Godzilla (2014) – a Movie Rewiew

Godzilla (2014) – a Movie Rewiew by D. Brian Hardin II

Is Godzilla a monster? Think about that for a moment. The character has been around for a long time. Godzilla is more than a pop-cultural icon, he is a global icon. He even has a star in Hollywood! So with that in mind, would you make a movie in which that icon seeks out to destroy the planet? Would you ruin and tarnish that icon if you were to make a movie reboot about Godzilla?

That’s exactly what the writers (Max Borenstein and Dave Callaham) along with the director (Gareth Edwards) had to think about. Again, I ask you to ponder that while I go into a brief history of Godzilla…

60 years ago is when the 1st Godzilla movie came about. 1954. It was very much a political movie, something to show how nuclear weapons were a bad thing. Look at what radiation did; it created this massive lizard-monster! In that movie Godzilla rises from the water and destroys Tokyo. Keep in mind that many people at the time still had first hand knowledge of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Godzilla represented that. In essence, well.. let me explain it like this; Godzilla allowed them to recreate a history in which they were attacked and destroyed by a nuclear monster, a literal hulking beast from the ocean, as opposed to being attacked with military nuclear bombs.

As time moved on, Godzilla became less of a monster and more of a protector. This is when various other monsters were brought in, Godzilla would fight them then slink back into the ocean until a new monster popped up.

Now back to the 2014 Incarnation of Godzilla.

Fans of the original Godzilla movies are going to love this one. It takes several ideas from the past and mushes them together into something that I think fans are going to get a kick out of.
Go in with the knowledge of recent historical events (say.. from the last 15 years or so) and you will find a bit more to enjoy. They did some very clever writing to explain a couple of things that happened in the recent past.

Spoiler: I cannot believe.. Just kidding. I’ll give the spoiler away in the first comment after this post (so don’t read the comments if you don’t want me to give away anything).

I will say that there is massive destruction, a couple of head-scratching how-in-the-physics does that happen, moments.
I will also say that I feel that the trailer was VERY misleading (more on that in my spoiler comment below, however).

There are some slow moments. The movie clocks in at just over 2 hours in length (more on this in my spoiler comment below too) so be sure to pee before sitting down. All in all, it’s a fun ride.

We give it 3 stars out of 5.

Kaijudo Organized Play – Two New Formats

Kaijudo is rapidly growing and the Organized Play program is reaching new heights with two new play formats for even more ways to get in on the fun!

Two New Formats Come to Kaijudo Organized Play!  

Beginning with the Quest for the Gauntlet set on May 30th, Kaijudo will offer two new play formats: Standard constructed play and Booster Draft.

Here’s what you have to look forward to!

  • Standard Constructed Play: The new Standard Format will include all cards in the current block year, as well as the previous block year. This new offering will keep the game fresh for players and, with the addition of Standard, get ready for newer cards being used in powerful combinations and never-before-seen decks entering the field. The Open Format, which includes every card printed to date, will still continue alongside Standard. The possibilities are endless!
  • Booster Draft: Booster Draft is a popular way to play trading card games as it establishes a level playing ground for new players while at the same time offering new challenges for more experienced players. Now duelists can master their deck building, sharpen their strategy skills, and look forward to new tests! To ensure the ultimate drafting experience, the Kaijudo booster pack size will increase from 9 playable cards to 14 playable cards, at no additional cost.
  • Organized Play: Thanks to these new Kaijudo offerings, duelists can expect even more exciting game-play during OP events. Set Premieres are the best ways to dive into a new set and Duel Days are weekly events that will help players continue to master their skills. Don’t forget about Kaijudo’s Booster Brawl releasing on February 21st, The 5 Mystics on March 14th, and the Spring Kaijudo Master Challenge season, which will run through May 4th.

For more details about the new play formats, as well as products announcements and Organized Play news, visit www.kaijudo.com.

Want to check the game out? Grab a starter kit here:
Kaijudo Trading Card Game Dragon Master Collection Kit

Time Travel and The Future

I’m not British so it would seem that a Time Lord I cannot be.  Or can I…  I’ve been into time travel since before I was born ( see what I did there? ) . The concept makes me all giddy inside. The ability to go back and check out history or catch a sneak preview of the future..  Oh wow, that’s just cool man, cool.

Recently while having some dinner with friends ( hush you, yes I have a friend or three) the concept of Time Travel came up, if just for a moment.  I wanted to explore the matter a bit more so I figured I would on my own time ( I did it again hehehehe snort snort ) .

From Doctor Who to Star Trek, from Back to the Future to Time Cop, I am going to take the entire month of January, in the year of 2014 and dedicate each post to the concept of Time Travel.

I’ll reference some of my past posts in the present and if all goes according to plan I may even convince my future self to make a post in the future and send it back in time a bit for you all to read!

Buckle in, its going to be a wild ride!

 

Frozen – A Review

It’s been a few months since I’ve found myself in a movie theatre.  This time of year gets to be very busy for me, however, today we decided to un-busy ourselves and hit our local movie theatre. Popcorn in hand, we made our way to be entertained.

Today’s movie:  Disney’s Frozen.

Based very loosely on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, Frozen takes us on a journey into the Kingdom of Arendelle.  Princess Elsa is born with the powers to create snow and ice and her younger sister, Princess Anna, loves the magic her sister can create.  One evening all Anna wants to do is play with her sister, so the two sneak off into the main Ball Room and Elsa creates mounds of snow, Olaf the snowman, and slides of ice.  Anna begins jumping faster and faster across the snow and ice, and begins to fall.  Elsa tries to save her sister from falling but instead hits her with ice making her fall deathly cold.  Elsa cries to her parents, the King and Queen of Arendelle, for help.

They take a freezing Anna to trolls, and ask them for help.  Their Grand Pabbie is able to help, but warned that had the ice struck Anna in the heart she would have been frozen forever.  He is able to mend Anna but in order to do so, he has to remove all memories of Elsa’s magic from Anna’s mind.

To further protect Anna from getting struck again by ice, the King and Queen explain to Elsa that she has to stop using her magic.  Elsa is so scared of doing harm to her sister that she condemns herself to her room in the castle and refuses to ever play with Anna.

It’s a heart-wrenching moment, that intensifies with the death of the King and Queen (they board a ship and are killed during a storm).

Years later Princess Elsa is of age to be made Queen.  Anna wants desperately to be with her sister, but even now Elsa continues to push her away in order to protect her.

As more events unfold we see Queen Elsa exiling herself to the North Mountain.  Anna goes in search of her along with an ice-merchant named Hans, but in trying to convince her sister to return, Elsa strikes Anna with ice, in the heart on accident.

Hans takes Anna to the same trolls as before and they tell him that her heart is slowly freezing, that she will eventually freeze solid. Grand Pabbie explains that only an act of true love can thaw Anna’s heart.

An army is sent out to capture Queeen Elsa and in a battle upon a frozen fjord a sword blow threatens to kill Queen Elsa.  Anna, giving disregard to herself, places her own life between the sword and her sister as she freezes solid as an icy blue statue.  The sword strikes Anna’s hand and shatters, knocking the attacker back.

Queen Elsa holds her sister and cries over what she has done.  Then we see the color begin to emerge from the blue icy statue of Anna as she thaws and everyone is happy again.

