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All reviews - Movies (6) - TV Shows (3) - Games (9)

Hijinks Movie Reviews: Away We Go

Posted : 13 years, 10 months ago on 13 July 2010 10:00 (A review of Away We Go)

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Away We Go was recommended to me by a friend quite awhile ago. I finally got around to watching it recently, heading into it without any expectations, and I came away fairly impressed with it. Starring John Krasinski (as Burt) and Maya Rudolph (as Verona) as young adults in love, Away We Go is a tale about love, friendship, family, and the trials of growing up from a slightly older vantage point than your typical teen comedy. Instead of being in high school or college, these are two people in their early 30’s who are enjoying life and each other, but also have jobs and real life issues to deal with.

Released in theaters on June 5, 2009, and on DVD and Blu-ray on September 29, 2009, this movie has probably recently been moved off your local Blockbuster’s wall display (does anybody still go to Blockbuster anymore?), and it’s not any sort of ground breaking comedy, so it’s the type of movie that can fall between the cracks. Here’s the quick plot description from IMDB:

A couple who is expecting their first child travel around the U.S. in order to find a perfect place to start their family. Along the way, they have misadventures and find fresh connections with an assortment of relatives and old friends who just might help them discover “home” on their own terms for the first time.

I have to say right off the bat, the main reason I found this movie so funny and sincere is because I’ve recently become a first time father myself, so I have just gone through alot of the same tribulations and experiences that they encounter in this movie. Simple things like dealing with a pregnant lady who is completely unsure of herself physically can be a really tricky conversation to maneuver. The thing is, this type of situation may only come off as uncomfortable to a young adult, or even to a couple in the dating or engagement stages, but to a couple of new parents, or even to parents-to-be, this can create plenty of humorous situations! Many of the conversations and arguments they had were so spot on, it had both my wife and I laughing pretty hard.

The other thing that I really enjoyed about this movie has to do with the fact that I just love movies with families that are just a little off. I don’t know what it is about them that attracts me so much, but they just really get me. The scene in particular that I’m referring to in this movie is when Burt and Verona go to Madison, Wisconsin to visit Burt’s psuedo-cousin, who has some very radical views about parenting. The more she and her husband go on and on about how Burt and Verona need to do all these wacked out things, to the point that Burt completely snaps… just plain hilarious. The site of that little kid screaming in excitement with his hands in the air as Burt pushed him around in a stroller was just too funny. See, now you have to go watch this movie to see what the heck I’m talking about!

John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph also did a tremendous job acting like a couple in this movie. A few of their discussions sounded exactly like something my wife and I would have. Krasinski really seems to have this ‘charming, boyfriend-type, dad-to-be’ character down. I wouldn’t say he played Jim in this movie, but it would be a little bit like Jim, with a twist. And although I was never a big fan of Maya Rudolph on SNL, she was great in this role, having a few kids of her own in real life, I’m sure having a chance to put some of that craziness into a role was alot of fun.

There’s a few good laughs in this movie, alot of good supporting characters and solid actors to carry the characters along. I definitely recommend it to anybody with kids, or parents to be, you’ll get a few kicks out of it as you remember back to what it was like during the buildup to having your first child. Also, I’d like to point out that I’ve slightly modified our quick hits section, changing from the mundane “The Wife’s Thoughts” to “Thoughts From The Better Half”. Seems more appropriate, I hope you all approve.

Dave’s Quick Hits: A great ‘growing up’ movie aimed at adults, plenty of really honest scenes, I always like watching John Krasinski, 7 out of 10
Thoughts From The Better Half: I liked it alot actually, having just had my 1st child I could relate to what they were going through and some of the crazy characters reminded me of extreme versions of some of my family, although funny it’s definitely an adult movie, 7 out of 10
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 66% Fresh

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Hijinks Reviews: Bioshock

Posted : 13 years, 10 months ago on 11 July 2010 03:33 (A review of BioShock)

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I really didn’t know much about Bioshock when it came out. I’d seen the commercial and glanced at a couple of previews, but that was pretty much it (I knew so little about the game, I thought you played as the dude on the front cover, with the auger hand). I downloaded and played the demo on Xbox Live and was intrigued. Then, after I read a couple of reviews that gave it a 9.9 and a perfect 10, I figured I needed to give it a try. After playing it for awhile, I have 2 words to say “Holy crap!”

