This is Carl's Brain
The Walking Dead Some Guy

The Walking Dead Ezekiel

 

After operating at breakneck speed, they slowed this episode down, which I think is a good thing.  The entire episode focused on the aftermath of the Saviors mowing down King Ezekiel’s people with machine gun fire and the drama that ensued.

 

Carol

Carol proved to be resourceful as she single-handedly gunned down a bunch of the Saviors and saved King Ezekiel and Jerry for certain doom.  I thought some parts of it were a little over the top and suffered from believability with what Carol was able to do all by herself, but overall I still think it worked.  She had to make a choice in this episode—save Ezekiel and Jerry or prevent the Saviors from leaving with the ammunition.  She showed her humanity by saving Ezekiel and Jerry.  Like there was ever any doubt as to what she was going to do.  Obviously, she has a thing for the King, so this was a no-brainer.

 

Daryl and Rick

Like those Saviors ever had a chance.  This was a pretty fun, high-octane, action sequence.  I especially enjoyed the part after Daryl wiped out on his motorcycle and Rick was pursuing the truck with the weapons, when he weaved out of the way so that Daryl could open fire on them from his motorcycle.  Probably not the most realistic scene, that they could coordinate that type of maneuver without communicating with each other, but it had some serious style points.

 

Ezekiel

Ezekiel was the focal point of this episode.  This is the first time they have really delved deeply into the King’s character.  It had already been established that he was part stage actor, part carnie con-man, without a whole lot of steak underneath the sizzle.  He gives a great speech and is able to get his people to believe in him, but isn’t an especially effective leader in a fight, and that was seen with his whole, “I’m still smiling” bit and his seemingly constant wanting to give up when Jerry and Carol were trying to save him.  Even Shiva came in to save him only to become a tiger zombie (oh wait, that only happens in Game of Thrones) after the zombies tore him apart.  RIP Shiva.  I’m not sure how you were always able to distinguish friend from foe the way you did, but you were a good soldier while you lasted.

 

It looks like at long last we are going to get some sort of conclusion to the Negan, Father Gabriel, Savior compound situation.  I don’t see why Father Gabriel wouldn’t just shoot him, seeing as how he had a gun on him, but the writers are hell bent on saving Negan even though the Allied forces have had about a dozen clear shots at killing him.

The Walking Dead: Monsters

the walking dead rick and daryl

 

I beat up last week’s episode pretty badly.  There was all kinds of action but little context to the action, very little was explained, and there were some serious logic flaws.  Well, this episode didn’t get much better.  It was chocked full of many of the same problems.  After a strong opening episode, this season is turning out to be pretty disappointing.  Adding to the fact, there is no coherent strategy among the Allied forces.  If the trio of Rick, Ezekiel, and Maggie are going to be calling the shots, then they also need to let their people know about how they are supposed to combat the enemy and what they’re supposed to be doing with prisoners.  And not only do both the Allies and the Saviors have inexhaustible supplies of ammo, apparently they never have to reload their weapons, or they just discard them for a new weapon.

 

Morgan and Jesus

Out of everything that was bad about this episode, the sequences between Morgan and Jesus were the absolute worse.  Regardless of what their differences are, the two of them battling it out while hauling a chain gang of prisoners is utterly ludicrous, as evidenced by the fact that the prisoners fled while they were fighting.  It would take two complete morons to actually have a raging battle in this situation.  For the record, Jesus and his stance of pacifism and mercy is ridiculous, and I side with Morgan, but both of these characters need to be flogged.

 

Maggie

Whoever thought that the Hilltoppers could possibly have a worse leader than Gregory.  Well, they just might have one in Maggie.  I don’t know if she’s smoking crack over at the Hilltop, but she made two unimaginably awful decisions.  The first is letting the aforementioned Gregory back into the fold.  How long is it going to take Gregory to betray them?  I would wager the very first opportunity that presents itself.  Then, she signs off on the Jesus plan of keeping the captured Saviors as prisoners in a couple of trailers.  They don’t have holding cells or prisons.  How long is it going to take for the Saviors to try to break out.  What are they going to do about feeding them?  Do they have bathrooms for them to use?  Do the writers actually think any of this through?

