Tag Archives: review

SBox Recommends: Kevin Hart – What Now (Movie Review)

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If there was anyone in this world who can turn a bad week into a good one, it’s Kevin Hart. Kevin Hart is one of my all-time favorite stand-up comics, definitely up there with the rest of my top five. (In no particular order, it goes Chris Rock, Kevin Hart, Louie CK, DL Hughley, and the fifth one changes from day to day). I started watching his stand-up about 4 or 5 years ago, and have mad respect for his comedic timing, edge, fast-paced delivery, and relatable material. Plus, he just so happens to be from my hometown of Philadelphia, which I find really inspiring. And so I always look forward to the next time Kevin Hart takes the stage for another comedy tour. It’s something I wouldn’t want to miss, but does it live up to his other shows. Continue reading SBox Recommends: Kevin Hart – What Now (Movie Review)

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SBox Recommends: Independence Day – Resurgence (Movie Review)

Note: SBR never spoils. You are safe. Enjoy!

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On this day 240 years ago, the 13 British colonies in the recently discovered Western World declared in one voice that we will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight. We’re gonna live on. We’re going to survive. Today we celebrate our Independence Day…2!

It has been 20 years since the first Independence Day hit theaters in the summer of 1996. The film set in the mid 90’s with an all-star cast wowed audiences with its depiction of a world defending itself from an alien invasion. While debates concerning the film’s quality still persist to this day, the film is still beloved by many for its impressive effects, memorable scenes, lovable characters and overall fun vibe. It remains a staple of the dumb 90’s action movie genre and an undeniable classic, one that apparently had grounds for a sequel.

The concept of an Independence Day 2 interested me upon first hearing it. I didn’t really feel it called for a sequel, but I knew that this could be amazing if done right. Take all the fun, loud and dumb of the original and translate it in the modern day, and you’ve got yourself a modern classic. I’m hesitantly in! Hesitant, because this could also be a real bomb if handled incorrectly.

Though most people have made up their minds about the movie, declaring in one voice that this movie should go quietly into the night, is it really as bad as people are saying? Continue reading SBox Recommends: Independence Day – Resurgence (Movie Review)

SBox Recommends: The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem (Album Review)

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Music is an art that serves many different purposes. It can be a means of entertainment, unity, escape or catharsis. Though with music being an ever-changing entity, it can also be a means of controversy; such is the fate of most hip hop albums of the late 80’s, early 90’s and beyond. Few were as consistently on the receiving end of that than Eminem.

It’s funny for us to think about now, but as respected of an artist as Eminem is now, that wasn’t always the case. Think back 16 years ago from now when his third studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP, first released on store shelves. Some of us aren’t much older than that and don’t remember the shit show that the record produced. The CD didn’t even spend 10 seconds in the radio before activists, parents and critics were taking to the streets with pitchforks demanding Slim Shady’s head. An album like that could probably never be released today. The same people who claim Jerry Seinfeld’s one gay joke was the worst thing in the world or thought James Rolffe was sexist for not wanting to watch the new Ghostbusters wouldn’t last two seconds in the same room as this album, let alone listen to it.

The funny thing is, for all the outrage it caused, it sure as hell sold a ton. And even funnier than that, the album has since been considered a classic- one that only appreciates with time. And in an age of outrage culture where everyone walks on eggshells before saying anything, the album has never been more relevant. In honor of the album’s recent anniversary, let’s take a look back at one of hip hop’s finest albums. Continue reading SBox Recommends: The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem (Album Review)

SBox Recommends: Furious 7 (Review)

It’s hard to believe that The Fast and the Furious came out in 2001. It’s even harder to believe that these films are still being made 14 years later. Yet here we are with the newest in the franchise. Furious 7 had a lot of hype surrounding it, as all films in the series do. But this one had a much greater level of hype for an outside reason that by now everyone is aware of. Disregarding for a moment what this film represents for the series, we have to wonder if this film is worth seeing. Continue reading SBox Recommends: Furious 7 (Review)

SBR First Impressions: PlayStation 4

Monday afternoon I come home from a pretty good day at school. I’m getting my haircut, and my dad steps out to pick up my little brother. After I’m done my dad comes back with my mom and picks me and my other little brother up. Randomly, they tell me if I want to get the PS4 now. They told me that since I’ve been saving up for so long that they would just pay it off for me. And so we went, and I come home with a brand new PlayStation 4 console and a copy of Infamous Second Son.

