Sunday, June 28, 2015

True Detective Night Finds You S2E2: Just Not Good (Spoilers!)

Season 2 has gotten off to a weak start. Nothing was going to live up to last season, but this latest episode makes the show go from much watch, to I’ll watch when I get the chance. I’ll keep watching, because Sunday nights are a little thin for good TV at the moment. Maybe next week will turn around, but it is going to take a massive effort to fix this mess
We start with Vince Vaughn character extemporizing. It was deep thoughts, and I like deep thoughts. However they didn’t ring true. The story about the rats was deeply disturbing, but it is not relatable. What worked last year for Matthew McConaughey’s character was his deep nihilistic thoughts were relatable. The man lost his daughter, and his theories on life could have been a coping mechanism to help deal with his grief.  Vaughn is a crook who had a tough childhood.  It can be relatable, but it probably would have worked more if he was a detective and not a bad guy. At least he would be trying to solve the murder for the right reasons, and not to save his own ass. I don’t know, I just didn’t like the monologue. It wasn’t believable, and I didn’t relate. He is a weird character, and I don’t have a good grasp on him yet. He is not a bad guy you want to root for and succeed. Maybe he becomes that, but we only have six episodes for him to turn it around.
We then jump into the investigation. The plot gets convoluted, because the state wants to use the murder investigation to investigate the town of  Vinci. It’s another plot thread that gets thrown into a many headed beast. McAdams and Farrell seem to have to good chemistry on the screen together, but because of the situation the characters are in they can’t really build on it. All the officers working on the case are in an awkward situation, and that actually works. The situation is awkward, but it seems like Ray and Ani start to develop a small bit of rapport.  
During the course of the episode we get to spend more time with the mayor of  Vinci. I guess he will play more of a roll in the following episodes, and actually has pull over Frank (Vaughn’s character). I’m not sure why. Frank is supposed to be mindful of a guy who is sauced early in the day? Then he spouts off some deep meaning thoughts on life that are just silly. They sounded like the ramblings of a drunk, which I guess they are supposed to. Why though? Why have this dialogue? I just don’t get it. Maybe they will come around in the next few episodes. There are many things which need to come together in the next few episodes.
Farrell again was a bright spot in the episode. His character seemed to turning a corner, and seemed to want to turn his life around. He was a guy I could get behind this season.  Then (BIG SPOILER) he gets shot at the end of the episode by the killer, and probably will be off the show. I can’t imagine he survived two shotgun blasts to the chest and gut. Now the focus must shift to Ani and Paul investigating the murder(s). They didn’t spend any time together this episode, so they start cold next week.  For an anthology with only 8 episodes it is a weird choice to have two of the main characters just start interacting in the third episode.
Paul (Taylor Kitsch) is obviously dealing with inner turmoil. I thought last week it was PTSD from the war, which is probably the case, but it looks like they are also making him closeted gay man. That’s ok, but having him work on all this with just six episodes is a daunting task. The show has too many characters to develop in too short a period of time with this complex of a plot. It needs to be simplified on some front. Last year worked, because the plot at its core was still just a murder mystery. It had some complex cover-up elements, but it didn’t have as many moving parts or characters as this year. Maybe that’s why Farrell had to go, to many main characters.
I hope the plot gets a little clearer next week, and our main characters start moving forward. I want to like this season, but this episode turned me off. Will see what happens next week.

My Rating: A Turd  

Friday, June 26, 2015

Interstellar Re-Watch Movie Review (Spoilers!): The ending is still weird

I really like the movie Interstellar. I wouldn’t have bought the Blu-ray if I didn’t enjoy the movie. I had not sat down and re-watched it since I bought the movie when it initially came out. I like to fall asleep watching movies, but it’s not one that screams, FALL ASLEEP WATCHING ME!  It is deep, thought provoking and surprisingly emotional. Not something I would want to fall asleep listening too. I had three hours to kill yesterday on a train ride, and I decided it was a good time to bust it out and watch the movie again.  I enjoyed the re-watch as much as my initial viewing when I saw it in theaters. I even liked the ending more this time around. It was however, still really freaking weird.
Let’s start with what I love about the movie. The space sequences are fan-freaking-tastic. The initial launch was well done, and the initial docking with the main spacecraft was awesome. I love how the soundtrack of the movie stops during these sequences, and gives us the deadly silence of space. Great touch, which I would expect out of a director the caliber of Nolan.  The landing on the water world was beautiful, and the escape extremely intense. The final sequence, when they have to dock with the spinning Endurance, had me on the edge of my seat for the second straight viewing.  Highly implausible, and one of things I thought was a too far out on my initial viewing. The second time it did not bother me as much, and I just enjoyed the stellar action sequence.  These scenes help drive the movie forward, so it doesn’t get bogged down and boring. They are spaced perfectly throughout the movie so the audience doesn’t get a chance to check out during our three hour adventure.  In between these scenes we are treated to strong dialogue and spectacular acting. The bonds of the characters and chemistry of the actors in the movie keeps us invested.
The strongest bond is between Cooper (McConaughey) and Murphy (Foy 10 year old version).  Cooper is trying to save the world and get back to his daughter. This is the overriding premise of the movie. A father and a daughters love for one another. How this bond transcends time, space, and gravity. Love is a quantifiable element for Interstellar. It is a great sentiment. One I wasn’t sold on the first time I watched the movie, but I got behind it the second time around.  McConaughey does a fantastic job as Cooper. He has had a stellar couple of years and has hopefully left his sappy romantic comedy days behind him. He deserves legitimate dramatic roles with performances like this. I loved the 10 year old version of Murph. The movie doesn’t work without Cooper and her connecting and selling us on their love for one another.  The ending is far enough out their already, without this belief the movie would have failed miserably.
Onto some problems. Since we are on Cooper and his family, the brother of Murphy is only in the movie as a plot device. You don’t get a connection, or believe a connection exists between Cooper and his son, Tom. I had to look up the character’s name on IMDB, that’s how much he means to the movie. I think it would have been better just to leave him out of the movie altogether. Nolan however needed some way for the older Murphy to go back to her childhood home. Hence the older brother who stays on the farm. The sub-plot about him not wanting to leave, and trying to hang on was silly. If he shared chromosomes with Cooper, he had to be somewhat intelligent, he should have known everything was failing and gone with his sister from the start. The whole sequence was orchestrated for Murphy to find and understand the Morse code of the watch. The drama fell flat for me, more so on the second viewing. Nolan could have found some other plot device for Murphy to go back to her home. There had to be a better option than creating a one dimensional flat character like Tom. It wouldn’t be as bad, if the main point of the movie wasn’t a father’s love for his children. He had two, not just one!  
Ok, just throwing this in the middle of the blog. Transitions are for punks (that or I’m just too lazy to come up with a good one). I really like the comedic relief robots. TARS was great. The movie needed small moments of laughter and the machines of the movie provided it for us. I had forgot about them until I viewed the movie again. The movie has such deep reaching themes and concepts, you don’t think about the comedic relief aspect of the movie. They were there and they were great. The movie doesn’t work well without them, even in their understated role.
No transition needed here, back to the main points: I’ve already touched on how I think the ending is far-fetched. It pulled me out of my viewing the first time, and made me go WTF. I was so engrossed in the story, to be thrown such a curveball affected my enjoyment. Watching it a second time greatly increased my enjoyment of the movie.  I was expecting the curveball and the movie worked better. I could at least partially get behind how future humans could create a fifth dimensional world for Cooper to communicate with his daughter across time.  Just typing still makes me stop and say, wait a tick, the ending of the movie does what?? That aside I still loved the movie, and will watch it again.  The spaces scenes alone are worth watching every time they are on TV.
My Rating: Worth Owning on Blu-ray.
My top five favorite Chris Nolan movies:
1.      The Dark Knight(duh)
2.      Batman Begins
3.      The Prestige
4.      Interstellar
5.      The Dark Knight Rises

