Recommended #23

The following are my opinion and do not reflect the opinion of any organization or person.

Movies/Film

Dark Phoenix – Final Trailer (2019) Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence by IGN

Replicas

The Kid Who Would Be King

Blog Posts

“Courage is…” repost by frenchc1955

“Second episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ #season 8 #leaks online” by Michael The Blogger (The People)

“Scars #Poetry” by Carrie Ann Golden

Books/Stories

“Chapter 1-Part 1” from Ishmael by EdCowling

Da Vinci’s Turtles by GlennKoerner

“3 terrifying bedtime tales By C J Cannatelli” by Madame Raven

Podcasts/News

Discussing “The Hill to Die On” with Jake Sherman from Washington Week (audio) | PBS by Washington Week (PBS)

The Twilight Zone and What’s Making Us Happy by Pop Culture Happy Hour

“Even Greater London” by Victoriocity

Comics

Birth of The Source Wall | Justice League #22 Review by Fortress of Solitude

Massacre of New York | The War of the Realms #2 Review by Fortress of Solitude

The 70’s | Spider-Man Life Story #2 by Caped-Joel

Everything Else

Testimonial by Hadi (Gentle_Bull) by Earnest Writes

Top 10 Scary Avengers Theories by MostAmazingTop10

Hermitcraft 6: Episode 60: DON’T TELL ISKALL by Grian


Do you have any recommendations for movies, blogs, books, podcasts, comics, or randomness? Tell me in the comments.

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Does Whatever a Review Can|Spider-Man PS4

I finally got my copy of Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PS4. And now that I’ve been able to actually put it down…for about ten minutes, I can give you an initial review–because boy is it going to take a while to finish it. I played it for like three hours and only have 10 percent completion…but that’s probably because I keep getting distracted by all the collectables and crimes in the city.

So, let’s address the white elephant in the room first (or I could say white spider). You know the first thing people want to know about: the graphics. All I can say is, “Yes, the graphics are good.” The city looks like a city and the lighting is excellent; it looks like they somehow digitized New York and put it into the video game. (New York City is still there, isn’t it? I mean, no super-villain has come along and zapped the city into the digital world, right?)

img_2674My problem with the graphics is that the people look a little weird. It was like they were good and the developers spent time on them but they still look odd somehow. But, what I did like is how every scene so far (remember I’ve only completed 10 percent) looks lived in. Birds and helicopters share the sky with our web-swinging wonder. The inside of the buildings are just as good. The lab Peter works in has notes everywhere and machine parts scattered across the desks; it looks like a lab that has people in it.

So with graphics out of the way, let’s again address the real white spider in the room: the new costume. I was a bit ‘eh’ about it and still am, but what I do like is that you can change the costume, so you can wear the new one or the OG costume or one of the others you unlock. I like how the costumes unlock as you level up and not by finding some random code or doing a certain amount of “X” things. Also, I like how the suit powers work on any of the costumes–once you unlock that power of course. For example, with the original Spidey costume you get a power called “Web Blossom,” but you can equip that to the new suit or you can equip the new suit’s power to the original suit. (My favorite suit power so far is the one that let’s you make hologram copies of yourself.)

The suit mods also work like the suit powers. They work across all suits so you can customize your Spidey as you like.

I do have to add here that sometimes the game had weird camera and response issues. Sometimes Spidey would get stuck on an object; like when a henchman was about to hit him with a rocket, Spidey kept running forward against the railing and wouldn’t move. But for the most part, it’s been very successful.

Finally, the collectables. I really like how the collectables mean something in the game. If you find one, such as take a landmark photo, you get a token. The tokens then can be used to craft new suits, mods, and gear. I really like how this game focuses more on Peter’s science know-how. You get to see him use that mind of his and there are mini-games that involve crafting and technology. I like how they show that the Spider-Man suit is machine-like, that it isn’t just spandex that it has circuitry and technology in it.

At this time, I’d have to give Spider-Man a 4.8/5. Now if you’ll excuse me, Spidey’s got some vent crawling to do.

