Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Monday, July 29, 2013

Goodreads Book Review - Star Wars: Crucible

Crucible (Star Wars)Crucible by Troy Denning

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This novel, one of the few in the later books in the EU series to focus almost exclusively on Luke, Leia, Han, and to a lesser extant, Lando, has its ups and downs. The story moves at a brisk pace, there are some thrilling and amazingly well-written action scenes, and it goes a long way towards reminding us why we love these characters and why they are the ones who are always saving that galaxy far, far away. One of the downs, however, is that in order to make these characters look as formidable as they are, characters that for the last dozen or so books we've been told are truly threats to be taking seriously are pretty much nerfed. Mandalorians are reduced to redshirts; sure, the characters say they should be feared, but then they're easily dismissed like they're nothing more formidable than ROTJ-style stormtroopers. Worse than that, though, is the surprise return of a character (I won't say who to avoid real spoilers) that ties this book more tightly to the overall story than I expected whose character is pretty damaged by showing some cowardice never displayed before. Overall, though, this is a decent enough adventure meant to take the "Big Three" off the board for awhile so upcoming novels (not that there are any scheduled at the moment as far as I know, despite interesting seeds being planted) can focus fully on the next generation.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Goodreads Book Review - Gun Machine

Gun MachineGun Machine by Warren Ellis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've always loved Warren Ellis as a comic book writer, but this novel is so good it sort of makes me wish he'd give up comics and just write novels full-time. It's a fresh take on the police procedural, a genre that has been popular for years now, complete with its own CSUs (Scarly and Bat, two characters so fresh and entertaining that they deserve their own spin-off immediately) to go along with the traumatized cop protagonist. The plot is suitably warped and tangled to keep you interested and a little mystified, but not so obtuse that you can't figure it out along with, if not ahead of, Detective John Tallow. The prose is well-written, filled with Ellis' trademark bizarreness as well as his penchant for technology; simultaneously though it manages to be an almost classic look at the detective genre with an appreciation for history. I thoroughly loved it. The only thing that kept me from giving it five stars is that I wasn't thrilled with the twist at the end. It wasn't necessarily a bad twist, and it doesn't ruin the story or anything. I'd just have been happier without it. Still, I can't recommend this book enough.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Halfway Point: The 10 2013 Movies I'm Most Looking Forward To

Towards the end of the year in 2012 I continued a tradition of mine here at SSTS and posted a list of the movies coming out in the next year that I was most looking forward to seeing. As July is just a little bit past the halfway point of 2013 and as I realize I haven't posted anything other than a book review in a few weeks now and as I sit her entirely bored by the 2013 MLB All-Star Game, I figured it's a perfect time to take a brief look at the movies on the list that have come out so far...

...and to admit just how wrong I was about everything.

Sorry, Sheldon. I was wrong.

But I'll get to that in a minute.

I organized the list by month, so that's how we'll do the happy recap. In January, I was waiting for Mama, a Guillermo Del Toro-produced horror movie that wasn't scary at all but I still enjoyed enough to give three stars to, and Gangster Squad, which was, well, pure and utter garbage. Sorry, but it had to be said. The movie is so bad that even Emma Stone can't make it watchable.

And that's saying something, because I'd watch her watch paint dry.

Things rebounded in February, though, as Stand-Up Guys came out. Christopher Walken, Al Pacino, and Alan Arkin played retired gangsters in a movie that was as downright hysterical as you'd expect it to be. While nothing came out in March, the good momentum continued into April with the remake of Evil Dead, a movie I enjoyed enough even if I didn't think it loved up to the hype of calling itself the most terrifying movie of all time.


The fifth and final movie in the first half of the year I was really looking forward to was Iron Man 3, which was certainly as awesome as I expected it to be and more.

So you may be asking yourself what I mean when I say I was wrong about everything. After all, out of the five movies I mentioned, only one was bad. Sounds like a win, right? Well...

For some completely inexplicable reason, I left Much Ado About Nothing off the list. It's not like I wasn't looking forward to it; I've known about it for a year now and I've been dying to see it since I first heard about it, even going so far as to predict that it'll win my "Favorite Movie of the Year Award" for 2013. After all, it's my favorite playwright (Shakespeare) directed by one of my favorite writer/directors (Whedon) starring a boatload of actors I love. I honestly have no idea what I was thinking not including this on the list.

However, while leaving a movie I knew I'd love off the list was stupid, it wasn't my biggest mistake. No, my biggest mistake was dismissing a movie when I first heard about it last year. A movie that I became totally fascinated by when I saw the trailer and a movie I fell in love with when I finally saw it.

Yeah. I dismissed this movie out of hand and as it stands now, it's neck and neck with Much Ado for the award I mentioned above. So yes, I was wrong. Very, very wrong. And I'm admitting it for the world to see.

Mark this shit on your calendar, because we'll probably all be dead before it happens again.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Goodreads Book Review - Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi - Into the Void

Into the Void (Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi, #1)Into the Void by Tim Lebbon

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm torn. On the one hand, I want to like this book. A story set thousands of thousands of years in the past of the universe we know, back when the Jedi were called Je'daii, used swords because lightsabers hadn't been invented yet, and believed the power of the Force's light and dark sides were controlled by two moons sounds interesting as hell, and seeing some of that in action is enjoyable. But, those differences aside, it doesn't really explore much. The alien species are mostly the same; there are Sith, Noghri, Ithorians, Wookies, and Twilek's, but not much we haven't seen before. Likewise, while the history of the Je'daii is teased, nothing is really explained. I don't know how much of that I can blame on the writer and how much was editorially mandated, so I'm trying not to hold that against the story. So instead, what I'll hold against it are the completely unlikable main characters and the hackneyed, repetitive writing. It's worth a read if your a Star Wars completionist, or if you're hoping the story might go further in a future installment, but other than that, it isn't all that great a read.

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