Blu-Ray Review: Interstellar

Interstellar Blu-ray

Synopsis:
In Earth’s future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a brilliant NASA physicist, is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth’s population to a new home via a wormhole. But first, Brand must send former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of researchers through the wormhole and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind’s new home.

Review:
Cooper is out of his element in an Earth where science and exploration take a back seat to agriculture and simple survival. When he discovers a code that sends him to a secret NASA installation, he is chosen to be a part of a small crew to help save humanity – with only one backup plan.

Interstellar is a unique science fiction epic from Christopher Nolan. It often felt like Signs meets 2001 Space Odyssey . The storytelling was unique, jumping from Cooper’s mission to back home on Earth where his family is aging and his daughter is trying to help NASA come up with a solution to save the humans left on Earth. The acting is gripping and emotional. And surprisingly the message is about love overcoming science.

Science and science fiction fans may be the only ones to appreciate (or understand) some of the mechanics of interstellar travel and the passage of time. I was impressed with the level of detail. I was pretty disappointed with the robot crew members, being so boxy with limited movement. Though, they were the only ones with a sense of humor through the movie – of which there definitely wasn’t enough. The visual effects were the highlight of this movie, and sometimes the story seemed to drag because of it. The film is a bit disjointed and strange – as the trailers suggested. It’s intensely dramatic, but a bit too slow for my taste. There are points of brilliance and creativity, however. I have mixed feelings about this one. I’m glad I finally saw it, but I don’t know that I’d watch it again.

The Blu-ray Edition also includes:
• The Science of Interstellar—Extended cut of the broadcast special.
• Plotting an Interstellar Journey—Discusses the film’s origins, influences and narrative designs.
• Life on Cooper’s Farm—Bringing Americana and the grounded nature of a farm to a sci-fi space movie.
• The Dust—Learn how cast and crew avoided sand blindness, and see how to create, and clean up after, a catastrophic dust storm.
• TARS and CASE—Designing and building these unique characters and how they were brought to life on set and in the film.
• Cosmic Sounds—The concepts, process, and recording of Hans Zimmer’s unforgettable score.
• The Space Suits—A look at the design and build of the suits and helmets, and what it was like to wear them.
• The Endurance—Explore this massive set with a guided tour by production designer Nathan Crowley.
• Shooting in Iceland: Miller’s Planet/Mann’s Planet—Travel with the cast and crew to Iceland and see the challenges they faced in creating two vastly different worlds in one country.
• The Ranger and the Lander—A look at the other two spaceships in the film.
• Miniatures in Space—Marvel at the large-scale models used in the explosive docking sequence.
• The Simulation of Zero-G—Discover the various methods that the filmmakers used to create a zero gravity environment.
• Celestial Landmarks—Explore how the filmmakers used practical special effects informed by real scientific equations to give the illusion of real space travel for both the actors and the audience.
• Across All Dimensions and Time—A look at the concept and design of the Tesseract, which incorporated a practical set rather than a green screen.
• Final Thoughts—The cast and crew reflect back on their Interstellar experience.
• Theatrical Trailers

SciFi Book Review: Zeroboxer

Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee

Synopsis:
A rising star in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing, Carr “the Raptor” Luka dreams of winning the championship title. Recognizing his talent, the Zero Gravity Fighting Association assigns Risha, an ambitious and beautiful Martian colonist, to be his brandhelm––a personal marketing strategist. It isn’t long before she’s made Carr into a popular celebrity and stolen his heart along the way.

As his fame grows, Carr becomes an inspirational hero on Earth, a once-great planet that’s fallen into the shadow of its more prosperous colonies. But when Carr discovers a far-reaching criminal scheme, he becomes the keeper of a devastating secret. Not only will his choices put everything he cares about in jeopardy, but they may also spill the violence from the sports arena into the solar system.

Review:
Carr is a talented and successful zeroboxer (zero-G boxing) nearing the peak of his career. A beautiful, marketing guru to assist with his brand is hired for him, and they soon form a romantic relationship. But everything Carr holds dear is threatened suddenly.

