Netflix Receives Another Redesign

Netflix received another redesign.  It feels bland and needs more red.  The biggest difference is the logo.  It is simple.  It works.  I prefer the old logo, but I am sure that after a few weeks I will stop caring about it.

It's flat!

It’s flat!

The “Kids” button stands out.  I guess this is done to make the button more distinguishable for children to access the family-friendly selection.  The button seems pointless if a child sees the full “adult” section while waiting for the kids section to load.  It would be smarter if Netflix asked which section you want to view sort of like what the Xbox 360/PS3 apps used to do.  I thought the picture of Mario from “The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!” as the button for the kids section on the apps was hilarious.  So edgy.


I just think it is a bad decision to make the site even lighter.  It was already blinding at night.  I wish it is designed more like the Netflix apps on mobile devices and other hardware.  A nice black finish that is pleasing to the eye.  It does not seem too unreasonable to want a darker interface.  Movies are meant to be viewed in dark environments.  If this was not true, movie theaters would leave the lights on.

Amazon Prime Music Initial Impressions

I saw some tweets last night that indicated that Amazon Prime Music had launched.

I like to take advantage of everything that my Amazon Prime membership offers so within minutes of reading the tweet, I was listening to Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories”.  The album was added to the cloud player and was mixed in with my few MP3 purchases.
Prime songs have a convenient label to indicate that the songs have not been purchased.

Prime songs have a convenient label to indicate that the songs have not been purchased.

I tried seeing how Prime Music worked on Android, but the Amazon MP3 app had not been updated yet.  I was probably trying it too soon.  Not even Amazon’s homepage had changed to indicate that Prime Music was now live.  By the time I got up this morning, the app had been rebranded as Amazon Music and now supports Prime Music.

The Amazon Music Android app has just about everything I was expecting from it.  Support to browse the Prime Music library and download music locally for offline listening are features that are present.  There is also a slick new interface that is ruined by the Prime logo being placed on the album art.
Isn't there a better spot for the Prime logo?

Isn’t there a better spot for the Prime logo


Spending time using the app and browsing through what was available made me realize how small the music library currently is.  I do not think my music tastes are that obscure and was surprised to find out that many bands that I listen to were missing from the Prime Music catalog.

A list of bands/musicians  that are currently unavailable (in no particular order):
  • Muse
  • Radiohead
  • Nirvana
  • Queen
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Arcade Fire
  • Weezer
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • AFI
  • Frank Sinatra
  • The Who
  • The White Stripes
  • Wolfmother
  • Caravan Palace
  • Chvrches
Even if a band is is included in the Prime Music library, it usually does not contain a band’s entire discography.  Green Day is missing “American Idiot”.  Phoenix is missing “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix”.  My Chemical Romance is missing a couple of albums and Daft Punk is missing the Tron Legacy soundtrack.

Don't accidentally buy a song.

Don’t accidentally buy a song.

Just like Prime Instant Video, Prime Music has paid suggestions mixed in with the free offerings.  I find this excusable for Prime Instant Video as it gives the impression that the library is bigger than other competitors such as Netflix.  I think that is practice for Prime Music is slightly embarrassing for Amazon as all of the paid songs that it has recommended to me can be found on Spotify without any additional fees.


I had signed up for Spotify Premium a couple of weeks ago and currently do not have any plans of canceling my membership.  Amazon Prime Music will most likely continue to grow but at the moment, there are better offerings for streaming music online.  I guess it is nice to know that the extra $20 a year for Amazon Prime is not going to waste.

 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) Film Review

Spider-Man films need to stop being so ambitious. Was it really necessary to include three villains in The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Was nothing learned from Spider-Man 3? There is no point in having three villains if they are not all fleshed out. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 just does not know where to stop. Had the film been shorter and placed all of its focus on Electro, it would have been fantastic and better than the first Amazing Spider-Man which I enjoyed watching. Unfortunately, the plot is a mess and the pacing is all over the place making The Amazing Spider-Man 2 a disappointing sequel. It is nowhere near as bad or disappointing as Spider-Man 3, however.

