This is Carl's Brain
Movie Review: Ant Man and The Wasp

Ant Man and Wasp

The first Ant Man movie was one of those stealth Marvel movies featuring a relatively unknown character that kind of snuck up audiences and was a surprise hit.  Ant Man and Wasp came in with far more fanfare, since the characters were now more established and well known.  I was big fan of the first movie.  It was clever and funny with a good cast.  I don’t know if I quite liked the sequel as much as I liked the first movie, but it was a definite winner.


To create the timeline, this movie happens two years after Captain America: Civil War and just before Avengers: Infinity Wars.  Because of his role in the aforementioned movie, the Ant Man isn’t on good terms with his cohort or her father, Hank Pym, however they need his help in retrieving the original Wasp, who they believe is still stuck in some sort of quantum zone that Ant Man travelled to in the first movie.


There’s no true villain in this movie (except for the generic evil rich business types that are trying to get Hank Pym’s technology, and they weren’t all that impressive).  They did introduce the Ghost, who isn’t exactly a supervillain, but is constantly going against the heroes in the movie—hey, they need someone with superpowers that they can fight against.  Anyway, she does have some cool powers.  There are loads of action scenes, including some really cool ones where things get super huge or shrink.  Mostly, what I enjoyed about the movie is its sense of humor.  Luis was great for his comic relief, especially his recapping of past events.  The FBI agents were hard to take seriously, but also brought in comic relief.  Although, this won’t crack my top ten Marvel movies, it was fun and worth watching.

Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire

Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day

In Dusk or Dawn or Dark or Day, the novel with a long but interesting title, Jenna is a ghost living in New York.  She works as a suicide counselor and a barista.  Originally from Kentucky, she spends her time helping others in order to take away their time and reduce the amount of time to her dying day, the amount of time before she was meant to die.  It’s all a bit confusing, to be honest.  When ghosts in New York City begin to disappear, she gets in the middle of a plot involving witches entrapping ghosts, which leads her back to her old home when she had been living.


The story is interesting and well-written.  I found Jenna to be a well-developed character.  My biggest issue was that there were way too many rules, and I found it hard to follow.  Somehow, ghosts have substance and can be among the living and hold jobs (I’m not exactly sure how that makes them ghosts).  They have to take time from the living, which means giving them additional time to live?  I still don’t fully understand all of the rules, and the bottom line is that it detracted from the story.  I think this story would have been better served to not get bogged down with all of this complex system of rules, and tell the story, which often times got lost in the shuffle.  The other thing was I thought the climax could have used a bit more punch.  It came and went and lacked a big bang that I was hoping for.  I don’t want to get too down on the story.  There was a lot to like within it, and ultimately I would recommend reading it.

New Book Release: The Faerie Handmaiden of Annwyn by Andrew Richardson

Faerie Big

Dancing with her friends in the mortal realm, Penni, the fairest Tylwyth Teg, has no idea of what she will unleash by disobeying the law. A mortal attacks the handmaidens and blocks Penni’s return to Annwyn.


Banished for breaking the law, Penni is forced to take refuge with Pelling, a mortal, and his family.  Penni and Pelling find love and marry, despite his brother’s hatred of the fairy folk. He wants to sell her – Tylwyth Teg slaves fetch a princely price, a great temptation for a poor farmer. The couple moves to the capital of fifth century Wales where King Maelgyn rules. Subjected to prejudice and cruelty, they are trapped in the bitter struggle between Christianity and the Old Ways of paganism.


Accidentally burnt by iron – the fairy folk’s greatest fear – Penni seeks sanctuary and a cure in Annwyn.


Can their love surmount the differences in cultures and religion? Can their marriage survive their separation?


Andrew Richardson, author of The King’s Footholder and The Door into War, brings to life the classic legends of the Tylwyth Teg and King Maelgyn, weaving the mystical beliefs of the period with the timeless myths.


Buy The Faerie Handmaiden of Annwyn on Amazon.



Andrew Richardson lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife, a rescue cat, and a son who occasionally pops home from university. He is within easy reach of Stonehenge and other historical places whose regal solitude provides a clear mind for working out plot difficulties and story ideas. Most of his work falls squarely into the ‘horror’ or ‘historical fantasy’ genres.


