Friday, May 4, 2012

REVIEW: The Avengers

Robert Downey Jr. - Tony Stark / Iron Man
Chris Evans - Steve Rogers / Captain America
Mark Ruffalo - Bruce Banner / Hulk
Chris Hemsworth - Thor
Scarlett Johansson - Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
Jeremy Renner - Clint Barton / Hawkeye
Tom Hiddleston - Loki
Clark Greg - Agent Phil Coulson
Samuel L. Jackson - Nick Fury

The Avengers are here after a 4 year build up with 5 films featuring the members of the team. What Marvel has done is change the way all comic films will be made. This film is a game changer. You know how "The Expendables" was a joy-gasm to watch because all of your favorite 80's action stars teamed up for a heavy hitter movie? Watching The Avengers gave me that same joy-gasm. Perhaps even more because I knew exactly what I was going to see as far as a plot and characters.

Loki, now banished from Asgard (see Thor for more details) seeks revenge on Thor and the planet he has grown fond of, Earth. He teams up with the Chitauri and with the power of the Tesseract/Cosmic Cube, Loki seems unstoppable. Faced with a challenge the Earth has never seen before, Nick Fury reactivates The Avengers Initiative. However, pulling Earths mightiest heroes together and have them work together is more challenging than stopping Loki from enslaving humanity.

Now that we have that taken care of, let me list why I loved this movie.

First, every actor played their parts perfectly. I knew this was gonna be a given, but I was still simply blown away with how believable their performances were. Robert Downey Jr. was born to play Tony Stark. I can't think of any other actor past or present that would play this character better than Robert Downey Jr.

Many people that were worried about Mark Ruffalos performance and comparing it to Edward Nortons performance in The Incredible Hulk need not worry. Mr. Ruffalo did a fantastic job portraying Bruce Banner.

I knew going into this with the 4 year hype it was going to be packed full of action. I was correct. Although with Hawkeye and Black Widdow not being as big of characters and fan favorites as Iron Man or Captain America, the action was evenly spread throughout every Avengers member and each member brought something special to the climactic fight. That was my only concern with this movie and I'm glad I was very wrong. Avengers has without a doubt the most action out of all of the Marvel movies, so for those that don't like a lot of stuff blowing up, you might not like this movie. Then again, it's the freaking Avengers.

I'm trying not to spoil anything, but Hulk has without a doubt the most badass moments in this film. Tony Stark as expected had most of the funny lines. Loki, however, stole the show for me, and Tom Hiddleston is on his way to being a HUGE name in Hollywood (if he isn't already).

To conclude on a more personal note, I can't think of a more enjoyable movie going experience than watching this film. I think the last film that made me this happy watching it was the 2009 Star Trek film. Besides the joy-gasm of seeing every actor in their character forms fighting together, the hilarious moments between each character and pretty awesome plot, this film more than anything brought me back to when I was 10 years old. Watching this movie made me feel like a 10 year old kid seeing my favorite superheroes coming to life. You can't get any better than that.

SUMMARY: The Avengers redefines what a comic film should be. This has topped The Dark Knight in great fashion as the ultimate comic film. This film will not only satisfy your desire for an action packed summer blockbuster, but will make you feel like you're a child watching your favorite heroes coming to life. Magical films like this are very rare. DC needs to really step their game up. Bravo, Marvel & Joss Whedon. Bravo.

RATING: 10/10

Written By: Hammy
Twitter: @BrainstuHammy

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

REVIEW: Justice League - Doom

Kevin Conroy- Batman
Tim Daly- Superman
Susan Eisenberg- Wonder Woman
Nathan Fillion- Green Lantern
Carl Lumbly- Martian Manhunter
Michael Rosenbaum- Flash
Bumper Robinson- Cyborg

What? It's been 4 months already? I guess that means it is time for the latest DC Animated Universe movie to come out on dvd. This time it is another Justice League movie. This one is somewhat based on the Justice League: Tower of Babel story.

