Archive for Reviews

Boneshaker

Boneshaker by Cherie PriestThis weekend I finally turned the last page of Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker.  It took me nearly two months to polish this one off, and I feel like I both enjoyed it and didn’t enjoy it at the same time.

First off, the book contains two elements I like: steampunk and zombies.  The story is thus: In 1880s America (or there about), Seattle has been partly/largely destroyed by an event in which a machine ran amok, dug a giant hole under the city causing the release of some weird gas that makes people sick and turns them to zombies.  The remains of the city are walled up and a small industry has risen from the distillation of the gas into other products (drugs mostly).  People still live in the walled city, pumping in safe air from high up (the weird gas is heavy and sits within the walls like liquid in a bowl) and using gas masks when needing to venture outside.  The son of the man responsible, having never known his father, enters the city to learn more, and his mother goes in after him.  Overall, a well formed world is crafted by Priest and the elements of the tale are interesting.  If you really love zombies or steampunk, I recommend the book.

On the other hand, if you aren’t hardcore into either or both, I might wave you off.  Priest’s book is dense.  She is working hard to craft a world here, and sometimes I felt like that got in the way of the story.  Numerous times, for me, the book came to a halt while she took the time to describe objects and places and how things were.  In stark contrast, her action sequences were quick and lively, and made the non-action seem that much slower.  Because of this, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

So, I cautiously recommend Boneshaker.  I enjoyed it overall, but at times felt like I was slogging through it just to finish.

Movie Round-Up: July 16th, 2010

Standing Ovation:

If you like those Disney movies about singing kids, you’ll probably like this too, and so will most kids. Of the three opening films this weekend, this is the best one for families.  Not really my cup of tea, though it is highly likely I will see this some day after it shows up on Netflix.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice:

I am a sucker for magic and fantasy.  And despite him being quite awful in a number of films, I always find myself wanting to like anything that Nicolas Cage is in.  The special effects look great, and the trailer has me hooked, and even Mr. Cage appears to not be awful.  If I go to the theater this weekend, it’ll be either to catch up on an older film I missed (damn you free passes that excluded the first couple weeks of release!) or it’ll be to see this movie.

Inception:

But really, the only reason The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is at the top of my list is because I’ve already seen Inception.  I’m going to try do describe this movie without spoiling it.  Have you seen the movie Dreamscape from 1984?  In that film, specially gifted people could enter the dreams of others and try to help them defeat their nightmares.  How about The Cell from 2000?  Here, a woman who enters dreams to help people takes on the task of going into a comatose serial killer to locate his final victim before they die.  Inception has its roots in the same ground.  The mind and dreams are important.  In this case, Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb leads a group of people who are thieves.  They call it extraction.  They enter the mind of a dreamer and get at the secrets he holds.  But they are hired to do something different this time, to plant a new idea into a target’s mind.  The movie is almost two and a half hours long and I’ve just described the first, maybe, twenty minutes, in broad strokes leaving out the juicy details, and that’s all I can really say.  That’s all I want to say, because you must see this movie.  I can’t even tell you why you should see it without spoiling the film.  Visually, the movie is stunning.  It is fabulously paced, and there isn’t a single bad performance by any actor, though in my opinion Joseph Gordon-Levitt came out on top.  Totally worth your hard earned ticket money this weekend.

Movie Round-Up: July 9th, 2010

Predators:

I loved the original film.  I loved the sequel.  I even liked the two AvP movies despite their flaws.  This movie just looks like a lot of fun.  I like most of the actors, and Robert Rodriguez and even Nimród Antal.  I’ve already made plans to go see this with a bunch of friends, which is exactly how you should see a movie like this.  I have hopes that this movie will be great, but even if it sucks it will still end up being pretty good, if you know what I mean.

Despicable Me:

I managed to get a pass to a free screening of this movie.  I took the wife and a couple of friends, and we all loved it.  It was fun.  It was heart warming in all the right places.  It had kid humor.  It had jokes for the adults (and better yet, the jokes were subtle enough that your kids won’t be scratching their heads because they don’t get it because they probably won’t even notice them).  But hands down, the minions stole the show.  Those little yellow guys make this movie totally worth the price of admission.  This movie is available in 3D, and we saw it in 3D, but I’d say the 3D isn’t required.  Only a handful of scenes really benefit from it and none of them would hurt if it was gone.  Well, okay, there is one part that is worth the 3D.  When the movie ends, stay, as there are a few scenes sprinkled through the credits, and they abuse the hell out of the 3D.

Movie Round-Up: July 2nd, 2010

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse:

No.

