Category Archives: Life Update (all)

Venom (movie review)

DETAILS:

Director: Ruben Fleischer
Stars: Tom HardyMichelle Williams,Riz Ahmed
Runtime: 90 minutes
Categories: comicbook, superhero,  action, franchise
Runtime: 
1 hour 52 minutes

Release Date: October 5, 2018

OVERALL: It is a lot better than I expected. It was enjoyable, more so then even some of the Avenger movies. Just don’t have huge expectations.

STORYLINE

Journalist Eddie Brock is trying to take down Carlton Drake, the notorious and brilliant founder of the Life Foundation. While investigating one of Drake’s experiments, Eddie’s body merges with the alien Venom — leaving him with superhuman strength and power. Twisted, dark and fueled by rage, Venom tries to control the new and dangerous abilities that Eddie finds so intoxicating.

REVIEW

We went into the movie expecting it to be horrible. I have seen a couple of reviews that they didn’t like it at all. With that said, from when we sat down, to the moment we got up I enjoyed the whole thing.

I understand overall on Rotten Tomatoes gave it 30%, but the consumer score was 88%. I think that shows the disconnect between reviewers and what the audience wants. To me that means the critics don’t understand what other people like.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t an academy award winner. It isn’t Black Panther, but it is entertaining an action packed the entire way. The reason though I felt it was so good was the bits of humor tossed in, and the interaction between the Venom symbiote and Tom Hardy’s character. That was the best part.

The action and relationship scenes are pretty standard. Good special effects, a tight story and not exceeding two hours all fed into something enjoyable. The best part for me was the internal monologue. I truly wish they had put more in there. The banter between Tom Hardy and Venom was incredibly funny. I would tell you my favorite interaction but since I don’t want to make my website adults only you will have to see it when you watch it, its the one involving an elevator and the roof.

The movie isn’t the best, but it was good enough for me (and better then some of Marvel’s other stuff) that I will go see the sequel if they have one. I recommend you do the same.

TRAILER

 

Lost in Space (2018) (tv show)

LOST IN SPACE (2018 REBOOT)

DETAILS:

Created By: Matt SazamaBurk SharplessIrwin Allen
Stars: Molly ParkerToby StephensMaxwell Jenkins
Based on: Original Lost In Space tv show (1965)
Original Network: Netflix
First episode date: April 13, 2018
Number of Episodes: 10
Number of Seasons: 1

OVERALL: There are some great points, but sadly the Dr. Smith storyline turns this into just a “meh” show.

STORYLINE

After crash-landing on an alien planet, the Robinson family fight against all odds to survive and escape, but they’re surrounded by hidden dangers.

BREAKDOWN BY SEASON

Currently we have only watched season 1. At this time I am unsure if there will be more on my part.

SEASON 1

I really wanted to like this show. I had only ever watched the original show in passing as a child, but something about this made me want to like it. For the first few episodes they had me on board as well. That is until Dr. Smith.

The show itself isn’t the best written show. Rather than being about a family lost in space it has more to do with CW’s the 100 then about the family. There was just a little too much politics for my taste, but even then I still was enjoying it.

The interaction between the children was ok. You get a general idea of what happened between the parents and kids, but it really is just a rehash of archtypes you would see on a dozen other shows. That being said it wasn’t bad and I didn’t mind.

The parents I liked a bit more. It was interesting to see what Maureen did to get the family on board, and I enjoyed seeing John Robinson trying to reacclimatize himself into family life from a strongly special operations life.

The problem comes in with Dr. Smith. I only vaguely know the original Dr. Smith storyline, but my memory suggests he was a selfish, cantankerous person, but someone people could live with. This Dr. Smith is purely evil to be evil and crazy. Her storyline jumps around and I think the actress is great, but the writing sucks. It is a shame too because I liked they made Dr. Smith a woman.

Funny enough, what I had anticipated to be the Dr. Smith influence in the series was more closely associated with Victor Dhar. A person thinking they are doing the right thing but are being selfish and underhanded. I liked his representation and really did wish that was the kind of character Dr. Smith was.

I realize a lot of people focus on the robot and Will Robinson, but after the first few episodes that just became a buzz at the edges of the show. Not sure why, but I didn’t really feel a connection between the characters and I absolutely hated the Dr. Smith inserting herself between them. It felt really formulaic and honestly stupid.

By the end of the season I had to force myself through the last two episodes. It isn’t horrible, it just isn’t good. If you have nothing else to watch, maybe it is a good option. However, with so much more out there I don’t think I am going to put anymore time into after this review.

TRAILER

The Goths and Vandals: The History and Legacy of the Barbarians Who Sacked Rome in the 5th (book review)

The Goths and Vandals: The History and Legacy of the Barbarians Who Sacked Rome in the 5th Century CEThe Goths and Vandals: The History and Legacy of the Barbarians Who Sacked Rome in the 5th Century CE by Charles River Editors

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Book Type: Audible
Length: 2h 18m

I should have known better!

