Category Archives: Entertainment

TV, Movies, etc

Dear White People (TV Show)

Dear White People is a 2017 Netflix dramedy about racism in a fictional Ivy League school. It’s based on the 2014 film of the same name and it brings back some of the actors as well as the writer/director, Justin Simien. I never saw the movie so I can’t talk about any comparisons between the two, but holy shit, the show is great. Racism is a sensitive subject and Dear White People tackles it head on. 

The show follows a core group of black students at a predominately white university. They each deal with being black in different ways. They all have their own ideas on how to combat the racism that they deal with everyday. Some try to stand up to the man, some try to assimilate into the campus culture to fit in, some try to remain neutral. But you can’t stop racism, you can only expose it.

I don’t want to talk about the plot. I don’t want to spoil anything. You should just watch it. I really like how they tell the story. Each episode focuses on a different character and the timeline jumps back and forth. You see the same events but from different perspectives. 

It’s a dramedy so you’ll experience a lot of different emotions. Sometimes you’re angry, sometimes you’re laughing, sometimes you’re crying. It takes place at a fictional college but it feels all too real. There are only ten episodes, each one is thirty minutes or less which is perfect because it makes binge watching easy. I flew through the last six episodes in one sitting. 

Not only is this an entertaining show, it’s an important one that can lead to real life changes. Dear White People makes racism a talking point in the same way that Thirteen Reasons Why makes suicide a talking point. These are taboo subjects that need to be dealed with. Racism is real. It’s too bad that the people that the show is trying to educate will hide behind their bigotry and never watch it. I can honestly say that I’m a better person after watching it. You will be too.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a 2017 superhero flick based on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s the sequel to 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy and the fifteenth entry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It brings back writer/director James Gunn and most of the actors from the first film including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, and Michael Rooker and brings in newcomers like Kurt Russel, Sylvester Stallone, Pom Klementieff, and features one hell of cameo from (*spoiler alert*) David Hasselhoff. 

The film tries hard to recreate the magic of the first one and it succeeds for the most part. The humor is there, the character interaction is there, the action is there, but it’s missing the joy of discovery. At this point we know what to expect from Star-Lord and his crew. That’s not a bad thing. You’ll like it if you liked the first one. My girlfriend hadn’t seen the first one so we watched it on demand and then watched Vol. 2 later that night. That’s practically five hours of Guardians of the Galaxy in one sitting and we didn’t get sick of it. That’s impressive because I have a short attention span. I’ll end this review on that note because I hear the ice cream man outside. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is good. Go see it in IMAX 3D if you can, it’s worth the money and not many movies are these days.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Iron Fist (TV Show)

Iron Fist is a 2017 Netflix show based on the Marvel character of the same name. It’s about a rich dude who uses his iron fist and martial arts skills to fight crime. It’s part of Netflix’s mini Marvel universe that includes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. Each show introduced their titular character and soon they are all going to team up in The Defenders. It’s a good time to have a Netflix subscription.

I watched Daredevil and I loved it. It had some of the best action scenes I’ve ever seen. Go on YouTube right now and search for “Daredevil hallway fight scene” and prepare to have your mind blown. Jessica Jones wasn’t as good, but it was very compelling and has a great villain to keep you interested. Luke Cage was really good and gets you hankering for the next entry in Netflix’s mini Marvel universe.

That’s where Iron Fist comes in. It’s not good. I’m watching it right now. I’m in the middle of the sixth episode and I’m not impressed. It’s sluggish. The action scenes are meh. Finn Jones can’t handle the fight choreography and that’s bad when you’re the star of a show about a good fighter. The plot lines are murky and forced. It’s boring quite frankly. I’m only watching it because I watched all the other shows leading up to The Defenders so I feel like I have to watch it. Watching Netflix shouldn’t be a chore, it should be entertaining. Iron Fist isn’t entertaining. Oh well. Even Pixar fucks up every once in a while. I’m still can’t wait for The Defenders.

