Category Archives: Reviews

My thoughts on Television episodes and movies

‘Rogue One’ is Fan Service on an Emotional Roller Coaster

*generic spoiler warning*

If you don’t know these words by heart you should at least know where they are from:

“It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.

“During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.”

 

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Review: ‘Fantastic Beasts’ is Fun and Surprising

Kind of too late for a spoiler-free review, but if you don’t want spoilers then you know what’s good for you.

It feels hard to enjoy a movie when you get there late with your friends and the only seats left are in the very front row—especially an action-fantasy blockbuster like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. In retrospect, Fantastic Beasts was cool and I enjoyed it, but the first time watching it I kind of felt like the pacing was a little too fast. I didn’t hear the names of most of the creatures, and I couldn’t keep track of the characters, either. At least not as much as I would have liked to.

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‘Doctor Strange’ Makes Impressive Magic

I wouldn’t really say there are spoilers in this review, but I do discuss some of the highlights of the film openly rather than the ending or what happens to people. So sit tight.

A Strange Place in the MCU

I went to the Salt Lake Comic Con screening of Doctor Strange last week. It was fun to watch a new MCU movie with a group of excited and eager fans—kind of a cross between a family reunion and a pep rally. When I got back to Provo, the first group of friends I ran into asked me how good Doctor Strange is and how much I liked it. You probably want to ask me the same thing, so I’ll tell you the same thing I told them. It’s not as good as Marvel’s best like Guardians of the Galaxy. I don’t think it’s as good of a film as Captain America: Civil War but then again there’s some bias to that. I don’t LOVE it like I love The Avengers or Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But it is better than Thor: The Dark World and Age of Ultron. I would put Doctor Strange in the same category as the first Thor film or the Iron Man films as far as both enjoyment and quality. As far as its place in the MCU, it doesn’t tie into the previous films hardly at all, which it didn’t need to, but I feel like it is going to be a set-up for a lot of things to come.

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My 10 Favorite Movies

Recently, Tim Champlin tweeted me and asked if I could do a list of my ten favorite movies. I thought it sounded like a great idea, so I jumped at the opportunity to do it. Before I get into this list, I want to set a few ground rules. First, these are my favorite movies. I don’t know how to quantify “favorite,” but I do know that it is not the same as a list of the ten best movies. Some of these movies may not be great, but they are movies I could sit and watch again and again, for the most part. Also, you can’t argue someone’s favorite movies. You just can’t. Another rule I set for myself was limiting myself to one movie per series. Otherwise, this list would be nothing but Star Trek, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings. That would be boring. So, in no particular order, here is my list.

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‘Star Wars: Bloodline’ is Amazing. That is All.

Dear Mom: If you are reading this, I want this book for Christmas, and I also think you should read this book because I think you would love it. I think the boys and Mary Lynne would love it, too.

To my general readers: I haven’t read that many Star Wars books. I never touched the former EU/Legends material. So I couldn’t tell you fairly how it compares. But this is one of the best books I have ever read, period. And I think it needs to be read. And my fellow Star Wars geeks on Far Far Away Radio agree. Bloodline by Claudia Gray is that good. My review here contains a lot of what you would consider spoilers but Bloodline is not that fun to talk about without them. I have a lot of feelings for this book.

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‘Finding Dory’ Hits Close to the Mark

Finding Nemo has always been my favorite Pixar movie. It is one of THE defining movies of my generation. By all rights, I should be offended that they decided to make a sequel at all. And yet after seeing Finding Dory the other day, I’m actually glad that they made one. Finding Dory doesn’t really work as a stand-alone film: in fact, the exposition of Dory’s backstory ties in directly to where Dory met Marlin. I wish they hadn’t explained away so much of Dory’s spontaneity. Yet as annoying as it was for Pixar to retcon so much of Finding Nemo it segwayed nicely into Dory’s conflict as the central protagonist.

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‘Civil War’ Delivers a Balanced Story and Emotional Impact

Spoilers discussed but not really mentioned in detail.

The first time I saw Captain America: Civil War in theaters, I had my doubts about whether or not it actually was a Captain America movie.  It doesn’t feel like Cap gets a lot of depth because there is so much else going on.  The plot and exposition is really about the buildup to the two main battles at the end. However, it is still a Captain America movie because the events in this film shape the mantle of Captain America and how Steve Rogers carried it. While I and lots of other fans are disappointed because we wanted more resolution for Steve and Bucky’s stories, the ensemble of characters was still balanced, even with the show-stealing introductions of Spider-man and Black Panther.

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Soaring with Supergirl

(Spoilers ahead, obviously)

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…the first DC superhero I have ever really liked. I’m not joking. Batman and Superman both bug me because they are both so popular. And Superman is just so perfect.  But, ICYMI, Supergirl just wrapped up its first season on CBS and it was spectacular. Supergirl is my new favorite superhero because she’s 1) not dark and brooding and 2) a modern (slightly clueless) twenty-something just like me. I didn’t have terribly high expectations for the TV show but it delivered.  It’s not the best-written but it’s still very high-quality storytelling and family friendly to boot. After Star Wars Rebels, this is my second time watching a television series all the way through, but allow me to break it down for you.

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Batman v Superman- A Review

Batman v Superman is probably one of the most highly anticipated movies of this year. Maybe one of the most anticipated movies of the last few years. Considering the movies that have come out or that are coming out, that’s saying something. After seeing the numerous previews and teasers for the film, everyone was left with the same question: Would the movie hold up to expectations? The people wondering this ranged from people who were hoping that it would finally be the movie we have been waiting for from DC to the people who were fully planning on seeing a train wreck in the theater, and couldn’t wait. So, who was right? The answer, in my opinion, is all the people who were in the middle of the two extremes. It wasn’t earth shattering, game changing good like, say Marvel’s The Avengers, but it wasn’t the steaming pile of brown stuff that was 2010’s Green Lantern. Simply put, it was mediocre at best.

