The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The Amazing Spider-Man is a reboot starring Andrew Garfield, that shows us a unique origin story of the heroic web slinger! After being bitten, Peter Parker gains incredible spider-like abilities which he must hone in order to defeat a dangerous reptilian threat. Let’s consider the pros and cons of The Amazing Spider-Man…

Pros: Firstly, this is another fantastic origin story for our friendly neighborhood hero! Andrew Garfield is not only a natural Spider-Man, but also a quirky Peter Parker. Along with Garfield is an amazing cast including Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben and Denis Leary as Captain Stacy. Secondly, Marc Webb does an excellent job showing Peter’s transition into the masked vigilante, as well as differentiating it from the previous trilogy. I like the idea of Spider-Man using his own wits to craft a web-slinging device. I also like that Webb chose a different love interest and villain for Spider-Man this go-around.

Cons: I’m not as familiar with the comics, but this is a wildly different Peter Parker than we see in the Raimi trilogy. It’s not necessarily a negative, as I already mentioned Garfield is a great Spider-Man. However, Garfield’s Peter Parker is much more capable from the start, as opposed to being bullied in school. He’s quirky don’t get me wrong, but maybe too cool to play nerdy and awkward. It’s worth noting because it feels like the powers are less impactful to his personal life. I understand this is a different take on the Web Head and I hate to compare it to the original, but if they didn’t want me to compare the two, they shouldn’t have killed Uncle Ben again! Spoiler alert.

I give the Amazing Spider-Man a B+. I’m a sucker for superhero origin stories and this reboot does not disappoint! Garfield is a great Peter Parker and the action will have you on the edge of your seat. Happy Watching!

GRADE:

B+

7.5/10

Pros/Cons

  • Acting
  • Score
  • Special Effects
  • Characters
  • Story

Where to Watch

“I’m swinging here!”

[my_movie_db id=1930]

Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Spider-Man 3 is the final movie in the Raimi trilogy, following Peter Parker as he contends with extraordinary villains, new temptations and rekindled revenge. After an extraterrestrial entity bonds with Peter and amplifies his darkness, it takes all of his strength to free his inner hero. Let’s consider the pros and cons of Spider-Man 3…

Pros: Firstly, the effects are fantastic, especially when compared to the original only 5 years prior! Equally great is the choreography around set pieces during the large scale action sequences. Sam Raimi does an excellent job showing the scope and space associated with certain obstacles. For instance, the alley fight with Green Goblin is incredibly narrow, but it adds to the excitement! Lastly, is a decent appearance from Thomas Haden Church. All of the Spiderman’s have great villains, I just wish this character had more screen time!

Cons: Unfortunately, more villains does not make for a better movie. Both Venom and Sandman had great moments, but I don’t think either character got the screen time they deserved. Speaking of character screen time, Mary Jane’s role is also reduced dramatically. And although there’s awesome visuals, the dark lighting and quick edits make some of the action hard to follow. All in all, it seems like the filmmakers knew this would be the finale, and as such wanted to pack as much fan service in as possible.

I give Spider-Man 3 a solid B. It’s not the strongest of the series, but it has fantastic action and a climax that fans will appreciate. This movie had a lot to live up to and it definitely tries it’s best! Happy watching!

GRADE:

B

6/10

Pros/Cons

  • CGI
  • Direction
  • Score
  • Characters
  • Plot

Where to Watch

“My Spider-Sense is tingling!”

[my_movie_db id=559]

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Spider-Man 2 takes place two years after the events of Spider-Man, showing us Peter Parker’s struggle to balance his home and hero life. When a new villain threatens the city, Peter must decide which path is meant for him. Let’s consider the pros and cons of Spider-Man 2…

Pros: Firstly, the opening credits serve as a recap of the first movie, which is not only thoughtful, but helpful for an audience who likely didn’t watch these movies back to back like I did. Secondly, Sam Raimi does a fantastic job directing the action, especially during the elevated train fight scene! Lastly, is the theme of believing in yourself, no matter the odds. When Peter gets beset by financial woes and stress, he begins to doubt himself, leading to the loss of his powers. It’s after a rousing speech from his Aunt May that Peter decides to be the hero he’s destined to be!

Cons: Although Raimi is more willing to have fun in SM2, some of the gags go on for way too long. Specifically when the camera lingers on Peter fumbling around the janitor closet or his excruciatingly long elevator ride. Both of these moments are played for laughs, but just don’t land like they might have in a packed theater. Lastly, Doctor Octopus is a cool looking villain, but he isn’t very fleshed out. His goal isn’t even to destroy the city as much as it is to perform a doomed to fail science experiment. I’ll chalk up his questionable motives to the fact his metal arms do the thinking for him, but he still proves to be quite the adversary and not completely beyond redemption.

