Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Movie Review - The Death of Superman (DC Universe Animated Original Movie)



After the disappointment of Superman: Doomsday, I really had no desire to see this remake. But then I subscribed to the DC Universe app and this was included, so I decided to watch it. I am so glad I did.

The Death of Superman is a 2018 action superhero DC Universe Animated Original Movie based on characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. It is rated PG-13 for language, violence, and unnecessary gore and is appropriate for tweens and up.

The Good


Faithfulness to the Source Material. This movie was surprisingly faithful to the 90s comic books from including major characters and plot lines to even capturing some of the look and feel. I appreciated how they snuck in a nod to the red-headed, red-bearded Lex Luthor II.

Action. The movie featured some nice action that was paced well and was the right amount for the story. I didn't feel like it was over too quickly nor like it got boring because there was so much of it. Doomsday was shown as a real threat by the way he tore thru the Justice League with so little effort. I also like the additions including the bridge scene and the fight in the sky.

Story. The film had a really good story. From the Lois & Clark love story arc to the Lex looking for a way to destroy Superman arc to Doomsday arriving and attacking, everything made sense, fit together, and was sufficiently explored.

The Bad


Lois. Lois had a really important role in this film, but it was really hard to care about her or feel anything for her. She seemed so indifferent and dispassionate, like she was just going thru the motions with no real spirit behind anything.

Animation. I'm not sure who came up with the New 52 look or why they've stuck with it for so long, because it doesn't look great, nor does it animate well. The movements are jerky and awkward. There is so little emotion communicated.

Voices. The voice casting was awful. Everyone sounded strange. After the great work from Andrea Romano and her amazing voice casting, fans have come to expect a certain level of quality that just wasn't matched here.

Music. The music was pretty generic. DC has had some really great Superman themes and music, and it is a shame they didn't use any of it here or try to reach the same level of quality.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish the art direction had matched the style of the comics. Dan Jurgens and Tom Grummet both draw great classic Superman that would both animate well.

Overall


The Death of Superman (DC Universe Animated Original Movie) was a surprisingly enjoyable movie. It had a solid story, great action, and was fairly faithful to the original comics. I couldn't understand why they needed to tell this story for a third time in a decade, but this time they got it right. I'm excited for Reign of the Supermen. I give this film 4 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.

    

Thursday, September 13, 2018

TV Show Review - Marvel's Iron Fist (Season 2)

I like the character Iron Fist and was really excited to hear he would star in his own show on Netflix. When I saw who they cast as Iron Fist, I got less excited, because the actor just didn't have the same vibe as the character in the comics. And the first season was weak. I hoped for the second season, Marvel Studios would learn from their mistakes, and they did.

Marvel's Iron Fist (Season 2) is a 10-episode 2018 Netflix Original Mini-series based on the Marvel Comics superhero character of Iron Fist. It is rated TV-MA for language, violence, and blood and is appropriate for older teens and up.

The Good


Story. The first season suffered from a weak story that felt more like a first draft than a finished product. This time the producers started with a solid story that new where it was going and what kind of a show it wanted to be. It knew the characters, who they were, and where they needed to go.

Characters.
 This show includes not only Iron Fist but Davos, Misty Knight, Coleen, and Typhoid Mary. I was really excited for Typhoid Mary who is a great Daredevil adversary, but I was nervous if they'd get the character wrong like they had with Elektra. They didn't She is different from in the comic, but still an interesting character that keeps several important characteristics.

Ending. This series has a very satisfying ending. It isn't rushed, is satisfying tying up loose threads, and sets up a really exciting third season.

The Bad


Convenient Plot Points.  While the writing is much stronger this season, it still isn't up to the level of Daredevil. There are a lot of convenient coincidences that happen to move the story along.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish the story had been stronger by focusing on one or two main arcs instead of fracturing the plot so everyone had equal screen time and things to do. I also wish the show had looked as nice as the previous mini-series with better sets and other visuals.

Overall


Marvel's Iron Fist (Season 2) is a very satisfying 10-episode mini-series with strong writing, great action, good characterization, and a solid story. The producers learned from their mistakes on the first season and fixed them. While not quite as good as Daredevil, it's better than any of the other Netflix Original Series from Marvel Studios. I give this show 4 out of 5 remotes.

