Archive for reviews

2019 Year End Honorable Mentions – Books/Comics

Posted in Blog Series, Book Report with tags , , , , , on January 15, 2020 by Paxton

YE Book Report

I posted my favorite books/comics of 2019 list a few weeks ago.  I had a few other books/comics that, while I didn’t feel they should have made the main list, I still want to talk about.  So, here are my Honorable Mentions of 2019.

Let’s do books first, then I’ll do some comics.

Legion
Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson
– I’ve read Brandon Sanderson before. I read the first book of his Mistborn trilogy for High Fantasy Month, which was pretty good, as well as his entire Reckoners Trilogy, which was fantastic (it made my best list in 2017).  So I have been looking for more of his books to read and came across two novellas that he wrote several years ago.  The first novella was called Legion, and the sequel was called Legion: Skin Deep.  They were about a man named Stephen Leeds.  He’s a genius, but the way his mind manifested this genius was to create what Leeds called “aspects”.  These aspects housed the knowledge and information he learned.  And each aspect carried a different set of knowledge and skills as well as a personality.  Similar to the movie A Beautiful Mind, I guess, but these stories treat the condition as kind of a super power.  Sanderson collected those first two novellas together into this book with a brand new third story.  And it’s a lot of fun.  This could make for an interesting show on some streaming network.  Someone needs to look into that.

7 1/2 Deaths
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
– Published in late 2018, I got this book as a gift for my wife because the premise sounded intriguing.  There’s a party at an old English manor.  A young woman is going to die at the end of the night, and the main character has to solve it in seven days.  But every day, she wakes up in a different party goer’s body at a different time of the day.  It’s sort of like Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day.  It’s a very interesting story that is structured in a non-traditional way.  It can get confusing and I’m not 100% sure what fully happens at the end, but the read is a lot of fun.

Hot Rock
The Hot Rock (Dortmunder #1) by Donald Westlake
– Back in 2015, when I did the Invisible Man for AWESOME-tober-fest, I read a Donald Westlake novel called Smoke. I liked it, but even before I read that, I was aware of Westlake’s heist novel The Hot Rock from 1970.  I may have even already owned it at that point.  But I didn’t read it until this past year.  And it’s really great, actually.  It’s a fun heist novel that’s sort of a working man’s Ocean’s 11.  The main character is John Dortmunder.  He has just been released from prison and his right hand man approaches him, after JUST picking him up from getting out of jail, with a job.  Dortmunder reluctantly agrees to the heist and everything that can go wrong does go wrong and they wind up having to steal the the thing they are hired to steal at least three different times.  I really enjoyed this book and want to continue the series, as Westlake wrote like 8 or 9 Dortmunder novels.  This book also led me to a movie adaptation I didn’t even know existed starring Robert Redford and George Segal.

Jaws Jaws 2
Jaws by Peter Benchley/Jaws 2 by Hank Searls
– I’m going to cheat a little and put two books here.  I had to mention the Jaws books.  I covered both of these books for the I Read Movies podcast in Summer 2019 and I was pleasantly surprised by both.  First of all, everyone pretty much trashes Benchley’s original novel because it’s not as good as Spielberg’s movie.  Which is true, the movie is better.  HOWEVER, Benchley’s novel is a very pulpy, 70s novel that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.  The characters are a lot less likable in Benchley’s book than in Spielberg’s movie, which may be the crux of people’s issues with the book, but it makes for an interesting story.  I’m mainly speaking of Mike and Ellen Brody as being mostly unlikable (you’ll wonder why they are even married), but Hooper is also a rather unlikable, douchey, just out of college, rich kid.  It makes for a fascinating collection of characters and a really fun read.  Yes, the movie is better, but don’t sleep on the Jaws novel.  I’ll say the same for Jaws 2.  Searls’ story really follows the events of the first movie, but it also doesn’t completely ignore the events of the novel.  And since Searls also wrote Jaws the Revenge, that book fits into this series like a jigsaw puzzle piece.  The whole Jaws cycle of novels are totally fun and well worth a read.  Or, you can listen to me talk about them all on the I Read Movies podcast.

Now on to comics.

