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.

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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!

Milly 4, the Ice Ship Escapade

This has been a long time coming. I finished this book last year, and finally, time for some of my notes on it! This will contain some spoilers, so please go read it! It’s free for everyone here.

For this post, I’ll talk about the design of Vias, the Ice Province as well as some other stuff later on. For Vias, I had a choice between a large tundra and an ocean with ice floes. I decided to go with the ocean. It also plays into another fun setting I enjoy, cruise ships! I know I didn’t spend a lot of time on the ship, but I had a lot of fun writing it.

Additionally, it helps the theme that certain provinces preferred to be much more controlled about their visitors while others allow anyone in. Vias is one of those less welcoming ones, so a tour ship is a great way to make sure no one wanders around. Of course, it didn’t help with Milly and her friends.

Having them go on an adventure wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I just had to get them off the cruise ship fast, otherwise it would be pretty mundane. Perhaps I glossed over a lot of the sailing parts, but I don’t know that much about it.

With Vias doubling as an ocean province, I could also do any of the fun fantasy things people do in oceans too, only in a winter theme. I had islands that move, massive sea monsters and all that fun stuff. The cruises are usually really safe and fun. It’s just that Milly needed an adventure!

Towards the end of the story, there were some stuff that needs to be changed. I already did part of it but not all of it, so anyone reading it at the time this blog is posted might notice some plot inconsistencies. I decided to make the portal opening a once in a hundred year thing. Before, it was an all the time thing as long as they could make the device. Hopefully, once my changes are done, it will hit a fantastic aurora scene.

That’s about it for the setting of Vias. Next time, I’ll talk about the kundun. Oh about the weather, it’s always cold and snowy there. Aretto, the wizard city in the center, is the only place with seasons. That happens when prevailing winds blow. Vias gives them winter. Other provinces gives them summer, fall and spring. Some places are neutral, such as Murt.

Star Wars, The Last Jedi

Hmm, I have a lot of say about this movie, but most of that is going to be spoilery. I’ll start off with the non-spoiler thoughts, of course.

This movie does differentiate itself from the previous films. It’s more low-key, I think. Yes, there’s still giant space battles and light saber action, of course. Plus, there’s a planet that fits really well into the prequel trilogy, and I say that as a good thing since the prequel trilogy has some great locations. But overall, things feel more small scale and close.

The characters are all split up, which I didn’t like. They work well together, so it was a bit sad not to get much of that for most of the movie. Even in The Empire Strikes Back, only Luke was split up. Here, Rey, Finn and Poe are all doing separate things. But I like them fine. They do a decent job.

Kylo Ren, though. He drives this film. He feels like the most changed over the course of the film, or the most developed. I’m uncertain of which. He has some great scenes in TLJ.

Luke is interesting here. You know, for him, I’ll not say much. Find out for yourself.

The other characters are mostly there. Admiral Holdo is a new character. I sort of liked her and was sort of annoyed by her at the same time. I’ll get into it in the spoiler section. Rose is a character that gets paired with Finn for his mission. I liked her a lot, actually. She seems a good contrast with Finn, and they work together well.

For casual fans, this movie has the space battles, the light saber action, the romp through the new and fun planet. It’s entertaining all around. There is more humor and quips in this movie, some of which doesn’t work. But I don’t think it got distraction. And the new animals are cute and will sell lots of toys.

Alright, onto the spoiler section.

There are so many stupid decisions in this film! Okay, so here’s what’s happening. The last few rebellion ships are running away from the First Order. They are running out of fuel, can’t escape because they are being tracked, so they’re just heading along in a straight line while the First Order chases them. Alright, that’s fine. General Leia gets put out of commission for a while, meaning Admiral Holdo needs to take over.

She is presented as Shady and comes into conflict with Poe. For some reason, maybe her being the boss and Poe being recently demoted, she doesn’t tell him the plan. That leads to Poe making a new plan with Finn and Rose to try and disable the tracking. The result is a plot, that, while I enjoyed, turned out to be less than useful to the overall story. Just a bit of communication would have solved a lot of problems!

