Entries Tagged as 'Reviews'

Movie Review: L – Change the World

L-changetheworld If you’re a fan of Death Note as I am, then you’ll know that recently there was a third movie speaking towards L’s short life after Kira. And that would be the movie, L – Change the World.

I have to say that it was very fortunate that I happened to be in San Francisco, the day that they were going to premier the DVD screening at New People World. I picked up a copy of the movie and got a free screener pass along with a “L” button. Depending on what you’re looking for, you might want the US version of this DVD set. Either way, I have to say that it was actually pretty good.

I happen to like the Death Note writing a bit better, so the plot of the spin-off was a little more hokey. But overall, it does fill in some of the blanks that the anime itself doesn’t on why the character L actually had successors and where they came from. In fact, there was definitely a nice touch where it overlaps at the beginning with the timeline of the Kira case, in which if you’ve never seen the previous movies, I would definitely recommend watching them in order, watching the anime, or reading the manga before watching this film. It would explain a lot of things such as the naming of Near.

Overall, this movie was anti-climatic when it comes to the end, and I wasn’t surprised but sort of disappointed that you didn’t get to follow L to the very end. It’s kind of like one of those westerns where the hero rides into the sunset and leaves the entire thing open and you’re going… wait a second… where’s the rest of it?

I’m glad to own the series although I can’t say whether or not the screening would have been better since I didn’t have a chance to go even though I had the tickets. One last thing. If you have an issue with seeing people spit, or pus or something like that, I would probably avoid this movie. It’s not often, but seeing that the film plot is about a virus weapon that is a hundred times the potential of Ebola, it’s not exactly void of death throes. Wait a second… have I wandered upon the next series? Death Note – Death Throes? One could only imagine…

Review: Cold Stone Cupcakes

coldstone_cupcakes I have to say that Cold Stone Creamery has hit on something big. Like seriously needs to go into their repertoire quick.

Currently, they’re promoting a $9.99USD limited time special for six ice cream cupcakes. From left to right, we have Sweet Cream, Cake Batter Delux, and Double Chocolate Devotion.

The technical of these cupcakes are actually pretty simple. It’s a chocolate shell, where the cake goes on the bottom, the ice cream above it, and then topped with frosting and some type of topping. But it truly is something that has a lot of weight on hot sunny afternoons and with the current cupcake craze around the United States, it’s bound to do well.

  • Sweet Cream: yellow cake, fudge & sweet cream ice cream, white frosting, milk and white chocolate curl.
  • Cake Batter Delux: red velvet cake, fudge & cake batter ice cream, pink frosting, rainbow sprinkles.
  • Double Chocolate Devotion: devil’s food cake, fudge & chocolate ice cream, white frosting, Oreo cookie.

Truly pick your poison. If regular cupcakes at bakeries can sell for $3USD a piece, then these things are tremendously under-valued and under-priced. In all truthfulness, I could actually seeing paying up to $5USD for a custom cupcake. Think about it. Most of the ingredients are already set up, so that you can already have shells with cake ready to go, pick your own ice cream, frosting, and topping. It’s a lovely move from a business perspective, and turns long hot summer days into something wonderful.

What’s even better is that there is also the possibility of say hot fudge for colder weather. There’s definitely a lot of maneuvering room for the product manager that is in charge of this one. Currently? You pay about $1.70USD per cupcake, and from what I saw they usually make about two batches a day since they sell out in about half day. I don’t think it’s caught on yet how awesome these things are, but believe me… anyone that touches these will not stop at one.

Movie Review: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I finally had the chance to watch this movie off of Netflixicon streaming in HD, and I have to say…

What the heck was I thinking in waiting so long??

This movie is absolutely fantastic and one of those that really don’t give away the ending until probably closer to the end. Which I appreciate since there are too many predictable movies out there. Jim Carrey plays Joel, whom is having his memory erased because his girlfriend had her memory erased of him. While he’s in the middle of this process, he realizes that he doesn’t want to lose her and tries frantically to save any memory of her.

