The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Category: Reviews and Critiques

Wait… it gets worse…

A couple weeks ago I wrote a piece where I bashed the new Jason Statham bomb, in theaters now, for being a very weak effort to draw in money for using a fairly big name action actor, in an already weak plot to make a few more dollars.

Now, we see that it does not stop there…  it gets worse.

Watching TV the other day, I see an ad for a “new” series called “Roommates”.  Supposedly about a bunch of people sharing the same apartment in a large city.  Then all manner of zany antics ensue… bullocks!

OK… I am already not a big fan of sitcoms.  I have never been able to tolerate programs that take and mentally molest you with things that are supposed to be funny… and to try and sell that point to you, they include a “laugh-track”, so that you can be reminded of the funny parts and remember to laugh yourself.

Examples of programs like this are “Two and a Half Men”, “Frasier” and “Full House” are some examples… ones that I actually had to look up on a list and then think about if I had ever seen an episode or not.  Most of the time, no… I have not, but I recall a few that Naty liked to watch, and those are the ones I listed.

To be fair… there was one episode of “Frasier” that I watched that was actually funny.  The only reason that I saw it was it was on while I ate dinner with my wife.  Otherwise I would not have seen it.  I tried watching a couple more episodes, but was not impressed.  I was able to tell everything that was going to happen and even knew how it would end before the show was even a quarter of the way in.

I am sorry.  I like to be surprised.  I do not like to be able to figure a program out before the opening credits have finished rolling.  This is why I like shows like “CSI: Las Vegas”, “CSI: New York” and “The Eleventh Hour”.  These are all shows that keep you guessing.  I cannot stand “CSI: Miami” for one reason… yeah… David Caruso.  He should have ended his career with the role of “Kit Kat” in “Hudson Hawk”.

I digress…  Almost all sitcoms these days are predictable from the start.  You know where they are going, what is going to happen and how it is going to happen.  There is no surprise, no excitement, nothing to look forward to.  The same is also true of many other programs that are on TV today, but I think this is more-so with sitcoms.

Now… back to my original example… the new program called “Roommates”.  I have never seen “Friends”, but I suspect that there is not much to that show beyond what I have been accosted with by the previews and the coming attractions spots they show on TV… you know, the little segments that start with “On the next exciting episode of Friends… so and so meets who’s a what’s its and they fall into a thing-a-ma-jig.”  Then they proceed to show you a thirty-second spot of the show.

Looking at the preview for “Roommates”, I suspect that someone found a box of leftover “Friends” scripts that never got used, renamed it and ran with a new series.

Problem is that there are idiots out there that are dumb enough to watch it and not realize that they are watching the television version of vomit.  Something that was filtered through the system, set aside, forgotten, filed, refiled, forgotten again, thrown away, used as a birdcage liner, then placed on the desk of some washed out producer with nothing better to do than make a show out of it.  Face it… this is “Friends” with a new cast, fresh coat of ugly paint and a different set of names.

Creativity, in Hollywood, is gone.  I am not sure where it went, exactly, but it is gone.  I can only assume it might be prostituting itself on some dark corner on a back street in Bangkok or someplace of equally poor reputation.

We will be subjected to shows like “24”, “Roommates”, “House”, “Two and an half men” and <enter your favorite sitcom here>

I will stick with the History Channel and Discovery Channel.

Review: The Andromeda Strain

To be fair, I went into this movie expecting a poorly made remake of a movie about a book.  That is to say that while the original movie was good, they had to make some changes in order to make the movie a little more politically correct for it’s time.

This movie had me worried.  Making a movie based on a really good book is dangerous enough, but making a movie about a REALLY good book is like pissing on a spark plug, just to see what will happen.  I sit here to tell you that I was not too displeased with the results.

One of the first things that started me having high hopes for this was when I saw that Ridley Scott was involved in it.  Pretty much anything that has his name on it turns out pretty good.  OK…  I will pretend that “G.I. Jane” was just that he woke up with a headache when he took that on. 

The movie was well done, and except for about the last third, it stayed pretty close to the book.  Obviously they updated things to make more sense in this day and time.  The last third of the movie took on a little too much of that whole, “Kirk and Spock, shoot around the sun, time travel, paradox.” feel for me.  Face it, the whole time travel thing thing has been beat to death, stomped on, thrown in the oven, rebaked and served to us with some other name.  Like so much day old bread put in a new bag.

My main complaints are actually with the graphics and CGI work in the movie.  You would think that since this is a A&E production, they might be able to afford someone like, say, Industrial Lights and Magic.  If you want an example of the problems I am talking about, look for this one.  Towards the begining, when the team is dropped of in Piedmont, as the Helo takes off, you will see that the overlay is all wrong and the perspective is wrong for the placement of the people in comparison to where the Helo is.

