Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews of books, movies, music, and maybe even games.

Ready or Not

I saw the trailer for Ready or Not while watching Zombie Tidal Wave over on SyFy this weekend, and my verdict is that this made Zombie Tidal Wave worth it. My ticket alone probably doesn’t cover the ad spend for the studio, but it’s a start. Thank you for thinking of me!

Ready or Not is a tender, uplifting rom-com about spending the night playing hide-and-seek with your new in-laws who happen to also be clumsy-yet-determined serial murderers seeking to appease their dark lord. So, y’know… a nice break from superhero films. Also, not particularly tender or uplifting.

It didn’t quite cross my Threshold of Awesome because I don’t like being tense, or jump-scared, and it was only almost as funny as I was hoping it would be, but I definitely enjoyed myself. It did not disappoint, however. If I’d been with a couple of like-minded friends I would have been laughing out loud instead of on the inside, and that might have been better.

For me. Maybe not for my friends.

The R-rating is for gore and language, and there are generous helpings of both.

The Angry Birds Movie 2

You may recall my surprise when I loved The Angry Birds Movie, and enjoyed it more than I enjoyed Captain America: Civil War. That’s a pretty high bar to clear, especially for a sequel, but The Angry Birds Movie 2 takes a really good run at it, and, at least in places, out-performs the first film for me.

Here’s a metric. I almost laughed myself unconscious one time (something which I can actually do thanks to asthma). The first film almost did that to me three times. (So, three times it almost did it.)

This doesn’t mean the first film is three times better, or three times funnier—just that it surprised me more. And I suppose that’s more my fault than it is the film’s. I study humor for a living, and went into The Angry Birds Movie 2 expecting some amazing joke-craft, so I was (mostly) ready for it.

YMMV, of course.

The Angry Birds Movie 2 may have an oddly-constructed title (is there an extra word in there?) but it crosses my Threshold of Awesome nonetheless.  I’ll be buying the Blu-Ray, too, because re-watching these films and studying the way the animators, writers, and voice actors work together to craft a joke is, in fact, part of my job, making the disc a business expense.

I’m super fortunate that there are no laws against business expenses being fun, because this film is a lot of fun.

Hobbs & Shaw

The F³ (Fast and Furious Franchise) is now the FFCU (Fast and Furious Cinematic Universe) and I’m just fine with that. Hobbs & Shaw crosses my Threshold of Awesome, and if you can accept that it’s just a sans-a-cape superhero film, I suspect you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.  My Suspenders of Disbelief went TWANG and my Trousers of Sit Here And Have Fun stayed on just fine.

BRAIN: “Cars don’t work that way”
SUSPENDERS: “These are magic cars”
BRAIN: “But… physics?”
SUSPENDERS: “Secondary-world urban fantasy. Different physics here.”
BRAIN: “That guy should be dead. Like, six times over.”
SUSPENDERS: “He’s a magic-super. His powers are ‘punch’ and ‘don’t die.'”
BRAIN: “What about the woman shooting things out of the sky while hanging on to a car as it barrel-rolls through a plate-glass window?”
SUSPENDERS: “I already said ‘magic cars’.”
BRAIN: “She’s not inside this one.”
SUSPENDERS: “Her super-magic is that if her brother asks if she trusts him, and she says yes, she can be super-humanly awesome while touching whatever car he’s driving.”
BRAIN: “That power seems a bit narrow in focus.”
SUSPENDERS: “It’s a good thing the two of them figured it out before he barrel-rolled their car out a fifth-story plate glass window.”
BRAIN: “She let go of the car for a moment there, it looks like. Not touching it.”
SUSPENDERS: “That’s kind of like kryptonite. It adds tension to the scene.”
BRAIN: “Tension. That’s what that was?”
SUSPENDERS: *TWANG* “The trousers are still on, yes.”
BRAIN: “How can you even—”
SUSPENDERS: “MY super-magic is if I trust the movie to be fun, I can suspend all the disbelief.”

Good Omens

Amazon’s Good Omens miniseries is a rare thing. Exceedingly rare. So rare, in fact, that I can’t off the top of my head name another thing like it, though I’m certain others must exist. It is a TV show which is as good as the great book from which it was adapted.

There have been plenty of TV shows which failed to live up to the brilliance of their namesake novels, and more than a few which have outshone the prose from which they stemmed. And of course there are countless programs which reached equilibrious mediocrity with their so-so source material.

Good Omens, however, is brilliant in both mediums. The book, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, is a classic of modern literature. The new miniseries from Amazon is every bit as artful. It plays with the form enough to surprise us, but not so much as to alienate the audience. It subverts some expectations, exceeds others, and will someday serve well as a master class in “how to turn a book into a TV show.”

It’s a far better piece of work than the fan art it inspired from me, but that didn’t even slow me down.