Andrew has never taken to laptops so adopts the old and quaint approach of typing with a desktop, which at least has a screen big enough to avoid the need to squint.


He has a background in archaeology and has worked on sites in England, Scotland and Wales. It’s not really a surprise that much of his work reflects this interest and experience. When he’s not writing or working Andrew follows Aldershot Town Football Club and takes long walks over rugged countryside.


Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Red Moon

This novel starts off with the beginnings of a war about to brew between humans and lykans.  To this point, the lykans had been a somewhat repressed minority, but factions among them are looking to lash back.  In this story, lycanthropy is similar to a virus, which can be blocked by medication.  About halfway through, the war between human and lykan is on in full force after a massive 9/11 style attack.


About the only thing that I can say that I remotely liked about this novel was the audiobook narration.  The narrator had a cool, deep voice which I thought worked well.  And that’s about the only thing good about it.  The rest of the novel is a mess.  First off, it was way too long.  This novel dragged, and about halfway through I just wanted it to end, and eventually gave up on it about 85% of the way through, when my interest had waned so far that I just didn’t care what happened by the end.  There wasn’t a single character that I found interesting or compelling.  Claire and Patrick, the two main characters, were whiny and annoying.  But the worse character by far was the president of the United States, who was hell bent on eradicating lycans even though he was one of them.  Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, now does it?  The plot was deadly dull.  And even though this was a werewolf novel, none of the characters ever appear in werewolf form.  The werewolves are always on screen in their human form.  What’s the point of having a werewolf novel when you don’t see any actual werewolves?  This is a novel that you will want to skip.

Movie Review: Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom



If you were strictly watching a movie for the action and special effects, then you wouldn’t be disappointed by Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.  After all, it had an island filled with dinosaurs experiencing a total volcanic eruption.  There was a daring escape.  And as far as special effects and CGI, the dinos certainly looked impressive.  If you were looking for something beyond action and effects, well, this might not be the movie for you.


The movie villains (the human ones) were little more than cardboard cutouts.  In particular, Ken Wheatley, the head of the military operation to extract the dinosaurs, is about the most generic mustache twirling villain the laziest of lazy writers could conceive of.  Furthermore, the movie was so utterly predictable.  Every once in a while, I would turn to my wife and tell her what was going to happen in a given scene, and low and behold, the scene would go exactly as predicted.  Also, and this is a carryover from previous movies as well, dinosaurs for some reason find villainous human beings far more tasty than their virtuous counterparts.  Given the choice, they apparently would much rather eat a bad person than a good person.  Believability is a big problem.  There were quite a few plot holes.  Case in point, if you try to make a transfusion where you take blood from one species and give it to another species, I’m quite certain the creature that receives the blood is going to reject it.  Anyway, this is a movie that your kids will probably enjoy.  Mine did.  But if you want a deeper movie, you may want to look elsewhere.

Westworld: The Passenger

Westworld Charlotte


Season 2 of Westworld has come to a close.  Much like the entire season, there was some good and some bad, but mostly is was a bit of a letdown.  I certainly hope that the showrunners give up on the multiple unexplained timelines and start to use a linear timeline.  The whole multiple timelines was a frustrating mess, since often it was hard to tell what was happening when.  And basically it was all to give the big reveal that Bernard killed Dolores and dumped her consciousness into a host version of Charlotte Hale.  All of that confusion was hardly worth it.


The Man in Black

Things for The Man in Black didn’t go so well.  His alliance with Dolores was short lived and didn’t end well for him.  He didn’t die in this episode, nor did he achieve his goal of finding out the game that Ford was playing for him, whatever that was.  His story just seemed to die with no resolution.



The acting job by Jeffrey Wright has been spot on all season as it was in this episode.  He finally reaches the Forge along with Charlotte, where they discover that the Valley Beyond is a digital world designed to give the guests immortality where they can live forever in this world.  They learn that humans are very easy to code as evidenced by the books on each of the guests in this digital world.  When Bernard discovers that Dolores wants to destroy the real world, he kills her—wait how come he was able to kill her but the Man in Black couldn’t after shooting her repeatedly?  Who knows.  Anyway, Bernard has buyer’s remorse and recreates Dolores in the new host body that is a replica of Charlotte so she can, in fact, destroy the physical world.



