Micro Reviews

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January 2015

Skink - No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen - The former governor of Florida helps a young man find his run away cousin. There are som thrills in this one. Its good coming of age story.

The Imitation Game (Theatrical Film) - The story of one the founders of computer science who help win World War II. Great perfromances. They stretch the truth a bit. There is a great eureka moment. Thank you.

Mockingjay Part 1 (Theatrical Film) - Katniss is on the frontlines on thewar of ideas. Great seeing the shift in focus that war is more than battles.

Selma (Theatrical Film) - A thorough storu about one of the most important struggles in America's history. It is complex. Its heart wrenching. Its triumphant.

The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu (translated by Ken Liu) - A Chinese communication station makes contact with alien intelligence in the 1970s. The direction the dialouge goes to dangerous place. In order to understand what is going on, a Chinese scienntist plays an interactive virtual reality game. Lots of cool ideas on the nature of civilaztion and mixed with the Cultural Revolution. Epic.

Doctor Who: The Harvest of Time by Alastair Reynolds - A story of the 3rd Doctor and the Master. The Master while imprisoned is asked to help with a dubious project. This leads to an invasion by powerful aliens. At the same time the Master is being slowly erase from time. Can the Doctor, Jo Grant, and UNIT solve the problem before Earth is overwhelmed? This has the third Doctor face a threat similar to the current series of Doctor Who. It has great fun. Note this was written before "Dark Water", but anti-cipates afuture female Master.

The Theory of Everthing (Theatrical Film) - Two people who face hardship. One makes mistakes but they get through it. Redmayne and Jones is brillant. Any movie can be great with a Dalek reference.

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes - A series of unusal murders is occuring in Detroit. Detective Gabriella Versado is working dilligently to solve the crimes, but she also has to deal with her teenage daughter Layla. Its great how Gabi and Layla's story connect in this. A great modern speculative fiction mystery.

DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe by Keith Griffith and Dexter Soy (Comic Collection) - The art could have been better. A great explaination of what happened to two major characters in the He-Man story. A fun tie in.

February 2015

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Novel and Theatrical Film) - An intricate look at men and women and the relations between the two wrapped in a thriller. Flynn does a great job adapting her story for film. The film allows more development for Margo and Boney. A great if scary story.

Whiplash (Theatrical Film) - Music student Andrew Neiman tries to meet the demanding standards of teacher Terence Fletcher. Art does take demanding discipline but can one go too far. That is a question asked by the film.

Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Theatrical Film) - Movie actor Riggan Thomson wants to get artistic integrity by adpating a Raymond Carver story for Broadway. In the process he goes mad. It is great disturbing film.

The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman - Quentin is trying to adjust again after leaving Fillory. He tries teaching but that goes bad. He joins a group of magical mecerenaries. Fillory is in danger. Quentin seems to fianlly get his act together.

My Real Children by Jo Walton - Patricia has to decide whether to get married or not. She makes a decision and we see the outcomes of that decision. In one reality Patricia marries and in another she does not and writes, finds a loving female partner, and lives part time in Italy. Both lives have their ups and downs personally and globally. This shows that life is beautiful and complicated.

Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell by Paul Dini and Joe Quinones (Comic One Shot) - The story of the friendship of two great superheroines and we get to share the ride.

Justice League: War (Direct to DVD Animation) - An adaptation of the first new 52 arc of Justice League. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman seem a bit extreme to me. Flash and Green Lanatern seem right. This leads quite nicely with Aquaman. Nice seeing Shazam aka Captain Marvel in the story.

Agent Carter (TV Series) - An interesting look into the past of the Marvel Universe. A nice addition to Marvel's TV shows.

Jupiter Ascending (Theartrical Film) - Some great ideas and visuals. There are some questionable parts but it is worth seeing in a theater.

March 2015

Cinderella (Theartrical Film) - A great version of the classic tale. Great production values. Interesting that Cinderella and the Prince meet before the ball. Hayley Atwell and Helena Bonham Carter were great.

The Art of Asking: or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer - An increduble look into an extraordinary artist and taking the challenge of asking for help. It is inspiring. Do not be afraid to ask.

