Category Archives: Reviews

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

Incredibles 2

Before I begin my review, a public service announcement: Incredibles 2 may trigger seizures in sufferers of photosensitive epilepsy¹, and may in other ways afflict anyone who is sensitive to flashing lights. Seriously. There’s a fight scene in a room full of patterned strobes, and in the darkened theater there will be no steady-state light source to provide refuge for your eyes. The scene is only a small slice of the movie but it’s enough to absolutely ruin your day if flashing lights can hurt you.

And now, the review: I really enjoyed Incredibles 2, but it petered out for me toward the end. My very favorite super-powered engagement took place mid-movie, and while there were plenty of cool heroic bits later, none of them lived up to that level of awesome.

Still, it’s a fun film. It suffers mostly in comparison to Incredibles, which is to my mind the best Fantastic Four film we’ve ever had (in the same way that Galaxy Quest is the best Star Trek film we’ve ever had².) Incredibles 2 doesn’t clear my Threshold of Awesome, but I definitely want to see it again. In my own home, where I can fast-foward through the flashing lights, because they triggered a brief migraine, and I already get enough of those.

¹ I’m not a medical professional, nor an expert in epilepsy, but that scene hurt *me* and I’m just a guy who sometimes gets migraines. The picture on the Epilepsy Foundation’s page? Imagine that, strobing, only without the helpful yellow bits.
² “How can it be, if it’s not ACTUALLY a Star Trek film?” Hence the comparison. It’s kind of nuanced. 

Deadpool 2

Deadpool 2 was more fun and less uncomfortable than 2016’s Deadpool. At least for me. YMMV, of course. The film unmistakably earns its R-rating, so it’s not one to bring the kids to.

That said, it does clear my Threshold of Awesome, thanks to some final scenes putting it over the top. Yes, there’s a scene interrupting the early credits, and although there’s no after-the-credits scene, stick around for the audio at the very end.

In terms of tone, I’d categorize Deadpool 2 as an action-comedy in the same vein as Spy and The Hitman’s Bodyguard (both of which I really enjoyed.) And then there’s the way Wade Wilson breaks the fourth wall¹, allowing him to tell jokes other movies can’t get away with like commenting on the soundtrack².

¹ Deadpool knows that the Marvel Cinematic Universe exists, and that he’s not part of it. If you’re heavily invested in the Avengers films Wade Wilson’s commentary may be very satisfying.
² Children of the 80’s may get a bit more out of the musical juxtapositions than later generations will. My daughter loved that the music was weird and out-of-place. I loved that it was weird and out-of-place, and yet perfectly suited for the scene because I remember the music video. 


Cheap Sins, Fresh Wrath

Sins of Empire, by Brian McClellan, is on sale for $2.99, likely as part of a dastardly ploy to lure readers of fine flintlock fantasy into the acquisition of Wrath of Empire when it releases on Tuesday, May 15th¹. The plot is all the more sinister given the likelihood that its victims won’t complain a bit.

I’ve been a Brian McClellan fan ever since he debuted with Promise of Blood. That was a darn good book, and I gushed over it unashamedly².  He’s gotten better at this novelist thing, however, so Sins of Empire is definitely his best writing. At least to date. I will be completely unsurprised to learn that Wrath of Empire, which I’ve only just begun³, is even better.

¹ By way of public service, the best way to support authors of things you love is to either pre-order their novels, or to purchase them the week they release. 
²  In that review I boldly proclaim Brian’s debut to be the best debut I’ve read. Andy Weir’s debut took my top slot just two weeks later. 
³ Sometimes I get these things months early as ARCs. Sometimes I get these things a week early because the author dropped by for a chat. Mostly, though, I buy them¹.

Death by Cliché 2: The Wrath of Con

My writing group has been critiquing, and to some degree workshopping, the Death by Cliché series with their author, Bob Defendi. I’ve enjoyed the process immensely, even just reading the first full drafts.

The central premise of the series is that our protagonist, a game designer named Damico, is trapped inside a pencil-and-paper RPG. The game is being run by a not-very-good GM named Carl who leans heavily on the tropes and clichés of western fantasy, which is inherently problematic since the world created by Carl and his players is now becoming populated by thinking, feeling people who have strong opinions about things like the proximity of their  village to the dungeon full of monsters up in the hills.

In Death by Cliché 2: The Wrath of ConDamico learns that the RPG sessions in the real world have started up again, this time at a convention, and Carl’s plans for this adventure involve pitting the player characters against a foe who can control the weather.

If you’ve spent much time playing tabletop RPGs you may recognize yourself, or your GM, or your fellow players in this story. Bob assures me that this is the purest of coincidence.