Maeve reaches the Valley Beyond, but when things go wrong when Clementine reaches the hosts with her violence spreading virus, her concern is to save her daughter so that she can get into the Valley.  She does this awesome thing where she freezes all of the hosts, which begs the question—why didn’t she just do this before they all started killing each other.  Anyway, Maeve gets shot down, but with Felix and Slyvester on the beach, I believe they will recreate Maeave and she will be back in season 3.




Dolores first goes head to head with the Man in Black and then Bernard.  She is a woman alone, on a mission of destruction.  She doesn’t care about the Valley Beyond.  She wants the human world and she wants to set it on fire in a manner of speaking.  Although I like the whole switch with Charlotte, whose host body now houses Dolores’s consciousness, it wasn’t worth a whole season of confusion to get there.  I would have to rewatch things to see if it made sense if Charlotte was actually Dolores in those present time scenes.  It reminded me a bit of the Sixth Sense ending where the whole prospective changed after the reveal.  Also, the part with Charlotte, a corporate executive, shooting Elsie was absolutely ridiculous.


I can only hope that Season 3 tells a straight-forward, linear story.  It will be a welcome change.

Movie Review: Heriditary


After seeing all of the positive reviews and the 90% positive Rotten Tomatoes ratings, I was stunned watching this movie, and realizing it was a complete and utter disaster.  How bad was Heriditary?  Let me count the ways.  It was probably one of the ten worst horror movies I’ve ever watched.  I can’t even remember the last time I saw a movie this bad in the theater.  Even Sponge Bob: The Movie was better than this mess.


The movie started off slow.  Very little happened for about the first half hour.  Unfortunately, when things started happening is when it got really bad.  It all started going downhill in the first major action sequence and character death.  I won’t go into the particulars but it was so utterly preposterous and there were so many things wrong with the whole sequence.  Things just got worse after that.  Basically, this movie is a collection of as many strange and “disturbing” things as they can put on screen.  I put disturbing in quotes, because they weren’t so much disturbing as dumb.  The bottom line here is that there was no logic to the plot, to the backstory, or the character’s actions.  The characters, other than the father of the family, were not at all likeable.  Toni Collette, the lead actress in the movie, was in a constant state of hysterics.  There were few moments when she wasn’t crying, screaming, or was on the verge of losing it.  It’s not that I didn’t understand what was going on.  I knew exactly what was going on, but that didn’t help matters because everything was so utterly illogical.


This movie was God-awful.  I would call it a dumpster fire, but that wouldn’t do it justice.  Instead, I like to think of this movie as a flaming pile of crap that should be avoided at all costs.

Westworld: Vanishing Point

Westworld The Man in Black


Vanishing Point continued the HBO tradition of putting on the most explosive episode where the proverbial s*** hits the fan in the second to the last episode of the season.  There was a big reveal and two major character deaths, one not so much of the character’s importance but the implications to the character doing the killing.

The Man in Black


I feel as if Westworld doesn’t do enough character development, but in this episode they did a really strong job with the presentation of William, the Man in Black.  The reveal in this episode is the real reason for William’s wife’s suicide, when she sees all of the horrific things he has done in Westworld from his profile, where his true character is revealed.  This pushed her to commit suicide.  His daughter, Emily, revealed that she is trying to bury him and expose his secrets to the world.  Convinced that she is a host created and sent by Ford, the Man in Black first wipes out the QA team then kills his own daughter.  On the one hand, it seems ludicrous that he would kill her just on the notion that she’s a host.  You would think he would want to be certain beyond any shadow of a doubt.  On the other hand, this shows how far over the edge the Man in Black has gone.  He’s ultraparanoid and has lost touch with reality.  I apt for the latter and see this for the tragedy that it is.  Also, as an aside, I’ve been thoroughly annoyed that he’s the CEO of Delos, the most important man in the company, and yet they haven’t sent a squadron of people to his rescue and took Maeve instead of him a couple of episodes ago.  At least the QA team recognized that, oh here’s the boss, before he killed them all.



