The Big Short Movie Review

Four denizens of the world of high-finance predict the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s, and decide to take on the big banks for their greed and lack of foresight.
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C’est incroyable!

The Big Short was so good that it has me expressing my contentment in different languages. Easily one of the best movies I have seen in the last several years, it is truly incredible how, what otherwise could have been a relatively boring documentary, is absolutely captivating.

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The Lego Movie Review | Sarcastic, Random and Hilarious

An ordinary LEGO minifigure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO tyrant from gluing the universe together.
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Lego Batman | The Lego MovieThe Lego movie is sarcastic, random and downright hilarious. Okay, so you could have gathered that much from the title. Usually, I like to end my posts with the “bottom line” but this time I’m going to start off with it — watch this movie!

The Lego Movie is so much more than you would expect. Instead of being a plain-Jane children’s movie, The Lego Movie is hilarious for the whole family. In fact, the movie may be geared towards an adult audience, if anything. Of course, it still has plenty to keep the kids entertained.

The movie combines sarcasm and randomness to create a comedy that defines the Millennial generation. If you are a fan of Family Guy-style comedy, you will love it. However, there is much more to it than that — with plenty of story depth and diverse witty comedy as well. It is this slathering of wit that keeps many parts above the young one’s heads, but the lego and animation keep them enthralled, so they don’t seem to mind.

The writing is nothing short of powerful, but I don’t mean that in the traditional sense of the word. This movie probably won’t bring you to tears or have you contemplate modern day race relations. Instead, your eyes will be glued to the screen so that you do not miss a joke because they come at you rapid-fire. The pace of witty jokes and one-liners was very impressive.

The Lego Movie is shown in 3-D, so be prepared to pony-up the extra $$$ but know that it will be worth it in the end because the animation is truly incredible.

That is about all I want to say. Just go see it and report back.

P.s. talk about an amazing idea from a business point of view. The movie stands as the longest piece of advert-tainment ever. 100% of the movie is product placement for a single product. Not to mention that the movie is actually great so it stands to make a decent chunk of money on its own. Here’s an interesting article on Lego’s ridiculous licensing domain.

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Kick-Ass 2 Movie Review

The costumed high-school hero Kick-Ass joins with a group of normal citizens who have been inspired to fight crime in costume. Meanwhile, the Red Mist plots an act of revenge that will affect everyone Kick-Ass knows.
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Going into Kick-Ass 2, I didn’t know what to expect. The movie has attracted a mixture of movie reviews, with critics primarily disappointed and general audiences primarily entertained. Surely, with these mixed reviews, the movie could never compare with the original Kick-Ass, that was universally liked, right?

Wrong.

Kick-Ass 2 blew my expectations out of the water. It was on pretty much the same level as the original Kick-Ass, maintaining everything that made the first one great such as:

  • Ironic comedy
  • Witty and hilarious dialogue
  • Gruesome action
  • A smart script that pokes fun at itself
  • Hilariously unique characters (the names are so good I don’t want to ruin them by listing them here)
  • Chloë Grace Moretz (you can’t not like her in the Kick-Ass series)

If you enjoyed the original, you will thoroughly enjoy this one as well. Whether it is quite as good as the first one is certainly up for debate but I would say they are certainly of comparable quality.

Kick-Ass 2 is jam-packed with references to modern culture, which makes it seem real despite its absurd elements. The movie’s biggest strength, aside from the performances by Chloe Grace Moretz and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, is the breadth of characters introduced. Each of the new heroes brought into the story are unique, interesting and out-right hilarious. Jim Carrey‘s character is particularly good. It is great to see him back on-screen.

In summary, Kick-Ass 2 kicks ass. Set your expectations slightly lower than the first and you will be sure not to be disappointed.

After the credits: Stick around after the credits for an interesting scene . . .

Even the music during the credits was amazing. The song Hero by Jessie J, recorded for the Kick-Ass 2 soundtrack is particular awesome:

Monitor & Track Your Sleep — Sleep Cycle App Review

Lifehacker is my go-to choice for daily life improvements and a little while ago they wrote a great article about the most popular sleep tracking app — Sleep Cycle.

Sleep Cycle is a great, and affordable, app that allows you to monitor and track your sleep over time. Sleep Cycle will track your stages of sleep based on your movement throughout the night in order to wake you up at an optimal point in the morning.