Aldnoah Zero (TV Anime Series) - An old fashion anime SF/Mecha show. There are some nice character bits. Gets away from some anime tropes. I hope they make more in the future.

Your Lie in April (TV Anime Series) - A piano prodigy has to face his demons. He is helped by a classmate who is full of life. This was a beautiful story but heart wrenching when we know Kaori is in trouble. Powerful.

Parasyte- the maxim (TV Anime series) - A young boy is partially (his hand) possessed by an alien. They go and fight other aliens that have possessed people. Great action. Some nice emotional bits.

Deadman Wonderland (TV Anime Series) - A young man is framed for murder and is sent to a amusement park where he and the other inmates may be killed for entertainment

Shirobako (TV Anime Series) - The anime series about making an anime series. It is the fight of order versus chaos. The production team goes to great lengths to get the job done. More please.

April 2015

Daredevil (TV Series, Netflix) - A great interpretation of a street level superhero. It was great seeing Stick come to life. Nice to see some back story from Fisk. I wish they dod not kill one of the characters.

When Marnie was There (Theatrical Film) - A young gir tries to find her place in the world and meets another girl in the same predicament. The message of the film, is our desire to be love and what happens when we do not feel love.

Ex Machina (Theatrical Film) - What makes one human? If we create life, what are responsibilities towards it. Great set design. One of the best SF movies this year.

Avengers: Age of Ultron(Theatrical Film) - A great realization of one of the greatest villians in the Marvel Universe. Its great to see superheroes saving people rather than just fighting.

May 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road (Theatrical Film) - A genre bending film. There action sequences are well executed. A good balace in characters. We need more films like this.

I saw a lot of Fringe Festival plays and wrote about it on Facebook.

June 2015

Black Mirror (TV Series, Netflix) - An anthology series for the Internet age.

Sense8 (TV Series, Netflix) - The Wachowskis and Joe Straczynski explore a new idea of family. There are great characters, doing interesting things. More please.

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie - A young disbaled prince winds up in a lot of trouble when he is inline for the throne. He becomes a slave, escapes and tries to returns home. Well paced and a different type of ending.

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders (Anime series) - A group go on a quest to Egypt to save someone. Great art and action with a mix of humor. I wish they could have used more of the music related names for the villians. Lets get the enxt phase of the story.

Gemma Bovary (Theatrical Film) - A French baker observe art coming to life through his neighbors. His neighbor is acting like namesake in Madame Bovary. Great story.

Read the Hugo Short fiction finalists around this time.

July 2015

The Goblin's Apprentice by Katherine Addison (Hugo Nominee) - Maia, a young goblin-elf prince unexpectdely becomes emperor of an elf kingdom. The world is an interesting steampunk world. Maia tries to a good job as he can while dealing with intrigue. He is trying to improve the lot of his female cousins and finding out what happened to previous emperor.

Me, Earl, the Dying Girl (Theatrical Film) - The best film of 2015. It is about friendship and facing life when you want to hide. As painful as it is uplifting.

The Dark Between the Stars Kevin Anderson (Hugo Nominee) - Mankind has conquered the stars but faces problems external and internal. There are alien threats. There are issues about family. There is great diversity with the characters. Multiple point of views. It is an interesting space opera.

Ant-Man (Theatrical Film) - Why could not have they had the Wasp. Grow up Hollywood/Marvel. The film was fun. I am not completely comfortable for the portrayals of minorities.

Inside Out (Theatrical Film) - Feelings with feelings. We need them all including sadness. Another Pixar triumph.

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson - A generation starship is traveling to Tau Ceti at 10% the speed of light. We follow a young women Freya and the ships AIs that is telling the journey of the ship. Robinson explores new issues regarding a generation ship. Interesting but a little a pessimistic.

Fight Club (Theatrical film seen on DVD) - An incredible film. Filled with surprises and ideas.

Lagoon by Nnedi Okarafor - A first contact story set in Nigeria. Three indviduals representing different parts of Nigerian society need to make this contact successful. A great story. A great mix of ideas.

The Martian by Andrew Weir - An astronaut is stranded on Mars and learns how to survive with limited resources. Tense situation and some great science.

August 2015

The Secret Garden (Theatrical Film) - This was the 1993 version. Very well filmed. There some odd splicing with the time lapse.

Dreamsnake by Vonda McIntyre - Re-read she was Guest of Honor at 2015 Worldcon Sasquan.

End of All Things by John Scalzi - I read the indvidual novellas from Tor. I like the look from the lower ranks. Great use of a sentient starship.

The Man from UNCLE (Theatrical Film) - A great romp in the 1960s and tribute to the original show. A lot of 60s glam.

September 2015

They Live (Theatrical Film) - The perfect John Carpenter film. A great story and execution.

Best of Enemies (Theatrical Film) - A documentary about the 1968 discussions between William Buckley and Gore Vidal. Interesting examination of the time and the men.

Yesterday's Kin by Nancy Kress - Aliens land on Earth, tell us we are distantly related, and they need our help with a deadly spore crowd. This causes tension with an already dysfunctional family. There is a good twist and the characters are good. A good first contact story.

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi - The American Southwest is devasted by drought. Securing water rights is so important that armed force is used. The city of Las Vegas is cut throat at this game. An agent for Vegas, a Water Knife, searches for somethings that can change the entire situation. We follow him, a reporter, and a desperate worker manuver through this scary world were people will kill for water.

Jacob by David Gerrold - Jacob is a vampire. Gerrold looks at the social and psychological aspects of being a vampire. What does it take to be a vapire and is worth it?

Armada by Ernest Cline - A young man sees a spaceship from a video game outside his school. It turns out that aliens have been on the way for years. The world has been preparing for years by using video games to training people to pilot drones to fight the invasion. A fun action adventure with some interesting twists. Good diversity with the characters.

Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond - Teenage Lois and her family have moved to Metropolis. She gets involved with a teen version of the Daily Planet and finds something going odd with some of the studenst at her school. Can she figure it out in time. This book captures why Lois Lane has remained popular for all these years. She determined to find the truth no matter what is the cost. There is room open for more stories, let us hope.

Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey - While the Rocinante is being repaired the crew goes their separate ways to see family friends. Unfortunately a group rebels in the belt attack the Earth in order to prevent extra-Solar colonization. Holden and his crew fight this in whatever way they can. Things will not be the same, as if they ever were. A great look at the regulars and they build new ties and even expand.

Rin-ne (Anime Series) - A poor shinigami struggles to fight demons and make ends meet. He makes friends in school. It is a nice comedy-action anime.

The Heroic Legend of Arslan (Anime Series) - A young prince must regain his kingdom. He helped by a band of friends. He shows the ability to be a just king but can he learns what he needs to know in time. This is about politics and military logistics. Two of author's Tanaka's favorite topics. The look is from Hiromi Arakawa (Full Metal Alchemist). There is more to come and I cannot wait.

Gangsta (Anime Series) - Worick and Nicolas are two handyman who solve problems no one else can handle. Nicolas is deaf and physically enhanced. There is alot of action and some neat Science Fiction ideas. There is also a great supporting cast. Unfortunately the studio is out of busniess and the manga is on hiatus.

October 2015

Virus by Sakyo Komatsu - In the late 1960s, an bioengineered virus is released accidently and eventually wipes out most of mankind. There is a community of scientists in Antartica that survive and research the problem. This looks at multiple points of view, so we the crisis on many levels of society. It does feel like the 1960s when it was written. There are some great ideas here. I hope we see more Komatsu novels in English.

Mr. Robot (TV Series) - Interesting though derivitive. There is an interesting hook for the next season which might go somewhere.

The Big Time by Fritz Leiber - A group of time travellers tryo to solve a locked room mystery. A very intense and complicated novel. Needs multiple readings.

Pan (Theatrical Film) - An OK action adventure film as a Peter Pan prequel. It was interesting but I missed Wendy.

A Brillant Young Mind (Theatrical Film) - A complicated film about a math genius. There are both beautiful and painful moments in this film. Sally Hawkins is great as the mother.

Ancillary Mercy - Berq has to protect Atholek Station from Anaander Mianaai. There are many versions of Mianaii exist. Some are good and other are not. The title give you hint on how it will be solved. There is action and twists. This is the way to end a series.

