - D

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Book of the Dead: Matt Kearns 2 by Greig Beck (Book 2014)

In this latest installment from Greig Beck, we follow around Professor Matt Kearns as he takes the lead in uncovering the source of numerous sinkholes that have opened up around the world.

The beginning of this book was pretty good in setting up the mystery and history behind the central plot. As the story moves along, we bump into a familiar face from a previous adventure Matt had with Alex Hunter. This addition adds enough spice to push the story along even further. The middle and end of the book is where things will attract some criticism. It ceased being a mildly plausible story to pure fiction. All of Greig's other books required some bending with regards to scientific rules and one's imagination, but they almost always remained in the world of possibility. It's a bit disappointing that this pattern didn't continue with this latest novel.

Overall the book was an engrossing read and a fun adventure. It was very well written kept me fully engaged, but I'll admit that I liked a few of his other books much better than this one.
Rating - Mid

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Purge of Babylon: A Novel of Survival (Purge of Babylon, Book 1) by Sam Sisavath (Book 2014)

It seems like recently as of late, any time I try to delve into a new book series, I always get some crap book that has just wasted my free month of Prime renting. This book was yet another one of those.

I thought it would be a regular zombie story, but it ended up being a zombie/vampire mix where the speed of the infection spread was similar to that of a zombie novel, but there was a command and control structure, much like how a vampire/thrall relationship would be. Do you know how lame it is to read such a story? Trust's quite lame. I'm all for authors trying to break away from the norm but if you do something like this you have to have a backstory of the vamp side...because if you don't it just gets way too boring to have a one-sided view of things.

On top of this, the main 2 SWAT/ex-soldier peeps are like indestructible Rambo types so it makes things more unrealistic. Yeah obviously I didn't like this book at all. The characters were blah, the story was blah, some of the adventures were OK, but yeah no thank you for the long haul.
Rating - Low

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Big Hero 6 (Disney Animated 2014)

Pretty good Disney flick. Solid story, funny characters, and everybody loves the robot.

Yeah one comic relief character was this stoner dude whom I thought would just be annoying, but oh man did he have some star moments that were outta control. The emotional scenes were well done, much like they were in Wreck-It Ralph. I like how Disney has seemingly revamped itself over the last few years. Anything is better than the late 90s crap like Hercules and Pocahontas. Hope there are many more of these better flicks to come.
Rating - A

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Life with a Mac

So ever since I sold my primary gaming laptop a few months back, I've been using my work Mac as my primary. Yeah you never really make the switch over until you don't have an alternative at home. I used this as my primary box at home and test box at work for around 3 months now; here are my parting thoughts:
  • The first obvious comment is that many parts of a Mac are very well designed. I liked the magnetic power cord, IPS screen, and battery life. I did find it interesting how after the battery got to around 40%, it quickly plummeted. I suppose some could compare it to a car's gas tank, but there's something very screwy going on with the graph...a strong exponential drop. 
  • The main plus was the kickass trackpad and how much smoother it was to just use a few fingers to browse around the web. It was a much nicer experience than on the PC, but of course the PC is still faster. The keyboard was decent. No flex, but still nothing compared to a Thinkpad.
  • Software-wise, all Office products kinda sucked on the Mac. I never got used to it. Outlook seemed clumsy and slow, while Word was just riddled with compatibility formatting problems whenever the same document was emailed to a PC user.
  • Some of the shortcut stuff was different as well. Because this Air didn't have dedicated keys for Page Up, Page Down, Home, End, and Backspace, there were all of these funky shortcuts that needed to be used. It worked but it does take some getting used to.
  • I did like the fact that you could totally be watching a video in full screen, then shortcut your way to another full screen, as the first program would be pushed to the side. It was again, a nicer experience vs Alt+Tab, only a bit slower.
  • All updates were very seamless and occurred quite frequently which is a good thing.
  • Out of the box I didn't find a notepad program to simplify all text to ASCII. Bad move Apple.
  • So yeah I guess I'm still shocked to see so many people go to a Mac as a primary. Even though I do have to give it props for some of its design and UI bonuses, a PC is still faster and gets stuff done easier. I did try to get used to all of the intricacies and shortcuts to make myself faster, but there were so many small things that slowed me down. Like lacking a full maximize button for example...the fuck?
  • I don't know how long, if ever, I would need to tinker around with a Mac in order to get it to function as well as I could on a PC. Yes, Windows 8.1 sucks a turd and they should get rid of the whole touchscreen/tablet UI metro shit, but still...with the regular Windows underbelly being what it is, I can get real work done whereas on a Mac, everything was smoother but much much slower.
  • The Mac experience was kinda like this: If your actions = what the Apple wants you to do, it's the best experience ever. Like having one website up and browsing around Craigslist. But if you are trying to multitask with many different windows up, remoting into various servers, and DLing stuff through a VM, boy does it all get clunky super fast.
So yeah I ended up following my own advice and buying another old faithful Thinkpad. Fully loaded and no tax for $630. Not too shabby. I do respect the Mac since it's a pretty well-thought out machine, but it just feels super restrictive to a person who has been on the other side for so long.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Interstellar (Sci-Fi 2014)

