MOVIE: Pacific Rim (2013)

Pacific Rim Year: 2013 Rating: PG-13 Length: 131 minutes / 2.18 hours When I first saw the trailer for this film, I became really excited. One of the staples of anime is the "giant robot" subgenre, of which Neon Genesis Evangelion and Gurren Lagann are certainly the classics. And while Pacific Rim (2013) wasn't an adaptation of an anime, it got my hopes up that it could be done well enough that we could see live action versions of these aforementioned anime. After all, adaptations to live-action from anything animated tend to be very difficult, so this would be a step in the right direction. I do have to say that this movie delivered what it promised. Something like a mix between Godzilla (1999) and Real Steel (2011), the premise was a little bit closer to Independence Day (1996) than I initially thought it would be. The visuals were stunning and the fight sequences were both immense and intense, never letting up with the action as...
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BOOK: Modern Romance (2015)

Modern Romance Year: 2015 Author: Aziz Ansari Length: 374 minutes / 6.23 hours I was honestly surprised by this book. As has been the case with most comedians and the books they have written, I expected this to be a bit of an autobiography in the veins of Bossypants , Yes Please , The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy , and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Instead, I was presented with a book filled with data, analysis, and information about how modern relationships work when compared with the relationships of past generations. Having gone through some of this “Modern Romance” myself, I could certainly relate to the information being presented, nodding my head in agreement as things I noticed suddenly had explanations pinned to them. But it wasn’t that the book was not an autobiography that surprised me, it was the humorous way that Aziz Ansari managed to present this subject matter, while also maintaining high scientific rigor. If I were...
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BOOK: Owner’s Share (2014)

Owner’s Share Year: 2014 Author: Nathan Lowell Length: 574 pages Well, here we are. The end of the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series has been quite the interesting journey, essentially tagging on to the events that happened in the previous book, Captain's Share. While this was the logical final step for Ishmael Wang, I appreciated that some of the loose ends that had been introduced throughout the series were finally resolved. I also appreciated that the characters weren’t all idyllic or idiotic, thus providing a balance of the likable and unlikeable characters instead of heavily including one side of the spectrum or the other. In terms of plot, Nathan Lowell has spun together a great yarn here with a lot of “what could go wrong next?” scenarios. Even if these events didn’t feel like they carried much in terms of consequences, due to these inevitabilities never coming to pass, they were usually impediments to Wang’s goals. The one twist near the end of...
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BOOK: Captain’s Share (2013)

Captain’s Share Year: 2013 Author: Nathan Lowell Length: 420 pages Another book, another jump forward in time. While I do appreciate Lowell’s realism for how long it should take to gain enough experience to even be considered qualified enough to become a ship Captain, a lot can happen in ten years. Ishmael Wang has certainly matured into the role of Captain, even if some of his decision-making in his personal life is left lacking, especially considering how adept he was in Half Share. At least by the end of this book, some things are “back to normal” for him as he continues his meteoric rise through the ranks. In terms of plot, there was plenty of excitement in this entry of the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series. Never before have I been so interested in the fate of a simple cargo delivery, let alone the ship that carried it. I haven’t been this attentive to an Estimated Time of Delivery since I ordered...
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MOVIE: Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Kubo and the Two Strings Year: 2016 Rating: PG Length: 101 minutes / 1.68 hours We live in the future, and it is incredible. I’ve found stop-motion animation to be a fascinating medium, not only for its “dirtiness” when compared to CGI, but also because of the painstaking care it takes to produce a full-length feature with this process. Animation studios like Aardman and Laika are really starting to take advantage of all the tools at their disposal to create some awesome stop-motion movies. We’ve come a long way since the films of Henry Selick, the most famous one being The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). Through Selick, we now have a handful of fantastic films through the Laika brand. While their previous work, The Boxtrolls (2014) had started the trend away from more morbid themes and plots, Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) shows just how capable the stop-motion medium is to tell a fantastic story. With an origami motif existing throughout, Kubo and the...
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MUSIC: CSPhil – The Great

