Posts Tagged as reviews

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  1. Friday, February 23, 2024:
    Review Day: Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky   There are no major spoilers in this review.      Children of Ruin  is the second book in the Children of Time series by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Although it's a sequel in the sense that you need to have knowledge of what came before, it plays out more like an anthology story, laterally covering similar themes as the first book.   The story begins on one ship out of many tasked with terraforming a new planet for mankind's salvation. Unlike the first book, the crew arrives to discover the planet already teeming with life forms that seemed to evolve without Earthlike biology. When signals from Earth stop transmitting, the five-man crew allows their mission to evolve more towards exploration an...
  2. Friday, February 16, 2024:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       They Cloned Tyrone  (R): This blaxploitation thriller is a fun ride although the overall theme doesn't convey as well. The three primary characters (John Boyega, Jamie Foxx, and Teyonah Parris) turn in great performances although Kiefer Sutherland's supporting role feels a bit miscast. Best watched without knowing too much in advance. On Netflix.   Final Grade :  B     Cobra Kai, Season Five : The penultimate season of Cobra Kai is very strong, constantly pushing forward towards an explosive conclusion. I'm glad that an early plotline involving a road trip through Mexico wrapped up qu...
  3. Friday, February 09, 2024:
    Review Day: Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky   There are no major spoilers in this review.       Children of Time  is the first book in the like-named trilogy by Adrian Tchaikovsky.   The last remnant of mankind has traveled across galaxies in search of a fabled planet that was terraformed and intended as a new Earth. They discover that the planet is not as uninhabited as they had presumed, and find it under the stewardship of a fiercely-protective artificial intelligence in orbit.   The book foreshadows the collision of two civilizations -- mankind at the tail end of a slow collapse and an on-planet presence with unnervingly similar societal traits on the rise. The story is told over millennia and generations, wit...
  4. Friday, February 02, 2024:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent  (R): This is a low-stakes buddy movie with Nicolas Cage (as Nicolas Cage) and Pedro Pascal that allows Cage to riff on his entire portfolio of acting choices, good and bad. It's funny, moves along quickly, and never totally devolves into cringeworthy parody. You will like it more if you're more familiar with the trajectory of Cage's acting career.   Final Grade :  B     The Human Demands  by Amy MacDonald: I really liked Amy MacDonald back in  2009  because of her folksy, poppy uniqueness. All of her subsequent albums have gotten ...
  5. Friday, January 26, 2024:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Que Ta Tete Fleurisse Toujours  by Mika: Mika's latest album is completely in French. A few of the melodies are recognizable from his  Sinfonia Pop  concert, and the whole album is a pleasant confection that's just a little too short (37 minutes).   Final Grade :  B     Reacher, Season Two : This show gets progressively worse as it goes on.  Season one  was barely held afloat by the bromance between the two leads, but the bulk of this season consists of the main characters standing around spouting exposition and really bad dialog that may have been written by ...
  6. Friday, January 19, 2024:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Love Hard  (NR): This is a pleasant Christmas movie about a woman who gets catfished on a dating app by Jimmy O. Yang. It passes the muster as a "not awful movie to watch around the holidays when you're tired of Home Alone". On Netflix.   Final Grade :  B-     Feast of the Seven Fishes  (NR): A surprisingly good, understated holiday movie about a large Italian family in a Rust Belt town. It emphasizes slice of life over plot and has nice roles for half the supporting cast of the Sopranos. The tone of the movie reminded me of the second season episode of  Bear  where the fa...
  7. Friday, January 05, 2024:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Bodies : This limited series about similar events occurring in different time periods has serious  Dark  vibes but struggles to carve out its own space in the first few episodes. It gets better around episode 4 as the characters and relationships start to deepen and has a few actual surprises in its worthwhile conclusion. The final tag diminishes the impact of the conclusion, as if the writers wanted to lay the groundwork for another season, just in case. On Netflix.   Final Grade :  B-     House of the Dragon, Season One : After the  cafeteria meatloaf  that p...
  8. Friday, December 22, 2023:
    Top Reviews of 2023  Here are the experiences I gave the highest ratings to in 2023. I hope you discover something new!    Television Shows       Severance, Season One  (A+) (AppleTV+)    Silo, Season One  (A+) (AppleTV+)    Sandman, Season One  (A) (Netflix)    This Fool, Season One  (A) (Hulu)    The Bear, Season Two  (A) (Hulu)    Beef  (A) (Netflix)    Mythic Quest, Season One  (A) (AppleTV+)    Righteous Gemstones, Season One  (B+)    Party Down, Season One and Two  (B+) (Amazon Video)    Better Call Saul, Sea...
  9. Wednesday, December 20, 2023:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Cobra Kai, Season One : This is a follow-on TV series to the seminal movie,  Karate Kid , and can be enjoyed even if you've only seen the first movie in the trilogy. I liked that the show has more to say about the original characters -- it's not just a typical reboot with young actors playing the exact same types of roles as the original. There's a good balance of cheesiness throughout even though the setting and character depth has been modernized (no one's a villain but no one is perfect). On Netflix.   Final Grade :  B+     Last of Us, Season One : This HBO show is ba...
  10. Friday, December 08, 2023:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Lincoln Lawyer, Season Two : The second season of this show is so shallow that infants can swim in it unattended. The court case is marginally interesting but the characters are plot ciphers that constantly speak the clunkiest, cliche dialogue in every scene. May have been written by an AI. On Netflix.   Final Grade :  C-     Barbie  (PG-13): We liked this more than expected. It had a great visual style and was much more subversive and tongue-in-cheek than one might expect from a Mattel-blessed movie. Good performances and a nice balance of absurd and dramatic.   Fina...
