Micro Reviews

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January 2011

The Cape (TV Series) - A beautiful mess. It is fun to see Keith David and Summer Glau. It seems odd NBC would try another superhero related show so soon after cancelling Heroes.

The Green Hornert (Theatrical Movie) - Reviewed in the February 2011 Event Horizon.

The King Speech (Theatrical Movie) - Albert, the Duke of York, does not want to be king but cannot avoid it. This is the story of man. A man who has to face his problems. Great performances from all.

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga - This is the story of a teenage boy who has an inproper relationship with his teacher. This shows the psychological ramifications of such a relationship. This is part of the same world that The Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl and Goth Girl Rising. It is a very complex tale. Lyga takes this material seriously.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Theatrical Movie) - I got to see this on the big screen. It needs to be seen on the big screen. Speilberg did a lot of wide shots which did not look good on my old family set. The plot has more ambiguity that I can tolerate. Why did the aliens abduct those people? That question always bothered me. It is never answered.

Young Justice - A nice new take on the DC Universe. I may not agree with the chose of characters but it works.

Kraken: An Anatomy China Miéville - Reviewed in the February 2011 Event Horizon.

February 2011

No Strings Attached (Theatrical Film) - This was cute. Portman was great as always. I wish they would have explained why her character Emma had intimacy issues. What annoyed me was how Lucy was written. She is set up as a nice person and they have her do something nasty at the end after the credits.

Carousel Tides by Sharon Lee (Readers Group Choice) - Kate Archer comes to small town in Maine to take over the carousel her grandmother runs. Her grandmother has disappeared. This town in Maine is place full of mystic creatures. Kate has to take care of the mundane while preventing the paranormal to over take the town. This was good. It explored a mythology which I do not see very often.

All Star Superman (comic series) - One of the greatest Superman stories ever. Grant Morrison (writer) has great fun playing with the Superman mythos and lets us come for the ride. The art by Frank Quitely is perfect.

Solomon Grundy (comic series) - Reviewed in the March 2011 Event Horizon

Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear - Reviewed in the March 2011 Event Horizon.

The Illusionist (Theatrical Film) - This was incredible. This animated film told a complete story with little dialogue. Its about a man coming to the end of his career and helping out a young girl get a better life. The art was great.

Black Swan (Theatrical Film) - It was clever how they explained the ballet's plot in the film. It is avery disturbing film. Nina (Natile Portman) is good person in what appears to be cruel industry and is damaged by it.

All Star Superman (Direct to DVD film) - Reviewed in the March 2011 Event Horizon.

March 2011

Black Jack – Reviewed in the April 2011 Event Horizon.

The Adjustment Bureau (Theatrical Film)  -  Reviewed in the April 2011 Event Horizon.

Sandman Slim (Readers’ Group Choice) – Stark has escaped from Hell and seeks those who put him there and murdered his girlfriend.  It is an American version for John Constantine.  It is a quirky urban fantasy set in Los Angeles.  Promising series.

The Dervish House - Reviewed in the April 2011 Event Horizon.

Among Others - Reviewed in the May 2011 Event Horizon.

Beastly (Theatrical Film) – A superficial teen gets his looks taken away.  He has find someone to him find attractive despite this.  A interesting take on the classic story.

Source Code -  Reviewed  in the May 2011 Event Horizon.

 

April 2011

Sleeping Helena by Erzebet Yellowboy - A new take on Sleeping Beauty. A girl is raised by her grand-aunts and is perceived to to be cursed by on of the aunts. The curse will not go into effect until the girl is 16. How will Helena deal with the curse? Dark in some places but some good ideas.

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett (Readers' Group Choice) - This is a world were demons attack individuals. Arlen loses his mother to a demon. He runs away from home to learn how to fight demons. Leesha is a healer in home town. She is forced to move when her ex-boyfriend attacks her reputation. Arrick is a travelling entertainer. He deals with guilt of saving himself from a demon at expense of friend's life. All these stories come together. The plot moves and the three characters are interesting. May check out the sequel.

Mutant Girl Squad (Theatrical Film) - An over the top campy superhero film. There is lots of gore and laughs. It was OK.

The People Vs. George Lucas (Theatrical Film)- A serious documentary of art and its relation to its creator and to its fans. What does Lucas owe his fans? Does he have a right to do what he does? Do the fnas have a right to hate the changes made to the original films? There are no easy answers to this complicated questions.

Super (Theatrical Film) - This is a very disturbing film. A man's wife runs of with her former drug dealer. He gets a vision to become a super-hero. He has no powers. He attacks criminals with a wrench. A young woman working in comic store becomes his sidekick. Is he right in doing this? Is he sane? I am never sure if the character should be revered, pitied or condemned.