(Really debating between Memento and Inception vs DKR, but I went with my heart. The man really hasn’t directed a bad movie)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

James Horner in Memoriam

Not to get morbid, but I wanted to write a something about one of my favorite composers. James Horner loss is monumental for today’s cinema. He was killed in a plane crash on Monday.   There are/wereL three great cinema composers for the modern age, John Williams, Hans Zimmer and James Horner. I’ll give the edge to Williams because I am more of a Star Wars fan, but Horner was every bit as good (I’m two sentences in and it’s hard to write in the past tense about him).  He was simply awesome. A great soundtrack/musical score can elevate a movie from good to great and a great movie to spectacular. Knowing what music to play in a movie greatly increases the scenes impact. Horner was magnificent at striking the right tone with music for specifics scenes. I won’t go into every movie the man composed, but I want to touch on a few of my favorites.
Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan. Really kicks off the Star Wars vs Star Trek debate. Trekkie I’m sure will favor Horner due to his iconic score in Khan. It hits all the right notes, from the unveiling of the Enterprise, Kirk getting left on the Asteroid, and the amazing end fight sequence.

Krull, read my review of my re-watch of Krull. I love the soundtrack of the movie. It sounds a bit like the Star Trek, but that’s ok, it worked for both. The soundtrack just screams fantasy movie. Love the French horns in the title sequence.

Willow is another fantasy epic, and one of my favorites from my childhood. The music accompanies our hero’s on their journey. It moves along with them, which is just what is called for since Willow must go on an epic adventure.  

The Land Before Time is one of my favorite non-Disney animated movies. The scene of the mother’s death still touches me today, and Horner did an amazing job with the music. It was a hard movie to watch when I was young because of the death. I didn’t want to watch with my boys because the scene was so emotional to me when I was a younger, (yes I know I’m a sap as well as a nerd and geek). The movie is a big part of this, without it the scene isn’t as impactful. It’s understated, but perfect for the sequence.

Braveheart. Do I really need to talk about this one? One of the best scores of all time, hands down.  The movie is great, the score makes it amazing. Right in line with Braveheart is Apollo 13. It is such a tense movie, and Horner’s score touches all the right notes.

Troy, not the greatest movie, but I loved the score. I liked the movie, probably because the score added to my enjoyment. Without Horner providing a great soundtrack the movie would be hard to watch.  Avatar wasn’t the best movie, but it was stunningly visually and Horner added to the epic feel of the movie with his soundtrack.

The best for last. Field of Dreams. What man/boy doesn’t tear up at the end sequence of Field of Dreams? Hell, I could tear up just thinking about it. The scene doesn’t have the same impact without the music. Try watching the scene without the music, it just doesn’t work. It is not just this scene, it is the entire movie. The mysticism and belief needed for the movie to work was extremely high, and Horner was able to provide a gateway to this belief with his music.

Simply put, I loved Horner’s work. His work enhanced movies and raised them to an astonishing level. He will be missed by millions of fans, and I don’t think I’m overstating this. People may not even realize they will miss him, but a giant hole has been left in movies today.  My thoughts go to his family and friends, and hopefully the soundtrack of his life lives on forever in their hearts. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

True Detective The Western Book of the Dead (S2E1) Review: Hooked, but it’s not set yet (Spoilers).

Ever think about why we use fishing references when describing shows we like? I guess they are apt, but I'm sure many people who have used them have never actually baited and set a hook and then reeled in a fish. Random thought, but when I came up with my title my mind started wandering…..
Could anything live up to the first season of True Detective? Last year it set the bar for what a television show could be. Gripping, intense, introspective and just downright creepy. That's a mountain to live up too. The first episode this year was good, really good, but I'm not quite as sucked in as I was at the start of last year. Maybe I shouldn't compare them, and just enjoy this season for what it is. That's going to be hard to do, since it is the same show. It was good though, verging on great. The characters are interesting and the set up will have me tuning in next week.
Collin Farrell and Rachael McAdams are great in the episode and their characters are the ones I want to spend time with. We got just a taste of their backstory in the first episode. Ray and Ani, their characters, are both troubled individuals. Ray battling demons and addiction and Ani seems to be in a similar boat. Ray had some great scenes, the best being his retribution on the dad of his son's bully. It was a brutal scene, and showed how troubled this man is. Love the line "I'll come back and butt-fuck your father with your mom's headless corpse on this lawn." Ani's interaction with her father (David Morse) was a good piece of dialogue and gave good insight into her character. I liked this exchanged and hope she has more with her father. Ray and Ani are not partners, which I found a little strange. We didn't see them get together until the very end of the episode. Which leads me to my only gripe, the pace. The main murder wasn't discovered until the very end of the episode. The whole episode was just to set the scene. That's not a bad thing, but when you only have eight episodes, you would hope for some investigating of the main crime in the during episode one.
The scene leading up to murder being discovered may have been my favorite part of the episode. Taylor Kitsch character, Paul, turns off the light of his motorcycle going 100 mph. It was beautifully shot, and extremely intense. The whole episode is shot well, which isn't surprising with how well the first season was shot. Everything is tight and intimate. We feel right on top of our characters and we seem close to them. The writing builds a tension in the episode, which I think will only grow throughout the season. The only writing which didn't sit well was with Vince Vaugh's character, Frank. Some of his lines were a little cheesy, "never do anything out of hunger. Not even eating." BABY! It sounded and was delivered like a line out of swingers. I'm not buying Vaughn yet. I want him to be good, I think he can be, but this episode didn't showcase it. Hopefully the next few episodes proves why he was cast as the organized crime lead for the show.
I enjoyed the episode, and I think fans of the first season will be pleased. I don't think anything is going to live up to the first season, but this was good effort. Hopefully the pace in the next episode picks up. The intensity and drama are there, we just need the story to catch up. I'll be watching at 8 or as close to 8 as I can manage next week.
My Rating: Worthy addition to the series.

