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Quantum Leap (1989–1993)
8/10
A very good, very human sci-Fi show
9 December 2017
Sam Becket is working on a DoD funded project to time travel. If it worked it would send him back in time to inhabit the body of anyone, so long as it was within his own lifetime (so no going back before he was born). The project was being shut down, so he took a chance and used it on himself. It worked, everything but the part about being able to get him back when they wanted to. The show is about him leaping around time, inhabiting the bodies of various people from the 50's to the late seventies. They can talk to him through Al, a hologram of his friend in the future that only he could see. Each leap he had to fix something, then he would leap out (almost all the episodes are one leap).

The show is a good example of using the vehicle of science fiction to tell very human stories. The things he fixed were often about changing people, or having someone not make a mistake that hurt them or others. For example in one he was sent back as a rich man's servant. The rich guy was foreclosing on a mission around Christmas time. His job was not the save the mission, his job was the get the rich guy to WANT to save it, to see that money was not everything. He was there to save the mans soul. What he was sent to do were often turning points of people's lives, trying to convince people to do right, but not forcing them to. It was thoughtful and insightful about things in ways that modern Hollywood isn't anymore.

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9/10
As good as the avengers
25 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
To be clear I did not have high expectations for Justice League. I was thinking it was going to be Batman V Superman but with more characters and plot turns. So worth watching for the action, but little else. But boy was I wrong, it was very good, surprisingly so.

Going through the list of things I though would tank it but it did well instead:

First they had to introduce three new characters, Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg. I though this would drag things down or the characters would end up flat because they could not afford enough time to flesh them out. Neither happened, little time was spent on them but it was time well spent. They showed the characters, they did not just tell us about them. We did not get much backstory but we did get to know them as characters. The actors of all three characters deserved all the money they got and then some.

Second I thought it would have a consistent joyless tone through the whole movie. While the start was kind of joyless, it was not near as bad as Batman V Superman. And unlike in Batman V Superman the tone at the start helps the movie. Its a movie about making things better, so starting joyless works (like horror movies starting happy). Things get better as the movie progresses and there are even jokes (good ones even).

The third was that the plot would be too complex and would twist too many times (looking at you spiderman 3), and they would leave you in the dust trying to deal with that AND all the new characters. That did not happen partly because they knew their limits and kept the plot simple but workable. The bad guy was not complex, as he is not the point of the movie, he starts the ball rolling but he is not the star. While simple the stakes are shown to be very high, and the bad guys power is never in doubt. While I do hope for a more complex one in the next movie, in this one the focus had to be on the league.

One final note is I really like where they are taking Batman. He is old and he shows it, they did not have him take on things that a normal guys should not be able to. The movie as a whole can be seen as him trying to hope, trying to be more like superman. He fails sometimes but he tries, again and again. THAT is a batman I want to see on the big screen.

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Odyssey 5 (2002–2004)
Its very good, if you like sci-fi you will like this.
18 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Odyssey Five is a sadly short lived series (just one season). It starts on the space shuttle, then suddenly the earth is destroyed (sort of implodes). Just when they are running out of air a large aliens ship appears. The alien tells them that they are far from the first that had their planet imploded, he has spent centuries going from one system to another. He detects radio waves, then by the time he gets there the planet is gone. This included his home. However there is hope, he can send their minds back, five years back in time. He knows nothing about what is causing it (and one of the five people still alive is dying so time is short) He sends their minds five years back in time, with little more then the bare knowledge of what will happen.

While it was rough in spots, the show had interesting plot lines, and interesting characters. There very much is a fish out of water element. Three astronauts, a science writer, and a reporter are not the group you would pick to investigate aliens destroying the earth. That is not the say they are not capable, they are, but they very have to make it up as they go.

Its very good, if you like sci-fi you will like this.

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8/10
While I would not say it's the best Marvel movie, I would say it's the most fun and the most funny.
11 November 2017
Ragnarok was very different from the other two Thor movies. It is much more of a comedy, the tone is half guardians of the galaxy and half Flash Gordon. However it does not fall into the trap of hurting its own plot for the sake of laughs, the threats feel real.

The thing that struck me is how much it shows the short comings of Thor. He really is not someone who should be on his own, while a good man he is still arrogant and overconfident, and does not think as deeply or as often as he should. That is one way in which he and Loki make a good team, between the two of them they make one functional person. Speaking of Loki, as always any scene with both of them is worth its weight in gold.

