I burned up my old tax documents from more than a decade ago. I could have shredded them, but it was a nice night for a fire. And the cat seemed to enjoy the show.

This morning I had some weekend coffee, finished my taxes, paid my insurance bill, and played The Sims 4 for a long bit. It was a productive morning all-in-all. Expensive, but productive. I mean, I’m getting a refund on the taxes, but the insurance… damn. Why is insurance so expensive.

Word is that it’s because of the unlimited medical coverage required here in Michigan. But I think that’s changing. I don’t expect any of us to see any significant change in our rates. If you’re curious, I’m paying about 35% of my car payments for insurance. Meanwhile, I’m driving a company vehicle 90% of the time and the vehicles I’m insuring are sitting in the driveway. When I think about it… it’s frustrating.

That was a bit of an aside. Sorry.

We finished Mr. Robot, or rather, we finished the free bits of Mr. Robot. Prime Video would like to sell me each of the episodes that make up season 4, but while I thought the series was interesting, it’s not “pay for it” interesting. I’m sticking by my stance that this show is weird. I mean it is both weird and also takes some weird twists.

We’ve moved on to American Gods, but I only have the first season of that and, again, I’m not looking to buy anything else. I like it. But, c’mon, if I’m paying for Xfinity, Amazon Prime, Disney+Hulu, and Netflix already, why would I pay extra for more stuff. I already have so much more than I’ll ever be able to watch it’s almost unreal. Besides, I still haven’t watched the BBC/Netflix Dracula show.

Friday night we watched Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Got any guesses as to my thoughts on this one? If you guessed that I thought it was mostly boring and pointless, well, you guessed right. Sure, the acting was good, but you had a couple of aging actors playing a couple of aging actors, so that should be an easy roll to pull off. Mostly, it felt like a great big love fest to all the things about old Hollywood that Tarantino thinks are cool, plus a bunch of boring and pointless stuff. Then you get some good stuff at the hippy ranch. More boring stuff. And then a pretty amusing and entertaining, if over the top, finale.

So, if you’re a fan of actors, these particular actors, period films, or this director, maybe go see it. If you’re looking to be entertained and get your money’s worth, probably don’t.

There you go another movie review from someone who doesn’t much like movies. Later.

I don’t typically do this kind of write up of the audiobooks I listen to. Usually, I throw up a paragraph on the audible review and repost it to my Facebook page. But I thought I’d make an exception with this series, because I need content for my blog, because my Facebook posts don’t really help me keep track of what I’ve listened to, and because the first book of this series was one of my favorite fantasy novels as a younger man. The first three books of this series were published in 1988 and I read that first book, shortly thereafter. Probably as soon as it appeared in my local used bookstore.

Dave Duncan has a special significance now that I did not know about before. What’s that? Dave Duncan pursued a career as a geologist in the petroleum industry for nearly thirty years before he started writing science fiction and fantasy novels. He made his first sale (A Rose Red City) two years later in 1986 at the age of 53, just two weeks after his 31-year career as a geologist came to an end due to a slump in the oil business, at which point he switched to full-time writing. Let’s recap. He started writing SF and Fantasy at 51. Didn’t get published until he was 53. But wait, there is more. He was 85 when he passed away in 2018 and in the 34 years he was writing he published 62 novels. His novels West of January and Children of Chaos won Aurora Awards, and his works received eight Endeavour Award nominations and a Sunburst Award nomination. That is an impressive run and given my age, quite inspirational.

So, let’s revisit the SEVENTH SWORD series by Dave Duncan. The first three books were all published in 1988 and the first of the series was Dave Duncan’s most popular novel. The fourth book came out almost 25 years later. Really, it’s a trilogy + one.

1

Book one of the Seventh Sword series, The Reluctant Swordsman by Dave Duncan. Narrated by Donald Corren. 11 hrs and 44 mins. 09-29-2012

The main character of this series is earthman, Wallie Smith. Wallie contracted meningitis, died in the hospital, and found himself reborn into the body of a powerful swordsman on another world. His earth memories are in tact, but the memories of the man whose body he now possesses are absent. Those absent memories include all the societal mores and skills that would make living in this new world feasible. Enter the gods who have brought him here, and after a bit of skepticism and disbelief on Wallies part, he’s left believing that this is his new reality. If he will pledge fealty to them, they will give him the skills to survive.