Rocket Science by Jay Lake - Vernon Dunham's friend Frank Bellamy returns from World War II with a strange German artifact. It is a spaceship. Others are looking for the ship. Vernon has to figure out how the ship works before other get to it first. A very pulp plot told in a modern way.

Summer Wars (DVD) - Reviewed in the July Event Horizon.

Feed by Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) -Reviewed in the July Event Horizon.

May 2011

Thor (Theatrical Film) - A great adaptation of the classic Marvel character. Like the comic an interesting combination of the classic mythology and the modern.

Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire - Something is attacking Toby's friends. At the same time she is made a countess by someone who hates her. Can she figure out who is after before it is too late. Another interesting adventure in fairy world.

Little Fuzzy/The Other Human Race by H.Beam Piper- A new race is discovered on a new colony planet. Are they sentinent? How will this effect the colonists? Will the aliens be exploited? Piper looked at this with the social models at the time. It worked well but feels dated.

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi - Scalzi takes Piper plots and uses a more modern social model, a post-colonial one. A good take on the classic story.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Hugo Nominee) - Yeine Darr is brought to the city Sky to see her grandfather, the king. He says she is now one of his heris which puts her in competiton with her two cousins. Yeine gets to interact with the gods that live in Sky. She also gets to find out about why her mother left and about her death. This was an interesting fantasy. Yeine is a sympathetic protagonist. There are some interesting twists. I may checkout the rest of the trilogy.

Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (Hugo Nominee) - Miles Vorkosigian is on the planet Kibou-dani to investigate the White Chrysanthemum Cryonics Corporation. The corporation controls the planet. It freezes sick or dying people with the promise of revival. After Miles is attacked at a conference, he stumbles on a group of outcasts. These outcasts are on the bad side of White Chrysanthemum. Miles goes and investigates the workings of White Chrysanthemum. Bujold alternates the POV with Miles, Armsman Roic, and Jin, a local boy who helps Miles. This was an interesting mystery which Miles tackles with his usual zeal.

Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Hugo Nominee) - This takes place in the same universe as The Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog. Three historians from the future are sent to Britain during the Second World War. They are there to see the critical events of the war in Britain. The historians have problems going back to their present. The adjust and try to work out the problem of getting back. They have to deal with the fact they are stranded in the middle of the biggest war in history. Willis painstakenly recreates the period. One sees great heroism in the face of great terror.

June 2011

X-Men: First Class - An interesting story of how the X-Men first got togther. McAvoy and Fassbender do a great job as Xaiver and Magneto. Bacon is a great 60s villian. They seem to have gotten the period right.

Deadline by Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) - A scientist has faked her death and has come to Shaun Mason and his news group. Something big is going on and Shaun has to figure it out. He still has to deal with the loss of his sister Georgia. A good sequel but since it is book 2 of a trilogy there some plot threads ahanging which will be answered in the next book. Still worth the read.

Girl Genius: The Adventures of Agatha Hetrodyne (webcomic, Hugo Nominee)- I read the first 10 volumes since the last was up for a Hugo. The art is great. The story is fun. Agatha and her friends are fighting the good fight in an odd world.

Schlock Merecenary: Massively Paralell (webcomic,Hugo Nominee) - The humor is cranked up to 11. This is a good space opera parody. It was easy to get into without reading the previous installments.

Fables: Witches (comic series, Hugo Nominee) - Although there was a guide at the beginning, the story took awhile to get into but I did. The art is very good. You still feel like you are in the middle of something bigger. It does make one want to read the rest of the series.

The Unwritten, Volume 2: The Inside Man (comic series, Hugo Nominee) - Tommy Taylor is locked up in a Frech prison for a murder he did not committ. Can he survive prison before powerful forces get to him? The idea of fiction and its power is very intriguing. I like how social messaging is included in the book.

Grandville Mon Amour (comic series, Hugo Nominee) - This takes place in a world of anthrophormized animals. In this world Napoleon conquered Britian and occupied for serveral years. Here a British police inspector must capture a serial killer who escaped the guillotine. This killer may be connected with something the government wishes to keep secret. Really detailed art here and a good Victorian mystery.

Green Lantern (Theatrical Film) - This worked for me. I got what I expected from a Green Lantern film. I hope we do get a sequel dealing with Sinestro's fall.