What was absolutely great with this movie, and I made the connection here with Adam Sandler in Reign Over Me, is that it really seems that the comedic actors have a lot of depth when it comes to acting abilities. Even Jamie Fox, whom has had a multitude of serious roles has shown that while they all started in comedy, they can play serious parts extremely well and that there is more to it than one-sided acting.

The movie itself was fantastic and I urge anyone that likes drama to watch it, especially if they have Roku box. If you don’t have one, I would seriously advise you to look into getting one since it increases your Netflix account without any further cost outside the initial $99USD. In any case? Watch the movie. Yar.

Restaurant Review: Oriental Cafe

orientalcafe I have to admit that I have yet to try all of the food yet. Only been there twice, and both times I insisted on Japanese since that’s what I usually crave since it’s a bit more difficult to get good Japanese food in the South unless you’re a big fan of hibachi. But I have to admit, I found a new favorite place for my tummy.

And what the tummy wants, the tummy gets. To a degree. In any case, the decor on the inside was fabulous, and well done. Something that you’d never would have known from the outside decor due to the fact that it’s in a strip mall. From a cuisine perspective, you’re probably looking at a decent valued meal unless you go ballistic and order several of the ten dollar rolls. They serve Thai, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine and all of the waitresses are extremely friendly. I actually had a chance to meet the owner at one of my NAAAP meetings and found that we actually knew a mutual friend. In either case, the food was great, the value is good, and you really can’t get anything better than this around the Winston-Salem area. At least not to my knowledge.

There are definitely other reviews out there so don’t take my word for it. But I can tell you that both my wife and I have found a new restaurant that we adore. Oh, and one other thing since the Triad restaurants always have incredible crazy wait times during the Friday and Saturday dinner crowds. You don’t have to wait here. It’s one of those diamonds in the rough that people haven’t discovered yet. Nestled in the shadow of the Hanes Mall across from Allegacy credit union, this place is definitely an asian foodie’s choice.

Movie Review: The Day The Earth Stood Still

Having never seen the original, I have to say that I can’t make the comparison between the original and this version. So it’s actually lost on me when critics say that the original was better.

But I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The plot basically is about how the human race is destroying Earth and aliens come to save Earth because it’s on the brink of destruction. But only on the brink of destruction can we save ourselves and evolve further to and not be so self-absorbed. Interestingly enough, this plot was made way before there was any real push for environmentalism, so I’m not certain how much it follows the original. If it does, then it was definitely before its time.

All of the acting is pretty well done and I have to admit that the one that struck me was actually Jaden Smith. He was such a rebellious step-son in the movie, that you feel like he needed some severe discipline every time he opened his mouth. Which really drives home that there’s definitely acting in his blood considering his parents. A definite upcoming star.

If you’ve never seen the original or am looking for a pretty decent science fiction film, give The Day the Earth Stood Still a try. If you’re not a Reeves fan though, it will definitely strike you as one of those same-ole-face that he does in many of his more despondent characters.

Movie Review: Exiled

Booted up my Roku and streamed Exiled in HD last night. And I have to say that it was not only a wonderful experience, but the film itself was also fantastic.

What was wonderful about this movie is that while it was your typical asian Triad/gangster movie, the gun battles were very subtle in the fact that there was not a lot of waving around and it was very smooth. There was a lot more focus on the actors faces and expressions which made it more dramatic and focusing the action as more of a integral secondary characterization. The entirety of the movie wasn’t difficult to predict if you’ve watched enough of the big star Triad films with names such as Simon Yam and Anthony Wong.

The movie’s actual story basically focused on a group of five individuals that grew up together in a gang, and how they interacted after two of them decided to betray the gang and their relationship with one another. It actually was refreshing also to see a foreign film in Cantonese that was subtitled and streaming directly in HD. THis needs to be provided more often by the service providers and allow for original language penetration. Just a personal pet peeve but I’m not super fond of dubbed voicing since it’s a distraction and sometimes the dubbed voice is worse than the original and just reading subtitles.