While I would not say it's the best Marvel movie, I would say it's the most fun and the most funny.
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Threshold (2005– )
8/10
Awesome smart alien invasion story
4 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Threshold

I'm going to let you all in on a secret, I rarely like alien invasion stories. It's not that I dislike the idea, it's that they are hard to get right and most of them have glaring flaws I can't ignore. That was my problem with Falling Skies.

Threshold has been called a reverse X-files. In it a probe gets to earth and changes people, they become faster, stronger, and tougher. They start to carry out the agenda of the aliens. The show is about the team that is put together to make contact with them, then to deal with the threat.

The show is intelligent, it has very well developed characters who try to solve problems made harder by the fact that only they know what is really going on. They have countless people working for them but none of them know the whole truth. Often classifying data during emergencies is shown to be done with little thought, or just serves to get in the hero's way. In Threshold it is rightfully shown to be necessary, it causes headaches and sometimes makes things worse but is needed.

It is just one season of a planned three, but It's still good and worth watching if you can track it down.

www.JoshuaLawrencePike.com
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Geostorm (2017)
7/10
Not bad if you ignore the science
28 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Just to get it out of the way the science on Geostorm is... not good. It reminds me of The Core or Armageddon. You just have to accept it and move on, I feel it unjust to judge the movie on something that they obviously put little emphasis on.

The basic idea is that is that thanks to global warming we needed a net of weather control satellites (literal a net, as in they are connected in space) to keep weather from being insanely bad. They start going bad and doing stuff like freezing an Afgan village, or cooking part of a city like a microwave. Two brothers try and find out what is going on a fix it. One goes to orbit the other stays on earth. It had two threads and many characters and used them well. It's a spy thriller with a large dose of a natural disaster movie thrown in. I could have done without the environmental message but it did not really get in the way, also the science was so ridicules that you could not really take it seriously.

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Sliders (1995–2000)
9/10
Sliders is the kind of thing I think when someone says good classic sci-fi.
20 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The first two seasons are what I am going to review, the rest...was not good, the network took control and made it into a bad action adventure show, introducing magic of all things. I suggest you just watch the first two seasons and maybe a couple of the third for closure.

Sliders was about four people who were sliding from one alternate reality to another. Before I go further I will talk about the characters

Quinn Mallory: Brilliant graduate physics student. He invented sliding.

Wade Wells: She worked in a computer store and studies literature and poetry. She believes in the supernatural. A close friend of Quinn, she in fact has a crush on him that he does not know about.

Professor Maximillian P. Arturo: He is one of Quinn's teachers. Contrary to what he thought Quinn had a lot of respect for him. He is a very learned man and believes in science and reason above all else. He is not someone who could easily make breakthroughs, or who was known to be great from the get go. He spent many many years studying and learning, part of him becomes resentful of Quinn because of this (but to his credit it does not show often)

Rembrandt Brown: The only slider who did not choose to start sliding, a singer who was once in a successful band but left before they made it big and he did not. He was on his way to sing the national anthem at a stadium when he got sucked up.

Most of the episodes have the sliders arriving on a world that differs from ours in some way, with a certain amount of time before they can open the wormhole again. Each wormhole takes them to a random world. This is because they had to mess with the sliding device to get off the first world safely and lack the equipment to reset it and get them home, if they miss the window the timer will become useless.

Most of the worlds are alternate history's where one thing is different. For example, what if the USSR had won the cold war? What would cause that and what effect would it have? What if antibiotics were never discovered? What if we became obsessed with keeping our population low? In this show you have what very much feel like real people, just watching them chew the scenery is fun.

www.JoshuaLawrencePike.com
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3/10
Good Atmosphere, but not a good movie.
14 October 2017
Blade runner was not an enjoyable movie for me. People are praising the atmosphere. They are correct to do so, however there is more to a movie then atmosphere.

The movie was really slow, even boring. I think it really comes down to three things. The atmosphere was dark and depressing, the plot was very slow to develop, the main character was unemotional. Any one of those things, or even two and it could still have worked, but with all three makes the movie slow and plodding. And that is besides the fact that the thing the bad guy was after just did not make sense, and they covered it up by making him not wholly rational even though he was a CEO of one of the largest companies on Earth.

The original movie was good in large part because of the gray, because of the unknowns in it. Were Replicants machines or not? Was Decker a Replicant or not? Was what he was doing right or not? The new one has a more cookie cutter plot, there are bad guys and good guys and they make clear early on that the Replicants are human.

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7/10
Its worth seeing just for the interesting and vast world it shows, let alone everything else
11 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Before I start I will note I have not read the books (will change that when I get a chance).