As with most all Disney movies, this one also features song.  I would almost have to say that it has the best songs in it since The Lion King.  I’ll also go on the record to say that yes, my eyes did tear up twice.  Yes, this 40-year old guy, found his eyes watering over a cartoon.

I rather liked it, as did my children.

Frozen features voicing by Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, among others.

We all give it 5 stars out of 5 stars.

You can get it on Blu-Ray here:


Disney’s Frozen (Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD + Digital Copy) (2013)

Magic: The Gathering Holiday Box 2013

This holiday season, Magic: The Gathering players everywhere will know just what to put on their wish list: the Magic: The Gathering Holiday Gift Box! Featuring four booster packs from Theros, 20 basic land cards, and a Karametra’s Acolyte premium card with an illustration unique to this gift box, it’s the perfect way to supplement their vast Magic collection. The box itself holds more than 2,000 cards, providing a great way to store a collection.

magicholiday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you get the planeswalker who has everything?

Enchant the Magic™ player in your life with the Magic: The Gathering® Holiday Gift Box, containing four booster packs from the Theros™ expansion, 20 basic land cards, and a premium card featuring an illustration unique to this gift box.

The box itself can hold an arcane arsenal of over 2,000 cards. (Gift box does not contain 2,000 cards)

Contents

  • A storage box that holds more than 2,000 cards
  • Six illustrated plastic dividers
  • A sticker sheet for customizing the dividers
  • Four Theros booster packs
  • An alternative-art Karametra’s Acolyte from the Theros set
  • 20-card Theros basic land pack

Available today for $19.99, it’s the perfect gift for any Magic player on your list.

You can grab a copy here:

Magic: The Gathering Holiday Box set 2013

 

Magic: The Gathering, and Forgotten Realms are trademarks of Wizards of
the Coast LLC in the U.S.A. and other countries. Kaijudo is a trademark
of Wizards of the Coast/Shogakukan/Mitsui-Kids. HASBRO is a registered
trademark of Hasbro, Inc. All rights reserved.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft a Review

I’m doing some play testing for the Closed Beta and I want to share with you a review.  First, however, let me answer to you..

What is Hearthstone?

In a simple description Hearthstone is a FREE(ish)online strategy card game made by Blizzard, the same company that brought you World of Warcraft.  You can take a prebuilt deck, or build one yourself if you can collect the cards (more on collecting the cards a bit later in this review).  You start off with playing as Jaina and play a prebuilt deck through what is called Practice mode.

Once you have bested a opponent (you are playing vs the computer at this point) you will unlock that specific character and will be able to use them.

Hearthstone Logo

Objective:

You start off with 30 life; you must knock your opponent down to zero to win.  You may be able to deck them (make them run out of cards in their 30 card deck – but I’ve not been able to do this yet, so I’m not sure if it’s possible) to win.

It breaks down like this; there are 9 classes to play, and each one can customize their own deck (or as mentioned earlier you can use the prebuilt deck).  As you win you gain levels (complete with the familiar fanfare music from World of Warcraft).  As you gain levels you are given more cards which in turn can be used to make your own custom deck.

Let’s get into a little more detail.

As you begin the game you will see the Today’s Quests followed by the Entry Screen.

Each day there are new Quests that will pop up; could be that you need to win 2 battles with your Priest deck; or dish out 100 damage to minions.  There are several quests out there, but when you complete one you will be rewarded with gold.

Gold:

Gold can be used to purchase 5 card decks (per 100g) or entry into the Arena (150g) More on the Arena in the next section.

On the entry screen you will see:

Play:

This mode allows you to play against other online players.  Here you choose which character you want to play as and go “into battle”.  You can choose to play with the premade basic deck or one that you have customized.

As you gain levels here you also can earn “Ranks” or “Medals”.  I’ve got all of my characters up to at least level 10; but I’ve not seen anything different happen.  Upon going up in level you gain all of the base cards and by level 10 you have all of the base cards for that character.

Practice:

This mode lets you test out your decks against the AI.  Since I started playing, I only used this mode for the first few battles; the rest I just went against other players.  I really don’t see much of a need to use Practice Mode since there is not much of a difference between Practice mode and Play Mode (and in Play Mode you get ranked, so why not just play in Play Mode anyways?).

Arena:

Arena Mode lets you build a deck on the fly and battle other players.  I’ll describe the Arena Mode in the next section.

You can also access the Store (I’ll detail that a bit later in this review), Open Packs, and view your cards in My Collection.  You can also view your Quest Log – this shows you your progress in the game.  You can also see how much Gold you have collected up.

Collecting Cards:

There are several ways to get new cards:

You gain a base set of cards by gaining levels.  As mentioned above once you hit level 10 you should now have all of the base cards for that corresponding class.

You can go into the Arena and play (this costs real world money $1.99 – or you can purchase entry with gold 150g, HOWEVER, the 1st time you go into the Arena it’s free).  In Arena Mode you are given 3 cards at random and pull one card to build a deck with.  You do this 30 times.  Then you go up against someone else who has done the same and play.

If you lose, you can try two more times.

If you win, you keep going until you lose for a total of 3 times.

You use the same deck each time you play during that session.

The more you win the more prizes you get; should you lose you are compensated with ONE 5-card pack.

I’ve only payed to play once and won 15 Arcane Dust (more on Arcane Dust a bit later in this review), 1 pack of cards and 5 gold.

If you lose all 3 times you get 1 pack of cards.

Stormwind

Purchase:

You can also purchase 5-card packs.  You can spend 100g to get 1 pack, $2.99 for 2 packs, $9.99 for 7 packs, $19.99 for 15 packs, and $49.99 for 40 packs.

Arcane Dust:

This lets you disenchant Expert Cards to create other cards.  Expert Cards are, basically, and card that is not a basic card (i.e. if it has a little gem in it it’s an expert card: White (diamond = common), Blue (sapphire = rare), Purple (amethyst = epic), Orange (amber = legendary) (although Legendary cards cannot be disenchanted or crafter).

Classes and Characters:

Confused yet?  Let’s go on to Classes and Characters.

Unlike World of Warcraft, you don’t create your own class and character here in Hearthstone.  The name of the game is; Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft for a reason.  As mentioned earlier there are 9 classes to choose from (and thus 9 characters).

Anduin Wrynn

Anduin Wrynn is the Priest.  His Hero Power lets you restore 2 Health.

Jaina Proudmoore

Jaina Proudmore is the Mage. Her Hero Power lets you deal 1 damage to anything.

Guldan

Gul’dan is the Warlock. His Hero Power lets you draw a card but you also take 2 damage.

Malfurion Stormrage

Malfurion Stormrage is the Druid.  His Hero Power gives you +1 Attack for the turn and +1 Armor (Armor stays with you until it is broken).

Rexxar

Rexxar is the Hunter. His Hero Power lets you do 2 damage to the enemy hero.

Uther Lightbringer

Uther Lightbringer is the Paladin. His Hero Power lets you summon a 1/1 Silver Hand Recruit.

Valeera Sanguinar

Valeera Sanguinar is the Rogue. Her Hero Power lets you equip a ½ Dagger or give your weapon a +1 Attack for that one turn.

Thrall

Thrall is the Shaman.  His Hero Power lets you summon a random Totem.

Garrosh Hellscream

Garrosh Hellscream is the Warrior.  His Hero Power lets you gain 2 Armor.

