The Great Wall

This movie is a collaborative effort. It stars mostly Asian actors along with Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal and Willem Dafoe. I, unfortunately, have not seen the asian actors in anything before. I don’t watch that many foreign movies.

This film is a fun and wild action ride. It tells a simple story. The Great Wall of China was built to keep out invading hordes, yes, but hordes of monsters that awakes once every so often to consume and feed their queen. The monsters look pretty nice, actually. I do think they look fake-looking at times, but it wasn’t enough to pull me out of what’s happening. And what’s happening is a simple story. There’s not much in the way of suprises, but the actions scenes are done well. It’s a fun watch.

One thing that doesn’t make sense in the movie are the Crane squad. They, apparently, bungee off the wall to stab the monsters down below. Even when we are shown it, they are pretty ineffective, at best getting one strike in to monsters that take multiple hits to kill, at worst just getting pulled down and eaten. It looks cool right up until they get close enough to get bit.

The main characters are Matt Damon, as William, and Jing Tian, as Commander Lin. Their relationship goes through a predictable path of not liking each other in the beginning, getting respect for each other, something happens that makes drives them apart, but they come back together stronger than before to take out the monsters. Both of them are solid if normal.

The movie is decent, with some nice visuals, fancy fighting with slick armor designs. The creatures are shown fully, and while it could look better, they’re alright. That’s about it. It’s a fun watch, but you’ve probably seen everything it has to offer done before, and probably in a more compelling manner. I do like that only certain characters know english. Otherwise, they’ll mainly speak Chinese. I do like the one soldier William befriends despite being unable to communicate with each other.

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The Gifted

A take on the mutants and the X-gene. This is based on the X-men comics, but no X-men show up. For some reason or another, they’ve disappeared and designated a group known as the Mutant Underground to help mutants. Of course the Mutant Underground is being hunted by Sentinel Services. And their troubles just got a whole lot more with the arrival of the Struckers.

For those that know the world of Marvel comics, the name Strucker should raise an eyebrow or two. For those that don’t you’ll get some Strucker information through the show. Things kick off when the youngest Strucker child, Andy, develops mutant powers, forcing the entire family to go on the run. As it turned out, his older sister, Lauren, also has powers. Their father is a lawyer that prosecutes mutants, and their mother is a nurse. I like that the father immediately drops everything to help his family. There’s no choice about it at all. He knows what he needs to do, and he just happens to know about the Mutant Underground.

Like most works of the X-men, the show tackles what it’s like to be different and have people hate a person, sometimes justified, sometimes not. Overall, there’s not a clear solution, and the show works to show that. A lot of mutants do have a harsh life, and others are working to create a new world for mutants.

The dynamic between characters is really well done here. There’s drama, but people work things out like adults and move past it. Most of the time, at least. I didn’t find anyone overly annoying, though Andy is the one that complains the most. It’s understandable, though. He has powers that no one wants him to use all while being hunted down by Sentinel Services. The Strucker family is all pretty great, actually. They find ways to make both parents useful despite neither of them having powers. The Struckers never feel like they don’t belong in the show.

The struggle between the Mutant Underground and Sentinel Services gets more complicated as other players are brought into the mix. I’ll not spoil things too much, but the show isn’t afraid to dive deeper into the X-men world. And they do their best to show off powers, too.

While most of the time the mutants are trying to keep a low profile, they’ll start with the abilities if they have to, and it looks pretty good. I’m hoping for more powers next season, and better uses of them. I especially want Blink to use her powers more. Sure, in season 1, she’s still new at it and practicing, but I want to see her go to, like, Days of Future Past levels of skilled at some point in the series. I think the show chooses their mutants well that showcases both powers and physical mutations.

I am liking what’s being put out by the Gifted and am looking forward to more.25

Milly 4, Final Thoughts

This will be the final part of my thoughts on the fourth book in the Milly series. At least that’s the plan. If I think of any more I want to say, I’ll put out another post.

One character I haven’t talked about is Colin. He is Milly’s adopted younger brother. When I first thought of the story, I envisioned him as younger than he was, more like at the crawling stage. Then I reread the first book and found out I made him old enough to walk and talk, so I kept it. I think it worked out better that way as it gave him a bit more to do.

I knew I wanted him to appear in this book, but what I’m deciding is if the passage of time should be the same between the two worlds or not. That’s because I want Colin to appear, yet not to have it be a big deal back on Earth where he disappears for a long time. Hmm, it’s rough.

