Sprint HTC Evo 4G Review Center

The HTC Evo 4G for Sprint is available now! It’s an excellent phone and in my opinion, the best Android handset available today. That said, it has some drawbacks, like any other phone. Is the Evo 4G right for you? Read my extensive (not a) review to find out! This six-part series covers the phone’s battery life, WiFi hotspot functionality, software, gaming capabilities, camera, and more. Check it out!

HTC Evo 4G (Not) Review Part 6: The Conclusion

After nearly two weeks with the HTC Evo 4G, I’m ready to give my closing thoughts, recommendations, and all that good stuff. I enjoyed the process of using the phone and updating my (not a) review on a rolling basis. To me, it was much more useful and accurate than reviews that were based on using the phone for two days. If you don’t have the patience to read the whole thing, I’ll just say that the HTC Evo 4G is the best Android phone out there today. Now, let’s kick off the final chapter in this (not a) review with a binary list of what I liked and didn’t like about the Evo 4G.

What I Liked

  • The Screen: Saying I like the screen is actually an understatement. I frickin’ love it! While I would have preferred an OLED screen, the TFT LCD screen on the Evo 4G produces images that are bright and clear enough. That aside, it’s just fantastic using a 4.3-inch screen. It makes viewing web sites, videos, and photos a better experience. It makes using a virtual keyboard easier. After you’ve used a phone with a display this large, it’ll be tough going back to the 3.5-inch and 3.7-inch displays that are more common.
  • The Camera: This was a pleasant surprise since I had low expectations due to HTC’s history. It’s not the best camera out there, but it’s very good.
  • HTC Sense: Although Android has been getting friendlier with each update, HTC Sense adds a bit more polish to the experience. Some people prefer the stock Android feel and customization, but I think more people will like the little touches Sense adds.
  • Kickstand: I love this thing more than I ought to. I just find it incredibly useful.
  • Android: It’s a fantastic operating system. It’s tight integration with other Google products is perfect for me.

What I Didn’t Like

  • Battery Life: I’ve been averaging 12 hours out of the Evo 4G’s battery. My use has been pretty moderate (for a tech nerd) and I know that I’ll be in situations where I’ll be using the phone a lot more. I will absolutely need an extra battery for a situation like E3 2010. That said, this is what I expected from a phone with a large screen and a fast processor, but just because I expected it doesn’t mean that I like it.
  • Button Layout: The other Android phones I’ve used had a trackball or optical sensor at the bottom of the phone. I’ve always thought that they were kind of stupid on a touchscreen device, but I see one area where they come in handy: creating space. The Evo 4G’s four function buttons are really close to its bottom edge. When I use the phone in landscape mode, I will inevitably hit the search button by accident. This happened a lot when I first started using and while it happens much less these days, I’m pretty sure that it will always be an issue for me. It’s just annoying.
  • HTC Sense: The bad thing about HTC Sense — and really, any customized version of Android — is that updates take longer. Android 2.2 (FroYo) has started rolling out to select HTC Nexus One phones and should be available to all N1 users by the end of the month. As fantastic as the Evo 4G is, it would be an absolute beast with the performance gains found in FroYo. HTC has promised that the Evo 4G will be getting 2.2 in 2010, but who knows what month the update will hit.
  • The $10 Solution: No, I’m not talking about EA’s Online Pass, but rather Sprint’s $10 premium data surcharge for the Evo 4G. Some writers have reported that this is for 4G access, whether it’s in your area or not. That’s incorrect. According to Sprint it’s for the “richer data experience” the phone offers. It’s a bullsh*t explanation, but the way I see it, Sprint is punishing its customers for using a great phone. The one saving grace is that Sprint’s prices are very good to begin with. Even with the $10 fee, an individual Sprint plan is almost always cheaper than what AT&T and Verizon offer. Still, the $10 fee is kind of crap (though it seems benevolent compared to the garbage AT&T is pulling).