 

That’s the very basics of the mechanics of the game.

Once in the game and playing either against the computer or a player you will be dealt your hand.  You can either keep the initial draw or toss one of the cards (or all of them) and get new ones.  You are stuck with the new one(s), however.

There are several battlegrounds you will play on; Stormwind, Orgimmar, Pandaria, Stranglethorn Vale.

Right now you can play it on PC and Mac.  Eventually it will be available on the iPad and Android tablets (though some crafty folk have already figured out how to get it on those tablet devices).

Stranglethorn

My Impression:

It’s silly simple to figure out.  It’s not a complex game by any stretch of the imagination.  Remember how simple Pokemon was back in the day?  Yeah, it’s stupid simple like that.  However, there is a depth to it that kept me coming back for about two weeks.  I say two weeks only because.. well.. I’m getting a little bored with it now.  I’d like to get more cards but no way am I going to start shelling out hard cold cash for virtual cards.  Yeah, I can play the game and earn gold and get packs with gold that way; but that takes a while to add up.

I’m running into players that seem to have deep pockets, which means they just dump cash into the game and get pack after pack which allows them to build a kick-ass deck.  Remember Magic: the Gathering?  I would get one or two packs a month, but a friend of mine would get one or two boxes a month.  Guess who was able to build the better deck much faster?  You can still have fun with it though; I’m just grumpy at always being broke I suppose.

The AI needs a little work.  There are a few times when I’ve been down to 3 or 4 life; I’ve wiped out all but one of the computer’s minions and then the computer will pull a card that does: Deal 5 damage to an enemy hero or give one of your minions a +1 attack.  And it gives the +1 attack to his only minion and does not attack with it; allowing me to win on my next turn.  Maybe it’s just being nice to me though, I really do like the ego boost too.

I’m a bit curious to see where the game takes us as we move into the future.  I wonder if it will be integrated with World of Warcraft at all (it does remind me a bit of the Pet Battle system in game – and as a side note.. when is Blizzard going to give us an app game of the Pet Battle system to play on iPads or on Android tablets??? I digress..).

Things in Closed Beta are changing a little each week; but for the most part everything listed up above seems to be fairly stable.

Once Closed Beta is over all cards are wiped out.  Don’t fret if you did spend your money on the game; you will get the equivalent back in gold so you can “re-purchase” those packs.

All in all, it’s a fun little game.  Not a huge download, and you can generally play a game in about 7 minutes or so.  It even works great for those of us on mega-slow internet connections like satellite internet.

 

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft®
©2013 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a trademark, and World of Warcraft, Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

SpellSlingers – New Show Based on Magic: The Gathering

***FELICIA DAY’S GEEK & SUNDRY AND WIZARDS OF THE COAST LAUNCH ‘SPELLSLINGERS,’ A NEW SHOW BASED ON

MAGIC: THE GATHERING***

WHAT:             THE SHOW

Spellslingers is a new show based on the phenomenally popular trading card game, Magic: The Gathering.  Presented by web TV personality Sean “Day[9]” Plott, the show exposes viewers to fun-filled, fast-taking and adrenalin-paced battles that highlight a myriad of the latest cards.  In each episode a new geek icon will take on our expert Sean with the hope of emerging victorious in an all-or-nothing match.  In the premiere episode, Sean goes head to head with E-sports caster Rob Simpson (StarCraft II caster and Red Bull eSports manager). Upcoming guests include Grant Imahara, Bobak Ferdowski and Felicia Day. Starting today, be part of this exciting Magic experience every other Wednesday, only on Geek & Sundry.

 

Magic: The Gathering is the first and most widely played trading card game. Players take on the role of Planeswalkers – powerful mages who battle others for glory, knowledge and conquest. Their weapons include spells, creatures, and artifacts gathered from a vast Multiverse of unique fantasy worlds. With more than 12 million players and fans worldwide, Magic is printed in 11 languages and played in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit www.magicthegathering.com.

 

WHEN:             The premiere episode aired Wednesday, September 18th 2013 at 10am PT / 1pm ET

 

WHERE:           Geek & Sundry Network: http://www.youtube.com/geekandsundry

Digital entertainment company Geek & Sundry presents the best in internet television and online’s foremost geek voices. Founded by the producers of the hit web series The Guild, Geek & Sundry offers a diverse lineup of shows that create a hub for fans of comedy, gaming, comics, music, and literature around the world.  Spearheaded by prominent geek figureheads, Geek & Sundry features original content by Felicia Day (The Guild, Dr. Horrible, Eureka) and Wil Wheaton (Star Trek, The Big Bang Theory).

Check out the network’s slate of shows: http://youtu.be/lxZq37eHw1s

 

WHO:               Host Bio:

Sean “Day[9]” Plott is an internet TV host best recognized as an evangelist and influencer in the gaming, game lifestyle and e-Sports fields, with over 5 million views each month.  His web show Day[9] Daily and autobiographical story, My Life of StarCraft, based on Sean’s experiences in the industry have both been widely acclaimed. Sean is also a staple in the games scene as a commentator for Blizzcon, ESL, Dreamhack and NASL tournaments.  Most recently, Artillery Games announced that he has joined their studio in a games design role. Sean started his career as a former professional games competitor where he won multiple games honors such as placing 1st at the World Cyber Games USA Tournament in 2005 and as PC Gamer Magazine’s “Gamer of the Year” in 2010.

 

Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers Expansion

Get ready for more Magic: The Gathering action! Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers Expansion is now available!*

The Magic 2014 Expansion gives players the opportunity to explore new planes, fight new enemies and face new challenges. Available on Xbox LIVE Arcade, PC via Steam, PlayStation Network, iPad, and Android tablet via Google Play and the Amazon App Store, fans will also enjoy the following features:

Five New Playable Decks

–       Unlock 280 unique cards over multiple battles.

 

New Campaign Levels

–       Battle through six new single-player campaign levels, exploring the planes of Ravnica and Kamigawa.

 

Five New Challenges

–       Fiendish puzzles to test strategic thinking.

 

Unlock Items

–       Unlock new persona portraits, achievements, trophies and more.

 

*Magic 2014 – Duels of the Planeswalkers Expansion launches on PSN in the US on 9/24. Launch timing may vary by platform and region.

Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-Ray Review

Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-Ray Review

I’m a trekkie.  Does that surprise anyone?  When the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek came out in 2009, I saw it first day.  When Star Trek Into Darkness came out, again I was there first day.  Yeah, I already knew it’s “big secret” but I didn’t care.  I was all for a new take on a classic.  I’ve got Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn on my DVR and when I’m bored, I’ll watch bits of it and when it gets to the end I’ll hit ‘Start Over’ .

So.. yeah.. I like the Star Trek universe just a little.  You can also read my review of the movie itself here:

Star Trek Into Darkness: A Review

Now I have the Blu-Ray.  I’ll admit I’ve not been keeping up with the news about it at all; just simply paying attention to the release date, and there was no mistake that I was going to have the Blu-Ray.  I love the special features and to me that’s what Blu-Ray is all about.  Yeah DVDs have special features too, but most now-a-days just have the movie itself and nothing more.

When I opened up the package I looked over the back and saw several cool features, but wait.. Where was the movie commentary?  Even the 2009 Star Trek’s DVD had a commentary with it!  Where were the deleted scenes?? BAH!