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To Infinity and Beyond! The Legacy of ‘Buzz Lightyear of Star Command’

The good news is, I will be attending Salt Lake Comic Con’s FanX event next week. I am planning perhaps my most intense cosplay ever for the occasion: I am going as Mira Nova from the TV show Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.  This will involve painting my face blue and wearing a wig, and I am currently working on sewing the dress (and like all of my sewing projects it’s consuming my life).  So far, it’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of time and money.  There are pieces of the project I bought as far back as October. Why am I doing this? Why am I cosplaying an obscure character from an obscure TV show in hopes that a few people at FanX will recognize me?

Because it’s worth it.  If you ever saw BLoSC back in the early 2000s and knew what a brilliant show it was, you would see.

Buzz facing off with his nemisis in “The Adventure Begins.” Via dvdizzy.com

The irony of all this is that I was never a huge fan of Toy Story, where Buzz Lightyear, the Little Green Men, and Emperor Zurg originated. But right after Toy Story 2 came out, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command premiered with a feature-length event, The Adventure Begins, starring Tim Allen.  Then the show came on ABC and Disney’s One Saturday Morning. I couldn’t tell you at what point I fell in love with the show or specifically why.  But the show’s female lead, Mira Nova, grabbed my attention quickly and kept it.  The humor was a big draw, too. Booster was okay but I really loved the zany robot XR. As for Buzz Lightyear himself, well, for me it was never about him.  At least at that age.

Buzz Lightyear of Star Command took place in a very engaging original world even while making riffs on Star Trek and other popular science fiction, but it was also never afraid to poke fun at itself.  Some of the episodes veer off towards the cheesy side, some are brilliant, some are better animation quality than others.  The show very rarely referred to its Toy Story origins, except for in the “Strange Invasion” and “Stranger Invasion” arc where it becomes the butt of a brilliant joke that I know better than to spoil here.

 

via dvdizzy.com

I’ll give you the scoop on the main cast, since you may not have seen the show. Buzz Lightyear himself in the show is a little less nuanced than the Toy Story version, a straight-up, stereotypical hero who is sometimes so caught up with himself that he isn’t aware that the ladies find him desirable. But he’s occasionally interesting to watch, as in when he saves the day in “Speed Trap.” 

Booster is a large alien who likes to eat food, and he also has a thirst to prove himself as a hero. There aren’t any moments that stick out for me except for “Plasma Boy,” where he falls in love with a girl but has to compete her boyfriend.

Via blosc wikia

XR the robot is the main comic relief, with his killer one-liners, smart attitude, and tendency to blow up in nearly every episode.  However, he gets to be a hero on multiple occasions, including in “Enemy Without a Face” when all of his flesh-and-blood friends start fighting each other.

via Disney wikia

Now, the meat: Mira Nova is a princess of an alien race known as the Tangeans that can “ghost” through solid objects.  In addition to her powers and beauty, however, she is a level-headed counterbalance to Buzz’s high-and-mighty act and the voice of reason for Booster and XR. Her best episode?  In “The Shape Stealer,” Star Command goes on a lockdown and Buzz is trapped outside with the nemesis.  No one else can get to him.  She puts her helmet on and ghosts through the armored security of the space station. Flawless.

via blosc.wikia

Mira isn’t overly sexualized on the show, but she’s comfortable with her femininity while kicking butt for a living. Maybe there’s some flirtation with Buzz at the beginning of the series but she saves the show by being the one woman who doesn’t want him. I think she’s mostly attached to Buzz because he’s her hero and her team leader. Mira does get a bounty hunter love interest in the episode “Star Crossed,” and he was okay, I wasn’t terribly attached to her relationship with him, but the episode itself was one of the best in the series. She is definitely a heroine for any young girl to look up to, and I can say that even though she would never make the official lineup she is my favorite Disney princess.

(Also, Mira was voiced by actress Nicole Sullivan, who also played Shego in Kim Possible.  I have asked repeatedly for Sullivan to come to Salt Lake and it hasn’t happened.  So if they won’t bring me Mira Nova, I’ll bring Mira Nova to them–aka that’s part of the reason I’m doing the cosplay.)

Buzz with his fellow ranger Ty Parsec. via Tumblr

While the central cast is the glue that holds the series together, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command offers a host of supporting and minor characters that are to die for.  Other heroes of the series include Commander Nebula, the head of Star Command; Buzz’s love interest biologist Osma Ferbana; the President of the Galactic Alliance, the adorable LGMs; and Cosmo the diner operator. The villains are delicious: there’s Zurg with his grubs and brainbots but also the malicious Gravitina, the sinister energy vampire NOS4A2 who delivered some of the most thrilling episodes of the series, the egotistical Torque, and Buzz’s traitorous old friend Warp Darkmatter, now in the employ of Zurg.  We even get a few characters in between, like the Star Command Psychiatrist, Mira’s father priggish father King Nova, and the scumbags on Tradeworld.  If you like the worlds of Star Wars or Guardians of the Galaxy you will love this show. 

My mother is a huge fan of BLoSC, and she says it’s not just a show for kids but there’s humor for the adults as well. Watch The Adventure Begins if you get the chance, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg.  If someone knows of a way to watch the show online (preferably for free) let me be the first to know, I may start looking myself, but Disney seriously needs to release the show in DVD/Blu-Ray so the fans aren’t as tempted to pirate it.  In the meantime, I am getting very, very close to finishing my Mira Nova cosplay, and I will have pictures for you.  Hope to see you at FanX!