Upcoming Video Games Panel 2011 Phoenix Comicon

We do a preview of some of the hot games in development, E3, Rumored titles and then do Q&A with the audience to answer their gaming questions.
I want to thank SEGA, Gelaskins, Symbiote Studios, Creation Entertainment, AABC Comics, Accent Inns, Running With Scissors, Konami, Lego Universe, and Barry Bard’s At The Movies for providing items for our charity drive and swag table.

Movies of 2011-2015 Panel at 2011 Phoenix Comicon

On May 28th and 29th we kicked off Skewed and Reviewed Southwest in style with two panels and two receptions at the Phoenix Comicon. Below is the first panel which is a look at the movies scheduled over the next four years. I want to thank SEGA, Gelaskins, Symbiote Studios, Creation Entertainment, AABC Comics, Accent Inns, Running With Scissors, Konami, Lego Universe, and Barry Bard’s At The Movies for providing items for our charity drive and swag table.

Tower 23

Strolling along the busy and bustling Pacific Beach Park boardwalk, you can gaze out upon the magnificent Pacific Ocean while dodging surfers, skateboarders, rollerbladers and tourists on bikes. It’s a San Diego experience every traveler should enjoy. But when you’re ready to leave the crowds behind and enjoy an unencumbered view of the ocean, Tower 23 offers a spectacular sight lifting you above the suntanned masses. No, not the lifeguard tower of the same number. Tower 23 is a bright gem of luxury in an already vibrant setting. While establishments along the coast know there’s no competing with the majestic ocean to attract its guests, Tower 23 incorporates the best of its surroundings in its architecture, views and decor, leaving guests feeling like they never left the beach when they step into the hotel.

Bright and airy, highlighted with the hues of ocean blue, Tower 23 is sleek and posh at the same time. Accomodated in the Surf Pad, the king-sized Tempur-Pedic Serenity bed, made up with 100% Egyptian cotton linens, was heavenly to sink into. When it got too dark to gaze at the ocean from the balcony, there was a flat screen high-def LCD TV to entertain us. What work we allowed ourselves to do during our stay was aided by the free wi-fi (which is accessible even at the beach). To make your stay even more relaxing, Tower 23 also provides, upon request, in-room massage and spa services.

Walking distance from a variety of cafes, restaurants and bars featuring anything from sushi, curry to burgers, Tower 23 itself houses one of the most popular lounge and restaurants on the beach. No kitschy nautical themes here, JRDN offers relaxed oceanfront dining for a great view of San Diego’s beautiful sunset. A contemporary steak & seafood restaurant, JRDN offers an oyster bar as well as a private wine room. If you don’t feel like traipsing the few steps to their main dining room, Sunset Patio or the Tower Deck for some casual Californian cuisine, 24 hour room service is available.

Smack dab in the center of all things San Diego, Tower 23 puts you smack dab in the center of all things San Diego, whether you want to surf, golf, fish off the pier or just cruise the beach. Baseball caps and visors are availabe in-room for purchase in case you forgot yours (or you just want a memento). When you’re done with all that fun, Tower 23 is there to provide a welcome respite. The roomy step-in rain shower is stocked with H2O products and luxurious bathrobes invite guests to lounge and relax.

From friendly and helpful valet and front desk staff, to the fully stocked mini-bar that includes personal essentials, drinks as well as snacks, Tower 23 makes sure their guests want for nothing. While there are many inns and hotels to pick from in the area, if you’re looking for the complete, luxurious and relaxing San Diego beach hotel experience, Tower 23 is head and shoulders above the rest.

Aqua Palms & Spa

Recently we traveled to beautiful Hawaii to gather material for future reviews as well as enjoy an island cruise with family members who had flown in from various points on the mainland. Upon arrival in beautiful Honolulu we proceeded downtown to our hotel the Aqua Palms & Spa. After an initial misstep where the airport shuttle dropped us off at a different Aqua Resorts property we proceeded to check into the right hotel and after a long morning of travel and a three hour time change, we were immediately impressed not only with the helpful staff but with the location of the hotel.

Although to us it was late in the afternoon, the three hour time change had us at our hotel prior to the scheduled check-in time. Since our room was not yet available, the hotel took care of our baggage which allowed us to take in the shops and scenic locales adjacent to the hotel. Waikiki Beach was very easy walk from the hotel and there were numerous buses and trolleys which stopped in front of the hotel on a constant basis.

