Movie Review: Teen Titans GO! To the Movies

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Part of being a parent means I get to watch kids movies. Sometimes this is great when it’s something like The Incredibles II. It’s a great excuse and keeps you from looking weird at the theater buying tickets to a kids movie without a kid with you.

Other times though it means I end up watching movies like The Emoji Movie and The Nut Job 2. This time I got to watch Teen Titans GO! to the Movies. Let me preface this right away that I was not looking forward to this. I had watched the excellent Teen Titans series that had been on Cartoon Network and really enjoyed it, even if the anime-inspired art style was annoying (this is a personal peeve of mine, I know I’m likely in a minority on this). I’ve also watched the terrible Teen Titans GO! cartoon also on Cartoon Network. About the best thing I could ever say about it is at least the people making it still have jobs.

Spoilers contained below:

Continue reading “Movie Review: Teen Titans GO! To the Movies”

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It’s my Birthday!!!

It’s July! And things are happening. First off, it’s my birthday. I’m 38 now and still struggling to get up that hill. I”ll be over it soon! But since it is my birthday, gifts are in order.

Only I’m giving the gifts to you. Smashwords has it’s semi-annual summer/winter sale (cause the Earth is round) and that means that you can pick up the first (and currently only, I’m working on that) book in Agents of the Third Party series for free. Right here. Continue reading “It’s my Birthday!!!”

Movie Review: The Incredibles 2

35405023_954547538051414_8134967456499236864_nIt’s been a little while since I’ve written a review, and it’s been a while since Pixar released The Incredibles. So it’s only fitting that now that Pixar has finally (14 years later!) given us a sequel, that I get back to writing reviews, but I’m not waiting 14 years to do it. Pixar fully recognizes the time between movies, there is a short bit with all of the actors and Brad Bird himself letting us know they know its been like, forever, but that it’s all worth it.

There will be spoilers. You have been warned. But they’ll hide after the jump.

The Incredibles 2 picks up exactly where the first movie drops off. The Under Miner (mole man) has risen to let everyone know that he is here, and stuff is going to happen. Roll Credits. The Incredibles 2 starts right here. (minor spoilers for like, first 10 minutes of the movie)  There’s a thrilling and pretty funny fight scene that has them all passing the baby Jack-Jack off to each other. The Under Miner who popped up to tell everyone that there is no one below him (Which seriously makes no sense) then proceeds to rob a bank. I’m not really sure why he’s robbing a bank. Do they use money below us with the mole people? Are there mole people? Don’t know, the Under Miner gets away and is never mentioned nor heard from again.

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Avengers: Infinty War: Review

MV5BMjMxNjY2MDU1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzY1MTUwNTM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_Friday afternoon we sat down to watch Avengers: Infinity War. A movie essentially ten years in the making. My daughter was born the same year Iron Man came out, and I have watched all of the Marvel Movies as she has grown up, and she has (finally) come around to wanting to see them as well. So it was a great experience to watch this movie, that has been the culmination of her entire life time in the making.

Thats a lot for a movie to live up to, even if Kevin Feige didn’t have that in mind.

Fortunatly he, and Marvel Studios did not disapoint.

Beyond this point, there are no spoilers. I will not discuss the plot of the movie or the ending, because you need to see it first.

Continue reading “Avengers: Infinty War: Review”

Editorial: Entitlement

1_sd9ZoKdV2l-jTilexJsSRQEvery so often I’ll see or hear of someone complaining about how entitled people are. Typically this is coming from someone of the older generation and is typically directed towards someone of the younger generation. Usually Millenials.

I will be 38 soon. So I’m right in that weird place between Gen X and Millenials. My real life has me working with the general public, and have for the last 20 years. I have worked in places that had me working with people with money. Not necessarily rich people, at least when we think of Rich and Famous type, but definitely people with plenty of money. People who show up in cars worth more then many of us make in a year and who live in areas filled with 1-2 million dollar homes. I have also worked in areas with people who have less money. The area I work in now is plagued with homelessness and much of the local population would be considered below the poverty line. (I am in California and in the Bay Area, we do have a slightly skewed version of the poverty line due to the cost of living.)

