Book Review: Final Heir by Faith Hunter

 


Final Heir by Faith Hunter is the 15th and final installment of the Jane Yellowrock series.  It was so, so, so good. 

I did my usual read it once, fast, fast, fast on the ipad, then turned around and read it again, slow, slow, slow on paperback. It's not a story that's meant to be read fast because you'll miss a lot and it is so complex and action packed. It's the last book of the series, yet it was a great finale and answered so much. There are so many moments. Moments that made me sad, moments that were so powerful. Moments that were amusing or scary. I don't want to give too much away for those who haven't read yet, so... Jane and Beast, the I/We. Jane taking charge and also learning to let go and let others handle things. Leo and how he found a way to let Jane know what needed to be known. Angie, such a little girl but so powerful. Jane's relationship with the witches. The big bad who is trying to take over and how everyone teams up to fight him. I'm sad to see it end, but happy I can read the series over and over.  

"The stakes couldn’t be higher in the newest novel in the New York Times bestselling, pulse-pounding Jane Yellowrock series.

Jane Yellowrock is the queen of the vampires, and that makes her a target as she fights to maintain control and keep peace in the city of New Orleans. She has enemies at every turn, because vampires live forever, and they keep their grudges alive with them. That includes the Heir, the vampire sire of the Pellissier bloodline, which gave rise to Leo Pellissier himself—Jane’s old boss and the former master of the city.

With the Heir and all the forces of darkness he can muster arrayed against her, Jane will need all the help she can get. She’ll find it in her city, her friends, her found family, and, of course, the Beast inside of her."

Recommend starting with book 1 - Skinwalker. You'll be glad you did. 

James M's review of IDW Sonic issue 51 and 52









We're back, after holding off long enough, we're delving into the latest two issues of IDW Sonic from issue 51 to 52. Both of which unfold in the aftermath of issue 50 as we see Sonic, Tails and Belle try to escape from Doctor Eggman's sinister city of Eggtropolis. 

Through the writing of Ian Flynn and Evan Stanley, we see one heck of a suspenseful and intense story. 51 gets a 9.5 and 52 gets a 10, the writers do a really good job and Sonic's characterization is just fine aside from that 'Big Oof" moment that got the fandom up in a tizzy just like with how Shadow was portrayed thus far in the series. 

Regardless, IDW chugs along as if there were no flaws whatsoever. These stories have been giving us very quality Sonic content in the past few years, especially well after the first Sonic movie came out and SEGA is the most generous video game company in the world.

After this, I can hardly, hardly wait to see what is in store for us fans.

-James M


James M's review of Archie Sonic Online Issue 252

 









All right, fellow fans. Archie Sonic Online #252 is here. 

That's right, after a couple years, Archie Sonic Online finally reached issue 252. The folks there are incredible and talented people, Sonic fan projects have never been more greater than ever. 

We're now in the final stretch of the King Naugus arc and things have hit their peak with the stakes higher than ever as a deranged Naugus has taken full possession of Geoffrey St. John and King Elias has no choice but to reveal himself and the Secret Freedom Fighters to all of the citizens of New Mobotropolis.

And so, what do I think of such a lovely fan comic issue?

I'll say, it's masterfully fantastic with good writing, really good writing on par with the writing of any officially licensed piece of media. My score for this one would have to be a ten, I could have given it a 9.5 or an 8, but it's too perfect to not grant a ten score to. Bravo, ASO. Bring on an epic finale, ya'll...

-James M


James M's review of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)

 








Greetings, Bat-fans.

Well, this is it. 

After seven years and two movies, we've reached the end of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy starring Christian Bale, the series of Batman movies that brought the Dark Knight himself back to his darker roots and reinvigorated Batman for a new generation of audiences in an era where superhero movies were on the rise in popularity. 

And THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, our movie we are covering, came out in the same year as THE AVENGERS, the very film that really ensured the superhero craze that is still going on to this day.

Following the battle with The Joker and Harvey Dent/Two Face's death in THE DARK KNIGHT, Batman faces his greatest trial yet when Bane arrives in Gotham City to destroy it. The battle pushes the Dark Knight and his allies almost to the breaking point with Bane and his goons taking control of the city and threatening it with destruction, even Batman's taken out of commission for a time.

But in the end, Batman gets back up and Gotham rises up against its oppressors. And after a long-fought battle, Bane is defeated and Gotham is saved with it's dark protector seemingly sacrificing himself until Alfred discovers later that Bruce is still alive and has hooked up with Silena Kyle aka Catwoman, a perfect ending to a decently-made trilogy.

What else can I say about the movie? 

Christian Bale's acting was the best part of the film alongside Michael Caine's portrayal of Bruce's butler, even Gary Oldman nailed it as Commissioner Gordon. And you could say this was Tom Hardy's first comic book movie role, playing Bane, almost six years before he played the role of Eddie Brock/Venom.

The action in this movie is perhaps the most well put together in any action movie, especially superhero films. You gotta love the fight choreography as well as the musical score and how well the tone is handled with the story, you can feel suspense at nearly every turn to a point where you're worried about the future of Gotham by the end. I wasn't worried, I knew that our heroes would be fine.

Is there potential for more stories set in this universe?

Maybe, but for now, let the Nolan-verse version of Batman and his crew have their happy ending. However, rumor has it that Bale's Batman may show up in THE FLASH, which is coming out in 2023 and will be about exploring the multiverse. Michael Keaton's version of Batman is coming back, so why can't Christian Bale's version of Batman make his return as well?

Overall, this trilogy, along with so many other superhero films and film trilogies, is the best one yet. This film deserves the love it got at the time and I say the score is a ten out of ten just as the entire trilogy deserves that big old 10/10. Mr. Nolan, you were amazing. And Bale, congratulations on playing your role in making Batman a dark hero again.

Now, we rest.

-James M


James M's review of Doctor Who: The Legend of the Sea Devils

 








Sorry for the delay, Whovians. 

Today, we're here to discuss/review LEGEND OF THE SEA DEVILS, the Thirteenth Doctor's penultimate episode before the big one and the second special of 2022 after the New Year's Eve of The Daleks episode.

In this serial, The Doctor, Dan and Yaz visit a Chinese town under siege from the Sea Devils and have to team up with a pirate queen in order to defeat them. Despite all the odds against them, they saved the world and defeated the group of Sea Devil pirates causing trouble while The Doctor's relationship with Yaz is explored even further. That's right, The Doctor and Yaz have become a couple, you gotta love these kinds of relationships and stuff.

Anyway, what do I think of this episode?

It's dang good, has quite the entertainment value like all Doctor Who episodes have to a degree. And nearing the end of her run, Jodie Whittaker has done an impressive job as the Time Lord. While it sure has been fun, the end is nigh again and nothing lasts forever. 

The action was quite well-choreographed and the pacing did not feel off in the slightest, even the actors as well as the crew knew what they were doing with this wild episode.

Overall, LEGEND OF THE SEA DEVILS gets a solid score of 9/10. If you're a long-time Whovian who wants to see the aquatic dinosaur people again, this is just the show for you.

Now, its time for the endgame. Next time, The Doctor will meet some old friends and foes again and face her impending regeneration. Bring on the Fourteenth Doctor, BBC.