Okay, the whole “transported to another world to become a hero” thing was my aspiration incarnate. I was hooked. And while the book starts slow, it’s not uninteresting.

We round out the cast with a eccentric priest as guide, a voluptuous slave girl as a love interest, and a spunky kid sidekick/protege. And of course, everyone else wants to kill him, steal his stuff, or both. Just to make things easier, the gods who brought him to this world are more than a little vague about what they want from him.

It’s a good start to a series. I really enjoyed it, even all these years later. The narrator was good, and that always helps. There is a decided oriental feel to the society and the culture that I noticed this time through, but had not noticed back when I first read the book.

As one of the first novels Duncan published, it’s not perfect. There are flaws, but they’re easily overlooked and I’m not going to point them out. I think the handling of slavery is understated, probably unrealistic, but the way the main character handles it is well done. I found Wallie Smith to be a likeable and relatable character. The story holds up pretty well to the new standards of Fantasy literature and doesn’t feel particularly dated to me.

2

Book two of the Seventh Sword series, The Coming of Wisdom by Dave Duncan. Narrated by Donald Corren. 13 hrs and 22 mins. 09-29-2012

I did not like this book when I read it back in the day. Prior to listening to it, I couldn’t tell you what I didn’t like about it back then, but having revisited it, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I didn’t like. I don’t want to give anything away, but I can’t say this without doing so. Back then, I had a real issue with authors mixing technology into my fantasy. I have much less of a reaction to that sort of thing now. Besides, you bring a guy from earth to your fantasy world because you’ve got technology problems, not because you want him to solve magical problems. We earthmen don’t have a lot of experience with magic.

So don’t be surprised when the sorcerers of the Fire God don’t turn out to be the spell weilding Merlin-Gandalf’s you’re used to in fantasy novels. But the reveal of their powers is a process and is well done, logical, and provides good story beats.

We get some new companions in this book, see more of the world, and of course the sorcerer’s make for a new bunch of villains. The world needs a hero and Wallie is a fellow with the knowledge set that they’re going to need, because the priests and swordsmen of the world are no match for the powers of magic wielded against them.

As I said, this was as far as I got in the first read and I don’t remember if I finished this book. A lot of it felt new, so it’s entirely possible that I didn’t finish it. I enjoyed it much more this time around. But my views and expectations about what makes for a good story have changed. I think this is a solid entry into the series, doesn’t suffer much, if at all, from middle book syndrome, and continues the exploration into an interesting and compelling world. I liked it. Glad I gave it a second try.

3

Book three of the Seventh Sword series, The Destiny of the Sword by Dave Duncan. Narrated by Donald Corren. 13 hrs and 44 mins. 09-29-2012

We come, at last, to something completely new to me. With his reputation shot-to-shit, his other-selves personality wrecking his relationships, and a prophecy that seems to indicate his best buddy and pupil is going to betray him, Wallie Smith seems to have run out of road on his path through this second chance on another world. But the Goddess isn’t letting him off the hook, he’s still got work to do. All he needs to do is

lead the arrogant band of swordsmen to destroy the sorcerers and their Fire God. Which is how the previous persona to occupy this body failed to begin with. But alternatives are not presenting themselves.

The twists and turns that make up this concluding novel in the original trilogy are nerve wracking, immersive, and logical. The conclusion is satisfying and unpredicted. It was a good ending after setting the reader up for what was going to be a very satisfying finish. Nice twist that plays into everything that has come before and works very well within the story. The trilogy that makes up the Seventh Sword is well worth the read, or listen, whatever the case may be. I’m glad to have had the experience of these books. But wait, there’s more.

4

Book four of the Seventh Sword series, The Death of Nnanji by Dave Duncan. Narrated by Victor Bevine. 9 hrs and 46 mins. 11-01-2012

Biggest gripe here is that they’ve changed the narrator. I don’t like the change, Victor Bevine pronounces all the names differently and that’s quite jarring. Also, I don’t think he does as good a job as Donald Corren did on the previous three titles. Personal preference, I know.