This is one of the most engrossing games I’ve ever played. You start the game out out in the middle of the water after an apparent plane crash. You swim to a lighthouse and find this elevator that takes you down to this underwater city. On your way down in the elevator, you learn that this is some sort of city built underwater, where they basically are trying to create the perfect race. When you reach the bottom level, you see this guy walking towards you on the other side of the door, then the lights go out. As they flicker, you see this creature coming up behind him and then the lights go out again. You hear some screaming and some tearing of flesh, and when the lights come back on, the creature is right in front of you on the other side of the glass and that dude that used to be there is a pile of mutilated flesh and blood. As if that isn’t freaky enough, the lights go back off and then you hear scraping coming from above you, as the lights flicker on and off, you see this creature trying to pry his way into the elevator to get to you. For whatever reason, he gives up, the lights come on, the door opens up and a voice tells you it seems clear, and to go ahead and leave the elevator. My first thought was… “why the crap would I want to go out there! Close the door! Get me out of here!”

This is just the very beginning of the game. There’s alot of times it made me jump, which rarely happens with video games. You proceed to find out more and more about this city and it’s creator, and ust how twisted and creepy it all really is. I’ve played for about 3-4 hours now, and I’m still not sure what exactly is going on with this city and all of it’s inhabitants. You continue to get better and better guns (as is the case with all FPS games) and you get a wide variety of different physical and magical powers. You can electrocute people, turn them to ice, among many other wonderfully weird thing. Behind this all, you keep encountering these 2 characters, Little Sister and Big Daddy.

Little Sister seems to be some sort of possessed child that wreaks havoc on the city, and Big Daddy is her protector. And these battles are where some of the games most exciting parts take place. They are incredibly hard to beat, and you usually have to use all of your surroundings, from hacking into the stationary turrets that will now fight for you, to blowing up the gas tanks that have been handily strewn about.

I definitely would recommend this game, but I warn you, don’t expect to just play it and put it down. It WILL suck you in as you will continually be trying to figure out just what the heck is really going on. Go rent/buy it… now.


9.9 out of 10 (I just don’t feel a game SHOULD be a perfect 10, but this game would definitely make a strong case)

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Hijinks Movie Reviews: Invictus

Posted : 13 years, 10 months ago on 8 July 2010 03:51 (A review of Invictus)

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Invictus first grabbed my attention because of Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman, 2 of my favorite actors. Then again, it’s easy to like guys who are great in everything they appear in. I honestly sat down to watch this flick based on that alone, I hardly knew anything about what the movie was actually about… other than the fact that Nelson Mandela and rugby were somewhere in the storyline. Obviously, what I ended up getting was so much more than that.

Maybe I’m not cultured enough, but I didn’t know that Invictus is actually the name of a poem, the poem that helped Nelson Mandela through his time in prison, inspiring him to “stand when all he wanted to do was lie down”. The movie, however, is based on a book called Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation. Invictus was released in theaters December 11, 2009, and on Blu-ray and DVD May 18, 2010. I’m a Netflix guy though, so it was only available to me this last week.The movie centers around Freeman’s Nelson Mandela and the South African rugby captain François Pienaar, played by Matt Damon. Mandela is tasked with having to deal with crime and unemployment, two of South Africa’s biggest problems, when he takes some time to attend a Springboks game, the country’s rugby union team. He notices than many of the non-white fans would actually cheer for the other team because, in their mind, the Springboks represent prejudice and apartheid, he even admits to doing the same during his time in prison. Knowing that South Africa is set to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup in one year’s time, he decides to motivate the captain of this team to help him change the opinions so many people had of each other, using this team as the instigator.

Pienaar and his teammates begin to train for the World Cup, and he tells them of the plans to become more active in the community and interact with the locals. They all voice varying levels of disinterest, but begrudgingly oblige. The locals slowly begin to change, and support for the Springboks begins to grow amongst the non-white population. As is typical in these sports-centered dramas, the population strengthens their support for the team and the team begins to play better. Mandela and Pienaar continue to publicly support each other as the tournament moves farther along. The Springboks begin to win games, even though they were expected to quickly fall out of the tournament, and eventually they make their way into the finale against the ‘unbeatable’ New Zealand team. Against all odds, they hang with this superior team and are able to win late in the match to set off wild crowd celebration.