I wanted someone else from Earth because I want to show that it is possible to return home, but to show that Milly will sacrifice her chance to send her brother back. It also contrasts a bit with what Carl Ross would do. I tried to create a interesting dynamic between Milly and Carl, and Colin is the character that best let’s that play out.

Carl’s story isn’t finished, yet, but I don’t have as much planned for him at the moment. Maybe that will change later. For now, just know that I had a fun time writing this book, and I got to put out a lot of fun things. My favorite part of this is still the spackilo. I don’t know if it’ll return, but I had fun writing about it.

Sometime soon, it’ll be my notes on the fifth book, Milly and the City in Between!

The Punisher

The shoutiest of the “heroes.” And I put “heroes” in quotes because the Punisher isn’t really a hero. Sure, he’s taking out bad guys, but he’s way over the top violent, angry and dangerous. And it makes for quite a ride.

The Punisher is about Frank Castle, a former marine on a revenge mission on the people that killed his dead family. He thought he was done, but there’s much more to it than that, so he’s back, punishing again. This show is pretty violent, both with close quarters combat and gun combat. Expect a lot of blood, but it’s the Punisher. He does well in that tone.

I like the way they portray Frank. He’s sort of quiet, to the point, but he’s not brooding. He’s just guarded, but there are times when he’s happy, maybe even genuinely. And when Frank starts fighting, that’s when the rage happens, and it well done.

The other characters in the show are all fun to watch. There’s Micro, Frank’s partner. They start off rocky, but they develop into a great friendship that’s not sappy. It’s all business, but they can let their guards down around each other. Micro’s family is also pretty great. I found those scenes a great break of pace from the show, and I really like Frank’s interaction with them, too.

On the law enforcement side, there’s Madani, who is also trying to stop the same people Frank is. Of course, she’s also going after Frank since he’s the Punisher. She’s alright. I enjoy her more when she has another character to bounce off of, and she gets to interact with quite a lot of interesting people.

Another side is the veteran’s suffering from PTSD side. It’s prominent in the show. While it’s not apparent how the story connects to the overall plot in the beginning, I think it still added to the tone and feel. They want to put out real problems that veterans are facing, and I think it does a good job. The characters there are interesting and tragic.

Speaking on the veteran’s group, it does go into a problem with the show. The beginning feels really slow. I feel it’s about episode 6 before things really come together. Because early on, it’s a bit of Frank doing stuff. Then there’s the veteran’s group, which Frank isn’t a part of, so it feel like another story entirely. And it takes two whole episodes before Frank and Micro even begin to work together. After that, though, things start falling into place at a much better pace.

I really enjoy the Punisher. It’s violent, it has a lot of heart and good moments, too. It’s not all about darkness and punishing people. And I like that, while the show points out some issues with society and how veterans are treated, it doesn’t really put forth a solid answer. It’s a complicated topic for certain.

Logan

Have you ever wondered why Wolverine, a guy with indestructible claws coming out of his hands doesn’t cause more carnage and bloodshed when he fights? Have you ever wanted that bloodshed and carnage to happen? Well, this movie is it. Logan is the wolverine without being toned down for a lower ESRB rating. Here, Logan swears, he shanks people through the face, and he gets shanked, too. And it’s all there to see.

Oh, did you also want a Logan that’s back to being a huge jerk again? I didn’t, but hey, he’s been through a lot of stuff. I can cut him some slack.

This movie is relatively low-key. No fancy powers here. Just Logan and his rage. There are some other mutants around, of course, but most of them are gone through some event or other, including most of the X-Men. That just leaves Logan and Charles. The story kicks off when a new mutant comes to Logan for help, a child named Laura.

My goodness, this movie would not work if it wasn’t for how good Laura’s actress (Dafne Keen) does. She is the secondary protagonist, and she every much matches Logan in screen presence. The girl is a little ball of rage, but she’s also scared and vulnerable. A great job all around.

Hugh Jackman is still great as Wolverine. This time, he gets to curse along with stabbing everyone that tries to get in his way. But his powers are failing. That leads to a more jerkish Wolverine, perhaps even more than when we were first introduced to him in the original X-Men. You know, definitely more of a jerk this time around. But he’s still not completely horrible, and you just know he’ll come through when needed.

This movie is emotional and raw. It tells a much smaller story compared to the other mutant movies. The world isn’t in danger, just one girl. And it is great. With less characters, each one gets to really shine. And everyone is fantastic in this.

