Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wii U review


As instructed by the Quick Start Guide, I needed to charge the Wii U GamePad. It said in the guide that it would take 2.5 hours. While I waited for it to charge, I unwrapped my Wii U, the power cord, the sensor bar, the HDMI cable, the stands for the console, and the GamePad charging station and stand. I took my time setting it up, and enjoyed some late night TV (Saturday Night Live). I got my Wii U at midnight and I was running out of energy. Since the GamePad wasn't charged fully, I just ended up going to bed at 2 AM. Ignoring the charging time I'd say I spent about an hour on unpacking, reading, and connecting cords for the next day.

 * * *

The next day, a large chuck of time, about an hour, was spent downloading an update and waiting for it to install. Once that was done, I proceeded to transfer my data from my Wii to my Wii U. It wasn't complicated but it took a good 45 minutes. Setting the date and time, TV remote feature, and internet connection was a breeze. I doubt that I'll be using my GamePad as a remote control, but I thought that feature was pretty neat and it was the first thing that made me smile. I had to create a new Mii for my Wii U. It was pretty cool that I was able to take a picture of myself with the camera on the GamePad which helped in creating my Mii. I added my beard and tweaked a few things before finally finishing. I'd say I spent about 3.5 hours total on setting up the software on the Wii U. (Netflix need to update which took about four minutes.)


After working out and having dinner, I finally got the chance to put in "NintendoLand". After 20 minutes of game play, I noticed the battery light on the GamePad was flashing. I checked the manual and when it's flashing it means that it's about to die so I turned off the game and threw it on the charger. I played "The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest" - Archery mode. It was fun and challenging at the same time. I'm definitely looking forward to playing more of that mini game and the other mini games that are available.

* * *


At the time of this review, set up and installation time has been greater than actual play time.  The "NintendoLand" mini games that I've played thus far continue to be a combination of fun and challenging, bordering frustration.  There are some elements that have made me smile, while others leave me scratching my head.  So far, I'm enjoying the little nuances that Nintendo has attempted to make this console feel like the next gen of gaming, but I don't know if the Wii U totally feels like a true next gen console.  I'd definitely recommend the system to hardcore Nintendo fans, but my Wii sat unused a lot and I feel that the Wii U might do the same.  I will reserve my full judgment of the system until later on in its lifetime;  it feels way too early to praise or condemn it fully.  My hope is that Nintendo releases an HD Zelda, Metroid, or Mario Galaxy game fairly quickly - something that is fun to play, has a great story line, and ultimately demonstrates the power of this new console.

Monday, September 10, 2012

John Carter review

John Carter - I enjoyed John's story line (wife and kid scene strung together with fighting all the aliens) and the green alien race story line (father/daughter relationship). I didn't care for Lynn Collins as an actress. She drop dead gorgeous, but I didn't like her. And I really didn't get the puppet masters who were supposed to be "protecting" the Goddess...they gave the dumb guy the power to vaporize everything. Once in Helium, why didn't he break out that weapon and lay waste to the city in seconds? This one is hard to recommend, but if you like science fiction, action adventure and a semi decent story line, then it's worth a rent.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises review

I very much enjoyed "The Dark Knight Rises". It was a fitting conclusion to Nolan's Batman story. His trilogy has set a new standard in the superhero movie industry where he successfully built a world around Batman, not Batman around a world. I highly recommend seeing it in IMAX. 4 out of 5 stars.

Princess Mononoke review

Last week, there was a brief discussion where a few people were praising and recommending "Princess Mononoke" in a forum I frequent.  While it was a movie I've heard nothing but good things about, it wasn't until tonight where I finally got to sit down and watch it.

