Deadpool: A Violent Story about Love

Deadpool was an Amazing Movie

My husband and I went with a friend to see Deadpool last week. I didn’t really know anything about the character or the movie, and I purposely went to the theater without an ounce of knowledge. The only thing I knew was that it was rated R, and for a reason, and I saw all those posts by “Deadpool” not to take your kids to see the movie. Deadpool was an amazing movie, definitely my favorite Ryan Reynolds movie, and perhaps my favorite Marvel movie.

Deadpool (2016) Poster

Summary from IMDB:

A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopting the alter ego Deadpool.

******So, I’ll try not to be spoilery, but if you are reading a review of Deadpool I’m going to assume you want some information before hand or have already seen it and want to discuss what you have seen. *****

Clever and Sad

Deadpool was amazing, it was witty, clever, funny, and sad, horrible, tragic, and basically all the feels. This is my favorite movie I’ve seen Ryan Reynolds in. While I haven’t seen every movie he’s done (I don’t watch horror movies) I have  followed his career (and Nathan Fillion’s) since Two Guys a Girl and a Pizza Hut and am a fan. He is hilarious. His comedic timing fits the character to a tee, which makes the character’s tragedy all that more sad and depressing.  His face, oh his face in pain, that is burned in my mind.

Ryan Reynolds is great in this movie because he is able to be both comedic and dramatic. When the two genres intertwine so seamlessly, it is not because it is an easy thing to accomplish, it is because both the writers and the actors have accomplish an incredibly hard task and made it look easy (an even harder thing to do). A really well done performance by Reynolds

The Love Interest

Morena Baccarin (of Firefly and Serenity fame) plays Wade’s (Deadpool) love interest, Vanessa. I have always admired her acting chomps and was delighted by the out of control character she plays in this film.  Wade meets Vanessa, who is a prostitute, and the two of them hit it off immediate. Both of them come from rough backgrounds (though we aren’t quite sure what that means) and are living hard lives. This connection is more than just skin deep, it goes to how deeply they end up caring for each other.

I related to this connection because I too have a hard time finding people who can relate to how I grew up and also where I am now in life. Most of my childhood friends are not in the same place I am in today, and new friends I make do not have the same background that I do. In fact, Chris is the only person who really understands both those parts of me. So I connected emotionally to their particular love story. Their love is the reason Wade makes all of his decisions, maybe not the best decisions, but everything he does ties back to how much he loves Vanessa and what he wants from life for her.

Disconnected from Violence

I did not connect as deeply to the violence. In fact, I spent probably a good five to ten minutes total not even looking at the screen, the violence was that graphic. In fact, I thought some of it was rather gratuitous. I see no reason to have a  human character flung against a billboard and then completely splatter across said board into millions of squashy pieces. Plus, the violence was generally followed by a joke.

We get it, everyone has super powers and is a badass physically. Thanks for all the blood and goodnight.  You can take my brain to sleep and deal with the nightmares.

But I was particularly disturb that the horror of the graphic violence was usually countered by a joke . To me, that is a way to disconnect from the violence rather than understand it.However, my husband and our male friend did not appear at all disturbed by the violence and it’s disconnection from emotion. In fact, I will say that no one else in the theater was having as much trouble with it as I was, I know this because I was watching the people and not the screen. So, take from that what you will.

Nudity Gone Wild?

You want to know about the nudity? Well, there is full on female nudity in two scenes and Ryan Reynolds’ very nicely toned butt is shown several times. (Technically there is a scene where Deadpool is completely naked, but is blurry and you really cannot see anything.) The two female nudity scenes make sense story wise and I was OK with them. Generally, I handle nudity much better than violence. I felt that it was appropriate to the story line and actually connected to the overall plot.

Witty Writing

When I went to see Deadpool, I was not expecting anything, except hoping for a good time. By the end of the film, I was blown away by the witty  and clever writing, and how perfectly Ryan Reynolds encapsulated that with his acting. Kudos to everyone involved in an excellent movie. Clever writing, great acting, and a love that thrives in the middle of a violent story, make for a great piece of art.

Television Review: Superstore is Super Accurate

Superstore is a comedy show currently in it’s first season starring America Ferrera and Ben Feldman with a cast of characters that can be found in any large retail establishment. A work place comedy, this show strikes the right balance of crazy co-workers and the strange things that happen when you work on retail. 

Each episode has had me laughing within seconds, but my favorite episode so far is the one that starts out with a customer still in the store 20 minutes after closing. This happens ALLLLL the time and it can be frustrating. Especially if the person is just dithering about whether or not to buy something unimportant like a trashcan. FYI, the people who come in at the last minute are always the people who have no social grace. They leave items where they don’t belong, they ask a bunch of questions, and often leave without paying for anything. So, I will admit that I just loved Mateo’s solution to the problem!