After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn - Celia West is the daughter of the cities biggest superheroes. This made her a target for her parenst enemies. In her teens she join one of those enemies in a fit of rebellion. Now she is a forensic account helping convict her parents biggest foe. This should be the end of her troubles but it seems to the beginning of them. This world of superheroes is well planned. The big twist is how it became a world of superheroes. Celia is a complicated character. She made mistakes as a teen but know she shows she can be powerful in her own right.

 

July 2011

I am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Welles - John Wayne Cleaver is fascinated by serial killers. He knows this is a little odd. One day he sees an actual serial killer. He tries to inform the police but it turns out this serial killer is not human. John does not know what to do. He feels something inside himself which wants to be released. It is a bad thing. Can he control it? Is it the only thing to stop this inhuman killer? There is some great inner turmoil here. John does not want to be a cold blooded killer but is this aspect of him needed for the threat at hand? I want to check out the rest of series to see how John turns out.

Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia - Owen Pitt is working at the office late one night. He finds himself face to face with a monster. He is able to dispatch the creature. He gets recruited by Monster Hunter International (MHI). Their job is to stop monsters. Owen learns the ropes in the monster business. He needs to learn fast since something big is going down. I like that the federal monster hunters are shown as competent. Correia does a great job building this world and describing MHI. This looks like a good series.

Swalloning the Earth (Manga) by Tezuka Osamu - A mysterious woman named Zephyrus seems to bring men to their doom. The only thing in her way Gohonmatsu Seki, a hard drinking hero. This is ambitious story. According to the introduction the most ambitious to date for Tezuka. I think it works. The end is a satire since it destroys society in an interesting way.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman - reviewed in the August Event Horizon.

Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez (Readers' Group Choice) - A vampire and werewolf find themselves in a diner in the middle of nowhere. They get involved in a mystery with the owner of the diner. It is a very unglamourous portrayal of the parnormal. The characters are fun and the plot works.

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey - Ellie Spencer is a seventeen year old going to boarding school in New Zealand. She is helping a friend with fight choreography for a production of A Midsummers Night Dream. The actress playing Titania is showing a very unhealthy interest in best friend Kevin. At the same time a serial killer is on the lose. Ellie finds herself caught in the middle of a conflict with figures from Maori legends. Can she save herself and her friends? This was fun. It always good to see another cultures mythology. Ellie is very capable and is up to the challenge presented to her.

Captain America: The First Avenger (Theatrical Film) - I scratched my head over changes in regard to the Red Skull's allegiance but it works. I like how they developed Erskine's character. I have never seen him get more than a brief appearance in the comics. Tommy Lee Jones is great as the stubborn pragmatist. I like the presentation of 1940s technology. Those low res television screens were excellent. Good use of the Howling Commandoes. A great lead into The Avengers.

Thundercats (TV Series) - An interesting retelling of the old show. I like that Thundara was established on Third Earth. The character designs were done well. The other races where impressive. A great reboot.

The Big Lebowski (Theatrical Film) - The Dude gets involved in a weird world of intrigue when he wants to get a new rug. I can see the appeal of this film. Who would not resist the Dude's laid back lifestyle. There some snappy dialog and action. Good use of Sam Elliot as the narrator.

Phineas and Ferb (TV Series) - The SF Squeecast got me into this show. Two boys build fabulous things while their pet platypus stops a mad scientist. This is hysterical. This is a love letter to fans and their children.

Iron Man (TV Series) - Tony Stark goes to Japan to establish an arc station. A criminal organization called Zodiac has targeted Stark Industries. Some people have dogged the series. This is fun. Some of the science is questionable but it was in the comics. This is fun. I wish though that G4 would not stick those popups in the show.

Wolverine (TV Series) - Logan goes to rescue his lover Mariko from an arranged marriage. This seems to be following a standard martial arts action story. What I said about the Iron Man show apllies to this show.

August 2011

Rise of the Planet of Apes (Theatrical Film) - Reviewed in the September Event Horizon.

The Amazing, the Astounding and the Unknown by Paul Malmont - Reviewed in the September Event Horizon.

The Magician King by Lev Grossman - Quentin looks for a quest in Fillory. He decides to sail to the east and make contact with a lost colony. On this journey he finds his way back on Earth with Julia. They find his friend Josh and Poppy, a magician who is a dragon expert. They find their way back to Fillory and join Eliot and find out that there is a bigger quest to be had since Quentin left. The book also decribes how Julia mastered magic. It was fun seeing parts of The Magicians throught other eyes. Both Julia and Quentin develop in this story. The story come to a satisfactory conclusion. There are paths Grossman can go if he wishes and it might be interesting to see if follows up with a third novel.

September 2011

Ringer (TV Series) - This is interesting but I wonder how it can last. Do the writers have a plan? Still its fun to watch so far.

