Monday, November 23, 2020

Movie Review - Vanguard

Do you remember a decade or two ago when movies used to be good and going to the theater was enjoyable? I do, and now I don't have to just remember.

Vanguard is a 2020 live-action action adventure Chinese film. It is rated PG-13 for action and is appropriate for most ages.

The Good

Execution. The story is pretty basic: an international security firm has to protect one of its clients from terrorists and action ensues. What makes this film special is its execution. It was perfectly cast, scripted, acted, filmed, and edited. It was chuck full of fun and entertainment.

Casting. This movie couldn't have had a better cast. Everyone was perfect for his roles, and the cast as a whole had great chemistry together.

Fun. This film was so much fun! While most of it seemed pretty grounded and realistic, it had some signature Jackie Chan parts that were just fun and silly and you know would never happen, but you don't care because it's just so cool to watch.

Action. The movie had tons of action, and it varied so it never became stale or repetitive.

Visuals. This film takes place around the world from London to Dubai and several places in between, and each location couldn't have been shot better.

The Bad

...


What I Would Like To Have Seen

 A sequel.

Overall

Vanguard is a 2020 live-action action adventure Chinese film. The story is pretty basic: an international security firm has to protect one of its clients from terrorists and action ensues. What makes this film special is its execution. It was perfectly cast, scripted, acted, filmed, and edited. It was chuck full of fun and entertainment. It was serious but fun. This movie couldn't have had a better cast. Everyone was perfect for his roles, and the cast as a whole had great chemistry together. The movie had tons of action, and it varied so it never became stale or repetitive. This film takes place around the world from London to Dubai and several places in between, and each location couldn't have been shot better.This film was so much fun! While most of it seemed pretty grounded and realistic, it had some signature Jackie Chan parts that were just fun and silly and you know would never happen, but you don't care because it's just so cool to watch. I highly recommend this film give it 5 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.


     

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

Friday, November 20, 2020

Book Review - Star Runner by B. V. Larson

I'm a big fan of science fiction, but it's getting harder and harder to find something in the genre that is interesting and not just a rehash or bad remake of something I've already seen or read.

Star Runner by B.V. Larson is a science fiction space opera drama. It is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Characters. The characters are really likable and not the usual suspects. The main character is a clone of the smuggler captain which is just different enough to make him unique. One of the characters is a symbiotic life form, but they author puts a twist on her I hadn't seen before. They all have great chemistry together and each is developed enough you care what happens to them.

Story and Pacing. The story is a twist on the weapon smuggler space opera story but with twists and turns you don't normally see in that sub genre. While the science is important to the story, the characters and their missions in life and interactions with each other make up the majority of the plot and story. The book moves quickly and holds the reader's attention.

Use of Biology and Technology. Most science fiction focuses on a single area of science and usually follows a common use of that science. This book uses several and uses them well and uniquely. It was a surprise to encounter advanced travel technology, military technology, and biological systems all used together and each used in a unique way.

The Bad


Ending. The book felt like it just stopped instead of ended.


What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish the ending had felt more like an ending and not just the end of another chapter. When the book was over, I wasn't sure the story had ended.

Overall


Star Runner by B.V. Larson is a science fiction space opera drama. Most science fiction focuses on a single area of science and usually follows a common use of that science. This book uses several and uses them well and uniquely. It was a surprise to encounter advanced travel technology, military technology, and biological systems all used together and each used in a unique way. The story is a twist on the weapon smuggler space opera story but with twists and turns you don't normally see in that sub genre. While the science is important to the story, the characters and their missions in life and interactions with each other make up the majority of the plot and story. The book moves quickly and holds the reader's attention. The characters are really likable and not the usual suspects. The main character is a clone of the smuggler captain which is just different enough to make him unique. One of the characters is a symbiotic life form, but they author puts a twist on her I hadn't seen before. They all have great chemistry together and each is developed enough you care what happens to them. The only negative is the book felt like it just stopped instead of ended. When I finished reading the book, I wasn't sure the story had ended. I highly recommend this book and give it 4.5 out of 5 eReaders.


  

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




Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Book Review - The House Guest by Mark Edwards

I really enjoy mysteries and psychological thrillers, but it's hard to find one that's really good and takes surprising twists.

The House Guest by Mark Edwards is a psychological thriller mystery. It is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Concept. The concept was one I had never heard of quite like this. A couple is house sitting for friends they had met previously on a cruise. One night a young lady appears at the door claiming she's there to visit the owners of the house and charms her way in. All seems to be fine until the husband wakes up one morning with a terrible hangover and his wife and the house guest are no where to be seen. And it only gets better.

Twists. While none of the twists were completely shocking or original, only one of them was obvious, so that made for an enjoyable read.

The Bad


Conclusion. The conclusion wasn't bad, it was just a little too quick, neat, and easy. It relied on betrayal of which there was absolutely no hint of before it happened, so it felt like a bit of a cheat.


What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish the solution had been as well thought out as the rest of the novel. It seemed to end just a little too easily and a little too neatly.

Overall


The House Guest by Mark Edwards is a psychological thriller mystery. The concept is one I had never heard of quite like this. A couple house sits for friends they met previously on a cruise. One night a young lady appears at the door claiming she's there to visit the owners of the house and charms her way in. All seems to be fine until the husband wakes up one morning with a terrible hangover and his wife and the house guest are no where to be seen. And it only gets better. While none of the twists were completely shocking or original, only one of them was obvious, so that made for an enjoyable read. The conclusion wasn't bad, it was just a little too quick, neat, and easy. It relied on betrayal of which there was absolutely no hint of before it happened, so it felt like a bit of a cheat. I highly recommend this book and give it 4.5 out of 5 eReaders.


  

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



Wednesday, November 11, 2020

TV Show Review - Dash & Lily

I feel bad for broadcast television and cable TV, because all the good stuff seems to be going to streaming lately.

Dash & Lily is a 2020 8-episode teen-angst romantic comedy on Netflix. It is rated TV-PG and is appropriate for all ages.

 

The Good


The Concept. The concept is pretty cool and one that hasn't been done to death. A girl leaves a diary with a literary treasure hunt for some boy to find and find her. They use the diary to write back and forth and create dares to get each other out of their comfort zone while never meeting in person.

The Characters. The characters are very likable and very relatable with realistic concerns and challenges and just enough zaniness to make them fun.

The Pace. This series moves along at a great pace.

The Journey. A lot of shows talk about a journey and make a big deal about the participants' journey, but this show actually has a journey worth following alone and enjoyable to watch.


The Bad

The Wrap up at the end. This series doesn't follow the normal cliches, which is nice, until the very end when everything is wrapped up, even things you don't really care about. It was just a little too tidy and felt forced.
 

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I was satisfied.


Overall

Dash & Lily is a 2020 8-episode teen-angst romantic comedy on Netflix. The concept is pretty cool and one that hasn't been done to death. A girl leaves a diary with a literary treasure hunt for some boy to find and find her. They use the diary to write back and forth and create dares to get each other out of their comfort zone while never meeting in person. The characters are very likable and very relatable with realistic concerns and challenges and just enough zaniness to make them fun. A lot of shows talk about a journey and make a big deal about the participants' journey, but this show actually has a journey worth following alone and enjoyable to watch. This series doesn't follow the normal cliches, which is nice, until the very end when everything is wrapped up, even things you don't really care about. It was just a little too tidy and felt forced. I highly recommend this show and give it 4.5 out of 5 remotes.


    

  

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

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/