April 18, 2019
Unlike Bumblebee, Wreck-It-Ralph 2 actually succeeds at being a (pre-)teen movie without being boring. While, the theme of the movie is pretty kiddy (friendship), the gags and cameos, as well as seeing the brands from the real Internet being represented in the movie keeps the movie interesting (the retro aspect of the game characters is pretty much the same as the first movie). I also liked how they represented online behavior too (like popups and popup blockers). There was enough random stuff but not too much of it – kinda of like how Ready Player One had just enough cameos.
The whole sub-plot with Disney princesses was fun, although the song sucked (perhaps on purpose). But really, as an adult, you’re not going to get a lot out of this movie aside from a few quick laughs. Three out of five stars.
April 16, 2019
In contrast to the other two stellar movies I just saw (Into The Spider-Verse and Burning), the story of Bumblebee felt dumbed down. Even from the first scene where they were fighting on Cybertron, I already had a ton of questions around how things would work (how did Optimus Prime get off the planet, and why was Bumblebee a Corvette already?). The characters and “comedy” didn’t help, nor did the unrealistic transformation of robots (although not any different than previous movies). In today’s media world, where there are such a better quality of scripts, I just expect higher quality.
The credits showed that Spielberg had a hand in this movie. That explained why the movie was so “kid” focused (well actually more teen oriented). I’m not sure kids these days would go out of their way to see a Transformers movie when there are so many other brands available for them to consume. And there were definitely attempts to target older viewers with a ton of 80s throwbacks (fashion, music).
This film just felt lost. While watching it, I was left wondering why I decided to watch a movie about awkward teen moments. And if I wanted to watch robots fighting, I should have just watched Pacific Rim again. Two out of five for yet another forgettable Transformers film.
April 11, 2019
Burning is a Korean film that I actually heard about reading thru the 2018 end of year lists. I guess it is a thriller or a drama and centers around a relationship between 2 guys and a girl. From reading the reviews, I had thought this movie happens mostly in Africa, but turns out it is based on Korea.
I don’t remember why it was rated highly but to me it is a psychological film where you are trying to figure out what the director is actually trying to do. The scenes seem random but I think you are supposed to think of them in an abstract sense (and so the intention is vague a lot of the time). For example, in the second scene in the film, two of the leads are in a typical Korean restaurant and the girl describes how she is learning pantomime by eating an imaginary tangerine. She states, something to the effect of, that the trick to pantomime is to avoid thinking that the tangerine is not there, but rather what you would be doing if it was there. Ultimately, I think this scene describes the entire movie (or at least one way to look at it).
I spent the majority of the film trying to figure out what is really going on, although felt it lost some steam in the second half. Four out of five stars.
April 9, 2019
This new version of Spider-Man had a lot of hype and I think it lived up to it. Essentially it is a yet-another-reboot of Spider-Man, but still in the Sony universe. For once, the long-lost cousin who owns a bit of the Marvel movie rights have a good comic movie on their hands.
Into the Spider-verse is a weird movie. The whole concept is wack and I think a bit too complex for the casual movie fan (collision of multiple dimensions). Not that they won’t understand it but it just seems too far-fetched unless you read comics where it happens all the time. Then it’s a “cartoon”, but not for little kids like Teen Titans Go To The Movies. I guess they made it a cartoon because some of the scenes couldn’t be visualized in a realistic way. The art style and constant breaking of the fourth way/dropping into comic book style is a huge risk and could have turned out incredibly bad. It didn’t though, although at times it felt a little too much.
What is amazing though, that the movie turned out to be great. Even though the premise was wack, the story kept the key themes of a Spider-Man story intact, but refreshed to be relevant to today’s youth. You have the geeky guy who accidentally gets bitten, learns to use their powers, and the a-ha moment of when he finally controls them. The plot follows the typical superhero/supervillain arch and they try to make it up to date for the pubescent crowd (with some laughs as well). But the real gem is how they were able to weave everything into something that works instead of flopping. Four out of five stars.
April 1, 2019
The prediction from Weather Canada was that Winter would bleed into the first 2 weeks of March (even though the groundhog said it would be an early Spring) and then suddenly the temperatures would jump up. Well in my mind, Winter felt done at the beginning of March and it was just clinging on for dear life. There weren’t anymore snow falls, but the temperature was still below freezing for awhile before warming up.
