Friday, October 30, 2020

Book Review - The Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle Drug by Thomas Hager

I love history and the development of art, music, technology, and science. It always nice to find an author who did his homework.

The Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle Drug by Thomas Hager is a nonfiction historic look at the development of drugs and antibiotics focusing mostly on the sulfa drugs of the 1930s and 40s. It is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Information. The author did his homework. This book does an excellent job presenting the development of sulfa drugs, explaining what they were and how they work, and their effect on the world at the time. He also discussed the developments that came before it that paved the way for the sulfa drugs to exist and briefly covered what came after to replace them, completing the story.

Presentation. The story is well paced, very interestingly told, and has the right mix of scientific information and anecdotal diversions to hold the readers' interests and present the topic in a complete manner.

The Bad


Conclusion. It's a shame the author had to make a political statement at the end of the book. It did not fit the message or tone of the other 99.9% that came before it. It's more of a soundbite you'd hear on a talk show as opposed to the well researched scholarship of the rest of the book. It's little more than pandering to some uninformed audience who probably won't even pick up this book because it is too scholarly and well researched for that group's taste.


What I Would Like to Have Seen


I was left not wanting.

Overall


The Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle Drug by Thomas Hager is a nonfiction historic look at the development of drugs and antibiotics focusing mostly on the sulfa drugs of the 1930s and 40s. The author did his homework. This book does an excellent job presenting the development of sulfa drugs, explaining what they were and how they work, and their effect on the world at the time. He also discussed the developments that came before it that paved the way for the sulfa drugs to exist and briefly covered what came after to replace them, completing the story. The story is well paced, very interestingly told, and has the right mix of scientific information and anecdotal diversions to hold the readers' interests and present the topic in a complete manner. It's a shame the author had to make a political statement at the end of the book. It did not fit the message or tone of the other 99.9% that came before it. It's more of a soundbite you'd hear on a talk show as opposed to the well researched scholarship of the rest of the book. I highly recommend this book and give it 4.5 out of 5 eReaders.


  

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


Friday, October 16, 2020

Movie Review - Two Hearts (2020)

I'm a fan of low budget, independent films, because they represent pure cinema--movie making without all the hype, bells and whistles, special effects, cgi, and other trickery to hide a weak story or bad acting.

Two Hearts is a 2020 live-action drama romance film based on a true story. It is rated PG-13 (although everything in it is PG) and is appropriate for most ages.

The Good

Execution. This film was really well done from the acting to the storytelling to the pacing. Nothing that happened was really surprising or unexpected, but the film making was so strong that the film never became boring and I found myself wanting to know what would happen next even though I could figure it out.

Acting. The acting was really good. It felt like I was watching real people going thru real experiences instead of actors portraying roles.

Emotion. This film had a lot of emotion and knew just what to do and when to do it to maximize the heart string tugging.

The Bad

Expected. The story went about how you thought it would with no real big surprises.

What I Would Like To Have Seen

I would be curious what Jorge's parents eventually ended up thinking after the marriage. His family almost disappeared after that.

Overall

Two Hearts is a 2020 live-action drama romance film based on a true story. This film was really well done from the acting to the storytelling to the pacing. Nothing that happened was really surprising or unexpected, but the film making was so strong that the film never became boring and I found myself wanting to know what would happen next even though I could figure it out. This film had a lot of emotion and knew just what to do and when to do it to maximize the heart string tugging. I'm a fan of low budget, independent films, because they represent pure cinema--movie making without all the hype, bells and whistles, special effects, cgi, and other trickery to hide a weak story or bad acting. I highly recommend this film give it 4 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.


     

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Movie Review - Mulan (2020 Live Action)

Disney worked hard making many, many changes to their Mulan live-action remake to make sure it wouldn't offend anyone and hurt box office proceeds. Ironically, it's become their most controversial and offensive recent film and has earned the smallest box office take.

Mulan is a 2020 live-action remake of an animated film by the same name. It is rated PG-13 for mile violence and is appropriate for most ages.

The Good

Scenery and Costumes. The scenery, the costumes, and the production design is really gorgeous to look at.

Villains. The villains in this were really interesting and posed a real threat due to their cleverness, skill, and strength. They were also interesting as characters with believable motivation.

Changes. Unlike most critics, I actually thought the changes from the cartoon were good. Making Mulan magic made the premise more believable (the idea that a girl from a small village could quickly become a great warrior is really farfetched). Not showing her putting on her armor saved unnecessary scenes. Making her military leader an old veteran instead of a young guy she falls in love made more sense.


