Micro Reviews




January 2017

Jackie (Theatrical Film) - Great performance by Portman and Hurt. The scene with the children is heart wrenching.

Iam Providence by Nick Mamatas - A murder at a Lovecraft convention and one of the point of view characters is the dead victim. Interesting points made about Lovecraft and fandoms of all kinds.

A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix TV Series) - A new telling of the books. In this series of 8 episodes, four books are adpated and very well. There is tension since the children are serious peril. Good use of Patrick Warburtion as Lemony Snickett. Great dialogue.

One Piece: Gold (Anime Theatrical Film) - A fun romp with Luffy and the gang. Animation looked great.

Hidden Figures (Theatrical Film) - The untold story of the African American women who were key to the space program. Great gags around the new computer they got. The charcters felt real.

Singin' in the Rain (Theatrical Film) - Donald O'Connor stole the film with his snark comments. Beautiful musical numbers. A great excuse for all to sing and dance.

Infomacracy by Malka Older - The world is divided into centenals, sections with 100K of people. The people in the centenals can elect their own government. The group with the most governments wins the Supermajority. A world election is coming up. We follow the lives of three people and how the process effects them and the world. Great use of scope since the characters go all over the world. An interesting look on a new way of doing things.

Babylon's Ashes by James S.A. Corey - Earth is recovering from an attack. Can Holden and his team stop the Free Navy? Can Holden convince everyone that the war is pointless? What side will Naomi's son, Fillip, take? Great action and character development.

Lion (Theatrical Film) - This fim reminds that family is what we make it and we need to know where we came from.

I attended the Winter Fringe.

February 2017

13th (Theatrical Film) - A history of how the criminal clause in the 13th amendment has been abused. There are harsh realities we have to face about ourselves with this.

Skinwalker by Faith Hunter (Reader's Group Choice) - Jane Yellowrock hunts rogue vampires while dealing being a shapeshifter. Great action and an interesting world.

United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas - In an alternate world where the Axis won the World War II. It is set in the US West Coast. In the 1980s, a video game that has the Allies winning the war is gaining popularity in the Western states. We follow a Japanese officer and an intelligence agent trying to uncover a conspiracy that is connected to the game. The Japanese use mecha in part of their arsenal. An interesting story told from the point of view of the oppresing powers. A worthy thematic sequel to The Man in the High Castle.

Victoria (TV Series) - Upstairs, Downstairs set in the Queen Victoria's court. Jenna Coleman is gives a queen and a person. Great seeing veterans from Doctor Who and its spinoffs.

It Happened One Night (Theatrical Feature) - A fun romance. Great use of camera for that time. Great seeing a real aito-gyro.

Legion (TV Series) - One of the trippyest Marvel mutant stories told. Innovative camera shots give this weird feel.

The Siren by Kiera Cass - Khalen is recused by the ocean from a sinking ship. In exchange she must become a siren for a time. She falls in love and must deal with consequences. It is a story about friends and love. A great take on a classic legend.

Lego Batman (Theatrical Film) - A fun look at the great hero. This was a work of love.

I am Not Your Negro (Theatrical Film) - Painfully beautiful. The harsh realities of race in this country is conveyed with the beautiful prose by James Baldwin both in his own voice and Samuel Jackson.

The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture by Glen Weldon - Weldon tells the story of the Dark Knight and his impact on culture. He takes one to the highs and lows and is able to break the tension with a joke.

Read novelettes and short stories from Locus' 2016 Recommended Reading List.

March 2017

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (Nebula and Hugo Finalist) - An officer has to redeem herself in a war. She does by working with the personality of a brillant and eccentric military leader. There is a lot of cool stuff in this one. It is a complicated universerse to get into. There is a good payoff if you stick with it.

The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson (Hugo and Nebula Finalist) - A woman takes a surreal trip in world inspired by Lovecraft. Great imagery in this one.