I started looking into this and was told that there were Retailer Exclusives.  What???  Wait a minute.. That’s low.  To quote National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: “That’s pretty low, mister!  If I has a rubber hose, I would beat you into a…”

So I found out the only way to get the audio commentary is to get the iTunes Digital Copy.  More on this and the special features in a bit, for now, let’s explore the package itself:

What I have is the Blu-Ray+DVD+Digital Copy.

The DVD

The DVD contains the movie itself.  When popping it into my player it launches directly into upcoming dvd/blu-ray previews.  You get: Anchorman 2, World War Z, and G.I. Joe 2.

The Main DVD Menu gives you 4 options;   Play – Setup – Scene Selections – Previews

Play – you watch the movie

Setup – Audio Options – English 5.1 Dolby Digital – French – Spanish – English Audio Description

Setup – Subtitles – English – French – Spanish – Portuguese – None

Scene Selections – select which scene to watch

Previews – The Mission Continues (commercial for returning veterans and their continuing efforts for public service work) – Jack Reacher – Anchorman 2 – World War Z

The Blu-Ray

The Blu-Ray of Star Trek Into Darkness goes directly to the main menu screen and also offers 4 options; Play – Settings – Scenes – Extras

Play – you watch the movie

Settings – Audio – English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD – French 5.1 Dolby Digital – Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital – Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital – English Audio Description

Settings – Subtitles – English – English SDH – French – Spanish – Portuguese – None

Scenes – select which scene to watch

Extras:

Creating the Red Planet: Cast & Crew show how they created the movie’s opening Red Planet sequence.

Attack on Starfleet: Cast & Crew show how the attack in the meeting room was created.

The Klingon Home World: We get to see a deleted scene from the previous 2009 Star Trek in which there were Klingons..  I never knew of this until today – so that was cool.  This feature shows how they made Kronos (or Qo’noS for you die-hards).

The Enemy of My Enemy: J.J. Abrams explains why Kahn was chosen to be in this movie, but that Kahn is not exactly the “main antagonist”.

Ship to Ship: C&C show how they do the space flight from the Enterprise to the Vengeance.

Brawl by the Bay: The film’s final battle scene, this shows how they pulled off the hand to hand combat between Spock and Kahn in San Francisco.

Continuing the Mission: Similar to the commercial that was found on the DVD this shows a little more “behind the scenes” and explains what The Mission Continues program is all about.

The Mission Continues: exact same commercial that was found on the DVD.

In all the extras on this blu-ray run a little over 40 minutes.. and that’s it!

Remember a few lines up where I mentions “more on this and the special features in a bit” in regards to the audio commentary and well.. special features?  Here is what I’ve found out:

This combo pack I have also comes with a digital download and from what I understand it does work with iTunes.  Save this if you want some free extras.  The iTunes download is going to be roughly 5gig; but it’s also more than just the audio commentary.  It’s a picture-in-picture version of the film that also has behind the scenes footage and from what I’ve been able to find out the commentators will pause the movie and rewind it in spots to talk about it.

As for the special features on the blu-ray itself.. Remember also when I mentioned the words ‘Retail Exclusive’?  Yeah.. this part sucks..

There are several versions of Star Trek Into Darkness out there floating around that are on Blu-Ray.  Depending on the retailer you get it from will also determine what special features you get.  As best I can find out all of the special features listed above are on all versions of the Blu-Ray.  I’ll do my best to list the retailer exclusive extras (I just can’t tell you what they are because simply put.. I’m not going to dish out more money just for that).

Best Buy Extras

NIF- Home of the core

Unlocking the Cut

Down With The Ship

Safety First

The Sound of Music and FX

Aliens Encountered

Target Extras:

Kirk and Spock

Mr. Spock and Mr. Spock

The Voyage Begins… Again

Rebuilding the Enterprise

Vengeance is Coming

Visual Affection

iTunes Extras:

Audio Commentary

WalMart Extras:

Vengeance Ship Toy

Limited Edition Villain SteelBook Package

Amazon Extras:

Starfleet Phaser Toy

I’m sure there are other exclusive and limited edition collector’s sets out there and I’ve also heard that different countries are going to have even different extras on theirs.  For me, it looks like I have the basic Blu-Ray and that’s disappointing.  I like the extras, I mean that’s the reason I went with blu-ray to begin with but when someone decides to start doing retailer exclusives in hopes to get me to buy multiple copies of their movie just so I can have ALL of the extras.. well.. I’m just not going to do that.

For now I’ve got to give this Blu-Ray a 2 out of 5 due to it’s lackluster of special features.

You can get it on Blu-ray here:


Star Trek Into Darkness (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)

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Kingdom of Drakkar on the Ouya

Kingdom of Drakkar on the Ouya.

First off, what is the Ouya?

A little history: Ouya was crowfunded on Kickstarter.  It was looking for a funding of $950,000.00 USD.  It had that and then some within it’s 1st week.  By the end of the campaign it had raised over $8 Million.  They recently procured an additional $15 Million.

The system: The Ouya was touted to be the next big home gaming console system.  According to the makers it is going to replace the PlayStations and the Xboxes.  What it offers is an Android based gaming system (much like your cell phones).  It can attach to your television and let’s you play games.

Yeah, there is much more to it; and I’ll do an in depth post a bit later, but that above is the Ouya at it’s very basic.  Now on to the point of this article…

 

Kingdom of Drakkar on the Ouya

Can it be done?  YES!

You are not going to find the game on the Ouya’s app store.  Well.. not yet.  Right now this is considered a 3rd party app.  Please read this article first before you go to the link I’m about to provide.  I’ll step you through how it’s done and how to set it up to play.

The download can be found here:

http://www.drakkarzone.com/downloads/DrakkarLobbyAirCaptive.apk

Since the Android does not utilize flash all that well; the designer added the necessary component into the build itself.

One you have your Ouya set up and connected; navigate from the Home screen like this:

Home – Make > Software > Browser

Once at the browser hit the url I provided above.

It will begin to download automatically.  This is the part that will make you think it’s not working, but trust me it is..  There is nothing that indicates a status bar that it’s actually downloading.  When it begins to download it flashes up so fast that if you blink you will miss it.

However, you can go back to the Home screen and do this:

Home – Manage > System > Advanced toggle down to Storage and click on Downloads, it will be in Blue.  Once in there you will see that the Drakkar apk is downloading.  Walk away for a moment, go pee, grab a drink, whatever.  When it’s done, click it and it will begin to unpack itself and install.

Once installed, just click Open.

installedAlso, once it has been installed any time you want to play Kingdom of Drakkar you will need to navigate:

Home – Make > Software > Kingdom of Drakkar

Okay, now you have it installed, and you have started it up.  It’s going to auto update new graphics and then you’ll be ready to log in, except the Ouya controller won’t work.  I mean the controller works, but not with Drakkar (at least not yet that I can figure out).  Well.. actually, that’s a lie.  Sortav.  The controller sortav works with Drakkar.  The controller has a “scroll” area just below the lights that will allow you to scroll a mouse pointer around, but so far I’ve been unable to “trigger” the controller to bring up a keyboard box.  That’s what I’ve opted to use a usb keyboard and mouse.

updatingGrab your USB keyboard and plug it in.  For existing players enter in your Username and Password, using the Tab key to move between fields.  I could not get the enter button to actually get the Login button to go so..