What is great about this show is that it dramatizes some things, but really it is extremely realistic about what it is like to work in retail. Bosses who are trying to do what Corporate demands, but also take care of their employees. Co-workers whose drama seeps into your own life. Customers who don’t realize that they are not unique in their inability to figure out what is going on, that they are not the only person in the store, and that staying twenty minutes past a store’s closing is super not cool.

I’m also quite impressed with all the acting. I love America Ferrera, but the other actors have a good grasp on their characters. And, while they are characters, the actors play them with a solid grasp on reality so that they do not come off as completely cartoonish caricatures of people, but reminded me instead of so-and-so who I used to work with. The setting isn’t really ever different, just the store. We have yet to see much beyond the parking lot, but I like the simplicity of it. There is definitely an understanding that retail work is a world of its own.

If you want a fun comedy to check out, give Superstore a try.

Movie Review: Hail, Caesar!

Last night my husband and I went out with some peeps to catch the latest Coen brothers movie, Hail, Caesar! It was everything I was hoping for, but I’ll readily admit my bias toward liking a Coen brothers movie. Their quirky, witty, intelligent films are a reliable source of entertainment. Just the other night my husband and I watched The Ladykillers on Netflix without knowing who wrote it, and by a third of the way into the movie I remarking to Chris, “Wow, this really is similar to a Coen brothers movie.” Low and behold, that was because it is. In spite of my readily admitted bias, I think many people will enjoy Hail, Caesar!

Hail, Caesar! (2016) Poster

 Summary from IMBD:

Hail Caesar! Follows a day in the life of Eddie Mannix, a Hollywood fixer for Capital Pictures in the 1950s, who cleans up and solves problems for big names and stars in the industry. But when studio star Baird Whitlock disappears, Mannix has to deal with more than just the fix.

First of all, the cast of characters and the casting of the actors in this particular film is perfection. Everyone, from go-to-Coen-actress Frances McDormand, as film editor C. C. Calhoun, to Ralph Fiennes as director Laurence Laurentz, and a galore of other Hollywood A-listers make an appearance in this film. Josh Brolin carries the story as his character, Eddie Mannix, works his way through several messes all while dealing with twin reporters played by Tilda Swinton.

There was so much to love about this movie, but I’ll pick my five bright spots of the film.

  • Alden Ehrenreich’s rope tricks. Ehrenreich plays Hobie Doyle a western movie star who gets set up to be in a drama movie which is outside of his comfort zone. His character is both a hoot and a hero. His boyish charms endear the character to the audience, even through some awkward scenes, and his smile is just so sweet. Plus, I loved all of his rope tricks!

  • Tilda Swinton’s twins. Tilda Swinton plays twins who are journalists that compete with each other. It was amazing. I loved all of her outfits and admired Mannix’s ability to tell the two women apart. I sure couldn’t.😉

  • Scarlett Johansson’s accent. Scarlett plays DeeAnna Moran, a synchronized swimmer/actress from Brooklyn. DeeAnn’s sweet swimmer demeanor is in sharp contrast to her harsh accented  rough around the edges character and the misnomer of sweetness is played to perfection by Scarlett.

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  • Channing Tatum’s dance number. Channing plays tap dancer/actor/singer Burt Gurney who is not as nice as his sweet smiling face would lead everyone to believe. I loved the dance number soooo much! It was such a great throw back to movies from the 50’s that I have enjoyed, and the homoerotic subtext was such a great little piece of commentary that it had me giggling in appreciation.

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  • Veronica Osorio’s pretty face. Veronic Osorio plays actress/dancer Carlotta Valdez and steals the show in her scenes with Alden Ehrenreich. Definitely an up and coming star to watch, I’ve already developed a girl crush on Veronica and plan to see what other things she has been in that I can track down.

More than just a fun film about the industry in the 50s, Hail, Caesar! is also a social commentary on Hollywood film making while using that same industry as its medium for the examination.  This commentary is made in both subtle and not so subtle ways, with characters actions showing what the Coen brothers are remarking on and soliloquies by other characters expounding on those observations about Hollywood in a more forthright way. While full of a cast of bright characters, each plays a special part in showing what goes on behind the scenes in Hollywood centered around one man who tries to fix all the problems that other people make.

Audio Book Review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I love Amy Poehler ever since she stole my heart in Parks and Recreation.  I think she is amazing, kind, wise, and love her openness about sharing what she has learned from life. Her YouTube channel Smart Girls is wonderful and in particular I love her show Ask Amy where she posts some wonderful pieces of advice.

