Shows

Loki’s Back For His Own Series

Spoiler-Free Show Review:

Loki Season 1

Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

Intro

When I heard about this series, I was concerned about whether it would be any good because I was worried it would take away from the character development we saw in other movies. Instead, it provided the means for more character development and showed a different side of Loki.

Warning: This review does not contain any significant spoilers for Season 1 of Loki, but it does include some plot details from Episode 1.

Background

Loki Season 1 was created by Michael Waldron and released in 2021. It can be streamed on Disney+.

Summary

Loki escapes the Avengers only to be captured by the Time Variance Authority (TVA) and labeled a variant to the sacred timeline. To survive, he will have to use his wits and his own self-knowledge to capture an enemy of the TVA.

Pros

  • Enjoyable characters
  • Strong character development
  • Phenomenal acting
  • Immersive setting
  • The show is unpredictable and strange, which is fitting for a series centering around the god of mischief
  • Well-chosen music

Cons

  • There are no specific cons I would like to point out. This series does stretch believability, but considering the god of mischief is the main character, I don’t see that as a bad thing.

Observations

  • Inspired in a lot of ways by the comics

Review

Characters

Loki wins the prize for most character development out of everyone from this series. Watching his character unfold was like watching a narcissistic caterpillar turn into an equally narcissistic butterfly. Yeah, he does remain a narcissist, but he’s forced to re-evaluate his entire worldview and come to terms with who he truly is.

Mobius is kind of patronizing at first, but once you figure out what makes him tick, he’s easier to understand and appreciate. He kind of fulfills a mentor role to Loki in that Loki does learn some things from him, but he’s not the stereotypical old dude fulfilling his duty to pass on unwanted wisdom.

Miss Minutes is the holographic mascot for the TVA, explaining its mission to maintain the sacred timeline to Loki when he first is captured. She handles looking up information in the TVA’s databases, but is more than just a tool. Often, she acts like a sentient being with her own feelings and concerns.

Acting

The acting was impeccable, especially by Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, and Sophia Di Martino. Hiddleston using a range of complex expressions to get across Loki’s reactions to pivotal events was especially effective.

Setting

The TVA as a setting was perfect. It combined a bunch of old-fashioned propaganda posters, dated cartoons, and futuristic devices to make a unique atmosphere. It was a perfect blend of old and new to make the setting seem timeless and immersive.

Plot

The plot throws you for a lot of loops. (And not just time loops.) Every time everything seems chill and like things are going to go one way, things escalate and the stakes become even higher.

Music

The quirky and thematic music of this season added to the atmosphere. There is currently a soundtrack out for Episodes 1-3 called “Loki Volume 1” and it can be found on Spotify.

Inspiration

The whole concept of the TVA and the Timekeepers, as wells as many of the characters were inspired by the comics. I love that Disney is taking into account previous works in the Marvel Universe rather than taking an entirely new path.

Conclusion

If you like Marvel, then you will appreciate this show focused on one of Marvel’s most enduring characters.

Rating System

If you’re interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

Links

Life

The Colby Chronicles

Intro

This is part 2 of my college stories. Part 2 is all about one guy that I met at college, who I will call Colby, and all the awkward interactions I had with him. Just so you know, I decided to use fake names for everyone involved. Hopefully these stories are as entertaining for you as they are for me in retrospect.

The Motorcycle Story

I met Colby by accident, when I walked into my first ever class at college. I wasn’t sure if I was in the right room. It turns out he was just leaving at the end of a different class, so when I asked him if this was the right room for my class he didn’t know. Boring interaction. It should have ended there.

But I met him again, in the cafeteria, where he suggested I was stalking him because he saw me everywhere. Not the best way to start a conversation. We exchanged names and chatted briefly before parting ways again. So far so good, relatively commonplace conversation that was going nowhere.

The third time I met Colby was a different story. I was sitting alone at MAP cafeteria and he asked if he could join me. I said sure, why not. I’m shy but I don’t mind unexpected company. And what could go wrong? I didn’t know at the time this guy was a creep.

We engaged in small talk about classes and our differing religious denominations. (At my college, religious topics could end up being heated discussions, especially in this case since he was Protestant and I was Catholic, but we were both pretty chill.) Then he started talking about his motorcycle.

Now, I don’t care much about vehicles, so I was far from impressed that this guy had a pretty motorcycle. Meh.

Then he asked me if I wanted a ride on his motorcycle, and I said no, because I knew almost nothing about this guy and wouldn’t have wanted a motorcycle ride even if he was my best friend.