-James M


James M's review of IDW Sonic issue 50



Welcome back, Sonic fans. 
This is it, after months of build up and two years after issue 25 as well as over a few decades after Archie Sonic reached it's 50th issue, IDW Sonic has reached its 50th issue and it is big.

Was the pay-off worth it, especially with the plot around Surge, Kit, Doctor Starline, their plan and the looming battle with Sonic and Tails that unfolded?

In many ways, yes. 

While it didn't change the status quo, it was epic and engaging if not just satisfying to boot. IDW Sonic issue 50 was well written and had great action scenes throughout, especially with the fight between Doctor Eggman and Doctor Starline. Its so nice when storylines often live up to the hype, you don't want disappointment and this issue does not disappoint anyone.

IDW Sonic has done a very good job throughout its four year run, telling engaging stories and showing respect to the characters we know well. It also appears to serve as a satisfying (and unexpected) conclusion to Doctor Starline's story. How does it conclude? With Starline beaten by Eggman and reduced to a maddened state while rubble falls on him.

That's right, this issue 50 of a Sonic comic sees someone die. But this time, instead of an established villain like Doctor Ivo Robotnik, its the comic original character Doctor Starline. 

It is impressive that the writers can get away with whatever they want to get away with in regards to the original comic-exclusive characters, the game characters have to be untouched and in character. SEGA standards after all, you don't want to tick them off at all...

My final score for this issue is... a 10, Ian Flynn pulled off the near impossible once again and the art is so beautiful, just beautiful.

Now, we await the next issue and promise to continue following this wonderous journey.
Farewell, fans, for now...

-James M

James M's double review of IDW Sonic FCBD 2022 & Imposter Syndrome issue 4

 









Salutations once again, Sonic fans. I'm back... WITH A DOUBLE REVIEW!

First up, we have IDW SONIC FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2022 with a new story. So, what's that about?

Well, the story involves Sonic and Tails going to Angel Island and teaming up with Knuckles to assist him with an issue and they end up battling Eggman, who is stirring up trouble. This comic story was well-done, just like the others. 

Don't you just love great Sonic comic stories, no matter who writes them? 

I'll tell ya now, it was Ian Flynn who wrote it. That's write, the main story's an Ian Flynn story and it was also written by IDW editor David Mariotte. I gladly give the story "Deep Trouble" (and FCBD 2022) a nicely deserved 8.5 out of 10.

As for Imposter Syndrome issue 4?

That was an intense, amazing and almost mind-blowing issue. It wrapped up the miniseries excellently and set the stage for issue 50. 

Doctor Starline, Surge and Kit took Eggman's city and Starline successfully took over the Eggman Empire, ousting Doctor Eggman (for now anyway), while Surge took down Metal Sonic with Kit's help and the two continue planning to kill Starline when the time is right. The writing in this was beyond incredible to a point where I'm gonna read it again. 

Ian Flynn, you knocked it outta the park real good, you and the writing team deserve a good salute from me. 10/10.

Well, that's all, folks. See ya next time, ya'll.

-James M



James M's review of IDW Sonic issue 49

 













Greetings to all of you, sorry for the long delay, but its time to review IDW SONIC ISSUE 49. We're coming up on issue 50 and its gonna be big, but not as big as Archie Sonic, mind you.
So, what's the story?

Well, its about Badniks, good Badniks, Belle and something connected to Mister Tinker. 

After the heroes met Motobud, a good Moto Bug that helped the girls during a perilous and fiery situation, Sonic, Tails and the crew decided to experiment with some Eggman robots. So they reprogrammed a pair and Sonic revealed himself from under some tarp, testing to see if the robots would attack. The test was a success when the robots did not.

That night, the robots started acting strange and began leaving the workshop, responding to a rogue signal coming from Eggman's base in Eggtropolis. Belle briefly complied with the signal until Sonic and Tails made her snap out of it, then they shut off Motobud, who was following the signal, and found a note inside that was from Belle's creator Mr. Tinker before he turned back into Doctor Eggman.

You gotta feel sorry for the poor puppet robot, even though having Eggman as the main villain of the Sonic franchise is too important. Unless there was a way to bring him back, Tinker's gone for good, but at least you'll have his belated daughter. 

IDW Sonic issue 49 here was a great issue, nice set up for issue 50 and very nicely written. Sonic comics have never been better, this is beyond stellar and is unforgettable to the max. See you next time, fellow Sonic fans of every age. 10/10.
-James M

BW18: April Reading Wrap Up


 

It's book week 18 in our 52 books quest and this month is all about historical mysteries.  

Since we're saying goodbye to April, it's time for a reading wrap up.  I finished eight books in April; all of which were dusty books except for The Bone Shard Daughter.  I cheated once, and broke my buying ban in February for Bone Shards Daughter, which was so worth it.  However, I've been good since then and haven't added any new books to my stacks. My wish list though is growing ever longer.  One more month.... maybe. 

Bone Shard Daughter - Andrea Stewart (Historical Fantasy)

Ice Hunt - James Rollins (Thriller, reread)

Klara and the Sun - Kazuo Ishiguro (Dystopian Fiction)

Library of the Unwritten (#1 Hell's Library) - A.J.Hackwith (Fantasy, e)

A Cold Day for Murder (#1 Kate Shugak) - Dana Stabenow (Mystery, e)

The Round House - Louise Erdrich (Native American mystery)

City of Dark Magic  (#1 Dark Magic) - Magnus Flyte (Fantasy, Prague, e)

Reliquary (#2 Pendergast) - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Thriller, e)

Stats wise: 

4 physical books with 1782 pages and 4 ebooks with 1506 virtual pages for a total of 3288 pages.  I noticed that although it hasn't been my intention, I read the same number of ebooks as the number of the month. Interesting.  We'll see what next month brings.  Genre wise, three fantasies and one dystopian fiction, along with two thrillers, and two mysteries. I seem be to be sticking with fantasy, sci fi, and mystery genres. Six are new to me authors.  

I'm still sipping on George Eliot's Middlemarch, one chapter at a time in the mornings with breakfast. My current chunkster is Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings which is really good.  I'm currently on page 732 out of 1200+ pages but enjoying the heck out of it. 

I'm taking a mini break at the moment for our May historical mysteries reading month to read dusty book And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander which has been on my virtual shelves since 2014.  

BW17: Sci Fi and Fantasy and History, oh my!

 

It's book week 17 in our 52 books quest and this week is all about the world of Larry Niven. He celebrates his 84th birthday on the 30th.  He's written over 400 stories since he published his first book in 1964, alone and in collaboration with Jerry Pournelle, Steven Barnes, and Gregory Benford.  I discovered Niven back in the 70's and enjoyed reading His Ringworld series, along with many of his other books, including The Mote in God's Eye.  He is currently working with Jerry Pournelle on Burning Mountain, the sequel to Burning City and Burning Tower.

“They do not use lasers, they do not use radio, they do not use hyperwave. What are they using for communication? Telepathy? Written messages? Big mirrors?"

 "Parrots," Louis suggested. He got up to join them at the door to the control room. "Huge parrots, specially bred for their oversized lungs. They're too big to fly. They just sit on hilltops and scream at each other.”  ~Larry Niven, Ringworld

Ring World and the Mote in God's Eye are buried somewhere in the garage and tempted as it may be to buy the ebook, I don't want to break my buying ban.  One of these days.....