The story mostly focuses on Batman and the fact that he is so paranoid that he has files on his computers of how to "neutralize" the other members of the Justice League. Of course if it stopped there we wouldn't have a movie now would we? After the Justice League battles the Royal Flush Gang we find out that Flash villain Mirror Master stows away in the bat mobile and is able to steal said files on the computer for Vandal Savage who hired him. With this info Savage hires villains for each hero to form the Legion of Doom(members include Metallo, Bane, Cheetah, Star Sapphire, Mirror Master, and others) each of whom are able to neutralize the Justice League just as the files stated.

I won't spoil the rest but I will say the middle act and last act of this movie are fantastically done by the late Dwayne McDuffie. The changes made from the source material make sense(replacing stuff that wouldn't work on screen for stuff that works better on screen) and each hero is well represented here. Especially Batman, who is the main focus, and Green Lantern.

One thing about the art for this one is they kinda made the designs a combination of western animation style with aspects of japanese art style. This means the hulking characters are huge compared to the smaller characters. Bane was huge once he got the venom pumping through his veins. The designs might take time to get used to for some but they work here.

The strength of the movie is in the voice cast. This is probably the best all around voice cast that has been assembled for a DCAU movie. It's always a pleasure to hear Kevin Conroy voice Batman. Also you get Tim Daly reprising his role as Superman from Superman: TAS. To round out the rest of the Justice League you have Susan Eisenberg, Michael Rosenbaum, and Carl Lumbly reprising their roles of Wonder Woman, The Flash(albeit Barry Allen instead of Wally West), and Martian Manhunter from Justice League and JLU repsectively. Add Smallville's Phil Morris as Vandal Savage, Olivia d'Abo as Star Sapphire, and Bumper Robinson as Cyborg and the cast is very well rounded. Also Reno 911 fans will like the choice for Bane as the guy voicing him is Carlos Alazraqui who played Garcia on Reno 911.

Overall this is one of the better DCAU movies to come out. I'd rank it above Green Lantern: First Flight, but not above Batman: Year One or Justice League New Frontier. Still top 4 isn't bad at all and is a great last script for Dwayne McDuffie. If you are a fan of the characters or the Justice League you will surely enjoy this. As will Kevin Conroy as Batman fans.

I give this 4.5 Paranoid Batmen out of 5.

Written By: Mike Falcone
Twitter: @BrainstuFalcone

REVIEW: Assassins Creed - Revelations

Desmonds story continues while the stories of 2 Assassins end

First off, let me just say I was simply blown away with the first demo I played. I only managed to play a demo for about 10 minutes, but I knew I would love this game. Then I saw this trailer...

I love the Assassins Creed series. It's one of my favorite series of games I've ever played. The idea that I'm a stealth ninja-like killer with many weapons at my disposal killing random guards is not only fun and exciting, but I found these games to be stress reducing as well.

Now, onto the game itself. As you can tell from the trailer, Ezio is much older than he previously was in "Brotherhood". 90% of the game you are in Istanbul, still fighting the templars, but also finding out the truth about the Assassins, the Apple, those who came before and Desmond.

Total badass...

I'm not going to reveal anything about the story, but it left me begging for more. Not in a bad way by any means. I will say this though, it sets up for the finally in Assassins Creed 3. You also find out what happened with Altair after the events of the first Assassins Creed.

The only disappointment I have is I wish you had a little more playing time as Altair instead of occasional flashbacks. That's just me nitpicking though.

Ubisoft once again hits it out of the park with a visually stunning epic

What is also an improvement is the multi-player function. More options are at your disposal as you stealth your way around a map trying to kill your opponents.

OVERALL: Assassins Creed: Revelations is another solid entry in this amazing series. I have never had this much fun playing a video game as I have been playing these games. I can't wait for the finally this Fall!

RATING: 9.5 random guard killing sprees out of 10

Written By: Hammy
Twitter: @BrainstuHammy

Thursday, December 1, 2011

REVIEW: Steve Jobs (Book)

I never really idolized apple back when I was younger. Sure I loved my iPod and I mean I really loved it. It was my security blanket. Other then that I never really bought music from iTunes didn't own Macs even though I could fix one in seconds. But after getting an iPhone, iPad, Macbook Pro, and then an iMac, I've come to really love them and enjoy Apple as a whole, but I've always liked Steve. This book really delves into his life and it was somewhat of a shock about how misconstrued I was about him.

