Reviews

Movie Issues: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

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Movie Issues: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

A film series that started in 2001 with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings series has finally come to end. Our second long journey though middle earth has reached its climax with the new film, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. We pick up right where we last left our hobbits. Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the terrifying Smaug from acquiring a kingdom of treasure and obliterating all of Middle-Earth. In this last of three pictures we see action, war, blood, gore, brotherhood and love. Out of the three Hobbit pictures, this is by far the best one.

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Review: Station Eleven – A Novel

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Review: Station Eleven – A Novel

All three caravans of the Traveling Symphony are labeled as such, THE TRAVELING SYMPHONY lettered in white on both sides, but the lead caravan carries an additional line of text: Because survival is insufficient.

The book opens with the death of an actor on stage: heart attack, completely unrelated to the epidemic of flu which wipes out most of the world’s population, and yet somehow linked with the lives of many of the survivors.

Emily St. John Mandel’s post-apocalyptic book Station Eleven: A Novel has no Mad Max-style warring armies, no mutants or zombies, no underground laboratories of scientists working on new technology to save civilization. The story wanders back and forth from the beginnings of the actor’s career through to twenty years after the epidemic. All of the characters are achingly normal, trying to find fulfillment in their mundane lives pre-collapse, or moments of happiness as they try to survive afterward. Sounds like a fairly sedate, character-study, doesn’t it? Well let me tell you, I finished this one in less than two days. Not kidding here, day-and-a-half tops. Like eating dessert in one bite, owmf, done. The book is beautiful, and scary, and exciting in places, and full of that kind of sadness you only get when you think about lovely things that you’ll never see again.

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Review: The Supernatural Enhancements

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Review: The Supernatural Enhancements

I’m still trying to read a few more 2014 books before the end of the year, and next up is Edgar Cantero’s The Supernatural Enhancements. In short, I loved it, even though I had one good reason not to.

It’s part mystery, part puzzle, part supernatural (of course) thriller, part horror, and humor. The whole premise was extremely clever, and I loved the interactions between the main characters. But I don’t think I entirely understood the ending. However (she says quickly) I don’t think the ending was badly written. It’s just that there are so many details and plot points to remember, I think it’d be hard to get everything on the first pass.

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Review – The Wind Rises: Blu Ray

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Review – The Wind Rises: Blu Ray

There are those few people in the world who truly touch your heart and are a source of inspiration for all your creative endeavors. In this case, I’m talking about the works of Hayao Miyazaki.  His work has been some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in animation. If you haven’t seen any of his movies yet (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbor Tororo, Kiki’s Delivery Service, among others), please put down this review and go watch one. Miyazaki has said that The Wind Rises is his final feature-length film. How does it compare to his other works?

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Review: Arkham Asylum – A Serious House on Serious Earth

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Review: Arkham Asylum – A Serious House on Serious Earth

1989 saw the release of Batman titles like Legends of the Dark Knight, a comic book adaptation of Tim Burton’s film, and a very pretty Elseworlds one-shot, Gotham by Gaslight. It also saw the publication of the graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, a story that takes the regular comic book format and the hard-boiled detective image of Batman, and throws them both out the window. For its 25th anniversary, DC has released a deluxe version of the title, complete with Grant Morrison’s original full script and storyboards.

The story: Joker and many of Batman’s greatest enemies are on a rampage, and Batman has been called in to rescue hostages and save the day. The kicker is that the riot is inside Arkham Asylum, and it’s the inmates themselves who have invited Batman to come home where he belongs. Grant Morrison’s first Batman title, the complicated story illustrated by Dave McKean’s fever-dream artwork has been called “groundbreaking” and “daring” by some fans, “overrated” and “a mess” by others. The comic operates on many levels and, like it or hate it, the results are pretty disturbing.

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Review: Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions

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Review: Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions

The Geometry Wars franchise was quite the surprise. It came out of nowhere and quickly became one of my favorite Xbox Live Arcade games. With the absence of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 on the PC, I had all but given up hope until Activision dropped the word of a Geometry Wars 3. Excitement would be an understatement for my feeling towards this news.

I’ve had the game for about a week and the question is: How does this game hold up compared to the previous titles?

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Review – Way of Shadows: Graphic Novel

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Review – Way of Shadows: Graphic Novel

There are those favorite book series, ones that you can’t get enough of and hope beyond hope that will get the film treatment. For me that was the Night Angel Trilogy by author Brent Weeks. During my rather long wait I made quite the discovery, they were making a graphic novel. Being something of a comic connoisseur I was more then excited. Then I saw some early character designs and I was sold. It also felt like a step in the right direction, hopefully bringing this book series closer to a film version. So how does the graphic novel capture the essence of the book series?

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Review: Koko Takes a Holiday

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Review: Koko Takes a Holiday

I’ve been trying to get a few more 2014 books under my belt before New Year’s, and next on the list is Kierran Shea’s first novel, “Koko Takes a Holiday.” If you’re looking for a family friendly, feel-good, classy novel…you’d better go look somewhere else.

But if you’re looking for a fun, violent, blood-and-gore sci-fi romp, you should check it out. It’s unapologetically over the top, but in spite of that it’s surprisingly intelligent. In between the sex and exploding bodies there’s some stuff that makes you think.
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Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

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Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

It’s been one year folks. A year since we were introduced with the steaming pile that was Call of Duty: Ghosts. A year since I pretty much told myself that I would never touch Call of Duty again. And yet, here we are, a year later and, like an amnesiac with a tendency for masochism, I’m playing Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

After playing through the entirety of the single player campaign, I can say with a reasonable amount of confidence that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a good game. There is a plethora of shooters in the world, but Call of Duty is one of the few that really thrives on doing the same thing over and over again. So what sets Advanced Warfare apart from the rest? Hit the jump and read on.

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Review: Afterworlds

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Review: Afterworlds

“Well, honey, maybe you should pretend to be dead.”

“What?”

The gunman looked up from the wounded on the floor, and I could see the glitter of eyes through the two holes in the mask. He was staring straight at me.

“If there’s no way to get to safety,” she said carefully, “maybe you should lie down and not move.”

He holstered his pistol and raised the automatic rifle again.

“Thank you,” I said, and let myself fall as the gun roared smoke and noise.

We’re introduced to Lizzie Scofield, the main character of the book-within-a-book “Afterworlds”, in the middle of a terrorist attack while she’s on the phone with a desperately calm 911 operator who gives her the last-second advice that saves her life: pretend to be dead. Lizzie drops to the floor, praying that the shooter won’t finish her off like the dozens around her, and somehow wills herself into the underworld. She meets the love of her life in the space between worlds, and then spends the rest of the book trying to find her place in a dangerous new reality where the dead have literally been with her since birth, and where things can happen to you that are a lot worse than dying.

The writer of the Young Adult book “Afterworlds” is Darcy Patel, a teenage writer just graduated from high school. Darcy wrote the draft of her first novel in one month, and manages to get a publisher to sign her to a two-book deal for over a hundred thousand dollars. The alternating chapters of Scott Westerfeld’s book Afterworlds follows Darcy’s choice to move to the big city, living off her advance while she completes the revisions for the book’s final draft, all the while getting to hang out with a supportive crowd of fellow writers. And even though the book she’s writing is filled with ghosts, psychopomps, kingdoms in the afterlife, and a mystical river between worlds, it actually feels like less of a fantasy world than the idyllic year Darcy spends in the Young Adult Writers Heaven in New York City. Read On