It’s also interesting to note that there is one scene that there is an actual depiction of a Triad agreement handshake. Due to this fact alone, this film was rated Category III in Hong Kong, which is the equivalent of NC17 in the States because no children under the age of 18 are allowed to watch the film for Category III ratings. This film however was rated R in the States.

I have to say that this film was done very well from script to acting to directing. I definitely would recommend anyone that has a Roku player to add it to their queue, and if not, to rent or buy it. If you love mafia and Asian gangster type films, you’ll love Exiled.

Garmin Nuvi 265WT GPS

I recently purchased a Garmin nuvi 265WT GPS for work. And I have to say that the Garmin brand really stands up to their reputation.

I suppose first things first. The only bad thing I can find about the Garmin GPSes are the map updates. You’re allowed two months of free updates once you register the product. But from there on out you have to pay a fee for any maps you download or pay a “lifetime of GPS” fee which would run you around $100+USD. Total rip-off in my opinion and I believe that the maps really should be free across the board since you’re really buying a hardware product with features that accentuate the mapping tool.

The 265WT comes with a 4.3 inch screen. Very useful since if the screen is too small, the entire user interface is difficult to navigate since it’s completely touch-screen driven. Unless you have fingers the size of a child’s, I would fully recommend getting a wider screen if you’re out to purchase a new GPS. Garmin’s interface has got to be one of the easiest ones to learn. After playing with a multitude of GPSes at stores, you find that navigational and everything else, Garmin’s wins out on ease of use. And that’s very important since you really don’t want to be frustrated while moving a ton of steel at sixty miles per hour.

Directions wise, it seemed to be pretty decent and had a number of food points of interest that were up-to-date. I have to say that part of the traffic transceiver or what not was off with older map data or something since when I went to a chinese restaurant down the road and decided to change the route, it told me to make a big circle to get back on course instead of just finding another way into the parking lot. Also, the map data being off since Peters Creek Parkway is fifty five miles per hour for the speed limit but the GPS showed fifty. Outside of that, it’s extremely accurate. The way it picks up the satellites is also very quick and nothing like the Garmin III Street Pilot I had back in the day that took a while to actually sync up.

I haven’t fully tested the Bluetooth features of handsfree dialing but I can say that it was very simple to pair up my phone to it and it seems to have decent sound coming from it to the phone. It’s basically an extension to the phone and I was able to make a call from another room with just the GPS unit and still hear quite clearly. I’m not certain what others would hear on the other end and that’s the reasoning for not having a “fully tested” review on the handsfree side.

The GPS itself also has the ability to give you text-to-speech road names, speak in multiple different languages for directions (useful for immigrants or going elsewhere) and can pick up on a FM band, traffic patterns if it’s available. It also can do things like link pictures with locations, give car tours (purchased) and a whole slew of other things like calculate about how much a trip will cost from the ecoRoute meter.

Overall, this is a very useful tool on any sort of trip where you’re not definite about the place you’re going and gives you a lot of leeway on where things are including hotels, food, and other things. It’s like buying all of the AAA maps and putting them in the palm of your hand. If you’re trying to decide over a basic model or a more extensive one like this, take a look at your driving patterns. For some, they don’t need the handsfree dialing and usually just need something to keep them in the general area or direction. Then a basic model is fine. If you happen to drive in the states that holding a phone next to your ear is a fine, then the more advanced models would come into play. In any case, it’s probably worth your while to get a GPS if you travel; if you’re looking for one that’s easy to use, choose a Garmin.

Movie Review: Transporter 3

Jason, Jason. I have to say that Jason Statham is typecast really well into an action role. I mean, if you look at all of his films from the Transporter series to War, the guy is a regular bad ass. With his typical sculpted muscles that make women tear up and his rough British voice really reminds me of the young Bruce Willis in Die Hard without quite the salary. Regardless, Statham does a wonderful job with this series.

