Tag Archives: reviews

Avengers: Age of Ultron Movie Review

What more do you need to watch this movie?

What more do you need to watch this movie?

Oh dear God, I stopped posting for like a month. I’ve been really busy and stuff, but I really wish I’d done something. Anyway, this is my review of the new Avengers movie!

Spoilers follow.

So the Avengers are back. That needs to be addressed in itself. The story was a logical continuation of the last movie, with the team fully formed from the very first scene (no frickin’ origin story this time!) taking down Hydra bases. Eventually, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner make and awaken an artificial intelligence powered by the Mind Gem (which was hidden in Loki’s scepter, explaining the mind control thing from the last movie), which proceeds to take some bodies and attack, borrowing some Nazi experiments (Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch weren’t Inhumans after all!) as assistants.

Okay, the plot totally worked for me. It mostly made sense, and scenes flowed smoothly. I thought the action sequences were excellent (especially the first and last ones!), but there were just too many eventually, especially when the non-violent scenes are so incredible-Joss Whedon, man. That dialogue. The best scenes are where he just lets 2 or more characters play off each other and make use of his banter-writing skills.

Speaking of which, the cast is incredible! Robert Downey Jr. kicked customary ass, Mark Ruffalo was fantastic, both Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner got to flesh out their characters more (especially Renner, which made me very happy), Chrisses Hemsworth and Evans were both as good as ever, Don Cheadle was the funniest character in the whole movie… I could go on. Paul Bettany, having moved into an actual body from JARVIS, was great, but so underused! His powers randomly showed up without warning and we only saw any of them once or twice. However, the fact that he can lift Thor’s hammer, and that scene in general, sold me on the character, combined with his really cool levitation thing. Cool guy. Quicksilver was also good but underused. His few lines were good (the accent was kind of meh, Taylor-Johnson), and his physicality was fantastic-I honestly believed that he believed he was faster than anything ever to come his way. And the scene where he gets grazed with a bullet from the army made me laugh out loud (not rare in this movie, but always appreciated). I honestly wish he lived, though-not because I didn’t like the death, which was amazing, but I want to see more of him! I wouldn’t even care if they resurrected this guy again just so see more of him and Hawkeye. (“No one would know… “) Elizabeth Olsen, however, really sold her every moment. Nailed almost every second on screen. Man, those Maximoffs.

Okay, Ultron gets his own paragraph. The special effects for his body were great, and James Spader effectively channeled “evil robot Tony Stark” while making his own person out of it (although the God stuff got old after a while, but I suffered through it).  My main complaint: are his cheeks speakers? What’s up with that?

My favorite moments were: everything with Hawkeye, when Tony Stark finds a secret door at the beginning of  the movie, and the Thor hammer scene. (If you put the hammer in a cardboard box, can you pick up the box? How about if you put the hammer on something in space and move that? Confusing… )

I loved the ending, and I kind of want a movie or TV show before Infinity War showing us how this new team works (Korvac seems unused… ), and resurrecting Quicksilver, obviously. (Pleeeeeeease… I just want to see him more… )

Okay, as soon as I post this, I’ll think of a thousand things I didn’t say, but to be honest, I want to stop. I’m not a fan of writing movie reviews.

Ciao!

Comic Review: Batman-Hush

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Jesus, the gaps between my posts are getting miserably long. Hopefully it won’t extend to another 4-month hiatus for no reason. Anyway, just read Batman:Hush and wanted to give an opinion on it.

Batman. Ohhhhhhh Batman. You need to stay the hell away from Catwoman, she is unhealthy for you. This comic progressed their relationship to the point where he told her his secret identity (flippin’ MORON, Bruce!). So… that happens. Beyond that, the plot involves a plethora of Batman villains crawling out of the woodwork randomly to attack Batman, which is normally known as “Tuesday” for this guy. But! Being the World’s Greatest Detective can leave you fairly paranoid, as Bruce deduces (heh!) a connection between the crimes. And yes, there’s a mystery villain. And no, I’m not telling you who it is. I hate reviews with spoilers with a burning passion.

This comic blew me away. Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee really have something here. Like the rest of the human race, I’m a huge Jim Lee fan, and his work on this was as good as I’ve ever seen him. As a Batman story, this was phenomenal.

But… as well as a Batman guy, I’m a big mystery fan. And the actual mystery part wasn’t fantastic. That’s the thing-World’s Greatest Detective or no, Bat-mysteries are often fairly transparent. The guy in the bandages was always going to be… who he was. The final twist I did not see coming, though. I quite literally fell off my chair when I found out who had orchestrated the thing (my favorite Bat-villain, no less!). It was a bit rushed, though. Not quite up to par, but close.

Final jab: no Penguin? I like him!

See? Now the Penguin is angry.

See? Now the Penguin is angry.