The Dresden Files: Storm Front by Jim Butcher Book Re-Listen Review: Epics have to start somewhere

I love the Dresden files. I am a fairly recent convert to their magic. I discovered them a little over a year ago. This is my third listen to storm front, and while it is not the best book in the series it is the first, and all great stories need a beginning. The only reason I picked up the Dresden files was due to the fact James Marsters, aka Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is the narrator. I wanted to listen to Marsters and the reviews of the series where really good. I was hooked after Storm Front. I tore through the 13 books of the series in a little over a month. I couldn't get enough. I'm not sure what it is about the series. They are great popcorn books, but they are more than that. If I can convert one more person to a Dresden lover I feel I have done a good deed. Anyone can enjoy the series, but if you are a fan of any type of fantasy you should enjoy these books. If you like audio books, you cannot go wrong with Marsters as Harry Dresden. He is Harry Dresden. Storm Front is our introduction into Dresden world, and it is a wonderful introduction which has spawned countless hours of entertainment.
Since this is my third listen to Storm Front, some of the luster has worn off. I see some things that didn't really work, or things that Harry can do in later novels that he couldn't in this novel. These are not things Harry grew into doing, he should be able to do the things he can in later novels in this one. Magic in Storm Front does not come as easy to Harry as it does in later novels. Butcher changed how his universe worked from the first novel. I think he had a grand outline how his world would work, but added to and expanded on it from the when he wrote the first book. That's ok, this was his first publication, and he wasn't sure if this would be his only book he would ever publish. It's still a good book, but it suffers when looking back after reading some of the other books in the series.
Dresden is a wizard. Look him up in the Chicago yellow pages, he is listed under wizard. Storm Front mixes two different genres extremely well. It's a noir novel set in an urban fantasy universe. All the things that go bump in the night are real, and Harry investigates and protects Chicago from all the evil that lurks in the darkness. It doesn't pay well, which plays into the stereotypical private eye trope. He is down on his luck, hated by the police, expect for one friend on the force. He does get called into consult, and this is where our story starts. Harry must help find a murder who is killing by magic.
Harry for the most part is on his own in Storm Front. As the series builds he gets his own Scooby squad, but he flies solo here. The two main people we see are Susan, an attractive reporter, and Karen Murphey, his friend on the police force who brings Harry in as a consultant. They help out some, but Harry solves this crime on his own. It's an exciting ride, and learning about the world Harry lives in is just as much fun as discovering the murderer. The explanations on how magic works, or how Dresden makes potions drive the novel forward while the action is not going on. One of my favorite parts of the novel is the capturing of a fairy and the explanation of how it can be accomplished.
The plot is a little straightforward, and I would have liked a bit more of a twist. It doesn't take away from the overall story, but more of a surprise would have put it over the top. . Still a good murder mystery, with drugs and crime lords. Butcher just mixes in a dark wizard, vampires, and magic to spice things up.
The immense backstory Harry has is also a key to the novel and the overall series. We want to learn more about him and how he became a wizard. Dresden is a great character, he is a likeable and you root for him. He is also a nerd at heart, which endears him to me. He also is not infallible. He screws up showing he is human and adds to his likability. If you have never heard of Dresden files, pick it up! Download it, listen to it, you just need to ingest it in some form or another. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Orange is the New Black Season 3 Review: Still Binge Worthy (Spoilers!)

