Avid science fiction reader and down-low nerd Atticus Freeman AKA “Tic” (Jonathan Majors) returns to Chicago from the Korean War and a stint in Florida to find that his father has gone missing. The only clue left behind is a strange letter talking about a secret legacy, enticing Tic to journey to Ardham MA, deep within the borders of Lovecraft Country. Courtney B. Vance plays Uncle George Freeman, author and ...Read MoreRead more
What’s this? Locus reviews a rom-com? Well, how does an infinite time loop and random dinosaurs grab you?
One November day in Palm Springs, wedding guest Nyles (Andy Samberg) falls through a mysterious portal in a cave and then, Groundhog Day-style, finds himself repeating the entire wedding day all over again. He’s trapped in a time loop that resets whenever he goes through the portal, falls asleep, or dies. ...Read MoreRead more
Charlize Theron, as Andy, anchors a squad of immortal mercenaries in The Old Guard, a movie based on Greg Rucka’s graphic novels of the same name. Joining her are Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari), and Nicky (Luca Marinelli) as fellow immortals who have fought by Andy’s side for hundreds of years. Also sharing these powers are Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne) — a Marine who is quite surprised to ...Read MoreRead more
Deathless Divide, Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray 978-0-06-257063-5, $18.99, 560pp, hc) February 2020.
The sequel to 2018’s Dread Nation, Justina Ireland’s Deathless Divide begins with clever, quick recaps, and is lined throughout with enough unobtrusive explanation that one could easily read it as a standalone. That said, the first book is excellent and shouldn’t be passed up. Anyone who plans to read the first book should not ...Read MoreRead more
Theaters remain closed. A few movies have been released on streaming services, but many have been scheduled for later release dates in anticipation of the reopening of theaters on a national level. So film reviewers Josh Pearce & Arley Sorg continue their coverage of select science fiction and fantasy series available on streaming services.
Several shows have put out new seasons, such as 12 Monkeys on Hulu and Kingdom on ...Read MoreRead more
Josh: Well, theaters are still closed, and most of the movies we were scheduled to review have been pushed back to the end of the year or 2021. So instead we’ll talk about the many science fiction and fantasy shows available on streaming services!
Arley: Some shows I’ve been watching, and enjoying, are The Expanse, Westworld, and Watchmen.
Josh: Nice. I like The Boys, Tales from ...Read MoreRead more
Arley: If I were grading Onward, it would get “meets expectations.” Disney/Pixar has some outstanding movies, but for me, this one doesn’t stand as their absolute best. It wasn’t outstanding or incredible, but it was solid on every front, and had emotional impact, which is basically what I expect from them. Their baseline is better than a lot of other production houses. This wasn’t as powerful as Up, ...Read MoreRead more
War Girls, Tochi Onyebuchi (Razorbill 978-0-451-48167-2, $18.99, 464pp, hc) October 2019.
War Girls is a meditation on culture and conflict. It’s action-driven but complex, brutal but brilliant.
A strong opening in a stark, discomfiting setting introduces Onyii, a girl who has known war for most of her life. A handful of lines establish her dissonance with her own body, her social group, and her situation as a “war girl” ...Read MoreRead more
Based on the Valiant comic book series of the same name, Bloodshot is about a US Marine, Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel), who is brought back from the dead through the application of nanotechnology, which endows him with superhuman abilities.
The film initially follows all the standard sci-fi action fare as Garrison pieces together what has happened to him, and what he can do now, and it’s exactly as terrible as ...Read MoreRead more
Josh: This is “Gaslight: The Movie”.
Arley: The first thing he does when he’s invisible is turn up the gas on the stove. Metaphor?!