We moved the clocks ahead this month. Every time this happens, there are complaints and reports about how daylight savings time is bad and we should get rid of it. But for us, it works really well. Sun comes up right when the kids have to wake up for school, lasts through the entire day, and dusk is when they have to go to sleep.
I went down to the Bay Area for a few days at the start of the month. I don’t end up going there as often as I should, but this time I had some time to catch up with a few friends. I also took an Air Canada 737 Max 8 down, and marveled at the new entertainment system Air Canada had on it. Of course, later in the month the 737 Max 8s were grounded across the world.
This month was pretty light with weekends mostly free as kids were in-between extra-curricular activity terms. March break had them in camps so nothing out of the ordinary there either.
March 15, 2019
I’ve been stuck on the Knights of the Frozen Throne single player campaign for a long time. So long that the set is about to rotate out soon! And it’s not like I’m playing hard mode, I just need to finish the final boss battle against the Lich King.
The Lich King cheats. No matter what class you use, he summons a spell to give you a significant handicap. Originally I tried with Mage where the handicap is to start with 0 life. To handle that, I used a deck that cheated out a counterspell on turn one (this involved a lot of restarts). But even with that advantage, I was still not able to beat him.
So the Lich King stayed in slumber for awhile and I finally beat him now. This time I used a murloc deck with Shaman. Shaman’s handicap is that all his minions are 1/1 (but still cost the same). Not a big deal as murlocs typically start out with low stats anyways. Here’s my deck:
- 2x Grimscale Oracle
- 2x Murloc Tidecaller
- 2x Bilefin Tidehunter
- 2x Blowgill Sniper
- Ghost Light Angler
- 2x Ice Fishing
- Murloc Tidehunter
- Primalfin Totem
- Coldlight Seer
- Lightning Storm
- 2x Murloc Warleader
- Primalfin Lookout
- 2x Call in the Finishers
- Old Murk-Eye
- Slitfin Spiritwalker
- 2x Everyfin is Awesome
Deck code: AAEBAfe5AgwzxQP1BOAF0AeTCdcP2A/2vQKRwQKGxALw8wIJ2wP+A+MFpwi/F4qtAuO7Aq28AovOAgA=
It still took a couple of tries for the combo pieces to land properly. I think this deck may only work with Shaman as the Call in the Finishers+Everyfin is Awesome combo is needed to amp up the damage on Lich King before he gets Frostmourne.
Well onto the other classes and Arthas…hopefully at some point.
March 13, 2019
Never heard about this in theatres but found it in the sci-fi section of the inflight movies. It started Tom Cruise so it couldn’t be that bad right?
Edge of Tomorrow tells a story where an alien invasion via asteroid happens. The asteroid lands in Germany and begins taking over Europe. The world unites to fit these Brood-like figures, as well a development of an exoskeleton to help soldiers. Tom Cruise plays a former advertiser who ends up in media relations for the army. He is told to go to the front lines to film a concentrated human push, deserts, and ends up on the front lines. Somehow, he ends up in a time loop and can reply the day until he realizes what’s at stake and finishes his mission.
There are a lot of cliché and dumb things in this movie, but there are also a lot of awesome things. Exoskeleton/mechs are cool. Time loops are actually pretty fun. Tom Cruise’s role has the perfect background for him (although it could have been any male star). Watching this movie makes me want to read the book it’s based on and so this is a highly rated action film from me! Four out of five stars.
March 11, 2019
This was a movie I wanted to watch, but had shy’d away from in the past because it was too serious. It’s about a CIA agent who sneaks 6 US Foreign State workers out of Iran when that state has cut of relations with the US. Ben Affleck directed and starred in it and I kind of feel it was a twin to Syrianna. In any case, I typically want to have fun when watching movies so didn’t end up watching it till recently.
Argo is a good story and movie, but I couldn’t help but wonder about the parts that Hollywood added in vs the real event (time for some Wikipedia reading when I get of the plane). There was a lot of unnecessary running and just-in-time heroics which I suspect never took place. If nothing, it helped me get a long look at the style that was the few years before my birth. What I didn’t get out of the movie though is a real understanding of the Iranian issues or what happened to end the hostage crisis (end credits said it took 444 days for everyone to be released). Three out of five stars for Argo.
