Friday, April 29, 2011

Juicy to the Core: This week in Apple News

It's been quite a fun week for Apple. For those of you only slightly paying attention, I'm gonna give you a quick run down!

Last week, negativity came against Apple for the iPhone devices allegedly recording and retaining GPS information of the users. Apple admits that iPhone GPS info is, in some cases, gathered anonymously and transmitted to its servers in an encrypted fashion, but Apple says the information is not retained.

 However, developers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden recently revealed that the iPhones keep an unprotected record of everywhere they've been on the devices themselves. Thus, as is the next logical step these days, 2 idiots have decided to sue. Vikram Ajjampur and William Devito are the assholes who, no longer content with hours upon hours of enjoyment Apple and their iDevices have given them, claim that Apple is "secretly recording movements of iPhone and iPad users", and are pushing for a class-action suit.

Wednesday night marked the Season Premiere of South Park on Comedy Central, and the episode was Awesome!! I don’t want to give away TOO much, cuz I highly recommend you catch the ep on a re-air, but it again showcased South Park’s uncanny knack for remaining the most topical and timely cartoon ever produced.

The episode was a send-up of not only the 2009 Horror film The Human Centipede, by writer/director Tom Six, but also Apple’s recent “stranglehold” over the market place with their smart devices, and their “customer oppression” by way of their “contracts” and consumer monitoring. The result? Poor Kyle becoming slave to Steve Jobs’s and Apple’s newest technological breakthrough – the HUMANCENTiPAD. Glorious!!

And last, but not least, this week marked the debut, FINALLY, of the eagerly awaited, White iPhone 4! Is it cool looking? You bet! Is it worth actually going out to buy? … eh … No. It’s not. At least not for Apple devotees. For general consumers that have been planning to upgrade to a smart phone, and just kinda a want a good one right now? Then, yeah. White iPhone 4 is for them. You’ll have the coolest, most gawked over phone on the train.

Everyone else already ran out and bought the BLACK iPhone 4 when it was released for Verizon back in February (raises hand), and/or they are waiting for the iPhone 5 which should be announced/released in the next 2 months or so. The only question for them is - how important is it for you to have a White iPhone, and how soon? One can assume that Apple will eventually release a White iPhone 5, but there’s no telling when that will be. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

THE VOICE in my head ...

Admittedly, I was all set to tear apart NBC's newest singing competition show, The Voice; Tuesdays @ 9pm. The comparison to FOX's American Idol is immediate and expected, and within the first several minutes of watching it, the similarities are all so blatant. The cheesey and smarmy back stories of the contestants ... the contrived in-fighting between coaches a la Paula v. Simon ... even the "get-to-know-you and hang out with your family while you perform" host Carson Daly who, despite his competency, is NO Ryan Seacrest. Plus the show being billed as "about  TALENT alone"? Oh please. Get over yourself.

But then, maybe 15 or 20 minutes into it, a funny thing happened. I actually started to LIKE it. The coaches (not "judges") compete against EACH OTHER to assemble a crew of 8 potentially great singers into their stable, only making selections based on what they hear. Once they "approve", they swing around to see just WHO they put a bid in for and that's when it becomes interesting. The coaches only have till the end of the song to decide if they want to work with the contestant or not, and once its over, it is then the CONTESTANT'S choice of who's team they want to join. So there you see the coaches, Maroon 5's Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, and country music star, Blake Shelton, doing the pleading, groveling, petitioning, and ass-kissing to get the contestants to choose them.

And just how ARE the coaches? - Pretty good! Snaps to Mark Burnett Productions for assembling an excellent and capable crew with a good amount of chemistry. Cee Lo is the best of bunch, being "part Randy Jackson, part Steven Tyler". He's easily and obviously the most knowledgeable of the 4 and shows a real interest in actually making someone a star. But Adam Levine is very good too, being the "Paula" of the group, with none of the crazy, yet twice the genuine sincerity. He and Cee Lo play off well with each other. Blake is the "Simon" - hard-nosed and straight up, like any good country singer should be. The most difficult to impress, but seems almost as capable a coach as Cee Lo when it comes to singers he's actually interested in. And then there's Christina Aguilera. Unfortunately, she's "J.Lo meets Kara DioGuardi, with a dash Paula thrown in". Kinda useless, X-tina couldn't care less about the singers up on stage. She's in it for the bicker-flirting with Levine and promoting herself every chance she gets. But that's ok. I've learned to respect and appreciate Aggie for all her screwball antics as of late.