 

Ezekiel and Carol

First of all, this is a show about zombies.  The director needs to keep it simple.   There’s no reason to get all artsy by showing a scene followed immediately by a flashback and slowing it all down.  They also telegraphed the disaster that was going to come when Ezekiel kept gloating how nobody had gotten killed (it was also preposterous that they got into a gun fight with about twenty armed Saviors and didn’t suffer a single casualty).  Ezekiel was being so smug in this episode that I was almost hoping something bad would happen to him.

 

Daryl and Rick

 

This was yet another dichotomy in character philosophy.  Whereas Rick was willing to show mercy to Morales and the lone Savior at the end, Daryl was not.  He was going to destroy anyone in his path.  If they want to beat the Saviors, they need to be more like Daryl.  I like this new, dark version of Daryl.  His character has evolved throughout the show.  He has always had a dark edge to him, but he’s going full out Dark Knight Avenger here.  I think there is a conflict that is going to come to blows between he and Rick.

 

Aaron

This episode saw the first death this season of a somewhat important character in Aaron’s significant other.  But it’s hard to feel too much sympathy.  Eric has barely had any screen time, and for the most part has been kind of useless.  But I thought the two actors playing these characters delivered strong performances and made it work.

Movie Review: Thor Ragnarok

Thor Ragnarok

The first two movies in the Thor series were solid, entertaining movies, but definitely not among the better Marvel movies.  The bar was not particularly high, and Thor:Ragnarok certainly exceeded it.  This movie had a combination of loads of humor, great action scenes, an intelligent plot, and good special effects.  But what I really enjoyed about the movie was its various layers.  There was the back and forth battles between Thor and Loki in Asgard, Norway, and the planet Sakaar, the adaptation of the Planet Hulk storyline from Marvel comics featuring Hulk and Thor battling it out in an arena, the arrival of Hela and her banishment of Thor, the rebellion in Asgard, followed by the finale.

 

This movie boasted a strong cast of heavyweights like Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, and Idra Elba.  It even had a cameo by Matt Damon, playing Loki in a  play in Asgard.  Although the movie had its share of serious moments, it had many light-hearted moments.  On the way home from the movie theater, it was those light-hearted moments that my family and I shared together.  As a student of Norse mythology, I was annoyed at how they re-wrote it for their own purposes.  For instance, the character is Hel not Hela.  I guess that was considered harsh language for the Disney folk.  Hel is Loki’s daughter, not Odin’s.  Loki is the one who leads the forces of evil in the Battle of Ragnarok, and so on and so forth.  I’m sure most people who aren’t knowledgeable about Norse mythology aren’t going to care, but it annoyed me.  Still, these are minor quibbles in what was one of the better Marvel movies made.

The Walking Dead: The Damned

the Walking Dead Morgan Jesus

 

It’s not taking long for The Walking Dead to go off the rails this season.  The Damned was a complete mess.  It was non-stop action with constant fighting, which one would think would be a good thing.  But there was no setup.  There was no context to what was going on.  It would have been much better if they had clued the viewer into what was actually going, maybe ten to fifteen minutes at the beginning of the episode to explain the plan instead of the slow motion, isolation shots of various characters.  The powers that be behind the show dropped the ball in what could have been an exciting, tension filled episode if they only bothered to let the viewer know what was happening and what it meant.  The other thing that bothered me was the absolute endless amount of ammunition these factions have.  Not only do they apparently have the ammunitions supply that only a US military base could provide, but apparently they don’t have to reload when they are shooting either.

 

Morgan

Morgan became unhinged in this past episode, and I like this version of Morgan far more than the pacifist version of Morgan.  Now, they have Jesus playing that role, and things didn’t work out so well for him.  Morgan has become The Terminator, just going around obliterating everything in his path.  I suppose the theme of this episode is what combat and war can do to a person.  Jesus has to talk Morgan off the ledge at the end of this episode, but I like Terminator Morgan.

