Friday, April 27, 2018

Movie Review - Avengers: Infinity War

I loved Phase One of the Marvel Universe movies, but have been less impressed with the follow up films. They seem to be getting darker and moving away from the classic Marvel stories that made the first half dozen movies so amazing and so fun. I was hoping Avengers: Infinity War would break that streak.

Avengers: Infinity War is a 2018 superhero, science fiction, action film based on the characters appearing in Marvel Comics. It is rated PG-13 for violence and deaths and is appropriate for tweens and up.

The Good

Thor vs. Star Lord. I think the best part of the film was the fight between Thor and Star Lord. It was classic Marvel movie, and I wanted more. It was funny, clever, original, and so unexpected.

Juggling Heroes. This film has a huge cast of characters, and everyone deserves his moment in the spotlight. And this film succeeds marvelously (see what I did there?) in giving everyone a few moments to shine. I was impressed.

Story. With so much action and so many characters, I was concerned this movie would be nothing more than a slug fest, but there is a story, there is a plot, and there is character development.

Surprise Cameo. I'm amazed the producers were able to keep the appearance of a certain character from a previous movie a secret, but they did and I was genuinely surprised by his appearance, as was most of the theater.

Thanos. So often the big bad guy of major movies is little more than a two-dimensional bad guy who is completely evil and just wants to kill and destroy (see Steppenwolf in Justice League for an example). But Thanos was an actual, developed character that showed a lot of development and motive. While he never became likable, he is a credible threat. His motivation is misguided and obviously ridiculous (overpopulation), but there are a lot of people in this world who have proposed the same measures for the same misguided reasons.

The Bad

Dark and Gritty. One of the things that made the Phase One movies of the Marvel Studios so much fun is their bright colors and humor that made them look like and feel like the classic comics. This movie lacked both. It felt more like the grim and gritty Justice League movie than a Marvel comic. The only humor came from Thor, and there wasn't nearly enough of it.

Video Game Action and Effects. The special effects and movies in the Iron Man movies, Captain America: Winter Solider, Avengers, and others were amazing, well choreographed, and things I hadn't seen before. This movie looks like a video game. The action felt like a video game instead of the beautiful choreographed action of earlier films.

Deaths. There have been rumors and speculation about who would die. I was a little surprised by the deaths, but the way it happened and the ones chosen make me think none of them are going to stick, so I didn't really feel anything for them. I can see most, if not all, being undone easily. This is a comic book movie after all.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I wish this had adapted a classic Marvel story instead of just using the name of one and creating a completely original story. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't amazing either. I also wish the fight scenes had been unique and well choreographed instead of the same ole slug fests we've seen in so many movies.


Avengers: Infinity War feels more like Justice League than the first Avengers film with its dark, grim & gritty feel. The juggling of multiple heroes is very well done, and there is a solid story with real development of Thanos' character. The action is little more than one slug fest followed by another and the special effects look like a video game. There is little humor and few character movements that make Marvel movies so unique and fun (although the Thor vs. Star Lord fight is amazing!). This movie did not have the classic feel of the Phase One films choosing to go a much more traditional route. It was entertaining, but not as good as the first Avengers film. I give this film 4 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Book Review - Denslow's Illustrated Classics Volume 2: ABC Book, Humpty Dumpty, Jack and the Bean-stalk, Old Mother Hubbard, One Ring Circus, & Tom Thumb

I am a huge fan of the golden age of children's illustrated books, also known as toy books or gift books. The age began with Edward Leer and ended with WW Denslow and included such notable artists as Ernest Shepard (Winnie the Pooh), Walter Crane, Edmund Dulac, Arthur Rackham, Howard Pyle, Caldecott, and so many more.

Denslow's Illustrated Classics Volume 2 is a collection of 6 classic children's storybooks by W.W. Denslow, the artist of The Wizard of Oz. It is available as one of those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good

Art. W.W. Denslow is a master artist. He took the best of design and illustration from Walter Crane and added his own touch. The drawings are fun, lively, and convey emotion.

Reproduction. The quality of reproductions is excellent. The illustrations are clear and the colors are mostly vibrant and correct.

The Bad

This is a print-on-demand title, so the colors are slightly different than if they had been printed on a traditional press, but the illustrations still look great.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I've got nothing.


Denslow's Illustrated Classics Volume 2 by W.W. Denslow is pure perfection. The illustrations are big and clear with nice colors. This is a print-on-demand title, so the colors are slightly different than if they had been printed on a traditional press, but the illustrations still look great. I give this book a solid 5 out of 5 eReaders.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Movie Review: Ready Player One

I rarely watch romantic movies. They tend to be too melodramatic for me. But I saw the trailer for this movie and was really interested in watching it. There just seemed to be a good story and good chemistry.

Ready Player One is a 2018 science fiction action film based on the book of the same title. It is rated PG-13 and is appropriate for tweens and up.

The Good

Action. The action in this movie is great! It's exciting, it's fast paced, and there is the right amount of it.

Pacing. This movie has a great pace. I never found myself getting bored nor getting lost. It moved quick enough to hold my interest but slowly enough I understood what was going on.

Visuals. This movie is beautifully shot with eye-popping visuals. Both the real world and the fantasy world are a treat to behold.

Story. While the movie isn't as fleshed out as the book and the stories aren't as well developed, it is still a solid story that introduces interesting characters and you get caught up in the quest.

The Bad

Puzzles are too easy. There were two really fun aspects of the book. The first was the puzzles the characters had to solve. They took a lot of thought and obscure knowledge of early video games and 80s nostalgia. The puzzles in this movie are completely different and very simple to solve.

No Nostalgia. The other fun part of the book is the 80s and early video game nostalgia. This movie instead uses random, unconnected pop culture references that while fun to see don't make any sense together or evoke any era of nostalgia.

Weak Villain. I'm not sure what the filmmakers were thinking. The main villain is a laughable, bumbling, cartoon character who would never become the head of any major corporation or present any real menace or threat. It took away from the conflict and made the quest seem too easy.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I wish there had been more video game references and more 80s nostalgia like the book.


Ready Player One is an exciting science fiction action flick with great action and great visuals. The filmmakers did an excellent job squeezing the essential elements of the book into a film without making it feel rushed or incomplete. The challenges are solved fairly easily and the villain was a laughably incompetent cartoon character which made the stakes seem low and the threat not very threatening. And the film lacks the nostalgia of the book. What pop culture references they do make appear too briefly and too randomly to really enjoy. I give this film 4 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.