Recommendation

Like I said at the top, the HTC Evo 4G is the best Android handset out there today. I highly recommend it as long as you’re cool with picking up an extra battery or are usually near a power outlet. The screen size, form factor, and camera combined with a polished Android experience make it absolutely fabulous. As long as Sprint coverage is solid in the places you work and play, I think the Evo 4G is a fantastic purchase.

Will I Keep the Evo 4G?

To be completely honest, I’m still not sure. I’m not even halfway through my T-Mobile contract, so I’d have to pay an early termination fee to keep the Evo as my primary phone. It’s very tempting though. The decision would be a little easier and the $10 premium charge would be easier to stomach if 4G were available in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Sprint claims that it’ll hit both cities in 2010, but the exact date hasn’t been stated. It’s a brilliant phone and Sprint 3G service is very strong in Los Angeles, but it’ll be costly to switch. It’s very, very, very tempting. Perhaps I’ll make up my mind in two more weeks when my month of free service is up. Let’s see how the HTC Evo 4G survives E3 2010!

HTC Evo 4G (Not) Review Part 5: Camera Thoughts and Test Shots

My HTC Evo 4G (not a) review continues! This installment covers the phone’s camera. Since HTC has a history of serving up phones with merely average cameras, my expectations were low in this department. I was pleasantly surprised to have them exceeded. While the Evo 4G’s camera isn’t as good as the ones in several Nokia, Samsung, and Sony-Ericcson phones I’ve used, I’d say it’s above average. It will let you snap good photos in pure auto mode. If you take the time to adjust settings, you can snap really good photos with it.

Some reviewers have complained about the Evo 4G’s lack of a dedicated camera button. This wasn’t a problem for me at all. I love the camera’s touch-to-focus feature and almost always use a focus point that isn’t dead center. I understand why some people prefer a dedicated button, but for me it doesn’t get easier than touching your focus point to take a shot (and no, “touching your focus point” is not code for pleasuring yourself).

Since none of you are trying to be Ansel Adam with a camera-phone, all of the test shots I snapped were in full auto mode. This first batch is a bunch pictures that didn’t use the flash. As expected, the camera works best when there’s plenty of natural light. The results were mostly good, but overly sharp.

Here are some shots in low-light conditions using the HTC Evo 4G’s dual-LED flash. The camera’s flash is very powerful and can easily mangle shots. It can blow things out and usually produces images that are too soft. This is not unexpected for a camera phone. I do like that the Evo has a strong flash, unlike some other smartphones. The flash is a good tool, but it’s easy to misuse.

I also snapped a quick video in 720p with the Evo 4G. The video quality is very, very good but it’s difficult to show you the true output. Sure, you can go to this video’s YouTube page and watch the 720p version, but it’s still not the same as plugging the phone directly into an HDTV through HDMI. Hopefully this gives you a decent idea of the phone’s video capabilities.

HTC Evo 4G (Not) Review Part 4: Calls, Apps, Games, and More

I’ve been using the HTC Evo 4G for a week and wanted to update my (not a) review with more thoughts on this excellent phone. (Here are the links to part 1, part 2, and part 3 if you missed it.) This time around I’m going to talk about the phone’s call quality, apps, games and more. While some of these aspects are more about the Android platform than the actual phone, I wanted to give you a sense of what the overall Evo 4G experience is like. Let’s go!

Call Quality: Unlike most of my friends, I actually use my mobile phone to make a lot of phone calls. I know it’s crazy, but it’s true (Christopher Cross). For the last nine months I’ve been using a BlackBerry Curve 8900 on T-Mobile as my personal phone, so I’ll use that as a measuring stick. Compared to the 8900 on UMA (WiFi), the call quality is comparable. Everything sounded clear, though I wish the ear piece had an additional level or two of volume. The people I spoke with on the Evo 4G said I sounded good, but it was obvious that I was calling from a mobile phone. Compared to the 8900 on Edge, it was no contest. The Evo 4G was much, much better.

