Posts Tagged as reviews

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  1. Monday, April 16, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Assassin's Quest  by Robin Hobb: The final book in the Farseer Trilogy outstays its welcome by being longer than the previous books but with less going on. What's sad is that there is a very fulfilling conclusion in the final pages of the book, but it feels almost like an afterthought. If that section had been expanded upon and the previous, repetitive sections of people walking somewhere and being sad had been trimmed by a good 25%, the book would have been much more satisfying.   Final Grade :  C     The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale : This is a fairly silly show (with one new...
  2. Wednesday, March 28, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Murder on the Orient Express  (PG-13): This is a light, forgettable whodunit with fun performances often overwhelmed by CGI shots of trains. Hyperbolically speaking, almost half the movie consists of CGI trains chugging through the mountains, CGI trains with real people inside, and CGI trains unfolding into weirdly placed camera shots, even though no trains are given mention in the credits.   Final Grade :  B-     American Made  (R): An embellished true tale of a pilot who gets caught up in the 80s drug trade, this movie stars Tom Cruise as Tom Cruise and feels a bit repetitive afte...
  3. Monday, March 19, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The Goblin Emperor  by Katherine Addison: This is a political fantasy story about a half-breed distant relative of the king who suddenly inherits the throne and must navigate court intrigue and political backstabbing. The book is a good-natured read but it seems to just progress until the end, without much in the way of direct conflict. All of the major plot changes happen just offscreen which, in its own way, mirrors the experience of a powerful ruler who experiences everything secondhand but doesn't make for a satisfying conclusion. The incredibly long names and titles and characters to keep track of also slow down the story. &nbs...
  4. Friday, March 02, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Dirty Heads  by Dirty Heads: A pleasant, laid-back collection of summer-esque songs, like the catchy   That's All I Need  .   Final Grade :  B     Blade Runner 2049  (R): This is a decent movie irrevocably hamstrung by its extended run time. It has worthwhile character development but takes a long time to build any momentum, often wasting it in long, lingering shots or slow pans. Had an editor trimmed out a good half hour of wasted time, it'd be a fun little outing that benefits from (but doesn't require) familiarity with the original.   Final Grad...
  5. Friday, February 23, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Blade Runner  (Final Cut) (R): This is one of those classic movies that I always figured I should watch but never got around to. I went in blind and found that it does not necessarily hold up well against modern movie standards. It's not bad, as minimalist sci-fi goes, but seems to spend more effort on establishing setting rather than story. It also has the Star Wars Episode 4 problem where most of the scenes are actually transitions to other scenes rather than important scenes in their own right -- there's only so many scenes of Harrison Ford walking up some stairs or landing a flying car or trying to convey emotion with a blank facial ...
  6. Friday, February 09, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Lovesick, Season Three : Formerly titled  Scrotal Recall , this clever, warm British relationship comedy remains very watchable even though it has now outgrown its original conceit. I felt like this season wallowed a bit, as if they weren't really sure where to go next, yet I still enjoyed watching it as a pleasant way to end the day.   Final Grade :  B     Super Mario Odyssey : This is one of the flagship games for the Nintendo Switch. Other than a game mechanic where you can become different creatures by throwing your cap at them (which is clearly WAY DIFFERENT from gett...
  7. Friday, February 02, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Vexed, Season One : This is a British show in the mismatched-partner-cop genre. It's pleasant enough and has a few good laughs, but doesn't really have anything unique going for it. Had the first season been any longer than 3 episodes, I probably wouldn't have finished it. I might watch the next season once my queue of good shows runs out again but wouldn't prioritize it. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  C+     The Big Sick  (R): I really enjoyed this rom-com movie, mainly because of its realistic, flawed characters and understated drama. It has a good balance of funny and dramatic...
  8. Monday, January 22, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       This Is Us, Season One : This network dramedy tells the story of a minorly dysfunctional family using two separate timelines: a set of sibling triplets in their thirties in present day and flashbacks to key events in their parents' lives years earlier. It's incredibly emotionally manipulative in its feel-good moments, but remains highly watchable anyhow because of strong performances and a good balance of comedy. The season finale is disappointing as the story manipulates you into thinking a key question about the family will be resolved but then punts it after three up-the-middles.   Final Grade :  B+   ...
  9. Monday, January 15, 2018:
    Review Day: Legenda of Zelda: Breath of the Wild   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.      I have had a tempestuous relationship with the Zelda series over the years, and the ones I tend to like don't always match the ones that receive critical acclaim. A general rule of thumb is that I prefer the 2D games over the 3D ones, motion controls are always dumb, and the more cinematic they are, the worse games they tend to be -- I loved  A Link Between Worlds  on the 3DS but actually fell asleep a couple times while playing  Skyward Sword  on the Wii.   After about 20 hours of playtime with  Breath of the Wild  on the Switch, I remain unconvinced that it's a great game. It's not a  bad  game by a...
  10. Wednesday, January 10, 2018:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The Architect  by Paloma Faith: None of Paloma Faith's follow-on CDs has come close to her first,  Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful . This new album is pure pop drivel with nothing to stand out from the crowd. Even a spoken word introduction by Samuel L. Jackson can't make it interesting.   Final Grade :  C-     Halt and Catch Fire, Season Four : This show has been hit-or-miss throughout the years, but the fourth and final season provides a very good closer. With organic character growth and strategic time skips (we're now in the 90s), the show writers somehow ...
