Movie Review: Fantastic Four – Rise of the Silver Surfer

I think this Fantastic Four sequel comes off as one of the better sequels this year, except for the point that the plot is glaringly obvious very quickly.  That and the fact that you know a major character isn’t going to get bumped off anytime soon (otherwise they never would have managed to make enough comic sales out of it).

Think Terminator 2’s T-1000 android in liquid metal human form and a bit more athletic looking and you get the Silver Surfer.

The basic premise for this movie is that Sue Storm and Reed Richards are having difficulty trying to get married, with their fame and Reed’s compulsive working habits getting in the way, when along comes this surfer dude to prepare the world for certain doom from a world-foe that really doesn’t have a presence in terms of a character.

If you’ve seen a preview, you know that there are some power swapping antics involved, though they really don’t have as much fun with this as they could do.  This time Chris Evans (Johnny Storm) and Michael Chiklis (Ben Grimm – the Thing) are comic relief though largely settled into their mainstay of evil-doer fighting, noting that we don’t see any of their day-to-day hero antics other than in relation to the main plot, i.e. not like your average Superman movie where you get to see a few old ladies saved from improbably disaster.

Apparently there are already plans for a Silver Surfer spin off.  With the charisma of a statue, I’m not sure how this will play out – will they keep Laurence Fishburne’s voice on Doug Jones’ body?

The movie was fun, but Jessica Alba (Sue) still seems too young for Ioan Gruffudd (Reed), largely because there really isn’t any chemistry there.


Movie Review: Ocean’s Thirteen

Yes, Ocean’s Thirteen is the third (and hopefully last) in this series of movies.

This one really wasn’t too complex (i.e. disappointingly no real brain power required to figure out the minor twists), though entertaining enough.  It wasn’t really that funny either.  I think we’ve all become just too familiar with the banter between Danny and Rusty and the play of Linus as a parallel running character.  Watch it if you liked the first two, but don’t expect something better.

It’s been a less-than-stellar sequel run this year overall.  Of course there have been a few opening records set.  What amuses me is that all the professional reviewers seem surprised that sequels don’t have any staying power passed the first weekend.  Perhaps it’s because they are highly anticipated but not that good, plus they are all coming out one after the other each weekend stealing each other’s trailing thunder.

So in terms of major franchises, I think that leaves Fantastic Four, Harry Potter, Die Hard and Bourne to give it a go this summer.

geek losing 5lbs a week!

Right now:

  • I eat 5 times a day
  • I do no specific exercise
  • I buy regular food
  • I can eat at restaurants or order take-out
  • I’ve lost 5lbs each week in the first two weeks

This is entirely off-regular-topic unless you are amongst an apparently increasing number of western people including sedentary geeks that are overweight.

I have never personally bought anything after watching a TV commercial until I saw the commercial for this health program and I recognised the guy behind it.  That credibility point, the fact that this was a personalised program, the fact that it makes sense (and I’m a very logical person) and it doesn’t require special food – those things did it for me.  I had nothing to lose except pounds.  OK, that was extra corny.

The program does include exercise (walking!) and body shaping (18 minutes twice a week!) but it encourages you to get going first with the right food and then look at those other things later. 

I’ve lost 10lb already just changing my food.

I’m not going to say or acknowledge what the program is yet, because I want to see how well it works and it’s only been two weeks.  There’s a lot of solid rationale behind it.  I’m not going to suggest it to anyone yet until I think it really working for me. 

I’m betting that a significant portion of geeks are fat – let’s not mince words here.  I’m one of them.

I tried something based on the Atkins diet for a while and it did seem to work in conjunction with exercise, but it just didn’t seem right.

I walk around, I have a treadmill, I go snowboarding, biking, etc., but during the average week I’ll spend a significant amount of time sitting in front of a computer.

The one downsides of this program is the need to pre-prepare food or do a lot of cooking.  You also have to be regimented enough to eat every 2 or 3 hours.  If you have a good cook in the house and the right shopping list, you could be on to this with little or no effort on your part.

I’m a bloody picky eater.  I can’t stand fish (except tuna or some battered fish), nuts, grains or sour vegetables.  I thought this was going to be a pain, but now I’m actually used to it.  It does help that I don’t drink alcohol.

