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Showing posts from 2013

Thor: The Dark World

Maybe I’m suffering superhero burnout, because my reaction to Thor: The Dark World is pretty much, “Meh.” Which is disappointing, given how much I enjoyed Thor. T:TDW is certainly enjoyable in many respects. It has great moments. Unfortunately, the moments don’t really add up to anything that feels like a complete movie. In T:TDW, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Norse God of Thunder, Lightning, and general I-will-kick-your-ass, has been fighting to restore peace in the nine realms. Apparently when the Bifrost was destroyed at the end of Thor (the bifrost being colorful thingee that allows Thor & Co. to traipse about the galaxy), the other realms saw this and went, “Woohoo, no more Asgardian overlords!” and started raising hell. This is why Thor plopped back onto Earth during The Avengers (or so it’s implied). As T:TDW begins, following a numbing expository dump about the film’s main bad guys, Thor is helping to quell...something. It’s just a brawl, without any further description or p…

An Aesthetic Chernobyl

They've shut down the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in order to complete the new eastern span, the portion linking Treasure Island to the city of Oakland. It's a marvelous illustration of how dysfunctional California government can be. In 1989, a portion of the eastern span of the bridge broke during an earthquake. Clearly something had to be done, and that "something" is the new eastern span that will open next week, 24 years later. Part of the reason it's taken so long is that the damage was repaired, the bridge reopened, and this gave all of the politicians years and years to fight over a long-term solution. Meanwhile, every day since 1989, millions of travelers have driven over a bridge that everyone knew would break if there was another serious quake. Everybody squabbled. Then-Mayor Jerry Brown (Oakland) argued with then-Mayor Willie Brown (San Francisco). The eastern anchorage of this portion of the bridge sits in Oakland, while the western anchorage con…

BD: Oblivion

Every now and again I am pleasantly surprised by a film. Oblivion is one such film and I'm still amazed at just how much I enjoyed it. Oblivion is a post-apocalyptic story set in the year 2077. Humanity has defeated an invasion by an alien race, but as a result the Earth has become essentially uninhabitable. Humanity has relocated to Titan, one of Saturn's moons. Apparently, the only two humans left behind are Jack and Victoria. Their job is to maintain a small army of flying drones. These drones, in turn, protect massive thingees that are sucking up all of Earth’s water in order to convert it to hydrogen for the survivors on Titan. This should make an eyebrow raise because that setup is just all full of WTF, as is the mandatory memory wipe Jack and Victoria had before reporting for duty. Security, don’t you know. Sure. Thus, right off the bat you know something is amiss and just what that is unfolds over the course of the film. Oblivion is the sort of film that is a continuou…

Blu-Ray Audio

Recently, my Sony PS3 started acting up. This was annoying because my PS3 is my Blu-Ray disk (BD) player, and when it "died" it meant I was cut off from my video disk library. Sadness ensued. While I was trying to figure out what was going on with my PS3, I bought a small Sony dedicated BD player. It was well reviewed, set up easily, and plugged right into my existing setup. My setup, by the way, is all-Sony…receiver, HDTV, etc. Call me paranoid, but it seemed the most direct way to ensure compatibility. So, all seemed well, but I was bothered by the audio. More precisely, there was an apparent drop in audio quality. Everyone focuses on the image quality of BD's, but of equal import is that audio quality. A BD film comes with uncompressed audio (e.g., DTS-HD) and when played properly it's awesome. Watch the launch in Apollo 13 and, if the audio is set right, you'll immediately hear what I mean. The issue came down to how my new player fed audio to my receiver. Th…

Microsoft Surface RT & Me

The iPad is gone. After a year, I never grew comfortable with it. It always seemed a fight. I’m willing to take some of the blame. My biggest issue was how it never really blended into my PC environment. It was always a wrestling match. The problem was driven entirely by the software, both the operating system and the apps. Especially the apps.

For example, while Pages sorta reads/writes Microsoft Word files, it tended to do so while mangling the formatting. And my document formatting it pretty plain Jane. The text editing apps didn’t like to play nice with syncing back and forth. IAWriter is lovely, but syncs best to iCloud, and iCloud syncing works best with the desktop version of IAWriter...which is Mac-only. Etc.

In any event, it’s off at a new home. They’re happy, I’m happy.

Now it’s the Surface RT’s turn to see if it can be a lightweight, tablet-like laptop substitute. So far, so good. First, and no surprise, it ties in perfectly with my PC. Everything syncs via SkyDrive, though no…

Star Trek Into Darkness

(First, a warning: There’s no way to really discuss this film without spoilers. I’ll start without them, but I’ll give a final warning. And now, off to the races we go...)

I’ve been a Trekkie since we snobbishly referred to ourselves as Trekkers. I actually watched the premier episode waaay back in 1966. I’m the father that J.J. Abrams, producer and director of the new films, refers to when he says, “This isn’t your father’s Star Trek.” Despite that, I was able to enjoy his 2009 reboot of Star Trek. It wasn’t Star Trek, mind you, but rather a clever rendition of Abrams’ preferred series, Star Wars. As a Star Wars film called Star Trek, it was all right; a standard, by-the-numbers space action film. Dumb as a bowl of mice, but at least the mice were entertaining.

Star Trek Into Darkness (STID) isn’t that good. The mice have left the bowl. It’s grossly unfair to call it a terrible film, but it’s definitely a bad film.

STID takes place roughly one year after the events of the last film. As…