Grab your USB mouse and unplug the keyboard and plug in the mouse (the Ouya only has 1 USB port – but I’m going to grab a multi USB port adapter and see if that works – I’ll update this once I’ve verified this either way).  I also discovered that you can click a text field with the mouse and from there you can use the Ouya to enter text via the mini-keyboard that pops up.  (as an aside, you can actually use your mouse to control almost every aspect of the Ouya).  **EDIT** I grabbed a multi-usb (actually has 4 usb ports) and plugged in both the mouse and keyboard and they both work flawlessly.

enterinfoClick Login and you should now find yourself in the lobby.

For new users it may be better initially to go to http://www.kingdomofdrakkar.com ; downloading the game onto your PC and creating a new account that way first.

Here’s the cool part of Kingdom of Drakkar:  You can play the SAME account on both your PC as well as on your Android (in our case it’s the Ouya).  Yes, the PC version has more features than the Android, but it still logs into the same servers with your same account and characters.

inlobbyOkay, back to the lobby.  Once there you can click on the text field (next to the SEND button) and a mini-keyboard will pop up allowing you to enter text in.  I used the mouse to enter some test text, clicked Send and it showed up in the main lobby chat, no problem.

I then clicked on Play and created a new character  (you can choose an existing character if you have one).  Once the character is created just click it to enter the game and play.

The only issue I’ve found is that Drakkar seems to be just a touch larger than the screen itself displays.  There could be a setting somewhere to toggle the screen size, but I’ve not found it yet.**SEE EDIT BELOW FOR SOLUTION**

ingameThat’s it, you should now be able to play Kingdom of Drakkar on your Ouya!

A couple of things explained:

I’ve found a couple of things help make Drakkar a bit easier to navigate.

On the login screen, click the box that says: Remember Password.  That will make it so that you don’t have to enter your password in each and every time.

Once in the lobby open your Options button.

Click on the Auto Login box.  This will make it so that when you click on the Drakkar icon in the Software tab, it will automatically log you into the lobby.

Run in Background is more used for the Android Phone; let’s say you are playing the game and you get a call; this would prevent the program from closing as it would, well, run in the background.

Small Creature Boxes simply makes the creature boxes in the game itself smaller.

Sound Enabled turns on sound.  Some people like the sound effects and music, others don’t.  I like it, so mine is one.

Note: You will need to click your selections and click Close then exit the game and log back in for these to take effect.

And that’s the basics folks on how to get your Ouya to run Kingdom of Drakkar.

 

**EDIT ON SCREEN SIZE SOLUTION**  After doing some research, I discovered that it was the television itself that was causing the overscan.  I had it set to a 16:9 ratio; and a quick change to Fit Screen in my menu settings (on the tv itself) made everything fit perfectly.

Check out the photos:

resize1

Photo above shows the lobby at full screen.  Everything is crisp and sharp.  Look at those players, now forever embedded in this photo!

resize2

This one shows an in game screen-shot.  Just like the lobby, this one is fitting in the screen and everything is sharp and crisp.

resize3

Another shot of the lobby; this time with the character select panel open.  The newest problem is that it appears that the bottom of the text is cut off a little.  I don’t think this is an issue of the Ouya itself; it may be how the actual text is displayed for mobile devices (and let’s face it.. that is what the Ouya is).  I have a feeling it’s a simple fix on the developer end; perhaps just nudging the text up by about 7 pixels or so.

Now You See Me – A Review

Magic.  That’s not exactly what this movie is all about, but yet, it is.  It’s all about misdirection.  It’s a mystery; a real whodunit.

I realize that Now You See Me has been out for a couple of week, but it’s one that I’ve been meaning to watch.  I went to visit my friends up at my local movie box and plopped down to be entertained.

Another part of why it took me so long to get in to see it was the basic question that I had about it.  Was it “real magic” (like what you would see in a Harry Potter movie) or was it “sleight of hand / illusion magic” (like what you would see at a Las Vegas show).

I’ll go ahead and spoil that for you now; it’s sleight of hand and illusion.  Oh hey, don’t get me wrong, I love watching magic shows just like the next guy.  I’m the kind of person who likes to figure out how they do those tricks.  But yeah, that’s why I hesitated to see Now You See Me.  I just didn’t know what kind of movie to expect.  Sounds strange I know.

Overall I did have fun watching it.  It was clever, witty, fun, and didn’t leave me walking out feeling like I just wasted my time.  I am convinced that I should have seen this one when it first came out.

The only element that I could complain about was the use of CGI in the magic tricks.  I understand why they did; but it would have given the movie a much more real feel (not to mention it would have made the magic that much more impactful) if the special effects were shot practically.  I’m going to spoil one scene where this is a prime example; they flip a large purple sheet and it swirls all around the stage as if it is whipping in the wind, then it drops and a large stage prop appears under where the sheet was swirling.  The sheet was entirely CGI.  They really could have executed that better by using a real sheet with real movements.  Stuff like that; the CGI wasn’t over-used by any means, but when it was, I just felt they could have shot it practically to pull off a more convincing spot of magic.

The prevailing theme is; The closer you look, the less you see.  And that certainly rings true.  As I mentioned above, this is a whodunit film.  It’s a great mystery movie on its own merit.  They harder you try to figure it out, the harder it will be for you to see what’s actually going on.

Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Melanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Michael Kelly top off this all star cast; and it delivers fun, mystery, and more fun.  Go see it this weekend on the big screen.  You’ll be glad you did.

I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

World War Z – A Review

Hi.  My name is Brian and I like zombies.

I also run some of the biggest zombie websites in the world.  Well, okay, maybe not the biggest, but they do have their place on the web.  You may have heard of a couple of them; www.ZombieMall.com and www.ZombieUniversity.net ?  No?  Well.. crap.  That’s okay, I’m still trying to work on infecting the world with their presence.  I digress..

When a movie about zombies hits the theaters, it is simply my obligation to go watch.

World War Z is based on the Max Brooks book of the same name.  Yeah, I’ve read that too.  When I first heard that the book was being turned into a movie, my first thought was “huh?  how??!”

Those that have read the book know that it is more of an interview, a diary or journal if you will, of people who have survived the zombie apocalypse and are getting their story set down (for the record).

The movie was going to star Brad Pitt.  The book didn’t really have a main character, and Pitt is such a big name.  He reportedly paid $1million to Brooks for the rights to make it into a movie.  Pitt was also a producer of the movie, and of course is the main star as well.  So yeah, he’s kindav a big deal.   Surely he is not going to limit himself to just one segment?

Ahhh.. I was starting to be one of the “Oh Ye of Little Faith”.

The movie changes things up a fair amount from the book.  And that’s where a lot of reviews are going to get all negative.  I’m not.  I’m not even going to throw a fit like others have about Damon Lindelof being brought in to “fix” the ending.  I still can’t believe that people continue to give him grief over Prometheus (I for one loved it, but I digress).  He had a hand in the script for Star Trek Into Darkness as well. Though I will certainly admit that there is a very coherent change of pace about 2/3rds of the way into the film.  It is action, action, slow-down.   Which is not necessarily a bad thing.  It allows for the story to catch up with itself.  Let’s also not forget that Drew Goddard also helped with this movie’s script.

While World War Z moves a good ways away from the book, there are several Easter Eggs from the book for you to find, but blink and you will certainly miss some of them.