I have mixed feelings about this season of OITNB. The season was really good, hence the reason I finished 13 episodes in less than a week (I started watching Monday). I don't know if it was as good as the first two seasons. The first two seasons were good for different reasons. The first season focused on Chapman and her journey through prison life. The second season branched out and focused more on individual characters, and each ones backstory. Season two also had a dark overall plot arch with Vee. I am not sure this season had an overall plot arch. The panty ring or the prison being bought out by a corporate entity could both be thought of as a main plot thread. This may be why I'm not quite sure if season 3 was as strong as season 1 or 2. Each episode is somewhat contained, focusing more on one individual and their life before and during the prison. I like learning about each woman and who they are, it keeps the show fresh and makes each character relatable in some way.
Pennsatucky (played by Taryn Manning) became one of my favorite characters this season. She was the main antagonist in season one, and became a character you rooted for this season. It was an amazing transformation and showed outstanding character growth. We had seen some of her backstory previously, but we saw her first instance of falling in love. It added depth to her character, along with the instances we saw with her mother as a young child and adult. We saw how she was shaped, how she eventually ended up as a meth addict and locked in prison. She has calmed, no longer the religious fanatic. She strikes up a great friendship with Boo. I relished every interaction with these two. They had great chemistry, an unlikely friendship, but one which made both more likable and relatable this season.
Boo (Lea DeLaria) was also fleshed out this season. Her backstory was intriguing. One of my favorite episodes was Finger in the Dyke. We see her struggles with being a lesbian, and how her Mom treated her growing up. Adding to the person she would become. In the episode she was going to try and scam a Christian hate church into supporting her. She tried to play the born again Christian who turned away from a lesbian lifestyle. I love how it came to a crashing end, she just couldn't stomach not being who she is. Boo has always been one of my favorite characters in the series. I am glad she became more developed this year. I hope they continue the Boo and Pennsatucky friendship storyline next season. Their friendship was one of the highlights of the show this season.
The panty ring was great. It didn't pick up until the second half of the season. It had some of the funniest parts of the season, seeing them get the panties nice and ripe. Piper's motivational speech was good, they may have tried a little too hard with it, but it still was funny. Piper becoming a crime lord was an interesting twist on the season. I didn't really think she had the coldness to pull off what she did in the end. I could have gone without the Alex and Piper relationship again. I wish they would have let them stick together or just leave them broken up. They, instead, added another love triangle. That part of the season had me rolling my eyes. There was no need for Piper to get involved sexually with someone else, and shows lack of character growth. The end of the season would have meant just as much if Piper would have just befriended the Australian girl instead of sleeping with her. I'm interested where they take the panty mafia next season. It may be one way to keep Piper in prison for longer than her original sentence.
The church of Norma was a funny side story. Though I am not sure all of the jokes were that funny, but it could just be me. Still a good side story, that added some laughs. Norma's backstory was not expected. It was great to finally learn why she is a mute. I did not picture her as a hippy. The feud, which came about because of the church, was important. Soso vs. Leanne was able to showcase depression and the need for effective counselors in prison. I am sure depression is rampant, and finding ways to combat this has to be a big issue for prisons and inmates. Both characters are not the most likeable. You probably feel more for Soso than Leanne, but you understood where Leanne was coming from with her Amish upbringing. Didn't justify her actions, but you could at least see her side. It wasn't the most exciting side story, but one of the most important in the show this year.
The prison takeover by a third party corporation is probably the main storyline of the show as a whole. This is what the real Piper wants to get across with the show. Pointing out how corrupt and messed up the prison system is in the United States. It is huge business in the United States, not sure how much change can be made, but hopefully the show is shining a light on a dark place. I found the corporate dialogue and terms used amusing. They don't have a warden, but a "director of human activity." I liked Caputo this season trying to struggle in this system. He brought the corporate overlords in to save his and everyone else's jobs, but then gets vilified for it. His backstory was surprising, and I was almost happy he decided to take on the director of human activity role at the end. He was more of a cartoon character in the first two seasons. It was nice to see him get fleshed out into something more than a gross dude who masturbates in his office after seeing girls walk around the prison. The other guard's storylines were more in the background, but it was good to see them fight for more rights so the prison is safe, and see some of them actually do care about the inmates.
I loved the ending. The more I think about it the more I liked it. The final episode was truly a mini movie, clocking in at one and half hours. I'm glad they didn't try and cut things out, and it is another great thing about Netflix producing their own TV shows. The girls escaping, to go swim in the lake, was a great capper to the season. They got to experience a small amount of true freedom, and not feel likes rats in a cage. We also got the other side of the coin at the end. The prison bringing in more prisoners, so they will feel even more enclosed. I truly enjoy this series, and hope it goes for a few more seasons. There is not another show like it on television. I am glad we have it, and hopefully it does start to move the needle on starting some prison reform.
My Rating: Bing Worthy
My top Five Movies about Prison: (I haven't watched enough TV shows about prison)
  1. The Shawshank Redemption
  2. The Green Mile
  3. Cool Hand Luke
  4. The Green Mile
  5. The Rock

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Martian by Andy Weir Book Review: Funny, Intense, and Extremely Enjoyable

I listened to The Martian in a little under 2 days. It clocks in at just a tick under eleven hours of listening time. I did not quite binge listen, I had a work day during this time. If I didn't I would have had the book finished in close to one sitting. It was a great listen. I cannot count the times I laughed out loud listening to the audio. You also want to find out what happens to our main character, this drives the book forward and is what caused me to finish so quickly.
I finally decided to give The Martian a try because it is soon to be released as a motion picture starring Matt Damon. Go watch the trailer: The Martin Trailer. I had thought about reading/listening to the book a few times before now, but didn't because some of the reviews said the book was too technical and boring. I am really not sure what book these individuals read, because it can't be the same one I finished in a day and half. Maybe the added audio content made it more exciting. The narrator, R.C. Bray, did a fantastic job with the book. The book does have technical scientific aspects to it, but I loved this, probably because I'm a geek. It seemed plausible. I won't pretend to know if everything he did on the planet would have or could have worked.
The premise of the book is simple. Mark Watney was injured while his crew was fleeing Mars. He gets left for dead, only to awaken and begin a long struggle for survival. What I liked most about the book was Mark as a character. He is a quick witted smart ass, and it's his ability to laugh that keeps him going through his ordeal. Part of the psych profile, we learn later, is that under stress he cracks jokes as a coping mechanism. It works for the book, and it had me laughing through most of it. I don't generally laugh out loud while listening or reading, but I did many times during this. We jump back and forth between what NASA is doing to try and rescue him, and Mark surviving on Mars. It works, and speeds the book along. I preferred listing to Mark's survival on Mars to the Earth storyline, but it was all well done.
The only negatives I can find with the book are the fact Mark has potatoes that were not normal space food. This allowed him to try and grow them on Mars. I'm not sure how plausible it would be for them to be taken to Mars. Mark states he has them because they were celebrating Thanksgiving on the red planet, and NASA wanted them to have some normal food. Probably would not have happened on a normal NASA mission, but it created a great interesting storyline. I loved finding out how he was going to try and get them to grow in Martian soil.
Mark has to survive countless ordeals during his life on Mars. True to life is how I would classify these struggles. Weir doesn't pull any punches for our hero. Yes he is inventive and resilient, but not everything works out how he plans. I would say all of things that happen to him would be impossible to survive, and maybe they would be. We do have a great real life example of people surviving impossible odds in Space: Apollo 13. It has an Apollo 13 feel to it, which I am sure Weir was aiming for. He nailed it, and the intensity is strongly felt from the work.
If you like science, survival, and adventure stories this one is for you. Any type of literature fan should enjoy this novel, not just science fiction fans. I am glad I took the plunge and didn't get scared away because of the negative technical reviews. The technical stuff is in there, but I enjoyed it (so be warned if you don't like detailed explanations of how things workJ). Pick up the book, get ready for the movie. I will eagerly await the release, and hope the movie can capture the books magic.
My Rating: Worth Re-reading multiple times.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Machine World: Undying Mercenaries Book 4 by B.V. Larson Audiobook Review: Hey! We got some character development this time