So, it’s been almost a week and I have been playing the crap out of the system. I thought I would give you guys my first impressions on the console from what I’ve experienced so far. Keep in mind that this won’t cover everything about the system. The point of a First Impressions review is that it’s not as in-depth as a regular SBR.

Anyway, my PS4 experience is pretty positive so far. While I’ll argue that there isn’t much change from the PS3 to 4, it’s still a good piece of hardware.

Ecstatic-wise the console is pretty much a rhombus with 2 flat sides for if you choose to place the console upright. I have the system lying horizontally in the middle of my console shelf. Surprisingly it isn’t as heavy as I thought. I’d argue that my 160 GB PS3 is heavier than the PS4. It’s easy enough to hook up, requiring no more than a source of power and HDMI.

As far as the deign, the only complaint I have is with power button. Before I turned the system on, I hadn’t the slightest idea where it was. The power button is actually found where the plastic shell meets the gloss finish at the mid-left of the machine. It’s a thin, straight line with the world’s smallest power symbol. It’s so small it’s hard to see at first. When you find it, it works fine enough, but the only other nitpick is that it’s not too easy to turn off without using the controller. You have to press and hold the button to turn it off completely, otherwise it’s on stand-by mode and emits a yellow light. Doing this also causes you to get prints on the glossed area.

Again, just an irrelevant nitpick, but I feel it should be stated.

Once you turn it on, it asks you to connect your controller via the provided USB charger and begin the set-up process. Set-up is actually impressively quick. Earlier this year I had to set-up my Wii U which took a good time longer to set-up in comparison. As of this post date, the system update is extremely fast- lasting no longer than 10 minutes. It may become longer as the PS4 gets older, but for the time being its relatively fast.

At last we reach the main interface of the system. The layout looks nice and organized. I’m sure everyone knows how it looks like by now, but it strays a bit from the PS3 and PSP’s interface by utilizing 2 lines: one for your apps/activities and one for your system/profile options. You couldn’t get anymore user friendly if you tried.

You’ll notice that everything runs fast and near instantaneous. I especially noticed this when going to the PS Store and then going back to the menu. The PS3 would’ve taken upwards of a minute trying to launch and load the PS Store, but with PS4 you’re there in a heartbeat.

I will admit that launching and running games could be a bit faster, but I shouldn’t say that too soon since I need at least one more game to confirm that there is an issue.

An additional feature of the PS4 was its built-in gameplay capture device. This allows you to upload pictures and gameplay footage to the web at your desire. There is also an editing tool for your recorded gameplay. You can even broadcast gameplay which can be seen on Sony’s personal hub. It even includes quick broadcasting to various services like Twitch. All these things are done easily by pressing the “Share” button on the controller. It’s a great feature to have and I’m very excited to try this out… unfortunately I can’t.

As of right now, the PS4 will not allow me to demonstrate or try this feature because my main PSN account is a sub account. Regardless of whether you access the master account and set the sub account to allow this feature, a bug in the PS4 will stubbornly insist that the sub account not be able to Share anything at all. And no, you cannot change the date of birth on the sub account to work around that rule; at least I don’t know of a way. Hopefully this will be fixed soon so I can give it a try. However, I turn 18 in March, so I guess it won’t be my problem for very long.

If anyone knows how to counteract this bug, please let me know.