The Last Airbender:

M. Night Shyamalan without a twist.  Or rather, I should say without material he created himself.  Based on the cartoon series I’ve always meant to watch, I now want to see the movie first, if only because I’m sure that it will be good but it will be “less” than the cartoon.  By less I simply mean that it will have elements removed to fit the story into a movie length.  Somehow, despite it being around for years, I’ve managed to not learn anything about the story.  The effects and action look good in the trailer, and I’ll walk in with a blank slate.  This movie is on my radar and I plan to see it.

Movie Round-Up: June 25th, 2010

Grown Ups:

Yeah, it looks stupid.  But it also looks funny.  I’m sure there will be some gross out humor, but it’ll probably have a nice heartwarming family message at the end too.  It isn’t worth $10 to see, but might be worth a matinée or early bird priced ticket.  It’s definitely going into the Netflix queue.

Knight & Day:

In real life, Tom Cruise is fruity, nutty and every other food descriptor used to also describe crazy behavior.  He’s just odd.  But dammit if I don’t end up loving every single movie that he does.  I do find it funny that the plot to this seems very similar to Killers with Kutcher and Heigl, and I’d much rather watch Heigl than Diaz, but even so I find myself drawn to this film.  Plus, it’s big actiony explody guns and cars and fighting which always looks better on the big screen.  I might just have to make my way to the local multiplex for this one.

Movie Round-Up: June 18th, 2010

Toy Story 3:

It’s Pixar.  The closest thing they’ve come to making a bad movie, in my opinion, was Cars, and even that wasn’t so bad.  The first two Toy Story movies were awesome, and I expect no less from this third installment.  Seeing this in the theater would be a pretty safe bet, especially if you have kids.  I’m going to try, but other plans may prevail.

Jonah Hex:

I managed to see a screening of this movie and I’m glad I did.  It wasn’t horrible, but when I left the theater the thing foremost on my mind was all the potential they wasted.  I had a similar feeling after seeing Ghost Rider, which is the comic book movie I would most liken Jonah Hex to.  There were some scenes I enjoyed, but overall the film was… underwhelming.  On top of the film being a moderately entertaining squandering of potential for a good story, you get Megan Fox.  I’ve read so many people saying she is very talented and that she just needs the right material to showcase it.  If that is true, then I submit that she needs to find someone else to pick her material, because she keeps making films that are clearly unable to showcase the talent she supposedly has.  In this film she continues her career of passionless dialog delivery, inability to do accents, and blankly staring into the camera in a way that apparently turns on sections of the male population who prefer that a woman have nothing going on in her head and just look pretty.  For me, it’s the vacant stare that ruins her beauty.  I generally want to give people the benefit of the doubt, but after enough performances like this I’m going to have to assume that the people who say she has acting talent are full of shit and performances like this are all we are going to get out of Megan Fox.  All in all, I’d have to say… wait for rental.

Movie Round-Up: June 11th, 2010

The Karate Kid:

I’m not a big fan of remakes.  That said, I don’t mind when someone takes an old story and changes it up a bit, because, you know, that’s sort of what all stories are since the dawn of time.  Everything can be boiled down to “it’s a love story” or something similar, the important part is where the story goes, the details.  The trailers look decent enough, and having recently watched the original I can say I’m glad someone is remaking this to get the themes of the film out there to a new audience, because honestly no kid today would enjoy watching the original.  The hair alone!  Oh, the humanity!  I’ll probably see this on DVD because there is only one movie I will see this weekend and it is…

The A-Team:

I’ve probably watched the trailer to this film a few dozen times.  I’ve seen all the old shows, in fact I’ve watched all five seasons through Netflix Instant in the last year.  I hum the theme song whenever I make a plan because “I love it when a plan comes together.”  I was excited for Iron Man 2, but this is the film I’ve been dying to see.  As long as the trailer is indicative of the whole, it looks like they’ve captured the spirit of the show extremely well.  The action, the comedy, everything.  So, yeah, I’ll be seeing this one this weekend.

Movie Round-Up: June 4th, 2010

Marmaduke:

I was going to make fun of this movie sight unseen, but then I felt that wasn’t fair, so let me go watch the trailer right now…  Okay, I’m back, and I’m not going to make fun of it.  However, I’m still going to call it stupid.  Sure, it might be fun for kids, but I’ve got no desire to see it and I definitely wouldn’t pay to see it.  Maybe one day in the future when I’m bored and there is nothing else on Netflix to watch.