So I suggest that you check it out and get in on the ground floor. The Voice is very entertaining overall with some good singers, some great coaches, and a fun mechanic. A nice little surprise was Frenchie Davis, former American Idol contestant that got booted due to some ... *ahem* .... scandalousness ... showing up to compete. It's nice to see her still going for it, as well as other musical hopefuls who would never make it on Idol aside from the "let's laugh at the Freaks" segments during the open auditions. (although my favorite PART of Idol) 

NBC's finally got a winner with this ... I think The Voice is gonna be huge and Idol should be paying close attention.

Game ... Over. A street fight that ends the only way it could ...

Ahhhh ... Just like the good old days. An old fashioned parking lot brawl. 2 combatants going at it, trying t prove their point. A gaggle of their peers innocently enough bystanding, awaiting the outcome. And the standard expectancy of today - someone whipping out a digital device to record the show and share.

Oh, but did I mention that the 2 people slugging it out aren't "people" at all? Nope! Street side skirmishes are no longer solely reserved for just humans! Check out what happens when these two GEESE decide to throwdown! ... Seriously ... It's an ending that you won't see coming ... or maybe you will :)


Monday, April 25, 2011

I scream, u scream, we all SCREAM 4 ...

The 4th installment of the Scream franchise which only took 11 years since the last one to come out. Scream 4 finds Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott returning to her hometown to promote a book she'd written about her experiences, only to face some new copycat killers putting on the Ghostface mask, and making unnerving phone calls to would-be, slash-potential victims.

Is Scream supposed to be "scary" at this point? I'm gonna say - No. Scream has always been a semi-comedic homage to slasher movie/horror films. Penned by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven, both masters at what they do best, the original gave an intelligent wink and smile to the genre, while offering unexpected shocks and genuinely scary elements at the same time.

Of course what everyone remembers is the twist at the end of the 1st film with Billy and Stu being revealed as the killers. Unfortunately, however, 3 sequels later, that's all that remains. Waiting for the big "whodunit" reveal at the end, all the while ignoring the fake-outs of the movie making u SUSPECT who it might be ... tripping and yawning it's way through a bare semblance of a plot.

Character development is all but out the window as we just watch the body count rise and (I guess) we're left to appreciate the "new" and "inventive" ways the teenagers get chopped up. Scream 4 still has the "self-referentialism" (not a real word) and "socio-pop culture examination" (not a real term) as its predecessors, but it all feels tacked on and a bit hollow.

It's got the obligatory jam packed cast of young hollywood, but it also cradles the unnecessary: Anthony Anderson as a cop? Does he REALLY need to still be playing these roles at this point in his career? Adam Brody as another cop? Does anyone even remember who that IS anymore??

the rating system:

  • Loved it - one of the best movies I've seen in a long time and worth every cent of the ticket price. I can't state enough how much u need to go see this movie ...

  • Liked it - it was an enjoyable flick for the most part and I'm glad I watched it. Will I run out to buy it when released on video? ... Probably not.

  • Leave it - ranging from the truly forgettable to the "wait a minute ... that didn't make any sense" in the 1st 5 minutes after I leave the theater. Basically - a whole lotta nothin.

  • Loathed it - a movie that literally makes me ANGRY after I exit and for days and weeks after. Angry that I wasted my time and money, and angry that such a piece of shit was ever made and that people actually received payment to do so.

  • the verdict:

    Leave it. The only good in Scream 4 was Hayden Panettiere who's terrific in her role, cute as hell, and finally succeeding in again making me a fan. Rory (better than Macaulay but not as good as Kieran) Culkin was very good as well, but the original cast of Campbell, David Arquette, and Courtney Cox Arquette just seemed bored, while new star Emma Roberts and cameoers like Shenae Grimes, Kristen Bell, and Anna Paquin were just as useless as they are in everything ELSE they do.

    The movie suffered from going back in the same well way too often and not pulling up anything new ... even though it seemed to think that it did.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    The Dark Side of Disney ...

