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Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows (Star Wars..)
Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows (Star Wars..)

5.0 out of 5 stars Vader is a menace!, July 15, 2014
This story starts off slow. It actually took me a while to figure out where Tim Siedell was going. But once the comic really reaches the heart of the story, it's definitely a tale worth reading.

Despite its title, “Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows” is actually told from the point of view of a Clone Trooper, Hock. The first issue or so seem to just recapitulate Hock’s background. It’s obvious some of these plot elements and characters will come back later in the comic, but it’s not yet clear why they’re so important. In short, this first third or so just seems like a major digression from a yet-to-be-revealed story.

Then we get to the Battle of Ostor. This is where the real character development happens, for both Hock and Vader. And it happens beautifully. I won’t reveal much more for fear of revealing spoilers, but Hock really becomes a fully realized character. I loved the types of challenges he’s forced to confront. There are some great battle scenes, but I really enjoyed seeing him wrestle with tough moral decisions.

Siedell also handles Vader beautifully. Darth Vader in this comic has a real presence. One of my problems with depictions of Vader in recent comics is that he just becomes an all-powerful, mindless killing machine able to take down Jedi (such as in the Purge comics). Not so here. Vader is menacing, but the comic does a great job building up that menace through dialogue, artwork, and mise en scene rather than by simply having Vader kill a bunch of people. More importantly, Siedell does a great job building up Vader through the reactions of his subordinates. I found this Vader far more terrifying than anything we saw in the films!

Siedell and the artists also create some innovative scenes for the comic. In one scene, after Hock crashes, the page is simply white with snippets of dialogue indicating that he’d gone unconscious. There are some other wonderful fullpage spreads. I read a digital version a single page at a time, so when those pages came up they really had a large impact.

Overall, despite the slow start, this is definitely one of the better Star Wars comics I’ve read in a long time. Definitely recommended.

[I received an advance version of this comic from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.]


Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation
Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars SNES vs. SEGA, July 12, 2014
I admit, when I was younger I was a Nintendo fanboy. I remember hearing about Sega from my friends but not really getting the appeal. Some 20 years later, Blake Harris helps put a new spin on this chapter of my life as he shows what happened behind the scenes of the console wars that dominate my youth.

What makes Harris' account unique is that it's not just a dry third-person narrative, but rather reconstructs dialogue between key players in the industry. At times, it almost feels like a novel. And this is one exciting story filled with confidence men, devious schemes, and sudden but inevitable betrayals. In addition to being entertained, I learned a lot about the marketing world.

Ultimately, I think Harris nails the core of the Sega vs. Nintendo debate. Sega, led by marketing guru Tom Kalinske, focused on market and giving the Genesis a "cool" appeal, whereas Nintendo focused on quality and reaffirming its core market. I had intuitively understood this even as a kid.

My one issue with the book is that it seems almost too centered on Tom Kalinske. It's almost as if he were the main protagonist of the "novel." I could tell that Kalinske was a or even the primary source of information for Harris. As president of Sega of America, Kalinske was certainly at the center of major developments. But I would have appreciated more insights into other players in the story. Also, Kalinske comes across sometimes as a bit too much of a "mary sue" (not Kalinske's fault for sure, just a consequence of Harris' way of telling the story). In fact, the most fascinating parts of the book were those focused on Nintendo.

Overall, easily one of the best and most important books about this era of video gaming. Game on!


A Stitch in Time (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
A Stitch in Time (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Garak speaks!, July 9, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Like many other Deep Space Nine fans, I loved Andrew J. Robinson's portrayal of Garak. Robinson knows his character and it comes out in this book. "A Stitch in Time" is written like a set of letters from Garak to Dr. Bashir. We get to see Garak's rise through the Obsidian Order and fall from grace. Robinson also plays with Garak's psyche and is much willing to dig deep into a character than other Trek authors.