Okay, I have a crapton of stuff to review, so I’ll probably (hopefully) be back soon!

Book Review: Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

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OKAY! Back to the blogging! I recently read, and am reviewing, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. Hopefully it’ll kick off more reviews over the next few weeks: I’ve read a a lot of good stuff and I look forward to ranting about it. Anyway:

So Ready Player One is set in a future that isn’t quite apocalyptic or dystopian, but is well on its way. (That in itself was unnerving as hell: it just seemed about 5 years away, and it’s really the only novel I can think of that was that plausible. Shiver.) Society is slipping into “hellish” territory, and everyone escapes from that by jacking into a virtual reality game called the OASIS. The OASIS is, as far as I can tell, a virtual universe full of more or less every fantasy, sci-fi or video game universe imaginable. The plot centers around the death of the inventor of the OASIS. For some unimaginable but probably stupid reason, he decided to will his entire  (megabillion-dollar) fortune to whoever solved this massive, 80s-themed nerd puzzle in the OASIS. This is the story of one sixteen-year-old’s quest to complete that puzzle.

Things I liked about this book were many: the characters didn’t suck, the 80s pop culture was fun, and there were times when I literally could not put the book down. Also, like I said, it’s one of the only sic-fi novels in my brain at the moment (there are probably others) that feels like it could literally happen in a month, given the right push. The main antagonist, a corporation desperate to gain control over the OASIS (another prize for solving the puzzle), also seems vaguely linked to net neutrality. Because I really, really hate to blog about politics (I see the value, but I just don’t know what I’m talking about), I’m passing over the issue as much as I can, but it did feel like it could happen.

That said: who taught this guy to plot a story? He’ll just leave his character weak after a major event and then jump back in, a few months later, with the character explaining how he spent the last few months developing his avatar. We understand that you want your character powerful without the intermediate (another Spider-Man origin story, anyone?), and we understand why he has to start out weak, but you can’t just jump us out of his life. It’s a conundrum: the explanation is boring, but the lack of one would confuse the hell out of the readers. It wasn’t great. Also, Ernest Cline, like the rest of the world, can’t inject suspense into a description of an 80s video game. Valiant effort, Mr. Cline, but no go.

James and Brendan Dwyer read this book and were mad because it was in the 80s instead of the 90s. The result, Cult Fiction, which I reviewed elsewhere, isn’t quite as good as this. But I’d read it first: if you can survive those characters and that writing (all the same problems, but chose easier-to-dramatize video games), you can deal with this.

Okay, that was really long. Arrivederci!

Double Review: American Gods and Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman

THESE BOOKS!!!

THESE BOOKS!!!

Okay! I have a spare minute to blog now, so I’m going to talk about 2 of the 3 Neil Gaiman books I just read, American Gods and Anansi Boys.

American Gods followed Shadow, a man whose wife died the day he got out of prison, while having car-sex with his best friend. With basically nothing left in his old life, he accepts a job offer from a mysterious Mr. Wednesday. I don’t want to explain much more, but here’s the gist: gods walk among us, and a war is coming.

If all that sounds cliche, don’t be fooled. This is not Percy Jackson or whatever. This is well put together, and fun, and deeply weird, and fairly original. And I have to say, Gaiman possesses the rare gift of endings-once he has a book going, he knows exactly where and how the end is going to go, and if he doesn’t, he’s a hell of a good faker. The protagonist was sympathetic-ish without too much of the book spent on making him so. Plot twists are unexpected and not too numerous. In case it was unclear, I loved the hell out of this book.

So then Gaiman decides that whether or not he’s done with Shadow (apparently not, he just published a new short story about the guy), he’s not done with the world, and along comes Anansi Boys. Anansi is the African spider trickster-god. Probably you’ve heard of him. He was featured in American Gods, and now we meet his kids. And they have to deal with each other, and a bunch of other gods wanting revenge for Anansi screwing with them in the past.

This book was a total stylistic change from American Gods. It was way lighter, and the protagonist (named Fat Charlie) was much easier to like. But the 2 books were both fantastic, and I recommend them to the entire flippin’ world.

Oh, hey, I just thought of a really good analogy. If these books were episodes of Doctor WhoAmerican Gods would be Blink and Anansi Boys would be The Lodger. That… is actually insanely spot-on. Well done me. Fans of the episodes should read the books, and vice versa. (Two of my favorite episodes as well).

What 10 Books Should Be In This Bookstore?

Think on this one...

Think on this one…

Howdy! Okay, this is quick. I need advice on the inventory of a bookstore (long story): if you could put just 10 books (I need sci-fi/fantasy mostly, but any books) into this bookstore, what would they be? What writers can NOT BE MISSED? I actually need input, so please respond to this.

Thank you in advance! Until next time…

Comic Review: Planet Red Hulk

SMASH!

SMASH!