If you’re looking for more reviews (for instance my next Spider-Man post), you can subscribe to my Patreon account. There, depending on how much you wish to spend a month, you can have access to my reviews, short stories, and webcomic–along with other posts.

Infinity War Review

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In the new Avengers movie Infinity War, most of the Marvel heroes we’ve encountered (I noticed a surprising lack of Hawkeye and Ant-Man) join together to take on the big, bad rock collector himself, Thanos.

This movie definitely changed from its earlier counterparts. The movie was much darker with less joking (there still was plenty of jokes, such as Spider-Man and Star-Lord arguing over pop culture references and Dr. Strange’s “fake name”) and more torture…and screaming. Not to mention a lot of death…and I mean A LOT of death.

I liked that we got to see more of Gamora’s past, namely how Thanos came to adopt her. And I enjoyed that they didn’t paint Thanos as a complete evil jerk who only wants to destroy the universe because he’s got a crush on Death. You actually see that he has somewhat of a heart. Go figure.img_2674

One of my main questions was why did Thor need to get another hammer (axe this time)? I thought he learned in the last Thor movie that the power was inside him all along (cue image of rainbow and sweet music). But he doesn’t use his lightning until after getting the axe. I understand that an axe does more damage than a fist and that you would need something sharp to defeat Thanos for good. But it just seemed like Thor had reverted back to his hammer dependence.

I am really glad that they added the four mechanical spider arms (or waldoes, yes that is a thing–look it up) to Spider-Man’s Iron Spider suit. And Iron Man’s nanotech suit was pretty awesome too. I liked how they made the suit look streamline, like it formed to Tony instead of being a clunky piece of armor. I also liked the addition that it could create all sorts of weapons and seal openings.

The costumes of Captain America and the other outlaw heroes looked just as you’d imagine for a group who’d been on the run for two years. Thanos’ outfit made him look a lot like the comic book version. There were some movie style tweaks to it; but overall, it looked like he’d come right off the page.

Finally, Thor’s costume during the final battle was pretty epic (and say what you will, but I kind of like short hair Thor better). But I have to say Dr. Strange’s cloak is still the best, especially when it started mocking Tony as he lectured Spider-Man.

I did have a problem with Thanos and his use of the Infinity Stones. He didn’t seem to use them much, other than the power and space ones. I expected him to do more like he did on Nowhere where he turned Drax to stone and Mantis to ribbons or at the very least teleport around the battlefield like Goku. I guess he wanted to fight the heroes in order to test them because whenever one got a good hit in or did something unexpected, Thanos would say something close to, “I like you.” And he did adopt Gamora because she was a fighter.

And, of course, there was the trope of Dr. Strange using the time stone to check out all the possible outcomes of their battle with Thanos, which he says he checked like 14,000 or so and only one ended in victory. I groaned and rolled my eyes at that point. Just once I’d like them to say, “Oh no, there was like five ways we could win.”

But, I have to say my favorite part of the movie was not in the movie but in the theater. It was almost more fun listening to the audience cheer when Thor made his entrance at the final battle or their gasps when Thanos stabs Iron Man than watching the actual movie.

So to wrap things up, I have to give Infinity Wars a 4.8 out of 5, mainly because it was a two part movie and now I have to wait about a year to find out what happened.  I mean, come ON MARVEL!! GAH!!

One last note, I do have to give the movie crew credit for being able to do a movie where there are multiple setting shifts (one minute you’re on Titan with Iron Man and his team then next you’re with Thor and Rocket and then back on Earth with Captain America and the rest). Normally, I can’t stand this kind of flopping about, making it seem like there are too many characters and plots going on to keep track of, but the Infinity Wars crew did an excellent job of timing the shifts and not overwhelming people with new information. The shifts seemed seamless. GG everyone, GG.

PS (okay so one more thing): I like teen Groot better than baby Groot. Disinterested, mouthy Groot is so funny. Plus, he’s a gamer–bonus points, Groot.