The zombies are actually referred to as.. well.. “zombies”.  I think that awesome!  So many zombie flicks shy away from that word, but this one embraces it.  Though I will admit that it did not appear that too many people had much zombie training.  Many people get munched, mountains of undead are made and they run fast.  Wait, let me rephrase.. they are Speed Demons!

Their origin …….  Oh, no, I’m not going to spoil that for you (that’s the McGuffin of the film).

The reviews on this movie are VERY mixed.  I’m among the ones that liked it.  It was fun, and if anything it certainly satisfied my itch for zombies until The Walking Dead returns this October.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Sup.. er.. Man Of Steel – My Private Thoughts

Does Man of Steel really need a review?  Nah, so I’m not going to bore you with how good it is; just go see it.

Instead, I want to blather on for a moment about Hope, I want to share with you a couple of my private thoughts (if you care).

I would think that most boys hope to grow up to be strong men, I know I had those hopes.

I would think that most men hope to be strong leaders, I know I continue to strive for that quality.

I would also like to think that most men hope to be a hero to at least one person.

For me, when growing up, Superman was always my favorite comic-book hero.  As I went from kid to adult, as childish as it may sound, I always wanted to be Superman.  I’ve owned the familiar blue shirt with the ‘S’ logo on it in since I was small.  While the shirt never altered my physical form, when I put it on it did change (if ever so slight) how I view things.  I wanted to be the bigger person, I wanted to be the one that could save the day.

As a father, I always had hope that my son would see me as his Superman.

But that hope has been misplaced and I only realize that now for the first time.  Instead of my desire for my son to see me as his Superman, I hold hope that he will become his own Superman.  It is my job to provide to him that hope, to encourage him, to lift him up so he can indeed be a super man.

 

That is the meat of what I took from watching Man of Steel.  It’s about fathers doing what they can to provide for their children.  It’s about the sacrifice a father MUST make in order to provide strength to their children.  It’s about providing hope.

The movie touched me on a very personal level.  Sure you might could see me as a weak person for getting all gushy about a silly movie, but sometimes we all need reminders of who we are and what we are here to do.  Sometimes it takes something like a silly movie to remind us.

I could nit-pick a few elements of this movie; but I won’t.  I had a fun time watching it.  I had a great time absorbing the personal message that I got out of it.

This Father’s Day weekend, let your kids know that they are your super hero.  Hug them, love them, and provide to them hope.

This Is The End – a review

First off… This is an ADULT film with ADULT humor (and most of it is vulgar).  It’s not one for the kids regardless of how many times they say that Hiccup is in it. It’s not one for those easily offended.  This Is The End features an all-star comedy cast; James Franco, Seth Rogan, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, among others.  The unique angle is that they all play themselves.

Those who follow me know that I’ve had a rough month so far.  AC in the house died; hot water heater blew up, car died, cable went out, all kinds of bad things have been going on.  You could say I’ve been having a bad day.  I really needed to hit my local movie theater, Carmike Oaks 7 in Batesville, Arkansas, and watch a good comedy to lighten my mood.  This Is The End most certainly delivered.  The short of it; I loved it, go see it.  The long of it; read on…

As the tale unfolds we learn that Jay and Seth have been long time friends since childhood and grew up in Canada.  Seth moved to the States and made it big in Hollywood and made lots of Hollywood friends.  He and Jay tried to keep in touch over the years, but each got busy with their own careers.  This is actually not far from the truth as Seth explained to SiriusXM Radio Host Howard Stern this past Monday.

Jay arrives in Hollywood, hangs out with Seth, and head over to James Franco’s house to really party.  The Party features even more actors and comedians playing themselves (yes, yes, we all understand that they are all playing a character of themselves, over-the-top if you will).  Emma Watson, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Michael Cera, and several others all seem to be in the good graces of James Franco.

 

Then all Hell breaks loose, literally.  I don’t want to spill any spoilers about what is to come, but suffice it to say this is perhaps one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in the past few years.

As I mentioned this movie is full of adult content.  Sexual jokes, brief nudity, lots of drug use and reference, it’s just not something I would take a kid to go see.   That aside, I loved it.  I think most readers of this site would find it right up their alley as well.

This week we also have Man of Steel due out.  You may be hesitant to spend your hard earned cash on two movies.  I would say… Indulge yourself.  On this day give yourself a little present and go catch a double feature.  This Is The End is by far super funny and is very much well worth it.  I would almost venture to say that if it had come out on any other given weekend, it very well could have been the top selling movie.

I might just go see it again, it was that entertaining.  I would recommend this movie to anyone who is a fan of fun.

I give it 4 out of 5.

Who knew the Apocalypse could be so funny?

The Purge – Movie Discussion

I find myself sitting in my local movie theater and tonight’s movie is The Purge.

You’ve seen the preview.  Crime and unemployment are at an all-time low.  The government has sanctioned an annual 12 hour time frame called ‘The Purge’ in which any crime is legal and will go unpunished.

While the concept is extreme, sometimes you simply have to go into a movie with an extreme suspension of disbelief.  Think about the first time you saw Ghostbusters, Joe Verses the Volcano, or Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?  Could the elements in those movies actually happen?  Have they ever actually happened?  Probably not and No.  They all require a fair amount of suspension of disbelief.

The Purge is such a film.  Could we really ever live in a world that was 99% crimeless and where 99% of us were employed?  Of course not.  Would we really ever get to a point where we all could bottle up our anger and save it for just one small 12 hour period?  I very much doubt that (and by me saying that I am in no way admitting to any crimes – just so you understand that).

SO.. Let’s go ahead and get that out of the way now.  If you are avoiding this movie because of its concept, let go of that thought.  Sometimes you do have to let go, take a chance, roll the dice, and just have fun.

What’s fun about a film that depicts a night where any crime goes?   Yes, yes, the actions themselves are horrible to ponder, but leave that; this is just a movie.  Keep that thought in mind but also try to relate with the main characters.  That’s where this movie shines.

Put yourself into the shoes of the family in their home.  They don’t want to hurt anyone let alone kill anyone.  But what would happen when someone seeming innocent needs help?  Would you turn your head and let them suffer, knowing you could have tried to save them?  Or would you help them?

The fun is in letting your mind go for a while and consider what you would do in that situation.  I approach most zombie flicks in the same way; and much in that way The Purge reminded me of that.  It’s a movie about survival.  Who will be your enemies, who will be your allies?

The concept within the movie has been around for literal years; The Lottery by Shirley Jackson comes to mind as does an episode of Star Trek (The Return of the Archons).  That’s not to say that The Purge is unoriginal, it absolutely is original; I’m just explaining that the theme is one that may not be as far-fetched as it appears.

If I haven’t stressed this enough, just go watch the movie with the mindset of simple enjoyment.  Avoid trying to explain why it could or could not happen and just enjoy it.

We give it 3 out of 5.

Max Bemis’ comic Polarity

Have you ever read a comic where you can actually watch the Superhero go from regular person to Superhero status?  Yeah, you may know the story; Spiderman, Superman, Batman, and the like, but have you ever been able to go back and read the very first issues without knowing what was going to happen next and be able to take the journey right alongside them?

How about watching the regular person turn into a Villain?

What about getting in on the comic so early that you really have no way of knowing which path this regular person is going to take as he discovers his powers?

