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Review: Justice League

justice-league-posterI’ll give you a heads up now.  There will be some spoilers in this review, but I will try to keep it to a minimum.  If you’d like my rating of the movie without all the intricacies you can scroll down to the final paragraph.

Justice League has finally happened, but the reception is once again split down the middle.  DC and Warner Brothers are having a rough streak at keeping the audiences happy overall.  I could get into why, but perhaps that’s another article.  Here’s what I can say…

This movie will make longtime fans of the characters happy.  For those who look at plot and effects, well that may be a different story.  Here’s a brief character breakdown:

Batman: Affleck looks tired in the role.  Perhaps part of what the negativity is comes from him.  I still think he’s a great batman and Bruce Wayne, but there’s no passion in the actor’s eyes.  That being said, Batman was very enjoyable and seems to have been set up to eventually phase into either an Alfred like role for the team or being replaced by perhaps Dick Grayson at some point under the cowl.

Wonder Woman: Gal Gadot rocks the role again, and she really is the glue to this whole team.  I feel they could have used her more in the film, but there’s only so much you can do with this many characters in a two hour movie.

The Flash: I was very skeptical about the casting of Ezra Miller in this part.  He doesn’t look like the Barry Allen that fans have come to know, and the one on TV has been prominent in everyone’s minds.  From the second he took to the screen however, I was pleasantly surprised.  I hate his suit with a passion.  For a character that can run at super speeds, you’d think it’d be more aerodynamic and uniform.  This looks like a machine more than something a hero would wear.  Other than that, I think he is portrayed quite well in the movie as an up and coming hero.

Cyborg: If it weren’t for the horrible CGI on him, I really think he’d have been great.  Unfortunately because he is hard to look at at times, and there is not much about him learning each of his upgrades, it’s difficult to enjoy the time he’s on screen.

Aquaman: This is another casting that I thought was strange, but am completely on board with now.  He is easily one of the best things about the movie.  Like Wonder Woman, he has limited screen time, but I think he was presented well as far as quickly learning back story.  He brings quite a bit of humor and badassery to the plot.  I also like how they mention it isn’t the fish he talks to, but the water itself.  This actually makes a lot more sense.

Superman: Finally, we get a Superman that is closer to what he is in the comics.  He has a brighter costume, and less brooding persona.  That may not be the case when he is first brought back from the dead, but what we do get is a very cool few scenes.  The moment when he is brought back and faces the League is my favorite part of the whole movie.  I could watch it over and over and never get bored.  It made the comic book geek in me happy that Joss Whedon took over to give it what fans have wanted.  If I had to offer one complaint it would be that I really hoped we’d have seen him in his black and silver suit with a slight mullet.  In all reality hair does continue to grow after death for a bit, so him being clean cut made no sense.

Steppenwolf: I was surprised to hear he was going to be the main villain, but excited as well.  He was one of my favorite villains when I was a kid, and seeing a proper interpretation of him got me stoked.  While the Parademons really worked, however, he wasn’t as memorable.  The back story we got felt like it was missing quite a bit, but that could have been forgiven if we’d had something visually fun to look at.  The biggest problem I had with the movie was him.  The CGI was absolutely horrible.  When you are given movies like Star Wars and Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, and you have these visually stunning fake people, why would computer graphics that look like they belong in the early 2000s be involved.  All I could see while watching him was the way Hulk looked way back when Eric Bana played him.  It was very very hard to watch him speak or see any close up of his face.

The small roles and cameos of a Green Lantern from ages ago, plus Zeus, Lois, Commisioner Gordon, Marc McClure’s appearance, and the post credits with Lex Luthor and Deathstroke were all welcome additions to enhance the story.

A side note… Whoever markets the toylines for these movies should be shot.  All my son wants for Christmas is a Steppenwolf action figure to face off against his League.  In order to get one, I’d have to buy all the heroes he currently owns.  Needless to say I’m not doing that and ebay will hold the answers for me as I get an older version of the character with no stupid CGI barf face.

