Posts Tagged as reviews

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  1. Wednesday, July 10, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       12 Monkeys, Season Four : This show continues to have a great balance of humour and drama in its final season and it brings back several favourite side characters in ways that feel earned and fun. The uber-villain of the show (who was finally revealed at the end of the previous season) is irritating in a one-note kind of way, but otherwise this is an amazing wrap-up to the story. The last 3 episodes frame a perfect ending that I didn't see coming, although they are as self-indulgently long as the end of the  Lord of the Rings  trilogy. After it was all over, I was able to see clear tie-backs to events in Season One -- the vast ...
  2. Friday, July 05, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       12 Monkeys, Season Three : This season kicks off with an incredibly ambitious first episode that clearly embraces the difficulty of gaining new viewers and doesn't look back. Every episode feels like a season finale, to the point where I finished this whole (10 episode) run in just a few days. This show also features a crazy character (the Brad Pitt role from the movie) that perfectly walks the fine line between really funny and annoying.   Final Grade :  A     Flowers in the Pavement  by Bliss n ESO: This is the first album of my favourite Australian hip-hop band, released in 200...
  3. Friday, June 21, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Weber Genesis II E310 LP Gas Grill : This Weber grill assembles easily and doesn't have that flimsy "gonna break tomorrow" feel that my  8-year-old Weber  had (Just after giving that grill an A-, the starter stopped working permanently). Apart from a minor issue with a bent starter connection, I had the grill up and running in just a couple hours. I've used it about 6 times since then and it's resulted in consistent timings and grilling quality. I also like that the burners go from front-to-back, reducing the propane wasted on smaller servings.   Final Grade :  A     12 Monkeys, S...
  4. Friday, June 14, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       12 Monkeys, Season One : Based on the classic movie starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt, this first season takes a while to get away from the source material and discover its own voice. It drags a bit in the middle and there is too much explanation of time travel for the sake of dumb network audiences. However, when it finally does strike out on its own, it becomes an intriguing, watchable example of high-concept sci-fi. The last 3 episodes in particular do a great job of tying everything together. I liked this enough to buy the remaining 3 seasons all at once.   Final Grade :  B     Reset&...
  5. Wednesday, May 29, 2019:
    Review Day: An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass / Carol Berg   There are no major spoilers in this review.       An Illusion of Thieves  is the first book in a new series by established author, Carol Berg, writing under the pen name, Cate Glass. Set against a pseudo-Italian backdrop of city-states and political factions, the story centers on a young woman, Romy, whose position near the rich and powerful of the city is suddenly cast into jeopardy by family ties.   The tropes of the book (from a distrust of magic to a benevolent ruler with conspiring enemies) are familiar fare, but they are expertly pieced together to support the story and accessible enough to draw the attention of new fantasy readers. The world-building is obviously well thoug...
  6. Friday, May 24, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Benfei USB-C to HDMI Adapter (Male-to-Female) : Streaming from a laptop is a regular part of our TV watching experience, but the ultrabook laptops I prefer have stopped having HDMI ports. This little adapter works fine for 6 months to a year before you have to unplug/replug it constantly to patch sound through it. 3 months later, it stops working all together. We went through 3 of them over 2 years before I finally gave up and bought a dedicated USB-C to HDMI cable (Male-to-Male). There's a sexuality joke buried in here somewhere.   Final Grade :  C-     Colony, Season Three : At ...
  7. Friday, May 17, 2019:
    Review Day: Grim Dawn (PC)    Built by some of the team that made 2006's  Titan Quest  (and with the same engine),  Grim Dawn  is one of the best  Diablo II  spiritual successors you've never heard of. It's not perfect, but it effectively scratches the action-RPG itch and I've already sunk almost 100 hours into it.    Grim Dawn  is closer in style and pacing to  Diablo II  rather than  Diablo III  or  Path of Exile . There's much less emphasis on movement skills and enemies feel more dangerous and harder to kill. Gear upgrades are less frequent but, as a result, feel more satisfying and well-earned.   The key discriminator of the game is its dual mastery syste...
  8. Friday, May 10, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Bosch, Season Five : The latest season of  Bosch  is fairly mediocre. It starts with a tense situation immediately followed by "THREE WEEKS EARLIER...", a device that J.J. Abrams believe adds suspense, but really just serves to annoy the viewers. The various plots don't really work in isolation, and the "main" plot is fairly mundane. I think the biggest problem of this season was that the main characters spent too much time isolated into their own stories without the great interplay that shows how strong the relationships are. The "satisfying high point" of the season occurs in the penultimate episode (in a court case, of cours...
  9. Friday, April 26, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Sharp Objects : This HBO limited miniseries is a great adaptation of the original book by Gillian Flynn. It captures the brooding, memory-heavy feel of the main character perfectly. It's pretty much a downer all the way through though. The show leaves the ending much more ambiguous than the book, which wrapped everything up tightly.   Final Grade :  B     The Player's Ball: A Genius, a Con Man, and the Secret History of the Internet's Rise  by David Kushner: While I enjoyed   Masters of Doom   by Kushner, I got bored quickly with   Jacked  ...
