Movie Review: Zathura

One of the movies I have had on my to watch list for a while now was Space Jumanji…I mean, Zathura.

I don’t really know what to say about this one. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it, but I’m glad I can finally mark it off my to-watch list.

Am I the only one that was glad that Kristen Steward spend most of the movie either sleeping or frozen? Because that was my favorite part of this movie.

There were aspects of it that I did like. The Zorgons were probably the best part of the scifi aspect of this movie. These strange heat seeking lizard aliens certainly made the movie, and the game, so much more interesting. Without them, I feel like I would have struggled more to finish this movie. Also the whole story surrounding the Astronaut was interesting, though I do feel like there were some unanswered questions about him.

Overall it was good, but I felt I would have enjoyed it if a) I was younger and b) if I had never seen Jumanji.

Fun fact: This was the first movie my son ever sat through from start to finish without moving or talking. He was completely enthralled by it and it was only when the credits started to roll that he snapped out of his daze. He was three years old at the time.

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Book Review: Binti

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

About a year ago I noticed the book Binti. I can’t recall exactly where I started seeing it, though it was probably on Twitter or several book blogs, but I was admittedly intrigued. I made a note to get the book and read it. But I then got absorbed into my already enormous TBR and swept Binti to the bottom of the pile. Then recently I started seeing more people talking about this book, and it’s sequel, and I was once again reminded of my desire to read this book. Fast forward to October, when I received a copy of this book from a friend and I finally got around to reading it.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. Despite all the times I had seen this book online, I had never paid attention to what it was about, nor any details in various reviews – minus the fact that everyone seemed to love it. So, I decided to not read the blurb and dive right in.

I really loved this book. Right from page one I was pulled into the story, wanting to know more about Binti, her world, her purpose, all the technology, just everything. The world building in this novella is great, with each section you learn something new and more of the story fall into place. There is a nice variety of characters, though the focus is on Binti and the Meduse. The pace of this story is very solid. There are no slow parts, and despite very little action, there is always something happening, always new pieces to the puzzle been placed, Nnedi’s writing really brings this story to life

Really my only complaint is that it was too short. I get it, it’s a novella and therefore it’s supposed to be short. And yes, I do agree that the story was wrapped up nicely so there wasn’t too many questions, but enough left open to lead into the sequel. But I still wish it was longer. I wanted to know more, see more of the worlds, learn more about some of the species that appeared near the end of the novella. I’m sure that will happen over the course of the series.

Overall, I’m very happy that I finally got around to reading this book and I will definitely be continuing on with the series to see where the story leads. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

Movie Review: Mars Needs Moms

Wanting to add some variety to my SciFi movies this year, I decided to include some kid friendly movies because why should scifi be restricted to adults only. A quick internet search led me to a long list of kid friendly SciFi movies and my biggest problem then became picking which ones to watch. Among these many movies listed, I spotted Mars Needs Mom and thought what the heck, why not start with this one.

I honestly had no idea what to expect. I remember seeing it advertised a few years ago when it first came out, but back then I didn’t really have any interest in seeing it. So I went into this one only knowing that it involved aliens from Mars kidnapping moms from Earth. It seemed like a pretty straight forward idea.

To be perfectly honest, I figured this would be a silly movie, as so many kids movies tend to be regardless of genre, but to my surprise I really enjoyed this one.

The overall story as a whole was an interesting one. I was curious as to why exactly the martians were stealing moms. I mean, obviously it was because the needed moms, as the title of the movie states. But why? How could an entire alien society need moms? Were there no alien moms? And if so, why as that? So many questions to be answered and the movie does a great job of explaining all of it. It takes a little while to get to this answer, but if it happened too quickly then there wouldn’t be enough left to show to have a full length movie.

I thought the animation in this movie was pretty good. Motion capture is definitely one of those great animation tools that I don’t feel is used often enough, though I realize plenty of movies do take advantage of it. Getting to see the actors in their motion capture suits acting out certain scenes was a nice bonus at the end of the movie.

I found it interesting to have mars aliens living underground and thus the rovers never find evidence of their existence.

There is plenty of humor scattered throughout the movie, especially whenever Gribble was involved.I found myself laughing at several points and it just made the whole experience that much more enjoyable. But it wasn’t all humor, as there were a number of serious moments as well.

 

I did have a couple of issues with this movie. First was the many scenes where Milo, and one occasion Gribble, end up falling a really long way down and then land in a pile that basically consists of metal and not a single injury was seen. No scratches, bumps or bruises. Even with the lesser gravity on mars, there should still have been some negative repercussion from these drops, especially since they happened a number of times.