Since everyone is comparing the Evo 4G to the iPhone — rightly or wrongly — I’ll throw in that comparison as well. The Evo 4G kicks the iPhone 3GS’ ass as a telephone. It’s not even close. Overall I was very satisfied with how the Evo 4G works as a phone. Keep in mind that my calls were made in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Your experience may be different depending on where you work and play.

Apps: A lot of you aren’t familiar with the Android Market, so I wanted to discuss my experience with it on the Evo 4G. Obviously this isn’t a measure of the phone itself, but the Android platform. In terms of reference, media playing, and social apps, the Android Market has almost everything I want. Sure, the iPhone App Store has way more choices, but more isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s just more.

The two apps that I missed from my iPhone 3GS are Tweetdeck and a full Skype client. The former is on its way to Android and should be released in the next few weeks. I didn’t think the latter was coming to the Evo 4G due to Verizon’s limited exclusivity agreement with Skype, but it looks like Skype will be hitting the Android Market before the end of the year. What makes it particularly exciting for this phone is that video calls can be made thanks to the Evo 4G’s dual cameras.

Naturally, Google Apps are better on Android than any other platform. I love the phone’s version of Google Maps, Google Voice, Google Goggles, etc.

Games: Modern games is one area where Android is way, way behind the iPhone platform. The games selection in the Android Market is relatively thin and most of the titles aren’t very good. Having said that, I’m completely confident that gaming will improve on Android. Developers are flocking to the platform due to its rapid growth and comparative openness to iPhone OS. Google also hired Mark DeLoura as an Android developer advocate for gaming. DeLoura worked at Sony Computer Entertainment America’s developer relations division for a long time and was a technical director at Ubi Soft. I’ve known him for years. When I learned about his job at Google, I became way more interested in Android’s future as a gaming platform. The dude is very sharp and I know Android gaming will be much better now that he’s involved.

While current games on Android aren’t the best, the Android Market has several emulators for fans of classic games. Game Boy Color, Genesis, NES, and SNES emulators are available and it’s incredibly easy to find ROMs on the Internet. While the controls aren’t the best for games the require precision (think difficult platformers), they’re totally fine for RPGs. Considering that’s my favorite genre and the NES/SNES has some of the best RPGs of all time, these emulators will keep me busy. Just to CMA I have to note that you’re only supposed to emulate games that you own.

Voice to Text: This is one aspect of Android that I didn’t think I would care for but have come to love. The voice recognition is the best I’ve ever used. I’m astonished by how effective it is. It definitely takes some adjustment to train yourself to even think to use voice to text, but once you do it can be a real time saver. Plus, it just feels cool! It totally makes me feel like Captain Picard.

N8R’s Question: To answer RPadholic N8R’s question from the second part of this review, the Evo 4G supports a ton of file formats. For audio, MP3, AAC, AAC+, WMA, AMR, and MIDI work. For video, MPEG4, H.263, and H.264 are supported. I’ve viewed several MP4 and MKV files successfully on the Evo.

Next up I’m going to talk about the Evo 4G’s camera. Still images and video will be used. If you have any questions for now, fire away!

(Not a Review of the) HTC Evo 4G Part III: The Drunk Test

The first and second parts of my HTC Evo 4G (not a) review were mostly serious. Now things are going to get super serious! Today I’m going to tell you how well the phone works in drunken situations. Last night I went to a Prince of Persia party in Hollywood and had quite a few drinks. While I was tipsy, I snapped several photos and did some live video streaming (this feature will surely get me in trouble one day).

While I’ve been generally satisfied with the phone’s camera, it was important for me to see what kind of images it can capture when I’m…not quite sober. Here are the results of my hugely important “drunk test” of the HTC Evo 4G.