The one issue I have with the book is that the ending is a bit open-ended. I won't spoil it here, but it seems like Garak is posed to assume a new role in Cardassian society, and it seems like there should have been additional chapters to explain that role, but the ending seems almost abrupt. In some ways, I thought the more open-ended ending on the TV show worked better because it represented the end of one part of Garak's life. This book goes a bit beyond the beginning of the next phase of his life, but we don't learn enough to know where everybody's favorite tailor is headed.

Overall, a must-read for fans of DS9.


The Lego Movie
The Lego Movie
DVD
Price: $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars everything is awesome, July 9, 2014
Finally had a chance to see this last week. This movie is a celebration of LEGO, but more importantly it's a celebration of fun. The comedy is extremely witty and even quirky. This isn't low-brow humor. As an adult, I probably appreciated the humor more than the kids with me because I got all the references.

However, what makes this film a keeper is that it's actually a good story. It's not just a string of gags. The story has a lot of heart, about the ability of ordinary individuals to become something special. It reminds me of the best of the 80s movies with that theme. The ending... well, I won't spoil it, but it blew my mind. It was an awesome twist.

I haven't laughed so much at a movie in ages. I haven't cried so much at a movie in ages. The LEGO Movie hit both emotional cues brilliantly.

Highly recommended for kids of all ages.


Scotch Printed Message CHECK SEAL BEFORE ACCEPTING Box Sealing Tape 3779 Clear, 48 mm x 100 m, Conveniently Packaged (Pack of 1)
Scotch Printed Message CHECK SEAL BEFORE ACCEPTING Box Sealing Tape 3779 Clear, 48 mm x 100 m, Conveniently Packaged (Pack of 1)
Price: $8.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not for sealing, July 5, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Like others here, I had hoped this tape could be used for sealing packages. It sticks well enough, but I found I needed to use more tape to seal a package properly. The tape also has an odd smell from the adhesive used. Still, this is advertised as a security tape and I guess it works for that purpose. It's just that the purpose is much more limited than what would be appropriate for most customers.


smartwater (6 Count, 16.9 Fl Oz Each)
smartwater (6 Count, 16.9 Fl Oz Each)
Price: $4.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars clean water, July 5, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm not much of a water snob, but I do notice a real difference in the quality of water from different sources. Of course, bottled water does taste better than my local tap water. No surprise there. What surprised me about Glaceau smartwater is just how good it tastes. There's a real clearness and cleanness to the water that is really refreshing. My only regret is that I only had one bottle before my wife and her friends drank the rest. Glaceau smartwater is a bit more expensive, but if I ever need bottled water again this will be at the top of my list.


Star Trek: The Compendium [Blu-ray]
Star Trek: The Compendium [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Chris Pine
Offered by UltimateDiscountsCANADA
Price: $24.26
28 used & new from $16.98

382 of 472 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Say no to double-dipping!, July 2, 2014
Sorry, but somebody has to say it. It's absolutely outrageous that Paramount is double-dipping like this by holding back the Star Trek Into Darkness special features for this release. Many of us who bought the STID blu-ray last fall complained that the special features had been split up between different retailers (Best Buy, Target, Amazon, etc got different exclusives) and NO deleted scenes. As a reward for our loyalty in purchasing the blu-ray early we now get the opportunity to purchase the complete version almost a year later.

To be clear, I do not mind studios releasing deluxe versions of a movie. It's great for fans of movies to have deluxe options. But I don't like the studio telling us that certain features are exclusive and then going back on that promise. Nor do I appreciate the studio not telling us that a version with the deleted scenes would be coming. For comparison, Peter Jackson has been very up front in telling fans that extended versions of the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit movies would be released and WHEN they would be released.

I think it's important that movie consumers take a stand and tell Paramount that consumers will not stand for such practices. The best way to do that is to refuse to buy this set. If studios want us to buy blu-rays and not just stream movies, then treat us as premium customers rather than gullible suckers.