I don’t know why the author chose to revisit the world of the Seventh Sword. The ending of the trilogy did not leave loose ends or unanswered questions. You know, beyond those of every series ever, such as, and then what happened. But the point isn’t to describe the entire future and history of everything. The point is to tell a good story with a solid ending. The original trilogy did that. There is a decided change in Dave Duncan’s writing from the original trilogy. This is to be expected, what with it being a quarter of a century removed from those books and I’m sure his writing, his process, and his outlook have all changed and evolved over those years. Still, it’s noticeable. You’ve been warned.

This is a passing the torch novel. We jump 15 years into the future and whatever happened between then and now, well, we don’t dwell too much on that. Basically, we get the big overview of those years and then jump directly into the new adventure.

An unruly group of sorcerers has decided to destroy the Tryst of Casr, assassinate it’s leaders, and put themselves back in charge. You know the drill, how it should have always been–from a certain point of view. Case in point, from the view of the sorcerers.

Wallie Smith has to once again take up the seventh sword of Chioxin in defense of the world of the Goddess. This time he rides out to fight the war that he hoped would never come. As he leads his army forth, its two most junior members are Wallies son, Vixini, and the eldest son of his bond brother Nnanji, Addis, who has an oath of vengeance to fulfill. Older, wiser, slower, he knows that their failure or success will determine the fate of the World for the next thousand years.

The kids get a lot of screen time. Really, this is their story. Like I said, we’re passing the torch here. It ties back to the original trilogy nicely and we get to revisit a lot of characters, see how things have changed, and what has stayed the same.

This book probably doesn’t stand on it’s own as well as some, but it does do a nice job of bringing us back to the world to see how things have progressed. It gives us a satisfying story and a wrap up to the whole thing. Oh, and Nnanji dies. C’mon. That’s not a spoiler. It’s the title of the damn book.

As a series I’d give it a rating of four out of five stars. Individually, the first book is great. The rest of them are interesting and well done, but I would probably struggle to determine if they were high 3’s or low 4’s, as far as stars go. I liked it. I would recommend it to someone who asked about the series, but I don’t know if I’d think to recommend the series to someone who just asked what to read/listen to next. Unfortunately, these will most likely just become a thing I listened to rather than a formative experience. Having said that, the story of Dave Duncan, that is an inspiring story for a middle-aged, wanna-be author.

I had low expectations for each of these films, but I watched them anyway. The quick summary of my opinions on these films would be something like this. I was both annoyed with and bored by just about everything in Robin Hood. Mortal Engines big failing was weak characters and incomplete and character development and motivation. And lastly, Dudes & Dragon, was bad in all the expected ways, but still better than I thought it would be. Now, let’s look at each in more depth.


Robin Hood, 2018

My hands-down, no-holds-barred favorite character of all time is Robin Hood. Which is why I am always apprehensive when a new Robin Hood movie comes out. That apprehension is warranted as I am inevitably disappointed. This movie is no exception. It’s not good. It’s a weird mix of Hunger Games, Assassin’s Creed, and Kevin Costner’s 1991 Robin Hood, and makes no apologize about not concealing those roots. Machine gun crossbows, some sort of future-apocalypse-medieval time period, and lots of current day, thinly veiled politics all make this movie a fucking mess.

I could go off on quite a long tangent about all the stuff I didn’t like about this movie, but let’s suffice to say that I have many complaints. I spent most of the movie playing games on my phone and only half watching. And yet I was still annoyed.

If I were to write an open letter to the film industry it might read something like this: Dear Hollywood, please stop making Robin Hood movies. You obviously don’t get it.

Robin of Loxley, is a lord living in Nottingham with Marian until he gets drafted into the army. While he’s gone the Sheriff confiscates and then apparently trashes his castle, Marian becomes some sort of mine worker/rebellion leader, and an enormous mine/city grows up across the river. You know what, forget it. I’m not summarizing this. It touches many of the points of the legend, but ignores the point of most-all of them. I didn’t like it. Two stars.

didn’t enjoy it

Mortal Engines, 2018

Mortal Engines is a mixed bag. It was not a great movie, but I did enjoy watching it more than I expected to. This may have been partially because I didn’t know what I was getting into. This is, to my mind, leaning very heavily on the Hunger Games/YA tropes; some of which work and others don’t.