Sorry… I know I nit pick, but if I did not, then who would?

If you happen to see this on again, watch it.  It really is not too bad and this is coming from a guy who, for the most part, really does not like movie adaptations of good books.


Movie Review: Iron Man

I will rarely go to the movies anymore, usually when I post these reviews, it is based on a movie that I have waited to make the transition from the BIG screen, the the little screen.

It is not because I do not like to go to the theater, but it is more about the cost.

I know there are those out there that can beat me on this, but I can recall when I was young, going to the movies and spending about $3.50 to get in during the regular showing.  Nowadays you practically have to go down and apply for a small personal loan if you want to see a non-matinée movie and want to get a couple sodas and popcorn.  You will need some collateral if you plan on getting one of their pizzas or pretzels.

So my wife and I went to the theater and saw this movie.

I will tell you something.  This movie was really good.  In fact, I would say that it was the first time I had been to the movies in a long time, where I did not leave feeling like I wasted two plus hours of my life, and a handful of money… like I felt when I saw the last three Star Wars movies.

It had a good story, good characters and Robert Downey has made a pretty good come back with this movie.

If you are a fan of the comics, which I was years and years ago, then you will certainly like this one.  The story is updated for the modern time, and the topics are written to use current story lines.

Go see this movie!!!

Favorite line:  “This is the Fun-V, your in the Hum-V!”

Movie Review: SunShine

Last year I saw a couple previews for the movie SunShine, but it never made it to my local theatre. Before I knew it, it was in the DVD rental list on my Netflix account.

I ordered it, and then when it arrived, I watched it expecting it to be a poorly made movie. I mean, why else would it have gone to video so soon after hitting the theatres? That is something that usually only happens to either, a. Really bad movies. b. Movies that make you really think about something or c. Movies that touch on a subject that no one wanted to accept.

So I watched it and I really liked it. The effects were great, the story, while a little improbable, was good. The characters were believable, and the end was very well done.

Granted… there are some of the concepts of the movie that were a little out there. But I will discuss those at the end.

Without giving away the movie to the people that might want to see it, the easiest way I can describe it is that it is about sacrifice. People taking a dangerous journey with the intent of using an experimental device to reignite the sun. Add to this that this is not the first attempt. They are traveling in the wake of a previous attempt, that failed. So the odds are already against them.

This movie is good in the sense that there is a lot to the story that speaks to humans in general. We usually do not give up or give in. We are bound and determined to go up against insurmountable odds to achieve something that may or may not work.

This movie is motivational, with a little horror, and a grand theme. If I were to make comparisons… it is like Red Planet, with a pinch of Event Horizon and a little bit of Core.

My only arguements:

1. The concept that by collecting all the remaining fissionable material on Earth, and taking it to the sun in an attempt to restart it, is like a flea crawling up and elephant’s rear with rape in mind.

2. I am not sure that there is much of anything that we can create that could survive a direct entry into the sun’s coronasphere and live long enough to detonate therein.

Those things aside, this is a great movie to watch!

Head On… Apply directly to your head

Alright… So I will have to agree that these are, quite possibly, the worst commercials on TV. I cannot even tell you how the nerves grate when I see the Head On, and similar products, ads come on, and you would be amazed at how quit I am to hit the mute button, or throw a blunt object in the general direction of the television.

All that being said, I found myself, one day, with a bad headache, and walking aimlessly through Target. This is one of the many times that my wife dragged me there in an effort to buy household goods. It was in the process of this shopping that I stumbled upon it…

There… in the pharmacy, behind the counter, was a small green box, titled “Head On – Migraine formula.” So I asked the lady to hand it to me. I walked away with a sense of skepticism about my find. Being that my headache was so bad at this point that I was trying to figure out who had the nine inch nails, and why they were pounding them into my head, I broke open the box and “applied it directly to my head.”

Let me take a moment and explain me, to you. I am the type of person that, if you hand me a bag of money, my first question is: “What’s the catch?” If you tell me how great something is, I will probably ignore you, and if you rave about it, chances are I will not try it on principal. The odd thing about this philosophy is that I think I picked some of it up from one of my former bosses at a company called ADSS.

Now… after I put this stuff on my head, I felt a little tingle, but nothing major. It was not until about ten minutes later that my wife asked how my head was. It was then that I realized that the headache was actually gone. I was speechless. I went back to the Pharmacy to get another one, but they had only had the one tube, and I had bought it. So I went home with sadness in my heart.

Later that same week, I was in Vons, a grocery chain, and noticed that they had Active On… this is the arthritis version of the Head On. So I picked up the box and set out for the rest of my purchases.