   

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Book Review - The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough



I had heard of David McCullough, and even purchased his books as gifts for others, but I myself never read any of his books until The Wright Brothers. I preordered is a week or so before it came out on a whim, and was not disappointed. I absolutely loved that book and the way the story was told. I couldn't wait to read more. But after reading a half dozen of his books, I could. They were all good, but none of them reached the heights The Wright Brothers had. Until I read this book.

The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough is a nonfiction history of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge (in case the title didn't tip you off)It is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and one of those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Storytelling. I had avoided this book for quite a while, because I couldn't fathom how this story could be at all interesting. Somehow David McCullough found a way. I was hooked from the beginning and couldn't wait to hear more.

Subject Matter. I wasn't aware of how amazing building the bridge was, especially for its time. The author did an excellent job picking a subject worth a book.

Extra History. David McCullough includes a lot of extra history in his books to help provide context (and because he lovers history) which I found very fascinating and educational.

The Bad

Ummm.....

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish he had included the story of the plans that had been forgotten about and how impressive they were once they were recently discovered. It's in another work of his, but would have added even more wonder and amazement.

Overall


The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough is an incredible book. I thoroughly enjoyed it from the first page to the last. The bridge itself is an incredible work of engineering, but David McCullough found a way to make the story come alive while still providing the technical details. I give this book 5 out of 5 eReaders.


    

Monday, August 27, 2018

Movie Review - Crazy Rich Asians

I had heard nothing about this film until a week before it opened I happened to catch a trailer in the box office of a theater while leaving another film. It looked like a lot of fun, so I was hoping it would get a wide release so I could see it.

Crazy Rich Asians is a 2018 romantic comedy drama based on the book of the same name. It is rated PG-13 for language and is appropriate for most ages.

The Good


Characters. The characters were really fun. While they fit a lot of the stereotypes one expects in a romantic comedy, because of the heavy emphasis on southeast asian culture, they were different enough to feel a little fresh. And the writers did more with the characters than make them the usual plot devices.

Visuals. The look of the film was beautiful. From the sets to the costumes to the locations chosen.

Pacing. The film moves at the perfect pace. I never felt bored or confused.

Freshness. The film tackles a culture I wasn't that familiar with, so there were some new situations and ideas I haven't seen too many times.

The Bad


Racist Opening. The film opens with a scene to show why the mother distrusts foreigners, but it's little more than the typical "hate on while people" racism of the the current milieu to show "open mindedness" and an acceptance of "diversity".

Cousin's Story. The main male lead of the film's cousin has a similar story that goes in a very different direction that feels shoehorned in. I understand the point the filmmakers were trying to make, but it wasn't well executed.

Credits/Graphics. The credits and graphics looked like a cheap 90s TV production. Maybe that's what films in southeast asia look like and they were emulating that.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


The film was great and I didn't feel wanting for anything.

Overall


Crazy Rich Asians is such a delight to watch from a great cast to great visuals to a great story and acting. I laughed, I felt sad, and I walked out of the theater satisfied. I haven't enjoyed a film nor been this entertained in a long time. There is enough of the familiar romantic comedy American audiences will feel comfortable, but there is enough of the southeast asian culture and ideas that it feels fresh and different. It isn't a perfect film and has several areas that could be improved, but overall I loved it. I give this film 5 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.

     

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Book Review - Thrawn: Alliances (Star Wars) by Timothy Zahn

I enjoyed Timothy Zahn's original Thrawn Trilogy, but I thought it could have been better. The classic Star Wars characters were close, but not quite right. His first Thrawn book in the new series corrected that by getting the Emperor's character right and showing us new sides to Thrawn's character. I was curious to see how he would follow up that story.

Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn is a science fiction, action, adventure Star Wars storyIt is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and one of those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Darth Vader. I find it rare for anyone but George Lucas to get his classic characters right. I've read a lot of Star Wars novels, comic books, comic strips, and even watched those awful new Star Wars films, and no one seems to really capture the original characters. Even Timothy Zahn in his first series of Star Wars novels couldn't pull it off. Until now. Darth Vader felt like Darth Vader, spoke like Darth Vader, and acted like Darth Vader.

Interesting Stories that Parallel. This latest novel is actually two stories that take place in a similar part of space with the earlier story affecting the latter one. While the story wasn't as good as the first Thrawn novel in the series, is was still interesting and added to the Star Wars mythos.

