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

Book Review: The Bookshop at Water's End by Patti Callahan Henry


The bookshop at water's end by Patti Callahan Henry is a deep dive into the relationships between two friends and the people surrounding them. The characters are broken emotionally and are returning for the summer to the summer home where Lainey's mother abandoned their family years ago.  Lainey doesn't want to go to Watersend but her friend needs her.  Bonny's marriage is over, she made a mistake in the emergency room and a man died. Bonny's daughter Piper has failed out of school, her boyfriend left her for another student, and she's flailing.  They agree to meet at the summer house to fix it up to sell and life's complications and emotions catch up with all of them.  Bookshop at Water's End is an emotional journey of finding their way, individually and together. 

The bookshop is owned by Mimi who was lived in Waterends all her life and is there at the beginning and there at the end and in between provides a stabilizing influence to all the angst the characters are experiencing.    

“Inside the very worst things you can find the power for change. Nothing needs to be the end of it all; anything and everything can have new meaning.” She grimaced with a smile. “I know it sounds like I’m just trying to make it all better with a little Band-Aid of words, but I’ve lived it. I’m telling you the truth. It is awful. It is painful, and your mom will suffer because it hurts. That’s true also.”

"But what no one ever tells you is that there is this horrible, gooey, mud-sucking, scary-as-hell middle place that you have to slog through before the begin-again gets to start.”

“Art and stories,” I said, “offer meaning to our lives in a way nothing else can. Science can’t. Logic won’t. The soul needs story and meaning to help us endure this life. This is what Lainey’s art does for us—it offers us meaning. You know I believe stories do the same. Books can be medicine for the heart just as Lainey’s art is medicine for the soul. There is magic here.”

New to me author, Literary fiction, e

James M's review of The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)


Hello again, old friends. Its time we dive into the Batman realm again, but we're gonna be delving into kid friendly territory this time... with THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE released in the year 2017, kinda set in the universe of THE LEGO MOVIE as a a spinoff starring Will Arnett as the LEGO version of the gritty protector of Gotham, Batman himself.

And before we go further, I will say that if you're thinking of DC Super Heroes Unite, that is a totally different LEGO Batman movie as this is the real LEGO Batman movie. Difference, one is animation and the other is live-action stop-motion animation with voice acting. Ok, clarification over. This movie was released in the 5 years between The LEGO Movie of 2014 and The LEGO Movie II of 2019, focusing on Batman, his character and relationships and battles with his well-known enemies.

The LEGO Batman Movie, from start to finish, is a fun family film with lots of action, comedy and is almost essentially a love letter to decades of Batman stories no matter what continuity those stories were set in. You see nods to the 60s shows, nods to the movies and nods to the comics, nods to almost everything from across the Dark Knight's (then) over 78 year history from 1939 all the way to the modern day. If you're a long time Batman fan, you'll figure out some of those nods.

We saw this movie together and it was a fun blast to watch compared to many other superhero experiences, despite those experiences being great to go through. If you're looking for a family-friendly Batman movie to watch with your kids without worrying about dark undertones, intense violence and scary sequences, then this is all for you to watch.

Will Arnett has a ball voicing Batman, doing his intimidating voice, and doing the calm normal voice of billionaire Bruce Wayne. Batman undergoes a character arc throughout the movie, from being a gruff and cold Dark Knight who feels that he doesn't need family or doesn't see The Joker as his greatest enemy to being open to family and accepts Joker as his greatest enemy by the end.

And while this is a Batman movie, it at one point ends up being a crossover with other properties such as The Matrix, Doctor Who, King Kong and a couple others when Joker goes to the Phantom Zone and returns with Agent Smith, King Kong and The Daleks in a team up against Batman. This movie is pure gold, even when its not trying to be super serious just like the source material.

THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE earns a 10, it is fun and simple and straight forward with nothing to worry about. I had fun watching this and intend to see this again in the future, may Batman one day get another LEGO movie that's just as fantastic as this one. See you later, Batfans...

-James M

BW12: A bit of this, a bit of that

It's week 12 in our 52 Weeks book quest and Sunday is the March equinox which means Spring in our neck of the woods and the start of our Spring Reading Fling. 

I've filled my head with too much news and now I have the reading blahs.  I finished Helene Wecker's second book in her Golem and the Jinni duology - Hidden Palaces.  Chava, the Golem, and Admad, the Jinni are now living in New York and spend their nights walking the streets, filled with conversation and long silences. The story is interwoven with several different characters and is full of history, drama, and magic. I loved escaping into their world and will definitely read it again at some point.    

