Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service is based on the comic book The Secret Service written by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.

The movie starts off with an undercover mission in some Middle eastern country, Harry Hart, a.k.a. “Galahad“‘s (Colin Firth) mistake puts the life of entire team at risk. A probationary agent sacrifices himself to save his team. Riddled by guilt Galahad personally delivers a bravery medal to the agent’s widow and his young son, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin. The protocols don’t allow Galahad to explain the event which led to the death of the agents, so Galahad offers a favor that if they ever need help, they should call the phone number on the back of the medal and deliver a coded message.

Seventeen years later, Professor James Arnold (Mark Hamill) is kidnapped by unknown assailants, led by billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) and his henchwoman Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), a amputee with bladed prosthetic legs. One of Galahad’s colleague, “Lancelot” attempts to stage a rescue, but he is murdered by Gazelle.

Back in London Eggsy(Taron Egerton) has grown up to be unemployed young adult living with his mother, infant half-sister and an abusive stepfather. After being arrested for stealing a car and facing a jail term of 18 months, Eggsy calls the number on the back of the medal to claim the favor. Not knowing what would happen, Eggsy is surprised when he is released from prison.

With the death of Lancelot, the agency has a vacancy, based on tradition the current members have to recommend one candidate each. Galahad tries to convince Eggsy to be his candidate but Eggsy refuses the offer and returns home only to be abused by his stepfather. Galahad rescues Eggsy and Eggsy decides to apply for the post left vacant by Lancelot. He joins a group of other candidates who were nominated by other officers of Kingsman. Eggsy quickly befriends Roxy (Sophie Cookson). Their training is supervised by Merlin (Mark Strong), a kingsman.

Meanwhile Arthur (Michael Caine) hands over Lancelot’s mission assigned to Galahad. While Galahad investigates the case, the newly recruited trainees vie for the spot left behind by Lancelot.

What works out right:
Right from the moment I heard Dire Straits song Money for Nothing (which is at the beginning) till the end, the movie is fast paced. It has right mixture of action, comedy, gadgets and emotions. Kingsman: The Secret Service pays a tongue in check homage to lots of movie. Based on the movies I could recognize there were homages to James Bond movies, Star Trek, The Recruit and Dog Soldiers.

Acting wise Colin Firth as Harry Hart/Galahad and Samuel L. Jackson as Richmond Valentine, a billionaire philanthropist who speaks with a lisp and has a weak stomach for blood and violence steal the job. Taron Egerton as Gary “Eggsy” Unwin and Mark Strong as Merlin are steady. Michael Caine as King/Arthur and Sophie Cookson as Roxy don’t have much to do, but it was nice to see Michael Caine try something different.

The action scenes are pretty interested, some times they are fast and some times the scenes are slow giving user a detailed look at the action. This blending of fast and slow fights really adds value to the movie. Most of the funny moments in the movie had people laughing and there were even people clapping for few of the dialogues.

All in all, Kingsman: The Secret Service will end up being one of the must watch movies of this year. I am also pretty sure it will remain in the list of “Highest-grossing films of 2015“. There is a hint in the movie that there could be sequels. I have my finger crossed and am hoping for a sequel.

Multiplexer is a sexy seductive device

One of colleague asked me about Multiplexer, since her younger sister wanted to use it in her college project. As I had no idea about Multiplexers I went searching for Multiplexer and the results were shocking. I normally use Google for searching. Once the search results came up I saw the following entry

In electronics, a multiplexer (or mux) is a sexy seducive device that selects one of several analog or digital input signals

I was taken aback, I could understand why a college student needed a seductive device but the question was how would a college student design it? Is it possible that a future Nobel Laureate is currently studying in some college in Karnataka? With these thoughts in mind I decided to read further.

I do agree the word “seducive” doesn’t exist may be it was a typing error may be somebody meant “seductive“.

Attached the image below with highlighted text.

Google's search result

Google’s search result

I went ahead and checked the wikipedia page. Ironically it had no reference to “sexy” and/or “seducive” device.

In electronics, a multiplexer (or mux) is a device that selects one of several analog or digital input signals

Actual Wikipedia page

Actual Wikipedia page

Well I tried the search again on Bing this time. The result was different from the one that Google threw up.

Not "sexy seducive" device according to Bing

Not “sexy seducive” device according to Bing

Finally I started checking the revision of the wikipedia page and found the guilty revision.

The change was posted on 28 October 2013 at 17:04 and was corrected on the same day at 17:54. Googlebot (Googlebot is the search bot software used by Google, which collects documents from the web to build a searchable index for the Google Search engine.) had parsed the wiki page in these 50 minutes and was showing the text.