When we finally made it to our room, I was impressed not only with the size and comfort of the room but with the amazing view of Diamondhead as well as a partial view of the beach. The room had a high-def flatscreen which has several channels to choose from as well as foldout couch, desk, complimentary high-speed Internet, microwave, mini fridge & safe.

The shower was very relaxing and complimentary spa products were made available which is a plus (especially after subjecting your skin and hair several days of sun and salt water). The hotel also offers a full spa service and in-room massages are available as well. The hotel has a pool located on a deck on one of the lower floors which gives guests and enjoyable and relaxing private oasis in the heart of the city’s perfect after a long day. On Wednesdays there’s a Manager’s Reception and the concierge desk in the lobby will happily arrange island excursions for their guests. If you happen to be in Waikiki on a Friday night, make sure to catch the fireworks a Waikiki beach.

Check-out was very smooth and we were able to call ahead and have a taxi waiting for us to take us to the pier for our cruise. Upon completion of our cruise we returned to the Aqua Palms & Spa and once again were given storage for bags when we arrived early in the morning. Venturing out in a new direction we found that an extremely impressive and upscale mall is only a 10 minute walk away. The Ala Moana Shopping Center not only offers plenty of shopping options but several dining options as well. The area around the Aqua Palms & Spa is rife with restaurants, convenience stores, and other shopping options and the helpful hotel staff were more than happy to point out and provide directions to area restaurants whenever we asked.

Following a week in a cruise ship cabin it was extremely enjoyable to take in the extremely comfortable AquaBLISS pillowtop bed that the hotel offers as well as enjoy being able to have plenty of space in which to work. Rooms starting at just $90 a night are an exceptional value especially when one considers the location of the hotel. The comfortable and clean hotel and friendly staff truly makes the Aqua Palms & Spa an incredible value and an enjoyable stay for those looking to visit Waikiki on a budget.

Hangover 2

It has been two years since writer-director producer Todd Phillips unleashed the mother of all benders on audiences with The Hangover. The film about four buddies on a lost weekend in Vegas was a comedic tour de force that left audiences laughing from start to finish and went on to be the highest grossing R-rated film in history. Naturally when a film does this kind of business, thoughts turned to a sequel and Phillips has returned with the original cast and crew to follow up this comedy classic.

Plot of the film mild-mannered dentist Stu (Ed Helms), who is getting married in Thailand to the girl of his dreams. Undaunted by the fact that his fiancĂ©’s father despises everything about him, Stu convinces his best friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), and Doug (Justin Bartha), to take the 16 hour flight to attend the ceremony. When news reaches them that a crestfallen Alan (Zach Galifianikis), is waiting for his invitation to the ceremony, Stu is reluctant because he does not want a repeat of what happened in Vegas.

But despite their misgivings, the friends decide to include Alan in the ceremony and embark to the airport for the long flight to Thailand. They’re joined at the airport by Stu’s future brother-in-law Teddy (Mason Lee), a child prodigy who was already attending Stanford at 16 and has designs on a future medical career. As Stu’s fiance explains later in the film, Teddy is their father’s “most prized possession.”

Alan takes an instant disliking to Teddy and sees him as an outsider in their “wolf pack” and doesn’t miss an opportunity to try to exclude Teddy. Upon their arrival in beautiful Thailand, the friends get through a somewhat awkward dinner with the future in-laws and relax on the beach for a bonfire and bachelor party. Phil makes sure to be extra careful to avoid any of the issues they had in Vegas and selects bottled beer that was given to them by the hotel staff and makes sure that every one of them only gets an unopened bottle to drink.

Despite these precautions, Stu, Phil, and Alan wake up the next morning in a seedy hotel with absolutely no memory of how they got there and what happened the night before. Stu now sports a fresh facial tattoo while Alan has a completely shaved head. Matters are further complicated when the group realizes that Teddy is missing and that what appears to be his severed finger is found to be floating in a bucket of water.

As if things were not bad enough, matters take an even extreme turn for the worse when a monkey and Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), show up and add even bigger complications to the already complex situation. The group learns that Doug is safely back at the resort and waiting for their arrival at breakfast after having left the bonfire early, leaving Stu, Alan and Phil to piece together the forgotten events of the night and locate Teddy before the wedding. Along the way they run into criminals, the sleazy side of Bangkok, upset monks, and much more as they race against time to solve the mystery and locate Teddy.

