Friday, February 15, 2019

Movie Review - Searching

I heard about this movie and thought the concept was unique, but I wondered how could they sustain an interesting story without ever leaving a computer screen?

Searching
 is a 2018 thriller drama. It is rated PG-13 for language and intensity, but is appropriate for tweens and up.

The Good


The Concept. This entire movie takes place on a computer screen, usually the father's laptop, but other screens, including security camera footage, is used. It's a really unique way to tell a story, and the filmmakers pulled it off. Everything made sense. Everything worked.

The Story. The story was amazing. I was hooked from about five minutes into the film. It moved quickly, yet never became confusing. I really felt for all of the characters. There were twists and turns I didn't see coming. I was at the edge of my seat until the end.

The Twists. I'm really good at predicting "twists" in movies. Most murder mysteries I know who it is from the first introduction of the guilty party. But this movie had twists I didn't even know where coming, let alone know what they were.

The Relevance. This movie is very much a 2018 movie with the social media platforms, but I think it will age well, because the real heart of the story is about a father who discovers he doesn't know his daughter and is shocked by his search to discover her. That is a timeless story that will reverberate throughout the ages.

The Bad


...

What I Would Like to Have Seen


...

Overall


Searching is one of the best movies I have ever seen. The concept of using only a computer screen to tell the story was brave but so well executed. The story was solid, exciting, and kept me at the edge of my seat. The twists were so unexpected and truly surprising. The heart of the story, a father learning he doesn't really know his daughter and is surprised by the revelations he uncovers is timeless and powerful. I give this film a solid 5 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.


       

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Book Review - The Mask: School Spirits by Rick Geary

I never saw The Mask movie until nearly two decades after it came out, but I watched the cartoon every Saturday and thought it was great.

The Mask: School Spirits
 by Rick Geary is a story of The Mask disguised as a children's storybook appropriate for all ages (even adults will enjoy it)It is available in Hardcover and is one of three volumes.

The Good


The Art. Rick Geary isn't the best artist, but he perfectly captures the look and feel of The Mask and his zany adventures.

Fun This story isn't the most original, but it sure is a lot of fun.

Characters. The characters will remind you of people you've met and probably went to school with. While they aren't super original or fully fleshed out, they are developed enough that you get into the story

The Bad

Obvious. From the plot to the concept to the twists, this is not the cleverest nor the most original story I've read. Everything I saw coming from the beginning, and nothing surprised me.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish the story had been more clever and The Mask had done more zany things that would have been fun to read about and look at.

Overall


The Mask: School Spirits by Rick Geary is a graphic novel disguised as a children's storybook from Dark Horse Comics. It's a lot of fun with solid art and a solid story that is appropriate for all ages. Even adults will find something to like in it. It's not the most original story, and the twist at the end is very obvious. The Mask also isn't as zany and one would like. But it's still an enjoyable read. I give this book 4 out of 5 eReaders.


   

Monday, February 4, 2019

Book Review - Will Eisner's The Spirit: The New Adventures HC

I was late boarding The Spirit train. I was aware of the character, but never had any real interest in him until the Frank Miller film. Despite popular opinion, I loved it and have watched it dozens of times. I purchased a trade paperback of Spirit stories and loved those. That lead me to purchase one of DC's Archive Editions. I was so disappointed by it, I didn't pick up another Spirit story. Until Things From Another World had an incredible sale...

Will Eisner's The Spirit: The New Adventures is a collection of Spirit stories published by Kitchen Sink Press that weren't written or illustrated by Will EisnerIt is available in Hardcover.

The Good


The Most Important Meal. This takes place during the last supper of one of The Spirit's greatest foes talking to another of his greatest foes. It's an interesting variation on the origin of the characters. It's by Allan Moore and Dave Gibbons, two people whose work I don't normally enjoy, but they knocked this trilogy of stories out of the ballpark.

Force of Arms. This is another story that plays with the origins of the characters, especially the Spirit's archfoe.

Gossip and Gertrude Granch. This is the third in a trilogy of origin stories that explores the fate of a minor character.

The Return of Mink Stole. This is very meta about screenwriting for movies.

Sunday in the Park with St. George. The art is atrocious, but the story is a lot of fun if not a little too convenient.

Sphinx the Jinx in The Game of Life. This is a high concept story that feels like it came from Will Eisner's newspaper work. Probably the most "classic" of the collection.