For the uninitiated, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is very important to feeling good throughout the day. Alarm clocks wake you up abruptly and in an unnatural way. This can make you feel tired and generally bad throughout the day. Sleep Cycle attempts to avoid this by waking you up at a natural point in your sleep cycle — when you are already partially awake, instead of when you are in a deep sleep.

To explain exactly how the app is able to accomplish this, I turn to their website directly:

Sleep Cycle alarm clock is able to use the accelerometer in your iPhone to monitor your movement and determine which sleep phase you are in. Sleep Cycle then uses a 30 minute alarm window that ends at your set alarm time and wakes you in your lightest sleep phase. Click here for the full explanation

My own experience with the app has been great. I’ve been using it for a couple weeks and so far I have found it effective. It seems to track my sleep well and wakes me up at a decent time. The soft sounds it uses to wake you up is much better than my previous jarring alarm which helps a lot. It also seems to help me feel better when I get up.

My only complaint about the app is that the optimal window to ensure you wake up nicely is 30 mins, which is a pretty big window. It’s not directly the app’s fault but my optimal wake time seems to be almost a full 30 minutes earlier than I need to get up. It is difficult to get out of bed when you know you don’t have to be up for another half-hour. My best mornings have been when my alarm wakes me up naturally 10-15 mins in advance. Then it is easy to get out of bed because going back to sleep is not as alluring.

Overall, the app is fantastic and worth a shot whether you feel particularly tired in the morning or not. For only $0.99, it isn’t much of a gamble.

Better Than the Books: The Sherlock Holmes (BBC) Series

I, like many others, am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes. My experience in getting to know the numerous stories, however, is different than most. Instead of starting with the books, my first experience of Sherlock Holmes was from the movie titled . . . Sherlock Holmes, with Robert Downey and Jude Law.

The Hollywood movies were good and stimulated my appetite for the stories but were by far the worst depiction of Sherlock Holmes I have yet to experience.

I then moved on to the books — undeniably classic stories. Certainly a must-read series for people of all ages and walks of life. However, the books are not the best! Gasp! Instead, the best version of the Sherlock Holmes stories I have yet to discover is Sherlock, the BBC series.

Feel free to comment below if you agree or disagree. You must have actually seen the BBC series to be able to judge it, of course.

The following are the many reasons why Sherlock (the BBC series) is by far the best version of Sherlock Holmes:

  1. The already virtually perfect characters, Sherlock and Watson, are further perfected (if that makes sense). Every piece of dialogue is carefully delivered and well thought-out and helps to develop other dimensions of Sherlock and Watson beyond the books. Although the dialogue in the books is incredible, it does have its flaws. For example, the way in which Sherlock Holmes comes to deliver his genius deductions sometimes seems a bit forced, in the interest of the reader. These explanations are done with somewhat more grace in the TV series.
  2. The series is modernized in a genius way. The way in which the series incorporates modern technology and circumstances into a story as old as Sherlock Holmes is nothing short of brilliant. Letters become texts, journals become blogs, and deductive processes include modern forensics. Much of the original charm is maintained while the show manages to rocket the series forward by more than a century.
  3. The show is funnier! At least somewhat so. The Sherlock Holmes series is not known for being particularly comedic but it is one of the only imperfections of the book series. After reading Catch 22, I have developed a taste for comedy, even in a serious story. Comedy helps round out a masterpiece, in my opinion.
  4. What was perfection before, remains perfection now. Almost everything that made the original Sherlock Holmes stories great has been maintained, with the points mentioned above added to polish what was already a perfect series.

Don’t take my word for it! Take a look at the Sherlock Holmes BBC series. You will be glad you did.

P.s. if you haven’t read the books, there is a great complete Sherlock Holmes Collection available in hardcopy and digital format that I can vouch for.

SkyFall Movie Review | Bond is back. James Bond.

Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.
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James Bond is back and he is kicking ass and taking names! SkyFall is action-packed but it is not the action that carries this movie. Instead, it is nostalgia and overall utter brilliance – as the British would say.

