Posts Tagged as reviews

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  1. Friday, January 18, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       We All Got Lost  by Spose: If you liked Spose before, this is more of the same -- heavy on witty similes but light on songs you want to listen to more than once. It's also not quite as fun as previous albums.   Final Grade :  C+     Homecoming, S1 : This moody, sci-fi show starring Julia Roberts as a counselor in a peculiar military rehabilitation clinic left me bored after two glacially-paced episodes full of cliches. I gave up. Free on Amazon Prime.   Final Grade :  Not Rated     Crazy Rich Asians : This is a light, by-th...
  2. Friday, January 11, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Fine Print  by Invisible Inc: This album from a band fronted by Watsky reminds me of several jazz combo albums from my youth -- it's really music the performers want to listen to themselves rather caring about what the audience wants to hear. The songs are catchy enough and have a few good hooks, but the album leaves me cold.   Final Grade :  C     Mission Impossible: Fallout : Having only watched the most recent (J.J. Abrams dynasty) MI movies,   Rogue Nation   was the only one I truly enjoyed. This follow-up movie is too video-game-y and not visceral enough. ...
  3. Friday, January 04, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Simulation Theory  by Muse: Muse's latest album is solid all of the way through, and one I keep putting back on in the car. A good mix of their classic hard rock style blended with their more recent electronica, and no wannabe-student-composer movie symphonies to be found anywhere!   Final Grade :  B+     Ready Player One  (PG-13): This is about as good of an adaptation one could make of the original book -- telling the tale of a virtual treasure hunt in an online world where everyone in a dystopian future spends their time. The plot felt a bit rushed even though the movie still fel...
  4. Friday, December 21, 2018:
    Top Reviews of 2018  Here are my recommendations from this past year -- as my free time diminishes, so does my patience for mediocre content, so I must have really enjoyed these!    Movies       The Big Sick  (A) (Amazon)    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri  (A-)      Television Shows       Big Little Lies, Season One  (A)    Bodyguard, Season One  (A) (Netflix)    American Vandal, Season Two  (A) (Netflix)    Fargo, Season Three  (A-)    Better Call Saul, Season Three  (A-) (Netflix)    Humans, Season Two  (A-) (Amazo...
  5. Monday, December 10, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Shadow of the Tomb Raider : I should have known better than to get this game after getting bored with  the second one  but several reviews promised that the parts I hated had been improved and I was in need of a birthday game to purchase and waste time on. I only made it 7 hours in before quitting in regret. The only redeeming feature is that the graphics are beautiful. The game still beats you over the head with a pointless story and forces you to pay attention to cutscenes when you just want to raid some tombs. This philosophy is encapsulated in the fifteen minute opening sequence where you're forced to walk (run is disabled)...
  6. Friday, November 16, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Bodyguard, Season One : This show is like a British version of  Homeland, Season One  (before that show spun out into tedium). In just 6 hour-long episodes, it maintains a strong intensity and uneasiness that resolves in a satisfying, logical conclusion. Its success rests on the ability to depict realistic characters that don't just exposition-monologue their feelings for the audience -- everyone seems like a threat at various points in the show, but the resolution is weighted towards character motivations rather than cheap plot obfuscation devices (unlike  Westworld, Season One 's vague timeline approach to storytell...
  7. Friday, November 09, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       American Vandal, Season Two : I figured it would be hard to follow up the "Who Drew the Dicks?" mystery of  Season One , but Season Two opens with an unfortunate laxative incident at a preppy private school and seeks to determine who the "Turd Burglar" is in the style of a crime documentary. This season is actually better than the first, and has a satisfying ending that actually raises relevant questions about society. It's more than just turds all the way down.   Final Grade :  A     Unguilded  by Jane Glatt:  Magic of Thieves  made me hesitant to continue rea...
  8. Friday, November 02, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.    I've noticed that my grading has gotten slightly harder since Maia was born. Time is money, friend!      Art of Doubt  by Metric: In their latest album, Metric moves away from the padded electronica sound of  Pagans in Vegas  and back to a more garage rock sound. The songs are still fun, but a bit more repetitive, and nothing stands up as a catchy hit.   Final Grade :  B-     Greatest Showman  (PG): The success of a musical effort like this really depends on the actors investing in their roles 110%. Led by Hugh Jackman, the energy level remains high throughout....
  9. Friday, October 26, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Magic of Thieves  by C. Greenwood: The second book in the  Secrets and Spells  anthology is a pretty big letdown after  The Gallant . Though billed as Book 1 of 6 in a series, it barely contains enough plot or character development for a full story and feels more like a Prologue. I grew irritated with the main character fairly quickly -- although I realize that it might be a style choice to narrate in a juvenile manner to match the character (first-person perspective), it just felt wooden and unnecessarily episodic (I had the same feeling about Fitz sometimes in the Farseer Trilogy). Events simply meander randomly alo...
  10. Wednesday, October 17, 2018:
    Review Day: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Switch)     Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker  was originally released for Nintendo's failed  Wii U  console. I'm torn on all the effort going into these ports -- while it's nice to play some fun games that never gained widespread appeal beyond the 4 people that actually bought the old console, I'd much rather have more original content designed specifically for the newer console.    Captain Toad  is a charming puzzle game where you maneuver a pacifist Toad (who can't jump because of his heavy backpack) through 64 self-contained 3D puzzle boxes to collect gems and stars. Porting of the controls from the Wii U (which had a touchscreen in your lap to go with the big action on the TV screen) is pret...
