29 September 2014

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

If you don't want to read it all:
Score: 8/10
Verdict: Very entertaining, excellent action movie. Good job Mr. Liman!

I will keep it spoiler-free, no worries. And I am guessing you are already familiar with the main thing about this movie.

In short: Europe (so far it's only Europe) has been invaded by aliens and humans have been on retreat ever since. But some new fighting technologies are helping us fight back and there's an offensive planned to invade France from England (somehow this sounds very familiar, doesn't it?). Major Cage (Tom Cruise) is a media officer who somehow ends up on the battlefield. Since he is not really trained for combat he ends up dead pretty soon... only to end up reliving the past 24 hours all over again. And now, every time he dies he resets to the same point in time but keeps all his memories from what's about to come. Why? Well, that's for you to watch and see.

This "time rewind" is almost exactly the same as in the legendary Groundhog Day, but unlike Bill Murray's character, Tom Cruise MUST DIE to reset the time. That's the only difference that I could think of, the rest is exactly the same. I am not complaining here, oh no. It's just the opposite, I am glad they used that same idea in something completely different.

I really enjoyed Edge of Tomorrow and I didn't get bored at all. The action starts really quick and it doesn't end almost at all until the very end. The repeated scenes are handled really good and you will not be annoyed with them. I think this particular "problem" had to be handled carefully and it was tuned to perfection. Sure, some things are repeating and Major Cage is aware of them all, but they don't happen more than twice and they're quickly fast forwarded. Brilliant!

So I will not bore you with any more details, it's enough to know that this movie is well worth your time. It was the fastest 110 minutes I've spent in years and I promise you will have the same. Enjoy!

26 September 2014


Honestly - it's waaaaay too early to say how good it is, we've seen only the pilot episode. But if it is any indication of what it might be - it's looking good. They did a great job capturing the "spirit" of Gotham: it's dark, but in an illuminated way. It really feels like Gotham from comics and so do the characters we got to meet in the pilot. I won't tell you any names, I don't want to spoil it for you.

I will be doing a "real" review after a few episodes or after the finale, but I just couldn't resist making this small post, just to say that I liked the first episode. Good job so far, Fox. Don't screw it up.

23 September 2014

Silicon Valley

HBO did it again. They created a show that covers a very specific subject, but you really don't have to understand any of it to enjoy the humor it provides. I hope it's true because I do understand all of it so I cannot be objective enough :D

Richard Hendriks works for Hooli, one of many Silicon Valley's tech companies with motivational videos and logos, weird meeting rituals and all that crap that these nerds do (I am a different kind of nerd, seriously!) and he develops an app that... well, it's useless but it's compression algorithm is absolutely stunning. He soon gets an offer to sell it for 1, 4 and finally 10 million dollars, but instead decides to sell 5% of his share to a rival billionaire who promised to help him build and raise his own company. He hires his roommates to work with him and now they're off to do something they have no idea how it's done - a company.

The characters are awesome! Richard is shy and panicky guy, very unsure of what he is doing and questions his decision not to take 10 million bucks. Gilfoyle is a sarcastic satanist, a java master programmer who hopes to "wake up one day to find out he died and went to hell". As Dinesh explains "it's ok, he's satanist so it's good for him. So, Dinesh is a Pakistani American (he's legal!), yet another programmer in the group. Jared is new in the gang, he joins up from Hooli after seeing what Richard made and wants to help. And finally Elrich, everyone's (probably) favorite asshole who actually isn't. He owns 10% of whatever Richard makes because he provided him with a place to live in Silicon Valley. He simply takes percentages instead of rent money. Smart, eh? 

That's the five guys from the image above. The others are two eccentric billionaires Peter Gregory and Gavin Belson, Gavin's assistant Monica and Big Head, Richard's best childhood friend who was kicked out because he was useless and is now working for Hooli. Working. Actually, he does nothing (because he IS useless) and was hired out of revenge or whatever.

Season one ended in june 2014, but I just recently saw it. It has eight episodes only (30 minutes each) and it's been renewed for season two due to great reviews it was getting. Let me be one of those who are going to recommend this brilliant sitcom to you as well. You will love it, even if you have no idea what it is about even after watching 4+ episodes. It's just... a lot of fun! Another thing - it IS a sitcom, but it does not have that audience laugh in the background. Awesome!

22 September 2014

Godzilla (2014)

If you don't want to read it all:
Score: 4/10
Verdict: Advertised as a clash between Walter White and the biggest lizard ever. But it's actually about a lizard love couple trying to rule the world...