I took a break from Middlemarch and The Way of the King to read Reliquary, #2 in the Relic series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  Something or someone scary is living underground in the tunnels of New York and preying on the hidden homeless. Margo and the rest of the cast from the first book are back to resolve the mystery of the murders and if it’s related to the previous predator in the museum. Thrilling, chilling, and scary and full of twists you didn't see coming.

We watched The Batman with Robert Pattinson. Three hour movie full of twists and turns and drama. So very good. And I thought he couldn’t act. Because, you know, Twilight. I was wrong.

James M's review of Archie Sonic Online -Knuckles: Endangered Species #2

 








Hullo again, Sonic fans.

The crew of Archie Sonic Online has posted another ASO-related comic, it is none other than Knuckles: Endangered Species #2. Funny enough, this was actually posted around the time of April Fools' Day and it wasn't an April Fools' joke. Also, I didn't get around to reading it right away until recently. But now, I've read it and its time for a review.

And yes, I did read issue 1, the crew did a good job writing it. Issue 2 is beyond wild and intense, you have Remington teaming up with Lien-Da in an uneasy alliance against the Tasmanian Devils and Thrash, of course, is in the picture. The issue even ends on a cliffhanger with Knuckles, Julie Su and, obviously, Thrash winding up in some underground place beneath Albion's ruins. 

Having read the comic, I enjoyed this and I love Archie Sonic Online even more. The writers and the artists have so much love for the Archie Sonic comics, which is fantastic and Sonic's fanbase can't get any more passionate than this. May the legacy of Sonic fanworks be as strong as ever.

While fanmade content and fan continuations aren't entirely official, its great to know of their existance and good to know there are passionate fans who will work hard to help preserve the legacy of soon-to-be forgotten stories and characters that are gone. Archie Sonic and its legacy is no exception, ASO has been going strong since it started a couple years back and there is no sign of it slowing down.

I look forward to what the ASO crew will put out again soon, Knuckles: Endangered Species issue 2 gets a solid ten out of ten. Thank you, Sonic fandom, thank you for your hard work. Now, I say adieu. Peace out, friends...

-James M


BW16: It's all about the RE words this week

 


Happy Sunday. It's week 16 in our 52 books quest and it's all about the re words this week: Renew, rebirth,  recharge, restore, resurrection, rejoice, renaissance, and of course, read and reread. 

 I'm 12 chapters in on Middlemarch and it's a slow read as the writing takes some getting used to but enjoying it.  

Also about a 6th of the way in on Sanderson's The Way of Kings  which is so very different from Wheel of Time but has a whole slew of characters I'm getting used to and enjoying it so far. Both are chunky books so going to take me a while. 

“Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them…”

Took a reading break to watch Tick Tick Boom which is amazing. Damn, Andrew Garfield (Yes, the amazing spiderman) can sing. Neither of my guys like musicals so watched by myself.  Jonathan Larson is the songwriter who wrote the Broadway play Rent and died from an aortic aneurism right before it was released.  The movie starts 5 years before he died and takes place in New York during the height of the aids epidemic so friends are dying, others are becoming more successful, while Larson struggles to make a name for himself.  The movie is deep, and funny, dramatic, and heartwarming and will make you laugh, make you cry, make you sing. All the singers were amazing.  I need to get the soundtrack or watch the movie several dozen times. It was that good.

James M's short review of Star Trek/Green Lantern: Stranger Worlds (2017)

 








Welcome back, ya'll. Look at that, I got my hands on the second Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover story "Stranger Worlds", set after the events of the first story. Here are my thoughts on this fantastical sci-fi crossover of incredible insanity.

Having gotten the graphic novel and read it all, Stranger Worlds is really dang good for a follow-up to the first story, which involved the crew of the Enterprise partnering with The Lanterns to fight the enemy who destroyed their world. Now, they have to deal with Sinestro and Khan. Lemme tell you, this comic is dang good from start to finish. If any of you read the first story, you'd love it all. 

The writing's beyond fantastic, absolutely amazing, and the visuals are so breathtaking past the point where you can't stop reading this comic and want to read it all. Well, I read it all, that's how so good this comic book is and graphic novels are a great collection of comics to help read an entire series or story arc in its entirety if you don't have the time to get comics as they come out.

After reading the whole thing, I am craving a third Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover entry, if there really is one out there somewhere. Its possible there will be one day or maybe there is, but until then, its best to enjoy what we got. Thank you IDW and DC for making this a reality for us fans.

My score is a solid ten, now, I sign off.

-James M


Star Trek/Green Lantern: Spectrum War -My Review

 








Greetings, fellow humans. I have returned with a crossover where no one in Star Trek has ever gone before, it is one of cosmic proportions, one of the green type. Its the Spectrum War, the first ever STAR TREK/GREEN LANTERN IDW/DC crossover event.

Just like with the Batman/TMNT graphic novels, I got this at my local comic shop and read this. Its amazing, I tell you. This crossover absolutely rocks and it works in nearly every way!!! The crew of the Enterprise, its allies and enemies and the Lanterns all play off of each other very well, the writing is just beautiful and the artwork is fine comic quality.

Heck, if Paramount and Warner wanted to collaborate on a crossover film, this comic should be turned into a movie. The first ever comic book sci-fi crossover movie, a DC/Star Trek crossover film should happen at some point since some Star Trek actors have appeared in comic book movies. For example, 2009 Star Trek's Chris Pine appears in the 2017 Wonder Woman as Steve Trevor.

As for the main villain of this one, he is one of the many comic book personifications of Death himself and is terrifying. He may not be Thanos or Darkseid, but this guy is terrifying. He destroyed Green Lantern Hal Jordan's universe and had the potential to destroy the Star Trek universe had the crew of the Enterprise and the Lanterns not stopped him in the end.

The end of the crossover was a nice touch, especially with Green Lantern becoming a leader in the Galactic Federation with him somewhat captaining the Enterprise instead of Captain Kirk, who is still a captain. You gotta love crossovers that end with both universes somewhat unified with one hero from the other world staying and being friends with the hero of the universe he's in. If there are any DC fans who like Star Trek and want to see a Star Trek/DC crossover, I would suggest this comic.

Star Trek/Green Lantern: Spectrum War gets a 9.5, such amazing work from IDW and DC. Farewell for now everybody.

-James M



BW15: Ishiguro, Erdrich, Hackwith, and Stabenow

 

Artist Georgiana Chitac: "ABSENCE

It's book week 15 in our 52 Books Quest and the theme this week is Rebellion.  I finished four books this week and I think my books are in rebellion because none of them ended on a happy note.  They all left me with a sense of loss and wishing better things for the characters. 


Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, narrated by Klara, a robot.  She is an artificial friend, is made stronger by the sun and very observant. She is picked to be the companion to Josie, an ailing child, and goes to live with her and the mom. Klara sees the Sun as some sort of God and comes to believe that if she manages to destroy a "Cootings" machine (I think it's an asphalt paver) which spreads dark foggy pollution and blocks the sun, the Sun will save Josie's life.  Filtered through the eyes of Robot it doesn't  seem like an emotional story, but more philosophical. The humans around her aren't sure of some of the things she does, but go along, hoping she will make things better.  I really didn't like the ending because when she was no longer useful, the humans in her life, treated her like an appliance. 

