Saturday, February 23, 2013

A bunch of mini-reviews from movies I've seen in 2012 and early 2013

So guess what?  I'm employed.  At a great company with great people doing stuff I love.  This means that I'll be able to blog more.  First, though, I need to play a little catch-up.

The Avengers (2012) was a great action comic book movie.  It is really jam-packed full of action, the plot is a little thin, and Hulk is actually done well, thanks to Mark Ruffalo after one bad and one mediocre attempt at feature film.  It is pure comic superhero entertainment.  Thumbs up to Joss Whedon.  I give it 9 ramheads out of 10.

Next up, another comic book flick, The Dark Knight Rises (2012) was the close to a great Batman trilogy from Christopher Nolan.  It tied up loose ends, brought everything full circle (many Batman Begins and The Dark Knight nods), and features more real character development than in the past.  All the acting, action, and plot were top notch.  I like the film better than its predecessors, though it wasn't quite as shocking as The Dark Knight.  This was probably my favorite film of 2012.  10 ramheads out 10.

Not comic-booky at all, Will Ferrell's Everything Must Go (2010) features a Will Ferrell acting, not too much unlike his performance in Stranger than Fiction.  This time his character is an alcoholic who hits rock bottom.  His wife leaves all his stuff on the lawn, changes the locks, and then leaves.  He works it out.    Funny.  Sad.  And shows some of the effects of alcoholism on a guy.  I enjoyed this one.  I'll give this one 7 ramheads out of 10.

My Amazon Prime subscription led me to watch a few films that I wasn't sure about.  I had a good experience with Everything Must Go, but not so much with Melancholia (2011).  I only made it half through.  The part I saw was a couple at their weird wedding reception with a weird family and the new bride was going back and forth from being happy and depressed.  Then she sleeps with a random guy, not her husband.  I still don't get the point of this depressing crap, and I know I wasted 45 minutes of my time.  1 ramhead out of 10.  I really don't recommend seeing this.

Another Amazon Prime flick that was very highly regarded with critics and award shows, was Winter's Bone   (2010).  This is Jennifer Lawrence's foray into popularity, even if it was more of an indy film.  While I can't say that I enjoyed it, it was very interesting.  The gist of the it: in southern poverty a 17 year old girl (Lawrence) has to find her drug-addicted father, who owes money, otherwise they will lose their land.  Her mom is severely depressed and pretty much useless, so Lawrence's character is also raising her younger siblings.  Her character is very similar to Katniss in The Hunger Games.  The culture of drugs, family, and poverty is really what strikes the middle class Midwesterner that I am.  It is an honest picture of a world I'll never know.  I give it 6 ramheads out of 10.

The final film in this post is another Prime watched film.  Into the Wild (2007) is a film about a young college graduate with a tough past and a very high intellect, just disappearing on a quest of sorts traveling across America and ending up living in solidarity in Alaska.  He's trying to figure out life and how to be happy.  His final conclusion is very interesting.  Into the Wild is based on a true story.  I give it 8 ramheads out of 10.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Zombie with Heart

I've always enjoyed post-apocalyptic films, television, and literature.  So when I saw the trailer for Warm Bodies, I was intrigued.  A comedy about zombies.  Zombies with a heart?

I won't go so far as to say it was a romantic comedy, because aside from a select few (noteably, Crazy, Stupid, Love) the genre itself is lame.  Plus, the main character is a zombie, impressively played with blank zombie look for most of film by Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class's Hank McCoy/Beast).

I won't go too into the story, because most of it is in the trailer:

I will say though, that this is the freshest, most unique take on the Romeo/Juliet story I've seen in a long time and the most creative movie I've seen since Inception.  (I know that Warm Bodies was based on the book of the same name, but it was still an excellent movie.)

The music was great, the jokes were funny, the acting and makeup was stellar, and the plot was very original.  There was a bit of language in this PG-13 film, not suitable for younger kids.  I give this excellent film 9 ramheads out of 10.  (P.S. I'm sorry, I review so many good films...I just don't like wasting my money or time on bad ones. But look forward to my mini-review roundup.  I know there will be at least 1 bad film in there.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My New Backpacking Tent: the Kelty Gunnison 3.1

Just a quick update on my backpacking gear:  I got my new backpacking tent!  It is the Kelty Gunnison 3.1 three person tent.  I was excited, because I got a great deal on it since they just introduced the new model version of it.  I paid essentially half price.

I just set it up in my living room and it looks to be a great size for me alone or for me and one other person, which is what I expected based on the dimensions.

Straight away I'm impressed with the quality of the tent.  The aluminum poles are very light and very strong.  Way lighter than my family tent's heavy duty fiberglass poles (my Cabelas Westwind Tent, which I previously reviewed and love).

The tent materials are high quality and I'm eager to use it and get the vestibule on it (there was not enough space in our living room, and we couldn't stake it down).

It weighs in at 6.5 pounds, which is great since I don't plan on doing ultralight, minimalist backpacking, but still want a pretty light tent.

Take a look:

Monday, February 11, 2013

Jimmy's Sweet Job and other things

That's right, I have a job now!  Well, I had a job until the end of the year, but then I didn't.  Now I have a sweet new job at a sweet company with sweet people.  I'm a software developer (in training) at Digital Measures (don't worry, a new website is in the works and will be coming in a month or so) in Milwaukee.  I'm very excited and I enjoy coming to work.

This means I don't have to use my time outside work to search for jobs anymore.  I still spend time with my wife and son, but I'll definitely have more time to spend on writing this blog.

I'm actually in the process of writing a bunch of mini-reviews of movies that I've seen in the last several months, since my time in the last year on this blog has been a bit minimal.  I'll continue to write some full length reviews and share my thoughts on the TV I've been watching as well.  (I've gotten into more survival TV that Discovery Channel puts out, and some other shows.)

I also plan to share my media server setup, which I put together after we got a Roku for Christmas.  I'll even share some photos as well.

Finally, I've car camped my whole life and I love it.  I've decided to go a little 'rougher' and do some backpacking as well.  I'll share some of my gear, and my experiences as a beginner backpacker.

Stay tuned.