What follows is a comedic adventure complete with jaw-dropping sequences that leaves the audience shocked at just how far they push the envelope. The cast works well with one another and there are some truly funny moments in the film. The biggest issue with the movie is that it must walk a fine line between using the established formula of friends trying to remember and deal with the consequences of their lost evening while not repeating itself.

This is a very tricky proposition as the film essentially follows the same plot line of the original film: a group of friends are trying to remember the previous night and locate a missing member prior to a wedding. There are also similar jokes such as Stu dealing with a tattoo instead of a missing tooth and Alan’s constant nonsensical bantering and plethora of useless information.

Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel director Todd Phillips instead focuses on the relationship of the cast and allows the unique and exotic setting to be the new character and foil for the comedy. Many times in the film it is established that Teddy must be located before “Bangkok gets him” and as such the city offers endless opportunities for the cast.

The film does drag at the three quarters mark but recovers nicely, leading to a predictable finale. While the film was not as thoroughly funny as the original, in terms of humor and storytelling, but there are still plenty of laughs and eye-popping scenes that make it an enjoyable comedy. There are rumors that Phillips has plans for third film in the series to complete the trilogy. If this is indeed the case I would welcome a third film with the understanding that more care be put into the plot to avoid rehashing previous jokes and situations.

3.5 stars out of 5

Second Review by Charlie Braverman

In The Hangover Part 2, which I think should be named Bangkok Boogaloo, Dentist Stu (Ed Helms) is about to be married to the love of his life, Lauren (Jamie Chung), in Thailand. Of course he invites his best friends Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) to be part of his special day. He definitely does not want Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to go but after some begging by Doug even Alan gets invited and then it’s off to Thailand. After the worst rehearsal dinner ever Phil, Doug and Alan convince Stu to join them for a beer around a bonfire on the Resort’s beach and Stu’s soon to be brother-in-law Teddy (Mason Lee) joins them. Phil, Alan and Stu wake up the next morning in cockroach infested hotel room, luckily no tiger in the bathroom just a capuchin monkey (Crystal, seriously that’s her real name) and Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) passed out on the floor. After a quick phone call they discover that Doug is safe back at the Resort but no one knows where Teddy is. Thus begins another epic adventure for Stu, Phil & Alan to find Teddy (while not remembering anything from the night before) and also get to the wedding taking place the next day. Will Stu get married? Do they find Teddy? Where can I get

Many times I have found that sequels are a huge let down, so when I walked in to the theatre to watch The Hangover Part 2 a feeling of unease washed over me. I took my seat, lights dimmed, people put away their cells, there were some previews and then the movie began. I don’t remember the exact time the feeling of unease went away, I believe it was 8 seconds after the opening credits ended and it was replaced with a giggle followed by a laugh and soon there was so much laughter I almost spilled my drink, there was three or five “I can’t believe they did that” and I even covered my eyes a couple of times because… well without giving away any spoilers lets just say I will never go to a strip club in Bangkok and leave it at that.

Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zack Galifianakis all did equally amazing jobs in their roles, the comedic chemistry they have on-screen is incredible and ladies, if I remember correctly, Mr. Cooper does have a shirtless scene (sorry for not knowing for sure but male nudity is not something I care to remember, even if it is just being topless). Crystal the Capuchin Monkey is adorable and does an outstanding job, I think everyone who sees this movie will want a capuchin monkey of their own. Though the basic premise is the same (don’t remember what happened, must find so-so and get someplace within a set time frame and other objectives arise that they must overcome to find so-so), the story in this film is still just as entertaining to watch unfold as the first and they even spiced it up a notch. WARNING: This is a stereotypical “Guy” movie, like the original movie the humor is crude, rude and lewd (just how I like it) so if you found the first movie offensive then I must ask, why are you expecting something different from this one? Oh and because I heard a couple of people talking about it after the movie I do want to point out that there is some racial humor and Crystal never actually smokes or does any drugs during the film, again this is a “guy” movie and we never want to see our monkeys hurt.

As of this writing I am still uncertain on which of the two movies I liked more, however I can say that when the movie was over I was not disappointed… I may have still been mentally scarred by some of the things I saw but I was not disappointed.

4.5 out 5 Bumps (movie reference)