Secondly, I had a slight issue with the whole alien falls in love with a human thing. I felt it was completely unnecessary to the movie. I didn’t care that Gribble decided to return to mars, but why did it have to be because he’s in love with Key, the female rebel of the aliens.

Overall a great little movie that would be perfect to watch as a family, as kids and adults are sure to enjoy it.

Movie Review: The Day The Earth Stood Still

You know a movie is going to be good whent he first line is “Holy Mackerel!” Especially when it’s followed very shortly by, “Holy Christmas!” So good!

I will admit, that initially I was a bit annoyed that the alien looked so much like a human, but I quickly pushed that thought away. After all, if he didn’t look like a human, then we would have one heck of a time blending into society.

The pace of this movie was really good. Sure, it was slow at times, but overall, I felt like the time just flew by while watching this and suddenly it was done.

I am so glad that I watched this one, especially since I didn’t think I would like it. I often find older movies to be lackluster due to a variety of reasons, but this was such a treat to watch. I would definitely recommend people to watch this one if they haven’t.

I know that this one has been remade and I may watch it at some point, if I can get past the fact that Keanu Reeves is in it, but I feel like it just won’t hold a candle to the original movie and will be too bogged down by CG and special effects that take away from the story – if they remember to include any. We’ll see. Perhaps that will be a review that will appear in next years SciFi Month.

Movie Review: Elysium

A couple of years ago, my husband watched the movie Elysium and told me that I should watch it. Of course I added it to my to-watch list, but as inevitably happens, I kept putting it off. Finally, this year, I made time to watch it, because I wanted to knock several scifi movies I had been putting off for some time now.

I found that the pace of the movie was a bit slow. I understand that things need to be established, but sometimes I just wished that there was more action or other things to pick up the pace a bit.

I did find it realistic feeling that in the future, as the world crumbles, it is the rich and privileged that escape to this paradise in space, leaving the poor behind. Yet, despite all this, they still seem to rely on those poor in ways, such as manufacturing robots. It makes total sense for this to happen. Even in the future, as we leave earth behind, the rich will still run things and make the poor suffer.

I didn’t feel any real connections to the characters. There was a nice mix of different characters, but overall, I didn’t get that pull to root for certain characters like I would have liked to.

As far as technology goes, which is often the best part of scifi, overall, I didn’t find too much in this movie to be unique. The medical beds that could diagnose and cure everything, at least it seemed like everything, was very intriguing. I mean, come on, that guy had his face blown off and a few seconds in a medical machine and boom he’s back to normal.

Overall, this was an okay, borderline good, movie. If you haven’t watched it yet, and are thinking about it, I say give it a shot. There is a very good chance that people will enjoy this one.

Book Review: Old Man’s War

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I will admit, that I was hesitant to listen to this audiobook. After listening to Redshirts, which I reviewed earlier this month, I was worried that this book would be bogged down with “he said, she said” dialogue much like Redshirts was. While there was a lot of “said” used in this book, there were at least other descriptors used as well, so that alone made the book more enjoyable.

The narrator, William Dugris, was a bit boring at times. His voice often had a flat, almost monotone quality to it, which at times made listening a chore, because my mind would wander away from the story. Overall, it wasn’t too bad to listen to, I just had to make sure to really pay attention. He did do a pretty decent job of giving each character their own unique voice.

I found the concept of the book interesting. The idea to recruit old people to a war effort, seems very unorthodox, even with the promise of anti-aging, so I was definitely curious to see how it would work out.

I felt like things were explained well enough. It didn’t feel bogged down by scientific jargon, but some explanations weren’t perfect – like the discussion about how the “beanstalk” didn’t follow the laws of physics. I get that things like that need to be explained or else readers will complain that it was missing valuable information, but then at times those descriptions feels like they go too deep.

It was nice to have a book where the main characters are older. So many books have characters from their teens to thirties, with the only older people being grandparents or elders, and they get small roles. Of course this changed as the book progress, what with the anti-aging process happening, but it was entertaining while it lasted. And yes, I understand that, in a way, those characters are still 70+ mentally, but it certainly changed things to have them also younger again.

Things got a little weird after the “anti-aging process”.

My interest started to wane a bit about the half way point when the characters were going through all their training. I don’t know if it’s because my interest in the story had lessened or if the narrators voice was just making me not care, but I definitely had to keep reminding myself to pay attention and listen to it or else I might miss everything.

