Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Movie Review - Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Even though I am a huge comic book fan and have read more comics than I can count, I had never heard of the character Shang Chi before. But the trailer looked interesting, so I thought I'd give it a go.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a 2021 live-action action movie based on Marvel Comics. It is rated PG-13 for violence and language, and is appropriate for most ages.

The Good

Character Interactions. This movie had several interesting characters that had enjoyable interactions between each other. The interactions make up the bulk of the movie and are the most interesting parts.

Action Scenes. There are three major action scenes, and all are very well choreographed and exciting the watch. The only downside to them are they all look like lots of wire work and like they came from a video game, but that doesn't take away too much from the enjoyment.

 

The Bad

Pacing. This movie is over two hours long and feels like it is over two hours long. The pacing is a little slow.

Story. The story is pretty predictable without any real surprises. It was probably the weakest part of the film. All the challenges are easily overcome with several convenient plot points stuck in just the right place to advance the story.

Fantasy Realm. Part of this movie takes place in a fantasy dimension filled with strange creatures. Only the creatures aren't that strange or creative or even interesting. The fantasy dimension is also disappointing after so much build up. 

 

Overall

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a 2021 live-action action movie based on Marvel Comics. It is rated PG-13 for violence and language, and is appropriate for most ages. This movie had several interesting characters that had enjoyable interactions between each other. The interactions make up the bulk of the movie and are the most interesting parts.  There are three major action scenes, and all are very well choreographed and exciting the watch. The only downside to them are they all look like lots of wire work and like they came from a video game, but that doesn't take away too much from the enjoyment. This movie is over two hours long and feels like it is over two hours long. The pacing is a little slow. The story is pretty predictable without any real surprises. It was probably the weakest part of the film. All the challenges are easily overcome with several convenient plot points stuck in just the right place to advance the story. Part of this movie takes place in a fantasy dimension filled with strange creatures. Only the creatures aren't that strange or creative or even interesting. The fantasy dimension is also disappointing after so much build up. This is an entertaining film worth two hours if you happen to watch it. But there is nothing special or wonderful, so if you never see it you aren't missing out on anything. I give it 3.5 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.


    

Friday, August 6, 2021

Book Review - Thank You For My Service by Mat Best

I'm a big fan of entrepreneurs and hearing how they stumbled into their businesses.

Thank You For My Service by Mat Best is a nonfiction book telling the story of a teenage boy who joined the military, his experiences in the Middle East, and finding a purpose and direction after coming back to civilian life. It is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Stories. Mat is a great storyteller. He makes even the most mundane events sound exciting. He injects so much personality into his tales and has a great way to insert his wild opinions and commentaries into stories without interrupting the flow.

Lessons. Mat made a lot of mistakes and learned from most of them. He isn't afraid to share his mistakes or successes with others. He's very honest and doesn't fake humility or pride.


The Bad


Language. The language is definitely adult. It adds a certain humor and personality to the book, but some people may not be able to get past it.


What I Would Like to Have Seen


...

Overall


Thank You For My Service by Mat Best is a nonfiction book telling the story of a teenage boy who joined the military, his experiences in the Middle East, and finding a purpose and direction after coming back to civilian life. Mat is a great storyteller. He makes even the most mundane events sound exciting. He injects so much personality into his tales and has a great way to insert his wild opinions and commentaries into stories without interrupting the flow. Mat made a lot of mistakes and learned from most of them. He isn't afraid to share his mistakes or successes with others. He's very honest and doesn't fake humility or pride.  The language is definitely adult. It adds a certain humor and personality to the book, but some people may not be able to get past it. I highly recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5 eReaders.


    

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086G6FKRV/

Friday, July 23, 2021

Movie Review - Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins

I loved the G.I. Joe cartoon and toys growing up. I enjoyed the live action movies from a decade ago. So I was excited to see a new movie and a new take on the franchise.

Snake Eyes is a 2021 live-action action movie based on the G.I. Joe toyline. It is rated PG-13 for violence and language, and is appropriate for teens and up.

The Good

Second Half. This movie was pretty boring and pointless with no direction until the second half when a story is finally introduced and something other than random fighting begins. It action becomes interesting and I started to care about the characters and what would happen to them.

 

The Bad

Casting & Acting. The movie was poorly cast and just as poorly acted. The actors didn't really fit the characters they were playing. And everyone was so stone faced and unemotional about everything. I had a hard time caring about what was going on when the characters seemed to care just as little.

