Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fear the Walking Dead S1E2 So Close, Yet So Far Review (Spoilers!): ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!!

Last week’s premier of Fear the Walking Dead took some criticism for being a tad on the slow side. The premier, in my opinion, had to be slow last week. We are seeing society at the very start of the outbreak.  The character’s lives are going to be as close to normal as they possibly can be. I liked the setup and the way we were introduced to our protagonists.  I related to a few of the characters and bought into the story.  Tonight’s episode ratcheted up the action and tension as society began to crumble.
This episode started off brilliantly with Alicia, the daughter, visiting her boyfriend. The camera pointing at her and not knowing what she saw was a fantastic way to start. I thought he was going to be an incapacitated zombie that couldn’t walk. We quickly learn he is just extremely sick and infected from a zombie bite. This is my first extremely minor gripe with the episode. How did the boyfriend get bitten?  I would think this would be the first thing he would have told Alicia. Guess he didn’t want her to freak her out, which seems to be a theme throughout the episode.
The tension tonight was spectacular. It builds from the opening sequence of them driving away from the Calvin murder scene. The actors do a great job of conveying their utter shock and confusion of what’s going on. They go to pick-up Alicia at her boyfriends.  This scene was handled well. They don’t want to freak her out, but at the same time they want her to get the hell away from Matt. Again I’m surprised they didn’t try to find out what happened to him, but I would probably want to get as far away as I could too. Alicia, rightly, doesn’t want to leave Matt. The rest of the family doesn’t know how to tell her what is happening. Her mom isn’t able to tell her all the way up until the end of the episode. She doesn’t tell her then either, it’s her just seeing a neighbor attacking another neighbor. She goes to help and Madison stops her. Madison is completely terrified. She is a counselor of some sort, charged with helping others, locking the door and turning her back to ensure her own families safety.
Nick is the only one who seems to want to tell Alicia what’s going on. Madison assures him they will tell her, but Alicia is probably just going to have to learn about zombies the hard way. Nick probably would have told her if he wasn’t suddenly in a “world of shit.” Great use of the classic line from Full Metal Jacket. I’m not sure if he would have gone into withdrawals that quickly. Maybe adrenaline was keeping him high, and he crashed. I’m no expert on heroine withdrawals, so maybe they do hit this suddenly. I’m leaning with no, so it’s another minor gripe, but it serves a purpose in the show. It keeps Alicia from going back to Matt’s, and it gets Madison to look for drugs at the school.
The school scene was full of tension. The principle zombie had me on the edge of my seat, and I wasn’t sure if Tobias was going to make it. I started to question why Tobias would have come all the way to school just to get his knife, but they quickly explained he was there for supplies and not just his knife.  Seems like a smart kid, and the character is brave for going toe to toe with a walker. Though he’s going to struggle, because the first rule of Zombieland is cardio. Wait, sorry, wrong zombie universe. Madison does a good job of holding it together until she gets back home. I’m surprised she didn’t offer Tobias a place to stay, but I guess she thinks he’s going to be okay.  Everyone thinks things are going back to normal, expect Tobias. He seems to know just how quickly society is going to crumble.
Travis goes to try and find his ex-wife and son. They both do not know what is going on and Chris gets stuck in a riot. How are you supposed to tell someone who hasn’t seen a zombie that the dead are rising? The fear and panic Travis has bleeds through and even though his ex-wife doesn’t understand what’s going on she knows she need to finds their son. Chris thinks he is in the middle of an important public demonstration. Once they find him the scene quickly devolves into a mass riot when a police officer opens fire and kills a walker. I like the place they take refuge in. The barbershop with the steel shutters would be a logical place to hold up.
This was nearly perfect second episode. Things I questioned served a purpose. The actors all did a good job, with Alicia being the only character I’m still not completely sold on. This episode captured the unraveling of society and by the next one LA will be in complete chaos and anarchy will reign. For those who didn’t like the pacing of the first episode, I still say it was spot on. The slow build and now the quick decent were perfectly paced for me. Tonight was a great installment, and if the final four are this good we could be well on our way of seeing Walking Dead year round. As long as the quality is always high, not an easy thing to do, it shouldn’t get stale.
What did you think of tonight’s episode? Where you as impressed as me, or did you want more action? Are you enjoying the characters, or do they annoy you? Comment and let me know.

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Z for Zachariah Movie Review: Three’s a Crowd

Z for Zachariah is a post-apocalyptic character drama. The film doesn’t show the usual bleak landscape. Instead our survivors live in a newly formed garden of eden.  The story isn’t about the apocalypse, the apocalypse is needed just so our story can happen. There needed to be a reason for a deserted island scenario set in the middle of West Virginia Appalachia. The film is focused on just three characters and how difficult it would be for strangers to live together when it’s one women and two men.
The film starts off with Margot Robbie character, Ann, searching of supplies in a makeshift radiation suit. Going through her daily task we see she is completely alone, and Robbie does a fantastic job of showing how lonely she is without a word of dialogue. Credit for this should also be given to the director Craig Zobel. With just Robbie’s actions and a trusty dog Craig was able to frame how lonely life must be for Ann in a short five minutes. We don’t have to wait long until Chitwetel Ejofor character, Loomis, stumbles into the valley. We see him in some sort of radiation suit taking readings. He is ecstatic to find a place where he can survive outside of a suit.
This begins a very slow get to know you session between Loomis and Ann. The movie probably isn’t for everyone, but I enjoyed the interaction between the characters. Robbie and Ejofor did a magnificent job in their roles. Their portrayal of two people who haven’t interacted with others in a prolonged amount of time was spot on. Robbie was truly amazing in her role. She has played the trophy wife in Wolf of Wall Street and a smart confident thief in Focus. She transforms in Z for Zachariah into an innocent country girl. Ejofor plays a competent scientist trying to survive the end of the world. He is taken aback by how sweetly innocent Ann is, and seems not to want to take advantage of her.
The third individual to enter into our triangle is Caleb played by Chris Pine. Caleb instantly has more in common with Ann since he is a miner from the same area. This causes Loomis to become almost instantly jealous and protective of Ann. It’s this tension which drives the movie from this point on. Ann feels attached to Loomis, but has more of a connection to Caleb. Caleb seems not to want to stick around, but why would he want to go? The valley they are living in is picture perfect.
The three people need electricity to be able to operate a freezer and store food for the winter. Loomis comes up with a plan to use water to power an old generator. They start working on the problem and as a team get it accomplished. The ending of the movie is extremely ambiguous and leaves much up to the interpretation of the audience. I rented the movie and watched the last ten minutes twice to see if I caught everything. Even after two viewings I’m still not sure what happened. I have a leaning based on our characters, but it isn’t a strong feeling. You will have to watch and make your own conclusions.
The movie is extremely simple, three characters have to learn to live together at the end of the world. The premise: Grow enough food before the winter so they don’t starve. What makes the movie come alive is the beautiful Icelandic mountains and the three superb actors who make our characters utterly believable. If you are interested in watching a character study on human interactions I think this is a good example. Short review, but I don’t want to give anymore of the plot away. Give this movie a shot either on rental or in the theater. It’s worth seeing if you enjoy a good character drama.