I give Spider-Man 2 an A-. The original set a high bar, but this undoubtedly a worthy sequel! In fact, it’s dubbed by many as the best superhero movie of all time, so you don’t want to miss it! Happy Watching!

GRADE:

B+

7/10

Pros/Cons

  • Direction
  • Score
  • Theme
  • Characters

Where to Watch

“I believe there’s a hero in all of us.”

[my_movie_db id=558]

Spider-Man (2002)

Spider-Man is a comic book adaptation from director Sam Raimi, starring Tobey Maguire in the titular role. After being bitten by a genetically modified spider, Peter Parker gains incredible spider-like abilities that he eventually must use to fight evil after tragedy befalls his family. Let’s consider the pros and cons of Spider-Man…

Pros: Firstly, the acting from Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst is great, but Willem Dafoe is superb as the Green Goblin! Watching Dafoe descend into madness while playing off himself in a mirror is exactly as good as it sounds. And Sam Raimi deserves his share of the credit for portraying Osborn’s decent, as well as the thrilling web-slinging fight scenes! Lastly is the score from Danny Elfman which somehow manages to outshine every other wonderful thing about this movie!

Cons: Although the practical effects still hold up, the CGI is pretty dated. Specifically when Peter is jumping around on rooftops and the Goblin is mounting his glider, you might confuse this with the animated Spider-Man. My only other gripe is how oblivious everyone is to the Green Goblin’s identity. After Osborn experiments on himself and there are a string of deaths not only connected to him but incredibly beneficial for him, no one seems to bat an eye. It’s not egregious enough to ruin the movie, but it might pull you out of it.

I give Spider-Man an A-. It’s an iconic superhero flick with great performances, blockbuster action, and an emotional story. It’s a fantastic origin story and a strong start to the original Spider-Man franchise, so you don’t want to miss this movie! Happy Watching!

GRADE:

A-

8/10

Pros/Cons

  • Direction
  • Score
  • CGI
  • Characters

Where to Watch

“With great power comes great responsibility”

[my_movie_db id=557]

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

Everything Everywhere All at Once is an A24 production following Evelyn Wang, a mother spread thin by her family and opportunities passed by. After a parallel world makes contact, she must quickly learn her place in the universe before a dangerous interdimensional being destroys everything! Let’s consider the pros and cons of Everything Everywhere All at Once…

Pros: Firstly, this is one of the most creative and well executed movies I’ve ever seen! Everything from the visual storytelling, to the acing, to the score, to the choreography is a joy to watch! Acting-wise the entire cast is fantastic, but Ke Huy Quan, who plays Evelyn’s husband gives an especially dynamic performance. Secondly is the theme of focusing on the here and now. When Evelyn first learns how to “verse jump”, she’s tempted to bask in a world where she’s a celebrity. Not only does this become lethal for her, but as she uncovers the truth about the multiverse, she realizes it’s her own world that needs her attention. I think this theme has mass appeal because although we can all imagine exceptional versions of ourselves, at the end of the day it’s what we do in our world that matters. Lastly is the score which is epic, uplifting, and includes elements of traditional Chinese music.

Cons: The worst thing I can say about this movie is that it throws a lot of ideas at you and doesn’t wait around for you to catch up. Although some situations are overwhelming, you’ll never be more confused than the main character Evelyn, who is our window into this world. If I’m being slightly more critical, I think more time could’ve been spent explaining the “verse jumping” technology. However, this may have killed the momentum which was constantly building throughout.

I give Everything Everywhere All at Once an A+! The effects and choreography are stunning, but the high concept premise will have you coming back for more. Tap into the universe where you’re watching this movie because you don’t want to miss it!

GRADE:

A+

10/10

Pros/Cons

  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Score
  • Theme
  • N/A

Where to Watch

“Of all the places I could be, I just want to be here with you.”

[my_movie_db id=545611]

Top 5 Credit Cards

Choosing a credit card is an important decision that we all need to make at some point in life. Unfortunately, many of us weren’t taught finance or money management in school, making this decision particularly difficult for young adults. Although I AM NOT A FINANCIAL ADVISOR, I wanted to share my thoughts on the Top 5 Credit Cards that I use regularly and highly recommend! By the way, if you apply for one of these cards using my link, I may receive a referral credit. This helps support my blog and allows me to continue making posts like this. Thank you for your support, let’s get started!