Have you ever had an author you really wanted to like but couldn't get into their stories. I unfortunately ran into two this week that I didn't enjoy.  S.A. Corey's Leviathan Wakes and Ursula Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness. I had high hopes for both but ended up giving up halfway through both stories.  Corey's vomiting Zombies and Le Guin's writing both rubbed me the wrong way.  

Diving into James Rollins newest fantasy fiction - The Starless Crown as well as new to me author Patti Callan Henry's The Bookshop at Water's End

James M's review of Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (2019)


Greetings again, good DC friends and TMNT ninja nerds. We're back to review the third and final chapter in the Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover mega-event that's lasted more than two-three years. After seeing them battle Ra's Al Ghul and The Shredder in the first crossover and then go up against Bane in the second, what could end their crazy crossover crisis on infinite worlds in a half-shell with a bang?

Simple, five words. Crisis In A Half-Shell.

That's right, its a Multiversal crisis and at the center of it all is the Turtle's fearsome alien nemesis and Shredder's ally, Krang. And this crisis all begins when we take a look into what seems to be an alternate Batman/TMNT hybrid universe where Batman grew up with the Turtles as Splinter's fifth adopted son. But its not all as it seems and it turns out Krang fused the universes together as part of a plan to conquer the multiverse. 

Once the good guys encounter the Turtles' original counterparts from the Mirage universe along with Golden Age Batman from the original Batman universe, the set up for the battle that will determine the fate of the entire multiverse is set up and soon kicks into high gear. Let me tell ya now, the final battle between the heroes and the bad guys is unbelievably epic and nothing could top that aside from the final battle of the movie Avengers Endgame (which came out the same year).

The Batman/TMNT crossover trilogy overall is a wonderful masterpiece and should be read by those who are into Batman but haven't gotten into the TMNTs or visa versa. Each entry has some gorgeous visuals, amazing dialogue and real good writing along with amazing action segments with enough service to remind you why you fell in love with DC and TMNT in the first place.

Regarding how the Batman/TMNT crossover turned into a trilogy, its remarkable that the people at Warner, DC and Nickelodeon haven't made any sequels to the animated Batman/TMNT movie yet. Hopefully it'll happen down the line, you can't end a movie on a big stinger and not give it a sequel, that is just cheep. Regardless, the story of this crossover will blow the heck out of your mind.

As I bow out, I salute the writers who went all out with the big finale of this crossover and Batman/TMNT III gets a ten out of ten. May we get more good crossovers like this one someday in the future, now, its time to relax after a long journey. Until we meet again, good friends.

-James M

James M's review of Detective Pikachu (2019)


Hello and welcome back, we're doing another video game movie review. This time, we're diving into the realm of Pokemon with the 2019 movie adaptation of Detective Pikachu starring Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu himself aka Harry Goodman, father of the movie's protagonist Tim Goodman, who teams up with Pikachu to solve the mystery of his dad's disappearance.

I saw this movie well after it came out back in 2019, then I saw it again a few years ago and I just recently rewatched it, making that my third viewing. Let me tell you, this movie is beyond good, it is a blast to watch and I should watch it again pretty soon. Detective Pikachu is where I became a Pokemon fan, leading to me playing the Detective Pikachu video game on the 3DS (a game that I will review in the future).

This was my first film featuring Ryan Reynolds that I got to see, where I grew to respect him, even though I forgot that he was in the film and who he was until way later. To say that he plays a G-rated Deadpool when he plays Pikachu is an understatement, he is Pikachu and the character of Pikachu in this movie looks decent. 

Detective Pikachu is faithful to the source material and is one of the best live action adaptations ever created with good casting choices and a well-written plot, despite any flaws that it has. The movie kicks off beautifully and ends on a sweet note with nothing to slow it down, thanks to the splendid acting of the actors, the good writing, enjoyable score and engaging cinematography.

Overall, I would suggest this film to any Pokemon fan who hasn't seen it yet. With nothing to ruin the movie, Detective Pikachu gets a nine point five out of ten. Too bad its not gonna get a sequel any time soon, but at least video game movies these days are good and well-received.

Thank you for joining us, friends.