That night, as it usually does, my knee started acting up on me. This is usually a dull, deep pain and I try to just ignore it. But that night I decided to try my new weapon. I put the Active On on in just the way they suggested, and within twenty minutes, the pain was almost unnoticeable. I also had the same success when my ankle acted up on me a few days later. The pain was gone within minutes.

So… I am a Head On/Active On advocate… in spite of their commercials.

If you find a bottle in the store you like to shop at, please pick one up… I think you will be pleased.

Car shopping for the recently insane

I have recently purchased a car… Not a new car, mind you, but new to me. I can tell you one thing, though. This has been more nerve wracking that anything I have gone through in some time. My word of advice to everyone is this: If you are suicidal, have a tendency towards violent emotional outbursts, have been known to start speaking in tongues when in the presents of used car sales people or have uncontrollable fits and spasms when someone says, “Let me go talk to my manager.” If any of these describe your state of mind, then please do yourself and the legal system a favor and go pick yourself out a good ten-speed. As for the rest of you, please read on.

As any of you who might know me will understand, my last vehicle sucked. I drove a 1997 GMC Jimmy that had been nothing short of a money pit since I bought it. Luckily I also bought a warranty package, so much of the money that it has sucked, in the beginning, was from the dealer. This was my vehicle for eight years… and yes, I was surprised with I realized that I had had it that long as well.

Going into this process, I laid out three vehicles I was interested in, and kept it to that. In order of importance, here is that list: 1. Honda Ridgeline, 2. Chrysler Pacifica, and 3. Hyundai Sante Fe. Now I can already hear some of you out there groaning about the Hyundai, but let me tell you something. I was actually surprised to learn that they have come a long way and turned out to be a pretty good car maker these days. I was not, in the least, hesitant to look at a Sante Fe or a Tucson by them.

My final decision was based on the current market and the fact that I was made a very good deal on the car. It was the 2006 Chrysler Pacifica, touring edition. I wanted the Honda Ridgeline, but with the current credit crunch, Honda (and a few other dealers) are extremely tight on their policies and restrictions for whom they finance. I can accept this, as I will be the first to say that I have not been a saint with respect to my credit. I have had issues and events that have broken down my rating.

I can say, though, that my experience was not completely unpleasant. The only down side to the shopping experience was giving my cell phone and home address to Barber Honda. Even after I advised them that I was going with another dealer and not interested in them, I continued to get calls and letters from them. The place that really helped us with locating a car and the purchase process was a company called Autoland. Since my wife works with a credit union here locally, she got us in touch with a gentleman by the name of Lenny Garifo, who went out of his way to get us into what we wanted, and at the price point we were looking for. If you are a member of a credit union that uses Autoland, and get to the point where you are looking for a vehicle, then I suggest you look into them.

In the end, I think I ended up with a pretty good car that is very comfortable. Best of all… it is nice to enjoy driving again.

Dunkin’ Donuts coffee – A Review

The following is based on my personal experience with the coffee mentioned. The author is in no way defaming the Dunkin’ Donuts name, or discouraging you, the reader, from buying said product and developing your own opinion.

The Wife and I have been seeing all the hype and the commercials about Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, and how good it is supposed to be, so much, that we finally decided that if we happened to stumble across a bag, we would go ahead and buy it.

So we were in Vons the other night and we saw that they had bags and bags of the stuff. I looked for, and found, the Medium Roast whole bean coffee, adding this to the cart we made our purchases and went home in anticipation of this new taste we were about to experience.

That evening I ground the beens, and brewed a pot. Let me divert for a moment and express that I have always liked my coffee strong, Marine Coffee, my wife likes to call it. I will usually put 14 cups worth of grounds into the filter for a 12 cups pot. So I did this for our first pot of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

After the brewing process, I looked at the pot. Not only could you see through the pot, but it looked no stronger than a pot of hot tea. Figuring that maybe the taste would still be there, I poured a cup and tasted. Almost entire not quite unlike real coffee… In other words, it was bad. Thinking that I must have just ground it wrong, I poured it out and ground another batch, this time I set the grinder for 18 cups.

The result was tolerable, but still awful weak. I only drank about one cup, and I still had to reheat that one a couple time, it took me so long to drink.

The next day I ground another batch, this time on the finest setting, and 18 cups. For good measure, no pun intended, I ground an additional four cups worth and poured it in with the rest. Once again the coffee was passable… but not what I would consider as something I would buy again.

So… I dumped the remaining grounds and had my wife, the next time she went to the store, but another bag of a different brand… the initials are SB… and once again I am happily drinking a coffee that does not require me to grind half the bag to get a decent cup.

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