The Bad

Acting & Dialogue. The acting was very still and emotional less. The dialogue was little more than an exposition dump delivered like they were reciting memorized lines.

Pacing. This movie is very slow and boring with lots of scenes that just sit there doing noting, communicating nothing, and doing nothing to advance the plot.

Music. The pacing and silent scenes would have been much better if the music had told the story and relayed the emotion. But it didn't.

Action. The action was very small and underwhelming. For the amount of money they spent, they should have had some amazing action scenes.

Change of Heart. The Chinese army went from wanting to banish Mulan for deceipt to honoring her as their superior at the drop of a hat for no apparent reason. None of them saw her save them None of them knew what she did. And she did lie and deceive them, a cardinal sin they were warned against. Their change in attitude was little more than a plot device so the movie could go forward. Sloppy writing.

What I Would Like To Have Seen

I wish the filmmakers hadn't been so concerned with not offending people and instead been concerned with a solid story, better acting, and a compelling movie.

Overall

Mulan is a 2020 live-action remake of an animated film by the same name. The scenery, the costumes, and the production design is really gorgeous to look at. The villains in this were really interesting and posed a real threat due to their cleverness, skill, and strength. They were also interesting as characters with believable motivation. Unlike most critics, I actually thought the changes from the cartoon were good. Making Mulan magic made the premise more believable (the idea that a girl from a small village could quickly become a great warrior is really farfetched). Not showing her putting on her armor saved unnecessary scenes. Making her military leader an old veteran instead of a young guy she falls in love made more sense. This movie is very slow and boring with lots of scenes that just sit there doing noting, communicating nothing, and doing nothing to advance the plot. The pacing and silent scenes would have been much better if the music had told the story and relayed the emotion. But it didn't. The acting was very still and emotional less. The dialogue was little more than an exposition dump delivered like they were reciting memorized lines. The Chinese army went from wanting to banish Mulan for deceipt to honoring her as their superior at the drop of a hat for no apparent reason. None of them saw her save them None of them knew what she did. And she did lie and deceive them, a cardinal sin they were warned against. Their change in attitude was little more than a plot device so the movie could go forward. Sloppy writing. I give this film 3 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.


     

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

Friday, October 9, 2020

Book Review - To Serve and Protect Onset, Book 1 by Glynn Stewart

I'm not a fan of most fantasy, although there are occasional titles I've enjoyed. A while back I picked up a short story set in the Onset universe, and I was blown away.


To Serve and Protect by Glynn Stewart is a fantasy military book in the Onset series. It is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.



The Good



Execution. The concept of the series isn't anything new or different -- a government agency is tasked with keeping the supernatural at bay. What sets this book apart is the execution. The story was so well told that I couldn't put it down. And it contained lots of great characters, great action, great links to history and mythology, and the perfect pacing.


The Bad


...


What I Would Like to Have Seen


...

Overall


To Serve and Protect by Glynn Stewart is a fantasy military book in the Onset series. The concept of the series isn't anything new or different -- a government agency is tasked with keeping the supernatural at bay. What sets this book apart is the execution. The story was so well told that I couldn't put it down. And it contained lots of great characters, great action, great links to history and mythology, and the perfect pacing. I highly recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5 eReaders.


    

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


Friday, September 25, 2020

Movie Review - Enola Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is a great character, but filmmakers seem to have a lot of trouble bringing him to screen. There have been a few great versions of him in the past, but even some of those floundered after only a short while (yes, Benedict Cumberbatch, I'm talking about you).

Enola Holmes is a 2020 live-action film based on the novel The Case of the Missing Marquess. It is rated PG-13 (although everything in it is PG) and is appropriate for most ages.

The Good

Casting. The actors in this film were great choice: Henry Cavill, Helena Bomham Carter, Millie Bobby Brown, and Louis Partridge all do an excellent job, are likable, and have great chemistry together.

Pacing. The story was so well paced I was at the edge of my seat the whole time even though this was not a suspense thriller. I never got bored nor felt it moved too quickly.

Fun Adventures Along The Way. This film reminded me a lot of Pipi Longstalking with a main story that detours every so often with interesting adventures and interesting characters. It was really fun.

Tone. The movie had the perfect tone. It never felt too dark nor too silly. It was serious but fun.

The Bad

Lestrade. The actor they cast as Lestrade was terrible. He was unlikable, bumbling, and nothing like the version in the books. I'm not sure what they were thinking.