Initial thoughts:  While I understand the whole industrial verses nature aspect of the movie and the animation was gorgeous, the movie didn't "do it" for me, in other words, it didn't move me emotionally.  In an animated feature, like Disney films as a child, and now, later in life, where Pixar has far surpassed Disney in the movie making industry, BOTH have done great things in touching my heart and pulling at those heart strings.  Unfortunately, I didn't get that experience from "Princess Mononoke".  I was really hoping to and it just didn't happen.  I didn't care about the princess at all and maybe it could have been partly because I didn't care for Claire Danes voice acting.  I thought the beginning was fantastic and the whole theme of battling your inner demons was well done.  In the end, I think the movie should have been called "Prince Ashitaka".

Overall, I'd have to say that there was a lot to like in this movie, but there was a lot that I didn't like.  Some of the concepts were way out there.  The box art claims that it's the Star Wars of anime and while I can put myself in the shoes of the person that said that, I'm more on the opposite side where in Star Wars I actually cared about all the characters, even the villains, and in "Princess Mononoke" the only person I really cared about was Ashitaka.  2.5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Oscar's 2012 Best Picture nominees reviewed

The 2012 Oscar nominees for Best Picture were:

War Horse
The Help
The Descendants
The Artist
Extremely Loud & Incredible Close
Mignight in Paris
The Tree of Life

"The Artist" won.  I don't agree with that, yet I do think it was a good film, but I will elaborate on that later.  So if I didn't think the "The Artist" deserved best film of the year, which film should have?  Well, for starters, please refer to the list above.  I have ordered them in the order from best to worst, in my opinion.

"War Horse" had heart, humor, and I thought the cinematography was fantastic.  The movie spanned many periods of time, and the attention to detail for each period was done magnificently.  The movie had a few surprises along the way as I never knew where the horse would end up next and ::SPOILER ALERT:: I was truly surprised that he survived in the end.

A close second was "The Help".  It was hard deciding to make this number two instead of one as it was great and I thought was going to win the Oscar.  I'm glad the actress that played Best Supporting won as she played an excellent role, but so did the lead and she didn't win which upset me.  This movie was a great demonstration of women coming together to fight for their rights against the worst kind of odds, the odds where your life could be taken as you had no rights to protect you.  It was a great story and I think it was based off true events.

"The Descendants" has earned its third place spot as it was the sleeper hit for me.  Clooney has bored me in his roles of late, but thankfully he did not disappoint in this film.  He was very entertaining and funny.  I really enjoyed the humor throughout and the underlying heart for his sick wife who, because of her illness or accident, didn't have a voice to defend herself, but her honor was maintained though George Clooney's character's honor.

I can kind of see why "The Artist" won.  It was just as good as last year's winner, "The King's Speech", but in my opinion, it shouldn't have won either, but I understand why it did.  "The Artist" was silent throughout and some of the speech was shown via title or intertitle cards to help explain what was said.  The intertitle cards didn't happen throughout and I'm not the best at reading lips, so that was slightly frustrating.  I will say that you had to watch and really pay attention which was easy as the movie was engaging for the first half an hour and then kind of tapered off and I feel didn't end very strongly.  With it being silent, I think the story was simple enough to follow making it predicable at times thus taking away from the overall enjoyment of this film.

The star of "Moneyball" was Brad Pitt's character's daughter.  She had a great singing voice.  I would have liked to see more scenes involving the players and their stories rather than Brad's and his assistant who never seemed worried about losing his job when he should have been as Brad's was threatened constantly.

"Extremely Loud & Incredible Close" or in other words, intentional sad story was sad.  While their were some great moments with the child actor and his parents and grandfather, the red herring of the key being used to help the child actor cope with the loss of his father was great for him but not so great for the audience.  This is one of those movies you watch once and never again.

The most frustrating thing about "Midnight in Paris" were the characters.  You hated all of them save for Owen Wilson's character and even he and his "imaginary" friends weren't enough to save the movie.  The scenes with his fiance and her parents were so painful that it took the joy out of the cool scenes where he was meeting and speaking with artists, authors, and people long gone.  I may have enjoyed this movie more if they spent more time on those people from past and their stories since I'm not an expert on all things Paris during the 1920s.