-James M

James M's review of Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II (2017)

Hello, old friends. Welcome back, we are about to once again delve into the crossover-verse and tackle another story of Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

That's right, we're taking a look at the sequel miniseries to the first Batman/TMNT crossover released a year prior. IDW and DC are once again collaborating on this epic crossover event continuation, which takes place well after the events of the first crossover. 

I got my hands on this on the same day I got one of the latest IDW Sonic comic issues (as of this writing) during my usual weekly trip to the local comic book story and read it all, just like with the first crossover story. And believe me, it is awesome.

The story for this one is very entertaining, especially with Batman's big enemy Bane as the big bad of this story. That's right, instead of Shredder and Ra's Al Ghul being the big bad just like in the first story, its a Batman villain serving as the big bad of the crossover sequel.

Seeing well-received crossovers get follow-ups is very heartwarming and its nice seeing two companies collaborate on bringing them to life, especially when said companies are very open to the ideas of crossovers without it messing with their brands' image since they usually aren't canon anyway.

Batman/TMNT II is very entertaining and worth reading, just like the first story. I don't have a whole lot to say about it, but I'll say that it is amazing and so worth getting. The comic gets a decent score of a 10/10, superhero comics never lose popularity or their value, hence why we will keep reading them.

See you next time!

-James M

Mister Rogers Neighborhood -Be Yourself, That's The Best- episode review


Airing from 1968 to 2001, Mister Rogers Neighborhood was an fun educational and entertaining children's show hosting the wonderful Fred Rogers as the show covered a variety of topics from war to racism and almost everything else. I saw some episodes of Mister Rogers Neighborhood with my dad when I was young, if memory serves me right, we only saw ten or twenty episodes and that was that. As I got older, I didn't even go near Mister Rogers even though a few memories came back and dad tried to imitate the show's theme song a few times.

Then, not long ago as part of a school project, we saw Tom Hanks' A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood and I found a new appreciation for the show I didn't see much of. Afterwards, as part of a school assignment, my father and I sat down to watch an episode of the show. This one is perhaps my only favorite Mister Rogers' Episode yet, this is 1997's "Be Yourself, That's The Best" from Season 27 of the show near the tail end of Fred Roger's run, a good five years before his passing.

Airing on August 27th, 1997, "Be Yourself, That's The Best" sees Mister Rogers teaching the viewer about puzzle-solving and where the pieces go at the beginning, this leads to the first lesson of the episode. Look and listen, that's how you grow. We all have to listen to advice and look carefully, by doing that, you're able to grow and mature. After that lesson, we're taken to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe where King Friday the 13th's son Prince Tuesday thinks he can try to fly and hurts himself.

Remember, kids. You can't actually fly, but birds and bugs can, even airplanes. You can only fly in your dreams or in movies as superheroes. Then, the episode gets interesting when Mister Rogers takes us on a trip to a band hall to meet and hear the Uptown String Quartet, a group of women forming a band and playing violins. The women play a couple tunes, including a rendition of "You Are Special". This episode is beyond great, its fantastic and educational in every way.

I would give this episode a 9.5 out of 10, it was entertaining and taught some really good lessons, some of which we're already putting to use. For an entry in an old show, it has aged quite interestingly. Father and I saw this on YouTube, you can find the episode here for your viewing pleasure:

Mister Rogers, thank you for your valuable and memorable teachings you provided through this episode and the lessons we learned from you along the way. May you rest in peace, knowing there are people who will never forget you and will honor your show in more ways than one. 

Now, I say audieu.

-James M

James M's movie review of Saving Private Ryan (1998)


War, a fascinating and important subject, but also a dark and terrible time. War never changes, war takes lives, but can be entertaining in movies.

There have been many wars throughout history, but World War II is the darkest time period in the history of our planet, occurring nearly twenty one years after the end of World War I and started by the most ruthless dictatorship in world history. This is where we gather to discuss a movie set during that era, a movie that depicted the reality of war in terrifying detail.

This is Saving Private Ryan, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks as Captain Miller and Matt Damon as Private Ryan himself, this movie unfolds in June of 1944 as Allied Forces land in France, moving inland and fighting hard against Nazi forces. 

Kicking off in the present day with the older Ryan and his family in a graveyard, the story truly begins when it shifts to 1944 on D-Day, the Normandy Landings. The scene in the boat with the soldiers leading up to the big battle is so eerie and chilling, it actually gave me shivers, making me feel like I was there among many of those soldiers who were destined to die on D-Day.

