Book Review: Defender (Book #1 of Sanctuary Series)

Defender

Published: 2011

Author: Robert J. Crane

I subscribe to a daily email (several, actually) service that sends me deals on eBooks (free or under $1).  I haven’t had much luck with the books I have “bought.”  In one book ,the point-of-view constantly shifted, despite being written in the first person.  Another book was in desperate need of an editor – with constant spelling and grammatical errors that detracted from an already ridiculous plot.  Those are the books I bothered to finish; most of them, I get a couple pages in, realize how horrible it is, and then stop.  The good news for Defender is that I actually finished the book.  That is about where the good news ends.

The entire book reads as if the author plays too much World of Warcraft.  Not that there is anything wrong with that – I love Felicia Day’s webisodes The Guild and I am fairly certain that there is a feature-length motion picture called Warcraft coming out soon that is literally just the game in movie format.  The problem is that the first half of the book is random “raids,” which makes the book feel like he played the game then wrote a brief synopsis of each raid.  Only in the second half of the book, did a plot develop; even then it was rushed, covering months at a time in a single paragraph or two.  The raids at the beginning eventually tied into the plot, but the plot was too thin for the story to be cohesive.  Even the twist at the end lead to more questions than answers.

I also found the exposition a bit clunky.  The lead character, Cyrus, is a great warrior – we are told time and again by the other characters in the novel that Cyrus has the potential to be one of the best warriors of all times.  Yet, despite this, he seems to know absolutely nothing.  He graduated from warrior school, yet apparently, the only thing they taught him was how to swing a sword and maybe a tactic or two.  The other characters are constantly telling him what a paladin is or what a druid is, and what skills they have.  It seems to me that if you are ever in a skirmish with an opponent, wouldn’t you want to know in advance, if possible, what skills they have and what their weaknesses are – did they not teach this at his warrior school?  It felt like a weak attempt by the author to explain these characters.

Believe it or not Defender had potential.  All the elements were there, but they needed to be fleshed out a little more (okay, a lot more).  If you are addicted to World of Warcraft, you might like the book.  The writing itself wasn’t bad (by that I mean, it didn’t take me out of the story like the other two free novels I finished), but it doesn’t suck you in and create a grand image in your mind like Sanderson or Martin are capable of with their writing.  In the end, you get what you pay for.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to create a warrior ‘toon on World of Warcraft.

WWYT Rating: 4.8

Goodreads Rating: 3.88/5

TV Review: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

DC's Legends of Tomorrow

Airs: Thursdays at 8/7c on The CW

Review: Pilot Episode

Holy back-story, Batman!  Wait, wrong comic.  DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is a spinoff of both The Flash and Arrow.  The writers spent the entire show introducing the characters and setting up the season arc.  If you watch both shows, you probably spent the episode yawning and felt like you were watching the longest “Previously on…” in history.  If you watch only one of the shows, it was probably a decent recap of the other characters’ backgrounds that you don’t know from the other show.  If you watch neither show, you were probably lost as heckfire (no really, if you don’t watch either show then you aren’t going to tune into this one either).

Vandal Savage is a near-immortal who has taken over the world in the future.  Dr. Who Rip Hunter tries to convince the other Time Lords Time Council that Savage is a serious threat and needs to be dealt with.  Rip gathers a rag-tag group of superheroes and criminals to fight Savage.  That is your entire synopsis.  Rip gathers the heroes and tells them why he gathered them.

I would have liked to see more from a pilot (a two-hour premier would have been better.)  But, I love Captain Cold and Heat Wave and their constant snarky comments.  I will tune in for a few more episodes to see where it goes.  For now, I’ll give it an average rating.

WWYT Rating: 6.5

Nielsen Rating: 1.2 A solid premier on The CW.  I expect it to drop a little, but not too much.  That will be enough to get it renewed, and eventually the network will become all comics all the time as their other programming ratings are less than half of the comic-based shows.  Chance of Renewal 80%.

TV Review: Colony

Colony

Airs: Thursdays at 10pm EST on USA

Review: Pilot

Finally!  A series that doesn’t start in the future and then go back to “X hours earlier.”  Colony is one of the new series that I was looking forward to this season.  It didn’t disappoint, but I have some concerns.  The foremost is the cast.  Sarah Wayne Callies (Prison Break and The Walking Dead) and Amanda Righetti (The Mentalist) are not my favorite actresses – I find that their acting leaves something to be desired.  This concern is not apparent in the pilot episode, fortunately.

The pilot begins not with some random chase/action sequence which we know we will return to later, but with a seemingly normal family.  Our first hint that something isn’t right is when Will (Josh Holloway of LOST) drops an egg.  He shows some undue concern over a simple broken egg.  Through the course of the episode we learn why – while we never see an alien, it is strongly hinted that an alien race has taken over the earth (i.e. colonized it), with references to “the arrival” and a scene with the launch of a spacecraft.  Rationing becomes the new order – food (e.g. bacon is a luxury item and not consumed by the populace) and medicine (insulin is considered non-essential [though I don’t understand why a hospital would have a huge stockpile if it is non-essential).  As with any colonization the populace is split into two groups, collaborators and a resistance (there is a third group – the I’m-staying-the-heckfire-out-of-it group, but they aren’t very interesting.)

This is only the pilot episode (episode two has aired, but I have not yet watched it).  There was a nice twist at the end of the episode 1, that frankly, you should see coming, but it is still good to set up a conflict for the series arc.  They don’t explain why rationing is even necessary, other than our new alien overlords decreed it.  If I can tolerate Callies and Righetti, this series has a lot of potential – very reminiscent of V.