 

Jesus

Apparently, there is a contractual obligation that there has to be a minimum of one pacifist among the Allied Forces at all times, and since Morgan has become the Terminator, Jesus has become the pacifist.  And just like it didn’t work out so well for Morgan, it also doesn’t work so well for Jesus, as seen when he turns his back on a Savior prisoner, only to have that same guy turn on him and put a gun to his head.  Yes, Jesus used his ninja skills to get out of the situation, but he didn’t even learn his lesson that in a war, you can’t be kind and benevolent to your enemy.

 

Ezekiel and Carol

I had no idea what this group was doing.  As the episode wore on, I was getting some semblance of an idea of what the other groups were doing, but Ezekiel, Carol, and Company were marching to somewhere for some reason that never was established in this episode.  For some reason, they needed Sheeba to bite the face off of a man they were apparently chasing, but it seemed to be a big setup to use Zeke’s tiger and to have philosophical conversations between Ezekiel and Carol.  This whole plot line was an epic fail.

 

Aaron

 

Yet another shootout that didn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason.  In this case, the group led by Aaron are trying to pin down a group of Saviors so that Rick and company can do their thing.  This was so telegraphed that Eric, Aaron’s significant other, was going to bite the dust or at least get badly injured.  Eric has had about five minutes of air time in this entire series, and they kept focusing on him over and over again, so it came as no surprise when he had been shot and was bleeding out.  By the way, besides having an endless supply of ammo, none of these people can shoot if their lives depended on it (which it did).

 

Rick

So, apparently Rick, Daryl and company were trying to get a cache of weapons but it was never established whether or not this was at the main Savior compound or some outpost.  They kill a bunch of people and Rick comes across an abandoned baby.  I’m not sure what happens to the baby, but apparently this baby doesn’t cry despite all of the gunfire and is still abandoned at the end of this exchange.  The episode ends with the reemergence of Morales, who I wouldn’t have recognized except that I just recently watched season one with my son, who has started watching the series.  Morales is with the Saviors now, and he has Rick at gun point, when he tells Rick that it’s all over and he calls the Saviors and tells Rick that they are coming back.  But who did he call and how are they coming back?  The main Savior compound has been overrun by zombies.  Negan is surrounded in a trailer with Father Gabriel by zombies.  How could they possibly be in a position to come to wherever they are right now with force?  Did the writers suddenly become brain-dead like the zombies they write about?  What’s going on?

 

Perhaps you’re not as confused as I am, but boy did this episode leave a lot to be desired.

The Walking Dead: Mercy

walking dead explosions

Another season of The Walking Dead is upon us.  There was some good and some bad in Mercy, but overall I give it a thumbs up.   Without further ado, let’s get to the break down.

 

The Speech

The show starts with a rah-rah speech where Rick, Ezekiel, and the new leader of the Hilltoppers, Maggie, rally the troops about their upcoming attack on the battle.  Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick, did a strong job of delivering this speech, and it was a good setup for the events that were about to unfold.

 

The Plan

The plan itself was sound.  Negan’s forces are well-fortified inside of the Saviors compound.  They have lots of weapons and greater numbers than the Allied forces (Alexandria, Hilltop, and the Kingdom).  So, instead of attacking them head on, they devised a plan to have the zombies do the work for them by providing a horde of zombies entrance into the compound.  That’s all well and good, but this show is drifting from fiction to fantasy with the way it was done.  First of all, we’re about five years or so into the zombie apocalypse.  How could they possibly have this mand weapons and especially the ammunition used to pull this off.  During their attack, they shot up the outside at will with a seemingly endless supply of bullets.  Then there were the dozen or so explosions that they used to guide the zombies to the compound.  Once again, a good strategy, but where the hell did they come up with all of these explosions?  It seems that once upon a time, the writers took this issue seriously.  Now, they don’t seem to care about it, and will just give the Allied forces (and the Saviors) as much ammo as they can possibly ever need.