November 2015

Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien - A young woman is on her own in post apocalyptic world. A stranger comes to her farm. What are his intentions? An interesting premise. The mian character is empowered and protects herself. The other character was alaways dubious.

The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu - The Trisolarians are on their way and humanity tries to figure out how to stop them. A few individuals are entrusted for coming up with strategies to deal with the threat. In the end it is our brains and not our brawn that solves the problem.

Jessica Jones (TV Series) - We have a falwed hero who is recovering from a trauma. A seemingly unstoppable villain. There are some good relationships here. There is a lot of messages about relationships. A great intro for Luke Cage. Marvel continues to dominate.

Luna: New Moon by Ian MacDonald - We follow the fortune of a Brazilian family that controls production of Helium 3 on the Moon. MacDonald develops the Lunar culture in depth. All law is contract law. All is negotiable. Eagerly await the rest of the trilogy.

Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn't Exist (TV Anime series) - A crazy series about a very sexually uptight world

December 2015

Janis: Little Girl Blue (Theatrical Film) - A great documentary on powerful person who left us too soon.

Macbeth (Theatrical Film) - An intense version of the Scottish Play. Well done.

The Hunger Games - Mockingjay Part 2 (Theatrical Film) - A great adaptation of the novel. Great design choices made in the film.

Childhood's End (TV Mini-Series) - It was great the kept the Overlords appearance a secret until the reveal in the first part. It was ambitious and hit the marks in many places, It felt odd in other plkaces like Milo should have realized that he would lose everything if he left Earth. A worth effort. I wish Tim Curry could play Karellan.

Gotham Academy:Welcome to Gotham Academy (comic series) - Olive and her friends go to Gotham Academy, house in some beautifully mysterious gothic building. Olive is dealing with problems with her mother and relationships while solving mysteries. A fun com,ic. A different look at one of DC's famous locales.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Theatrical Film) - A new saga and its off to strong start. More detailed review in the February Event Horizon.

One Punch Man (Anime Series) - Saitama can stop anyone in an instant but cannot pass the hero’s exam. Fun and genre exploring series.

Young Black Jack (Anime Series) - We look at the hot issues of 1968 and and pay respect to the master Tezuka.

The Perfect Insider (Anime Series) - She is a bubbly heiress and he is chain smoking academic, together they will solve a crime. A good old fashion mystery with elements of The Thin Man.

Hitchcock/Truffaut (Theatrical Film) - Looks at the legacy of Hitchcock's work. Great insights from some of the film makers out there.

Reservoir Dogs (Theatrical Film, Netflix) - An fascinating crime drama. Great dialouge and image.

Inglorious Bastards (Theatrical Film, Netflix) - One of the best aslternate history films of all time. Beautifully shot. Waltz is wonderful.

Django Unchained (Theatrical Film, Netflix) - A great twist on the Western. Very cathartic.

Concrete Revolution (Anime Series) - Superheroes in an alternate 1970s. This is a more complicated universe than DC and Marvel. An interesting art style. It would cool to see more of this.

Lawrence of Arabia (Theatrical Film, Netflix) - A masterpiece of its time. Great use of location and way to frame the story.

Welcome to Nightvale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor - Two women must solve a mystery in as very mysterious town. Very Pratchett-like use of humor. Uses the elements on the podcast quite well.

The Hateful Eight (Theatrical Film) - Worth seeing in 70MM. Great score. Great experience.

The Big Short (Theatrical Film) - A painful look of what led to the economic meltdown of 2008. There are no real heroes but plenty of victims. The film explains what happens clearly.

A Clockwork Orange (Theatrical Film, rewatch) - Disturbing. Interesting score especially the odd electronic score used.

The Expanse (TV Series) - It got off to rocky start but by the 4 episode it started fully functioning. The commandeering of the Rocinante had me cheering. I hope the get to adapt all the books.

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard - An alternate history with fallen angels in a devasted Paris. A man, woman, and new fallen angel try to survive this intrigued filled world. Everyone has gifts and use them to the best of their abilities. They still get into trouble. Powerful work by one of the best writers in the field.


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