Black Panther (2018)

The movie was absolutely fantastic. Hands down one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. Full disclosure there will be a lot of similarities in this review to the review for Star Wars The Last Jedi and that is because a lot of white privileged crybabies are whining in their basement.

Let’s start with the negative aspects, there isn’t another one right this second. Yep, that is the only negative I could come up with.

The actors are all great, they were believable and intense (even better than Star Wars, yes I know that is sacrilege). To be honest the least favorite role I saw was Martin Freeman’s CIA agent. Compared to the intensity of everyone else

The plot was absolutely great. I don’t want to go in too much detail so not to spoil it, but the story kept going and didn’t feel too slow or too fast. It gave both room for actual speaking parts for more then just the lead man, there seemed to be a very strong woman’s presence and I loved it.

The special effects we all knew were going to be stunning, so it doesn’t really get too much surprise from me.

I did have some weird encounters about the movie after it was over.

One of my “friends” said it sucked because he couldn’t identify with anyone in the movie but Martin Freeman and his character sucked.” I just stood there dumbly listening to this person who had only recently said there is plenty of representation for people of color in movies, and that it isn’t a big deal if there is only one character your skin color.

I asked him who his favorite character was in Lord of the Rings, and he loved Gimli. I asked him why could he identify with Gimli, another species, who has no basis in reality, but not with any of the wonderful actors on the screen. I knew I made my point when he stomped off saying “F*** Y** Lucky”.

I thought the movie was so great on all levels. Not just the standard technical direction/acting/SFX but on giving marginalized people a voice. I hope there are a lot more. I will buy the tickets the same day they come out.

The good: Everything you could imagine, most importantly it was all the cast, not just the stars.

The bad: The whiny neckbeard whiners. They just came out of the basement long enough to harass people and then they will disappear again. Someday they might learn they have to share, then maybe they will join us here in reality.

The Complete Roman Army (book review)

The Complete Roman ArmyThe Complete Roman Army by Adrian Goldsworthy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very good, moderately more then surface level review of the Roman Army during late Imperial times. It did have a lot of data I hadn’t seen before. It included bits and pieces about the day to day life and the uses of certain equipment, what happened after their service, religion and even what they did off duty.

It isn’t as in-depth as some older works, but it is written to make it easier to understand. It also isn’t something to be read like a novel, it has a lot more in common with a coffee table type textbook. The art is great though, the writing flows smoothly and I found it pretty nice.

It does give somewhat of a short shrift to the Roman Navy, to the early years, and the end years of the Roman Army. However, those are such different periods with different focuses that it might be for best not trying to cover them as well in more detail.

If you like stuff about Rome and the Roman Army, I definitely recommend this.

View all my reviews

Midnight Crossroad (Midnight Texas #1 book)

Midnight Crossroad (Midnight, Texas, #1)Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This review was harder then most. I had watched the first season of the tv show before reading the book so I already had some preset ideas. I will try and give the good vs bad when comparing this against the tv show.

The Bad:

The ages of the main characters are way younger in the book. Creek is only 17-18 (having just recently graduated high school) and Manfred is maybe 22-23. Wheras the tv show Manfred is 33 and Creek is 25. The whole idea of a just graduated from high school girl and her love life gives me the creeps. I can identify with the tv characters way more. I can’t buy into characters at their book age.

The cast in the book are very whitewashed. Having watched the tv show first I got to meet Lem as a very impressive looking black man. The book version is a white guy with bleach/white hair. The Lem in the TV show is far superior in looks, and personality. I would comment on Fiji but I can’t recall her exact description in the books, but I got the impression she was white, whereas the tv show had a much more engaging character including looks and personality as well.

The Good:

There is actually more good then bad compared to the tv show. The first book itself is much quieter paced then the tv show. The story is focused and you get to know about the characters more.

There is no focus on Manfred. He is one of the characters, but he isn’t the focus. I would argue Fiji is the biggest focus but all of the characters take turns. Also there is no dead grandmothers yet (maybe that is in the second book). This keeps the book more engaging as learn about the individuals, without focusing on the white guy as the star.

There are less tropes dealing with Aubrey, she isn’t even that deserving of dislike. I won’t talk more about her except to say her death/murder and her personality come out differently in the book. I definitely prefer this view more.