Critically Rated at 7/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Joking Hazard

My girlfriend likes to play party games like Heads Up! and Cards Against Humanity. I guess she likes having fun and socializing with friends and family. So I bought her a game called Joking Hazard and we invited some friends over to play. I had never heard of it before I stumbled upon it in Target but I think that it has the potential to rival Cards Against Humanity as the next great party game. It’s simple to learn. There’s a stack of cards with offensive cartoon panels. Everyone gets dealt seven cards. Each person takes turns being the judge. The judge flips a random card over from the deck, then plays one of his cards create a setup, and then everyone else plays one of their cards as the punchline. The judge chooses their favorite and that person gets a point. You play until someone wins. Offensive cartoons + friends (+ alcohol) = a great time. We played a few other party games that night, but Joking Hazard was my favorite. I might be biased because I bought it, but I know a good thing when I see it and Joking Hazard is a good thing. 

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Beauty and the Beast (2017 Film)

Last night I saw Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s latest live-action remake of one of their classic cartoon masterpieces. It’s good. You would already know that if you’ve seen the cartoon. And if you’ve seen the cartoon, you’ve seen this movie. You know what happens. There aren’t any M. Night Shyamalan twists. They added some backstory and more character details, there are a few new songs, but it’s the same fucking movie.

That’s not a bad thing. The cartoon was the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. I’m sure this version will be nominated for a few awards as well. It’s already a blockbuster success and nobody should be surprised about that. It stars Emma Watson as Belle. Motherfucking Hermione Granger! You know how many Harry Potter fans were already invested once they heard about the casting?!? A lot. Like more than twelve. There are lots of Harry Potter fans. Dozens.

The only bad thing I can say about the movie is that the new songs are terrible. Terrible. Especially the Beast’s solo right before the climax. It totally ruined the mood. And you don’t want to ruin the mood right before you climax. I know that characters express themselves through song in musicals, but geez, enough is enough.

The special effects are top notch. Ewan McGregor’s accent is not. The story takes place in France, yet everyone speaks with a British accent except for one ridiculous French accent. But he can sing so he gets a pass. 

It’s a good movie. It’s worth paying money to see in the theatres. You might even splurge to see it in 3D. Not many movies are worth paying money for these days. This one is.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Logan (Film)

Logan is the tenth instalment of the X-Men film franchise and marks Hugh Jackman’s final portrayal of Wolverine. He’s played the iconic character for seventeen years. That’s a long fucking time. I saw X-Men in the theaters when I was fifteen, just after my freshman year of high school. I went to college, I moved around a bit, worked a few jobs, and now I’m thirty-one with a couple of kids and a mortgage. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine was there for all of that. Ok, I don’t have kids or a mortgage, but I could if I didn’t live in San Francisco.

Hollywood has gone crazy with remakes and sequels and reboots and prequels. On the big screen alone I have seen three Spider-Mans, three Supermans, three Punishers, five Batmans, but there has only been one Wolverine. Logan is the perfect way to say goodbye to him. 

I realize that I haven’t actually talked about the movie yet. By now I’m sure you’ve heard that it’s good. It is good. I hear lots of comparisons to Deadpool because they are both R-rated and do justice to their comic book counterparts. I think it’s a better film than that Deadpool. It has more heart, more weight, more to say. It’s a more complex movie for a more complex character. Deadpool is great. Logan is better. X2 was easily my favorite X-Men movie… now it just might be Logan. That’s a bold statement. 

Props to Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier, and especially to Dafne Keen as Laura/X-23. I’m not a fan of child actors, but Keen’s performance was on par with Jackman and Stewart. Anything less would have derailed the film. James Mangold directed one hell of a film. I wouldn’t be surprised if it won a couple of Oscars. It’s a legitimate film. Check it out, it’s the end of an era and it deserves to be recognized.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Tactile Dome

I went to San Francisco’s Exploratorium with my girlfriend and some friends the other day. It’s a big museum with a bunch of interactive science exhibits. You learn about magnets, optics, human behavior, electricity, you name it. But the best thing to do there is the Tactile Dome, hands down. 

The Tactile Dome costs extra but it’s worth it. It’s basically an obstacle course/maze with a twist: it’s pitch black. You have to stumble through it blindly. You feel around trying to find your way out. Some rooms force you to crawl. You climb up a rope ladder. There are slides. It’s exhilarating and exciting and a unique experience. I particularly enjoyed staying still in one spot and then scaring the shit out of my girlfriend when she came close.