5. Discover Card for Beginners

If you’re just starting out, I highly recommend the Discover Card! It has no annual fees and it’ll help you start building credit right away. One of the biggest factors affecting your credit score is length of credit history, meaning the earlier you start, the more potential you have to grow! Additionally, Discover offers seasonal discounts when spending at grocery stores, restaurants, and more! Overall, this is an acceptable starting credit card with decent benefits and no annual fee. Click the link to apply today!

4. Gas Card for Commuters

If you spend lots of time on the road or in your car, a Gas Card may be a good idea! First, you’ll want to choose a reliable gas station with several locations in your area. Most reputable stations have a credit card program that gives you anywhere between .02-.05 cents back per gallon! These pennies might not seem like much, but they add up and can help offset your gas bill. Click the link to apply for a Chevron Card today!

3. Amazon Card for Prime Discounts

If you’re already paying for Amazon Prime, then you may qualify for one of their credit cards! There’s no annual fee aside from cost of Prime, but the real benefit is the 5% back when shopping on Amazon! It may not sound like much, but frequent online shoppers should absolutely consider this card. If you spend $2,500 on Amazon products throughout the year, then you’ll essentially offset the annual cost of prime! Other benefits include 2% back at restaurants and drugstores and 1% back on all other purchases. Click the link to apply for an Amazon card today!

2. Chase Sapphire for Big Spenders

If you’re a fan of eating out and travel, then the Chase Sapphire card is an excellent choice! Earn 3x points on takeout and dining, and earn 5x points on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You also have the option to transfer your credit card points to one of Chase’s many airline and hotel partners, including Southwest Airlines, United, World of Hyatt and much more. There is a $95 annual fee, but as is the case with many of the cards listed, if you’re using it regularly, your points will usually offset the recurring cost. Sign up today and earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months!

1. Amex Blue Cash Preferred for Home Chefs

Whether you are your family’s home chef or just like to prepare your own food, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card is here to help! This is my favorite card to use at grocery stores due to the 6% back at qualifying stores. There is a yearly fee of $90, but if you spend $1,500 on groceries per year, or $125 per month, it practically pays for itself! Sign up now for a free first year and see if you can earn $300 back after spending $3,000 in 6 months!

In conclusion, these are the Top 5 Credit Cards I use regularly and highly recommend based on your needs! Let me know if you have a favorite credit card or if you have any questions regarding the cards on this list. Thanks for reading!

The Northman (2022)

The Northman is Robert Eggers latest action-filled epic following a young Viking prince on his quest to avenge his father’s murder. It’s a familiar story with an aggressively unique presentation. Let’s consider the pros and cons of The Northman…

Pros: First and foremost, Alexander Skarsgård gives one hell of a performance! This wasn’t just a physically demanding role, but also mentally and emotionally demanding and he nails it. Secondly, the dialogue is fitting for what you might expect Vikings to sound like in 600 AD. Many conversations almost come across as poetry which is an intriguing juxtaposition against the heavy themes covered throughout. Lastly is the direction from Robert Eggers and score by Robin Carolan and Sebastian Gainsborough. Both departments work extremely well together to establish an ominous and ancient tone that will transport you to this era!

Cons: At the end of the day, there’s nothing revolutionary about the plot. It’s essentially Hamlet with Vikings, but thankfully there are a few deviations. Secondly, if you have the option, I highly recommend watching with subtitles! Although it’s easy to fill in the gaps via context, the poetic dialogue wasn’t the easiest to follow. Lastly are characters which either felt inconsistent or made baffling choices. Nicole Kidman’s character does a completely unexpected 180° by the end, while Amleth (played by Skarsgård) opts to seek vengeance as opposed to living happily ever after. Personal feelings aside, these character arcs were purposefully made and I can’t deny that they add layers to the story.

I give the Northman a B+. The unique presentation and fantastic acting is well worth your time. Robert Eggers has apparently carved out a niche for himself and I’m all here for it! Happy Watching!

GRADE:

B+

7.5/10

Pros/Cons

  • Acting
  • Direction
  • Score
  • Characters
  • Plot

Where to Watch

“I will avenge you, father, I will save you, mother, I will kill you, Fjölnir!”

[my_movie_db id=639933]

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a romantic comedy about a distressed musician who takes a vacation to forget about his ex. After arriving in Hawaii, Peter quickly learns that his ex and her new celebrity boyfriend are staying at the same resort! Let’s consider the pros and cons of Forgetting Sarah Marshall…

Pros: Firstly, the cast as a whole is hilarious, but Jason Segel carries this movie in the goofy and endearing way that only he could. Mila Kunis is also especially great, but Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, and Bill Hader also leave big impressions in their small supporting roles. Secondly, I love the Hawaiian setting! This movie isn’t just a treat for your funny bone, but it’s also gorgeous to look at. Lastly, is the theme of taking a chance on something new. At the beginning of the movie, Peter is depressed, unmotivated, and unwilling to move on. It’s when he begins to focus on himself that he’s able to complete his musical and find a new love interest.

