Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War

If your buying a ticket for this movie, then you should be well aware of the reason you want to see this movie: the action. Everything else is tertiary, supplemental, not that important.

There are a number of plots going through this film. They are all pretty bare. The acting is standard action movie fare; no one’s taking an academy award home for this movie. Maybe special effects.

But the action… man, that action. I’ve read a number of reviews comparing this film with other films and the consensus is that the action is some of the best, if not THE best of the Marvel movies. And they’re right. The entirety of this film consists of five set pieces: opening terrorist scene, Bucky taken in, Bucky breaks out, airport scene, and the final scene with Iron Man. Every action scene is amazing and it’s wonderful to see the Russo brothers continue their brand of action cinematography from the last Captain America movie. It’s visceral, suspenseful, and funny. There are lots of special effects being thrown around, especially in that airport scene, and yet it keeps the audience’s attention. Something Star Wars: Episode One could not do.

Worthy of mention are the two new superheroes being introduced: Black Panther and Spider-Man. I found their inclusion not as amazing as other reviews make them out to be. Black Panther is a great addition, but he doesn’t get a lot of screen time without his mask. Spider-Man is also great and the actor they picked is spot on. However, it’s clear they threw him into the movie the moment they got the rights to him, probably sometime after the majority of the film had already  been filmed. Spider-man is not essential to the story.

Score: 7.4/10 Fun movie. Well worth the ticket price. Do not bring people who hate superhero movies and action movies. This is not for them.


Restaurant Review: Ten Below Ice Cream (Chinatown, NYC)

Official site:

First time I heard about this was on I saw a clip of someone making this and it looked really cool. Here’s an example video:

Well, some entrepreneur decided that this was a great idea and opened a brick and mortar making this stuff. Its clear to me now that entrepreneur was right.

First thing I noticed when I got here was the line. It went about twenty feet out the door. Me and my friends decided to go eat dinner and come back. Luckily the line shortened, but it was still packed. The place is always packed.

The second thing I noticed is that the majority of patrons were children. High school, elementary school, all ages were represented in this crowd. As a result, it is loud and people keep bumping into you. Really not a great place for adults looking for a romantic time or even a quiet time.

Lastly, the ice cream was fantastic. The main draw of this place is the spectacle of the ice cream; watching them make it and picking toppings. None of the people I came with had ever had this before so watching it being made was really fun. We ordered the strawberry shawty flavor where the maker takes some strawberries and a gram cracker and mixes them together into cream that is quickly freezing over. After the maker rolls your ice cream together you get to pick toppings, no extra charge. I picked the toasted marshmallow, bananas, strawberries, and caramel.

The ice cream was fantastic and I would love to come back again if it wasn’t so crowded. In fact, I heard from other patrons that my visit was one of the least crowded that patron had ever seen.

Score: 6/10 Great ice cream, great idea, but crowded as hell. I would love to come back if not for that, but because of that, I don’t think I’ll be coming back anytime soon. Too successful I guess.

TV Show Review: Star Wars: Rebels, Season 2, Episode 19-20, Twilight of the Apprentice

So I’ve just finished watching the season finale for season two, so really the entirety of season two and just… wow. What a great season. What a great ending. This finale two- part episode is by far one of the best episodes of any animated Star Wars show yet.

Out of all the aspects of the Star Wars movies, from the star fighters to the kooky aliens, my favorite part has been the conflict with the Jedi and the Sith. This entire episode was about that.

Further, it was a brutal episode. One thing I hate about Star Wars is that they always seem to neuter the light sabers… at least until you reach a major plot development. Light sabers are blades of pure energy that can cut through anything with just a graze. Body parts should be flying off any time a fight breaks out among force users, but violence restrictions and censorship require not showing these sorts of things. In this episode however, named characters do get maimed, blinded, cut down, and split in half. It was great to see the light sabers used to their full potential and the danger a light saber represents expressed.

Additionally, it was great to see the old faces make their appearances in this episode. Major developments take place and I don’t want to spoil it. I was just glad to see Darth Maul, Darth Vader, and Ahsoka Tano show up.