Savage Avengers
Savage Avengers by Gerry Duggan
– I’m a fan of Gerry Duggan. He and Brian Posehn did an amazing run on Deadpool which started (for me) with Deadpool: Dracula’s Gauntlet (Best Books I Read in 2015) and continued into the Marvel Now Deadpool series.  Then Duggan did a zany run on Uncanny Avengers that I really enjoyed. He even wrote a somewhat sequel to Dracula’s Gauntlet called Mrs Deadpool and the Howling Commandos which I thoroughly enjoyed.  So when I saw he was doing an Avengers spin off with Wolverine, Punisher, Venom, Brother Voodoo and Conan, I thought, this is something I need to check out.  And this eclectic collection of characters totally works.  I’ve really enjoyed the first volume of this series and want to continue reading.  I love when writers take these totally wacky groups of characters and turn them into a wacky team book.  Kelly Thompson did it with the most recent West Coast Avengers.  Duggan did it before with Uncanny Avengers.  Definitely worth a read.

Avengers 1 Avengers 2 Avengers 3
The Avengers by Jason Aaron
– Jason Aaron has become one of my favorite comics writers.  His Thor run was nothing short of phenomenal.  It showed up multiple times on my best of lists.  Aaron also wrote the first few years of the 2015 Marvel Star Wars title which was really, really awesome, and he did a great take on Dr Strange that same year in 2015.  So when I heard he was taking over the main Avengers title, I was pretty excited.  And for the most part I’ve really enjoyed some of the stuff he’s done.  Black Panther is the leader.  I love that Panther creates a covert subset of the Avengers filled with all of these B level characters you haven’t seen in years.  Blade joins the team for another “War of the Vampires” story arc.  Hell, Thor and She-Hulk kind of start dating…sort of.  It’s a bunch of cool ideas that it seems like Aaron is having fun with, but also I’m having fun with.

Black Barn
Gideon Falls Volume 1: The Black Barn
– I’m a pretty big fan of Jeff Lemire.  He’s shown up on this list many times.  Here’s another one.  This is a straight up horror comic.  It involves the legend of the Black Barn, that has shown up throughout history bringing death and madness in its wake, and ensnaring the lives of two different men.  The book is drawn by Andrea Sorrentino who frequently partners with Lemire and I love these two together.  This book reminds me a bit of Joshua Williamson’s Nailbiter series, which I loved.  Very atmospheric, very dark.  I’ve only read the first volume but I will eagerly be reading more.

JH Time Police
Jughead’s Time Police
– So last year, the original 1990 Jughead Time Police series made my best of list.  This year, we got a reboot of that series.  Written by Sina Grace.  And it’s actually pretty good.  It’s funny, and it coincidentally uses a plot device I thought of when doing an episode of Nerd Lunch back in Sep 2018.  Obviously totally coincidental, but I love that someone else had that idea too!  I’m a big fan of Jughead, especially his reboots in the “new Archie” universe.  This is a good addition to those stories.

Those are some of the other books/comics I felt I wanted to talk about that didn’t necessarily make my “best of” list.

My Favorite Movies I Saw in 2019

Posted in Blog Series, Movie Board, movies with tags , , , , , on January 10, 2020 by Paxton

Movie Report

Yesterday, you saw my favorite books/comics I read in 2019 list.  Had lots of fun with it?  You agree with everything I put on the list?  Tough.  It’s my list, sucka!  And now it’s time for another list.  This time we are looking at my favorite movies list.

I keep a list of the movies I watched with some small reviews in two places, similar to my books list.  The first is the usual Google Spreadsheet.  That list is easier to get an overall view of the year and pick out favorite entries because I have it all color coded based on rating and year released.  The other place I keep a list of the movies I watch is over on Letterboxd.  So check me out there.  Friend me.  I need friends.  I’m lonely.  SO LONELY.

Anyway, I think it’s time to dig into my list.  Rules, like my books, only movies new to me in 2019 are eligible. I’ll start with my list of favorite movies released in 2019, then I’ll do a list of favorite movies I watched in 2019 that weren’t necessarily released that year.

But first, my favorite movies that were released in 2019


Avengers: Endgame (2019) – I started off last year’s list with Infinity War, so I’ll start of this list with the sequel. Again, what else can I say? This wrapped up the first 10 years of the MCU in a nice, tight, little bow.  I loved it.


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) – Yikes.  Well, I don’t think Star Wars will ever *not* be divisive again.  This movie had the unenviable task of not only following The Last Jedi (good or bad), but also fully wrapping up the Skywalker saga.  I don’t know that *any* movie could live up to that pressure.  I had fun with this.  They made a few decisions that I don’t necessarily agree with, but for the most part I had a lot of fun with the movie.  It felt good to have fun-loving Finn and Poe again.  They were not themselves in the previous movie.  And I again love Rey and Kylo and their whole relationship.  I’m *mostly* happy with how this went down.