  11. Wednesday, October 10, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Jack Ryan, Season One : This is a well-constructed, if extremely generic, addition to the military/terrorist genre. In spite of a few unique sparks, it retreads ground already covered by better shows like  Homeland  without much new to say. John Krasinki mostly overcomes his typecasting as Jim from  The Office , but might be the most boring protagonist to base a story around. Wendell Pierce from  The Wire  is woefully underused. Free on Amazon Prime.   Final Grade :  C+     iZombie, Season Four : Following the big setting shake-up at the end of the th...
  12. Friday, October 05, 2018:
    (Re-)Review Day: Super Mario Odyssey    I first gave this game a  C-  after playing for several hours and not finding much to draw me back to it. After 6 months without turning on the Switch, I recently dusted it off and gave it another shot. One key difference between my original abandoned attempt and now is that I can play for longer periods (sometimes an hour at a time) and on a big TV screen rather than the portable screen. Back at Christmas time, I was squeezing in games while Maia barely napped for 10 - 20 minutes at a time (just narrowly long enough to get through the interminable load screens and reminders to use motion controls) while walking around quiet corners of the house.   I appreciate this game much more on the big screen, bu...
  13. Monday, September 17, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The Woman Who Smashed Codes  by Jason Fagone: This is a biography of Elizebeth Smith Friedman, one of the first cryptoanalysts in the early 20th century. It's rare that a person's life is as interesting throughout as Elizebeth's, leading the biography to be a more comprehensive look at her place in history rather than a set of vignettes separated by long time jumps. There are also great, shallow looks at the world events going on at the same time, revealing some interesting stories such as J. Edgar Hoover's concerted efforts to steal credit for her work for the FBI.   Final Grade :  B+     Fe...
  14. Monday, September 03, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything  by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith: This book does a decent job of pairing interesting emerging technologies (like augmented reality, space elevators, and bioprinting) with straightforward explanations and cute cartoons. It starts to lose its luster when it gets  too  jokey, like the authors think the tech is too boring on its own and readers will lose interest unless there's a neverending selection of humor and bad analogies. These aspects actually reduced my interest in the material and I barely finished the book.   Final Grade :  C...
  15. Wednesday, August 29, 2018:
    Review Day: Dead Cells (PC)   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Dead Cells  is an addictive mash-up of three separate gaming genres. At its core, it's a side-scrolling platformer with monsters to kill and challenging boss fights like the Castlevania series. As a Rogue-like game, death is permanent and kicks you back to the beginning of the game with reset stats and basic starter equipment. Some earned abilities are permanent and persist beyond death, allowing you to explore old levels in new ways, evoking comparisons to the Metroid series and reducing the general level of frustration.   This feedback cycle of explore, grow powerful, and die is perfectly implemented, with interesting loot drops,...
  16. Friday, August 17, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Arrested Development, Season Five, Part One : This batch of 8 episodes is far better than the fourth season, but still not on par with the originals. The characters are all in the same room much more often leading to funnier jokes and reactions. The plot boldly picks up right after season four but there are enough flashbacks to refresh your memory so you don't have to rewatch it. I enjoyed the general silliness, although I felt Gob and Tobias were surprisingly overused this time around and I'm not totally sure where the plot is heading (8 more episodes are due later this year to close out the season).   Final Grade : ...
  17. Wednesday, August 08, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Rise of the Tomb Raider : I first gave this game a  B-  back in January 2017. I recently picked it up again because I wasn't sure if I'd given it enough of a chance. I can now say that its predecessor, the  Tomb Raider reboot  is superior in every way. The parts of this game where you're actually playing are fun, with tight controls and neat mini-puzzles. However, the game beats you over the head with continuous cutscenes telling a boring story with awful voice acting and much of your time is spent on loading screens, backtracking through old levels to open up impassable barriers with new tools you gained in later lev...
  18. Friday, July 27, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       A Very English Scandal : This three-part mini-series features Hugh Grant as a member of Parliament who has a gay affair and tries to cover it up very poorly. It has a fun voice and pace, although it starts to lose some momentum in the middle act with too many leaps ahead in time. Free on Amazon Prime.   Final Grade :  B-     Atlanta, Season One : This show, created by the multitalented Donald Glover, gets a lot of non-mainstream hype. However, I liked the show it started out as more than the show it turned out to be -- over its short (10 episode) first season, plot emphasis drains a...
  19. Wednesday, July 11, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Sinfonia Pop  by Mika: This DVD is a delightful live concert of Mika performing with orchestral accompaniment. The conductor is also the arranger, and allows Mika's songs to exist away from Mika's normal electronica. Great performances all around, including the little peppy backup singer who is clearly having a ball. For example, here's the song, Grace Kelly,  as originally recorded  and  orchestrally arranged .   Final Grade :  A     3%, Season Two : I really enjoyed this season (though I could only watch it during Maia naps where I could pay attention to the Po...
  20. Wednesday, June 27, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       No Shame  by Lily Allen: Every artist seems to go through an album fatigue phase where they do a lot of mellow songs and sound in need of a long nap (see also, KT Tunstall's Crescent Empire album, as well as Muse's Second Law album). Lily Allen is no exception. This album has a few pleasant songs but very little that is memorable or in the same vein as her older songs. Also, the album cover looks like her label texted her for art on a deadline and she sent them the last blurry picture from her phone.   Final Grade :  C+     Arrested Development, Season Four Remix : This is a re-...
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