I’m about to have lunch consisting of pork, onions, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots – done with a frying pan and a microwave.  I’ll be eating out at a Subway this evening and eating again between the two!

There’s absolutely no incentive of any kind for me to promote this program, so I’m only doing so to the extent that I think it’s worth sharing, and you can probably find it online yourself anyway.  I just thought you may like to know of something that seems to be working for someone in a similar position to you.  I decide to mention it after I saw Robert Scoble’s post asking if Social Media is making us ill where he mentions that he’s going to the gym to get healthy.  This program gives some rationale about why the gym may not be the best idea. 

I wont be posting any before and after pictures :-), etc., just more details and loss statistics if it keeps working.

Movie Review: Mr Brooks

Kevin Costner is back with some style as the disturbed but structured Mr Brooks.

Ever since Waterworld (which I personally liked), he’s not had any major successes, though the Guardian last year was quite good (except for laying the Hero angle on a bit too thick).

Apparently it’s Kevin’s custom to take a year off after making a movie, so he would seem to be in no rush to boost his box office presence.

The movie gets right into it from the beginning and has sufficient suspense throughout in terms of what will be Brooks’ fate.  His alter-ego cohort is played by William Hurt, though there’s nothing that William can make his own in this script.

There’s a parallel story going on with his police nemesis played by Demi Moore (though she also couldn’t really bring any distinct differential to this character).

Mr Brooks’ wife is played by the lovely Marg Helgenberger, and you’d almost expect her to get out her CSI kit but for the fact she’s oblivious to what’s going on.  She doesn’t really factor into the story as much as their daughter does – and is somewhat underused.

The big ‘surprise’ actor in this movie is comedian Dane Cook who does a reasonable job of focusing the stereotypical self-deprecation or insecurities of a comedian, into the curious and disturbing nervousness of a wannabe bad guy.

The movie’s pace is a patchwork of slow and steady (a reflection of Brooks’ meticulousness) combined with bouts of stark violence or action.

Apple iPhone and HTC Touch is all fingers and no thumbs

Between Windows Mobile 2003(SE) and Windows Mobile 5.0, Microsoft attempted to make the Pocket PC and Smartphone platforms similar.

One way they did this, was to make Pocket PC devices more single-hand friendly.  Their ODM-buddy HTC jumped on by putting more of the important buttons like (Start and OK) at the bottom of the device and a ‘jog-wheel’ where the index finger (for right-handed people at least) goes.  This allows you to do a lot with just your right thumb, and scrolling with your index finger.

Almost everyone using a WM Smart Phone or other ‘Smart Phone’ (e.g. a Nokia running Symbian) is very used to the idea of ‘thumbing’ away of their keyboards.  Even the Pocket PC devices with slide out keyboards, and the UMPCs coming out now with keyboard, really rely on good ‘thumbing’ skills for typing…

Along comes the Apple iPhone and the HTC Touch.  Both of these heavily demonstrate the use of the index finger for controlling the interface, which essentially makes using the device an involved and more distracting experience because it becomes a two-handed (or stable-surface-dependent) experience.  Follow that Apple link – it takes one hand just to hold the thing – great if it’s a Star Trek Tricorder, but not so great if you want to live in the modern world.  Did I mention (as you probably already know) that both of these devices are missing 3G radios?

So forget the wow with these two new devices for a second and consider just how potentially inconvenient they are to use on the go!

iTunes DRM-free doesn’t mean Scott-free Sharing

In a comment on Mack’s post about iTunes going DRM-free I speculated whether they would still keep identity information in tracks to fight file sharing.

Well I’ll happily boast that I seemed to have called it.

The BBC is reporting that the new DRM-free tracks have the full name and email address of the purchaser in them! 

The DRM-‘full’ tracks apparently also had this, but it appears that DRM-free, doesn’t mean scott-free or audit-free sharing.

I personally really think this was to be expected.  Perhaps it’s stated somewhere, but it’s clearly not obvious to most.

So don’t expect someone to set up something like the old-style Napster again fueled by iTunes downloads 🙂