HTC Evo 4G Part II: Battery Life, WiFi Hotspot, Kickstand, and More

After three full days (going on four) with the Evo 4G, here are more thoughts on this excellent HTC phone. This time around I’m covering battery life, the kickstand, more thoughts on the screen, streaming video using Qik, and how the phone works as a WiFi hotspot. If you haven’t read my initial impressions yet, please do so. Now let’s get to it!

Battery Life: Let’s get the negative part out of the way first. After three full days of what I’ll dub “moderate nerd use”, battery life has been merely okay. I’ve been using the phone mostly for web activities — browsing, Twitter updates, checking Facebook, etc. Every now and then I’ll use the GPS functions in Google Maps and Foursquare. I’ve snapped a few pictures and videos too. Keeping in mind that batteries need to be conditioned, the battery results (from completely charged to totally drained) of my first three days were 12, 12, and 14 hours. [Update: After 10 days of use, I’ve been getting approximately 12 hours a day from the standard battery.]

The results aren’t surprising considering the phone’s speedy processor and huge screen, but I can easily see myself in situations — E3 2010, for example — where a single battery isn’t going to cut it. The good news is that unlike the iPhone, you can simply buy a second battery and carry that in your bag. There’s a rumor that HTC will release a 2,500mAh battery for the Evo 4G next month (the stock battery is 1,500mAh), which would be a brilliant accessory. Either way, I will get another battery for this phone should I choose to keep it.

Kickstand: This little addition has been incredibly useful…and I didn’t think it would be. Obviously having a kickstand is nice for watching videos, but I like leaving the phone out and just propping it up on my desk, coffee table, kitchen, etc. while I’m doing…whatever it is I happen to be doing. Part of it that I’m still afraid to damage the phone — particularly the completely uncovered camera that I’m not about the place on a hard surface — and part of it is that there aren’t any good cases available for it yet.

Screen: I didn’t mention it in my initial impressions, but as wonderful as the Evo 4G’s 4.3-inch screen is, it still uses old technology. While a lot of new phones use newer OLED screens, the Evo 4G uses older TFT LCD technology. OLED offers better battery life, wider viewing angles, deeper blacks, and higher contrast ratios. However, some people do not like the color reproduction of OLED screens and feel that they over-pronounce reds (I’ve never had this issue. I think OLED rocks.). The big disadvantage is that the current generation of OLED screens are extremely difficult to see in daylight. This is one area where TFT LCD is clearly better. The bottom line is that even though the screen uses older tech, I’m totally loving its size and output.

Streaming Video: I shot a quick test video (embedded above) on the Evo 4G using Qik.com, which allows you to stream live videos from your phone. I signed up for an account on my laptop, logged in on my phone, and shot a video. It’s really that simple. Obviously you can’t stream HD video, but the camera, signal, and service worked like a charm. I’m probably going to try and do some impromptu E3 interviews using the phone and Qik.

WiFi Hotspot: As mentioned in the video, I tested out the phone’s WiFi hotspot feature. For an additional $30 a month, you can use the phone as a hotspot that can support up to eight devices under optimal conditions. The results were pretty good considering that we’re talking about a WiFi signal transmitted from a phone pulling in a 3G CDMA signal. Using my friend’s iPad and iPhone, I was getting upload speeds around 580kbps and download speeds around 245kbps. Web browsing on both devices was snappy, even on complex web sites. If you want to connect a device like an iPad or PSP on the go, the WiFi hotspot option is worth considering. If you’re primarily concerned with connecting a laptop, you’ll get faster speeds connecting the Evo 4G to your PC via USB and using a tethering program like Mobile Stream’s EasyTether.

Call Quality: I still have to do more testing in this area since I’ve only made about 60 minutes worth of calls. So far I’ve been pleased with how the Evo 4G works as a phone. The quality is comparable to my T-Mobile BlackBerry 8900 using UMA (still need to think this one through) and markedly clearer than the 8900 using Edge (the mobile signal, not the WWE wrestler or the guitar player). The Evo 4G beats the crap out of the iPhone 3GS as a phone. Remember, call quality is subjective so I can only share my experience using the Evo 4G on Sprint’s 3G network in Los Angeles with you. It could be better or worse depending on where you live.