  10. Friday, April 19, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Secret City, Season Two : For an omniscient police state, people seem to get away with a lot. This season has a more realistic conspiracy to unravel, but suffers from unnaturally muted reactions and overly convenient character relationships. There are also about 5 too many white men to keep track of. I enjoyed piecing together the conspiracy here but felt like this was the weaker of the two seasons. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B-     Two Degrees  by Illy: Illy is the pop-iest of Australian hip hop artists -- he's not a great rapper, but he writes good hooks and enables great...
  11. Wednesday, April 10, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The Nightmare We Know  by Krista D. Ball: The second book in the Dark Abyss of Our Sins trilogy drags unmercifully. The book is in need of a good editor to catch typos and tighten up the repetitive inner monologues -- plot events are often followed up with how different characters perceived those events, regardless of the fact that no one character's perception was different enough for a rehash. Exposition and character description suffers when the same information is conveyed slightly differently in two consecutive paragraphs (as if the writer was drafting both but forgot to delete one). After the great character development in Book One...
  12. Friday, April 05, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       A Star is Born : This is a predictable downer of a musical biopic that never paints outside of the lines and is barely worth watching for the good acting performances. There's a point early in the movie where I hoped it would diverge from the expected path and become a road trip movie featuring a bunch of drag queens cracking jokes on a tour bus, but it was not to be. They need people like me working on screenplays in Hollywood, because my version would definitely have won Best Picture.   Final Grade :  C-     Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms  by Hannah Fry: Althoug...
  13. Friday, March 15, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The End of the F***ing World, Season One : This is a quirky dark comedy about a boy who thinks he's a psychopath and starts wondering what it might be like to kill the girl who hangs out with him because of his edginess. It puts a unique spin on the typical coming-of-age road trip story and does a good job balancing levity and seriousness. There are a couple brief scenes of animal violence that might be offputting, but they don't linger. Free on Netflix.   Final Grade :  B     Assassin's Creed: Odyssey : This game was very promising upfront, in spite of its UPlay installation requ...
  14. Friday, March 01, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The Great Expanse  by Hilltop Hoods: The newest album from this Australian hip hop band is solid, full of distinctive songs and catchy beats. They've pulled away from the overly repetitive backing tracks that made some of the previous albums annoying. The single,  Leave Me Lonely  is pretty infectious.   Final Grade :  B+     Good Girls, Season One : This show about three suburban moms who rob a grocery store is good, but suffers from genre overload. While it does manage to carve out its own voice and style, it's hard for it to stand on its own without comparing it to &n...
  15. Friday, February 15, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       No Good  by Ivy Levan: This album opens with a few promising tracks like  Kiss My Biscuit , but front-loads all of the beats. The last half of the album is a bunch of forgettable power ballads, and there's also an odd socially dissonant song about enjoying abusive relationships. I like Ivy's voice though.   Final Grade :  C+     How the Story Ends  by B. Reith: I feel like this positive-outlook rapper is like who Eminem would have been with a good home life. There's a little more singing and less rapping on this album, which makes me prefer his first one,  Now Is No...
  16. Friday, February 08, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       How to Ruin Everything  by Watsky: This collection of essays by rapper, Watsky, is pleasant enough but I noticed myself starting to skim in the last 1/3. Fun as book to pick up now and then, but not as good on a straight read-through. I did find it interesting that I heard the entire book in his voice as I read.   Final Grade :  B-     Fyre : This Netflix documentary is a fun, incredulous look at the disastrous Fyre Festival, with behind-the-scenes looks and interviews with many of the people involved. I haven't seen the competing Hulu documentary, but enjoyed this from start ...
  17. Friday, February 01, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Patriot, Season Two : I liked the  first season  when I watched it, then loved it when I watched it again with Rebecca. The second season is slightly more absurd with less payoff but I appreciated how tonally and thematically consistent it was -- the creator definitely has a unique voice and cinematography that he stays true to. A couple of the characters I liked the most from season one were pushed to the sidelines here, but it was still worth a watch.   Final Grade :  B-     The Three-Body Problem  by Cixin Liu: This highly-regarded sci-fi book is flawed. The core idea...
  18. Friday, January 25, 2019:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Parking Lot Symphony  by Trombone Shorty: Trombone Shorty continues to move towards more crowd-pleasing accompanied vocals. It's perfectly fine, but the genre is already oversaturated with similar music -- I prefer his first two albums with more unique instrumental New Orleans funk.   Final Grade :  C+     x Infinity  by Watksy: A few good hooks mixed in with some overly artistic songs makes this album hit-or-miss. Nowhere near as good as  Cardboard Castles .   Final Grade :  B-     Barry, Season One : This HBO sh...
  19. 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-...
  20. 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. ...
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