Cons: The idea that 2 recently separated people would not only choose the same week to take a vacation, but would choose the same resort is almost enough to pull you out of the movie. Segel’s character jokes “I’m here to murder you”, whenever the two cross paths in Hawaii, but that’s more believable than it being a random coincidence! However, there is a hint dropped early on that Sarah had that destination in mind when they were together, so I guess the writers covered their bases. Aside from plot convenience, there are a few quick flashes of male and female nudity. It definitely adds to the comedic effect of scenes, but it’s also probably not the comedy to watch with young children! You’ve been warned, or persuaded, I’m not judging.

I give Forgetting Sarah Marshall a solid A! It’s a hilariously relatable movie, with a stacked cast, and beautiful setting. Whether you’re in your honeymoon phase, going through a breakup, or anywhere in between, this movie will make you laugh out loud! Happy Watching.

GRADE:

A

9/10

Pros/Cons

  • Acting
  • Setting
  • Theme
  • Nudity
  • Plot

Where to Watch

“I’m here to murder you!”

[my_movie_db id=9870]

Did You Know: Longboarding

Longboarding originated in the 1950’s with surfers who wanted to bring surfing to land. And what began as a way to simply pass time while the tide was low, quickly became a cultural phenomenon. Fast forward almost a century and longboarding is still still a thriving sport and exciting pastime for people of all ages! It’s been a passion of mine since high school, but it wasn’t until much later that I realized longboarding’s practical uses as well. This is T-Mans Longboarding breakdown for beginners, let’s roll!

What is a Longboard?

A longboard is similar to a skateboard, but the difference is in the name. You guessed it! A longboard is longer than a skateboard (at least in most cases). They come in all shapes and sizes, the trick is getting a board that matches your preferences!

Longboards are most commonly used for either downhill racing, cruising, or transportation. Due to its longer and wider base, a longboard is more stable, making the ride generally safer and more comfortable than on a skateboard. Although, for beginners, it may be hard to ride down hills at high speeds.

Their greater weight makes them less suitable for many tricks, but contributes to a fluid motion by giving more momentum. Thus, a longboard will roll farther with a single push of the foot. Many people prefer longboards to normal skateboards for cruising on streets and sidewalks. Longboarding is often compared to surfing on concrete, and the size gives riders the option of performing big turns or quick short carves just like on a surfboard!

Choosing a Longboard

It’s tough to know where to begin with the wide variety of brands and boards available. However, even beginners should be aware of a few things starting out. Firstly, avoid models marketed as “beginner” or “disposable.” As in many sports, low quality equipment can turn beginners away before they even have a chance to experience it.

Mid-length boards, (39 to 50 inches) are the most versatile. Beginners should avoid overly long or overly short boards, which are better for certain styles, but are less versatile, and may be more difficult to ride.

Longboarding Purposes

Transportation

Boards used for transportation or commuting are the most common types of longboards. These boards are usually 40-50 inches long and do not have a shorter nose. The boards are flexible to provide a more comfortable ride and are often shaped to resemble surfboards. Their trucks are set up loosely to allow for narrow turns.

Longboarding for its own sake is often called cruising or, when going down a hill, carving. It can be a convenient alternative to walking as you only need to push one time to move several feet.

Downhill

Downhill skateboards are used for riding down mountain roads as fast as possible. The boards are usually 38 – 43 inches long and very stiff. The trucks are attached to the ends of the board to maximize the wheelbase. In order to lower the center of gravity, downhill longboards sometimes feature a lowered platform, by mounting the deck below the baseplate of the axles, or by the shape of the deck itself.

Cruise

Cruising is often used to show off skill and control over the longboard. This is a relaxed style, usually performed at slow speeds and involving tricks imported from classic surfboarding such as hanging ten, cross-stepping, and drop-knee-turns. Cruising longboards are typically much longer then the usual longboard, 60 to 80 inches or more, and often closely resemble the surfboards that they borrow their style from.

Tricks

Trick boards are similar to the short skateboards in shape and construction but are longer and usually wider. The trick boards are seldom longer than 43 inches. Tricks that can be performed on these boards are the same tricks that can be performed on a short skateboard but the heavier weight and larger size of the board require more skill and strength from the skater.