Score: 8.5/10 What a great episode. I am so looking forward to see how Ezra develops in the next season.

Movie Review: Zootopia

Zootopia is the latest anthropomorphic, talking animal film from Disney. I feel like since Alladin, Shrek, and all those Pixar films, we are safely within the era when all films that target children must in some way target adults with adult themes and jokes. This film certainly falls into that category.

The big theme in this film is race. The protagonist is a bunny, which in the film’s society is viewed as cute and cuddly, and generally work as carrot farmers from the country. She however, wants to be a police officer, an occupation filled by scary creatures, usually predators. More happens and she eventually joins the force and uncovers a criminal plot that seeks to exploit the racial divide within Zootopia, a big city where all animals live in harmony.

It’s a good movie with a good message, which is to not judge a book by its cover, to not judge people solely by their race. Using animals who are literally of a different race certainly makes it easier to get the analogy or metaphor across, which is that human beings also discriminate to the extent (or to a greater extent) than the discrimination in the movie.

The jokes are also very funny, with lots of references only adults will get. Kids will probably enjoy it because of the fun action and cute talking animals. Hopefully, they’ll also perceive the themes of tolerance and equality as well.

Score: 6.9/10 Watching the film actually reminded me of the irrational hatred and racism present in our world today. Surprising, since it is a children’s film. The film does a great job of approaching the sensitive subject of discrimination and makes it digestible for children and maybe for some adults as well.

Movie Review: Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice

Official site:

I really don’t like Zack Snyder movies. The only thing he’s ever done that I actually liked was 300 ( and I didn’t really like it all that much. Somehow, Hollywood has decided that Snyder is a comic book movie director. In my view, his name belongs in the same category as M. Night Shyamalan; Snyder is a director who regularly makes disappointing movies and I wish studios would stop funding him.

Superman v. Batman is his latest film and while it isn’t terrible, it certainly isn’t great. With the exception of some pretty good action scenes, the movie falls flat. Every time I watch a Snyder movie, I’m reminded that he does not know how to direct a decent plot. In fact, I’m not sure he knows what a plot is. He just needs an excuse for people to fight and film some pretty entertaining fight scenes. If anything, Snyder should just be a stunt of action director.

If I had to sum up the entirety of the movie, it’s prequel to the justice league. It’s entire purpose is to set up the justice league movies. It introduces the other characters and hints at the conflict to come.

Score: 5.4/10 Please stop letting Snyder direct these things. You will only achieve mediocrity with him.

Restaurant Review: Pig and Khao (NYC)

Official site:

I originally heard about this place from a friend. She wanted me to look at the menu and confirm her opinion that it looked terrible. She thought it was just another stereotypical Asian fusion trash restaurant for hipsters trying to look cultured. After looking at the menu, I reached the opposite conclusion. I thought it looked good. After some finagling, I convinced her to come try it with me. Afterwards, she quietly admitted she was wrong.

Make no mistake, this is undeniably a douchey/hipstery kind of place. It was opened by a top chef contestant — who is not of south east Asian decent — who has put her spin on south east Asian food. Regardless, the food is good though maybe not authentic.

The menu consists of just some small plates and a few large plates. We had the sizzling sisig (pork head, chili, whole egg, stir it together yourself) and the Bun Bo Nam Bo (lemongrass, beef, noodles). They were both really good. I wish we had more people so we could try everything, but it was just the two of us to that was all we had. The coconut rice was also really good even though it was just rice.

We finished with the Halo Halo, which is a dairy soup of ice cream and flan among other things. It felt like I was eating cereal. I did not enjoy this.

Score: 7/10 Don’t get any of the deserts. Everything else is great.

Restaurant Review: Rose Water (NYC)

Official site:

Came here for brunch. My friend ordered the pancakes with coffee and I had smoked Pollock fish cake with the ginger agua fresca. They have a prix fixe menu which is just anything on the menu and a drink for seventeen dollars. It was all right.