Electro’s design is great and really gives the impression that electricity is flowing through his body. I hope that Michael Bay uses Electro’s design for his upcoming Smurfs reboot. Any time that Electro manipulates electricity, the soundtrack is altered and becomes a mesh of dubstep inspired noises. The sound effects help to show how unstable Electro’s emotions are as most of the time he is just releasing raw anger. It is not until Electro confronts Spider-Man, which happens to be the only thing in his life that he wants, that the dubstep noises resemble any form of actual music. The movie does a nice job establishing Electro’s/Max Dillon’s motives. He is tired of being ignored and just wants to be noticed. It is simple, but it works.

Harry Osborn is introduced and is one of the movie’s strongest characters. He just gives off a creepy vibe whenever he appears on the screen and it is interesting watching Harry and Peter’s relationship unfold. Harry develops some sort of undefined illness and believes that the only way he can survive is to get Spider-Man’s blood. Unable to get the blood himself, Harry turns to Electro for help. The development of Harry and Electro’s partnership is rushed and Harry’s transformation to the Green Goblin is even worse. The Green Goblin barely gets any screen time. I am pretty sure that Venom in Spider-Man 3 had more screen time and that is saying something because he was barely in it.

If Green Goblin’s screen time was not bad enough, the Rhino appears on the screen for an even shorter amount of time. Immediately after the opening credits, there is a scene where Spider-Man tries to stop Aleksei Sytsevich from stealing a truck. It is a pretty exciting scene that is only enhanced by crazy camera angles and Spider-Man’s sarcasm. Spider-Man catches Sytsevich and is never seen or mentioned again until the end of the movie where he briefly appears in the Rhino armor.

While Rhino’s appearance does generate hype for the planned Sinister Six movie, Sony should have taken the Marvel approach and included him in the scene after the credits. What is weird is that there is a scene midway through the credits to spark interest not in the next Spider-Man movie, but for X-Men: Days of Futures Past. It just feels really out of place and bizarre considering that the film is being released in less than 30 days. Speaking of things that feel out of place, product placement has been improved and limited to just Sony laptops. There are no more awkward scenes with Peter Parker using Bing. He now uses Google like a sane person and uses professional strategies to get the information he is looking for.

Another thing that I find weird about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the airplanes. There are two scenes that involve airplanes. The first involves a hijacked plane that is on fire and about to tear apart into multiple pieces. Even as this is happening, the plane’s Internet connection is still working. I wish I had an Internet connection that stable. The second scene involves two planes. During this scene, the power of New York is out resulting in radio communications not properly working. One plane detects that there is an estimated four minutes until a collision with the other. Instead of moving out of the way, the pilot asks a flight attendant to start a timer and see what happens. With mere seconds until impact radio communications are restored and the pilot gets orders on how to handle the situation, move out of the way. What an idea.

Andrew Garfield once again does an amazing job of portraying Peter Parker and Spider-Man. His performance is funny, energetic and sincere. When Peter Parker is not fighting crime, he is either trying to find out what happened to his parents or gawking over Gwen Stacy. It is understandable that Peter Parker would want to know why his parents left him and the movie delivers a reason. Whether or not it adds anything significant to the overall story is debatable as it mostly reveals that OsCorp is *gasp* evil. As for Gwen Stacy, some of the scenes involving her are emotionally moving and watching Peter and Gwen’s on-again/off-again relationship is more interesting than Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship ever was in the Sam Raimi trilogy.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 might be the most blatant case of false advertising since The NeverEnding Story. Despite what the posters and news articles say, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does not have three villains. The Green Goblin and Rhino are barely in it. Anyone that plans on watching the movie to see them will be extremely disappointed. While most of the film is very enjoyable, the unequal screen time that the villains get makes it hard to recommend. If you just want to watch more web-slinging, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gets the job done.

Sizzling Bacon (2014) Film Review

“Sizzling Bacon” on Netflix was strange to watch.  Around four minutes in, the cook’s hands appear on the screen to flip the bacon.  The cook is never seen again.  What happened to him?  Did he die?  The ending suggests that something terrible has happened.   What other reason could there be to suddenly stop cooking the bacon before it has reached sizzling perfection?

Something just seems off about “Sizzling Bacon”.  Even after 16 minutes (possibly longer as the movie begins with the bacon already in the pan), the bacon still looks raw.  At first I thought that the footage may have been looped as the sizzling dies down and starts back up again near the 13 minute mark, but the bacon gradually changes appearance and does not convulse in any recognizable pattern.  There is a possibility that the events actually unfold backwards, but that seems too artsy for a movie about bacon.