That’s it for now. I’m going to focus more on call quality over the next few days. If there are any other aspects of the phone you want me to explore, just let me know. As always, shoot away any questions you have and I’ll do my best to answer them.

(Not a Review of the) HTC Evo 4G: Part I — The First 24 Hours

I’ve been using the HTC Evo 4G for a little over a day and I want to share my initial impressions with all of you. This is going to be the first entry in a multi-part series that (not) reviews the phone. While some sites would serve up a review of a phone based on a day’s use, I think that’s remarkably stupid. How useful is a review based on 24 hours with a consumer electronics product?!? I’m going to approach this series — as much as I can — from a “normal” user’s perspective and not a “reviewer’s” point of view. Remember, these impressions are all from my first day using the phone and my thoughts will probably change after further use. Let’s get to it!

My HTC Evo 4G was ready to go minutes after it was opened. Like all Android phones, you simply type in your Google login information and your email, contacts, and calendar are synced to the phone. Keep in mind that I already organize my contacts on my primary Gmail account (I highly recommend this since you can sync to multiple phone platforms). If you don’t store your contacts in the cloud, basic setup will take longer.

If you’re a light social networker then you’ll probably dig HTC’s Friend Stream application. Also part of the initial setup process, this little app aggregates your Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr friend feeds. It’s a clean and handsome program, but it’s too simple for my purposes. I like to use Facebook and Twitter in different ways and prefer having separate apps for each service. I also follow too many people, which can make Friend Stream a bit overwhelming to look at. That said, I think a lot of you would like it for being a simple all-in-one solution.

The Evo 4G’s 4.3-inch screen is awesome, but it can also be problematic. It’s gorgeous to look at. High-resolution movies look fantastic on it. The problems I had (in the first 24 hours) stemmed from its impressive resolution — 800 x 480. I’ll use YouTube as an example. Videos with the “HQ” label looked brilliant and took advantage of the screen’s size and phone’s horsepower. Older videos and ones from low-res sources look terrible. Low-res movies that look good on a iPhone (480 x 320 screen) can look nasty and pixelated on the Evo 4G. This is absolutely not HTC’s fault and don’t think I’m dinging the phone for having a beautiful high-res screen. My point is that for common usage, the high resolution can sometimes be a curse.

As for touching the screen, I had no problems with the Evo 4G. Some people greatly prefer the iPhone’s touch sensitivity. Several tests have shown that the iPhone’s touchscreen is superior to most screens on competing phones in terms of responsiveness. While I fully admit that the Evo 4G’s screen is slightly less responsive than the iPhone 3GS’s, I was able to to do everything I wanted to with it. Typing, navigating, and using pinch-to-zoom were totally fine for me. This is one area where I recommend trying it for yourself. Some of you will have no problems with the touchscreen. Some of you — particularly longtime iPhone users — will have issues with it.

For web browsing, the Evo 4G uses a modified version of Android’s WebKit-based browser. It’s a fantastic browser that will let you enjoy most web sites to their fullest. By default, Flash (you know that Adobe thing Apple hates?) is turned on and JavaScript is turned off. After changing the latter setting, I enjoyed all the sites I visit on a daily basis. Using pinch-to-zoom to enlarge certain areas of a site was a breeze. During my first day with the phone, I did more web browsing than anything else. Having a great browser and beautiful screen made web surfing a pleasure.