Knives Out (2019) – I loved this movie.  It’s like a more quirky Clue the Movie mixed with Kurosawa’s Rashomon.  Great cast and everyone is bringing their A-game.  Lots of fun and the mystery is good too.


Happy Death Day (2017)/ Happy Death Day 2U (2019) – The second movie was released in 2019, so that’s why this entry is here.  I kept hearing how good the first movie was, and by the time I sat down to watch it the sequel had come out.  So I watched both, back to back, in 2019.  And I was pleasantly surprised how good these movies are.  The first one is like a horror movie Groundhog Day.  It’s very inventive and fun.  The second movie, is not really even a horror movie.  It’s a Sci-Fi fantasy adventure.  And you wouldn’t think that would work *at all* but it totally works.  I really enjoyed both of these movies.


Downton Abbey the Motion Picture (2019) – I’m a sucker for this show, so, I was a sucker for this movie.  I loved returning to this world, I loved revisiting these characters, I loved this movie.


Always be My Maybe (2019) – So. Much. Fun.  The leads in this are adorable.  I love the music Marcus makes with his band.  Keanu Reeves makes a scene stealing cameo that I just loved.  This is a great movie.  See it if you haven’t.

And now, movies from any year that I watched for the first time in 2019


Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018) – How great was this movie?  I didn’t get to see this in the theater, but I’d heard from everyone how good it was, so I rented it.  And everyone was right.  This gets it all right.  Miles is great.  I love the other versions of Spider-Man that show up.  Penny Parker in particular.  It’s really so good.  And the animation is terrific.


Upgrade (2018) – I expected this movie to be sort of a low-key update to the Bionic Man.  It’s not that.  It goes a different direction and I applaud the movie for going there.  It’s dark and intense, but I really liked it.  I’m not going to say much more than that except, give it a watch.


Staten Island Summer (2015) – I saw this while scrolling around on Netflix one afternoon and watched it on a lark.  And wow, it’s really good.  It’s one of those “one last summer before college” movies.  It just hit every single nostalgia button for me.  It takes place in and around a community swimming pool, which, when I was in high school, I worked three summers as a lifeguard at one such pool.  It’s a sweet, fun movie about friendship and moving on to the next step in your life.  This was such a fun surprise, check it out.


Uncle Drew (2018) – I love ragtag basketball movies.  This one has a great cast, it’s lots of fun, and it’s really funny!  I almost didn’t watch it because, while I thought it looked good, I was afraid they showed all the funny stuff in the trailer.  Nope, this is a solid roadtrip/basketball movie with some heart thrown into the story.

Those those were my overall favorite movies I watched in 2019.  Hopefully you can find some gems in this list.

Next week, I’ll put out some Honorable Mentions of things I thought were worth talking about, but not necessarily “listworthy”.

Year End Book Report: My Favorite Books/Comics I Read in 2019

Posted in Blog Series, Book Report, books, comic books with tags , , , , , on January 9, 2020 by Paxton

Year End Badass Book Report

Okey-dokey, my friends, it’s time for my year end round up articles. Every year in January (or February if I’m running late) I write up a list of my favorite things I read and watched in the previous year. I started doing movies in about 2007, then I added a books list in 2009.  These are some of my favorite articles to write because I can look back at the previous year and relive all the ups and downs in my own reading and watching.  It really is a lot of fun.

I keep my reading log in two places.  I’m still keeping a Google Spreadsheet of the books I’ve read.  But you can also check me out over on Goodreads.  See the details for all the books I’ve read, read my reviews, marvel at how handsome my profile pic is.  Lots of stuff to do there.

Here’s my 2019 Goodreads “My Year in Books” information:

According to Goodreads, and it’d know, I read 115 books last year, equaling 22,094 pages.  The longest book I read was Beastie Boys Book, which is surprising because I totally thought that Making of Empire Strikes Back book was longer.  Anyway, last year I had set my 2019 reading challenge to 80 books, so I beat that.  Yay!  I had a pretty good, consistent year of reading in 2019 so I was able to get my numbers up.  I hit a rough patch in October and November where I couldn’t read very much at all, otherwise, I would have finished with 120 books.  I set up my Goodreads challenge for 2020 just the other day, and I set it to 105 books.  We’ll see if I can keep last year’s momentum going.

