First Thoughts on “Rogue One”

As a fair warning, this post does include some spoilers from “Rogue One” so if you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and stop reading now. Seriously, don’t even read this sentence. Go watch Yoda sing about how much he hates seagulls. Really, go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9t-slLl30E
OK, you’ve been warned.
  

I don’t really consider this a full review, just some thoughts on what I did and didn’t like about “Rogue One”. 

The Good

The best character by far is Donnie Yen’s portrayal of Magic Stick Man (If you don’t know what that is, do yourself a favor and watch this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CehVgQ43pn0 ). OK, Chirrut Imwe. And his partner Baze Malbus, portrayed by Wen Jiang. Those two have a great chemistry. Throughout the movie, Baze kind of teases his counterpart about his belief in The Force, but as Chirrut is dying and Baze picks up the mantra of “I am one with The Force. The Force is with me”, that was one of the most emotional parts of the movie.

The effects in space. A lot of the ships looked almost “bad” by modern standards, which is a good thing. They had the feel of models used in the original trilogy, which was perfect for a movie leading directly into “A New Hope”.

Some of the little cameos. The a-holes from the Cantina. A few of the pilots in the battle (I didn’t catch all of them, but a buddy pointed it out). The quick little bit with R2-D2 and C3PO.

Vader. Obviously. His best fight scene in any of the movies. And it dawned on me that there isn’t any other villain out there that can be actively beating up the good guys and you’re cheering it on.

Galen Erso and his intentional design flaw. I should put this first, because this is pretty darn close to what I predicted here http://www.jaimeh.com/2016/11/06/bold-prediction-rogue-one-a-star-wars-story/. Although I predicted that the exhaust port was intentional, I’m taking credit for the intentional design flaw that he built into the core. 

The direct connection from the end of “Rogue One” going into “A New Hope”. I love that it was almost like “Rogue One” ended with a teaser going into a commercial, and “A New Hope” is was starts up the next episode.

I loved K-2SO. I still love R2-D2 and BB-8 more, but he was great. And he actually had character development. Going from really kind of an a-hole to sacrificing himself to protect Jyn and Cassian was great.

The Bad

There wasn’t a lot that I would consider to truly be “bad” with “Rogue One” but a couple things do stand out. Tarkin. He was too obviously CGI. I felt almost like I was watching Shrek, but as a friend put it, a video game is probably a better comparison. I would have loved them to find an actor who looked very close and just use makeup or some prosthetics to fill in the gap. I really want to say the same for Leia at the end, but at least her shot was just quick.

Vader and the cheese factor. “Don’t choke on your aspirations”. Boo.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say after I go again next week, but those are my initial thoughts. What did you all think?

Comic Gift Guide for the Geek in Your Life

I’ve been reading a lot of comics (or graphic novels if you prefer) lately.  With the holidays right around the corner, this seemed like a good time to put together a little shopping list for the geek in your life.  I hope this list helps you find something for that comic lover in your life!

The Good Stuff – These are just really good

Marvel 1602 – I probably don’t need to say much more than this book is written by Neil Gaiman.  That alone tells you it’s great.  All your favorite Marvel characters, but set in Victorian England.  With plenty of intrigue and surprise, this is great for any comic lover.  You can order it on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2fqLFsj

Superman Red Son – What if Superman had landed in Soviet Russia instead of the United States?  That’s the question this tale tries to answer.  The Man of Steel being in another country has a profound effect on the rest of the DC Universe.  Another great book.  Available on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2gnHAas

House of M – When Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, changes reality as we know it, the X-Men and the Avengers must team up to find a solution.  Another great “Alternate Reality” book.  Get it on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2gj8Rgz

Avengers Vs. X-Men – Following the events of “House of M” (and a few others), we get this epic battle.  Who wouldn’t want to see various X-Men fighting various Avengers??  The battles are great in this entertaining book.  Available on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2fTpWNB

Batman: The Killing Joke – One of the all-time greats.  The Joker is once again out to prove that the line between sanity and insanity is grey at best, and of course he brings Batman along for the ride.  This is a must-have for any comic fan.  Get it on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2fTocnb