(Dystopian Fiction, New to me author, 320)

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith was an interesting read. The narrators are Claire who is a librarian for unwritten books in Hell. Ramiel, a fallen angel a watcher relegated to processing the departed at Heaven's gates. Leto, half demon, half man who finds himself with no memory, and Brevity, a muse helping Claire.  While they are trying to return a runaway character to his book, enemies and allies are thrown together in a quest to find and destroy the devil's bible in order to prevent a war between Heaven and Hell. In the meantime God evidently has disappeared and Uriel, an archangel is in charge in Heaven. She's not a nice angel and wants to destroy Claire and all those involved with finding the dark bible. It's an intriguing concept, but quite a dark story with bits of humor thrown in.  I really didn't know who to root for. I didn't dislike the story, but again I didn't love it as I found it hard to root for any of the characters. 

(Dusty, Fantasy, e)

A Cold Dark Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow is quite good and I look forward to reading more of the series. Our heroine is Kate Shugak, an Alaskan Aleut, a retired investigator who lives alone in the Alaska National Park, but near her family in the tiny village of Niniltna. She's asked to find two men who have disappeared and during the course of her investigation, she is drawn back into the life and problems of family and friends. The theme of man against nature and man against man with plenty of action with murder, angst, betrayal, grief, as well as humor throughout the story.  I liked Kate, her byplay with different characters and hope she finds her happily ever after.  

(Dusty, mystery, new to me author, 173, e)

The Round House by Louise Erdrich is told from the viewpoint of thirteen year old Joe, with some asides from when he was an adult,  and it is easy to forget his age as he is put through the ringer with the assault on his mother and trying to figure out who the culprit was and do something about it.  The characters live on the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota and provide the reader with an enriching background of Native American culture, history, myths and laws.  The story goes from dark to light to dark again. It's a story rooted in taking care of family,  grief, loss, hope, betrayal, strength, and the consequences of action.  Once you get used to Erdrich's lack of punctuation for the dialogue,  the story  will capture and hold you to the page.

(Native American Fiction, Literary, 368)

James M's review of The Dark Knight (2008)

 








Hello, superhero fans of justice, welcome back. Its time for more Batman as we delve further into the Christopher Nolan trilogy with the 2008's hit superhero movie sequel to 2005's Batman Begins known as THE DARK KNIGHT.

That's right, we finally saw it and, wow, I can see why so many people love the life out of this film. Hats off to Mr. Nolan and his team and to the late Heath Ledger for all their hard work. THE DARK KNIGHT sees Batman going up against The Joker (played by Ledger) as he concocts a plan to corrupt and terrorize Gotham, which sees initially noble District Attorney Harvey Dent eventually become the villain Two-Face thanks to Joker's machinations. 

And by the end of the film, while Joker and Two-Face are defeated, The Joker's plan to ruin and corrupt Gotham succeeded. And on top of that, while Batman continues to be a hero, he decides to let Harvey Dent take the credit for his heroics while the Dark Knight himself becomes a fugitive of justice with  Jim Gordon, who finally becomes Commissioner Gordon, destroying the Bat-signal.

If you're wondering what my honest thoughts on THE DARK KNIGHT are, I will tell you now. This movie is fantastic for its time and it deserves the honor of being a fan favorite. The musical score for this film is well scored, it is epic when it needs to be and gets scary when the suspenseful moments come in, especially with the Joker scenes. 

Even the action scenes and special effects are perfect, nicely crafted and executed and beyond mind-blowing for today's standards, the writing and screenplay are through the roof and the actors brought a fantastic performance for this film with one of the big show-stealers nearly being Heath Ledger himself. And in his final film role as Batman's nemesis The Joker, he does one heck of a good job, my mother was creeped out and I laughed nervously when he delivered his sinister Joker laugh.

The Joker here is just as anyone would expect any version of The Joker to be, the sinister and intelligent nemesis of Batman with a plan to create chaos and anarchy in Gotham. The opening scene just shows how dangerous and unpredictable this guy is, he disguises himself as one of his goons and kills one of the henchmen during a bank robbery. 

And if that wasn't enough, the scene where he meets with the Mob is perhaps one of the most intense and well-made scenes in any action or superhero film. Who can forget that laugh and The Joker walking in while saying "And I thought my jokes were bad", not to mention when he does a "magic trick" where Joker makes a pencil disappear by slamming a guy's head into it. Ouch! While Joker was a dark villain long before Heath Ledger played the role, this is undeniably one of the scariest villains ever.

Batman's conflict with The Joker is just as you'd expect it to be with the Dark Knight trying to stop him while the clown prince of crime does what he can to get under Batman's skin. During Batman's interrogation with the villain, we are reminded of the Batman/Joker dynamic made famous in the comics when Joker tells Batman he doesn't want to kill him as he completes him. We are later reminded of the dynamic during their final fight when Joker tells Batman they are destined to do this forever, but this is the only time in the trilogy that they will fight given Heath Ledger's unfortunate passing.

Minor disappointment regarding an actor's death aside, this film is beautiful. And so, with nothing else to say, I will give THE DARK KNIGHT a ten out of ten. This film has stood the tests of time since it released and you can see it with the quality of this iconic, unforgettable Batman film. It pushed the limits of the intensity and pushed the PG-13 rating to the max, THE DARK KNIGHT is so intense, its going to be some time before you hear that I watched THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

May we meet again, everyone...

-James M

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018) -Movie Review by James M

 








Greetings to all of the true believers out there, we're diving further into the Spider-verse again with another Spider-Man movie. But this time, we're not in the live action realm, its the animation realm...WITH SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE!

Released by Sony and Marvel in late 2018 with the screenplay handled by Phil Lord, INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE focuses on the journey and struggle of Miles Morales (played by Shameik Moore) when he gets bit by a spider and has to navigate the ropes of becoming Spider-Man while teaming up with an alternate universe Peter Parker Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen and other Spider people to stop the corrupt Kingpin's plans before the multiverse collapses due to Kingpin's machinations.

You could say this is where the multiverse craze started, thanks to the success of Into The Spider-Verse, as we're getting a Flash movie about the multiverse and the MCU has been delving into the multiverse in certain projects set in the aftermath of Infinity War/Endgame. 

Even SEGA is distributing Sonic Prime, a Sonic cartoon about Sonic exploring the Shatterverse multiverse. Even though multiverse stories have been going on for years, Spider-Verse started the new multiverse craze.

We saw this film eleven months before the release of Spider-Man No Way Home (after we started hearing rumblings of the multiverse being involved with the movie) and, let me tell you, this movie is a blast. Into The Spider-Verse is perhaps one of the most beautifully made superhero movies and one of the best animated films ever, not to mention its a super cool animated superhero film.

In regards to it being PG rated instead of being PG-13, that's fine, even though PG rated superhero movies and action films are very rare these days. Regardless, the writing of this movie is simple and fun, just like the characters and the action pieces of the movie. Even the animation style is beyond gorgeous, the writers had a blast making this and even the voice actors seemed to be having a lot of fun playing their respective roles.

SPIDER-MAN INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE is a fun ride with a lot of beautiful nods and Easter Eggs related to Spider-Man's long history, it is also a wonderful tribute to the late Stan Lee, who makes one of his last cameos in the movie and briefly voices J. Jonah Jameson. Stan died shortly before the movie came out, but hearing him here one final time is heartwarming, knowing that his legacy will live on.