The rules for this list are the same as always; only books I read for the first time in 2019 are eligible.  No re-reads.  I’ll probably do a followup article with Honorable Mentions and I’ll include any re-read books worth mentioning in that article.  I generally pick about 5 books and 5 comics to put in this list, but as always, I reserve the right to pick a few extras.  Let’s see if that happens this year.

First up…

Books

Four Legendary Kingdoms
The Four Legendary Kingdoms by Matthew Reilly – I’ve been reading Matthew Reilly for years, starting with The Contest way back in 2007-ish.  Since then I’ve read almost all of his books over the years.  This is the 4th book in Reilly’s Jack West Jr series. The first three books of this series made a previous Favorite Books list (WAAAAAAY back in 2011).  I read both the 4th and the 5th book (Three Secret Cities) in the series this year.  Reilly is such a fun author.  He writes these incredible, fast paced, adventure novels with fantastical plots.  I love them.  And this book actually features a low key but great crossover with another of Reilly’s heroes from a different series.  So much story and adventure in this book, I really enjoyed it.  As well as the aforementioned 5th book.  Looking forward to the release of the 6th book, soon I hope.

Vengeful
Vengeful by VE Schwab – The second book in Schwab’s Villains series. The first book made my list last year.  The world in this book has developed EOs (extra-ordinaries).  EOs are people that have acquired super powers through a near death experience.  And how the person nearly dies kind of determines the powers that person will have.  This book picks right up after the previous book with Victor and his crew tracking down and trying to stop Eli.  But we also get the rise of a brand new EO with her own vengeful agenda.  This is a great followup to the also great, Vicious.  The characters are all well written, the storyline is dark, but I had a lot of fun with this.  And I like the manifestation and different types of power sets in this series.  Really well thought out and written.

Beastie Boys Book
Beastie Boys Book by Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz – The Beastie Boys are one of my favorite groups.  Ever since I discovered them on the Krush Groove soundtrack back in the mid 80s I’ve been a die hard fan.  Consequently, I was thoroughly excited for the guys to tell their own history.  And they don’t disappoint here.  You get a great time capsule of New York in the early 80s.  Some of the punk scene and then transitioning over to the hip hop scene.  The Boys were there on the ground floor for a *lot* of hip hop history.  Some of my favorite stuff in this is the pre album stuff.  The stuff they did while recording the albums.  We get a lot of reminiscing about hanging out recording all their albums, like Check Your Head and Hello Nasty out in California, which is great.  And touring.  So much content.  This book is PACKED with info.  If you’re even a casual fan, you need to give this book a shot.  The only sad thing is that Adam MCA Yauch is no longer with us to tell his part of this story.  That would have made this just that much more complete.

Making of Empire Strikes Back
The Making of The Empire Strikes Back by JW Rinzler – I read Rinzler’s The Making of Star Wars book last year and it made my year end list.  So I started this book this past summer and read it on and off for about four months.  These books are exhaustive and super long.  I would read here and there, absorbing the details of filming on sets, the drama of actors, trying to get the story right, etc etc.  While this wasn’t as good as The Making of Star Wars, I really enjoyed the peek behind the curtain for Empire.  The lead up writing the screenplay, the tension that occurred between the actors over their parts, and the final marketing before the movie was released.  All of that info, and the book is packed with pictures, images, diagrams, script remnants.  So much to look at.  I also have Rinzler’s The Making of Return of the Jedi, and I hope to read that in 2020 the same way I read Star Wars and Empire the past two years.  I would say expect to probably see Making of Jedi on next year’s list.

Rewinder 1 rewinder 2 Rewinder 3
Rewinder series by Brett Battles – Every year Amazon offers its Kindle Unlimited program for a special low promo price. Normally it’s $9.99/month, but they will sometimes offer 3 months for $9.99, or 3 months for $.99, or even 3 months for free. With it you can browse and read a cultivated selection of kindle books and magazines.  I will usually take advantage of these special prices and read as many books as I can in three months for the low low promo price.  This series by Brett Battles is on Kindle Unlimited and during one of these promos I tried it out because it was about time travel.  And it’s a pretty great story.  Denny Younger was born into one of the lowest rungs of society.  His fortunes change when he’s recruited by a mysterious institute to become a Rewinder, a verifier of personal histories.  However Denny learns that verifying these histories doesn’t involve research in a library, but actually witnessing history and events through time travel.  And if he’s not careful, even the smallest mistake can have the largest consequences.  I blew through the first book and only had like a week or two before my promo period ended to read the second and third books which I was able to do with days to spare.  The whole series is a great read.  I had a lot of fun binging the three books back to back to back.  This series will definitely become a re-read at some point for me.