Getting back to the entitlements I have seen a general trend of where entitled people tend to reside. Or at the very least who seems to posses a sense of entitlement the most and who has it the least. I will point out I am about to use a lot of generalities. Not everyone in each “group” fits the description as groups are made up of individuals and individuals have the annoying but incredible habit of being different from each other. So please keep this in mind. If you don’t like what I am saying about your particular “group” I’m not saying you are necessarily like that, just that this is where I see it the most.

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Movie Review: Rampage

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Back in the 80’s a little game called Rampage came out. Its premise was really simple, you play as a giant ape, a giant lizard, or a giant wolf-man. You take your giant monster animal thing and destroy all of the buildings and eat people all while the military tries to stop you. That’s the entire thing, not much story or anything else to it. Really it didn’t need one, you’re playing as King Kong, and as we all know that’s what King Kong does.

Fast forward to 2018, there have been some more games with essentially the same premise and someone at New Line thought “hey this is missing something.” That something apparently being Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and a story.

I’ll try to avoid “spoilers” though seriously there aren’t really any. I might have some, in case you’re concerned I’ll somehow ruin this movie for you.

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Arthur! er The Tick! Season 2 – Review

tick-arthurLast September I watched and reviewed The Tick on Amazon. Season 2 just dropped, and I just finished watching it. Just like the 1st season, season 2 is just 6 episodes long, and each episode is about 30 minutes. So once again another short season. It picks up right where season 1 leaves off. Arthur has been captured by The Terror, the Tick spends a few minutes jumping around the city yelling Arthur! trying to find him. This includes a trip back to a convenience store that they keep visiting throughout both seasons. A store about as big as your typical 7-11 and screaming for Arthur when he can clearly see he’s not there.

Soon after we go back to the Terror’s lair, where he is playing the drums. No seriously, he’s playing the drums. If you’re confused you aren’t alone, even Ms. Lint and his henchmen are confused. Alexa makes a reappearance (Terror tells it to play music, then to shut up. Yay more product placement!) Some strange contrivances happen, Arthur escapes with a tiny scientist cradled in his arms like a baby and the plot moves on.

I won’t go on much further about the plot, not because of spoilers. But hey, spoilers! But because there isn’t much point, season 2 does a pretty good job of wrapping up season 1. The arc of the story is clearly about Arthur. I didn’t review season 1 very well, and after re-reading my review, yeah I stand by it. Season 2 is an improvement, I laughed a bit more this time around and actually looked forward to watching it and was disappointed that it was only 6 short episodes again. Hopefully season 3 will remedy this.

Towards the end of season 1 we see Arthur and The Tick rescue a bus full of people, this is the start of Arthur moving to become a superhero. Season 2 fulfills that promise. In it, Arthur goes back delaying his escape from The Terror to save a tiny scientist. He saves the scientist (I forget his name and don’t feel like looking it up) again from his government. The VLM (Very Large Man) shows up and actually makes some sort of sense in the story. Season 1 didn’t really have a reason for this guy to be there. Arthur is instrumental in saving the VLM, and even Superman….er Superion!

Overkill is back mostly aside Arthurs sister Dot. Overkill is actually wonderfully overplayed by Sean Speiser. I found myself enjoying his part and looking forward to it. From his interactions with Ms. Lint (A former lovers quarrel of sorts broken up by Dot telling them they have some serious issues they need to work out. But not in couples therapy.) To him confronting his old teammate Midnight (talking dog that was part of the flag five) I never thought I’d enjoy seeing a man fighting a dog, but there it is. (Note, in my season 1 review, I kept referring to the superhero team The Terror kills as the Fab Five. It’s actually the Flag Five, I’m not really sure that’s an improvement.)

Dangerboat also returns and has a larger part. Early in the season he informs The Tick that he knows he’s a boat but that he identifies as a male boat. And that he is in love with Arthur. So I take back my Jarvis comment. In the MCU Jarvis becomes The Vision and does end up with a romantic relationship with Scarlett Witch, but he needed an Infinity Stone to do that. Dangerboat can do it all on his own. Also he apparently is great at massages in the shower, which is actually as creepy as it sounds. And hats off once again to Alan Tudyk, the voice of Dangerboat for making these scenes enjoyable.