So I saw this movie opening night via IMAX. Crazy stuff. The sound was a bit too loud but it literally shook the seats during times when shaking was happening on screen so perhaps that was planned? Either way a nice experience.

This movie was one of those epic thinking ones. It was very Christopher Nolan-esque in that it had a similar styling to Inception, but in space. Yeah it will go down in the record books as a film that can spur a bunch of conversation and debate since not 100% of things is explained fully to the audience. Some of the science stuff went way over my head, but the parts that made sense were pretty cool.

I don't think I could even explain what happened in the movie because there was so much to tell and a lot of information did or did not match up. I'm sure physics and science geeks are having a field day. So yeah the story was crazy, but in a good way, sound was spot on, and cinematography was also very well done. This is not your average sci-fi film. It was a very well thought out story that brings to light many parts of humanity and science all into a swirling mass.
Rating - A+

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Feast for Crows: A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin (Book 2006)

So I normally don't start reading a book from the middle of a series, but I figured that I'm already watching the TV show so what the hay. This book starts off from where the show left off last season so that's where I started reading from.

It's actually quite odd to begin reading about characters that you've already grown to know on screen. Book characters are totally different from their TV show counterparts. I guess that goes to show how "acting" in indeed an art form.

The main thing I noticed about GRRM's writing is that he puts in little comments in italics to show what the characters are thinking in their head but never say out loud. I've never seen this done before and it makes for pretty humorous reading. It does show the real, raw intentions of the speakers and that greatly adds to the character development.

The man writes a TON though...I don't know how many pages this book had but it took many a nights to clear this. The adventures of some of the more uninteresting characters were hella boring, but maybe that's because they are just more animated on screen.

I liked the book but is's just so different from the TV show. I have to say that in many instances, the actors really do the book justice such that the book's characters seem dry and less developed vs the TV ones. Usually it's the opposite with TV/movies vs books.
Rating - High

Friday, October 24, 2014

Target's Item Stock Checker

Since the holiday's are right around the corner, here's an FYI to anyone wondering how accurate Target's in-store stock checker is. We were on the hunt for a gold iPhone 6 Plus and boy was it out of stock everywhere. I signed up through one of those notification websites and a few days later, I got an email around 7AM stating that the local Target got one. I kept on checking throughout the day to see if anyone had already ganked it, but it still showed up as In Stock, so after work I wandered down and it was actually still there. The lady said that she had only gotten 1 in that AM. I kept on checking 5-10 min after the purchase was made, but it still said In-Stock. After I drove home it had changed to Out of Stock, so ballpark timeframe for Target's system to update their inventory is 10-30min.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Lines of Departure (Frontlines Book 2) by Marko Kloos (Book 2014)

Another excellent book from Marko Kloos. This one continued on from the ending of the first, as the character continued the fight against the invading aliens as well as the opposing human faction.

Very well written and engaging. Characters were, for the most part, the same while the environment changed around a bit. This world, that the author created, is a very solid one as it has a great baseline where many other books could easily be spawned off of. The third book in the series has not yet been released so here starts the wait.
Rating - High

Monday, September 29, 2014

Clevo / Sager Laptops vs Mainstream Brands

So a long time ago when laptops were first becoming more abundant, I researched into getting one of these grey market laptops where a company in Taiwan would manufacture a certain model and many other 3rd party vendors would buy, rebrand, and support them. At the time I only researched and never purchased because there really wasn't a reason to go left when I always went right with a regular Asus or Lenovo brand, but fast forward 10 years later.