UPDATE: There is a bit of good news. Apparently Paramount will offer a rebate for customers who had previously bought an earlier blu-ray version of STID. This is some consolation and makes the double-dip less problematic. Nevertheless, I think it is still important for consumers to send the right message.
Comment Comments (37) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 22, 2014 12:54 AM PDT


Belkin Shield Sheer Matte Case / Cover for Apple iPhone 5c (Topaz)
Belkin Shield Sheer Matte Case / Cover for Apple iPhone 5c (Topaz)
Price: $4.99
16 used & new from $0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars soft or hard, June 24, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This iPhone case snaps on pretty easily and looks pretty good on the phone. The light blue aesthetic is neither too masculine nor too feminine. It doesn't look as glossy as it appears in the photo. However, I personally prefer a soft, rubbery cover for my iPhone because I'm prone to drop it quite often. The rubber absorbs the impact a bit better (and the phone even bounces, which is always fun to watch). Unfortunately, with this type of hard case, the case is more likely to crack or get chipped. The front also isn't as protected. The edges of the case don't extend far beyond the front of the phone, so if you drop the phone face-down there's not much protecting it. I'm a bit too clumsy for this, but I gave it to one of my more careful family members for his 5c and he's enjoyed it.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Left Hand of Destiny Book Two: 2
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Left Hand of Destiny Book Two: 2
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $6.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Klingon space fantasy, June 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
As with Book 1, Book 2 of "The Left Hand of Destiny" is more like a Klingon space fantasy than your typical Star Trek book. Much of what I wrote in my review of Book 1 applies to Book 2. J.G. Hertzler and Jeffrey Lang do a great job telling the story. The writing is much better than your typical Star Trek novel. The characters feel real and given the time to really develop and breath.

There are a few additional points I wanted to add about Book 2. First, the plotting is a bit less smooth. The first 20% or so essentially fills the reader in on essential background. It's not an exciting beginning, but as the middle of the two-book series it's OK and probably necessary. Then, the rest of the book focuses on various parts of the Battle of Boreth. At this point, there are elements in the story that seem a bit too "fantasy", including mystical warriors and a magical sword. It works in the overall story, but again feels more like Klingon opera than Trek.

As the conclusion to the series, some characters die. I was shocked to see which die. The book treated each of these deaths respectfully. I found each major death moving, much more emotional than anything I'd read in other media tie-in novels. It's wonderful that the books set up these characters with such depth that I ended up caring about them, and even more so that the authors weren't afraid of killing them off without some Star Trek-style "reset button" that resurrected them (at one point, the authors even seem to poke fun at reset buttons).

I think this novel concludes Martok's epic story in a very satisfactory manner. It's not perfect, but definitely recommended. Overall, 4.5 stars.


Star Trek Ds9 Worf & Gowron Figure 2-Pack
Star Trek Ds9 Worf & Gowron Figure 2-Pack
Offered by TNT Sales
Price: $74.95
2 used & new from $59.99

4.0 out of 5 stars a bit off scale, June 20, 2014
On their own, both Gowron and Worf are great figures. Gowron is definitely the better of the two. The likeness to Robert O'Reilly is great. The Klingon armor has a lot of detailing. My only complaint is that the figure is a bit too large. O'Reilly is at least two inches shorter than the actor who played Martok, J.G. Hertzler, yet this figure is taller than the Martok figure. I'm not sure if the head of the Martok figure is too small or the Gowron head too large, but they're not quite in scale. Despite this, it's still a great figure.

The Worf figure is a bit more of a mixed bag. The body looks a bit too slim for Worf. Even if you compare this figure to the Next Generation Worf, he looks a bit too slim. The face has a good likeness to Michael Dorn, although it's a bit soft. The skin tone is a bit too light (Dorn's skin is a few shades darker). Also, the hip joint, particularly gaps near the T-crotch, makes it look too much like a toy.

Overall, these are probably some of Diamond Select's better Star Trek figures. I'd definitely recommend the set for the Gowron, but if you're just looking for Worf I recommend the TNG Worf instead.


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