Reviews

Movie Issues: The Maze Runner

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Movie Issues: The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner is the latest young adult novel turned movie to be released into theaters. Based on the novel of the same name by James Dashner. The story follows teenager Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) who wakes up to find himself without any memory of his past in a place called The Glade, the center of a giant maze inside of which live vicious creatures called Grievers. The Glade is inhabited by other teenage boys, all of who have no memory of their previous life. Periodically the doors to the maze open allowing the boys to go into it. However, they also close without warning and no boy who has ventured inside has ever survived a night in the maze. But everything begins to change when the latest arrival turns out to be a girl, Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), along with the other boys; they launch a desperate bid for freedom.

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Movie Issues: TUSK

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Movie Issues: TUSK

In film these days the three act structure is law and modern audiences get confused when movies don’t go the way their sub-conscious minds are used to. Stories rarely surprise people these days, now the best we can get are moments in a movie that may trick us, but the story always remains the same. Writer, director, and podcaster Kevin Smith has squarely taken on the challenge of going against his comedy roots and the old film standards in his latest film, TUSK. Spun off from lark on one of his podcasts with BFF and long time collaborator (except this time), Scott Mosier, Smith took the concept that had him and listeners dying with laughter and turned it into a feature film out today.

The film is drastically dark and filled to the brim with treats for the podcast fans, but has the cult comedy icon made a movie too far out of his comfort zone and too inside Smodcast for audiences?

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Review: Full Fathom Five

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Review: Full Fathom Five

By 1:00 A.M. her work was done: three chickens sacrificed, one each on altars of silver, iron, and stone; a stack of profit and loss statements dispatched by nightmare telegraph; a prayer litany chanted balancing on one foot; a proposal drafted, suggesting an Iskari family shift their faith from the high-risk personal resurrection market to dependable grain-focused fertility.

Ever since I read Max Gladstone’s first book Three Parts Dead I wanted to hear everything I could about the world he’s created, where gargoyles and vampires are part of everyday life, deathless skeleton sorcerers walk down the street for a cup of coffee, incredibly powerful magic is managed with paperwork, and magicians and priests have to be good at economics.

Gladstone’s second book, Two Serpents Rise, was fun, but somehow the ending didn’t thrill me as much as the first.

He’s more than made up for it with Full Fathom Five.

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Review: The Paper Magician

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Review: The Paper Magician

Continuing the theme of Back to School, this week’s review is for Charlie N. Holmberg’s debut novel The Paper Magician. The new twist on magic-users caught my attention (every magician specializes in one man-made material: metal, glass, paper, plastic, etc.,) so I picked it up after only a brief look at the description: top-in-her-magic-class Ceony is heartbroken when she graduates and is assigned to be the apprentice of a paper magician, forever crushing all her dreams of working with metal. I’ll admit I thought this was going to be mostly a book about leaving childhood behind, learning to appreciate books and the beauty of origami, making new friends, and eventually finding out that the real magic was inside her all along. Standard coming-of-age young-adult stuff. 

Ha, no. Ceony does learn a lot about origami and other techniques used by Folders (paper magicians); she also faces scenes of massacres, betrayal, mistakes with horrific consequences, and for a good part of the book she has to wade ankle-deep through blood while trying to escape a magician who works with a material very very far removed from paper. This is a wonderfully dark little book. Clever, definitely, but also disturbingly violent.

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Review: Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition

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Review: Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition

Diablo 3:Reaper of Souls has finally been released for current and last gen consoles. This iteration of the least favored addition to the Diablo series is something of a godsend for the series. As some of you may know, when Diablo 3 first came out in 2012, it was almost universally panned as the worst Diablo game in the series for its simplified gameplay, terrible story, and general disregard for what made its predecessors so compelling. But, like any Diablo fan, I picked up D3 on PC and got burned to the point that I couldn’t bring myself to play the game for a year.

Then, Diablo 3 came to consoles, and I decided to give it a shot and I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable the experience was, terrible story notwithstanding. At the time, I declared that the console version of Diablo 3 was the best version, and I still stand by that assessment of the original Diablo 3. Since then, however, the PC version received multiple updates and has righted almost every wrong it committed upon its initial release. And with the release of Reaper of Souls, Diablo 3 has transformed into an entirely different game.

With that being said, let’s take a look at Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition. Read On

Review: Dragonsong and Dragonsinger

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Review: Dragonsong and Dragonsinger

Warning, great big spoilers.