Then there’s general performance. The game I bought with my PS4 was Infamous: Second Son. It runs incredibly smooth. Seldom do I find any semblance of slow-down. The PS4 is capable of 1080p graphics at 60 FPS, which is the highest modern day setting as of right now (until 4K resolution becomes the new standard). The graphical output is definitely beautiful, though I wouldn’t say it’s that big of a jump from the PS3. Nonetheless it still makes games looks polished and new.

I should mention that I have yet to try out any multiplayer features at this time; neither gameplay nor private chat. So, I can’t exactly cover that yet. I will say that I like how Sony includes a mic and earpiece with the system. I will definitely utilize it when I get the chance.

Lastly, let’s discuss the controller. This is the first time in three console generations that Sony has changed their controller design. As a lifetime fan of PlayStation I was originally saddened by this fact and thought I was going to not like the new controller by comparison. Once I started playing the game, I was singing an all new tune. You’ll get used to the controller in no time flat, even with its new bells and whistles.

The PS4 controller is not all that different from past Sony controllers. Any previous adopter of a PlayStation will be right at home here. The D-Pad, face, and Home buttons remain relatively untouched as is the gyroscope for motion gameplay. The differences are only initially jarring, but eventually seamless.

The analog sticks now have a more defined nub which I actually find more comfortable. The triggers have only seen a difference in the R2/L2 triggers. They are similar to the Xbox’s LT/RT counterparts, but maintain the same width and bulk of a PlayStation controller. The handles have also seen an improvement with new rubber grips. This not only makes it easier to handle but is sweat resistant. No more stick gamepads!

Now to address the elephants in the room. The signature select and start buttons are now gone. In its place are 2 new buttons and a (approximately) 1×3 inch touchpad. I have already discussed the Share button which I can’t fully utilize for the next few months. The Options button acts as the start and select button and does that well. The touchpad may be the one thing you’ll have to get used to when first using the controller, but you’ll get the hang of it. It’s accurate enough and responds to touch extremely well. You can also press in the touch pad so that it can act as an extra button. Lastly you have a big, blue LED light emitting at the base. This is the point sensor similar to the Wii-mote. It also works really well in recognizing position.

Overall, it is a very good controller. I quite like it and thought I wouldn’t like it as much as I did. It fits the hands nicely, takes quick to familiarize with, and functions well. Even the new features work really well. Whether I would prefer the controller to the PS1, 2, and 3 controller I can’t yet say. If your skeptical, rest assured that it looks crazier than it actually is.

In closing, I quite like the system so far. It’s designed well, runs fast whether your streaming, playing, or shopping. There’s no noise issues, no major obstacles, and no technical issues. It does the job it has to do very well: play games. I’m impressed with the machine so far and hope to continue having fun with it in the future.

As far as recommendations, take a look at the game library and decide if there are enough games to suffice your game fix. When you reach a point where there is enough to last you a while, then pick up the system. It is certainly something you should pick up eventually.


And those are my early impressions of the PlayStation 4. To my fellow PS4 users, what are your thoughts on the PS4? And what games are you looking forward to most? Mine is Uncharted 4.

Also, feel free to drop your PSN name in the comments so I can add you. I have a PS3, too, so feel free to add me whether you have either system. My username is SBox180.

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

SBox Recommends: Behaving Badly

Welcome to the my first WordPress review!

Foreword: (Skip to the review below the line)

I’ve been reviewing movies, games, books, and just about anything else for several years on several sites. It was always called “SBox Recommends”. I haven’t reviewed anything for almost a year now, but I believe now is the time to resurrect that aspect of my on-life. So I give you my review segment.

Note that despite the title “SBox Recommends“, I will not necessarily be recommending everything I review. “Recommends” is a blanket term for review. However, I do believe that everything can mean anything to anybody. So I guess that recommends is a fitting title. Just not in the context that you’d immediately think.

For more information on this segment of my blog, click here. Now, onto the review.