The first and most important thing that The Dark Tower did was to built a large and complex world(s) without being an info dump or sacrificing everything else to do it. When needed it even let you just absorb the scenery. It reminded me of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume One in this respect.

The plot was not huge and complicated. While all the necessary bits were there many of the why's were not explained. Honestly I am okay with that, if I can think of several reasons for an action and which one is true does not matter then I don't really need details. The movie does that several times for several things. I like the idea that the movie respects me enough not to feel the need to spell everything out.

The action was good, I really liked the way they showed Roland's gunslinging, he could do ridicules bullet bouncing and such but nothing too out there. He did nothing that could not in theory be done if you were good enough and had enough information (unlike say curving a bullet). They also showed the man in black's magic well, it was consistent and logical the way he used it. He was far from all powerful but he was smart and knew his limits. The final fight was made much better because of this, it would have lost all its punch otherwise.

I will say that main character wise the movie does look to be of two minds, it seams to flip between Jake (the kid) and Roland. This does not hurt the movie as much as you would think but it does make me wish the movies was a bit longer to allow for more development. As far as characters go one thing I did not realize until after I left the theater was that Roland treated Jake as an adult. There was no cliché having to prove himself an adult phase.

I really did like the movie, even if I think the characters could have been developed more. Its worth seeing just for the interesting and vast world it shows, let alone everything else.

www.JoshuaLawrencePike.com
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6/10
Good art and worldbuilding weaker characters and story
28 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
First the effects are amazing, both from the technical point of view and the artistic. You really do get the sense of a whole world that is only somewhat like ours.

The best analogy I can think of is Jupiter Rising, except it was done much better.

The basic plot does meander, several times the main characters veer to an area that had no effect on the main plot and does not tell you anything you have to know. This is done because the movie obviously values world building as much as it does plot. Despite this it does not and probably could not explain everything, or even most things.

For example it is never explained how Valerian could be a major with at least nine years of experience. It is implied at one point that they can put you in a box and de-age you but it is never said. The way the main characters are treated also implies this, their age is never remarked upon, they appear to be normal agents from how others interact with them. It could be that age is cosmetic, you are literally as young as you want to be.

The world that the movie builds is very large and complicated with a large amount of technology that is so far above us it might as well be magic. Trying to tell us what they all are and what they all do would not be practical.

Honestly the main problem I have with the movie is with the chemistry between the main characters, or the lack of it. It was established that Valerian does value his partner and would risk anything to save her just because she is his partner. At best it comes as more of a intellectual attraction then anything else.

When all is said and done however I just don't think the whole romance sub plot was needed. The purpose of romance in such a movie is normally as a driver for the plot, to provide a reason for the characters to be moving in the directions they are moving. In this case it was not needed.

I would recommend that you see the movie if the art and world building look interesting. If you looking for a character piece or a logic puzzle then I would probably wait for it to come to Netflix.

www.JoshuaLawrencePike.com
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8/10
A very good movie with a few minor problems
14 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I liked the first two Spiderman movies (although I don't think they aged very well) I did not like the latter three (although not all for the same reasons). I do like Spiderman as a hero. His powerset is in that sweet spot between "Not as good as seal team 6" and "Can't be threatened". It also lends itself to taking people captive rather then killing them, the writers don't have to come up with convoluted reasons why he does not kill.

Very minor spoilers ahead

That background out of the way I really did like Spiderman: Homecoming, much more then any of the other Spiderman movies. It does not waste time with much of an origin story, nor should it. I certainly do not need to see yet another Spiderman origin story movie. They also had Peter act and look like a real teenager. He made some big mistakes, as you would expect. But he did mean well, and he did learn to be better. As you can't fail to know by this point Iron Man is in the movie. Beyond the sheer joy of seeing Tony Stark chew the scenery, we also get to see him be the responsible adult. But most importantly he was in the movie what I would consider an appropriate amount. He did not steal the thunder from Spiderman. All the really important fight scenes he was absent for good plot reasons. In a lot of ways it's more like the Netflix marvel series then the MCU movies. The bad guy was not acting like a comic book bad guy who was trying to get revenge or take over the world. He was just a black market dealer trying to support his family (not saying he was a good guy, he was still a murderer). He was very careful and I could believe that he could go eight years without being caught.

While good there were still two things that I think held the movie back: The first is that he had no spider sense. His super agility plus spider sense are what really sells Spiderman to me as a hero who can play in the big leagues. Without it I find it harder to believe that he can dodge bullets and such. The second are the teen antics, I came to the theater to watch Spiderman, not a teen rom com. While to both Peter's and the writer's credit Peter does not take look to take school seriously when compared to this outings as Spiderman it still drags the movie down slightly.

