Tag Archives: review

Movie Review: Black Panther

Black Panther is an interesting movie.  On one hand, its a Marvel superhero movie, another one in the chain.  On the other hand, it’s an epic scale dynastic struggle akin to an epic fantasy series like Game of Thrones, complete with lots of worldbuilding.

Black Panther has plenty of action, humor, and a surprising level of drama.  The main character has quite the journey, one where he learns the weight and costs of being king.

There’s some controversy about the movie, on themes and messages.  I’ll say that you’ll probably come away from it with what you bring into the theater and leave it at that.

It  isn’t my favorite Marvel movie, though it has some great (albiet hard to believe, even in superhero physics) scenes.  The story was good, though there were some nonsensical plot holes that could have been tied up a bit more neatly.  The movie has not just one, but two characterful villains, though I don’t think they got their full mileage from them.

In many ways, the movie stands alone more than most of Marvel’s latest movies.  Which is at once both a strength and weakness.  I can’t help, too, but feel that Wakanda is being set up to be the battleground for Infinity War.  We will see.

The movie does have a few flaws.  There was such a large cast that I can’t help but feel that some characters were shorted in both their stories and development.   Some pivotal moments left me scratching my head, particularly with how characters didn’t give enough weight to some things in some scenes, while they did in others.  There were also some pacing issues where some of the setup took longer than really neccessary.  They wanted us to explore this world of theirs, but in the process they shorted other parts of the movie.

All in all, it was a fun movie and I recommend it.  It has its own unique feel and I would like to see how it connects in to other movies, particularly the upcoming Infinity War.  Now, go out and see it for yourself and feel free to tell me what you think!


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.

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.

Movie Review: Kingsmen: The Golden Circle

Kingsmen: The Golden Circle is a movie that I wasn’t sure that I really wanted to see.  I enjoyed the first movie, which surprised me as I had expected it to be another generic action movie.  The first movie was witty and had some surprisingly insightful moments of introspection.  Eggsy was a fun character who we could genuinely like as a decent human being.

I didn’t want to see that ruined with a throw-away sequel… and that’s generally what I expect when a movie like that gets a sequel.  But I was wrong.  If anything, The Golden Circle is an improvement on the first movie.  Eggsy isn’t just the low-class version of James Bond… he’s a better version.   One scene in particular stamped him and also transformed the way you see him from the first movie, where they had some throw-away humor that has now come full circle.

As far as the action, it’s just as over-the-top as the first movie.  The CGI can get a bit old, especially when the baddies are firing fully automatic weapons in downtown London without seeming to cause any secondary damage, but I’ll let that slide, because they make you care about the characters.  They put the extra effort in so that you can understand their motivations.  The good guys are human, and they are put into circumstances that can require them to do things they don’t want to do.  The main villain is absolutely psychotic, with an introductory scene that, if anything, is a bit too far.

The story has personal touches, it’s not just about the end of the world scenario, it’s also about the people who are important to Eggsy, and they do a great job making the audience care about those people, too.  I have two minor complaints about the movie, and both of them are so closely tied into the plot that they’re major spoilers that I can’t go into them.  Neither of them were deal-breaking, I came away from the movie satisfied, entertained, and importantly, wanting more.  I want there to be a sequel, I want to see what happens next with Eggsy.

If you haven’t seen it, go out and make time.  It’s fun, engaging, and it has plenty of stuff for you to think about afterwards.


Ghost Star Wants You… To Leave Reviews!

Hi everyone, Ghost Star has been out for almost a month. As such, it’s time for me to pester my faithful readers to please leave a review!  Amazon, Goodreads, wherever you prefer… even just emailing me to tell me you hate it.

For those of you who purchased it (and I know you’re out there, I’m seeing the sales) please leave a review.  I read them all and I take what you all say into account.  This is a growing universe and your feedback helps me to improve as a writer.

Thanks for reading!  Kal

What a bunch of a-holes: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Movie Review

(Spoiler Free) Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2, is in some ways even more of a trippy ride than the first one.

There’s the same manic energy, the same ridiculous, over the top humor.  It’s exciting, and epic, and as crazy as a box of ferrets on crack.

Guardians of the Galaxy was unique, fun, and more than a little unhinged.  The characters were interesting, the stakes were high, and it had surprising depth for a movie with a talking racoon.

Flash forward to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.  It turned the crazy to 11,   More characters, more excitement.  It’s an ensemble cast where every character has their moment to shine.

It’s not entirely perfect.  Gamora never quite gets the emotional depth of the other characters, despite several opportunities.  Baby Groot is highly entertaining, but rather limited.  There’s a sort of predictability to the plot, we already know where the characters are going to end up, just from seeing them at the beginning.  This is them finding their groove, seeing how they’ll work together.  It’s a team-building movie.  But it’s just as much fun as the first one and there’s plenty of great jokes.

All in all, it’s a solid movie.  The actors did a fantastic job, the characters were spot on, and the humor and action were both great (if sometimes mind-boggling).  The themes of family run throughout, and the most powerfully emotional scene in the movie was one in which there weren’t any words.

Movie Review: The Space Between Us

the_space_between_us_posterThe Space Between Us is a near-future science fiction romance.  In my opinion, it’s a perfect Valentine’s Day movie to drag your significant other along for a night out.  It’s optimistic, it’s sappy, and it’s fun.  Honestly, I’d put it in the same category of movies as Tomorrowland and Stardust.

The plot isn’t overly complicated.   It’s a story about a young man and woman finding themselves.

That can be pretty difficult when they both live on different planets.  The interactions between the two main characters is fantastic, with great chemistry and they portray their roles very well.

It’s a movie that takes our going to Mars as a matter of course, and for that I could forgive any number of mistakes in the movie.  Fortunately, there’s relatively few, with the most egregious being science stuff (asymmetric-designed ship… groan).   There’s a few minor plot decisions that had me shaking my head, but even those are relatively tiny things.  The movie as a whole is fun, fast-paced, and with some genuinely sweet scenes.

It’s a movie that makes you feel good about being alive in this era of wonders… and that’s a really good thing in my opinion.  They take the time to marvel at human accomplishments and the movie uses Gardener to give an outside perspective on so many things that we take for granted.

I highly recommend seeing this movie.  As I said, it’s fun, it’s romantic, and you walk out of the theater feeling good.