Category Archives: Science Fiction

Book Review: Half the World (Shattered Sea #2) : by Joe Abercrombie

3.5
half a world

 

 This review contains major spoilers from the first book in the series. Those who are yet to read it, should skip this review. 

The first book ended with Yarvi becoming the minister and thus the right hand to the King of Gettland. He chose to leave the ambition of becoming a King in favour of breathing. Plus, he knew he could do so much better from a position where he was operating from behind the curtain all the while wielding the real power.

In my honest opinion, Half a King was a very apt title for the first book. Notwithstanding the fact that Yarvi does not actually sit on the throne, it is an indisputable truth by the end that Yarvi with his new position will hold half the strings that run the kingdom of Gettland.

In consideration with the first book in the series, Half The World clearly begins after an unannounced period of time has passed, by which time Yarvi has settled himself very well in his new role. FurtherHalf The World  portrays Yarvi thriving. Previously, he was used to scorn and used to be laughed at as he was “half a man”. But now, he is observed with awe as well as wariness. He is now famed to be:

“a deep cunning man”.

Yarvi is seen calculating the odds of winning the battle against those who threaten Gettland’s survival. He observes and assesses the need to put things in motion and so he gets things moving. If he needs to get his hands dirty, he has no qualms about it.
Yarvi is never to be let down. He is persistent and smart enough to change tactics when it is needed in lieu of failures. He acts ruthlessly and takes some cold-blooded steps but he has already realised that a wise man has to often speak the bitter truth but a smarter man has to make the cruellest of choices. It is quite clear that his character operates and thrives in different shades of grey.
Abercrombie puts Yarvi into the mould where he is seen indulging in what would most commonly be called “backseat driving”. And if the ride doesn’t go his way, he has planned for contingencies upon contingencies.

But Half the World is hardly only Yarvi’s story. The author introduces the readers to two new characters: a prickly natured girl named Thorn and a brave but calm warrior Brand.

Thorn has had a difficult time proving herself in the male-dominated society. Her father was a great warrior before he perished and she had a yearning to become a warrior herself since she was a kid. Now, in her teens she unwittingly ends up murdering a fellow trainee and is therefore sentenced to face death. When Yarvi offers her a chance at life, she readily accepts. Yarvi ensures that Thorn is then transformed into a lethal fighter, her killing instincts, the very reason she was doomed is then turned into the reason for her survival and then glory.

Brand’s righteous heart has always landed him in trouble but he cannot live with a heavy conscience. Knowing Thorn is innocent, he tries to save her. Every good deed is punished, so is his. His reward entails the crushing of all his hopes for the future-for a better life by his comrades. Yarvi then takes Brand under his wing.

This novel sees Yarvi, Brand and Thorn on a mission to find allies to aid them in the upcoming war against half the world.

I was suffering through a reading moratorium brought about by life getting in the way of things. I was not sure that I would be able to accord this book with the concentration or time it deserved. But as soon as I picked up this book, I forgot all my worries and was completely at the author’s mercy. I found the opening scene powerful. It was a good strong opening which ensured that the reader would not only be able to sympathise with Thorn’s miserable situation, but also be concerned regarding her future.

Unlike its predecessor, this novel employs multiple POVs which in my opinion serve to enhance the quality of the narrative. The subtlety with which the narratives are handled ensured that I could easily distinguish between the voices of two different characters, for which the author deserves praise.

I admire the fact that the author draws his characters with a number of flaws. Thorn possessed a number of them. In addition to that, Thorn doesn’t lose her pride quite unlike Yarvi who learned to be humbled during his struggle to survive. Due to this, the journey she makes from an impatient and insolent girl to a somewhat-wise woman was a very interesting one.

Brand’s character can be well understood from Yarvi’s words:

A man who gives all thought to do good but no thought to the consequence… that is a dangerous man.”

Indeed the old saying that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” comes true for Brand. He does take the moral high ground in comparison to his peers but he is never a hypocrite. His journey from a boy to a man is the outcome of an exposure to the depravity of the world he lives in. The glorious war is nothing but the tyranny of the rich and mighty on the poor and the weak. Once Brand has a glimpse of the heartbreaking reality, he emerges the stronger for it. His development leaves him an even more balanced and wiser man. He acknowledges that he might be a brave warrior however his soul yearns for a peaceful life.