As silly as the mobile, predator cities idea is, I was able to accept it as part of the world building. The 60-second war is a cool idea. The effects were excellent. The sets were first rate. This movie was definitely made to be a blockbuster and the beginning of a series. That didn’t happen and I fear it’s not getting another chance… it lost a lot of money.

Some of the heavy effects/chase scenes could have been cut to make room for scenes that would have cleared up character motivation, character relationships, and story development. This would have made for a better more cohesive movie. I did not realize until watching the “making of” feature that our main character was actively hunting/seeking London. That wasn’t made clear. That’s how the movie starts. That’s a problem. The main character was pretty stereotypical of the YA/supernatural genres. She’s not particularly likeable, but everyone likes her. The declaration of love comes mostly out of the blue, but is completely predictable. Maybe, and I’m hypothesizing here, maybe, these issues were going to get straightened out/developed in future movies. Unfortunately, those wont be happening. I would have watched them. I liked it. 3 stars.

liked it

Dudes & Dragons, 2015

I fully imagine that no one has ever gone looking to watch Dudes & Dragons. This is a movie that is following in the steps of Your Highness, but has a fraction of the budget and lacks the star power. It’s a comedy/heroic fantasy with terrible special effects.

I put this on while I was working on some other stuff, but I confess, there were multiple occasions where I stopped what I was doing to watch. I must confess to being both entertained and amused at various points in the movie. I’m not going to recommend this. I wouldn’t do that to you. But it’s not as bad as you’re probably thinking it would be. It’s got a couple name actors in there. Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is your big bad. Dylan from Beverly Hills, 90210 has a role. The ladies are attractive. The funny bits are funny. Really, it’s all about accepting that this is a bad movie and enjoying that aspect of it.beast. I’m giving it 3 stars.

liked it

Google sent me a coupon to watch a movie for $1.99. So this weekend I watched Captain Marvel, a movie that I hadn’t seen yet and a movie that seemed to stir up quite a bit of internet fuss when it came out a couple months back.

Captain Marvel (2019)

To my mind, the two biggest problems for Captain Marvel are it’s inevitable comparison to Wonder Woman and the fact that Carol Danvers is not particularly likeable. The first issue is directly related to the second issue there. From what I’ve seen online this is a problem in the comic books as well, the Carol likeability thing. She actually shows more personality at the beginning of the movie than she does at the end. But even at the beginning she’s not really likeable. I mean, I never wanted to hang out with her.

This is not a Brie Larson thing. I’ve enjoyed Brie in the few other things I’ve seen her in–Kong: Skull Island and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. No, this seems to be a character problem. If you’re going to make this super powerful woman the new Marvel headliner, you need to make her a bit more relatable and easier to root for, i.e. Ironman or Captain America. Wonder Woman was relatable, shit, even Black Widow is relatable, Scarlet Witch not so much. Captain Marvel is too much Scarlet Witch and not enough Wonder Woman.

I enjoyed pretty much everything else in this movie. The de-aging effects on Nick Fury and Phil Coulson were very good, the twist done with the skrulls and the kree, the cat, the original Mar-Vell, and even the origin of the eye-patch were fun and entertaining to me. Watching Captain Marvel do her thing was well done and very cool, the fights were good, and there were only a couple CGI scenes that stood out negatively to my eye. But damn it, I just don’t like Carol Danvers enough to get invested in her as a character.

I’ll give this movie four out of five stars because it’s better than three stars and I don’t give half stars. Besides, had they just made Carol more personable, or at least more interesting, it would have been a solid four star movie.

P.S. I waited around after the credits for that. Really.

This next one may surprise a few of you. I forgot to include it when I did my last round-up of recently watched movies. Let’s take a look at Gods of Egypt

Gods of Egypt (2016)

The previews for this movie looked pretty sweet, but damn if it didn’t get slammed by critics and audiences alike. What’s the deal? Hey, it’s on the Roku channel and it’s one of their front page banner movies. They seem pumped about hosting it, let’s give it a try and find out what the deal is.