 

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I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar.

 

The season culminates in a callback to Arthurs story. The Terror makes his return flying around the city in a giant T ship. Because sure, why not. I know its a trope and they’re making fun of it, but yeah, giant T ship. I did find it funny when the escape pod is hijacked before The Terror can use it and a little t, seriously it’s a lowercase t, jets off. It was also kind of satisfying to watch Ms. Lint give The Terror the bird. She’s a much more fascinating character and I look forward to more of her in the future.

When The Tick manages to bring the T ship down, it very nearly falls on a man who is too dumbstruck to move. He’s saved by Arthur and right in more or less the same place where his father was killed. It was predictable, but still a nice touch and closes the circle for Arthur.

We see Arthur continuing his transformation into a hero when he confronts The Terror. And when The Terror points a gun right at Arthurs face, we get to hear Arthur muter with his eyes closed, “Not in the face. Not in the face.” finally giving us Arthurs battle cry. (The Tick does hold up a spoon looking at it longingly and mutters spoon. But he never yells it out, and never mentions it again. I was looking forward to hearing him cry out Spoooooon! Maybe next season.) Ultimately Arthur opens his eyes and stares The Terror down, telling him that it doesn’t matter what he does.

Season 2 of The Tick does a nice job of wrapping it up. There’s more to see. Dot and Overkill, Ms. Lint has escaped, an ominous message from Midnight and even Arthurs annoying stepdad is apparently harboring some secret. Things to look forward to in seasons 3 and 4 I suppose. Season 2 isn’t so much a new season, as it is a continuation and wrap up of season 1. I think it’d be more accurate to describe it as season 1.5. I still feel like it’s not quite managing to live up to the idea of The Tick as a parody of the superhero genre, trying to be both funny and serious while parodying and honoring the superhero and comic book origins. It’s possible to do it (Once again see Thor: Ragnarok) but The Tick isn’t quite there.

I enjoyed season 1.5 here better than the first, and I find myself looking forward to season 3. I hope for more Overkill and Dot, and kinda want to see whats up with Arthurs stepdad. Also Dangerboat, cause Alan Tudyk is awesome.

Black Panther – Review

large_bLBUCtMQGJclH36clliPLmljMysMy family and I made it to see Black Panther. This was the first time it was actually hard to get in to a movie for us. The first theater we made it to sold out just after we got there, and had to hit up another theater in the next city over.

This was my first clue to what we were about to see.

I knew Black Panther was going to be a great movie. Every review has pretty much been positive, the trailers looked amazing, and it’s a Marvel movie. Marvel movies are awesome. It’s apparently a law. (Alright, some aren’t awesome, but they’re almost universally good, generally)

Black Panther continues that tradition. Great action scenes, awesome special effects, and really a good fun time. Marvels humor is on full display throughout the movie. Not as much as with Thor: Ragnarok maybe more like with SpiderMan: HomeComing. Sprinkled throughout the movie, but not trying to be an action-comedy but simply working to lighten the mood.

Basically if you’re looking for classic Marvel style movie, you should go and see Black Panther. But frankly that’s not all there is to it.

There’s more to Black Panther, and I”d be remiss to not address it. And that’s race.

As a straight, white male it’s not hard to find representation in a movie. Essentially I can go to a movie section, point randomly, and more than likely I’ll pick out a movie with a straight white male lead. So I recognize the importance of a movie with a (nearly) all-black cast. (There are 2 named white characters, and they are pretty much side characters). Black Panther address race issues throughout, sometimes subtly, sometimes not so much. A Wakandan spy points out that the very technologically advanced Wakandans could be doing more to help repressed black people the world over. Interestingly the main villain of the movie, Killmonger (I love Marvel, but seriously Killmonger? Someone wasn’t trying very hard on name day. Also Killgrave is another Marvel villain. Also not trying hard that day) has the same motivation.