There is more good, but I can’t write about it since I don’t want to be 100% spoilery

The overall feeling resulting in a 3, meaning reading it is better then not. I did enjoy the book, and I recommend others read it. Just be warned it doesn’t measure up in some ways to the tv show, and is better in others. I just wish we could have Lem from the tv show, that would be great.

View all my reviews

Britannia (Season 1)

I just finished watching the first season of Britannia and I honestly can’t tell you if I like it or not. I go back and forth and it really isn’t even something I can break up into too many pros and cons. That is because it is all so intermixed that there isn’t a clear winner and loser portion.

It is about the Roman invasion of Britannia in 43 AD led by Roman Aulus Plautius. David Morrissey who played the Governor on Walking Dead does well enough, it isn’t him, or it really isn’t any of the actors. They all do well. I suspect instead I have an innate issue with how they changed the history of the event.

It is to be expected they would change it, this is a supernatural historical fantasy version of the invasion. The druids are portrayed as supernatural (the leader being 2000 years old) and living in what most would consider squalor. It just didn’t work for me.

The second part that really bugged me was the references to Rome. It is historically true that Rome (via Julius Caesar) failed to conquer fully Britannia, they did however install a King who was subservient Rome. It was the first time that Rome had utilized the system of client Kingdoms when Caesar enthroned Mandubracius as King. Rome then kept diplomatic and trading links with Britannia until they finally came back in 43AD and invaded to take it fully. Whereas the show acts like Caesar left, the Britannia went on about their lives and never heard of Romans again for 90 years.

I think with my penchant to read a lot of history, precludes me to not liking the show overall. It isn’t that its written badly, just it isn’t true and I can’t really recommend the show to others because of that. I watch too many people believing things are factual because they watched a show that is fiction that I can’t go with this show either.

Sneaky Pete (Season 2)

This review has a bit of spoilers to explain how I feel.

To be honest, I wasn’t too keen on the show for several episodes. The actors are all still great but it didn’t have the same chemistry. Pete and most of “Pete’s Family” were not in contact so we didn’t have the same relationship or interaction as the first season. The premise was a very slow version of Ocean’s 11 and they started introducing too many side characters. Then the introduction of real pete, real pete’s mom and a bunch of other things made this pretty hard to stay focused on for several more episodes.

That being said it was still enjoyable, Giovanni Ribisi makes the show work (along with Margo Martindale). They are great to watch. When they start interacting again things pick up speed and it ends up not being too bad this season. It is a bit of a drudge to push through, but once I was on the other side I don’t regret watching it. I just wished had not gone this direction.

Pros: The storytelling is good but what sells it is the acting by everyone involved. Mostly this rests on Giovani Ribisi and Margo Martindale, but everyone else does put in a bit for it.

Cons: Doesn’t have the same chemistry as the first season, without that chemistry this makes the show just “meh”.

The Path (Season 2)

I am beginning to learn that maybe there is something to the “sophomore slump” meaning the second season of a show tends to not hit the same peaks as season 1. That isn’t to say I haven’t like the show, but you can see some changes that should have happened and didn’t and some that didn’t but should have.

I want to say first of all that the acting is just as good, if not better. Aaron Paul is someone a person can identify with even more, Hugh Dancy is becoming more unhinged and the rest just flow together better.

That being said the season was too long. They added three more episodes, but that just made the main point drag way too much. Instead of telling a story the writers had to fill time and that is what made it not as high up on my list. The single biggest plot issue I had was the disappearance of the whole investigating a murder storyline. I realize it is a little bit of a spoiler to say that, but there is absolutely nothing about it in the second season, as if the writers just cut it out completely. Maybe it will come back around in Season 3, but I doubt it.

Pros: Once again Aaron Paul is great, the rest do well in acting. The character and actor for Hawk is just growing on me.

Cons: Sometimes making a longer season doesn’t make the show better. Too much filler means it takes too long to tell the story.

The Path (Season 1)

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a show about a Aaron Paul and a cult. I put it off watching it because it really isn’t my normal thing. Then one day I needed something to watch and thought I could blow an hour watching it. Now I have been binge watching it. What I didn’t really expect was how interesting it was.

A story about loss of faith, the prison of belief and how to deal with the in and out groups in your life was a lot better show then expected. Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame has moved out form his younger sidekick role and he carries the show. He is surrounded by other great actors like Hugh Dancy and Michelle Monaghan.