The Tactile Dome was created by Nicholas Cage’s father. Seriously. I’ll end my post with that fun fact.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Selfie inside the Tactile Dome

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Playing Poker

I played poker the other night for the first time in a few years. It was a house game with some friends. I took that shit seriously. I downloaded some poker apps and started playing, studying as many flops as I could. I watched YouTube videos. I developed a strategy. And I dominated. I destroyed. I won the game and made my presence known. I made a hundred dollars. Yeah, a motherfucking Benjamin.

Poker was huge a decade ago. It was the game that kept you home on a Saturday night. You could get laid or you could make money. A lot of dudes chose to make money. For twenty bucks (plus maybe a couple of buy-backs) you can play cards with friends for hours on end and potentially make a profit. That sounds like a fun night. It was. It still is. Playing poker is a tradition for reason. Getting laid is always fun, but so is taking money out of your friend’s pocket. 

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

A Good Idea for a Restaurant 

I have a good idea for a restaurant. You remember that dinner scene with the Lost Boys in Hook? The one where Robin Williams as Peter Pan regains his imagination and an amazing feast appears before them, you remember that? My restaurant will recreate that wonder. 

You start by approaching a large communal table. You’ll sit right next to strangers. It’s real friendly like. The servers will bring out a bunch of empty plates and dishes and put them on the table. There’s about five minutes of pretending to eat, then suddenly the empty plates and dishes are replaced with real food.

Of course the food is all inspired by the food that appears in the movie. All the different types of meat and fruit, the hunk of cheese with Thud’s face in it, the crazy colered pie things, cups of hot cocoa with heaping servings of whipped cream, it’s all there. Everyone eats their fill. The feast ends with a food fight. It’s a little wasteful but it’s worth it.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment, Random Rants, Snacks

Home Videos

When I was a senior in high school I bought an iMac and a video camera and started filming my life for the next couple of years. I took my camera everywhere. I brought it when my friends and I would drive aimlessly around town staving off boredom. I brought it to school. I brought it on vacations. I brought it with me when I went to college. Literally everywhere. I would edit the footage and make home videos to give to friends and family. I’m glad  I did all that because I documented some of the best years of my life. 

My girlfriend saw some of my DVDs in my movie collection and begged me to show them to her. I popped one in and got to relive the last few months of high school when I was suffering from senioritis and filming Jackass-inspired stunts on campus instead of going to class. I got to relive my epic trip to Yosemite with twenty-something friends and remembered how grueling the hike to Half Dome was and how relaxing lounging riverside was. 

The memories came flooding back.  I saw friends that I’m still in touch with, some that I’ve lost contact with, and a few that are no longer with us. It was good to see them again. It’s a good thing I was nerdy enough to film my life for a few years. So many good times with good people caught on tape, preserved for as long as I have a working DVD player.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment, Random Rants

Sour Grapes (Documentary)

I’m in the restaurant industry and I’ve always been suspicious of self-proclaimed wine connoisseurs. They always seem so pretentious and full of shit. Last night I watched Sour Grapes, and it appears that my suspicions have been confirmed. Sour Grapes is a 2016 documentary about Rudy Kurniawan, a con artist who made millions of dollars by selling bootleg bottles of wine to rich suckers. It’s a cool crime story involving forgery, counterfeiting, manipulation, and wine. I won’t even discuss what Kurniawan did, how he did it, or who he did it to because I want you to watch it. It’s on Netflix. It doesn’t even matter if you like wine or not. In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t like wine because it’s fun to laugh at other people’s misfortunes. Watch it. Or don’t. It’s really up to you.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Drinks, Entertainment

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

2016 was a great year for Potterheads, especially me. I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood in April. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out during the summer. And then Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them came out in November. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a spinoff film and the first flick of a five film franchise. J.K. Rowling wrote a book with the same name for charity, but it was just an encyclopedia of imaginary creatures from the books. The film is a completely new story created for the big screen, which is awesome for real fans of Harry Potter.

Real fans of Harry Potter were never truly amazed by the films because we read the books before and knew what to expect. We already knew what was going to happen. We just debated what they were going to show, what they were going to skip, and speculate how they’d portray certain parts. I went into Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them without a clue of what was going to happen. It was awesome to meet new characters and creatures and to see a whole new side of the wizarding world as the plot unraveled in front of me. It was the most fun I’ve had at the movies since Deadpool. 

