#REVIEW: SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (non-spoiler) and DEADPOOL 2 (spoiler)

My reviews of the last couple of Star Wars movies have been a million words long, but I don’t think Solo is going to need that treatment.  I’ve done spoiler reviews and non-spoiler reviews for them, and I think this is probably the only review Solo is going to get. Since it’s going to be shortish, I’m gonna go ahead and review Deadpool 2 here as well, but I can’t review that one without spoiling something big.  So we’ll do Solo first.  solo-a-star-wars-story-tall-A.png

And the tl;dr review is this:  it’s good enough.

It was going to be hard under any circumstances for Solo to blow me away.  I never really felt the film was necessary, and unlike Rogue One, which I also didn’t think was necessary, the trailers and such never really grabbed me and forced me to be excited about it.  It is better than any of the prequels and it is better than The Force Awakens, a movie that I was jazzed about initially and has done nothing but sink in my estimation since then.  Is that damning with faint praise?  Possibly.

The million-dollar question about this movie was always this:  is Alden Ehrenreich good enough to fill Harrison Ford’s shoes?  Can he convincingly play this character?  And the answer, to me, is an unqualified yes.  I had no problems with Ehrenreich’s performance at all– in fact, I think his portrayal of Han in this movie was leaps and bounds ahead of Harrison Ford’s portrayal of Han in Force Awakens.  

In general, the acting in this film is quite solid across the board, and if anything (okay, minor spoiler incoming) the only gripe I have about the film is that I wanted to know more about just about every character who they decided to kill off.  I thought basically every character that had more than a couple of lines was really interesting, but some of them unfortunately we aren’t going to see again.  There’s one major surprise and one “subverting expectations” sort of surprise toward the end of the film, and in a movie where you basically know everything that’s going to happen going in, actual surprises have more impact than they might otherwise.

Yes, Donald Glover is spectacular as Lando Calrissian.  Scary good, honestly– his first few lines are delivered with him offscreen, and I seriously thought they’d brought in Billy Dee Williams to overdub him.  He’s doing a voice thing, and it’s perfect.  I didn’t think he ran away with the movie the way a lot of people seem to, but he does a very very good job.

Obligatory Turk/Scrubs video break:

 

So.  Yeah.  Not an essential addition to the canon, but a solid effort, especially given what a trainwreck the movie was expected to be before it came out.  I will allow them to do a second one if they must.  Especially if it delays the newly-rumored Boba Fett movie.  Please, please don’t make a Boba Fett movie.

I’m so tired of Boba Fett.

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And now, on to Deadpool 2.  This one will spoil a major event that none of the pre-movie stuff even hinted at, and although it happens damn near immediately once the movie starts, you probably don’t want to know about it.  Last chance to bow out!

I’ll start off with the good stuff, actually: you are probably going to have more or less exactly the same reaction to Deadpool 2 that you had to Deadpool, and if you haven’t seen Deadpool you may as well go see that instead because it’s a better movie.  It is, in most ways, exactly the same film, only with a slightly expanded cast and budget and much more entertaining cameos and the one thing that really pissed me off that I’ll get to in a minute.  Josh Brolin is pretty good as Cable, a character I’ve never really had much interest in, and the Juggernaut is my favorite X-Men villain so it was great to see him, especially after the godawful portrayal Vinnie Jones did in X-Men 3.

I want Domino to get her own movie.  Now, please.  And if we could get a movie with Negasonic and her girlfriend, maybe with Colossus around, that’d be just peachy.  Because I love all of them.

That said, killing off Vanessa right away pissed me off, and even though they undo it at the end of the movie I can’t unwatch the two hours I spent being pissed off that they killed her for no fucking reason at all.  Think about it: imagine the movie without Vanessa dying right away.  Damn near nothing changes.  You lose a few scenes of Deadpool kvetching about it and maybe they have to do a little bit of a rewrite of his motivations for wanting to save the kid?  But that’s it.  Her death is pointless, and undoing it at the end doesn’t help.  I’m tired of movies and books and whatevers that motivate the main character by killing off their girlfriends and/or wives right away, and it threw a pall over the entire rest of the movie for me.

So, yeah: it’s a Deadpool movie, and that’s a good thing, and the cast and the couple of new characters they added are fun and interesting, but fuck you for killing off the female lead ten minutes into the movie.  I can’t forgive that, as it turns out.


I’m up to four patrons!  Which is better than I thought I’d do, honestly!  But more would be super awesome.  Join the club of the coolest people in the world.  You’ll get a new Jayashree story right off the bat, and I’ll be adding at least one more microfiction by the end of the weekend!  Plus all of my Patrons get thanked by name in any forthcoming books.  You want your name in books, right?

#REVIEW: GOD OF WAR

God_of_War_2018_capa.pngBefore we get started:  In case you missed my repeated announcements across every form of media I have access to, I’ve started a Patreon.  There’s already a brand new story, WARRIOR JAYASHREE AND THE ROC, up for Patrons at any level.  Join for early access to new work, microfictions, signed & personalized books, and more!  I’ve got three Patrons after the first day– you don’t want them to be the only cool kids, do you?


Also, yes, I’ve been writing a lot of reviews lately.  There are probably two more coming soon, since I haven’t written about DEADPOOL 2 yet and I have my tickets for SOLO already.  Gimme a break; I’ve been encountering a lot of media worth talking about lately.  🙂


I beat God of War last Friday after spending probably 40-50 hours on it.  There’s still some stuff to do, and weirdly I haven’t touched the game since I beat it– probably because the ending was so flawless.  My days off are Thursday and Friday, and since my son is at school and my wife is at work, I spend most of those days by myself.  I do not exaggerate when I say I probably spent 80-90% of those hours over the last several weeks playing this game.  In my defense, I don’t get a lot of time to game when everybody is home, particularly playing something as violent as God of War.