Ellen's Stalker. This feels very much like The Spirit newspaper strips, but not as concise and clever.

Dr. Broca Von Bitelbaum. This wasn't great, but kind of fun.

Cursed Beauty. This had an interesting twist, but the way it dealt with racism was very bland and overdone. It didn't feel like the writer really understood what he was talking about.

Swami Vashtibubu. The art was lousy, but the twist was interesting.

The Pacifist. The story was fine, but the concept was pretty strong, and reminded me a lot of the Rat-a-Tat story from the newspaper comics.

Sweetheart. This was one of the strongest stories from an original concept to strong art, to a tight plot, to a twist I didn't see coming.

Black Opal. This story wasn't in the original comic book series (probably because it was cancelled) but has great art and a pretty decent story.

The Bad

Last Night I Dreamed of Dr. Cobra. This is clever, but miserable to read. It reminds me of 2001: A Space Odyssey--it's a wonder of technical achievement but a complete failure in entertainment.

The Samovar of Shooshinpoor. This isn't a bad story, but the art is amateurish and the story very ordinary.

The Weapon. This was really boring, generic, and obvious.

Baby Eichbergh. The concept wasn't bad, but it was so dully executed I just couldn't care about the baby and what happened to him.

Golf Anyone? The concept wasn't that strong, and the execution did nothing to help it out.

The Ghost of Tiger Traps. The concept and plot were both really weak. And the art by Paul Pope was nowhere near his usual level.

Binding. This book looks beautiful, but started to fall apart on my second read thru.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


Better binding.

Overall


Will Eisner's The Spirit: The New Adventures is a mixed bag that contains classic stories I have read and reread numerous times as well as stories I can't believe they wasted paper to draw and then print. But despite the less than stelar stories, each one was so different and unique and most attempted something pretty wonderful, so I give this book 5 out of 5 eReaders.


    

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Book Review - The Black Box (Harry Bosch Book 16) by Michael Connelly

I find it interesting how

The Black Box by Michael Connelly is a crime in the Harry Bosch seriesIt is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Linking Past and Present. This mystery begins at the beginning of Harry Bosch's career as a cop with one of his first assignments but isn't resolved until twenty years later when he is back on the police force at the end of his second career. There is a certain poetry to it, but it also feels natural and not forces or contrived.

Incorporating Read History. This story begins with the LA Riots, and then forwards to their anniversary with concerns from the real world. This story feels like a documentary or a true story with all the details and real life happens that are considered and included.

Variety. This story feels 100% like a Harry Bosch novel, but at the same time it is so different than any of the previous stories that I didn't feel like I was rereading any them. I really appreciate how the author is able to come up with something new and different without changing the formula. So few can do it so well.

The Bad

Leadership/Politics. Many of the people in power are jerks without any motivation beyond they're just bad guys. I wish they had more motivation to make them a little more sympathetic.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


Hmmmm.

Overall


The Black Box by Michael Connelly is another thoroughly enjoyable crime/police mystery. I really enjoyed how the story presented a mystery at the beginning of Harry Bosch's career that he finally resolved twenty years later when he was back on the police force. I enjoyed how the author was able to tie his story so tightly into the LA riots. This read like a true story. This story feels 100% like a Harry Bosch novel, but at the same time it is so different than any of the previous stories that I didn't feel like I was rereading any them. I really appreciate how the author is able to come up with something new and different without changing the formula. So few can do it so well. I give this book 5 out of 5 eReaders.


     

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Book Review - The Safe Man by Michael Connelly

I love ghost stories, and I love Michael Connelly stories, so would I love the combination of the two?

The Safe Man by Michael Connelly is a ghost story mystery NOT in the Harry Bosch seriesIt is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Setting. This story concerns a man whose profession is opening safes (legally) and a job that goes unexpectedly. I've experienced very few stories about legal safe openers, so this was really interesting.

Concept. This story has ghosts, time travel, and uses them in a way that hasn't been overdone. It wasn't a huge surprise at the end, but it didn't feel old either.

The Bad

Hmmm.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


Hmmmm.

Overall


The Safe Man by Michael Connelly is a great story about an average man going about his job while expecting his first child. The supernatural elements were very subtle and not immediately obvious. The story is entertaining, the supernatural elements are fun, and the ending is very satisfying. I give this book 5 out of 5 eReaders.


