Movie review : Astro Boy

Astro Boy
Astro Boy

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Astro Boy is visually appealing, which kids will enjoy, but the story is a darker than you might expect. But then this is a Japanese story which explains a lot: namely that slightly bizarre things will happen for no apparent reason. For instance some of the characters seem to change their personality without any explanation which is a bit of a jolt.

The voices were great. Nicholas Cage and Donald Sutherland both have distinctive voices and add depth to the characters.

Based on the reviews I was hoping for something much better than this. It’s certainly not on the level of most of the Pixar films. And it isn’t the best animated movie of the past few months either – Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs gets that distinction. But fortunately it isn’t bad either.

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

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Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie review : Where The Wild Things Are

RunPee - PeeTimes link
Where the Wild Things Are
Where the Wild Things Are

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[ no spoilers ]

I’m new to the Wild Thing story. Before today all I knew about them came from the artwork. So I have no idea how well the movie tells the story presented in the books.

The audience was mostly small children. I would guess most were in the 5-8 year old range. The content of the story seems well beyond the grasp of a young child but at the end of the movie the audience applauded and it sounded like there were a lot of children doing the clapping. So apparently they enjoyed it.

The movie has a lot of cartoonish violence. Characters are thrown about, they hit things, fall and jump on each other. All with nothing more than a momentary head shaking before continuing on. But the cartoonish violence shouldn’t be a problem for children because it’s never the intent of any of the Wild Things to hurt anyone. It’s all for fun and play.

I enjoyed the movie. It wasn’t great or life changing by any means but I am looking forward to seeing it again and trying to understand it better. As I said, the content of the story is complex and I’m sure that I missed a good bit myself. Although I can use the excuse that I was distracted by writing down PeeTimes.

[ possible spoilers ]

My interpretation is that all of the Wild Things represent either some aspect of Max’s psyche or of someone in his life. What I like about the story, assuming I interpreted it correctly, is that Max realizes through the behavior of the Wild Things that he needs to change his own behavior with his family. It’s subtle and I may have totally read the move incorrectly. Which is why I would like to see it again.

What did you think about Where the Wild Things Are? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

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Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie review : Law Abiding Citizen

Law Abiding Citizen
Law Abiding Citizen

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[ no spoilers ]

Lets face it: best case scenario is that this movie is just going to be average. We all know the story well about what happens when a man has everything important taken from him.

With Jamie Fox and Gerard Butler staring in the movie there’s hope that this might be about as good as it gets for this genre. But unfortunately no. It’s getting a rating of 25% at RottenTomatos and that’s probably fair. I’d say Law Abiding Citizen falls into the average rating if you were to compare it to other movies in this genre – Man on Fire, The Crow, Mad Max, Payback, Braveheart ( What is it with Mel Gibson and revenge movies? ).

What did you think about Law Abiding Citizen? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

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Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

My experience with the iTunes app store

I just finished reading Newsweek.com’s Striking It Rich: Is There An App For That? I concur with what many of the developers report. Because of the huge amount of publicity that Apple gets, and RunPee itself has gotten more than it’s fair share, people think that I must be making money faster than I can count it. Truth be told if all my money were in dollar bills I could count it all in about 1 minute.

RunPee has been hugely popular this summer and I’ve put a great deal of effort into keeping it there and preparing for the future. I’ve made a version for basic mobile phones – m.RunPee.com – and I’m working on rebuilding the site to support any language, like Chinese, German, French, Spanish, etc. Because of that I’ve only worked on two freelance projects this summer and one of them netted me a big fat zero in income. Fortunately the other project was with an old client of mine which made me a few thousand dollars. Without that I would be in a deep financial hole.

I was comfortable with taking on fewer freelance projects because I knew how many downloads the app was getting and therefore how much money I would eventually make. At least I thought I did.

The RunPee iPhone app didn’t come out until the 1st of July. Apple states that they will pay developers their share of money within 45 days of the end of each month. Unfortunately I based my finances around that. I knew exactly how many downloads there were each day and just did the math. It is easy to calculate how much I should get paid and the deadline for getting that money. My first check – going to RockSoftware who developed the app for me – would pay for the app development and net me a little more than $1,000+.

