Category Archives: Reviews

My opinions on things

New “Doctor Who” Teaser is Here!

Honestly…I found this underwhelming and disappointing. It was really nothing more than the new companions eating, and the Doctor’s new powers were more confusing than they were intriguing. The more I hear about the new season, the more I worry Chris Chibnall doesn’t know what he’s doing, and the show will suffer for it. I really hope the ComiCon trailer scheduled for release later this week is better.

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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: Nightmare of Eden”

I originally hadn’t planned on writing a review of this 1979 serial, but it surprised me by going in an entirely different direction than I had expected. Featuring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor, Lalla Ward as Romana, and David Brierly as the voice of K-9, “Nightmare of Eden” starts off with a standard ships-in-space-are-in-trouble motif but ends with inter-dimensional portals and drug smuggling. It’s been lambasted a bit for certain scenes coming off as cheap pantomime, but I didn’t really notice anything I would describe like that. Yes, there were some silly moments, but that’s often been the case with Doctor Who, especially with the Fourth Doctor.

Speaking of silly, the monster-of-the-week Mandrels have been criticized as well for not being scary–and they weren’t–but I really liked the idea that the powder into which they crumbled after death was the new source for the deadly Vraxoin drug. In a sense, I think that should qualify them for being scary, that their dead bodies produced a substance capable of destroying entire planets.

I also liked the inter-dimensional aspects that came into play with the Continual Event Transmuter. The technology was a bit like what the primitive Time Lords used (at least, that’s the impression I got from the Doctor and Romana), so in a way it was kind of like watching the development of Time Lord technology, albeit in the hands of a human who didn’t fully understand what he was working with.

Final verdict: it’s not the best Fourth Doctor outing, but it went down some paths I hadn’t expected and so turned out to be pretty enjoyable. This is one of those take-it-or-leave-it stories–you may enjoy it, but you won’t necessarily miss out on anything if you choose to skip it.

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New “Lord of the Rings” TV Show: We Can’t Just Leave Well Enough Alone

It’s recently been confirmed that Amazon will be producing a TV series based on The Lord of the Rings, and it’s already been guaranteed for five seasons even though nothing has actually been shot yet, so we don’t even know how good it is. The promising thing is that they aren’t planning on retelling the events of LotR (or I suppose it could be considered a bad thing if you were hoping to finally get some Bombadil in your life); they’re going to focus on the material in the appendices. That part sounds really fascinating, and I want to be excited for that except…well…you all saw what happened to The Hobbit.

In spite of my misgivings about The Hobbit, it just feels weird to think of seeing Middle-Earth through the eyes of someone other than Peter Jackson. The man has a lot of passion for Tolkien’s work, which I can respect. Yes, he’s one of the people pitching ideas for the new show, but there’s no guarantee they’ll choose him, and that makes me sad.

In times like this, I just have to remind myself that we still have the books, and nothing can ever take that away from us.

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From “Once Upon a Time” to “Happily Ever After”

I realize I haven’t written a lot about Once Upon a Time lately, but I wanted to go ahead and say something about the series finale. Yes, series finale. After seven wild seasons, the heroes finally got their happily ever afters (in theory, anyway–I didn’t entirely agree with what the writers thought constituted a happy ending). From what I’ve heard, this finale was far better than the one Lost fans got, and I’m truly grateful that Once Upon a Time actually got to have a finale instead of being canceled outright (the ignominious fate of Resurrection, Houdini & Doyle, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and Galavant among others). Yet at the same time, I can’t help but feel that season six had the better “happily ever after” wrap-up.

You see, season six was supposed to be the last season because the writers hadn’t heard if the show was being renewed or not. After hearing that ABC wanted to renew it after all, they didn’t do the smart thing and say, “Sorry, but we’ve already wrapped up the story lines; the show is effectively over.” No, they went scrounging in the bottom of the plot barrel and slapped together the show’s worst season. The plots were recycled; there were some questionable casting decisions (tried to like the new Cinderella but didn’t really feel much of a connection between her and Henry), and remaining story lines were hastily and untidily resolved (we never did get a decent backstory on Facilier, and I really wanted to know how he met Regina in the first place).

It may sound like I’m dumping on the finale, but I’m really not trying to. I guess I was just disappointed at how a show that started out great declined so much. One thing I did admire about tonight’s episode, though, was Rumple’s sacrifice, proving just how far his character has come. It also furthers my suspicions that he was the true Savior all along–we learned in season six that he was supposed to be the Savior, but the Black Fairy used the Golden Shears to change that destiny. Yet it was prophesied that she would meet her doom at the hands of the Savior, and it was Rumple and not Emma who delivered the killing blow. Combining that with the fact that this is the second time we’ve seen Rumple sacrifice himself for everyone else, I’m really starting to believe Rumple was the real Savior all along–kind of like how Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One all along but took a very lengthy detour through Sithdom.

I’ve often pondered the question of how many fans are going to pretend season seven never happened, but I’m not sure of the answer. Towards the end the show began to exhibit some of its old magic. But whether you choose to accept this season or not, I think the important thing is that, like all good stories, it will live in us forever. We will always remember the best of Once Upon a Time.

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Reflecting on “Beren and Luthien”

I sort of feel as if I need to apologize for this post–I received this book for Christmas last year, but it didn’t occur to me until recently to write about it here. Not sure why, though, because it’s quite a fascinating read.

