Toys, Movies, and a Very Wet Winter

Sorry I haven't chimed in lately. I've been extremely busy working on the next few novels. The Citadel of the Last Gathering is by far the most complicated project I've ever attempted. I'm not setting an arbitrary number of volumes that I plan on sticking to, but I'm estimating this will be somewhere between nine and twelve books when complete. The current plan is to put these out at a rate of at least one a year. The third novel, A Unique Sickness of Spirit, should be available sometime this fall.

I haven't been doing much adventuring this year, largely due to the weather, which is still less extreme than the stories I heard prior to moving to Seattle. In the meantime, I've been checking out movies and indulging my fondness for action figures, toy cars, and dolls.

Yes, I said dolls. And, yes, some of them are Barbies. And, yes, I am absolutely comfortable with that, because there are some phenomenal dolls on the market these days.

For example, I've already picked up most of Hasbro's DC Superhero Girls 12 inch "Action Doll" line (the last one I'm missing should be arriving later this week). I reviewed the first two I bought, Supergirl and Wonder Woman over here, if you want my thoughts (spoiler alert - they are awesome).

And speaking of Wonder Woman, I also wrote up the new Barbie from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It's a good doll overall, but a little more mixed than the cheaper and brighter Superhero Girls line.

Moving on to movies, I recently put together my annual list of summer movies, complete with a set of guesses as to how good they'll be.

I've also seen a few movies recently. I don't think anyone will be surprised to hear I enjoyed Deadpool - more or less everyone else did, too. Mainly, I was impressed what how seriously they took the superhero aspect of the X-Men, something Fox has been slow to embrace until now.

I had a very mixed reaction to Kung Fu Panda 3, a movie I wholly acknowledge I was unable to offer a fair review. In many ways, I thought it was an excellent action/comedy, but I just couldn't get over where I felt like it betrayed the series. Kung Fu Panda 2 is a favorite of mine, and this definitely felt like a step backward. You can read my complete thoughts here.

By far the best new movie I've seen this year was Zootopia, which offered a fantastic look at some very complex issues. I was astonished by how seriously this movie addressed its themes, providing an honest look at bias, stereotyping, and racial scapegoating. The fact it does this without ever feeling preachy or moralizing makes it even more impressive. If you haven't seen this yet, do so before reading my review.

I also recently saw a few older movies that really caught me off-guard. I didn't review them (as a rule of thumb, I don't write up movies long after they've been released, with the exception of Christmas stuff). However, if you haven't seen any of these movies, I highly recommend remedying that as soon as possible.

Paddington, a film centered around a CG bear, was almost unbelievably good. Sweet, funny, poignant, and touching, it demonstrates that there's nothing intrinsically wrong with this genre. In the right hands, a movie featuring an anthropomorphic talking bear can be one of the year's best movies.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World caught me off guard for entirely different reasons. Arguably the darkest romantic comedy ever filmed follows a couple as they go on a road trip in the last days of civilization. The movie plays with tone and point-of-view, showing the humor of a situation before turning around and revealing tragedy. And, in its most touching moment, joy. It's a film about love and mortality, hope and despair. It's fearless in its approach, and shockingly honest.

Lastly, the Feig-directed Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy, might not have moved me emotionally, but I absolutely loved it. Funny, exciting, and suspenseful, it accomplishes precisely what it sets out to do: delivering an authentic spy movie that's simultaneously a hilarious comedy. If there was any doubt that Ghostbusters is in the right hands, it's gone now.

That's it for now. I'll try not to let so much go by between updates, but no promises: I'm busy these days, and I rather miss a few blog posts than fall behind on the novels. Until next time!

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