The Dark Knight Returns – Another classic.  An older Batman returns to fighting crime, and has to deal with opposition from crime-lords as well as the police and government.  You’ll see lots of inspiration here for modern DC movies.  Get the 30th Anniversary Edition on Amazon http://amzn.to/2gnK1tn

For the Marvel Cinematic Universe Fan

Civil War – This really belongs up above with the “Good Stuff” books, but this category seemed like a good spot for it too.  We’ve all seen “Captain America: Civil War” (and if you haven’t, what’s wrong with you? Get on it!), now read the inspiration.  The story is vaguely similar, with superheroes becoming government employees in order to help control them, and you do get Captain America Vs. Iron Man, but the overall outcome is much different.  Get it on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2fqJHIj

Infinity Gauntlet – The Marvel movies have spent years building up to Thanos acquiring the Infinity Stones, which will culminate in 2019’s “Avengers Infinity War” but don’t let the name fool you, this is where you want to start.  This collection starts with Thanos getting the Infinity Stones and wiping out half the life in the universe.  It’s up to the Avengers and other heroes to come together to find a way to stop him.  Get “Infinity Gauntlet” on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2fqNFk2

For the Horror Fan

The Walking Dead – Know a fan of AMC’s “The Walking Dead”?  Of course you do.  Probably the best spot to start is “The Walking Dead: Compendium One” which collects the first 48 issues of the comic.  Starting from the beginning of Rick’s saga, this is a great collection.  Get the Compendium on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2gnO9te

Not sure that the full Compendium is what you want?  Get the first trade which includes the first 6-issues of “The Walking Dead”.  Get it here: http://amzn.to/2gi0U7H

American Vampire – Much like “Marvel 1602” above, I probably just have to say that Stephen King is involved with this one.  As America moves west and Hollywood grows bigger, the first of the American vampires is born (made?).  He’s not quite the same as the vampires of old.  This is an awesome book, a must for any horror fan.  Get “American Vampire” on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2fqOA3Y

For the Man-Child in Your Life

Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe – Come on, the series is called the “Killology”.  With the success of the “Deadpool” movie, fans will enjoy this one.  The character Deadpool isn’t exactly what we would call “stable.”  And this contributes to him setting off to kill all of the heroes and villains in the Marvel Universe.  Definitely not for kids!  Get it here http://amzn.to/2ftwvFI

Deadpool Kills…Everything – There are actually several series around Deadpool killing stuff.  “Night of the Living Deadpool” explores Deadpool during a zombie apocalypse.  “Deadpool Kills Deadpool” has, well, Deadpool killing other Deadpools.  And “Deadpool Killustrated” has Deadpool killing all kinds of literary characters (like Moby Dick).  Finally, “Deadpool Vs. Thanos” has Deadpool battling the Mad Titan, Thanos.  These are all lots of fun.  Note that the “Marvel Universe,” “Killustrated” and “Deadpool Kills Deadpool” make up the awesomely named “Killology”.

 

Bold Prediction: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

If you read my movie prediction on “Doctor Strange” then you know It was a bust.  But that’s not going to stop me from making my prediction on the upcoming “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”.  My inspiration came from the most recent trailer.  If you haven’t seen it yet (what’s wrong with you??), here it is:


In this trailer, we see Jyn’s father, played by Mads Mikkelsen, apparently being taken away by the Empire, and forced to work on the design of the Death Star.  He makes the statement that “Whatever I do, I do it to protect you.”  So he’s going away peacefully in order to protect her, but that gives me the impression that he doesn’t support the empire.  Which leads me to my big prediction:

What could be happening?

What could be happening?

Since he is being forced to work on a superweapon that he does not support, I think the whole exhaust port leading directly to the outside of the Death Star….will be an intentional design flaw.  Although he is helping to design it, he’s going to build in a weakness, hoping it can be found and exploited.

So there it is.  Instead of a “critical design flaw,” it’s intentionally left there for the Rebels.  This immediately popped into my head when I saw that trailer, and I’m sticking with it.

Maybe this was intentional?

Maybe this was intentional?

So what do you think we will see in “Rogue One”?  Am I crazy with my theory?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Movie Review: Dr. Strange

Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” came out today, and I was able to catch an opening show last night.  This is your standard warning that this does include spoilers, so if you want to avoid that, stop reading now!

