Kevin C. Wong

July 2021

Spot Reviews 07/30/21

Documentary - Who Are You Charlie Brown? (2021) [/] An Apple TV+ documentary/biography on Charles Schultz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip. I was never much of a Peanuts reader so this documentary was ok but not especially interesting.

Netflix Movie - Cosmic Sin (2021) [-] In the year 2524 mankind finally makes first contact and it doesn't go well. General Ryle (Frank Grillo) recruits disgraced general (and some say mass murderer) James Ford (Bruce Willis) and then he takes a squad of drop troopers to the first contact site bringing along a Q-Bomb... This is an 85-minute movie that really needs another 10 or 15 minutes to explain things more because the plot kind of stop making sense and the dramatic payoffs at the end have no weight to them because I didn't develop any feelings for any of the characters. Special effects are good, Bruce Willis kind of phones it in, writing budget must have been short and the editor must have been paid by the cut. Overall a fairly awful movie.

Movie - Greenland (2020) [-] When a Texas-sized asteroid threatens to wipe out all life on Earth John Garrity (Gerard Butler) is determined to get his wife (Morena Baccarin) and son to Greenland where there is a secret end-of-the-world government bunker where a select group of people are being evacuated to. It's not that good a movie, mostly a what-would-people-do-to-survive which boils down to lots of sad scenarios, but weirdly the sequel (in development) might be more interesting as it is set a few years later once the survivors come out to rebuild the world.

TV Series - Wizards of Waverly Place (2007) [+]

Wizards of Waverly Place was a Disney Channel sitcom that ran four seasons plus a couple of tv movies. In a world where magic is secret the Russos are a family with three young wizards -- Justin (David Henrie) the eldest brother and most responsible one, Alex (Selena Gomez) the trouble maker, and Max (Jake T Austin) the youngest and most clueless. Dad Jerry (David DeLuise) was a wizard but gave it up to marry Theresa (Maria Canals Barrera) and now he spends his time running a sandwich shop with Theresa and teaching the kids magic and how to be responsible wizards.

Mostly the show centers around Alex and many episodes center around her using magic to shortcut things, having everything go wrong, and then fixing the problem (sometimes with Justin's help). Otherwise the three are normal high school kids and Alex hangs out with her best friend Harper (Jennifer Stone) who doesn't know the truth until later in the series.

It's good family comedy and really showcased Selena Gomez's acting talents.

iOS Game - Battlecruisers (2021) [+]

Battlecruisers is a free RTS battle game from Mecha Weka. A game starts with two sea control ships at either end of the 2d playfield. You start with a few builder drones to build other ship modules, which include more builder modules to get more drones (all modules have a minimum number of drones required to build them, though you can concentrate more drones to build a module faster).

Build drone modules, ship defenses then ship offenses. Offenses include a naval shipyard to build small attack ships (4 types), an aircraft factory for aircraft (3 types), big guns and rockets up to a death star (my favorite) and a nuclear missile (guarantee kill but takes a long time to build). Defenses include anti-ship guns to deal with enemy attack ships, anti-air for enemy aircraft (though the aircraft factory is very versatile as you can build anti-ship, anti-aircraft, and attack aircraft types), shield modules and various specialty modules.

It's an RTS game so you keep switching to the enemy ship to see what he's doing and then counter build (there is a cloak module and a spy satellite module to negate the cloak module). Touch UI is mixed. Three buttons to zoom in on your ship, the enemy ship, and to zoom out to the whole playing field. But after that it gets a bit fiddly if you want to zoom in and out manually and on my iPad the touch points to select mount points are small in default zoom.

There's a campaign of 25 levels with three difficulties. I did Easy which is really easy and I'm doing Normal now which requires much more attention to counter enemy builds but still not had. I expect in Hard the enemy starts out with more builders which makes it hard as you defend while trying to increase your builder drones.

Overall a pretty fun game. Free on iOS (has ads but rather seldom). Also available on Windows ($6).

Spot Reviews 07/23/21

Documentary - The Year Earth Changed (2021) [/] Documentary about how wild animals and nature changed during COVID when much of the human world was essentially shut down. Animals wandering the cities and reproducing more because even benign humans with their noise and movement tends to inhibit reproduction and raising babies. It's cool seeing how much nature can recover if left alone for a year.

Movie - Cool Hand Luke (1967) [-] Decorated veteran Luke Jackson (Paul Newman) ends up in a prison working on a chain gang. He's a bit of an outsider and does things his own way. Eventually he wins over the other convicts and then tries a few escape attempts... I'm not sure what the point of the movie is and somehow I think I've watched it twice.

Web Tool - Apple TV Shows & Movies Artwork Finder [+] Ben Dodson wrote a web tool to retrieve the tv show and movies artwork from iTunes store. Useful if you rip your DVDs into TV app and want to use the 16x9 artwork Apple uses.

