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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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Review: The Thinning

thethinning-001-1046x700The world is over populated, and the UN has decided every country on earth must lower their population by 5% every year to stop the worlds decline. Some countries enact legislation to prevent births, but the USA enacts another law, a far more deadly law. A law in which everyone is tested every year, and the bottom 5% are taken away to be executed.

That’s the premise of YouTube Red’s new movie, The Thinning. A distopian world where 5% of the population is killed because they are the least intelligent. Only what if someone was tampering with the test results? What if it was all based on a lie?

This reminds me of the made for tv movies from SciFi. Entertaining, interesting, maybe even thought provoking. But you look too deep and you tend to see the plot holes. There are a lot of plot holes, but they are small and only noticeable if you are looking for them. Usually they come down to things like “this character shouldn’t be able to do that so easily” sort of devices, so for a YouTube original movie I gave it a pass.

It was very thought provoking, and I have to admit I saw the ending coming. Even so, I quite enjoyed it. I hadn’t heard of Logan Paul before this movie, but I might check out some of his other work now.

If you don’t have YouTube Red to watch this then you could consider getting the free trial and checking it out. There are a few shows on YouTube Red that are pretty good, but I honestly just like the fact that I haven’t seen a commercial on YouTube in months. The extra content is a bonus.

If you like distopian movies, or sci-fi of the week novels, this movie might hit that spot. But just enjoy it for what it is and don’t pick at the plot holes.

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2016 in On Writing

 

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Review : Arq

​First, the not spoiler review

Netflix original movie, Arq is a fast paced action adventure. I went in knowing nothing about the movie other than it was a Netflix original and sci-fi. When things started going I ended up glued to my seat trying to figure out what was going to happen next. I loved this movie! I hope it gets a sequel because I would love to see more of the world.

The entire movie takes place inside one house. You do get a feel for the world outside the house, but they manage to do a beautiful job of telling a story with this limited set, and only six characters. 

I honestly think I got more enjoyment of the story because I did not know what to expect. I came in blind and was able to take in the pieces as they were given to me, and got more interested the farther down the rabbit hole we went.

Now, for the spoilers

Arq isn’t a new idea. Time looping and sci-fi have gone hand in hand for as long as most of us can remember. I can think of several Star Trek episodes, plus movies like Primer, Looper, and Groundhog Day. All of which deal with people repeating a day, or week, or moment over and over again.

Arq is, however, creative in the way they do it. One person remembers. As they loop more people start to remember, and each new person who remembers causes new complications along the way. The fact that all of this is happening during a home invasion just makes it even better. 

The interaction between the two main characters is fantastic! And the fact that it keeps changing as they keep learning new things about each other through the loops is great. 

The ending was a bit of a OMG moment. I thought “fantastic, let’s go to the next episode, this is great.” That’s when I realized it was a movie, not a series. This would make such an interesting series!

Hoping they make a sequel to this. It really deserves one.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2016 in Review

 

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Review: Jason Bourne

imagesDon’t you love how they did away with everything except his name? Jason Bourne, because we all know his name and his story. It’s become a part of our culture, and our references. There are so many memes about Bourne that he needs nothing except the name and the face.

But I find the Bourne series interesting in other ways too.

Last week I did a review on Stranger Things. Set in the 80’s, it had a lot of references to things I knew back then. That included one moment in the show when the father tells his wife “Don’t worry, their the government, we can trust them.” (Or something like that.)

On the other hand there is Bourne, and other movies like it, that emphasize that we can’t trust our government. When I was growing up we had The Great American Hero and 007 who fought for the government to stop the bad guys. Now both of them are working against the government, taking a stand against what they think is wrong.

We don’t trust our government like we use to. We don’t expect them to be working for the “greater good”, whatever that is. We do expect many people in government to act in their own self interest. The sad part is, nothing has changed. The same people in government are doing the same things they’ve always done. We just took the blinders off. Things like Snowden and the NSA have made it harder to stick our heads in the sand. Not that we can do anything about it.

So we go to the movies and we watch shows like Jason Bourne or Jack Reacher where a lone man fights against the odds to bring corrupt people in the government to justice. Why? Because we survive off hope. Just like many turned to comics and stories back during WWII for a little hope that the war would someday end.

I will say, Bourne was a great movie. Lots of action, lots of conspiracy and twists and turns trying to figure out who was really at fault. And in the end Jason Bourne only has some of the answers, leaving room for yet another installment. But not enough to feel like it wasn’t a complete movie. It’s some of my favorite kind of escapism.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2016 in Review

 

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