Picard Episode 1: “Remembrance” Review (SPOILERISH)

Episode 1: Remembrance
At the end of the 24th Century, and 14 years after his retirement from Starfleet, Jean-Luc Picard is living a quiet life on his vineyard, Chateau Picard. When he is sought out by a mysterious young woman, Dahj, in need of his help, he soon realizes she may have personal connections to his own past.

Review:
The pilot episode opens to a dream sequence with Picard and Data playing poker on the Enterprise D. It’s poignant and special to those of us Next Generation fans who loved this version of the Enterprise. Picard is now living on his family vinyard in France, along with a couple Romulans – who we later learn are refugees.

I appreciate that we don’t get a data-dump of what happened between Star Trek: Nemesis and today. Instead, Picard gives an emotional interview about what happened to the Romulans and how he has lost faith in the Federation. It turns out that Synths (androids) attacked the Mars colony (and we still don’t know why) at the same time the Federation was offering aid to the Romulans after their sun went supernova. There is mention of this in the JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot (aka Kelvin timeline). However, after the Synth attack, the Federation abandoned the millions of Romulans now without a home.

This is the set-up for the season. What happened to make the androids attack? And what has happened to the Romulans? Meanwhile, a young woman named Dahj comes to Picard for help. It’s soon obvious that she is a synth as well, and Picard learns has ties to Data, his deceased friend.

This pilot episode is full of nostalgia, drama, action, mystery, and intrigue. A lot is packed in to this first episode, yet it’s over all too soon. Patrick Stewart is just as amazing as ever. While it’s been 18 years since he last played Picard, he makes it look effortless. Despite getting on in years, he still has the same commanding presence – yet obviously a lot has happened to harden him.

I’m really excited about this new cast and that we finally have a new Star Trek set post previous series. And I hope this will usher in a whole new generation of Star Trek fans.

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SciFi Book Review: Starsight

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

Synopsis:
All her life, Spensa has dreamed of becoming a pilot. Of proving she’s a hero like her father. She made it to the sky, but the truths she learned about her father were crushing. The rumors of his cowardice are true–he deserted his flight during battle against the Krell. Worse, though, he turned against his team and attacked them.

Spensa is sure there’s more to the story. And she’s sure that whatever happened to her father in his starship could happen to her. When she made it outside the protective shell of her planet, she heard the stars–and it was terrifying. Everything Spensa has been taught about her world is a lie.

But Spensa also discovered a few other things about herself–and she’ll travel to the end of the galaxy to save humankind if she needs to.

Review:
When an alien crash-lands on their planet, Spensa decides to take her place in order to steal vital technology for humanity. But Spensa isn’t trained for espionage. And she only has her secret AI to keep her company.

Starsight is the second book the Skyward series. This story is very different from the first as far as the setting goes. But there is still a lot of flight action and suspense. And there were several surprising twists along the way. I really enjoyed the new, diverse characters. In fact, I enjoyed this sequel even more than the previous novel. With plenty of danger, suspense, intrigue, and drama – this well-paced story left me excited for the next installment.

Blu-Ray Review: Gemini Man

Gemini Man [Blu-ray]

Synopsis:
Will Smith stars as retired hitman Henry Brogan, forced on the run by a young, highly skilled operative who will stop at nothing to eliminate his target. Now on a race around the globe, Henry must outsmart the mysterious assassin at every step – but how far will he go once they finally come face to face?

Review:
Will Smith plays the two main characters in this action film. However, the CGI of his younger clone is as cringe-worthy as Superman’s CGI’s mustache removal in Justice League. It’s so bad that it’s detracts from every scene he’s in. It would have been better to get a younger actor who resembles him and just do some minor tweaks like Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper to look like a young version of Bruce Willis.

As for the story, it’s fun and fast-paced. And it’s a lot like Bruce Willis in RED, though this movie isn’t as well-rounded. The characters are mostly one-dimensional, except for Brogan. The fight scenes are a lot of fun though. And there is plenty of suspense that builds to an exciting finale. I just wish the CGI’d Junior wasn’t so distracting.

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• The Vision of Ang Lee

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Blu-Ray Review: Terminator Dark Fate

Terminator: Dark Fate [Blu-ray]

Synopsis:
Decades after Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) prevented Judgment Day, a lethal new Terminator is sent to eliminate the future leader of the resistance. In a fight to save mankind, battle-hardened Sarah Connor teams up with an unexpected ally (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and an enhanced super soldier to stop the deadliest Terminator yet. Humanity’s fate hangs in the balance in this action-packed thrill ride from Tim Miller, the Director of Deadpool, and Producer James Cameron.

Review:
This is the Terminator sequel I’ve been waiting for. Linda Hamilton has been missing in all the films since Terminator 2, so it’s only fitting that we ignore all the previous sequels for this storyline. And it works. It’s heart-pounding suspense with heartbreaking drama that only these leading ladies can supply. Arnold is back as well, as Terminator “Carl” who has moved on with life and sees the error of his ways. As a Terminator fan, I thoroughly enjoyed this installment. Certainly more than the previous several installments. There is plenty of fan service, and that’s okay. The action is non-stop and intense. The CGI is fantastic. And there is plenty of heart that keeps viewers invested.

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