However that was not the case. RockSoftware did receive a check in mid September but for only about half of the downloads. It was a mystery to everyone as to why there was less money than expected. Then a few days ago RockSoftware received another check that seems to cover all of the downloads for July – over three weeks late. It’s hard to tell just what each check covers because, as I’m told, the reports that Apple produces with their payments are horribly complex and almost impossible to decipher. Basically, Apple will pay you what they want when they want to. And there’s not a whole lot you can do about it but wait.

The app has sold pretty well and fortunately wasn’t too terribly expensive to develop – which I had to pay for. But I would say that developing for the iPhone is far more expensive than developing Flash applications. As a Flash developer I could have developed an app that has all the features that the iPhone app has – plus local storage and vibration for the Timer – in 15 hours max. It took the iPhone developer for RunPee at least 3-times that long to develop the app. From talking with a few peers that do both iPhone and Flash development they report that there are a lot of simple things on the iPhone that are very tedious to make work correctly. Most of that is because it’s an immature platform. Flash has been around for 10+ years and has an amazing set of tools to work with. Maybe iPhone development will get there someday.

The bottom line is that eventually I’ll start seeing a nice steady income from the sales of the RunPee iPhone app. Nothing that I can retire on but it will help pay the bills while I work on my next project. But I can tell you this now: there will never be another iPhone app associated with any of my projects. Well, I take that back. One of my projects, a game, will have an iPhone app. But I won’t sell it through the iTunes store. It will only work on unlocked iPhones. I know that’s a small percentage but it beats being beholden to Apple and their control-freakish culture. Hopefully more and more developers will go that route and force Apple into some changes. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie review : Couples Retreat

Couples Retreat
Couples Retreat

Buy the soundtrack for Couples Retreat

Purchase at iTunes

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[ no spoilers ]

As of today, Couples Retreat is getting a 9% at RottenTomatoes.com. If you added a zero after the 9, then I think you would have a much more accurate rating of the film. Most of the reviews to date are probably from professional reviewers who get in to see the film before opening day. I think that once the working crowd gets their reviews in there then the rating will go way up.

The movie is way better than a 9% just based on the laughs. The audience that I saw the movie with laughed many times. It was hard to get a PeeTime in the first 2/3rds of the movie because there were so many funny scenes. ( I try to not make PeeTimes during comedic scenes. )

The one critical thing I would say about the humor is that from what I recall it mostly centers around Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau – Dave and Joey. There isn’t anything wrong with that, except that there is very little humor centered around the female characters – aside from Lucy gawking at Salvadore. I’ve seen most of the work that Kristen Bell has done and she is a fine comedic actress. They should have put that to better use. Though to be fair she isn’t a particularly happy character throughout most of the movie.

Aside from the humor, the movie does a fine job of characterizing a lot of common problems that couples have. I think that any couple seeing this movie is bound to find certain problematic aspects of their own relationships sprinkled throughout the characters of this movie. So be prepared to have food for thought and conversation afterwards. It might even make a good movie for a group of couples to see together.

And I’d like to give props to the writers: Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn and Dana Fox, for putting together a pretty tight story. They did a great job of showing us the character’s problems instead of telling us about them. Plus I never felt that the movie dragged.

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

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Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

m.RunPee.com info

If you have registered for the mobile version of RunPee then the code will try to add a cookie so that you don’t have to login every time you visit. However, a lot of mobile browsers don’t work well with cookies. So I’m really sorry if you get prompted to login every time you visit the home screen. I’ll keep looking for ways to save the data that might work on more mobile phones out there. That’s why mobile phone development is so hard: because there are so many different browsers to work around.

The RunPee app for BlackBerry phones will probably not be done this year – if ever. It turns out that it is very expensive to create apps for BlackBerry and one app won’t work on all of the phones. Which really seems pretty stupid to me. At least you have m.RunPee.com now.

The significant difference between m.RunPee.com and the iPhone app – or any other RunPee app – is that the website can’t vibrate your phone right before a PeeTime is about to start and can’t do local storage. Both of those features will be part of every app – and part of the update to the current iPhone app which will be ready as soon as Apple gets their head out of their ass.

I’m totally new to building websites for mobile phones. In fact I haven’t written that much HTML in years. If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie review : ZombieLand

ZombieLand
ZombieLand

Buy the soundtrack for ZombieLand
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[ 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.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.