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In other news, the next installment in my eBook series “The Life of Ace Journeyman” titled Alliance comes out May 8. Pre-order now from your favorite eBook retailer. Or you can purchase one of my other eBooks (also available at many fine online retailers).

Where’s the riot?

All reviews are my personal opinion and do not reflect the views of any person or organization.

Here be Spoilers. Enter at your own risk.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Space Riot by Pat Shand has our spacefaring heroes taking a shipment of medicine to a plant people planet (try saying that three times fast) who are suffering from a plague. Once the Guardians arrive at the star system, they find it to be blocked by a force field. They need to get permission to pass. After some creepy feelings and subtle threats, they are allowed to leave. Once on the plant planet, they soon find that the plague was not a plague but an invasion. The Guardians are soon on the run from an at least two planet strong army.

The use of having each chapter told by a different character is nothing new, but what I enjoyed is that they sounded like that character. The Star-Lord chapters sounded as if Star-Lord was speaking, that he’d written that chapter.

I found the Drax chapters a little harder to find his voice. The Drax chapters sounded more like the author speaking than Drax. But to be fair, Drax has a different short of character. He doesn’t really have the internal dialogue like the others and he’s more literal. I did notice that once Drax began to have a personal conflict, involving a crush on someone (and I mean a love-crush not a smash-crush like Drax thought “having a crush” meant), the Drax chapters did seem to change.

When I saw that each chapter would be “narrated” by a different Guardian, I hoped that there would be a Groot chapter. I wondered how Shand would do that. Would it be six pages of “I am Groot”? I was surprised to see that not only was there a Groot chapter but it delve into the mind of Groot. You get to see how he feels about not being able to communicate with anyone other than Rocket. You get to see a version of Groot that is quite smart. Some stories show Groot as being stupid or naïve; this Groot is wiser and observant.

I also enjoyed how the individual chapters allowed the reader to see more of the characters’ motives and backgrounds. You learn a lot about why the characters act the way they do.

Shand’s description of the Thandrid was excellent. I got a clear image of what they looked like. Maybe too clear. I kept getting an image of a insect that looked similar to a xenomorph from the Alien movies. But this might’ve been on purpose because of how the Thandrid invade. Much like the xenomorphs, the Thandrid burst out from their host’s body (except it’s the head instead of the chest).

I was surprised and not surprised when the first head-bursting happened. Since I had the xenomorph image in my head (no pun intended), I was not surprised to see it happen. In other words, the clues had been there since the beginning. I didn’t feel like this was some cheap scare that came out of nowhere. Nonetheless, it still shocked me because I wasn’t waiting for it, and the description of the baby Thandrid crawling around creeped me out. It wasn’t like a mystery book where you solve the murder in the first chapter and then are waiting till the end to have your guess confirmed.

My main problem with the book is I kept asking, “Where’s the riot?” The book was called Space Riot and yet there was no riot. There was war and fighting and explosions, but not much of a riot. I guess you could call it a riot because the Incarnadinians, the other planet marked for invasion, and the Guardians rebelled against the Thandrid. Also, all the people of the system were held prisoner by the force field, so it was more like the rebel “prisoners” were rioting against the Thandrid “guards.” The war was very one sided. The Thandrid had the numbers and the technology, so it was more of a riot. But the riot idea really came into play when the Guardians and rebels crashed into the Thandrid prison allowing all the prisoners to escape. It then turned into a literal riot and they attacked the Thandrid.

I have to give Space Riot a 4.6 out of 5. The writing was excellent, the book was short enough that I could finish it in a timely manner but still long enough that I felt like I got my money’s worth, and the book kept making me want to continue. It wasn’t boring at all. It seemed like we were always moving forward. Sometimes the forward motion was a little slower but we were still moving forward. But, it didn’t have the same…silliness of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. It seemed like these Guardians were ones that had more experience or were more mature. They still had the same characteristics, but just different.

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I am Groot Vol. 2

All reviews are my personal opinion and do not reflect the views of any person or organization.

Here be Spoilers. Enter at your own risk.

Peter and gang return for more cosmic comedy in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

In this sequel, the Guardians discover who Peter’s father is while on the run from gold-skinned aliens.

