Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – movie review

DawnOfThePlanetOfTheApesGrade: A

Lets put aside the acting and the story for just a moment, both of which were great, and consider that there were no apes, no real apes at least, in this movie. There wasn’t a single moment, not one frame, that I saw where I thought, “Oh yeah, the apes are all computer graphics.” That is astounding considering the large number of extreme closeups.

Note: I saw the movie in 2D. I don’t know if the same can be said of the 3D version.

The thing I liked most is that the plot revolves around the character development instead of the other way around. Summertime blockbusters are typically thought of as heavy on the action and lite on the story (Cough-cough-Transformers). And wintertime movies are usually the obverse – Peter Jackson movies withstanding – heavy on story and character development and lite on action. With DotPotA we get the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of movies.

Dear Hollywood, More like this please.

The only thing I can think of to grip about (I have to be critical of something, right?) in this movie is that I thought it was rather predictable. Not that that’s such a bad thing. It’s hard to tell a story that focuses on character development that isn’t predictable. But if they could have somehow managed it I’d given them the first A+ movie rating in over 2 years. As it is they’re going to have to suffer with only an A.

Feedback needed for potential update to app

I’d love to get your feedback on a possible change to the app. Currently we have information about each Peetime at the top of the Peetime screen where we briefly describe what happens during each scene. That way you’ll have some idea if you’ll be missing an action scene, or character development, or whatever.

Would it be easier to digest if those brief descriptions were included under the cue for each Peetime? Or should I leave them all grouped together at the top?

The photos below show the current view and a mockup of what it would look like if I changed it.

Please let me know which you would prefer.

Currently looks like this ->

Current layout
Current layout

 

Possible change ->

Mockup of possible change.
Mockup of possible change.

Earth To Echo – movie review

EarthToEchoGrade: C+

If it wasn’t obvious from the previews “Earth To Echo” is essentially a retelling of “ET”. But I’m pretty sure it won’t be remembered as one of the classics.

This is definitely a kids movie. There’s not much for adults to cling to. The story centers around the close friendship of three boys who are each outsiders at school. As the movie starts we learn that a freeway is being built through their neighborhood and everyone is relocating. Two of the boy’s families are moving away, ending their friendship.

Echo, the alien, is really just a prop to explore the boy’s friendship as they have one last adventure together. Any kid who feels like an outsider, or misunderstood, will have something to relate to in this movie.

Transformers: Age of Extinction, movie review

TransformersAOEGrade: B-

There’s not a lot to say about Transformers: Age of Extinction. (TAOE) It’s a Transformers movie with bits of awesome, a dash of humor, and loads of plot holes. But as we’ve seen before, Transformers can effortlessly jump over plot holes.

When comparing TAOE with the other Transformer movies I’d have to put this one at the top. TAOE can hold it’s own in the awesome moments category (They had me at Dinobots!) while completely trouncing the installments for acting. The cast, specifically Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci, are a huge improvement over the former cast. That right there gives TAOE a leg up.

The other improvement I noticed is the lack of ridiculous attempts at humor. There wasn’t anything like the John Turturro in a jockstrap gag, or the endless puerile humor of Shia LaBeouf in the first movie. Perhaps the more mature and talented cast inspired Michael Bay to make a movie aimed at 20 year old men instead of 12 year old boys.

On the topic of humor I have to say that John Goodman as the voice of Hound was a fantastic choice. His lines alone accounted for 50% of the laughs. Picturing Goodman as a Transformer provided the other 50%. 🙂

I didn’t see TAOE in 3D – it’s hard to watch 3D movies and take notes.

Error 918 on Google Play

Lots of people have been getting the Error 918 when trying to update the RunPee app.  Here’s something that works for most people.

Go to Settings > Apps > All > Google Play Store > Clear Cache & Clear Data

then go to

Settings > Accounts & Sync > *your Google account* > click menu (the three dots) > Remove Google Account

then re-add your Google Account again. That should do the trick.

