Movie review : ZombieLand

ZombieLand
ZombieLand

Buy the soundtrack for ZombieLand
Purchase at iTunes
Purchase at Amazon.com

[ no spoilers ]

Let me say first off, that this movie has a fantastic cameo appearance and it’s a big surprise. So try to see the movie before you run into some new previews that give away who the actor, or actress, is in the cameo. And whatever you do, don’t go to IMDB.com and look up the cast. I checked the day before the movie came out and this cameo person wasn’t listed. But they are now. So you’ve been warned.

I was really looking forward to this movie since the first time I saw a preview for it. I left the theater thinking that it nearly met my expectations. The one flaw with the movie was that it was so short -under 90 minutes. I could have really gone for another 15-20 minutes watching them try for zombie kills of the week! Maybe more action will be on the DVD.

If you’re a zombie movie fan like me, and you like comedies, then you most likely have seen Shawn of the Dead. ZombieLand isn’t quite as good as that. Close though.

The movie itself was simple. Not that zombie movies are often deeply intellectual. The typical zombie movie plot involves two choices: A ) See zombie, run from zombie. Or, B ) See zombie, kill zombie. That pretty much sums up 90% of this plot. What makes a good zombie movie oftentimes revolves around interesting and gory ways to achieve scenes involving points A and B. ZombieLand gets high marks for point B.

Aside from that it’s fairly funny. Woody Harrelson was born to play this role. You can tell from the previews that he nails his character. Jesse Eisenberg does a fantastic job of playing the paranoid geek. His humor is very subtle and he pulls it off just fine. The two girls in the movie – Abigail Breslin and Emma Stone – didn’t have a whole lot to work with. But they did good with what they had.

There is some decent character development. We discover interesting things about the characters along the way. Which is well done; the writers didn’t pull that lame stunt that is so common these days, where a character is given some deep dark secret that we have to guess about during the movie, only to discover in the end it’s a pretty stupid secret.

What did you think about ZombieLand? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

RunPee on BlackBerry

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a RunPee BlackBerry app? A lot of people think so. We were hoping to have one ready by now – but have run into nothing but snags.

Here is the speck for the app: (It would be very similar to the iPhone app which you can see here.)

Basic Navigation

  • Basic navigation of the movies – using the same RunPee API that the iPhone app uses. It returns an XML data set.
  • Navigate from any movie to the PeeTimes for that movie – if there are any.
  • From each PeeTime navigate to the synopsis of what happens during that PeeTime.

Timer for the Blackberry App

  • From any PeeTime screen display a button to show the timer.
  • Timer screen displays a start button with instructions to press when the movie starts.
  • When the Timer is started it will display a screen showing the user options for how long before each PeeTime to give a warning vibration: 0, 1, 2, 4 minutes.
  • When the timer is running it will keep track of the PeeTimes for the movie that was being viewed when it was started.
  • As the Timer counts up to a PeeTime minus the warning time it will vibrate.

Other App Abilities

  • Ability to store movie/PeeTime data for use when offline. So that the user can browse to the movie they plan to see while connected and then be able to use the app in the theater even if there is no cell reception.
  • Display an info screen that loads data from the RunPee server.
  • Ability to display multiple character sets. Currently RunPee.com is only in English but soon there will be translations for Chinese, German, French, etc.
  • Ability to run in the background – so that the timer will keep counting even if the user leaves the app.

If you are a BlackBerry developer, and would interested in building this for RunPee, then email me – polyGeek [at] this domain – and give me an estimate on the cost and how much time it would take.

Movie review : Surrogates

Surrogates

[ no spoilers ]

Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: scientists create a technology that revolutionizes our every day life. Everyone thinks it’s the greatest thing since the invention of the right-mouse-button. Then one guy starts to think maybe this isn’t so great after all and . . .

Right, so you’ve heard this one before. I get it. You get it. So WHY DOES HOLLYWOOD KEEP TELLING THE SAME STORY OVER AND OVER? Dude, James Cromwell – Dr. Canter – even plays the exact same roll as he did in iRobot.

Here’s an idea for a great movie: scientists create a technology that revolutionizes our every day life. Everyone thinks it’s the greatest thing since the invention of the right-mouse-button. Then one guy starts to think maybe this isn’t so great after all and then everyone else laughs at him and says, “Dude, you watched to much science fiction. Chill out. This is way better.”

[ spoilers ahead ]

One thing that I did like about the movie is the very very end when Tom and Maggie are together in the flesh and look at each other. They are both scarred and aged. Yet they realize that they are happy together. It’s that they share these flaws together. And that is part of the human condition and loving each other. That was the one saving grace in an otherwise cloned movie of every other science fiction cautionary tale.

What did you think about Surrogates? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Pandorum

Pandorum
Pandorum

Buy the soundtrack for Pandorum
Purchase at Amazon.com

[ no spoilers ]

There’s a perfect Litmus test to tell if you will like Pandorum or not: did you like the first Resident Evil movie? Forget about the sequels which were disappointing at best. The first Resident Evil movie was pretty solid and engaging. And Pandorum is every bit of that if not more.

