Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Planet Earth:
It can't be denied that Planet Earth has some beautiful footage and a top-notch production quality. However, something is missing that makes this DVD set more boring than entertaining (we actually found that the best use of it was to watch an episode just before bedtime so we would fall asleep on the couch to the soothing imagery). It's beautiful on the outside, but lacks any depth, and bounces from biome to biome like a biologist with ADD, passing up many chances to provide any interesting details. We also quickly tired of the reuse of footage of a single polar bear that seemed to appear in all of the episodes, probably intended as a manipulative guilt device for our treatment of the environment. Sure, our actions probably led to a reduction in polar bears, but the featured bear obviously made some poor individual choices and needs to accept responsibility for getting killed by a walrus.

Final Grade: B-

Human Again by Ingrid Michaelson:
I liked Ingrid Michaelson's first CD enough to give it a rare A. The music was different, raw, and occasionally edgy. Every album since then has been the musical equivalent of despeckling a JPEG -- touching up perceived deficiencies and hiding the rough edges to make it more palatable for the Starbucks crowd. Human Again is her fourth album, and the songs fall into two categories: forgettable, or annoyingly repetitive. A perfect example of the latter category is Blood Brothers, which I can't listen to without picturing Ross Gellar saying "Dude, stop saying 'Blood' to strangers".

Final Grade: C-

Kingpin by Kevin Poulsen:
This was my second beach book after the Kevin Mitnick autobiography. It's impossible to do any useful browsing in the Kindle Store, so when I'm a beach run, I'm more likely to just order any book linked from the page of a book I liked. I enjoyed this book, both from a biographical and a technical perspective. Poulsen has an engaging writing style that was very easy to read as well.

Final Grade: B

Survival by Muse:
I didn't realize that Muse had been commissioned to write the "official song of the 2012 Olympics" until after the Olympics were over and I was reading about their upcoming album full of dubstep. Apparently they performed in the closing ceremonies too, but NBC cut them out in favor of some new sitcom. The Olympic song, Survival, is a fun, Muse-stamped arrangement with embarrassing, awful lyrics, kind of similar to the song they were commissioned to write for the Twilight movies. It would probably be better without any lyrics at all, but actually improves when slapped over a montage of athletes.

Final Grade: B-

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