Reviews

Review: A Wrinkle in Time (3/10 stars)

The first thing I will say is that A Wrinkle in time is not a Science Fiction movie, but a Science Fantasy movie. That means I will not fault it for any bad science, or even using magic as science.

I also will say that while I have read the book it was more then fifteen years ago, when I was in early high school or late middle school. So ya, don’t really recall much about it.

That out of the way I will say the movie has several problems, which kept me from really liking it.

The first is that all three of the human kids were not really good characters.

Meg, the main character, who is looking for her father, is a depressed and troubled teen who cares about her father and brother. That really is her entire character. We are told, but never shown, that she is smart and capable. I never really cared about her. This was not helped when the first part of the movie (before they left earth) dragged on waaaay too long.

Charles Wallace, her kid brother, had similar issues. We were told he was very intelligent. But like Meg they never really showen it. Worse they used every stupid cliche they could to try and rub our faces in the fact he is smart. EVERYONE called him Charles Wallace, not charlie, or even just Charles. His teachers when they were talking privately, his sister when she was running through a wind storm looking for him. Even his father, who had left earth before he was born. He acted more like an adult then a kid. A smart kid is still a kid, he still should act like a kid.

Calvin was the third, and was at best forgettable. A loner with a father who liked to yell at him for not getting A’s he started following Meg around because she stood up to a hateful girl at school. He was so forgettable that when he was left behind somewhere I did not notice it for two scenes. He spent most of his time standing quietly in the back then propping up Meg’s ego when needed.

I admit I may be too hard on the three of them. However I am judging them against the real interesting character, Meg’s father. He is more interesting them any of the three of them yet has hardly any scenes, and most of them are set before he does the really cool thing that makes him interesting.

The second set of problems is with “tessering” (teleporting from one planet to another).

When they first talked about it they showed Meg’s father with some equations, talking to NASA (where he and his wife worked). He said that he could teleport with the power of his mind.

The thing is that the movie went back and forth between Tessering being a mind over matter thing, and a math/science thing. From the talk Meg’s father gave it sounded like a science/math thing, but he had no evidence or reason to believe he was right. It he had SOMETHING, even something small and near-useless it would have been one thing, but he had no reason to believe he was right at all.

Then throughout the movie they hinted, then outright said that how you think influences the tesser. Then they had someone tesser who had no math know-how at all.

If they had stuck to quasi-science that would have worked. Or they could have stuck to mind over matter, and that could have worked. But they wanted to have it both ways.

Review: Black Panther (4/10 stars)

The world building in Black Panther was obviously important, a central part of the movie. Sadly it failed.

The basic idea is that a small African country gained access to a literal mountain of Vibranium, and a lot of plants and such that were altered by it. They used this to advanced their tech several centuries ahead of us. They have stuff like cloaking hover-ships and countless other things.

The problem with this is the writers tried to keep the African vibe while having them be a high tech society with progressing technology. There are certain attitudes and ways of doing things that all cultures that progress have, things they did not seem to have.

For example they implied that the direction of all R&D was controlled centrally. That just does not work, there is a reason the USSR was not ahead of the US in scientific research.

When they showed the market it looked like a normal African market with a few gadgets. The idea that that level of advancement would have so little effect on them beggars belief.

This extended to the final fight, which was for the fate of the country. Yet it had people using high tech spears. I kept waiting for the cos-players to leave and for the army to show up, but it never happened.

The country itself was a semi-hereditary absolute monarchy. Even if such a society would keep such a government (name one technologically progressive country with an absolute monarchy I dare you). The fact they would allow a trial by combat makes it even worse.

I thought at first it was ceremonial, but no it was shown to be real. It makes you wonder how the former king, who was both old and overweight, stayed in power. Given that any member of any of the five royal families could easily have taken power, how would ANYONE keep power after they stopped being able to win fights?

I am only harping on the world building because it was a central focus of the movie. The movie had to do that well to work, and I don’t think it did.

The plot itself had problems, and I think they mostly came down to the villain.

First he was talked up as being very knowledgeable, capable and intelligent. Yet when he was in charge he started spouting nonsense that no one who is both intelligent and knowledgeable would say.

He was talking about the world like it was the 1800’s saying that “colonizers” were ruling the world, and how the white man was keep everyone down. The only reason for this I can think is that he wanted an excuse to doom the world (giving superweapons to anyone with black skin who wanted them).

If he was serious he was even more hypocritical, given that his job was destablizing governments, he was railing about..himself and his actions.

I mean I get it if he was just bullshiting, but they should have said so. Even just one moment where he said he knows what he officially said was stupid and nonsensical, but he had to have a “reason”.

A good villain has good reason for what he does, and that was not the case in Black Panther. The final fight between him and the King was also something that has been done thousands of times before, people with the same powers fighting each other, but the bad guy has a slight edge.

The only reason it was not 2 or 3 stars is that the main character was interesting, I just wish he was given a better villain and world to be in.

Review: The Way Of The Pilgrim(5/5 stars)

The way of the Pilgrim by Dickson is one of the few really good alien invasion stories I have read. It takes place years after the invasion is over. We were against an alien force VERY far beyond us, we were not able to put up any real fight (Think Aztecs verses the US marines of today).

There are two things that really make it stand out, the first the aliens are not just a little ahead of us. They are so far ahead of us that it could very well be possible for one of them with their weapons and gear to defeat the entire military might of the Earth by themselves with little effort.

This is a much more likely scenario then aliens attacking who are far enough ahead to come here, but not so far as to be unable to easily beat us. Think about what a modern air craft carrier could have done during world war two, and that was less then a century ago.

The other thing is that it builds up what would happen to us socially and psychologically during that situation. This is one of the reasons the book is as long as it is, and I feel the page space was well spent. The fact that we do not get a victory through military might or technology makes the ending that much better.

On Goodreads

Review: Sea of Mammals (3/5 stars)

First I should say I was asked to review this Novella by it’s author James Armer, who gave me a copy. I will endeavor to be honest however or this review would serve little purpose.

First I would like to say that I do like that the story does not take place in the near future. While an exact number is not given my gut tells me it is set thousands of years in the future. This is something that is not done enough, in my view.

I also like the scope of the story. What it is set about could be very important, but still only takes place in one small part of one small world.

That said it does have problems. The first is that the story felt slow, in part I think because of the purple (too florid) prose, largely on the part of the robot.

This could just be my personal taste but I found it hard to care about the characters in the way that you should. Even the robot slave is shown to have done some really bad things, enough that I could see enslavement being at least partly justified.

Ben, the owner of Cora the robot slave, is hard to care about because he never seems to have initiative. He is not really a mover, even when doing so threatens his life he is too willing to just let things slide.

To be honestly what it feels like is the second or third draft of a story that could be good, if more work was put into it.

On Amazon

On Goodreads