I first looked at these Sager / Clevo laptops because of the stats on one particular model. It had a very fast GPU...faster than all of my past desktop gaming rigs, it had a desktop-class i7 CPU, it had an 1080p IPS LCD, and it all came in a 13" package. There was no other laptop with those stats so I made the jump.

In a nutshell I won't ever be doing that again and the following reasons pretty much sum it up.
  1. Many of the 3rd party resellers try to market the laptops as being cheaper if you pay cash. I tried this out and it was a total fiasco. You pretty much have to wait close to 1 month from the day you snail mail them a check to when you get the laptop in your hands. This is because they don't actually have the laptops in stock, they themselves have to order it from the source manufacturer with your specialized configurations, and then they have to wait for your check to clear. The whole "cash only" payment method seemed nice when comparing it to paying tax if you order direct, but in the end nobody is going to wait a month for a laptop to arrive. 
  2. Throughout a whole year of ownership, the laptop's drivers were never updated...ever. I'm one who thinks that drivers and software should always be tweaked and retweaked until they rarely ever crash or have problems. Without the backing of any central company, the drivers for this laptop remained v1.0 and some components remained buggy until the bitter end.
  3. Any manufacturer defects were just that, a defect. Nothing would fix it and nobody would care. On this particular model, the hardware engineering was very screwy with the fan speeds such that it would jump from silent to a friggin' jet taking off in half-a-second. It reminds me of when a Dell PowerEdge server will make its fans go at 100% if a component went bad. So yeah this super loud fan issue was such a hassle and it really never made sense as to why it would spike up.
  4. Quality was very consumer-level. Everything was plasticy and quite reminiscent of an early 2000 Dell or HP.
  5. Resale value I knew would be a problem, but I didn't think it was going to be as bad as it was. For the stats the laptop had, it shoulda gone for a whole lot more money, but it didn't because it wasn't on anybody's radar screen. The eventual depreciation loss was not proportional to what it should've been, not by a long shot.
So what did I learn from all of this? Either buy something so cheap that you don't care about the depreciation at a sub $300 system. Or just use your better judgement and get a regular Lenovo, use it like crazy, and then sell it for a pretty good price many years later. There is and will always be a market for a used Lenovo Thinkpad...that and an Apple. I'm glad that I experimented so now I know what the deal is with these laptops, but yeah totally not worth it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Denial email

The fuck?! So I've definitely had my fair share of receiving auto-denial emails from companies...but you know...I never received one of those emails while I was in the process of filling out their asinine SAP HR form. If that isn't a direct slap in the face I don't know what is. I wonder what algorithm they have running in the background to auto-deny you...was it my First Name? Last Name? State? Did they not like my phone number? I mean it's a pretty cool number, I put down all 10-digits just for them. I was in the process of filling out the employment and education areas when I got the email; how insulting! I don't think I've ever had any dealings with this company either, so I couldn't have been blacklisted already. Just to stick it to their automated system, I finished the whole process and sent them 2 PDFs of my wonderful transcripts. I hope your SAN takes a shit...fuck you company.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tis Not Juice

If you ever find yourself at a Costco and you see one of the vendors handing out this thing...don't drink it. On first glance you may think it's a yummy juice box, but if you're like me and don't finish reading things, you'll miss out on the 'vegetable' part of the description. Oh had the oddest aftertaste I've ever experienced. It's like mixing a juice box in with a chemical mistake. Friggin' nasty. It was funny how many of these things were in the closest garbage can to the vendor; there's no way a person could've drank the whole thing in such a short distance.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines) by Marko Kloos (Book 2013)

I thought this book was fantastic. It was a space opera of sorts, but it totally followed around one character as he went through boot camp, training, and the start of his futuristic military life.

Why was it so good? Detail and pace. The author totally went into lots of detail with regards to the main character and his daily and weekly tribulations. Other books would've rushed through certain parts or take too much time explaining unnecessary aspects of the setting, but Mr. Kloos made the story flow. I totally felt like I was living the intro to a enlisted lifestyle.

