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/

Friday, September 4, 2020

Movie Review - Bill and Ted Face The Music

I enjoyed Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey in the 80s, but I was never a huge fan and thought they covered all the ground that needed to be covered. But I was curious to see where filmmakers would go with this three decades later.

Bill & Ted Face The Music is a 2020 science fantasy comedy based on Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure from the 80s. It's rated PG-13 for language and is appropriate for most ages.

The Good


Fun. This movie is a lot of fun and is true to its 80s roots.

The Bad


Absurd. This movie is pretty silly. None of the actions any of the characters make makes any sense.

Breaks the Rules. This movie breaks all the rules it sets for itself and throws any sort of logic and reason with time travel out the window.

Change of Premise. The original movie stated that Bill & Ted's music touches the whole world in such a way it brings about a new era of peace and harmony. This movie raises the stakes unnecessarily by saying they have to play a great song or all of existence ends.People in the future should have known this the first time.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish the movie had make a little more sense.

Overall


Bill & Ted Face The Music is an absurd film that feels like a couple of fans sitting around saying, "Dude, do you know what would be awesome?" and then throwing out every crazy idea that comes to their heads. This story is absurd. None of the actions any of the characters make makes any sense. The original movie stated that Bill & Ted's music touches the whole world in such a way it brings about a new era of peace and harmony. This movie raises the stakes unnecessarily by saying they have to play a great song or all of existence ends.People in the future should have known this the first time. This is not a well made movie, but it is a fun conclusion to the 80s films for those who wax nostalgic. I give this film 3 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.


  

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

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Movie Review - Tenet

It's nice to have new movies in theaters again, even if they aren't the films I was excited to see.

Tenet is a 2020 science fiction espionage film. It is rated PG-13 for language and violence and is appropriate for teens and up.

The Good


Entertaining. Despite its flaws, this movie is very entertaining and I enjoyed myself up to the end.

Robert Pattinson. I'm not a big fan of this actor, but he did a great job in this film adding much needed levity and rationality to an otherwise confusing and somewhat tense film where everyone else acts oh so seriously.

Unique Take on Time Travel. I'm sure this isn't an original take on time travel, but it's the first time I've seen or read it, so it was a nice change. It wasn't necessarily that clever, and I don't see people copying it like they did Star Wars or The Matrix, but it helped make the film more entertaining.

Not A Video Game. Christopher Nolan likes to do as much of the film in camera and with practical effects as possible, and it is really refreshing to watch a movie and not a video game (where most of the movie is created digitally).

The Bad


Protagonist. The protagonist in this film is very boring and not especially likeable. His character is never developed, and he doesn't do anything to make him especially heroic.

Pacing. Christopher Nolan has a bad habit of using a constant pace in all his films--the same pace for exposition as for action scenes. While it's fast enough it never drags, it also never has you at the edge of your seat.

Poor Storytelling. The plot and concept of the film is very simple. It's the poor storytelling that purposely obfuscates information and what is going on that is complicated--a contrived, forced complication.

Twist was Not So Twisty. All the twists and reveals being very meh, because the concept was pretty simple.

No Suspense. There was not a single instance in this film when I felt the protagonists might have a chance of losing, so there was never any real suspense or peril.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I would have loved to have better action scenes, more suspense, and a more clever use of the unique concept. There are so many places the filmmakers could have gone, and they picked the most obvious ones.

Overall


Tenet is an entertaining science fiction espionage film. It offers a unique take on time travel, Rob Pattinson is an interesting character, and it's so nice to see a film and not a video game (meaning Christopher Nolan likes to do as much of the film in camera and with practical effects as possible, while most other movies rely too heavily on digital effects). Unfortunately, John David Washington is a very boring protagonist who is never developed and never does anything especially heroic, the pacing is very metered, the twists are not very clever, and there is never a moment you don't think the good guys will win. The plot and concept of the film is very simple. It's the poor storytelling that purposely obfuscates information and what is going on that is complicated--a contrived, forced complication. I would have loved to have better action scenes, more suspense, and a more clever use of the unique concept. There are so many places the filmmakers could have gone, and they picked the most obvious ones. I give this film 3 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.


  

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