For a few episodes, Ford has been in Bernard’s head, telling him what to do.  When he tries to convince Bernard to kill Elsie, he’s had enough and goes through a self-procedure to rid himself of Ford’s meddling influence.  With Ford out of his head, Bernard heads to the Valley Beyond where if the early episodes prove true, he will be involved in drowning the hosts in some sort of mass execution.




Dolores’s gang gets into a fight to the death with the Ghost Nation warriors.  The only ones left standing are her and Teddy.  Despite, the upgrades she made to Teddy, namely jacking up his aggression and hatred and loyalty, he starts to remember himself.  When he goes on his little speech at the end, I never thought he would kill her, so suicide was the only choice for him.  Is it just me, or was the show heavily fixated on suicide in this episode, with the Man in Black almost offing himself after realizing that he murdered his daughter?  Now Dolores stands alone.  She has been hell bent in her mission all season, but her overzealousness has cost her all of her allies and the android she loves.  How sad.


In the final episode, I think we will see Dolores ultimately get foiled. I think she will go down in defeat perhaps to be reprogrammed as a kinder and gentler Dolores.  I think we will also see the final demise of the Man in Black.

Westworld: Kiksuya

Westworld Akecheta


My biggest problem with Westworld this season has been that they have been trying so hard to confuse the viewer with all of the varying timelimes.  It’s almost as if they are trying to be too clever.  The show almost never gives linear storytelling.  Well, they did this episode, and in my humble opinion, they hit a home run.  Kiksuya has been my favorite episode thus far this season.


The Man in Black


Perhaps the most ridiculous and stupefying thing in the history of the show occurred when the Westworld quality control employees swooped in to retrieve Maeve after shooting her down, but they left The Man in Black to die.  He’s the f***ing CEO of the company.  Shouldn’t they have sent a whole squadron of soldiers to save him?  It makes absolutely no sense.  Anyway, he’s dying and Akecheta shows him no sympathy for what he did to Maeve and her daughter.  Before he dies a slow and painful death, his daughter comes to save him.




I thought the backstory of Akecheta was terrific.  And since they used linear storytelling, I didn’t have to guess when this was taking place.  He had a real neat story about how he was obsessed with the Maze and how the love of his life, Kahona, was taken from him, and how he underwent on a crazy journey to find her.  The acting was terrific as he showed the heartbreak of seeing Akecheta purposely choose to die so that he can finally find Kahona, only to see her along with all of the other hosts who were currently inactive.  It’s not clear how he was awoken, as even Ford seemed to be surprised at Kacheta’s awakening.  The scene with Ford was excellent.  The way the show had always portrayed him was him terrorizing Maeve and her daughter, but as it turns out, he was just trying to save her.




The big reveal in this episode was that despite Maeve being seemingly out of commission, she has been communicating all along with Akecheta, who relays his story to her.  This was so well done, as it seemed he was speaking to Maeve’s daughter, when he was actually communicating telepathically with her.  It was a great scene and a great episode.


This episode revealed the potential that Westworld has.  They don’t have to purposely confuse the viewers in order to spring reveals to make it a good show.  Hopefully, they come to understand this.

Solo review


Coming into the Solo movie, I had lowered expectations since I had heard mixed reviews of the movie.  I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the movie.  I think your opinion of the movie is largely shaped by your mindset and expectations.  It wasn’t the classic that some of the other Star Wars movies are and it wasn’t the deepest and most thought provoking movie.  It’s a fun action movie set in space—more science fantasy than science fiction.  If that’s what you come in looking for, then you’ll enjoy this movie.


I had my doubts about Alden Ehrenreich in the lead role as Han Solo, but he grew on me as the movie wore on.  The rest of the cast was strong with Emelia Clark, Donald Glover, and Woody Harrelson in supporting roles.  There was a lot of back stabbing and twists in the movie, most of which were easy to see coming and some that weren’t.  There was strong special effects and great action scenes as would be expected in this type of movie.  I really don’t have much negative to say about the movie.  I especially enjoyed L3-37, the android in the movie, and the android revolt that she led.  The end of the movie set up for future movies in the Solo series, and I look forward to it, especially with the surprise cameo at the end, and the one that was eluded to.