If you have seen the movie let me know what you think happens at the end in the comments. So for those who haven’t watched don’t read the commentsJ

Friday, August 28, 2015

Star Wars Lando #3 Comic Book Review/Discussion (Spoilers!): Treasure Ship

The first two issues of the Lando comic have been fantastic. The third is a little slower, but it does a great job setting up the final two issues. These first three editions have been so well done, I would be ecstatic if they continued the series. They could go back before this arc starts and give us more backstory. Basically what I’m saying is; GIVE ME MORE LANDO!
This issue starts off immediately following the events of the second. Imperial guards had jumped out of a door and stabbed Lobot. The twins Lando brought along for the heist engage the guards while Lando and his other crew member, Korin, take Lobot to the medical bay. Lobot in Empire Strikes Back is a very minor character and doesn’t have any actual dialogue. The events in this comic could have explained why.  The computer interface on his head take over if he is too injured. Lando and Korin get him to a bacta tank, but aren’t sure if they are in time to save Lobot’s individuality. Charles Soule, the author, does a fantastic job of capturing Lando mood after trying to save Lobot. He’s devastated and also extremely frightened by the realization he has stolen the Emperor’s personal starship.
Lando and Korin go to help the twins finish off the Imperial guards. By the time they get back to them the guards are dead. This is the one issue I had with this book. We saw a few panels of the twins fighting the Imperial guards, but we didn’t get to see the finishing shots. I would have liked to see them finish the guards off, the panels I did see where well done (or they were for me, I’m a big newb when it comes to the actual art of comics). It’s a minor gripe and it is solely because I have always wanted to see the Imperial guards in action. Maybe we will during this season of Rebels.
The issue splits time with Lando and the bounty hunter who has started to hunt him. The bounty hunter, Chanath Cha, meets a droid who invites him/her onto a ship. The ship is special since it formerly belonged to Dark Maul. It is specifically calibrated to track down the Emperor’s ship. Chanath Cha seems like a complete bad ass. He/She seems completely capable of tracking Lando down and dealing with him and anyone else. I do have a theory about Chanath though. I think Chanath is a women.
I posed this idea in my last Lando review. Here me out. The Emperor has Chanath on speed dial. She dropped her current job and jumped to the Emperors bidding. Lando during the comic says he used to date an Imperial guard. I think Chanath is this former Imperial Guard. Once she catches up to Lando it will be revealed and she won’t be able to turn him over to the Emperor. I might be completely off my rocker, but I see threads. Chanath is locked onto the signal of the Emperor’s ship and we should see her catch up to Lando in the next issue.

The issue ends with Lando examining the room the Imperial Guards were guarding. The room is stock full of sith artifacts. Korin just happens to be a Jedi historian and can enlighten Lando on how valuable the score is. The question is, how Lando can sell the artifacts. This has to be the score that sets him up on Cloud City. It should make for an exciting last two issues with him having to escape from Chanath and move the materials. He has to do this and still remain anonymous to the Emperor. If you haven’t read Lando yet, pick it up, it is well worth the read and is probably my favorite Star Wars comic with Kanan being a very close second. 

Comment and let me know what you think of Lando. Let me know if my idea of Chanath being a women is plausible

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Star Wars Fan Theory: Might as well add my voice to the nonsense

As for many, Star Wars holds a special place in my heart. I was too young to see A New Hope and Empire in the theaters, but I do remember seeing Return of Jedi. I then of course saw the special edition releases. This all culminating in the disappointments that where the prequels. I will admit walking out of A Phantom Menace pleased, and being so excited I had seen Star Wars movie with a new story. The excitement didn’t hold up after the second viewing. Attack of the Clones is horrendous for its love story, and weird twisting plot. Revenge of the Sith is the best of the bunch, but it suffers on how quickly Anakin becomes Vader. It isn’t a slow decent into darkness, the Emperor almost flips a switch to make him evil.  I, like many, am extremely excited for The Force Awakens, maybe even more than I was for Phantom Menace. We get to see Han, Luke, and Leia one more time. I devoured expanded universe books to read more of their adventures. To get a new definitive story on what has happened to our heroes is stupendous.
I haven’t really read other fan theory’s on what people think is going to happen.  They probably are not going to use much from the old EU, but they would be silly not to draw on some of this material. Even if this material isn’t cannon, many of the ideas are solid. From piecing information from some of my EU knowledge, along with the trailers and Abrams comments I have come up with some thoughts on what is going to happen. What I’m going to hypothesize is probably completely wrong, but I’m going to have fun doing it anyway.
The movie opens with Finn. He’s a disingenuous stormtrooper. I do think he is a stormtrooper. He just isn’t happy being one. Something happens which forces him to make a quick decision and betray the First Order. Finn is seen holding a lightsaber in the movie poster. He could be discovering his force powers, and someone sees him using the force. This causes him to make a quick escape, stealing a Tie Fighter and destroying the hanger as he flees. He then crashes onto the planet Jakku were he meets and gets the help of Rey (Solo).
Rey’s last name is either Solo or Skywalker. I am leaning towards Solo over Skywalker. Rey is on Jakku either hiding out or hunting for Jedi relics. She is in a race to find more relics than her twin brother Kylo Ren. Kylo is not a sith lord, but member of the Knights of Ren. A new type of force user who practices in the dark side. Rey is on a mission to find as many force artifacts before her brother finds them. Her staff that we have seen in a few of the trailers and images could be one of these relics. Rey notices the crashed Tie Fighter and goes to investigate. Rey senses Finn is a force user and decides to help him. They must then escape the First Order and Captain Phasma who begins to hunt them down.
During this same time Kylo Renn finds some kind of powerful sith relic which could shift the balance of power. Han and Leia find out about this because of a battle Poe Dameron has with the Knights of Ren and their followers. I think there are three factions in the movie. The Resistance (Rebels), The Knights of Ren and followers (Dark force users and factions of former Empire), and the First Order (another offshoot of the Empire, but without force users). Han goes to hunt down Rey and let her know what Renn has found. Han is able to track Rey because he has a tracking device on the Millennium Falcon.
Han let Rey have the Falcon for her quest, but once he and Chewie step back aboard we get the line “Chewie we’re home.”  They have to make a daring escape from Jakku to get past the First Order. Once they get back to The Resistance, they need to go and find Uncle Luke. Luke is living like a hermit in seclusion because he failed to train Kylo to be a Jedi. Kylo turned to the darkside and followed in the footsteps of Anakin. Rey wants to find Luke so he can train Finn. Rey is already a Jedi and knows there needs to be more in order to face Kylo and Supreme Leader Snoke (leader of the Knights of Ren). Luke reluctantly comes out of hiding when he hears about the artifact Kylo has tracked down.
While this is going on the First Order is hunting Finn, but also gearing up for a major battle against The Resistance. During this time I think the First Order and The Knights of Ren merge to annihilate The Resistance. . Leia, who is the leader of The Resistance, has to figure out a way to get more support and unite the galaxy behind her cause. This will culminate in a three or four part struggle.  We will have a lightsaber duel, a ground battle, and space battle. It’s during this fight that not everyone from the original trilogy survives. All signs point to Han Solo being killed off.  Harrison Ford wanted Lucas to kill him off in Return of the Jedi. This fact, along with some of his statements during comic-con feel like a farewell tour. It also could be a big smoke screen. Luke could be the one who doesn’t survive.
I don’t want Luke to die, but the wise Jedi sage has been killed off in the first movie of each trilogy. It doesn’t make much sense here because he should be the only remaining Jedi who can train Finn, unless Leia is a fully trained Jedi Master at this time. I really don’t want any of the main original cast to be killed off, but I think we are definitely getting at least one. After the main battle, The Resistance wins a decisive victory.  Kylo and Snoke escape. The former leader of the First Order, General Hux, is killed during the battle. With him out of the way Kylo and Snoke take command of the First Order. They regroup to make another attack against The Resistance in Episode 8.