Black Panther celebrates and revels in African Culture, characters are in African dress, drum beats punctuate their rituals, dances, and chants which are on full display. I’m hard-pressed to think of any other movie that celebrates African culture in the same way. And certainly no major blockbusters would.

I loved this movie. It’s a great action comic movie with good comedic timing. It brings more depth to King T’Challa, the Black Panther, gives us more to see of Wakanda, and helps to hold us over until Avengers: Infinity War comes out.

But more then that it gives more representation for people who don’t normally get it.  I love seeing more of this in movies. Be it Finn in Star Wars, Captain Gergiou and Specialst Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery and now T’Challa and the entire cast of Black Panther. It can only help for people to see people of color in postivie rolls. I don’t need more representation in media, but my friends who are POC, my wife who is a POC, and my children who are bi-racial all deserve that same experience I’ve grown up with. Everyone deserves that same experience.

Great awesome movies like Black Panther are great ways to begin that. I for one, am hoping for more. Not just for my friends and family, but for everyone and even for me. I can only benefit from learning more about the cultures in our world, and in my own backyard.

Bottom line, go see Black Panther. We plan to go again.

A few notable lines from the movie, I wish I could better incorporate them into the review, but I’m trying to stay away from spoilers, and nothing comes to mind. But they help to encapsulate some of the issues and themes of the movie.

“The sun will never set on the Wakandan Empire.”

“We can take them over and rule them the right way.” “Don’t sneak up on me like that white colonizer.” “Oh good, another broken white boy for me to fix.” “In times of troubles, the wise build bridges and the foolish build walls.”

Reviews: honesty

I recently signed up for a new platform on Twitter that’s meant to help authors cross-promote each other. It seems like a pretty good idea, we each will send out automated tweets about our books with authors of similar genres. If nothing else since doing it I’ve gained a few more twitter followers (Hi new twitter followers!) However while I was setting the service up, I had to use quick excerpts from my reviews. While I was doing that I noticed this:

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I have a 5-star review from J. A. Blum. If you’ve been reading my blog, or go back into my reviews this name might seem familiar. That’s because I reviewed his book: Over the Ocean and to the Links (Review). I’ll admit we exchanged books in return for honest reviews. I gave him an honest review, at 3 stars. His book had some issues I thought and I passed my feedback on to him. I was happy to have gotten 5 stars from him, and that he seemed to have liked my book. If I’m being honest I felt bad about giving him 3 stars when he had given me 5. But still a new 5-star review and I was happy, so I didn’t look to closely at the review he left.

I don’t feel so bad about those 3 stars now. J. A. Blum’s review is fake. I’m not even sure he actually read the book. If he did, I don’t know that he liked it. Maybe he didn’t and didn’t want to give it a bad review, or he was worried that I wouldn’t give him a good one if he did. He didn’t have to worry about that, I was trying to give him an honest review, just as I said I would. I would not have rated him any harsher than I did had he given me a not so great review. In fact, there are some political points at the end of Over the Ocean and to the Links that I do not agree with, I did not dock him stars for that. I was reviewing his book, not his political views.

My point to all of this is that I want honest reviews. One of the most helpful reviews I ever received was on the first iteration of BlackMail by CelticFrog. It caused me to rethink how I wrote the book, and redo it into the version available today. Here is that CelticFrog Reviews: Original Review. and the newer CelticFrog Reviews: Current Review.

The point here is that a faked review doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t help me as an author to grow, it doesn’t help a potential reader. In fact it hurts, I wish I had noticed it earlier, but I was excited at having another review that I didn’t look at it that closely or I might have seen it. I’ll have to ask Amazon to take it down. Anyone who is reading my reviews could, and probably will notice it. It’s likely to make potential readers think I’m faking reviews or paying for them. (Note: I have never paid for a review. Closest would be a review from Mark Schultz, who I did pay for an advertising campaign. I have seen him give low reviews to others who have taken the same package)

To sum it all up, please review. Its important, reviews are great for authors to help them understand what is or is not working. Its important for potential readers to have an idea of what they are considering buying. But just be honest about it. Faking a review helps no one, and can only hurt the author you’re trying to help.

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