While the Evo 4G can do a ton out of the box, I had to raid the Android Market to make it a fully functional Raymondtron 9000 (I’ve dubbed this phone the Raymondtron 9000 Mark IV). Here’s what I’ve downloaded so far: NYTimes, Barcode Scanner, Foursquare, Pandora Radio, Amazon.com, AIM, Advanced Task Killer, Google Voice, Google Goggles, Yelp, and WordPress. Everything works great so far and I can’t say enough about Android’s ability to multitask. While the iPhone App Store has way more applications than the Android Market, I’ve found everything I need to confidently call it a Raymondtron 9000.

So yeah! I hope you’ve enjoyed my initial thoughts. I still have a ton to go over, including battery life, camera quality, gaming, and more. Those aspects of the Evo 4G will be covered in future installments of this “not a review”. For now, fire away any questions you have and I’ll do my best to answer them. Also, if there are any aspects of the phone you want me to examine, please let me know.

Random Thoughts (Not a Review) on Iron Man 2

I just came back from a screening of Iron Man 2 (the movie, not the game) and absolutely loved it. I enjoyed 75 percent of the first movie (I thought the last fight was lame) and had high expectations going in. For me, the sequel was better than the original simply because I enjoyed the whole thing. Here are some random thoughts (not a review!) on Iron Man 2. Spoilers ahead!

– Robert Downey, Jr. owns in this movie. He truly is the perfect Tony Stark. He’s charming, smart, sarcastic, suave, and flawed enough for moviegoers to identify with. As charming as he was in the first movie, he’s even more so in the sequel. His interplay with Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Favreau, Sam Rockwell, and Scarlett Johannson was so entertaining. The interaction and humor felt organic.

– I missed Terrence Howard as James “Rhodey” Rhodes. Don’t get me wrong, Don Cheadle is a fantastic actor, but I loved the chemistry that Downey and Howard had. Cheadle did a good job in the movie, but there were times that made me feel like he wasn’t really trying. He also didn’t have the same rapport with Downey.

– Mickey Rourke was mildly disappointing as Whiplash/Ivan Vanko. He was kind of threatening, kind of brilliant, and kind of maniacal, but he was mostly just a dirty Russian guy. Dude needed to take a shower but never got around to it. After his awesome performance in The Wrestler, I was hoping for more. I suppose the flat feeling I had was due to the writing and not Rourke’s performance.

– Sam Rockwell was very cool as Justin Hammer, save for a completely unnecessary dance scene. He was a great foil for Tony Stark and played his role well. The buzz that the Tony Stark/Justin Hammer relationship is eerily similar to the Steve Jobs/Bill Gates relationship is completely overblown. Don’t believe the hype!

– I loved that Iron Man and Tony Stark had separate villains. That was one of my problems with the original movie. Jeff Bridges (or as I call him, Starman) was a great business rival as Obadiah Stane. I thought he absolutely sucked as Iron Monger. I didn’t find him threatening at all. I liked having two villains with different angles in Iron Man 2.

– Scarlett Johansson was surprisingly good as the Black Widow. She’s one of the sexiest women on the planet, so I was expecting her to be around for decorative purposes, but she totally kicked ass in her fight scene. She had enough screen time to shine, but not enough so that it felt like her face and body were being exploited.

– Sam Jackson went a little overboard as Nick Fury. He was too Snakes on a Plane for me. Yeah, Fury can be fiery, but he’s also cool and always in total control. Jackson had the cool part down but did a little too much screaming for me.

– The action is excellent. The last third of the movie has some awesome fighting sequences. You really get the “heavy metal” feeling from the combat.

– I loved that most of the movie took place in Los Angeles and Queens. Considering where I live and where I grew up, it felt comfortable. A movie hasn’t made me feel that way since Coming to America. Ha!

– I heard that the preview prints didn’t have the post-credit teaser…but I saw it and loved it! I already warned you about spoilers in the opening paragraph, so I have no problem telling you that it’s hammer time!

Update: Totally forgot to write about the cameos. Stan Lee as Larry King was cute. Larry Ellison as Larry Ellison was cool! Tony Stark would totally rub elbows with people like Ellison, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt, etc.