He continued to suggest we go on a motorcycle ride. He explained that he had once had a friend who was very shy like me, and that she had ridden his motorcycle and loved it. I declined again and again with decreasing politeness until he gave up.

After dinner, I had to go to Rathburn for a meeting, and he asked to escort me. He had no idea where Rathburn was, and I had a sense of humor, so I said sure. Unbenownst to him, Rathburn was the building right beside the cafeteria where we were, so all we did was walk outside and I was there.

The motorcycle nonsense didn’t end there. It turns out my mom knew a friend of his mom. They got to talking, and my mom found out that Colby doesn’t even have a motorcycle. I was more wary of him after that. I don’t know what he would have done if I said yes, and I don’t like to think of what could’ve happened. All I can say is, I’m glad I trusted my instincts.

The Cafeteria Story

Colby had a habit of asking to eat with me and my roommate Afina any time he saw us in the cafeteria. We attempted to avoid him after the whole motorcycle fiasco but were rarely successful.

Colby always wore this leather jacket, and one day he used it to smuggle food out of the cafeteria for his sick roommate. (This was before the pandemic, before there was takeout as an option.) He had asked to eat with us, and told us about what he had done. He had hidden napkins full of onion rings in his jacket, and for condiments had sucked ketchup up straws and bent the tops and hid those in his jacket too.

During the same lunch, he berated Afina for having an unhealthy salad. It was a salad that had hamburger in it, but she just shrugged and said she hadn’t meant for it to be healthy.

The Seduction Story

This one is Afina’s Colby story. She was in the cafeteria, and Colby sidled up to her and asked her if her hair was naturally curly. She explained that it was, especially if she had braided it beforehand.

Colby proceeded to ask her where she lived, and she said MEP. She politely asked where he lived and he listed off one of the men’s dorms and asked if she had ever been there. When she said no, he was astonished.

“What, are you saying you never go there to seduce the men?”

Needless to say, Afina tried to end that conversation quickly.

The Ice Cream Story

One time Colby asked my roommate Afina if he and his three friends could join us in our booth. We were in the line for icecream, and Afina just shrugged and said “Paige is the boss.”

Colby came up to me, and asked again. Now these booths are meant for four people max, and him and his friends plus us would be six people. There was no way I was going to let that happen.

Without looking up from scooping my ice cream, I said no firmly and ignored him until he walked away.

The Notoriety Story

One time I was eating with a group of four girls I did not know well. We got to talking about our strange experiences with a certain guy on campus. Twenty minutes into the conversation we realized we were all talking about the same guy–Colby, and that we all had experienced his flirting and strange behavior. It was certainly a revelation and we got a good laugh out of it. The girls all decided I was his favorite because he didn’t argue much with me. Lucky me.

Conclusion

Those are some of the most memorable moments I’ve had at Grove City College, even if they are not great memories. Whether Colby was holding the door open for thirty people or trying to hack the scheduling system for courses, he always made an impression. After sophomore year I never saw him again, so I assumed he transferred or quit. I’ll never know what happened, but I don’t mind.

Feel free to share your college stories in the comments!

Movies

Knives Out Will Keep You on the Edge of Your Seat

Spoiler-Free Movie Review:

Knives Out (2019)

Rating: 9.8 out of 10 stars

Intro

I don’t watch mystery movies too often, but I really enjoyed this one. I watched it once with my uncle and once with my roommate.

Background

Knives Out was directed by Rian Johnson. Many people are not happy with what he did to Star Wars, but I can honestly say that he was in his element when he directed this movie.

The movie stars Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, and Christopher Plummer.

Knives Out is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Summary

Detective Benoit Blanc investigates an apparent suicide, believing it to be a murder. Investigation into family matters reveals most family members had sufficient motives for murder, but this wacky mystery is much more complex than it seems.

Pros

  • Creative title
  • Phenomenal acting and cast
  • Complex and entertaining characters
  • Interesting setting
  • Subtle aspects of the film rewarding those paying attention
  • Plausible yet unexpected ending

Cons

  • Marta’s vomiting is overused

Review

Title

The title was well-chosen, part of one of the most impactful quotes in the whole movie by Benoit Blanc – “You’re a pack a vultures, knives out and beaks bloody.” In context it is blunt, but cuts to the heart of the problem with the whole Thrombey family.

The title could also be a reference to the stunning display of Harlan Thrombey’s knives, which was certainly the most iconic object in the movie.

Acting

The acting was phenomenal, especially by Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc and Ana de Armas as Marta Cabrera. Some people found Craig’s southern drawl annoying, but it didn’t bother me.