I have to say that while I love the great vehicles (Audi’s A8), and the car chases are spectacular, after a while the action is repetitive of the previous movies. Not that I didn’t mind it, but the only thing different in this one was a rare BMX scene that I wasn’t sure if Jason actually did the stunts for. The gal in the film itself was a bit more difficult to understand and while she was a pretty long legged redhead, it still just didn’t quite hold your attention. At the end, I kept wondering if she was underaged in the movie due to a photograph that was shown of her later on and if they were depicting her in college, why they kept showing the drugs and drinking which is really a bad influence even though that’s what happens in places like Ibiza (which apparently where this girl was before she got abducted).

If you like Statham, and you’re looking for a quick action flick, I would definitely recommend Transporter 3. But as with most action flicks, you have to suspend disbelief due to the sensationalism of transporters.

Anime Review: Black Blood Brothers

Recently, I had the opportunity to finish the Black Blood Brothers: Box Set and I have to say that while it’s not in my top tier of favorite animes, it definitely ranks high up there in the next tier. This vampire based anime talks about how vampires and humans have set aside their differences and lived peacefully in a place called The Special Zone. There is a barrier that holds any vampire away from this area unless invited by a human being that is from here. Yet, there is a rogue clan of vampires called the Kowloon Children that are out to basically wipe both vampires and humans from existence. Think of them kind of like the infectious guy from Blade II.

So the point is that there is an older more chivalrous school of vampires called the Old Bloods, that do everything in the way of the old. They are the most powerful, but they also bound by rules and regulations that determine how they fit into society and how they judge are to be judged. There are multiple vampire houses like the Sei house, the Warlock house, and the Sage house and in the middle is a human controlled “Company” that is the neutral party. The entire political structure is actually pretty simplistic although in the anime, you soon realize that there is a public face of peace while the underlying foundation shows a darker and more sinister side.

The entire story arc is about Jiro Mochizuki, the Silver Blade, or Kinslayer, a name that was given to him after the Hong Kong Crusade ten years prior due to him defeating the Kowloon King and the majority of the Kowloon Children. It’s also about acceptance, and how two cultures come to see one another and how there was intermediaries that helped smooth things over to make a place for all people, vampire and human alike.

I personally found this story to be fairly well thought out although the depth wasn’t as much as GitS or FMA. What’s also interesting is that the end seemed to come rather quickly but left it open for a second season. Especially with how it left it open, it wouldn’t surprise me if another publisher would have picked up this story arc and ran with it again.

Anime Review: Darker Than Black

So here I’ve been watching a new anime series called Darker Than Black. While most studios are hit and miss, anything that’s touched by Bones seems to be fantastic and when you can afford to get Yoko Kanno to do the music, it’s probably one of the better animes out there.
So knowing all of this, the standard is set higher. Which also means that there’s a lot more detail that a reviewer pays attention to since it’s no “ordinary” anime.
Thankfully, Darker Than Black doesn’t have that issue at all. Years ago, the stars in the sky were wiped out by a false “sky” of sorts due to the appearance of an unknown body within Tokyo called Hell’s Gate. In this “sky”, stars appeared that correspond to individuals that have fantastic powers that are used to kill with a price. The story arc revolves around Hei (黒, Chinese: Black) whom acts like a chinese student as his cover but is actually a Contractor for the Syndicate known as “The Black Reaper”. While every other contractor seems to have a price, he alone seems to be able to move able easily and can control electricity without having paid any price (I actually have some thoughts about this, but they’re not justified thoughts). Pay attention to his appetite. Perhaps that’s his price?
All the while, there are other contractors out looking for him, British intelligence contractors called November 11 are out for him and an unknown there, and he doesn’t exactly know where the Tokyo superintendent that is in charge of dealing with contractors stands.
There really isn’t too much currently on why he’s searching for his sister whom he lost in an implosion at the South American gate (whom I assume is the name for white) and there’s probably some significance to the color choices. I also really love the fact that this is one of the few times that anime is using Chinese characters for characters, which is kind of neat.
If you’re a big fan of assassin type storylines with super powers, I think that you’d definitely like DTB.