Get Him to the Greek:

Take Russell Brand as Aldous Snow from Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Jonah Hill also playing his character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall but not really and make Jonah have to get Russell from Point A to Point B in a short time period.  Cue comedy.  I want to see this.  It looks funny.  Not sure I will, but I’ll try.  If I miss it in the theater it’ll go in at the top of my Netflix queue.

Killers:

I don’t want to like Ashton but I usually end up liking his movies.  So yeah, I’ll probably see this.  Besides, Heigl is hot.

Splice:

Really though, this right here is my must see movie for the weekend.  Sci-fi horror monster movie?  I’m in.  The only thing that will keep me from seeing this is the wife’s complete and utter lack of desire to see it.  As much as I am in, she’s out.  Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.

Movie Round-Up: May 28th, 2010

Sex and the City 2:

Didn’t watch the show.  (Okay, I saw some episodes, randomly chosen by happenstance, didn’t care enough to try to see more.)  Haven’t seen the first movie.  (I think I saw the end once on TV, and possibly caught a few scattered minutes, but not enough to understand the plot, or make me want to see more.)  Won’t be seeing this one either.  (I watch enough crap that it is highly possible that I will, at some point, see part of this movie, but it won’t be because I sought it out.)

Prince of Persia – The Sands of Time:

The previews look very full of action, but still I’m just not excited, not chomping at the bit, to see this film.  I never played the game it is based on (though I did play the original, long ago), however that might be a good thing since I wouldn’t be able to say the game was better.  I’m not going to make special plans to go see this on the big screen, but I will probably watch it when it is available on DVD.

The 2010 Upfronts

This week all the networks announced their fall seasons, and as usual, being a big TV watcher, here are my thoughts…

First, here are links to the network pages for their fall line-ups: NBCFOXABCCBS and The CW.

Next, the shows I’m losing (more shows than these were cancelled, these are just the ones I was watching): 24, Dollhouse, Better Off Ted, Defying Gravity, Lost, Ugly Betty, Accidentally on Purpose, and Gary Unmarried.  Of these, the only one I am really upset about is Better Off Ted.  It was, quite possibly, my favorite sitcom ever.  With pre-emptings and shufflings I don’t think it got a fair chance.  Season 1 is on DVD, buy it.  Season 2 is likely coming, buy it.  And when the complete series is released, buy that too.  Okay, maybe you don’t need to buy it twice, but you should buy it in some form.

Monday:

NBC: Chuck, The Event, Chase
FOX: House, Lonestar
ABC: Dancing with the Stars, Castle
CBS: How I Met Your Mother, Rules of Engagement, Two and a Half Men, Mike and Molly, Hawaii Five-O
CW: 90210, Gossip Girl

NBC looks like it has a winning line-up as far as I am concerned.  I already like Chuck and both The Event and Chase will be given a shot.  Fox isn’t looking too shabby either, I like House, but while the cast of Lonestar looks promising, I’m not sold on it entirely.  The con man angle is nice, so I’ll give it a chance.  For ABC, I’ll continue not watching dancing shows, but I’m in for another season of Castle.  CBS, HIMYM I like… but I’m also getting bored of not meeting the mother.  I’ll give Mike and Molly a shot, and I’m down for Hawaii Five-O.  The CW has nothing on Mondays that I care to see.  Total: 7 hours, 8 if Lonestar doesn’t suck.

Tuesday:

NBC: The Biggest Loser, Parenthood
FOX: Glee, Raising Hope, Running Wilde
ABC: No Ordinary Family, Dancing with the Stars Results, Detroit 1-8-7
CBS: NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, The Good Wife
CW: One Tree Hill, Life Unexpected

Reality shows still don’t interest me much outside of American Idol in the spring, so The Biggest Loser is a loser for me, but I found myself really enjoying Parenthood despite initial reservations, so I’m in for that.  Glee won me over already, and I’ll give both Raising Hope and Running Wilde a shot based entirely on their casts.  Hope looks better than Wilde.  No Ordinary Family: not only is the cast full of people I like, but it’s about superheroes, so count me in.  Skip dancing.  Detroit 1-8-7 has a strike against it – homicide.  Lots of other crimes happen out there, why does almost every cop show focus on murders?  This is going to be one of those shows I won’t watch until at least five people I trust tell me it is worth seeing.  CBS has programmed a night full of shows I’m not watching.  I gave up on One Tree Hill a while ago, and I’m still watching Life Unexpected.  Total: 5 hours, 6 if Detroit 1-8-7 turns out to be worthwhile.

