Book Review – The Fifth Season

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I am finally back writing on this blog and it has been quite a while but between vacation and work life has been quite hectic lately! That said, I am now back and ready to bring you more good nerdy reviews and hopefully soon new sections to the blog. Today we are going to talk about a delightful book I just finished and that is The Fifth Season written by N.K Jemsin. I had wanted to read for quite some time this series since it was awarded the Hugo Award for Best Novel at the 74th World Science Fiction Convention on August 20, 2016. It was also nominated for the Nebula Award and World Fantasy Award for Best Novel and as such I was incredibly excited to read this book. Before we get into the review let me warn you that there might be some minimal spoilers although I will attempt to keep it at a minimum.

I absolutely loved this novel and it is more than deserving of the awards it attained and all the praise it has received. The story combines many elements of classic fantasy and science fiction in a unique manner to give us a rich story with an intriguing setting and plot. The Fifth Season is set on a planet with a single supercontinent called the Stillness were occasionally climatic disasters labelled as the fifth season occur, thus preventing humanity from flourishing. In this world there are a group of people hated and feared known as the oregenes who are capable of controlling energy, particularly that of the earth (directly) and temperature (indirectly) and thus prevent earthquakes and climatic disasters. Although they are hated and not considered human, they are used by society to minimize dangers in a world divided by caste. At the start of this book we learn that a fifth season is starting and we follow different characters in their struggles, especially that of Essun, an orogene mother whose son was killed by the father and who left with their daughter, and her search for them. This setting full of climatic strife, racial conflict and community struggles is captivating and yet also relatable. It is relatable because although it happens in a fictional world that is different to ours, the core of its issues are similar to many of the issues we now face.

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The characters of the book are incredible, with profound development throughout the novel that has a profound impact on the book. The diversity in the characters in this book is refreshing to see as within the genre of fantasy and science fiction this has not always been the case. Throughout the novel we meet characters that despite their differences with our world, reflect quite well in our and thus make you invested in it.

The characters are what drive the story throughout the whole novel, as we are able to witness their evolution, their thought processes and how they face the challenges ahead is a fascinating read and combined with the plot of the story makes for an enthralling read. N.K Jemsin is able to bring to live a fantastical world, full of incredible characters with amazing abilities that at the same time feels very similar and relatable to ours.

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I can’t recommend enough this book, it is wonderful, filled with beautiful characters and in an incredibly setting. After reading the first one, I for one can’t wait to read the next two books, with the third one having come out this month. I encourage you all to read the books as you will fall in love with them, and better do it soon since a TV show based on the novels has just been announced!

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Review – Wonder Woman Film

Finally, after a long wait, “Wonder Woman” hit theatres in Spain and I quickly went to see it. I have already seen this movie twice and have had time to digest my thoughts and find myself ready to write about them. First of all let me start of all this by commenting on the fact that I was not a big fan of previous entries into the DCEU world. Yet despite my lack of enthusiasm for this film universe I was cautiously optimistic with this one, the trailer had impressed me and everything I had read, heard or seen about this movie was good. I was hoping this would be the film to finally have widespread critical and fan acceptance and to see a film that I would love. So after seeing it twice I can gladly say that I LOVED this film. Before I delve into an in-depth review of the film let me just warn you that there will be plenty of SPOILERS.

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Wonder Woman had everything I wanted on a comic book movie. It was bright and colourful (something with which I have struggled in past DCEU films), it had great action scenes, it was fun, the titular character was amazing and it had a great hopeful message. One of my biggest issues with movies like “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman”, was the dark tone bereft of hope. It is a tone that fits Batman but doesn’t fit Superman. Comic book characters, especially heroes and heroines are meant to inspire us, to show us that despite how hard things get to be, how awful things can get, we can still raise above it. This movie perfectly portrayed this message and I was happy to see it.

Themyscira was beautiful and everything I hoped to see in an adaptation of the comic books. I loved the setting, showing us a paradisiac location where the amazons are able to prepare for their goal. The amazons themselves were amazing portrayed as fair, intelligent women who are also incredible warriors. The battle scene at the beach with the German soldiers was incredible and inspiring, full of amazing set pieces and stunts. Watching that and thinking about the trailer we have seen for Justice League, I for one can’t wait to see the amazons fighting against the parademons.

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The acting was great throughout the movie. I was surprised at seeing Robin Wright play such a physical role but she was splendid in it. She portrayed the toughness and physicality of the character beautifully and added great gravitas to the cast. The supporting characters were great in general and I loved the portrayal of Ares done. However there has to be a special mention for Chris Pine and Gal Gadot who had an amazing chemistry throughout the movie. Chris Pine was great in his role, playing perfectly his character and giving us great moment and Gal Gadot in my opinion owned the character. She was able to perfectly show both the toughness and vulnerability as well as the naiveté and idealism of the character. She has given us a perfect Diana Prince and a perfect Wonder Woman and I can’t wait to see more of it.