The creatures in the movie are very much like zombies with a dash of Alien thrown in. The story does a good balancing act on keeping them a mystery and not overdoing the scenes with them.

Speaking of mystery’s this movie is full of them. And some of them you don’t even know about until the very end. I’m not going to give anything away but the ending is very deep and does not disappoint.

That’s usually the total failure of movies. They tell a great story right up until the end and then fall to shreds. You’re left leaving the theater thinking, “WTF?” Not the case here. At least not for me. I was presently surprised.

I must admit that I did not want to see this movie. I don’t go for horror movies much anymore but I’m glad I was forced into seeing this one. And the comparisons with Event Horizon are way off base. Okay, mostly off base. This movie has it’s fair share of gore but nothing remotely like Event Horizon. On the gore level this movie is no more gory than your typical zombie flick these days.

What did you think about Pandorum? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Fame

Fame
Fame

Buy the soundtrack for Fame

Purchase at iTunes

Purchase at Amazon.com

[ no spoilers ]

If you really want to see Fame and you haven’t seen Bandslam yet then try to find a place where it’s still showing. You’ll enjoy a much better movie.

Fame tried to focus on way too many characters to the point that they are all diluted. In fact they are hardly any characters in the movie. It’s more like a bunch of stereotypes.

And the dance/performance scenes didn’t really have me wiggling in my seat either. Nor was there much to laugh about.

Lets see, was there anything I liked? Um, Megan Mullally singing was fantastic. I wonder if that was really her.

What did you think about Fame? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

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RunningLate? A New Feature for RunPee.com

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Here at World Domination Headquarters we’re always thinking about ways we can enslave you serve you better. 🙂 To that end someone suggested what might be a hugely popular new feature for RunPee.com, called RunningLate.

How would you like it if we added a feature that gave you a synopsis of the first 10-minutes of each movie just in case you’re running late? It’s certainly not something that you want to use. But if you need it then it could come in very handy. It might even save lives. Normally you might be in such a rush to get to the theater that you could be in an accident. But if you know what happens during the first 10-minutes then you might just ease off enough to keep it safe.

There would also be a means for users who have seen the movie to vote on how important the first 10-minutes are. That way people could judge if they should just wait for the next showing, or if they can still get into the story with just the synopsis we provide.

I would really appreciate it if you would vote and let me know if you think this would be a good idea or not. Plus, if you have anything further to add, just drop a comment. I do read them all. 🙂

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Movie review : Love Happens

Love Happens

I cried. There, I said it. Yes, I cried at the end of the movie. This movie taught me to embrace my feelings of care and sympathy for fictitious characters. Okay, now I’m just being funny. But I really did cry.

First off, this movie isn’t really a love story. It’s about the beginning of a relationship between the two main characters but it’s mostly about someone coming to grips with their past. I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil the movie.

The downfall of many dramatic movies is that they oftentime tell us the story without letting us feel it. The actors may show emotion but we don’t always get the motivation for those feelings. My best example is The English Patient. Although I didn’t hate the move as much as Elaine all the way through the movie I’m trying to figure out why the Count and Hana give up so much for each other. Yes, they love each other but why. I never saw it. I was told that they loved each other. I saw them doing loving things for each other. But it seemed to me that they went from meeting each other and then stuff happens and all the sudden they are in love with each other. I must have missed the part where they actually fell in love.

Fortunately Love Happens doesn’t suffer from the same oversight. I felt for the characters. And not just the main characters. There are many characters in this movie that we get. And in getting them we empathize and feel with them. That’s what makes this movie better than the average romance. Even though it’s not really much about a romance. But, having said that it seems more realistic that way. This isn’t about a whirl-wind romance over a few days with some emotionally tumultuous ending. It’s more adult and realistic than that. Which is another thing that I really liked about the movie.

What did you think about Love Happens? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : The Informant!

The Informant!

Although Matt Damon did a nice job in his role I didn’t care much for the movie. The main reason is that the story was a bit of a letdown. Pardon me but all along I’m expecting some sort of Oceans 11 bizaro ending or something. And that never came. Given that Matt was the star, Steven Soderbergh directed and George Clooney was the Executive Producer – all worked together in Oceans 11/etc – then I’m excused for expecting that. Nor did it have the Silkwood, The Insider, Erin Brockovich, etc. ending which would have been almost as good. Nope, this story is uniquely different from either of those genres and not in a good way.

What did you think about The Informant!? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

This might be the best children’s movie of the summer and I think it will appeal to a lot of adults as well. Visually I think it will appeal to children in the 3-6 range. The action and physical humor will appeal to the 7-10 range and the story will appeal to the 11-15 range. However, your mileage may vary.

As an adult I certainly enjoyed it. And I must confess a weakness for stories that involve nerds finding their place in life. Which is what this movie is all about. So if you have a precocious child who has trouble fitting in then this is for them.

There were at least 5 good LOL moments and many more chuckles from the audience. Plus, the crowd of children that watched the movie with me actually clapped at the end.