TV Series - WandaVision (2021) [+]

WandaVision (2021) is a 9-episode half-hour drama. In the first episode Wanda/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) seem to be stuck in a Bewitched-style black and white sitcom, both unaware of who they really are. As each episode continues the tv shows they inhabit change, moving forward in time.

At first it could be some mysterious enemy. But eventually we see the outside world. SWORD Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) investigate a sleepy New Hampshire town that everybody seems to have forgotten. Bringing in more experts including Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) they discover that somehow Wanda has created this bubble and has consciously or subconsciously trapped all the inhabitants.

In part three of the series Monica makes it inside the bubble and confronts Wanda. This shakes up Wanda enough for a surprise villain to take control and subvert Wanda's magic...

This was a pretty weird concept when I heard about it. The series was both that weird and delivered a great story. Wanda and Vision had separate and interesting character arcs. An adult Monica Rambeau is introduced and has hints of power which will be revealed further on in the CMU. It was nice to see Darcy Lewis again -- really cool supporting character in Thor, much smaller role in Thor 2 and then not appearing again until now.

Overall a great series.

iOS Game - Risk: Global Domination [/]

Risk: Global Domination is the official port of Risk.


  • Cutesy graphics
  • Lots of maps (though most are paid DLCs)
  • Play with friends (pass and play or online)
  • Play with random people


  • Ad driven until you buy the starter pack ($10)
  • Map packs are 4 or 5 maps for $5
  • UI could use some tweaks for faster gameplay and to prevent accidentally going skipping a turn stage
  • Some starter maps require coins to play each game and I hope bought map packs don't need coins

It's an ok implementation of Risk.

Spot Reviews 07/16/21

Movie - The Gallant Hours (1960) [/] James Cagney as Admiral William F Halsey Jr during the Guadalcanal campaign. It's a fairly talky rear-area deliberations movie without any action but Cagney is a good enough actor to pull it off.

TV Series - A Season with Navy Football (2017) [/] This is Showtime's A Season With... series and season 3 covered Navy Football. Fairly typical behind the scenes week long preparation before each game and then a few minutes covering each game. Each episode tends to focus on a different team member or coach and I guess the only real season-long through line is how the offensive coach's son needs a heart transplant. It's an interesting 13 half-hour episodes.

iOS Game - Metal Slug Attack (2016) [-] 8-bit free to play model game. A game starts with two bases at either end of the screen. Wait for energy to build up then tap a unit to build it (or tap energy generator to permanently increase energy generation). Units fight automatically though you can tap to use special powers. Between games you can upgrade and promote units using in-game currency. The game is too chaotic to be fun for me.

TV Series - Mythic Quest s2 (2021) [+]

Apple TV+'s Mythic Quest s1 was good but it did take me a few episodes to get into it. Season two was a bit better. All the characters had good subplots and I really liked the flashback episode to what it was being a science fiction writer for Astonishing Tales.

The show takes place at a smallish game development studio (smallish with a few dozen people) whose one hit game is the MMO Mythic Quest. Creative Director Ian Grimm (Rob McElhenney) now shares leadership role with Lead Engineer Poppy Li (Charlotte Nicdao) and one of the primary plots is how badly they work together and eventually split up the resources into two teams and how they finally realize they need to work together to make the next release of MQ.

It's a pretty funny half hour dramedy with great characters and it ends at a good place where you can either end the series or spin off in a new direction if there is a season three.

iOS Game - Lemmings: The Puzzle Adventure [+]

Lemmings is a mobile, free to play and ad-supported version of the classic computer game. Each level is a side-view of squared-based obstacles, mostly rock and metal but also traps and other objects. Your objective is to get the lemmings from the start to the finish without killing too many from falling too far and from traps.

But you can lemmings do various things. Build a ramp diagonally up left or right, dig through rock (horizontally or vertically), use an umbrella to slow down their fall, and block other lemmings from passing. One mobile feature is that you tap on a square then choose a function and the next lemming that hits that square will do the function. On a computer you had to choose function then tap on the correct lemming and often at the right pixel since a lemming would start their action right when you click it.

As far as I can remember the mobile has less lemming actions, about the same number of obstacle types, and the levels are more limited in size. But the levels can still be tricky and since you can't pause and look I often start a level figuring out my strategy while my lemmings die.

As a free to play game it has these features:

You have energy (60) which refills at 1 per 4 minutes. Every action you place takes one energy, so you can only do a few levels at a time (and puts a premium on planning out your strategy before you start spending energy).

There are various power-ups. Mostly unlimited of one action but also double lemmings that survive and return all energy spent if you lose a level. When you complete a level there is a spinner which usually gives you a power-up (or also energy or a lemming egg) and you can buy power-ups.

Lemming eggs give you unique lemming skins, so one lemming in your group will have that skin and as you get several skins your lemmings look rather eclectic even though they all have the same abilities. Each unique lemming has an associated challenge level -- I've played three and they've had obstacles I haven't seen yet (like a dark room with moving spotlights).