IMDB says that this has a 5.4/10 score, 25% from Metacritic, and Rotten Tomatoes shows a 15% positive critic score and a 37% audience score. Yeah, I can see where the critics would hate this movie. It’s that kind of movie. But even the audience score seems low to me. I mean come on, Metacritic gave 40% to Jupiter Ascending and that’s one of worst movies I’ve seen. This was not a great movie, but it wasn’t terrible. I watched it and was suitably entertained.

Sure, it was cheesy as all get out in places, the special effects ranged from good to not good, and the story was weak. But having said all that, let me tell you what I did like and what I didn’t. They had these worm/dragon things that were pretty poorly done, but I had not seen anything like them before and they were kinda cool, you know, if you could get past the shoddy CGI. The gods being taller than the mortals was pretty cool and done pretty well. The gold winged form of Horus was cool as were the wings of Isis. And there were a bunch of name actors in here that I was not expecting to see. Oh, and the music was pretty good.

And the bad. Acting wasn’t great. The dialogue was weak. Weirdly, no one in this thing looks egyptian; it’s a bunch of white folk. Well, except for Black Panther. Gerard Butler was in it and while he’s not unlikeable, his movies don’t do well. Just sayin. This movie steals all the cool stuff from about a score of other movies, which is not terribly original or done as well, but it is all the cool stuff. And lastly, I’m sure it didn’t live up to its 140 million dollar budget, but I watched it for free. And for free, it was not bad.

I’m not going to run out and buy this thing on blu ray, but neither do I regret having spent 127 minutes watching it at home on a Saturday afternoon. It’s not particularly memorable, but I’ve seen way worse. I’d give it three stars out of five and consider it an average action/fantasy movie. I enjoyed watching it.

I liked it

It’s time for another round of movie reviews. I remind you that I, mostly, don’t enjoy watching movies or television. There are just things I’d rather be doing. With that prejudice explicitly stated, let’s move forward and talk about some movies. I watched all three of these on my couch, as I rarely make it to the cinema anymore, so I missed out on the giant screen, the too cramped seating, and the overly loud sound. I guess I’ve missed out on the whole movie going experience and I’m sure that will color my opinion, but it will probably be offset by not having had to pay the high ticket price to get in.
I’m going to talk about three movies today. If I were to take the time to go through all the things I’ve seen since I last wrote a review post, this would be considerably longer. Let me simply say that, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is getting better the further we get from season 1, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 wasn’t nearly as good (or fun) as the first one, Star Wars: Rogue One wasn’t great, I enjoyed Wonder Woman, and Moana was not bad for an animated movie, but I’m not really into that sort of thing. Like I said, not really a fan of watching the screens…
Let’s get to the meat of this post.


Suicide Squad

2016 | PG-13 | 2 hr 5 m | They are the baddest of the bad–a band of supervillains assembled by a top-secret government agency. Led by Deadshot and Joker’s maniac lover Harley Quinn, this misfit and rather deranged ‘suicide squad’ is tasked with a do-or-die mission against a super-human enemy in this blockbuster comic mashup. Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman and Viola Davis star.

Oh cool, a Will Smith movie. I like Will Smith. Oh wait, this movie is a mess. First, let me state explicitly, for the record, and to expose my personal prejudices; I don’t like stories about villains, bad guys, or even most dark heroes. These are not the stories I want. Did I mention the Joker is crap in this? This is a movie about a group of convicted super villains, who are actually the most relatable group in this movie. And they are not relatable, they suck. There is also some government folks and some military folks and some other villains doing some stuff. Oh look, Harley Quinn’s ass in skin tight hot pants… not enough to save this movie. There are too many characters and we know nothing about them, we don’t learn anything about them, and we don’t care about them. Will smith plays himself with a beard, that sounds like a criticism, but that’s actually a good thing. People like Will Smith. There’s a couple different romance plot lines, but who cares and they’re mostly ignorable. Oh look, Ben Affleck’s Batman. How much did he get paid to show up and do nothing; but we can say he was there. Who cares? Lame! So despite all this, and this movie is a mess, I did make it through this one. DC has no idea how to do this whole movie universe thing. Their movies are not great. But there was enough in this movie for me to not say I didn’t like it. But it’s damn close. I’m giving it three stars out of five and I think it probably doesn’t deserve all those.