H.G. Wells’ 1897 novel, and the 1933 Universal movie based on it, get a modern treatment in the latest The Invisible Man, starring Oliver Jackson-Cohen as the abusive, controlling Adrian Griffin (the world’s leading expert in optics) and Elisabeth Moss as his girlfriend, Cecilia Kass ...Read MoreRead more
Infamous DC Comics character Harley Quinn (née Harleen Frances Quinzel) changes out of her manic pixie dream girl role for Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. This latest film in the DC Universe begins immediately after the Joker dumps Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). The end of their relationship marks the end of her protected status in the criminal underworld. Her singular goal — to ...Read MoreRead more
This adaptation of the 1927 H.P. Lovecraft short story stars Nicolas Cage as Nathan Gardner, who lives in a secluded area of New England with his wife Theresa (Joely Richardson), daughter Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur), and sons Benny and Jack (Brendan Meyer and Julian Hilliard). All Gardner wants to do is raise alpacas and enjoy some fine bourbon, but when a meteorite crashes onto his land one night, his plans go ...Read MoreRead more
Arley: THEY KILLED THE BLACK GUY!
(We’ve put all the deep dark secrets below a spoiler line at the bottom of the review.)
In Underwater, six people at the bottom of the Mariana Trench—Norah (Kristen Stewart), Rodrigo (Mamoudou Athie), Emily (Jessica Henwick), Paul (T.J. Miller), Smith (John Gallagher Jr.), and Captain Lucien (Vincent Cassel)—try to reach safety after something destroys their deep sea habitat.
Arley: Okay. Overall I thought ...Read MoreRead more
Tim Pratt, via Twitter: Two things they got a lot of in Star Wars is droids and shit that don’t make no sense.
Josh: I liked it more than The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
Arley: Me too!
Josh: Good! I recognize that The Last Jedi was trying to do a lot more, storywise. But when I rewatched it I was bored by a lot of parts, like ...Read MoreRead more
Best New Horror #29, Stephen Jones, ed. (PS Publishing/Drugstore Indian Press 978-178636-392-3, £14.99, 579pp, tp) February 2019. Cover by Howard Nostrand.
In 1990 Constable & Robinson published the first Best New Horror, edited by Stephen Jones & Ramsey Campbell, featuring horror short fiction from 1989. That volume won a British Fantasy Award, a World Fantasy Award, and began a legacy. Jones became sole editor with 1995’s The Best ...Read MoreRead more
This review doesn’t need to lead with much of a recap, because you’ve seen it all before: evil AI sends a killer robot back in time to assassinate the future savior of humankind. Plucky human resistance sends a protector back in time to stop the killer robot (from the future!). Carnage. Mayhem. Explosions.
The difference this time is that the evil AI is called “Legion” instead of “Skynet,” the target ...Read MoreRead more
Simply put, Joker is the story of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) and his transition from sadsack to supervillain.
Josh: Need we say more? Everyone already knows the gist of the Joker.
Arley: It’s important for people to know that this is not a Batman movie. You should not expect supervillain fights.
The film mostly delivers on what’s promised in the trailers: a one-man show about a violent clown. With striking ...Read MoreRead more
Chapter two of Stephen King’s epic horror story opens 27 years after the members of the Losers Club — Bev (Jessica Chastain), Bill (James McAvoy), Richie (Bill Hader), Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), Ben (Jay Ryan), Eddie (James Ransone), and Stanley (Andy Bean) — defeated Pennywise the Clown (Bill Skarsgård) in 2017’s It. Now, evil has resurfaced in Derry ME, and the seven friends must return to their childhood town to… ...Read MoreRead more
Although it’s easiest to describe Brightburn as “Superman, but evil,” it’s a mistake to think of it as a superhero movie. It is, rather, a pretty straightforward horror movie. It stars Elizabeth Banks and David Denman as the Kent-like parents of Brandon Breyer (Jackson A. Dunn), an alien child they find in a crashed spaceship. They adopt and raise Brandon until he turns 12 and starts exhibiting unnatural abilities.
Arley: ...Read MoreRead more
Josh: Right off the bat — I really like this movie.
Arley: Fun movie! You should see it. See it in theaters.
The continuing adventures of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man! Peter Parker’s class goes on a science trip to Europe, where he plans to confess his feelings for MJ (Zendaya) at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Plans get derailed, however, when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) shows up alongside the ...Read MoreRead more
It’s been 22(!) years since the release of Men in Black, a stretch of time that encapsulates three sequel movies and an animated TV show, and throughout it all the original film has held up as the strongest installment of the franchise. This latest, Men in Black: International, does not come close to being the strongest in the series, but nor is it the weakest.
