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Review: Wonder Woman

Wonder_Woman_(2017_film)It’s no secret that the DCEU of movies has met with harsh criticism, and in some cases rightfully so.  Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman were split down the middle by fans and Suicide Squad was an absolute disaster.  Even before those the films were less than perfect.  Bad interpretations of villains in the previous Batman movies, a heavily CGI Green Lantern film, and the 5 prior Superman films were only good for the first two.  So the track record of DC films hasn’t been anything spectacular over the years.  Sure there were high points, but it really had me worry for Wonder Woman.

Then I saw it, and while the story felt similar to Captain America the First Avenger, it was Gal Gadot who really made this a great watch.  The actress is not only stunning, but connects with audiences on an emotional end, and then turns into a complete badass.  Chris Pine as Steve Trevor added a great amount of chemistry and humor needed.

The supporting cast did well, and the visual effects with the lasso were straight from the pages of the comic books.  The director’s decision to add more color to Wonder Woman’s costume was a smart one as well.  It made her stand out more in a very cold looking era film.

My complaints would be minor overall but still bothersome.  Ares was a great villain, but I saw the twist coming from the moment the actor stepped on screen.  It was way too predictable.  The over usage of Wonder Woman’s theme song grew tiresome, and some of the Amazonian fights looked off in the CGI department.

What I did like is that for the most part this was a true interpretation of the character.  I’d watch Gal Gadot in anything, but the comic fan in me couldn’t be happier.  I’m not sure I enjoyed the sort of force blast she showed with her gauntlets, but I think this was to show how she can ricochet most attacks that way.

Finally, DC films has something to list as their best movie to date (Yes that includes all other movies mentioned above).  We now have a female hero who is both a princess and warrior hero.  I give Wonder Woman 4 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.  What did you think?

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Review: Ash Vs Evil Dead Season 2

ash-vs-evil-dead-season-2-dvd-coverSeason 1 of Ash vs Evil Dead was a great throwback to the Evil Dead/Army of Darkness franchise.  It cemented itself as the perfect installment for fans of old and new.  I thought season 2 would have been more of the same approach, but I was thankfully wrong.

Sure there was some of the B movie humor, which had me laughing hysterically at one point (The Morgue scene when Ash is going after the book).  But there was also some sincerity to it in a very Evil Dead 1 sort of way.  When Ash is in the asylum it is downright creepy.  Baal vs Ash in a mental battle was fun to watch.  Ruby joining the team was a step in the right direction of adding tension and mistrust.  Pablo becoming the book was interesting.  Lee Majors as Brock (Ash’s father) was perfect casting, and it made me miss his old 6 million dollar man days.

Then they took a completely unexpected turn and went back to prevent the events in the first movie from ever happening, only to change them for the worse.  My question is who picked up the Necronomicon in the post credits scene?  If the writers wanted to really throw the viewers for a loop they would make it one of the kids from the remake a few years back.  In that movie Ash shows up to pick up the surviving girl.  With that epilogue and him in the shadows there, it could easily be explained that he brought her in as a new team member.  This would make that movie canon.  Even if it was not a good interpretation it would still fit in what could become an even more exciting series.

I mean there really isn’t anything I can complain about here.  If B-movie horror/comedy isn’t your thing, then you won’t like this, but for any fan of the original films I highly recommend it.  I give it 4.5 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.  What did you think of Ash vs Evil Dead season 2?

Review: Alien Covenant

Alien_Covenant_Teaser_PosterThe Alien franchise has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid.  Each installment has me on the edge of my seat waiting for release.  Well I finally got to sit down and watch Alien: Covenant, and found it to be familiar, yet refreshing.

Slight Spoilers ahead…

At first I found myself confused thinking that they wouldn’t even touch on the events in Prometheus, but thankfully they wrapped up that story fairly well, and in a shocking way.  It explains a lot for the rest of the series.