All of that is a rare thing to be able to do these days.  Comics today, in general, don’t do very well in the mass market unless it has a multi-million dollar movie attached to it.  Years ago, think mid-70’s here, comic books were the thing to spend your loose change on.  Even into the mid-80’s  comics were going very strong, but it was the beginning of the decline for the smaller press publications.

It is a smaller press publication that I want to talk about today; Boom! Studios.

Don’t get me wrong, they are by no means unheard of.  They have, after all, published such comics as Adventure Time, Garfield, Hellraiser, Planet of the Apes, 28 Days Later, among others.  They also are the ones to publish Polarity.

!!ATTENTION COLLECTORS!!

Polarity is going up in value!  It’s only been out for a few months and already issue #1 is going for about $80 bucks!  Albeit that’s for the limited edition cover version, but still that’s pretty damn good considering it’s only been out for a few months and was $3.99 to start with!

What makes it so collectible?

For one, it’s written by Max Bemis.  Yeah, that’s right, Max Bemis.  The frontman for the band Say Anything (which is a cool element as Max already has some built in followers – which pretty much guarantees sales of the comic).

For two, Boom! Studios has great marketing for their comics and almost always produce variant covers for each issue, and in some cases they make some very limited edition covers.

For three, Jorge Coelho does the artwork.  I say that as though I am knowledgeable about this guy, but really I’m not.  He’s damn good, I can tell you that.  I just don’t know much else about him except that he is not the basketball player of the same name from Portugal.  Though he is from Portugal.

For Four, it’s limited to 4 issues.

ABOUT THE COMIC

Enough banter!  What’s Polarity all about?

Directly from Boom!’s website:

Timothy Woods is a bipolar artist stuck in the world of hipsters, meaningless sex, and vain art — better known as Brooklyn. But after he survives a near fatal car accident, Timothy discovers that his mental instability is more than just a disorder, and that his bipolar medication hasn’t just been subduing depression and uncontrollable mania…it’s been suppressing his super powers! Now it’s time for Timothy to stand up to his disease alongside an onslaught of wretched human villainy as he finally finds his place in the world. Each issue comes with a free download for a new original song written and performed by Max Bemis!”

Fans of Say Anything can also find a few Easter Eggs within the pages of Polarity as well.  That’s not to say that the comic is a direct read along to Say Anything’s songs, it’s not.  There are similar themes that run throughout both the songs and the comic, however.

Variant cover art is probably what makes this most fun (well aside from the story within).

Issue 1 of Polarity came out in April and has 3 variant covers and 1 second edition printing.

Issue 2 of Polarity came out in May and has 2 variant covers.

Issue 3 of Polarity came out in June and has 2 variant covers.

Issue 4 of Polarity is due out in July and will have 2 variant covers.

Those are just the variant covers from Boom!  Hastings has exclusive variant covers, there is a 1st print Special Edition variant (both in full color and in black and white), Retailer Incentive variants (also known as Virgin Variants – they show just the artwork on the cover and have no text to indicate what it is), it’s insane how many variants there are for a 4 issue comic!

I was given Issues 1 and 2 by a friend who told me that these would be right up my alley.  He was 100% correct, I love em!  And now like the manic obsessive person I am, I must own all variants of this comic (gee.. thanks Charles).

Head out to your local Comic Shop today (always support your local place first), and if they don’t have it, good luck, it’s selling fast everywhere!

You can also find a copy of this article on our ZombieMall.com page: http://zombiemall.com/zblog/?p=530

Magic the Gathering eBook: Dragon’s Maze: The Secretist, Part Three

Dragon’s Maze: The Secretist, Part Three

A Planeswalker Novella

Ravnica’s 10 guilds are poised to run the Implicit Maze and unlock the power at its heart.

Stitched into the fabric of Ravnica’s vast metropolis, the maze is the legacy of an ancient guildmaster, and the dragon Niv-Mizzet craves the advantages it could mean for his guild. The goal is obvious: Discover the secret route and complete the maze. But the bickering guilds will never cooperate, and each sends its own champion to claim the prize.

But Jace Beleren believes that the guilds are being tested. The maze hides some deeper truth, and Jace knows that the power balance of Ravnica – and the lives of its denizens – are at stake. Jace’s potential allies have been captured, disgraced, or turned against him. Can he discover the truth behind the maze, while navigating the labyrinth of powerbrokers and conspiracies surrounding it, before the dragon can? Or will dark forces claim its deadly power for themselves?

– Description of Dragon’s Maze: The Secretist, Part Three

Jace Belerin’s quest to discover what is behind all of the strange happenings in the most revered plane in the Multiverse is coming to a close, with Ravnica’s 10 guilds poised to run the Implicit Maze and unlock the power at its heart.

Today, Wizards of the Coast released Dragon’s Maze: The Secretist, Part Three, the third and final e-book in a three part series in the form of a novella, written by Doug Beyer, writer and creative designer on the Magic: The Gathering R&D team.

Dragon’s Maze: The Secretist, Part Three is available beginning today in the U.S. and Canada for $1.99 at Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo.

The Hangover Part 3 = Funny!

My review for the quick; Go See This Movie.

Now for my verbose version..

Let’s go back to 2009 for just a moment.  That’s the year the 1st Hangover movie came out.  It was THE comedy to see.  It had elements of funny, mystery, adventure, all of the things that make up a great comedy.  Yes, yes, the cast was great, but that has little to the success if the story itself is not up to par.  Hangover 1, however, did have a great story.  It reaped much rewards for it’s formula and cash came rolling it on it’s success. It made roughly $44 million on it’s opening weekend in the United States alone.

Then on to 2011 we go.  Hangover Part II.  They really tried to make a second hit based off of the same formula as before.  The problem is, we had already seen that story; the only difference is this time it took place in a different country.  Don’t get me wrong, Hangover 2 still made some mad cash at the box office, it actually made millions more than the 1st movie did on it’s opening weekend at around $80 million.  However, from movie goers it did not receive much of a lasting reception.

Hangover 1 was in theaters for 5 month, part 2 was in for 3.  Overall part 2 grossed about $20 million less than the 1st.  Critics attribute this to the movie using the same formula as the previous movie.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a funny movie, it’s just that.. well.. we’ve already seen it.

Let’s jump forward to today. ..

The Hangover Part III

I have a feeling that many may pass on this one simply because they will feel that since the 2nd movie used the same formula as the 1st; that this will be yet another “formula” movie.  My words to those thinking that:  DON’T THINK THAT WAY.

Hangover 3 breaks away from the previous two film’s formula and takes us all on a trip we’ve not yet been on.  The comedy was spot on; the funny was all there; the mystery was all there; the adventure was most defiantly all there.  This go around, however, the story was new, it was fresh, it was crisp.

We are reunited with some old friends, we travel to Mexico for a bit and of course we head back to Vegas where it all started.   We have some flashback fun (it fills us in on what links the movies together), some wild rides, and yeah at the end of the day you can walk away with a good feeling that you didn’t just watch what came out a few years prior.

It’s Rated R.  For a reason.  Lots LOTS of F-bombs, some brief graphic nudity, and lots of reference to drug use.  That does not bother me at all; but it’s certainly not one for the kids.

