Category: Reviews

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Film Review: The Phantom Tollbooth

I’m sure many readers remember the kids’ novel The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I read it several dozen times, including in fifth grade when we had to do it for class (even though I’d read it before at least twice). It’s a great book, and I’ll be writing a review of it after my daughter and I finish reading it aloud.

However, there was also a filmed version released in 1969 from MGM. I went looking for it recently so that I could show it to my daughter when we finished the book, but it wasn’t on Netflix. I found a copy, though, and watched it. Just for nostalgia’s sake.

And it held up.

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Movie Review: Safety Not Guaranteed

The problem with working in the media is that I know writers who work for a weekly or bi-weekly magazine — even lead writers — can’t afford a Cadillac Escalade. Jeff, one of the main characters of Safety Not Guaranteed drives an Escalade. That kind of pulled me out of the movie a little.

But other than that, I enjoyed Safety Not Guaranteed, which is a little film about time travel. Supposedly.

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Film Review: The Croods

Did you know that cavemen can do parkour? That they hunt to the tune of “Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac as performed by the USC Trojans Marching Band? That there’s always one person in the family who’s curious and seeks new things even though the rest of the family buys into the whole “new is bad” thing?

If you’d seen The Croods, you’d know these things. And other things too.

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TV Review: Orphan Black

A young woman stands on a subway platform. She turns to see another woman take off her shoes and coat, set down her bag, and turn around. The other woman… is her.

The other woman… steps off the subway platform into the path of an oncoming train.

That’s the first five minutes of Orphan Black, a new show on BBC America (and Space, in Canada). What follows is science fiction. Kind of.

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Book Review: Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

The very first superhero fiction I ever saw was the old Lynda Carter Wonder Woman show. The very first superhero fiction I ever read was a four-book series of Superman’s origins, written for kids*. I’ve been consuming superhero media for pretty much my entire life, and I’m always interested in how creators address the various superhero topics. I’ve even written a superhero novel of my own (it’s not published yet, but I’m working on that).

So, as a fan of superhero stuff, I’ve been aware of Austin Grossman’s Soon I Will Be Invincible for quite some time. I got an electronic copy of it about a year ago and really wanted to read it, but I’ve been busy. Lots of books to read.

Until now.

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Film Review: Oz the Great and Powerful

This review contains somewhat-moderate spoilers for Oz the Great and Powerful, though I’ll try to obfuscate them as best I can.

Like many people, my first exposure to The Wizard of Oz was the Judy Garland film. However, my second exposure was the original L. Frank Baum novel series — my local library had a bunch of them, and I read them all. Then of course there was Wicked and its sequels, and the vastly-underappreciated Return to Oz.

This year will see the release of two Oz films — Dorothy of Oz, an animated feature, and the one that came out last Friday, Oz the Great and Powerful, which I saw.

It was a film that was on a screen. That’s about how well I can explain it.

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Book Review: The Mirage by Matt Ruff

Alternate history, by its very nature, is one of the most easily-ploughable fields in genre fiction because literally all one must do is change a single historical event and then logically extrapolate the repercussions. Harry Turtledove has made a career out of doing this.

Sometimes, though, alternate history doesn’t require telling the reader what the crisis point was that got changed. Sometimes, the reader just needs to know things are different. And that’s where The Mirage by Matt Ruff begins.

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Book Review: This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It by David Wong

Warning: this review contains spoilers for both the book and filmed versions of John Dies at the End. And, I mean, like in the first paragraph. So, be warned.

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While the character of John does indeed die in David Wong’s first book, John Dies at the End, when I got to the final page of the book I was rather surprised to learn that he survived the entire novel. Good thing, too, because without John, Dave and Amy and the rest of the town of Undisclosed certainly wouldn’t have survived the events of Wong’s second novel, This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It.

No, really. That’s the title. And it’s an accurate one at that.

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Book Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is an author who needs no introduction. From his graphic novel work with Sandman to his screenplays, from his amazing American Gods to his also-amazing but perhaps less-known-about (by American audiences) Neverwhere, Gaiman is known throughout the spec-fic world as a prolific author and a pretty nice guy to meet.

I was going to say something like “but not everyone knows Gaiman’s work as a children’s and young-adult author”, but that wouldn’t be accurate. So instead I’ll cut this intro short and just tell you I’m reviewing Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.

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Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Every now and then, a book comes along with a great premise and solid execution that a lot of people like and recommend with great gusto. Ready Player One by Ernest Kline is such a book. And it is good — very good — except for the places where it can’t get out of its own way fast enough.