Random Thoughts (Not a Review!) on Blackest Night #8

I just finished reading Blackest Night #8 and it wasn’t what I was expecting. I super enjoyed it, but I didn’t get the sense of closure I was looking for. What really got me excited was the storyline possibilities for the entire DC Universe — not just the Green Lantern books. While the finale did an okay job at ending Blackest Night, it excelled at teasing future storylines across multiple books. Random thoughts and spoilers ahead!

– I was disappointed in Sinestro’s “ending”. I really thought he was going to die in issue #8. In my head I pictured a fallen hero finding redemption and closure on the death of his best friend (Abin Sur, Hal Jordan’s predecessor) by dying to save the universe. Perhaps that was too obvious. Instead, he kind of just goes with the flow. The good news is that he has plenty to do in the Green Lantern books and he’s such a great character.

– The Indigo Tribe was never really explained. I still don’t get them. I’m probably not supposed to. However, it would have been nice to understand their motivations. I’m sure they’ll be popping up again and they will be developed, but there should have been more details given in Blackest Night. For now, they’re just these tribal people with power rings and no shoes.

– Larfleeze cracks me up.

– The white lantern battery is exciting. I’m sure Geoff Johns will do something interesting with it.

– The resurrections were mostly awesome. Let’s go through some of them.

  • J’onn J’onzz – He’s the Justice League’s glue. The DC Universe feels better and safer when he’s around. Plus, the dude’s addicted to Oreos. He’s not the flashiest character around, but everything feels more stable when he’s a big player. I’m thrilled that mean green machine is back.
  • Jade – Jennie-Lynn Hayden’s return will make things really interesting for Kyle Rayner. Upon returning to life, she greeted Kyle with a big kiss. This did not go over well with Kyle’s current lady, green lantern Soranik Natu. The love triangle will be fun. Sinestro kicking Kyle’s ass for snubbing his daughter would be awesome. I’m a Guy and Hal guy, not a Kyle guy (though he’s growing on me), so any time Kyle gets his ass kicked is okay by me.
  • Maxwell Lord – He really screwed up the DCU in Infinite Crisis. He almost wiped out all of Earth’s metahumans and succeeded in tarnishing Wonder Woman’s reputation forever. He’s cunning, devious, and dangerous. I’m sure he’ll pop up in big way soon. That said, a small part of me wishes DC would retcon his story and make him used-car salesman that ran the Justice League and Super Buddies (*snicker*) again.
  • Hawkman and Hawkgirl – I’m glad they’re back and I’m super glad that Hawkgirl isn’t Kendra Saunders anymore. Carter Hall was getting too ornery and Kendra was getting too flighty in the JSA books. I’m glad the Hawks are back to normal.
  • Deadman – Fans of DCU’s magical characters will get a kick out of Deadman being…uh…not dead. This was a fun curveball and I think the writers can do something cool with Boston Brand being alive. I suppose he should change his name though. It no longer applies.
  • Eobard Thawne – Well, Barry Allen is back so you might as well bring back his greatest villain, right? Professor Zoom is cool and all, but he just seems like a guy with funky powers and a lot of brain damage. The Reverse Flash is just a vicious son of a bitch. He adds an ever-present sense of danger to Barry Allen’s life as The Flash.
  • Digger Harkness – Not only did Captain Boomerang come back from the dead, he lost weight and gained hair color too! While he won’t have the impact of Thawne, but it’s good to bring him back to the Flash’s rogues gallery. Between Barry Allen, Wally West, and Bart Allen, there are a lot of super speedsters in DC. They need more rogues. Plus, I’m looking forward to seeing how he interacts with his son. I’m also looking forward to seeing any fallout for his role in Identity Crisis.
  • Aquaman – He’s okay. I just wish they brought him back looking like Vincent Chase. That would have been cool.