Abercrombie further instigates a romance between the two that quite frankly was not really required. On the other hand, Thorn and Brand’s romance isn’t neat and clean. It has its share of awkwardness associated with adolescence. The insecurities and angst is handled nicely and on the whole it is a nicely woven twist in the story. Surprisingly, it specifically adds to the ending with Thorn and Brand choosing such different places for themselves in the world.

Set in a post apocalyptic world, this story is fast-paced. The gritty truth of the pitiful life aboard a vessel during war times is revealed without any unnecessary profanities by the ones who suffer through it. On one hand, apart from the well-written battle scenes, nothing much happens in this book. On the other hand, the political intrigue and the diplomatic games take the front seat. Not at all complying with what is expected, this novel brings up some friends for the protagonists who are much welcomed and unexpected but at the same time dishes out Yarvi’s confrontations with some old enemies. Abercrombie pitts the brain versus brawn in this book and just like the last time, he doesn’t underscore brawn at all.

This book has driven characters and is held by a focused narrative. There are a few similarities that it shares with the first one. Thorn, very much like Yarvi is seen fighting against the odds. Previously, Yarvi’s naivety was questioned, this time it is Brand’s goodness. Very much like the previous book, a lesson is learned at each step of the journey, and of course, this book also involves a voyage like the previous one. It also remains true to its depiction of the harshness of war and a disillusionment with it. Like the last time, there were a lot of twists that I didn’t see coming. In fact, most of the book is unpredictable, apart from one major plot move, which I was sadly able to guess. Still, I enjoyed the book thoroughly. On a side note, I would definitely suggest a re-reading of the previous book before picking up this one though, to better re-acquaint oneself with the world and re-emerging characters. It would definitely double the enjoyment.

 Half the World is a marvellously written book. I couldn’t rest before I finished it. It didn’t drag when not needed and served as a remarkable middle instalment to this series. I am all prepped to read the next one and I am glad that the last book is coming out in July and I won’t have to wait long.

For my review of  Half A King (Shattered Sea #1) click here .

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A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab

4.5

a darker shade of magic

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. 

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped. (Goodreads)

***** I received an ARC copy of this book from Titan Publishers. This is an Honest Review*****

This is my first Schwab book and it is a fascinating, multidimensional setting of three Londons, which are unique for being the point where three geographically differing worlds overlap. This is a wholly original and refreshing new story with an air of antiquity to it. The story, its complexity, the flavour and atmosphere of the overlapping worlds pull you in from the first page. The world building is remarkable and the prose is nuanced and lyrical.

The characters are satisfactorily complex. Not extraordinarily so, but enough to delight in. Kell is a Traveller – a rare species of people capable of travelling between the three worlds. Worlds of differing amounts of magic, technology and life. He wears a unique coat and acts as messenger for the Red Crown. (I will admit, I really liked Kell’s coat and loved whenever the parts about it came.)

Lila is a cross-dressing thief who aspires to be a pirate. To have an independent and free life with no shackles, no restrictions, no bonds. There’s a stimulating balance to him, and common sense that is welcome in both. The rest of the main characters comprise of the Red Royal Family which includes Prince Rhy, the closest person to Kell; the current rulers of White London and their Traveller and messenger Holland; and a bartender and owner in Grey London.

Kell and Holland particularly, are the truly complex characters of the book. They straddle the lines between good and bad, right and wrong, weak and strong. Lila is refreshingly independent whose ambitions are not put on hold for anything or anyone. However I wish there had been more interactions with Rhy, the prince. His relationship with Kell and personality are all seen through Kell to significant depth, but I wish there are had been more, to get a sense of him as a reader. Especially considering the developments that take place because of him.

The length of the book didn’t faze me, only made me eager to know what would happen next. Kept me on my toes, so to speak. Yes, it takes its sweet time to progress and has a leisurely pace, yet I never felt impatient with the story or for the end to come, nor did I despair over how much was left to read. The thought in my mind was – What will happen next? How will the story move forward? Where will it go? And what will happen once we’ve reached there?

Explaining this without giving details is difficult, but I will say that I did not expect the ending. I am ambiguous about it. On the one hand I expected it to end on a cliff-hanger, especially since it was apparent that there will be sequels. But that did not happen. The danger which I expected to continue into the next one was temporarily halted with the resolution of the part of the story and struggle that this book dealt with. I also did not particularly care for the Rhy-Kell plot in the second half.

I felt the writing slackened towards the end, especially considering the standards of the first three quarters of the book. Suddenly things happened swiftly and not smoothly. It came across as rushed. All the pent up tension and anticipation was not fully and satisfactorily carried through, did not match the build-up. At the end I felt – That’s it?