Of course it was a bonus that the main character was fairly likable and the supporting characters were also good as well. But props totally goes out to this author...he can definitely write.
Rating - High

Thursday, August 28, 2014

LZR-1143: Infection By Bryan James (Book 2010)

Yeah this zombie book wasn't really good. It wasn't horrible, like some others I've read, but it didn't have a convincing story either. In this one you follow around a guy who was in a loony bin for a murder. He ends up surviving, escaping, and then pairs up with a hot shrink. They meet up with a few more peeps and the plot continues on.

I suppose I would say that the characters were just a boring bunch that lacked substance. After finishing the book a few days ago, I've already forgot what happened during the whole middle portion of the story. I do remember that the ending was a lame twist that just made my eyes roll back. I'm surprised that this book is now part of a series. It's definitely one that I will not be partaking in.
Rating - Low

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Z-Risen: Outbreak by Timothy W. Long (Book 2014)

This zombie book was mediocre. It went totally too fast and had next to no character development. I only finished it a few days ago and I barely remember what happened in it. That shows that none of the characters or plot ever had time to marinate and leave an impression.

My advice to the author would be to slow down and start building up some characters otherwise this will turn into a series that people will not continue reading.
Rating - Low

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Gunnar Vayper Digital Optiks

So yeah my eyes always seem like they hurt these days. It's probably due to all of the LCD-watching, but that can't be helped unless someone makes a device that I can just plug into my face to receive visual input.

I've already made one review of a pair of Gunnar glasses, but that turned into more of a bitch session over the whole prescription mess. This time around it was different because these glasses were on sale for around $40 instead of the regular $80-$90 price. Additionally I went into it knowing what I would be getting--non-prescription digital glasses.

I got this model because the fit was listed as "medium", as opposed to my original PPKs which were "wide". I'll admit it though, I think I made a mistake. These mediums are more curved, which goes against the shape of my flat-ass face. The length across also seems to be more narrow as well. So yeah, if I ever go through this again, I'll definitely get a wide-fit model. But since I wasn't planning on returning these, I ended up bending the middle so the frames wouldn't curve in so much. Now it feels much better so that's a good thought.

As an eye-ache preventer they do sorta work. I get less eye-aches after I get off of work, but I still do get them quite often. I swear if I have a tumor or something that would just plain suck, but every year Mr. Optometrist says it's just dry eyes...yeah...we'll see about that.

So yeah the glasses do sorta work and they give a slight magnification on the computer screen which allows you to focus more, but they totally aren't worth full price. If you can find a pair on sale then yeah, it's a nice thing to have around. But one thing I did notice is that if your eyes or head already hurt, wearing these will make it worse.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy (Sci-Fi Action Adventure 2014)

Ha! It's about time these summer-movie bastards released something good. And here we have it...the best movie of summer 2014 hands down.

This flick was very enjoyable. It perhaps wasn't as streamlined or immersive as some other Marvel films, but the humor and silliness made for a very satisfying watch. I would say it's a cross among Firefly, Star Wars IV, and Avengers. Those other films/series has a more solid story, but this movie aimed to make you laugh. It wasn't as over the top as Spaceballs or anything, but you feel connected to the characters and when they have their witty banter, it's just like being back in a living room with your most immature friends.

I liked this movie and it seems a lot of other people did as well. So yeah, although it wasn't as developed as other films of the same caliber, it was a hell of a lot more enjoyable.
Rating - B

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Divinity - Original Sin (3rd Person Turn-Based PC Game 2014)

Well fuck, I've been tricked again. Do not believe all the hype around this best-selling RPG game on Steam. It is not fun. I've been playing PC RPGs ever since 1991's release of Pool of Radiance and man...I don't get why everyone is hyping up this game so much.

The positives are that it really is detailed with regards to visuals and level builds. For example they didn't put 3 barrels in one location just because. The design seems to have function and thought. In addition, combat is neat since it looks like a Diablo clone from the screenshots, but then it turns into what Dragon Age: Origins would've been if the camera was fixed in a Diablo angle. The combat is also turn-based, like Might and Magic, just without the grid.