This book shed truth on him it showed him for what he was. He was irrational, a baby, and yes he was a smelly hippie with crazy ideas. I give Steve and Bill Gates a lot of respect though. I mean really they started an empire that has touched everyone one of us from garages. But if you thought Steve Job's was some tech geek who could code your wrong he couldn't write code, that was Woz's job (Steve Wozniak). Steve was successful because he was ambitious; he once called one of the CEO's of Hewlett Packard to get a part he needed. His ambition showmanship made him successful; Steve also had a "Reality Distortion Field". If someone told him it would take 6 months to complete a project, he would say have it for me next week and it worked. He also didn't like people being able to open things be it the Apple II or the iPod. Yes it is a pain but it's not a big deal for myself it is for you, don't buy Apple.

A lot of people want to hate on Apple but Steve made it work. Was he a big computer hacker? Coder? Nope. He was just a showman with amazing ideas. MP3's weren't created by Apple but they were perfected and no one was able to beat them even now. iTunes, Napster, Limewire-They essentially killed the record store. If you don't believe me try and find me a Tower Record store in Times Square or anywhere! From the iconic iPod silhouette commercials to the iPhone commercials coining the term "There's an app for that" Apple changed the way things worked for the better. Start up your iPhone and start up an android or any "dumb phone" I bet you the android phone is loaded with "crapware" carrier installed applications that CAN'T be deleted. Apple essentially cut the carrier out of the phone business besides providing service. I remember when Verizon got in trouble for locking GPS on their phones unless you used there GPS service. But alas Apple also has its downsides ex.Price. But I hope you've all learned a little here about the life of Steve from a tech standpoint. Go check the book out .

All in all I give Steve Jobs, an 8.5/10 the book can slightly drag especially in the beginning for people who are bored easily by tech jargon, but I do hope you read it and enjoy. As always friends Stay Hungry. If you have any questions feel free to send me a tweet. I always answer.

Written By: Derek
Twitter: @Derek712

The Truth About 4G

Before I go into 4G lets start by clarifying network Technology

GSM: (Global System for Mobile Communications).This is the global standard for cell phones. It has 3 Levels of cell service GPRS, EDGE (2G) and UMTS (3G) by its nature GSM offers faster data and also allows surfing the web whilst on a phone call (If on 3G, not EDGE) but is more likely to drop calls. Examples of GSM carriers: AT&T and T-Mobile.

CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) This is a less used concept around the world, but is way more efficient then GSM. It wont drop calls as much as a GSM network, but data will be much slower (Max speeds I could attain 1.5 MBPS) and another limitation is no simultaneous talk and surf

4G: Fourth generation cell phone networking the future is here and I like it. It allows speeds that rival those of some peoples home internet connections. But sadly some providers are touting 4G that simply isn’t “Real”.

The Myth: Take the Motorola Atrix 4G from AT&T for example its called 4G but in fact isn’t really, so it uses technology called HSPA+ which is the same technology used in AT&T’s 3G network. In essence, what AT&T and T-Mobile are advertising as real 4G is really just souped up 3G per say. In tests on the Atrix, Blackberry Torch 4G,and iPhone 4S which all use HSPA+ I got speed ranges at about 5-7 MBPS download and 1-3 upload. Not even close to 4G speeds ratified International Telecommunications union. So basically AT&T advertising 4G is a farce as of now, and T-Mobile really doesn't have real 4G at all technically speaking.

Sprint on the other hand uses 4G technology based on Wi-Max. Notice how it’s similar to in name to wifi? That’s because it’s based off of it. It uses the wifi 802.16 standard. Now sprint has had this technology for a while now and they had somewhat of an edge on their competition which they blew. The speeds on this network were about 3-4 MBPS down 1-2 up. This is probably why their ditching Clearwire the supplier of sprints Wimax network. What’s the point of having a 4G network slower then a GSM network?