Well that is an extremely long title for a blog entry, sorry for that. Not really though.
I stumbled on the Undying Mercenaries series by chance, or by the magic of suggestion algorithms on amazon and audible. I enjoy the series, they are good popcorn books. They are fast paced with cool tech and interesting characters. Well I say interesting characters, but I mainly mean one Mr. James McGill. If you read one of the books you have read them all so far. Larson is almost painting by numbers at this point. Every book has followed the same formula. I mean, look at the titles for the books in the series: Steel World, Dust World, Tech World, Machine World, and up next Death World. If it isn't broke why fix it? The third book, Tech World, was a bit of disappointment to me, this one was at least as good as the first two.
The biggest change in this book is James McGill grew as a character a small bit. He found out about some major life events that affect him, and he had to do a little bit of introspection. I think Machine World does a good job showcasing his moral compass. He has always had one, it's a little warped, but his heart is usually in the right place. He actually refrained from sleeping with a girl on moral grounds in this book! I really like McGill as a character. He is a complicated simple character. Does that make any sense? Probably not, but read the books and it will. However Larson could stop beating us over the head with the fact he is more complex than on the surface. Every single female he comes in contact with in this books notes on the fact he is more complicated than they first thought. Larson writes McGill well enough that we don't have to be told he is more complicated than meets the eye. While I am on a rantJ. I could also do without adding in an event in every book that forces him to escape permanent death. I know it makes the books exciting, but they are exciting without trying to shoehorn an impossible scenario for him to escape from. I thought machine world may not have one, but sure enough it did. McGill finds a way to escape permanent death once again.
Ok rant done. Those are the problems with Machine world and the series, but they are still fun. I don't think they are meant to be inspiring literature. I am going to take them for what they are, great action science fiction pieces, with a fun main character. Death World is already out in Kindle form, but the audio version has yet to be released. I will probably wait for the audio version. The narrator, Mark Boyett, for this series is great! He really brings to life all the characters, and you lose yourself in his telling. If you enjoy audiobooks, his narration alone is worth listing to the first book. I may have not continued on with the series after Tech World without his narration.
If you are a science fiction fan, who likes fast paced action and interesting tech pick up this series. Just don't expect mind blowing introspection and deep character development. McGill is a fun main character, but not one who grows much through the series. I hope to see a bit more growth, and a cut-down of the one quota per book permanent death scenario. Probably won't happen with a title like Death World.
My Rating: Better than the last one (will buy the next one)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Game of Thrones Episode Review: Mother’s Mercy (S5 E10) Spoilers!

Disclaimer I'm going to discuss and compare to the books, but almost everything that has happed in the books now has occurred on the show.
Well Hmmmm. I liked the season finale. At this moment in time I am still trying to process it.
Let's start with the things I liked. Arya storyline came to a dramatic finish this week. I truly think this was the highlight of the episode. Her killing of Sir Meryn was spectacular. It was brutal and gruesome, everything I wanted out of last week. I just wish she would have followed through and killed her initial target. You knew something was going to happen to her once she got back to the temple. I'm not going to spoil the lost eyesight storyline for those who haven't read about it, though who knows if they are going to follow the same story line. This was a great cliffhanger to end her story on. I really enjoyed Arya story this year, they did a great job with her. Maisie Williams was masterful again, she is becoming a great actress.
Cersei story also hit the right note. This was what I hinted about in my Hardhome review. I couldn't wait to see her walk of shame. Lena Headey again was great. Cersei started so proud at the start of her walk. She was still the queen when she started. She wasn't by the end. The people broke her, and Lena did a great job of showing the breakdown. The ending scene leaves me a bit conflicted. We all know there is no greater fury than a women scorned. I have a feeling Cersei is going to be out for blood next season. The high sparrow doesn't have long for the world of Westeros.
I liked where they left Tyrion. He is back in control of a city, right where he should be with the Spider advising him. The banter with their own form of the small council was good, but not great. Dinklage held the scene well, and it sets up the stories for all of our characters for next season.
The Stannis storyline is another departure from the books. It was good to see him lose. Though it would have been nice to see one of the Bolton's die as well. I'm not sure Brienne killed him. We know the show isn't afraid to show us heads, and the fact we didn't actually see her behead him, leaves me to wonder if she didn't relent at the last moment. On the same front we saw Reek turn back to Theon and save Sansa. I wish they would have started this storyline before the season ended, but it is what it is. It was good to see, and now we just have to hope he can get her out and to Castle Black.
Castle Black, I knew this was coming, everyone who read the books did. I just didn't know if we were going to see it this season or next. I'm glad we ended here, because I don't think he is dead. I don't think he is dead in the books either. The show runners had to get Missandei back to Castle Black, and they did this. She will revive Jon with the power of the lord of the light. I just hope Jon comes back whole. I think I remember reading that Beric Dondarrion felt less of himself every time he came back from the dead. I still liked how they handled this story for the show. It was a fitting ending for the season because of the changes they made to Daenerys storyline.
UGH!! That's how I feel about where they left Daenerys. This is mainly because it is a departure from the books. I am ok with what they have done with the show, but this departure stunk. I hate how they changed the meeting of the Dothraki horde. She is supposed to fly out of the sky, kill a horse, land and stand before her Dragon as Khal Jhaqo approaches her. This is how the fifth book ends, and in my opinion this is how the season should have ended. We ended last week with a little bit of fire after ice, and this week shouldn't be any different. I don't want to see her get caught by the Dothraki. I want to see her lead them. Maybe Martin is not going this way in the books, but I doubt it. He has positioned Danny to gain control of the Dothraki, and to use them as her army to capture Westeros. I could be off base, but that is where I see it heading. It would have been a much better ending if they used Drogon. I'm not sure why they didn't, hopefully it is well executed next year. I don't want Jorah and Dario to come in and have to rescue her. The mother of dragons does not need rescuing (though I guess you could say Drogon did that last week).
That's it (I'm not going to even mention Dorn, no need too) it was good season of Game of Thrones. One of the best I think. It leaves us wanting more, and I will be eagerly awaiting the start of season 6. I'll just have to re-watch or re-read to appease my appetite for Game of Thrones until then. Unless Martin actually gets around and releases the six book before the season, we can all only hope!
My thoughts on the episode overall: Good but not great.
My Rankings of the Series Seasons so far:
  1. Season Three
  2. Season Five
  3. Season One
  4. Season Four
  5. Season Two