Wednesday:

NBC: Undercovers, Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: Las Angeles
FOX: Lie to Me, Hell’s Kitchen
ABC: The Middle, Better Together, Modern Family, Cougar Town, The Whole Truth
CBS: Survivor, Criminal Minds, The Defenders
CW: America’s Next Top Model, Hellcats

I’m a J.J. Abrams fan, so I’ll be watching Undercovers, but I’ll be skipping the Law & Order shows.  Nothing for me on FOX.  All three of ABC’s returning half-hours I skipped last season, but am now catching up on, so I’ll probably continue watching them.  I’ll probably add Better Together, but The Whole Truth doesn’t interest me.  Legal dramas just don’t keep me watching unless the characters are great, and I’ll wait to hear reviews before I bother trying.  Mostly, I’m not interested in CBS’s Wednesday, but The Defenders might be something I watch.  Legal dramas, eh… but throw in comedy and I’m willing to give it a shot.  And the CW’s Hellcats is about cheerleaders and I’m a guy, so, yeah, I’ll be watching, but I may not stick about.  Total: 4 hours, 5 if The Defenders works, back to 4 if Hellcats sucks.

Thursday:

NBC: Community, 30 Rock, The Office, Outsourced, Love Bites
FOX: Bones, Fringe
ABC: My Generation, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice
CBS: The Big Bang Theory, S#*! My Dad Says, CSI, The Mentalist
CW: The Vampire Diaries, Nikita

I bailed on 30 Rock a while back and I never gave The Office a chance, Community is something I’m thinking of going back to catch up on, and Outsourced looks pretty funny.  I’m not overly thrilled with the idea of Love Bites, but I know the wife will want to watch.  FOX has a winning line-up.  We kicked Private Practice to the curb this year, but we still watch Grey’s Anatomy.  My Generation looks like it’ll be pulled from the schedule within 6 episodes.  The Big Bang Theory is still awesome, William Shatner will draw me in for S#*! My Dad Says, and I’ll probably keep sitting through The Mentalist if only for brief moments of Cho (he and Rigsby need a Dragnet-like spin-off).  We finally gave up on The Vampire Diaries… I’ve always talked about how lots of TV shows get stale because of their unwillingness to kill characters, this show illustrates the exact opposite, someone seems to die every episode – they’ll spend a whole night introducing a character just enough to make you care and then whack them.  People die so often I came to assume everyone was going to die and numbed to it.  I’ll give Nikita a shot because I like spy/action shows.  Total: 6.5 hours, 7.5 if she makes me watch Love Bites.

Friday:

NBC: Who Do You Think You Are, School Pride, Dateline, Outlaw
FOX: Human Target, The Good Guys
ABC: Secret Millionaire, Body of Proof, 20/20
CBS: Medium, CSI: NY, Blue Bloods
CW: Smallville, Supernatural

NBC has nothing for me unless Outlaw gets some great word of mouth.  I love Human Target and the Premiere of The Good Guys this week was enough to keep me watching.  ABC only has Body of Proof that I want to watch.  I keep watching Medium despite my frustration that Allison and her family don’t seem to actually pay attention to their own lives, and Blue Bloods looks good enough to try.  Smallville can die in a fire, and despite feeling like Supernatural should have finished strong at the end of this past season I’ll be watching to see where they go with it.  Total: 6 hours, 7 if Outlaw holds up.

Saturday:

NBC: Encore programs (repeats)
FOX: Cops, America’s Most Wanted
ABC: College Football
CBS: Crime Time Saturday, 48 Hours: Mystery

Nothing.  Nada.  Total: 0 hours.

Sunday:

NBC: Football
FOX: The OT, The Simpsons, The Cleveland Show, The Family Guy, American Dad
ABC: America’s Funniest Home Videos, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Desperate Housewives, Brothers & Sisters
CBS: 60 Minutes, The Amazing Race, Undercover Boss, CSI: Miami

I’d almost say it’s a repeat of Saturday, but I might still watch Brothers & Sisters.  The show has gotten a tad out of control with crazy plot lines and intrigue, so I also might not.  Total: 1 hour, 0 if I kick B&S.

So… the final total for the week is a low of 28.5 hours of television and a possible high of 33.5 hours.  Yeah, that’s a lot of TV, but not all of these shows will stay.  Of course there will be mid-season shows too, and this list doesn’t include the less traditional schedules of the cable networks like USA, TNT, FX, Syfy and so on.  I think I can attribute a good chunk of the increase over 2009 to NBC actually having a 10pm slot this year since the whole Jay Leno debacle.  And there you have my thoughts on the 2010 Fall Season.