There are also tournaments, daily bonuses for completing 3/10/20 levels, and loot boxes.

So far I've played without paying money and it seems ok other than it being hard to get 20 levels done in a day.

Ads play after levels or you can play ads for extra stuff. They're the usual ads for other mobile games so not too obnoxious.

Overall it's a fun game and brings back memories.

Spot Reviews 07/09/21

iOS App - Popeyes [-] It's just a web view of their web site, which is not that well organized. You can order stuff but it's only meals and combinations so unless store menus have changed you don't get the full menu using the web site. From the reviews also looks like stores don't really integrate with the app.

Movie - A California Christmas (2020) [/] Never-do-well playboy Joseph (Josh Swickard) is sent to prove himself by getting Callie (Lauren Swickard) to sign over her Napa Valley farm to his family's real estate business. He goes undercover, falls in love with Callie, and then has to prove himself to her once his ruse is found out.

iOS Game - Infinity Pinball (2021) [/] 8-bit retro pinball game where if you punch your ball through the top it pops out at the next level so you can keep going infinitely upwards. Nice retro graphics and sounds but gameplay is pretty bad. For a better implementation I recommend PinOut (2016) which hasn't been updated in five years but still plays great.

TV Series - Miss Sherlock (2019) [/]

Miss Sherlock is an 8-episode Sherlock Holmes drama set in Tokyo. The main protagonists are Sara "Sherlock" Futaba (Yūko Takeuchi), a consultant to the Tokyo police department, and Dr Wato Tachibana (Shihori Kanjiya), recently returned from Syria working as a volunteer medical doctor. Inspector Gentaro Reimon (Kenichi Takitō) is a sort of nerdy Inspector Lestrade but friendly to Sherlock and sees her as a valuable asset. Reimon's assistant, Sergeant Tatsuya Shibata (Tomoya Nakamura) is the more by-the-book guy who distrusts Sherlock's methods.

In the first episode Dr Wato has just returned from Syria and witnesses a murder so is drawn into the case and ends up living in Sherlock's building owned by Kimi Hatano (Ran Ito). Each episode Sherlock and Watson solve one case but it quickly turns out that all the cases are the work of a mysterious organization and almost at the end they meet Sherlock's nemesis, the Professor Moriarty equivalent.

The series is closer to BBC's Sherlock than other Sherlock Holmes incarnations. It does lack a lot of the drama and mystery though. It seems less serious, though still a drama, and mystery solving is more like "oh, here's the clue, I know the answer" without giving the viewer a chance to solve it themselves. Also the gender swap is not really used -- if the characters had stayed male the scripts wouldn't have needed changing.

Overall an interesting take on Sherlock but I think misses being really good.

iOS Game - Tetris (2020) [/]

N3TWORK got the Tetris license and released a game app last year. From what I read it started with basic Tetris though by now it has various game modes including a battle royale mode. It has the traditional music and modern graphics.

You start only able to play 3-minute speed games but after a couple of these games you level up and regular Tetris is unlocked -- other modes are unlocked as you keep playing games.

I played this for a bit. Tap to rotate, swipe left and right (or tap-drag left and right for more control), drag down to drop. For a touch game it is surprisingly smooth moving pieces around though I often accidentally dragged down or had an inadvertent tap to rotate. There is no controller support though so that greatly limits my ceiling.

This is a freemium game. There are ads that run sometimes before you start a game and you can turn them off for a month or a year as in-app purchase. There are generic coins you buy to purchase stuff at the store -- theme packs and game powerups.

Overall if you can get past the fact it's freemium model it's a very playable version of iOS Tetris.

Spot Reviews 07/02/21

Dentist - Kevin T Dowd, DDS [+] I've been visiting Dr Dowd for I think a couple of decades -- the second I visited Dr Dowd was there taking over the practice. I use Chris as my hygienist and she's very friendly. I've had root canals and fillings and Dr Dowd makes it as good an experience as possible.

Movie - The Time Traveler's Wife (2009) [/] Romantic supernatural film. Henry (Eric Bana) has been uncontrollably skipping back and forth in time through his personal timeline since he was little. He meets Clare (Rachel McAdams) who has known him for years even though he hasn't met her yet. They fall in love and deal with the tribulations that come with his unusual ability... It's a nice movie though a bit sad. I think About Time (2013) did the concept much better.

TV Series - Love Death and Robots s2 (2021) [/] Season two is both shorter (8 shorts) and maybe because of that not as good. I liked "Pop Squad" - in a future where immortality is common a special government squad arrests breeders and exterminates the kids. But one detective starts to have second doubts about his job. Also "All Through the House" where two kids encounter the real Santa Claus, a horrible monster that deems then both Good and regurgitates gifts. But what if they had been Bad?