Other than that, A Darker Shade of Magic is a remarkable story with a mystical charm and I can’t wait for more of the worlds and their stories to unfold. And I will definitely be reading more of Schwab’s works in the future.

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Book Review: Fireblood (Whispers from Mirrowen #1) by Jeff Wheeler

3.5

Fireblood

I had completely forgotten the book’s blurb when I started it and that doubled the enjoyment I gained from reading it. To put the story succinctly, Tyrus is playing a dangerous game, and his motives seem dubious. But his game does not end with his involvement, rather it makes pawns of his niece, nephew and a flippant young warrior. Now, as the world is slowly fighting its death, the evil ones are set on the continued destruction of the world to remain in power. Annon, Hettie and Paedrin are on their own. They are united for a cause which seems like a pittance in comparison to the reality they are forced to confront. And when they do, they not only have to fight to survive but have to save thousands of lives too.

 Fireblood started with a glimpse of the past which is the base through which the story starts. The scene was interesting and almost prophetic in nature. A scene like that makes one assume. I assumed. But I found that assumptions took a back seat to the events that unfolded in the book.

The first half of the book develops rather slowly. It might irritate a few people, but it gave me enough time to accustom myself to Wheeler’s style of writing. I found his writing to be slightly uneven for my taste. Sometimes the narration was slightly choppy and failed to capture my interest and at other times it was written very well and involved me completely.

Annon, Hettie and Paedrin strangely reminded me of the characters from the cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Thankfully, even though the circumstances where the world is to be saved and relationships are similar, the resemblance of the book with the cartoon ended there.

Jeff Wheeler creates such characters that it’s quite easy to identify oneself with them. However, I sometimes did find instances where the characters seemed somewhat one-dimensional. The characters were written nicely but it felt that maybe the author could not guess the exact reaction or emotion that the character went through. It didn’t happen much but when it did, the dialogues and the scenes fell flat. In addition, Jeff introduced us to a lot of characters. It’s a worrisome undertaking since these side characters gained prominence as well when the story developed. Now, I’m eager to read their perspectives and I’m hoping earnestly that they are well constructed and don’t suffer through similar one-dimensional depiction.

The key characters are young in age but quite mature in their understanding of the world. Further, every character had his or her share of secrets and their actions further complicated the story. There were remnants of childishness which showed through here and there, still, the ease with which they embraced the harshest of truths, belied a mindset of a person who is in their mid-twenties. I can’t count this as a shortcoming though because of the upbringing that the three had. And ofcourse the dangerous world they live in. To have a look at the key characters:

Annon’s maturity was something gained due to his profession. He is a Druidecht. Someone who maintains harmony between the nature-spirits and the humans. He was my favourite character in the novel. The most well-balanced character who is not impulsive. Even though sometimes his nature demands it, Annon can overcome his emotions to handle the situation. Hettie was a complex character who evoked my sympathy as well as mild rejection due to her actions in different circumstances. At the end however, I was rooting for her as much as I was for the others. On the whole, I found that Paedrin might have been the only character that disappointed me. I had high expectations of him owing to his upbringing and his wisdom, however, he was the one who acted like a teenager the most. Still his crucible was not easy to cross and his pain was the most potent to me as a reader.

Jeff Wheeler successfully evoked my emotions. I failed to predict a single percent of the story and that makes me give this book a huge bonus score. The magical and mystical world is well-developed, though I guess I would have benefitted more if I had availed myself of the glossary given at the back. But my imagination was thoroughly engrossed in building the world in the way the author described it. Fantasy is one of my favourite genres and the author utilises all the leeway provided to a story in this category. A highly detailed world, the only flaw I could find seemed to be that the travel and distance didn’t take as much time as I had anticipated. Nevertheless, the medieval world is perfect for the plot that the author introduces to the readers. But even more perfect is the way in which the whole world and its inhabitants are involved in layers of overlapping connections. The bonds, the shifting alliances, the hidden agendas, the politics, all are unexplainable and unforeseeable elements that make the story interesting.

It doesn’t happen often enough for my liking that I stumble upon a book that I really like, which has beeen written by an author previously unknown to me. This time, thankfully it happened.

 Fireblood takes you into a world of mystical magic, graceful spirits, sinister plots, and drudge politics. It does not allow you the luxury of a correct guess regarding the plot and even though the story has a number of twists, the medium-pace makes it easy for the reader to follow the events without any threat of being overwhelmed.