 

When I decided to start reviewing again there were two ways to go about this. Either I start reviewing something heavily known and popular or something rather obscure and weird. I decided that the only way I’m watching this movie is to review it. It certainly wouldn’t be from word of mouth, let me tell you.

Never heard of Behaving Badly? You’re in good company. This movie was released in August 2014 with a limited theatricality release and an immediate online release. It’s also based on the famous book While I’m Dead, Feed the Dog. This movie’s biggest call to fame is for it’s 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (To make matters worse, Rotten Tomatoes is known to have a 1% margin of error).

It’s pretty clear that people aren’t very fond of this movie. But is all this hate warranted? Let’s take a look.

Synopsis

This movie follows a dysfunctional teenage boy named Rick Stevens (Nat Wolff) as he looks back on his two week descent into a living hell. It all started with a bet he made with the son of a notorious mob boss. For $1,000 he must ask out his high school crush, Nina Pennington (Selena Gomez), and have sex with her. To do this, he must receive help from a guardian angel who looks like his mother (Mary-Louise Parker), get intertwined with the local mafia, blackmail a couple people, run a strip club in his house, end up in jail a couple times, and have sex with his best friend’s mother (Elisabeth Shue) on the side.

If you think that synopsis is weird, trust me. The movie is even weirder. I want you to imagine the exact equilibrium between a normal dream and a night-terror; that unexplainable, nonsensical, unpleasant thought. That’s most of the movie.

A more fitting comparison is with Grown Ups 2. Both movies have an unrealistic, dysfunctional, cartoony tone with jokes usually pertaining to sex, drugs, or barf. Where these two break their similarity is in direction. Grown Ups 2 has direction and Behaving Badly does not.

Writing

It’s hard to put this movie into a genre, because it seems lost as to what it’s trying to be. The best bet is a dark comedy, but the movie is constantly walking the line between comedic and straight-forward. So, you really can’t tell what your watching.

Let’s assume for the time being that this is a dark comedy like the book it’s based on.

You’ll find that the movie can be funny at times. When they playback a scene with different dialogue to represent Rick’s train of thought, that’s clever. Even some of its actual jokes can get a laugh. Unfortunately, most of the jokes come off more disturbing than funny. Unless you’re into the kind of humor where a pervert likes the feeling of his genitals being crushed by Elizabeth Shue, the movie can be a bit too much at times.

The movie isn’t necessarily unfunny. It’s just a bit much even for people who like that kind of humor. Since the movie is very light on subtlety for the first two-thirds you’re just constantly hammered with gags that are likely to scare you off.

Don’t get me wrong. I can handle dark humor and toilet humor. South Park is one of my favorite shows. Even for me, the movie can be a bit too uncomfortable… at least at first.

What I found surprising was the final 20 minutes of the movie. The final act brings us back to present day. Rick has hit rock bottom and is deciding where he goes from there. He tries to correct his wrongs and better himself in the process. It is almost a different movie from that point on. That loud and disturbing film suddenly becomes more somber, subtle and intimate.

It’s like you were drunk for the first two acts and sobered up in the third. I really do wish the movie had a tone similar to the climax onward. What the ending did right was maintain its nonsensical atmosphere and portion it (By the way, I’m not talking about the VERY end).

The best way to say it is that the ending had charm. That’s what the rest of the movie lacked in my opinion. With these very uncomfortable, passe themes and jokes you should have a bit of charm to pull the audience in and make them want to stay. Too bad it took them an hour to do so.

Acting

The acting is a bright spot for the film. Say all you want about what was said or done in the movie, but the actors make the movie.

First you have Nat Wolff, who you may know best from Nickelodeon. Irony aside he is probably the best fit for this character. At first glance the performance seems wooden and lifeless, but I think that’s the point. Rick is supposed to be a desensitized character brought up by a crappy series of events. He is really good at showing just the right amount of emotion that makes sense for the character. That said, he is completely able to portray emotions like shock, happiness, and even sadness. Toward the end, you see Rick showing the first real signs of emotion, and it makes sense for that time in the narrative.