LTE; Long Term Evolution, wasn’t considered 4G for a while it was really 3.9 G. Basically close but no cigar. Recently the Telecommunications union called all of the above technology 4G after pressure from carriers, but LTE is the closest and thus is the closest to 4G you will ever get. The speeds are amazing lightening fast 10 MBPS download I even hit 21 which is the same speeds I can get on my home internet. Which is kind of a shame to have all this power but having evil data caps.2GB caps will easily be blown through when you have this much power.
A lot of buzz has been going on about poor battery life. This is true but it’s more of a design sacrifice. This is due to the fact that there aren’t any integrated 3G/4G radios so basically you have 2 radios in your phone putting extra stress on your battery. This is the main reason why apple didn’t have an LTE iPhone. This is the design sacrifice they didn't want to make. Here is the ray of sunshine. Next year we will have integrated chips. So an LTE iPhone may arrive and new LTE phones will have drastically better battery life. Another coup d’├ętat of LTE is there is no voice protocol. Basically you can’t place a voice call over it yet. Verizon is said to be working on this and the cool part is, voice quality will be amazing, if you’re talking to another 4G LTE phone. Long Term Evolution is a GSM standard so basically Sprint and Verizon are moving toward a brand new standard allowing faster speeds and AT LAST simultaneous surf and talk. Let me tell I love this feature. When I was younger I would be on my old’ blackberry with my annoying girlfriend and I could be on ESPN.com or a radio shows message board Its something that CDMA subscribers will learn to love. And the big thing here is if your 4G phone is only HSPA+ or Wimax only capable you will be left out in the cold on this wonderful LTE world. And mark my words sprint is changing to LTE and will make your EVO’s worthless.

Even though the Telecommunications Board caved to carriers demands and called these standards 4G they really aren’t LTE is the most promising. Don’t get me wrong my iPhone 4S uses HSPA+ and its fast, but it isn’t 4G and it isn’t marketed as such. In my opinion and this all opinion LTE is the best investment once the integrated radio’s come out. As always guys Stay Hungry. If you have any questions, send me a tweet.

Written by: Derek
Twitter: @Derek712

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

REVIEW: Spotify

Music. Musica. Musik. Musique. I love music; there is never a time when my white earbuds won't be found in my ears. And now I've found the perfect service for me. Spotify has finally come to America. This service mixes iTunes with Netflix and Pandora. All services I enjoy. Now spotify has a client similar to iTunes that can be downloaded and used for free(ad supported).Now lets say you want to jam to some Johnny Cash? It's there to stream on your computer.

Hear comes the part people are wary about. In order to stream on your phone, tablet you need to pay 10 bucks a month. The good news that's because there aren't any Ads on their apps you get unlimited streaming no interruptions. So instead of a ton of music taking up space on my iPhone 4s I can stream the music I'd never put on my iDevice(or WP7 and Android too).So if you don't want people knowing you secretly love Kelly Clarkson this is a god place to be.

This app is also integrated with Facebook too. At Facebooks F8 conference they announced a partnership with Spotify to bring social networking to music. This didn't really shock me since Sean Parker invested in this fledgling service(Mr. Parker is involved in Facebook).So now not only will Spotify rate your favorite artists and tracks you can check out your Facebook friends stats and see who they're listening to. Also it will show who and what you're listening on the Facebook news feed. Social media mixed with music is excellent in my mind because it has and will allow myself and everyone else to discover new music new possibilities. Also if you sign up for an account with your Facebook you'll get 6 months free streaming and no ads.

All in all spotify is getting 9.5 out of 10. The main reason it didn't hit 10/10 is due to the fact that some artists, like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and others aren't on spotify but the fact is spotify has one mission music, which it executes beautifully with social media. This means that artist exposure can definitely see an uptick thanks to this integration. If you guys have any questions give me a follow on Twitter:@Derek712 I always tweet back. For more info on Spotify follow them on twitter: @Spotify and like them on Facebook: Search for Spotify. Happy listening guys as always, Stay Hungry

Written By: Derek
Twitter: @Derek712

Cloud Computing

The cloud and me?