All the problems with CGI aside, I really found the movie to be a fun time.  Would I say see it in the theater?  No.  I’d say wait to rent it, but don’t miss out.  People who enjoyed Batman vs Superman should enjoy what it has evolved into here.  People who hated Batman vs Superman should feel happy that it’s evolved into something better.  It is not better than Wonder Woman, but I’ll place it above BvS, Man Of Steel, and that God awful Suicide Squad movie.  I give it 3 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.  It would have had another star from me if the effects were done right, and another if they’d managed the story better, but I don’t think it deserves some of the hate it is getting.  If this is what the DC extended universe is going to start to shape up to be with its characters, then I’m all for it.  What did you think of Justice League?

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Think, Sip, Write: ep 44 – Thanksgiving

We talk briefly about the history of the Thanksgiving holiday, some fun facts, and traditions they have in this latest episode of #thinksipwrite.  What’s your favorite side dish or Thanksgiving tradition?

Review: The Emoji Movie

The_Emoji_Movie_film_posterLess than enthusiastic is how I’d rate my reaction when I heard this movie was coming out.  Why would anyone make a film about stupid texting icons?  Then my kids wanted to make it part of our family movie night this past Friday.  I had no choice but to see it, and it really hits the “Don’t judge a book by its cover” note.

It’s an animation geared towards young audiences, but has a very classic Disney movie quality, despite it not being a Disney film at all.  What I mean is that it is heartwarming, fun, and has an underlying love story that prevails in the end.

I found myself at times smiling and even laughing at the well played jokes and scenarios.  It felt familiar in a “Wreck-It-Ralph” sense.  In fact I could even see this and that movie occurring in the same universe.  That won’t happen of course, but it has the same sort of feel.

I don’t think I’ll ever see it again, so it’s not something that I personally would tell you to “go see,” but it is a fun movie with the kids, or just if you enjoy this genre.  I was pleasantly surprised, and didn’t feel as though I’d wasted time watching it.  I give it 2.5 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.  What did you think of the Emoji Movie?

Bensalem Library appearance

me

Saturday I was delighted to appear at the Bensalem Library in Pennsylvania for a book signing and chatting about life as an author.  It was a pleasant experience where I met some other writers and amazing readers.  If you’re in Doylestown this weekend (11/11/17) I’ll be at their library too.  For anyone not in the area, hopefully I’ll be your way soon.  Otherwise, feel free to contact me through email if you want to say hi or have questions about my books or the writing process.

Thanks again to the Bucks County Free Library system for setting this up

Review: Thor Ragnarok

Thor_Ragnarok_posterHere we are with another movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and like all its predecessors we hear the line, “Best Marvel movie yet!”  Does it hold up to the hype?  I guess that’s how you look at it.  Here’s my take on the latest adventure for the god of thunder.  Warning.  Some spoilers ahead:

This third installment didn’t feel as if it fit in the trilogy.  While the previous two Thor movies were for the most part serious with small amounts of humor, this went beyond what Guardians of the Galaxy had done.  The humor worked, but I’m not sure it was a good thing.  Was Ragnarok a good movie?  My answer isn’t simple.  Yes… it’s a good movie if you are looking for a comedy flick filled with colorful action.  Yes… it’s a good movie for comic book fans.  Yes… overall it is a good movie, but the comedy and seriousness of it didn’t mix well.

The Hulk worked great!  He was a great deal of comic relief, and he worked well because of the fact he is like an over sized five year old.  Thor’s humor however felt a bit cheesy.  Don’t get me wrong.  Hemsworth is phenomenal in the role and he delivered it well, but for someone who is an heir to the throne of an entire world, he’s less a King or prince, and more of the town stooge at times.  That being said, he does pull through and become a great leader to replace Odin.

Beyond the strange comedic mix there is quite a great amount of screen play to remember.  1) they combined 3 separate storylines very well (Ragnarok, Contest of Champions, and World War Hulk.)

2) Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, and Cate Blanchett are perfection in every role they play.  At least I’m convinced of this, because all three stood out to me.  The rest of the cast also delivered well with what they were given with the exception of the Executioner and Surtur.  I don’t feel the former was used well at all, because he really didn’t live up to his title, and Surtur was weak compared to what I’d envisioned a creature like him to be.

3) The cameos of the actors in the beginning (Luke Hemsworth, Matt Damon, and Sam Neil) were a funny addition to Loki’s telling of what happened.  Doctor Strange’s inclusion was known, and I’m glad it was on the level it was.  He served a purpose quickly and in a glorified way.  And Stan Lee’s cameo might have been my favorite one yet.

4) Hulk.  We got a speaking hulk. ’nuff said.

Then there’s the questions we are left with at the end.  I’m assuming that the Eternal Flame is probably the Soul Stone, since Hela used it to resurrect her army, and Loki to do the same to Surtur.  If that’s the case, then there are two Infinity gems that Thanos must have in his possession at the start of Infinity war; not to mention that he has the entire Asgardian refugee ship (including Hulk, Heimdall, Valyrie and Thor) as captives.  – Speaking of Hela, since she is the goddess of death (and we know Thanos loves death), is she truly dead?  I don’t think so.  She probably just will be a bit weaker without Asgard’s existence, but present in some state.  – Was the blonde Valkyrie who saved our new scrapper Valkyrie in the flashback, the original comic book version or just a way to pay tribute to her?  Either way it was a fun fan moment.  – Is Banner gone for good?  It sure looks that way, especially since Banner seemed to think that would happen, and his impact with the rainbow bridge would surely indicate he is dead.  – Also, without his mighty hammer, will Thor end up getting his Jarnbjorn battle axe?  I surely hope so. – And finally, is the Grandmaster dead?  I’m assuming that the people would kill and “eat” him, as they tried to do with Thor in the beginning.

There’s lots to discover in the next Avengers movie, but until then, this one will hold us over for a few months.  Final assessment?  Was it the best Marvel movie?  No.  The humor and tone didn’t mix well, but separately would have worked.  I worry that if Marvel continues to push these bounds, then we may end up getting sloppier work.  That being said, this is not a sloppy movie by any means.  I give it 3 out of 5 sCrypt ratings, placing it somewhere between good and great, but not quite excellent.  How about you?  What did you think about Thor Ragnarok?  Speculations?  Comment with your thoughts below.

 

 

 

Day 31 – Two upcoming appearances

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Day 31 of #scrypthalloween wraps up the month with good news in November. This Saturday (11/4) I will be signing books and talking about being an author at Bensalem library in Bucks County PA from 1-4 pm. I will also be at the Doylestown library the following week doing the same (11/11). Come out and say hi to me and some other authors. It’ll be a fun time. @buckscountylibrary #buckscountylibrary #bensalemlibrary #doylestownlibrary #author #reading #book #novel

Review: Spider-man Homecoming

spider-man-homecoming-trailer-3Spider-Man is back at Marvel, but how did he fare swinging into action on home turf?  I’ll say this.  It was not the movie I wanted it to be.  I expected it to be the best of the existing Spidey films so far, but it fell just shy of Spider-man 2, which I feel remains at the top of the list.  So what was good and bad about it?

The Bad:

The Shocker felt like a rip off.  Which one?  It doesn’t matter.  Were either of these guys Herman Schultz?  Again, it doesn’t matter.  It was explained that the technology could shatter their arms, so that’s why the quilted yellow jacket was used.  Is it so hard then to put a mask on the men?  I’m just tired of half assed villain appearances.  Hopefully they bring him back soon.

Zendaya’s character was a waste.  Why was she even there?  She’s clearly not the MJ that we know as in Mary Jane Watson (At least she better not be).  And the whole team going to Washington DC?  How did anyone else not figure out that Parker and Spider-Man happen to be in both places?  Flash Thompson didn’t seem like Flash Thompson at all.