Howdy! This is like the 3rd time I’ve tried to write this post, it keeps disappearing from my drafts, but anyway: I haven’t written any comic reviews in a while, so I decided to write about Planet Red Hulk, written by Jeff Parker.

Red Hulk is old Hulk antagonist Thunderbolt Ross, turned into his least favorite thing in the universe (voluntarily, by the way) and punching stuff in the FACE. This volume introduced 2 new, kind of awesome antagonists: Ross’s old army protege Reginald Fortean, who serves the same role Ross played in Green Hulk storylines (Captain Ahab type using military tech to track down and kill the Hulk) , but is much better at it, which is nice. Also, there’s a cyborg-type being from a lab accident in an earlier volume (which I did not read) called Zero/One. I can’t really understand her motives, but she’s a pretty cool villainess, and her and her unwitting henchman are easily the most interesting characters in the comic. Here’s a picture.

Zero/One.

Also, the Hulk is in a space accident and wakes up on a strange planet where he has to deal with being the “chosen” of some people while defeating a tyrant and fighting as a gladiator. If this sounds exactly like Planet Hulk, the earlier Green Hulk epic tale, that’s because it is. And they recognize and explain that (weirdly, but they do).

Okay, let me get this out of the way: under no circumstances should anyone read this book who has not already read Planet Hulk at least twice. Okay? Planet Hulk is vastly better in every way, and is basically required reading for anyone who cares about comics enough to make it this far into my review. It’s really good, and there is a lot of punching.

THAT SAID: If you’ve read Planet Hulk, this’ll be fun. More punching, and Zero/One and Fortean continue to be awesome villains. This is a total therapy read. After the worst Monday of your life, read Planet Red Hulk. You know.

That’s it for now, folks. (I did NOT steal Porky Pig’s catchphrase there. Hah.)

Book Review: Cult Fiction, by James and Brendan Dwyer

Sooooo nerdy.

Sooooo nerdy.

Hi! Been kind of a while and I’m running out of things to think about, so I’m reviewing a book I read like last August. I bought it at a convention out of sheer curiosity. So anyway:

Cult Fiction is the tale of 2 Irish brothers who were sick of all the virtual reality stories and wanted to write one where pop culture was made actually real. So they up and wrote it. Set in a future on its way to becoming a dystopia, this book centers around Municipal City, a city-state where a bunch of rich geeks made every nerdy thing they could think of a reality: magic, Transformers, Pokemon, whatever. They simulate everything in this one area. After passing a fantastically nerdy 256-question test (get it?), new citizens can pick a character, and become that character as fully as possible (or just do their own thing). We follow a Tifa Lockhart tribute through the 90s sector (yes, decades have sectors) through the city as she interacts with the world.

This book… kind of made me uncomfortable. It was, like, the Dwyer brothers wrote the closest approximation to their entire souls they could come up with on the page, and now I’m reading it. You could tell how much love was poured into every page-as James Dwyer says in this interview (don’t know how to insert links into posts, so I’ll stick it at the bottom of the page), it’s “almost sexual, really”. All that makes it really, really hard not to love. On the other hand, it’s not written so well. Exposition is shoehorned in annoyingly and at really inopportune times, it was kind of cliched (I know there were times when it was supposed to be cliche, and I enjoyed that, but the rest of it was just annoying), the characters were… well, not bad, actually, but not great either. In the same interview, Dwyer suggests that inner turmoil and description are like a writer “masturbating his imagination on top of your face”, and he lives up to that. There’s almost none of either. All in all, it’s not a great book, but I love it anyway. I love the references, and it’s just so sincere you can’t help but enjoy it. (And the fight scenes are pretty good, too). I’m definitely reading Part 2 when it comes out.

Guess that’s it. Thanks for reading!

Link to interview: https://www.smashwords.com/interview/brendandwyer

Book Review: Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

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Hi! This post was originally going to be about the news about Spider-Man joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but you already know that, right? (Awesome, and I don’t care what Marvel-Movie-Maniac says in the post I reblogged below this one-rendering my take on the news even more unnecessary. Grrrr. That post ruined my day.) Anyway, so I’m reviewing this book Station Eleven, which I read a while ago and really, really enjoyed. Here goes:

I encountered this book as “the postapocalyptic novel for people who hate postapocalyptic novels”, which is true. But it’s also the post apocalyptic novel for people who love post apocalyptic novels, and for those who’ve never read one before in their lives. It follows three lives at different times: a movie star and his love life in our world, a paparazzo in training to be a paramedic   and his life as a new and terrifying disease sweeps the planet, and a member of a troop of traveling Shakespearean actors and musicians after the apocalypse (it would have reminded me of The Walking Dead if I watched that show, so I guess it reminded me of… the way The Walking Dead seems to feel from the parodies I’ve seen? Or something). It’s so well written that I barely noticed the world crumbling for much of the book because I was too interested in the characters. Almost every character is sympathetic, compelling, and hard to stop reading about. My exception to this rule was the pre-apocalypse movie star, Arthur Leander. He wasn’t as fleshed out as I felt he could have been. We learn much about him from the eyes of others, which is an interesting device, but makes the others more interesting than him. Okay, he was interesting-ish, but you had to work to see any depth. I’m a lazy reader. I like the writer to show me where to find the depth in a character without a wild goose-chase. So flippin’ sue me. You’ll still love this book. Probably, Okay, this is getting long. Read the book. There. Done.

