Sunday, March 27

Thriving at College - a review

Thriving at College is exactly what the title sounds like: a book about how to do well in college.  It is divided into four parts, covering faith, relationships, personal character, and academics.  Within each section, author Alex Chediak breaks down common mistakes which college students make.  These chapters include, “Treating College as if It Were High School,” “Refusing to Grow Up,” “Being a Flake,” and “Living For Grades.”

As a junior in college, I feel that Chediak gives excellent advice.  He truly understands problems that college students face, whether they’re freshman or seniors.  He addresses head on the problem of students seeing college as a time to have fun and goof off, explaining how academics should be the priority over video games and Facebook, as well as how to stand firm in Christian faith even in a secular college.  He also strikes a balance in his views.  While he may start a chapter explaining why students should put more time towards classes and less time gaming, he may end it by reaching out to students that do nothing but sit with a textbook in their nose all day and who only strive to make that 4.0 GPA.

Saturday, March 26

The Cape Season Finale

Finally I had a chance to watch the season (and most likely series) finale for NBC’s The Cape.  If you haven’t already, you can check out my review of the whole series up to this point here.  There will be spoilers here, as I will be both reviewing and doing some analyzing of the finale.

At the end of Episode 9, Vince and Orwell finally get video evidence tying Ark to Scales, a known crime boss.  Orwell releases the video on her blog and soon news stations are abuzz with charging Ark and Peter Flemming (leader of Ark and criminal mastermind Scales) of corruption.  Flemming denies any knowledge of this, placing blame fully on Marty Voyt, Chief of Police and Vince’s former best friend (for those who don’t remember Marty betrayed Vince to Flemming and helped frame Vince as Chess.  Everyone now believes Vince is dead).

Vince’s wife, an attorney, takes on Marty’s case, hoping to help a family friend.  She doesn’t know of his betrayal.  This presents one of the strongest character moments in the entire series, yet it feels out of place.  Marty is now fully faced with his past and now has to struggle to keep his betrayal hidden, his family safe from Flemming, while forming a way to present evidence against Flemming.  And the show actually handled it pretty well.  I sensed true emotion from the character and for the first time in the entire season, he connected with the audience.

 However, the reason it feels out of place is because until this moment he is a minor character!  Sure, he has a larger role in the first couple episodes, but then he drifted into being a background character.  So for his character arc to suddenly begin to change doesn’t make sense.  There are other characters who I would love to see more from.  Summer Glau’s character, Orwell, had minor points of revelation earlier in the season.  This would’ve been the perfect episode to truly dive deeper into that.  It would be a great chance for Vince’s son, Trip to grow, especially since he had a decent role for most of the season (and was pretty much nonexistent in this episode).

Sunday, March 20

Red Harvest - a review

Red Harvest by Joe Schreiber is a prequel to Schreiber’s previous Star Wars tale, Death Troopers, which attempted to be the first Star Wars horror novel. I was not thrilled with Death Troopers, but if I ever get truly desperate for a read and pick it back up, maybe I’ll discuss its problems on here.

You should know that I love Star Wars and the Star Wars universe. I have several shelves full of the books and own all but one of the movies (episode I, which I’m waiting to find cheap at a garage sale or something). However, that doesn’t prevent me from taking a critical look at the stories or the novels either.

So back to my review. I said this was a prequel to Death Troopers. And it is….but it’s not a normal prequel. This prequel take place a little over 3,000 years earlier. This means none of the same characters (thank goodness), a different setting, and no Stormtroopers around to get infected by virus that turns living creatures into ravaging zombies.

The story largely takes place around a Sith academy. Darth Scabrous seeks the key to immortality. He has gathered nearly all of the pieces. All he needs is the juice from a rare orchid. A hired bounty hunter discovers the flower in the care of Hestizo, a young woman who trained as a Jedi but didn’t have the ability to become a full knight. Instead, she tends to this orchid, which has a strong force bond to her. If they are separated by too great a distance, the orchid will die. So, Hestizo is kidnapped with the flower and brought before the Sith lord.

Using the final ingredients, Scarbrous nears completion of his task. He injects part of a serum into a Sith Student and the student quickly turns into a mindless killing machine. The mind of the student is dead and is replaced with a powerful bloodlust – a zombie. True to zombie form, if any bodily fluids from a zombie comes in contact with your own fluids, you become infected as well. This Sith zombie escapes and soon more and more Sith students are nothing more than blood thirsty monsters. Darth Scarbrous still has one last thing to do before he can gain immortality and Hestizo wants nothing more that to get off the planet.

Sunday, March 13

Indivisible - a review

Indivisible by Kristen Heitzmann
Something strange is happening in the small town of Redford, Colorado, something which sends Police Chief Jonah Westfall scrambling for answers.  A pair of raccoons are found dead in the nearby woods.  It is no natural death – it is not even the results of a hunter or landowner sick of them.  Examination reveals that the raccoons were knocked unconscious and sewn together.  Upon waking up they found each other to break free, resulting in a grisly death.  Jonah knows that those who abuse animals often don’t stop there, and seeks to find the culprit behind it.  Meanwhile, the town itself seems to be going through subtle changes which affect, and often rock, its inhabitants.  Jonah has to try and maintain the town’s stability while searching for a twisted hunter.

Thursday, March 10

The Cape

There may be spoilers below.  I will try to note the truly major ones.  This post is meant as an analysis of NBC’s show The Cape.

The Cape is the story of Vince Faraday, a cop who is framed as Chess, a criminal mastermind.  Believed dead, Vince must try to expose who Chess’s true identity so that he can return to his family.  Blocking him however is the power that Chess holds.  Chess is more than a criminal mastermind – he is Peter Flemming who leads ARC, the newly established private police force.  As far as arch enemies (no pun intended), Flemming is more like Lex Luthor than the Joker or Venom.  Vince joins a circus group that performs robbery on the side.  There he is provided with a mysterious cape, which he dons in an effort to expose Flemming.  Thrown into the mix is Orwell, who runs a website dedicated to exposing lies and corruption, specifically targeting Flemming.  Orwell and Vince team up to achieve a mutual goal.
The Cape seems to quite a risk for NBC take, and it looks like it hasn’t paid off.  Ratings dropped considerably since the first episode and they changed the anticipated number of episodes from 13 to 10, planning for the 10th to be aired online only.
What went wrong?  Why didn’t this show work out?  Superhero movies seem to be the big rage right now.  Yet, this superhero themed TV show fell flat?  Having watched the nine episodes released up through now, I’ll offer my insight into what was good, and what need work.

First of all, the villains.  For the most part, every episode introduces a new villain.  While exciting to see new faces, by the ninth episode, I had no idea which villains would return in future episodes and which ones had their one time showing only to be gone.  If this were to become a multi-series show, certain villains would have to return.  Introducing new villains for every show would quickly get boring.  Plus, they’d run out of villain stereotypes to use.

Sunday, March 6

Things Film Students Like Part 2

Can you believe it?  In the first shot the actress was staring straight ahead.  In the next shot her eyes were pointed 3 degrees to left.  Those filmmakers were so lazy!  It totally ruined the movie for me.

Perhaps I exaggerate a little.

Still, there are many times upon explaining thoughts on a movie when the issue of continuity is brought up, mainly in the form of visual continuity.  Sites like IMDB have a section for each movie dedicated solely  for goofs of any sort, whether historical, accuracy, continuity issues, obvious ADR, and even elements which are thought to be goofs but might not be.

Okay, this one really bugs me