This all of course is complete and utter speculation. I do think there are probably a few nuggets of truth in my hypothesis of what the story could be. It is fun to think and talk about, or at least it is to me. I do want to be surprised on the day the movie comes out, but a part of me can’t help but speculate on what is going to happen with these new characters. 

Let me know what you think. Am I completely off my rocker? Could I be right about a few things? Let me know your theories on what you think will happen in The Force Awakens.  

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Fear the Walking Dead S1E1 Pilot Review (Spoilers!): A Strong Start

What makes a good television pilot? If I could unlock that secret I would be producing television and not sitting on my couch writing a blog. One thing I think is crucial is cast chemistry, and quickly establishing a connection with the audience. If the audience doesn’t quickly identify with the characters in the show, it’s hard to launch the story. If you liked tonight’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead it is probably because you felt a connection with the characters. I bought in. I liked the blended family dynamic and all the struggles that comes with it. The decent into the apocalypse should be a slow one. The measured burn of the show shouldn’t have been a surprise and was a strong opening effort.
The opening scene was well done. We see Nick Clark (Frank Dillane or young Johnny Depp) awake from a drug crazed slumber. He looks for his girlfriend and discovers her eating someone. The slow tension and build of the scene set the hook for the next hour. We get introduced to the rest of the family and learn, when they arrive at the hospital, they are a blended family. The cops are interviewing Nick and his Mom, Madison, stops them. She kicks them out of the room, and I think this is an important aspect of the show early on. No one believes Nick, naturally, and he isn’t exactly sure if he was hallucinating or saw his girlfriend being a cannibal.
The next part of the show is slow. We don’t see another walker until almost the hour mark. I’m ok with this, it was good character development. We see Travis trying to be a good step-dad, and how well he does as a teacher. A great scene involved a young student, Tobias, and Madison. He brought a knife to school, and she pulled him into her office. Tobias didn’t bring the knife to school because he was worried about bullies. He brought the knife because he was plugged in and knew something strange was happening. It makes sense to have someone who believes the weird reports and is being prepared. I like that it was a smart kid (nerd) who is taking the precaution. It falls nicely into the scientist who isn’t believed trope.
The one character who didn’t get a bunch of screen time was the sister Alicia. We got a few scenes of her wanting to break away from her crazy family. A couple of scenes with her boyfriend, and then one at the beach wondering why he didn’t show up. At first I thought this was going to be the first token African American death on the show, and maybe it was and just not shown yet.  Alicia is probably the thinnest character of the pilot.  Though I was reading some hate for Madison already as well.  
Reading some reactions on twitter while watching the show, people were questioning why Travis (step-dad) would go back to the church. I didn’t have an issue with this. I don’t think he believed Nick saw a girl eating someone. Travis thought Nick was hallucinating and he wanted to try and find someone else at the church who could put Nick’s mind at ease. It didn’t turn out that way, when he found a huge pile of blood and guts. Should he have called the cops? Yep, he should have. Why didn’t he? He doesn’t want to get Nick in trouble. Madison has an issue with the cops, and wants to protect Nick from them. Hence the scene at the start of the show kicking them out of the hospital room. This is also why she and Travis go back to the church looking for Nick after he leaves the hospital. They want to protect him and don’t want him getting into trouble. This is at least why I justified them going back to the church to investigate.
The last half hour of the episode picked up a bit. Nick called his dealer, which was also an old friend.  Madison and Travis are seen visiting him to see if Nick had made contact. Calvin, the dealer/friend, got back to Nick. Calvin was worried Nick would out his drug dealing to his parents. He drove Nick out to a remote place to kill him. This is one part of the show which didn’t really jive with me. I don’t quite believe Nick would have overpowered Calvin. Nick is able to shoot Calvin and then call his parents. When they come back to the scene, Calvin is of course is gone.
This part of the episode throws me for a loop. We don’t find out until the end of the second season of The Walking Dead that everyone is infected regardless of being bitten. I’m surprised everyone is already infected with the virus at the start of the epidemic. Maybe Calvin had been bitten, but doubtful. I had thought people who died a natural death would not come back to life until much later in the show. This small part of mythology and the fact Nick overpowered Calvin are two of my small gripes.
The next is where did zombie Calvin come from? They drove down where he was walking. They should have seen him while they were to the shooting scene. It would have made more since for him to stumble out from somewhere while they were investigating. It was still a great sequence even with this minor zombie placement quibble. The terror of hitting Calvin again and again with the truck and him still moving was fantastic. They are going to have to learn quick how to kill the walkers to survive. We are also left wondering if Madison was bitten or not. I am guessing not, but who knows with the way these shows work. I wish AMC was allowed to use explicit dialogue, because this scene screamed for it. Instead of a MY GOD, an O F*** was needed.
It was a strong start to the first season of Fear the Walking Dead. I enjoyed all the characters, and they seem to be fairly complex. They also all had good chemistry together. I believed they were a blended family struggling through mundane 21st century life.  It should make for a fun ride as the world crumbles around them. After tonight I am extremely looking forward to the next five weeks, and then onto the main course of season six of The Walking Dead.
What did you all think? Too slow? Too many cliché horror tropes? (One other issue I had.  The Principle listening in to other teachers and his slow turn. No reason to play ominous music to think he was a walker) Comment and let me know.
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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Star Wars #8 Comic Book Review/Discussion (Spoilers): We find out if Han is Married (Kind Of)!

