Posts Tagged ‘Apocalypse’

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The ninth installment of the X-Men cinematic franchise (Origins: Wolverine counts… as much as I would prefer it didn’t) has landed with today’s X-Men: Apocalypse. Set ten years after the events of Days of Future Past, Professor Xavier has built himself a bustling school for mutant children, Mystique is helping mistreated mutants find asylum in an underground society, and Magneto is trying to stay under the radar in the Polish countryside. However, all of their plans go awry when an ancient, god-like power resurfaces after several thousand years.

This movie is VERY full. Full of everything; characters, plot threads, fight scenes. At times it does seem a little overwhelming, but it never got to the point of utter confusion from being overstuffed. There is only one element that I feel could definitely have been cut out, as its only real purpose is to set up for the next chapter in the franchise. Other than that, the story threads were many, but cohesive, and mostly necessary. My biggest complaint is Apocalypse himself, not so much his look, which I didn’t mind, but his character. He never really comes across as that larger than life figure he is in the comics, and I feel like that’s probably what hurts this movie most. Also, for a character so heavily featured in the trailers, Psylocke gets surprisingly little screen time.

The acting is mostly good, although I can’t help but feel that Jennifer Lawrence phoned it in as Mystique in a few scenes. She just seemed kind of bored for most of the movie. McAvoy and Fassbender are still great as Professor X and Magneto, and are worthy successors (or would it be precursors?) to the roles that Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen defined nearly two decades ago. Many of the new young actors also do a really great job portraying their respective characters.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I went in with pretty low expectations and came out of the theater feeling satisfied. It certainly doesn’t match the quality and experience of First Class or Days of Future Past, but it doesn’t fail miserably either as some final acts of trilogies have done before, I’m looking your way Last Stand.

The Verdict for X-Men: Apocalypse:
3 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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Ian Blackport’s novel Those Who Remain tells the story of two sisters, Mallory and McKayla, doing everything they can to survive following the decline of civilization due to a waterborne disease that turns its victims into violent and deadly beings known as “Stricken.”  However, the Stricken aren’t the only thing threatening the sisters, they also have to deal with the survivors of society’s downfall, many of which have also become ruthless and aggressive in an attempt to make it one more day in the harsh wasteland of the former United States.

Blackport’s strongest part of this book is the relationship between his main characters.  Their sisterly bond and love for one another is the primary plot mover here, and there is rarely a moment when you don’t feel the strength of that bond in the story.  The other aspect of this novel that I really enjoyed was the growth and development of both Mallory and McKayla throughout the course of the story.  It’s interesting to watch how they both change in their own ways to become better and stronger people.  It also helps that the change feels natural, never forced in any way.

I did have a couple of issues with the book.  First, after reading it for a while, it tended to get a little repetitive.  I can’t say too much without giving anything away, but Mallory and McKayla seem to talk about the same things more than a few times throughout their travels, and find themselves in similar situations time and again.  My second issue, is that there’s nothing terribly new or interesting about the antagonists that the sisters face.  If you’ve read or watched many zombie stories, you have a basic idea of the creatures as well as the vile survivors that still inhabit the landscape.  It just feels like so many other stories that I’ve experienced before.

Minor issues aside, I would recommend checking this one out based on the strength of the two main characters alone.  The antagonists here are nothing terribly original, but the power in the relationship of the two sisters is strong enough to overcome all of that.

Those Who Remain can be purchased on Amazon.

The Verdict for Those Who Remain:
4 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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The Apostates, by Lars Teeney, tells the story of post-apocalyptic America, which has been re-named New Megiddo, under the rule of a far right-wing, uber-religious administration.  All rules regarding term limits and separation of church and state have been abolished by the long serving President, John Schrubb, and his super-zealot religious hierarchy, led by the Reverend Wilhelm Wainwright.  However, there is an uprising brewing.  A band of cast-aside sinners, known as Apostates and believed to be dead, is planning a rebellion.  Funded by an unknown source, the Apostates are a well organized militia with some powerful weapons on their side, but will it be enough to topple a regime hell-bent on bringing forth Armageddon?

Teeney crafts a relatively interesting “what-if” scenario with this story.  The Apostate characters are intriguing enough to follow along with, even if they do have some rather awkward names.  The regime characters, on the other hand, seem to be a group of pretty generic villain stereotypes who tend to make some laughably bad decisions with little to no reasoning behind them.  It creates an odd dichotomy and really makes one wonder how the leading administration has managed to stay in power for as long as it has.