Even though I graduated *ahem,mumble,cough* years ago, I still get a flood of memories around back-to-school season. Many are positive, some less so. By far the best memories involve Anne McCaffrey’s Harper Hall trilogy; my sixth-grade English teacher read the first two books out loud to our class over the course of most of the school year.

First printed in the 1970′s, Dragonsong and Dragonsinger tells the story of Menolly, a lonely teenager living a repressed life in a fishing village that doesn’t have any patience for girls who want to be musicians.  Friendless and miserable, she runs away and purely by accident becomes the owner of nine fire-lizards: miniature telepathic dragons who are loyal to her and her alone. Imagine being a somewhat awkward middle-schooler and getting to hear a story like that. If you’ve ever wondered why my twitter and Deviantart names both have the word “dragon” in them, this would be the reason why.

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Review: Toad Words, and Other Stories

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Review: Toad Words, and Other Stories

Talking stags, on the other hand, were nearly always bespelled royalty, and fairies, who could theoretically choose to look like anything, nearly always picked white cats or black horses. Fairies are very beautiful and very vain and they haven’t got the imagination to fill a thimble. And they never learn from their mistakes.

I’ve followed Ursula Vernon over on deviantart for years, mostly for her gorgeous paintings and collages of clockwork creatures, animal saints, hamster warriors, and other beautifully absurd beasties. Almost more than the art, though, I loved the descriptions. She loves to drop the reader smack into the middle of a new world, one she created just to explain why she drew an Iguanodon in a gardener’s hat, or because she liked the name “bramble dragon” and needed a place to put one.

Between deviantart and her blog, I’ve gotten hooked on her writing, and was hoping to someday own a book of her short stories. So you can imaging all the cheering when I ran across “Toad Words, And Other Stories.” (Written under the name T. Kingfisher, since she writes a lovely series of children’s books and likes to keep this slightly more adult work under a different name.)

It’s a book of re-told fairy tales, all in the quirky, matter-of-fact-in-the-face-of-total-nonsense style that I’ve always loved. They’re often dark, sometimes sad, but always endearing, even when they’re disturbing. She’s taken the stories we’ve grown up with and asked why people stuck in a fairy tale would do the things they do. She also assumes we might have only heard one person’s side of the story; who knows what actually happened.

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Review: Doctor Who – Tales of Trenzalore

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Review: Doctor Who – Tales of Trenzalore

‘We didn’t want to disturb you, Doctor. You’re an important man.’

The Doctor rolled his eyes. ‘Important? I’m not important. I’m the least important man in this town.’ He waived his stick at the assembled townsfolk. ‘It’s you lot who are important…”

To celebrate the return of Doctor Who, I’m going to review a second collection of Doctor Who short stories in a row. Love Doctor Who, love short stories. Both together? Can’t resist.

It’s hard to picture, since we only get to see a brief montage of it in one episode, but the Doctor was stranded on Trenzalor, on purpose, for nine hundred years. Nine centuries protecting the town of Christmas against attacks by pretty much every enemy the Doctor had ever faced. You can have a lot of adventures in nine hundred years; Tales of Trenzalore tells four of them.

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Movie Issues: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

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Movie Issues: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is the sequel to the 2005 film Sin City. Co-directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller. The script is written by Miller and primarily based on the second book in the Sin City series created by Miller. Staring Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Eva Green, Powers Boothe and Bruce Willis. New and returning cast members come together for one more hard time in roughest city around.

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Review: Doctor Who – 11 Doctors, 11 Stories

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Review: Doctor Who – 11 Doctors, 11 Stories

‘Be careful, Aggie! Remember, ‘The Doctor is a Master of Deceit”.’

‘Aggie?’ said the Doctor thoughtfully. ‘I wonder what that’s short for.’

The girl’s nostrils flared proudly. ‘My full name is Agony-Without-End-Shall-Be-The-Doctor’s-Punishment.’

‘Ah,’ said the Doctor. ‘You know, Leela, just between ourselves, I’m starting to feel that I’m not entirely welcome here.’

Rejoice! Season 8 of Doctor Who starts in just two days; brand new season, brand new Doctor. And I can’t think of a better way to get ready for the grand entrance of Number Twelve than a collection of short stories about all eleven Doctors who came before.

11 Doctors, 11 Stories brings together eleven award-winning authors, each telling their own tale about a different incarnation of the wandering Time Lord. The stories are about as different from each other as the Doctors are themselves, and since they’re all extremely well-written, I really think the story you like best is going to depend on which one features “your” Doctor.

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