Thursday, August 27, 2015

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Ascension:
This Syfy miniseries (which ultimately was not picked up for an actual season) tells the tale of a 100-year voyage to Mars that departed in the 1950s and is now halfway through its voyage, with the original generation dying off and a new generation born on the spaceship coming into power. It's a mixed bag, having all of the tropes necessary for an interesting sci-fi story that's more than just a space battle, but they're assembled in a very workman-like manner without enough finesse. The pseudoscience is horrible, and the set designers seem to have forgotten that the group came from the 1950s after the pilot episode, but the political infighting and plot mysteries are well-done and get better as the series progresses. It's generally a fun watch, if only to see Bobby Cobb from Cougartown as the ship's captain. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Sherlock, Season Two:
The goodness graph for this season looks like a right-handed checkmark. The first episode was passable, the second exceedingly boring, and the third made it all worthwhile. The show is only engaging when the villain, Moriarty, is a primary character, and his absence from any given episode is very noticeable. I would even recommend only watching the third (and final) episode of this season. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson:
This seminal 1992 sci-fi book describing a virtual reality Internet before its time starts strong and whimpers out. The first chapter is a compelling introduction to the world and jargon at large, but the jumps in time and personality-lacking protagonist, Hiro (the katana-wielding hacker), muddy the waters. Extended sections of the middle of the book involve Hiro talking to his virtual assistant learning about ancient Sumerians, and these monologues go on for so long that it feels like the author was so proud of his research that he didn't want to edit. I ultimately ended up skimming these chapters but it didn't matter in the end, as the plot became too tangled to follow or care about and imploded in a confusing cloud of swapped alliances and hard-to-differentiate supporting characters.

Final Grade: C-

Witcher 3:
Following my First Impressions post about this RPG, I ended up playing it solidly for another month or so. It was fun and enoyable to play until the point where it wasn't. Ultimately, there was just too much story to sit through, and I felt the need to be playing more and watching fewer (thankfully skippable) cutscenes. I didn't feel like I was making consistent progress and finally moved on after seeing less than 20% of the plot (but spending many fun hours getting there).

Final Grade: B-

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