Doctor Strange

2016 | PG-13 | 1 hr 55 m | After a neurosurgeon loses the use of his hands he meets a mystical mentor who helps him harness magic to become the most powerful sorcerer on Earth.

Oh look, Marvel has taken us into the mystical side of their little superhero/space/comic book universe. Is that a big deal? I guess it is. All the reviews seem to think it is anyway. I’m sure that Doctor Strange is going to get a trilogy of movies (minimum), and maybe you’re excited by that. Maybe you’re a big fan of Doctor Strange. Personally, I think he came off as a less likeable, less charismatic Tony Stark, and I don’t know that he’s a character that I really care about. He has a cape that I enjoyed watching. I actually liked the cape more than any of the characters in the movie. Don’t miss understand me, I didn’t hate this movie or even dislike it. It was okay. Pretty typical fare for a Marvel movie. The origin story was a bit weak. The good doctor seemed to get his new skill set pretty easily, without much effort, or any real trials. I guess he’s just a natural. The villain was lame. I think I saw all this bending CGI in that movie where the guy from Titanic is obsessed with his spinner-thing… overdone. Oh, and why exactly is all that folding going on? Is that how magic works? Weird. I’m glad I’ve seen it. I mean, it makes me feel like I’m up to date on the whole Marvel Universe thing, but this ranks right up there with the Thor movies for me on the who cares spectrum. And having just watched Suicide Squad, this seems like a masterpiece of modern film making. Probably, it’s rating is benefitting from that comparison. Three stars out of five, I liked it, but I probably will never watch it again and will pretty quickly forget that it was a thing.

Kong: Skull Island

2017 | PG-13 | 2 hr | In a world where monsters exist, Kong is King! The second installment in the ‘MonsterVerse’ series of films that began with 2014’s ‘Godzilla,’ this kaiju-inspired epic is a rollicking adventure that follows an expedition to the mythical Skull Island–a place crawling with prehistoric dangers, led by the giant ape himself, King Kong.

MonsterVerse? Second installment? WTH? Okay. I get it. Everybody has to do a universe now. I think I shut off that Godzilla movie. That was the one with “Breaking Bad” in it, right? This is better. I don’t think I ever saw the “School of Rock” King Kong from 10-years back. Was that good? Kong is very large. Probably because  they’re setting up for Kong vs Godzilla, or some crap. Research tells me that Kong has ranged from 25-150 feet tall through something like a dozen movies. He’s closer to the top of the range in this one. He’s enormous. The cast is too big; why does Hollywood keep doing this. But it mostly worked for me. The island is suitably weird and full of weird creatures. But I’ve got to say that I absolutely hated the bone-headed, two-legged lizard-things. I thought they were dumb. There was enough talk about a “hollow earth” that I figure they’re setting up for another Journey to the Center of the Earth movie. There were some things, more than a few, but they’re pretty easy to overlook given that this is a movie about a 100-foot tall ape living on an island surrounded by a hurricane. I liked it. I’ll give this one four stars, but I imagine most people would give it three. I enjoyed it more than either of the other movies in this post. Oh… at the end, after the credits, yeah, there’s a Godzilla teaser.
Everybody wants a universe linking their films. I’ve spent time in three of those universes lately and it ain’t all great. Marvel has become a little predictable. DC has no clue what they’re doing. The idea of a MonsterVerse sounds cool, but it won’t be. There you have it, three movies rated. I know what my opinion is worth, but hopefully it was an entertaining read.
Later.

Let’s take a look at some of the movies I’ve watched over the last couple weeks. I don’t watch a lot of movies and I don’t have strong feelings for those that I do see. I’m not a movie guy. There are things I would rather be doing than watching a movie. Two of the three opinions expressed here are likely to be controversial. All I can say about that is, I warned you.