Despite its shortcomings (and the cliff-hanger), I am glad that I got to read this book (through netgalley) and can’t wait to pick up the next one in the series.


Book Review: The Revenge of Seven (Lorien Legacies #5) by Pittacus Lore

4gem

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The fifth book in the I Am Number Four series. The Garde have suffered an unbearable loss. Number Five has betrayed them. Eight is gone forever. Ella has been kidnapped. The others are now scattered.

In Chicago, John makes the unlikeliest of allies: Adam, a Mogadorian who turned his back on his people. He has invaluable information about Mog technology, battle strategies, and weaknesses. Most important, he knows where to hit them: their command base near Washington, DC. During the assault, however, John and Adam learn the unimaginable truth: it is too late. The Mogadorians have commenced their ultimate invasion plans.

With a front-row seat to the impending invasion, Ella finds herself in the hands of the enemy. For some reason she’s more valuable to them alive, and they’ll stop at nothing to turn her.

Meanwhile, Six, Nine, and Marina make their way through the Florida Everglades, hot on the trail of the traitorous Five. With the development of a new Legacy, Marina finally has the power to fight back—if her thirst for revenge doesn’t consume her first.

The Garde are broken and divided once again, but they will not be defeated. As long as one still stands, the battle for Earth’s survival is not lost. (Amazon)

Writing a review for the fifth book in a series can be tricky. But, assuming and hoping that whoever reads this will have read the rest of the books, let’s begin. This was one of the stronger books in the series in terms of writing, character appeal and story. The Rise of Nine and The Revenge of Seven are the best books for me. The Power of Six was mostly irritating because of John, and The Fall of Five was predictable. It was so obvious that Five was not to be trusted that there wasn’t anything left for me to enjoy. Also, Eight died in it. Enough said.

To start with I have an issue with the titles of the books. After the first one, none of the books have had much relation to their titles. With The Revenge of Seven, when you also consider the cover blurb, you expect the book to have Seven’s POV and revolve around her grief and pain over Eight’s death which drives her to take revenge on the Mogs, especially Five, and really kick ass with her new legacy. But nope, the reality is far from it. She barely had a presence other than to be a silently threatening (not) person, who behaves more nun/priest like as the novel progresses. I have a suspicion she’ll actually return to a convent, considering her behaviour in the end, which is not cool. I loved the way her character was introduced in the second book. I much preferred her narration over Johns’ then. This time she was the least favourite because she did nothing but brood.

Moving on, this was a good book, with plenty of action and laughs, along with parts in between when the story progresses and you learn more about Setrakus Ra and Ella. And there’s also the highly anticipated union of all the members especially Adam and Four, which was the best. My favourite character is Adam, and I loved his presence and involvement in the plot. He had a final showdown with his dad, and I’m glad he got that closure and officially moved on as his own person.

Six and Sam didn’t have much of an impact considering one of the POVs was Six. I didn’t like the direction her relationship with Sam took. For once I preferred John and Sarah, though I was still really happy when she went off the picture. In the previous books she and John have been the most annoyingly space-occupying parts. The focus on romantic relations is a bit much when there’s so much more that could’ve been happening; friendships are the better part of this series.

The strongest and most enjoyable scenes were the ones with Ella, Adam and the last few chapters. The tense atmosphere and impending doom you feel when Ella spends time with Ra, and the invasion, was great. Five’s repentance didn’t do much for me, since in the other book and novellas also I felt nothing for him. He’s the one character who failed to evoke any emotions other than complete distrust and dislike. I felt that there could have been a little more focus on Marina and Nine in terms of their grief and her forgiveness.

And the ending, OMG the ending. It was awesome and crazy and typically a cliff-hanger. But the kind you love and hate simultaneously because you’re left open-mouthed at the developments, and horror that it ended in the middle of something so massive and fantastic! I can’t wait to read what happens in the, hopefully, last book. I hope it’s long and written like this one where the focus is on more important things than teenage relationship angst. This was a very exciting and fulfilling book for me, and there are things I can’t wait to find out, like:

I’m pretty sure there’s even more to the Ra-Lore-Ella scene, but what will it be? And that Ella will be the end of Ra – Yay.

Who is GUARD?? Can’t wait to find out in Mark’s novella.

What of Sam? Who else? And what of the rest of the Guarde, and Ra with the pendants and chests?

Ultimately, I just hope Adam, Ella, Sam and the Chimeras don’t die.

