Before I start I will note I have not read the books (will change that when I get a chance).
The first and most important thing that The Dark Tower did was to built a large and complex world(s) without being an info dump or sacrificing everything else to do it. When needed it even let you just absorb the scenery. It reminded me of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume One in this respect.
The plot was not huge and complicated. While all the necessary bits were there many of the why’s were not explained. Honestly I am okay with that, if I can think of several reasons for an action and which one is true does not matter then I don’t really need details. The movie does that several times for several things. I like the idea that the movie respects me enough not to feel the need to spell everything out.
The action was good, I really liked the way they showed Roland’s gunslinging, he could do ridicules bullet bouncing and such but nothing too out there. He did nothing that could not in theory be done if you were good enough and had enough information (unlike say curving a bullet).
They also showed the man in black’s magic well, it was consistent and logical the way he used it. He was far from all powerful but he was smart and knew his limits.
The final fight was made much better because of this, it would have lost all its punch otherwise.
I will say that main character wise the movie does look to be of two minds, it seams to flip between Jake (the kid) and Roland. This does not hurt the movie as much as you would think but it does make me wish the movies was a bit longer to allow for more development.
As far as characters go one thing I did not realize until after I left the theater was that Roland treated Jake as an adult. There was no cliché having to prove himself an adult phase.
I really did like the movie, even if I think the characters could have been developed more. Its worth seeing just for the interesting and vast world it shows, let alone everything else.
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Date Night on Union Station by E.M. Foner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I originally read Date Night (First in the earthcent series) because I read a few good reviews and it was both short and cheap.
As of now there are 12 stories that are more long novellas then novels. I normally don’t go for stories of this length but for Earthcent it works.
Roughly two generations before the start of Date Night some very powerful AI’s saw that earth was on the brink of an economic collapse that could have taken centuries to recover from so they stepped up to make us a protectorate.
Earthcent is the diplomatic and quasi governmental arm that the AI’s created.
The stories are the opposite of what you expect. They are about the mostly normal problems that a growing list of characters have. It is sort of a slice of life with sci-fi problems, like how to attract alien businesses to earth (so we can be taught how to make some advanced tech) and how to deal with counterfeit earth exports. All this is done without violence. It is nice to see sci-fi stories which could not double as action movies. In place of the action, it has humor. And while not Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy it has made me laugh out loud more then once.
I will say though that there is a large cast of characters that grows with each story so its best to read them close together.
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First the effects are amazing, both from the technical point of view and the artistic. You really do get the sense of a whole world that is only somewhat like ours.
The best analogy I can think of is Jupiter Rising, except it was done much better.
The basic plot does meander, several times the main characters veer to an area that had no effect on the main plot and does not tell you anything you have to know. This is done because the movie obviously values world building as much as it does plot. Despite this it does not and probably could not explain everything, or even most things.
For example it is never explained how Valerian could be a major with at least nine years of experience. It is implied at one point that they can put you in a box and de-age you but it is never said. The way the main characters are treated also implies this, their age is never remarked upon, they appear to be normal agents from how others interact with them. It could be that age is cosmetic, you are literally as young as you want to be.
The world that the movie builds is very large and complicated with a large amount of technology that is so far above us it might as well be magic. Trying to tell us what they all are and what they all do would not be practical.
Honestly the main problem I have with the movie is with the chemistry between the main characters, or the lack of it. It was established that Valerian does value his partner and would risk anything to save her just because she is his partner. At best it comes as more of a intellectual attraction then anything else.
When all is said and done however I just don’t think the whole romance sub plot was needed. The purpose of romance in such a movie is normally as a driver for the plot, to provide a reason for the characters to be moving in the directions they are moving. In this case it was not needed.
I would recommend that you see the movie if the art and world building look interesting. If you looking for a character piece or a logic puzzle then I would probably wait for it to come to Netflix.
Freefall is about an alien Sqid (not a misspelling) named Sam Starfall who has a robot cohort named Helix, and a wolf who has been uplifted (made sentient) named Florence Ambrose.
Sam’s race is mostly preindustral. Steam power is new to them. He sort of sneaked onboard a human scout ship and was taken by accident. He made it to the human colony Jean and has since bought a ship with a dream of becoming a famous captain. Sam himself is a petty crook who is more interested in the act of stealing and being known for stealing then using or selling what he steals. He gets really annoyed when his police record leaves things out.
Florence is his engineer, and is one of only 14 Bowman’s Wolfs in existence. She wants to be helpful, make the world a better place and make sure that the company that made her sees her people as more then just a test of concept for uplifting.
It is set on and around Jean, a planet that is being terraformed. The air is good but the ecosystem is being expanded and they are dropping comets and putting a new moon in orbit.
The science is very good, they have FTL but it is limited, taking a year to transit from Jean to the closest system.
The story is optimistic in ways you rarely see, it does have people who act selfishly but most people do not and are at least able to learn and grow.
The story deals with the rights of robots and what should be done to fix a problem when you no longer have legal recourse. Despite taking on such heavy themes it stays funny and optimistic and I enjoy reading it.
PS use the speedreader if you want to read the whole comic, it is another reason to love freefall, only comic I know of that has anything like that.