If that doesn’t fix it then the problem may be that there isn’t enough room remaining on your internal devise storage to install/update the app. You can try to free up space by moving other applications to the external SD card, assuming you have one. Not all apps can be moved but it’s a good practice to move all the apps you can to the external SD card.

To move an app to the external SD card open settings > More > Application manager.

Select any application and you should see a button labeled “Move to SD card”. If the app can’t be moved then it will be grayed out.

Or, you can just ignore the update and wait for the next one. I’m not sure why the Google Play store has this issue sometimes but it happens to a lot of people with a lot of different apps. Google could certainly do a better job of explaining to the user exactly what’s going on.

Vibration tips

So, the vibration feature on the Timer doesn’t seem to be working. There’s a 99% chance that you have an iOS device. There’s an easy fix for that: get an Android phone. 🙂

Okay, you probably don’t want to switch phones just so that the RunPee Timer will vibrate. Fortunately we can probably fix this for you.

Let me start by explaining that the RunPee app can only suggest that the phone vibrate. The operating system – whether it’s iOS or Android – decides if the phone will actually vibrate based on the phone’s state and the vibration settings.

Let’s start by going to the “Timer Help” screen – press the button at the lower-left of the Timer screen. From there you can test the vibration feature to make sure your phone settings are set to allow vibrations. If you’re phone doesn’t vibrate when you test it then go to your phone’s vibration settings and adjust them so that vibrations are allowed.

This usually fixes the problem but sometimes the RunPee app will never ever vibrate no matter the phone settings. This is usually because something went wrong during the installation process. If you’re pretty sure your phone settings are set to allow vibrations and it’s still not working then simply uninstall the app and then reinstall it. And if asked make sure that you grant the RunPee app the permission to vibrate the device.

Download the app: iOS   Android (Don’t worry, if you paid for the app you won’t have to pay for it again.)

You would think that would solve the problem. But there’s one other issue that afflicts iPhone users. iOS is very aggressive at shutting down apps that are running in the background. There’s nothing the RunPee app can do if iOS decides to shut the RunPee app down while the Timer is running. This almost always happens when the RunPee app is sent to the background. Meaning that the Timer is running and maybe you check a text message, or something like that. iOS looks at the RunPee app and thinks, “Hummm, this app has been running for a while but the user hasn’t interacted with it for some time now and has opened another app. I think I’ll just close it down and help save some battery power.”

There’s two ways to solve this problem. The most obvious is don’t check text messages during a movie. 🙂

However, if for whatever reason you send the RunPee app to the background just be sure to start it up again. The RunPee app is smart enough to know that the Timer should be running and will jump back to the Timer screen and adjust the time accordingly, just like nothing ever happened. As long as the RunPee app is the active app it should stay running.

Also, it’s not a bad idea to put your phone in airplane mode during a movie. If you get a text message, or email, or anything else that might notify you with a vibration then you might confuse that with an upcoming Peetime.

Edge of Tomorrow – movie review

edge-of-tomorrowGrade: B

I love Groundhog Day stories and I’ve been looking forward to this movie since the first time I saw the previews. I was *hoping* it would rank as one of the classic Sci-Fi movies. However, I expected it would just be a good movie that might be worth rewatching again a year from now.

I didn’t get what I hoped for, but at least I got what I expected.

I’m really impressed with the writers. Most notably Christopher McQuarrie who wrote *The Usual Suspects*. Sci-Fi is littered with stories that either make things up as they go along, or rely on overly complex rules that are hard to follow. *Edge of Tomorrow* hits the sweet spot. The “rules” were clearly expressed, without heavy handed exposition, and they stuck to them.

The action and special effects were well done and fit into the story nicely without over doing it. The beach scenes were especially well done, capturing the confusion and chaos of the battle.

If there’s one place I think the movie could be improved it would be with the relationship development between the main characters. I know what they were aiming for, but think they needed another 10-15 minutes of movie to really flesh out some of the nuances instead of relying on a short montage.