I won’t even talk about what actually happens in the movie. I want you to discover it for yourself. My girlfriend is not a Harry Potter fan (nobody is perfect) but she really liked it. That’s how I know it’s a good movie and I’m not just being biased. J.K. Rowling wrote the screenplay. David Yates, the guy who directed the last Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, and both parts of Deathly Hallows, is back in the director’s chair for this film. You get solid performances from the cast and there’s a mindfuck of a cameo at the end that leaves you anxious for the next installment. Damn, 2018 is a long time away.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young 

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Black Mirror

Finding something to watch on Netflix can be a bit of a challenge, so let me make a suggestion for you. Check out Black Mirror. I warn you now that it’s so good you’ll binge watch it. You might have to clear your calendar. It’s a spooky anthology show about the dangers of technology. Think Twilight Zone updated for the modern world. Each episode is self contained. It has its own story, characters, cast, and universe so each new episode is completely separate and you can watch them out of order without any real consequences.

Some of the stories could happen today. In “The National Anthem” a beloved duchess is kidnapped and will only be released if the British Prime Minister has to fuck a pig on live television. In “Be Right Back” a young woman uses a computer program that imitates her deceased boyfriend to cope with her grieving. In “The Waldo Moment” a cartoon character enters a real life election and becomes the most popular candidate. This episode first aired in February of 2013, three and a half years before the USA actually elected a cartoon character as president.

Other stories are a bit more far fetched (but still possible). I don’t even want to go into anymore detail. I just want you to watch Black Mirror. I’ve made it my mission to get as many people to watch it as possible. I tell everyone I come across to watch it. I don’t let it come up casually in conversation. I walk right up to someone and say they should watch Black Mirror, give a brief synopsis, then walk away. Then I ask if they’ve watched it yet a few days later. So watch it. Please. I need this. 

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Sling TV

If you frequent my blog you might have noticed that I’ve writen about how I cut ties with cable a few years ago. I mostly watch stuff on YouTube, Netflix, and HBO NOW for entertainment. I only miss cable when it comes to sports. Earlier this week the Giants were still in the playoffs and I wanted to watch the game but had nowhere to watch it. I knew the game was going to be aired on FS1 so I googled ways to stream it for free. That’s when I discovered Sling TV’s free seven day trial membership and my life was changed forever.

In case you don’t know what Sling TV is (just like me earlier this week), it’s basically streaming cable with select channel packages. Sling Orange is twenty bucks a month and Sling Blue is twenty-five bucks a month. They have a lot of the same channels, but Sling Orange has ties to Disney so they have Disney Channel, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3. Sling Orange has ties to FOX, so they have FOX, FS1, FS2, and FX. The Giants game was on FS1, so I got the Sling Blue package.

I was planning on getting it just for the free trial and canceling it after 6 days, but I think I’m gonna keep it for a while. It a lot of the channels that I actually watched when I still had cable. It has FOX, NBC, AMC, History, Comedy Central, TBS, TNT, National Geographic, Viceland, NFL Network, CNN, Cartoon Network, and more. It even has a few local channels so you get regional news. You can watch whatever the channel is broadcasting live and there are a few shows that are on demand. If you change the channel it gives you the option of starting the new show from the beginning or picking up in the middle. 

I didn’t set out to write a commercial about how great Sling TV is. It just sort of happened. That’s how rad it is. It’s not perfect. There are commercials. You can’t pause certain programs. It’s still worth it. Try it for a week if you kind of miss cable. There’s nothing to lose. You can thank me later.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Suicide Squad (film)

I saw Suicide Squad the other night. It’s the latest film instalment of the DC Extended Universe following 2013’s Man of Steel and 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I must admit that I was a little weary of spending money to see it after the fiasco that was Batman v Superman and reading all the terrible reviews from critics. But I saw it, and it wasn’t completely terrible. I kind of liked it in fact. It’s not a great movie by any means. There are plot holes, generic villains, and confusing moments, but there are enough good characters, solid performances, and exhilarating action sequences to balance it out. The soundtrack also stands out and makes the movie a little better.

The movie is about a group of convicts that are assembled to save the world from a powerful threat. Will Smith stars as Deadshot, a deadly mercenary with an absurdly accurate shot. Margot Robbie plays Harley Quinn, the psychotic lover of the Joker. Jai Courtney plays Captain Boomerang, an Australian bank robber with a penchant for boomerangs. Jay Hernandez play El Diablo, a fiery Latino who controls fire. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje plays Killer Croc, a sewer-dwelling monster. And Karen Fukuhara plays Katana, a Japanese chick with a katana. They all are forced to team up to fight an ancient witch demon and her demon brother. And that’s what the movie is about.