 

Negan

It drives me crazy that the characters on this show have had about a thousand opportunities to kill Negan, but never take the shot.  Case in point in this episode, before Rick starts his conversation with Negan, he had him in his sights, and could have taken him out, but didn’t.  Dwight, on a daily basis, has opportunities to take out Negan, and doesn’t.  And then, at the very end, Father Gabriel has a gun in his friggin’ hands, Negan shows up, and he doesn’t try to shoot him.  What the hell is wrong with these characters?  All of this leads me to believe that Negan is in this for the long whole.  I think he survives this entire season, and will be around to wreak havoc at least into next year.

 

What Does this All Mean

 

Based on what took place in this episode, it is readily apparent that the zombies will overrun the Saviors.  This means that the Saviors will have to be on the run and abandon their home.  It doesn’t mean that the Saviors are done far.  I think they regroup and counter-attack.  The war will continue all season long, and as evidenced by this episode, they have no intention whatsoever of killing off Negan.

 

Random thoughts

  • Eugene is full on Negan.  I don’t think this is some sort of subterfuge.  He has fully switched sides.
  • Gregory, the former leader of the Hilltoppers is such a tool, and Father Gabriel is a total moron for trying to save him.  Just what did he think was going to happen?
  • I liked the communication method between Dwight and Daryl with the crossbow message.
  • Negan seriously needs to hire some new lookouts.  Just what were these people looking out for?  They were taken out with no problem, while their heads were in the clouds.
  • The old man Rick dream sequence seemed utterly pointless.  We all know that there will never be a time when Rick and company can live in peace happily ever after.  Robert Kirkman, the show runners, and AMC have no intention of ever ending this show as long as interest and ratings are still good.

 

Movie Review: Happy Death Day

Happy Death Day

I came in with fairly moderate expectations for Happy Death Day, and it exceeded them.  It was a fun movie, kind of the horror version of Groundhog Day.  Tree Gelbman starts off as this awful sorority girl, who leads a shallow life and treats her fellow human beings like complete crap.  Within the first ten minutes of the movie, I was hoping that she would get killed repeatedly, and she did.  A funny thing happened along the way.  Tree grew as a character, realized her many faults, and became a better person.  You generally don’t get a whole lot of character development in horror movies, and they aren’t exactly known for characterization, but this movie did a fine job with it.

 

The hook to this movie is having this character die repeatedly in horrific fashion, and it certainly had that.  It had a bit more to it than just Tree getting killed, however.  There was a bit of a mystery in the movie.  They even had Tree and her love interest at one point coming up with a list of people who might want to kill her, and it turned out to be a pretty long list since she was a terrible human being.  There were a lot of light hearted and funny moments.  There was a good twist that I didn’t see coming.  On the other hand, there were definitely some logic gaps and believability issues.  Part of it was the twist.  They made it so that it was hard to see it coming, but in the process, they did a bit of cheating the audience.  Overall, this was a fun movie ready for the Halloween horror movie blitz that is worth watching.

Horns by Joe Hill

Horns

 

Horns has a really interesting premise, and when I started reading it, I was thinking that this was going to be a great novel.  Unfortunately, the novel came up short in its execution, and left me disappointed.  The premise, as I mentioned, is a really neat one.  Ig Perrish is suffering in the aftermath of the brutal rape and murder of his girlfriend, Merrin.  Although never arrested, he remains the prime suspect of her murder.  Even his parents don’t believe him.  On the one year anniversary of Merrin’s death, he develops horns on his head.  He also has some super powers.  People feel compelled to tell him and act upon their worst hidden secrets.  He can also do things like influence the behavior of people and perfectly mimic voices.

 

There were two big things that make this novel unravel.  The first is that every person that Ig comes across is a horrible nasty person with terrible hidden desires.  Call me an optimist, but I don’t believe must people are awful, despicable people.  The only person who is half way redeemable is Ig’s brother, Terry, but even he has a seriously wicked deed in his past.  These types of characters and repeals got repetitive and dull after a while.  The other thing is that there were so many long captions of flashbacks that it sucked any kind of momentum out of the story.  I think flashback can be effective in limited doses, but this novel has like fifty pages at a time of flashback and it just killed the reading of the story.  I also felt at times that Hill fell in love with his own prose and got away from trying to tell a good story.  I’ve enjoyed some of his work in the past, but this novel fell short of the mark.