The Spider-Man A.I. suit is just stupid.  Get rid of the computer and give him spider-sense already.  This isn’t the hero comic book fans want. And Aunt May is hot of course, but her presence was lacking.  No mention of Uncle Ben either, but Peter did say his Aunt had been through a lot, so that can slide.

The Good:

I know I said the AI suit is a bad thing, but I do like the different web settings.  This actually can explain a lot.  The spider-tracers were also awesome to see, as well as the search light.  I liked the mentor being Tony Stark too.  It worked really well.

Adrian Toomes/Vulture, and The Tinkerer were perfect.  The way they were handled was done quite well, though I feel the final battle was a bit anti-climactic.  Ned was also a good friend for Peter to have and share his secret with.

The scene with Adrian Toomes in the car with Peter was very cool.  The little speech Keaton gave was chilling.  I’m not sure Liz as his daughter felt right, but it didn’t matter because she too was a welcome addition.

From Damage Control, to Spider-man/Peter Parker himself were great.  And shall I say that I think Tom Holland is our best Spidey/Parker yet!  I look forward to seeing him many more times in the role.

Overall assessment:

Homecoming is not the best Spidey movie because so much more could have been done to correct the minor plot holes.  That being said, it is certainly not the worst, and comes in right up there with Spider-man 2 as a close favorite.  I give it 4 out of 5 sCrypt ratings.

Where can it go from here?  I can easily see Spidey battling the Sinister Six with an ally or two.  I realize he’s got a role in Infinity War and more, but why not see what he can do against the likes of: Vulture, Scorpion, Tinkerer, Shocker, and two others.  I suggest a proper Rhino and Prowler.  It’s clear that Miles Morales exists in this universe, so make him Spidey’s ally and give the fans something to remember.  What did you think of Spider-man Homecoming?

Day 30 – The Thirst Of Cain (Cover Concept)

thirst

Day 30 of #scrypthalloween – here’s a rough layout @dpipito did for the cover of my next novel THE THIRST OF CAIN. Readers demanded more of the villain, and since there was a time travel element to the last book, I was able to work in a story where we see Cain’s path to becoming that villain. The murder of his brother Abel is just the beginning. Release date in May 2018. #book #novel #coverart #conceptart #concept

Day 29 – Everything so Far

cover banner

Day 29 of #scrypthalloween displays all of my #novels and #books so far. The Lost Hour, A Course For Humanity, Cosmic Orbits, Devoured Universe, Alien Encounters, Planet Ate, Evolved Mutations, Genetic Morsels, Viral Upgrades, Techno Feast, Demonic Entities, Devil’s Dessert, Ghostly Hauntings, Souls 4 Supper, In Case Of Werewolf, Bones At Breakfast, Legends of Vampire, Blood The Second Helping, Zombie Incidents, Flesh and Leftovers, Eden’s Order Trilogy, Pandora’s Chaos Trilogy, Beyond Human Trilogy, No It’s Not. Yes It Is: Arguments, A Little Girl In The Land Of The Hiccups, A Little Boy In The Land Of The Sleepless Knights.
Covers done by @dpipito and myself. #timetravel #scifi #alien #conspiracy #technology #thriller #superhero #supervillain #demon #religion #angel #ghost #haunted #spirit #werewolf #vampire #zombie #childrensbooks #nonfiction

Day 28 – Create It, Plate It, Style It, Eat It, Love It

Homemade Delish

Day 28 of #scrypthalloween shows a promo book we did for @homemadedelish called CREATE IT, PLATE IT, STYLE IT, EAT IT, LOVE IT. It had a handful of Roberta’s recipes and even though it is no longer available in print, her status on local and national television, radio and more has followers wanting a full cookbook soon. Make sure to follow her for all her fun adventures in food, drink, and lifestyle.