The movie was so well-received and successful, its getting a sequel that is finally coming out in late 2022. Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (which will be divided into two parts) will continue where Into The Spider-Verse left off and explore the multiverse even further. The final post-credits scene is even humorous as it involves Spider-Man 2099 visiting the 1967 Spider-Man universe, leading to the pointing finger meme and popularizing it to full meme popularity once again. 

After seeing this baby twice and thinking about how fantastic it is, I will gladly give Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse a sweet 9.8/10. May this movie be remembered as one of the best made superhero movies and I wish the crew behind this film good luck with the sequel and future superhero movies in the years to come. See you later, true believers.

-James M


James M's review of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

 








Welcome back, true believers. We're diving into the Spider-Man multiverse again with the sequel to 2012's The Amazing Spider Man, The Amazing Spider Man 2. Released in 2014 with Andrew Garfield in the role, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 didn't do as well as the executives expected. The situation was so bad, plans for a third film were scrapped and Andrew would never appear again for a good seven years until 2021's SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.

So, what's the story of the second and (for now) final entry in this Spider-Man duology?

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens up sometime after the first film with Peter swinging through New York City as Spider-Man when he hears that a police chase after a criminal with a truck is in progress. He heads to the scene and confronts the villain who is Aleksei Sytsevich, a Russian bad guy who will become The Rhino in the future. During the chase, Spider-Man winds up saving the life of an Oscorp employee named Max Dillon, who is a big fan of the web-slinger and sees him as his best friend.

As Spider-Man pursues Aleksei, he gets a phone call from Gwen Stacy, who is at the high-school graduation ceremony and tells Peter to hurry up. Peter catches the Russian criminal and apprehends him, with that settled, he heads to the graduation ceremony in time to receive his diploma and kiss Gwen. However, he's unsure about being with her due to his promise to her dying father. So, Peter and Gwen break up and their romantic relationship stops... for now.

Meanwhile, Harry Osborn returns from a school trip abroad to find his father Norman Osborn dying and assumes control of Oscorp after Norman's passing. Peter meets with Harry to console him and they discuss Spider-Man, unaware that a couple Oscorp employees are tracking them. Max Dillan later heads to Oscorp, on his birthday no less, and is assigned to fix a power generator. As he is working, Max falls into a pool of electric eels and, while in a morgue, he transforms into Electro.

Electro heads to Times Square and draws some attention from everyone, including the cops, as he tries to feed off electricity from the city. Spider-Man shows up and tries to talk with Max, however, things go south when a sniper shoots at the electrified man and chaos ensues when Max unleashes his fury. Spider-Man saves some civilians and is hailed a hero, enraging Electro, who becomes a full on villain. His rampage is short lived thanks to Spider-Man's efforts and Electro is arrested.

Harry soon fears he will die after learning he's inherited a disease from his father and asks Peter to have Spider-Man give him his blood. Peter visits Harry as Spider-Man and tells him he can't give him his blood, mostly due to the danger that Harry could die. This enrages Harry, mostly given that he's afraid that he will soon die from the Osborn Disease any day now.

This leads to Harry getting desperate and turns to anyone for help, such as Felicia Hardy (actually Black Cat and played by Felicity Jones), but ends up being discharged from power. Desperate for help, Harry heads to Ravencroft Institute and frees Electro, who is being studied. The two break into Oscorp and Harry injects himself with spider-DNA, which nearly kills him if not for advanced armor that turns him into the Green Goblin.

Meanwhile, Peter decides he loves Gwen, who is about to attend college in England, and meets up with her right as she's leaving. Just as they're becoming a couple again, Electro starts messing with the power grid of the city and everything is downhill from there. Spider-Man confronts the returned Electro at the power station and, after a lengthy battle and with Gwen's help, he defeats the villain by overloading him. With the bad guy is defeated and the city safe, all is well, right...?

Nope. Shortly after Electro's defeat, Harry arrives on the Glider and, upon seeing Gwen, figures out that Spider-Man is Peter Parker. The deranged Goblin snatches Gwen and tries to make off with her, but Peter confronts him and Harry drops Gwen. Peter catches her and they wind up crashing through a glass ceiling into a clock tower where the web-slinger and his old friend battle it out with Gwen's life on the line as Spider-Man weaves a web to prevent Gwen's fall.

The battle is intense and the soundtrack sets the atmosphere for it all as the clock gears turn, the stakes are high. Peter defeats Harry, but the clock moves and the web snaps, resulting in Gwen falling. With every bit of strength he has, Peter dives after her and spins a web to catch Gwen. However, despite managing to catch her, it is not enough as Gwen hits the ground and dies. Peter is distraught by his girlfriend's death and, let me tell you, Andrew knocked the ball out of the park with that scene.

And yes, its The Night Gwen Stacy Died brought to life in live action again. Only this time, there's no MJ in Gwen's place and neither is the action at a bridge. Following the loss of Gwen, Peter gives up on being Spider-Man for a time but eventually gains his confidence again right as Aleksei, the Russian criminal from the start of the film, breaks out of jail as part of a plot by an imprisoned Harry and the mysterious man from the end of the first film and becomes the Rhino before going on a rampage.

Spider-Man arrives when hope seems to be lost and he confronts the Rhino, who is using a robotic tank suit. The movie (and The Amazing Spider-Man series) ends with Peter swinging into battle with the Rhino as Spider-Man.

Despite its flaws, despite being a failure and the problems surrounding it, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a not-so bad superhero movie. The plot is compelling, the action scenes are decently choreographed and there is some great acting from Andrew, Emma Stone and all of the other actors in the movie. Its too bad the film didn't get a follow up, but at least we finally get to see Andrew again years later, and it is possible that The Amazing Spider-Man 3 might happen after all with all of the fan demand out there.

So, what's my score for the film?

8/10, the film isn't as bad as people make it out to be. Just ignore the box office results and ignore what the critics said, TaSM 2 is memorable as long as you can handle it. After all, the failure of a superhero movie is not the end of the superhero genre or the end of the world. People overreact too much. Now, I swing off into the multiverse and bid you farewell. See you next time, True Believers. PEACE!

-James M

BW14: Thrillers and mysteries take center stage this week

 



It's book week 14 in our 52 books quest and this week is all about classic children's mysteries. As always I have to be a little different and currently have Willo Davis Roberts science fiction story, The Girl with the Silver Eyes waiting in the wings.  

I’m currently in the middle of three books:  My I by title is James Rollins thriller, Ice Hunt.  My books about books read is A.J. Hackwith’s Library of the Unwritten, and my e by author Louise Erdrich’s Native American Mystery The Round House.

This month is National Poetry Month so I hope to fit in some poetry reading along the way and share my favorite poets.  

Book Review: The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

 


I had never heard of The Bone Shard Daughter until I was pointed in the direction of the book vlogger Merphy Napier.  In the midst of watching her videos, learned that her number one book for 2021 was The Bone Shard Daughter and her review intrigued me enough to get the book.  

