Thursday, December 26, 2013

47 Ronin Movie Review

47 Ronin, a movie with a lot of special effects starring Keanu Reeves.

There is not much plot to this one dimensional movie about Bushido and Samurai honor in a fantasy magical setting.

There are some enjoyable and exciting bits in the movie, and the effects are relatively well done. The cast is pretty good as well, but the choice of using a tale that is some what based on some pseudo Japanese legend, and trying to include some Japanese Culture into the whole story does not do it for me.

Not to be a purist, but everyone speaking English in a bad Japanese accent, and having weird semi-realistic Japanese Seppukku scene, and then an unrealistic one at the end does not do it for me.

I am totally fine if this movie was over the top surreal as there is already magic involved, and having it based on some fantasy story would do ok, but trying to make it like some form of Japan Samurai Spirit worship movie with actors speaking in a bad Japanese accent feels slightly offensive to me.

The movie however was pretty enjoyable although it was pretty straightforward, samurai getting honor back movie.

Not much more to say really... Its Keanu Reeves doing what Keanu Reeves does.

Overall, 5/10

Watch it in a matinee or something with friends to have fun, or not watch it at all....

-- Robin Low

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Movie Review

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

This movie is the second part of the trilogy. If you have watched the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, this movie has more action than just "trying to get somewhere"

Overall, there are 2 scenes which are memorable. The barrel fight scene is simply amazing. It showed you the coordination between the Dwarves, the plate throwing scene from Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is now an axe throwing scene where the Dwarves use an axe, throwing it to another Dwarf who continue to chop at a log over them as they flow down a river in barrels. The scene was fun, exciting and amazing.

This movie though, more than 161 minutes, did not feel long at all. If you like Lord of the Rings, you will like this movie. Strangely, the relationship between Tauriel and Kili was explored here, which I did not understand. Was there a need for the love interest angle?

I like the way this movie bring you back to the reason why Bilbo was chosen... As a burglar to steal an item... And he will take it... From a Dragon.

And yes! There is a Dragon! The second scene is the meeting with Smaug. Indeed the journey reached the destination when they entered the mountain and met the Dragon, and the set / effects in the undermountain was amazing.

I liked the movie overall, however, I did not expect the movie to end with such a cliffhanger. It felt too much like, "Please give me your money for the third movie" rather than a complete movie. For that, this is not a complete movie for which I will not rate.

-- Robin

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Star Wars - Balance of the Force Review

If you play the Star Wars Living Card Game, then you are familiar with this game.

Basically, the Star Wars LCG - Balance of the Force is a new expansion for multiplayer.

This game has rules that allow for a 3 or 4 player scenario.

Jerjerrod's Task is a dark side challenge that pits a single dark side player against a team of either 2 or 3 light side players. The dark side player uses a pre-constructed Jerjerrod's Task (included in the set) and each light side player plays their own constructed decks.

In this scenario, the dark side player uses the dark side dial as normal, but it is only used to reduce the cost of the card, Death Star II. The dark side player wins by completing the win condition printed on Death Star II card and not just the dial alone.

The hunt for Skywalker is a light side challenge that pits a single light side player against a team of either 2 or 3 dark side players. The light side player uses a pre-constructed Hunt for Skywalker (included in the set) and each dark side player plays their own constructed decks.

In the scenario, there are 3 rows of objective cards for the dark side players to "search for skywalker" and when the "Return to Tatooine" card is revealed, Luke Skywalker comes into play and the dark side wins if Skywalker is destroyed.

There are also multiplayer rules and new cards in this set, however, as all the objective sets are "Limit: 1 per objective deck" There is no reason to get 2 copies of this set.

Overall, this set does include a lot of things, and does not really add a lot to the Single player version of this game.

I would give this set a 7/10 as the multiplayer rules seemed quite interesting and I need to play more to find out.

-- Robin Low

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Microsoft Surface Review (If you are thinking of getting a cheap one)

I bought my Microsoft Surface on Black Friday 2013 (Not Surface 2) because finally, it is at the price I want to pay. If there are more deals coming up and you can pick one up for cheap, here is my review to help you decide.

Firstly - Looks (Exterior)

You can check it out at the Microsoft store, The Microsoft Surface looks like the Surface 2, just that the built in stand has only 1 height. Still, its looks pretty good and functional. It is rather slim and feels well built and solid.

The Specifications.

Here is the low-down that made me buy the 32GB Surface (For $200+ Tax)

1) 64GB MicroSD Card Slot (Turns your Tablet into a 96GB machine for a low cost. (I bought a SanDisk 64GB MicroSD for $35)

2) FULL SIZE USB -- OMG this is useful

3) HD Video Out -- With adapters, you can connect it to a HDMI TV or a computer monitor.

4) Bluetooth 4.0

5) A/B/G/N wireless

6) Resolution: 1366x768 (not too bad but not full HD)

What does it include?

It includes a full browser, (Can play Flash Video)
Microsoft Office 2013 - Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Outlook, Onenote


Initially, I did not really like the Windows 8, it felt unpolished, and FLAWED. And since the Windows 8.1 update is available, why not go for 8.1?

Here are some instructions to update your poorly made Windows 8 to Windows 8.1
->Microsoft Link<- br="">

I must say, Windows 8.1 is much better.


After testing for a few days and a few charging cycles, here are my thoughts.


- Good enough battery life (played 4 hours of music, 2 hours of surfing and downloads after standby for 2 days)
- Free FULL MS Office 2013!!
- Quick Startup, no wait
- Good size and looks
- Good price
- Very AWESOME Facebook App, better than PC version.
- Plays MP3s (Unlike Apple)

- Downloading Windows 8.1 (2GB) takes Forever!
- Not a lot of apps available for Windows RT (Some work on Windows 8.1 only not RT)
- After getting Windows 8.1, Facebook and a Twitter app, my 32GB Surface has 15GB storage remaining.
- Not really that light, when you carry it and use it, it makes your fingers tired.
- Surface Pro Pen does not work on the Surface RT (disappointed)
- Turning on Tablet is fast, restarting it is not...


I'm rather satisfied with my Windows Surface though, using it for web surfing, doing documents and listening to MP3. For it price, it is worth it.

Overall Rating 9/10 (Value buy)

-- Robin Low