Thursday, September 27, 2018

Movie Review - The Incredible Hulk (2008 film)

I've been an Incredible Hulk fan for as long as I can remember. I've enjoyed most of his incarnations from comic book to cartoon to film. There were a few misfires such as that Ang Lee disaster. Fortunately, Marvel decided to redo the film, and do it right.

The Incredible Hulk is a 2008 action drama horror superhero film based on characters appearing in Marvel Comics. It is rated PG-13 for language and violence and is appropriate for tweens and up.

The Good

Acting. This movie was so well cast and so well acted. Everyone gave such a believable and emotional performance.

Silent Film aspects. Unlike most Marvel movies which are constant dialogue, jokes, and confessions, this movie relies heavily on visuals. It feels like a quarter of this movie is a silent film where nothing is said, and yet the audience knows exactly what is happening and what the characters are feeling. It was masterfully shot.

Story. The story was solid and naturally progressed from one scene to the next never feeling forced or contrived or too convenient.

Nods to Classic TV Show. The film contained a lot of nods to the original Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno tv show from the music to the opening scene to the first transformation of the hulk, to the post transformation scene.

Visuals. The film is beautifully shot. Each frame looks like a painting. The big shots feel so big, and the smaller shots feel so intimate. The fight sequences are so clear and well choreographed, not claustrophobic confusing shaking like so many current films.

Horror Vibe. This film had a very distinct classic horror vibe like the Alan Moore run on Swamp Thing. It's not a horror movie per se, but so many troupes and techniques from classic horror were used to create suspense and a real sense of urgency and struggle.

The Bad

CGI. I'm not sure why Hollywood is afraid to cast an actual human and paint him green to play the Hulk. Lou Ferrigno's performance in the TV series still holds up solidly and is the best live action portrayal of the character ever. When it came out the cgi looked like a bad video game, and has only gotten worse with time.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I wish they had used a real person for Hulk. Otherwise the movie was pure perfection.


The Incredible Hulk (2008 Film) may well be the best Marvel film to date. It has a solid story, great casting and acting, beautiful visuals, makes incredible use of visuals where the audience knows exactly what is going on and what the characters are feeling without the crutch of constant dialogue every other Marvel film relies on, and incorporates the best elements of the classic TV show. The only weakness with the cgi which looked like a video game (like almost all cgi does in film). This film is a classic and perfect example of how to adapt a comic book for the silver screen. I give this film 5 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

New TV Show Review and Predictions - Manifest

Manifest is a scifi drama TV series that debuted September 24, 2018. In 2013 a plane departed for New York but didn't arrive until 5 1/2 years later. For the passengers it felt like hours. Now everyone must deal with the consequences.

What's to Like

Premise. The premise is unique and fun and holds a lot of possibilities for stories we haven't seen in a while nor have been overdone.

Characters. The pilot episode introduced several interesting characters with a lot of story potential. All were likable and made you care what happened to them.

Scifi/Supernatural Twist. Two characters hear voices that lead them to save lives. It turns out others hear voices and see visions as well. Also the manner of the plane skipping over 5 1/2 years is mysterious. These were presented subtly with characters reacting realistically.

Areas of Concern

Based solely on the first episode, this feels like a series that will start out strong and compelling, but soon take some strange and unexpected turns that will make it unwatchable. I hope I'm wrong, because the set up is strong enough to last several seasons.


Overall, I'm going to watch this show. The pilot had a great story and raised many questions I want answered. But I'm going to be cautious and ready to walk away when this does take one too many weird turns.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Book Review - One Doctor: Close Calls, Cold Cases, and the Mysteries of Medicine by Brendan Reilly, MD

Medical reform is a very heated political topic currently, and I was a little nervous about reading this book afraid the author would use it to push his political agenda. Happily it is a fairly honest autobiography with the doctor expressing how he truly feels from years of experience.

One Doctor: Close Calls, Cold Cases, and the Mysteries of Medicine by Brendan Reilly, MD is a nonfiction autobiography and history of medicine during the latter 20th Century with commentary about problems with and short comings of the medical systemIt is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and one of those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good

Writing. The book is well written. It's clear the author is a doctor and not a writer, but it doesn't detract form the enjoyment or the understanding of the stories and messages.

Stories. The author shares a lot of interesting stories from a variety of situations. There is a wide variety, and any similar stories are shared to contrast and compare with others to help the reader understand the challenge of practicing medicine.

Honesty. I appreciate how honest the author is about both successes and failures. He recognizes the good modern medicine can do, but also recognizes the limits and the dark areas of the unknown. He cites examples of patients being helped and hurt by the medical profession. He doesn't try to push any political agenda or manipulate the reader into taking a particular stance.

The Bad

Uncertainty. The author repeatedly discusses how a lot of questions in medicine aren't questions for science or medicine but philosophy and religion, and he never seems to have any answers or insights. I'm not sure if he has no strong personal convictions, no religious beliefs, or he's trying to stay neutral in the moral area, but it makes him come off as weak and ill equipped to answer essential questions.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I wish the doctor had shared more of his moral convictions and how they influenced the decisions he made and the actions he took. It would have made the book less wishy washy and unsure.


One Doctor: Close Calls, Cold Cases, and the Mysteries of Medicine by Brendan Reilly, MD tells the story of a doctor during the latter 20th Century and early 21st Century at various types of medical institutions and in various roles. He shares the good and bad medical professionals do and discusses problems and limitations with the medical system as he sees them. It is a very honest and introspective look with his opinions of areas in need of improvement and why. I give this book 4.5 out of 5 eReaders.


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.


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.

 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.


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


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.


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.