Well, it's not that I always wanted to see Heisenberg fighting Godzilla, but that's kind of what they told us this is about. Or no, it was the trailers that kept showing Bryan Cranston in just about all of them, all the time. In reality, Bryan dies after 30 minutes and his movie son takes over. And the world is not endangered by Godzilla, but two unknown huge... somethings codenamed MUTO (
Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism). They feed on radiation and like to cuddle in nuclear plants. Lovely creatures. Honest Trailer counted the amount of time that Bryan and Godzilla were on screen. It totaled to 11 minutes and 16 seconds out of 122 minutes.

I learned not to believe blockbuster trailers long ago, but who can resist watching those movies at the end? Sure, you end up watching these movies with low expectations, but somehow they still manage to disappoint us. I am not saying that Godzilla is absolutely awful, but it's quite below average. The story has a lot of holes, the main characters are behaving unnaturally (seriously, if my family was living in a city that is about to be crushed by not one but two and possible even three huge monsters, I would at least try and get them out of there or tell them to get the hell out of there) and more than 80% of it happens at night and/or in foggy weather. I don't like to talk about special effects so much (I consider them a distraction from bad stories... see my point here? :)) so I will just say that they are good, but as stated before - most of them show things (monsters) in darkness or fog.

Sadly, it's just another summer blockbuster that will be quickly forgotten.

14 September 2014

A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)

If you don't want to read it all:
Score: 5/10
Verdict: Sometimes funny, but quite... shallow and quite disappointing

I like what Seth MacFarlane is doing with Family Guy, I adore that show! But when it comes to movies, he seems to... just can't make it right. I remember when Ted was announced. I really wanted to like that one and I did my best not to have too high expectations so I could enjoy Seth's politically incorrect humor in something completely new. But I ended up being bored. Yeah, I laughed a few times, I just can't resist Seth's jokes, but overall it was just below average. I know, making a good comedy in this millennium is an impossible job and I really don't envy those who try, but it should be better than Ted was. Unfortunately, A Million Ways to Die in the West isn't any better.

A girl leaves a guy and now he wants her back. Being someone who just doesn't belong on the frontier doesn't help, so winning her back will take something special. And something special is another girl, a girl who makes his ex-girlfriend totally forgettable. Once he realizes that... things get messy since she's married to one of the most wanted criminals on the wild west.

It is obvious that the actual story is absolutely unimportant and the main focus is on characters and their humor. A lot of it is quite good, I laughed often and enjoyed most of it, but there was a bit too much of toilet humor even for my taste. And believe me, I have a rather high tolerance for just about anything. Another good thing are many cameos (one of them is an instant classic!), but I'll let you see them for yourself.

Acting is fine. Seth was ok, but his face simply does not fit the time and place. I am going to guess it was intentional, to make Albert (Seth's character) seem completely unfit for the frontier. Charlize is awesome, she doesn't even have to act! Giovanni Ribisi, Liam Neeson and especially Sarah Silverman did a good job. Neil Patrick Harris was Barney once again and that was definitely intentional. Even his "challenge accepted" was there!

I know some people who were delighted with Ted and I guess those same people will love A Million Ways to Die in the West. I am not one of those people. For me, this was just one of those movies I will forget rather quickly. But then again there's that wonderful cameo that I will remember for a long time... Tease :)

10 September 2014

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

If you don't want to read it all:
Score: 8/10
Verdict: If only all Star Trek movies were as good as this one... The best one in series!

The sixth time's the charm! There have been a few OK Star Trek movies so far, but this one is a real gem! It has everything we loved about this show and they had to wait for Gene Roddenberry to die to do it? Planetary explosions, Klingons, assassinations, conspiracies and space combat. What more would you ask for?

Klingon race is facing extinction as their home planet Qo'noS is about to lose its ozone layer. The reason for that is destruction of planet's moon Praxis caused by overmining. Being the galaxy's good guys, the United Federation of Planets proposes peace with the Klingon empire in order to help them survive. USS Enterprise, Captain Kirk and his crew are asked to escort Klingon Chancellor Gorkon to Earth so he could attend the peace conference. Kirk opposes but is forced to accept the order and soon finds out that he is not the only one who really does not want peace with Klingons...

I really liked The Undiscovered Country and its story, especially when its compared to the other Star Trek movies. It's far from boring and it even has some mystery in it, as Spock tries to uncover the conspiracy that threatens to start a full scale war between the Federation and Klingon Empire. Oh, we even get to meet Worf's grandfather (also played by Michael Dorn) during the trial on Qo'noS.

Keeping it short. This is definitely one of the best Star Trek "episodes" in its long history.