As pretty much anyone familiar with The Lord of the Rings is aware, one of the legends recounted therein is the story of Beren and Luthien. Beren, a mortal Man, fell in love with the immortal Elf princess Luthien, but her father King Thingol forbade the marriage unless Beren could steal a Silmaril from Morgoth. Recounted in further detail in The Silmarillion, this was an important story because it showed the very first human/elf marriage, a marriage whose descendants included Elrond and Aragorn. But the story we got in The Silmarillion was only the latest version of a story that had taken many different forms over Tolkien’s writing career.

Beren and Luthien is not a strict retelling of the version found in The Silmarillion; rather, it is a compilation of the various different versions Tolkien had written over the years. There are some rather surprising variations of the tale–for instance, in one of the earliest versions, Beren was an Elf, not a Man, and Luthien’s name was Tinuviel (instead of being the name Beren gave to her when he first saw her). Other versions are more recognizable but still deviate from the Silmarillion one. Some are told in prose, others in poetry.

Tying everything together is Christopher Tolkien’s commentaries on his father’s work, explaining certain changes and adding helpful notes on the Elvish language. Some people might find stuff like that a bit boring, but I was fascinated. Beren and Luthien might not be for everyone, but for die-hard Tolkien fans, it’s a must-have.

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I Had My Doubts about “The Clones Wars”…

…the Star Wars animated series from 2008 that fills the gap between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. “It’s just a ploy for money!” I cried. “They’re probably breaking canon and expecting people to ignore it! And what’s this nonsense about Anakin having a Padawan?” The rest of the world, however, seemed thrilled about Clone Wars, claiming it was better than the prequel movies and a fun show to boot. Still deeply suspicious, I decided to give it a try.

Oh my goodness, it is leagues better than the prequels. If movie Anakin had been more like TV Anakin, I really think the prequels wouldn’t be quite so hated. Padme gets to do interesting stuff; Jar Jar is less annoying (but still giving off those secret Force power vibes); Obi-Wan is a delightful ball of sarcasm, and Anakin’s Padawan, a Togruta girl named Ahsoka Tano, is a much better character than I was expecting. Granted, I’m only on the first season, so maybe the show goes downhill. But for now, it’s amazing.

I haven’t seen any of Rebels yet, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get around to it. Right now I’m enjoying the ride that Clone Wars is offering.

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Star Wars Episode VIII Review: “The Last Jedi” *Contains Spoilers*

It was feeling like everyone else in the world had seen this movie already except me, but I finally made it out to the theater today and watched The Last Jedi, the latest installment in the Star Wars saga. My thoughts…well, let’s review the plot first. I know I was happy to discover what it was since the trailers revealed few details (obviously spoilers are forthcoming).

According to the opening crawl, the Republic is no more. The First Order has crushed it completely; Leia’s band of resistance fighters is the only thing left of order and democracy. And Kylo Ren is leading the charge in a desperate attempt to prove to Snoke that he has what it takes to follow in Vader’s footsteps (apparently Snoke is conveniently forgetting the Vader destroyed the Emperor and returned to the light side). Poe, a freshly-recovered Finn, and their new friend Rose work on a scheme that will let them disable the First Order’s lightspeed tracker and allow the rest of the Resistance to escape unharmed. Meanwhile, Rey tries to persuade Luke to return to his sister’s side and aid her in their fight against the First Order. But as we heard Luke ominously warn in the trailer, “This is not going to go the way you think,” and he was right on all fronts. The best laid plans go horribly awry; Kylo Ren finds the strength to murder Snoke and claim leadership of the First Order, and Rey, who has searched for the truth for so long, finds it a bitter pill to swallow.

Is it true that Rey’s parents were nobodies, just junk dealers who sold her for drinking money? Who knows. We don’t know how much we can trust Kylo at this point; he clearly has his own motives. But something tells me Rey’s story isn’t over yet.

As for Luke–why was it necessary to kill him, Rian Johnson!? Why!? It was bad enough we lost Han in The Force Awakens, but now Luke is gone, too! Plus Carrie Fisher is dead, so no more Leia. Why are you taking away all of the happy endings? Is this your way of trying to make your own characters look better? If so, you needed a better tactic.

Not going to lie, the movie felt way too long. Part of the problem was the whole sub-plot of Finn and Rose trying to find a codebreaker. That felt like enough material to be its own movie.

I still can’t take Kylo Ren seriously as a villain. If he didn’t look like a big, sad puppy all of the time, he would probably be very effective. But Snoke was correct when he called Kylo “a child in a mask”, and unless he does some serious growing-up in Episode IX, I think that’s all he’ll ever be. The same may be true for Rey as well–in Empire Strikes Back, I felt that Luke had at least learned humility after his confrontation with Vader. With Rey, I don’t get the impression she’s learned anything after her encounters with Snoke and Kylo. Luke’s lessons were vital to his maturity in Return of the Jedi. Will Rey show the same maturity? I certainly hope so. While she’s not as impulsive as Kylo, she still does not control her emotions very well and is too easily swayed by the dark side. Perhaps she’ll read those Jedi texts she rescued from the tree and gain some useful knowledge.

I will say this for The Last Jedi–it wasn’t a carbon copy of an earlier movie. It was its own thing, and I liked that. I just would have preferred it if it had had a little more of a hopeful feel to it.

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