There was a decent amount of action in this book, especially in the last quarter of it. I found a few of the characters to be great additions to John, but overall, I didn’t find that any of them stood out. I get that it was technically Johns story and thus the focus was on him, but I would have liked to see a bit more from the other characters – though maybe I will if I continue with the series. I also wish we could have seen more alien species, as there were only a few mentioned and most of those were just minor “oh look there’s a __” and that was it.

I may eventually continue on with this series, but I am in no major rush to. I am glad that I finally got around to this book.

Movie Review: Rogue One

This review contains spoilers!

Okay, let’s get this over with.

I didn’t like Rogue One.

Yeah, that’s right, a person who loves Star Wars didn’t like Rogue One.

I’m sure you are wondering why. Well, let me tell you.

I was excited about Rogue One. I love that Star Wars will continue on, even if the gaps before, between and after the two trilogies will no longer follow the Expanded Universe stories that are found in the books. But I digress.

When all the hype over Rogue One coming out was happening, I was trying my hardest to avoid all of it. In fact, I only watched the first trailer that was released, ignoring all other teasers and trailers. I wanted to go into this movie knowing nothing – well as nothing as you can get when it fills in part of the gap between the third and fourth episodes. I didn’t want to know who these new characters were, nor did I want to know about he recurring characters – and there were quite a few of them, from the trilogies and The Clone Wars series.

Can we talk about the lack of crawl? Because honestly, I thought that was Disney’s first mistake. We all knew ahead of time there wasn’t going to be a crawl, since apparently only Episodes get those and not in between movies,because the details aren’t important or some shit like that, but I felt like without the crawl I was watching just another SciFi movie.

Can we talk (complain) about the characters for a moment. I had such a hard time liking any of the characters in this movie, except Tarkin, because I love Tarkin and was so glad they included him. I felt like so many of the characters lacked any real dimension to them. They were simply just there to fill in space in the scenes. The one that stood out the most to me in this way was Bodhi, the pilot. He seemed to be disjointed from the story too much, he was there but, I don’t know, I wasn’t convinced they really needed him. Yeah, yeah, they did, because he knew shit about something or whatever, but yeah he felt useless to me. By far Jyn was my least favorite character. She was so unconvincing the whole time. She fought so hard against doing what everyone wanted her to do and then suddenly she was all “Oh yeah, I’ll totally help cause that’s what I want to do!” and it felt so wrong. The only reason she wanted to do anything because daddy was there and involved in it.

I thought Saw looked way too old. Yes, yes, Obi-Wan aged a crap ton between episode III and VI, and they all went through a lot with the war, but come on, Saw shouldn’t be that old considering the length of time line passed.

Then there is Krennic. Oh my goodness, did I hate this character. I think that’s the point of him, people are supposed to hate him, but my hatred was so much more than that. It’s like they wanted to make another Tarkin, but couldn’t make him too Tarkin-like, so they just made him an annoying whiny crybaby who wanted to be Tarkin but never could reach that Tarkin level of awesomeness.

Let’s not forget K-2S0, who annoyed the shit out of me for the entire movie. It’s like they were trying too hard to make his character comic relief but that he could only be funny in an overly insulting way.

So was there anything I liked about the movie?

Yes, I really enjoyed when the credits started rolling!

Okay, that’s not the only thing I liked. You know that scene where the rebel soldiers are trapped in the corridor and they are trying to get the plans through to the ship and Vader kills them all? Best 30 seconds of that movie, hands down. Although, I will admit it does bother me just a bit that Vader force gripped the gun out of one of the guys hands but doesn’t bother to even try to do the same to the plans. Yes, I get it, they had to get the plans through or else the entire original trilogy would be different. But come on, it doesn’t make sense to disarm guys when you can easy reflect blaster bolts away with your lightsaber and not try to get that critical bit of information back using that same Force technique.

Also, when everyone dies at the end, that was great. All those characters that I disliked are now erased from future movies. It put a smile on my face.

Alright, I’m done complaining. It’s sad that I didn’t love it, let alone like it, but I guess even fans of a series won’t love everything. I mean come on, lots of people hated Episode VII after all.

Side Note: I will admit that I feel like some of my dislike of this movie stems from reading Catalyst before seeing Rogue One. That book introduces several of the characters seen in the movie and sets up the whole building of the Death Star and what will eventually happen with Jyn’s family. This book pissed me off and it left a bit of a bad taste, which I tried really hard to ignore going into the movie but seeing those characters on screen brought all that hatred right to the surface.