From the opening line - Father told me I'm broken - I was drawn into the world of Lin, the emperor's daughter,  Jovis, a smuggler, Phalue, the governor's daughter, her girlfriend Ranami, and a mysterious Sand with no memory.  Bone shards play a center role in the islands.   At the age of eight, children are gathered in the square of each village during the Tithing Festival to have a shard of bone removed from their skull.  Not all the children survive and parents used any means to smuggle their children away to safety.  The bone shards are used by the emperor to create and power constructs.  Magical creatures, made of different animal parts and used to spy on the citizens.  While the emperor and governor reside in palaces of gold, many of the citizens live in poverty, and a group of rebels work to undermine the governor and stop the tithing festivals.  It's the rich against the poor trope with the unique twist of the bone shards and constructs thrown in which makes for a unique and engaging story.  I highly recommend it. I'm looking forward to reading the second book in the Drowning Empire series, The Bone Shard Emperor.  


Historical Fantasy, new to me author, 438

James M's review of IDW Sonic the Hedgehog 2: The Official Movie Pre-Quill (2022)

 








In 2020, after decades of trial and error, the Sonic the Hedgehog movie finally released and was a massive success to a point where it rejuvenated Sonic's popularity as an icon and paved the way for a sequel that is now coming out. And to celebrate, IDW Publishing, which has the Sonic license, is FINALLY doing a comic tying into the Sonic Cinematic Universe and serving as a prequel to the second movie.

That's right, we finally got an IDW Sonic comic set in the movie universe between the first and second films, which means we get to see humans in IDW. Plus, there's five stories. One features the main hero, the others feature Knuckles, Tails, Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub's character) and Movie Robotnik respectively. The last one happened to be "spearheaded" by actor Jim Carrey himself, you can tell IDW was working with the people at Paramount to make sure they get the Movie Sonic universe right.

I'll tell you now, the writing and the visuals is really good. IDW put a lot of effort into it and, I'm so impressed, I'd love to see more IDW Sonic stories set in the Movie Sonic universe. The Sonic Cinematic Universe really is successful and, if it weren't for the first movie, we would not be seeing a comic book like this one. I wanna read this again and I want to read more IDW Movie Sonic stories.

Sonic's story was really nicely-written, showcasing Sonic's antics (and heroics) in the town of Green Hills after the first movie while he apparently tries to come up with a superhero name, going through different ideas until he finally settles upon "Blue Justice" when he defeats the bad guys at the bank. Him interacting with Crazy Carl was really quite cool, so cool, I can almost hear Frank C. Turner's voice when I think about Crazy Carl's dialogue while talking with Sonic.

Regarding Agent Stone's story, seeing the man who was Doctor Robotnik's associate continue to serve the missing Doctor's evil and how villainous he can be in Robotnik's absence was quite... an intriguing read. Lets see more Agent Stone stories, can we get that please? 

As for the Knuckles & Tails stories, learning that Movie Knuckles is the last of his kind just like his game self was a nice connection to the games. Tails' story provided a lot of world-building, bringing in that lizard villain known as Rava the Destroyer from the concept art for the first film and confirming Longclaw's death, the latter is sad but its ok if you don't want to bring Longclaw back. Sonic learning of her fate in movie 2 should be a touching scene.

Finally, we get to Mushroom With A View, which showcases Movie Robotnik's journey and struggle for survival on the Mushroom Planet. The writers just nailed it, he is so goofy and villainous at every point. I'm actually glad Jim Carrey loves his version of Robotnik, this story shows we do need more Eggman stories, no matter what version of him we're dealing with. Forget about Classic Sonic and Classic Eggman, SEGA should be using the SCU as a sub-brand instead of the Classic era. Seriously, people hate the usage of Classic Sonic as a sub-brand, you got the movie universe so use that as a sub-brand or don't use a sub-brand at all.

My final score for this comic is a ten, I want to read this over and over again, Sonic's fame is as strong as ever and SEGA (and their partners) know this. May Sonic travel to higher heights than ever before for years to come and may he never lose that popularity again, happy 2022, Sonic the Hedgehog, and may the second movie be the celebration of your legacy just like the first film.

See ya...

-James M


 

March Reading Wrap up


 

My reading slowed way down this month and I completed six books, sort of  finished one, and stopped halfway through another.  

  1. Super Powereds Year Four - Drew Hayes (Science Fiction, 1019)
  2. Daughter of Time (#5 Inspector Grant) - Josephine Tey (HF, 206)
  3. Hidden Palace #2 Golem & the Jinni - Helene Wecker (H Fantasy, 472)
  4. Leviathan Wakes - J.A. Corey (Science Fiction, e)  
  5. Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula Le Guin (Science fiction, dnf)
  6. Bookshop at Water's End - Patti Callahan Henry (Literary Fiction, e)
  7. Bookshop of Second Chances - Jackie Fraser (Contemporary Romance, e)
  8. The Starless Crown (#1 Moon Fall) - James Rollins (Fantasy, 560)

Super Powered is a great series and however much I'd like to compare it to Harry Potter, there really is no comparison. These are college age kids, each with a special super power, no wands, who learn how to use their powers amidst the angst of college and real life battles.  It will be well worth reading again. 

Tey's Daughter of Time is a unique story involving history and how it can be perceived or easily wrong, depending on the book telling the tale.

The Hidden Palace is a wonderful tale interwoven with several different narrators and is full of history, drama, and magic. I loved escaping into their world and will definitely read it again at some point.

In The Bookshop at Water's End, everyone down to the children had baggage of some sort and it was an emotional story which I usually wouldn't enjoy but the writing was so well done, it pulled me into the characters lives, rooting for them all the way. 

The Bookshop of Second Chances was set in Scotland and  Edward, a curmudgeonly bookseller who is 40 ish and Thea, a 40 + woman on the verge of divorce, both with lots of baggage, who may or may  not like each other, lives become intertwined more than they imagine and makes for a beautiful story.

James Rollins has done it again and this time with Fantasy in which several characters come together over the course of the book to join together in a quest to save the world. An abandoned baby found in a swamp, bats, prophecies, darkness, a thief, a bronze statue, a fallen prince, wolves, a broken soldier, horrible villains who will do anything including burning entire towns to get what they want, sky ships and battles. Our poor characters are given no time to rest, hunted and chased, from peril to peril. A thrilling story I couldn't put down. Definitely a reread when the rest of the series comes out


How do you sort of finish a book?  I unfortunately didn't enjoy Corey's Leviathan Wakes as the characters rubbed me the wrong way and I read halfway, lost interest, skipped to the ending to see what happened.  I also didn't enjoy Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness, decided life is too short to keep reading when the writing isn't grabbing me and decided to shelve the book.  Happily, the rest of my reads were excellent. 

I'm still reading more science fiction and fantasy with a historical fiction thrown in. I seem to be getting more into emotional contemporary fiction so we'll see how long that lasts.  At least I cleared some dusty books from both my physical and eshelves. Looking forward to seeing what April brings as I'm in the midst of several books at the moment. 

James M's review of The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

 








Salutations once again, we're diving back into the Marvel-verse and swinging our way into the Spider-verse with 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man starring Andrew Garfield and directed by Marc Webb. Enough delay, lets dive into this chapter of Spider-Man history, which came to be at a time when the fabled Marvel Cinematic Universe was getting off the ground.

In the year 2007, Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3 released, serving as the final chapter in the Spider-Man trilogy that had been five years in the making, and was a box office success despite mixed reviews. After the movie was out, pre-production began on a Spider-Man 4. However, being displeased with how Spider-Man 3 turned out and after being frustrated with Sony's meddling, Sam Raimi quit the project and Sony green-lit a reboot with Marc Webb involved with the project.

