The Martian book

January 2016 Reviews

One of the great things about starting Albino Dragon is that it gives me a chance to connect with other fans of things that I am passionate about. It never gets old to talk about favorite movies, comics, etc. It’s like being a part of a secret club where you can speak your own language and everyone grins and nods slyly to your obscure (and not so obscure) pop culture references.

So I thought, “hey, I’d really like to start sharing some of the things I’ve seen, watched, read, or played.”

The original plan was to do it on a monthly basis, but after looking at this first write-up I realized I consume way too much content to not do it on a weekly basis. So this one time, I will catch-up to the end of January and attempt a weekly roundup thereafter.

I’ll do my best to make these as spoiler-free as possible.

Note: These were written at the beginning of February while I hunted for a good review plug-in for the site. I never found one that I really liked, so I finally had to just post this and continue to work on a  better format. 

Books

The Martian (4 stars) – I was stuck for six hours in a parking lot at a convention so I started reading this. While there are some things that are really far-fetched, I found it to be quite entertaining. It gets bogged down by some heavy number-crunching at times, but the story felt like it was continually moving forward. And now I constantly make jokes about potatoes.

Synopsis – Man gets left on mars, overcomes a million to one odds. A million and one times.

Movies

The Martian (3 stars) – I was a bit tainted by the book since I thought it was better. The movie skipped over some major plot points and I never really felt Matt Damon’s character was subjected to the same struggle as his novel counterpart. The journals were a perfect excuse for some exposition, but it wasn’t used to explain some of the seemingly unrelated sub plots.

Synopsis – Man gets left on mars, overcomes a million to one odds. A million and one times. With less detail.

Project Almanac (3 stars) – You’ll quickly find that I’m a big fan of time travel movies (there are two on this list alone). The idea of paradoxes and infinite recursion lend themselves well to some really fun stories. This one fell a bit flat for me in that department. The setup was interesting, but the ending felt like a letdown. It’s also filmed in a Blair Witch style documentary fashion, which I’m not a big fan of.

Synopsis – Kids build time machine and go to Lollapalooza. Boy tries to get girl.

Synchronicity (2 stars) – Of all the movies I watched in January, this was the one I was most looking forward to. Perhaps that is also why it was the one that was the most disappointing. The plot dragged on and at times it felt like the story was written around a budget that had to continue using the same footage to hit its ninety minute playtime.

Synopsis – Man goes back in time to get a flower. Boy tries to get girl.

Terminus (2 stars) – I almost wanted to give this one three stars because I felt it was slightly better than Synchronicity. But in the end, it was still a long, drawn-out film that didn’t really go anywhere.

Synopsis – Man finds alien in the forest to care for. Secret government agency tries to take alien.

Games

Bear in mind that all of these were only played once or twice so I wouldn’t consider them full reviews as much as first impressions.

Rune bound (3 stars) – I like the premise of these game. You go around a D&D style world completing quests and leveling up your character with abilities and loot. What I didn’t like was that we expected it to be a 2-3 hour game that turned into a 5-6 hour game.

By the end, it felt like we could have all played our turns in a solo game and it wouldn’t have made much difference since we didn’t interact with each others’ characters hardly at all. If I had six hours to kill and a willing group, I would still try this one out again.

Wrath of Dragons (3 stars) – Picked this one up at Gencon last year and have played it a couple times. It always takes some time to get the rules down at the beginning, but then the turns can go pretty quickly after that.

It’s a fun, quick game, but I’ve only ever been able to play it with two players. I think it would play much better with more people so that there is more of a reason to try and take advantage of some of the abilities in the game more frequently. I almost always find myself keeping whatever my starting token is.

Imperial Assault (5 stars) – I may be biased by my love for the franchise here, but so far every game has been a lot of fun. We elude certain death and power through to get new skills and loot.

The rebels vs. empire mechanic is interesting (we’ve been playing with three players) and I really like the branching paths that are dependent on each battle’s outcome.

Looking forward to playing through this some more and moving on to the other expansions.

TV Shows

X-Files (4 stars) – The first few episodes were a lot of fun. Interested to see what direction they will take everything this season.

Black Mirror (4 stars) – As a big fan of the Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, etc. this fills a nice void in my life for short stories that explore how technology could potentially affect our lives.

Second Chance (4 stars) – The writing feels a bit cheesy and there really isn’t any mystery, but somehow it always feels like a fun show. Not clever, but fun. I can’t place my finger on it, but I think if it wasn’t for Robert Kazinsky, this would be three, or maybe even two, stars.

Comments

What did I miss in January that I should have watched or played? Did you have a different review of any of these?

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