Longboarding Techniques

Drifting

A drift, just like with vehicles, is when the wheels lose traction around the turn. It’s a controlled movement designed to reduce speed or impress spectators. The same equipment is used for a slide; the only variation is in hand positions. Drifting is most commonly used in downhill racing, to negotiate turns that are entered at high speed or are too tight to make. Drifting can also occur accidentally when carving.

Longboarding 4

Air Brake

Air braking involves standing upright on your board as tall as possible with arms outstretched to catch as much wind resistance as possible. This is primarily done in speed boarding to reduce speed but is not an effective way to stop. This only works at high speeds.

Foot Brakes

Foot braking involves putting one foot on the road while balancing on the board with the other foot. This technique can be used to reduce speed or come to a full stop, which is useful on narrow paths or casual riding.

Carving

Carving is an effective way to control speed when traveling downhill. Instead of coming to a complete stop, the rider makes a continuous “S” path by leaning left and right. By making so many turns the speed can be controlled and maintained.

Slide Brake

Slide braking or sliding is very important skill for longboard skaters who regularly downhill. To slide brake the skater quickly turns his/her board sideways into a controlled slide, to stop. A slide can be performed backside or frontside. With practice a skater can burn off speed very quickly in a relatively narrow roadway. Generally a skater sliding should have gloves because a hand is often placed on the ground for balance and control in the slide, however it is possible to slide to a stop, while moving less quickly, either hands-free or with minimal hand to ground contact.

Boardwalking

Boardwalking is a technique that consists of moving ones feet, in front of, or behind, the other (cross-stepping) up and down the deck. Usually this technique is practiced by a longboarder with a longer deck (40+ inches). Different variations of boardwalking depend on the imagination of the rider. Twists, turns, hopping, jumping etc. can all be considered more technical variations of boardwalking.

Longboarding Safety

Due to the risk of losing balance and falling, riders should wear the same padding and protection that is normally used while skateboarding. However, for higher speeds and riskier courses, professional riders often wear safety equipment used by motorcyclists and dirt bikers.

Aside from traffic, the greatest danger to any board rider is a “speed wobble”. A speed wobble occurs when excessive speed combined with inexperience and/or a cheap board causes the board to swerve rapidly from side to side, throwing the rider off. Try using a longer board with a lower center of gravity to minimize this risk. If you’re experiencing a speed wobble, be prepared to either bail into a soft patch of grass, or perform a running or rolling stop.

Longboarding Risks & Rules

Unfortunately, longboarding is banned in many public areas due to its association with the property damage and liabilities caused by street/trick skaters. Boarders should use caution and good sense at all times to keep longboarding from being banned on further hills and parking garages, as the sport is practiced almost entirely on public roadways.

Longboarding at night is one way to avoid crowds and law enforcement, however, there’s also a higher likelihood of being hit by a car or failing to see obstructions. Always stay alert for passing cars and people, and be ready to bail off your board at a moment’s notice!

This is T-Mans Longboarding breakdown for beginners! Let me know if I missed anything or if you’re planning on trying any of these techniques during your next cruise! Happy Skating!

Elden Ring (2022)

Elden Ring is an open world action RPG from FromSoftware Inc., the same developer of Dark Souls and Bloodborne. Create your character, select your starting class, and begin your treacherous journey through the Lands Between! Let’s consider the pros and cons of Elden Ring…

Pros: The depth of this world cannot be overstated! The map is incredibly immersive, with each area providing new challenges and unique atmospheres. Although the enemies are difficult, persistent explorers are rewarded with a plethora of armor, items, weapons and checkpoints to help them along their way. Lastly, I appreciate the ability to summon other online players to assist with certain areas and bosses. I found that if you’re summoned to another players world there is no penalty for dying, which incentivized me to keep playing multiplayer to farm runes (xp) and better understand areas and fights.

Cons: The open world and lack of clearly stated objectives might baffle first time players. However, this allowed me to nail down the fundamentals in the starting area before venturing too far too fast. Aside from wondering around aimlessly, many enemies and bosses are far too difficult for this casual gamer. It does make felling enemies all the more satisfying, but it also requires lots of careful farming to raise your level. Overall, it’s hard to fault a notoriously difficult game for being difficult, but I think it’s helpful to know that it’s possible to turn the tables on enemies with the right skills and items equipped.

I give Elden Ring a solid A. It’s a wonderfully structured game with stunning visuals and a story that allows players to progress at their own pace. It’s not a game for the faint of heart, but if you’re up for a challenge, you’ll find it and a lot more here. Happy Gaming!

GRADE:

A

9.5/10

Pros/Cons

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story
  • Difficulty
  • Objectives

Where to Play

“A lowly Tarnished, playing as a lord…”