Characters

Again, Benoit Blanc and Marta Cabrera were the best characters, though I appreciated Harlan Thrombey as well.

Benoit is an eccentric detective, not just another cookie-cutter Sherlock. He has elaborate metaphors involving donuts, and even seems incompetent at times. Yet he is super sharp too.

I feel a noose tightening. The family is truly desperate. Desperate motives, with the mystery of who hired me, the impossibility of the crime, and yet a donut. One central piece, and if it reveals itself, the fog would lift, the arc would resolve, the Slinky become unkinked.

Benoit Blanc

Marta Cabrera is a kind-hearted nurse who cared for the deceased Harlan Thrombey during his old age. She has complicated relationships with all the members of the Thrombey family. She is basically the protagonist of the movie.

Setting

The house most of the action is set in, becomes, as a character pointed out, just like a Clue board. It has all these quirky aspects that made it stand out. These details are what made the family home the family home. And as a former English major and a (hopefully!) future librarian, I appreciated the sheer number of books in the house. At the same time, I don’t think I could handle the clutter. That being said, this house just had so much character.

Details

There are some details that added to this masterpiece of a story. When each family member told the story, the flashbacks had slight differences even in places where they intersected, which is especially notable in the scene with the birthday cake.

Different members of the family say that Marta’s family is from different countries. Cuba, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil…none of them cared enough to know for sure her story.

According to Fandom, the accuracy of the clocks was carefully considered when setting the scenes. Each one was carefully at the time it should have been for the scene.

The timing of Benoit hitting a piano key during the investigation was the way one of the investigators was prompted to ask a certain question. I thought that was pretty creative.

Ending

The ending was well-executed and I would say most people would not see it coming. Obviously I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that I certainly was not disappointed.

Conclusion

I would recommend this movie even for people who don’t usually watch mysteries. It’s not your typical whodunit. The rating of PG-13 is entirely reasonable.

Also, I heard a sequel is coming out, so it’s the perfect time to watch Knives Out!

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate movies, check out my rating system.

Links

Board Games

A Board Game Battle of the Baristas

Board Game Review:

Latte Throwdown

Rating: 6.8 out of 10 stars

Intro

What I hope to accomplish with my board game reviews is to introduce you to a new game and help you determine whether the game is a good fit for you. I will consider and rank five criteria: gameplay, design, strategy, originality, and replayability.

Description

Latte Throwdown was published in 2020 and is a dice rolling board game for 1-4 players. In this game, players are baristas using die rolls to perform latte art. The game is best for ages 8 and up, and the game is low in complexity.

Gameplay (6 out of 10 stars)

On each players turn, they take several actions. They roll their dice, including whatever surplus dice they have earned. Then they use the dice to try to match the numbers at the bottom of a latte card. If they can’t finish the set of numbers, they just place what they can and hope to roll the other numbers later. If they complete a latte card, they can take it and score the number indicated on the card. Or, instead of finishing a latte card, they can do any of several special actions using Barista cards. Then they return the dice used to complete a Barista or Latte card to their pool and the next player takes their turn.

Special actions include converting a die to a different number, turning in two matching die for a point, etc.

The first player to 20 points wins.

Design (9 out of 10 stars)

Design includes two categories: art and components.

The artwork in this game is attractive and makes me want to drink coffee. There’s not much more one could ask for!

The components are attractive and fit the game style. It was interesting to have the latte cards be circular, and since there are not too many, the weird shape does not make it too hard to shuffle easily. Most of the dice, excluding the surplus dice, are the colors of coffee.

Strategy (5 out of 10 stars)

There is a lot of luck involved in this game due to the amount of dice-rolling and the randomness of the shuffled Barista cards and circular Latte cards. Strategy is low, but still present if you analyze the probability of being able to finish the Latte cards before your opponents and use the Barista cards wisely.

Originality (8 out of 10 stars)

The concept of a game where the theme is baristas competing with latte art was extremely creative. This is not your average coffee-themed game. It stems from real consideration of the art of creating and serving lattes. The name of the board game comes from public gatherings where baristas show up their latte art skills.

Replayability (6 out of 10 stars)

Replayability is reasonable. This is the sort of game you can pull out from time to time, but not one that anyone would be likely to play more than once every couple of days. I personally do not play it often.

Conclusion

This game would be best for a group of amateur board games, those new to the hobby. Or it would be a good option to play as a warmup to a heavier game. It’s relatively simple and easy to learn, which is a plus.

Links