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavelle (Hugo and Nebula Finalist) - An African-American man in the 1920s gets involved with a group trying to bring back and old one. There is some relevant social commentary in this one. Tom has to make a decision and face the consequences..

Superman: The Unauthorized Biography by Glen Weldon - A look at the Man of Steel's 75 year career. What a ride.

Logan (Theatrical Film) - The final Wolvverine story in Marvel Mutant films. He goes like a hero should go out. Great performances by Stewart and Jackman.

Everfaire by Nisi Shawl (Nebula Finalist) - An alternate world, were the was a sanctuary in Africa from the insanity being committed in the Congo. There is action as people work to make this place Everfaire work.

Get Out (Theatrical Film) - A great SF film that some people do not realizr is SF. There is a good twist and very relevant.

Ghost in the Shell (Theatrical Film) - Some scenes are a shot for shot remake of the original film. They do odd things beside the casting. Why does Aramaki speak Japanese and venyone talks to him in English? There is not enough Togusa. The should have had a better script.

Powerless (TV Series) - A great idea. Looking at the regular people in the DC Universe. I wish it had lasted.

April 2017

Rampage by John Sandford and Michele Cook - The third book in a series of a brother and sister fighting a megacorporation, Singular Corp. It was easy to get into. The writers explained what needed to be explained and got on with the plot. There is a lot of action, but also some intersting characters in the mix.

Your Name (Theatrical Anime Feature) - Two teens, a boy and a girl switch bodies. The films starts as a comedy but the stakes are risen midway through the film. Can Taki save Mitshua and her town in time. Is it even possible give the circumstances. This needed to be on the Oscar list. The studios concern made a push. shame on the Academy.

Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley - Organic starships crewed by women humanoids. One women soldier is resurrected for a job. Will she be caught in the same circumstance that got her killed. The ships are interesting. They grow what the crew needs. There is a lot of action and an interesting society. I would not mind seeing a sequel.

Luna: Wolf Moon by Ian MacDonald - Corto Heilo, one of the biggest families on the Moon has fallen. This redraws the social and financial landscape of the Moon. While the other families solidify their postions, members of the Corto Helio make plans/

Colossal (Theatrical Film) - An interesting story about relationships using kaiju. Anne Hathaway is great as the lead in this story. The monster and the robot look great. There is a clever resolution to the problem.

Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape (Theatrical Film) - We meet the creator of the cassette tape and the impact it had on the world. Wow. The tape really changed things and is still around.

My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea (Theatrical Animated Film) - Some great social commentary among the laughs of this high school comedy.

Albion: The Enchanted Stallion (Theatrical Film) - A young girl is taken to a fantasy world by a special horse. There she needs to restore the balance of the world or else people will die. A well put together independent family fantasy film. Great performances from Jennifer Morrison and John Cleese. Castille did a great job as a new director.

Faster, Pussy-Cat! Kill! Kill! (Theatrical Film) - The Russ Meyer classic. A fun film with great action and good performnces.

Black Panther-A Nation Under Our Feet (Graphic Novel - Trade Collection, Hugo Finalist) - T'Challa fights to hold Wakanda together after terrorist attacks try to destablize the country. Can he figure it our before it is too late? Great art and a strong story.

Fued: Bette and Joan (TV Series) - A well told but sad story of old Hollywood. Great performances from Sarandon and Lange.

Fatal Findings (Theatrical Film) - A guy has found out the big conspiracy and it costs him. This is a strange film. On the level of The Room.

May 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy (Theatrical Film) - This a film about familes both the ones we are born with and the ones we make. Both can be good. I like the Watchers made an apperance.

Night Watch (Theatrical Film) - A Russian urban fantasy. A guy gets mixed up with the paranormal side of Moscow. Anton becomes involved with light and dark forces. There are some interesting bits in this. I need to see the sequel.

Watched about 23 Fringe Shows

June 2017

Wonder Woman (Theatrical Film) - Finally we get the story of Wonder Woman on the big screen. I did not like the elements of the New52 that was in it but the rest was great.