The Creeps by John Connolly

The Creeps

After seeing all of the positive review for The Creeps, I have to ask myself just what am I missing.  I didn’t get this novel at all.  I didn’t find any aspect of remotely funny at all.  Perhaps I’m not the target audience.  The only horror humorist that I enjoy reading is Jeff Strand and John Connolly pales in comparison.

 

The novel is set in a town in England that serves as a portal to every possible demon and supernatural creature in the multiverse.   The town contains thieving dwarves, demons who for some unknown reason can exist among people without anyone noticing, bumbling idiot cops, bumbling idiot scientists, and a boy Samuel Johnson, who seems completely dull and ordinary, and is one of the least interesting protagonists that I’ve read in a while.  Samuel Johnson previously thwarted a demonic invasion, and apparently must do it again, except he doesn’t really do much at all.

 

The bottom line is that this novel just didn’t do anything for me at all.  I didn’t find any appeal to it in the plot, the characters, the writing.  There was never even a point where I cracked a smile, let alone chuckle.  I would strongly recommend not reading it, but hey, you just might be the target audience for this novel.

 

Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary) by Jeff Strand

Graverobbers Wanted

If somebody comes up to you and offers you $20K to dig up a grave and retrieve a key from the corpse, it would be a wise idea to turn down the assignment.  However, Andrew Mayhem, a married father of two small children, is anything but wise.  He can’t hold down a job and makes some seriously bad decisions.  Despite that, he has some endearing qualities, and when push comes to shove, he’ll do whatever he has to, to keep his children safe.  When Andrew and his friend take the assignment, the corpse turns out to be alive and wielding a gun.  Things only get worse from there as Andrew comes across Ghoulish Delights, which fronts as a production company for hire for people wanting to star in short horror movies.  It becomes very apparent to Andrew that Ghoulish Delights is a front for something far more serious.

 

This is the first novel I’ve read from Jeff Strand that is geared to adults.  He’s great at young adult novels, and as it turns out, he’s pretty good at writing more mature themes.  The protagonist is a very flawed character, and at first I wasn’t entirely fond of him, but as the book wore on, I grew more fond of him, particularly late in the novel when he had to save his children from serious harm.  It’s something that any parent can relate to.  My biggest quibble with the novel was that there were a couple of scenes that were a bit unrealistic and it became hard to suspend disbelief.  What worked really well was how things just kept getting worse and worse for Andrew, and he had to show some serious mettle and resourcefulness to get out of them.  This novel highlighted one of the things I really enjoy about Strand’s writing—his ability to put the screws to his characters and put them in some difficult situations, and just when you think it can’t get any worse for them, they do.  This was an enjoyable novel, and I look forward to reading the second in the series.

Shadowfall by James Clemens

Shadowfall

Shadowfall is a mixed bag of an epic fantasy novel that doesn’t quite live up to the hype bestowed upon it by some of the impressive blurbs on the front and back cover of the novel.  The basic concept of the story is that gods have settled over the lands of Myrillia.  When one of these gods is killed, fallen knight Tylar de Noche is thrust into the middle of it, when the dying god inserts her essence into Tylar.  Hunted down, he is determined to find out just what is going on.  Meanwhile, an insurgent group of knights called The Fiery Cross are part of an overarching conspiracy working against Tylar.

 

Although there was some entertainment value in reading the novel, it was heavily flawed.  For one thing, the whole part of having to harvest the gods’ bodily fluids was just silly.  Right from the jump, it took me out of the novel, and I had a hard time taking it seriously.  The novel bent over backwards to make a big deal of inserting twists and big reveals, but they telegraphed them from a mile away, and when the reveal finally happened, it wasn’t very surprising or pack much punch.

 

The writing itself was fairly mediocre.  There was nothing technically wrong, but it also didn’t captivate me.  There were some interesting plot points and some intrigue in the novel, but the problem was every time my interest rose, something brought me right out of it.  The ending was climactic but I don’t find myself wanting to dive into the next book in the series.