Spy Movie Review: Action and Comedy Merged Perfectly

I'll be honest, I thought the trailers for Spy looked horrible. I'm not sure if there was a red band trailer for it, if there was I didn't see it. Truthfully after watching the other trailers, I wouldn't have looked for the red band trailer. Maybe I should have, because Spy was hilarious. I decided to go see Spy, because the rotten tomatoes score is at 95% and Jeremy Jahns gave it such a favorable review. It did not disappoint. I guess I should have had more faith in the director of Bridesmaids.
Melissa McCarthy is fantastic in the movie. I know many of her movies recently have been hit or miss, but as the leading star of the movie she carries it with no problem. I think the most surprising thing about the movie is her character, Susan Cooper, development. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but she goes from working behind a desk helping spies do their jobs by giving them intel, to being thrown in the field. She slowly gains confidence as the movie progresses, until she is a true bad ass at the end. You would think this progression would be unbelievable. This is not the case do to some clever background information given to us during the course of the story. It might not be plausible that she can be a ball buster, but they make it stand up.
The action is extremely good for a comedy movie. I would classify the movie as a hybrid action movie. It was intense at times, and shot really well. Paul Feig proved he can direct more than comedy in this movie. We know he can direct a comedy from Bridesmaids, and the many other TV shows he has directed. He hits another home run with Spy. The movie really shines in its banter. McCarthy character has some epic insults. Many others do as well, Rose Byrne plays a great comedic villain and rips into people beautifully. Comedy also comes from strange places in the movie. Jason Statham shows his comedic chops, and does a marvelous job. He plays a spy, but he is more of the bungler instead of McCarthy. He has some great monologues about his prowess as a spy that had me in stiches.
I think one of the most surprising aspects of the movie is the story. It has a good spy plot, and a great twist I did not see coming. It doesn't reinvent the wheel, but the story keeps you engaged. I think this is where most comedies go off the rails. They don't have a well-established story or characters. Spy has this and it makes for a great two hour ride. There are a few spots where it the gags don't go off. When McCarthy becomes the bumbling spy is where the jokes don't hit home. They build her up to be a great Spy, but then have a few instances where she turns into Paul Blart Mall cop (my brother's comparison). I get it, but I think they movie would have been better served to have Statham character have these gags. It is a small nitpick, for an otherwise very funny movie.
I went into Spy with fairly high expectations since it had been getting good reviews. It lived up to those expectations. I think it is a movie which will steadily gain steam until mostly everyone has seen it. Word of mouth should drive the movie, almost the same way Bridesmaids did. I think many people will be hesitant of the movie because of the recent string of bad McCarthy movies. Hopefully this puts her on a better path, and she can pick and choose better movies in the future. Go see Spy, buy Spy when it comes out on Blu-Ray.
My Rating: Must Buy
My top 5 favorite Spy Comedies
  1. Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me
  2. Mr. and Mrs. Smith (not sure if this is really a comedy, but I laughed through most of it)
  3. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
  4. Spy
  5. If Looks could kill (Guilty pleasure, and special thanks to my Brother for reminding me of what a great movie this is)



Saturday, June 13, 2015

Jurassic World Movie Review: An Evening of Fun filled Enjoyment

Jurassic World is a fun movie. Don't overthink it. I jumped in my seat, I laughed, did not cry, and left the theater entertained. Is it a perfect movie? No it's not, it has its flaws, but I could live with them. It is not as great as the original, but I am not sure anything could be. It erases the two disasters that came after the original, and leaves the Jurassic universe in a good spot. I am sure they will try and make another sequel, but I really hope they don't. There is not any need. The movie punctuates our adventures with dinosaurs nicely.
The dinosaurs are the stars of the movie. Go figure, a movie about dinosaurs and the dinosaurs do not disappoint. I was impressed with the CG in the movie. It wasn't revolutionary, but you believed your where watching dinosaurs. The fight sequences are amazing. I loved every one. They are spaced evenly enough out through the movie. It is action packed, but has enough moments throughout to catch your breath. The end fight sequence made the movie for me. Before the ending I was thinking it was a good movie, worth watching again. The ending made it a very good movie, I will always stop to watch the end of this movie whenever I see it.
The acting is good, not great. Chris Pratt is excellent. He is a little over the top, but most of the people are in the movie. I liked Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire. I did not know if I would at first. There is not much character development in the movie, but she has the most. It was believable, and she did well in the role. However the love storyline I could have done without. Chris and Bryce had good chemistry on the screen, but the love angle felt forced. Just let them be co-workers working to save people from being eaten by dinosaurs. The child/teen actors are ok. There had to be a kid storyline, and it served its purpose. The one extremely over the top character is played by Vincent D'Onofrio. He plays a para-military leader who wants to train dinosaurs to be soldiers. I know the whole premise of the movie is silly, I mean come on, dinosaurs walking the earth again. However it is another giant leap to believe they can be trained soldiers. He takes glee in the carnage happening on the island, and it is not that believable. I really enjoy Vincent as an actor, he is great in Daredevil as Kingpin. As well as many other roles, but I do feel he can overact at times. I think the director should have reeled him in a bit.
The movie also pokes fun at itself. It has some good comedic moments. I laughed out loud on more than a few occasions. They realize they are making things ridiculous, it works, and it for the movie. Chris Pratt's character tells Bryce Howard at one point she cannot possibly do anything in her ridiculous shoes. She is wearing high heels in the middle of a forest. The funny thing is she wears the shoes the entire movie. Running away from big dinosaurs in them. It cannot be an oversight, they wanted her to wear her the crazy things the entire movie. It adds to overall campiness of the movie, which I think was their aim.
I am sure many will take umbrage with some of the decisions. They are far-fetched and couldn't happen. A few times I found myself rolling my eyes. Gas powered jeeps starting after 20 years?? Come on man (to be fair Chris Pratt again pokes fun of this in the movie). The people over at the YouTube channel CinemaSins will have a field day with this movie when they get around to doing a video for it.
Jurassic World was a fun entertaining return to the world of Jurassic Park. We got to see what a real park with the dinosaurs would look like, and what would happen if they escaped with everyone in the park. The dinosaur fights where awesome, and the comedy was good. Overall I enjoyed the movie and will watch it anytime it comes on TV. It's not a must own on the day it comes out, but I think I would eventually pick it up.
My Rating:  Must see in Theaters/Will stop and watch every time on TV

My Top 5 Favorite Big Monster Movies (at the moment):
  1. Alien
  2. Jurassic Park
  3. Pacific Rim
  4. Pitch Black
  5. King Kong (1976 version) Sue me, but it's the one I watched the most


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Jurassic Park Movie Review & Re-watch (Spoilers): You will believe in Dinosaurs