March 9, 2019
I’ve been thinking about a way that media characterizes a scenario which I call the “Dairy Queen effect” because they had the first commercials that use it. This is pretty noticeable nowadays and it is when a scenario starts off normal but then it goes into crazy territory (can’t happen in real life at all). I don’t even remember the examples in the commercials but it could be something like buy an ice cream and unicorns will sprout out around you (now I just remembered a Skittles commercial that rained Skittles from Palm trees).
I’m guessing this works because this is supposedly what GenZ audiences like to watch (things that are funny). Now it’s propagated to short form video on Facebook and even movie plots!
March 7, 2019
Kingsman was another movie that got truncated due to an end of the flight. I figure I got 2/3rds of the way through it and then the next time I took a flight, the movie selection had changed. At least 6 months later, I finally found The Golden Circle again on a SF flight. Kinda strange really as it wasn’t part of any special event (there was a new and improved entertainment system).
Anyways, I can’t remember why I picked this movie but I had seen the original and didn’t hate it. Watching this follows the MI discussion of what makes this franchise unique in the world of spy thrillers and I think this takes the “British” part of Bond (the gentleman), puts in a Millennial lead, and makes it more fun. The scriptwriters know that whatever villain they write will not be relatable, so they just use some scenario that would come out of a Dairy Queen commercial. It doesn’t really matter though because we all know how the spy thrillers scripts end.
The Golden Circle also had a double agent much like MI: Fallout did. Funny how movies around the same time frame use the same mechanic. But it’s not all copycat material, the villain’s plan was to taint the international drug supply so that all recreational drug users die unless the government pays up. Turns out that’s a lot of everyday people. It was a bit cheesy, but the fighting was good and the style is like an optimized Bond film. Three out of five stars.
March 3, 2019
Whoops, forgot to blog about February until now. So what happened – well it was a short month, but it always feels long because this is the dead of winter. It didn’t feel as cold as January, but that might be because I was used to and expected it this month. There wasn’t as much snow, but still a snowfall or two. Driving in this month felt like the winters of old, where there is a constant layer of snow underneath your wheels (at least on the inner roads) and snowbanks along the sides. Fortunately, Spring is supposed to come soon and dramatically this year.
I flew out to Korea for a few days this month. I’m pretty tired of Seoul the city, so I connected through Japan on the way back. The connection involved a change in airport so I was able to catch some sights for a few hours before departing.
I made the conscious decision to stop playing Star Trek Timelines this month. I guess inertia kept me going but there wasn’t anything that I “needed”. I “bought into” Disney Heroes (meaning I paid $10 to get to a higher VIP level so I could avoid menial tasks) so I’m giving that a ~90 day run before deciding whether I should continue spending time on it. I also started playing Hearthstone some more (at least the questing and saving gold). It feels good to make this change!
February 26, 2019
Resurrected Victims is a Korean movie where the mother of a prosecutor comes back to life and tries to get revenge on the people that killed her. All signs point to the son who did it and the movie tells what happens as they unravel this mysterious incidence. The movie says that there have been 89 victims who have come back to life in order to kill their murderers before disappearing in a burst of flames.
The movie spends the rest of the time investigating why the mom came back through a variety of flashbacks before finally explaining what happened. The story-telling was pretty poor – I’m not sure whether they did that for suspense or if it was just a bad script, because it’s easy to explain what happened once you know the entire story. The movie also tacks on a moral message as part of its ending, which is a bit lame.
I don’t think this movie was that great, only a two out of five stars from me.
February 24, 2019
I think I’ve seen portions of the Teen Titans TV show while vacationing with the kids, but I haven’t watched enough to know what their mannerisms and songs are. So going into this movie blind, it felt like there were a lot of in-jokes that missed. That’s ok though because this is a kids movie (like a real one, not a Pixar one) so you can just jump in and out of it.
I guess the best way to put this is that they took the “Teen” Titans and made them 6 years old, complete with the potty jokes. The plot revolves around the other DC heroes having movies made about them, while Robin desperately wants one (as he sees that as legitimizing him as a superhero). So he does whatever he has to do to get a movie, involves the villain Deathstroke (except they can’t call him that so they just use his normal name Slade), and then learns a life lesson.
There are a lot of DC heroes in Teen Titans Go To The Movies, the Justice League act like adults and behave as you would expect kids to see adults. The action is crazy and nonsensical (even though it is a cartoon, it’s not a Into The Spiderverse level of movie). However, it was fun even for adults. Three out of five.