 


Book Review: These Broken Stars (The Starbound Trilogy #1) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

3 gems

 

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These Broken Stars has a beautiful cover and an equally intriguing blurb. Going into this book, I thought I’m going to fall in love with it. After all, everyone I know has loved this book. But, alas! For me it was disappointing, if anything.

Lilac LaRoux is the daughter of the richest man on the planet. She can get anywhere with just her name. Which also means, consorting with anyone her father does not approve of can be deadly to the other person. Traver Merendsen is a young war hero who comes from nothing. He has to work hard for everything he wants, unlike Lilac. He knows that girls like her are not worth the trouble but, he finds himself drawn to her. Until she puts a break to his advances. Lilac had long ago learned the art of pushing people away. She knows how dangerous her father can be, and if her father ever found out about Traver, he could be in serious trouble.

What Traver and Lilac never realised was that they might have to depend each other for their survival. When the Icarus is yanked out of hyperspace and crashes on an unknown planet, Traver and Lilac are the only survivors. Lilac’s experience with electronics is what helped them survive the crash, and it will be Traver’s experience in the army that’ll keep them alive in the unknown planet.

I went into this book with very high hopes. I thought it would be a romance that will blow my mind, a story that’ll leave its imprint on me for a very long time. But it was just disappointing after all the hype.

I really enjoyed this book in the beginning. From when it started till around the time they crashed and then some more I thought this was going to be solid 4 gem book. But they spent more than 50% of the book just walking and walking and I got bored. Lilac was just too snobbish, though very determined. She tried her best to keep up with Traver and not complain. Much. And Traver spent most of his time thinking ill about her because she rejected him in a very public and insulting manner.

***Possible spoilers ahead***

Things do get a little better once Lilac and Traver become sort of friends. I loved how she took care of him when he was sick. It really was commendable. But a couple of chapters into this the authors introduced a twist. And it ruined it all for me. The voices that Lilac used to hear were always fishy, but when Traver also started seeing things, it was clear something was going on. But when we find out what they are and what they can do, and more importantly their hand in the big twist of this book, it was very anticlimactic for me.

I personally thought the authors were belittling a tragedy, which rubbed me the wrong way. Traver’s reaction was heartbreaking, no doubt. But before it could all sink in, the authors introduced the twist. It happened too soon IMO. Had the authors given it a little more time, and brought that twist in a more appropriate and significant manner, I just might have enjoyed this book more.

Another complaint I had with this book was its language. Being written by two different authors, I could actually differentiate between the language. Initially it was quite well written in a very mature manner, but around midway or about 60% of the book, the language became a lot more simplistic. There was a considerable change.

Overall it was an okay kind of book. The only reason I’m giving it 3 gems is because I enjoyed the beginning and a few parts toward the end.


Movie Review: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

1gem

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**********MAJOR SPOILER ALERT. PLOT DISCUSSED IN DETAIL**********

Sequel to the 2009 film G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, and a reboot to the franchise, G.I. Joe: Retaliation was released in 2013. Directed by Jon M. Chu (Step Up 2, Step Up 3 and Justin Bieber’s concert biopics), and written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland).

I’ve heard that a lot of people did not like the first movie G.I. Joe Rise of Cobra, and I still can’t figure out why. Most of them were faithful fans of the original cartoon series. I get not liking a movie franchise of an old favourite, but really it wasn’t so bad. It had a consistent plot, good character sketches, and good action sequences. You felt for the characters and believed in their camaraderie. There was a cohesive story, with all elements coming together. Maybe not great, but a decently well-made movie.

Whereas previously I liked the movie and enjoyed watching it, I will forever regret watching Retaliation. It made me fall in love with Rise of Cobra and appreciate it even more. Two hours of my life wasted, staring in horror and bewilderment at the screen, wondering the entire time what the hell was going on.

First, where are the characters of the previous movie? There is no explanation of what happened to them. Even Duke doesn’t mention them! It’s like they never existed. Flint replaces Ripcord, Lady Jane replaces Scarlett and Breaker and Roadblock replaces Heavy Duty. The changes were apparently made to make the story more authentic, but what is the point when there’s no chemistry and the characters are distasteful?

At the beginning of the movie you have a friendly, homely scene between Duke and Roadblock, trying to establish their friendship and loyalty. It came and went, I felt nothing. That was my first clue that I shouldn’t continue. I waited, fifteen minutes into the film, wondering when it would actually start and things will get clearer. Finally it does and how. In a sudden burst of explosion, with no preamble, Duke gets bombed and dies. The scene is pathetic because the direction fails to make it impactful and you feel nothing for the character’s death other than horror as you suddenly realize that the movie is a failure.

