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Review: Lost in Space

I didn’t watch the original Lost in Space TV series, but I did watch the movie that came out a few years ago, and I remember liking it enough. It was a little space adventure movie with some interesting twists and turns in it. I don’t know how much it stuck with the original tv series, but the movie was okay.

So this week we watched the new series on Netflix. Same family; mom, dad and three kids. Same premise of being lost at space. There’s a robot that says “Danger, Will Robinson,” some aliens, and some danger for the family to get out of. But all the details are brand new.

First I’ll give you my over all reaction, no spoilers.

I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy it at all, but I can’t say that I liked it. There were some good scenes.  loved the robot. Beautiful design, nice practical effects mixed in with some CGI (yes, that’s a guy in a suit, that’s why the neck is weird.) The locations (mostly CGI) are beautiful, with wonderful alien atmosphere to them. Each of the main Robinson family, and a couple of the other colonists, have a story arch with some character growth. Some were more profound than others, but at least each of them grew as people.

The science was bad, even for a tv series. I can overlook this most of the time, it is a TV series, after all, but some of the science was really bad. Everything was done for dramatic effect; what can go wrong here? Oh this! And it get’s thrown at the characters for them to survive, even if it doesn’t really make sense. Most of the situations they found themselves in would have been solved early on if people had just been honest with each other. That fact alone was enough to make this series feel like a teen drama (like Pretty Little Liars) which only has tension because of all the secrets and lies the characters have.

And for the biggest problem I had with the entire series; for a family of geniuses they sure do some stupid things. While the youngest has a reason since he has had an overly protective mother since birth, the rest of them, especially the mother, have fewer reasons for their bad actions. This disappointed me because I have come to really love Netflix original content, and this show felt like it fell short of the mark. The writing just wasn’t as good.

On the plus side they did show the problem with the “strong, independent, woman” trope. She kept pushing aside her husband, ignoring his advise (a trained Naval seal who had been in many dangerous places) and undermining him to his children. It wasn’t long before one of the children pointed this out, and she started trying to work with him instead of proving she didn’t need him. When there are difficult situations like war, natural disasters, or being lost in the middle of no where, it takes a team effort to get through things. I thought that part was rather nice. Until she started working with him I kind of hated her as a character.

Overall if you go in not expecting much more than a drama in space then you’ll be fine. But it isn’t hard science, and it isn’t a comedy (though there were a few moments I laughed out loud.) It’s more of a teen drama that follows Murphy’s law on a planet far far away. Still not bad to watch….as long as you know what you’re getting into.

Now for some spoilers beyond the cut:

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Posted by on April 23, 2018 in On Writing

 

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Review:Cloverfield

I am going to admit that I love the Cloverfield series right here. I like how they blend different genres and styles. The first one had a found footage feel with a Godzilla origin. The second had a thriller/horror vibe with an alien invasion, and the third has a science fiction action adventure and lost in space feel. And yet all work together in the same universe. As a story creator myself, I LOVE THIS!

Now, I admit there are a lot of plot holes, and some big science aspects that really miss the mark, especially in the third one. Still, I enjoyed the actual story. I liked what they did with the main character. I like the mystery of what’s happening. And I think it fits in this…universe…?

For a non spoiler review: Don’t go into this expecting the best picture you ever saw. That’s not what this is. Don’t go into it expecting Godzilla monsters. That isn’t what this is. Don’t go into it expecting hard sci-fi with absolutely flawless science to back up what’s happening on screen. That is DEFINITELY not what this is.

What you should expect is a survival adventure on a space station slowly falling apart. And it does an okay job of being that, as well as expanding upon the universe of Cloverfield a bit. There are some good special effects, some interesting character moments, and as a survival space movie it is good.

If you’re trying to bridge the gap between Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane then you might get annoyed. Don’t watch it for that.

Now, for the spoilery stuff. You’ve been warned:

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Posted by on February 6, 2018 in Review

 

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Review: Bright

A bright is a being that can hold a magic wand without exploding. Magic wands are so powerful that only a few people can touch them, and everyone else wants to control it because of the immense possibilities of it. And if you get all five in one place you can summon the dark lord, and enslave the humans once more.

So when a wand turns up on the wrong side of town everything goes wrong, and there are only two cops standing in the way of the destruction of an entire city.

The premise had me from the first commercial. An orc cop? Yes, please! Fairies stealing from bird feeders? Okay! Elves and centaurs on LA streets? Sign me up!