These stories are always more enjoyable when they are based in reality, rather than being made up by some Hollywood muckety-muck. If you’ve read my bio, or know me at all, you know that I am the coach of a football team, so I have a soft spot for sports themed movies… and enjoy them more than most people, the scenes where a coach or captain motivate the rest of the team in particular. They did a good job throughout this movie showing the prevailing segregation between the whites and blacks, and then emphasizing as it slowly begins to change, and I think that was my favorite part of this movie. The movie ends fittingly with the people celebrating the victory, everyone embracing each other regardless of color, as Morgan Freeman recites a small portion of the poem that helped him for so long:

I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Dave’s Quick Hits: Honestly, if you’ve seen 1 sports movie, you’ve seen them all, this is the same thing only with prejudice mixed in. Good story, I’ll give it a 6.5 out of 10.
The Wife’s Thoughts: I don’t know the game of rugby and I don’t really know the whole story of South Africa and Mandela, so I really didn’t understand it and got bored, but hey, Matt Damon… eye candy like that can help ANY movie! 2 out of 10, worse if not for Matt Damon.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75% Fresh

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Hijinks Movie Reviews: Toy Story 3

Posted : 13 years, 10 months ago on 7 July 2010 05:08 (A review of Toy Story 3)

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I’d like to begin this review by saying I actually went to the 3D version of this movie. This was my first experience with the new digital 3D movies and I must say, I don’t see what the big deal was. Maybe this movie just didn’t take full advantage of the 3D (it seems everything is hyping the fact that they are in 3D these days, do we really need this many?), but if this is what a regular 3D experience is like in the theaters, it’s totally not worth the extra money. Yeah, the movie trailers at the beginning were really cool because it was this brand new experience and my eyeballs were all like, “Whoa! I can see things in a whole new way, this is fantastic!”, but as the movie went along it quickly started to look like the regular version. It was at this point that my eyes were like, “Alright, why did I pay the extra money for this? I can hardly remember this thing is in 3D in the first place until I pay attention to the added depth, but then I’m not paying attention to the actual movie anymore, just the novelty of the 3D.” Maybe I just missed it, maybe I’m not evolved enough to truly enjoy the 3D experience, but I digress.

The movie itself was fantastic, but what I really walked away from the theater with was an appreciation for the short that Pixar included before the movie, as they do with all their flicks. This one was called Day & Night, here’s the official write up for it:

“When Day, a sunny fellow, encounters Night, a stranger of distinctly darker moods, sparks fly! Day and Night are frightened and suspicious of each other at first, and quickly get off on the wrong foot. But as they discover each other’s unique qualities — and come to realize that each of them offers a different window onto the same world — the friendship helps both to gain a new perspective.”

At this point, my eyes were still on their visual joyride and I was really digging the 3D experience. It was such a simple little film and I was busy laughing at how these two animated little guys were showing off and trying to one up each other, and next thing I knew I was being hit by this really touching, meaningful story about friendship and overcoming each other’s differences to grow as individuals and work together. It was pretty cool.

Toy Story 3, released in theaters June 18, 2010, started off by making a decision that really made the movie. Instead of giving us another story with Andy as a small child playing with his toys and the craziness that ensues, they decided to let Andy grow up, and he’s about to go off to college. Of course, college kids need toys, but they buy much more expensive toys, ipads and Xbox 360s, not cowboys and spacemen. So as Andy gets ready to leave for college, his mom is encouraging him to get rid of his toys, or at least store them up in the attic. In the process of storing them, all of them but Woody that is, there’s a mix-up and they end up out on the corner with the trash.

After making a daring escape, the toys decide if Andy doesn’t want them anymore, they might as well go off with the other donations to the daycare where at least they’ll be played with. Woody tries to talk them out of it and tell them that Andy actually wanted to store them instead of throw them away, but of course, none of them are listening and instead they all head off to the daycare.

Once there, at first they think this is a magical, happy place filled with a never-ending supply of kids to play with them. They quickly find that the daycare chain of command, of toys that is, is run more like a tyrannical prison with a ruthless warden, Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear. Things get worse when Buzz goes to Lotso asking for a change of scenery, getting moved from the toddler room to the more age appropriate room where the kids play more gently with them, and instead gets brainwashed and turned into Lotso’s right hand man! Brainwashing is so much easier when you only have to flip a switch from his current ‘play’ mode back to his original ‘demo’ mode.