So to recap, we’re using the old Netflix star scale here, one to five stars with no half stars available: Hated, Didn’t Like, Liked, Really Liked, Loved. Now that were all on the same page, here are my thoughts on three movies I have seen recently.



CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

Basking in a $408-million box office, critical praise, and gallons upon gallons of fan boy saliva, Captain America: Civil War showed up on my screen with the bar set very high. The cast was large enough to be an Avengers movie. There were whole tangents to introduce characters new and re-enshrined. Marvel wants to show off Black Panther, because he’s getting his own movie. Marvel wants you to know that they’ve got the rights to do a Spiderman movie, and they’ll be doing it right. Marvel wants you to know that Hulk and Thor are not in this movie, repeatedly. Oh yeah, Antman shows up and grows really tall. It’s a Captain America movie, I expect to see Falcon, Black Widow, and Bucky/Winter Soldier, but everybody shows up here, because it’s a civil war among the heroes. There’s twelve super heroes in this thing, a few government agents who would seem to be important, the villain, a love interest, political intrigue, political conflict, internal strife, talk about characters who are not in the movie, lots of inconsequential blame thrown around, five new super soldiers, and a whole movies worth of story at the beginning that is pretty much ignored.

So what about all this talk of serious plot and thought-provoking theme? I guess it’s in there, somewhere. I mean they present big ideas, gloss over them, and then get back to the fighting… mostly for no reason. It’s way better than the reasons for the fight in Batman vs Superman, but it still felt like a lot of action scenes and not a lot of substance to me. You cannot have the kind of movie they want to say they have and put this much stuff into it. Much like the Avengers movies, there are too many characters and too much going on. Stuff falls through the cracks. Sure the comic fans can fill in all those gaps with their preexisting knowledge of the Marvel Universe, but the regular folk seeing the movie have got to feel let down by the story presented on screen.

I didn’t hate this movie, but I was disappointed in it. I liked it. It was a good Avengers movie, probably the best Avengers movie. But I wanted more Captain America in my Captain America movie. For my money Captain America: The First Avenger (the 1st CA movie) was the best, it was the one that gave me what I wanted. This was good, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe is getting very big and I’m not sure how long it will remain cohesive. And while I feel like I’m betraying myself here, I may be getting burned out on superhero movies.



DARK PLACES

Lady Ronn had listened to the audio book for this one and wanted to give it a watch. I knew nothing about it that wasn’t revealed in the description blurb on Amazon Prime. But it was pretty good, in a not-the-kind-of-movie-I-usually-look-for kind of way. As with all of these movies based on books, they left a

lot out. The wife filled me in on all the missing bits, as she is wont to do. But even without her exposition there were a lot of things that I saw and thought to myself, I bet they went a lot further into that in the book. But such is the nature of the translation from page to screen. I am told that they touched on a little bit of everything

from the book, left not much out, and changes were not overly distressing. Personally, I found the resolution to the mystery to be a little far out and slightly annoying, but not a deal breaker. I don’t watch this kind of thing to solve a mystery; I just want to be entertained. I was. Would I watch it again, probably not. Was I left asking why all the female protagonists in stories lately are unlikable, yes. I guess its a genre thing.

GHOSTBUSTERS

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard terrible things about this movie. I know I have. The reviews were bad, it was in and out of theaters quickly, and the fan base had fits over what had been done to their beloved franchise. Did these people not see Ghostbusters II (1989)? Sure the first Ghostbusters movie was good, but that sequel was less than stellar. This movie is not a sequel; it’s a reboot, a new take on the idea, an homage.

I watched this with the wife on New Year’s Eve, after 45-minutes of looking for something to watch. And I do not know what was in the extended edition that was not in the theatrical release.

This was a funny movie. I laughed. I was amused. It made me smile. I really liked three of the four lady ghost busters and was not terribly annoyed by the fourth. Pretty-boy secretary was funny. The villain was a creep; as he should be. There were cameos by many of the original cast members, in funny bits. It was a fun movie. I think this was hurt more by the existing fan base than by any flaws in the film. I’d be up for a sequel, if for no other reason than to see if it would be done better than the original sequel. If you heard the reviews and avoided this movie, I would recommend you give this one a shot. I really liked it.