February 22, 2019
I’m not sure why they did this movie. I guess they went through all the A-list Marvel properties and now they’re working on the B-list (see The Wasp). Thing number 2 is that Venom‘s story is so intertwined with Spider-Man that it feels very weird that he is not in this film. I think they made up a new backstory for him to get away from the world of Spider-Man.
Without the foil of Peter Parker, the story of Venom is not compelling. It’s a lot of Eddie Brock talking to himself. It also makes the ultimate bad guy and who to root for confusing (since in the typical story, you’re hoping that Spider-Man wins). Based on the post-credits scene, it sounds like they are trying to build a new mini-series with Carnage next (or it could just be a sequel like what they did with the Winter Soldier). I also found the Stan Lee scene to be dumb and useless. His cameos were funny the first couple of times, but now it is just wasting screen time. I guess this was his last one unless CG shenanigans are in the works.
The plot ends up being relatively faithful to Venom’s first story (revolves around a spaceship). But everything else around it smells weird. Glad I watched it for free as it is two out of five stars for me.
February 20, 2019
I watched the first Fantastic Four movie (with Jessica Alba), and even the second one; and given the critical reception of them, I’m not sure why they decided to remake it. The group is not popular or well known either. However, it is one of the last Marvel films I haven’t seen so I took a try on it. I didn’t know that this version was a teen movie though (and I don’t recognize the cast except for Michael B. Jordan).
The movie is pretty short (around 90mins) which doesn’t give a lot of time to do anything after explaining how the crew got their powers. Dr Doom shows up, they have a quick battle to save the day, and the movie is done. If I wasn’t familiar with the characters, I would have thought that there wasn’t much substance to the movie. However, since I know the FF, it was a fun romp in expected territory. This movie gets three out of five stars from me (not any worse or any better than the first run through).
February 17, 2019
I used to follow a blog about an English call girl which was named this, and I wonder if this old movie was the source of the name. This movie is about a young wife in the 60s (movie was made in 1967) who moonlights (daylights?) as a call girl. It’s not really raunchy but more of a look at what French society was like back then – gender stereotypes and retro cars abound.
The movie also reminded me of how slow movies were back then. Unlike The Godfather though, Belle De Jour wasn’t able to set the mood to make the slow scenes feel immersive. The plot was also a bit weird as it pushed character development by introducing different Johns, before events force the final scene. While it made sense, the way that it was told felt disjointed. Interesting to watch but not fun, two out of five stars.
February 15, 2019
Another movie that has been hanging on my “to watch on a flight” list, and survived until I actually had time to watch it; given its longevity, I thought that Bleeding Steel must be a masterpiece with a lot of views amongst flyers. I mean, it has to be good if the synopsis is that Jackie Chan fights a bunch of bionic bad guys, right?
As you can expect, it was a bit weird. It wasn’t a serious movie but whatever attempt at incorporating HK cinema humor got lost in translation somewhere. Instead, what they did bring was the B-level villains from Chinese period films into a production that was like The Adventurers – a Chinese film set in the Western world. The majority of the film takes place in Australia and the language was fluid – I didn’t keep track of how often they switched between Mandarin and English, but I did notice the accented English from the Chinese actors.
I’m not sure that this movie would play well with theatre-goers as the only thing it has going for it is Jackie Chan (and isn’t his brand of comedic Kung Fu fighting getting tiresome?) Two out of five stars for me
February 13, 2019
Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a Mission Impossible, or a Tom Cruise movie. This movie has been sitting in the inflight entertainment for awhile and there was always something a little better to watch. Finally, I ran out of movies and ended up watching Mission: Impossible – Fallout (how are you even supposed to write the name as it has two modifiers).
While there haven’t been as many MI movies, I would guess that this is the American version of the Bond movies. Where Bond has his gadgets, MI seems more gritty and athletic – the most memorable scene I have from all MI movies is the second one where Cruise is climbing a cliff. But, that difference has never made the MI movies that much more fun to me.
I was pleasantly surprised by how this film turned out. It started off pretty clichéd and I thought it was going to be a snore (give up and try another movie). And then Superman (Henry Cavil but it felt like the same characterization) showed up. But as we got into it, the story improved a lot. I forgot that one key element of the MI series is the espionage and double crosses – it’s like mini Ocean’s 11 throughout. I’m sure the scenarios don’t make sense under scrutiny but when you’re watching the movie, it’s fun. Even though it ran significantly over 2 hours, the plot felt pretty tight.