The result, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. The film released in the summer of 2012, shortly after The Avengers came out and its success kicked the Marvel Cinematic Universe & its popularity into high-gear, and this film was very successful. The movie's performance paved the way for a sequel that came out two years later, only for that one to flop badly and TASM wasn't thought of fondly for many years until Andrew Garfield returned to reprise his role in 2021's Spider-Man No Way Home.

So, what's the story of this movie?

The film starts off with Peter as a kid living with his parents, Richard and Mary Parker, until they head off and entrust Peter in the care of his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. (We find out in the sequel that Richard was working on a genetic experimental breakthrough at Oscorp and had to flee to avoid being bumped off.) Jump forward several years later and Peter (now played by British actor Andrew Garfield) is in high-school and has a crush on Gwen Stacy (played by Emma Stone).

One day, Peter goes to Oscorp and, during a tour where he meets Doctor Curt Connors, takes a detour into a room with radioactive spiders and gets bit by one. Shortly after, Peter starts developing powers. At school, Peter gets into a little fight with Flash Thompson and humiliates him in the gym. He meets up with Doctor Connors again and helps come up with a formula to limb regeneration, afterwards, Peter heads home and is lectured by his uncle for not being responsible.

Peter heads off to a store where a robber threatens the shop owner, only for Peter to not help him. Uncle Ben is nearby and runs into the robber as he's getting away, the thief shoots Uncle Ben and kills him, much to Peter's sad dismay. He then begins going after criminals after some time, but after a disastrous encounter with a group of bad guys, Peter eventually begins working on an outfit and a mask for himself. After enough work, his suit is formulated and Peter becomes the web-slinging Spider-Man.

Sometime after, Peter visits Gwen and joins her family for dinner, during which her father, Captain George Stacy, calls Spider-Man a dangerous criminal vigilante. Peter and Gwen talk on the balcony afterwards and Peter reveals his identity as Spider-Man to her, surprising Gwen as they share their first kiss. Meanwhile, Doctor Connors creates the formula and tests it on himself. Right as expected, his arm regrows. However, the formula has a sinister side effect as Connors transforms into a creature known as The Lizard and goes on a rampage on a bridge.

Spider-Man sees the scene and briefly fights with The Lizard before the reptilian retreats into the sewers. While visiting Doctor Connors' lab, Peter figures out that Connors is The Lizard after seeing a rat they used to test the formula on prior become a vicious creature. He tries to tell Captain Stacy, only for the policeman to dismiss Peter's claims, making a Godzilla reference when he asks Peter if he looks like the mayor of Tokyo to him. If only you tried to clarify everything, Pete.

The Lizard starts planning to mutate everyone in New York into lizards just like himself and eventually figures out that Spider-Man is Peter Parker. One night, The Lizard hatches his plan and heads to Oscorp Tower to put his plan in motion. Captain Stacy captures Spider-Man, but ends up letting him go when he finds out who is underneath the mask. Gwen Stacy heads to Oscorp, willing to help Peter.

Peter battles The Lizard atop Oscorp Tower in a battle for the fate of the city and pretty much all of mankind. The Lizard unmasks Peter during the fight and taunts him, saying he's all alone with no parents and no uncle, until Captain Stacy comes in to aid Peter only for The Lizard to critically injure him. Peter stops The Lizard's plan and the reptilian creature turns back into Doctor Connors.

New York is safe, but at the price of Captain Stacy, who tells Peter to leave Gwen out of this with his dying breath. Gwen's father dies and Peter vows to keep his promise to him, even telling Gwen about it at one point. But a talk with Aunt May makes Peter reconsider. "If you are anything, its good." May tells him. The movie ends with Peter and Gwen attending school together. A post-credits scene shows Connors in prison while a mysterious man talks to him.

What do I think of this movie?

Well, overall, regardless of its flaws, its really good. My mother even said at one point that Andrew Garfield is her favorite Spider-Man and really likes The Amazing Spider-Man over the Sam Raimi films and the MCU Spider-Man. I actually do agree with many others that it is a good superhero film, its not too bad if you ignore the issues it may have. 

Andrew Garfield was a fine pick for Spider-Man and having him fight The Lizard in this installment was an alright idea. After all, Spider-Man 4 was going to see Peter fight The Lizard anyway and TASM is pretty much a fourth Spider-Man movie regardless of the continuity. And as for Gwen Stacy being Peter's love interest instead of Mary Jane Watson, that's fine, Gwen was Peter's girlfriend in the comics well before Mary Jane was Peter's love interest.

The Amazing Spider-Man has some fun action sequences and the tone of the film is quite interesting to take in, especially since it was apparently trying to emulate the tone of the well-received Nolan Batman trilogy. Marc Webb and crew set out to create an engaging Spider-Man reboot and they succeeded. Its an alright movie for its time with good acting, decent screenplay and engaging moments throughout. I give this film an 8.5 out of 10, go watch it if you want to see this. You'll not be put off by it at all.

Next time; The Amazing Spider Man 2 (2014). See you later...

-James M


James M's review of Batman Begins (2005)

 








Greetings, Gotham dwellers and Bat-fans. The time has come, we are now about to delve into darkness again, to review the one that you all love. It is time for BATMAN BEGINS!

Starring Christian Bale as the titular Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan and released in 2005 over eight years after the last big movie BATMAN & ROBIN, Batman Begins returns Batman to his dark, edgy and serious roots. Released at a time when superhero movies were on the rise in popularity following the release of hits like Sam Raimi's Spider-Man and before the famous Marvel Cinematic Universe got off the ground, BATMAN BEGINS showcases the traditional origin story of Bruce Wayne becoming Batman from the death of his parents to his transformation into the Dark Knight.

We saw this together after holding off for a long time, especially after getting it's sequel 2008's THE DARK KNIGHT on Blu-Ray, and let me tell you, it is mind-blowing. Batman Begins is what you'd expect from a film featuring the Dark Knight, its action-packed, serious and faithful to what the Dark Knight always was. Forget the campy 60s or the mid to late 90s films attempting to replicate that time, Batman is meant to be serious and dark while making sure its accessible to families and kids.

Bruce's butler Alfred is played by the remarkable and well-talented British actor Michael Caine, who captures the spirit of the Wayne family butler perfectly and is one of the film's finest highlights. The main villain of the movie is Ra's Al Ghul, who mentors Bruce at the start and is played by the legend himself Liam Neeson, who previously played Obi Wan Kenobi's Jedi mentor Qui-Gon Jinn in 1999's Star Wars Episode 1 The Phantom Menace.

Liam portrays Ra's excellently and every scene he is in is handled decently, especially when you don't know who he truly is when he comes off as a man named Henri Ducard while it seems the real Ra's Al Ghul is played by Japanese actor Ken Watanabe. But once you find out that its actually Ra's and the other guy was all a decoy, you are surprised. However, I already knew this, having done my research and watched some videos about this.

In regards to the rest of the cast, the role of Commissioner Gordon, one of Batman's best allies, is portrayed by the great Gary Oldman of Harry Potter fame. Gary is such a treat in whatever movie he is it, be it in the 90s Lost in Space or the aforementioned Harry Potter films, he was a perfect pick for Batman's well-trusted ally. Even Bruce's parents were nicely casted, the actors playing them captured that kind parental spirit and their death scene was quite decently crafted.