Jared Leto is in the movie too. He plays the Joker in a vastly different way than the late Heath Ledger. I can’t really comment on his performance because he was hardly in it. He has like twelve minutes of screen time and only pops up occasionally. He wasn’t bad, he just didn’t make enough of an impact for me to care about him.

There are lots of Easter eggs and DC references for comic nerds to geek out over. It’s a more enjoyable film than Batman v Superman. There are more jokes and likeable characters and they didn’t add an excessive amount of unnessary storylines into the film. Batman v Superman tried to do too much. Suicide Squad lets the story unfold for itself. I would see it again in theaters. DC still has a long way to catch up to Marvel, but this is a step in the right direction.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

  

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II (Special Rehearsal Edition Script)

 There are two types of people in the world: fans of Harry Potter and everyone else. Me, I’m a fan of Harry Potter. A part of my life ended back in 2007 when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released and the series ended. But then J.K. Rowling announced that she would continue the story onstage in a play. She also realized that not everyone would be able to see the production so she released the script in book form as well, bless her soul. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II (Special Rehearsal Edition Script) was released on July 31, 2016 and the Harry Potter nerds suddenly had a new story to lose their shit over. 

I kind of slacked off and forgot to preorder a paper copy, but I bought the e-book version and read the entire thing on my iPhone in a couple of hours. It’s mostly dialogue with a little bit of stage direction so it’s a much faster read than the later books in the series. It was written by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany and based on a story by J.K. Rowling. The story starts in the epilogue of the Deathly Hallows with an older Harry sending his sons James and Albus off to Hogwarts. I don’t want to say too much else. Spoilers aren’t fun. And you should be friending to read it for yourself so I won’t give anything major away. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are important characters, but the plot revolves around Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy (Draco’s son). They are the next generation of wizards and they are trying to escape the shadow of their fathers. 

 We visit old charters. We meet new ones. And it feels good to be back in the wizarding world, I must say. The humor and charm are still there, as is the sense of dread that something wicked this way comes. It’s very satisfying. I wish it was longer. It’s always sad to reach the end of a great story, and this definitely seems like final chapter. I hope that J.K. Rowling has more in store for us, but this is a solid way to say goodbye to Harry Potter. Goodbye, Harry, old chum.

 Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Ghostbusters (2016 film)

 Hollywood has been churning out reboots and remakes for the past couple of decades. No classic film is safe, as evidenced by the recent reboot of Ghostbusters. The new film is directed by Paul Feig and stars Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth. It’s kind of like Bridesmaids but with more ghosts. It’s really funny with the right amount of spooky thrills. It’s a definite reboot. They pay homage to the original films, but the girls are the first batch of ghost exterminators in this universe. Most of the cast from the first films make cameos, the notable exceptions being Rick Moranis and Harold Ramis. Rick Moranis basically quit Hollywood and Harold Ramis passed away. They could have had him cameo as a ghost but that would have been disrespectful.

 The plot is similar to the first film. You kind of feel like you know what’s going to happen before it does. But the characters make the film worth watching. The four ghostbusters are all hilarious. The riff and play off of each other and it’s apparent that they are all having fun. Comedies are supposed to be fun. Chris Hemsworth had some of the best moments as their bumbling secretary. Who knew that he had comedic chops to rival Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy? 

 I liked the special effects. The ghosts looked retro like in the first two movies of the franchise. I saw it in 2D because that was the best showtime for me, but I wish I saw it in 3D because the climax was so spectacular. The end of the world has been depicted in countless movies, but this was one of the most memorable apocalypses I’ve seen. 

 There are a lot of haters who decided to hate this movie without watching it. You can’t hate it if you never experienced it. I experienced it. I liked it. Everyone else in the theater with me liked it too. I heard laughs and gasps and a smattering of applause when it was over. I heard no boos and no demands for a refund. I don’t think this movie will make its budget back. It won’t be a blockbuster even though it deserves to be. It sucks too, because the scene after the credits sets up a sequel that we might never see. 

 Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment