Movie Review: The Last Jedi (No Spoilers)

The Last Jedi, Star Wars Episode VIII, is a movie that seems to have more controversy about it than any other recent movie.  Some people love it, some people hate it, and everyone has an opinion.  Short review?  See it for yourself.

Longer version: The Last Jedi is a movie which is focused upon building (or rebuilding) the Star Wars universe.  On the one hand, TLJ is Star Wars, in a way that the prequels weren’t.  It’s fun, it’s humorous, and it tells a story of good versus evil.  Plus there’s magic space wizardry and exploding space ships.

On the other hand, it isn’t a movie without flaws, or without messages of cynicism.  There are vast swathes of the movie that could have been cut out or streamlined.  There are militarily stupid decisions made, that if they were made in the real world, people would face serious criminal charges.  There’s a lot of humor, but some of that humor is cutting, to the point of offending those who held the original movies (and the expanded universe) close to their hearts.

But it is a new story.  This isn’t a repeat of things that have come before.  This is the start of something new.  And in a lot of ways, that’s the problem that many people have with the movie.  There were decisions made with the story structure and plot that suggest the franchise is moving on.  This isn’t about the original series and original characters, it’s about the greater universe.

On the third hand, there were decisions made in the new story structure that were… too safe.  There were some, potentially, very powerfully emotional scenes, and multiple times the writers/directors pulled back from the full delivery of those scenes.  They shied away from doing the hard things, they kill off swathes of faceless people we care little about (to the point of absurdity), yet there were several scenes where named characters should have died… yet they didn’t.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie.  It was fun and (despite the many faults) it was still Star Wars.  It had the spirit, the character, of a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.  I will say that walking out of the theater, I really had enjoyed the experience, it was only after thinking about various scenes and story elements that I began to notice the flaws.  I recommend seeing it and developing your own opinion.

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Kal’s December 2017 Forecast

Hey everyone, it’s December, already, and I’m doing my best to finish off Jormungandr’s Venom, the third book three of the Rising Wolf series.

I’ve already outlined the third Children of Valor book and I’ll plan to start on that by the 15th.  I’m really excited to get back to working on that series and my goal is to bring it out in late January.

Posts have been infrequent around here, but that’s mostly because I’ve been really, really busy.  Some of that has been writing, but let’s just say that it’s been a rough year.  I may do a post on that later.  I may not, we’ll see.

After the third Children of Valor book and Jormungandr’s Venom, I’ve got a new project I’ll be working on, then back to writing in my ongoing series.  I’ve got lots of plans for the Renegades series and the conclusion of this story arc of the Shadow Space Chronicles.

That’s all for now, check in for more updates over the next few days!

Kal’s Christmas Gift Ideas

So, for those of you who find difficulty in buying gifts for your family and friends, here’s a set of suggestions.  What do you get for the person who has everything?  Or the nerd in your life?  What about when you buy that awesome gift for yourself and then suddenly realize that your significant other/spouse/favorite pet/imaginary friend is going to be upset that you forgot about them?   Fear not, Kal has some gift ideas for you!

Starting things off, I’ve heard far too many stories of friends losing their firearms in tragic kayaking accidents.  Head that off with something that can keep their firearms safe.  As a bonus, they come in patriotic red, white, and blue.  (Disclaimer: please don’t be stupid and actually use them for this purpose…) http://amzn.to/2iMhqA8

Oh, and if you want to actually keep your own precious weapons safe, you might get something like this.  It’s rated for 16 firearms, comes with free shipping, and it’s small enough that you probably won’t get in too much trouble from the spouse when you’re trying to fit it in the garage.   http://amzn.to/2AHWYZg

 

What do you get for the nerd in your life that spends hours/days/weeks in front of their computer and may not even know you exist?  A better chair, of course.  It’s got great lumbar support, it’s ergonomic, and it even has a footrest so they can avoid getting blood clots.  http://amzn.to/2nK04ZT

 

For serious readers who like their books, I’ve got just the thing.  Solid oak (not particle board/manufactured wood) with glass front.  This is what I want to put my signed copies of my favorite books in.  Solidly constructed and cool looking to boot.  It’s four feet high by five feet wide.  If I had the money, this is what I’d buy.   http://amzn.to/2nJAvIn

Lastly, if you’re in the dog house for buying any of these for yourself (But who would do that?), then here’s something that my wife pointed out would be an adequate apology.  Your mileage may vary, of course.   Make sure that vacuuming the house isn’t a chore anymore… or  welcome your future robot overlords into your home.  Either way, you can get a vacuum cleaning robot capable of handling most surfaces and responding to voice commands.  What’s creepy about that, right?http://amzn.to/2A9gBZ9

Cyber… er, Tuesday

So, I missed Cyber Monday, but I’ve got a variety of my books available for free for the next few days!  Prisoner of the Mind, The Fallen Race, and Renegades: Origins will all be free for the next five days!