After escaping the daycare and finding solace at the home of the sweetest little girl, Woody finds out about the seedy underside of the daycare and Lotso’s iron fisted style of rule. So Woody bravely sneaks back in and devises a plan to break everybody out of this accursed daycare! The jailbreak scenes are some of the funniest parts of the movie, as Buzz gets switched out of ‘demo’ mode and into ‘español’ and Mr. Potato Head gets stuck in a sandbox and finds a creative new way of getting around. Of course, the route they choose to escape is through the garbage chute, and they get there just as the trash is being picked up. So instead of a clean getaway, (Haha! Get it? CLEAN get away? Cause now they’re in the trash and they’re dirty! Ha! *cough* sorry, I get carried away sometimes… moving on) they are transported to the local dump.

Now this is the big spoiler part here, skip down to Dave’s Quick Hits if you want to experience all the dramatic twists and turns on your own. Of course, now that they are in the dump, they are grabbed, swept, and pushed through all these crazy contraptions and save Lotso from a certain demise. (Oh yeah, Lotso got stuck in the dumpster with them, so now they are all in the dump together.) And after saving Lotso and helping him out of the trash to reach the emergency stop button and save all of their lives, gasp, he turns on them! What a tool! So now Woody, Buzz, and all of our other friends are tasked with looking their death right in the face as they slowly lower down into the incinerator.

This is the part that sorta got me. All sorts of people told me that they cried at the end of the movie. I thought, ‘wow, if this is how they end it, kudos to Pixar! Talk about a ground breaking, dark ending for a kid’s movie!’ But of course, that wasn’t the ending; they get saved at the last minute just like every other movie. The toys then luck out and catch a ride home on the garbage truck. In the end, Andy decides to donate all his toys to that sweet little girl that helped Woody escape and they all watch Andy drive off to college as they settle into their new home with with their new kid. Of course, there’s the obligatory ‘tug at your heart strings’ moment when Andy gets all the toys out of the box and plays with the little girl before realizing Woody was also in the box and he has to give away his favorite childhood toy. Honestly, I think they went over the edge with how they decided to end it. A friend of mine said he felt like they were telling us to go home and hug all of our toys. But it’s a kid’s movie, they usually go way out there with the sappy endings, so it’s not a huge deal.

Dave’s Quick Hits: A really fun movie, great for kids and adults, a great finish to the trilogy, tries too hard to pull at the heart strings at the end, 8 out of 10
The Wife’s Thoughts: The 3D glasses made it feel like things were flying over my head, it was funny at first but took a turn to be too sad, it ended happy enough, I would definitely let kids watch this, I’ll give it an 8 out of 10
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99% Fresh

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Hijinks TV Reviews: The Good Guys

Posted : 13 years, 11 months ago on 2 July 2010 05:06 (A review of The Good Guys)

As posted on [Link removed - login to see]:

The debut season is now 5 episodes in and I took the opportunity to get caught up this week. I went into it with very modest expectations, because I hadn’t heard wonderful things about it, but I must say, I came away pleasantly surprised.

The Good Guys is created by Matt Nix, the same guy who brings us Burn Notice. Although this is a bit of a different show as it is more in the buddy cop vein, whereas Burn Notice is more spy vs spy. You get the occasional laugh from Burn Notice, but overall, it’s a bit more of a serious show, it’s a lot of fun, but not really in the ‘comedy’ sense. The Good Guys is definitely out for the laughs.

Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks are the stars of the show, playing Detectives Dan Stark and Jack Bailey respectively. Dan Stark and Jack Bailey… pretty basic straight-forward detective names. One of them is more by the book and the other breaks all the rules… pretty straight-forward roles. They open each show with the climax of the episode and then flash back to how we got here, again, pretty standard fare here. Long story short, The Good Guys is nothing you haven’t seen before, it’s all been done a million times before, but it’s done well enough, and with enough funny stuff thrown in that it’s worth the ride.If you choose to sit down and watch this show from the beginning, I have to warn you, it starts a bit slow. I didn’t really get into the first episode, after watching it I was ready to move on to something else. To be fair, I stopped in the middle for about 30 minutes because I got a phone call, but I’ve seen this same reaction in quite a few places online. But the second episode is definitely worth the ‘wait’. I laughed pretty hard a number of times when Detective Stark was yelling at his computer as he tried to figure out how to use it. I also got a good laugh during the third episode when the two detectives were rushing up to the roof and Detective Stark attempted to kick in the door.