Snake Eyes is the Bad Buy. For some reason the filmmakers decided to make Snake Eyes the bad guy and then quickly redeem him in the end in a very unbelievable twist that everyone magically accepts. I understand the idea of wanting a character arc where the character learns and grows, but this was just sloppy writing.

More About Storm Shadow. While Snake Eyes appears in almost every scene, the movie is really Storm Shadow's story. It follows his rise and fall. The film should have been titled Storm Shadow.

Changed the Mythology. I don't have a problem with filmmakers taking liberties with the source material and making changes if those changes are interesting and make a better story or lead to more compelling characters. I do have a problem with making changes that don't improve on the source material. This movie did not improve upon the source material.

Fights & Action Scenes. The fights were pretty mediocre and badly filmed. And then halfway thru the characters suddenly developed the power of flight after a fairly realistic and grounded take. And the flying didn't even look good.

 

What I Would Like To Have Seen

I wish they would have stayed truer to the mythology and done a better job casting, acting, and story writing.


Overall

Snake Eyes is a 2021 live-action action movie based on the G.I. Joe toy line. It is rated PG-13 for violence and language, and is appropriate for teens and up. This movie was pretty boring and pointless with no direction until the second half when a story is finally introduced and something other than random fighting begins. It action becomes interesting and I started to care about the characters and what would happen to them. The movie was poorly cast and just as poorly acted. The actors didn't really fit the characters they were playing. And everyone was so stone faced and unemotional about everything. I had a hard time caring about what was going on when the characters seemed to care just as little. For some reason the filmmakers decided to make Snake Eyes the bad guy and then quickly redeem him in the end in a very unbelievable twist that everyone magically accepts. I understand the idea of wanting a character arc where the character learns and grows, but this was just sloppy writing. While Snake Eyes appears in almost every scene, the movie is really Storm Shadow's story. It follows his rise and fall. The film should have been titled Storm Shadow. I don't have a problem with filmmakers taking liberties with the source material and making changes if those changes are interesting and make a better story or lead to more compelling characters. I do have a problem with making changes that don't improve on the source material. This movie did not improve upon the source material. The fights were pretty mediocre and badly filmed. And then halfway thru the characters suddenly developed the power of flight after a fairly realistic and grounded take. And the flying didn't even look good. I do not recommend this film and give it 2.5 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.


   

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Book Review - Life After the State: Why We Don't Need Government by Dominic Frisby

I've been a Libertarian since studying Economics in college and seeing how incentives are much more effective to drive people and nations than regulation and force.

Life After the State: Why We Don't Need Government by Dominic Frisby is a nonfiction book about unintended consequences that always follow regulation and government programs. It is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Explanations. So often well meaning people do things to help others only to have their efforts backfire and actually make the problems they're trying to solve worse. This book explains how that happens, why that happens, and how to avoid that.

Examples. The author uses many examples from around the world and quotes actual numbers to support and illustrate his points. I appreciate the variety and the specific numbers he gives.



The Bad


...


What I Would Like to Have Seen


...

Overall


Life After the State: Why We Don't Need Government by Dominic Frisby is a nonfiction book about unintended consequences that always follow regulation and government programs. He clearly explains why well-meaning people do things to help others see their efforts backfire and actually make the problems they're trying to solve worse. This book explains not only how that happens and why that happens, but also how to avoid it. The author uses many examples from around the world and quotes actual numbers to support and illustrate his points. I appreciate the variety and the specific numbers he gives. I highly recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5 eReaders.


    

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086G6FKRV/

Monday, July 12, 2021

Movie Review - War With Grandpa

It's rare to come across a PG movie these days, especially one that is entertaining.

War With Grandpa is a 2020 live-action comedy. It is rated PG for mild content and is appropriate for all ages.

The Good

Casting. This movie was perfectly cast. Everyone does a great job and fits their role perfectly.

Concept. The concept is pretty clever. Grandpa is too old to live on his own, so his daughter forces him to move in with her family and displaces her son to the attic sparking a war. The point of the movie is to show the damage that comes from any war, no matter how small. It gets a little heavy handed at the end, but otherwise it good.

 

The Bad

Prosaic. The movie is very enjoyable, but if you've seen the trailer and/or thought about what could go into such a movie, you won't be surprised. Nothing was especially clever or surprising.

 

What I Would Like To Have Seen

I wish they would have been a little more clever and imaginative in the different situations and pranks.