The last issue of the main Star Wars Comic was an adventure about Obi Wan Kenobi. We read along with Luke as he found out how Old Ben had watched over him while he was growing up. It’s a great issue, and it stands alone without having to read any others. This issue goes back to our three main characters and what they are doing. When we last left Han and Leia a bounty hunter showed up on the planet they were hiding on and dropped a huge bombshell. She claimed to be Han’s wife! This issue starts right after she dropped this little nugget of information.  
We are left wondering if Han is truly married or not. He claims he isn’t married to Sana. She claims he is, and wants him to ditch the act and help her turn Leia in for a huge bounty.  At the start of the comic Sana has a gun on Leia, by the end of the comic Leia is able to turn the table and get the upper hand on her and…. Han?? I have a bit of an issue with this in the relation to Leia’s character. I don’t think Leia would believe Han is running a long con on her. Look at everything he has done. He came back and helped blow up the death star. He helped infiltrate an Imperial base and gave his real name. The Imperials now know who he is and that he is part of the Rebellion.  Why would he do this just to turnaround and give Leia to the Imperials? It doesn’t make sense. Leia should realize that Sana is probably not being completely honest.
It was an interesting scene, even if I don’t think Leia would believe Sana. The comedy of Han trying to work his way out of the situation is well done. He is completely thrown for a loop and it really comes across well in the comic. I think having Han spot on during this sequence saves it for me. If Han would have acted out of character this issue would have been lost. Having him implore Leia to believe Sana is not his wife and trying to reason with Sana is perfect for Han. Sana seems a bit unhinged as a character, and I am assuming we are going to get to see more of this in later issues. We end our time with them with Tie Fighters and bombers descending to either kill or capture them. It was a good cliffhanger for the issue to end on.
Luke starts his own adventure during the issue. He wants to find more out about the Jedi, and decides to go to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Not the smartest place for him to travel too. To get to Coruscant he jumps to Nar Shaddaa, the Hutt home world. He makes the mistake of walking into a bar and announcing he is looking to travel to Coruscant. The bartender or leader in the bar quickly tries to kill Luke. Didn’t he learn anything from the cantina in Mos Eisley? He then uses his lightsaber, and it then gets stolen. Not sure I really like this sequence. If he really wanted to go to Coruscant, don’t you think the Rebellion would be the better place to start with help infiltrating it?  It would have made more sense, and it still would be an awesome couple of comics with them finding a way to infiltrate the capitol world. I’m ok with him having to chase down his lightsaber, and then get to the temple. I just would have preferred a different story line.
I liked this book, but it had a couple of problems. There wasn’t a ton of action and they used this addition to set up the next few issues. The main line isn’t my favorite of all of the comics to come out, but that’s like choosing chocolate over candy. Both are great I just prefer one over the other. The issue did a great job of setting up what is to come and it will be interesting to see where they take it. I am hoping Luke does make it to Coruscant, and Han can explain his crazy wife situation.

What did you all think of the comic? Did you like the interaction between the Han, Leia and Sana? Do you think it was plausible for Luke to walk into another dangerous bar? Would you have rather seen him go back to the Rebellion and they infiltrate Coruscant spy style? Let me know what you think. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Star Wars Kanan #5 Comic Book Review/Discussion (Spoilers!): A Fitting End

This book marks the end of the secret history of Kanan from the Star Wars show Rebels. If you are a fan of the show you should try to pick up these five books. At the end of the 4th issue Kanan had been captured by two Imperial Clone Troopers. This issue showed his eventual escape and the end of his relationship with the smuggler Kashmir.  It was a fun book and had a good amount of action and story
I really enjoyed the first part of the issue. We see Kanan help captive by the Imperials. They come to his holding cell and start talking. One can wonder why they are talking and not just killing Kanan, but it’s what Kanan says that gives the clones pause.  He implores them to remember his master, to think if she was truly was a traitor. He asks them to think who the true traitor is. The Emperor benefited the most from the fall of the Jedi. Without the Jedi he was able to craft his dictatorship. This message gave one of the clones cause to think. It also gave Kanan enough time to escape his bonds and use the force.
Kashmir also shows up and tries save Kanan. I’m not sure I buy Kanan’s escape. It was cool, blowing himself out of the airlock, but not that believable. I would have rather seem him fight his way to an escape pod. The escape was dramatic and Kashmir was able to pick him up from the depths of space. I liked the banter between Kashmir and Kleeve. They address that they don’t understand why they are going after Kanan. Smugglers with hearts of gold are always a good tropes in Star Wars.
Best part of the comic was the clone realizing he betrayed the Jedi. He lowers the shields allowing the two smuggler ships to destroy him. It’s a great storyline to open up. What did the clones think of order 66? I have always assumed it was programmed into their DNA. It was nice to see the clones can stop and reflect upon the order and what they did. I am assuming the upcoming season of Rebels is going to address this issue with Cody being a character.
The ending was spot on with Kanan as a character. He wants to sever all ties and attachments.  We see this at the beginning of Star Wars A New Dawn. By the end of the book he has started on the road to the man we see in Rebels. At the end of the comic he beats up Kashmir and takes one of the ships. This starts his adventures until Hera meets up with him and he joins her band. I am hoping we get to see some of the adventures during this time. It looks like the next comic is going to deal with the Rebels crew. As long as they keep the same tone as the past five it should be just as good as these first adventures.

What are your thoughts on the first five books of Kanan? Enjoy them or hate them? 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Star Wars: A New Dawn Book Review: Impressive Introduction to Star Wars Rebels

I initially stayed away from Star Wars: A New Dawn. The Rebels television show didn’t impress me at the start, and I didn’t want to spend more time with the characters.  The book however seemed to be getting decent reviews. A New Dawn has a different tone than the television show. It is darker, but not to an extreme level. I enjoyed the book, and it was interesting to see how Hera and Kanan meet and begin their journey together.
The novel starts out with Kanan hauling explosive mining material back and forth between a moon and a planet. An Imperial Star Destroyer makes a quick appearance and our main villain is introduced. At first I thought the villain was going to be a Darth Vader clone. The character, Count Vidian, is a cyborg who had a disease which ate away most of his human body. He replaced most of his human parts with robotic ones. Eyes, ears, voice, arms, and legs are all mechanical. My worries about a Vader clone where misplaced. He has a few similarities to Vader, such as ruthlessness, but is different enough to stand alone.  One reason this book has a darker tone than the show is we read about Vidian killing individuals, and one is particularly graphic. The murder truly hit home, invoking an emotional response from me. It helped that I was listening to the novel and the production added in classic Star Wars music to elicit more emotion from the scene.
Kanan at the start of the novel is in full Han Solo mode. He’s not a smuggler, but if the mood struck him he could be. He drinks and may or may not be a ladies man. No matter how hard he tries, he still does the right thing. His Jedi training is ingrained in him. No matter where he runs to, he still intervenes on behalf of those who need help. Kanan tries to limit his involvement and puts on a face of indifference, but he still acts when he must.
Hera on the other hand is already a rebel leader in some capacity. We don’t find out much about who she is working for, or where her funding is coming from. It is one complaint I had with the novel, more backstory would have fleshed Hera out. She’s still a strong character in the novel, and it’s a good introduction to her. I just wanted more, because hey, I’m greedy. Hera is meeting a contact to get information about how Imperials collect surveillance.  She gets caught in the middle when Count Vidian shows up and starts wreaking havoc on the planet and moon.
Along with Hera and Kanan we get introduced to a couple of sidekick characters. One is a clone wars explosive expert who is a bit unhinged. Scully is a bit of a conspiracy theorist, and doesn’t really see the way the universe truly works.  I loved his character, the author, John Jackson Miller, wrote him perfectly. Everyone dismisses the crazy old coot, but in the end he knows what he’s talking about. The other character is an Imperial surveillance expert named Zaluna. This was another great side character. It showed us as a reader just how invasive the Empire has become in the universe. Zaluna had some hard choices to make during the course of the novel, and the deliberation to act or not to act was well done.
This band must try and stop Count Vidian from accomplishing his goal. It’s a fun adventure which is a great first addition to the new Star Wars cannon. The plot is fairly standard adventure novel, but it’s Star Wars, and it fits nicely within the galaxy far far away. I did like a few of the twists and turns, and the small amount of political elements introduced into the novel. I get the feeling this novel is trying to hook me as an adult to then watch the Rebels television show. If I would have read it last year it would have done just that. The first few episodes of Rebels were rough, but I enjoyed the second half of the season and I am excited for the second season.
I would rate A New Dawn as my second favorite book, of the new canon, next to Lords of the Sith. It has great characters and a solid plot. If you are a Star Wars fan and haven’t checked this book out, give it a chance. It’s a book I can revisit and listen or read again. The characters alone are good enough for another read. This is a great start for the Rebels show, and while the show is geared more for kids, this book is meant for adults.