Saving Private Ryan is no ordinary war movie as it is brutal and is R-rated, blood is spilled and the D-Day sequence is filled with the brutality of war with many gruesome death scenes, even though you still see the traditional dropping dead bloodlessly after getting shot seen many times in previous war movies or action movies in general. While it is a war movie, there are moments of peace and quiet. 

However, during those moments of peace and quiet, while the soldiers are talking or moving through a tranquil countryside, you may never know when the enemy will attack at any time. That is perhaps one of the best parts about a war movie, which nails it about real life war, is when you may never know when the enemy will strike at any time. The writers knew what they were doing, even the musical score was well put together with some very good music heard throughout the movie.

Tom Hanks steals the show in the movie, especially as Captain Miller, showing that he is one of the best actors in Hollywood and still is to this day. And seeing him with Matt Damon was quite incredible, especially since Mr. Damon's also one of the greatest actors ever next to Tom Cruise, Chris Evans and countless other great people from many different movies and shows. 

Father and I talked about seeing this movie for a good couple of years, but never got the chance to do so as life got in the way or we were busy watching other films, when we finally did, the experience wasn't so bad. While the action scenes were well-shot, the moments of peace and quiet along with the build-ups to the battles were both decently thought out. You can't have constant action scenes, after all.

Overall, Saving Private Ryan is a fun, fantastic and one of the best war films ever. If you're a fan of Tom Hanks, war movies and action films, I'll happily suggest you watch it. But just a heads up, Saving Private Ryan is no doubt very violent but its probably nothing you can't handle. I managed to handle the gory scenes, especially since, realistic as the gore was, it was fake. This film gets a 10.5.

See you later, America.


BW11: Daylight Savings and Super Powereds and History, oh my!

Ugg! Daylight Savings Time. Enough said. Although I am appreciating the fact we only have a few clocks to adjust when I think about the clock merchant who has to reset a 1000 clocks. It's week 11 in our 52 Books Quest and our next 52 Books Bingo category is All the World's a Stage. Which works well with our golden age theme since William Shakespeare was alive during the Elizabethan era, considered the Golden Age in English history.

I finished Super Powereds Year Four by Drew Hayes. Many answers to all the questions throughout the books. The kids learned so much the final year through their battles and the intramurals, learning to trust themselves and their powers, culminating in the final battle between the Heroes and bad guys. We never did find out which ten graduated? Grateful for the epilogue ten years later giving an update on all the characters. This is one series I'll read over and over again.

Also finished Josephine Tey's Daughter of Time and love Inspector Grant. He's very cerebral. Grant is recuperating in the hospital from an injury during the line of duty. He's bored out of his mind and becomes enamored with a picture of Richard the III and if the story was true that he killed his two young nephews. Grant involves everyone in his mystery from the medical staff to his friends while he reads everything he can about Richard. Along the way he uncovers the historical facts are tonypandy - historical events that were well-accepted but not reported accurately - in books like Sir Thomas More which Grant discovers were all hearsay since More was too young at the time of the event. Fascinating story and I will never think of history in the same way again.

I'm up to H for book by title and E for author. In actuality my reading has been all over the place, every though trying to read alphabetical. Keep getting side tracked with other books so kinda reading out of order. Working on two books - historical fantasy novel Hidden Palace (#2 in the Golem and the Jinni) by Helene Wecker and science fiction novel Ursula Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness. I've stumbled across a couple articles on Le Guin - My Le Guin Year and My Year of Reading Ursula Le Guin and decided the universe was telling me to stop staring at the book on my shelf and read it, so there you go.

We watched Adam Project on Netflix Saturday night. Lots of action with plot, great script, and wonderful acting. If you have a chance to see it, do. So very good.

Book Review: The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey


Inspector Grant's recuperating in the hospital from an injury during the line of duty. He's bored out of his mind and becomes enamored with a picture of Richard the III and if the story was true that he killed his two young nephews. Grant involves everyone in his mystery from the medical staff to his friends while he reads everything he can about Richard. Along the way he uncovers the historical facts are tonypandy - historical events that were well-accepted but not reported accurately - in books like Sir Thomas More which Grant discovers were all hearsay since More was too young at the time of the event. Fascinating story and I will never think of history in the same way again.

Dusty, historical fiction, 206 

James M's review of Free Guy (2021)


Oh, hullo again, folks. We're back... to review one of 2021's best movies yet. Free Guy, starring the respectable and humorous Ryan Reynolds himself as the character of Guy. 