Additionally, Valor’s Child, the first book of my Children of Valor series, will be discounted to $0.99 from the 28th to December 2nd.  So you can get it for just under a dollar.  Check them all out, tell your friends, and please leave reviews!

Links:

Prisoner of the Mind: http://amzn.to/2zLbOMH

The Fallen Race: http://amzn.to/1FzQRRq

Renegades: Origins: http://amzn.to/1UJCmkU

Valor’s Child: http://amzn.to/2ukhgni

Something Different

Hey everyone.  As previously announced, I have a short story coming out in the Four Horseman universe.  If you haven’t been reading the books, they’re along the lines of David Drake’s Hammer’s Slammers books, only set through a combined universe with a variety of authors.  The basic theme is space mercenaries in powered armor, so what’s not to like, right?

 

The anthology is now live on Amazon.  Link: http://amzn.to/2yUle8D

My short story, Argonaut, is one of several in the anthology.  Feel free to check it out and see what authors you may enjoy!

 

November Booknado!

My book, Prisoner of the Mind, is featured here, but you can find some other neat books, too!

Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance

Just in time to help while away those hours of holiday leisure time, a flurry of fresh fiction blows into town! Let the gales of November shiver the dead leaves outside, while you cozy up indoors with a great new read!

As always, click on any book cover image to read more and shop.

NEW RELEASES

MAGA 2020 & Beyond (anthology) by multiple authors, forward by Milo Yiannopoulos
Making America great again, one short story at a time.

Streets of New York City by Leo Champion
In a near-future dystopia, Jeff Hammer, airborne mercenary turned tenement guard, starts a free-market revolution.

Minds of Men by Kacey Ezell
Evelyn Adamsen grew up knowing she had to hide her psychic abilities. Then the U.S. Army Air Corps came calling.

Calexit – The Anthology by multiple authors, edited by Stephanie Martin
When California declares independence, their dreams of socialist diversity become nightmares for…

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Movie Review: Thor Ragnarok

I finally had the time to watch Thor: Ragnarok.  Short version: it’s a crazy, fast-paced, often ADHD, humorous, adventure.  Go see it for yourself.

Long version: the movie is funny, the action scenes are over the top and Cate Blanchet is a fantastic villain.  The interactions between Thor and Loki are witty and charming and there’s even a couple of moments of endearing emotion, as you sense they are two brothers who have gone their (very) separate ways but still care for one another (even as they try to kill one another).

The constant humor is great, though I wonder how well it will hold up over time.  Thor, normally the straight man, is making witty quips and throwing out cheesy one-liners almost constantly.  At times, it feels like a series of 80’s one-liners tied together with a bunch of action scenes.  Still, the jokes are funny and the situations are dark enough that without this level of humor, it would be a pretty depressing movie.

There are no major plot twists (or at least, nothing that’s not hinted at from the beginning).  This is a movie about Thor beating down those who get in his path (and occasionally being electrocuted, I mean, what’s up with that, he’s the God of Thunder, how is electricity his weakness?).   It has something of a Blues Brother vibe, “We’re putting the band back together!”  But that campy humor works… because the situations are so ridiculous and desperate that sometimes unleashing a Hulk on your home planet is preferable to the alternative.

It’s not a movie without flaws.   The director definitely went with humor as a way to diffuse the very dark overall plot line.  That’s fine, but I do think they could have spent a bit more time exploring the sacrifices and efforts of all the non-Thor Asgardians.  They had some terrific actors like Idris Elba who were basically in cameo roles.  The plot was fairly predictable, the villain(ess) was bad, even charmingly so, much like Loki, but without as much background or motivation.

I really enjoyed the movie, I may go see it again, but  I didn’t love the movie, not the way I was hoping.  There were no deeper themes, other than the occasional bit about family.  This was an action movie, first and foremost.  Which is fine, but it left me wanting just that little bit more.