My Rating: Must Read for Star Wars Fans

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Man from U.N.C.L.E Movie Review: Amusing, Sleek, and Very Sexy

The Man from U.N.C.LE. is a fun movie. I’m admittingly a Guy Richie fan, and usually like anything he directs. This is no different. Richie brings his unique style of directing to the spy genre and it is an all-around entertaining movie to watch.  The performances are brilliant, the sets and clothing top notch, and everyone is fun to look at. If you are looking for two hours of quality fun entertainment check out The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
The movie starts out with a great action sequence which pits Henry Cavil’s American spy character, Napoleon Solo vs Armie Hammer who plays the Soviet spy Illya Kuryakin. Thrown into the fun is the person Napoleon is trying to smuggle out of East Berlin, Gaby Teller played by the stunning Alicia Vikander. Ok take a breather that was a ton of names to process. You back? Good. The Americans need Gaby to help them try and find her father or the people who have kidnapped him. They soon find out an independent organization has kidnapped him and wants him to build a nuclear bomb. American and Soviet spies must work together with Gaby to stop an independent power from developing a nuclear bomb.
This is basically the plot of every 1960 through 1990 spy movie. You know what? I’m perfectly fine with this. This is a period piece. It is set in the 60’s and it is the logical plot our spies are going to have to foil. It’s not very inventive, but what makes the movie work are the actors and how they portray their roles. Henry Cavil knocks this role out of the park. He is amazing as an American spy. Cavil is insanely suave. The type of guy men want to be. I won’t speak for women, but I would imagine they would want to take him home.. I like that he is morally ambiguous. His villain streak isn’t very deep, but just enough to keep you guessing in later movies if they make them.  Armie Hammer is more of the straight laced spy, the role you would think would be played by the American.
I wasn’t sure if I would like Hammer playing a Russian spy, but he pulls it off. He is definitely a bull in a china closet to Cavils sophistication, but they work extremely well together. The chemistry leaps off the screen between all three main leads. The only problem I had with Hammer’s character was his bouts of uncontrolled rage.  They took me out of the movie every time he had one. It just didn’t fit with how a spy would act. Other than this his portrayal is great. The Soviets also seem to have the higher tech in the movie. Not something we generally see, and I liked that twist on a typical spy movie.
I don’t want to leave out Alicia Vikander. She is awesome as the leading lady. She holds her own with both boys in the film. She commands the screen along with them and she almost steals every scene she is in. It’s apparent she can play just about any character. Going from the AI in Ex-Machina to the witty and sexy spy in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  Her sixties outfits are great, even the pajamas she wears to bed. The only thing I didn’t quite buy was the romance between her and Hammer. It was just a tad forced. They have good chemistry, and there is sexual tension, but it seemed rushed and shoehorned in the movie. 
On the opposite side of our good guys is Elizabeth Debicki character Victoria. I liked that they chose a women to play the main villain in the film. I just wished they would have developed her a bit more. She was the typical evil henchman. Not sure how they could have given her more screen time to show her backstory, but it would have been nice. We rightly focus more on our main characters, but a more developed villain would have made the film go from good to great.
The action in the movie is tense and well directed. It’s not over the top, and it’s shot in Richie’s unique style. The action helps drive the movie forward.  The best parts of the movie however are the interactions of our three main characters. You want to see them banter and interact with one another. The movie had me laughing on more than a few occasions with its snappy dialogue. The delivery of the lines is a testament to Riche and the actors.
If you’re looking for a fun movie to watch check out The Man from U.N.C.L.E. We all have seen this story before if you watch spy movies. Watch this movie for the action, actors, and costumes. The movie does its job by keeping you entertained for the whole two hours. It isn’t one everyone is going to rush out and buy on blu-ray, but I think most people will stop and watch a bit of it when they see it popping up on network cable. Give The Man from U.N.C.L.E. a shot and you shouldn’t be disappointed.
My Rating: See in the Theaters/Will stop and watch whenever it’s on TV (Honestly I’ll probably buy it, but when it’s on sale)

Have you seen Man from U.N.C.L.E.? What did you think?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Star Wars Lando #2 Comic Book Review/Discussion (Spoilers!): Renaissance Man

I have really enjoyed the first two issues of the Lando comic. They have really captured the essence of the character. I can imagine Billy Dee Williams speaking the lines in my head while I read. The first two have really set the stage for a good adventure story. I wasn’t a huge fan of Lando in the movies, but as I have grown older he’s slowly become a favorite.  The first two issues have surprised me in how much fun they are. Lando is talented at many trades, and if he isn’t, he can fake it until he makes it.
The second issue starts where Lando has just stolen a ship belonging to the Emperor. It was a great heist scene from the first issue. They are trying to escape the star system when three Star Destroyers drop in front of them. We get to see how awesome the ship, Imperialis, is. It’s able to automatically take out gravity well mines. Lando does some quick thinking and is able to escape into hyperspace. The scene really captures Lando. He uses two of the Star Destroyer’s tractor beams against each other. Causing them to lock onto each other and collide. During the moment he says he has done the maneuver a thousand times. He later admits he had done the maneuver a thousand times, just in his head. Great sequence, and perfect for his character.
I had one issue with the comic, a line one of the Imperials said. A Commodore makes the claim, “1 million credits for the person who brings me that ship”. I don’t see an Imperial making this statement. They give orders and their underlings follow them. If they don’t do a good job they have the very real possibility of being punished physically for their failure. There were a few other lines which didn’t fit in the issue, but overall it’s very well done.
After Lando escapes the system we jump to a scene with a bounty hunter. It was a little out of place, before the hunter gets a call from the Emperor. I loved what the bounty hunter did to his current target. He literally had to drop everything. I am intrigued with what they will do with this bounty hunter character. He or She is named Chanath Cha. I say it could be a she, because I would love to see Lando end up seducing her if it is a female. The Emperor gives Chanath the task of tracking down his ship, since the fleet seems to be having a hard time doing it.
Lando and his crew investigate the ship and find it is stock full of treasure. They get to keep everything in the ship for themselves, and it looks to be a huge score. This is probably the score which sets Lando up on Bespin. It will be interesting to see where they take the series and if it leads right into him gaining the gas mine. The cliffhanger is great for the issue. The Emperor’s guards are some of the most menacing figures from the original trilogy we never get to see in action. I am now eagerly awaiting the next issue to see them kick ass and how Lando gets the better of them.
My Rating: Great Read
What did you think of the comic? Love it? Hate it? Is my theory of the bounty hunter being female crazy? Comment and let me know.