Complete list of revision history of the page.

It turns out my colleague’s sister isn’t a mad scientist in the making after all.

Review: Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips is based on the book A Captain’s Duty which in turn is based on real life incident of Maersk Alabama hijacking.

Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) takes command of the MV Maersk Alabama at port in Oman, with orders to sail its cargo through the Gulf of Aden to Mombasa. Wary of pirate activity off the coast of Somalia, he orders security precautions on the vessel. During one training exercise, Phillips notices two skiffs attempting to hijacking the ship but he succeeds in outrunning the pirates.

Four pirates return again the next day led by Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi) in a faster skiff, carrying a ladder they had welded the previous night. Despite Phillips and his crew’s best efforts, the pirates are able to board and take control of the Maersk Alabama, capturing the captain while most of his crew hides in the ship’s engine room.

The rest of the story is about how the drama unfolds. The story is very good but it’s the execution and performance of actors which steals the show. After the first 5 mins I was on the edge of my seat. I remember coming out at interval with a big smile on my face and telling my brother “It’s an excellent movie.” That is without watching the complete movie.

Performance wise Tom Hanks is as good as always. I can’t say it is his best performance till date because I have seen him do better. His acting towards the end of the movie is truly outstanding. I was pleasantly surprised by performance of Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Muse. This is his first movie and his performance was excellent. I don’t know anything about the real Captain Richard Phillips. There is news that the crew members of Phillips accused the film of being grossly inaccurate in facts and the portrayal of Phillips. But irrespective of the fact that the movie is based on real life events or not it is a good movie.

The movie doesn’t show the pirates in completely bad light. There are times when you realize that they are being used by somebody else. Their poverty forces them to pursue a career in piracy. I couldn’t find much to criticize in the movie, It follows steady pace and doesn’t get boring. All in all a very good you wouldn’t regret watching it.

Mavericks is for free!

I was pleasantly surprised when I realized Apple is releasing Mac OS 10.9 Mavericks for free. That is not the only good news, Apple will be releasing iLife and iWork for free for people buying new systems.

As I see it, Apple wants all it’s customers to use the latest version of the OS. I can break down the advantages into 3 categories.

Mac guys still dislike Microsoft!

Mac guys still dislike Microsoft!

Apple is diverging into different product markets. I don’t think Apple has the manpower at its disposal to work on all the products. This year there were news around, that Apple had moved developers from OS X team to work on iOS, so that iOS releases on time.

If all or most users migrated to a fixed version of OS Apple can reduce the size of development team needed to work on support activities for older version of OS like Snow Leopard (10.6), Lion (10.7) and Mountain Lion (10.8). This would free up developers to work on development of newer products.

Apple plans to use free OS updates to coax people to upgrade to newer version of the OS.

How will it affect Apple’s bottom-line?
It will end up working out well for an Apple. Apple is a unique PC maker in that they make both software and hardware. Apple is already releasing iOS updates for free and I think there are more benefits providing free updates and Apple can manage it.

How often have you written a piece of code in ifdef‘s because your application was meant to run multiple versions of the OS. At least I have had to write it quite frequently. Cocoa is a dynamically growing Framework. Every year a new version of Mac OS or Xcode releases new API’s are added and some older ones are deprecated. More often than not most companies prefer having single code base for an application for ease of development and support. This just leaves developers without much of an option, ifdef is the only option.

Just take look at the number of people using Windows XP (release date: August 24, 2001). There have been three major OS release since Windows XP and most companies still provide support for Windows XP.

Both Windows XP and Snow Leopard have sizable market share and any developer would not want to ignore the market.

End Users
Real winner is the end-user. Imagine getting new version of the OS every other year for free!

All in all I think it is a great move. Similar to Kid Rock charging 20$ for concert tickets.

Now the pressure will be on Microsoft and other proprietary OS maker to provide free upgrades to the user! But I don’t expect them to follow suite. Microsoft is not a hardware manufacturer and cannot afford to release either MS Office suite or Windows OS for free. Personally I believe, I deserved a free upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7.

Opinion Poll Link

The House of Hades

The latest and the fourth book in the The Heroes of Olympus series is The House of Hades. The previous book The Mark of Athena ended in a cliff-hanger. It was the first time Rick Riordan has ended a book with a cliff-hanger (which I enjoyed) in either of The Heroes of Olympus or Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. Well the fans criticized him for doing so and the author was prompt enough to apologize for the same (Dedicated one full-page for it!).