Patty Jenkins did an amazing job in shooting this film. Many of the scenes are beautiful and the action is shot perfectly, allowing you to feel the intensity of the moment without missing a beat. I also loved all the nods to the first Superman film (the glasses, the revolving door and the bullet scene in the alleyway) and how she was able to subtlety introduce them. She has done a great film and I hope that this opens the door for more female directors filming comic book movies.

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However the greatest thing about this film was the titular character.The character was amazing and inspiring and very similar to the essence of the character in the comics. She was shown to be as this idealistic warrior who is naïve but full of love and willing to fight for her ideals to the utmost. The message she gives is cheesy, but comic book are and will always be cheesy. I loved that she was fighting to end a war, to stop the violence, and doing so in the name love. I fell in love with the character throughout the film as she fought in a war, but also against gender roles and against an internal struggle. Throughout the film we see the character develop and grow but still remain true to herself. In my humble opinion she is one of the best character adaptations from the comics seen in film.

The already iconic scene in No Man’s Land was great. Seeing a female superhero charge the lines and have this amazing action moments was incredible and inspiring. Both times I have seen that scene I have become emotional and have seen it with a huge grin on my face. This film has finally given us the female superhero we deserved, a strong, feminist women who is able to change the course of history. Scenes like this are awe-inspiring and will be remembered for a long time.

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“Wonder Woman” was a beautiful film. It is not perfect, no film really is, and does have some flaws (the third act is a bit weaker than the rest of the film) but it was a great movie, with an amazing protagonist who I hope becomes the inspiration for many. “Wonder Woman” has certainly inspired me and the message of love in the movie is beautiful. Hopefully this movie, which is killing it at the box office, will be the first of many films with heroine protagonist and action films starring women in active roles. After watching this movie I am a bit more hopeful for the DCEU and I will with a bit of luck be able to see a sequel of this movie as it is more than deserving. “Wonder Woman” stands now in my top 10 comic book movies of all time and I can’t wait to see Justice League so I can see more of this wonderful character.

Wonder Woman: 9/10

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Book Review – The Night Angel Trilogy

Recently as part of my binge reading in the past few months I started reading the Night Angel series written by Brent Weeks. The Night Angel trilogy is set in the fictional world of Midcyry and in it we follow the adventures and life of Azoth/Kylar Stern as he struggles to leave behind the difficulties of his life on the streets and become a great wetboy (something akin to an assassin). On his path to greatness he will face harsh training, legends coming to life and a war and struggle for the fate of all the continent in which he will become a key player.

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The world of this trilogy is a gritty dark world. The city of the main characters is run both a king and also by a “shadow king” a figure head that dominates all criminal activities with a tight fist. This makes for a fascinating setting in which the story takes place as Kylar struggles to be part of both world. He struggles with the luxurious, advantageous but ultimately deceitful world of nobles and also struggles with the harsh, cruel and brutal world of criminals where he comes from and of which as a wetboy he is an integral part of. This duality, this struggle, is present throughout the whole trilogy as Kylar struggles to leave behind that in which he was raised. Kylar grows in our eyes and we see him fight an inner conflict in his path to realizing who he truly is and what his role in the world is.

 In this world there is a magic that some users are able to use, however depending on which side of the world you come from, magic is taught differently. In the case of Kylar and his master Durzo, as wetboys, they use magic to primarily enhance their physical skills as well as for stealth reasons. Other are able to use magic in more traditional fantasy ways, such as fire balls. This combination of different magic skills makes for a very intriguing world where most characters are able to fight in an equal footing and in many interesting ways with high stakes.

Durzo, the master of Kylar, is perhaps the most interesting and refreshing character. A character that seems to be the stereotypical hard-ass, mysterious mentor, as the story develops you learn more about him, his motivation, his past and you understand the character. By the end of the saga Durzo has become your favourite character and every scene with him is handled beautifully.

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However whilst the characters and the settings are fascinating without a doubt the best part of this series have to do with some of the themes that this book deals with, especially those of fate, duty and the sacrifices that have to be made in the name of the greater good. The books study this issues in a profound way and allows the reader to reach their own conclusions before we get the resolution and the choices of the characters. Especially in regards to the theme of seeking the greater good the book is able to give us a great study of this theme, with difficult choices, no straight answer and a story that explores new ideas such as having a necessary evil in order to reach an ultimate greater good.

All in all the trilogy is very enjoyable and fun to read. It is a classic fantasy story with some twists on the old tropes that keeps it fresh. The pacing of the story is fast and action-packed, the battle scenes are awe inspiring and it is able to make the reader think carefully about issues in the novels. Brent Weeks hits a homerun in this series and I am looking forward to reading more from him.

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Review – Spider-Man Homecoming Trailer

Another week and another trailer has arrived. Last Saturday we got the all new trailer for the “Justice League” film that hits theatres on November and today a new trailer for the “Spider-Man Homecoming” Trailer has made its way into our screens as the movie gears up for its release on perhaps the best date ever, 07/07/17. Before we go into the trailer I just want to point out that alongside the X-Men, Spider-Man has always been my favourite comic book and Peter Parker is among my favourite characters in comics. Thus it is not a strange thing that I get really excited about Spider-Man movies and as such coming into this trailer I was incredibly excited.

