Featured Review

Lightning Movie Review – Tangled

We took the kids to see Tangled this weekend, and Mattie in particular LOVED IT.  As in, during the moving saying ‘Mommy I WUV DIS MOVIE!’, and having to come over and sit on my lap so she could tell me the same thing directly.  Okay, and get direct access to more popcorn.  I thought it was great, better than I expected.  The horse (Maximus) is hilarious, the action scenes are good, and the villainess dies in classic Disney fashion.

If you have a princess-obsessed daughter, you’ve probably already seen it.  Even without that, it’s still worth it.


Lightning Movie Review – Megamind

Saw this over the weekend with the kids – it was a solid kids movie, kept my 7 year old and 2.5 year old entertained while keeping a smile on my face throughout.  Didn’t generate huge laughs or anything, but I enjoyed it and would see it again.  Despicable Me wins out for me in the battle of  ‘evil scientist supervillain’ movies but this was definitely worth the time and money spent.  A pretty good showing, though, for a movie starring Will Ferrel who I am not a fan of normally.

Gadgets Review

Sprint Hero on Android 2.1 – One Year Later

In case it’s useful to you, I thought I’d go over how the Hero I bought just about a year ago has held up.  I know it hasn’t been on 2.1 for that whole time, but I upgraded a few weeks early with a custom rom (on stock now), so close enough.

Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the device and how well it’s held up.  There’s one pixel (at least I think it’s the same one each time) that seems to get stuck once in a while, but otherwise, the screen is still in fine shape.  I don’t use a screen protector, just a soft rubber case for the occasional drop.  The only other cosmetic complaint are the home and back buttons, where there is some peeling, making it hard to tell what the icon originally was.

Android 2.1 is quite responsive on the Hero, even now, though there’s definitely lag with some more intensive apps (like Angry Birds).  Maybe twice a week, the phone will drop me to the white HTC screen when exiting an app, which forces you to wait to load the Sense interface back.  No other issues, really.  Very solid.

For the apps I use, other than the standards GMail and Google Calendar, are Handcent SMS, TweetDeck for Twitter (Seesmic was good too), AndroZip, Yahoo Fantasy Football and Hockey (although they take up a TON of the limited app space on this phone).  For games, beyond Angry Birds, I have mostly stuck to puzzle games and word games.  Other than that, I use Tasker to manage the volume of the alarms in the morning and the ringers at work.

I know the phone is being surpassed by many more models, and I drool over having and HDMI out or 1ghz processor, but the Hero served me well.  HTC definitely seems like they have some solid hardware.

Console Games Featured Review

Dragon Age: Origins, Awakening, and the DLCs

I don’t think I ever officially review DA:O in this space (but I love it), but I thought that now that all the DLCs are out and the game is basically done, I’d take another look at the ‘story based’ addons.  SPOILERS ABOUND.

First, in case you can’t tell, I love the game.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t be still playing and talking about it.  The story is deep, and some of the moral choices made me think.  I enjoyed many of the characters, and a single player game is a nice change of pace from trying various MMOs and being continually disappointed.  Here are some quick-hit thoughts on the game, the expansion, and the DLCs:




My First Warden. Destruction, personified.

For Origins itself: Good story, like the characters and the interplay between them, though the darkspawn as an enemy are not too exciting.  Some pretty tough fights, difficult choices and cool gear (sorry, that’s the Diablo player in me talking).  The Origin story aspect is really what I love, though.  It really can work to make each play-through different, where you meet someone again and now they take on a whole new importance.  Very few RPGs compel me to play through over and over, but this one is (on the third go-round now).

Awakening: Excellent.  Talking darkspawn are much more interesting, the Mother is gross, the new companions are quite interesting to me for the most part, especially Nathaniel Howe (again, moreso if you’ve played the Human Noble origin).  I kind of wished this module could’ve made notice of Soldier’s Peak somehow, as it did seem odd to have gone to all that trouble to reclaim it for the Wardens, only to ignore it when it might still be needed.  Would’ve loved to be able to bring a different companion over (though Oghren is cool enough) but I understand the voice acting limitations there.  Cost too much when it came out, but has quite a lot of content, to me at any rate.

Warden’s Keep: So-so for me, it does tell a bit of story you may have been wondering about:  Why were the Wardens expelled from Ferelden?

The Stone Prisoner: Little sidequest set to get you a new companion, Shale.  One of the Golems made by the Dwarves, the module adds a bit of fun to the whole game as Shale is a funny companion to have around, and unique to go into combat with.

Return to Ostagar: The gear you reclaim here had been passed by, stats-wise, by the time this DLC finally came out, but I wager it will fit in better within the course of the regular game.  For Duncan and King Cailan!

Darkspawn Chronicles: Just not interested in it.  Not well reviewed, and I like my Warden, thanks.

Leilana’s Song: A favorite of mine, but then Leilana was my love interest in my first play-through.  You play as Leilana as she helps her mentor/lover bring the Orlesian game of intrigue and assassination to Ferelden.  If you ever wanted to know her story, here it is.  Also seems pretty hard to me, though it may just be the fact that it’s lower level stuff than Awakening.  Not really very replayable, though there are different choices you can make for different endings.