Love Witch (Theatrical Film) - Elaine is looking for love and she will do scary things to get it. Scary and funny in many ways. They did a good job recreating a 70s look.

Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer (Hugo Finalist) - In the far future, human society has reorganized to new social units. Religion is studied by experts only. We follow a questionable narrator with a secret. A group has found a boy that can change the world. Can they protect him while the figure out what to do. The narrator chooses to write this in a style from centuries past. It is part of the duology. I will read the second part.

A Close and Common Orbit by Beck Chambers (Hugo Finalist) - A sequel to The Long Wayto a Small, Angry Planet. You do not read the first book. This tells two stories. One is about the AI of spaceship in a human like body trying to blend in with her friends on colony planet. The other is about a clone who is working for a factory under deplorable conditions. She escapes and finds refuge in a abandon spaceship. The ship's AI helps her to survive. In return she tries to rebuild the ship for flight. The two stories eventually converge. It is a great story about family.

The Vision Volume 1: A Little Worse Than a Man (Graphic Novel - Trade, Hugo Finalist) - The Vision has a family of fellow synthazoids in suburbs. Interesting but I want to do another re-read.

Monstress: Volume 1 Awakening (Graphic Novel - Trade, Hugo Finalist) - A woman becomes part of a struggle for power in a magical world. Sana Takeda's art is beautiful. Very complicated.

Paper Girls Volume 1 - Four teenage girls delivering papers on the morning of November 1, 1988 discover odd people with futuristic weapons in their town. What is happening? Are they in danger? Where are these people coming from? I want to know more.

Paper Girls Volume 2 - The stories continue where our heroines take a trip to the future (our present or recent past). Interesting to see how they react to the current world. I need to read more.

American Gods (TV Series) - A great realization of the classic novel. There are some great additions, It looks like this production team put a lot of work into the series and have a plan.

Little WItch Academia (Anime TV Series) - A young girl inspired by a witch decides to go to witch school. She has a rough start but discovers her abilities. They only brought the first half of the show. I want the other half.

It Comes at Night (Theatrical Film) - An interesting post-apocalypse film. There is some good character development. I like the kept the natiure of the crisis vague. Some great suspense in this.

Stalker (Theatrical Film) - A group of Russians in the Soviet era to a mysterious zone where they can find what they are looking for. Great camera work. It is slowly paced but interesting. A classic.

July 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming (Theatrical Film) - A great take on Spider-Man. Good use of the 1960s cartoon theme. Welcome Spider-Man to the main MCU.

War for the Planet of the Apes (Theatrical Film) - A great end to a story arc. I wonder how they will do a remake of the 1968 film.

Dunkirk (Theatrical Film) - They create the tension of the moment. Thousands of men desparetly trying to get home and thoase are helping them. It is not a victory but an avoidance of a catastrophe.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Theatrical Film) - Great visuals, stiff leads. Couldn't Beeson find pretty people who could act? They opening credits were wonderful.

After Hours (Theatrical Film) - One guy has a carzy night. Interesting. Does the main character learn anything from his journey.

Rick and Morty (TV Series) - A show that uses great SF tropes. The plot and the characters seem to be going somewhere.

Atomic Blonde (Theatrical Film) - Specatacular. The music. The action. The lighting.

August 2017

Ghost Story (Theatrical Film) - A man dies, his ghost wanders, and we follow him. A quiet film but very engaging.

Blood of Angels by Johanna Sinisalo - The bees are disappearing. What is the cause? A Finnish man tries to solve the problem while dealing with animal activist son. Great story with bits that argue for the anima rights cause.

The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinsalo - There is alternate future where the welfare state in Finland has gone wild particularly in the area of public health. Former vices are illegal to the point that exotic, spicy foods are criminal. Ayoung women addicted to illegal chilli peppers must navigate this world. There is action and tension with the possibilty she may caught. Intriguing.

The Devil's Game by Poul Anderson - A rich man takes a group of people who will compete for a fortune. It reminds me of reality shows years before they existed. Interesting.