As is obvious from my quick notes, a lot of the high points of this show revolve around Bradley Whitford’s portrayal of Stark. Whitford is one of the only people on this show that really had a ‘name’ going into it. Colin Hanks is Tom Hanks’ son (and may I add, a number of times I found myself thinking how much he acts and sounds like his dad!) but he hasn’t really done much to make a name of his own yet. As is the case with all buddy cop shows, the humorous situations only work because Hanks plays off of Whitford’s humor so well.

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Hijinks Reviews: Red Dead Redemption

Posted : 13 years, 11 months ago on 2 July 2010 04:55 (A review of Red Dead Redemption)

Red Dead Redemption is Rockstar’s new (I say new layered heavily in italicized sarcasm because the game was actually released way back on May 18th) open ended, Western themed action adventure game that was released to raving reviews from just about everybody. This is the part where you say, ‘Hey, Rockstar, I recognize that name, didn’t they make the Grand Theft Auto games? I love killing prostitutes and running policemen over in stolen cars!’, but before you get all gung-ho about the mayhem you can create in the wild wild west, let me help you by more accurately describing what you can expect.

Red Dead Redemption’s (from now on referred to as RDR because I don’t want to keep typing it out) best qualities are also many of the things that contribute to it’s downfalls. This is the quick blurb Rockstar left for us on their website for the game:

America, early 1900’s. The era of the cowboy is coming to an end.

When federal agents threaten his family, former outlaw John Marston is sent across the American frontier to help bring the rule of law. Experience intense gun battles, dramatic train robberies, bounty hunting and duels during a time of violent change.

Red Dead Redemption is an epic battle for survival in a beautiful open world as John Marston struggles to bury his blood-stained past, one man at a time.

Click over to [Link removed - login to see] for the rest of the review and let me know what you think in the comments!

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Hijinks Movie Reviews: Iron Man

Posted : 13 years, 11 months ago on 2 July 2010 04:41 (A review of Iron Man)

I am Iron Man. Those could be the lyrics of a certain Black Sabbath song, or maybe a little quip from Tony Stark. Or maybe both. You’ll have to go see the movie to find out for sure I guess.

And that’s exactly what I did last night. In a bit of a hasty decision, I ended up going to see the movie and honestly, had mixed expectations. It looked like it could be good, but I wasn’t expecting TOO much (if you’ve ever heard me talk about the upcoming Dark Knight movie, you know I’ll probably be disappointed by the movie because the expectations are simply through the roof). Comic Book movies are usually good to go into with lower expectations, because as good as some of them have been, some have been downright painful.

But which did Iron Man end up being? Find out at [Link removed - login to see]!

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Hijinks Movie Reviews: Shutter Island

Posted : 13 years, 11 months ago on 2 July 2010 04:27 (A review of Shutter Island)

Shutter Island is based on a book by the same name and was released in theaters February 19, 2010 and on Blu-ray and DVD June 8, 2010. A quick lookup on Wikipedia will give you this blurb:

Shutter Island is a 2010 American psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese. The film is based on Dennis Lehane’s 2003 novel of the same name. Production started in March 2008. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as U.S. Marshal Edward “Teddy” Daniels, who is investigating the psychiatric facility on Shutter Island.

I’ve always had tepid anticipation for pretty much every Leonardo DiCaprio movie because I still kind of hold it against him that a crappy movie like Titanic (the boat sinks people! We all knew that going in and it STILL held the box office record!) sat atop the box office mostly due to little girls repetitively attending and fawning over Leo. However, he’s been in some really good movies lately, The Departed being my favorite, so maybe I need to re-evaluate my opinion of him. The fact that this was another Martin Scorsese film also grabbed my attention, but still, it looked like it was just trying to be the next creepy horror-ish type movie, probably with a twist at the end that nobody was supposed to see coming. I guess, to an extent, this holds true, but it’s done very well. More after the jump, including possible spoilers.

Check Out [Link removed - login to see] for the rest of the review!

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