    Apparently Disney theme parks have Jedi Training Academies for Force wielding youngsters who want to join the fight against the Galactic Empire! An enjoyable production that even allows the kids to face off against the evil Sith lord, Darth Vader, himself! Formulaic fantasy fun ... until little Sariah Gallego decides to REWRITE the script and walk a ... DIFFERENT path ...

    I LOVE this! It's nice to see young people not be so pre-programmed, defying convention, and going against the grain. And who WOULDN'T want to join the Dark Side? Cooler lightsabers, mentally choking people that disagree with you ... the Sith have it all!

    Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) said it best in Spaceballs - "... now you see that evil will always triumph, because good is dumb." 

    Good times!

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Attacking Super 8 ...

    When I first saw the teaser trailer for Super 8 (one of the big summer films of 2011), I was admittedly excited. J.J. Abrams as director. Steven Spielberg as producer. It looked like creepy goodness. But then it turned into "the more I see, the less I like". Enter the FULL trailer.

    Vomit. And each time I watch it, I become more and more skeptical. You gotta love mini-Dakota Fanning (Elle Fanning) in this, and Spielberg lets you down even less than I do. But ... It looks like way too much of that "kids smarter than the grownups" faire, which wouldn't be so bad if Super 8 didn't appear to take itself way too seriously. I'm guessing it was pitched as "Cloverfield meets Goonies", minus the campy or 80's fun polish.

    However, all is not lost. Behold - Attack The Block, a similar themed London based film about kids (teens) going toe-to-toe with alien invaders. It stars Nick Frost, whom you probably know from Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, etc., which gives it tons of points already, and it just looks SO much better than Super 8.

    Here's the trailer.

    Which do YOU think looks better?

    Hell, I'll prob see both, but I already know which I have more faith in right now ...

    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    I've Got this movie's Number ...

    It came out weeks ago and made relatively no noise, but it looked fair enough at the time ... So a last minute audible was called and we decided to check out I Am Number Four.

    The plot's simple enough. Super powered teen alien survivors of an all but extinct race, having taken refuge on Earth, are being hunted and killed off in numerical order by ANOTHER group of less-teen and more-ugly aliens. The main hero is Number 4, played by Alex Pettyfer. Sound a bit cheesy? It is.

    Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised with I Am Number Four. You see the trailer and you think you know what it's going to be, but it turns out to be a bit more. Thankfully, it was only produced by Michael Bay and not directed by, so all the props go to actual director D.J. Caruso, who also did Eagle Eye. He let this teen drama/ sci-fi action flick unfold at its own pace, so although you get the usual elements - "the new kid in school", "the sexy love interest", "the geek needing a best friend", "the bully football player" ... We really got to know each character and appreciate their motivations, which in turn helped us cheer for them when the confrontations finally started. There's even some nice scenes of the evil alien hunters doing normal stuff like grocery shopping which are pretty memorable.

    The movie does suffer from having almost TOO much story that it wants to tell. There are a lot of mini mysteries floating around way too long, like with the dog, where by the time it's revealed, we've already figured it out, and don't care as much. Plus, we get so much of some characters, like the the love interest Sarah, played terrifically by Dianna Agron, that we don't get enough of some of the sci-fi people we want more of, like Timothy Olyphant's Henri or Teresa Palmer's Number 6.

    When all is said and done? I Liked it. Nice teen angst stuff without becoming too sickening. Likable, well layered characters with solid smarts, even the minor ones. Plus some fun action battles. It's worth checking out if you can find a theater still showing it.

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    In theaters this Summer? ... I Hope?!?

    Finally! The trailer for the sequel that was just screaming to be made ...
    When Harry Met Sally 2!
    ... along with some behind the scenes footage of the think tanking that assembled it ... Enjoy!

    God, I love Helen Mirren! I'd be a vampire with HER for all eternity! ... Oh, wait. No I wouldn't. ... Or WOULD I?!? ... Stay tuned to find out!

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    American IDLE ...

    The ratings may say otherwise, but I find it hard to believe that people are still watching American Idol. I mean, sure. It's not the ratings juggernaut it once was, but it's still, after all these years, the biggest thing on Fox and on MOST networks, enough so much that Fox still devotes like what? HALF of it's prime lineup to either air or promote it?