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Wonder Woman (2017)
6/10
Not bad, but held back by its source material
8 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, Wonder Women was a fun movie, something that I was very glad to see DC do. The plot is fast moving and engaging. They do a good job of developing the secondary characters that Steve (the main character) brings, given the run time.

Some of the problems come from the source material, those you can't really blame on the movie because their hands were tied. There were two problems however that were not inherited. Firstly even when they have hours or days no one really explains what WW1 is about to Dianna, she never really understands that its more complicated then two groups of angry people fighting in the middle of a field. She is just dragged around by those who do really understand what is going on and then reacts to that. She never really takes charge or attempts to understand what is going on. Secondly you only really see the real villain so late in the movie that much of the drama is missing. Far from all, but you do lose much of the satisfaction that you had in movies such as Avengers, where you saw the villain straight away.

Problems with Wonder Women Franchise (also spoilers ahead) These are problems that are from the comic book source. I thought it best to separate them because you can't blame the movie for making them. Also they bug me more more then most people so take them as you will.

-Dianna is so powerful that normal humans serve no purpose in a fight with her as allies, they can only get in the way. The best way to win a battle would be the send her in alone and let her do her thing. At most, normal people would act as spotters. After all, would you follow after her? Even brave men would need a reason to risk their lives. When you can't help her, but may slow her down why would you even try?

-The amazons call themselves warriors, but all they really do is practice with antique weapons. They have not fought anything more then a duel since the dawn of mankind. For them to call themselves warriors is like an 80 year old man calling himself a football player because he once played a pickup game at age 10. At a minimum, they would need to keep up with with modern weapons and strategies. Not to mention that you normally need more then a few dozen people to win a war.

-Speaking of winning the war, the only reason amazons exist is to fight the enemy that Dianna left to fight. I just don't get it, why not go with her?

-If your purpose of existence is to fight an enemy who is known to be a puppet master, how can you expect to fight when you seclude yourself on an island that he can't find? What was their plan? It looked a whole lot like their plan was just to wait forever and hide, knowing that even if the battle they were training for comes they would not know it, and if they knew about it would lack the numbers and the weapons to fight it. They come off as cowards who fear nothing more then fighting the battle they are training to fight. They fear it so much they do everything they can to not know its coming.

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4/10
A great disappointment
2 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Alien: covenant

I really wanted to like this movie, I really did. After all its a sci- fi, and some of the others in the series were amazing. I try to stay upbeat on the blog but sometimes I just can't.

I think the reason it is so bad came down to the details. There were many things that just did not make sense or were not thought through, things that made me stop seeing the people as competent or even moderately intelligent.

Spoilers are ahead, be warned.

-The movie never really explained how they were traveling, they do not show any form of FTL but were able to reroute a bit too easily and quickly for a ship traveling relativisticly. They also acted as if they had entered the sector, done scanning then decided on the destination rather then planning their entire trip before they left.

-It strongly hinted (but never said that) they were the first colony ship to go to this destination yet only had one shuttle. I refuse to believe that a ship like that could ever land, having one shuttle would be absurd. They had two thousand people to decant, were they going to spend a year just offloading people? What if it breaks down? Two shuttles would be the bare minimum. I would imagine they would have with three or four being more likely.

-When they found a new planet along he way that looked better then the one that they were going to, they diverted (I doubt it would happen but I can buy this under some circumstances). The crew then sent their only shuttle down with most of the crew knowing only that it looked like earth and had a very similar atmosphere. Even assuming that they made sure the airmix was right off screen, the idea of just walking around freely on a planet you literately know nothing about is ridicules. And of course, what happens to them is a consequence of that. I find it hard to feel sorry for people who are only in trouble because of their own stupidity and lack of diligence. I might feel differently, if it was just them. They made a stupid decision and they payed for it. However it's not just them. They were reasonable for the lives of two thousand people who were in status.

-The landing party split up a lot, like almost every scene. They knew enough to take weapons when they left the shuttle but not enough to stick together even when they knew aliens were after them. Is that how they were trained to act when they got to their new home?

-The crew never planned anything out. One of the things I like about Ripley in the first alien movies is how she used her head, she was not just a thug or someone acting out of pure emotion. In Covenant, they mostly wonder, scream, die, then group up and do it again while yelling for the pilot to bring a cargo shuttle down to the surface (which was not designed for decent into an atmosphere but we will just ignore that part)

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