Thanks for reading! Join me next time, when I’ll review… something else, probably.

My Top 5 Ongoing Comics Right Now

Hi! So instead of writing a more in-depth review of each of these series, I decided to just lump them all into one (although I reserve the right to review  them later). These, in my opinion, are the top 5 comics being published right now. (You’ll notice a lot of Marvel. I l like Marvel.So sue me.)

5. Loki: Agent of Asgard (Marvel)

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At number 5 is Marvel’s series starring Loki. For some reason I missed because I wasn’t paying attention to Thor enough, Loki was reincarnated as a kid with no memory of his evildoings. HOWEVER, apparently Evil Loki annihilated the new Good Loki and took over his body, which I also missed, because I do not pay attention to Thor. HOWEVER, Evil Loki is trying desperately to stay Good Loki by going on James Bond missions for the All-Mother (which include picking up rogue Asgardians who “skipped out on Ragnarok”, among other things). And that, my friends, is Loki: Agent of Asgard. And it is awesome. (I’m only about 5 issues in. But they were 5 awesome issues.) I’m trying to put as few spoilers here as possible, but it is hard for this series. My only complaint is its confusingness for those of us who, as I keep pointing out, do not pay attention to Thor. I only picked this up in the first place because I met Kid Loki in Young Avengers.

4. Fantastic Four

Probably awesome.

Probably awesome.

It’s still technically running for a couple months. I’m actually putting this in my list solely on meri-I’ve only read the first issue of the reboot (which I loved). But the Fantastic Four are by far my favorite team, so I had to give this to them. I don’t care about the movie history, maybe the next one will be better. (Hopefully!)

3. MIND MGMT (Dark Horse)

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This is the only non-Marvel or DC comic on my list, which means I should really diversify my pull list. I just read this in the collected editions at my local library. Anyway, the basic conceit is about a secret agency of psychics running the world. They’ve since disbanded, but some are trying to rectify that. What makes this series great is its Lost-caliber mysteries (in a blatant reference, it also starts with something mysterious on Flight 815), its level of page complexity, and its really, really cool psychic powers. (Example: there’s this one guy who automatically reads the minds of everyone within a certain radius-he can’t hear their thoughts, but he can predict the future. SO COOL.) MIND MGMT is one of those comics that is really hard to explain, but if you get into it you’ll absolutely love it, Every time. I swear.

2. Batman (DC, obviously)

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I don’t feel that I should have to explain myself. He is Batman, and his series is fantastic. (Another one I only read in collected editions, it’s really starting to annoy me but there you go. I MOURN FOR YOU BELOVED LOCAL COMICS STORE!!) Mostly he is Batman (that’s kind of a lie, I’m there  for the Joker like everybody else, but there you go.)

And my favorite comic currently running is…

1. Wolverine and the X-men/Spider-man and the X-men

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This comic. In contrast with all the dark X-stuff happening everywhere else, this is just some strange mutant children and their extremely confused headmaster out to learn how to function. (Wolverine had more stabbing, but whatever.)

Guess that’s it. Ciao!

Book Review: The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu

Hi. I try never to reblog something without following up with something I actually wrote, so I decided to review a Chinese sci-fi novel I recently read. It was pretty big in China, apparently, and was just recently translated. I heard about it through a friend and decided to check it out.

This is one of the best sci-fi novels I read this year. It’s set in the near future, where the most major relevant development is a “v-suit” that allows one to play video games in virtual reality. Other than that, most stuff is the same. Actually, the book starts following a woman during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, as her father dies and she joins a mysterious scientific research project. Then it cuts to the future, where a young scientist is approached by the government to help them with a series of suicides in the scientific community. I won’t say more (spoilers). That’s really all you need at this point.

I really liked this book. The plot was really engaging and somewhat original. For the most part, the characters are multidimensional and relatable (although the dialogue can sometimes be stilted, which I kind of expected), and the translation, by Ken Liu, was actually way more fluid than I expected. I highly recommend it to anyone.

That doesn’t mean it was perfect, though. There were 1 or 2 characters who just didn’t translate well. And the first part, during the Cultural Revolution, wasn’t very engaging. Still, good book, highly recommended.

That’s all I have for now, thanks. Arrivederci!