Golems of Amgarrak: A return to the Deep Roads for your Warden (though sans your other companions), as you search answers about a group of Dwarves trying to recreate Caridin’s work in Golem creation.  The final critter you fight is supposed to be the toughest battle in any part of the game, though I am not there yet.  Fun, tough, but again, I miss my companions.

Witch Hunt: Hinted at during the Origins campaign, it was finally released just recently:  the story of what the heck happened to Morrigan after the Blight was ended.  Except that it more hints and some of those answers, which bothered some folks mightily.  I loved it, and not only because you get your dog back right smack-dab at the beginning!  I am easy to please.

Well, that’s about all of it.  I’m not going over all the little piddly DLCs (like the Feastday pranks or whatever).  Any other thoughts on Dragon Age out there?


Go Ahead And Thank Me

I saw part of Cats and Dogs 3D, but I’m not going to subject you to any review of it.  I’d rather not think that much about it.  Chris O’Donnell had best hope NCIS:LA stays on the air or he’ll be stuck making these animal movies (probably with Brendan Fraser).  That’s a fate I wouldn’t wish on anyone, even if he’s partly responsible for Batman and Robin.


Movie Review – Despicable Me

I took Thomas and Mattie to see this on Saturday, and we all enjoyed it quite a bit.  Well, Mattie was more interested in popcorn and changing seats, but that’s why we go to the kid-friendly showing in the morning. ;)

The story is about Gru, a super-villain comfortable in his solitary life until a new rival swoops in and takes the spotlight from him.  Determining Vector’s (the new villain) one weakness to be Girl Scout cookies, Gru adopts three orphan girls who had tried to sell them to him previously.

You can imagine what happens, in general terms, as Gru works on stealing back the Shrink Ray he needs from Vector, the girls are working on making the best of what appears at first to be a bad situation.  It’s not a full-on tears movie, but I’ll admit to misting up a tiny bit for the book at the end (you’ll see).  The minions don’t quite steal the show, but they are funny in way that adds to the movie, not distracts from it.

All in all, it was a quite enjoyable time.  It’s kind of unfortunate that all animated movies get judged against Pixar’s best now, but Despicable Me holds it’s own.  See it.


Movie Review: The Last Airbender – An Outsider’s View

I took my son to a birthday party this weekend, and as part of that, he got to see The Last Airbender.  I waffled and hemmed and hawed, but figured I’d ride shotgun with him in case it got too scary (he’s a sensitive soul).  Now, I’ve probably only seen about 10 minutes total of the cartoon, though it is highly recommended by my friends to I always meant to revisit it when I could.  I always went in with knowledge of the concerns and bad reviews the movie was getting.

To be honest, my son and I both enjoyed it for what it was, an adaptation of a cartoon, aimed at kids.  There are flaws, oh definitely there are flaws, some of which I will detail, but the biggest flaw with the movie is not its fault – expectations.  For some reason, people seem to think M. Night Shymalan’s name being attached to a movie means it might be good.  I don’t know why that is, considering he hasn’t been involved in a good movie since, what, 2002?  His dialog is trite, there is talking during scenes when there shouldn’t be any, and not enough when there is something that needs more description.  Best example is the scene with Sokka and Princess Yue meeting.  The voiceover is completely unnecessary.  The heavy eye contact, followed by scenes showing them together, would’ve been more effective.

The effects are cool, but I had to laugh when someone referred to the fighting as ‘turn-based’.  The combatants do seem to stand around for a few seconds to let the other guy get his bending going.  A more fluid mix of martial arts and bending (with 125% less slomo), though harder to choreograph and film, would’ve been a massive improvement to watchability.  Seriously, I’m imagining it right now, and it’s awesome.

I think I have an advantage in not having seen any of the source material.  The story is new and cool, even if it is poorly told in this movie.  I want to see more.  The problem the moviemakers will have is if I go ahead and watch the cartoon instead of any future live action movie (assuming this even does well enough to get the next chapter made).


Movie Review: Toy Story 3

What?  Oh hi, didn’t see you there…huh?  No, I have something in my eye *sniff* that’s all.  It’s a movie about toys for crying out loud!  Uh, crying is a bad choice of words…

The whole family went to see Toy Story 3 this weekend, and of course we all loved it.  Plenty of action, plenty of heart, and a great ending.  But seriously, you knew that, right?  I don’t want to spoil anything (there are some important twists that need to be surprises), so just consider this a recommendation to go see the movie.  I don’t care who you are, kids, no kids, whatever.  You’ll be glad you did.

harry potter 7

resident evil: degeneration to buy how to watch little fockers online


Movie Review: The A-Team

I went and saw The A-Team last night, and I have to say I enjoyed myself.  It was exactly what I expected, nothing more, nothing less.  It had plenty of nods to the series, while modernizing it and making it different enough that you didn’t feel like you’d seen it all before.  Glad I went.  There are spoilers after the jump, read on if you dare…

Media Review

Movie Review: Iron Man 2

Saw this Friday morning, which is a great way to spend a day off, by the way.  Very much enjoyed it, a worthy successor to the first, but not without a few minor flaws that keep it from being ‘better’.  But really, who cares?  It was still GREAT.

Spoilers to follow…consider yourself warned!