Convenient Ending. The very ending happens rather quickly, ties everything up, answers all the questions, and is a little untrue to Sherlock's character that it had developed. It was just too neat and convenient.

What I Would Like To Have Seen

I would love to have seen more Sherlock Holmes. Henry Cavill plays him better than I've ever seen him played before.

Overall

Enola Holmes is a 2020 live-action film based on the novel The Case of the Missing Marquess. Otherwise this is a great film. The story is so fun and so well paced I was at the edge of my seat the whole time even though this was not a suspense thriller. The cast for the most part were amazing: Henry Cavill, Helena Bomham Carter, Millie Bobby Brown, and Louis Partridge, and all have great chemistry together. This film reminded me a lot of Pipi Longstalking with a main story that detours every so often with interesting adventures and interesting characters. It was really fun. The movie had the perfect tone. It never felt too dark nor too silly. The very ending happened rather quickly, tied everything up, answered all the questions, and was a little untrue to Sherlock's character that it had developed. It was just too neat and convenient. It was serious but fun. I highly recommend this film give it 4.5 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.


    

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

Thursday, September 10, 2020

TV Show Review - The Great Pretender (2020 anime)


I'm a big fan of anime from the 80s and 90s (and a little before that such as Speed Racer, Astro BoySpace Battleship Yamato, and Science Ninja Team Gatchaman), but anime after that does very little for me. One of the things I loved about anime was how fresh and different it was. But over the past two decades it's become so derivative: telling the same stories over and over again with the same characters in the same visual style. There have been very few exceptions to this (Tiger & Bunny comes to mind).

The Great Pretender is a 2020 14-episode conman anime on Netflix. It is rated TV-MA for language and brief nudity and is appropriate for teens and up.



The Good


The Characters. The characters are all so different and have so much character and backstory. And as an ensemble, they have chemistry. How did this become the exception and not the rule?

The Visuals. This anime takes a very different approach with very bright and colorful water colored backgrounds similar to Promare. It's a nice change and beautiful to look at.

The Pace. One of my biggest complaints with anime is their strange pace for a Western viewer. This anime is paced much more like a Western television drama or comedy.

The Stories. The writing is so strong from intricate plots to lots of twists to a healthy dose of character development.


The Bad


Maintain. The first story arc is a masterpiece. The second two are highly entertaining, but don't maintain all the twists and turns the first leads you to expect.


What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish the second and third stories had maintained as many unexpected twists as the first story.


Overall

The Great Pretender is a 2020 14-episode anime on Netflix following the exploits of three con men as they bambusal shady characters. The writing is so strong from intricate plots to lots of twists to a healthy dose of character development. The characters are all so different and have so much character and backstory. And as an ensemble, they have chemistry. How did this become the exception and not the rule? This anime takes a very different approach with very bright and colorful water colored backgrounds similar to Promare. It's a nice change and beautiful to look at. One of my biggest complaints with anime is their strange pace for a Western viewer. This anime is paced much more like a Western television drama or comedy. I highly recommend this show and give it 4.5 out of 5 remotes.


    

  

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

Monday, September 7, 2020

Book Review - No Sunscreen for the Dead (a Serge Storms novel) by Tim Dorsey

Whenever Audible has sales, I take a chance and try out books from authors I've never heard of or series I know nothing about. Sometimes I find gems and sometimes I find something better left in the pasture.

No Sunscreen for the Dead by Tim Dorsey is a comedy adventure spy book in the Serge Storms series. It is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good



Humor. This book isn't laugh out loud funny or filled with jokes, but its humor comes from the tone and absurd ideas Serge comes up with to help other people. If only he were a real person.

Story. The story is really strong with great characters, a strong plot, unusual takes on situations I've heard numerous times, and a great pace.

The Bad


...

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish the officials hadn't been portrayed quite so silly and I wish the bad guys at the end has been more competent.

Overall


No Sunscreen for the Dead by Tim Dorsey is a comedy adventure spy book in the Serge Storms series. The story is really strong with great characters, a strong plot, unusual takes on situations I've heard numerous times, and a great pace. This book isn't laugh out loud funny or filled with jokes, but its humor comes from the tone and absurd ideas Serge comes up with to help other people. If only he were a real person. If not for the incompetent FBI and intelligence characters and the less than competent and menacing bad guys, this would be a perfect story. I highly recommend this book and give it 4.5 out of 5 eReaders.


  

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