I was not disappointed. The story line was good, even if the ending was a bit predictable. The main characters were well fleshed out, and I loved the interaction between the orc and main cop. Of course the orc has problems of his own since everyone wants him gone, especially other cops.

If there was one disappointment it was that magic was mostly window dressing. There are a few integral scenes where magic plays a roll, and the orc civilization is fairly fleshed out, but we know very little about elves (other than they are rich snobs) and other races are only briefly mentioned or seen in a couple frames standing still.

Overall worth watching, and I hope for a sequel.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2017 in On Writing

 

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Review: The Orville

I grew up on Star Trek. I loved watching Kirk battle the monster of the week, especially if the monster was himself. I welcomed The Next Generation when it came out, and LOVED it, even i the first year was a little rough around the edges. I didn’t care, I was able to travel across the galaxy with a sentient android, and various crew members from different races.

I use to watch Voyager every night when I got home from work. I watched many episodes twice. I loved Janeway’s get it done attitude, and Checoti made a wonderful counterpoint to her sometimes blind desire to get the crew home.

I’ve also watched a lot of the fan made series on you tube, some of which are really good!

What I’m saying is….I LOVE STAR TREK! I love the messages, examining each story, seeing allegories in modern life, and the shear fun of monster of the week mayhem some days. Sometimes a bug is just a bug and you have to kill it.

Now there is a new Star Trek, and it’s locked safely behind a paywall, so I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve heard mixed reviews. Some love it, some find it a little too preachy. The fact that the writers specifically said their Klingon’s are modeled off “Trump supporters” gives me some reservations, but I’m willing to give it a shot. After all, the original Star Trek often comments on society, and ways to improve it. Maybe this one will have some good insights as well.

But for now, since I’m not going to pay for a paywall till the full season is out, I am watching The Orville.

I caught a glimpse of the Orville while at work and thought the design, space, and ship looked a bit like Star Trek, though not quite. I also saw that it was advertised as a comedy. Of course I had to try it.

What I found wasn’t quite a sitcom in space, and it wasn’t quite a Star Trek space opera. It was something in the middle, with enough parody to keep it from tripping copyright, and enough space opera goodness to quench my craving for the cheesy experience.

The juxtaposition of cliche modern language in a space ship that is supposed to be from the future is kind of absurd, but it works. The ex husband and wife team cause just enough strife to keep everyone on their toes, but they also work well together because they know each other. The two pilots often say inane things that remind you they are two dudes from this world, and this time line, that got to play a role on their favorite space opera. Their reactions often would have no place outside a college dorm, or a sports party. And yet it works.

The first few episodes have ship to ship and hand to hand battles. There is character growth, unusually characters from other cultures, and even some important discussion of two cultures colliding, and not seeing eye to eye.

And while all of that is what I expect from a space opera style show I can also see that it’s campy, throws in jokes that aren’t always appropriate to the time period, and setting. But that’s the charm. The original Star Trek had bad fx and latex masks, The Orville has cheesy jokes at odd places. It works.

Now, I it isn’t perfect. The writing is still rough, but I think it’s showing some potential. I also like that it doesn’t spoon feed you a moral. On the third episode dealing with a child that was born the wrong gender, and dealing with the sex change of the child, the answer wasn’t handed to you neatly packaged as “this is the truth”, rather it was “this is what’s happening, but we feel uncomfortable about it even if this is how it has to be…for now.” And we, as the audience, are allowed to decide for ourselves why these things happened the way it did, and the ramifications of it all.

I’ll be watching more of The Orville, and I hope they will take us to many places far far away, with interesting characters and species from the edges of the galaxy.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2017 in On Writing

 

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Review – The Defenders from Netflix

I loved Jessica Jones, the first season of Dare Devil. I even liked The Iron Fist (even though I thought it wasn’t well choreographed, and didn’t hold up as much as the other three.) Luke Cage I found a bit boring, and I never got into the second season of Dare Devil.

So I thought I’d take a chance on The Defenders. I liked the four characters, so it had to be good, right?

Parts of it were. They had a decent plot going with the conflict escalating between the four super heroes and The Hand. They had Jessica doing her detective work, and Dare Devil trying to stop her from getting too deep. Because I hadn’t seen the second half of Dare Devil season two I kept wondering how Matt got to the point where he stopped fighting. Stopped trying to save his city. But I digress.

While the plot was interesting, and I loved Signorine Weaver as a villain, I thought some of our super hero’s were a bit on the angsty side. “I don’t want to risk my life, but I do, but I don’t” The back and forth wishy washy nature was annoying.