“Sizzling Bacon” was slightly disappointing as the bacon on the cover is only used as a stock image in the movie for the opening credits.  Watch “Fireplace for Your Home” instead.  It is more pleasing to look at than two strips of uncooked bacon.

The Terminator Series is Confusing

I am chronologically confused about the Terminator timeline. I thought I had the first two movies figured out but now nothing is making sense. Was Kyle Reese always supposed to be John Connor’s father or did Kyle ruin the entire timeline? The future John Connor of the first Terminator film would have needed to be conceived by someone else besides Kyle or else John would not exist because Kyle was never sent back in time by John. I guess this means that the John Connor in Terminator 2 is different from the John Connor in The Terminator. Terminator 3 just makes the timeline even more of a mess and contradicts so many plot points. At least Terminator 3 explains how John Connor still exists after the end of the second movie. Judgment Day is just delayed, not prevented. If Judgment Day had really been prevented then John Connor would cease to exist because future John Connor would not have a reason to send Kyle Reese back to 1984…

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009) Film Review

I have been on a bad movie kick.  Some highlights include Mansquito, Plan 9 from Outer Space and Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus.  None of them have been able to reach the bar that Sharknado has set for me.    I watch these movies with the hope that they actually might be decent and I use the term ‘decent’ loosely.  All I am really looking for is a movie that is laughably bad.  Seeing as how I had already watched one Mega Shark movie, I decided to give the first one a watch, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.  Unsurprisingly, it was bad.  Really bad.  It dethroned Sharktopus as the worst SyFy Channel movie I have watched.

I cannot understand how Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus received a sequel.  With a name like this, I expected to watch two creatures fight to the death throughout the entire movie.  There are very few scenes that have footage of the shark and even less scenes that show the octopus.  The movie focuses on bland scientists that interact with the US army to stop the creatures.  The acting is dreadful and just left me wondering when the amazing action would happen.  It never really did.  There is a final battle between the shark and octopus at the end of the film but it is so lackluster.  It is hard to make out what is happening and it looks like the same animations are being repeated.  It is anticlimactic.  Somehow the shark and octopus end up killing each other and they float to the bottom of the ocean.  There was no payoff for sitting through all of the terrible acting.

I understand that these movies do not have the biggest budgets, but it feels like a lot of money was wasted in trying to create a compelling story.  The movie is constantly changing locations and each location brings a new set of actors.  Maybe if the movie took place in one central location, there would have been more money for special effects and deliver on the premise of a shark fighting an octopus.

The sequel, Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus, is a “better” movie and it stars Jaleel White so it has that going for it.  Anything would have been better than the first.  Avoid watching Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.  Save your time and watch this 23 second clip from the movie.  It is the only 23 seconds worth watching.

Trending on BuzzFeed: Drawing Human-looking Cartoon Characters as Human-looking Cartoon Characters

BuzzFeed posted this article today:  “A Tumblr Artist Reenvisioned A Bunch Of Awesome ’90s Cartoons As If They Were Made Today”

The art is so uninspired.  It is a disgrace to the original shows.  Look at how much of a mess that article is.  Why do only some pictures have a list of the characters that appear?  More confusing is the headline, a “Tumblr artist”.  Nowhere in the article is a link to the artist’s Tumblr.  The source for each image is just a link to the artist’s deviantART profile.  The person writing the article didn’t even take the time to link to each individual image.  So lazy.  This is not the first time BuzzFeed has posted an article like this.

BuzzFeed posted an article in July titled “This Is What The Rugrats Look Like Now“.  Which article am I supposed to believe and why are people so interested in what the Rugrats would look like grown up?  There was an entire TV series based off of that premise.  I guess there is a novelty seeing memorable cartoon characters being redrawn in various art styles, but the drawings that BuzzFeed is showing off in both of these articles are uninteresting.  It just seems redundant, redrawing human-looking cartoon characters as human-looking cartoon characters.

Redrawing cartoon characters so that they look like a human works best if the characters in question are not human to begin with.  Take a look at this creepy drawing of SpongeBob, Patrick and Squidward as humans.  It may not be a particularly pleasant drawing to look at but at least it tries to capture the spirit of the characters instead of merely creating a generic caricature.  With the way BuzzFeed is publishing articles, I would not be surprised if there is an article showing off “cool” drawings of Rugrats as babies.  How far is it going to go?