Colorado Springs Philharmonic Conductor: Marcelo Lehninger Date: November 12, 2016 White Gleam of Our Bright Star Courtney Bryan OK, I'll admit it: I really didn't "get" this piece. Perhaps I'm not an astute listener for this type of musical arrangement, but it almost sounded to me like the band was still warming up during this tribute to "America the Beautiful." Maybe I'm biased. The first commissioned piece of the 90th season was fantastic, complex, and riveting while this one felt a little . . . wanting? Of course, again, I don't really consider myself to be of the most discerning of musical tastes, especially when it comes to the Philharmonic. My take is usually "older is better," so time will tell whether this piece stands up against the others. Violin Concerto No. 5 Henri Vieuxtemps Up until this Masterworks performance, I had never heard of Henri Vieuxtemps. Consequently, I wasn't sure what to expect in his fifth Violin Concerto. With the stage filled with the string section and not...
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BOOK: Blood Brothers (2016)

Blood Brothers Year: 2016 Author: Rick Acker Length: 380 pages ***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM A GOODREADS GIVEAWAY*** Even though I don’t usually read books in mid-series, I’ll make an exception for a book I receive for free. Fortunately, I was able to deduce what happened in book 1 of the Dead Man’s Rule series just based on the context of the characters’ interactions. In fact, I’d probably like to read Dead Man's Rule, since it sounds like it was a pretty exciting plot. Of course, I’ve found legal thrillers like this one to be pretty stand-alone, which helped me really get into its engaging, if not somewhat predictable, plot. What I found most interesting about Blood Brothers, was the Christian undertones it took in its narrative. These moments helped to flesh out the characters, but only once did it feel like the reader was being browbeaten with some ideology. The infusion of realistic Christian characters was a pleasant surprise, especially considering that their beliefs did...
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BOOK: Emergence (2016)

Emergence Year: 2016 Author: S.G.D. Singh Length: 490 pages ***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM A GOODREADS GIVEAWAY*** When I signed up for the giveaway for this book, the cover and title made it sound interesting. Now that I’ve had a chance to read it, I’ll say that it holds a “first” for me. That is, it was the first book I was unable to finish. I just couldn’t get through it. Maybe it’s because I’m not a huge fan of the “Young Adult” genre, but it’s likely due to a lot of nagging issues I found with it. Consequently, I will not give this book a star rating because it would be unfair due to my inability to read it in its entirety. Aside from the regular, and distracting proofreading and formatting errors, I found the entire story to be quite unbelievable. Sure, the context for these teenagers being so smart and skilled was there, but it was merely an excuse to write teenagers who were...
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BOOK: Double Share (2008)

Double Share Year: 2008 Author: Nathan Lowell Length: 308 pages Much like Half Share overcompensated for Quarter Share’s naïveté, I found Double Share to take an extreme stance on the dynamic of a ship’s crew. This stance was practically diametrically opposed to the crew of Ishmael Wang’s first crew aboard the Lois McKendrick. While it might sound like I’m complaining about this, I’m actually lauding Nathan Lowell for finally creating a crew that’s a little more realistic than the idyllic one he used during the first three books in this series. Of course, it would have been nice to intersperse difficult characters throughout the books, instead of having to deal with them all at once, but it is what it is. Even though the first three books in this series were fairly close together in timeframes, I would have liked a little more detail given to the handful of years dedicated to Wang’s time at the Academy, especially since the end of Full Share made...
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MOVIE: Jason Bourne (2016)

Jason Bourne Year: 2016 Rating: PG-13 Length: 123 minutes / 2.05 hours Back in 2002, The Bourne Identity redefined not only the action film aesthetic but the modern spy thriller as well. While some elements of the Bourne films have been good for action films, others are now trite and cliché. If you were to break down the “Bourne formula”, these four elements could be used to make any action film in the “Bourne-style”: Car chases with spectacular driving in “common” vehicles Brutal hand-to-hand combat using everyday items Shaky camera movement during action sequences “The chase” where eventually the protagonist gets away, achieves his objective and escapes into the shadows once again Because the Bourne films are so formulaic, I found Jason Bourne (2016) to be no different. That being said, the film was still a fun and intense ride to watch. Now nine years later from the last in the “true” Bourne storyline (we’ll just forget that The Bourne Legacy (2012) happened), technology has vastly improved, making this film seem...
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