Home » Archive by category "Reviews"

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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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The Magic of Scrivener Finally Comes to iOS!

Somehow it slipped by me this past July: Scrivener finally arrived in the App Store for iPads and iPhones after years of our waiting. Now we can take the magic of Scrivener with us on any of our Apple devices! The potential is truly exciting. Since I just got my copy, though, I can only […]

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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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A Review of The Layers: Eva

This promising YA science-fiction adventure traces the quest of teenager Eva through a post global-warming landscape, where water levels have risen to cover some 90% of the globe. In a similar vein as Hugh Howey’s Wool or Arthur C. Clarke’s Against the Fall of Night, humanity has survived in select pockets, under the Dome in […]

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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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Advanced Reviews of Wolf Code

Advanced Reviews: “Wolf Code is an entertaining read, but also a gently thought-provoking one — a combination not always easy to find. I look forward to what is next for all the creatures in Brett’s world.” –Brantley Craig, Critic, Professor, Author.   “Brett is a talented writer who paints with words. I could feel the […]

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How Robert Redford Influenced Wolf Code (And Jim and Jamie Dutcher Too)

So where did you get the idea for your book? Authors hear this question frequently. It is a good conversation starter because it asks the writer to punctuate the highlights in the long journey to bring the story to the readers. Though some novelists can crank out books in several weeks, most of us spend months […]

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How To Find the Perfect Writing App: An Idiosyncratic Quest from Typewriter to Scrivener

Now that I’m in the production stage with Wolf Code, I finally took a moment to re-evaluate my “workflow,” as a number of writers call the process by which we fashion words into stories. I’m not talking about the creative side to writing, but the physical side. Thirty plus years ago, a writer would answer this […]

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Of Magic Mules, One-Headed Monkeys, and Swamp Pirates: A Review of Jeff Sartini’s The Adventures of Shamis and Larry

  If you appreciate dry humor, wry wit, and satirical fantasy, then you are in the right place. If you love The Princess Bride or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or A. A. Milne’s lesser known Once on a Time, then you will appreciate the wordplay in Jeff Sartini’s The Adventures of Shamis and […]

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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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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 […]