Last review I did, about Isis was also by the Charles River Editors. I figured they couldn’t mess that up. After all its a historical book, how can they mess it up again. Oh but they did.

Let’s start that it is dry, monotonous and has no interesting information. The narrator is not my favorite, but I am not familiar with him so maybe he is different in other things.

Let’s continue on to the personalizing facts and just being out of order. It was put together in a way that is not useful to most people. It is a shame because I have to tell you the price was pretty darn good.

I think there will be no more Charles River Editor in my life. I wish them well, but just don’t work for me.

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Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (movie review)

DETAILS:

Director: Lamont Johnson
Stars: Peter Strauss, Molly RingwaldErnie Hudson, Michael Ironside
Runtime: 90 minutes
Categories: retro, sci-fi, post apocalyptic, space western, 3d
Release Date: May 20, 1983

OVERALL: A great retro sci-fi/apocalypse movie to watch! If you can put up with the bad special effects and bad writing.

STORYLINE

A crash-landed salvager (Peter Strauss) meets a waif (Molly Ringwald) and saves women from a cyborg (Michael Ironside) on Terra 11.

REVIEW

As the first review I want to do with movies from earlier in history, I have to say I wasn’t too disappointed.

I do believe I saw it about 30 years ago when I was a teenager, I don’t remember it too well (the hubby had to remind me which movie it was). However I do really think it weathered time pretty well.

Let’s get out of the way the bad acting/sets or especially the special effects. This is the 80s (early 80s even) and it was all about cheap special effects back then. I don’t remember them being this bad, but even back then they weren’t very good.

The actors do fairly well. There are some famous names such as Molly Ringwald as Nicki and Michael Ironside as the bad guy Over Dog. Of course Peter Strauss who is someone I also recognize plays Wolff is the main character, but he doesn’t click with me.

The story itself is a trope. Three ladies are kidnapped and need to be rescued. I was pleasantly surprised it wasn’t more rapey. Don’t get me wrong there are a couple of scenes that are bad, but for the 1980s schlock sci-fi it wasn’t as bad as I expected.

I also really liked the fact that Wolff didn’t fall in love romantically with Nicki, he became more of father figure. It is nice to see stories that don’t deal with romance at all, instead focus on other things… well as much as the bad writing allows.

Bad writing was the other aspect. I enjoyed it even with the writing because I expected it. I believe anyone hoping into this will be turned off if they don’t love horrible 80s movies.

I suspect I will see it again in a couple of years, we actually bought this copy on amazon an when I am sick, or nostalgic, it will be there.

TRAILER

Isis: The History and Legacy of the Ancient Egyptian God of the Dead (book review)

Isis: The History and Legacy of the Ancient Egyptian God of the DeadIsis: The History and Legacy of the Ancient Egyptian God of the Dead by Charles River Editors
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Book Type: Audible
Length: 1h 50m

Sometimes shorter is not better.

I picked up this book because I wanted to learn more about Isis, the Egyptian Mother Goddess. I thought maybe it would be beneficial that the book was so short, they would cut to the details.

I was wrong…

The book spends more time comparing her to Greek and Roman culture/gods/goddesses that I felt we didn’t get any sort of real information. I felt like it was just reading the Wikipedia page, except Wikipedia has more detail on her than this book.

The narration of the audiobook was horrible as well. The droning monotony was very hard to sit through, fortunately it was less than two hours so it only took me about 3 hours to listen as I listened multiple times to portions after realizing had had daydreamed away from the book.

I suspect Charles River Editors are very basic in all their books. They seem to have a lot of short books based on multiple historical subjects. I might try one more to see if I should avoid them at all costs (I ended up picking up their book about the Vandals and Goths).

Either way though this book is bad. Not even entertaining bad. I recommend you save your money (fortunately I got mine for cheap) and just go read the wikipedia page. Less chance of falling asleep or being frustrated.

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The Things They Carried (book review)

The Things They CarriedThe Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Type: Audible
Length: 7h 47m

A hard book to read, but only because of how impactful it was to me. Now more than a month later I still think about it a lot.

This book is a bit harder to give a review. I have a lot of personal baggage wrapped up in the subject as my father had similar experiences in the war (albeit on a PBR on the Mekong). However I will try and give this its proper due.

I listened to the audio book with Bryan Cranston reading. He is as good at it as you would expect. No “Walter White” images conjured up, he made it sound like Tim O’Brien (the author) himself was speaking. Can’t recommend Mr. Cranston enough.

I don’t doubt for a second the veracity of any of the stories. They have the same “start in the middle” feel that my father and the rest of his Vietnam vet friends had in their stories. Also the tendency to retell parts of one story as it rolls into another, with no visible start/end to it. I suppose for them there was no start or end, so how could the stories have a definitive start or ending.

The quiet time, shattered by moments of terror reaches out from the pages. Has that same unreal, almost dream like quality that the stories I have heard in real life. It is incredibly engrossing, and at the same time makes you cringe at what is coming.