I still vividly remember the first time I watched Jurassic Park. I saw the movie at a Tulsa Cinemark near 71st and Memorial. They had just installed new speakers in all the theaters, and I couldn't wait to see Jurassic Park in their new surround sound setup. There is something special about Jurassic Park, it just has a certain majesty to it. The movie still holds up today. I still get goosebumps hearing the theme music as they approach the island for the first time, or the first time Dr. Grant (Sam Neil) sees his first live dinosaur. If I had to pick a list of top ten movies which influenced my childhood Jurassic Park could sneak in somewhere.
The first act of the movie is all setup. We do not see our first dinosaur until almost thirty minutes into the movie. Spielberg does a masterful job of building this anticipation. The audience knows what it is going to eventually see. We could have been bored with the movie, but instead the story builds until they are revealed in a magnificent fashion to both our characters and the audience. The fact I still get excited about the reveal, after seeing the movie countless times, is amazing. John Williams score is perfect, and is sets the mood in this moment. The CG of the dinosaurs still holds up today. The CG in this movie revolutionized the industry, but Spielberg still used practical effects for the movie, which I think gives the movie more staying power. He did not go all out, just because he could. He still realized some practical effects were necessary. We go from seeing the dinosaurs to finding out how they were brought back.
I love the pseudo-science in the movie. Even though we know it is not possible to genetically engineer dinosaurs now, genetics at the time were a revolutionary field. The possibility was there, admittedly unlikely, but it was based enough in science to be plausible. I also enjoy the social commentary of the movie. One of my favorite quotes comes from fan favorite Dr. Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum): "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could that they didn't stop and think if they should." It is a great quote about the dangers of science, and not proceeding without some kind of moral compass. I'm all for advancing and change, but always with some cautionJ.
The acting in the movie is superb. From Sam Neil as Dr. Grant to Richard Attenborough (RIP) as John Hammond, the entire cast does a great job. The child actors hold their own, which some credit should go to Spielberg. He seems to be able to find and get the best out of child actors (really wish he would have done Enders Game). Everyone is believable in the movie, the only character who I think is a bit over the top is the slimy lawyer (Martin Ferrero). He is a bit cartoony, but also has one of the most memorable and best cinematics deaths in history. Who else can say they were eaten by a T-Rex while on the toilet. Samuel L. Jackson, plays a very un-Sam Jackson computer nerd who gets eaten. I love seeing him in this movie, knowing if this were shot today he would have played the kick-ass hard nose game warden. Bob Peck (RIP) does a great job as the game warden. I can only hope Chris Pratt captures some of his essence in the new movie.
The second half of the movie is almost a classic monster movie. The dinosaur's, while just animals according to Dr. Grant, are modern day monsters. They chase down our characters for the last hour of the movie. They must complete harrowing tasks to escape the island with their lives. I'm not sure I could pick out who was going to die if I had never seen the movie before. Spielberg does a great job of masking who is going to survive and who will die. There are of course obvious ones, but I think they are masked well. I wouldn't have picked the game warden to die for example, and I think Hammond could have been a choice to be killed off. The suspense of the movie still holds up. The kitchen scene with the raptors still gets my heart beating faster. It is a great sequence. I remember the first time I watched the movie and jumping out of my seat when Lex was almost pulled down by a raptor jumping for her in the ceiling ducts. I still think of this every time I watch the movie.
Jurassic Park is the type of movie cinemas are made for. It is a summer blockbuster that holds up over the course of time. I think generations of people will be able to enjoy this film, well at least the next twoJ. I know my kids do. I'm not sure it is fair to try to hold the new movie to this standard. The two previous sequels did not capture the magic of the original, and I'm not sure Jurassic World will either. I hope it gets close.
Spielberg is one of the best directors of all time. I'm going to list my top five favorites that he has directed. Feel free to do the same.
My Rating: Must own on every format (VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, Digital and whatever comes next)
Top Five Favorite Spielberg directed movies:
  1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  2. Jurassic Park
  3. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  4. Saving Private Ryan
  5. Hook

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds Book Review: Mystery in Space

I listened to The Prefect in audio book form. I am an audio book fan, if you don’t have an audible account, I would highly recommend it (  It’s an older book, released in 2007.  The book was recommended by a friend at work who is an Alastair Reynolds and Revelation Space series fan. It is an entertaining book, and I may give more of the series a chance. Though, it will be at the end of a very long list of books I want to listen to or read. I like science fiction and mystery books, probably my two favorite genres. I was intrigued by the premise of a mystery set in space. The book starts off slowly. I almost lost interest and gave up on it. I know my friend at work would ask me about what I thought, so I wanted to give it a fair chance. I’m glad I did, because the second half of the book picks up steam, and makes for a fast paced finish.
I may have had issues with the first part of the book do to the audio version. The narrator did not pause before jumping to other characters points of view. It was really hard to follow what character I was listening to. He would start on a part, and before I knew it we were on to another character. I lost track more than a few times and had to rewind to see who we were following at the time. Once I figured out the characters, it was easier to follow. There are a number of characters to follow so it took a little time. I would highly suggest, if you listen, to be aware of the quick changes in points of view. I don’t really understanding not pausing more for the listeners. Give us a heads up that something is about to change. It doesn’t have to be a long pause, two seconds makes all the difference. The other hard part to follow during the first part of the novel is all the tech of the universe we are dropped into. This may be because it was my first novel in this universe. This was the last book written for the universe, but set first in the timeline, which is why I started with it. Maybe if I had read the other novels the tech would make more sense to me. I liked the tech and the universe once I got used to it. It took me a while to realize the glitter band, the place in the universe our story takes place, is in another solar system away from our sun.  There is something to be said about dropping the reader into the world without giving any explanation to how things work, or what is going on. I think it can give a sense of emersion. I am not sure it works as well for the audio version. If I was going to read another in the series, I would read instead of listen.
The overall story is very well done. I did not figure out all the pieces of the puzzle until very close to the end. I liked who they had a main antagonist, Aurora, in the book. They were revealed early, but you did not know what they had planned. I really enjoyed the slow build of how the plan Aurora set in motion unfolded. I was not sure how our heroes were going to save the day. Hard choices had to be made, and it was not a clean victory. It was enjoyable to see how all the pieces of the novel fit together. We are dropped into the middle of the story and the main problems. These initial problems do not seem to be connected, but fit nicely into the overall story at the end of the novel. The only story which could have been curtailed was that of Thalia. She has a critical part to play in the overall story, but after her part is done her side story does not add much. Her story could have been cut shorter to pick up the pace of the book. I liked her as a character, but her development was not necessary. For those who have read the books I know her initial part is critical. It is her story after she succeeds in a task that I took issue with.
There was one other storyline I did not much understand. The story of the supreme prefect Aumonier did not add much to the overall story either. She had a very interesting backstory, and very exciting rescue scenario. Again not sure if it added to the overall story. I feel like I am focusing more of the negatives of the book. There are many positives of the book as well. I really enjoyed all the characters, even the antagonists. The tech and universe are really intriguing. I loved the whiphounds the prefects used as weapons. They are attention-grabbing, and would be excited to see how they evolve in the other books. The society they live in is unique. The people live in a very loose confederacy. Each habitat in the glitter band gets to set up their own type of government, even tyrannies. The people can leave and migrate if they want. There is an overall government, but it is very loose and is not strong central government. Panoply, where the prefects work, enforces the laws of the weak central government. They basically make sure the voting machines are not manipulated.
The Prefect was a good read. I enjoyed the mystery, intrigue, environment, and characters of the novel. Reynolds created a good universe, a person can get lost in. I will eventually give the next books in the series a try, but they are not ones I have to go out and read immediately to find out what is happening.  Maybe I should since the other three books are the main part of the story. It probably has more to do with I want to read the books, instead of listen to them. I will get to them, and I am sure I will enjoy them when I do.