Marvel's The Defenders (TV Series) - This group works. I like the first scene with Matt Murdock is him winning a case. This fixes the problems with Iron Fist. I hope they cross over with other parts of the MCU like SHIELD or the Inhumans.

Dawson City: Frozen Time (Theatrical Film) - A Canadian city was the last stop for a film circuit in the early part of the 20th century. These films were stored and then lost for years. We find out the story of these films and the town.

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin - Essun has more power but can she save the world. Nassun has learned amore and might destroy the world. Can they find each other and find a mutual solution. A great conclusion to great series.

September 2017

The Inhumans (TV Series) - Maximus overthrows his brother as leader of the Inhumans. Most of the Royal Family escapes to Earth where they will figure out how to stop Maximus. This has potential. I hope it works.

The Apartment (Theatrical Film) - In 1959, a man tries to ascend the coporate ladder by loaning his apartment to his superiors to carry out their extra-marital affairs. Something happens and he has to make a choice. Doing the roght thing or doing what is best for his career. The cast was phenomenal.

Soul Summoning by Elicia Hyder -Sloan has an unusal ability to read people. She uses it to help a police detective solve a case of missing women. She discover a man with similar powers. They cannot read each other. This has soem great ideas and looks like a good urban fantasy series.

In This Corner of the World (Anime Feature) - A young woman lives most of her life ina town 15 miles from Hiroshima in the the late 30s and early 40s. She has to deal with a life during wartime. Well animated. This a character piece with our main character dealing with life during war. There are some sad and uplifting moments.

The King of Comedy (Theatrical Film) - Rupert Pupkin wants to make it big as a comic in show business. He does not want to do the work and goes to unusual lengths to be a star. There are great shots in this. DeNiro, Bernhart, and Jerry Lewis are great. There are layers in this since we are called to question what is real.

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson - A good chunk of Manhattan is underwater. We follow the paths of 2 programmers, a lawyer who is the head of building coop, a woman police inspector, a building super, a woman airship pilot. This discusses climate change and economics. What Robinson suggests is radical but plausible.

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer - Rachel is a scavenger in a post-apocalyptic world. She has to avoid an evil wizard and giant bear. She finds a shapeshifting creature she calls Borne. Borne is learning how live in the world. He may become a liabilty to Rachel's survival. A lot of stuff happening in this novel. Great description. Great ideas.

Empire Games by Chales Stross - We observe two paralell worlds. They are engaged in a low tension cold war with each other. One world is probing the other. The probing world recruits a young woman, who can crossover, to spy on the other world. This is part of one Stross series. I did not read the other books but I was able to get into this one. An interesting conflict.

Walkaway by Cory Doctorow - People walkaway with 3D printers and establish communities away from traditional society. The powerful donot like and try to stop it. Doctorow is questioning the traditional post-apocalypse story.

The Orville (TV Series) - This Seth McFarland's dream to make a show like Star Trek: The Next Generation. He has the style of the show with none of the problems TNG had.

The Vietnam War (TV Documentary) - Ken Burns and Lynn Novick look at a painful part of American history, teaches us what happened, and makes us better for it.

Star Trek: Discovery (TV Series) - This could be good but I wonder why this time and why this story. The answer I come up with is not satisfying but the main character Michael is interesting. Lets see.

October 2017

Being There (Theatrical Film) - A man who lived in a closd world with only TV as a guide is set to the wide world. Luckily he finds a sanctuary and changes the world in a positive way. Great perfromances from Sellers and MacLlaine.

House of Binding Thornes by Aliette de Bodard - More inrtigue in this ruined world with angels walking the streets of Paris. Madeline may find redemption and overcome her demons. Powerful.

Blade Runner 2049 (Theatrical Film) - A good sequel. Ask some big questions. Great cinematography. Good use of the older characters and great new characters. Will be on my Hugo nomination ballot.

Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi - An interstellar empire faster than light systems is endager of going away. A scientist and a monarch are trying to deal with the problem and face obstacles from within and without. Scalzi gives a new universe of complicated politics and social relationships.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Theatrical Film) - The classic silent thriller. Great use of surrealistic sets, animation, and color. Mesmerizing.

Mindhunter - An engaging look at the history of FBI Serial Crime Unit. Some parts are overtop but worth a watch.

Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, And We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate by Zoë Quinn - Zoe Quinn accomplishes the goal set in the title. An important read for the current age.

Where am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame by Mara Wilson - An insightful book about growing up in the light of fame and dealing with it. Wilson is a formidable essayist.

Talk to Her (Theatrical Film) - A man looks after comatose patients with funny and disturbing results. Another fascinatingly disturbing film from director Pedro Almodóvar.

The Florida Project (Theatrical Film) - The story of people living on the financial edge in central Florida is brought to the world. William Dafoe plays a hotel manager trying to help people and maintain a sense of order. We see how children deal with this world. Escape both real and imaginary is needed.

The Devils (Theatrical Film) - A true story of a priest who crosses the line of morality. He can be a cad yet he is the pillar of his town which is being under attack from the capital. Forces turn against him and chaos comes. Director Ken Russell creates the medieval world from scracth. The film is beautiful and disturbing.

November 2017

Thor: Ragnarok (Theatrical Film) - Thor has to save Asgard with limited resources but with some friends he pulls it off though in the way one would expect. It is a fun film and some nice depictions of Hela, the Ececutioner, and the Grandmaster.

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz - A drug pirate gets cheap drugs to the people who need them. The powers that be send people and a robot after her. We are taken a trip in this world through the eyes of the pirate and the robot. It is a great trip.

We are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor - A man dies but is recreated as an artifical intelligence. As an AI he pilots an interstellar ship and explores nearby stars while Earth dives into chaos. He relicates himself and sends other ships to other stars. He also faces the new forces from Earth. Great ideas about AI and a fun adventure.

Justice League (Theatrical Film) - Better than Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Suicide Squad. Not as good as Wonder Woman. It is a move in the right direction.

The Punisher (TV Series) - I was never into the character. This story was engaging.

December 2017

Wonderstruck (Theatrical Film) - In 1977, a boy tries to find his father in New York after his mother dies. Futhermore before he goes he losses his hearing. At the same time we see a deaf girl in 1927 look for her family in New York. Will these story merge. The 1927 story is told as a black and white silent film. Both are trying to find a connection the lack at home. I like what they find.

Coco (Theatrical Film) - A great story about a boy finding his place in the world while staying true to his family. Good use of tradition. We need to see stories from other places.

Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey - A new threat arrives and the crew of Rocinante is a fix. Can the fight back? How to fight back? I think we are seeing the final arc of the series and I am onboard.

The Last Jedi (Theatrical Film) - A different Star Wars film. An interesting Star Wars film. The story continues and I go with it.

The Darkest Hour (Theatrical Film) - We follow Churchill at the start of his was Prime Ministership. He faced hard decision that would affect his country and the world. An engaging look at history.

Downsizing (Theatrical Film) - It started out strong but the last act was not.

A Lit Fuse: The Provactive Life of Harlan Ellison by Nat Sagaloff - An indepth look at a very complicated person. One learns about Ellison and that is what is asked. Will be on my Hugo nominating ballot.

Batman vs. Two-Face (DVD Animated Film) - Two icons of the 60s give a great performances. Another fun romp in the world of Batman 66.

The Toys That Made Us (TV Documentary) - The Secret Origins of the great toylines. Great details and stories.

Murder on the Orient Express (Theatrical Film) - Some nice bits but with unnecessary bits. Good performances. Some unneeded additions. Worth seeing.

Molly's Game (Theatrical Film) - A woman looses her planned career and finds a lucrative in running a poker game. Writer and Director Aaron Sorkin gives a look in the life of a competent person who pushes themselves to their limits and how the powers that be unfairly pressure her to their aims.

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