Part 3 does take on a little more serious tone; don’t get me wrong, it’s not a serious movie, it is a comedy.  While the comedy is peppered throughout the movie it also takes steps to let you know it’s not just a situational comedy.  Nor is it a physical comedy (like The 3 Stooges).  It’s actually a very refreshing thinking comedy.

I almost wish I had seen the previous 2 just before going in to watch this one as there are several references made that I probably missed.

Ahh.. I find myself now rambling.  Ya know, I’m just going to end here with this last brief paragraph:

Go see this movie.  It’s a great ending to what has come before.  Be sure to stick around after the credits; just because you think the movie is over does not mean that the funny ends there…

Xbox One: Uhm.. Er.. Huh?

The word around the internet can have a big impact on business.  From Twitter to Facebook, that word is the voice of the consumer.  If someone makes a product and said consumer is not happy with it; then you can bet that company is going to receive much negative flak.

I really don’t think that’s what Microsoft had in mind when they released a few of the details about their newest Xbox console: Xbox One.

However.. We also see a silver lining too.  Stick with me, and I’ll explain.

What we know so far..

It’s called Xbox One. No release date, no price listed.  8 GB of RAM.  Octi-Core Processor.  500GB Hard Drive. Blu-Ray player WILL be there. Wi-Fi Direct built in. USB 3.0. Kinect is mandatory for this system.  It will have a 1 year long launch window and it is confirmed that there will be at least 15 game titles released during this time.

What we don’t know for sure..

While we suspect the graphics card will be a Radeon HD 7790, we have no official word to corroborate that.

What we know and don’t like..

Microsoft flat out stated several things (and these are the things that have caused that much negative flak mentioned earlier) that we simply don’t want to hear.

Xbox One will NOT be able to play Xbox 360 games.  None at all.

Kinect is now mandatory.

ALL games will be downloaded to the hard drive in order to play them.

Ya know.. Let me break off my brief sentences and get down and dirty here.  Let’s face it, The Xbox 360 has been out for a while.  The console is great, the games are fantastic, and the gaming community that surrounds it is dedicated and happy with the system.  What’s more exciting than rumors of a new Xbox console?  Rumors broken and facts presented of course!

On Monday, May 20th, Microsoft did just that.  They quelled the rumors and gave us flat out information about their new Xbox console.  We now know it’s called the Xbox One.  Going into the press announcement was a slew of negative rumors; everything from the system being in constant contact with the internet, Kinect being a mandatory element of the system, no more using used games (or rented games or borrowed games).  The rumors listed there are pretty scary, yet this past Monday Microsoft had a chance to put those rumors to rest and tell us all that they were false and untrue.

The fact is, all of the rumors above turned out to be true.  Sortav.

Does it really not scare anyone to know that the console will always be connected to the internet and that the Kinect eye will always be watching?  Yes, yes, my Personal Computer is also always connected; but my webcam is not always turned on (nor is it used to do any kind of interaction with my PC other than have people watch me when I want them to).  The Kinect eye IS a key element of the system, it’s what allows you to navigate the console and is always on.  It’s what allows you to say “Xbox On”; “Change Channel”, “Call Paul”.  The Kinect camera is always “listening” for you; it’s never actually off unless you unplug it from the wall.

Microsoft did state that it has strong privacy protections in place (but didn’t they also have strong privacy protections in place when the Xbox Live Accounts were hacked back in 2012?).

Okay, here is a little more on the “always connected to the internet”.  It’s only going to “sortav” be always connected.  There will be some games that you can play totally offline; but game developers will have the ability to utilize Microsoft’s Azure cloud to handle some of the computing processes of the Xbox One.  Think Diablo or SimCity 4 here.   While not being specifically multiplayer games; they do require you to be connected to a server in order to play the game at all.

With that said; Xbox executive Whitten did state that he “hopes” that developers create games that utilize the online feature.  To me, that simply states that constant online connection may very well be the future of the Xbox One.

Now for our Xbox 360 games..

We can’t play our stockpile of Xbox 360 games on it.  This one really hurts.  A friend of mine has, literally, over 400 games for the Xbox 360.  Microsoft told us that 15 titles will be released for the Xbox One in it’s first year.  Only fifteen?  What’s more, you won’t be able to play rented games, used game that you buy at a yard sale, or even that borrowed game from your friend.  Now all games will be installed directly to the Xbox One’s Hard Drive and will be attached to your account.  Yes, you can back those game up to the Microsoft cloud (they boast to having just over 300,000 servers) in case your console gives you the Ring of Death and you have to get a new console.  But gone will be the days that let you trade games amongst your friends.

What you will be able to do is trade in your games and allow others to buy them (this will take place entirely upon the Xbox One network) – however, once sold you will no longer have access to that game on your account.  What you can do is link your game to a second account; for a less than retail fee.  THAT way you and your friends could technically still “trade” your games.

With that said; Microsoft did state that your Gamerscore will carry over from the Xbox 360 (provided you want to use the same info when setting up your Xbox One account).

Now that the negative is behind us (and it sure does seem like a lot), I want to focus on the cool elements of the Xbox One.

What we know and do like..

Bly-ray player is wicked cool.  The specs we’ve seen so far tells us this is going to be a power-house of a machine.  It’s going to be Skype compatible seeing as how Microsoft now owns Skype, and teamed up with the Kinect this will allow you to play games and have your Skype call up at the same time.

Smart Glass will allow you to use your iOS or Android device as a controller (similar as to how Nintendo’s Wii U controller works).  I’ll be VERY interested to see how much control this element will provide, can I still connect to my system when I’m miles away?

Kinect:  despite my initial rant above about it; it is very Star Trek(ish) in how we are able to communicate with the system.  I love technology and this is really a very cool feature.

Speaking of Star Trek.. Microsoft also is talking about Illumiroom.  Think about the Holo-Deck from Star Trek the Next Generation.  No, Illumiroom won’t create a total fantasy environment, but it will use a projector to provide special effects to the room you are gaming in.  This is going to be a technology unavailable for launch (as we understand it), but should be out within the Xbox One’s first year.

The controller has not changed too much, and we like that.  I’ll be the first to admit, my hands now have muscle memory for the controller.  It’s almost seamless now, and I really don’t want to learn an all new controller for the new system.  Yes, there are changes, but they are not drastic.

You will be able to control your television with the Xbox One.  I’m unclear to the full extent, but I would venture to guess If it’s something you can do with your current remote control, you ‘ll be able to do the same thing with the Xbox One.  Only now, it will be with your voice!  “Xbox, tune into Walking Dead”, yes that’s certainly something for me to get excited about!

And now the launch games:

Here is what is confirmed from Microsoft and publishers:

Halo 5

Forza Motorsports 5

Quantam Break

Ryse

Rainbow 6: Patriots

Call of Duty: Ghosts

Human Element

Watch Dogs

Dragon Age 3: Inquisition

Battlefield 4

Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014

Lords of the Fallen

Sniper Elite 3

FIFA 14

Those are certainly some impressive titles!  What we are unsure of, however, is exactly when these titles will be out; will they be out right along side the Xbox One console itself; or will they trickle out over it’s 1 year long launch window?  I’m sure there will be a lot more than just 15 games released; not to mention the slew of digital only games that will also be available to immediate download.

This is all the info we have, but keep in mind it’s also just one day after Microsoft provided their official press release of the new console.  I for one am very excited to see what the Xbox One is going to provide to us.

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