International continues with ...Read MoreRead more
Godzilla: King of the Monsters has a lot of things in it that will please Godzilla fans, and plenty that will piss them off. It is a sequel to 2014’s Godzilla, which was directed by Gareth Edwards, and picks up shortly after that movie’s destruction of San Francisco and Godzilla’s subsequent disappearance. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler), who lost his son in the attack, wants Godzilla and all other “Titans” ...Read MoreRead more
Previously, on the Avengers: Thanos (Josh Brolin) used the Infinity Gauntlet to murder half of all living creatures in the universe. Surviving superheroes Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and sometimes Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) band together to get the Infinity ...Read MoreRead more
With a single magic word, troubled youth Billy Batson (Asher Angel) gains the ability to transform into a superhero adult (Zachary Levi) and back again. What follows is to be expected from teenage boys with new toys as Billy and his foster brother Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) test the limits of his comically enlarged body.
Josh: I laughed a lot at some of those scenes (I’d had a couple beers). ...Read MoreRead more
From Jordan Peele, writer and director of Get Out, comes Us — a new horror film following Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o), her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), and their two children Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) as the family vacations in Santa Cruz CA, where something terrible had happened to Adelaide as a child.
Josh: That’s probably all we can say about the plot without giving too ...Read MoreRead more
It is the distant future: 1995. In this 21st installation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the first female-led Marvel movie, Brie Larson plays Vers, a green blue-blooded member of the Kree, a technologically advanced race of aliens who value emotional control. Vers and her mentor, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) lead a Starfleet Starforce secret mission against the Romulans Skrull, a shapeshifting race that has been at war with the Kree ...Read MoreRead more
Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy (The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and Death’s End) established him to audiences as a writer of Big Idea stories, eliciting comparisons to Arthur C. Clarke. The Wandering Earth (original title: Liu Lang Di Qiu) based on his novella of the same name, cements that reputation with a grand-scale, hard SF story that will appeal to fans of ...Read MoreRead more
Fright Into Flight, Amber Fallon, ed. (Word Horde 978-1-939905-44-4, $15.99, 246pp, tp). September 4, 2018.
Fright Into Flight, Amber Fallon’s editorial debut, is an anthology featuring women as authors and story subjects. Despite the “Fright” part of the title and the “horror” label invoked in the description, not to mention Fallon’s Introduction, “Now Boarding: Your Ticket to Terror”, the stories compiled within are not all horror stories. Those ...Read MoreRead more
For anyone dreading another Michael Bay explosion-fest, don’t worry. Other than a brief opening battle sequence, Bumblebee is mercifully free of the military porn that defined the five previous movies in the Transformers film franchise and, with a PG rating, follows a more family-friendly format. Set in 1987, Bumblebee follows the title character (briefly voiced by Dylan O’Brien) as he’s sent by Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) on a ...Read MoreRead more
Teenager Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is bitten by a radioactive spider and then develops superhuman abilities. Struggling to control and understand his powers, he returns to the underground site where he was bitten. He stumbles upon Wilson Fisk/The Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) and his lackeys hatching a diabolical plan. Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Chris Pine) shows up to stop Kingpin and when he runs into Miles he realizes that Miles is “just like ...Read MoreRead more
Josh: When we reviewed A Quiet Place earlier this year, I said that it reminded me of Josh Malerman’s book Bird Box. What do you think? Fair comparison? There are definite similarities: unexplained monsters come to town; humans have to give themselves a handicap in order to survive; there’s a pregnant woman at the forefront; save the children!
Arley: It’s different, but similar. Even though the filmmakers of Bird ...Read MoreRead more
We usually start these reviews with a summary, trying to give a sense of what the movie is about without spoiling any important moments. Spoiler: the storyline is too boring to be relayed. The plot is haphazard and unnecessarily convoluted. An honest synopsis would go something like, “random events strung together vaguely trying to look serious just so new magical effects can happen, plus a handful of magical creatures, often ...Read MoreRead more