The negatives are that it's way too detailed such that you end up rebuilding your group hundreds of times because you figure out that you did something wrong in the beginning. Did you ignore the skill of "talking to animals"? Well you just screwed yourself out of some interesting plot later on. Select a wrong or unhelpful skill? Well that 1 point makes your character dramatically crappier. Mix 2 magic "schools" that don't compliment each other? Well combat just got a lot harder. I've rebuilt my group SO many friggin' times that it's now just way too frustrating to continue on.

They made the game more "realistic" like super old school D&D, but that means that you die a whole lot more. If you screw up in your group creation and/or spells and attributes, you will get your ass handed to you later on. Games shouldn't be like this. Sure...make it hard, but don't make it so difficult that you end up grumbling about your group and hating their existence to the point that you start all over yet again.
Rating - Low

Transformers: Age of Extinction (Action 2014)

Michael Bay is ruining everything. What was the last good film he did with action in it? It totally seems like he lost his muse and is drowning in a sea of special effects and copy/pasting.

This movie was a fucking mess. At least in most of the earlier Transformers films, he tried to partially integrate the real actors with the CG robots, but in this one he plain old gave up on that. Mark Wahlberg is still Mark Wahlberg, so that's a good thing...he always has that flabbergasted look on his face but it's endearing. Everyone else was a throwaway character. Wahlberg had a daughter, played by Nicola Peltz, who was there say the lines "Help Me!!" and "I love you daddy" no less than 15 times each.

But the main kicker was that all of the action sequences were 3x too long. Not exaggerating either...they lasted for oh so long. I remember the days when it cost too much money to make CG scenes, so when they did it, they actually planned it better so they could get the most efficient bang for their buck. But not here...unlimited funds, so Michael Bay just copy/pasted a bunch of fighting algorithms into a program and had it render from many different angles.

The product placement was laughable as well. I now feel like driving a Chevy Sonic with a Bud Light in my hands while tailing a Bugatti. So is this the path movies are going these days? Having blatant product placement to fund films? How tacky. This movie was dumb and unfocused. Please stop this downwards spiral.
Rating - D

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Noah (Drama 2014)

Haha Hollywood Noah is a psychopath. Wow this movie was terrible. It didn't follow the book at all and made Mr. Noah seem like a total loon. Fallen angels were good guys and Noah's son just wanted to get some poon.

The film was all over the place in terms of inconsistencies vs. the Bible story. They should've had a different movie title if they were really going to go that far off base. Russell Crowe's acting was pretty convincing though. But then again he always plays similar, strong male characters. Anthony Hopkins played some really old guy who had magical powers...doesn't that go against the whole religion thing? Might as well give him a staff and a wizard's hat with +1 intelligence.

The movie was bad. No getting around that fact.
Rating - F

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pitch Perfect (Comedic Drama 2012)

Yeah this movie straight up sucked pretty bad. It totally felt like a crappier version of Bring It On except with singing instead of cheer-leading. When did acapela-anything become cool? I'm sure it showed up the same time skinny jeans came back...or maybe that Glee show that I never watched since I don't pay for TV anymore.

In this movie the jokes weren't really funny at all and it was way too artificial. You could tell that everyone was really trying to act and follow a script. To top it off a lot of the lips didn't match up with the actual singing. Hire a new video editor or friggin' re-shoot. It's not like the movie peeps have to pay for actual tape anymore. couldn't have ended soon enough; quite bad.
Rating - D

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Godzilla (Action 2014)

Man...summer blockbuster my ass. This movie was terrible. I don't think it was quite as bad as the 1998 version, but shit it was still pretty horrible.

The movie played out like a mysterious monster film where you don't see much of the monster until the very end. How did they pull this off? Have everything near pitch black. Yeah I would say that during probably 70% of the movie, I had no clear picture of what was going . Everything was way too dark and shadowy and this was done on purpose...bad move Mr. Director.

In addition to this glaring problem, the main actor was unrealistically involved in every single military initiative that the was concocted to stop the monsters...totally implausable. One second he's a random military dude on leave, the next second he's on an aircraft carrier, the next second he's escorting an ICBM on a train, the next second he's doing a HALO jump, and on and on...

