Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Official Book of Ultima by Shay Addams:
This book documents the history and motivations behind the creator of the Ultima computer game series, Richard Garriott and Origin Systems, and was released in the early 90s before video game history was even a thing. I remember reading this book cover to cover, sometimes rereading continuously, in my youth, but it managed to find its way into a library donation box around the time I went to college. I picked it up again for nostalgia's sake after reading The Fat Man's book. It has aged surprisingly well, although your enjoyment of the material is directly dependent on how many Ultima games you played.

Final Grade: B+

The Good Stuff by Schuyler Fisk:
I liked the song, Afterglow, when it popped up on Pandora, but the full album isn't as strong. The unique timbre of her voice is smoothed away to nothing memorable by the steam iron of too many similar, maudlin songs. None of the songs are necessarily bad -- they just shouldn't be absorbed in rapid succession (not unlike nicotine patches). Of the two singers I discovered at the same time, I prefer Erin McCarley.

Final Grade: C

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows:
This sequel is slightly better than the original, although it's less about the plot and more about tagging along for the ride. It's an entertaining two hours full of witticisms and explosions, and is heavily dependent on Robert Downey Jr's breezy characterization of the title character.

Final Grade: B+

Burn Notice, Season Five:
The fourth season of Burn Notice was noticeably worse than the previous seasons, because there's only so many times you can put an even bigger evil mastermind/conspiracy behind the one just vanquished before people start rolling their eyes. There are ways to fix this and thankfully, Burn Notice doesn't go the Raymond Feist way of contradicting an entire series of existing lore and blowing up the universe. Season Five picks up a little danger and momentum while still maintaining its case-of-the-day structure and snappy dialogue. No season has matched the first one, but there are some great episodes mixed into the overall plotlines.

Final Grade: B


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