Revenge (TV Series) - Same problem as Ringer, do the writers have a plan? This is a modern retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo, and it is a good one.

The Circle (TV Series) - This seems to be a good new fantasy series. It has a classic theme, a young person must face their destiny. It is OK, but I am not sure I will be following it.

The Female Man by Joanna Russ - Four women from parallel worlds meet each other, and deal with the issues of their world. The novel deals with the issues women faced in the 1970s and unfortunately still face some of those issues now. It is a very dense book, but it makes you think.

Rule 34 by Charles Stross - Several bizarre murders take place in Europe. Scottish police inspector Liz Kavanaugh is assigned to investigate one of these murders in Edinburgh. Connected with these crimes is sociopath trying to start his crime organization, and a complicated financial scheme being executed by a central Asian state. This was a good read. There is switching point of view, and a lot of interesting concepts. Stross continues to understand the trend of crimes of the 21st century.

Ready Player One - Reviewed in the November Event Horizon.

Tabloid (Theatrical Film) - Joyce McKinney falls in love with a Mormon. Unfortunately, she does not get a long with her boyfreind's mother. Boyfirend is abruptly sent to England for missionary work. She decides to go to England and "rescue" her man from what she thinks is a cult. Then things really get crazy. Joyce's story becomes a media senssation in England. This was an interesting story. We get the story from Joyce, her associates, the English press, and a former Mormon. There was interesting look to the film. There were some great use of newspaper clippings and graphics in the film.

Person of Interest (TV Series) - This is a fascinating detective procedural. This plays on our paranoia of being watched on closed circuit TV. Michael Emerson is fun to watch as Finch. Caviezel is great as the cool and reserved Reese.

All the Things I Have Done by Gabrielle Zevin - It is 2083. Chocolate and coffee are illegal in the United States. Anya Balanchine is part of a family connected with the underground chocolate trade. Anya is trying to finish high school so she can go to college and take care of her brother and sister. Her current guardian is her ailing grandmother. She falls in love with her classmate Win, the son of the DA. Anya does not want to be drawn in the family business, but circumstances draw her in. I like that the characters all are three dimensionals. Win's father knows that the current prohibtions are stupid, and does not judge Anya by her family connections. A great YA novel.

Red State (Theatrical Film) - This is Kevin Smith's most ambitious film. There some great twists and there are parts which are really scary. I hope it does well.

October 2011

Moneyball (Theatrical Film) - An interesting docu-drama on how statistics changed baseball.

The Names of Love (Theatrical Film) - A young woman of Algerian descent uses sex to convert right-wingers to left wingers. She meets her match in a nice moderate man. A great romantic comedy using France's history and politics as a backdrop..

Batman:Year One (Direct to DVD film) - Reviewed in the November Event Horizon.

Margin Call (Theatrical Film) - This film shows how the bankers created such convoluted system to he point that they painted themselves in a corner. The only way out is by screwing the rest of us. You will sympathy for some of them and loathing for others. It is cool that the film hold the viewers interest without conventional action.

Once Upon a Time (TV Series) - This is really looks good. This great cinmeatography. I do hope the writers have the season and series planned out.

November 2011

Grimm (TV Series) - This is interesting. I like that it is set in Portland since that is hardly used as setting in television or films. I just hope they have some type of plan for the show.

Martha Marcy Mary Marlene (Theatrical Film) - This was scary. It is scary to be assimlated into a cult. It is never clear if Martha is truly free of the cult, which is also unnerving.

In Time (Theatrical Film) - Reviewed in the December Event Horizon.

Thorns by Robert Silverberg - Reviewed in the December Event Horizon.

The Muppets (Theatrical Film) - It was like a reunion with old friends. Thank you Jason Segal. Mahna Mahna was in my head for days.

December 2011

Midnight in Paris (Theatrical Film) - Reviewed in the January 2012 Event Horizon.

Young Goethe in Love (Theatrical Film) - I was not very familiar with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but the story is classic. Two lovers forced apart by tradition and circumstance. I feels like a copy of Shakespeare in Love but it is a good and entertaining copy.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Theatrical Film) - A great game of chess between Holmes and Moriarty. A wonderful take on Doyle story "The Final Problem". Noomi Rapace is great as Sim. She is a worthy companion to Holmes and Watson. The chase from the munitions factory got tedious after awhile.

Hugo - A beautiful tribute to one of the great pioneers of film. A boy trying to keep a connection with his father alive saves an old man's heart. All the characters are three dimensional. An incredibly shot film. Breathtaking.

Ganymede by Cherie Priest - Reviewed in the January 2012 Event Horizon.


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