What did you think about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

The RunPee approach to Twitter

KBuzz, top 60 businesses using twitterThe twitter account for @RunPee was voted into the top 60 Twitter profiles by theKbuzz.com – a social marking company. That’s something I’m very proud of. I’ve been a big Twitter fan for years. My person account is @polyGeek which I’ve had since February of 2007.

Twitter is very important to the success of RunPee.com. Aside from the traffic it sends – about 75 uniques/day – it is a great way for me to connect with many of the RunPee fans. I’ve learned a great deal about what people like and dislike about the service. That has helped me to improve the site in the past and will continue to do so. It’s just as important as the Suggestions page here on the blog.

I would tell any enterprise out there that a presence on Twitter is essential. The big question is how do you manage that presence? I think I have done a pretty good job and would like to share my approach with others.

Who’s doing the tweeting?
Initially I tweeted from the point of view of RunPee.com – the website. It was all meant to be information strictly about the website. But then when RunPee became hugely popular people wanted to know more about who was behind RunPee. Since then I tweet as myself – Dan Florio, professional geek – but from the stand point of the guy behind the idea and application and rarely about my personal thoughts. I leave that for my personal twitter account @polyGeek.

More is not better
First off I would say that it is absolutely false to measure your Twitter success based on the number of followers one has. With very few exceptions I only follow those who follow @RunPee. There are plenty of services out there that will help you add huge numbers of followers. But does that really count? There is no way a person can maintain a Twitter relationship with 10,000+ followers. Each day there are a handful of new followers to @RunPee that have tens-of-thousands of followers and to me these are mostly just people talking to themselves in a room full of other people who are talking to themselves. It really provides little or no connection to people at that point.

When someone follows @RunPee I personally visit their timeline to check them out. Here is the criteria that I put them through:

  • Most obviously is the account really being used? If the account has one tweet to the effect of, “Check out my hot body…” and a link then it’s pretty obvious I’m not going to follow back.
  • Likewise if there Twitter icon is of a roll or stack of money then I’ll just skip right over them.
  • If they are tweeting about their general status, the “I need to make coffee now” sort of stuff, plus a few replies/Retweets here and there then they look like a real person and I’ll almost always follow them back.
  • How many people are they following? If it’s well over 5,000 I start looking very carefully at their timeline.
  • I have a pet peeve about people who fill their timeline up with a bunch of inspirational quotes. There must be some service out there that automatically sends these tweets out for people because they are almost always formatted the same and it’s pretty much the same drivel over and over. If I wanted that sort of thing I’d buy a book. Thank you. I think they use it just so that they will look like they use Twitter.
  • Is their timeline just a series of, “read my latest blog post?” If so then forget it. If I wanted to read their latest blog post then I’d subscribe to their RSS feed. But it’s totally okay to me if they do that in the midst of actually engaging with people in between.

I suppose it boils down to: don’t use Twitter for just one thing. Your timeline can’t be just a bunch of quotes, or just @replies, or Retweets. Mix it up. Are you using Twitter or abusing it?

As a side note: early on this past summer I did go through and follow around 200 or so celebrities on twitter. Of course my hope was that they would see RunPee and become intrigued enough to check it out. It was a pretty miserable failure. I don’t think a single person followed me back.

Connecting with followers
My rule of thumb – which I state in my bio – is that I’ll reply to anyone who is talking directly to me. I use Twhirl to view my @RunPee account and always have it set to view @RunPee messages. And it makes a little ding-sound when an @RunPee or direct message comes in so if I’m at my PC – which is most of the time except for Friday/Movieday – then I’ll get right back to that person.

And the main reason I follow anyone is that it gives them access to send me a direct message and make sure that I see when they @me.

#FollowFriday
I take it as a huge compliment when people include @RunPee in their #FollowFriday. I try to remember to do one each Friday myself. I keep a Post-it handy during the week that I add user names to when I see someone who I want to include in my next #FollowFiday. Most of the time I pick out people who Retweet things that I’ve tweeted.Yes, that is entirely selfish. I want to try and help people who RT my tweets get more followers – Duhhh! 🙂 But these are also people who I generally carry on with regularly. So it seems to work for now.

Unfollowing
About once a week I log into Twitter Karma and unfollow everyone that I’m following who is not following me back. There are a lot of people out there that follow others and then unfollow them shortly aftwards. What they are hoping for is that the person will follow them and then not notice that they got dropped. This is how a lot of people get huge follower numbers. There are even services to do this for you. Plus, sometimes people just get tired of seeing my tweets. I have noticed that a lot of people who follow @RunPee have only a few handfuls of people they are following. If I’m tweeting so much that I’m dominating their timeline then they probably unfollow – which is totally fair.

Tweet density
Probably the aspect of Twitter that I’m worst at is tweeting too much in a short period of time. I’ve noticed that this happens often on Fridays because I’m away from the PC for a long period of time, then I get home and tweet about the new PeeTimes and people start @ing me to which I reply to everyone and before you know it I’ve tweeted 10-15 times in just an hour. I know that’s not good and might annoy some people but there’s not a lot I can do about it. I like to respond to people when they ask a question or make a comment.

What about you?
What do you think about my approach? I would love to hear any suggestions or comments.