BATMAN BEGINS is an amazing, fun ride from beginning to end with no roadblocks to ruin the experience, the movie is one of the best superhero comic book movies to have ever come out years ago and you will not want to miss it. I love it and so did my parents, my final score for BATMAN BEGINS is a flawless nine point five out of ten. Thank you for joining us today, I'll see you later.

-James M 


BW13: Bookshops, Ice, and mysteries

 


It's book week 13 in our 52 Books Quest and this week and we're celebrating Dana Stabenow's Birthday. 

I'm dusting off Stabenow's  A Cold Day for Murder which has been on my eshelves since 2014 and will be reading it next. Not sure why I haven't read it yet but in the mood now.  

"Eighteen months ago, Aleut Kate Shugak quit her job investigating sex crimes for the Anchorage DA's office and retreated to her father's homestead in a national park in the interior of Alaska. But the world has a way of beating a path to her door, however remote. In the middle of one of the bitterest Decembers in recent memory ex-boss - and ex-lover - Jack Morgan shows up with an FBI agent in tow. A Park ranger with powerful relatives is missing, and now the investigator Jack sent in to look for him is missing, too.

Reluctantly, Kate, along with Mutt, her half-wolf, half-husky sidekick, leaves her wilderness refuge to follow a frozen trail through the Park, twenty thousand square miles of mountain and tundra sparsely populated with hunters, fishermen, trappers, mushers, pilots and homesteaders. Her formidable grandmother and Native chief, Ekaterina Shugak, is - for reasons of her own - against Kate's investigation; her cousin, Martin, may be Kate's prime suspect; and the local trooper, Jim Chopin, is more interested in Kate than in her investigation. In the end, the sanctuary she sought after five and a half years in the urban jungles may prove more lethal than anything she left behind in the city streets of Anchorage."

I'm currently continuing my book theme read and reading The Bookshop of Second Chances by new to me author Jackie Fraser which is quite good. 

"A woman desperate to turn a new page heads to the Scottish coast and finds herself locked in a battle of wills with an infuriatingly handsome bookseller in this utterly heartwarming debut." 

I just finished James Rollins The Starless Crown which put me in the mood to reread Ice Hunt for my I by title.  It may be cheating a bit to do a reread for A to Z by Title but that's what I'm in the mood for. 

"Carved into a moving island of ice twice the size of the United States, Ice Station Grendel has been abandoned for more than seventy years. The twisted brainchild of the finest minds of the former Soviet Union, it was designed to be inaccessible and virtually invisible.

But an American undersea research vessel has inadvertently pulled too close – and something has been sighted moving inside the allegedly deserted facility, something whose survival defies every natural law. And now, as scientists, soldiers, intelligence operatives, and unsuspecting civilians are drawn into Grendel’s lethal vortex, the most extreme measures possible will be undertaken to protect its dark mysteries – because the terrible truths locked behind submerged walls of ice and steel could end human life on Earth."



Book Review: A Starless Crown by James Rollins

 


I just finished James Rollins newest fantasy novel, The Starless Crown.  I love his writing.   As I was getting closer to the end and the characters were still in peril,  I told my hubby I hope this doesn't end in a cliffhanger. Happily it didn't. How to describe without giving anything away. They live in an alternative world in which several characters come together over the course of the book to join together in a quest to save the world. An abandoned baby found in a swamp, bats, prophecies, darkness, a thief, a bronze statue, a fallen prince, wolves, horrible villains who will do anything including burning entire towns to get what they want, sky ships and battles. Our poor characters given no time to rest, hunted and chased, from peril to peril. A thrilling story I couldn't put down. 

"A gifted student foretells an apocalypse. Her reward is a sentence of death. Fleeing into the unknown she is drawn into a team of outcasts: 

A broken soldier, who once again takes up the weapons he’s forbidden to wield and carves a trail back home. A drunken prince, who steps out from his beloved brother's shadow and claims a purpose of his own. An imprisoned thief, who escapes the crushing dark and discovers a gleaming artifact - one that will ignite a power struggle across the globe. On the run, hunted by enemies old and new, they must learn to trust each other in order to survive in a world evolved in strange, beautiful, and deadly ways, and uncover ancient secrets that hold the key to their salvation.

But with each passing moment, doom draws closer."


Definitely a reread when the rest of the series comes out.  



Fantasy, Alternative world, 560 

James M's Review of Batman Forever (1995)


 







Let us take a moment, shall we? The year is 1992 and the sequel to the 1989 Batman movie has come out, it is well received and all seems fine, but then as the reviews come in, there is an uproar from parents that the movie is too dark. So, with those complaints, how do you remedy the problem?

Simple, you try to be less dark in the next movie. It is 1995, three years have passed since Tim Burton's Batman Returns and a new movie is coming. This time, its lighter but still intense. Michael Keaton has been replaced by Val Kilmer, Jim Carrey is playing the Riddler and the new movie is BATMAN FOREVER!

Welcome back in the year of 2022, my friends. After reviewing the first two Batman movies, we're now delving into the movie that followed, my first true live-action Batman movie viewing. As you can see, its Batman Forever. So, what is it about?

Directed by Joel Schumacher, Batman Forever sees the Dark Knight take on Two-Face (who is played by Men In Black's Tommy Lee Jones) while being challenged by Edward Nygma aka The Riddler and ends up taking on an unlikely sidekick in the form of young acrobat Richard "Dick" Grayson after Two-Face kills the young man's family and Batman starts to form a romantic bond with psychiatrist Doctor Meridian Chase (played by Nicole Kidman), who eventually figures out that he is Bruce Wayne.

I saw this movie a good year and a half before seeing the first two Batman movies and, what are my overall thoughts on this one, good friends?

To be frankly honest, it doesn't matter what the critics said back then. Even with the overall tone being lighter than the first two, Batman Forever is actually quite good and engaging. Val Kilmer was impressive and Jim Carrey really did steal every scene he was in as the Riddler, he was so full of energy and still is today. This is perhaps one of my new favorite Jim Carrey movies, even if Mr. Carrey is not the main character of BATMAN FOREVER.

Almost every action scene is nicely shot and put together, the musical score is moving and there's plenty of good moments here and there, such as the scene at the start when Batman tells Alfred he'll get drive through in response to the butler inquiring him to take a sandwich. According to some YouTube reviewers, this scene felt like it was made for a fast food commercial promoting Batman. Superhero movies had some crazy moments then and they still can now, no matter what tone they have.

Mr. Lee Jones did a fine job playing Two Face, showing that he's quite good with his various roles, and he hammed it home in the circus scene when he started acting like a crazy evil circus announcer at one point when Two-Face and his goons hijacked everything and took over the show. Tommy Lee Jones captured the villain's personality well, making him very crazy dangerous just as Two Face is meant to be. Even without the split personality disorder his canon self has, this version of Two-Face is a blast.

Overall, despite certain issues the film may have, Batman Forever is a fun chapter in Batman's history that's worth a watch. If you're a fan of Jim Carrey, you will not want to miss this. If you're a fun-loving Batman nerd looking for some fun 90s goodness, this is a film for you. Batman Forever gets a nine, I look forward to re-watching this sometime soon and remember this as one of my favorites...

See you next time, good friends.

-James M