Impossible Fortress
The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak – This book was sent to me by my good friend, Shawn Robare.  He actually sent it to me years ago, but I didn’t get to it until this past year when I had an unexpected lull in my reading pile.  So I picked up this book, started to read it on a lark, and completely fell in love.  It’s set during the summer of 1987, and the book feels natural in that time period.  I don’t feel like it tries to hit you over the head with the nostalgic setting.  And the characters are very well drawn, especially our leads, Will and Mary.  It’s a wonderful, unassuming “back in the day” type story that I totally fell for.  Great great book.  Highly recommended.  Thanks Shawn for introducing me to it.

Here and Now and Then
Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen – I forget how I discovered this book.  It was published in January 2019.  It’s a really cool story about Kin Stewart, a man living a normal life in San Francisco in the 1990s with his wife and daughter but whose previous occupation was as a time traveling temporal police detective from 2142 who was accidentally stranded in the 90s after a botched mission.  18 years later, Kin is struggling with only partial memories of his previous life which is giving him headaches and blackouts, when his rescue team unexpectedly shows up and tries to take him back to his rightful future and a family he doesn’t remember.  This was such a good book.  I’m a sucker for time travel anyway, and this really hit the spot.  A lot of the story is about family and really hit home for me with the relationship of the main character and his daughter.

Time to move on to…

Comics

Superior Spider-Man collection
The Superior Spider-Man Complete Collection Volume 1 – I’ve had some of these issues for a while but never got around to actually reading them.  Then I was able to get this complete collection (the first 16 issues of the series) on sale for cheap and decided to give it a shot.  Just before he dies, Otto Octavius manages to switch his mind into Peter Parker’s body and Peter’s mind into Otto’s dying body.  Then Otto masquerades around as Peter/Spider-Man, being a super hero and living Peter’s life.  I think this is a great concept.  Otto tries to fit in and use his intellect to make his job as the new Spider-Man easier.  He’s also a lot more ruthless about catching criminals and it gets him into trouble.  It’s an interesting take on the “fish out of water” concept.  I really like it.  It reminds me a lot of Brian Michael Bendis’ Infamous Iron Man (which made my Best Books of 2017 list).

Kate Bishop 1 Kate Bishop 2 Kate Bishop 3
Kate Bishop: Hawkeye by Kelly Thompson
– Several years ago I read Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye series and loved it.  Kate is a big part of that series and I loved her in it.  So when I found out she got her own series, I snatched it right up.  And it’s great.  Kate is an awesome character and I love how Kelly Thompson writes her, and her eclectic group of friends that gather around her.  This is a great series, I love Thompson’s humor and was sad there weren’t more issues of this series when I finished with the third volume.  I wanted more!

Gwenpool 1 Gwenpool 2 Gwenpool 3
Gwenpool the Unbelievable by Christopher Hastings
– There are 5 volumes of Christopher Hastings’ Gwenpool series.  I originally started reading it because we were having him on as a guest on our now defunct podcast, Down the Rabbit Hole.  The very first volume was a bit rough.  I had a hard time getting through it but it sort of worked itself out by the end.  Then, starting in Volume 2, it just took off.  The series was so fun.  I know, she seems like a total “girl Deadpool” rip off, but she’s not.  Exactly.  Yes, she has the same “break the fourth wall” abilities, and she’s very wacky, but, as far as this series goes, I think I like her better than Deadpool.  I really enjoyed how zany and meta this whole series got.  I want Gwenpool to show up a lot more from now on.

WCA 1 WCA 2
West Coast Avengers by Kelly Thompson
– So I loved the two previous series starring the badass ladies Kate Bishop and Gwenpool, so of course I decided to pick up the title that TEAMS THEM UP and is written by the gal that wrote Kate Bishop’s solo series! This was such a cool and quirky team book with an eclectic collection of characters that I had so much fun with.  I am doubling down on Kelly Thompson here, she is a fantastic writer.  I loved both of these series she’s written so much I’ve gone searching out more of her work.  She’s currently writing the new Deadpool book, which of course I am going to read, but secretly, after West Coast Avengers ended this year, I was hoping she’d write a Gwenpool solo book.  This Avengers book is awesome and I was super sad it only lasted two volumes.  I wanted so much more of this team!