Overall

War With Grandpa is a 2020 live-action comedy. The concept is pretty clever. Grandpa is too old to live on his own, so his daughter forces him to move in with her family and displaces her son to the attic sparking a war. The point of the movie is to show the damage that comes from any war, no matter how small. It gets a little heavy handed at the end, but otherwise it good. This movie was perfectly cast. Everyone does a great job and fits their role perfectly. While the film is very enjoyable, but if you've seen the trailer and/or thought about what could go into such a movie, you won't be surprised. Nothing was especially clever or surprising. It is rated PG for mild content and is appropriate for all ages. I recommend this film and give it 3.5 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.


    

Friday, May 28, 2021

Movie Review - Cruella (2021 Film)

I never liked the film 101 Dalmatians. I thought the animation was good and the visuals were very nice, but the story and characters were so boring. Cruella was the only highlight of the experience, so focusing a movie on her made sense.

Cruella is a 2021 live-action dark drama loosely based on the book and Disney film 101 Dalmatians. It is rated PG-13 for a couple of mildly horrific scenes and is appropriate for tweens and up.

The Good

Story. I wasn't sure what to expect. I had a few ideas, but the story went in a very different direction. But it was really enjoyable and held my attention almost the whole time after the slow beginning.

Concept. This is very different from the cartoon and a very different take, but it's an enjoyable one that works well. Technically this is a prequel to the movie 101 Dalmatians being Cruella's origin story, but she really is a very different character as are everyone else from the original cartoon with only the names the same. But the story and take was so strong, I think it was better this way.

Casting. The casting was perfect, especially Emma Thompson as the Baroness. And everyone else was excellent except for Roger and Anita who couldn't have been more dull or pointless.

The Bad


Young Cruella. The movie opens with Cruella's birth and childhood. And it is deadly dull with a really unlikable actress playing young Cruella. The movie is almost painful until it fast forwards to adult Cruella.

 

What I Would Like To Have Seen

I wish they would have left out Roger and Anita. They were poorly cast, poorly written, and added nothing to the story.


Overall

Cruella is a 2021 live-action dark drama loosely based on the book and Disney film 101 Dalmatians. It is rated PG-13 for a couple of mildly horrific scenes and is appropriate for tweens and up. This is very different from the cartoon and a very different take, but it's an enjoyable one that works well. Technically this is a prequel to the movie 101 Dalmatians being Cruella's origin story, but she really is a very different character as are everyone else from the original cartoon with only the names the same. But the story and take was so strong, I think it was better this way. I wasn't sure what to expect. I had a few ideas, but the story went in a very different direction. But it was really enjoyable and held my attention almost the whole time after the slow beginning. The casting was perfect, especially Emma Thompson as the Baroness. And everyone else was excellent except for Roger and Anita who couldn't have been more dull or pointless. I wish they would have left out Roger and Anita. They were poorly cast, poorly written, and added nothing to the story. The movie opens with Cruella's birth and childhood. And it is deadly dull with a really unlikable actress playing young Cruella. The movie is almost painful until it fast forwards to adult Cruella. Then it's brilliant! I highly recommend this film and give it 4.5 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.


    

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086G6FKRV/

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Animation Review - DC Showcase: Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth! (2021 Animated Short)

I wasn't a fan of Jack Kirby until he came to DC Comics and launched his Fourth World saga lead by his brilliant work on Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen. And I enjoyed the other creations that followed including Kamandi and OMAC: One Man Army Corps. Both would make excellent cartoons as shown by the Kamandi shorts from Batman: The Brave and The Bold series on Cartoon Network.

DC Showcase: Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth! is a 2021 16-minute animated short included with Justice Society: World War II on Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Streaming. It is unrated for action violence and is appropriate for all ages.


The Good

Art Direction. The backgrounds came straight out of the Jack Kirby comic books, which was pretty cool. The character designs were very nice, but I would have preferred the versions from Batman: The Brave and The Bold. Those better captured the energy of Jack Kirby's artwork.

Story. This was adapted from one of my least favorite issues of Kamandi, but I really enjoyed it. The story works better in animation, and the filmmakers were able to squeeze in the major characters, the origin, and cameos to service the fans.

The Bad


....

 

What I Would Like To Have Seen

A whole series!


Overall

DC Showcase: Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth! is a 2021 16-minute animated short included with Justice Society: World War II on Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Streaming. The backgrounds came straight out of the Jack Kirby comic books, which was pretty cool. The character designs were very nice, but I would have preferred the versions from Batman: The Brave and The Bold. Those better captured the energy of Jack Kirby's artwork. This was adapted from one of my least favorite issues of Kamandi, but I really enjoyed it. The story works better in animation, and the filmmakers were able to squeeze in the major characters, the origin, and cameos to service the fans. I highly recommend this short and give it 4.5 out of 5 Reels of Film.

 


 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086G6FKRV/