There were plenty of humorous scenes to keep it lively and entertaining. Another thumbs up to the writers and especially Tom Cruise for his comedic timing.

Maleficent – movie review

MaleficentGrade: B-

After seeing what Maleficent – Angelina Jolie – looked like in the previews I had hopes this was going to be a strictly adult oriented movie. That’s not the case. The movie, especially the first 30 minutes, is very much oriented toward children.

There is a frequent voice over that tells us what’s going on, who people are, and why they do the things they do. Starting out the story is very heavy handed – like reading a kids book.

It starts to get better, after about 30 minutes, and improves right to the end. So starting out I thought, “Oy, I’m going to have to sit through 90 minutes of this?” By the end I wished the movie could have gone on a little longer. But, like many movies oriented for children, it’s just less than 90 minutes long – not counting the credits.

I wasn’t particularly impressed with Elle Fanning, as Aurora. She wasn’t bad, but didn’t exactly impress.

Sharlto Copley, as Stefan, was also less than inspiring. For one thing he has a thick South African accent and was pretty much the only character in the story with any accent whatsoever. That seemed oddly out of place.

Fortunately Angelina Jolie was fantastic. She added subtleties to Maleficent that created a sympathetic character, exactly as the role required.

Robert Stromberg, the director, brought a nice vision to the movie, contrasting the world of man with the magical world, but I’m not sure he got everything out of his actors that they may have had to offer.

X-Men: Days of Future Pasted – movie review

X-MenDOFPGrade: A

Brian Singer (director), and the writers, set the bar sky high in this film. It’s going to be a chore to top this in the scheduled X-Men sequel, due May 27, 2016.

The acting was spectacular. All the main characters are reprising roles that they have already performed with aplomb. However, I think Hugh Jackman stands out, and I’m not just saying that because I know he loves the RunPee app. Okay – maybe I’m saying it partly because of that. 🙂

Until now, the character of Logan has been consistently defined by incessant pessimism. But that changes in DOFP. Logan helps build a team instead of tearing it apart, and that requires Hugh Jackman to evolve his portrayal of a character that he’s grown accustomed to. I’m no actor, but I can appreciate how scary that must be, because there’s lots of room for that to go horribly wrong. Kudos to Jackman for pulling it off.

The action is fantastic! One of the best action scenes comes right at the beginning of the movie…so don’t be late to this one. Another of the action scenes – the wonderful “Time in a Bottle” sequence – was so good the entire audience erupted in spontaneous, enthusiastic applause as it ended. I can’t remember the last time that happened.

The plot is easy to follow and feels logical throughout. There isn’t anything confusing or contradicting in the story, which is quite an accomplishment for a time travel tale.

High marks should be given to the director, writers, and actors; they did a great job adding humor to such a serious theme. This movie’s appeal would diminish considerably if you subtracted out the numerous cute chuckles and downright hilarious scenes. This is a film worth seeing in the theater.

I would give this movie an A+ but I’m going to save that, hopefully, for X-Men: Apocalypse.

Million Dollar Arm

MillionDallarArmGrade: B-

Million Dollar Arm was a good movie, but I doubt anyone’s going to put it on their list of favorite inspirational sports movies.

The performances were all solid. John Hamm especially stood out, which is good since he’s the main character. He does a good job with his expressions saying more than his dialog. Alan Arkin, as expected, takes a little role and gives it the polish and perfection he does with everything. He pretty much owns every scene he’s in.

There are some amusing scenes but that’s about as good as the humor gets.

The story is predictable but the pacing of the movie kept me engaged. I think where the movie falls short is that there’s not enough at stake for any of the characters. Even if the boys from India don’t make it, they still end up with a great experience and more money than they could have ever hoped for. JB (John Hamm) has a lot riding on the success of his plan, and if he fails then he might lose his company and amazing house, but it’s not like he’s going to be impoverished. Basically, if the story ended with the worst case scenario it wouldn’t be a tragedy. I think that’s what holds the story back from being truly inspirational.