The plot itself makes up for some of the less developed characters, as it is a pretty engaging read.  I wanted to keep reading to find out where it was going, but it too was not without fault.  Being a six hundred page novel, this story obviously has multiple sub plots, and I genuinely felt that a few of them could have been edited out completely.  Namely the one historical plot thread.  I understand that the author is trying to give us an idea of how the situation came to be, and to build a world for the story to inhabit, but I feel like there are better ways to do it.  One would have been to write multiple books about the story, rather than trying to squeeze everything into one.  In the end, it ultimately feels like a collection of shorter novels broken up and put into one big book.

Now, onto my biggest gripe with this book, the mistakes.  There are numerous spelling, grammar, and word choice errors that plague this text.  A few, even a few more than a few, is understandable and forgivable for an independent, self-published novel, but there were far too many here.  I found it incredibly distracting, and it makes the book more difficult to read as a whole.

Overall, the story itself is not bad, and it even has a few intense and gripping moments in it, but the book is in desperate need of a proofreading and editing job to trim the fat and fix all the errors.  If you’re into post-apocalyptic tales, give this one a whirl, but be warned, it’s far from perfect.

The Verdict for The Apostates:
3 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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Well, it’s finally here.  The long discussed companion series to The Walking Dead, oddly titled Fear The Walking Dead, has arrived, but was it worth the wait?

Fear the Walking Dead takes a slightly different look at the zombie apocalypse than its older sister series.  With this show, the creators have informed us that they’re going to go back to the beginning, before the beginning actually, to examine the very first days of the zombie apocalypse, and to see how society crumbles under the strain of a plague that it just doesn’t understand.  The Pilot episode begins with a drug addict, Nick (played by Frank Dillane), waking up in an abandoned church.  He looks for the girl he spent the night with, only to find several grisly scenes of people with various body parts ripped off.  When he finally finds her, he realizes she is the one that has been doing the ripping, not only that, but she also has a gigantic piece of wood protruding from her abdomen, which doesn’t seem to be bothering her at all.  Nick makes a run for it, only to be struck by a car outside the church.  While he’s in the hospital being treated for minor injuries, we meet his mother Madison (Kim Dickens), sister Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), and soon to be step-dad Travis (Cliff Curtis).  Madison and Travis both work at the same high school, she’s a guidance counselor, and he is a teacher.  Nick tells Travis what he saw that made him run, and of course, the story is so outrageous that no one really believes him… yet.

This first episode is a little… well… slow.  It might have only seemed that way because of the 90 minute run time, but I think it goes beyond that.  Right off the bat, we have a zombie encounter, and then we see practically nothing else for the rest of the episode.  Now, that’s not to say that it’s terrible.  There is a lot of character building that goes on in that time, which I’m sure will wrench our hearts out later when some of these people inevitably die horrible deaths.  However, if you go into this expecting the same kind of tense action sequences that you find peppered throughout the main series, you might be a little disappointed.  Also, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that based on this episode, we shouldn’t expect this fall of civilization to go quickly.  The creators seem to be taking their time with this, which could either work out really well, or not well at all.  Only time and more episodes will tell.

The other aspect of this series that I find interesting is how different and uptempo most things seem to be.  One thing that leapt out at me while watching was the music.  It almost seems to be paced more like an action story than a horror story.  The background music is quick, which invokes a sense of urgency and a need to get things done before it’s too late.  The only problem is that no one really knows exactly what to do yet.  Either way, it definitely seems like they are trying to differentiate themselves from the main series as much as possible.

All in all, the plot moved a little slow while developing it’s rich and interesting characters, and it’s definitely not what you’re used to in the main series.  It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but it’s still something that I’ll continue watching just to see how it plays out, as it seems there are any number of ways this plot could go from here.

The Verdict for Fear the Walking Dead, Episode 1:
4/5 – I can dig it.

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

Upcoming reviews:
Secret Wars Journal #4
Civil War #3 (Secret Wars Tie-In)
Old Man Logan #4 (Secret Wars Tie-In)
Where Monsters Dwell #4 (Secret Wars Tie-In)
X-Men ’92 #3 (Secret Wars Tie-In)
The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 1: The Faust Act
The Martian (Novel)