I would debate anyone who says this movie was good because it wasn't. Totally unrealistic and boring.
Rating - D

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Apocalypse Z: The Wrath of the Just by Manel Loureiro (Book 2014)

So this book was the last in this 3-part series. Unfortunately it wasn't the best book as I think the initial story took the crown for that. This one was OK as the group of survivors land on the shores of Louisiana and have to deal with a whole new set of problems there. Weird part was the primary story about the racist "community" that got established in the city. I don't think the leftover minorities living the US would deal with such a situation for too long...especially if killing and lawlessness was commonplace.

The story had a super odd split where the surviving North Koreans decided on sending troops to the same Louisiana town. This sub-plot was very much out of place and didn't quite make sense.

So good thing was that the author wrapped up the series in decent form. Bad thing was that it started strong but ended weak.
Rating - Low

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Bravely Default (RPG 3DS Game 2014)

So this was the final game that I got for the 3DS XL before selling the system. The RPG was totally just like the original NES Final Fantasy, but it goes to show how people totally age and change. Back in the day I woulda played the hell outta this thing, but when I tried to get into it I found that it didn't keep my attention at all.

I suppose a small part of the reason can be associated with the fact that the 3DS made my eyes and head hurt even with the 3D feature turned off. Perhaps my eyes can't deal with the low-res.

This game itself was fine, so I won't dog it in the ratings, but yeah it had a whole combat/profession system that was "different" from what I was used to and yeah I find that I no longer have time to sit there and calculate resistance points, damage and defense values, and the whole bit. I never thought that one day I wouldn't be into this type of RPG, but low and behold---I no longer have the patience for it.
Rating - Mid

Fallout: New Vegas (FPS/RPG PC Game 2010)

So during this Summer's Steam sale I bought this game thinking that it would actually be as good as Fallout 3; and with my luck of course I was wrong.

Although the gameplay dynamics were more/less the same, I didn't have fun with this standalone version. Nothing was entertaining about it. Shooting was cumbersome, the RPG aspects were annoying, the world was drab, and yeah I didn't find any part of it fun. Right after playing this I loaded up Skyrim again, and although it has similar dynamics since it's also a Bethesda game, "fun" came back to my PC. So how did that happen? Who knows really. All I know is that I would've rather had purchased a few burgers instead of having this game stuck in my Steam collection forever.
Rating - Low

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Blended (Romantic Comedy 2014)

You know it's funny. Never would I have thought that an Adam Sandler movie would be funnier than a Seth Macfarlane one but here is some proof. This movie made me laugh while A Million Ways to Die in the West did not. Although it was full of a good number of corny and stupid jokes, it also had many simple, situational comments that brought out humor.

What this film reminded me of was all of the other romcom movies that these two actors starred in. They did a lot of 'em and a lot of those ones sucked. So yeah, it goes to show if you add more characters, some lameness, some silliness, and a good number of well-placed one-liners you can have a mildly entertaining movie.

So as weird as it may sound, I can't ignore the fact that I did laugh more times verses the number of times I silently said "that was a stupid joke/scene".
Rating - B

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Atlantis - A Dane Maddock Adventure by David Wood

Yet another fun-filled adventure in the same series. Although still good, it seems like David Wood writes with the exact same equation, but only changes a few main themes.

The beginning is an intro scene from the past, next is present day character development to get the plot rolling, next is the intro of the baddies and their race to get to the same goal as the team, the majority of the middle is just plot, towards the last 90% of the book the team reaches their destination and all the big unanswered questions are all revealed in 1-2 pages. The key information is not extrapolated upon as the plot continues towards an ending and then bam, book over.

So yeah all of Mr. Wood's books are like this and although it works for a quick read, there is no longer a difference. He should really mix it up a bit and do something different. I'm already feeling my interest go by the wayside.
Rating - Mid

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Million Ways to Die in the West (Comedy 2014)

Yeah so this wasn't as funny as I thought it would be. It was a silly film where Seth MacFarlane pretty much created a character for himself and made it a part of this movie. He seriously went through the whole thing describing how crappy it would've been to live out in the West during the late 19th century.