A lot of buzz has been abound on the web about cloud computing. So what exactly does this mean for us as consumers? Amazon, Apple, Google are all clamoring about "shifting are digital hub from our computers to the CLOUD" as told by the late Steve Jobs. So what the hell does that mean? Basically the cloud is storage on a company's server that is accessed by our devices eg. Computer, Phone, Tablet etc, instead of it all being stored on our computers hard drives. Now this has been around for a while: gmail & carbonite, but this concept is different. It's about consumption of media and keeping it all in sync. Some of these services are iTunes Match, Google Music, and Amazon Cloud Player.

iTunes Match/iCloud:

You ever purchase a song on iTunes? I bet you have. It used to be a pain in the ass to have to then hook up all your devices to keep them in sync. Not anymore. With iCloud everything is kept in sync automatically. Take a photo on one "iDevice" it shows up on ones PC or Mac its automatic no work needed no wires and no HEADACHES.
Now iTunes match handles will take your music collection and keep it in the cloud and match your library to the 20 million songs in the itunes library. Have a large Billy Joel collection like me? Well now it matched and upgraded to a higher bit rate. Which means my 128 KB song will be upgraded to 256, making it sound better and crisper. Though if iTunes can't match it will be uploaded but not upgraded. Also iTunes Match will not change your metadata. So if your song info is wrong it WILL NOT fix it. Also, if a song has a higher bit rate it will not lower it.

To activate said service update iTunes to 10.5.1(http://itunes.com) on the left sidebar click on iTunes match then click subscribe. iTunes Match costs 24.99 per year. Which will
help you if you've "Stolen" your music, but I'm not here for a morality lesson so let's not get into that.

After subscribing it will scan and match your library so instead of uploading 25000 songs you're probably only going to have to upload a lot less. After it's all done your iTunes library will look more like this.

To activate on an iOS device make sure your running iOS 5 and then go to Settings

Google Music: Google isn't new to the cloud game. They haven't had the same issues that have plagued apple. MOBILE ME ANYONE? But now it seems Larry Page is ready to take on the monster that is iTunes with Google music. And with competition comes innovation. Google has launched a store for music and the cloud to keep it all in sync for all your Android Fans. Now music is available in one place on all your android devices, tablets phones etc. Though you will have to upload all your songs

The thing I love about Google music is its all in one place. You can buy all your music in the android market. It's personalized to your tastes too. There's nothing better then finding new music you'll love for years to come. Plus you can stream the music from your devices over an internet connection. No connection? Have evil tiered data caps or fears of throttling? No problem you can save the music to your device for offline enjoyment.http://music.google.com/about/.All this is available to you with no wires and no syncing either it all just works.

Amazon Cloud Drive: Not to be biased but this option is a little less desirable but still pretty neat. Amazon cloud drive gives you 5GB storage for ANY file including music, though any song purchased from Amazon is stored for free. Though if you have a lot of music like me you'll be able to purchase more space (1 dollar per GB 20 GB=20 USD a month. Amazon also touts unlimited access via computer, phone apps, etc.

iTunes Match: 8/10.Match is a great service it does a lot to alleviate the stress of having to upload thousands upon thousands of tracks. It also removes DRM and makes song tracks sound way better especially if you ripped a lot of CD's. On the downside it doesn't give you the option to clean up your meta-data and some of my explicit songs were replaced with censored versions.

Google Music: 7/10 Google makes an excellent foray into music. Much more happy with this then their video rental service via youtube. This service allows personalization streaming of your music which match does not support yet and integration with the Android Market. The downside is that you'll have to upload any music that wasn't purchased which can take hours or even days

Amazon Cloud Player: 2/10. The one nice thing I can say about Amazon is it actual will let you store what you want in your cloud space. But hey I have 50 GB free with Box.com. Amazon doesn't have match and its 5GB free storage just doesn't seem right for music storage. And 500 dollars for 500 GB of storage? You can easily get 4 times that amount of storage for way cheaper by simply buying an external hard drive.

Written By: Derek
Twitter: @Derek712