Like my birthday. 37. In a row.
It was a my birthday a week ago. Didn't do anything spectacular, just a little family get together with my folks. And, as has been the traditional way to celebrate my birthday ever since I turned 11, we went to see a movie. This year, I dragged my parents to see Transformers: Age of Extinction.
It's been five years since the Battle of Chicago (aka the last movie), and thanks to the devestation caused by the Decepticon invasion, humanity has decided they want the Transformers off of Earth. The friendly military team NEST, that helped the Autobots fight the Decepticons, has been replaced with Cemetery Wind, a CIA black ops team dedicated to hunting down and exterminating all remaining Transformers. And they're led by a very evil Dr. Fraiser Crane.
Enter Cade Yeager, a struggling inventor living in rural Texas. One day, he purchases an old beat-up semi with the intent of stripping it for parts, but soon discovers it's actually a badly wounded Optimus Prime. Cemetery Wind descends on Yeader's farm, and now Optimus Prime, Yeager, Yeager's daughter and her boyfriend, are on the run. Before long, Yeager is swept up in a war that he (and the audience) barely understands, including a Transformer bounty hunter named Lockdown working for the mysterious "Creators," and a robotics firm looking to build their own Transformers, with their star project being a robot known as "Galvatron."
I'm not ashamed to say I loved this movie. After the steaming pile that was Revenge of the Fallen, and the "yeah, we're out of ideas" that was Dark of the Moon, it's like for Age of Extinction, Michael Bay finally got my checklist of everything I hated about the last two. Stupid-goofy comic relief from the humans? Toned down considerably. Straying away from the Autobots just as things are getting interesting to focus on the stupid human subplot? Gone. Focusing more on the Autobots and allowing them to breathe more as characters? Yes.
That's what really got me about the character of Optimus Prime. We've never seen Optimus Prime like this. He's angry at how humanity has turned on him. He's pissed off that his kind is being hunted down like dogs in the streets. When he growls that he's going to find the human who's been slaughtering Transformers and kill them, it's shocking. But, it gives Optimus Prime a character arc, something I don't think he's had in the past few films.
And yes, I got my geek on hard when they started dropping names like "Galvatron."
It does have its flaws, though. Damn, it's a long movie. When what felt like the end happened, I realized we hadn't seen the "all over the ads" Dinobots yet. There was about another hour after that point. And while we don't have the stupid-goofy human subplots anymore, they make up for it in quantity. Lots of people doing stuff, it's easy to get confused.
I give it a very entertaining three Nibs. Complete review is over at the main website.
Jump forward a week, and I decide to hit the city again, flush with birthday money. I'd been saving my dollars to make this my birthday present anyway, and with some birthday cash to push it over the top, I figured it was time to buy the one thing I wanted to complete my home entertainment system.
I bought myself an Apple TV.
For those who don't know, Apple TV is Apple's streaming media device. Plug it into your TV, and now all your iTunes downloads can run off your TV. But that's not all. It's got your various streaming video services like Netflix built in. While it doesn't have as many apps that other streaming video players have, it more than makes up for it by playing stuff streaming off my computer, meaning I can watch things I've downloaded from other services. And if the app's not on the Apple TV, it's on my iPhone, so AirPlay to the rescue!
Granted, such a thing is a "want" and not a "need" because I've got a Smart TV with those apps built in, but playing with it last night, watching Netflix on the Apple TV just looked better. Probably because the Apple TV can put out 5.1 channel surround sound, and because it's an external device, I can turn off the damn soap opera effect.
But even with such wonderful new technology, I'm still hooked on buying new Blu-Rays. I stopped in at HMV because I was growing frustrated with Amazon. The classic Beatles film A Hard Day's Night just got a spiffy new Criterion edition. Even though I pre-ordered it in May and it came out in June, Amazon was telling me they weren't going to be shipping it until August. So with that bugging me, I went into HMV, and there it was, sitting on the shelf. And for $10 cheaper, too. So I canceled my Amazon order on my iPhone and bought it then and there.
After some browsing in the mall, there was just one last thing to do my my city trip checklist. I'm sure you know by now of my love of fast food. And I've noticed over the past few months that the American burger chain Carl's Jr has begun making inroads into Canada. Apparently, they began their Canadian expansion a few years ago, and they've finally begun popping up in the Edmonton area. So before heading home, I knew I had to give Carl's Jr a try.
The only problem was, I had lunch at lunch time, and I was heading home at 3PM, so I was still pretty full from lunch. Sadly, my first meal at Carl's Jr was going to be a light one.
I settled for their Famous Star, which looks to be their basic cheeseburger. I skipped the combo, so no fries, and just a small Coke to wash it down. Being a flame-broiled burger, I found it tasted very similar to other fast food burgers that boast that claim, such as Harvey's or Burger King. In fact, if I closed my eyes and tuned out my surroundings, I could have sworn I was eating a Whopper. I'll have to try them again, and when I'm not so full, so that way I can have one of their bigger signature burgers, fries, and the whole deal.
And with that, it was time to get home. I was eager to get home. What, with the Apple TV, I was eager to fire it up and start testing it out. All in all, a nice break. I think my eye of the hurricane analogy was appropriate, because if what they said at Friday's staff meeting pans out, things are about to get crazy again.