Most of the jokes were toned down compared to some of his other projects since I think I chuckled only a handful of times. No belly-laughing situations here. Yeah quite mediocre compared to what I thought it would be for a theater flick.
Rating - D

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bad Cheese

So the next time you're in the snack isle at Costco, avoid this item. It's some sort of Italian cheese cracker and bueno. After eating only one of these things you start getting this nasty aftertaste in your mouth. It's quite hard to get the smell and taste out of your system. Good thing is that it was only $4 for a pack of 4, but still, save your money.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Buccaneer - A Dane Maddock Adventure by David Wood (Book 2014)

Even though the cover makes it seem like this book is about pirates, it isn't. There was a pirate in the first intro scene, but then the rest of the book barely has anything to do with real pirates. This one was about the crew setting out to find the 3 sacred weapons of the legendary King Arthur. Pretty average for a David Wood adventure book. Some scenes were done well while others were way too short, but in the end everything fit into place though.
Rating - Mid

Maleficent (Disney Adventure 2014)

This movie sucked. I'm trying to think of something good to say, but I really can't. It wasn't good at all. There was this one scene where Maleficent lost her wings and it was oh so crappy acting on the part of Angelina Jolie. I mean I felt embarrassed sitting in the theater watching it because it was so bad. Pretty much every single scene that Jolie was in was her looking solemn and crass from various different angles. Straight-on, to the side, tilted down left, tilted down right, turning around, etc. She only acted in about 3 scenes.

The main theme of the story was a la Disney and the ending was very Disney-esque as well but was a pretty awful movie overall. They should totally stick with their animated musicals; this one was a flop.
Rating - D

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Book 2011)

I've never read a book like this before; very unique and special. It's a story about the future and how people all log into a MMO-like world and pretty much live there. People go to school, go to work, go on adventures, get experience, buy items for their avatar, etc. It's like a world within another world, but one that most people prefer to live in vs. real life.

The kicker with the writing is that it uses many aspects of gaming from my childhood as a core component of the story. I mean do you remember this arcade game back in the 80s? I totally forgot all about it before it was mentioned in this book. They also go into many other arcade and console games and pretty much everything else gaming-related. The 80s-specific details were a total blast from the past. It was quite fun to read through the whole thing.

So yeah a loud golf clap goes out to the author. I've never read a fiction book that brought back so many good memories of my childhood. I think it would've had more of an effect if I was born in the mid 70s, but still close enough. The characters were great, stories and details were great, and I very much enjoyed the ending; totally felt like a movie/game within a book.
Rating - High

Saturday, June 14, 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Animated Adventure 2014)

Not as good as the first. That pretty much sums it up. Was it OK still? Yes, but it reminded me of how Shrek 2 wasn't good as the original either. Don't know what's up with Dreamworks but they always seem to try to add things to a franchise that just doesn't play out in the long run. They should really just stick to the original equation.

This time around Hiccup and Toothless are in another adventure as they run into a new baddie and a new goodie. This was fine, but there were too many unanswered questions about the main baddie and these Alpha dragons. On top of this, there was one odd singing scene that lasted way too long and lemme tell ya, average kids in the audience wouldn't give a hoot. This whole section could've been taken out along with the beginning scene and parts of the ending as well.

The main thing was that for a kids movie, it seemed much too long and didn't have the necessary content to support it. Let's not make a third, eh?
Rating - C

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow (Sci-Fi Action 2014)

Very nice. This movie was as expected and didn't disappoint in any area. That being said, I was expecting a pretty darn good movie since it was one of this summer's top films that I was looking forward to.

The movie was a mix of Starship Troopers, The Matrix, and Groundhog Day. Kinda weird combination, but it worked. Tom Cruise did his normal "good job" acting and Emily Blunt played a sullen super soldier who had no personality. Their chemistry was blah, but you're not really watching this type of movie for the interpersonal relationships. The purpose of this film was to move the plot along and have a shit-ton of action, which it did have. The ending was acceptable and it was an overall fun time. I'll note that the movie wasn't one of those super solid ones, but it definitely wasn't a B.
Rating - A

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Apocalypse Z: Dark Days by Manel Loureiro (Book 2013)

Pretty good read for this 2nd book to the series. It's always nice when you jump around to different authors and genres and then to come back to a style of writing that is both familiar and comfortable. Manel's writing is just that; simple and to the point.