So yeah! Blackest Night has been wrapped up and Brightest Day has been set up; those elements of issue #8 were fine, but not great. The resurrections and implications really got me excited. Of course I’m going to read the whole series 12 times over and probably have a different opinion on Sunday. These are just my initial thoughts. If you happen to read Blackest Night #8, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Random Thoughts (Not a Review!) on Clash of the Titans 3D

Last night I caught a screening of Clash of the Titans in 3D. I loved the original movie. Sure, it was a total cheeseball take on ¬†Greek mythology, but it was completely cool to a third-grader (I think that’s when I saw it). The movie immortalized Harry Hamlin (in my mind, anyway) and cemented Burgess Meredith as a legend (name another actor that could portray a gritty boxing trainer, a Batman villain, and a Greek philosopher!). With all of that in mind, I was a little scared of this remake. I was also a little scared of seeing a 3D movie (I’m pretty sure the last one I saw was Captain Eo). While some of the movie was fun and other parts cool, I left the theater with a profound sense of, “Well…that was okay.”

Here are some random thoughts (not a review!) on the movie:

– The action and pacing were mostly good. Some of the fight scenes were cool, if not outstanding. The movie moved briskly and didn’t drag at all.

– Liam Neeson as Zeus was…interesting. He was wearing Medieval armor in several of his scenes. It was puzzling and distracting. Why was a Greek god wearing Arthurian armor?!?

– Ralph Fiennes as Hades wasn’t the best. He was far more threatening as Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter movies. He often traveled as a streak of smoke, which he also did better as Voldemort.

– As expected, there were several hackneyed contrivances. The Djinn conveniently show up to bail Perseus and his crew out of a battle and give them a ride to the Stygian witches. They conveniently piss off after hearing a foreboding prophecy, which conveniently (again) left a small gang to tackle Medusa. Pegasus also shows up as the clock is ticking down.

– The whole quest had a poor man’s Lord of the Rings feel to it. Instead of three movies about walking to a volcano, it was one movie with a bunch of people walking to different places. In videogame terms, 70 percent of the movie was a fetch quest.

– I understand that Perseus is supposed to be a demigod, but he goes from hearty fisherman to inexperienced swordsman to acrobatic genius in a span of 20 minutes.

– Who knew that Pegasus was black? I didn’t.

– Sam Worthington was a nice, gruff hero, but he had no charisma. Harry Hamlin was far more charming as Perseus. The good news is that I won’t remember Worthington in this role whereas Harry Hamlin will always be Perseus to me. For example, L.A. Law = Perseus Becomes a Lawyer.

– Gemma Artertron looked beautiful as Io, but she also left me thinking about The Lord of the Rings. I was all, “They couldn’t afford Liv Tyler so they got this British chick.” To be fair, she was probably the most interesting character in the whole movie.

– Purists will have a problem with the Perseus/Io romance. This did not happen in the Greek myths. I want to see a Greek mythology fanboy go ballistic on this change. I can picture two 70-year olds having a “Greedo shot first!” argument about this.

– The 3D effects were mostly stupid. There were a few times when they were used to create a cool sense of depth, but most of the effects were corny and didn’t add anything to the movie. Some of the scenes shoved 3D down my throat to the point where I just had to laugh.

– There were at least five different accents among Perseus’ crew. It wasn’t Kevin-Costner-as-Robin-Hood distracting, but it was close.

– The Cracken in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies was more threatening than the one in this film. It was cool when it was flailing around its tentacles, but its face reminded me of Aliens (my friend thought it was more like Godzilla).

Ultimately, I enjoyed the movie, but struggled to remember why after it was done. I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it if I had to pay $10 for it. The 3D didn’t work for me and I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it on a 3D television. That said, it’s the kind of movie that I’d probably watch if I happened to stumble upon it while channel surfing.

Anyway, let me know what your thoughts on the movie are. Were any of you interested in seeing it? Does anyone else love the original as much as I do? Unleash the Cracken!!!