Another jarring moment: Roadblock is apparently deeply hurt and heartbroken over losing his partner; he even takes his dog tags, and I felt nothing. I didn’t feel his emotions. And usually, in Dwayne Johnson’s movies, I don’t have to work hard at feeling something for his characters. He’s a surprisingly decent actor. But in this movie, he failed to rouse any reaction apart from dismay.

I also blame this on the fact that it’s hard to feel for a friendship or character you’ve only seen for ten minutes. For death and broken relationships to make any impact, one has to witness them over a period of time in various scenes, so you get a chance to know, like, and connect with them, like in the first movie. I felt more with Ripcord when Duke was in trouble than I did at Duke’s death! Frankly I was and still am horrified. How could they just kill him? Like that? In the first ten minutes?

Dwayne Johnson taking over as lead and leader did not sit well with me. I also disliked the other two members. There was no substance, no personality as such and the little romance they tried to show also seemed to have been thrown in for the heck of it.

How does Storm Shadow survive? Why save Destro only to kill him? How has Cobra gained such loyalty and following when he’s been imprisoned since he ‘came out’ as the Cobra? What happened to the Baroness? What happened to the story of Duke and Baroness? No answers, zero explanations. One thing after another keeps happening, all action, without sense, or plot, or story or reason! The deeply hurt and out for justice soldier act slides off my skin. It’s not convincing, rather forced. The trio express gravity which is not supported by the plot, direction, writing. When there is nothing to give weight to their seriousness and hurt, the grave, heavy, mournful, serious expressions and body language only feel odd, boring and affected; evoking no emotions.

The coolest things in the whole movie are the firefly-bombs. That’s it.

Throughout the first half of the movie I kept waiting for Snake Eyes to turn up, as by then he seemed to be the only hope for an otherwise pathetically dead and dismal movie. He came, I rejoiced, he went into the mountains, I despaired. Because the revelation in the mountains makes an already horrifying movie worse. Storm Shadow did not kill their master. He was framed. By whom? Zartan!

Of all the characters to name (I was even open to the possibility of Cobra), Zartan? But, unfortunately, I predicted it before it happened, because of all the places to use logic, here, logically, Zartan was the only one who made sense out of the existing villains, the only one who would have been old enough. But, it makes absolutely no sense that Zartan saw potential in Storm Shadow for his own purposes. Or that he just happened to be the one to corrupt his life. Since I don’t know the stories of the comics and cartoons, I think it’s quite fair for me to expect some explanations.

I kept asking myself why I don’t just leave, but sometimes, even with the most horrible, senseless, painful movies, there is a perverse desire to know how they’ll end it, what else can go wrong. Turned out, everything.

There’s a scene of sword action in a house in the mountains between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow which was good. But after that you have an elaborate, bizarre CGI scene where ninjas are swinging between Himalayan Mountains, on cables, carrying and fighting over a body bag (!), which looked like a video game. I could actually imagine holding a remote control, and the sensation you get when you make your characters leap and fly in a video game! It blew my mind with its ridiculousness.

After that I had no hopes at all, and the movie delivered. We had the same old problem of nuclear weapons as the threat of destruction, and stopping them at the last possible second. Only this time it’s President Zartan who is playing nuke the nukes with the leaders of the world. You have a forgettable appearance by Bruce Willis which only manages to decrease his stature. Cobra, for all his attitude and importance as villain only manages to be a prop. He walks in, delivers one line, and walks out, in every scene. And there are just three. Zartan had more screen time and presence as a villain.

Also you have a seemingly defining moment in the movie when Storm Shadow switches sides and helps the Joes after finding out that Zartan set him up. I wish it could’ve happened in a plot where you could appreciate it, since he and Snake Eyes deserve to be in a better story. Here everything was too predictable to make a difference. In a movie where a simple fist bump/handclasp thing falls flat, what more can be said? They even managed to screw up the most universal, basic gesture seen in every movie or serial at one time or another between every other male character!

I wish I could erase this movie from my mind, but alas. I would not recommend it for anything. Senseless action in a plot less movie with forgettable acting and hollow, generic dialogues that fall into empty silences (there are a lot of them) when nothing is happening in the movie; all smoke, no fire. I reluctantly gave this movie a gem, which is for the firefly bombs and Zartan. The director should stick to dance musicals and the writers’ previous collaboration, Zombieland, was ten times better. The movie is a good example of when not to change directors and writers for sequels.