This MI also drew elements from previous movies. Seems like that is something that it shares with the Bond series. At least with Bond, there have been 10s of movies to refer to, so this is a little premature for MI. But then maybe this is the movie version of the greatest hits album, and if they don’t make a retrospective movie now, the actors will get too old.
All in all, a surprisingly good action film from a movie franchise that I’ve long forgotten. Three out of five stars.
February 10, 2019
I’m a late adopter to OTT video (still no Netflix account & etc) and it has only been recently that I started using the CBC app to watch shows on my TV. And soon after I started, it went through a rebranding to be called Gem.
Now Gem is a weird name for video streaming, but I can understand why they might want to call it that. Gem makes it seem like the service is rare and valuable; plus it is quick to say. But I just can’t relate to it well.
Nevertheless, it is decent and useful. There is a lot of content and I wish there was some way to favorite so that I could build up a playlist and come back to it later. Best thing is that it’s free (although I suppose I pay taxes).
February 5, 2019
Oops, bad start to the new year as I forgot to write my recap for January. That’s surprising as a lot of stuff happened in January and it actually felt like two months. The new year started uneventful as was the rest of Christmas vacation (Apollo had a couple of play dates). Then the next week, I few to Las Vegas for CES.
Now that I’ve been to CES a few times, I realize it’s more of a sales conference than anything else. It’s not that fun for me and it is just another place I have to do work. The travel is also very hectic because there are a ton of people who are flying down for the same things and the flights are packed, everyone has status etc.
After coming back home, we started our winter term activities on the weekends. This year, Apollo and Jovian are going to different programs so Pauline and I take them to different places on the weekends.
This month was also a “typical winter” with lots of snow. After a couple of snowfalls, the snowbanks around our driveway quickly grew taller than the kids. The snowfall was followed by extreme cold as a Polar vortex descended on most of Canada. For Toronto, temperatures during the day was in the -15°C to -20°C range (before windchill) and night times were into the -30°Cs.
In this month, I also found a way to “break” the Star Trek game that I’m playing. Usually when I’m able to figure out a way to accelerate the progress through the game like this, my enjoyment will fizzle out (apparently doing something challenging is more fun). I’m still trying to hold on to the game by not abusing my power but it might be time to move on soon.
January 9, 2019
I had to take an Air Canada Route flight. Since it is a low cost carrier, they don’t have inflight entertainment and I had to bring my own tablet. Of course, their wifi entertainment didn’t work so I resorted to watching some stuff from my own devices. I didn’t have a selection, so I settled on Jobs – the biography of Steve Jobs from 2013.
Although I have a passing interest in watching his bio, I wasn’t enthusiastic about it. I guess that tainted my perception of the film a bit. Secondly, I felt they tried to summarize his life and pack it into a movie by weaving a bunch of key points into a short narrative. Especially in the beginning, every scene had some important element or aspect of his life, in addition to the main plot that was unfolding. The rhythm just felt off.
As the film progressed in to Apple being successful, I started to wonder how authentic this story was. In researching on IMDB, there were a lot of liberties taken to make it “Hollywood” but I think it was still fairly true to the spirit. I also found out that there was another Jobs bio released 2 years later called Steve Jobs! That feels a little wasteful.
I think Ashton Kutcher did a great job portraying Jobs – I even liked how he practiced a specific walk (which I didn’t know he had until the movie). However, it was still not that interesting movie for me – 2 out of 5 stars.
January 1, 2019
Unlike years past, we didn’t make a lot of progress on Christmas shopping before December this year because we were busy with the house. That meant we had to fit it all into December. The gifts for teachers & etc were easy since it’s pretty much the same every year (and we can plan for it) but everyone else was a lot harder. Eventually we got it done, but lots of gift cards and Amazon for most things. One thing I noticed this year was a distinct lack of Christmas cards. I guess everyone finally made the shift (sorry Hallmark).
I made one last trip to Korea in December, and had to fly around in a circuitous fashion, so luckily that gave me enough miles to bump into the 75k threshold. There’s not much change between the previous tier and this one though.
To give everyone a change to visit our new house, we hosted a few times over the holidays. Necessary evil but it’s all done now!
We didn’t do much Boxing Day shopping as there wasn’t anything we needed (closets are full). There are still a couple of things we need to fill out our house but they aren’t a rush. We did end up buying an aquarium and some fish, so those our the first pets in our new house.