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Yes Please is an extension of Amy’s wonderful self, where she gives advice, tells tales, and gets her friends and family to share their perspective. I was able to get a copy of the audio book at my library. It was one of the most enjoyable autobiographies that I’ve listened to.

Summary from GoodReads:

In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book,Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.

Amy has a good balance of telling unforgettable stories that made me think, sympathize, and appreciate her ability to be vulnerable, as well as spinning satirical pieces about how writing is hard and the amazing funny moments she experienced on SNL. Most touching was her love for her children and her love for life in general that seeps through every moment of her storytelling. I also appreciated that although I’m sure it was painful, she speaks of her divorce with some distance, humor, and a lack of bitterness that is inspiring. Sometimes it is just too easy to be bitter about the traumas that come along in life. I enjoyed her stories that were sneak peaks into behind the scenes with her cast members on the TV shows she’s been on and her work with Upright Citizens Brigade, a sketch/improv troupe that she co-founded which now has theaters in two major cities.

I thought Amy did an excellent job as the voice over actor for her own book and I enjoyed the guest appearances of friends and families as they voiced their bits. She left in several  bits in the audio book that were obviously improvised and in the moment, which was lovely. Obviously these bits would not appear in the paper book version, so I do recommend listening to the audio book if you can. I thought it was well produced, well voiced, and had some interesting elements not usually associated with audio books. But, I don’t want to spoil the surprises!

I know she complains about writing the book, for most of the book, but she did such a lovely job I hope she writes some more. If you like autobiographies, enjoy Parks and Rec, or want to give a fun audio book a try, check out Yes Please by Amy Poehler.

Audio Book Review: The Name of the Wind By Patrick Rothfuss

It’s been a long time coming, but I finally decided to tackle this series. I know so many people who love Rothfuss’ work, and I had them on my tbr pile for forever. I’m not always an epic high fantasy fan, and I dislike hating what everyone else likes, because then I just feel more weird, so I put off reading this until I couldn’t anymore. I took the plunge and, using a free credit, downloaded it from Audible. I’m happy to say that I loved it!

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Summary from GoodReads:

“My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I have burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to God’s, loved women and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me.”

So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature – the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.

What I liked about this book was that it was stories inside of stories, which broke up the main story into intervals so that it never got boring. I devoured the tales and loved nearly every minute of Nick Podehl’s narration. This story has everything in it: mythologies that are well devolved, characters that are flawed but still likable, and an wonderful plot line that kept me enthralled.

Kvothe is not the best person in the world, he is immature, and he has been through a lot of traumatic events that have shaped who he is. He is smart without wisdom, clever without a lot of purpose except getting what he wants in the moment, and he can’t seem to take instruction unless he deems the person smart enough to learn from. The side characters are well developed and help Kvothe seem less imperfect because of their own imperfections. A wonderful cast of characters in an interesting setting.

The only thing I really did not like, was his main romantic interest. Ugh. Even Kvothe admits she is cruel, but this does not stop his attraction. I’ve met women like her and seen all the men they cut through, and it’s like the guys can’t help it, they must love these women even though they are horrible human beings. Make no sense. Though, I guess this happens to both genders, and maybe is more indicative of the one who is falling being unable to respect themselves than it is the “fault” of the cruel men and women who play with other people like they are toys to be discarded after they have lost their shine. I’m not sure why such a female has to be the main romantic interest in the story though, and in almost an homage to such females. That the main character admires her cruelty and learns how to stay in the good graces of such a toxic person was a bit disappointing as a romantic plot. I kept reminding myself, he is young, he is foolish, but that only help cool my ire a tad. Perhaps, as the series progresses the main character will learn that while toxic people can be exciting, they cannot be made whole, and they are best left to their toxic lives.

What the author is able to accomplish is a connection to characters that live outside of our timeline and universe. and that is to be commended. I felt for all of the characters, even the side characters. They have strong voices and personalities and are integral to the story line, even if they just jump in for small snippets of time.

Nick Podehl did a wonderful job of narration. His voice acting was excellent and he was able to keep the story alive in my mind. He didn’t really have different voices for the characters, but he was really good at inflection and emotion at what was going on in the story. He was easy to listen to, and as there are a lot of chapters and hours to finish the audible book this was necessary.

In spite of my dislike of one of the female characters, this was definitely one of the best books I listened to this year. I would recommend it to any one who likes sci/fi  or fantasy, or enjoys intricate plot lines and coming of age stories.