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

True Detective Omega Station S2E8 Review (Spoilers!): Did We Really Need the Extra 30 Minutes?

Well that was a gut punch of a finale.  I’ve got mixed feelings on the last episode. On the one hand it was great drama, and very intense. On the other there where numerous plot holes, and what I would call lazy storytelling.  Overall this season has been hit and miss for me. It seemed every other episode was good or bad. The even seemed to be bad, and the odds good. Kind of a reverse Star Trek theory. This being the finale and an even episode I had my worries. Overall the last episode was about on par for the entire season. It was ok, not epic, but not completely unwatchable.
The first thing to get out of the way was the wasted 15 minutes at the start of the episode. Did we really need to see Ani and Ray getting to know each other on that intimate of a level? My first question is why wait this long? If they were going to build them up as a couple they should have had them hook up way earlier in the show. I understand why they did it, and it plays into the lazy storytelling. They needed them to be this close so when Ray called to say goodbye Ani would beg him to make it. This ruined Ani’s character for me. She’s a tough cop who has been through hell, she didn’t need Ray. I get that she would be sad, but they hooked up once, and had some deep pillow talk. We are supposed to believe they are deeply in love now? Build them up as a couple from a few episodes before and the final phone call would have had some meaning.
Then we jump to Frank and his wife. Another five to ten minutes of wasted time, or time that could have been cut to make the finale only an hour. I get a parting scene for the two of them, but it didn’t need to last that long. I’m guessing the white suit is a reference to a movie, not sure what one though. I know Frank was dropping a few paraphrased lines from Casablanca, or they seemed paraphrased from Casablanca. He didn’t have a line tonight that made me sit back and take notice. It could have been in there, but it didn’t stand out as they have the past eight weeks.
After the pointless 15 minutes we finale start the show. They jump in and find the brother and sister who killed Caspere and are blackmailing the police chief and lieutenant. Bad storytelling rearing its head again. The girl who parents were killed started hooking, and magically gets invited to the parties where Caspere attends. She is then able to piece together and find all the information to blackmail the others with the help of her brother. Wouldn’t it have been better for them to have had a plan to avenge their parents? Instead of them just stumbling upon Caspere and the information. Shouldn’t surprise me though, all the information obtained wasn’t earned, it was all just found.  It’s the biggest problem this season. Besides Woodrow and Frank there was no actual police work done. It was all character drama. Which is fine, but I think we should at least somewhat care about the crime the show is supposed to be solving.
The next sequence was well done. The scene in the train station was tense and extremely well shot. We find out a bit more information, some of which sets of the gunfight. I think the chief said the girl in the jewelry shop was Caspere daughter, which adds incest to the show. No real reason for this, other than to send the brother of the girl over the edge to attack the chief. I think they could have found something else besides the incest card.  Other than adding incest into the mix the scene worked great and kept me invested in the episode.
Next big scene was at the cabin in the woods. Great shootout which allowed Frank and Ray to get some payback. Ani went to go investigate the Doctor who provided the girls, but he was already dead. I missed the part where they said she was going to check on him. I had to rewind a couple of times to see whose body she found. The shootout in the woods was well done, and you started to think our main characters where going to make it out of the jam. Until I saw we had another 20 minutes to go.
Frank gets taken out by the Mexicans. Which I get, he didn’t plan for them. How did they find him though? He wasn’t in his car, and he was on his way out of town. Did the guys he paid for the passport and guns tip them off? It’s the only thing I can figure which makes sense, but they just pissed away an extra 500k. Maybe we just aren’t supposed to question. They found him and took him out. End of story. His death scene could have been sped up just a tick. I liked him walking trying not to give up, but they could have cut a couple of the shots out. The last few weeks Vince Vaughn did a good job with the character. He pulled off what I hoped he would the entire season He proved he can do drama.
Ray’s finale was great. Collin Farrell has been spectacular the entire season, and he didn’t disappoint in the end. The whole sequence from the time he left Frank was fantastic. I knew he was going to check on his kid, and it would be the end of him. It was perfect for the character. His love for his son and his first wife took him on a dark road. Fitting for it to end with them being the focus.  Farrell did a great job of showing his fear, and then ultimately his acceptance of his fate during the chase and shootout.  He at least took a couple of the others with him in the end. I personally would have liked his last message to have been uploaded to his son. They didn’t need to show us it didn’t make it. I figured it wouldn’t from when he got out of his car. They only reason to show it again was to see it did make it. It was a low emotional sucker punch, but it worked. They did make up for it a tiny bit by showing Ray was the actual father.  
Not sure what to think about the overall ending. It was nice to see Ani surviving with Frank’s wife. Not sure about the baby though, was it really needed? I guess they had so much talk about babies and adoption they had to throw one in. I’m glad they went back to Ani and they showed her strong. It bugs me they had her so needy and dependent on Ray at the end. They didn’t earn the dependency they had for each other through the course of the show.
Overall this season is just ok. It had some good moments and some real head scratchers. The plot was extremely dense, and was a determinant to the show. Farrell’s acting was top notch and his character is one of the only reason I tuned in week to week.  I’m wouldn’t recommend season two to someone who hadn’t started yet.  If they liked Farrell as an actor would be the only reason to watch. With so many excellent shows on TV it just isn’t a must see. First season was appointment television. Second season was just average at best.

What did you all think? I know the show is polarizing, some loving or hating it. Will you watch a season three if there is one? I’ll tune in, but I won’t be nearly as excited for the third as I was for the second and first.  

My Rating: On Par with the overall season. Average

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey Book Review: Get Excited for The Expanse on Sci-Fi!

