Reviews

Song of the Sea Review: A Journey to the World of Old

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Song of the Sea Review: A Journey to the World of Old

The ocean is never still and neither is life. As I get older in my lifetime I’m beginning to accept that change is going to be a constant in this world. The world of animation is currently going through a changing of the guards, as fabled director Hayo Miyazaki retires. Those are some rather large shoes to fill, and my hope has always been that someone would step up and bring forth a groundbreaking animated feature. There have been some decent attempts, but no studio has come closer than Cartoon Saloon.

They made a splash with their first animated feature, The Secret of Kells, a film whose trailer alone had me rushing out to purchase a Blu-ray copy. Well, Cartoon Saloon’s second feature, Song of the Sea, is officially hitting theaters with a limited release while also being nominated for best Animated Feature in the 2015 Oscars. I had the opportunity to sit down and watch a screening of the movie. So how does it compare to The Secret of Kells? Is Cartoon Saloon the next Studio Ghibli?

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Review: Agatha H and the Airship City

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Review: Agatha H and the Airship City

Phil and Kaja Foglio’s gaslamp fantasy series Girl Genius is set in a world of automatons and dirigibles, tyrants and heroes, and stories of the famous adventurers, The Heterodyne Boys. It’s a world where a small portion of the population are Sparks, geniuses born with the ability to invent death rays and revenants and robots capable of leveling cities, but usually without the common sense to determine when building something like that is a fantastically bad idea. 

Into all this comes Agatha Clay, a bumbling college student with a lot of big ideas, and a track record of creating things that either fall to pieces or explode. Sometimes both. Nothing she makes ever works, at least until the day the locket she’s been told to never take off is stolen. Suddenly Agatha finds herself a hostage aboard a tyrant’s city-sized dirigible, Castle Wulfenbach, surrounded by the brightest and maddest of the Empire, and building actual working inventions in her sleep. And all that’s before she finds out that she is somehow the long-lost heir to the Heterodyne Family.

The ongoing Girl Genius comic series first started in 2001, and has since won the Hugo Award three times for Best Graphic Story; it most likely would have kept on winning if the Foglios hadn’t withdrawn the series from the competition so they could give other artists a chance. In 2011 the Foglios released the first of the novelized versions of the ongoing story, Agatha H and the Airship City. The book retells the story from the graphic novel, with some interesting additions that can give readers a little more back story about the characters and world that the original version may have missed.

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Review – Song of the Sea: Soundtrack

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Review – Song of the Sea: Soundtrack

If you asked me what genre of music I listen to the most, there would be a quick thought and an almost instant response: soundtracks. They make up part of my rather eclectic taste in music. For me, soundtracks are one of the most important part to any movie.

Which brings me to the upcoming animated film Song of the Sea. While I was more then interested in seeing the actual movie based solely on the fact it was the studio that brought us The Secret of Kells, after watching but a quick trailer, the music sealed the deal.

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Review: The End is Now

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Review: The End is Now

John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey’s The Apocalypse Triptych is a trilogy of short-story collections, each one set at a different stage of the end of the world. In the second book in the series, The End is Now, we take you to Doomsday already in progress. Twenty stories telling all the different ways that everything is coming to an end.

The quarantine measures have failed, the asteroids are leveling Earth’s cities as we speak, the zombie horde is just shambling into view, and the aliens have already started shooting. The apocalypse is in full swing. Let’s do this.

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Movie Issues: Blackhat

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Movie Issues: Blackhat

Michael Mann, acclaimed director of Heat, The Insider and Collateral, is starting 2015 off with his new cyber-thriller, Blackhat. The American and Chinese agencies work together to capture a cyber criminal who seems unmotivated by politics or finance, as he seeks to cripple the international banking network. With the help of convict Nicholas Hathaway, Chris Hemsworth, the authorities pursue the mysterious figure across the world, hoping to stop him before his real plan happens. What sounds like a good action flick, ends up being an over two-hour revenge flick that is so boring, you long for death.

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Review: The Habitation of the Blessed – A Dirge For Prester John

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Review: The Habitation of the Blessed – A Dirge For Prester John

The legend of Prester John is one of the first documented cases of a hoax going viral. In 1165 a letter was discovered, supposedly sent to the Byzantine Emperor from a mysterious king in  the far east, telling of a Christian land filled with riches and monsters. The letter inspired stories and explorations and crusades for four centuries before everyone finally decided the whole thing had been made up.

But what if it was all real?

In The Habitation of the Blessed, Catherynne Valente tells a small part of the story of Prester John as it appears in three books plucked from a tree where they’d been growing like fruit. The viewpoints alternate from Prester John’s own tale, to his history as written by his fantastical wife many years later, to the nursery stories told to a trio of royal children long before John ever came to the country of Pentexore. And all of this is read by two humble priests who frantically try to finish transcribing the story before the books they’ve harvested can finish rotting and going to seed.

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Jordan’s Backlog: Destiny

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Jordan’s Backlog: Destiny

There comes a time in every gamer’s life when you realize, “There’s too many things to play!” Sadly, I’ve reached that point in my life and I must admit that I can’t play everything that comes out, beat them, and also write about them. Luckily, I have just enough free time to put in work on a bunch of the games I’ve yet to finish.

That being said, welcome to Jordan’s Backlog, my feeble attempt to get my thoughts out about all the games I’ve been playing without being able to review them all. Because, let’s be honest, I’m no professional, but I can get things done (most of the time). Read On

Review: Revival

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Review: Revival

                  …something happened…

A lot of Stephen King’s older works revolve around younger (or at least simpler) themes: little boy versus the haunted hotel, aliens from outer space, teenagers fighting a demon-possessed car. His more recent books seem to be taking a gloomier tone, and involve a lot more soul-searching. The main characters are all getting older, and having to come to terms with their eventual mortality. Books like Revival feature all of the mundane nastiness that can come from real life, like cancer, and substance abuse, and domestic homicide. And, of course, stupid and pointless accidents.

Jamie Morton is six years old when he meets Reverend Charles Jacobs, the cheerful, intelligent young minister who moves to Harlow in 1962 to become the town’s new preacher. Three years later Jacobs responds to tragedy by throwing away his faith and his career in one blistering sermon that alienates most of the town and kills whatever faith nine-year-old Jamie might have had left.

In 1992 Jamie stumbles across Charles Jacobs again. Jacobs has turned a passion for the study of electricity into something much more. It starts with impossible photographs taken at an amusement park; by 2008 he’s using his “secret electricity” to heal cancer and paralysis and congenital handicaps, curing people by the thousands. And Jamie gets more and more wary every time Pastor Jacobs comes back into his life. It’s not just that Jacobs obviously doesn’t believe a word of what he’s preaching during his tent-revivals; the cures are real even if the testimonials aren’t. It’s that the former minister-turned-carnival-barker-turned-revival-preacher is looking for something he won’t explain, and he isn’t even concerned that a small number of the people he’s cured have had some weird side-effects.

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Review: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf

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Review: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf

The last book I read for 2014 technically came out in 2012, but it wasn’t published in the United States until last year. Ambelin Kwaymullina’s first novel has a great mix of science-fiction and fantasy, and I loved the premise of a world coming back after mankind almost destroyed it. Unfortunately the story ends up being a little unwieldy. It’s marketed at young adults, but I think the audience should be a little younger. It’s not a bad book by any means, but it didn’t win me over.

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