Unless the character was supposed to be livelier or emotional. In which case, I guess he didn’t do a good job, but did supply a decent alternative.

Then there’s Selena Gomez. She is completely fine in terms of performance. The problem is the character she’s portraying. Nina is the only character who is actually sane but overly so. She’s the pretty, religious, down-to-earth, nice girl who’s purpose is merely to be a contrast to the world around her and the center of the entire plot. The character is just uninteresting. Had the character had a bit more personality, then Gomez would have more to work with. But she does good with what she’s given.

Mary Louise-Parker also does a good job. I’m not familiar with her work and have nothing to base it on, but I do know that for both the role of Rick’s drunkard mother and guardian angel, she does a great job.

I am also not too familiar with Elisabeth Shue’s work, but she plays a really big part in this movie and does well in it. She plays Rick’s mother’s best friend who also happens to be the mother of his best friend. And she has a thing for Nat Wolff. Such an odd role to play, and she really owns the role. As insane of a human being the character is, she is memorable.

The supporting cast also does a good job in their respective roles. The friend does a good job, so does the mob boss’s son, the priest, the sister, the brother, the principal, etc. You will notice quite a few actors who you may know from other roles. Even Justin Beiber makes a cameo in the movie that lasts four seconds.

Cinematography

You can also commend the cinematography. Nothing about the movie looks choppy or cheap.

The camera work captures everything it has to. You get these really good shots of the town they are in. For example, the movie starts off speeding down the neighborhood where Rick lives, and that looks nice. The camera work is also commendable in scenes where the world freezes around Rick. You have very smooth and natural motions as Rick surveys the scene.

The editing is quick but not too quick. It knows when to let a scene breathe, but it will go fast and cut quickly when its time for something comedic. The cutaways between an event to his fantasy of Nina is one example. The editing actually does make some scenes funnier than they would otherwise be.

The music is mostly pop and some rock songs. There’s not much to note here in terms of a score, though.

Overall, it has traditional fair-budgeted production value throughout.

Overall

This is most certainly a bad movie. No doubt about it. However is it really worth that 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes?

I wouldn’t go that far. If the movie was really worth a 0% not only would it have given me a horrific parasite which would painfully haunt the rest of my days, but it would also have no redeeming factors. That’s just not true.

This movie has decent production value, good performances and decent humor in some places. Given that much worse movies like The Last Airbender have a 6% on RT, I feel the 0% is over-exaggerated. However the movie is quite awful.

The movie’s greatest sin is being a bad comedy. It tries so hard to be a smart, hard-R laugh riot- way too hard. What probably would be a clever dark comedy like the book it’s based on turns into an uncomfortable, unpleasant experience. Even if you love that fresh and disgusting humor, the jokes presented lack the charm to be impactful. The most accurate adjective for the film is “uncomfortable”.

To its credit it eventually gets it right towards the end. But by that time a good bunch of the audience has probably turned the movie off.

Recommendations

This movie is probably suitable to some people with some very twisted senses of humor and a higher tolerance for the more disturbing aspects of this movie. I have seen that some people actually like the movie okay, though they are the minority.

To fans of the original book, don’t expect an accurate representation of the source material. Writer of While I’m Dead, Feed the Dog Ric Browde has publicly denounced the movie for faithlessness to his book. Even though I haven’t read the book, I have read his site’s content. Check it out, because it is very funny.

If you are in any way interested in the synopsis, curiosity can be a good motivation to see it. It’s not the worst comedy ever, but it is pretty bad. See it only if you absolutely need to know. Even low expectations can’t guarantee enjoyment, though.

Verdict: 3/10


 

Thank you all for reading my first WordPress review. I must say, it’s good to be back. Let me know what you thought of the review so that I can improve future ones. And if you saw the movie, what did you think about it?

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!