We got this on DVD months after its theatrical release instead of waiting until it hit Disney Plus and we watched this, so what are my thoughts on this fun video game movie that almost feels like a crossover between Ready Player One, The Truman Show and Wreck it Ralph?

Well, as you already know, its very good. This was a fun, imaginative and mind-blowing movie worth watching again that tells an epic story about an NPC who steps beyond his programming and becomes a hero in his own right, defying the expectations of the video game's developers.

Mr. Reynolds does an unsurprising good job as the character he's playing, even Taika Watiti plays a fun villain. He's quite amazing, this film has a great opening with Guy breaking the fourth wall to narrate the world to us.

And guess what? I nicknamed him Guy-pool, a cross between Guy and Deadpool, which is almost appropriate since Ryan plays Deadpool in Fox's X-Men series and in the MCU now. (And yes, I've done my research on Deadpool, don't ask much.) 

The CGI effects are outstanding and help create the video game world Guy lives in, even the real world segments are fun, this film does a fantastic job showcasing what if The Truman Show had been about video games instead of a reality TV show. No offense to Jim Carrey, but Ryan Reynolds plays the main character just as great as Jim did.

Free Guy's a fun movie for the entire family and is worth watching, go find it on DVD or watch it on the streaming service of your choice. This movie was actually so successful, a sequel is actually in the plans right now, even though nothing else has materialized as of yet. I rate this film a 9.6 out of 10, I will watch this movie again in the future and we will see the sequel when it releases. We salute you Fox Studios and Ryan Reynolds, you are both amazing at what you do.

I bid you adieu, folks.

-James M

James M's Review of IDW Sonic Imposter Syndrome issue 3


Hello again, we now dive back into the IDW Sonic universe with the third issue of the Imposter Syndrome miniseries featuring Doctor Starline, Surge and Kit taking place in the lead up to the big milestone of IDW Sonic issue 50.

I just read it and, wow, it is way past awesome. Ian Flynn didn't just knock it out of the park, he writes in a way that blows the mind. The issue starts off with Surge and Kit watching one of Doctor Starline's vlogs where Starline rants about Eggman and it looks as if the doctor is about to snap as he even calls Eggman's robots, including Metal Sonic, inferior. Ian knows when to ham it up as he writes villains, he did a fine job with Eggman in Archie Sonic and does a fine job here as well.

Moving along, Surge and Kit then listen to everything Starline outlines about their "creation" and after they were "activated".

The two are not to happy about what they learned and, when Doctor Starline enters the room, they attack the man who lied to them and manipulated them. The battle scene is beyond fantastical and is just as good as every action scene in IDW Sonic.

After the beatdown, Surge and Kit trick Starline just as he tricked them and they start planning to incapacitate Eggman while also planning Sonic and Tails' destruction. With that, the finale for the miniseries is all set up.

So, what do I think?

The issue was great, Sonic comics never cease to amaze no matter who owns the license or is writing the comic. Ian Flynn's writing style never loses its charm that got him very famous, leading to him eventually penning the story for the (currently) upcoming Sonic Frontiers game in the first place, not to mention he was fantastic when he wrote two Sonic Boom TV show episodes.

I love Ian, he's my favorite next to Timothy Zahn or JK Rowling, not to mention he's just as great as one Ken Penders.

The colorful artwork and penciling is also phenomenal as well, they really showcase the emotions and the first page sells it with Starline looking crazy angry in his vlog. Kudos to the artists, some of them should work for SEGA with the artwork of Sonic one of these days.

Well, I have nothing else to say, my final score for the third issue of Imposter Syndrome is a ten. Ian Flynn, you keep at it and keep wowing the fans no matter what, who cares if there are people who think you suck. I will be one of your defenders, forever and ever. Now, I bid you all goodbye.

-James M

Book Review: Super Powereds Year Four by Drew Hayes


Wonderful installment and the finale to the series. Many answers to all the questions throughout the books. The kids learned so much the final year through their battles and the intramurals, learning to trust themselves and their powers, culminating in the final battle between the Heroes and bad guys. Did you notice we never found out which ten graduated? Grateful for the epilogue ten years later giving an update on all the characters. I may write a more indepth review at a later time about the whole series. Right now my brain is full and I have a book hangover.  This is one series I know I'll  read over and over again. 