A lot of the retelling of his time over there are almost unbelievable stories. Not in a “it couldn’t happen” type way, but in that way that is so banal and small, with such big impact. The story about the water buffalo, about the soldier who used to get high all the time, the soldier’s girlfriend who came over and was lost to the jungle, all of them conjure images of young men, stuck in hell on earth in a foreign jungle. I don’t doubt for a second that each incident happened, at least from the perspective of Tim O’Brien.

Like I said, I don’t think I can give a totally unbiased point of view. I do think it is an incredibly good book that will leave you thinking about it. I can’t recommend it more.

One other thing, I listened to the audiobook and the last hour of the audiobook had an interview with Tim O’Brien about when he went back to Vietnam 20+ years later with his daughter. I hope that is in the print edition, or that you can maybe find it on youtube because that definitely was impactful as well.

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Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai (book review)

Hagakure: The Book of the SamuraiHagakure: The Book of the Samurai by Yamamoto Tsunetomo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Book Type: Audible Book
Length: 5h 4m

Definitely overrated for those who desperately want to be a samurai.

I had heard about this book from people who take a big interest in Japanese history, especially in bushido. Of course my friends are all Americans and I truly suspect they don’t have quite the knowledge they think they do.

This is a conglomeration of writings. My understanding is that the original writings contained more than 1300 entries, while this book only has a little over 300, so it is missing a lot of the writings to begin with.

The writings themselves are scattered about various things. Ranging from dates and brief descriptions of people to random sayings and anecdotes. Not at all what I was told to expect. Although I don’t blame the writings, they are what they are. A journal from a samurai that wasn’t published until many years after his death.

It is an interesting book, but nothing you either didn’t already know or couldn’t find out easy without reading it.

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The Left Hand of Darkness (book review)

The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle #6)The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Book Type: Audible Book
Length: 9h 39m

Ms. Le Guin is an excellent author, but I just could not get into the book at all.

I suspect it is partially the same reason as Phillip K Dick, it feels very dated. Maybe I would have really liked it back in the 1970s/80s, but for me the luster has left the building.

Part of my issue is that it is another science fiction/fantasy novel that has to create so many new words, new titles and new ways of saying something that could be said in a more common vernacular. I realize she was going for immersion but it didn’t work for me. None of the wording really introduced a new idea or a new meaning so it felt like she was going overboard.

I was also a bit taken back by the gender situation with the alien races. I won’t go into detail but I am transgender myself and so it probably just hit me wrong. Ms. Le Guin isn’t someone I dislike, but it just wasn’t something that felt good or relatable to me.

The other aspect, very much like most 1970s and earlier sci-fi the pacing is incredibly slow, I had a hard time staying interested and while I don’t regret reading it, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who has never read her stuff before.

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Norse Mythology (book review)

Norse MythologyNorse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Book Type: Audible Book
Length: 6h 29m

If you have never read the myths and legends of the Norse, this is an excellent way to get into it.

Mr. Gaiman is incredibly entertaining, and informative. Utilizing various Norse myths he tells a set of tales about Odin, Thor, Loki and the rest. He does it in a way that it is almost it’s own story.

The myths don’t distract from each other, his tone is great all the way through and I thoroughly loved it. What I really liked though was learning things I hadn’t before. I had never read about the Apples of Idun, something akin to the Greek Apples of immortality.

I do wish there were more myths that didn’t involve Thor as front and center, but you can only have so many in a single book. What Mr. Gaiman did was fantastic.

I can’t recommend this book enough. Just read it!

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Killing the Bismarck: Destroying the Pride of Hitler’s Fleet (book review)

Killing the Bismarck: Destroying the Pride of Hitler's FleetKilling the Bismarck: Destroying the Pride of Hitler’s Fleet by Iain Ballantyne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Book Type: Audible Book
Length: 11h 30m

I really wanted to like this book. I have always been interested in World War II books, and the Bismarck is not something I am more than generally familiar with. That being said, I can’t really recommend it.

I was very interested on the British side and this was perfect for that. Except it reads less like a historical writing about what happened on the British side, and more some weird personal agenda. I think what threw me off was the forward where the author was really upset that there are die hard supporters of the Bismarck who thought well of the Germans.

I personally don’t have a dog in that fight, but the anger and frustration the author had in the forward came through and made me feel less like this is an unbiased look at the British and more like he was trying to prove a point. I absolutely agree the British Navy, especially WWII and earlier was an incredible thing, but you could read the almost propaganda writing as it was.

That made the book hard. The stories were all over the battle, which I did partially expect considering you want to keep it interesting, but it became more of a historical novel and less of a historical documentary that I was hoping it would be. There was no detail on the command of the British forces and it really felt like it was missing a lot of things.

If you have read everything else about the Bismark, I would recommend it. I did give it three stars because it was written well. It was smooth, but just fluffy… too fluffy for me.

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