05 September 2014

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

If you don't want to read it all:
Score: 2/10
Verdict: Skip this one if you can. Seriously, it will give you a headache

Oh God... Where do I begin? Let me just say that I fell asleep TWICE while watching The Final Frontier. You see, I watch movies (and TV shows) at night, usually after 10 PM, after my children are asleep. I really don't like to be interrupted while watching and late night is just perfect. Sometimes I stay awake up until well after midnight and I don't even feel sleepy. But if something is just plain boring, I simply end up waking up next to a turned on TV screen with a blue background.

The Final Frontier.

I know that most Star Trek are just not good enough for most non-fans, but this one is just plain terrible. The whole story and execution, the idea and the conclusion... Everything is just wrong. You have to watch this movie only if you are on a Star Trek marathon as I am, otherwise it's a complete waste of time.

What is it about? A rebel Vulcan (you know, one of those that don't embrace logic but prefer emotions instead) in search of God. He captures a settlement in the neutral zone in order to lure a ship so he could capture it and go into the middle of the universe and meet God. (In Forrest Gump voice): "That's all I have to say about that".

And I am really sorry to say that about a Star Trek movie.

P.S. To clear it up: after falling asleep for the first time, I actually went to bed and continued watching The Final Frontier tomorrow morning. I only had 40 minutes left, but even then I fell asleep again, with about 10 minutes left. I watched the remaining 10 minutes after slapping myself to stay awake. So it took me two nights to see the whole thing.

03 September 2014

Android: How to turn off annoying reminders from games and apps?

Do you ever get annoyed by those Android applications that keep reminding you?

"The Smurfs from your village miss you, come back and save us from Gargamel!"
- I actually had this one from a game called Smurf Village

"You have been absent from the game for too long, did you forget about us?"
- Random Android game


I've been asked about this "problem" a lot in the past (mostly by the people at work), but I didn't know how to "fix" it so I just ignored them. "It's just a minor reminder, why all the fuss about it?" Well, that was until I had a sleepless night because of one such "minor reminder". The thing is - it's my wife who wakes me up every morning at 06:30. She does not use a sound alarm on her Android phone, but a simple vibration and the screen that lights up when alarm starts. She wakes up, turns off the alarm, wakes me up and that's it. Why do we do that? Because we have a baby sleeping in our room and he, just as all the babies seem to be doing, reacts to just about any sound or light that goes on for more than 5 seconds. ANY SOUND OR LIGHT. And if one of those reminders on her phone occurs, it turns on a flashing blue light that actually wakes the baby up. That happened a few nights ago and we had a rather sleepless night after that... Fun times.

So, if you want to turn off those things, for whatever reason, here's how to do it (screenshots are from my heavily modified Samsung Galaxy S3, so actual screens on your phone may look different):

Find SETTINGS on your application list

Go to Applications manager (or Apps, or Applications;
depends on your phone brand and/or Android version)

Select the application you no longer want to remind you of anything


Enjoy! Notifications for that applications will no longer annoy you. Unfortunately, I haven't found a way to do this for all apps, so you have to do it one by one. It shouldn't be much of a problem, there aren't all that many apps that do this anyway and the most famous one is probably Facebook app.

01 September 2014

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

If you don't want to read it all:
Score: 7/10
Verdict: The Voyage Home is something very different and it is a lot of fun!

In the last Star Trek review, I said that The Search for Spock is the best Star Trek so far (well, out of 3). That is no longer true a The Voyage Home surpasses it by far. And it's really unique in this whole Star Trek universe as it feels almost like a comedy, more than a sci-fi film.

The story is typical - a huge probe of unknown origin is on course to Earth and is threatening to destroy our dear planet. It is emitting a strange sound and is blocking all communications to and from the planet. Meanwhile, Kirk and his merry men are on their way back home, riding a Klingon Bird of Prey they captured in the previous movie. Typically, they reach Earth right on time to determine the probe's mission - it needs to find out what happened with humpback whales and why are they not responding to hails?! Well, the whales are extinct and they cannot respond so... Spock suggests going back in time to late 20th century in order to capture and transport a few whales and let them communicate with the probe. Fortunately, Bird of Prey is capable of a "slingshot effect" (extremely high warp factor speed towards a massive body such as our Sun) so off they go to 1986.

The whole movie feels really strange, but in a good way. It wasn't boring at all, it features familiar settings since most of it is happening in 1986 New York and gives some new insight on many characters. It was particularly entertaining to see Spock on Earth that is unknown to him and his behavior that scares humans who have no idea about his nature. Not to mention his inability to lie...

Overall, I really liked The Voyage Home despite it's silly idea. Actually, the whale part is okay, it kind of makes you wonder about the whole whale song thing, but the concept of indestructible, incredibly powerful space-something that threatens Earth is kind of annoying. It simply happens to often!