  11. Friday, December 01, 2023:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Derry Girls, Complete Series : This is a fun, 19-episode sitcom about growing up in Northern Ireland in the 90s. The show is consistently funny although the absurd elements are sometimes so absurd that they nullify the impact of the occasional dramatic section. The third season feels like it got a big infusion of cash, with higher production values and guest stars, but I actually prefer the low-key nature of the first two seasons better. On Netflix.   Final Grade :  B     Weird: The Al Yankovic Story  (PG-13): This movie kind of feels like  UHF  if that movie had a budge...
  12. Friday, November 17, 2023:
    Review Day: Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch   There are no major spoilers in this review.      Red Seas Under Red Skies  is the second book in The Gentleman Bastards series, by Scott Lynch. The book takes Locke Lamora and his compatriot, Jean Tannen, to the island city of Tal Verrar, where they recuperate from the events of Book One and come up with a plot to rob an extravagant casino known as the Sinpsire.   The flashbacks focused on Locke's recovery from Book One's traumas and his growing awareness of the class inequalities in this world are the strongest parts of the book. The main plotline itself, however, is much less interesting and effective. The book suffers from a convoluted "road trip" structure that pulls the reader f...
  13. Friday, November 10, 2023:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Foundation, Season One : I struggled my way through the first season of this show (based on work by Isaac Asimov) because I'd heard that the second season was really good. Even with the slow-burn effect in mind, I abandoned it in episode 8, just 2 episodes shy of a whole season. The story feels epic and the production values are high, but whole thing is a dry, humorless affair without enough forward motion. On AppleTV+.   Final Grade :  C     Reservation Dogs, Season Three : The final season of Reservation Dogs takes half of its length to find its footing, but ends on a very good ...
  14. Friday, November 03, 2023:
    Review Day: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch   There are no major spoilers in this review.      The Lies of Locke Lamora  is the first book in The Gentlemen Bastards series, by Scott Lynch. (The series is planned out as 7 books but only three have been written in the last 17 years). The book tells the story of a small group of grifters who pull a long con on a member of the nobility before getting swept up in the larger backdrop of unrest in the island city of Camorr.   Although Camorr is a violent, bloody city, the camaraderie and witty dialogue of the main characters grounds the story and offers characters worth rooting for. The book sometimes reminded me of Cate Glass'   Illusion of Thieves   but with more ...
  15. Friday, October 27, 2023:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Gadjistan Zizany  by Gadjo: We caught this little street band on our trip to Barcelona in 2008 and their first CD has been on during many dinners since then. This 2011 CD is more of the same, but a little too repetitive and less quirky.   Final Grade :  C+     Black Bird : This true crime show tries to channel Netflix's Mindhunter and every show ever made that takes place in a prison. A low-level criminal must go undercover in a maximum security prison and befriend a serial killer to gain critical evidence. The show is very by-the-numbers and doesn't show any real nuance until Epi...
  16. Friday, October 20, 2023:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Severance, Season One : This show about office workers who "sever" their minds so they never have to remember their day jobs is excellent. It's like Black Mirror meets The Office, with a little bit of Silo thrown in. The show exudes a really weird vibe, like the early days of LOST or Twin Peaks without being just frustratingly weird, and the buildup in tension over the last 3 episodes is well-executed TV. I totally accept that there are very few answers revealed at the moment, and the upcoming second season could completely implode, but I'm here for it. On AppleTV+.   Final Grade :  A+     ...
  17. Monday, October 16, 2023:
    Review Day: Starfield (PC)  Starfield is an overwhelming breadth of janky, poorly-explained gameplay systems trapped behind a cumbersome, inconsistent user interface. It is also very FUN, offering the same shallow type of entertainment that Bethesda's previous games (Skyrim, Fallout) excelled at.     For reference, I'm someone with about 350 hours spent playing  Skyrim , 350 hours playing  Fallout 4 , and 550 hours playing  Fallout 76 . I like the way Bethesda mixes exploration, combat, and a bit of story together in their games, and the way you can just ignore the main story while getting lost making your own fun in a sandbox environment. Eventually, though, there's a point where there's nothing left to do -- ...
  18. Friday, October 06, 2023:
    Review Day: Diablo IV (PC)    My  first impressions  of this game held pretty true throughout my playtime. The game kept me entertained for about two months before I lost interest and moved on.    The Good    The graphics, music, and sound (even beyond the obligatory high-quality cutscenes that Blizzard is known for) are excellent, creating a brooding, ominous atmosphere for slaughtering demons. The gameplay loop is solid and addictive, with spells that are satisfying to cast and a reasonable number of options for builds. The story is 200% better than the middle-school play that was Diablo III's story, even though it eventually devolves into plot holes.    The Bad    Like S...
  19. Wednesday, September 27, 2023:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Mythic Quest, Season Three : This season was hit-or-miss. Some of the characters become too  Flanderized  and there's not a lot of forward progress in the plot. On AppleTV+.   Final Grade :  B-     Schmigadoon, Season One : This show is about two people in a failing relationship who magically stumble into a musical and cannot leave until they find true love. The songs are fine and the feeling of musicals from the 60s and 70s is captured perfectly, but it just isn't very gripping. Everything they try here was already done better (and with more edge) in  Crazy Ex-Gi...
  20. Friday, September 22, 2023:
    Review Day   There are no major spoilers in these reviews.       Doom Guy: Life in First Person  by John Romero: The autobiography of one of the creators of DOOM is a little repetitive at times, retreading ground already explored by David Kushner's   Masters of Doom  . However, it's a pleasant, nostalgic trip through 3D gaming in the 90s.   Final Grade :  B     Ted Lasso, Season Two : The second season of this footballer show stumbles a bit. There are still some great, funny storylines, but the episodes get longer and longer and the character arc of Nate the Great isn't sold well enough for its payoff. The episode,  Bea...
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