    (Look! There's Christian Slater!)
    Whatevz. I peeked in again to see how things were shaping up this year, and ... bleh. Lame. Despite the initial interest to see what the new judges, Steven Tyler and J. Lo, brought to the table, the show hasn't really done anything to encourage folks to stick with it.

    And how ARE the judges? Randy Jackson is as good as he always was. Now, the captain of the ship, he continues to be the only one you can count on to say anything worthwhile. Steven and Jennifer are pretty much the 2 halves of Paula Abdul. Nothing constructive. Rainbows and Sunshine. Everyone is a star. Ya know - useless.

    (Ryan Seacrest and new "David Archuletta clone" - Stefano Langone)
    Well the show is about the CONTESTANTS, right? Uhm ... wrong. It would be NICE if it were, but this year just has a boring crop of uninspired nobodies. Casey Abrams is like a hillbilly or something. Pia Toscano looks like she could be a Kardashian sister. Pretty, but is so uninteresting, you just want to cry. The only partially memorable newcomer is country kid, Scotty McCreery (who WILL be referred to as "Scotty McCREEPY" in no time, just you wait!), who's like a weird mix of The Miz and Taylor Hicks.

    Without real buzzworthy and exciting contestants, what's the point? The show seems so far gone from the Adam Lamberts, Katherine McPhees, and, dare I say it? - The Diana Degarmos. Sure, these guys were all only runner-ups in the end, but you gave a damn about the journey they took, the competitors they outlasted, and finally the eventual champions that ousted THEM in the finals. I'm once again giving up on Idol. Here's to hoping that The X Factor brings it come Fall!

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    'Punch ain't for Suckers!

    Good ol' Emily Browning. I was probably one of the more thrilled people out there when it was announced that she'd replaced Amanda Seyfried in Zack Snyder's new big action film, Sucker Punch. Browning plays a tragic, family shattered youth in pretty much every film she's in, (Lemony Snicket, The Uninvited, etc.) so she could do the lead role of Baby Doll in her sleep if she had to, right?

    Right. Although I can't say she MADE the film, as Sucker Punch was a movie sorta wrapped up in itself. It's about a girl's desperate fight for freedom, played out in a type of fantasy. I don't want to give TOO much away, but there are many things going on at the same time, and its important to recognize what parts are (albeit drawn out) only symbolism and metaphor, or you might be left scratching your head like - "huh?"

    Nobody does vivid, ultra fighting, samurai slashing, robot stomping and monster chomping gun play visuals better than Zack Snyder. After 300, The Watchmen, and the very credible remake of Dawn of the Dead, he's more than proven what he's capable of and in Sucker Punch, he's just kinda showing off. It's all enjoyable stuff and obviously what is meant to draw you into the theater, but it's the "real world" moments of the movie that are the most compelling, thanks in a large part to the superb villainy of Blue Jones, played by Oscar Isaac.

    You could sense they cut and trimmed a lot to get it down to a "lean" hour & 50 minute running time. Unfortunately, we then don't get as much from Jamie Chung's Amber or Vanessa Hudgens's Blondie as we could have, to make us care about them more, but it does allow the movie to progress SAFELY before reaching the point of redundant.

    Ok,  do you remember the rating system? If not, here it is again:

  • Loved it - one of the best movies I've seen in a long time and worth every cent of the ticket price. I can't state enough how much u need to go see this movie ...

  • Liked it - it was an enjoyable flick for the most part and I'm glad I watched it. Will I run out to buy it when released on video? ... Probably not.

  • Leave it - ranging from the truly forgettable to the "wait a minute ... that didn't make any sense" in the 1st 5 minutes after I leave the theater. Basically - a whole lotta nothin.

  • Loathed it - a movie that literally makes me ANGRY after I exit and for days and weeks after. Angry that I wasted my time and money, and angry that such a piece of shit was ever made and that people actually received payment to do so.

  • So what's the verdict on Sucker Punch?

    I Liked it. It's a fun watch all the way through with good performances by Browning, Carla Cugino as the chief therapist/dance instructor, and Isaac.

    A lot of awesome mindless action yet with still a decent portion of mind tucked in to make you care about what happens next. All that plus you won't be able to guess how it ends ... or CAN you??? (no, you can't)