James M's review of Spider Man 3 (2007)


Hello and welcome back, true believers. Today, we return to the Spider-realm to review the final entry in the original Spider-Man film series; Spider-Man 3 directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Thomas Hayden Church, Topher Grace, J.K Simmons, James Franco and Bryce Dallas Howard.

Released in 2007 a good few years after Spider Man 2, this movie served as the final entry in the Spider-Man trilogy and received mixed reviews while still a box office success. It was also the live action debut of Spider-Man's symbiote rival Venom (who'd made his debut in the 90s in the comics and cartoons beforehand). Initially, Sam Raimi wasn't going to include Venom in the movie, but Producer Avi Arid and the higher-ups at Sony made him do so.

So, what is the story about? Lets keep it short and simple.

Well after Spider-Man 2, Peter's life seems to be going smoothly for him, especially now that he finally has Mary Jane as his girlfriend and is about to propose to her. However, things shift when Uncle Ben's real killer Flint Marko breaks out of prison and becomes the Sandman before causing trouble.

Then Peter's friend Harry becomes the next Green Goblin and attempts to kill Peter, only to lose his memories after an injury and then gets them back later before ruining Peter and MJ's relationship, which gets strained after MJ sees Peter kiss Gwen Stacy as Spider-Man during a ceremony in his honor. 

As all of that is happening, Peter bonds with a symbiote that came down on an asteroid and gets a black suit. But when Peter realizes what is going on as its changing him, he gets rid of the symbiote suit and the creature known as Venom bonds with a journalist named Eddie Brock, who then teams up with Sandman to kidnap Mary Jane and try to kill Peter. Peter teams up with Harry and they defeat the bad guys, but the battle comes at the cost of Harry's life while Peter reconnects with MJ.

So, what do I think of the movie?

Its not that bad as people think it is, Spider-Man 3 is quite good and ends the trilogy off on a good note to an extent. Had Spider-Man No Way Home not happened, this would've been the last time we ever got to see Tobey Maguire's version of Spider-Man. Spider Man 4 was meant to happen at some point, but due to issues between Sam Raimi and Sony, it never happened and thus Spider Man 3 is the final one. After this movie, we would get the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man films, which we'll talk about later.

Overall, the action sequences are well created, the acting is decent and the musical score's perhaps the best of the best in this film. The tone was fine as well, it knew how to be light-hearted and when to be serious. The CGI and special effects were very good too, Sandman looks spectacular and Spider-Man's swinging through the city is still phenomenal. I salute Raimi's team.

Spider-Man 3 gets an 8.5 out of 10, now I say farewell. See you next time in another universe...

BW10: Golden age mysteries


It's book week 10 in our 52 Books Quest and this week we are continuing with our Golden Age mystery writers. This month's Crime Spree Bookology choice is Josephine Tey.    Tey is the creator of Inspector Alan Grant series and also wrote plays under the pseudonym of Gordon Daviot.  I've had The Daughter of Time sitting in my stacks for quite a while and look forward to reading it now.

But right now, I'm currently reading Super Powereds Year Four by Drew Hayes and it will take me a while at 1000 + pages. 

"The final year at Lander has finally arrived for the Melbrook students and their peers, and with it comes a whole new set of challenges. Still reeling from the events of their junior year, the remaining students will have to push past their pain - and so much more - if they hope to be one of the ten to claim the title of Hero upon graduation.

Constant tests and trials await the senior students. Beyond simulated missions and classes, they'll also have to buckle down to learn about agents, prospective teams, internships, and other seemingly endless elements of being a Hero.

For some, however, the classroom is only one aspect of the trouble that lies ahead. Long-buried secrets have been unearthed; old mysteries are finally unraveling; and what lies at the center of it all has the potential to rock the realm of Heroes to its very foundation."


James M's review of Ghostbusters Answer The Call (2016)


Salutations, we have returned... to the Ghostbusters universe. But this time, we're reviewing something nobody ever expected. That's right, we're looking at the all-female 2016 reboot: GHOSTBUSTERS aka Ghostbusters Answer The Call.

My parents and I saw this a couple years ago and I saw it again prior to us seeing the Ghostbusters Afterlife movie. After seeing this twice in a row and despite what the critics have said about the movie, Ghostbusters (2016) isn't really a bad movie. Now, now, please do not pull out the pitchforks, torches and start attacking me, I'm not trying to defend this film nor am I bashing anybody who hates it.