The Bad

Small Scope. When I think of Star Wars, I think of Galactic Opera that contrasts the big galactic events against the everyday lives of ordinary people. This story forgot the galactic events.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish more had happened. I wish the aliens had been more interesting.

Overall


Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn wasn't as good as the first Thrawn novel in this series, but was still an enjoyable read and continues the story adding more to Thrawn's backstory and motivation. Zahn did a masterful job of capturing Darth Vader's voice, thoughts, and actions. The parallel stories was handled well and helped make two less interesting stories more impactful. I give this book 4 out of 5 eReaders.


   

Friday, August 10, 2018

Movie Review - Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

I loved Mamma Mia! when I saw it live, but was a little disappointed in the film version because of who was cast: most of them couldn't sing, and most of them were too old for those roles. I was a little hesitant to watch a sequel, because I wasn't sure there were many places worth going, but I loved the first one so much I went and saw it anyway.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a 2018 musical comedy drama based on the music of ABBA. It is rated PG-13 for language and is appropriate for teens and up.

The Good


Story. This movie had a great story. It parallels Donna's journey to the island and meeting the three guys with Sofie's journey to restore the old place to a great hotel. It was really interesting and well told and definitely deserved to be told.

Young-version Actors. The actors cast as the young versions were really well cast, They looked and acted like their older counterparts, but could also sing which was great.

The Bad


Music. The music in this film felt like a Side B to the first. There were a few good songs and good performances, but most of them paled in comparison to what we've seen before.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish the music had been better.

Overall


Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was a sequel/prequel that deserved to be made. It parallels both the backstory with what happens a year later. The story is really interesting and well told. The casting for the young versions of the characters is very well done. The music sounds like the B Side to the first movie's soundtrack and was disappointing. I give this film 4 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.

   

Monday, August 6, 2018

Book Review - Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten

I recently finished another book by this author, The Loch, and really enjoyed it. I was excited to read more. I picked up his first big hit, and soon realized he has grown as an author since then, a fact I was reminded of with each and every page.

Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten is a suspense, mystery, monster hunt storyIt is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and one of those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Well-told Story. The author is a competent writer who knows who to tell a story. While it wasn't anything new or original, it was well told.

Science. This book presents some well described science about prehistoric animals, the bottom of the ocean, and how extinct species could still be around.

The Bad

Not Original. This story is one you've either seen, read, watched, or all of the above several times. It's your typical monster story that proceeds along the usual, expected route.

Unmemorable Characters. The characters weren't particularly memorable or likeable.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish this story had offered something really cool, new, or unique like the Empire State Building in King Kong or the genetics of Jurassic World.

Overall


Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten is just another retelling of the classic monster story: Jaws, King Kong, Jurassic World, etc. but unlike those stories, this one didn't add anything new or unique. The book is competently written and well paced, but the story precedes how you expect it to and loses some of the suspense because of it. I give this book 3.5 out of 5 eReaders.


  

Friday, August 3, 2018

Movie Review - Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

I'm a huge Genndy Tartakovsky fan. I loved Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack, and Sym Bionic Titan. His television work is as good as it comes. His movie work … not so much.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation is a 2018 cgi animated film by Genndy Tartakovsky. It is rated PG and is appropriate for all ages.

The Good


Premise. This movie did a nice job mixing up the premise by taking the characters from a hotel and putting them in a hotel on the ocean, which was really clever, because it stayed true to the premise while providing something new for the characters to react to.

Closing Credits. The closing credits are traditionally animated in the classic Genndy Tartakovsky style, which was really wonderful to behold. I would love to see a series animated like this (the Disney XD series looks too computerized).

The Bad


Animation. The animation is fine, but really looks like cheap 2-D movement which doesn't translate well. Also the visuals are very plastic looking.

Cleverness. While the premise offers a nice twist to the classic formula, the film never rises to the level of brilliant, just mildly amusing.

Story. The story is nothing new, and it proceeds exactly how you expect it to with all the expected twists and turns and no surprises.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish the movie had been more clever.

Overall


Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation delivers exactly what the audience is expecting. If you enjoyed the first two and want to see more of the same, you'll be happy. If you were hoping for something different, something new, something more original or clever, you'll be disappointed. The premise of setting the film in a hotel on the ocean allows the movie to stay true to the series while offering something a little different. The movie is entertaining, but, like the first two, doesn't offer anything really special or wonderful. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.