The twist with David and Walter at the end however was slightly predictable.  I saw it coming a mile away.  The whole premise to the crew going to the planet that Prometheus had been on was a little far fetched.  You would think for a technologically advanced crew of astronauts, that there’d be some sort of record of what happened to the crew of Prometheus or at least where they were going.  There were also a few places where the CGI seemed off to me, but not terrible.  I’m just used to the original films where the effects were all practical.

That was the only real faults I found with the movie.  On the positive side, Michael Fassbender is becoming one of my favorite actors.  His dual roles in this movie were spectacular, and Katherine Waterson’s female lead was as likeable as Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley.

The high points for me were the explanation of where the Aliens came from and how they were engineered.  They aren’t yet the species we meet in the first Alien movie.  They are something else, but by the end of the movie we see where it is going to lead.  I’ll admit that the white colored alien was downright eerie to see.  It gave me the creeps.

One thing that I really like is that this is definitely NOT the movie that takes place right before Alien.  There obviously has to be another film to explain more.  While it answered quite a few questions, it opened the door for more lore.  I still would like to see one more adventure for Ellen Ripley, but if I can’t get that this is just as good.

Overall I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.  It’s be no means a spectacular film, but has an important place in the franchise.  It was fun, and you could feel the mortality of the characters involved.  What did you think of Alien Covenant?

Think, Sip, Write: ep 40 – Land of Oz

Lana sits in as cohost for this episode all about L. Frank Baum’s Land of Oz.  From the 40 original novels, we discuss some noteworthy adaptations in film, games, and more.  What are your favorite Oz works?

Chime in with your thoughts, and be sure to subscribe to my channel for episodes of #thinksipwrite and more.

Think, Sip, Write: ep39 – Fairy Tale Origins

As a writer of fiction I am not ashamed to admit that fairy tales played a huge part in me wanting to be a writer.  There was always the action, the cool villain, and often a good love story.  The Grimm Brothers and Disney did a great job of shaping that side of my tastes.  But what about the true events that inspired such tales?  Roberta and I reveal some interesting things about them in this latest episode of #thinksipwrite

Review: Marvel’s The Defenders ssn 1

Defenders_NetflixNetflix surely has a hit with its Marvel TV shows, but that doesn’t mean they have all been great.  Daredevil season 1 and 2 as well as Luke Cage were outstanding.  Iron Fist started strong, but underwhelmed in the latter half of the season.  Jessica Jones had a great concept, but could have been done in 4 episodes because 13 was much too long and drawn out.  So with the Defenders coming out I had a bag of mixed emotions.  How did it fare?

The Defenders had an amazing first two episodes.  They filled in the gap of what was happening with each character after we last saw them all.  It was story building at its finest.  People complained that they all don’t even meet until episode 3, but they obviously have no desire for substance.  It is well worth the wait.

At that point I was worried that with such a great buildup, that the last 4 episodes would fall short.  They did not.  The action sequences and story held up to standards, and even though the post climax was drawn out, the 8 episodes made for in my opinion the best Marvel Netflix show yet.  Even at the end of the credits we get a surprise teaser trailer for the Punisher coming later this year.

There were plenty of twists and turns, and a few things left unsaid.  The ending left me wondering whether the Hand was done, and who survived of the four stuck at the bottom of the shaft?  Surely Matt Murdock could not have escaped on his own.  So, who got him to the surface?

As for the characters individually here’s how I see them:

Luke Cage & Daredevil were as expected.  I think both were flawless and exactly how portrayed before.  Jessica Jones was still herself at the core, but her interactions with the other characters, in particular Matt Murdock, were so much more likeable.  She worked better with a team than alone.  Iron Fist finally made that transition to hero.  He was much more deserving of the title in this than his own show, making it more exciting anticipation for his next season.  Colleen Wing, Misty Knight, Karen Page, Foggy, Trish, and Stick were all used sparingly enough to not overcrowd the plot.

Overall it was an enjoyable and fun ride.  I’d call it the Avengers for adults, and am eager to see them all team up again.  I’ll give it 4.5 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.  What did you think?