Score: 6.5/10

Manga and Anime Review: Kingdom

The last time I was this obsessed with an anime/manga, it was One Piece ( Anyways, let’s go over the manga first before touching on the anime.

Kingdom isn’t radically different from various properties that have come before. Names like Braveheart, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and any other medieval/war property you can think of pretty much prepare you for what this is about.

The Premise.

Kingdom takes place during the Warring States period in ancient China; the seven states of China are locked in a constant state of war. We are introduced to Xin and Piao (Piao is pronounced Hyou in Japanese), two child-slaves who wish to become the greatest generals under the heavens. Through happenstance, they meet someone with ties to the royal capital and we see a former slave try to work his way from the bottom rung of the military to the top.

It’s fun wandering through history.

There are many aspects of this title which drew me in. Firstly, the history. China’s warring states period is a lot like feudal Japan or the wild west in that it’s an often revisited and romanticized setting for fiction. Like in many other properties, Kingdom use of famous figures (e.g. the first emperor of China, famous generals, etc.) lends it some authenticity and intrigue. In my case, whenever a new character is introduced I would hurriedly go search the character on the internet to see if it was a real person. It’s a lot of fun reading about the real history of a character and trying to predict what the author is actually going to do with the character. It should be noted that the author takes extreme creative license with history, but I feel that that is a positive and adds the entertainment of the story.

Further, reading through Kingdom actually makes me feel like I’m learning something. I’ve never really had that much in interest in Chinese history, but after reading this I can say I’ve gained a great curiosity for it. Things like the politics and relationships between states in that period as well as the military tactics employed at that time. With that said, I’m sure many parts of Kingdom are fictionalized since the author took such creative license. Still entertaining though.

The battles are the best part, along with the art.

The battles are brutal here. Stabbed in the throat, cleaved in half, decapitated, eyes knocked out of the head, heads crushed, it is all drawn in impressive, brutal detail. I remember the first time I saw Braveheart ( uncensored. The sights and sounds of men dying had never been portrayed so brutally. It was an impressive cinematic feat. The same is true for Kingdom. The violence is brutal and only adds to the visceral nature of the manga.

The character design is also… interesting. Sometimes it leads something to be desired. Other times, it perfectly portrays how large and frightening some of the characters are. These great generals are meant to be larger than life, and the art perfectly portrays that.

The story isn’t bad, but it is a war story so it is mostly action anyways.

As for the parts that are not related to warfare, they are surprisingly inspired by actual historical records. The part involving harems and affairs and the King’s origins, all of that was actually part of the historical record where all this comes from (the Shiji). I’d like to give the author credit, but he merely elaborated and embellished a little what was actually written. Once again, real life can be stranger than fiction… or at least inspire fiction.

In regards to the action parts, they are amazing. My favorite types of story is the one where an individual stands against overwhelming odds and overcomes them. There are many such stories here. The protagonist, Xin, is a looked down upon former slave. Over and over again he must overcome obstacles in order to realize his dream of being a great general. It’s awe inspiring at times and there were many times where I choked up watching him stand against overwhelming odds.

And… the anime, sigh.

All that needs to be said about the anime is that the first season is pretty crap. It is only appealing if you like bad looking computer generated images. In the second season however, the producers probably realized how nasty the computer generated models looked and went back to hand drawn models. Computer generated art is only used in the background while hand drawn art is used in the foreground, where the viewers’ attention is centered. It works a lot better and, as a result, the second season is infinitely more watchable. Accordingly, I hated season one because of the art, enjoyed season two somewhat, and am curious about the upcoming season three. A lot of the violence is also censored in the anime, which sucks since the violence of war is a big part of this story.

In conclusion:

 Watching the anime is unecessary. READ THE MANGA. Kingdom is currently my favorite manga right now. There is no other manga out there right now which I have enjoyed as much as this. The only people I would not recommend it to are people who are squeamish and hate action.

Score: 9/10 This score only applies to the manga. The anime gets a 3.4/10.