  11. Wednesday, December 20, 2017:
    Top Reviews of 2017  Looking for content to consume like a dirty American consumer over the holidays? Check out my recommendations from this past year!    Movies       Okja  (A) (Netflix)    Baby Driver  (A-)    Hell or High Water  (A-)    What Happened to Monday  (B+) (Netflix)      Television Shows       Sneaky Pete, Season One  (A-) (Amazon)    Patriot, Season One  (A-) (Amazon)    Black Mirror, Season Three  (A-) (Netflix)    iZombie, Season Three  (A-) (Netflix)    American Vandal  (B+) (Netflix) ...
  12. Monday, December 18, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two  by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne: Overall, this play wasn't as bad as everyone said it was. It works better on a plot level than an emotional level, as it requires a deep knowledge of the book series and uses the tricky device of time travel to carve out new plot additions that actually have meaning in the broader Potterverse. The plot features the children of the main characters from the books and revisits several important points in time from Book Four.   Final Grade :  B-     What We Did Today  by Just Jack: Just Ja...
  13. Wednesday, November 22, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Silicon Valley, Season Three : This was a pretty successful season with minimal retread of earlier story lines but all of the original characters finding some way to remain relevant in the story. I felt like the character of Erlich Bachman was slightly overused, and the weirdness of Jared was used just enough.   Final Grade :  B+     Patton Oswalt: Annihilation : This stand-up special gets all of the Trump jokes out of the way at the beginning and gets better from there. A large portion dives into the recent death of his wife, but the special never drags or gets too somber. Free on ...
  14. Friday, November 10, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Acoustic Songs in a Church  by The Hoosiers: This is a collection of Hoosiers songs recorded purely with acoustic instruments, apparently in a church venue. I'm not totally sure who the intended audience is supposed to be other than long-time fans, but the songs are fun from a nostalgia perspective. I definitely like the fully orchestrated versions much better, but this is a $6.99 plate of MP3 tapas that's pleasant enough for what it is.   Final Grade :  B-     Pinewood Smile  by The Darkness:  Last of Our Kind  was a great album, and this fifth album is a pretty weak foll...
  15. Wednesday, October 18, 2017:
    Review Day: Destiny's Conflict by Janny Wurts   There are no spoilers in this review, which is also posted on  Amazon .      It has been 22 years since I discovered Curse of the Mistwraith, the first book in the epic Wars of Light and Shadow series that has since become my favourite fantasy series of all time. I discovered Janny Wurts through her collaboration on the Empire trilogy, where I felt that she breathed true emotion, political intrigue, and character development into an otherwise cookie-cutter, two-dimensional universe. Since then, the WoLaS series has invaded my bookshelf like a pleasant plague in triplicate, with hardcovers for armchair reading, paperbacks for loaning, and Kindle copies for rereading the whole series without spr...
  16. Wednesday, October 11, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       American Vandal : This is a pitch-perfect satire of the true crime documentary genre (such as  Serial  and  Making a Murderer ), with a small team of high school students investigating who drew 27 dicks on cars in the teacher's parking lot. With a setup like that, it would be easy to stick with the obvious jokes -- the reason this 8-episode season works so well is because it's played completely straight, allowing you to get swept up into a fun snapshot of modern high school life in the days of social media and Youtube stars. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B+     Fortitu...
  17. Wednesday, September 20, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Plural  by Electric Guest: The follow-up album to  Mondo  is a little more mature and mellow. It's a good listen, but doesn't have any super-catchy or highly memorable tracks on it.   Final Grade :  B     Founder  (PG-13): This movie does a pretty good job of capturing the nationalization of McDonald's, with a perfect role for Nick Offerman. It won't change your life, but it will probably put you in the mood for some fries after it's over. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B     Rake, Season One : I only got about three...
  18. Wednesday, August 23, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Rogue One: A Star Wars Story  (PG-13): This one-off Star Wars movie (which fits plotwise in between Episode 3 and 4) takes a little while to get rolling (the first hour or so is character introduction), but it's otherwise reasonably watchable. The final battle scenes drag on a bit long, but the main characters are fun to watch and none of them are Jar-Jar levels of irritating. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B-     Ozark, Season One : This show starring Jason Bateman as a financial advisor in trouble with a Mexican drug cartel is never  bad , but overall, it just feels u...
  19. Monday, July 24, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The Rainmaker  (PG-13): I missed this movie back in the 90s when I used to read all of the John Grisham books. Though not an amazing film, it hews very close to the book and has some good performances by a very baby-faced Matt Damon and Claire Danes. It also has a 90s orchestral score that feels pleasantly retro today. Free on Amazon Prime.   Final Grade :  B     Halt and Catch Fire, Season Three : This season functions very much like the middle chapter of a trilogy -- it takes awhile before there is any hint of an overarching plot, but all of the great character development in the ...
  20. Monday, July 17, 2017:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Okja  (Not Rated): This whimsical Korean film tells the tale of a farmer girl and her giant pet pig as they become embroiled in a tug-of-war between a multinational corporation that wants to feed the world and a PETA-like group. The movie mashes an incredible number of themes and moods into its dense 2 hour running time but manages to be charming and evocative throughout, with over-the-top performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton among many others. Definitely worth a watch. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  A     Baby Driver  (R): At its core, this is just a car chase m...
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