I downloaded and listened to Leviathan Wakes after finding out it is being developed into a television show. I was listening to a Nerdist podcast with Chad Coleman as the guest, and he plugged this show as in development. I’m always on the lookout for new sci-fi stories and decided to give this book a try before the series kicks off this winter. It’s an interesting book and good story, but I wish I would have waited for the television show.
The book is very episodic. Which is why I think it will make a perfect television series. I can already see where they will break each episode down. They should be able to stretch the first novel into two seasons if they want to. The problem is the story never drew me in as a book. The characters would accomplish one task and I wouldn’t be compelled to continue on to see what happened next.  It’s not that the story isn’t interesting, it is, I just never felt hooked enough to binge listen. I could see myself being excited enough to tune in week to week if they do the show right.  I hope they give the show enough of a budget to be successful.  They have a good actor, Chad Coleman, to play Fred Johnson who is a big supporting character in the book.  Thomas Jane is set to play one of the major roles, Detective Miller, so the cast is anchored well.
Didn’t mean to go into a preview for the TV-show for my book review.  I just want a new science fiction show to succeed on the sci-fi network.  This series has a good chance to succeed based on the content in the book. I really enjoy the universe Corey builds in the novel.  There are three different factions of humans in the solar system. People from Earth, Mars, and the Belt. Each faction is naturally at odds with the other because, hey, we’re all still human.  I really liked how the Belters where truly the misunderstood people in the solar system. Corey did a great job of setting up how different they were from people who grew up on actual planets.  Actions transpire in the book that cause the fragile peace to be broken between the three different groups.
In the middle of all the mess are the two main characters, XO Holden and Detective Miller. Corey jumps back from each of their perspectives and it works for the most part. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t relate well to Detective Miller. He’s a down on his luck burnout cop. He’s jaded and cynical about the universe.  I usually like these types of characters, but I just couldn’t get behind Miller. It’s one reason why I would suggest to wait for the Television series, the characters are the weakest part of the book. Corey tries to make Miller complex, and he works hard to develop him, it just fell flat for me. Holden is the opposite of Miller. He is an idealistic starship executive officer, who does well with the ladies. A tad cliché, but of the two main characters I related to Holden more than Miller.
Where the characters are a tad weak, the universe Corey develops is stellar.  Corey is very heavy on the science in his science fiction. There are no inertia compensators, so the accelerating of starships have effects on the human body. Living a life in space also affects the body. The belters reflect this. They are more lanky and elongated, and if they are subjected to high gravity bruise easier. Everything for a belter is perilous. If one thing goes wrong it could set a chain of events in motion which could collapse their society. If ice haulers from Saturn don’t make a run on time or at all, it could spell disaster for the entire system. They have to rely on Earth and Mars for much of their livelihood and want to be able to break away.  This is the underlying current for the novel. “Earther’s” are looked down upon in the belt, and Belters are thought of as second class citizens to people from Earth and Mars. Humans in the future aren’t immune to racism. The scale is just vastly larger, and the groups have changed.
Our characters get caught in the middle of a conspiracy and must navigate their way through to survive. It’s perilous, and Corey does a good job of building tension throughout the book. Again I was never sucked completely in because each chapter was almost its own adventure. I was happy with each section, but able to walk away and wait for a bit to come back to the novel.  Corey throws in some sci-fi horror, which is a good addition to the book and keeps the story moving forward.
I’m excited for this book to be made into a television series. It should make for a good television show. According to IMDB 10 episodes are ready to go (The Expanse), so it looks like we will get an entire season.  If you want to get ready for the season pick up the book. I’ll visit the next couple of books in the five book saga (thanks @Peter Gulka for the assist)  if the series doesn’t make it, but I think I’ll wait to be surprised if the show goes past season one.
My Rating: Good Science Fiction Novel.

Have you read the Expanse trilogy? Are you exited to see it on the sci-fi network? Comment and let me know. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fantastic Four Movie Review: Rushed and Unfinished

Fantastic Four isn’t a good movie. It could have been, and that’s disappointing. Over the past year there have been rumors of issues from Fox about the director Josh Trank. He apparently trashed a house, and possibly came to work stoned. Fox executives then may have banned him from working on any post production work (Uproxx Story). Trank also tweeted out that he had a fantastic version of the film and it would have received great reviews. The tweet was then deleted, but lives on in screenshots (Polygon). It seems like there are two sides to this story. With these rumors and issues I can see why the movie feels so unbalanced and disorganized. The first half of the movie is interesting, or it was to me. The second half or last third just falls off a cliff and dies on impact.
I really liked the trailers for the film, and thought with the cast and Trank as the director it would be a good movie. While I wasn’t as high on Chronicle as others, it was still a good first effort from Trank.  Fantastic Four had elements of Chronicle in it. Trank built a compelling story in the first act. I liked the interactions with the main members of the cast, and thought they had decent chemistry. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible either. When we see them get their powers is the part I enjoyed the most out of the movie. They become monsters, and I felt this point was conveyed extremely well. Reg Cathey, who plays Franklin Storm, does a great job of capturing a father’s fear and anguish over what has happened to his children. It’s after this point where the movie takes a nose dive.
The strangest thing at this point in the movie is it jumps ahead an entire year. It makes no sense to do this in the movie. It feels like there was about thirty to forty five minutes of footage of this film left in the editing room.  This could have filled the yearlong gap in our characters lives. The movie isn’t long, only at an hour and forty minutes of runtime. They could have had more movie to flesh out the story.  It was just a weird time hop, and then the movie rushes to a conclusion and final fight with Dr. Doom. If there is one thing everyone is upset about it is the films’ waste of Dr. Doom. I have never read the comics, so I’m not sure what Doom’s special powers are or what type of villain he is supposed to be. I do know he is wasted in this film.
What stinks is I think this villain could have been good. I just don’t know if he was needed for the movie. They could have saved him until the second installment (If there is going to be one). He had some cool powers. I liked a few of his scenes at the end during the fight.  They should have went a different way and had the team fight the military which was holding them hostage. This would have made for a better ending. We are more connected to the government as the villain in this movie than we are to Dr. Doom.  Tim Blake Nelson plays Dr. Allen from the government and is truly the main antagonist of the film. I really wish he wouldn’t have chewed gum in every single scene he was in. It was extremely annoying, and really took me out of the film.  He’s a great actor, I know he can act without gum in his mouth. I kept seeing his character from O Brother where Art Thou on the screen during Fantastic Four.
They then have an end fight with Dr. Doom and then the movie ends. The ending is extremely rushed and is unfocused. Trank seemed to have a focus for the movie, and Fox went with this up to a point, but then took control. I’m reading the tea leaves here, but it’s a plausible reason for the film to seem so unbalanced. Even the dialogue, which isn’t great during the first part of the movie, takes a nose dive during the third act. It may not even be the dialogue but just the way the scenes are edited together and how the dialogue flows. There doesn’t seem to be any focus or point after our heroes get their powers. When they get their powers, the fear, anger, and anguish each has is great, but this feeling is completely wasted during the last half of the movie.
The direction of the movie at the start was building towards a good film. I liked how our heroes where brilliant kids who made a stupid decision. The darker tone could have been built upon, but it is thrown away during the last half of the movie. I wanted to go see Fantastic Four this weekend because of all the rumors and bad press it has been getting. It was like a train wreck, I couldn’t help but watch and be fascinated. Don’t waste your money and see this in theaters. Wait until it comes out on a movie channels or network cable before watching it.
My Rating: Wait for Cable release.
If you did go see the movie, let me know what you think. Give me your top five worst superhero films if you are wise and didn’t go see this movie
My Top Five Worst Superhero Movies (I admit I haven’t seen quite a few of the worst turds)
1.      Batman and Robin
2.      Hulk
3.      Superman 3
4.      Hero at Large (Click on the link to investigate this turd)

5.      X-Men Last Stand

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Star Wars Darth Vader #8 Comic Book Review/Discussion: Spoilers!