I found the make-up and character designs to be better than the first. But in some close ups of Gamora, I could see places where they missed a spot. However, in the comics (and the Telltale Games Guardians series), Gamora is seen with flesh colored circles around her eyes, so I could give this a pass…though it got weird that in one scene the rings were there and in others they weren’t.

I did find the make-up work for the golden aliens to be amazing: gold skin, gold hair, and gold eyes. It didn’t look like they just slapped in some gold colored contact lens, even the whites of their eyes had a golden tint.

I found the swearing, crude humor, and sexual innuendos to be a big much for a comic book superhero movie. All the killing scenes were also a bit much: the bodies floating in space, people being sucked out airlocks, and bodies falling in slow motion. But, they weren’t out of place. It wasn’t like it was Batman going around killing people. It made sense to have villains shoving people into space or Yondu killing people with his arrow; he’d done it in the first movie so there was no big surprise.

Guardians still had plenty of sarcasm, jokes, and “they’re all idiots” moments. For instance, Yondu uses his arrow to lower himself to the ground. Peter tells him he looks like Mary Poppins. Yondu asks if she is cool and Peter replies, “Yes.” At this point, Yondu then boasts, “I’m Mary Poppins, yo!” Only Guardians characters could deliver a line like this seriously.

The delivery of the line showed the skill of the actors. The person playing Yondu knew who Mary Poppins was and understood the joke, but he delivered it as if he didn’t. It wasn’t done with a twinge of “I really know what’s going on because I’m an actor.” He sounded like he really believed it.

The cosmic craziness that is the Guardians of the Galaxy continues with a giant 8-bit Pac-Man appearing during the final battle. I won’t tell you how or why it happened (you’ll just have to watch the movie).

During the battle with the golden aliens, the Guardians discover that the ships coming after them are drones. The scene than shows the pilots controlling the drones while video arcade sound effects play; they even include the death sound effect.  Once a pilot was defeated, they would rage quit. At one point there is only one pilot left and the others have gathered around him cheering him on to get a high score. Who knew advanced alien races like video games?

I found the graphics to be great but for the most part the same as the original, except for Yondu’s arrow. The blur trail effect was much better. The coloring and glow made it stand out and added some flair to the movie. It seemed to match Yondu’s personality too. This effect made the arrow seem more high-tech and more like an object you’d see in a sci-fi or comic book movie instead of being completely realistic.

I enjoyed the character development moments. I enjoyed the fact that we got to see more of Rocket’s character. He wasn’t just an angry, greedy, thieving genetically modified raccoon. You could see that he had feelings and cared about other people. Also, it was awesome to watch Rocket take out squads of Ravagers on his own.

I missed Rocket’s orange outfit from the first movie. The outfit for this movie made him look like he was naked. It made him look more like a wild animal, but to be fair, he acted like one for most of the movie.

I had a problem with Nebula’s character change because in the last movie she was portrayed as this crazy, murdering, sadist (and she still was to a point), but then she’s like “I just want a sister.” It seemed like a strange switch, but her “mellowing” out doesn’t come till near the end of the movie. It wasn’t like one second she was a psychopath and the next doling out hugs. It was still believable that she could change. It was nice to see that she could be more than just stab, stab, kill and we got a peak into why she is the way she is.

The characters seemed to be more mature in this movie. They still made jokes and teased each other, like when Peter calls Rocket a “trash panda,” but it seems like their personalities were more flushed out. They had become more than just jokes, eye rolls, and sarcasm.

Like from Peter. I got the sense that he’s been the leader of the Guardians for awhile. He has grown into the role and is a bit more responsible. He even tells Rocket not to play music during a battle, while in the first movie Peter constantly played music whenever he did anything.

This maturity could be said about the rest of the Guardians. Though they continued to bicker, they still seemed to acknowledge Peter as the leader. They also seemed to function more as a team.