As anybody who does research knows, this movie came about when the people behind the first two Ghostbusters movies couldn't get a third film off the ground. So at one point, they decided to do a reboot and cast females as the lead protagonists of the movie. It came out to mixed reviews and backlash and was a complete flop at the box office, but this film has its fans, fans like me and my parents if you can look past the flaws that is.

So, what is the story of the reboot about?

Well, the story is just like the original movie, a group of people investigate a haunting and meet a ghost. They start a ghost-busting company and go after ghosts, the public doubts them and then a supernatural threat to the world arrives. However, there is no Gozer to worry about and the entire group consists of females. The original cast makes cameos as new characters and Sigourney Weaver appears as Rebecca Gorin, the mentor of Erin, near the end of the movie after the final battle has happened.

Keeping my thoughts short and sweet, ignoring the flaws that upset the viewers, this is actually a decent movie IMO. The special effects were incredible, the soundtrack sounded swell and the acting was nice. As for the writing, it wasn't too terrible. The crew did their best and it showed, too bad this movie wasn't a big hit. But in the end, this did help Ghostbusters III eventually happen, so bonus points for this reboot happening and paving the way for the third movie with its failure. Without it, we wouldn't have gotten Afterlife, thank you Ghostbusters 2016.

I give this movie a 8.5 out of 10, sorry I didn't have much thoughts on it, but its been quite a while since I last watched this movie. Now, I bid you goodbye for now.

-James M

James M's review of A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood (2019)


Hello, neighbors and friends. We're here to talk about... Mister Rogers.

That's right. Very recently, as part of a school assignment, we sat down to watch A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, released in 2019 and starring Tom Hanks as the beloved TV star Mr. Fred Rogers of the Mr. Rogers show. The movie taught lessons of compassion and forgiveness, it was fun and thought-provoking and it made me feel kinda nostalgic as I saw the Mr. Rogers show a few times years ago.

Tom Hanks was great in this, he's perhaps one of my favorite actors to date, especially after hearing him voice Woody in Toy Story and after he played Captain Miller in Saving Private Ryan. Tom handles the material he's given very well, even if he doesn't live up to the man he's playing. 

As someone who saw Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and has grown to respect the shows I used to watch in my childhood thanks to Dora & The Lost City of Gold (based on Dora The Explorer), this film is nothing short of fun.

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood has an impression on me as I am thinking of neighborly love and compassion while doing my best to forgive certain people and mistakes I made, forget about that negativity and move on with love and compassion in my heart. This film is the perfect love letter to Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and it was quite interesting to know that Fred Rogers played some of the other characters in the show such as King Friday the Thirteenth and that little cat puppet.

If there is anybody who has seen Mr. Rogers, this is a movie you won't want to miss. Its educational and very helpful, we all could use some kindness in our lives no matter what. Good old Fred Rogers may be long dead, but his legacy lives on, thanks to this movie and the incredible acting of Tom Hanks himself. A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood gets a nine point nine out of ten for its almost nostalgic value, good storytelling and beautiful lessons that it teaches.

Thank you, Mr. Rogers, I will never forget you and may you rest in peace.

Farewell, everyone...

-James M

James M's review of IDW's Batman Vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2016)


Greetings, good friends. We're back to review BATMAN VS TEENATE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES by IDW Comics. 

That's right, we're delving into the comic that inspired the 2019 movie, but this version of Batman/TMNT is almost way different from how things played out in the movie save for certain plot beats and dialogue that was lifted from this for the movie. 

Plus, need I forget to mention, characters like Splinter, April O' Neil and Cassey Jones from the TMNT-verse appear in this unlike the movie (where Splinter himself is mentioned a few times and is seen briefly at one point).

I got the graphic novel that collected all six issues of this crossover and, lemme tell you, DC and IDW did a great job with this. Comic books about superheroes and sci-fi are really gripping and hard to stop reading, I read this entire thing in one sitting and was hooked. 

As a matter of fact, I may do a rereading of it in the future. Wow, oh my gosh, these comics never ever get old. Seriously, who wouldn't want to see Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fighting before they team up to fight bad guys together?

The writers set out to write a compelling and amazing crossover story when they worked on this one and they succeeded, the characters are well-written and everything felt cohesive, engaging and gripping from start to finish. This comic was very well done, it spawned two more crossover sequels and led to an animated movie adaptation just a few years later in 2019.

My final score for this comic is a 10 out of 10, Batman and TMNT are amazing staples of pop culture that get so much love and respect. I am never going to forget this. Now, I say farewell and I'll see you later.

-James. M