What the heck was "The Tree of Life"?  I almost didn't make it through this one.  I shut it off and happened to make it through on second watch.  The visual effects in the first forty minutes of the movie had what to do with the plot?  I was so lost with all the meaningless visuals and tiny bits of dialogue with no context.  Maybe they would make more sense after another watch or with subtitles (which I did turn on at one point to help me understand what was happening) but I have no desire to give it another try.

I don't know why "Hugo" won so many awards at the Oscars.  I didn't enjoy this movie at all.  The few comedic elements of this film were very slap stick and I hate that.  The movie didn't move me nor did I care about the main child actor, his toy nor its connection with the silent movie film maker.  I'm trying to recall my frustrations about the film, but it's just that forgettable.

Ted review

I have my reservations about Ted.  I consider myself a very big Family Guy fan as I continue to watch the show and buy the DVDs even though I complain that the show hasn't been funny since Season 3.

To my surprise, Ted was actually funny.  I'd say it's on par with The Hangover.  It definitely has Seth MacFarlane's touch with the slew of 80s references.  There's also two 9/11 jokes and if you watch Family Guy, you know that Seth loves a good 9/11 joke.  One small compliant is that the movie had too many characters, characters that didn't really add anything to the plot.  One example of this would be Laura Vandervoort.  Sure, she's great to look at but she was just there, she says her lines to console the main character and that was it.  I didn't think Joel McHale's character was needed either and probably could have been rewritten.  Regardless, I'm happy to have been proven wrong and I hope Seth takes some of this movie creativity and puts it back into Family Guy to make that show funny again.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Grey review

My review:

I felt Liam Neeson's character took command of the group, but he didn't give a commanding performance.  He appeared to be an expert but at the same time not?  I wasn't sure.  Obviously he was flawed and he was dealing with his wife's death, but was it a recent death?  Did we get that information?  And when we figured out his wife died due to illness, did it really matter or add to the story?  It didn't move me emotionally and I guess I wanted the movie to.  I wanted the movie to be better than it was.  The only thing that was semi cool was the ambiguous ending where you could draw your own conclusions on the outcome/fate of Liam Neeson's character and the Alpha.

My friend Joe's review:

I took it much differently. I looked at it from the dead man walking/lost warrior approach. The loss of his wife was his last connection to the world that was warm and loving. After she passed of an illness (an enemy you cannot battle as a protector) he had lost what he considered the light that kept him from the dark. He pursued a career that he was good at, being an apex predator and killing. Even with the wolves he would take his time to put his hand on them to help them pass (showing humanity and empathy for something he relates to). The reason he lived to the end and ended up at the den was because it was his fate. He struggled with his own faith and cursed God. At one point he even yelled up to the sky to give him something, anything and then he says “f it, I’ll do it myself”. He was the last to survive of the group because he was the alpha. They made mention over and over to his father’s poem about once again into the fray because it was always intended for his life to be modeled after (whether it inspired his father or his father inspired him is uncertain). In the end he became the words personified. From his childhood it was already determined. I myself, having been thoroughly immersed in budo found the message to be profound. I understand, however, how it can be lost on others.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

SNL: Will Ferrell/Usher review

Saturday Night Live: Will Ferrell/Usher 
Season 37, Episode 21, Aired May 12, 2012

Political sketch - Will Ferrell as George W. Bush I think.  His impression was WAY off the mark making this sketch pretty much garbage.
Opening Monologue - Will Ferrell's "unscripted" Mother's Day speech brought some audience chuckles but for me it fell flat.
Nasaflu sketch - Will Ferrell just scream-sneezing.  This was not humorous at all.
Marty Culp and Bobbi Mohan-Culp (Classic sketch) - Will Ferrell's heart didn't seem in it, plus it appeared that he forgot some of the lyrics for his solo during one song.  Disappointed.
ESPN Stay Free Maxi Pads sketch - Will Ferrell plays news correspondent that is saying things on camera but unaware.  Another miss.
100th Digital Short - This was semi humorous.  I appreciated the throw backs to all the old digitial shorts more than the humor.  Will Ferrell had a few lines, but it didn't add anything to the song.
Usher - He did well; I enjoyed the song.
Weekend Update - Mostly enjoyable as usual with a few laughs.  No Ferrell during the update which, at this point, was a slight glimmer in this dark hole of a show.
Funkytown Debate - Will Ferrell and Usher singing / debating.  Dumb.
Broadway Sizzle - Will Ferrell singing songs for girls instead of guys.  Mostly stupid and forgettable.
Usher - He does well again; I did enjoy his first song better.
25th Anniversary Speech sketch - These are rarely funny.  Random people come up to make speeches.  Another fail in a failure of an episode.
Almost Pizza sketch - Previously aired sketch.  I don't get it.  Is it making fun of DiGiorno?  And this is how they end the show?  I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