Doctor Strange

 

Let’s start with the special effects.  The visuals are stunning.  If you’ve seen the previews, that should be no surprise.  The best way I heard it was “Inception” on LSD.  The nice thing is that no matter how much is going on, it’s done in a way that you can still follow what is going on.

As for the story, although it’s a bit slow to get going (it is an origin story, after all), I really enjoyed it once things got going.  I found the good Doctor to be pretty obnoxious at the beginning, but I get that they had to build the character as an egotistical genius before his accident.  There were some pretty big jumps in time that you just had to accept, but overall I think this was handled well.

The biggest part I’ve been struggling with was toward the end.  In order to defeat his enemies, Strange goes to the Dark Dimension to bargain with Dormammu.  He essentially blackmails Dormammu into taking his enemies away.  After giving it some thought, I really enjoyed this.  Dr. Strange battles lots of enemies far more powerful than any human, and he has to use his intellect to find a way to beat them.  I think a lot of viewers who are used to the other Marvel Cinematic Universe films will be expecting a giant fight.  But Dr. Strange is no Thor, Iron Man or Captain America.  Which is a good thing.

I’m super glad that Marvel has brought Dr. Strange into the movie realm.  He will play a key role in the Avengers’ battle with Thanos, and I can’t wait.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie, and look forward to seeing more of him!

What did you think of “Doctor Strange”?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Movie Prediction: Doctor Strange

This is a new thing I want to try out for a while.  In my “Bold Prediction” posts, I’m going post a prediction about something.  Maybe it’s a movie thing, a sports thing, who knows.  I’m not going to force it into anything, just stuff that comes to mind.  And I’ll try to do a follow up post to talk about whether or not I’m right.

So here’s my first one.  With Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” coming out next week, my prediction is that we’ll get an introduction to Captain Marvel.  I don’t think she’ll actually play a role in the movie, but I think she will show up during the credits scene.

Captain Marvel

(Warning, this next paragraph may contain spoilers. I’m going to talk about the “Infinity Gauntlet” comic that I suspect will be a large influence on the “Avengers: Infinity War” movie)
So why do I think this?  There are a couple things.  First, I read somewhere that she was intended to be introduced at the end of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” but since the actress wasn’t cast yet, that had to be put on hold (sorry, I can’t remember where I read this so you’ll have to trust me).  Second, the way I’m picturing this is that at the end of everything, Strange will be experimenting with the limits of his powers.  During the “Infinity Gauntlet” struggle, he was the one who transported the avengers across the galaxy to battle Thanos, so we know he has this much power at some point, and likely will need to get there before the Avengers battle Thanos.  I think he’ll be experimenting, and meet her this way.

Doctor Strange

So what do you think?  Am I crazy, or does this make sense?  Leave your thoughts in the comments, and we’ll all find out in about a week!

Why we (will) need a new Batman backstory

As I was watching “Batman V Superman,” I noticed the date on Martha Wayne’s tombstone.  In this movie, she died in 1981 (of course I can’t find a screenshot online and I don’t have the movie myself).  This makes sense since the movie is in a more or less modern day, and she would have needed to die in an appropriate year to put Bruce Wayne at his current age.  This issue is that going forward, this is going to need to change.

I don’t really know when the paparazzi in the US kind of spread all over, but at some point I would find it hard to believe that the billionaire philanthropists of Gotham wouldn’t have at least one dedicated paparazzo following them around.  If they went out for the evening, I would call bullshit that there wouldn’t be someone with a camera waiting for them.  There’s no way some random thug just randomly mugs them on the street.

I’m not saying that the Wayne’s unfortunate death can’t still happen, but it’s got to be something other than a random mugging while walking out of the theater.

Running list of Amazon Prime Day Deals 2016

This is not an all inclusive list by any means, but I’m going to try to bring some of the better Prime Day deals I see to this page.  *There is a referral link embedded in each of these*

amazon

Amazon’s Prime Day is Tuesday, July 12, 2016.  They claim there will be thousands of deals across all categories this year.

First of all, you do need to have Amazon Prime to participate in these deals.  If you aren’t already a member, start your 30-day free trial now.