I’d picked it up mostly because I’d gotten bored with Super Mario Odyssey and going back for another hundred hours with Nioh wasn’t quite catching my attention.  I’d never played a previous GoW game, so all the talk about how the series was having a soft reboot and would play completely differently meant it was right up my alley.

And then the game caught me completely by surprise and I ended up loving it mostly for the story.  Don’t get me wrong– the gameplay is great, and killing things with any of Kratos’ available weapons never gets old.  But it’s watching Kratos’ relationship with his son Atreus evolve over the course of the game that elevates it from a quality hack-and-slash to one of the best games, if not the best game (the only real competition, for me, is Nioh) of this generation, and the third for which “buy a PS4 to play this” seems reasonable.  But it’s true: I haven’t had a game’s story hit me as hard as this one did since The Last of Us, and for many of the same reasons.

The plot is pretty simple: at the very beginning of the game, Kratos’ wife, the mother of his only child, has passed away.  Her last wish is for her ashes to be scattered from the highest mountain in the realms.  The whole game is Kratos and Atreus trying to reach that peak.  There are some complications along the way, of course.  But that’s the plot.  Let’s go fulfill Mom’s last wishes.

Kratos is not a good father at the beginning of the story.  He is, at best, a marginal father by the end of it.  But you get the feeling quickly that Mom sent them on this quest as a way to force them together rather than a desire to be scattered off of something really, really tall, and while there are definitely some other moments that show she had other motives in mind– I won’t spoil anything,  you deserve to hit them unaware– the growing relationship between Kratos and Atreus is the heart of the story.  Fathers need to play this game, and fathers of sons in particular need to play it.

On a technical level, the way they’ve integrated Atreus into the story is phenomenal.  Most games with sidekicks have at least a few moments where you’re cursing the sidekick’s existence; they keep getting in your way, they die at ridiculous times, they get caught on some inconsequential piece of geometry and you can’t move on until they fix it.   Atreus has none of that, and ends up being an integral part of your strategy in battle; he’s never in the way and is constantly useful.  The decision to make him impossible to kill isn’t the most immersion-worthy idea ever, but hell if it doesn’t make the game better.

God of War is action-packed, touching, at times hilariously funny, wonderfully acted, and– not for nothing– has one of the greatest endings to any game I’ve ever played.  Actually, this much I’ll spoil: the Big Battle with the Bad Guy is well before the actual ending of the game, where Kratos and Atreus scatter the ashes– and the entire ascent to the summit is played without action, and with another big story revelation, and the credits play silently afterwards as you and Atreus walk back down the mountain.  It’s phenomenal.

Go check it out.

In which I need an app

Maybe the internet hivemind can help me out with this one.  I need an app that fits the following criteria:

  • Preferably iOS, but I can make Android work.
  • It is mainly a contacts app, but– and this is critical– it does not fuck with the existing contacts on my phone.  I need this for work and I don’t need ten thousand customers clogging up my contacts.  A database app with fully definable input fields would work just as well.
  • It allows me to add pictures and notes to said contacts.
  • Email addresses being clickable to send a message would be useful.
  • It is fully searchable/sortable in any of those fields.  In other words, if I want to find anybody named Smith, I can, if I want to find any entries I created in January I can, and if I want to find anyone who was looking at a particular piece of furniture, I can.
  • Ideally, it has OCR and can scan most of the important stuff into an entry from an invoice or a computer screen so I don’t have to type everything twice.
  • Free or a one-time payment, preferably less than $10, but I’d look at something more expensive if it hits all those points and I only have to buy it once.

Suggestions?  Don’t say Evernote, Evernote’s useless.

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR spoiler-free #review

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STANDARD CAVEATS APPLY:  I cannot always be trusted within the first couple of days after seeing a geek movie I really like.  I’m twelve hours out from this motherfucker.

This is the best movie ever made in the history of all the movies ever and if you haven’t seen this movie yet WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU EVEN DOING WITH YOUR LIFE JESUS GO SEE INFINITY WAR RIGHT NOW IF YOU CAN EVEN GET TICKETS BECAUSE I’M PRETTY SURE IT’S SOLD OUT FOR THE NEXT SIX WEEKS OH MY GOD I DON’T EVEN HAVE THE WORDS

 

HOW DID THEY DO THIS

HOW

 

THIS MOVIE SHOULD HAVE BEEN IMPOSSIBLE.  ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE.

 

THEY FUCKING

N

A

I

L

E

D

 

IT

 

OH MY GOD WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE GO SEE INFINITY WAR GODDAMMIT

 

NOW

 

NOW

 

NOW

DO WHAT YOU ARE TOLD THANK YOU GOODNIGHT

A quick insight into my personality

Django Wexler, an author I was rather fond of ten minutes ago, just did this to me:

I had a long day at work today, guys.  My last customer of the night kept me at work well past closing time and didn’t buy, I want to curl up in bed with a book, and instead this damn math problem is in my head and fucking with me.

I may need to grab a note pad and oh fuck it I’ll do it on the blog.

Let’s say N is 2.  So two bits, either 1 or 2.  Roll them once.

25% of the time you get both twos.  (so 25% of the time, only one roll)

50% of the time you get one two.

25% of the time you get two ones.

SECOND ROLL

If you have one die left, you have a 50% chance of being done.

If you have both, see the above calculation.

So…

this suggests you have a pretty big chance of being done after N rolls, with diminishing returns after N.  I’m too tired to nail the numbers down, but I suspect N2 is a reasonable answer. Maybe tomorrow I’ll try to figure it out more carefully.

Assuming I can sleep, ever.

DAMMIT.