This episode was so bad that after watching it once, I actually watched it a second time just to be sure.  During my second watch I wrote this review.  I'm still amazed how bad this episode was.  Damn.  Were my expectations too high for Will Ferrell?  I don't think so.  He won the Mark Twain Award for comedy last year and he's been in some great movies, so I guess I just have to chalk this up to a fluke.  Oh well.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Movies of 2012

Below are the movies I hope to check out this year.  As always, if I don't make to the theater, I will definitely be Netflix-ing them.

Friday, January 20, 2012
Underworld: Awakening
- sequel of the first two "Underworld" films staring Kate Beckinsale

Friday, February 10, 2012
Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace 3D
- Star Wars in 3D.  Need I say more?

Friday, March 30, 2012
Wrath of the Titans
- sequel that takes place 10 years after the events of "Clash of the Titans"

April TBA
Dorothy of Oz
- animated sequel to the Wizard of Oz

Friday, April 13, 2012
The Three Stooges
- the stooges in a modern day movie

Friday, April 20, 2012
Scary Movie 5
- rumored to spoof "Final Destination", "Paranormal Activity", and "Child's Play" films

Friday, May 04, 2012
The Avengers
- a team of super heroes (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and others) join together to fight evil

Friday, May 11, 2012
The Dictator
- comedy starring Sacha Baron Cohen ("Borat", "Bruno")

Friday, May 25, 2012
Men in Black III
- sequel to the previous films

Friday, June 08, 2012
- originally set to be an "Alien" prequel, this movie features a team of explorers searching for the origins of mankind

Friday, June 22, 2012
Abraham Lincoln:  Vampire Hunter
- Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, secretly battles with the un-dead as an ax-throwing, highly trained vampire assassin. Vampires are presented as the real conflict behind the Civil War.

Friday, June 29, 2012
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
- sequel to "GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra"

Tuesday, July 03, 2012
The Amazing Spider-Man
- reboot of the franchise featuring Peter Parker during his time in high school

Friday, July 20, 2012
The Dark Knight Rises
- sequel that takes place 8 years after the events of "The Dark Knight"

Friday, August 03, 2012
Total Recall
- remake of the 1990 movie of the same name starring Colin Farrell

October TBA
Paranormal Activity 4
- another sequel to the "Paranormal Activity" franchise

Friday, October 05, 2012
Taken 2
- sequel that is said to take place in Istanbul

Friday, November 09, 2012
- 23rd James Bond movie set to begin after the events of "Quantum of Solace"

December TBA
- Spielberg movie featuring Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln

Friday, December 07, 2012
Les Miserables
- film adaptation of the play

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
World War Z
- this movie chronicles the aftermath of a zombie war

Friday, December 14, 2012
The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey
- first part of a two part prequel to "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Kill Bin Laden
- The take-down of Osama Bin Laden from the point-of-view of the Navy SEALS.  Directed by Kathryn Biegelow ("The Hurt Locker")

Friday, December 21, 2012
This is Forty
- A spin-off of Knocked Up that focuses on Pete and Debbie, who where played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012
The Great Gatsby
- Based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel that takes place in Long Island and New York City in the summer of 1922.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Django Unchained
- Quentin Tarantino movie featuring a freed slave who becomes a bounty hunter