Now on to the deals!

If you aren’t interested in following my list, just bookmark Amazon’s main page through these links and keep checking throughout the day:
https://smile.amazon.com/?tag=jaimwrit-20

https://www.amazon.com/?tag=jaimwrit-20

Updated 7/12/16 6:31PM
Trying to clean this post up.  Removed some expired deals.  Adding in some stuff that is still active.  All of the Amazon device deals below are still good.  Also the Dash button for $0.99 which is an awesome deal since you get a $4.99 credit with your first order.

Take 20% off any book!  Pick something on your list (you know you have one) and use code “20PRIME” at checkout to get an extra 20% off: http://amzn.to/29NPCdg

Take 30% off lots of clothes.  Shirts, pants, accessories.  Search and enjoy! http://amzn.to/29D3gxj

Lots of TVs and other home entertainment deals still remain: http://amzn.to/29D3p3I

Quite a few deals on Amazon Video movies and TV (some rental, some to buy): http://amzn.to/2a7zmjf

First off the Amazon Dash button.  Normally $4.99, it is currently $0.99.  But you get a $4.99 credit with your first order.  Use it to keep all of your essentials in stock.  http://amzn.to/29x3DGz

Updated 7/11/16 at 7:55PM Pacific
Here are a few of the deals Amazon is already promoting on their twitter page:

2016 Model Samsung UN55KU6300 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart TV for $549.99

The Amazon Fire tablet starting at $33.33: http://amzn.to/2a4cPE7

$50 off the Amazon Echo

$30 off Amazon Fire TV: http://amzn.to/29szz3N

$30 off Kindle Paperwhite: http://amzn.to/29AjNlx

Plus up to 50% off toys like Nerf, Barbie and Fisher Price, and 30% off clothing, shoes, jewelry, watches and more

Updated 7/11/16 10:02PM Pacific
I’m not sure if these are truly “Prime Day” deals but there are some “Prime Exclusive Deals” on gift cards in the Gold Box listings.  Starting at 5:50AM, 6:50AM and 7:50AM Pacific time, there are gift cards to Cheesecake Factory, Build-A-Bear, Lane Bryant, Fandango and PetCo to name a few.  In regular daily deals I’ve seen these at 20% off.  Here’s the link: http://amzn.to/29AnU1h
One note on this: I just saw a couple more pop up since I started writing this.  Looks like new gift card deals at the 50 minute mark each hour, and they might be posting them up 12 hours ahead of time.
Just checked in again, and a few more cards showed up at 9:50 (Payless Shoes, Hotels.com, Buca Di Beppo).  Keep checking the page for more cards.
More gift cards, including Red Robin and and Famous Footwear. http://amzn.to/29AnU1h

Updated 7/12/16 6:17AM Pacific
Looks like there is a pretty good deal on an XBox One Bundle (40% off):

Some pretty nice deals on memory (flash drives, SD cards, etc – I see 50% and more on some of these): http://amzn.to/29yowRH

A personal favorite, the Exploding Kittens card game:

Lenovo Thinkpad at around 50% off as well:

Updated

Buy Deadpool for only $6.99: http://amzn.to/29Ci27H

Not exactly a Prime Day deal, but the first expansion for Exploding Kittens is available for preorder: https://smile.amazon.com/Imploding-Kittens-First-Expansion-Exploding/dp/B01HSIIFQ2/?tag=jaimwrit-20

Hike to Dewey Point, Crocker Point and Stanford Point (Plus McGurk Meadow)!

Here are some photos from today’s hike.  Enjoy!

The sign at the trailhead. 5.3 miles here I come!

The sign at the trailhead. 5.3 miles here I come!

Approaching Dewey Point

Approaching Dewey Point

the view from Dewey Point

the view from Dewey Point

Up at Crocker Point

Up at Crocker Point

The view from Crocker Point

The view from Crocker Point

Looking down on Bridalveil Falls

Looking down on Bridalveil Falls

The view from Stanford Point. Pretty similar to the Tunnel View, just a few hundred people less

The view from Stanford Point. Pretty similar to the Tunnel View, just a few hundred people less

Pretty Flowers

Pretty Flowers

Peaceful meadow

Peaceful meadow