For those who are unaware, our favourite agent 007 is celebrating his 50 anniversary and for his birthday he gets an amazing gift — without question the best Bond movie. Sure, you may argue that an older Bond film is better because you prefer a particular portrayal of James Bond but there is no arguing that SkyFall is one of the most perfectly put together movies of the franchise. Here’s why:

  • Action. But unlike many other Bond movies, action is not all she wrote.
  • A perfect blend of nostalgia and throw-backs combined with graceful modernization
  • A storyline that, while simple, is very engaging and restarts the franchise (much like Batman Begins)
  • Performances that are likely to be remembered for years to come

Much like Christopher Nolan’s revamp of the Batman franchise, SkyFall succeeds in transcending James Bond movies of the past in terms of relevance, polish and a level of “seriousness” that was absent from many of the mainstream-action iterations of the past. You can hear it amongst the group of moviegoers as they exit the theatre. Not only the joy of having witnessed such a great movie but pure excitement; already eagerly anticipating the next movie in what will hopefully be a whole new era of Bond. An era of high expectations and delivering upon those expectations.

SkyFall also toys with a unique bond girl setup in which there is not a specific woman of interest. Although still present, sex appeal was used more sparingly than previous Bond movies, if my memory serves me correctly. This is not a sour point, however, as I believe that many bond girls in past movies have merely served as a distraction from the plot and little else (a significant visual distraction). Instead, Bond interacts with the women in the movie in a much more progressive way. Perhaps as a means of appeasing a changing female demographic or perhaps to eliminate distractions from the main story. After all, Bond never really spent a great deal of time building relationships in the past so any character contributions made by “romance scenes” in previous movies were negligible.

SkyFall is the best iteration of James Bond in a long time and probably ever. Everyone will find something about this movie that will truly catch their attention. Die-hard fans of the original movies will enjoy the many inclusions of nostalgic elements, while new-comers to the franchise will enjoy the modernization of the story and the removal of many “cheesy” elements that are no longer acceptable in great modern movies.

I tend to rate movies rather favourably, however, exaggerations aside, SkyFall has likely found its place in my list of Top 10 Movies of All Time.

Looper Movie Review

Looper Movie Review with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis In 2072, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self.
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Looper is as close to perfection as a movie can get. This will certainly be one of the most one-sided movie reviews I have ever written. Spoilers are included in a separate section at the bottom with fair warning.

Looper, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, is an extremely well-rounded sci-fi/action/drama movie that takes place in the future. What impressed me the most about Looper, was how director/writer Rian Johnson was able to incorporate time travel in a way that is easy-to-follow. I have seen many movies fail at this in the past; either trying to explain how it works and failing miserably, or ignoring how it works completely leaving enormous plot holes. Instead, the movie is “self-aware” with the actors acknowledging that time travel is complex, spending some time explaining the basics of the premise and then moving on.

Amazingly, Looper manages to avoid almost every sci-fi cliché in the book, adding to its self-awareness. One thing that I would consider a common cliché is assuming too much of the future. If there is one thing we look back and laugh at, it is old sci-fi movies that assumed that we would be all living in hover cities with flying cars, or things of that nature. Looper portrays a much more realistic future with a number of advancements but nothing completely out to lunch. Of course, sci-fi purists may actually think this is a problem, perhaps to them the more far-fetched the future the better, however I most certainly prefer writers that don’t take every liberty available to them.

The plot was highly unique and thoroughly enthralling, however it was the acting and the character development that was the biggest draw. Instead of the movie revolving entirely around a single character or two, Looper introduces a number of characters that are followed throughout the movie. Flawless acting helps sell these well-developed characters and bring the movie together like few others. Emily Blunt’s performance stood out in particular, despite a smaller role than Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Bruce Willis was probably the weakest acting piece but his style served a pivotal role for his character. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, on the other hand, shattered my expectations of him. It is now clear to me that he will be a strong A-list actor that we can expect to see much more often.

In summary, the movie was flawless. See this movie.

It there anything after the credits? No, there are no extra scenes at the end of Looper.

** Warning: Spoilers below**

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There is one thing that is throwing me for a loop (hahaha, I’m soooo funny): the movie very delicately touched on how time travel works and explained everything well, except for at the very end. How is it possible that Joe is trying to kill Cid because someone turned him bad in the future and yet it was Joe himself that killed said. Hard to explain, but I’ll try again:

How would Joe not know that he was the one that killed Cid’s mother causing him to turn into the future killer that he is?

I welcome any theories in the comments below.

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