The First Order decides to follow along waiting for the rebellion to run out of fuel. Not how space works, but I’ll go with it. Sure, they were pretty confident that it would work. But they could have easily called in some other ships to block the front of the rebellion and ended it. That part didn’t bug my as much since I didn’t have that thought while watching the film. It would be tactical to do, but didn’t seem necessary.

There’s a whole bunch of stuff that goes on with Luke and Rey that I won’t talk much about. Lots of force lessons and Luke being curmudgeonly.

Then there’s Snoke. He feels so wasted in this film. We learn nothing about him at all or about how the First Order has any of the things they have. Sure, that wasn’t important in the original trilogy where the Emperor was just the Emperor and the Empire had a lot of cool stuff. But Luke, Leia and Han fixed that! So I want explanations of where these new guys came from! But we don’t get any. They are just frustratingly there. It seems they have no interest in providing answers, either.

So, that’s The Last Jedi. A fun film that logically doesn’t hold up well and leaves things unexplained that should be. I had fun watching it. The scenes and locations were cool, but it could have a much stronger plot.

Second thoughts. After thinking about it some more, I have come to the conclusion that the movie is fine if episodes 4, 5 and 6 didn’t exist. But since they do, this movie practically invalidates any actions that have happened there. That’s my largest problem with it.

The Orville

This show, this is my favorite new show of the season. Almost everything about this makes me happy. The marketing for this show misrepresented it as a comedy. It is not. This is a serious show about a union that explores the galaxy and tries for diplomacy first. The show is serious, the characters are more laid back, despite being military. It’s a lot like scrubs. The situatiions that characters are put into are dangerous and potentially dire, but the characters themselves are jokey and more like regular people.

Alright, I admitted this in my Star Trek movie reviews (I think) but I only saw a few episodes of Star Trek. From what I hear, this show really captures the tone of the show, including some of the cheesiness. It’s also hopeful and optimistic about what we can achieve in the future along with our alien allies. There are a lot of world, or rather, galaxy-building hints dropped in this first season that I really want followed up on, but they have built an interesting place that I want to explore and know more about.

The crew are all great. Each episode focuses on one or two of them while the other’s act as backup. And I like everyone. While the show is written by Seth MacFarlane, and he also plays the captain, the show doesn’t focus on him more than anyone else. He plays Captain Ed Mercer, a likeable guy that is sometimes awkward, but he shows off multiple times why he’s the captain. He is does his job well and tries to treat everyone fairly.

His first officer is Kelly Grayson, who is perhaps the most serious member of the crew. She mostly has great scenes with other crew members, but she’s also really good at her job, and we get to see that a few times over the season.

Next up is Bortus, the second officer. I think he has the least amount of focus, but his mannerisms are great. And he pretty much steals the scene whenever he’s the focus. Sometimes even when he’s not. Alara is the security officer, and I think she has the second-most development out of all the cast. She’s a great character, too. Great at what she does, but insecure about other things.

The pilot is Malloy, who perhaps has the second-least amount of focus. But he is great friends with everyone, and that plays well across the show. There’s Lamarr, the navigator, who initially starts out pretty normal, like anyone else. He gets a bit of focus later on that could build into something cool. We’ll have to see next season.

Doctor Finn is the ships medical officer. I think she has some great moments now and again, and I actually enjoy the scenes with her kids. They start off annoying, but they quickly become endearing. I think some more scene of her and them together will be great. The last crew officer is Isaac, the science officer. He’s perhaps my second-favorite of the crew. He’s a robot trying to study human life and interactions. Much like Bortus, he’s a scene-stealer, but he also has his science knowledge that I like.

The show goes to a lot of interesting scenarios. I say scenarios because most of the places they visit still look vaguely earth-like. Probably budget and stuff. But the crew has to deal with something interesting each time, and there’s not always a good solution to the problem. They just have to do their best.

This season was far too short. I really like The Orville and want more of it! It is not a parody, it is an homage and a serious show about a group of explorers and the situations they need to handle.