Audiobook Review: InterWorld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves

I read a lot of young adult stories this summer, and I mean young adult series, not your typical 16 or 17 year old, but about protagonists who were 12, for example. InterWorld, co-authored by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves and read by  Christopher Evan Welch, was probably my favorite young young adult series from this year. I borrowed a copy from my library.

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Summary from GoodReads:

When Newbery Medal winner Neil Gaiman and Emmy Award winner Michael Reaves teamed up, they created the bestselling YA novelInterWorld.

InterWorld tells the story of Joey Harker, a very average kid who discovers that his world is only one of a trillion alternate earths. Some of these earths are ruled by magic. Some are ruled by science. All are at war.

Joey teams up with alternate versions of himself from an array of these worlds. Together, the army of Joeys must battle evil magicians Lord Dogknife and Lady Indigo to keep the balance of power between all the earths stable. Teens—and tweens and adults—who obsessively read the His Dark Materials and Harry Potter series will be riveted by InterWorldand its sequel, The Silver Dream.

I always love a good story about alternate universes and the different versions of people that can exist because a certain decision was made at a cross road in life or a specific environment shaped a person into a slightly different version of his or herself. Joey discovers alternate versions of himself that have wings, that are cybernetic, that have animal like features, all because he has the ability to slide into the inbetween and through that to the alternate worlds. Of course this isn’t all fun and games and he must use his powers to help keep the worlds safe, fight the bad guys, and use both magic and science to rid the world of evil.

I like Joey as a character, he is charming, intelligent, and acts like a 12 year old without me wanting to hit him upside the head too many times. His cleverness aids his ability to fight evil, but not always his ability to understand people or politics. He meets older versions of himself and learns from them. He has to get along with the different versions of himself, even if he doesn’t quite understand them always. He’s clever, but he gains wisdom as the story progresses, and that is a trait of a good character to me.

Christopher Evan Welch does a great job narrating. He has slightly different accents and character voices to keep the listener from getting too confused between the different versions of Joey . It works well that they are all versions of each other, because the voice over acting of one person makes even more sense in this particular story. Welch is dynamic and engaging in his story telling and I thought he did a good job.

The overall plot line is rather straightforward, having maybe one twist I didn’t see coming, but the character and world building are wonderful and engaging, in true Neil Gaiman fashion. If you like young adult series about great characters and fun worlds, check out InterWorld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves.

Audiobook Review: The Gate Thief by Orson Scott Card

After reading The Lost Gate, I immediately jumped back into the world by borrowing the audiobook The Gate Thief  by Orson Scott Card ,as narrated by Stefan Rudnicki and Emily Rankin, from the library. 

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Summary from GoodReads:

In this sequel to The Lost Gate, bestselling author Orson Scott Card continues his fantastic tale of the Mages of Westil who live in exile on Earth. Here on Earth, Danny North is still in high school, yet he holds in his heart and mind all the stolen outselves of thirteen centuries of gatemages. The Families still want to kill him if they can’t control him…and they can’t control him. He is far too powerful. And on Westil, Wad is now nearly powerless–he lost everything to Danny in their struggle. Even if he can survive the revenge of his enemies, he still must somehow make peace with the Gatemage Daniel North. For when Danny took that power from Loki, he also took the responsibility for the Great Gates. And when he comes face-to-face with the mages who call themselves Bel and Ishtoreth, he will come to understand just why Loki closed the gates all those centuries ago.

Orson Scott Card is a well known author and for good reason, his books are excellently written and The Gate Thief is no exception. As the story encompasses an otherworldly setting, a contemporary setting, and magic the scenes could get quickly overrun with bad exposition of world building, but they don’t because the author knows how to build up his characters so that they are their relationships are even more exciting than the worlds he creates. Which is high praise considering the worlds he creates are both literally and figuratively fantastical.

What I liked about The Gate Thief was that it held up to the first book and is not just a place holder in the series, the story moves forward while exploring who Danny is and who Ward is and how this impacts their interactions. There is a greater story than their present feud and only as Danny begins to realize this, and how much he must have the help of people other than himself, does he grow up and start to become the person he is meant to be.

Again, I enjoyed the two people narrating as it helps keep track of the two story lines. Both narrators are excellent and had great pronunciation and dictation as well as emotional depth in their voice acting to bring the story to life. Their voice acting ability is able to keep up with the fantastical story line and that makes them great at what they do.

I don’t want to give too much away about this particular book as it is part of a series, but I definitely recommend the Mither Mages series. I can’t wait to get my hands on the third book! The Gate Thief is an excellent tale in itself, but I would definitely recommending reading the books in order so as to get the entire depth of the series. If you like contemporary magical stories or mythical old-world stories, or want to see how than can entwine about each other, check out the Mither Mages series!