Think, Sip, Write: ep 38 – A White Dinner

Roberta and I chat about an amazing event called, “Diner En Blanc”. What fun events like this do you have in your town? Have you ever been to a Diner en Blanc? If so, share your experiences in the comments below.

Think, Sip, Write: ep38 – Etiquette

This episode takes inspiration from a chapter in my book NO, IT’S NOT. YES, IT IS: ARGUMENTS and talks about etiquette.  Join Roberta and I for a fun chat, and be sure to comment with your own thoughts.  #thinksipwrite

Shifting Gears: A book release update

2017 has been extremely interesting and productive so far, but it also has forced me to alter the schedule a little in terms of my novels and books.  This is actually for the better, as there will be more projects released, but focuses on shorter stories so that the longer ones can have more time to develop.  Here’s what is currently in progress and estimated release dates:

THE THIRST OF CAIN – Book 11 in the Eternal Hunger Saga is being pushed back from Fall 2017 to Spring 2018.  I decided to use more historical events to make this feel like a direct sequel to BLOOD, THE SECOND HELPING and A COURSE FOR HUMANITY; as well as being a great stand alone entry.  This means much more research of course, so in order to not rush the final product I’m taking my time to properly represent historical events in different eras.

DIGESTED CONCEPTS – This won’t be released until 2019, but I began work on it now.  I’ve gone through and reread all of my previous novels to touch on each concept in them.  This will be a non-fiction companion book to the series.  It will go through a behind the scenes look at what’s in the saga from the start of my writing career to the end of the Eternal Hunger Saga (including details on all 12 novels, spinoff short stories, and the trilogy releases)

THE LOST HOUR – A short story spinoff of A COURSE FOR HUMANITY, which will delve into the back story to the first successful trip through time, and dealing with the consequences.  This will be released in late October of this year.

UPSIDE DOWN DAYS – My daughter came up with an amazing story for a children’s book, so I’m working with her for a November release of this year.  She’s hashed out the plot and I’m helping tweak the story and write it.  She will also be illustrating the pages, and I couldn’t be more excited to do this with her.

THE LOST DAY – A short story spinoff of THE THIRST OF CAIN, that will be released one month after the novel next year.  It will touch on an event mentioned in the main story, but not actually featured.

There is of course a plethora of other things in the works, but to which I can’t yet go into detail.  Feel free to share your current projects and stay tuned.

Mayhem at the Cape

physick estate 1879

Emlen Physick Estate in 1879. Photo courtesy of Cape May MAC

 

Cape May, New Jersey is one of my favorite places to escape to for writing and inspiration. I’ve been wrapped up with a few books in process, but needed a little escape, and this weekend was perfect. Instead of staying at our normal place, my wife Roberta was invited to review the Congress Hall hotel. (Check out http://www.homemadedelish.com for her review).

 

The history in that place alone is amazing, but the town has so much more going on than just that one land mark. The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities (www.capemaymac.org) has a wide array of tours and events available all year round.

We’ve previously done the horse and buggy tour, but decided to go for something a little more in my realm of writing. I originally intended to do the ghost trolley tour, but Susan Krysiak (director of media relations) suggested I check out the Cape Mayhem Trolley Tour.

This goes beyond just telling about the many haunted tales of the town, but delves into the history of some bizarre rituals and practices that people did during the Victorian Era.

I don’t want to spoil much about the ride itself on the history end, because it is something you need to see for yourself. What I can say is that even if you aren’t a history buff or fan of the weird and spooky, this is a very relaxing and fun half hour ride.

One place I will mention that was the highlight of the tour was the story about the Emlen Physick Estate. I’d always seen the house but didn’t know how intriguing its history was. My next trip to town will definitely include a tour of the estate, which is also run by the same knowledgeable people as the trolley tours.

If you’ve ever been on one of these tours, then please comment below and share your experiences. If you haven’t then make sure to visit http://www.capemaymac.org to see what you’re missing. Feel free to contact their media relations at 609-224-6036 or skrysiak@capemaymac.org #capemaymac