The show is fairly quick paced as it explores the cult of Meyerism and the issues of that kind of religious dogma and fanatacism. There is a foreboding of Jonestown or Waco in the subtext, along with petrified heirarchy that seems to insinuate itself into the movement. Followed by the search for truth, not only in religious subtext, but also in what is really happening behind the scenes kind of way. Is the movement corrupt, or is it just a few people? All of it makes it interesting for drama, and that is what it is good at.

Pros: Aaron Paul is great, the pacing is fairly quick and it ends at a good point.

Cons: I am unsatisfied yet again with the main female character. They seem to be following down that rabbit hole of a woman who can’t choose, who is unable to make up her mind. Hopefully next season they will fix that.

Shut Eye (Entire Series)

It deserved more than two seasons.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a stellar breakthrough in writing, but if you enjoyed Jeffrey Donovan in Burn Notice, you will enjoy this a lot.

Following Charlie Haverford (Donovan) who is a scammer with a small chain of fortune-telling businesses in the greater chunk of Los Angeles. A blow to the head from a client’s angry boyfriend intersects with a hypnosis session while auditioning a new “clairvoyant,” and suddenly, a man whose entire life has been based on fraud begins to see and feel some very real and fundamental truths. 

The show was well written, quirky and both fun and serious at the same time. Jeffrey Donovan was the central hub for the first season and that made it interesting. The second season tried to expand into the subplots with the secondary characters and that is where I think people lost interest. Not enough time on Charlie, too much time on his horrific wife. I did like that there was a scammer/psychic fraud underworld in LA. That was a new twist.

The things I disliked other then the expansion was the way the wife’s character was written, and how Charlie wouldn’t do anything about it. I also disliked that the show portrayed Romani as the illegal underground for psychics. I don’t think it was on purpose, but it played into a lot of stereotypes about Romani, when it looked like they were trying to overcome that.

Pros: Good acting, and a very up on it Jeffrey Donovan made this an interesting show.

Cons: The loss of focus on Charlie, the representation of Romani and especially how horrible they made Charlie’s wife.

Even with all that, I am disappointed there wasn’t a third season.

Operation Hail Storm (book review)

Operation Hail Storm (Hail, #1)Operation Hail Storm by Brett Arquette
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Full disclosure, I was given an audiobook copy of this book by the author for a review.

A good techno-thriller novel that is easy to listen to.

First, I just want to say that any criticisms in this review are not meant to indicate the book isn’t good. I enjoyed it immensely. Rather, as someone who doesn’t read techno-thrillers regularly (and who hasn’t read one in almost thirty years) I was surprised by a few things. I hadn’t realized the genre was fairly similar to the romance genre in style. I thought by pointing out here for readers not familiar with techno thrillers things that seem to be normal for the genre.

The writing is smooth, easy to understand. You can start right into it without being familiar with the world. The writing does address technical aspects, but Mr. Arquette doesn’t get lost in big words, rather the descriptions work for people who don’t have a background in science. It makes it easy to understand what he is describing, and more than that it makes the reading interesting.

The story is about a man named Marshall Hail who is super smart, super rich, super famous and like Bruce Wayne seems to be ahead of the villains most of the time. If the main character was a woman, it would be called a Mary Sue. However, it works for the book. Marshall is still very entertaining.

Meanwhile most of the villains are fairly two dimensional bad guys, there as a means to move the story. The end of the book did give a shift in the Russian arms-dealer and hinted at more, but that was it. Even the government characters are more used as foils for Marshall.

Mr. Arquette has a fan now, and maybe I will check out more techno-thrillers to go with my collection of romance novels, and maybe I will try some of his writings that aren’t techno-thrillers.

View all my reviews

Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues (book review)

Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues (White Trash Zombie, #2)Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues by Diana Rowland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Angel is even more fun to listen to in the second book.

The white trash zombie trope doesn’t get old. The story takes up not long after the first book. Elements of the first book reappear in unexpected ways.

Diana Rowland’s storytelling gets better by the book. Angel has moved beyond and grown up since the first book and she didn’t magically end up back in the same situation. In fact the world opens up in some unexpected ways.

You get to meet more zombies, more baddies and some baddies turn out that they may not be so bad. I am happily anticipating the next book even now.

Go read it!

View all my reviews