The choreography for fights left something to be desired. My favorite part of Dare Devil was the long hall scene where they are fighting, being thrown in and out of view of the camera. That was awesome. In the Defenders maybe more of it should have been off camera too.

The other character I absolutely couldn’t stand was Misty. She kept getting in the way, but kind of wanted to help them, but kept trying to brow beat them into telling her what they knew. Her character was so poorly written. I think they were trying to show she was stuck in between advancing at work, and helping the people who could actually do something, and it showed up as more indecisiveness.

I ended up liking parts of it, and hating other parts of it. I actually yelled at the screen at one point for a particular character to get the hell out of the way. But the overall plot was an interesting one, and the ending tied up everything nicely. It was the character development, and some of the angstyness of most of the cast that really did not help.

 

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2017 in Review

 

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Review: Marked by Magic by Jasmine Walt

I just finished the fourth book in the Baine Chronicles, Marked by Magic, by Jasmine Walt, and I just had to share it.

I love this series. So many parallels to the real world, and yet still firmly rooted in it’s own magical world. A lot of action, and some romance, with a lot of mystery and political maneuvering. From the ending I think there might be more political intrigue in the next book as certain people try getting in between the main character and her romance. Looking forward to that as well.

This is quickly becoming my favorite series to read this year. Without coming out and saying it directly, Miss Walt manages to talk about difficulties when different races, religions, and political beliefs clash. By using a person that has never quite fit into any of those spaces, and suddenly gets thrust into the world that she has been taught to despise her entire life, Miss Walt is able to show the ugliest parts, while also showing that there are good people out there too, and most of them are just trying to feed their family and get by.

The world, itself, is fascinating, too. Magic, steam power, and the budding influence of technology. They have electricity, but they don’t have automation. Steam cars, and air ships, but guns and minting actual gold coins is illegal. I love the way she builds this world, and balances the three races of human, shifter, and mage.

For this specific book in the series Miss Baine has a target on her back, and has to get to the bottom of the renegades before someone gets to her first. While there is romance, this book is more about Miss Baine learning to control herself, and her actions than it is the romance.

All in all a great book, and series. I’m glad I picked up the whole set.

 

You can pick up the first book in the series, Burned by Magic, for 99 cents!

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2017 in On Writing

 

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Review: Spectral

netflix-spectral-prostokat Part war movie, part sci-fi ghost story, Spectral was an amazing cross genre movie. A lot of action, a lot of mystery, and a whole lot of “what the heck just happened?” in a good way.

Set in a somewhat futuristic society where troops are trying to protect yet another city from displaced insurgents, a loan engineer finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place. Go back home and forget he saw anything, or stay and help figure out what’s killing soldiers and civilians alike. Ghost like apparitions that could be soldiers in invisible camouflage, or….something else.

The main focus of this movie is the battle between the soldiers, and the apparitions, less about the personal interactions. You won’t find a sappy love story, or heart warming coming to know yourself. This is all about the action. And there is a lot of it.

spectralgrenadesThe “ghosts” are grounded in some pseudo science, giving some explanation as to what they are and where they came from. As is the weaponry the soldiers fight with. But the pseudo science is really glossed over, and you can’t take a look at it too closely or you might see just how unrealistic it is. However, some of the visuals they use to get the science across is pretty amazing. Weapons, armor, and techno gizmos are awesome to look at, and a cos-players dream.

Being as this was an action movie, above all else, I had to appreciate some of the military tactics, while scoffing at others. They do make a convincing formation moving into a building. They do not, however, utilize tactics for entering an unknown location. Information is the key, and they didn’t seem to have much before rushing into a building headlong. Plus one of the scientists is so head strong that she takes some stupid risks to prove her point. Bad tactical risks.

I also found it curious how quickly their engineer was able to whip up a bunch of gadgets. The world is about to end and he has time to make enough weaponry to outfit an entire battalion? Hard to suspend your disbelief on that one, but the ending battle was glorious because of it.

For all the pseudo science, I did find the lore of the ghosts to be interesting. I liked how they presented them, and how they stopped them. The visual effects were beautiful, as well. The ghosts had just enough weak points to made the battle scenes more interesting, but were still a formidable foe. It was only the Achilles heel that managed to take them out in the end.

Still, for a military sci-fi movie, it isn’t so overbearingly military that I lost interest, and the paranormal has enough of an interesting angle that it might keep more action junkies happy to the end.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2016 in Review

 

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