Even though I pretty much forgot the whole plot from the first book, the beginning in this one gave a very good intro that allowed the reader to jump right back into the mix. It was a perfect insertion. In this sequel, the crew reaches the Canary Islands and then pseudo-reintegrates back into the remnants of civilization. Unfortunately the book never really gets into "daily life" on the island because in the very next chapter, the two main characters are sent back to Spain for a supply run. Drama happens and the end of this book leaves the characters in as unstable of footing as the first book left them.

I would've liked it if this book was longer and had more details pertaining to life on the island, but at least there is a 3rd book now. Got to wait a month to rent it.
Rating - High

Monday, June 02, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Action 2014)

You know I was quite surprised, but this movie was actually pretty darn enjoyable. This newish Peter Parker, played by Andrew Garfield, is quite eccentric and entertaining to boot.

Emma Stone was OK, but she seemed to have way too much makeup on in all of her scenes. One thing that was well done was the choice of music and songs. I'll be researching the OST for this one. Even though it was predominately an action flick, the movie did have a more romantic feel compared with the Toby Maguire Spiderman series. I dunno if that added to the bonus points I'm giving it, but the director handled those relationship scenes very well.

The movie wasn't perfect though. The whole ending with Rhino was a pointless afterthought and the actor, Dane DeHaan, who played the Green Goblin looked too much like Eddie Furlong and was overacting in a lot of his scenes.

I liked it though. The plot moved along quickly and the music was wonderfully placed.
Rating - B

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Raising the Past by Jeremy Robinson (Book 2013)

I had thought that this book would be another adventure one, but unfortunately I was mistaken. The beginning started out OK, introducing all of the characters and setting up the premise of a mammoth encased in ice, but then the story went off a cliff as it went into aliens and philosophy.

I read another one of Jeremy Robinson's books, Island 731, which as I recall was pretty good except for some odd-ball parts. But yeah this book totally tricked the reader into thinking that it would be more scientific and anthropologic, but instead it just turned into a bucket of silly.

The main characters were PhD scientists who all magically turned into Indiana Jones mixed with a Crossfit enthusiasts. That was far from believable. On top of this, a lot of people started dying off and these characters barely blinked an eye. Normal people would have total emotional breakdowns; especially academics, so again way too unrealistic for my tastes.

Long story short, this book wasn't what it seemed to be from the description since the characters, story, and setting were all too fanciful. It felt like I was watching a really crappy movie after the aliens came into play, and unfortunately that lasted all the way to the end.
Rating - Low

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS Turn-Based Strategy/RPG Game 2013)

So this game was a nice breath of fresh air with regards to genre. It has been a long while since I've played a strategy/RPG game where you move individual units around a square-based map setting.

The story was good, but the whole battle system seemed to take away from the plot, which would go back and forth from Anime-style video clips to normal pre-programmed polygons.

Fighting was fairly strategic, but to really understand the math, it would've taken a lot more concentration and time that I was up for. Because of this I just grinded, until my peeps leveled up, then steamrolled through the final missions. I know it's very fire emblem-like, but it's annoying how the weapons and spells in this game only have x number of uses before you have to replace them. I never liked that aspect of some games, just like needing to find food and water to stay alive.

Either way, it was a fun game to play through once. The story was simple and understandable, and the gameplay only got boring towards the end. I would've liked the dialog to be fully voiced, but I guess they don't go that too often on 3DS games.
Rating - High

Monday, May 26, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past (Action 2014)

Pretty good movie. I think First Class still beats it out but yeah, not too shabby. Like always the future scenes are always better and cooler than any of the scenes they showed from the past, but yeah...budgets.

The plot in this one carries on from what happened many years after First Class so that was good. Some new characters were introduced and the old ones were still as good as they were before. The ending with Magneto was a bit over the top and not really realistic with regards to what the humans do...yeah a story is a story. Most everything was done very well from the plot to the characters to the costumes, etc. Definitely worth a watch to kick off the summer movie season.
Rating - B

Dourado - A Dane Maddock Adventure by David Wood (Book 2007)

Another good adventure book by David Wood. This time they crew is following around the mystery surrounding a Biblical artifact and more and more secrets. Pretty good premise and pretty good plot. I would say it's definitely on par with Mr. Wood's other books. Very enjoyable although a bit short.
Rating - High