Logan is a great movie with all the claw rampage a viewer would want.

Milly 4, Animals of Vias

Welcome to my thoughts and notes on the animals of Vias! They are a mixture of fish and furry animals. Some are adorable, some are dangerous, but I tried to throw in some strange and wild stuff, too.

Bullbop are large fish that’s used a lot for food. It’s where the kundun get their steak.

The doxon are furry, yak-like creatures. They’re mostly used for milk.

Ribbon dog. I didn’t give them an official name, but they’re like the pets and guard animals. They are pretty friendly, though, so their main use is alerting people someone is there.

The ginka. I had fun with these. They are round penguins! I think making things into the shape of a ball makes them adorable. I have some stuff animals like that. I wanted them to be cute and non-threatening.

The wallowtail are fish that live in the mist. They never stop moving, and they move really fast. They have sharp turns that easily makes people lose their position, meaning they are among the toughest fish to catch.

The junka are the work aniamls of the kundun. They’re kind of like doxon, but with thicker fur and humps on their backs. Oh, and they have webbed feet. For that, I was sort of going for a snowshoe like effect that allows them to stay on top of the snow.

Wind Squirrels are squirrels. They live in what little trees there are in Vias and they have wind magic.

The Baringa, now these were something I wanted to add. They are like merpeople, and what fantasy story couldn’t use some merpeople? I made them the dangerous kind that lures people in. Vias was the only place with a lot of water, so I had to throw them in.

I had fun with the entire section. It’s an entire wrecked ship area that just has a great feel to it, for me. I hope it was atmospheric for you, too.

The clossis. Now these guys are something I added for the sense of wonder and danger. One thing I’m afraid of in deep-sea animals is things so large that they can’t possibly be supported on land. These are not quite that big, but they are the sea serpents that show up on the maps. Their design is based on a similar monster in a video game. I had them eat magems mostly as an excuse for them to attack the cruise ship, because otherwise cruise ships would be far too dangerous in Vias. Most of the time, they stick to themselves.

Alright, now for the spackilo. These are the giant mosnters of the depth that I think about, things so large that if you’re too close, you think you’re looking at a wall. These fulfill the fantasy of an entire town being inside of a living creature. I want one massive-type animal for each province, like ancient spirits that have always been around. The spackilo are those for Vias.

There are a few named once, but Vannuk is the oldest. Maybe there are other spackilo’s with whole towns inside them. Who knows? But they are considered guardians of the ocean. They are helpful and rescue people that fall in. It’s sort of what they do, though they don’t let people out afterwards.

The spackilo people was perhaps my favorite part of the book. It’s just a interesting town that survives and thrives inside a giant whale. I don’t have much more backstory to the spackilo people, though. They aren’t some offshoot of the kundun. They are their own thing that has always lived inside the spackilo. I wanted to give them a mysterious feel, so I had them all wrapped up. They get dried out easily, so they need all that protection.

That’s it for the creature and animals of Vias. Next time, some closing thoughts on the book!

Milly 4, the Kundun

The kunduns are the residents of Vias, the Ice Province. Their design is based on an old video game character. You know Darkstalkers? It is an old Capcom fighting game. There is a character in there called Sasquatch. He pretty much is what his name implies, a furry, cute guy with a huge mouth. That’s what I wanted the kundun to look like, but I made them smaller.

For their culture, I probably mixed together a whole bunch of cold weather stuff. I took insipiration from Alaskan Natives a lot as well as some other places, but mostly, I made stuff up. Some of their building designs come from viking stuff, others were thick, log structures. I think Skyrim structures influenced my thinking a lot. I liked that the kundun are an artistic race, but they mainly keep their art to themselves.

Some notes individual characters. For the kundun, the ship captains are in charge when out in the ocean. It’s not really like a military, though, more like civilian ships. Things aren’t that strict, but a captain’s order are expected to be followed. Like Captain Ratu, who is a fishing vessel captain, or Captain Varq of a cruise ship.

There’s Halmin, who is just a wise old woman.

Balli, the guide for this province, wasn’t even created when I first started the story. Originally, I thought Captain Varq would be the guide. But then I realised his personality wouldn’t allow for it. I needed someone else to help Milly through the province, so I made up Balli. That’s the reason for his relatively late introduction compared to the other guides. It did help give him a good reason for helping Milly, though, against what his people would normally do.

That’s it for the kundun. Next time, the animals and creatures of the Ice Province!