My Rating: Worth Reading (May want to pass on this audio version)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Game of Thrones Dance of Dragons S5 E9 Review: Yin & Yang (Book and Show Spoilers!!)

Game of Thrones delivered a great episode in back to back weeks. Both weeks ended with heart pounding action and spectacular finishes. This week fell a little short of last week’s Hardhome episode overall. It had aspects I really enjoyed (The Freaking Ending!!), and others I downright hated (Stannis burning his daughter). Overall it was still a great episode, one of the better this season. Next week’s season finale has a ton to live up too. I know where I want them to end it on a couple of fronts. I hope they do, but not sure they will with the changes they have made this season.
Let’s start with the boring part. Dorne. What a waste. I was looking forward to seeing Dorne, and Doran Martell. Our whole time there does not seem to be going anywhere. This storyline is one which has deviated from the books. I’m not sure for the better. Jaimie is not supposed to be in Dorne, and honestly there is no reason for him to be. Though I do not know if the main story in the books would work well for the show. It would have been better for him to go out and seek Brienne. He falls out of love with Cersei in the books, the show should follow suit. In this episode everyone makes nice, and Myrcella is going to go back to King’s Landing with Jamie. Why not have this be one episode with him traveling there, asking for her back, then he is back in King’s landing by the second episode. Instead this has dragged out the entire season.  This is one storyline I will glad to be at an end. The writers of the show have done a great job of adapting the series to TV, and I have enjoyed most of their deviations. This is not one of them.
We touch briefly with Jon at the wall. I liked this follow up. They let the wildings pass, and the interaction between Jon and Alliser Thorne is perfect. It was some of the best acting in the episode, even if it was extremely brief. Everyone in the scene did a beautiful job. Tension is building at Castle black. This will make for a great season finale at the wall.  Arya also made an appearance. She stalked Meryn Trant, of the Kings guard, instead of killing her assigned target. I’m not sure I would have gone with this path for her. I think the Arya we have come to love, would kill the gambler, and then stalk Meryn. She has become this ruthless, let us see it. I get where they are going with the story, and it is still very good. I would have just made the small adjustment.
Now for the two biggest parts of the show. The first being Stannis killing his daughter. This is a MAJOR deviation from the books. Stannis is not very likable in the books, but there is a certain quality to him that you can get behind. This changes everything for me. I cannot root for him. When he faces the Bolton’s, it will be two evils fighting each other. It was a very dramatic scene, and was hard to watch. One thing about the scene, the acting was not well done, or did not ring true to me. I have been very impressed by Kerry Ingram as Shireen Baratheon. She missed the mark with her cries of terror. They did not seem believable.  I might have felt better about this scene if it was performance did not miss the mark. This is not to say this was an easy assignment for a young actress. I could not pull it off.
Then we come to the ending, and what an ending it was! The ending balances the episode. We have such an evil scene with Stannis and his daughter, to a great scene between Danny and her dragon. This was one part of the books they captured perfectly. The exact parts of the story may not be the same, but it still captures one of the best parts of the fifth book.  I was hoping and waiting for Drogon to show up. When he did, I cheered. Second time in two weeks the show has made me cheer. From start to finish this sequence was extremely well done. The fighting between the contestants was spectacular. The banter between Daenerys, Tyrion, Darrio, and Hizdahr is well done. The scene has great symmetry. They spare words, as the fighters use swords.  Then the action starts, and it is brutal. Without Drogon coming to the aide of his mother, she would not have escaped.  We then see something everyone has been waiting for. Danny riding her dragon. It was the perfect place to end this episode, and make us crave next week’s finale.

My Rating: Great Addition to the Series

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Focus Movie Review: There is hope for Suicide Squad

I waited for the rental release of Focus. It looked good, and I wanted to see it in the theater, but just never quite made it. I really enjoy a good con movie and this is at most an ok con movie. The best part of the movie, hands down, is the interaction between Will Smith and Margot Robbie. They are great together. They have some great chemistry, it really jumps off of the screen. It gives me hope for the suicide squad movie. I know Margot is playing Harley Quinn, and may not have much interaction with Will, but after watching this movie, I hope they share some screen time.  In Focus they play love interests who work cons together. They are the main characters who share most of the screen time together, and it made the movie worth watching.
The actual con games are not great. They start off in New Orleans and work the super bowl. We then have a time jump, and they team up to pull one over a formula one race car owner. The story did not seem to be thought out. This was a love story first,and a con movie second. I am ok with this, if the love story was well done. I’ve already said the two main characters had chemistry. Margot and Will act very well for the material they are handed.  The execution of the love story just felt rushed. The whole movie felt rushed. They jumped from one scene to another and nothing seemed to flow together. This affected the love story along with the overall con story they were trying to tell.  Maybe the editing of the movie was to blame. It could be there are some deleted scenes, or a director’s cut which could tie the movie together.
The last con did not seem believable to me. You want the big reveal and twist in these movies to be great, but it cannot be so out in left field it makes the reveal unbelievable. This may have just been me, but I did not care for the twist at the end. I admit I did not see it coming, but it was off the wall. Even the first con was sketchy and not all that believable.
Gerald McRaney plays an old head of security, watching out for his employer. He oversold the old curmudgeon character. The thing is, he plays these types of characters well, but it just was not believable this time. Without the two main characters acting their butts off, and working well together this movie would have been a complete mess.
I am glad I waited for the rental on this movie. Not sure if I would ever watch it again. What it did give me, was hope Suicide is going to be good.  Margot Robbie is great. She was awesome in Wolf of Wall street, and she is really good in this, with lackluster material. I think she has the potential to be an outstanding Harley Quinn. Will Smith always has the ability to be good in anything he is cast in. I cannot imagine him being horrible as Deadshot.
There are many good con or heist movies out there. This one sadly fell a little short of the mark. It is worth one watch, but not again.  Here are my top five all time con or heist movies.
1.     The Usual Suspects
2.     Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
3.     Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
4.     Get Shorty
5.     Inception
My Rating: Wait for Premium movie channel release.

List out your top five. Some of my Honorable mentions would include: The Italian job (both old and new), Inside Man, and the Bank Job.