Thanos Wins
Thanos Wins by Donny Cates
– On my list last year I grouped together a bunch of Jeff Lemire titles as favorites. One of those titles were his Thanos books (Thanos Returns, The God Quarry).  Those books were awesome and epic and I loved them.  So when I saw another guy, Donny Cates, was finishing off the third and final volume of the series, I was unsure what to do with that.  I loved those first books and I was disappointed Lemire wasn’t writing the third.  But I read it anyway and BAM! Cates knocks it out of the park.  It is BANANAS.  So much fun and I don’t know why I was worried or surprised because Cates also wrote Cosmic Ghost Rider: Baby Thanos Must Die and *that* book was cosmic and bonkers and amazing.  So, Donny Cates is now someone I’m paying attention to.

And those are my picks for the best books/comics I read in 2019.  Like I said, I may have some honorable mentions I can talk about in a separate article, but let me get my “Best Movies of 2019” list out there first.

Hope you enjoyed this list, stay tuned for my Best Movies list coming up soon!

2018 Year End Honorable Mentions – Books/Comics

Posted in books, comic books, pop culture with tags , , , , , on February 4, 2019 by Paxton

YE Book Report

So you read my movie/TV Honorable Mentions list for 2018 (or maybe you didn’t).  Regardless, now it’s time for me to list out some books and comics that didn’t make the favorites list but I still want to talk about in some way.

Let’s do books first, then I’ll do some comics.

Origin
Origins – Dan Brown
– This is Brown’s latest Robert Langdon novel. *Long loud sigh* I really liked the first two Langdon books, Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code. I really didn’t like the third book, The Lost Symbol. I kind of liked Inferno, especially in how it ends the book with the implication that Langdon didn’t actually save the day. But rather than another Langdon sequel, I’ve longed for Brown to write more standalone novels akin to Deception Point and Digital Fortress. Instead, we get this book, which addresses *NONE* of the consequences of the previous book that I thought were so interesting. There was even a spot at the end of Origin where Inferno could actually have come up. But it doesn’t. Consequently, I hate this book with the lava-like fury of Apokolips itself.

RPO
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
– I wanted to talk about this in my previous list, but it was my third re-read of the book, so it was ineligible. This book has had an interesting journey for me. I *loved* it the first read. Then I listened to Wil Wheaton’s audio book version and I almost hated it. Then this particular re-read I swung back around to liking it again. I have some issues in the beginning, particularly with characterizations of certain people but I love how the world is setup and I love the Oasis.  And the mechanics of the egg hunt.  I’m looking forward to the sequel that Cline is supposedly writing.

Oracle Year
The Oracle Year – Charles Soule
– I’ve talked enough about stuff I didn’t like. How about something I *did* like that very nearly made my favorites list?  I’m a fan of Charles Soule’s comic book writing.  So I was very interested when he released his first novel.  The premise is: one day, a young man wakes up with 180 prophesies in his head.  He writes them down and with his friend, tries to figure out how best to use them.  He starts a website to keep himself anonymous, it becomes a sensation and suddenly he’s dealing with multinational corporations and governments that will stop at nothing to learn his secrets.  It’s a pretty engrossing read that I enjoyed all the way to the end.  No, it doesn’t answer every question I maybe would have liked answered, but it did its job and I really liked the book.  I’m looking forward to any more novels Soule wants to throw our way.

Landover trilogy
The Magic Kingdom of Landover Volume 1 – Terry Brooks
– I have this omnibus that contains the first three books in the series. I didn’t read all three of them last year. Just the third one. And while none of these three books made their respective years’ favorites list, as a group they are actually pretty good.  It’s an interesting take on fantasy.  A lawyer, sick of living the “lawyer life”, wants to get away.  He finds an ad squirreled away in an auction catalog for the purchase of the magical land of Landover.  He’s intrigued, gets his affairs in order, buys the land and travels to Landover, which exists in a different reality, to become its king. And it’s nothing like he had imagined.  I enjoyed the characters Brooks created in this series as well as the land of Landover itself.  And the rules by which the King of Landover must live.  It’s a fun three book cycle that has two more books in a second omnibus and a sixth book that was released several years ago.  I hadn’t originally planned on it but I’ll probably try the fourth book at some point.

Now on to comics.