My biggest problem with the movie was Peter’s father being a Celestial. It seemed over the top or out of place. It made Peter seem too important. I felt like the movie would have the same theme and plot even if Peter was still the prince of Spartax instead of a god. It made it seem like Marvel was trying too hard to make the movie like other movies; they fell into a trope instead of breaking tropes.

What I mean by breaking tropes can be seen at the beginning of the movie. The Guardians are getting ready for a battle with a cosmic beast. This amazing and frightening monster alien shows up and you’re expecting to see this epic battle, but instead you watch Baby Groot dance while the Guardians battle in the background.

Another example of trope-breaking is during the final battle. The Guardians strike a pose and epic hero music plays as there are explosions and such behind them…and then one character gets hit in the head.

They also make fun of the “characters walking slowly towards the camera” trope.

But having Peter be the son of a god seemed like they were giving in or they thought, “We need some kind of twist that’s going to shock all the comic fans.”

But all in all, I still say Guardians of the Galaxy is one of Marvel’s best series. Mainly because of the credits. Every now and then the credits read “I am Groot” and then switch to the English translation. Not to mention seeing the various character dance. And finally, the during and after credit scenes; you get multiple ones. You also get to see teenage Groot who stays in his room all day playing video games and leaves his vines all over the floor.

I have to give Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 a 4 out of 5 Groots. I enjoyed it and most issues were forgettable annoyances. But it was the fact that they made Peter’s father a god when they really didn’t need to really lowered the score. Also, they should have had more Cosmo the Dog and Howard the Duck.

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Thor will Ragnarok you

All reviews are my personal opinion and do not reflect the views of any person or organization.

Thor: Ragnarok from Marvel Studios is set to release Nov. 3. In the meantime, I got to watch the trailer, thanks to the iTunes Trailers app.

The trailer starts out with Thor chained in a pit or cave. This seems pretty standard for superhero trailers anymore: the hero is chained or tortured or is climbing out of some dungeon. But I have to say the graphics and set design were impressive. I really felt like I was in some other world.

Speaking of other worlds, it was nice to see a Thor movie (or even show) with Thor on a more high-tech planet. Usually the places you see Thor are very…Norse (obviously). It was nice to see futuristic vehicles and weapons instead of dwarves and elves. It really showed that in this movie Thor is out of his element; he isn’t just visiting the 9 realms where he can beat up anything in his way. It’s going to be a challenge.

I also enjoyed the look of the aliens and other creatures. They looked alien. The makeup and costume work was amazing. They looked like they were alien creatures and not just some person in a suit or CGI. Just like with the sets, I felt like I was in another place. I really felt like I was there and not just watching.

I did get a very Guardians of the Galaxy vibe to the trailer. The soundtrack, the 70s/80s psychedelic/rainbow title transition, and the pacing of jokes and shots seemed a lot like trailers for the Guardians movies. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought it was a trailer for Guardians. But I can see why it was done like this. Thor: Ragnarok is a space adventure. It needs the craziness and wow of space. You should feel like it is this epic thing. And maybe this trailer format hints at the Guardians making a cameo or there is a reference to them.

My real big problem with the trailer was that when they showed the villain, it wasn’t clear who it was. I probably missed them saying her name, but I kind of felt like the trailer was saying, “If you were a true fan, you’d know who this was.” If they did mention Hela by name, I didn’t hear it over the loud music and action.

I have to admit that when Thor showed up in the gladiator ring with short hair, I did a double take. I liked that they cut his hair; it shows that he’s in trouble. He’s not a prince of Asgard—he’s a slave/gladiator. He’s also been there for a while, at least long enough for a haircut. This was no pit stop for Thor.

And of course, I loved the moment when Hulk arrives and Thor laughs and says that they’re friends from work.

This trailer made me want to see the movie. I was kind of iffy; I’m starting to get tired of all the superhero movies, and when I saw the opening with Thor in the cave, I thought, “Here we go again. It’s just like all the rest.” But by the end of the trailer, I was getting more and more interested. The ones who edited the trailer sure knew which scenes to stick at the end.

I have to say the trailer was well done. The movie, on the other hand…we’ll just have to wait till November.

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