The stunning cover alone drew me to this one. Zeroboxer is a unique, YA science fiction debut. The idea of zero-G boxing is clever and well-executed. I often felt like I was watching a movie. This fun and exciting standalone novel includes plenty of action, suspense, intrigue, and romance. Scifi and boxing fans alike will enjoy this well-paced story.

SciFi Book Review: Forged

Forged by Erin Bowman

Synopsis:
The time has come to make a stand.

Gray Weathersby and his group of rebels are determined to bring down the Franconian Order. But they may be too late. The Order is closer than ever to its ultimate goal—building an unstoppable army—and every generation of Forgeries is more sophisticated, harder to detect, and deadlier than the one before.

Now the rebels have joined forces with new allies, the Expats. But when even the most familiar faces can’t be trusted, Gray will have to tread carefully if he wants to succeed—or survive.

Review:
Gray is back at camp, itching to do something. But the mission he joins goes horribly wrong after a trap lands him in enemy hands.

Forged is the third installment in the Taken trilogy. This conclusion is packed with suspense, mystery, drama, heartache, and a bit of romance. I had to go back and reread one scene in particular (think Sophie’s Choice) because I couldn’t believe what had just happened. Unpredictable, with several dramatic twists – this action-packed, emotional thriller does not disappoint.

Received in March

The following are the books and movies I received in March for review and/or giveaways:

Movies:
Interstellar Blu-Ray

Amazon Publishing / Thomas & Mercer:
Weavers by Aric Davis

Bad Dream Entertainment:
Usu by Jayde Ver Elst

DC Comics:
The New 52: Future’s End #48
Earth 2: World’s End #26
Convergence #0

Del Rey:
The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett

Doubleday Publishing:
The Winter Family by Clifford Jackman

Harlequin Teen:
The Originals: The Loss by Julie Plec

Harper Teen / Greenwillow / Katherine Tegen / Belzer and Bray:
A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas
How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
Encore to an Empty Room by Kevin Emerson
Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman
Lies I Told by Michelle Zink
Omega City by Diana Peterfreund
The Arctic Code by Matthew J. Kirby
Darkmouth #1: The Legends Begin by Shane Hegarty
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Dust to Dust by Melissa Walker
Vanished by E. E. Cooper
Illusionarium by Heather Dixon
Heat of the Moment by Lauren Barnholdt
Eternity’s Wheel by Neil Gaiman
Until the Beginning by Amy Plum
The Cage by Megan Shepherd

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers:
Deceptive by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Paizo:
Pathfinder RPG: Strategy Guide by Wolfgang Baur

Penguin Teen / Putnam / Kathy Dawson Books / Dial:
Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin
Catalyst by Lydia Kang
The Door in the Moon by Catherine Fisher
Deadly Design by Debra Dockter

Pyr:
Edge of Dark by Brenda Cooper
Oathkeeper by J.F. Lewis

Scholastic:
Scare Scape by Sam Fisher
Scare Scape: The Midnight Door by Sam Fisher
Spirit Animals Book 7: The Evertree by Marie Lu

Shadow Mountain:
Remake by Ilima Todd

Simon & Schuster / Saga Press:
The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

St Martin / Thomas Dunne Books:
The Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston
The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston

Subterranean Press:
Savages by K. J. Parker
Teaching the Dog to Read by Jonathan Carroll
Working for Bigfoot by Jim Butcher

Tor:
Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman
Artemis Invaded by Jane Lindskold
Pathfinder Tales: Lord of Runes by Dave Gross
Time Salvager by Wesley Chu
Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory
Dead Man’s Reach by D. B. Jackson
Window Wall by Melanie Rawn

Tor Teen / Starscape:
The Dragon Lantern: A League of Seven Novel by Alan Gratz
The League of Seven by Alan Gratz

WMG Publishing:
Alchemy & Steam: A Fiction River Anthology by Kerrie L Hughes

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