New Superman
New Super-Man Volume 1: Made in China
– This was a total surprise to me.  I didn’t understand the point of this. Then, I actually thought I’d give it a shot because the more I thought about it the more I was intrigued where they were going with this.  And it’s actually pretty good.  China, feeling like they are falling behind in the super hero department find a way to duplicate powers in certain human beings.  So they create their own Superman, but will they live to regret the person they chose to *be* New Superman?  This very much reminds me of Greg Pak’s Totally Awesome Hulk.  It’s fun and funny.  I liked it a lot more than I expected.  Looking forward to volume 2.

DD
Daredevil Volume 1: Devil at Bay
– This is Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s initial run on Daredevil.  If you remember, I put Waid and Samnee’s Black Widow series on my year end list back in 2017. I said then that I need to check out their previous Daredevil run. So I did. And I didn’t like it. I love both these guys, but I just couldn’t get into this run. I think I just don’t like Daredevil. I had a similar problem getting into Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s run on Daredevil and that run is revered by many comics fans.  I don’t know what to tell you, I tried.  The Charlie Cox Netflix series is great, but I just don’t like Daredevil comics, I guess.

Hex
Hex
– This was a 1985 reboot of the western character Jonah Hex. I had a few issues of this I bought off the rack back in the day. I was intrigued by the post apocalyptic premise featuring the formerly western hero. It ran for about 18 issues back in 85-87.  I read the first 6 last year.  I’m hoping to read the next 6 this year.  It takes place in the distant future but somehow Batman shows up in issues 11-12.  I have to know how that happens.  Anyway, it’s essentially Mad Max meets Paladin: Gun for Hire.  Jonah Hex wakes up in the distant future.  It’s post apocalyptic, after the third World War.  Hex is part of some rich guy’s zoo, but he escapes and roams the land helping out people and fighting off mutant bikers.  It’s not bad.  It’s different.  I won’t say it’s excellent, but it’s definitely an entertaining read.

2018 Year End Honorable Mentions – Movies/TV

Posted in movies with tags , , on January 31, 2019 by Paxton

Movie Report

Okay, so I got my main year end lists, Favorite Movies of 2018 and Best Books I Read in 2018 out there.  My personal favorites have been laid bare for the Internet.  But there were some other movies I saw that I do want to give a mention.  I usually do that in an “Honorable Mention” section at the bottom of the aforementioned lists, but I decided to break it out this year.  And I didn’t really even discuss TV shows in that list, so there’s some stuff to talk about.

Below are some Honorable Mentions in movies/TV shows that I watched for the first time in 2018. These aren’t going to be necessarily the “next best selections” from my lists. These are just entries I want to talk about. Good or bad.

Let’s do a few movies first, then I’ll do some TV shows.


Justice League – I feel like I should address this since I saw it last year. It wasn’t bad. At the time I watched it, I liked it better than every other DC movie except Wonder Woman. Now, it’s third behind Aquaman.  There are things I didn’t love about it, of course. The inclusion of Cyborg is still baffling to me. Steppenwolf as the big blobby CGI villain kind of sucks. But there are many things I really like. Cavill is pretty much fixed as Superman here. Let me be more specific, I think Cavill is GREAT as Superman/Clark, but the writing of Superman has been out of whack.  THAT is what is fixed here.  I also love Supes’ return to the living and his initial fighting against the JL.  I love Wonder Woman.  I thought I’d love Batman more in this, but he was only okay.  I fully expected to hate Ezra Miller’s Flash, but I didn’t. I actually enjoyed it.  Aquaman is great in his debut here (as it’ll carry over to his own movie).  So there’s more to like than dislike for me.  I was surprised by that, especially judging by the online reaction to the movie.


The Polka King – This one is one I want to talk about, but it’s not for everyone.  I’ve really been enjoying Jack Black the last few years.  I’ve *always* found him funny but he’s really picking interesting projects during this latter part of his career. This, Goosebumps, the Jumanji sequel, and The House with a Clock in its Walls, are all things I’ve thoroughly enjoyed him in.  Polka King is different and a bit weird, like I said, not for everyone. But I really enjoyed it.  Black is flanked by a pretty great cast as well with Jenny Slate and Jason Schwartzman.  If you are so inclined, give this a watch, I think you may like it.