     

Monday, January 14, 2019

Book Review - Suicide Run: Three Harry Bosch Stories by Michael Connelly

I love short stories, and I love Harry Bosch books, so how could I not pick this up!

Suicide Run: Three Harry Bosch Stories by Michael Connelly is an anthology of three crime mystery short stories in the Harry Bosch seriesIt is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Suicide Run. The first story is about a potential suicide of a girl who came to Hollywood to make it big but hadn't yet. The story is very strong and interesting, but it's the twist at the end that moves this into the realm of excellent.

One Dollar Jackpot. What makes this story stand out is the way Harry is able to catch the killer, the husband of a woman who is famous for high-stakes poker and was murdered the night she won a large jackpot.

The Bad

Cielo Azul. This wasn't a bad story, it just wasn't a great story. It involves a serial killer of younger victims on death row. Harry Bosch tries to get him to reveal the identity of one of his victims. He refuses and the story ends. The concept is different and I get the point the author is trying to make. I just wish there had been more to the story. Maybe making the investigation of the cases more involved and more interesting to make up for the mild ending.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish the second story had contained more.

Overall


Suicide Run: Three Harry Bosch Stories by Michael Connelly contains two excellent short stories and one very good one. All involve murdered victims, but all differ in how the victim was murdered, why, who did it, how the story is told, and what the point of the story is. I give this book 4.5 out of 5 eReaders.


    

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Book Review - The Drop: Harry Bosch, Book 15 by Michael Connelly

I've become a bit addicted to Michael Connelly's writing and the world of Harry Bosch. I just wish I could get into the TV series on Amazon Prime.

The Drop by Michael Connelly is a crime in the Harry Bosch seriesIt is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Story and Writing. The story was incredible. I couldn't put it down. The book contains two different cases that don't directly interact. Normally this is a turn off for me, but somehow the author managed to move from one to the other without losing any steam or interest.

Twists. This novel actually surprised me with where it went. I thought the story was over a couple of times, but it kept going, and I wasn't sure where the author wanted to go and why. But after reading the twists I saw why and was glad.

Variety. One case is a cold murder while the second was a possible suicide. Even though both involved a dead body, they were very different, the investigations went in different directions, and the fallout from both were very different.

The Bad

Main Character. The main character still isn't that interesting. He's kind of a jerk, he's not that clever, and I still have a hard time rooting for him.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


Hmmmm.

Overall


The Drop by Michael Connelly was the best Harry Bosch book yet. The story really grabbed my attention and took turns I didn't see coming, but ones that made sense and didn't feel like a cheat. I give this book 5 out of 5 eReaders.


     

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Movie Review - Bumblebee

 
I was a big fan of Transformers in the 80s, and I've been waiting for a movie that was true to the original cartoon to be released. That day finally came.

Bumblebee is a 2018 science fiction action film based on the Transformers toyline and cartoon series. It is rated PG-13 for mild violence and is appropriate for most ages.

The Good


Transformers Designs. The filmmakers did an excellent job capturing the look of the original toys. I almost cried I was so happy. Why couldn't they have done this 4 films earlier? They looked awesome!

Transformers Action. The film did a great job capturing the movement, transformation, and action of the cartoon. I loved classic Soundwave and Ravage! And Optimus Prime as a semi looked just like the toy.

80s Nostalgia. This movie takes place in the 80s with a lot of 80s music, fashion, film, and other references. Even the pacing and story turns felt very 80s.

Opening Scene. The opening scene looks like it came straight from my imagination. It was everything I could want in a Transformer movie.

The Bad


Charlie. Charlie is the main character, and she is so blah and unlikeable. The main story is her coping with the loss of her dad and trying to move on. The idea was good, but so poorly executed.

Story. The story was weak. It was boring, uninteresting, and uninspired. I wished I had a remote to cue to the next battle scene.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish there had been more Transformer action. The main story was pretty dull and bland. The action scenes on Cybertron were amazing.

Overall


Bumblebee is the Transformer movie fans have been waiting for for three decades. The Transformer designs and action look like they came straight out of the cartoon. Why couldn't the first four movies look like this? The opening scene looks like it came straight from my imagination. Unfortunately, the story and human characters were boring. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.