Let me start by saying I have never been an actual comic book fan. Super Hero fan, yes, but I never managed to get into actual comic books. Honestly, the task always has felt daunting to me. So many story lines, different runs, and rebooting. I always felt I didn’t know where to start. Well, thank you Star Wars for giving me an in. I’m reading the comics so I can consume everything canon before the movie comes out in December.
I am officially caught up on all the comics, besides Princess Leia. I haven’t been able to find all of those yet…. Guess I’m officially actively hunting for comics now.  My path to the nerd side is complete.  I picked up the new Darth Vader today and eagerly consumed it, but I’m a bit disappointed where they have taken the story. I loved the first two books in the series, but since then I haven’t been a fan of the overall arc.
In number 8 we start out with the Aprhra, the droid archaeologist, who is planning to raid an Imperial ship with a group of bounty hunters. As far as this part of the story goes, I enjoyed the action. It was an enjoyable read, but I think there is a problem with a Darth Vader comic where he doesn’t show up until the comic is half over.  I don’t like that Vader teamed up with Aprhra in the first place. It doesn’t seem like a Vader move. I know we are seeing him shamed and vulnerable after destruction of the Death Star, but he wouldn’t associate with this character. I keep expecting him to force choke her, because she gets on my nerves. I also don’t feel any true fear from Aprhra towards Vader. Maybe I’m reading into it too much, I just expect more fear and awe from people who associate with Vader, even if he is disgraced at the moment.
Once Vader makes his appearance in the book he gives Aprhra another task to complete. He flies back to the fleet only to be assigned the task of hunting down the person who stole the loot from the Imperial ship. He is also saddled with another overseer who is supposed to keep an eye on him. I like this aspect, and wish they would focus more on this part of the story. I want to see Vader fight his way back into the Emperor’s favor by destroying his competition. We need to see a more brutal Vader. We got a taste of this in the first two episodes, and a bit in #7. This should be the focus. I like that he is trying to find Luke, but I want more of Vader brutalizing Imperial commanders while doing it.
Underwhelming is how I feel about the Darth Vader comic story so far. Hopefully it picks up, but I am thoroughly enjoying all of the other books coming out from Star Wars. The Vader comic isn’t bad, but as of right now it is my least favorite. Hopefully it picks up a bit, and we get some more of Vader being the complete terror he is from the first two movies.

Anyone have any thoughts? Have you read the comics, interested in them? Let me know what you think. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

True Detective Black Maps and Motel Rooms S2E7 Review (Spoilers!): Fantastic until the End

By far the best episode of the season. Hands down, no questions asked. No other episode this season comes close. However, I hated the ending. I saw it coming, but just didn’t like it. Almost everything else in this episode is fantastic. We as an audience finally get some plot movement. It only took until one of the last two episodes for things to start advancing.  It’s one of the downfalls of this season, the extremely slow movement of the story.  We could have gotten pieces of this story along the way to keep us, or at least me, engaged. Instead this episode was jammed packed with content, and it was entertaining television
The performances this week where stellar across the board. No one had a bad night. Frank is finally coming around. I was extremely happy with Vince Vaughn this week. He still had a couple of quirky lines. This week I felt he delivered his lines more eloquently than he has in the past.  At the start of the episode he delivered this gem: “In the midst of being ganged banged by forces unseen, I figured I drill a new orifice and go ahead and fuck myself for a change.”  I liked this line in the context of the scene and for the character. In almost every other episode these types of lines felt forced out of Vaughn, and unnatural. This one was splendid.  The card playing while delivering the line was a little weird, but I’ll take the small gains. The rest of the episode we see Frank figuring things out, and taking steps to give the big middle finger to everyone who has screwed him.  As much as I have disliked this character, it was still satisfying to watch him start to take control of his situation. Frank’s killing of his top man to get information was a tad dramatic and over the top, but I still enjoyed the scene. While Frank is starting to dig himself out of his hole, our detectives are down a deep well.
Ani, Ray, and poor Paul. They get the information which could save them, only to find themselves boxed in at every turn. They know who killed Caspar and why, but they can’t do anything about it. Ani and Ray are both framed for murder. Ani I guess technically isn’t framed since she committed the crime. Ray is getting framed for the DA’s (I think she is a DA) murder. This forces Ani and Ray to stay together in a hotel room, which leads to a sex scene. I really didn’t need them to sleep together. There was no point. It would have been better for them to just share their moment, and comfort each other, in a nonsexual manner. While they are held up in the hotel room getting it on, they have to rely on Paul to get them out of the mess they find themselves in.
Paul however from the start of the episode has his own issues. Paul is getting blackmailed for homosexual pictures. Cliché, yes, but it works for this episode.  I thought Taylor Kitsch, who has been another weak link this season, did a phenomenal job in this episode. I felt his stress and tension building throughout the episode until the climatic finish. The tunnel fight was outstanding. It was well shot, and the tension built from the scene was brilliant. The entire sequence of him being lead down to the tunnels and then confronting the chief was great. Then the fight was the cherry on top. I however didn’t like the ending.
The ending is another example of lazy storytelling. It’s too damn convenient for the other crooked cop to be waiting at that particular exit. The chief just got done saying there where tunnels all over the city, how would he know to wait at that particular exit for that tunnel? The chief was knocked out, and the rest of the team of guys where dead. I get killing off Paul, it makes for a great final episode. Just do it in a more believable way.  Have Paul get back to his car, and for the detective be there waiting for him. Boom, plot hole solved. I get the killing was for effect, but this would have been just as effective.
The only other problem from tonight was just the sheer amount of information being thrown at us. Since there has been little to no plot advancement until this point, we got a ton of names and places thrown at us in a short amount of time. I had to rewind(ha yes I said rewind, go-back on the DVR) a few times just to make sure I was catching everything. It was a ton to take in, and better pacing at the front end of the season would have fixed this problem. There should have been tidbits of information spread-out through the season so tonight wouldn’t have been so rushed.
Even with the pacing issue, and shock affect death, this episode pays off. We finally get our detectives on the right track. They are in an extremely tight spot to start next week, which should make for an entertaining finally. Frank character also showed signs of life, and I want to see him get away with sticking it to the people who screwed him. After the first six episodes I didn’t think I would care if he lives or dies. I still could care less if he has a baby or adopts one though.  We finally are getting something out of this season, and it’s about time. I’m glad I stuck around for this episode. I still don’t think I would recommend this season to friends who haven’t started watching yet. Maybe the finally will change my mind.
What are your thoughts? Did you like Paul’s death? Too much information tonight? Glad things are advancing?  Comment and let me know. Share if you like, I’d appreciate it (hate asking, but hell I’m not above asking for some plugs)

My Rating: Good addition to the series.