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First let me say that I believe the casting of Tom Holland as the new Spidey is perfect. I believe he really captures the essence of both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, capturing the fun and toughness that is Spidey and personally I believe he stole the show on “Captain America: Civil War”. The casting of Michael Keaton as the Vulture is I believe also a great and he will be able to do a great job in portraying this iconic villain. My first thoughts for this movie are that so far it looked great on paper and I had faith that Marvel and Sony would be able to deliver an Amazing Spider-man (pun very much intended) movie.

The trailer I have to say was GREAT. I loved it, I thought it provided us great insight to what promises to be a fantastic fun movie. It seems to have a really good balance of fun and more serious drama. Whilst it could be said that the trailer does show probably a bit too much of the movie I still think that it did a great job in promoting the movie. I do love the fact that they are using Tony Stark as a means to teach Peter Parker about being a hero, which makes sense since in this universe Tony has already gone through his own personal crisis. The suit he wears at the beginning looks great and I also enjoy the metaphor they are establishing of him having to win back the tech suit by learning how to be a hero.

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Teenage Peter Parker has always been a long-time favourite of mine and while I do love the first Spider-man movie and I thought Amazing Spider-Man was pretty good I always thought that it was a shame we did not get to see of the awkwardness of Peter in school and this movie promises to deliver that. That fact combined with what so far seems to be great action (the ship battle scene promises to be action packed and fun) and an amazing villain has me really excited about this movie. No other character or group, beyond the X-Men, can get me this excited for a movie. I have always related to Peter Parker a lot and it is just amazing to see him back on screen on what seems to be a very faithful adaption of the character.

Between the “Justice League” trailer and this one all I can think is that it is a great time indeed for us nerds, for us comic book fans.

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Review – Iron Fist

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The last of the Defenders has arrived as Iron Fist came out on Netflix last Friday and so far it has drawn a lot of criticism from critics whilst fans have been more forgiving and accepting of the show. The show is without a doubt a flawed show but it is not as bad as people are claiming it to be. Before I get into the official review of the show please be aware that I will not be talking about any of the racist issues that have risen about this show. As someone who is not directly affected I do not think my voice is qualified to talk about it. Also be aware that there are going to be spoilers on the review.

First of all, let’s talk about the negatives of the show. The show has a flawed pacing, and although the pace of the TV show does pick up towards the middle of the show, some episodes drag a lot, especially the first five episodes. The first five episodes are slow with not much development beyond corporate fights which makes it hard to follow this first episodes. Furthermore the fights in most of the episodes are not well done (although recent declarations by Finn Jones in which he says he learned the choreography 15 minutes before they were shot shed light on this) and lack passion and are not very smooth. The major flaw of the show lies in many ways in the character of Danny Rand. Most of the times Danny Rand does not feel like the “ultimate weapon” he is supposed to be, he is beaten easily (too easily) by others and in many episodes feel a bit too dumb as he keeps trusting people who have lied and done awful things to him. The choice of the villain at the end, Harold Meachum is a poor choice as he should not poise the physical challenge that he does in the finale. Lastly the fact that no one mentions clearly other members of “The Defenders”, especially Claire (shoe-horned into the show) who when she learns about the Hand does not tell Danny Rand about Daredevil, is really starting to hurt the Netflix Marvel Universe as it is not realistic.

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That said the show also had some great moments. Finn Jones does grow into the characters as the series progresses and by the end of it his portrayal of the Iron Fist is quite enjoyable. Rosario Dawson as Claire is once again great and shows how comfortable she feels in this Netflix Marvel Universe and her character. The latter half of the show is pretty good and the episode in which they travel to China and Danny Rand faces Zhou Cheng, the master of the Drunken Style, has a great fighting sequence. The challenge by the Hand to Iron Fist in Episode 6 is pretty good and entertaining as is the character development of Ward Meachum. However the best part of this show is the portrayal of Colleen Wing by Jessica Henwick. Jessica Henwick is able to express the vulnerability and power of Colleen Wing and every time she appears on screen the show improves and she steals the spotlight from everybody. She is without a doubt the breakout star of this show. The show, whilst plagued with issues, does end up setting a somewhat compelling story and is a good set up for the Defenders that will drop later this year.

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The show is entertaining enough yet we now seem to live in a society where either something is great or the worst. Critics and people on social media tend to review everything by extremes and I believe that is a huge mistake. Some shows are neither great nor bad, they are just entertaining and good and that should be embraced and not criticized. Iron Fist is a show that fits this description, a show with many problems, a show that is probably too long and has too many episodes but not a horrible show. It has fun moments and is good enough that most episodes are entertaining to watch. I have enjoyed the show for what it is and I am expectant to see how the characters of Danny Rand and Colleen Wing develop in The Defenders which comes out on Netflix on November.

Iron Fist: 6.5/10