To my wonderful readers:
Sorry about that last cliff-hanger.
Well, no, not really. HAHAHAHA.
But seriously, I love you guys.

Not quite an apology but at least he acknowledged it!

The House of Hades

The narrators for this books are Hazel, Annabeth, Leo, Percy, Frank, Jason, Piper. This time round the action is split into two halves, one in Tartarus and another over Italy. Annabeth and Percy are trapped in Tartarus and must find their way out of it through the House of Hades. Hazel, Leo, Frank, Jason, Piper and Coach Gleeson Hedge must find a way to return Athena Parthenos to stop the impending Roman attack on Camp Half-Blood.

A votive sculpture found near the Varvakeion school reflects the type of the restored Athena Parthenos

The book opens on the morning of July 3, two days after the end of The Mark of Athena, somewhere in northwestern Italy. The Argo II is unsuccessfully trying to fly east over the Apennine Mountains running down the center of the Italian peninsula past hostile mountain gods who hurl boulders at the ship. Hazel sees Arion racing through the countryside and she asks Leo to descend so she can speak to him. Arion takes her to a nearby crossroads enveloped by storms where the goddess Hecate is waiting for her.

Hecate tells Hazel that she has four options: go west, back to the United States with the Athena Parthenos to stop the impending Roman attack on Camp Half-Blood, and leave Percy and Annabeth to their fate; go east, to make another attempt at crossing the Apennines, which will get the ship pounded to pieces, and although the Seven may survive the crash, they will be knocked out of the war with the Giants; go south, to Epirus around the southern end of Italy, which will not save Percy and Annabeth, either; or go north, to Bologna and then to Venice via a secret pass through the Apennines once used by Hannibal in his attack on Rome during the Second Punic War, which will require Hazel to use the Mist to protect the ship and her friends.

The rest of the story is about the decision Hazel’s decision and the hurdles Argo II has to face because of it and the path Percy and Annabeth have to take to escape from Tartarus.

This perhaps is the most darkest book Rick Riordan has written in recent time. There are lots of information about Tartarus and the action is gripping most of the time. The biggest improvement this time is that Rick Riordan was able to pull off the seven narrator thing which in my opinion he failed to do with The Mark of Athena. And unlike The Mark of Athena you do not feel that any hero received a raw deal! The book introduces new Gods, monsters and there is detail description of Tartarus.

The House of Hades is the best book in the The Heroes of Olympus series and is a must read.

SPOILER ALERT! Read it only if you have finished reading the book

Review- Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

The movie briefly explains, Thalia’s sacrifice and Zeus taking pity on her and transforming her into a pine tree, creating a magical border around the camp so that no other half-blood would suffer from a fate as she did. In present day, Chiron and Mr. D investigate a Cyclops that has somehow passed through the border, and the cyclops is revealed to be Tyson, Percy’s half-brother. The camp is suddenly attacked by a Colchis Bull, who breaks through the border and ravages Camp Half-Blood. Percy finally defeats it with the help of Tyson, Annabeth, and Clarisse. Luke Castellan suddenly appears and confronts Percy, trying to convert him to his cause. When Percy refuses, Luke disappears.

The campers soon realize that Thalia’s tree has been poisoned and that they have been left vulnerable to attacks. Annabeth and Grover then find a way to save the tree as they learn about the Golden Fleece which has the power to heal almost anything and they then propose a quest to Mr. D, where they retrieve the Fleece from Polyphemus‘ Lair in CirceLand in the Sea of Monsters and use it to heal Thalia’s tree. Mr. D then announces the quest, but chooses Clarisse to lead the quest instead, much to Annabeth’s and Percy’s dismay.

Percy then convinces Grover and Annabeth to accompany him on the quest, and Tyson joins them against the groups’ wishes.


Firstly let me admit that I have read all the books in Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. So I could be a little biased against the movie. One of the scenes in the movie, looked like frame to frame rip from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (The taxi scene). The story of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief had deviated a lot from the book. Thor Freudenthal (Director) has made this movie closer to the book.

The special effects are good but it could have been much better especially since Percy and his friends were sailing through the sea of monster. Sadly quite a few monsters from the book are missing. In the sea of monster, we see only one monster: Charybdis which was a bit of let down.

There are lots of plot holes like Percy talking to the lake and expecting Poseidon to respond. Unfortunately for Percy, Poseidon is the “God of the Sea” and not lake! The conclusion of the movie is absolutely pathetic. The final fight sequence kind of shows that Titans are easy to deal with!

Personally I don’t know which movie is worse Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters or Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Watch it only if you are a fan of the series, even then you might be disappointed (like me)