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"You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on." – Dean Martin


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47 Ronin- Quick Thoughts

 So I have recently watched 47 Ronin. This movie kept me slightly entertained but it will probably go down as one of my disappointing movies of the year. The story is roughly the lord of some land is tricked into a dishonorable act and performs suicide. The person who tricked him is going to marry his daughter and get his land, but the former lords samurai are out for revenge. My quick thoughts as I watched it:

1. You only build up one villain as a credible threat (the giant armor guy). Does he die in an epic duel or heroic sacrifice? No. He is simply killed in the chaos of battle by a bomb. Similar to the only samurai with any personality (even if it just jovial fat guy).

2. All those random guards they killed for just doing their jobs. They didn’t show them being evil to the common people and the land fallen into ruin, which would have helped setting them up as villains. Instead, we must assume because it is raining

3. I paid to see an army of quirky samurai cut their way through an army of demons. Instead, the Outlaw is in it for 3 seconds and 4’ish words. The samurai are interchangeable and have no personality, and the only demon enemies they have are the Giant Armor Guy and The Witch. All the demons are shown in the trailers, and most of them are not the Samurai’s enemies.

4. Is it so wrong for people to have fun and ham it up a bit. The witch and the villain hammed it up, the fat samurai was jovial and provided some comic relief, and Keanu played the Stoic Outsider well. But this movie needed allot more personalities but instead…

5. This movie spent far too much time on Keanu and his love interest. And it also spent allot of time in getting magic swords meant to have unique powers for each individual based on their personality, but then does nothing with them. Probably because they didn’t have any unique personalities among the samurai.

 Well, at least I wasn’t completely bored during it. Mainly because I set myself a challenge to try and finish a jumbo popcorn as quickly as possible.


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Distance Running and Sprinting

 I have always liked distance running. From fun runs (although people I know struggle to see how they are called fun) and triathlon running legs to the more serious trail runs and marathons, my first brush with running has always been distance. And I have liked it. The thrill of seeing all that training pay off for new personal bests or to beat someone in a bit of friendly rivalry. To me, distance running has always been very honest. You put in the training, you get the rewards. Over the distances involved, genetics and luck start to get minimised. 

 However, lately I have been experimenting with more sprinting and interval training over just distance running. I normally still do one-distance run a week (1 hour plus), but now between them I only really do beach sprints, hill sprints and some intervals (often combined with bodyweight exercises during rest periods). 

 Now that I am not concerned about friendly rivalries and beating previous PB’s (due to time constraints on my training), I guess time will tell whether this training will pay off with my times. I know in terms of how I look and body-fat percentage, the increased variety has done wonders for these two probably more important areas.


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New-Generation Consoles

 So as the new console generation has rolled in, I find myself completely unexcited about what either the PS4 or X-Box One have to offer. I guess the main reason is that the last generation of consoles took away allot of what I liked about consoles. With that I have returned to PC gaming and handhelds.

 This generation of gaming has taken away the joys of split screen for the most part. Even allot of the racing games and first person shooters I see are only one gamer per console. So the options for multiplayer are reduced to go online, which is something I find far more convenient to do via the use of my laptop. And then there is the simplicity that has been lost. I can still remember trying to figure out how to play a multiplayer game on my 360 and having to go through the hassle of signing in. Add to this the reports of huge install times or patches for games and the high cost of accessories, and on the whole I find PC gaming (once again) simpler. This isn’t even mentioning the smaller games library due to exclusivity deals and lack of backwards compatibility.

So with the new generation I will enjoy cheaper games on PC. When I am in need for some local multiplayer, I will plug in a couple of controllers and emulate some of the classic SNES games. My 3DS because that is still simple to just pull out and play anywhere, anytime (especially with the shiny new case I brought for it). What I found most appealing about consoles (local multiplayer, large games library, simplicity and quick start-up times) doesn’t exist anymore. The Wii-U may be a different matter, but it will need more than Zombie-U to convince me to buy it.


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Most Suprising Movies of 2013

So after the most disappointing movies of 2013, it is time to focus on the most surprisingly good movies of 2013. These may not be the best movies, but are better than they have any right to be. The movies that I went in with very low expectations (and didn’t have my hopes changed from the trailers) and instead found movies that were some of the most enjoyable of the year. So, in no particular order, here are the top 5.

 World War Z: After the first trailer, I thought this looked horrible. I expected a boring trek through some landmarks with zombies who are not zombies. Instead, apart from a bit of a silly ending, I found this to be quite a tense ride that explored some interesting facets of human behaviour in the face of extinction. And the Zombies did feel like Zombies.

 Pain and Gain: After Transformers, I couldn’t think less of Michael Bay’s film credits. But while he does still make his Transformers trilogy some of the worse movies ever made with so much squandered potential (how did he muck up giant robots?), he somehow gets a true story based on bodybuilders work.

 Elysium: I hated District 9. I hated the heavy-handed allusions to class and racism and the social commentary of it. So why did I like Elysium? I guess it felt that one-step slightly toned down from District 9 where the social commentary didn’t feel like it pervaded every aspect of it while watching it, eventhough it did.

 Kick-Ass 2: I didn’t feel Kick-Ass deserved a sequel and this looked, from the trailers, to be pretty much a rehashing of Kick-Ass. However, this film delivered allot of new elements and progressed the story of the Kick-Ass world to keep me entertained. It tackled different themes, eventhough there was some repetition in some character arcs. It even fit in a teen-drama with Hit Girl that, although having quite a predictable and pandering pay-out, felt like it had a good place in the story. This is an example of how to do a good super-hero movie sequel with a self-contained story without trying this whole shared world Avengers copycats that everything is trying to do (Man of Steel/Justice League, The Wolverine/Days of Future Past, Spiderman/Sinister Six).

 The Wolverine: It was an unnecessary movie, but this turned out to be surprisingly entertaining. Although the whole “things still hurt even though he heals” wasn’t explored (I had my hopes up from the pre-movie interviews) and the plot was still non-sensical and overcomplicated, it was still okay. And considering how bad the trailers looked and how much I am sick of X-men movies having an overabundance of Wolverine, I did think this was better than it had any right to be following Last Stands and Origins.

 So there it is. The 5 most surprising movies for me. Not sure what will be next.