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Atmosphere and Stranger Things!

Several of you probably saw Stranger Things a year ago, but I just saw the first episode. The homage to the 1980s is lovely, but the artistic expression in the unified vision of the writing and directing is captivating. The Duffer brothers, who previously worked with M. Night Shyamalan on Wayward Pines, excel at building […]

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Cars 3: The True Sequel to Pixar’s Racing Masterpiece

Cars 3 clearly shows Pixar returning to the original film for inspiration. While Cars 2 was more a feature-length version of Mater’s Tall Tales, this film inherits more thematically from the first film and includes appearances from Chick Hicks, Doc Hudson (in flashbacks), the Rusteze crew, and Tex (who owns Dinoco). This sequel captures some […]

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Charismatic Characters: Comments of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

I have mixed feelings about the second installment of Guardians of the Galaxy. Although I would not call it a great movie, I have the desire to see more of these characters. The movie does not necessarily offer enough character moments, and the plot boils down to something relatively simple, but I still come away […]

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“It’s Not about You!” : A Moral Lesson in Doctor Strange

  Dr. Strange is another enjoyable entry in the Marvel Studios master plan. Of course, this film is another superhero adventure with the obligatory origin story. Familiar tropes fill the screen, with numerous parallels to another goatee-sporting narcissist (Tony Stark); though, here we trade technology for magic–yet the occult-inspired world of the comics becomes (I think, […]

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The Better Star Wars Movie, The One That Gives Me Hope

Yeah, yeah. I know I’m months behind, but I just finally watched Rogue One–had to get it in before May 4th! My delay in seeing the film was not intentional since the original preview caught my interest more than The Force Awakens. Life circumstances conspired against me. But now having viewed it, I unequivocally believe it […]

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Designated Survivor: The New Must-See Show

Mix the themes of West Wing (yet, alas, not the Sorkin-inspired banter) with the action and occasional family moments of 24 (with no ticking clock), and you will have a good idea what Designated Survivor looks like. An experienced cast adds weight to well-written scripts that excel at the difficult games of characterization and plot twists. The production […]

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Fear or Change? : The Message in Zootopia

Disney’s Zootopia is a masterpiece of quirky characters, thoughtful plot twists, and brilliant spectacle. Imagination abounds in the film’s portrait of a city containing multiple habitats and species living right next to each other. Otters, mice, polar bears, water buffalo, lions, sheep, and other animals all live and interact in a variety of spheres. I’m […]

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Harold and the Ultimate Good: Ethics in Person of Interest’s Season 5

After the action-packed premiere (picking up with last season’s cliffhanger), the Person of Interest writing team take time for a more cerebral episode. Harold and company have risked their lives to carry the downsized Machine (literally trapped in a briefcase) to safety. At the end of the premiere, they had reconstructed the Machine in a make-shift […]

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What Breaks Friendship? : Captain America, Civil War

Before you judge this latest Marvel film, you should ask yourself what you think makes up a good superhero story. Comic book writers and readers have long noticed the difference between titles that offer a more intimate look at a single hero/ine and his/her supporting cast and those that group several together into grander conflicts. […]

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Can Humans Live with Animals? : Jungle Book Reinvented

  There is a reason certain works get the label “classic,” and every now and then we see a re-telling of the story that reminds us of the power of its world. Disney’s most recent version of Jungle Book falls into this category, almost like a radical new performance of a Shakespeare play. Yes, we still […]

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Writing Lessons (3.2): Conflict in Colony’s Pilot

To help explain the elements of CHANGE mentioned in my last post, I thought it would be helpful to analyze a movie or television episode. I just recently watched the premiere of Carlton Cuse and Ryan Condal’s Colony and felt that it did an excellent job of hitting the seven points. There are several spoilers, so […]

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The Force Awakens: Color Me Mostly Disappointed (Except for John Williams)

I finally saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens this weekend after carefully navigating around family and friends who had seen it before me. I know there will be plenty of reviews of this film, and the box office has already confirmed it a commercial success. For many this film is already redefining what Star Wars […]

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How Martin Luther King Saved Uhura: The ‘Escapist’ Power of Stories

I recently watched the documentary Trek Nation and learned Nichelle Nichols considered leaving Star Trek after the first season. During this pivotal time, she met Martin Luther King, Jr. and learned he and his wife numbered Star Trek among the very few shows they let their children watch. When he learned she was planning to leave the show, […]

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An Environmentalist Message from Pixie Hollow: A Review of Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast

After seven adventures (including the much shorter Pixie Hollow Games), who’s your favorite fairy? From the start, when I was drawn into this world for my daughter, mine has been Fawn. Since the previous films only hinted at the possibilities for her character, I was delighted to see the Disney team has finally turned the […]

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How Should We Treat Virtual Wolves?

  Charlie Huenemann reminds us that even how we manage our “attachments” to virtual pets reveals who we are as moral persons. Here he reflects on his treatment of dogs within the world of Minecraft: “On Killing Virtual Dogs” The blog entry asks why we would consider the killing of virtual dogs a bad thing, […]

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Why Watch Avengers Age of Ultron Even if It Feels Familiar

Good news and bad news come with the second Avengers movie. When the first film came out three years ago, there was still a freshness to Marvel’s presence in theaters, particularly in snagging Joss Whedon to pull off the seemingly impossible task of pulling together several superstar heroes who had their own franchises. The first […]

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A Game of Chess: Where The Flash Excels

CW’s The Flash is now my favorite superhero show. Not too long ago, we didn’t have a choice; there might only be one such show on television. But Batman, Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, and Smallville all made their marks. We are living in an unprecedented time when there are more than half a dozen […]

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Ready, Player One: An Appreciation

This book was written for me. Well, not expressly for me, but the fact that I was born a couple years earlier than Ernest Cline and grew up in the same era, also playing games on an Atari 2600, frequenting pizza parlor arcades, and imaginatively constructing my own Dungeon and Dragons campaigns, makes this novel […]

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How Far Are We Willing To Go? Moral Dilemmas in the Fourth Season of Person of Interest

“How much wrong are we willing to do in the name of right?” Harold Finch asks of himself, as much as Root, in the seventh episode of Season 4 of Person of Interest. It is a poignant question after he and Root have scuttled a program to get tablets into the hands of all the […]

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Batman, Detective: Final Part

Working in the System: Truth, Justice, and Cooperation Fundamentally, the project of tracking and trapping these criminals is too great for Batman to complete alone. Despite his reputation and demeanor as a loner, Batman’s effort as detective is a communal one. Truth and justice need a social grounding. In addition, Batman sometimes makes mistakes and […]

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Batman, Detective: Part 5

Villainous Games: Profiling & Confronting Criminal Distortions Since Holmes opposed Moriarty, several famous detectives have faced off against recurring villains, who view the committing of crimes as an elaborate game of wits with their opponent. Joker, Riddler, Two-Face, and a myriad of others have offered crimes as challenges to the Dark Knight. Early in his […]