WWYT Rating: 7.2

Nielsen Rating 0.4 A medium-rating.  USA is undergoing a transformation.  They are trying to move away from “blue-sky procedurals,” whatever those are.  They are moving to more “innovative” series – the first series they produced with this in mind was Mr. Robot.  This transformation is going to take time and I suspect that USA will be more patient with these new formats.  Chance of renewal 90%

Hallmark Movie Review: Love on the Sidelines

LoveontheSidelines1

Aired: 1/16/16 on Hallmark Channel

I am a little surprised that they didn’t air Love on the Sidelines on Super Bowl weekend (er, sorry, the weekend of the Big Game – the NFL is so obnoxious).  The movie is all about football after all.  Okay, so the movie is about a football player, there is very little actual football in it.  Okay, there are football players in it, and the movie is about someone who knows nothing about football.

Laurel (played by Emily Kinney of The Walking Dead) is unemployed and looking for a new roommate.  Laurel meets with a potential roommate, Patty.  Patty is a personal assistant, and though Laurel literally only says one sentence to her during the roommate interview, Patty decides that Laurel would “make a perfect personal assistant.”  Patty’s recommendation carries so much weight that Laurel gets the job despite having no skills other than “really needs the job.”  I wish getting a job were that easy.

Laurel gets her first assignment as the personal assistant to the star quarterback of the local football team, Danny, who is laid up with an injury.  Laurel knows nothing about football, nor does she know anything about being a personal assistant.  This makes her terrible at her job.  Meanwhile, Danny doesn’t want a female assistant because she isn’t allowed in the locker room.  It seems like the movie should end right there, but it continues – Laurel learns about football and being a personal assistant.  Danny is still a jerk, but they fall in love anyway.

Love on the Sidelines falls right in the middle of the Hallmark pack.  I laughed at it a couple times, which is more than I can say for most of the Hallmark fare.

Rating: 6.11

Ranking: 30

  1. Just the Way You Are

31t. Cloudy with a Chance of Love

31t. Stranded in Paradise

31t. The Wish List

 

Movie Review: Star Wars VII – The Force Awakens

Movie poster for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens(2015)

Released: 12/18/15

I did it!  I finally saw The Force Awakens!  Judging by the box office numbers, I am the last person to see it.  Others managed to not give away any spoilers and I will attempt to do the same with this review, just in case I am NOT the last person to see it.

I’ll start with the good.  I loved all the new characters, and Rey (Daisy Ridley) is a great lead – she is noble, smart, and resourceful.  She is 1000x more capable and likable than Luke ever was.  Luke’s whininess in A New Hope made him difficult to root for.  For those worried that the dialogue would be as clichéd and cheesy as episodes I-III, don’t.  The dialogue was clever, exactly what you’d expect from JJ Abrams.  Finally, I found the camera work to be very good, I noticed it early and I noticed it late – I thought “wow, that was good camera work.”

Now for the bad.  Perhaps the biggest disappointment was its complete and utter lack of creativity.  Every single element you’ve seen before.  One of the things that made the original Star Wars great was how incredibly new and innovative it was – no one had ever seen anything like it before.   Watching The Force Awakens, I felt like I’d already seen the movie, yet this was my first time.  I liked what I saw, but I felt I had already seen it.

Also, I noted two continuity errors.  One was from the original films to The Force Awakens and the other was within the film itself.  They might be explainable, but they haven’t been so far.  I also struggled with the characters’ motivations.  Why are they doing what they are doing?  What is their goal?

I know it seems like the cons to this movie are greater than the pros.  They aren’t.  I still greatly enjoyed the movie and (being the geek that I am) I want to see it again already.  I’ll wait for it to come out on DVD, though.  The Force Awakens is an entertaining sci-fi action film, even if it is one you’ve seen before. 

WWYT Rating: 7.8

IMDB Rating: 8.4

TV Review: Second Chance

Second Chance

Airs: Wednesdays at 9/8c on FOX

Review: Pilot episode

The glut of midseason series premiers is underway.  Networks usually have lower hopes for midseason series; otherwise, they would put them in the fall lineup.  Things can work out for the midseason series, though.  For example, Empire started midseason last year then swam upstream gaining viewers until it became one of the highest scripted programs on TV.  Second Chance is one of the first of these midseason series.

Mary Goodwin (Dilshad Vadsaria, who played Rebecca Logan on one of my favorite guilty pleasures Greek), is dying of cancer.  The chemotherapy is no longer working.  Fortunately, she is a billionaire and has a loved one, Otto, who can’t/won’t let her go.  So they have developed a treatment to bring the dead back to life.  And not in a zombie-like way.  Otto moves into the human testing phase ahead of schedule by stealing a body.  They revive the dead body of a disgraced sheriff, Ray Pritchard, who was murdered while walking in on a robbery in his son’s home.  Ray was 75 years old is now in a 32-year-old body.  I probably didn’t pay enough attention, because I am utterly confused as to why it mattered that he was a “DNA match.”  (DNA match to what or who?)  Or, why his son doesn’t recognize him when he goes to tell him who murdered him.  I am certain I would recognize a younger version of my mother.  Is it a different body?  But then why was the old sheriff body in the rejuvenation tank?

Second Chance is an interesting concept – a second chance at life – especially for one who seems to regret his life choices the first time around.  However, I just can’t get past the son not recognizing his own father (he thinks it is maybe an illegitimate child of his father’s, but his reaction was extraordinarily muted.)  I think I am just confused, but I will give it a…second chance.

WWYT Rating: 5.9

Nielsen Ratings: 1.2 – Outside of the aforementioned Empire, FOX has really struggled with their scripted programming.  A 1.2 would probably be enough to get renewed, if it were to stay at that level.  As I’ve said many times, show typically drop after their premier (No, I can’t explain Empire).  Will it hang on to a solid rating?  Maybe.  I have seen many reviews with a wait and see approach, which means the next few episodes will be critical.  Chance of renewal 55%.