The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Extended Editions – On Twitter last year I called out that I had never watched the LOTR Extended Editions.  Honestly, I never really had a desire to watch them.  Then I finally caved and borrowed the extended edition trilogy DVDs from a friend and made the commitment to watch all three extended edition movies.  It took me a month, but I finally got through all three extended editions.  You know what, I actually enjoyed it.  Backing up, my thoughts on the theatrical movies are; love the first one, hate the second one, like the third one.  After the extended editions, I love the first one even more, actually better appreciate the second movie, and still like the third one pretty much the same.  I don’t plan on ever watching the extended editions again, I’ll keep my theatricals because Jackson has gone on record saying *those* are his official versions, but this exercise has made me appreciate the movies as a whole even more.  So I’m glad for that.  And I’m actually looking forward to a rewatch of the theatrical editions soon.


The Hurricane Heist – This entry and the next entry are sort of linked. Last summer I was really wanting to get in a theatrical viewing of GeoStorm because of all the bad buzz it was getting. I couldn’t make that happen but then this movie dropped on Redbox and I thought it had a promising story and could be sort of “fun bad”. Plus it starred Toby Kebbel who I actually like as an actor even though he’s been in some very maligned stuff like the Ben Hur remake and that 2015 Fantastic Four movie.  I was wrong.  This movie is garbage and none of you should waste your time on it.  That is all.


Geostorm – Fast forward a few weeks.  I go to Tallahassee to visit CT for a nerd weekend.  Geostorm just dropped on Redbox so I pick it up and we watch it.  And it’s actually pretty fun.  I don’t know why everyone was blasting this as the worst movie of the year when I literally *just* watched the worst movie of the year and its name was Hurricane Heist.  This movie is ridiculous, Gerard Butler is 100% Gerard Butler-ing it up, but it’s all just so entertaining.  Unlike the previous movie.  And the effects look GREAT.  Maybe that’s the difference, this one had the budget so ultimately it works, but I feel like there’s a perfect storm of things that made me enjoy this.  A perfect Geostorm of things, if you will (and I will).  Is it a *good* movie by any definition?  No, but it’s an endlessly entertaining movie.  Especially if you watch it with a fellow nerd, like I did.

Now, here are a few TV shows I watched last year that I want to mention.


Santa Clarita Diet Season 2 – Steph and I watched the first season of this show back in 2017.  Loved it.  Season 2 dropped in 2018 and we watched it and loved it just as much.  It really gets bonkers in the second season.  The quick premise is that Drew Barrymore is mysteriously turned into a zombie-like creature that only wants to eat people. Not just brains, but all people parts. I’ve said many times that I don’t like zombie stuff, and this is *kind of* a zombie thing, but it does its own thing.  But it sort of makes zombies and their origins into something different, maybe something closer to what zombies used to be in 30s-40s movies like White Zombie.  Drew and Timothy are hilarious in this.  Their daughter played by Liv Hewson and the kid next door played by Skylar Gisondo are also hilarious. They also open up the mythology of this series’ zombies just a little in this season. This is a great show and I really hope they keep it going. Like the show I’ll talk about next, the show runners here end each season on cliff hangers, so if it gets canceled, we are SOL.

Travelers
Travelers Seasons 2 & 3
– Steph and I watched both Season 2 and Season 3 of this show last year. Season 2 in January and Season 3 in December. This is a pretty great little sci-fi show that, like I mentioned above, actually ends its seasons with pretty hardcore cliff hangers. So, hopefully for us, they get renewed and the story can be resolved.  The premise: an oppressed, post-apocalyptic civilization in the future develops a way to send people’s consciousness back into the past.   Unfortunately the process completely erases the consciousness of the “host”.  So they only send people back into persons that historically are about to die.  And these agents that are sent back are following orders to make small changes to the timeline in order to bring about big changes in the future.  But real life in the 20th century constantly gets in the way for all the agents.  It’s a great show that seemingly could’ve ended in Season 3, but could also be a huge reboot for Season 4.  I’m not sure which it is yet.

Black Mirror
Black Mirror Season 4
– This is a great show and I’ve loved every season. Season 4 was a doozy.  The opening episode, USS Callister, was horrifying and great.  As was Arkangel and its look at what’s the line for protecting your children and invading their privacy?  Hang the DJ was a highlight and the final episode, Black Museum was pretty epic on its own.  Such a great modern version of Twilight Zone.  I’m looking forward to trying out the movie, Bandersnatch, at some point, but I really want the show to return with a new season.

So those are my honorable mentions in Movies and TV.  Coming up next, I’ll do the same for books and comics.